Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holiday Fairy Garden

 I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!  We had warm weather here in Northern Illinois.  It certainly made the travelling less stressful.  Not the "White Christmas" that we sing about, but a few evening snow showers on the way home brought some smiles.  All the relatives are healthy and happy... What more can one ask for?   I absolutely LOVE this time of year!  :)

The Christmas holiday for me has always centered on the reason for my nativity being displayed and  spending time with loved ones... not so much the gift giving.  In fact, my only shopping  was for Farmer boy and his fiancé... Okay, a few for Mr. Hollow too!   It is funny, since I absolutely loved working in retail and enjoy finding gifts that hopefully will make the recipient smile.  While finding their presents, it is well known that I shop for my "gifts" as well for under the tree.  Trust me, this is NOT a bad thing.  They don't even require wrapping! LOL  Although my want list is really short, I usually have a few dream items I fulfill for the holiday.  Yes... I could buy them during the year, but Christmas has always been a time for me to do some self reflection.  The season is a time of looking forward to the coming year and realizing what frivolous or useful items will help realize some of my new resolutions.  I am very excited about a few of my items and will share them over the next month, but this post is about an unexpected gift from the newest member of our family... my soon to be in 2016 daughter-in-law... The gift of a charming fairy garden. 

Instead of buying a premade garden, she made this little scene for me.  I pride myself on being hard to buy for, but this little forest is absolutely perfect for me. :)  It is green, rustic and contains a rendition of two little critters that make me laugh to watch in nature through out the year... Squirrels!  Look at the little squirrel on the front of the log whistling as he prances across.  It makes me smile every time I glance his way.  Very symbolic of the carefree nature of the animal in the wild. LOL  And of course there are two of them!  Trouble will always run in pairs. ;)

I had to show this overhead shot.  There is a moss base in the front and back.  Hopefully, I can find a way to keep the moss healthy... Yikes!  In between the moss is a little path of tiny pebbles.

To the back of the garden, there is a wee trellis.  A tiny little vine is climbing it.

Look at the pot... orange, my favorite color!  It is such a lovely and inspiring little garden -- right out of the pages of Beatrix Potter.    Makes me wish that I had a large well lit studio area to keep it in.  *sigh*  But for or right now, I believe that the best spot is in my work area to the front of the house.  That particular work area is where I do most of my writing and idea formulating.  It will be a little magical garden of ideas... Especially, when the days DO decide to become wintry!  :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Gift from ImagiMeri's Studio

Where did November go?  The time is flying by so fast, and I have so much to share.  I wanted to begin with this spectacular gift that I received from Meri of ImagiMeri's Studio.  (Click on her site name to visit her blog!)   She is a wonderful contributing artist of the Creative Paperclay site.  (You can enjoy one of her tutorials on their site by clicking here.)    Meri took part in a blog hop promoting Gina Designs laser cut outs.  She made three enchanting Halloween scenes and gave them away to three lucky Creative Paperclay followers!

As if I wasn't excited enough to be gifted one of her detailed creations, Meri also surprised me with a goodie bag! 

Meri generously gave me enough supplies to inspire a Halloween creation of my own.  I cannot express to her enough how happy I was to receive both gifts.  She is such a generous artist, not only with her giveaways but with the immense amount of time she spends making tutorials.  As a fellow blogger, I know how long it can take to create a regular post.  I cannot imagine how long she must spend in preparation to share her knowledge on the use of paper clay creations in step by step fashion.

Meri's gift has given me the push to get me off the couch and back to rummaging through my potential Paperclay projects.  Following the arrival of my Spooky Graveyard with that darling little bat bouncing around, I spent a glorious day organizing gourds and accessories in my storage room.    All of them have been waiting patiently for me to get by rear end in gear and get them turned into the little characters they were destined to be.  I am thinking with all of these spooky doo dads, a Halloween creation is in my future!  :)

I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason.  I was so blessed to receive one of Meri's creations.  It will be displayed proudly in my curio cabinet, and I will think of her as I begin shaping a few new creations out of gourds and paper clay.  Please check out the Paperclay website above.  These artists have a wealth of info on the subject that they generously share.  Also, check out ImagiMeri's website and take a trip over to her Etsy store here.  Meri's creations capture the holidays in such a nostalgic fashion.  They are absolutely delightful. 

Thanks again Meri!  :)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween! :)

The jack-o-lanterns are glowing bright...  keeping the evil spirits at bay.  The little ghosts and goblins have come and gone.  All is quiet...
Happy Halloween!!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Apple Pie with a Caramel Streusel Topping ~ Recipe

The fall weather in Northern Illinois has been absolutely beautiful.  The colors are a little late in the trees, but the temps have been comfortably cool.  My hubby left for a trip back in September and returned with a bushel of McIntosh apples.  He was passing through Gayes Mills and picked them up as seconds for $20.00. 
Since then, our family has definitely eaten our fill of caramel apples!  :)  So this weekend was perfect cool weather for canning some applesauce and making some pies.  I started with the sauce and worked my way through 25 jars.  Then, I decided to make 14 half circle hand sized pies.  With the apples left over, I decided to try a new pie recipe.  It was an apple pie with a streusel topping.  The pie was a big hit here which is great since I froze two for later. ;)
The recipe calls for a one crust pie shell... bought or homemade is your preference.  I made my pie in a 8 inch tin and the apples cooked down fine.  McIntosh cook down a little more than other varieties.  I made some alterations to some recipes that I found on line.  So here is my version:


Apple Pie with a Caramel Streusel Topping

7                      medium sized McIntosh apples (any tart apple would do)
2 T                  flour
1/2 rounded t  cinnamon
1/4 rounded t  nutmeg
1/4 c               white sugar (could use 1/3 c if the apples are really tart)

When the pie crust is ready in the plate, peel and slice the apples into a bowl.    Mix the apple slices, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and white sugar together.  Add them to the pie crust arranging them into a mound. 

Streusel Topping

3/4 c                 brown sugar
1/2 c                 flour
1/2 rounded t    cinnamon
1/3 c                 butter softened

Mix all the ingredients with a fork to combine.  Break up the topping and evenly cover the apples.

Put the pie in a 350 degree preheated oven.  I had the pie tin sitting in a glass 13x9 cake dish situated half way down in the oven,  and it baked for 60 minutes.  Since all ovens differ and my dish had sides that hindered the distribution of heat, check your pie at 40 minutes and decide from there.   I kept checking by pushing on the crust to make sure it was firmed up.

We didn't eat our pie until later in the day.  Mr. Hollow likes his warmed up a little, and mine was straight from the pan.  The one thing we agreed on was a caramel drizzle topping. For that, I unwrapped 6 Brachs caramels  and placed them in a small bowl with a couple of teaspoons of water.  The caramels were microwaved in 15 second intervals until bubbling.  Then, it is simply stir and drizzle.  The pie was absolutely delicious!  Packed with the best flavors of fall.  :)

Friday, September 11, 2015

127 Yard Sale Finds for 2015

I found a few photos on my camera with some of my 127 Yard Sale finds for 2015 to share... 
Although most of our stops are large flea market areas, this Limited Edition Project Runway sewing machine was found in the morning of our second day at a local garage sale.  It was brand new.  The previous owner purchased it and never got around to using it.  Mr. Hollow found it being unloaded on the first day of a garage sale, and the gentleman was asking $30.00 firm.  Although I am not a big fan of plastic body machines, I decided to give this unit a home.  It's test run went impressively well.  :) 

Every once in a while, I make an odd ball purchase.  While at my favorite Amish hosted stop, this postal scale from 1969 caught my eye.  I bundled it with some other items to purchase it for $7.00.    Mr. Hollow never saw it until our arrival home.  ;)


Where ever I am, the fabric calls to me!  For a few dollars, this assorted grouping of John Deere yardage made its way into my stash.  The yardage is destined to become some microwave plate and bowl holders.  If only Minneapolis Moline would come out with some licensed fabric... *sigh*

Next to the fabric remnants is a cutter quilt.  Some previous owner had added a new border to this old feed sack quilt.  It is hand sewn and suffers from a few blown out areas.  My intention will be to tea dye the vintage area and preserve the quilts handcrafted beauty in Christmas decorations.  

While I was purchasing some old yarn spindles, Mr. Hollow was busy buying from a military surplus vendor.   He called me over to check out the gentleman's wool blankets.  I walked over a little reluctantly, until Mr. Hollow told me that they were $10.00 a piece.  WOW!   I rifled through them and picked out six perfect blankets... A great deal at $60.00.   To Mr. Hollow's astonishment, I turned to the dealer and asked if he could do better on six.  Hey, it doesn't hurt to ask. ;)  He said that he couldn't.  I said that I completely understood.  As I turned to get my money, he said, "You must be a quilter... Just give me $50."  How sweet is that?   I still marvel over the purchase price of $8.35 a blankie!   

There were a few other deals here and there.  At another one of our favorite spots, some local tobacco farmers had bundles of tobacco sticks.  (They were used to hang the tobacco during the drying process.)  After my purchase, Mr. Hollow was kind enough to carry a large bundle to the truck for me.  The sticks will be used to hang wool in a future studio space... a rustic reminder of our trip.  :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thrifty Find ~ Pfaff 130 Sewing Machine

It feels like autumn here in Northern Illinois.  Great weather for hitting the weekend flea markets.  I know that my vacation finds still need to be posted (Plus, our semi annual jaunt to Baraboo Gas and Steam Engine show... Yipee!), but this little beauty had me so excited that its story must be told first...
Mr. Hollow and I rose early for a 2 hour drive on Sunday to a small weekend flea market in Wisconsin.  Usually, we find one or two small items and some produce.  I shudder to write that  my first extremely, and now a little regretting, "tempted to purchase"  pass was on a spinning wheel at a great price...  Hmmm... Do I really need two?    Then, I talked myself out of some cool jars.  (Makes you wonder why I got up at the crack of dawn doesn't it?)   Finally, my hubby waves me over to a pile of goods laying in the grass in front of a pickup truck.  He must of asked me three times what I thought of the item in the farthest corner.  Maybe it was the sun glare, but it took me all of the three times to see this Pfaff 130 sewing machine.  Did I really need another sewing machine? ;)
I skeptically walked over while the vendors, a man and his teenage son, stood watching.  Wow!  This machine was really clean.  Definitely someone's baby.  The decals shown absolutely perfect with the paint smooth and shiny without a  single chip.  The man nodded to his son to walk over and do the haggling... Yep, me versus a very sweet teenage boy. 
The young man assured me the machine worked.  Pointed out that the handle was broke on the cover.  (Hard to believe that the case belonged to this pristine machine!)  He also stated, the machine was very heavy to carry, since he was the one who loaded it in the truck to take to the market.  Poor kid... After that confession,  I am sure Mr. Hollow was afraid he could talk me into any price! :(   I decided at that moment to just ask the price, figuring it would be hideous, making my  polite get away a little easier.  So, I did.  The young man replied 5 dollars.   Seriously, how do you bicker over that?  I really do not need another machine but are you kidding me 5 DOLLARS?   I looked over at his Dad.  He was smiling -very proud of the job his son was doing- nodding in agreement.  What kind of heartless quilter would say "let me think about it" to such a duo for that price?  Long story short, I have a new machine in the fold!  :)
We arrived home by afternoon, and the Pfaff was humming away an hour later.  I consider this heavy duty machine a "he" that until a few minutes ago was yet to be named... And yet to be cleaned!    I am just floored by the immaculate shape of this machine...  His previous owner's address label was still adhered to his under carriage, along with the shop that he was purchased from in Janesville, Wisconsin.   
I have had to do some research on the Pfaff 130.  The sites say it is from the 50's and can plow through 4 layers of leather.  Now that my friends is a work horse!  Not really sure if I need this kind of a machine... But my projects are continually changing, so it could very well be a future life saver.  You never know with me! :)

I notice that only a few have the "Made in Western - Germany" decal.  Most are Germany.  Talk about a blast from the past! 

While adding captions to the photos, I was reminded that his previous owner's name was Fred.  Being the spur of a moment kind of gal that I am (which explains all of my pets' weird names!),  this Pfaff is going to have the name Friedrich in honor of his previous owner.  Sounds very distinguished doesn't it?  Welcome to the Hollow, Friedrich Pfaff.   :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

127 Corridor Yard Sale 2015

The 127 Corridor Yard Sale is over for another year.  *sigh*  Mr. Hollow and I ran solo, since Farmerboy decided to stay home and house sit.  Our starting destination... the tip top of Kentucky.  (While planning our trip, we decided to run for 2 days -- ending near Crossville, Tennessee.)
During the week, the weather forecast called for warm temps, possible storms and 40% chance of rain.  Mr. Hollow and I remained positive.  If there is one thing the weather has taught us this year, it is to make the best out of a wet situation.  So... we arrived filled with optimism at our motel in 80 degree sunny weather and woke up the following morning to rain... A torrential downpour actually. 
Taking advantage of our dry room, we delayed our departure.  When the rain suddenly turned to mist,  our search began!  :)   A few sales had to be passed, since the proprietors decided they did not want to greet the morning weather.   No worries though... There were plenty other venues open.  The mist let up periodically, and we had blessed overcast skies with temps in the mid 70's!  Yippee!!       

The first day would see us arrive at our motel around 4 o'clockish, which is not out of the ordinary.  After having a light supper, I made use of my Kindle loaded with newly purchased episodes of "Flea Market Flip".   Kind of appropriate,  right?  ;)

On the second day,  the weather man promised skies of blue with temps in the 80's.  This pic is the only sun our travels would see for the day...  The very last venue attended.  I am not complaining though, the temps stayed in the 70's under overcast skies.  Beautiful mild weather that mocked Fall.  Our hunt lasted until 6 o'clock and was an absolute blast. :) 

If you have not attended a 127 sale, I highly recommend it.  One little tidbit of advice:  Around mid afternoon, figure out the town you would like to end in, call ahead and book a room.  The motel stays are few and far between. 

Today, I am finishing my unpacking, cleaning some finds and getting some groceries.  With a quick peek at the local thrift store thrown in!  ;)    It is always nice to be home and unwind a little before heading back to work.  I feel like I have been gone for months!  A post will follow soon with some of my finds for this year.

A huge thanks to all the vendors, old and new,  who endured the torrential rains.  You are all the greatest!  And to the fellow scavengers that we laughed and talked with at breakfast and met along the route, we hope to see you all happy and well next year!  :)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rutledge, Missouri & Maquoketa, Iowa Flea Market Finds

Mr. Hollow and I have been trying to get some traveling in on the non-rainy weekends; although, they are few and far between! ;)   The summer is speeding by so fast.  Our intentions are to get as much running in as possible before the cold weather is upon us again. The amount of rain has us at a slow start this season,  but it has also made us more grateful for the sunny fun filled outings. 
Maquoketa, Iowa had their annual flea market at the fair grounds.  The morning was beautiful and overcast.  The blessed cloudy skies gave us a break from the hot and humid July temps.  The indoor venue had a lot of antique vendors .  I was surprised to find a wonderful display of Alfalfa feed sacks (9 to be exact) and a few Fulton heavy duty sacks.  The wonderful lady was only asking a dollar a piece!   I just love the sage green against the cream of the feed sack cloth. :)

An outdoor vendor had a stack of woven soybean sacks.  I have been on the search for ones like these that have a tighter weave and strong coloring.   These should do nicely for a pattern that I have been working on. 

The rainy weekends have been relentless in these parts.  Mr. Hollow and I decided to take an overnight trip to check out the Rutledge, Missouri flea market.  Believe it or not, the weather man was predicting rain. :(  We took some time off from our jobs and went anyway.  I am so glad that we did, since the weather was absolutely beautiful!  Here are a few of my finds from the trip...

My first purchase at $2.00 was for some pie tins.  As you can see, they are marked Lucille's pies.    They will go great with my small collection and will be special to me since Lucille is my maternal grandmother's name.  :)

The same vendor had a trunk full of medium sized plastic letters for a dollar a piece... some red and some black.  The red ones would lite up fairly easily.  Mr. Hollow picked out ones to spell our last name twice and then enough to spell my son and his fiancé's first names.  Yes I wrote it, fiancé.  My Farmerboy has gotten himself engaged! 

This looks like a muffin tin, but it is actually straight sided for small cakes.  It is from Chicago and heavy duty for industrial sized ovens.  I had thought of having a friend cut it down for me, but a few other ideas for it have popped into my head.  This piece will remain uncut, until I can be sure... Hmmm. ;)

I love handmade rag rugs.  There is a local dealer that I purchase them from.  You cannot beat their durability.  This one is a long runner, and the photo does not due the apricot color justice.  The vendor was such a nice man to chat with.  His array of rugs were simply breath taking.  He even had some made from white chenille bedspreads!  If it weren't for my black cat, they would have been mine.  Absolutely lovely!!  This one is a strong couple of yards long, created from an acrylic bedspread.   It was the best $20.00 that I spent on the trip. 

It was so nice to visit a new area and have a relaxing trip and break from the work routine.  This past week, I have been taking the time to reorganize my studio.  There are a lot of projects building up that need to be worked on.  I guess, I can thank the rain today for keeping me home! ;)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Vintage Bucilla Alphabet Quilt ~ WIP

Here is the progress on the vintage Bucilla Alphabet quilt.  The colors are so funky bright, and the little characters are charming.  They really should have kept making this quilt.  It is such a wonderful starting place for newbies to embroidery.  I have been stretching my knowledge with this one.  I inadvertently screwed up the pattern by using the outline stitch instead of a backstitch around the main characters.  Funny thing... My Mom was certain she used the outline stitch when she made my sister's.  Talk about channeling the past! ;)
E is for Elephant...  Very exotic looking isn't he?

F is for Frog... I was so proud of how the satin stitch worked out on his eyes!!

G is for goose...  His beak looks a little weird due to the hoop being just removed off it.  :(

H is for Humpty Dumpty (in progress)...  Is he still popular?  LOL

These character quilts are so fun, but I really need to reduce my stash!  With my million other interests, it will be hard to complete them all.  Plus, I really doubt Farmerboy is going to have that many kids! LOL

Thursday, June 25, 2015

An Ashford Traditional Spinning Wheel

May was such a crazy month at work for me... So much to do!  I really do not mind being busy, since it makes the hours speed by, but there are certain months that are just insanely busy...  May is one of them.    As a reward for my perseverance, my "I so want to have Someday" wish list came out, and I picked a dream item to splurge on.  
Sensing that I was up to something, Mr. Hollow waited for the lightening to strike.  When the box arrived, all he said was, "Please don't tell me that you bought a spinning wheel."  "Okay," I said.  "But I did. :)"  He shook his head as if in disgust and walked away.   Of course, I knew secretly he was intrigued...  I think... ;)

The box, with New Zealand markings, sat in our living room for a few days, since I was still pretty tired at night.  Then, it was time for assembling.  Just me, a disassembled spinning wheel and a numbered instruction list with parts that I have NEVER heard of before.  Needless to say, it was not a pretty beginning.  Mr. Hollow walked by a few times... spying on my lack of progress.  Two more passes later,  he couldn't stand  it a minute longer and grabbed the straight blade screwdriver out of my hand and took over the build.  After some bickering, assembling, more bickering and an inspection of any parts that I had worked on by myself, the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel was finally together.  Mr. Hollow insisted, even after my objections, on using the lime green poly cord included with the wheel.  I still think, the combination of fire and the challenge of melding two plastic ends successfully had something to do with his insistence. ;)

It was late, and I was beat when we finally completed the assembling.  Mr. Hollow spun the wheels a few times to check the mechanics, while I brushed my teeth and headed for restful slumber.  Not very exciting sorry to admit... But the morning welcomed a new day  and within it a beautiful spinning wheel.  *sigh*   I could not have be more pleased. :)   

Forever the optimist and a firm believer in building my wings on the way down,  I watched a few videos on YouTube pertaining to the Ashford Traditional spinning wheel.  I then sat down in front of this beautiful wheel, confident in my ability of having great hand/eye coordination ( Unfortunately, forgetting the fact that I also need  to coordinate my foot as well :( ), and made my first attempt spinning roving from Farmerboy's ram James.

And you know what I found out?  I am sooo not a natural at this!  In fact, I am not very good at all. LOL

Honestly, learning most new things in the realm of art has generally came easy to me.  Narcissistic?... maybe...  but true.  But this piece of Americana, whose predecessors are older than time, has quite easily taken me down in the first round.  This simple machine will definitely be my lesson in perseverance and  patience, and I am currently enjoying every single minute of it!  :)

 I will end this post with my first feeble attempt at spinning James' Shetland wool.  Also, a simple proclamation that if heaven allows and the creeks around here do not rise and wash us out from all of these torrential rains, there will be a two ply ball on display in my studio representing my intro to spinning fibers.  :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Flea Market Finds

I had made a promise to myself, following the "cabin fever" moment in my life, that I would go to a flea market a weekend for the spring/summer.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature is toying with me... It has rained almost every weekend since! :(  For the most part, Mr. Hollow and I have been lucky in the fact that we could still attend most of the venues.  The luck does not extend to my new running shoes... It's been pretty muddy out there!;)
There were lots of flea markets on Memorial Day Weekend.  Many of those were welcomed in with rain.  Even though the weather was alternating between rain and mist, we headed off to a small venue on Sunday.  The weather held off long enough for finding some treasures!  :)  Here is my small haul...

To my hubby's dismay, I found a couple of boxes.  My new resolution is to be ultra picky and replace some of my shoddy ones.... Yep, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!  ;)   These are in such nice shape and the Ripley's box has the addition of some nice handles.  The card file is a neat piece with a little bit of damage.  My first thought was to have Farmerboy repair it but, looking at it now, the missing corner doesn't really bug me.  It will be so handy for housing my design ideas that I sketch and describe on note cards.  The price for the bundle was $20.00.

Forecast this weekend ... RAIN! LOL

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kildare Hand Crank Sewing Machine ~ EBay Business Review

This weekend has been littered with Spring rain showers.  So, what better time to rearrange my sewing area?  As I moved around machines, boxes and notions, it occurred to me that I neglected to introduce the newest member of my sewing machine family.  This is a Kildare hand crank sewing machine that was made in England.  This little beauty was purchased on EBay after a trip to the Baraboo Gas and Engine Show.  The Women's Center always puts on a wonderful exhibit for visitors of the old hand cranked Singer machines.  (It just fascinates me to watch a machine function without electricity.)  Right then and there, I decided to "gift" myself a new machine.  Thanks to EBay seller rjones9500, this Kildare arrived at my house and has been an absolute pleasure to spend time sewing with. 

The machine was packed extremely well and did not take hardly any time in transit.  I was very happy with its appearance and performance.  Although I must say, it took me awhile to get use to being coordinated enough to make it run! LOL

The decals are just stunning and that is what sold me on it.  Pretty superficial huh? LOL  I know most quilter's preference is for the Singer brand (I almost went that way), but this one's overall appearance just called to me.  I will confess though... I conversed with the seller via email about his opinion on this brand versus the Singer.   In his opinion, the only difference was parts availability between the brands.  Singers are so much more abundant.  So, I'll take my chances! ;)

This past weekend, Mr. Hollow and I ventured out between rain storms to the Pec Spring Fling in Pecatonica, Illinois.  The Winnebago Fairgrounds host a large flea market.  The weather was kind to us.  Other than muddy shoes, we had a fantastic time.  So much to see!!   A vendor in the last indoor building had two treadle sewing machines... *sigh*  I do believe that Mr. Hollow was holding his breath as I inspected them, but he shouldn't have worried...  Okay, maybe a little! ;)   They are still available today, since I left them behind.  They appeared to be in a little rough shape, and I am NOT looking for a project.  But the secret is out, Mr. Hollow has now been informed that a treadle is the last machine on my wish list...  Well, I am NOT sure it will be the next or the last.  But for right now, that is the plan! :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Christmas Cactus Update & Gary's Back!!

Remember the Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti cuttings that I was rooting back in the beginning of March?  (Click Here to Revisit)  Over two months and a whole lot of newly found patience later, I am proud to show you the new little plants.  The pot below houses 5 little transplants. If you look at the two center cuttings, there are some wee little segments growing.  The older Christmas Cactus variety seemed to root a whole lot faster than the Thanksgiving variety.  Trust me on this one, I was watching very closely....   Can you hear the stress in that statement? LOL 


One of the Thanksgiving clippings has a nice sized segment growing.  Once it got started, the new growth has had rapid development.

I know, I know... Patience is a virtue.  This little excursion was packed full of that lesson in life.  It really has been such a fun experience for me.  I only lost one of the clippings... Pretty good average.  :)  The only thing that I would have done different-- I would have planted  a bunch of clippings in one larger pot that they could grow for a few years in.  Other than that, I would call this a successful adventure.

How about a little Mother's Day surprise?  I got home from work yesterday and look who was waiting for me out in the pond...  Gary the snapping turtle!   He was all muddy.  Mr. Hollow spotted him first when he arrived home shortly before me.  It appears as though Gary had just arrived to his summer digs.   I was so excited!!  For three years in a row, this little guy has appeared in the Spring and disappeared in the Fall.  He is a true wonder of nature.  I couldn't have asked for a better kick off to Mother's Day weekend.  :)

To All The Mom's Out There 
Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sources for Dyed Wool ~ Etsy and Ebay Business Review

It has never been a secret from all of you that I absolutely LOVE wool.  What is it about this wonderful renewable resource that calls to me in its various forms?  I will never know. It has me under its spell, and I really do not care. :)   I mourn the days gone by... Does anyone remember the days of thick plush felt made from 100% wool, the norm in those days, that was easily found and not an expensive oddity?  My Mom made us all Christmas stockings from a current pattern (which at the time was the 1960's) and used felt to construct them.  She still has those stockings.  They of course would be considered vintage now! LOL  But the felt of the day was thick dense 100% wool.  It stood up through many Christmases that saw pounds of fruits and candies 'come and go'.  (Although one of my sister's still has a piece of candy melted in the toe of hers! ;)
Where is the quality of yesteryear?  As I stated earlier, wool IS a renewable resource.  Why is it such a rarity?  Why does it cost over $22 dollars a yard to find quality wool by the yard to dye?  Let's not even discuss felt again... I mean the current quality of wool felt... you know that usually has 35% wool content, IF you are lucky.  I made myself and two of my sister's sets of stockings fashioned from the same pattern that my Mom used back in the 60's.  I searched high and low for 100% wool felt in the appropriate colors.  The finished products paled in comparison to the 1960's group.  They are thin, only trusted for display in my house and have felt embellishments that colors could not be found in 100% pure wool... :(   It really bugs me.  Sorry about the rant, but I just needed to throw a few questions out into the blogosphere.  It relieves my mind a little.  Now, onward to my post...
Penny rugs are one of the most creative and unique forms of hand stitched decorations.   Spanning back to pioneering days, it was a great way to protect tables that were not sealed from candles that could run.  Plus, they were just simple decorations that played in well to having pieces of fabric that were not big enough for any one item.  With circles being a primary motif,  the tiniest pieces could be cut into circles drawn from using coins as templates... Pennies included... Hence the name. ;)   I especially love it, because it is a kind of "anything goes" craft, involving artistic imagination and hand needle crafting.  How can you top that?  The little rugs feed well into my love of salvaging wool from thrift store items as well.  :) 
There has been a Halloween drawing in my sketch book that begs to be turned into a modern day penny rug.  After much thought, I decided the main piece of wool should be dyed.  (A hobby I have not tried... yet. ;) )  This is where Etsy and EBay come in.   Thanks to some very talented fiber artists, I have the beginnings of a gorgeous dyed stash, created with Dorr wool.  The first two colors are courtesy of Gina from Across Generations.  (Click on her name to visit her Etsy store.)  I marvel over the various colors that emerge in such a copacetic way on her fabric... breathtaking!  Then the next two pieces are from Frances at Sun and Wind Farm.  (Click on her name to visit her website.  She also has an Etsy store.)  The depth in this ladies colors is nothing short of spectacular.  The range of her colors is extraordinary.  I hope that I live to see her full span of colors folded in stacks inside one of my hutches.  *sigh*   The last four colors are from Petit Violet.   (Click on her name to visit her EBay item page.)  The colors literally spring from the wool.  They are based on a more basic one color application, so they are "jump off the wool" vibrant.


Each store packaged their wool attractively and shipped in a timely matter.  I was very impressed.  Their shipping was fair, as well as pricing.  One must keep in mind the size of the wool that is being purchased.   It seems that their main customers are rug hookers, but the sizes are equally as friendly to penny rug creators.  As far as appearance, it is simply a matter of design.  Pricing might give some new wool purchasers an enlightening moment; but when you consider that Dorr wool can sell upwards to $22.00 a yard retail and these are hand dyed "ready to use for that special project", I think their prices are more than fair.  Plus keep an eye out,  I hesitated and missed a wonderful sale at Sun and Wind Farm.  I am hoping to catch it the next time around! :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Flea Market in Maquoketa Iowa

After a long winter, we attended our first flea market of the year on Sunday in Maquoketa, Iowa.  The wind had a little chill, but the sun was bright with a little punch of heat to it.  Honestly, adrenaline kept me warm.   (Maquoketa offers a large indoor flea market, along with an equal in size outdoor venue.)  Let me tell you...  It was such a nice feeling to be out rummaging again! :)
My first purchase was two enamel storage pans with lids.  The vendor wanted $24.00 for both, which was not out of line for the extremely nice shape that they were in.  Of course, this is a flea market and haggling is a necessity, so I offered him $20.00... and now they are mine. 
As everyone knows, China makes repops of these pieces now... Imagine that?  LOL  Do you know one sure way to tell you've got an original?  Carry these puppies around an outdoor flea market for about an hour.  The weight suspended from the bag handles was cutting into my fingers something fierce!  Nothing flimsy about these vintage babies.  Or should I say endearingly to our knock off providers, the Chinese care a whole lot more about the wear and tear on my arm than my forefathers! LOL


The following purchases were my first finds, but my last purchases from the outdoor venue.  (I was absolutely NOT going to entertain a trip back to the vehicle that early.  And they were both located at different venders, so I didn't want to start leaving purchases here and there.)  The first is a staple of mine... One of my various obsessions... The glorious wooden nail keg.  Makes me a little sad for days gone by but very happy that they are still around.  This one still had the top with the chunk broken out laying inside.  It is a nice larger size and will be great for housing my gourds or baseballs that are awaiting paint.   Asking price - $17.00.  Haul it away offer and purchase price-  $12.00.  Score!!   Have I ever shown you my collection of these that house my various sized gourds in the basement?  I will have to get some pics to show you.  ;)

The other item is a Coca Cola wooden bottle crate.  My true love is for the dividers.  I own a Pepsi one that came with original dividers and a milk flat that Farmerboy made the divisions for.  They are absolutely great for hanging on the walls of my studio and holding various art supplies.  I spent a little more than usual, but the Coke advertisement was neat looking.  (Says the girl who doesn't drink pop except for special occasions!)   Asking price - $12.00.  Haul it away offer and purchase price $10.00.


As we were leaving the inside section of the flea market, I noticed some ladies that set up in a room off the entry way.  They were a happy go lucky team.  Don't you just love people like that?  What reason does a vital human being have to be grouchy for?  I mean REALLY?  Unfortunately, their wares were not in the best location.  I think, they were overlooked being away from all the action.  Mr. Hollow was ready to make tracks, but this shopper made a beeline into their area.  Look at these extra heavy feedsacks!   Oh, the possibilities... The ladies were such a cool vending team that I didn't even haggle.  I purchased the lot of 6 for $18.00, which I must add is a great buy.

After the second trip to the car, Mr. Hollow was contemplating a trip back into the outside area.  I told him that I would go inside to finish looking at the feedsack ladies wares.  (I felt that Mr. Hollow made me go too fast the first time... And of course, my intuition was right! ;) )  Upon a return trip to my favorite vendors of the day, I found these two vintage feedsacks.  They are wonderfully soft and beautifully muted in their colors.  The green is just lovely.  No haggling on the price... $2.00 for the one on the right and $3.00 for the one on the left.

Okay, this item was super tough to photograph.  It is a quilt cover that was made out of old feedsacks.  Some of the sacks have printing still showing on them.  This baby is huge and the feedsacks are in great condition.  PLUS, there are two big panels that make up the front and back... We are talking a lot of useable fabric.  It was hanging on a rack with some aprons.  I honestly have never seen anything like this before... A treasure trove of feedsack fabric that looks like an open ended duvet.  Asking price -  $10.00.  Haul it away and purchase price - $8.00.
This was my last purchase before I ran off to find Mr. Hollow.  It was my shot in the dark purchase.  The ladies had a cutter quilt folded up in an old plastic zippered bag.  The asking price was $7.50.  I really did not feel like taking it out of the bag and decided to take my chances with a $5.00 offer that became the accepted haul it away price.  After getting it home and washing it, I decided that it was a worth while purchase.  It originally sported a star pattern which has blown out in most places.  The blue background pattern and white base is in wonderful shape with hand quilting.  I could see appliqueing over the stars for mini quilts to line baskets... Hmmmmmm.

Or since the back is in such nice shape, using that as the backdrop for some handy work... Some quilt angels perhaps or pile of table mats...  I will have to do some research and thinking on this one.  This worn out quilt is destined to be something great again... I just know it. :)

We had such fun for our first outing.  I am thrilled with my finds, as was Mr. Hollow with his.  If this is any indication how the year will be, we are going to have a blast!  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Easter Cactus and Prayer Plant ~ Review of EBay Store Hirt's Gardens

My Easter gift to myself this year arrived from Granger Township, Ohio.  They are the most beautiful beautiful plants courtesy of EBay seller Hirt's Gardens.  I will admit that I was a little surprised to see that they were packed with Styrofoam popcorn holding them in place, but the photos don't lie... They made it to my house in great condition.  ;) 
My first purchase... a lovely Easter Cactus (Told you that I would get one!) had only two small loose joints on its arrival that I took off and placed in soil to root. The color of this Rhipsalidopsis  is the most gorgeous shade of Orange.  It arrived in a 4" plastic pot for $7.99.  The color reminded me of Easter egg dye.
Note:  I purchased a bunch of $2.00 distressed looking ceramic pots from the Dollar Store to be new homes for the travelers.  Seriously... How Can You Beat That?


This is how it looked Easter morning, and it was the perfect choice to brighten my day. :)

My other purchase was a Prayer plant.  I can remember my Mom having one of these when I was little.  They are the most amazing plants.  As you can see in the photo, the leaves are like any ordinary plant, but...

at night, they all rise in prayer...  Pretty cool isn't it?  

The Prayer plant arrived in a 4" plastic pot for $5.99.  Three plants arrived in a Priority Mail box (the Shamrock plant was part of the order) for $7.70 shipping.  I could have ordered more for the same shipping cost, so I think that their shipping was and is very fair.  They have some good deals in their store.  There are some items from Hirt's Gardens that are not available at my local greenhouses.  So, they will definitely be seeing another order from me soon!  :)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Easter Surprise!

I already had a post ready for Easter, but the Easter bunny had other things in mind for us and our ewe Lego.  She birthed two beautiful lambs in the wee morning hours.  Liam and I had to check them out.  They are really pooped out in this photo and were only semi dry.   Quite a stir for the barnyard on this gorgeous Easter day. 

Lego is such a terrific Mom.  This is the second Easter in a row that the flock was blessed with healthy twins.  The smallest of the two is a little girl and is next to Lego in this photo.  She is completely black and has tiny little tight curls.  To honor the day, she has been given the name Lily.

Here is a photo of her twin brother.  He has some odd white markings on his face... Kinda makes him look like X-Men's Wolverine.  Don't you think?  LOL   Keeping in the "L" names and inspired by the season, his name will be Leif.  I know this photo makes him look big, but he is so small... Our little Spring Leif.  :)

Luke the Llama was humming intermittently while I was there.  He gets nervous like a new father.  He does not want anyone getting these little ones excited.  Here is a photo of him sniffing Lily to make sure she is okay after I touched her head.  He kept edging me away from the pen.  The little lambs are not even remotely frightened of his big face in front of theirs.  It is so amazing how Luke bonds to his flock and with each lamb at birth.  They are all his family...  Such loyalty and an inspiration to witness.

Happy Easter!