Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inspiration Board

What inspires you to be creative?  For me, it is pretty colors, vintage images, sewing notions, simple design, thrifty usefullness, and things like that.  This is one of my two "inspiration boards"  hanging in my basement, recently turned "studio".  (More pictures to follow in future posts on the studio, so keep an eye out.)  I see the two boards every time I walk downstairs.  The things I've hung have been collected over the years and are there, simply because they make me happy.  And happiness is inspiring, whether I need to be inspired to fold laundry or vaccuum or to sit down in the studio and create.

When my girls were little, I used to take them on what we called "Chick Trips".  We'd spend a night or two away from home in a hotel and explore natural wonders in the area.  Lost River was one of our favorites.  It was so much fun when I came across this pennant from the 50's at an antique shoppe.  It is a fun reminder of days gone by.

Notice the unopened package of tiny doll toys.  Also, two of my favorites (one above and one below) are the needle point key chain fobs my grandma had made years ago.  The house, she used for years til it wore thru at the top and fell off the key ring.  I found it stashed in a drawer at her home after she passed away.  The red car was a gift to me when I got my first car.  It was too big for me to use, but I always held onto it as a grandma treasure.  Now I see both every time I walk by and I happily think of her.

The little red price clip came from a general store long since gone away.

A Unique Tin Basket

And here is another Easter basket.  I found the old tin form at Spring Brook Farm in Littleton, MA. I added the vintage millenery flowers, the vintage french ribbon, some sweet cream colored woven trim, local wool to make a little nest and two blue egs I blew out, from local hens.  What a happy little basket.  It will go to the Cooperage to sell as well.

More Baskets!

I had a special order for some additional Easter baskets using vintage sheet music.  The shoppe that ordered them is "Nesting on Main" on Main Street in Concord, MA.  If you are a local and haven't been there, I strongly urge you to go.  It is a wonderful antique store with the sweetest and most unique finds.  Anyhow, here is a peek at my newest baskets, some for the shoppe and some for me to sell at the Cooperage in Townsend, MA where I have a booth.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heidi's Desk Cubby

Heidi's birthday wish this year was to have a total room make over. It was time to move into a more mature style since she is, after all, getting more mature. She had been giving this a lot of thought and came up with all the main ideas for function, color and design herself. She started wishing for this last fall. Since it was going to be A LOT of work, we've been pecking away since fall. As her birthday approaches next week, I'll show you how everything turned out. Needless to say, I have been a busy bee. She is chief designer. I am chief painter, builder, seamstress, problem solver, artist, etc. Below is the closet transformation. We took it from standard clothes closet, to amazing desk cubby!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bible Inspiration

Children are such a phenomenal blessing. The best job I've ever had and am sure I will ever have is that of mother to two amazing girls. It is also, no doubt, the hardest job. Full of lots of trial and error as the years progress. A few days ago, I was called into Heidi's room to see her latest chalkboard posting. (During her recent room redo, we made the door of a chiffarobe into a chalkboard where she can doodle or post messages to her heart's content.). My mother's heart was overflowing with "contentedness" when I read her new posting, a Bible passage from John. She had read part of it on her calendar and then looked up the rest. How reassuring for all of us, but especially a maturing young lady, to know that we need not carry heavy burdens alone in our hearts, for God is there to share them and lift them from us. And our importance to Him does not stop with His support. His love is so great that He already has prepared a place for us to be in His loving presence for eternity. I don't know about you, but I go to a lot of trouble to prepare for company at my house, and their stay is only temporary. Imagine what God has in store for us when preparing His home for us to share with Him for eternity. WOW! After seeing Heidi take heart-ownership of these words by exploring them and writing them down for all to see, I am reassured that in my job as mother, I must be making more right than wrong turns in mothering her.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thinking About Easter

Easter is going to be late this year, but we're already busy thinking about bunnies, baskets and spring.  Last year I tried my hand at making little baskets using peat pots, vintage trimmings, German glass glitter,  local wool and blown out eggs from local chickens that lay beautiful blue and green eggs.  They were a lot of fun to make and I was able to sell several to a wonderful upscale antique shoppe in Concord, Ma.  Visiting with the shoppe owner last week, led me to begin production again as she would like to have them in her stock again this spring.  Here is a peek at the first six I made so far.  The little chicks in four of the pots were a gift from Kris (of Cricket Acres Studio).  Thanks Kris!  They are so sweet and they complement the little baskets so nicely, just not sure I can part with them.  These baskets may end up with eggs as well, with the chicks in my own Easter basket.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Happy Centerpiece

My dinning room table has turned into a canvas for creativity.  For years, the table had a small quilt on it with a crock of dried flowers. The most I would do to change it was to add candles or change the quilt underneath to a different one.  I honestly didn't know what else to do with it.  I had a mindset that it had to be floral, tall enough to offset the length of the table and easy to move at suppertime.  So it was the same for YEARS.  Over the last two years, I began experimenting with themes and gathering related items together to create little montages that somehow related to a holiday, season or inspiration.  I set them up on a tray of some sort, often wicker, so that it is still easy to move off the table for meals.  I have a fun collection of vintage tablecloths and large dresser scarves that I use instead of the old quilt.  I love it.  It is so much fun to walk through the house or pick through cupboards to find items to put together for a fun table display.  This one I did yesterday after being inspired by a friend's blog (see Michelle Cooke at her Brookline Street Studio blog below on my favorite blogs), where she showed pictures of her new spot at Out of the Woods Antiques.  She set up a nature study theme, and it is lovely!  My table centerpiece is a mini nature study and includes a vintage typewritter from my studio; natural items collected by my girls over the years; a vintage flower book; a college student's nature notes from a natural history course in 1914; and some other happy vintage collectables.  I smile every time I walk by, and Heidi (my 13 year old) noticed it right away and gave it her enthusiastic seal of approval.  Maybe one day soon, the two feet of snow outside my window will dissappear and I can enjoy a real nature study!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vintage Dishes

Dishes make me happy, especially vintage dishes.  They just seem to
add more flavor and pleasure to any meal.  We use them several meals a week.
On Sundays, after church, my family has a tradition of having a pizza picnic together.  In
nice weather, we pull an old table, chairs and quilts out into the
gardens in our yard and eat together using fun vintage dinnerware.  It's
amazing how good the same old pizza can taste when we eat it off
of mismatched vintage plates.  The mood is happy and we end the
meal with spreading out the quilts and playing card or word games. 
In cold or inhospitable weather, we 'picnic' in the living room at the coffee
table next to the warmth provided by the wood stove.  Again, it's using vintage dishes,
glasses, silver and cloth napkins.  It's a simple thing, but it completes the day.
Here is a new set of dishes I picked up last week at a shoppe near the
dairy that I venture to every other week.  35 pieces for $20.  What a deal!!
Can you say happy pizza picnic?

Pretty Packaging

What often attracts us to buying or wanting something?  Colors, textures, patterns, PACKAGING!  If I had a choice of a package wrapped plainly or one dressed up even a little, I'd choose the dressed up one.  Even if both contained exactly the same thing, the decorated package shows care, attention to detail and the promise of something happy.  I know that for me, eye candy is one of the happiest sweets.  I try to wrap gifts, be they simple or fancy, in a way that pleases the recipient.  Here is a package I gave away this past weekend.  The contents were simple, but happy - a journal and lavender sachet - and the packaging made them even happier.  It was a birthday gift for my next door neighbor.  She loved the packaging so much that she carefully snipped open one end to slide out the gift and preserve the packaging to look at and save.  It makes both the giving and receiving of the gift so much happier for both the giver and receiver!

I used plain brown paper for the wrapping; printed some vintage images and text onto sticker paper, pinked them and layered them on the front of the package; tied the parcel with plain white utility string; tucked in a vintage millenery flower; tied on a vintage key and finished it off with a vintage playing card turned gift tag with the help of a Martha Stewart stick-on label.  A couple of impressions from an old "Special Delivery" stamp and it was all set to give away to a good friend.

Going to the dairy

About two years ago, I became lactose intolerant.  A big disappointment for a milk and dairy lover like me.  Shortly after giving up dairy, I was at a neighbor's house using some woodworking tools in his workshop for a table I was refurbishing, when he mentioned he was going out to buy milk and would be back in an hour and a half.  I thought he was joking as the store was just minutes away.  It turns out he was serious, but he wasn't going to the store.  He was going over the border into New Hampshire to a family run dairy that sells raw milk.  We launched into a long conversation about why.  Turns out his son was also lactose intolerant and the answer for them was raw milk.  Baby cows don't have all the needed enzymes to digest their mother's milk.  The enzymes are in the milk.  Pasteurizing milk, not only kills the bad stuff that can occur in poorly harvested and stored milk, but it kills the good stuff like probiotics and beneficial enzymes.  Homogenizing milk changes it at the molecular level, which also contributes to our bodies having digestion troubles.  His son and everyone else in the family had switched to raw and had no troubles with it.  In fact, over time the benefits in the raw milk helped him to tolerate conventional dairy products like ice cream.  I admit, I was skeptical.  I had heard the stories of people getting really sick from contaminated milk.  Funny thing is, these people had gotten sick from pasteurized milk!  I did a lot of research, interviewed the dairyman at the New Hampshire dairy, inspected the dairy myself and learned about the strict testing they undergo to be able to sell raw milk and decided to give it a try myself.  The rest is history.  The milk is absolutely delicious.  My whole family drinks and loves it.  People visiting my home drink it and love it, many say they even look forward to it.  I no longer have stomach distress with milk and after drinking it for a couple months and getting a balance of the good stuff in my tummy, I was able to start eating conventional dairy products like ice cream again.  Yum!    It's a bit of a haul to get to the dairy each week, but my neighbors and I share the chore and I only have to go every other week, and I have to say it is my favorite errand.  There is such pleasure driving off the beaten path to the family owned dairy, up in the mountains.  The farmers are so friendly and welcoming.  The shop is run on the honor system.  Barn cats meet you meowing in the driveway, occassional mooing  resonates from the barn and the site of all the sparkling bottles of milk in the glass cooler is so happy.
  The cows are raised so humanely and are so healthy and content.  Babies are kept with their mama's, the food is locally raised and the barn is kept clean.  I never find the smell overpowering or offensive.  It's just such a pleasure to go and feel close to my food supply.  I find this is true with all my food.  If I raise it, someone I know raised it or I get it from a local source, it just tastes better - and in fact it is better!  It's better for our environment, our pocket books and OUR BODIES.  Turns out for me, becoming lactose intolerant (conventional, that is) was a great blessing!