Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting back in the groove...

I have been recovering from the flu in stages...the do nothing but sleep and watch awful daytime tv stage; the get up and putter around a little until I felt clammy and flopped back on the couch stage, and the I don't have a fever so I can really think about doing a little something phase.  The "little something" has been knitting!  I can't tell you how long it has been since I picked up a knitting project.  I stay so consumed with my felted wool sewing, especially this time of year, that I never just KNIT.  I had forgotten how relaxing and zen-like I can feel with a pair of knitting needles in hand.  I am also inspired to crank out a few quick projects as gifts.  While puttering around, pulling out knitting patterns and books, I found a great's the backstory...

Jane and I had decided that over our Thanksgiving weekend, we were going to make potholders!  Yes, potholders.  Several years ago, we were at the Christmas parade in Blowing Rock, NC and went into the Mast General Store there on Main Street.  We spied the potholder looms and loops of our childhood and decided that it would be fun to do again as adults!  It was..and both of us have potholders that are our favorite choice when we reach into the potholder drawer.  So....this year we had planned to do some again..this time making our own loops with old t-shirts.  The flu prevented this from happening...but I'm sure that sometime this winter, we will do it.   This morning, I reached for my Mason-Dixon Knitting book... very favorite knitter's guide of all time...and remembered some projects made from t-shirt loops.  RAG RUGS!!!!  Wooo-hooooo!  I'm thinking that we can step this potholder project up a notch and make some fabulous rugs!  (Wish I'd known about this t-shirt thing before the last 2 yard sales....and the purging of Sara Beth's t-shirt drawers)...but there are more..believe me.

The Mason-Dixon authors' blog is one that you won't want to miss if you are a knitter.  I don't know why I haven't had it on my blog as a favorite already...I love the way the two women write back and forth to each other as posts on their blog....very much fun to read.

I'm going to finish out the weekend staying in from the crowds and continuing to recover...I  think now I'm as scared of everyone else's germs as I am about giving mine away.  Sure wish I'd bought some stock in hand sanitizer or Theraflu or Kleenex.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day on the Couch

Happy Turkey Day one and all....well...the sore throat on Monday night turned into a cough, fever, aches, fatigue...all the symptoms of the flu...I went to the doctor yesterday morning and she told me that even without the positive swab results, she could take one look at me and know that I had it: H1N1....Dangit...I have been running from that stuff all this Fall...have sanitized my hands until they feel like iguana skin...and tried so hard to be careful.  It's just everywhere though...and who knows where I picked it up...but I got a call from Jane this morning, and she's got it too.  So..we are both spending Thanksgiving on our respective couches...watching the parades, the football games, and trying to get better.  Yesterday was the pits...fever of 101 most of the day...but today so far I am fever free and that makes me feel like dancing around the house...well, not quite.  I never finished showing the most beautiful pictures from the Richmond trip...and our trip down Monument Avenue.

The homes alone are a sight to see...but the monuments are spectacular.  I just read that in 2007, Monument Avenue was listed by the American Planning Association as one of the 10 Great Streets in the country.  I'm so glad that we took the time to enjoy it on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Our favorite ...Robert E. Lee  (our family is related...really.)

Stonewall Jackson

Matthew Fontaine Maury (with a woolen scarf to keep him warm!)

Arthur Ashe's backside...sorry Arthur...couldn't get a good angle with the camera from the front in the moving car!   I didn't get photos of J.E.B Stuart or Jefferson Davis...sorry guys. You can read about each monument and see even better photos here.   There is lots of beauty in just have to get off of the interstate to see it!

I have roasted a butternut squash and some friends are bringing by some Thanksgiving goodies to leave on my doorstep (bless them!), so even though I'm home recovering from the dreaded swine...I feel so very blessed...I have a warm couch, easily accessible health care (and a car to drive to get there!) for medicine....plenty to eat and the best family and friends in the WORLD.  I am very very thankful!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on the Richmond trip....

Got to make this quick tonight...but I promised a little more on the trip to Richmond...there's still lots to tell... the Craft and Design Show was really really of my favorite things about the day was meeting Katie and Maggie from Quirk and hearing them RAVE over my sister's jewelry, which they had displayed all over their booth...Those girls were cute and fun and their gallery is adorable, full of too many things that one can't live without!!!

We spent a loooong time in Quirk Gallery, and I wish I lived closer...I would be in there often!

After all that fun, we went back to our lovely inn, and got ready for dinner out.  Kate's friend, Emily made reservations for all of us at Can-Can Brasserie, the restaurant where her husband is a chef.  We had a wonderful meal, brushed up on our high school French and enjoyed the beauty of this fabulous restaurant!  I would go on...but can't tell you about Sunday without lots of pictures...can't wait to tell you about Monument Avenue!!   I have GOT to get to bed...during class tonight (that I'm teaching at the community college) my throat began closing up and feeling sore...I've been sneezing all day.  I sure don't want to be sick for Thanksgiving...I've just finished a big cup of hot Ginger-Lemon tea with honey and I'm going to take some extra Vitamin C before turning in...maybe I'll even dig out the cod liver oil! Yes...I have some!  A teacher at one of the pre-k classrooms that I visited a couple of years ago swore by that stuff..she said that she managed to never be sick, even with kids snorting and sneezing all over her every day...So I bought if I can just find it (and the expiration date!) I'll be back tomorrow...Goodnight!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Being in Richmond is Awesome

Got back tonight from a wonderful weekend in Richmond, Va. While there, we saw a change purse at the Quirk Gallery that said "Being rich is AWESOME" I've decided that it should say "Being in Richmond is awesome!" Sister Jane, niece Meredith, niece Kate and I had a lovely time exploring some of what Richmond has to offer. We started on Friday night checking into the Linden Row Inn, then walking down a couple of blocks to Broad Street and found a delicious restaurant there called Comfort. We checked out the four restaurants that our hotel clerk had told us were within walking distance, but Comfort was the only one with a crowd standing outside waiting on a table. That was a good sign and well worth the 40 minute wait. While waiting, I took a picture of the lovely Dairy building..isn't it cute???  Our meal was terrific...meatloaf, squash, the best fried okra EVER...(fried in long whole pieces..not cut into little discs), cheese grits...braised greens...really good Southern food with great flair.  The decor was great too...primitive furnishings and such...just like the antiques that my sister and I used to have in our booth a few years ago.  We did some walking and window shopping, preparing for our big day on Saturday.  We peered in the window of the Quirk Gallery and couldn't wait to get back over there!  But not before visiting what we came to see...the  45th Annual Visual Arts Center of Richmond's Craft and Design Show.  It was held at the Science Museum on Broad St. in the rotunda, and it was a stunning venue for over 70 artists.  I could NOT have been happier to be anywhere....a feast for the eyes and many GORGEOUS things...pottery, textiles, jewelry, wood...exquisite craftsmanship everywhere you looked.  It definitely would have been awesome to be I wanted pretty much one of everything I saw!  I did buy a few treats and gifts, but had to leave most of what I wanted for someone else with deeper pockets!  Some of my favorite artists were:  Lucy V. Dierks (the most BEAUTIFUL pottery),  Jeung-Hwy Park (absolutely AMAZING textiles) ,  Ingrid B. Bernhardt (breathtaking beadwork) and Ignatius Creegan and Rod Givens (where Jane and Meredith both bought "Who" hats).

 I have soooooo much more to share about our trip, and lots more pictures of Richmond...but it is late and I must get to bed....more tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beautiful Birthday

What a delightful day, filled with friends and lovely tokens of affection for me on my dear friend Camille gave me this beautiful mercury glass votive holder...and inside are sweet little paperwhite narcissus bulbs nestled in white rocks. This is a double duty gift...I get to watch the bulbs grow, and after the blooms have come and gone, I get to hang the votive holder in my bay window along with my other lanterns!

I am not to be trusted with a living green plant. I don't know why, but my mother and daddy could both grow beautiful sister has carried on with the green thumb..but mine is NOT green. Camille told me to water the bulbs when I got home, and that I may need to separate them. I really, really want to see those beautiful blooms in a few weeks, so I consulted several websites and found this one which has pictures and a nice idea for a holiday centerpiece. I separated the bulbs and used the littlest bowl of the set of nesting bowls from Sara Beth for the second bulb. I can hardly wait to see these bulbs bloom! I have faith! What a sweet gift..and a way to enjoy two of my birthday surprises. The little blue bowl will look charming in my kitchen...the red glass is perfect in my red den! I get to enjoy my birthday for a very long time!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things are getting back to normal around here!

Remember that corner of my den that was stacked high with wool sweaters, bits and pieces of thread, lint, fuzz...a sewing machine table piled high with scraps and scissors and buttons and snaps???....wellllll..I did something about that today..and my house is feeling so clean and spacious, and something about that makes me feel centered and balanced and much calmer and happier. Wool and sewing machines are in the studio where they belong and I can see FLOOR! I had a great day today...Sara Beth came home last night for a quick visit to her mom and step-mom who have birthdays 3 days apart! I had a glorious lunch with Sara Beth and her boyfriend, and they helped me get tables back to the church and some of my house in order! My birthday gift this year is very special...a composite that SB put together with pictures and words to describe me and the things I love...she included a field of tobacco, a sewing machine, the Golden Gate Bridge from our trip to San Francisco, Braille, a pot on a cooktop, a kitty that looks EXACTLY like Bob (my 15-year old cat that recently passed away), a cross and a woman holding a child...with words scattered around "mother, inspired, servant, entertain, creator, delightful, travel and strong. I absolutely love it. She also gave me a set of bowls in colors that I love that go with my Fiesta china. I'm pretty much of a bowl fanatic, and like tablecloths and sets of can't have too many! I am really blessed to have the greatest daughter in the world...and I always love every minute that I get to spend with her. My house is back to normal and I had a day with Sara Beth...everything is right with the world!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bone Tired

My mother had several ways of rating fatigue...."bone tired" and "screamin' tired"....Holly Days Bazaar is over and I am BONE tired. Thankfully, this year went so smoothly with pacing myself with making products, set up, clean up and the location of our sale, that I am not "screamin"!! I came home from the sale, forced myself to take everything out of the car and bring it in the house...then ate a bowl of soup, took a shower and DIED on the couch for 2 hours. I had every intention of getting back up to go take some ibuprofen for my aching body, and never got there. Now that I'm in a better frame of mind, I can tell you all about our successful and happy experience at the Holly Days Bazaar! The day was filled with fun and lots of friends stopping by to shop. My Christmas tree bottle covers were the hit of the day, and I have some orders for more. I came home with a chocolate chess pie from the beautiful bake sale that the Service League does SO well, and a few other goodies from other vendors. Earrings, a snowman pendant and a HUGE star made from tobacco sticks with white lights..can't wait to hang it on the big brick wall on the front of my house. Plus I love anything related to daddy was a tobacco buyer and my mother's family farmed tobacco...I shared with some of our neighbor vendor friends stories of sister and I ("the city girls"...insert smug smile, as the town we grew up in was small and not in any way shape or form a CITY) coming to the farm each week in the summer to see my grandparents and watching my aunt and uncle and cousins putting up tobacco. I can so vividly remember the smells and the sounds and the vision of my Aunt Annie Laurie tying those green tobacco leaves to those sticks with the precision and practice from hundreds and hundreds of times. After bulk barns became the new rage, the tobacco sticks were a thing of the past, and have now become pieces of art for some. I am thrilled to have old tobacco sticks which will light up my house for the holidays! It will also be a nice reminder of my day with the "Knotty Girls"...five creative friends who worked hard, shared laughs and had a very successful day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hurricane Wool

Oh my has rained for what seems like a week (although it's only been a couple of days) and the outside and the inside of my house are looking pretty similar. I have been in the final push to get everything for Holly Days made, priced and displayed. My little sewing corner in my den looks like Ida hit it full matter how many times I've pulled out the little Shark vacuum that I keep handy for thread and wool bits, the floor is still wooly and there is dust and lint in every crevice and pore of my house. I loved setting up our "booth" in my dining room, but now that everything is out, and packed in the car I am beginning to see what my dining room looks like again...and that feels good. I have neglected so much housework these past few weeks, and once I recuperate from this big crafting marathon...I have GOT to clean up! I don't think I have EVER looked forward to cleaning my house...until now. I'm also ready to think about other things... my birthday... a trip to Richmond on the 21st with the girls in my family for the Craft and Design Show and then Thanksgiving! The next few weeks are going to be busy and a different kind of way than the busy and fun I've been having here cranking out woolies! I'm already excited about sharing all that I see at the Visual Arts Center Craft and Design Show....sure hope that I have lots of spending money...I think I'm gonna need it! See you in a few days...and I'll let you know all about our big day at Holly Days...for now, I'm going to finish watching Project Runway, listen to MORE rain and bask in the fact that I am SO ready for setting up our booth tomorrow. No 4 a.m. bedtime for THIS girl THIS year!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Valley Handmade

I just spent a glorious weekend in the mountains of my sister Jane's house. Jane's encaustic paintings are part of a show at the Appalachian State University's Turchin Center and the opening reception was Friday night. It was a great night, filled with friends, family and beautiful art. A big group of us ate dinner together afterwards to celebrate Jane. All of our children were there, which is always the BEST treat of all. I spent the rest of the weekend in my sister's studio, making lots of catnip mice, sachets and more wallets. The best creation of the weekend was my new "woolywarmers" which I perfected with lots of feedback from my niece and my sister. Meredith was the recipient of my second pair...and from now on, all woolywarmers with the flower and bead design will hereby be called the "Meredith". She works in these all winter long, as she spends lot of time outside but needs fingers to be free.

The first pair we displayed on the scary mannequin hands....the rolled up stubs at the bottom I think are the scariest part! My friend Renee let me borrow these for my display at Holly Days, and I think they are pretty frightening, but absolutely useful. We'll try not to think about where the rest of that poor woman might be!

On Saturday night, we made the most delicious meal...and I'm sharing our recipe. We sat around and mused over all the "foodie" terms that the Top Chef judges would say about our savory autumnal meal. The spagetti squash was lots of fun to prepare and made a perfect bed for our vegetables without needing a pasta of some sort. Here's the recipe...enjoy!

Happy Valley Special

Roasted Vegetables
2 zucchini, cut into 2 inch sticks (1/2 inch thick)
1 large red pepper, cut in 2 inch pieces
handful of baby carrots, sliced lengthwise
3 leeks (slice in half, wash well, slice in 1-inch chunks)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red onion, chunked
2 shallots, chunked
handful of sliced fresh mushrooms
fresh thyme (about 2 tablespoons)
1/3 cup olive oil
kosher salt

Toss in roasting pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, stir once or twice during roasting.

Spagetti Squash:

We followed directions on label for microwaving the squash (prick skin, roast in microwave, cut open, get rid of seeds, and then use fork to twist out the squash.) Alternatively, you can follow roasting directions.

Dressing (from Ina Garten)

3/4 apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine the apple cider, vinegar and shallots in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, olive oil and salt and pepper.


Red new potatoes (about 6), cut in quarters
Butter quart sized baking dish. Put potatoes in the dish, dot with butter, salt and pepper and sprinkle with dill weed. Cover with foil or lid and roast in oven along with vegetables until they are tender.

Serve roasted vegetables over the spaghetti squash on a platter or large bowl, dressing and potatoes on the side. Beautiful and delicious vegetarian meal!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Felt Frenzy

The Knotty Girls have set up a "mock shop" in my dining room! There's so much involved in setting up a great booth at a holiday show...more than just the beautiful handmade products...there's lighting and tablecloths and shelving and making all of it so yummy and inviting that people will flock in to see what you have to offer! We are working on getting all those decisions made and kinks worked out way ahead of set-up time.
I am enjoying going in and just looking at everything...moving things around, thinking about what I need to make more of, and the endless list making of all the little details like price tags and bags and cash, etc! As you can see, I've finished lots more tree bottle covers. They are one of my new favorites. I also made a cute little outfit out of felted wool for my little snowman..well, snow woman...I gave her a flower pin on her little lapel!

All this snow, trees and fuzziness is really getting me in the holiday spirit...I'm not a fan of Christmas marketing before we can even get to the end of October...and think that Thanksgiving which is a beautiful and meaningful holiday is skimmed over just to get to "Black Friday", the day when people go crazy shopping..ugh...but the festive fleece-y, felt-y fuzzy fantastic-ness of our display gets me excited for family time and lots of love and laughter!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

Hi everyone! The days are flying's now November, which means one thing....2 weeks till Holly Days, and I have LOTS to do.

This past week I've been working on several things, but mostly trees....lots and lots of fun Christmas tree bottle covers! Every one is different from t
he one before, and using vintage trims and buttons that I've collected makes me very happy. One of my very favorites is this simple little tree with old flower trim......the effect is like snow on the branches.

Of course, I can't make anything without my favorite..the POLKA DOT!

Tiny yellow rick-rack found in a sewing box bought at an antique store forms the sweetest garland on one of my button trees. Each one is more fun than the next to make. Once I get them all sewn together, I'll be able to display them as a little forest of wooliness! Can't wait!