Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thrifty Gifty Valentine's Crafts

I have five people so far who have responded to my "Pay-It-Forward 2011" post on Facebook that I owe a handmade item to (although no one has responded on my blog---c'mon folks, get your freebies!), and I have decided that I want to do some kind of different type of craft project for every person. I'm not really super-talented at any one craft, I just kind of dabble in this and that with varying degrees of success. I did decide I wanted to do some seasonal crafts, and with Valentine's Day coming up, it seemed like a good time to make some homemade paper crafts.

Our autism support group is meeting next weekend to make puzzle-piece scarves to sell as a fundraiser for the Spring, so here is what Amanda, one of my "Facebook five," who signed up for a handmade gift, and is also a support group member, is getting:
I made the card using a foam double-heart stamp I got from Dollar Tree, a music note roller stamp by InkaDinkaDoo, and a large hearts and ribbons stamp by Stampcraft. The fragment of sheet music is vintage (and was already falling apart---I promise I didn't tear it up!) The butterfly sticker is a vintage Dennison one (remember those ones your school teacher had that you used to have to lick the back of?) This was part of a wonderful stash of vintage stickers I got for practically nothing at a yard sale when we lived in Virginia. I also used my vintage sign-making kit for the letters (thanks, Suesan, for the tip about using glycerin to try to restore them---I will try that!)

I made the magnets using my computer printer (all in Word.) The one with the paraphrase of Corinthians on it was just using a fancy fonts. On the other one, I used some medieval graphics from retrokat. On the gift bag I used a wooden love stamp, a foam rose stamp, and pink glitter glue from the Dollar Tree. Both the gift bag and the magnets also came from Dollar Tree.

Another little project I worked on with Ian was painting this little wooden Valentine's tree and ornaments I got 40% off at JoAnn Fabrics. I love little seasonal tabletop trees, and have wanted one for Valentine's, but hadn't found one I could afford. When I saw this one I thought Ian would enjoy doing something like this while the weather is too cold to play outside. He didn't want to paint it, though. He has fine motor issues, plus he's a perfectionist, so sometimes if he can't do something really well he doesn't want to do it. So, I painted the tree (I think I have fine motor issues, too---you can see why I'm not a professional artist!), and Ian just colored the ornaments. Can you tell I lived in Mexico as a little girl? I LOVE bright colors! I have never gotten the whole white on white decorating scheme myself, although I suppose I can admire it in theory as much as the next guy.

I keep hoping I am going to get around to doing some crosstitch or other needlework, but between work, and my being so active with the autism group, it's hard to find the time. Someday! :-(

For more Valentine-y goodness, check out last week's cupcakes here. I'm linking to the weekend wrapup at tatertots and jello and Pink Saturday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Vintage Opera-related Items

As you may have noticed from my blog music, I am on opera and classical music fan. I am a classically-trained singer as well, and my office---from which I usually blog---is also my voice studio, where I practice, and occasionally teach voice lessons. It is a lovely room, with french doors, right off the main entrance so students can come right on in.

So, I wanted to share a couple of vintage things from my studio. First of all, I have some vintage sheet music that I got from a wonderful music store in Charlotte, North Carolina called Brodt. You go in and it is like a warehouse, and all the vocal music is stored in this one little basement hall, on one side. They have inventory from since's like they just keep it until it sells, or maybe they buy out old inventories from stores that close. So, I was able to find some pretty-looking old sheets, which I framed for the walls.
The fun part is that I have actually sung all of these pieces. The one below all of my students used to want to sing when I was teaching at Southern Virginia University. It's "I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls," from The Bohemian Girl. They all knew it because the Irish singer Enya sings it!

I also have this lovely thing, a vintage art-deco record player. It still worked when I bought it for about $25, but now needs a couple of minor repairs. Why would I want to keep it working, you ask, in the day of CD's and iPods?

Why, because of this set of vintage opera recordings! Can you imagine being more connected to history than listening to singers from the Golden Age of Opera, singing under the baton of conductors like Toscanini, singers who were the contemporaries of composers like Puccini? As a freebie, there was also an old Bob Wills record stuck in one of the books.

And here are some knick knacks and such from on top of the piano. First, a funny little vintage lamp that my mom gave me made from a bottle shaped like a violin. The anatomical picture next to it looks vintage but isn't. My teacher gave me a copy of a picture of the resonance areas of the pitches of the soprano range from a vintage singing book she owns (she is a retired opera singer in her 80's.) I wanted to keep it handy for reference, so I copied it on brown paper and framed it.
So those are some of the vintage thingies in my music studio! Sorry about the glare in some of the photos; I have no direct lighting in this room, so photography is tricky.
I am linking to Vintage Thingie Thursday.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tales and Finds from Saturday Thrifting

The whole family spent a couple of hours Saturday thrifting here in Conyers. First of all, we went to Lingering Memories, one of our favorite places. Here is my son Ian, proudly displaying his find, a portable Thomas the Tank Engine set with four trains, tracks, roundhouse, and signal. This was a real kid coup for him! But the best family moment was when he put it on the counter, looked the man in the eye, and said, "Can I "bargain" this?" Then he turned to me and said, "Did you know, Mom, bargain is where you make the price lower?" That boy is something else---he keeps me in stitches! His grandma would be proud---she once talked a store employee into honoring an expired coupon and then giving her her own employee discount on top of it (naturally this is legendary in our family!)
Here is one of his mom's finds, a pair of large bowls with gold stars in the bottom. Being an ex-patriate Texan, I am a sucker for anything with a star on it!

This was another good find, an oversized quilt rack for $20. I've desperately needed one for the guest room, where the quilts all seem to end up on the floor. Can't decide if I will repaint or not; the homespun painting is kind of cute.

Then it was off to Goodwill. I had culled my Christmas collection as part of my (early) spring cleaning this month, and we had two boxes of stuff we hoped they would take, but they said, "We don't take Christmas items, because of all the recalls" ??? Which was weird, because they had a whole row of Christmas decor in the store, including the above runner and placemats (which has never even been used).

I also got a jam jar, a couple of cheap ceramics I plan to plant herbs in in the spring, and a couple of pillows for the guest room bed.

My two favorite things, though, were this little cruet with gold grape leaves on, and a set of vintage cookies cutters that were still in the package. I have a huge cookie cutter collection, including some vintage wood-handled ones my mom handed down that were my great grand-mother's, so I was all kind of excited about this! It even has recipes, including a dough ornament recipe.
I found this little cruet up front in the case and it just spoke to me. It sort of goes with the set of gold dishes I call my "New Year's and Valentine's" dishes; normally we're not that formal, even on holidays.
Anyway, we had fun for a couple of hours until everyone (except me) got a little tired and grouchy. I also saw a set of Christmas china I liked, but I held back on that when I mentioned it and my husband almost started crying! I guess I see his point, since I already have two sets of Christmas china.

I'm posting this to Coastal Charm's Nifty Thrifty Tuesday.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Homemade Chili to Give

Needed some gifts for our several "Pay It Forward" campaigns (I've got one here and one one Facebook, and my husband has one on Facebook) plus for a couple of folks we (whoops!) missed at Christmas, so we made jars of homemade chili mix. The recipe is sort of a combo of Clint's favorite recipe, the one in Homemade, Best Made, and my frijoles soup recipe. And, yeah, that's right---I have a guacamole dish in the shape of a cactus. I'm originally from San Antonio, so I can do things like that. ;-)
In a quart jar:
1 small package dried kidney beans

In two small baggies:

Seasoning packet #1:
1 Tbsp onion flakes
1 Tbsp chicken boullion
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Seasoning packet #2:

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 bay leaf

Put the following directions on an attached card:

Additional ingredients required: 1 lb ground beef, 1 can tomato paste, 1 can tomato sauce

Rinse and sort the beans; soak them overnight in water that covers the beans by about an inch and a half. Drain.

In a large stock pot, place the beans, 2 quarts of water, and seasoning packet #1. Bring to a rapid boil, then lower the heat to about medium and simmer for one hour. Add water gradually if stock boils down.
Brown one pound of ground beef in a skillet and drain off the excess grease. Add the cooked ground beef, seasoning packet #2, 1 can of tomato paste, and 1 can of tomato sauce to the pot of beans. Turn up the heat and bring once again to a boil, then lower heat again and simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are soft. Discard the bay leaf and serve with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vintage Sign Kit

I am going to do something new and try to participate in Coloradolady Suzanne's Vintage Thingie Thursday. In case I don't get it right, please bear with me; I am still learning about things like linky parties!
I mentioned this Thingie a couple of posts back; in fact you have seen it's handiwork right here on this blog. It's right here in this rough-hewn, stained little box. What could it be...?

It's a vintage sign-making kit from my great-grandparents' general store!

I love how it has these very detailed instructions for lining up your letters with the ruler on the lid...

I think this little cleaning brush that is in the kit is ivory, and there are also some vintage ink pads and a ruler. It obviously saw a lot of use and made many signs over the years.

Some of the rubber stamps have come off of the wood blocks, and I am wondering what would be a good way to repair them. I would like to use it to letter some handmade greeting cards.

Hope you liked seeing pictures of this "thingie" as much as I've enjoyed sharing with you!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What did you do for your "day on"?

First, we got up at 6:30 to go to a fundraising breakfast for United Way to help the homeless in our community. It was at Longhorn Steakhouse, and boy, are their cheese grits and bacon yummy! Then, we had to come home and take a nap for a couple of hours! ;-)
Daddy spent the day alternating between watching little man and getting ready to go back to teaching high school drama after a week off due to snow and ice, while I worked on projects for the Autism Support Group I work with. I did some paperwork, including finishing the articles of incorporation and working on the first draft of the by-laws. Then, since tomorrow is the monthly meeting, and we won't be meeting in February, I put together a Valentine's arts and crafts kit for the support group kids, including stamps from my big rubber stamp collection, lace doilies, and vintage flower stickers.

Then, we made cupcakes for the support group kids and parents. I just used stuff from the dollar store (I do a lot of entertaining for kids, and I have found the local dollar store is a lifesaver for this kind of thing---kids don't need or want your best cooking efforts!), and some sprinkles I had on hand.

Ye Olde Cupcake Wrapper Tin

Anybody know a secret for keeping your cupcake wrappers from wrinkling when you put the batter in?

I had thought about dyeing the frosting pink, but got lazy and decided to go for plain old white instead. I thought it was maybe pushing things with the frilly Valentine's crafts and pink sprinkles, anyway, given how many little boys are in our group.

Voila! Not designer cupcakes, but they sure are going to make some very special kids very happy! Including one particular kid tonight---if he eats his dinner first!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Free Stuff and a Winter Walk

Share the Love!!!
YeYePay it Forward 2011: I promise to send something handmade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here.They must in turn post this and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their blog. The rules are that it must be handmade by you, and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011. YeYe

Thanks to Joy for this idea...and thanks to my hubby for helping me scan the pointing hand stamp above. It is from a stamp kit that my great-grandparents used to create signs for their general store.
The weather was nice enough to take a little walk this afternoon without a coat on.

His snowman was starting to melt, so Ian had reappropriated his fuzzy purple hat. Is he the little rockstar or what? There is still snow on the ground, and not much is blooming in the yard except for the evergreens.Ian's little garden gnome looks so forlorn out in the flower beds surrounded by snow!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Another cold weather fave! If you are a purist, feel free to make the pie crust from scratch. I usually do make crusts from scratch for holiday pies, or if company's coming, but the rest of the time I'm lazier, and honestly, the rolled-up premade ones you buy at the store are so good I can hardly tell the difference. You can double this recipe if you need to feed a larger crowd than a family of three to four, but you will need to do a bit of cutting and shaping of the pie crusts if you use premade ones. Also, if you're trying to watch your fat intake, 2% milk and margarine taste just fine in this recipe!

Kathy's Pot Pie

1 stalk celery, sliced
4 baby carrots, slivered
3 red potatoes, cubed
3/4 pound boneless chicken, trimmed of fat and cut in cubes
2 Tbsp chopped onion
1/4 cup canned peas
1 can mushroom pieces and stems
1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
fresh ground pepper
2 cups milk
1 rolled premade pie crust

Put the celery, potatoes, and carrots in a medium saucepan, cover with water and boil for 20 minutes. Saute the chicken and onions in a frying pan until the chicken is cooked and set aside. In another sauce pan, melt the butter, then stir in the flour, salt, and a dash or two of fresh ground pepper. Add the milk and stir constanly over low heat until thickened, then remove from heat. In a medium bowl, gently mix together the chicken, onions, celery, potatoes, carrots, and drained mushrooms and peas. Mix in the sauce, then pour into a 9x9 casserole dish. Cover with the pie crust, trimming off the excess. Cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Homemade Minestrone Soup

A great recipe for a snow day! It's very easy to make, and inexpensive as well: our local dollar store has most of the ingredients (except the garbanzo beans.)

Kathy's Minestrone

1 can garbanzo beans
1 can diced tomatoes (or whole tomatoes, cut up)
1 can red kidney beans
6 cups beef broth
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
5 baby carrots, slivered
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary
dash of salt and pepper
1 cup medium shell pasta

Mix all ingredients except the pasta in a large stockpot (Do not drain the liquid from the cans of beans and tomatoes.) Cook for about 3 hours at a simmer, then bring to a full boil and add the pasta to the soup. Cook as directed on the pasta package. After the pasta is cooked, remove the soup from the heat and serve.

Here's a picture of the soup simmering on the stove (haven't added the pasta yet.) The whole house smelled great---just the way you want it to on a cold day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Fun

I had the best intentions for this blog last year, including hoping to get some pics up of our Christmas decorations. However, things just got away from me as usual.

Anyway, we've had an unusual amount of snow this year, so here are some pictures of the boys having snow day fun: