Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thrift: Postage Stamps – Both New & Used

There is a little drawer in my desk in which I keep stamps. Along with the new ones, I also toss in ones torn off of envelopes that were never sent. For those really organized and efficient people, it will remain a mystery why anyone would go to the trouble to write out a card or letter and then not send it. But as an imperfect, very imperfect, human, I can tell you that after a couple of years, I have a little collection of these torn off corners of envelopes.


Now the slightly less efficient may simply toss the whole unsent letter into the trash; the slightly less efficient but conscientious would recycle the whole thing.

As a member of the above mentioned imperfect group, I set out a saucer of water and soak the stamps off of the paper, then place them on a piece of waxed paper to dry (if they were placed onto the countertop while wet, then I’d have to soak them off of that.)

5 minutes of work netted me just a little less than $4.00. With stamps at .44 now, I’m glad to save those expensive little bits of colorful paper. I would no more put an unused postage stamp in the trash than I would throw away .44 in coin. Or, in this case, four $1 bills.

Not just at Christmas, but all through the year I ask the Postal clerk what kind of commemorative stamps they have. These are the ones other than the Flags or Liberty Bells, featuring historical and/or popular illustrations; some of my favorites have been Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, the state of Oklahoma, Desi and Lucy, Elvis and Henry Fonda. Commemorative don’t cost any more than the others and give a certain oomph to the envelope. Of course, one has to actually mail the letter or card for it to have the final polish of that cancellation mark.


Speaking of which, canceled stamps are a great embellishment for handmade cards, scrapbooking, altered books or any papercrafting project. There is an almost infinite variety of ones available and one begins to look at mail, even the junk mail with a whole new perspective.

This post linked to Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom.

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Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Paper, Free, Thrift, Using What You Have

Thanksgiving Notes

Mayflower and Speedwell in Dartmouth Harbor by Wilcox



This post linked to Food on Fridays @ annkroeker

A few years ago I started making holiday notes – the day after. Just taking a few minutes to sit down and think about the celebration (whether Thanksgiving or Christmas) while it’s still fresh on my mind, then jotting down ideas that worked, ones that didn’t and other ideas I’ve picked up but haven’t tried yet. These are helpful to me the next year – if I can find where I placed them. Now I’ll have a Thanksgiving book to put them in.

When I was young I thought I could remember things from year to year. I couldn’t, but I thought I could. Now I know I have to make lists because I can’t rely on my memory.

Leading up to and the week before Thanksgiving:

*Reread: The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall & David Manuel.

*Reread: Mary of Plymouth by James Otis.

* Papercraft some interesting table decorations.

* Make Thanksgiving cards.

*Talk to sons and family about their plans.

* Keep the house tidy. It’s a killer to get up on Thanksgiving morning and do it before I start cooking.

* Get the laundry all caught up – not only washed but folded and put away or hung in the closet. For peace of mind.

* Eat up leftovers and clean out the refrigerator. We’ll need space for the leftovers and how nice it would be not to have to cram things in.

* Iron the tablecloth and hang it up to keep it wrinkle free.

* Clean kitchen thoroughly: Put extraneous things away. Dust the china cabinet. Clean kitchen window ledge. Mop. Make the sink sparkle. Clean windows by the table.

* Polish the silver.

Early Thanksgiving week:

*Mail Thanksgiving cards. This is not something that I do, but it’s something that I wish I did.

* Review menu requirements and make a shopping list. Because we have the same meal every year, I don’t have to plan the menu, but I do need to check our supplies and note what I’ll need to buy.

* Shop but resist the urge to buy a bunch of other stuff at the grocery store. It’s tiring to come home and have to put it all away, and the superfluous perishables take up too room in the refrigerator.

* Buy fresh, local pecans at the produce stand. They cost more but make a superior pie.

* Buy a small bouquet of flowers for the table or ask the grandchildren to pick up leaves and acorns for the centerpiece.

* Wash the china and serving pieces.

* Wash the roaster.

* Start reading a really good book – it will give me something enjoyable to do when I have to frequently sit down and rest.

*Have ready something comfortable to wear while cooking and something nice to change into for dinner.

Wednesday

* Make pies. I’m not a do-ahead cook because I really like things really fresh, but the truth is, the pumpkin pies are actually better the next day.

* Make cornbread for the dressing.

* Chop onion, celery and carrots and store in refrigerator.

* Clear off countertops to make plenty of space for cooking.

* Take a nap.

Thanksgiving Day

* Eat breakfast. It’s a mistake to ignore this one.

* Start cooking.

* Enjoy the family.

* Remind them of the traditional Trivial Pursuit game.

But above all, reflect on the goodness of God

and Thank Him.

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Filed under Autumn, Faith, Family, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Altered Books

Fran's book

(All the pictures in this post are of Fran’s book. Right now, we’re having computer problems, so I can’t download photos from our camera, but I can scan things in. Hopefully soon I can post the photos and will update this post when I do.)

My sister, our friend Abby (The Paper Engineer) and I made altered Thanksgiving books. The ones I made were for Fran and Abby; Fran’s were for Abby and me, and of course, Abby’s were for Fran and me.

(Click on the photos for a bigger view. I’ve found that posting them as thumbnails takes a fraction of the time to upload.)


The only rule was that they were to be books about giving thanks. Fran’s book for me is completely different from the ones I made and I really like it. (We weren’t able to get together to exchange with Abby yet so I can’t describe hers now – I haven’t seen it.) She made her cover out of cardboard and covered it with brown toile fabric. She used orange rings for binding it together and tied pieces of ribbon onto the rings.

Stella Edens Thanksgiving poem, circa 1956


The story behind the poem is that when my sister was waiting for the bus to come, she told my mother that she was supposed to take a Thanksgiving poem to school – that day.  So, my mother the poet wrote one just like that.

Two of the pages in this book were from orange file folders that she cut in half.  These will really come in handy for tucking in Thanksgiving recipes, clippings,  memories, etc.


Then she took fall leaves and laminated them, punched holes for the binding and attached topaz (my birthstone) rhinestones on the pages.  There are several pages of the laminated leaves and she placed the rhinestones so they could all be viewed at once when looking at the first page.

For Abby’s book,  I used an Altoids tin and sponged gold paint all over it, then lined the edges with dictionary pages, cut with a deckle-edged pair of scissors.  For the message, I accordion folded brown paper, glued it to the bottom inside and listed on each fold something for which I am thankful for. /p>  On the top side I glued a piece of autumn looking alcohol inked paper and stamped ears of corn and the words:  Give Thanks.  The bottom of the tin has another piece of the dictionary page glued on.  The embellishments were cutouts of leaves, pumpkins and rubber stampings.

For my sister’s book,  I wanted to do something different.  Fran and I both like Dick and Jane books – very pleasant memories there. My theme for her book was the child’s prayer “Thank You for the Food We Eat”.

I photocopied illustrations that I could use for each line of the prayer from a Dick and Jane reader (alas, not an original. They are $90.00 at the antique mall. This was a reproduction I bought at Wall-Mart). It’s too difficult to cut them out exactly, so I left a border of white as I cut them out and distressed them with a yellow chalk pad. Then I enlarged the wording from the reader on the copier, and printed off a couple of pages, distressed them with the yellow chalk and a blue ink pad. Using a glue stick, I attached them to cardboard squares cut from a Coke carton to duplicate chipboard, then punched 3 holes along the side of each one for to lace the ribbon for binding.  Then using the glue stick, I attached the illustrating pictures to the enlarged wording.

Remember the old tablets we used when learning to print – the ones with the solid and blue dashed lines? I had a piece of that from a scrapbook store that my sister had given me, but I’ve never seen any in a store and didn’t want to use it as an original. In my stash I had some regular copy paper that I had tea-dyed. So I photocopied the penmanship paper onto the tea-dyed. It may be hard to see the blue lines on the photos, but they are there. I cut squares of this paper and used the glue stick to attach it to the cardboard for pages to face the illustration.

It would’ve been better to have had my grandson write the prayer out for me, but I didn’t plan far enough ahead. Somewhere I had read that you can duplicate a young child’s printing by using your left hand, so that’s what I did using a pencil.

For binding I used blue gingham ribbon.  The colors of this book were not the autumn earth tones, but I think it’ll be more versatile this way, and the blue was one of the main colors in both the illustrations and the penmanship paper.

I really like making the chipboard pages, it gives the book a nice heft and feel.  Also, just a few pages are thick enough for it to stand alone.  A few weeks ago on a craft blog (I’ll insert link when I can remember where I first saw it), the author had made a Christmas book using scraps of paper and embellishments on one of those black and white speckled notebooks.

Building upon her idea, I decided to make myself one.  But since I really liked the chipboard feel, I’ve used that concept.  I’ll keep recipes,  card lists,  a gift list and all sorts of Christmasy things in it.  When we get our photos to load, I’ll post them.

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Filed under Altered Books, Autumn, Crafts - Paper, Thanksgiving

Plymouth and Nearby Environs


When I was a girl, I always loved the stories about the Pilgrims and the early years of America. History was one of my favorite subjects, but there was something really special and American about the story of the people who left their home in search of religious freedom, came across the ocean in a crowded boat and made new lives for themselves and their families in a wilderness.

Three years ago, I accompanied Joe on a business trip to Massachusetts and was so excited to finally get to visit the place I had read about 40 years ago. And although I had plenty of time to explore the Plymouth area, unfortunately many of the sites are closed in December, but I visited what I could. One of my first stops was Pilgrim Hall, the museum established and built in 1824.

Pilgrim Hall - I call it the Politcally Correct Palace


After about 5 minutes I felt like I’d been slapped in the face and that the museum curators were trying to kick the wind out of me. There was no honor of the Pilgrims, no celebration of their experience. All of the plaques describing the paintings and artifacts sneeringly contradicted the traditional story. What was left was how awful all this intrusion was to the Indians and how noble they were.

It was politically correct to the Nth, nauseating degree. I couldn’t believe it. They kept emphasizing that all those stories we read before were false; of course that was before the enlightened ones starting writing the history books.

(A few years before that we’d been to the Smithsonian and I was absolutely shocked at how PC it was. The exhibit on World War II was overwhelmingly focused on the Japanese internment. What little space that was devoted to the American GI was negative. It described that everywhere our soldiers went, there was rape, venereal disease and unwanted, half-American children.)

(I had better cover myself here because I don’t have a lawyer on retainer – the following is my opinion. Liberals tend to be sensitive and lawsuit happy.)A rhetorical question:are the same jaded, hair-shirt-wearing, self-flagellating, over-educated nincompoops in charge of all the museums dedicated to the American experience?

Please, say it isn’t so.

View of the bay, Plymouth, Massachusetts


Plymouth, Massachusetts has an incredibly precious heritage. Is that what you’ll find on their webpage? No, you’ll find one of those boxes on the left that shouts: “No Place for Hate”. What does that mean? Do they actually believe that other American towns advocate the opposite? The only reference to their role in American history is the following from City of Plymouth official website which says: “Most Americans are familiar with the story of the pilgrims’ voyage across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower, and their landing at Plymouth Rock. Today, Plymouth Rock is just one of the sites that tell the story of Plymouth. When you visit our Town, you will learn about more than the pilgrim voyage, you will learn about our diverse and unique community. ” (emphasis mine)

Even the unofficial town website doesn’t have any history, but they do have another one of those little boxes. They aren’t warning us about hate. It tells us about International Day of Climate Action! (exclamation mark theirs).

But there is hope! (exclamation mine) The following quotes are from an article from the Plymouth Guide titled Putting the Thanks back in Thanksgiving – New book embraces treasured Pilgrim saga.

Hooray for the Plymouth Guide.

A big double hooray for Jeremy Bangs.

Strangers and Pilgrims, the 928-page history of the Pilgrims by Jeremy Bangs, explores the religious and political foundations of the Pilgrims in England and Holland and finds historical basis for much of the treasured Pilgrim tradition.”

“Bangs, for instance, points to the false notion that the Pilgrims never referred to themselves as Pilgrims. While some have suggested the name was invented in the 19th century, Bangs said the title of his book, Strangers and Pilgrims, comes from a quotation published by Robert Cushman in 1622.”

“Bangs said he has no stake in how the story plays out, but admits he is amused to see so many of the original notions about the Pilgrims have proven to be more or less accurate.”

If I had it to do all over again, I’d still go through the exhibit, because it does contain the actual belongings of the Pilgrims which is incredible to me, but I’d ignore their little plaques signs and explanations.

Doll from Mayflower passage, 1620


The swords and furniture were interesting, but what I really was drawn to was a little doll, carried on the Mayflower by Mary Chilton. How in the world could something as fragile as that rag doll survive almost 400 years? I don’t know, but I’m so glad it did. I can’t find a photo of it, either on the Pilgrim Hall website or doing image searches. If anyone knows where there’s a picture of it, please let me know. I did a rough sketch and made a few notes, but it’s hard to tell anything about it. The description said it was made from wool, linen and cotton.

I wonder who made it. Mary? Her mother? In England or Holland? Maybe on the Mayflower itself.

As a lover of textiles, I consider it a real American treasure.

First Congregation Church - Middleboro, Massachusetts


In nearby Middleboro is the First Congregational Church

organized in 1694 by the children of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

Ceiling of First Congregation Church


The current structure was built in 1828.

Auditorium - First Congregational Church


Across the road is an old cemetery. Some thoughtful person had placed flags on the graves of U.S. military veterans.


This headstone marks the grave of a Revolutionary War soldier.

Cranberry bog - near Middlleboro Massachusetts,


This is what a cranberry bog looks like. I think they’re beautiful.

And incidentally, if it’s a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce that you open on Thanksgiving, you might be interested to know that O.S. is not a corporation – it’s an agricultural cooperative of the growers. If you ever find yourself in Middleboro or Lakeview, Massachusetts, give yourself a treat and go see the Ocean Spray headquarters. A winding drive, the little bridge over the stream with swans swimming on it and the white colonial style building, it is the nicest business office I’ve ever seen.

Here in our region we have Big Lot stores, and they’re pretty good, but I’ve never seen anything like Ocean State Job Lots. I could spend hours in that store. Just take an extra suitcase and a little extra cash is all I have to say. I bought everything from poppy seeds to gourmet snack items to dishes to stamp pads to tools and blenders in there – all at very good prices.

Going into Benny’s in Raynham, Massachusetts was like time travel for me. In 1950’s and 1960’s Tulsa, we had OTASCO stores (Oklahoma Tire and Suppy Company). Benny’s is so like them I could’ve believed I was a kid again. From the traditional looking shopping center and sign out front to the smell when I walked in the door, I felt like I was in a time warp and I enjoyed every minute of it. I actually did a lot of Christmas shopping there, too. If I lived in that area, Benny’s would be one of my regular stops.

Coming back around to the history of the region, the people of New England are so blessed to be surrounded by history everywhere;this region is absolutely rich with roots in our country’s founding and early days. I wish New Englanders viewed that as something to be treasured rather than something to be embarrassed about.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, America, Books, Childhood pastimes, Cooking, Current Events, Faith, Heros, History, Internet links, Local Shopping, Military, Shopping, Thanksgiving

Lafayette

Lafayette sleeping

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Some Family History & Shopping Locally


Both sides of my family have roots in small business. In the past it was groceries – the kind of stores that are now called “Mom & Pop”. My brother has always had his own business but is now retiring; my sister’s family has their own. Joe and I seem to be the only ones who’ve stayed solely in the corporate world.

My maternal grandfather had several different country stores – not at the same time – in western Kentucky. The last one was in Iuka; in 1937 there was a massive flood (I think 7 states were affected); when everything they had, including the store, stood under flood water for 2 weeks, he retired.

1937 flood at Iuka,Kentucky; White building is Sexton's 2 story grocery store

Bart Sexton at Sexton's Grocery, Los Angeles 1930s


My mother went to Arkansas briefly and worked in her cousin’s store in Wiener. Then a year in Texas and on to California to work in her Uncle Bart’s grocery store in Los Angeles.

 

Stella Sexton at Uncle Bart's store, Los Angeles circa 1939


There she met an attractive young man who would come in to buy a Coke. She said he would lean against the pop box and make one of those little 6 1/2 ounce Cokes last a long time. I can scarcely believe that Daddy was ever that shy, but he must have been because he got a friend to ask her if she would go out with him. Mama told Maxine that she couldn’t go out with him until he asked her. Daddy was back over there in 5 minutes. A few years later he proposed to her riggt before they went to the Rose Bowl parade and the rest is history. Well, family history, anyway.

 

Johnnie Edens at Mingo store,circa 1945


Eventually Daddy wanted to move back to Oklahoma. After a few years they bought the little store in Mingo that my Uncle Johnnie had built, but had gone through a couple of different owners by then. Even though poor by today’s standards, my parents were able to buy the business to provide a second income. People could do that sort of thing back then. My mother said that she let my 6 year-old brother mark the items which cost a nickel with a 5 and the cents sign. Now I don’t think you can even buy anything at a store for a nickel. This was about 1949. (Funny thing about that little frame building: it’s about the only structure left standing in Mingo after the airport bought everything and demolished the community.)

 

Then in 1970, my dad and brother quit their construction business to buy a grocery store and station across from the school in Mingo. Cortez Carnathan had built it a few years previously to replace his old wooden structure. It reminded me of Wally’s Filling Station in Mayberry. The new one was very modern looking with glass walls all along the front. It had several DX gas pumps (full service only, this was before self-service), a mechanics bay with a lift and a good sized grocery area. I was in high school and worked there off and on until it was sold a few years later.

It seems to me that I have a fairly good understanding of and sympathy for local businesses. I know that having his own business made the difference between scary lay-offs that Daddy had suffered at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft and finally, prosperity. He worked hard at that store, getting there to open at 6:00 a.m., washing down the concrete pad every morning; staying there all day until we closed at 8:00 p.m. But the day was not over until all the shelves were stocked and the floor swept and mopped. Every day. He was 61 years old when they bought it and I can’t imagine working that hard when I’m that age.

So, I have a real empathy for local business and try to shop at them whenever I can. There are bonuses for both the owner and me. The local hardware store here is a good example. A can of Bon Ami costs about 70 cents more there than it does at the IGA. But, when I called to ask the proprietor if she knew anyone locally that sold firewood, she said we could have all we wanted – free – from their acreage. They even gave us a key to the gate. My friend, Patti told me they opened up the store after hours one night for an emergency plumbing repair part that cost less than $5.00. Try getting a major chain to do that for you.

Now, we’ve bought a lot more in there over the years than merely tub cleanser. We’ve bought paint and plywood, a few gifts and some things for the kitchen. Joe buys as many car parts there as he can. We could get cheaper prices at Home Depot or Autozone – and we still shop at those stores when we can’t get it here, but we want our local store to stay in business. Home Depot is never going to build a store in this town, it’s too small. If we want the store to survive, we have to decide whether saving a few dollars is worth them going out of business because they can’t compete.

The produce stand down the road is struggling. Honestly I hadn’t shopped there in a good while, but I’ve started to again. Okay, their prices are a little higher on some things than the grocery store, but generally the quality is much higher. A few weeks ago I bought the best grapes there that I’ve ever had. When I was checking out, the owner gently pointed out that the cucumbers I’d bought were past prime and she asked if she could substitute 2 others. Then she said she’d give me the first ones if I wanted them. Joe was there buying some things one night about closing and she offered him a large bag (probably 5 pounds) of West Texas tomatoes for $2.00. They were good ones, just a little overripe. He came home and made some really wonderful hot sauce (salsa).

Now, I wish that all the local businesses were like that, but they aren’t. The feedstore owner doesn’t care if I shop there or not, so I usually don’t for anything but the occasional bale of hay. I had a really horrible experience at the local beauty shop and will never go back (I was with a friend who had just lost a son, and the yacky beautician would not shut up complaining about kids). The scrapbook store owner in a nearby town is so rude that she has a reputation as far as 50 miles away. Some of the shop owners in Decatur won’t even wait on me when I go in, so I don’t go back.

This is a mystery to me and I can guarantee you my dad wouldn’t have understood it. He was always polite to customers because he knew he wouldn’t have a business without them. As Dave Ramsey says, “If you’re not making money – it’s a hobby, not a business”. It took a lot for my dad to get cranky with a customer.

Local businesses are vital to a community. I’ve read that small business is the backbone of American employment.

All that said, I still love Wal-Mart; I’ve been shopping there for over 35 years. I can’t imagine all the money I’ve saved in that amount of time.

It’s so tres chic to denigrate Wal-Mart. And the funny thing about it is
that most of the critics I hear, shop at Target or buy Microsoft or pay way too much for a cup of coffee at Starbucks. You get the picture. The media, New York and California hate Wal-Mart and make the rest of us look like cousin-marrying rubes if we shop there.

Do they honestly believe that shopping at Costco instead of Sam’s makes them superior? One major corporation over another?

If major corporations are so evil, then maybe those critics should stop buying gasoline of any kind and walk everywhere. No more clothes unless they grown the cotton (no tractors) or wool and weave it themselves.

To sum it up: both small business and big business have vital roles in the American economy and life. I support them both.

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Filed under 1930s, America, Current Events, Family, Kentucky, Mingo, Oklahoma, Thrift

Altered Books, A Sister Project


Sandra, over at Add Humor and Faith was asking about altered books. I’ll bet they’ve been around a long, long time on an individual basis (when people wouldn’t have access to a blank book or fresh paper, etc…) but I’ve only known about them for the past 4 or 5 years. It’s a particular niche in the crafting/art world. Actually, the scrapbook/craft type are more to my liking because the art ones get weird really fast.

It was not easy for me to start making them because I’m such a book lover; rarely have I even written in my own books (the big exception is my Bible where I make lots of notes) and the horror of painting or gluing in one was hard to overcome. But I did.

And still, I’m pretty selective about the ones I’ll use for a project. It has to be one that I don’t think I’ll ever read, one that I really disliked or one that no one else would want – for instance, even if I donated it to the library, they would probably end up sending it to the paper recycler because it wouldn’t sell. The sources are almost unlimited. Our younger son had a huge stack of mathematics magazines that he didn’t want; instead of regular slick pages these have the book type pages and are just right for this craft.

The project from my previous post is in one of these magazines, and I also used one for a round robin that was just between my sister and me. I use cardboard from a cereal box to stiffen the soft covers, then decorate them with fabric or something else.

Sometimes crafters will buy a buy a book (hopefully a secondhand one – I can hardly stand the thought of a new book going straight to altering!) that’s in the same theme as their subject. For instance, using a gardening one when their subject is flowers, or an old cookbook for recipes, etc… That looks pretty clever when finished, and I’ve gathered a few to do that sort of thing, but haven’t started them, yet. Also, really unconventional materials are used and are nearly limitless, like paper sacks, or sewing fabric pages; children’s board books are good but not as versatile.


In a Round Robin, each person chooses their own theme and sets the rules for working in their book. They do their own cover and two pages, then pass it on to the next person (who passes theirs on, etc.). Normally each contributor would only do 2 pages in another person’s book (like my sister’s paper doll book), but since she and I were the only ones involved we passed ours back and forth several times.


She allowed me to set up the overall rule that this project was to be unconventional in the sense that nothing could be used that was bought specifically for paper crafting and we should use as much stuff as we could that had cost nothing at all- or at least had not been bought new. I wanted to see just how creative we could be. There are incredibly wonderful products on the market (and my sister has lots of them) but I wanted to see what we could do with our imaginations. She talked me into altering the rule to include one new product per page. Yes, I know I’m cheap thrifty.

It was a lot of fun.


Her theme was Tranquility; mine was Cats and Cups. All the photos in this post are of her book. Mine will be in a future post.

She used old file folders cut down to make her pages and key rings to bind it. Her cover (seen at the top of this post) was fabric from a drapery sample book (Thank you, Pat Fischer. Pat is my friend who gave me those wonderful, out-of-date books from her shop Ruffles and Things and I shared with Fran. Also, the background floral on the page below is one I got from a sample book). We used magazine pictures, church bulletin covers, used postage stamps, scraps of fabric, hand painting, journaling, ribbon, buttons, counted cross-stitch, embroidery, both watercolors and acrylic paint, the interior of security envelopes, old trumpet music (from the library sale), a few rubber stamps; and even more. Most of the stuff we used would make a traditional scrapbooker head to the fainting couch – almost none of it was acid free. We aren’t worrying about that. This is for us, not posterity; our inheritors are probably not interested.

For these 2 pages, I started by gluing down (I use glue sticks) pages from an old novel, then painting them yellow and green to match the cut-outs I was going to use. Then I painted a border around both pages to repeat the border in the cut-out. Using a pair of decorative scissors and a hole punch, I made the paper lace to go under the fireplace picture (which I had glued in). Using watercolors, I painted a little house, a bunch of flowers and little yellow hearts. For added dimension I wanted them to be a little thicker, so I made my own chipboard pieces by gluing them onto the cereal boxes, then cut them out and sanded the edges. The little house had a hole punched in the top and threaded with pearl embroidery cotton to hang on the binder ring.

I love books and it’s fun making my own. It can be about anything I want it to be. My efforts won’t ever be featured in Cloth, Paper, Scissors or a Stampington magazine, but I really enjoy it, it costs almost nothing and as they say, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Linked to:
Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.

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Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Paper, Family, Free, Thrift, Using What You Have

My Sister’s Paper Doll Altered Book

Fran's altered book cover


A few years ago my sister was in an altered book Round Robin. She chose paper dolls for her theme and she ended up with the most wonderful book!

Here are some of the pages. Unfortunately, I can’t give credit to the individual artists (because I don’t know them), but some of them initialed their pages. My sister did the cover herself.

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Filed under Altered Books, Childhood pastimes, Fashion, Paper Dolls, Using What You Have

November 16, 2009


Mamosa, my blogging friend over at Eyes on the Prize, just tagged me to name 10 random things about myself and pass it on to 10 others. The goal is for us to all get to know each other better.

Seems to me that I’m a rather transparent, simple person and that anyone who talks with me for a few minutes or reads some of my posts will probably be pretty familiar with me. But I’ll try.

1962 Barbie tennis
1. Vintage Barbie dolls, 1958-1964 are one of my favorite things. They bring back very pleasant memories just looking at them. Mine was a 1962 brunette bubble-cut (I call it the Jackie Kennedy hairstyle) which came with a red mailot bathing suit and black high heels. Alas, I no longer have mine, but a few years ago I paid way too much for a replacement original at a doll shop in Fort Worth. Playing with Barbies did not scar me or make me feel inadequate.

11-16-2009 I Remember Mama script
2. The Drama Department was one of two main things that kept me in high school (the other reason I stayed was that my brother had dropped out and my mother never got over it. I couldn’t do that to her.) Norma Davis was a wonderful, kind Christian teacher who really helped me by giving me a chance to blossom when I discovered my love of theater. Auditions can be really scary things and I chickened out at the door when I was a sophomore. But in my junior and senior years I got the lead in the class plays and won the Best Actress awards for both years. Over the years, I’ve only done a few community theater shows and one at the junior college, but just walking into a live theater gives me a rush. There’s nothing like walking around on a stage, either empty or a fully dressed set. The atmosphere, the smell, the magic. Ahhh.

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/content/dam/property-images/en-us/gr/us/tx/galveston/18122/18122_exterior_view_1.jpg?crop=3000:2000;*,*&downsize=1800:*
3. Galveston is my favorite place in Texas. Of course the water is nicer in Corpus Christi and obviously it is touristy and I know that men in Italian suits (you know what I mean) used to do a lot of business there. But it’s tropical, affordable, historical (until the 1900 hurricane it was the largest city in Texas), beautiful, reachable (only 6 hours away by car) and fun. Not for me the luxury resorts in foreign places. Nothing beats staying at the Galvez Hotel (built in 1911), eating breakfast in the dining room (with beautifully appointed settings on starched, white table cloths), walking on the beach, feeding the seagulls, going to one of the many museums, eating seafood at Gaido’s, and mostly just driving along the seawall with the windows down.

4. With only a couple of exceptions, I have sewn my own curtains during our 36 years of marriage and also made a lot of clothes. But I have never put in a zipper and have a lot of trouble with sleeves and collars. Patterns need to be simple for me. It would be better if I would actually learn to sew better because I’ve always been hard to fit. I’m tall (about 5’10) and it’s not easy finding things that fit correctly.

5. I’m passionate about not being in social drinking situations. My father became an alcoholic when I was a young teenager and nothing good ever comes of drinking too much. Nothing. That said, I don’t think drinking alcohol is wrong or evil, but excess is and I know very few people who stop at one drink. Alcohol could be a real problem for me because I love the taste of champagne and Tecate beer, but I limit it to one or less and very rarely have any. For goodness sake, I’m 55 years old and can’t quit biting my fingernails – how good would I be at having to give up something really difficult?

6. My politics have come full circle, or at least my political affiliations have. The Watergate hearings were going strong when I registered to vote. My daddy and his family were yellow dog Democrats, in fact a good way for my dad to get mad and start cussing was for a Republican to be on television. But watching the hearings, I was absolutely appalled at the way the Democrats were acting – they were like witches dancing naked in the moonlight. So, I registered Republican. A few years later, I re-registered Democrat but always voted for who I thought was the best candidate and have never voted for a pro-abortion candidate. Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter was my selection in 1976, but I voted for Ronald Reagan both times. It was Bill Clinton who drove me back into the arms of the Republican party.

Carla Edens, Joe Hoag, EC graduation May 1972
7. Long straight hair and little or no make-up were the styles when I was young and it’s not been easy to leave that behind. For years I almost never wore any make-up, and now I only do when going to town, and not always then. But I no longer have the glow of youth (walking by a mirror or a plate glass window is like a Halloween scare); a little powder and mascara sure help polish me up. My hairstyling skills are almost as good as my sewing, and I don’t know what to do with my hair and I’m way too cheap to get it done often. Mostly I wear a pony-tail, about every year or 2 getting it cut into a short page boy… it’s probably time for my annual trip to Pro-Cuts.

8. Raised in the Southern Baptist Church,I became charismatic in my teens. I love the SBC but some things about it irritate me. The ‘moderates’ went way too far, but some of the conservatives have swung back too far (even more conservative than the Bible and that’s not right). It feels so familiar and at home when we attend one, but then I start to feel like I need to hide the scriptural things I believe, and that’s just not right. So, we don’t know what to do. We are between churches right now and I would so love to have a church home where we can worship, share, learn and fellowship.

9. I used to have a very good memory (my husband does not think this is a good thing). Maybe it was memorizing those scripts (by the time opening night rolls around, one usually knows not only their lines but everyone else’s as well). I can remember what I was wearing when, and sometimes what someone else was wearing and describe the outfits. Trivial Pursuit is one of my favorite games but I don’t get to play very often. I am a wealth of useless information (the Battle of Hastings was 1066; don’t ask why I remember this or what it has to do with anything). My memory is not as sharp as it used to be, and since my mother has Alzheimer’s, this concerns me a little.

10. Today’s my birthday. I share it with the state of Oklahoma. Mine in 1954, Oklahoma’s 1907.

I don’t know 10 other bloggers very well, but I will post here later the ones that I’m tagging. Some bloggers have Tag Free/Award Free Zones and I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

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Filed under Faith, Family, Galveston, Oklahoma, Texas, Theater, Tulsa, Vintage Barbie

Through It All

THROUGH IT ALL
by Andrae Crouch

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow.
I’ve had times when I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation,
That my trials only come to make me strong.

I’ve been a lot of places
And I’ve seen so many faces,
But there’ve been times I’ve felt so all alone.
But in that lonely hour
In that precious, lonely hour,
Jesus let me know I was His own.

Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

So I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys.
I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through.
Cause if I never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I wouldn’t know what faith in His Word could do.

Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
Yes, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

A really nice version by Selah on youtube. Also on their album Hiding Place.

This morning I read Brenda’s Sunday Afternoon Tea post on Coffee, Tea, Books and Me concerning the trials of this life and that as Christians, we know that this world is not our home and we look toward the time when we will be with Jesus in heaven. She writes about how life doesn’t turn out like we plan or think it will, either with income or health.

Honestly, I don’t think I ever had the expectations she had about comfortable income and life plans. My life didn’t begin with material comfort, and I never expected it to. Of course, there have been times of more prosperity than others. When my dad and brother had their own businesses, we were quite comfortable. And Joe has a good job but as it was with my dad’s factory work, we have had a lot of experience with lay-offs. During the past 27 years, Joe has been laid off 6 times. Going without regular income for a year or two (that has happened twice) depletes resources and takes a good long while to recover from.

God has always provided and I’m thankful for what he’s given us. While Joe was in college and we were expecting our second son, my dad gave us the down payment for the mobile home we still live in. Over the years we would occasionally think about buying a house, but never could decide on one. Almost without fail, Joe would be laid off within a few months and we would be so glad we didn’t take that leap, because we would’ve lost a house when the income dropped.

For many years we wanted to move out onto rural property, but acreage with houses is way beyond our means. Then in 2001, we found our land and moved the trailer out here to our own place. Joe removed not only the wheels but the axles, too. He named it Kizzie (from Alex Haley’s Roots: a woman named her daughter Kizzie because “she was gonna stay put”). No more moving this house on wheels. Bought new in 1980, we have lived in it 6 different places.

I have plans for remodeling, adding a screened-in dining porch on the front, big wide porch on the front for rocking chairs and summer mornings, a deck on the back for sitting in the winter sun. Most of that will have to wait for Joe’s retirement because we just don’t have the time for big projects.

I’d like some improvements, but I’m grateful for what I have. The world doesn’t understand. If it did, it wouldn’t take such pleasure in remarks about trailer trash. It’s the politically acceptable prejudice. Those who wouldn’t dream of discriminating racially, seem almost proud to despise mobile homes. I remember what James Carville said about Paula Jones, something to the effect that you never know what you’ll get if you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park. Or people who don’t want you on the PTA board at your son’s school, because you “wouldn’t fit in”. Or a woman who turns away from talking to you when she asks where you live and you tell her. Because the world judges on the outward appearance.

There was a really wonderful passage in Phillip Gulley’s novel Just Shy of Harmony on page 128:

Outside the trailer, winter was coming on. A skiff of snow blew across the fields. A car drove past on the highway. The driver looked at the sagging, tired trailer, saw the lights go off, and felt the cold push of a northern wind nudge his car toward the shoulder.

“Wouldn’t you hate living there?” the driver said to his wife.

“I can’t imagine anything worse.”

But back in the trailer, on that night of love reborn, there was no other place Wayne and Sally would rather have been than in their little trailer, with all the world at bay.

Beautifully written, I’ve never seen anything else like it in print.

Health and family are where my expectations were not realised. I expected to live as I always had until I died. About 25 years ago, I knew there was something wrong with the way I occasionally felt (especially when tired), but my doctor couldn’t find anything. Six years ago I got the diagnosis of fibromyalgia when going in for problems with plain old arthritis. These are not crippling problems; most days are okay if I don’t forget to take the ibuprofen, but then there are the days when I’m down all day, maybe several days. Makes it very difficult to commit to plans. Volunteering had been a part of my life since I was a child, but now I’m very limited.

But I’m grateful, because it’s not what I call serious. It’s not life threatening, just limiting. I’m still mobile and still travel, although I prefer something other than flying. I have fallen in love with trains.

Family is where I have had the biggest blows to expectations. We’ve really had our share of anguish, which I will not elaborate on. Family is where we have invested our money because our loved ones are more important to us than lovely houses, wonderful houses or material gain.

Family is very valuable to me. Never did I think my mother would get Alzheimer’s and live in a nursing home. I always wanted several children but had three miscarriages.

We have 2 handsome, brilliant sons whom we love very, very much. Our older son has blessed us with 2 wonderful grandsons. But we now have 2 almost ex-daughters-in-law. And even when they weren’t ones that I would’ve chosen for my sons, it has really hurt to lose them. It feels like amputation.

So when I think about the vicissitudes of life, I think about this song, which I love.

The trials only come to make me strong.

O Lord! Have I learned anything? Have they made me strong?

Oh, I hope I haven’t wasted my sorrows.

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Filed under Aging, Alzheimer's, Faith, Family, Vicissitudes of Life