Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Fifth Day of Christmas...

Good Evening, Everyone!
It really is just the 5th Day of Christmas....(Five Golden Riiiiiinngs!)
You know, I had never really given it much thought until recently...
If pressed, I would have said that Christmas Day would have been the day
that all those lords-a-leaping and and geese-a-laying were leading up to,
but I would have had it backwards...
December 25th is actually the "First Day of Christmas",
and we go from there ~
all the way to January 5th ~ the 12th Day of Christmas...
Then, January 6th is The Feast of the Magi.
I actually did know that (about the Magi),
and have used it as an excuse for many years now
to leave the Christmas decorations up a little longer...;^)
(My family would jump in here and say that the tree has been
left up a lot longer than that, but that's another story...)

Anyway, I am taking full advantage of it this year for sure,
so I can show you a few more Christmas things...
the ones I was going to show in all those posts (that didn't happen)
before Christmas...
Pink Christmas!
One of these days I am going to have a girly, all-pink Christmas...
in one room, anyway!
For now, this will do.

What could be better on a snowy winter evening

 than playing with the camera (with kitty-helpers) and

having a cup of Christmas tea, with wine and cookies?

I couldn't think of anything, either!

I got the sweet pink Christmas plates (Williams-Sonoma) last year at Goodwill...

(Don't you love Goodwill?)

They are the exact shade of pink as my Spode Camilla dishes,

and I thought they looked so pretty layered ~

Do you like my little frosty forest?

They're a Pinterest idea that I actually did!

More on those in a minute...

My celluloid Reindeer watches over the cookies with his ruby-glass eyes...

He is so old, and fragile (from the 30's I think) ~

he weighs practically nothing...

Those pretty shortbread and marshmallow cookies were in the

Mexican food section at the grocery store...I couldn't resist!


I had a lot of help from Miss Tallulah!
Okay, this was my Pinterest project.

It said that you could easily bleach the little green bottle-brush trees,

and turn them into that trendy cream color.

I didn't really think it would work without them

 coming apart and making a real mess...

But I tried it anyway ~

 I had a bunch left from a long-ago project, still in storage.

The Pinterest pin gave an exact amount of bleach to use per gallon,

but my mind doesn't work that way.

I was using my 4-cup measuring cup to begin with,

and just added a good shlosh of bleach to the water in the cup.

Then I dunked several trees in. (These are the little 2" ones.)

And lo and behold, it worked!

They began to lighten almost immediately,

and within about 15 minutes they were totally cream-colored!

So, I decided I would try it with a larger tree....

one of the pricier Dept. 56 ones I had.


Evidently, the more expensive the tree,

 the more color-fast dye they use, I guess...

My big tree lost just enough green to look dirty.

I even went back and did it exactly like the pin said...

(Which is here, at The Creative Patch.)

But it didn't matter...

So, I may try a stronger bleach solution, or I may just write this one

off as a lesson learned...only bleach cheap trees.


Here is my little creamy forest, drying.

(They also lightened as they dried.)

I rinsed them really well, but the original directions said to give them

a vinegar bath to get rid of all traces of bleach ~ I forgot that part.

I think it's okay without it.

Then I took the whole bunch of them out on my front porch,

along with some Elmer's spray adhesive

and a gallon zip-lock bag of mica flakes.

It was about 10 p.m. and snowing (the novelty of snow has worn off now, BTW)

and the wind was blowing and I was in my nightgown, but it didn't matter.

Things like this can't wait until morning...

I had to see what they would look like.

I just hoped those kids on the four-wheeler didn't come back by ~ (they didn't).

I sprayed them one-by-one and immediately stuck them in the bag of mica

and shook it, coating them ~ Shake 'n' Bake-style.

I took them out of the bag as soon as I got back inside,

and lined them up on the counter ~ good thing I didn't wait

too long, or I would have had a mica-covered blob of trees...

I hadn't thought about them sticking to each other...

But it worked out okay; they came apart fine.

I think they look really nice with the vintage reindeer!

And, last but not least, look at what my dear friend Elaine made me...
A little cotton-batting hula girl; we're calling her "Miss Mele"~ ♥
(I told Elaine when I called to thank her that I had considered
just breaking into a rousing chorus of "Mele Kalikimaka" when she answered,
but I was afraid she would hang up...;^)
That's all for now!
Have a wonderful Sunday, everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Baby Jesus & Woolworth's...

Good Evening, Everyone!
Almost Christmas.
You would think shopping would be winding down,
but Mr. B said it was still wild when he was out a little while ago, grocery shopping.
Jonathan, 18 now, did his first Christmas-gift shopping all by himself...
He came home, wrapped what he had purchased,
and went back out.
(To shop a little more ~ something he had forgotten ~ )
Thoroughly pleased with himself, I could tell.
I have spent the last few days totally immersed in finishing commissions
and "promises" the point that I didn't get things finished that were
gifts I was giving to some dear friends...
But, good friends that they are, they understand ~
We will continue the season throughout the upcoming weeks....
It is this way more often than not.
But really, Christmas should be a mind-set, not a rush to have
everything done by a certain date ~ don't you agree?
That's what I tell myself, anyway!
To quote Mr. Dickens,

" I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year.”


I wanted to share something that was so special to me when I was little...

My "Baby Jesus figures" ~ the "Manger Scene" , my Mom would correct ~

I had to have been really small when my Mom got the first ones,

and we would add one figure every year,

from Woolworth's 5 and Dime, in Sikeston, Missouri.

I remember Woolworth's...

I recently told a friend that it smelled like movie-theatre popcorn

and sounded like parakeets...

I can close my eyes, even though it's been 50 (+) years

and be right back there...

getting goldfish that would live for a few weeks,

or bubble bath that would last for a few minutes,

 that evening and a maybe a few more

(if I didn't pour too much in);

and then every Christmas, these figures that have lasted

for longer than anyone would have expected.

Mom always wanted us to pick the prettiest-painted faces,

and I've always thought that my Mother Mary and the Angel

had the most beautiful countenances...

as well as the Baby Jesus.

Three of my original figures pretty!

The funny thing is, up until the past few years,

I preferred newer Nativities...

Tasteful ones, all-of-a-color ~ I had a terra-cotta set when

my older children were small...

My dime-store set from the late 50s and early 60s,

 made of papier-mache and painted in bright colors,

was just too kitschy for my taste!

(It stayed boxed-up for many a Christmas, after I was grown...)

And now, I cherish it.

I look to eBay to add to it...

Who would have thought, after all these years,

that I could add more angels and shepherds from the same era?

This year, I added four angels...
and a smaller, lamb-carrying shepherd boy.
This is from my original set...twenty-nine cents...can you imagine?
And we just got one new figure a year.
This is the price tag on the camel...

If not for the tag left on, I would have thought he was from

my original set...that is what I thought...

until I turned him over and saw the Newberry's price tag,

and remembered getting him on a trip to Saint Louis to see my aunt...

if my Mom had removed the tag (the first thing I do when I purchase something

that will be displayed, whether it is on the bottom or not),

the memory would have been lost.

Photobucket ~

Look at this photo I found of a vintage, circa 1910 Woolworth's Christmas display...

Wouldn't you love to have a time machine,

as my friend Wendy says, and go back there?


This was downtown Sikeston, a long time ago ~ a vintage postcard that

shows where Woolworth's was on Front Street...

Downtown doesn't look like this anymore...

I look at the card, and picture what is there, now ~ a gift shop where

Woolworth's was. Surely that small retail space couldn't have contained all

those childhood memories!

If I don't post again before then,

I want to wish all of you the merriest of Christmases!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Pink Fairy House...

Hi, Everyone!
I just wanted to check in (since the world ends tomorrow ;^)
Just kidding...(fingers crossed) ~
to say hello and show you the completed pink Fairy House ~
on its way to Arizona, to a pink-and-fairy-loving little girl!
~ Photobucket
I had such fun with this!
 It's basically the same as the first one, with a few little additions...
I made a little "Merry Christmas" scroll, too, for the mailbox...
I really hope she loves it!

It's a gift from her aunt, one of my sweet readers here...♥

Are you all ready for Christmas?

It will be here soon, whether we are ready or not!

Tomorrow I'm painting more doggie ornaments...

No kitties this year, oddly!

Have a great Friday, all ~

I will catch up with everyone soon!

Adding this post to Beverly's Pink Saturday!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nine Days Until Christmas!

Good Sunday evening, everyone!
Can you believe, nine days until Christmas?
I was going to be such a good blogger this month, but it just didn't happen...
And, if you've left me a comment and I haven't responded, I apologize! ~
Crazy busy, here at my house...

I sold my little Fairy House

 and shipped Ellie's ornament to Lulu in England...

I wish I could have crawled in the box and gone there, too!

But then there wouldn't be anyone to get all these projects finished...


I have packing and shipping supplies all over the house...

Here, the kitties decided that they liked the rustle-y tissue paper...

Not the best photo, but Leo and Tallulah seldom lie so closely together...

"Like hens", we say.


Mr. B cut some more gourd "roofs" for me...

One of the gourds was originally going to be a birdhouse,

with the hole already cut.

It had been out on the patio since early spring, when I was working

on the first Fairy House.


I brought it inside earlier this week so I could mark the roofline to be cut.

It was inside for a couple of days before it was cut.

Afterward, Mr. B brought it in for me to see...

A black widow spider was nested up in the top of the gourd!!

Horrors!!...She could have decided to come out and look for prey...


I won't be bringing anything else inside that anything could be hiding in...

I can just imagine her coming out on me

 when I had the gourd on my lap, marking it!

We have lots of fields and a lot of construction nearby...

and LOTS of black widows...

Last summer, we counted 25 in the outdoor basement escape/window well...

They were outside, but just on the other side of the glass!

I'd only seen a few in my entire life, until we moved out here...

I don't know what it is that they are attracted to...

Maybe it was their territory to begin with and humans are the intruders!


Okay, here are the spider-free future Fairy Houses...;^)

I'm experimenting with using Creative Paper-Clay to make little dormers.


Here, I've painted the bases with an ochre-colored acrylic I mixed

to closely match the natural gourd color,

to help seal them and cover imperfections.

Then, I dry-brushed them with some metallic acrylic,

for a little more glimmer...


This is my very favorite metallic acrylic and my favorite color,

too ~ Lumiere Metallic Bronze.

Actually just more of a deeper, richer gold than it is "bronze";

I use it in place of "gold" often.

Love it!


Finally, I'm actually going to attempt to replicate

something I really loved on Pinterest.

This chair has been in our family for years and years...

It belonged to my Great Aunt Anna.

It was in such rough shape, with thick, bubbled varnish...

then it was in the fire...

I think it's actually just rough enough to be en vogue, now!

Here I am painting the undercoat in that rosy-grey color I'm fond of,

(Can you believe it is warm enough to spray-paint outside?)

Then I'm going to give it a light coat of white and sand it down.

The Pinterest photo showed a small antique birdcage on the seat,

filled with vintage pink ornaments.

 (I'll show that photo later.)

After looking on eBay and seeing how expensive

actual antique brass wire birdcages are

(and mentally putting the whole idea on a back burner...)

I just happened to go past a display of them in Hobby Lobby

and all metal decor was 50% off!

There were fancy ones, but I picked one that looked the most like the

vintage ones, pretty simple.

I'm also going to put "dark" silver ornaments in it, sort of a pewter color.

I love the pink, but thought these would go better with the rest of my things.

More on this in a couple of days...

I will try to finsh it in my free time! :^)

Have a wonderful week, all!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Evening...

Good Sunday evening, everyone!
I just wanted to check in and show you the finished "Ellie" ornament!
First, here is Ellie...
And here is her ornament...her human's ornament, actually!
And back! Now it's off to England tomorrow...;^)
I've been so busy I haven't actually decorated like I had planned, so here
are some of Mr. B.'s arrangements...
A little group of fellows on my sideboard...
Two Ino Schaller belsnickles, and a piece of original art by
Virginia Betourne, of Trout Creek Folk Art.
"Snowboy Goes to the Sauna" (see his little towel?) ~
Such fun!
And, a sweet little nest of vintage ornaments,
in a pressed-glass bowl that was my Mom's.
I think Mr. B. did well!
More tomorrow....
Oh, the Fairy House is on it's way to a new home,
and I'm getting ready to start another for a Fairy-loving little girl in Boston!
Have a great Monday!
Two whole weeks until Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Finished! (Almost)

Finally, the Fairy House is finished!

...Now it looks "right" as an indoor piece.
I added a little mossy, lichen-y green acrylic paint to the edges of some of the shingles...
and gave them another coat of satin sealer.
Then I made the steps go all the way to the "ground"
and added curly hand-rails...
I made a little over-the-door "light fixture" with two connected acorn caps...
One of the acorns I collected had a teeny, tiny baby acorn attached to the stem,
So I used it for a little doorbell.
I used another little acorn to make a fanciful flower on one side of the steps...
... and added little mushrooms on both sides.
It's not finished, but closer!
I finally got through the frustrating pinkness by giving the white areas
 an undercoat of gray...
Red is a strong and peculiar pigment!
Now I just need to finish the fur patterns that will make it uniquely Ellie...
and add a little holly...
then she will be off across the pond!
Have a great evening!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Fairy House, Revisited...

Well, Dears,

I didn't get quite as much completed (with pictures, anyway) as I thought I would today...
It was a productive day, but nothing has quite come together just yet,
so I'm going to do as I promised a sweet lady recently, and re-run some
photos of the Fairy House and try to better explain how I made it.

I started with two dried birdhouse gourds, one just slightly larger than the other.
The first step was to cut the top off the gourd (just a couple of inches)

that I planned to use for the main part of the house in order to

 fill it with sand, so it wouldn't blow away outside.

Then, I had Mr. B cut the top off the other gourd

 (approximately half -way down) for the roof ~

I drew on the gourd where I wanted him to cut it, making the roof-line

 go up a bit over where I planned to put the door with the little "arbor" over it.
Then I began cutting the scales off some large pinecones to use for shingles.
I started using scissors but quickly switched to some heavy-duty garden clippers ~
This is tough, no matter what you use!
 It does get easier after you get a few scales removed, though; it's easier
 to get the clippers positioned. Sometimes you can even pull the scales loose,
 but be sure and wear heavy gloves...
 (some varieties have really sharp little barbs ~ these did)!
I then trimmed the scales to about 2", and started hot-glueing
 them onto the roof, making the first row (at the bottom)
 hang over the edge a little more so the cut edge of the gourd wouldn't show.
 Then I just staggered the individual scales; they actually fit back together
 pretty much like they do on the pinecone.
Here you can see I've gotten quite a few of the scales glued on,
working around a little window I made from polymer clay.
 I rolled out a piece of black clay about 1/8", and then cut it into a rectangle.
 Then I rolled out a piece of brown clay a little thicker, about 1/4".
I cut it into a rectangle the same size as the black clay,
and used a little square mini-cutter (Hobby Lobby) to cut out the window "panes",
 then I stacked the two together. I used purple clay, rolled to about 1/4" thick for the shutters.
None of these are exactly straight, and that's okay; it just adds to the whimsy, I think!
 You can use any clay tool or just household items to add texture to the shutters.
I baked these pieces in the oven, then hot-glued them onto the roof
 just like the pinecone scales.
I wanted to keep the color of the gourd close to the natural gourd color,
 but I did add a little interest to it by dry-brushing on some sienna
 and metallic gold acrylic paint.
(The base is already painted in the photo above.)
Everything else is polymer clay.
 I did the door and windows just like I did the little "dormer" window on the roof,
 except I actually laid them on the gourd (turned on its side) to bake them
 (for the curvature), and then removed them and used white glue to re-attach them.
All the other little details are either rolled-out-and-cut or "pinched" pieces of clay.
 I think texture adds so much!
 I used a little clay tool to make the "dots" around the door, the hinges
 and on the steps, but you could do the same thing with a nail or hairpin.
 The vines are skinny snakes of clay,
 and the leaves are little rice-sized bits, pressed on the vines.
 I used a needle-tool to make the veins in the leaves.
The roses are the finishing touch!
I used two yellows and rolled out a bunch of little pea-sized balls of clay for the petals.
I then smooshed them pretty flat between my fingers...
this makes them really irregular, and that's a good thing ~
 they look more like actual petals!
 Roll one petal fairly tightly for the rose's center;
 then continue around, overlapping the petals until you get the size flower you want.
 Buds can be just a center roll with only one petal or two;
 pinch them to make them a little pointy.
A completed rose.
You can lightly brush the edges with just the tiniest bit of pink
 or peach Pearl Ex powder, if you like.
 In making the rose, you will probably have pinched a little "tail" on it...
use this to connect it to the vines (cover the tail with leaves),
so you won't mash the rose.
In making the arbor, I arranged the "vines" around the door
 and baked them on the gourd to get the rounded shape,
 just like I did with the windows and doors.
"Unbaked" polymer clay adheres to "baked" clay well;
and, the oven's heat doesn't affect the dried white glue ~
This is one of the reasons I didn't permanently attach the roof to the house;
I would have had all the hot-glued shingles sliding off the roof if it went in the oven!
There are probably other thick, tacky adhesives I could have used,
 but I'll experiment with that another day ~
After the last baking, I used a brown water-based antiquing gel to bring out
the textures on everything except the roses.
As for a sealer, you really have to be careful what you use on polymer clay.
Most spray sealers will eventually turn polymer clay to goo...
and you don't want that!
I use a water-based brush-on sealer called Diamond Flecto Varathane (Satin);
any water-based sealer will be fine, though. You really don't need
anything at all unless you just prefer a little more shine.
The finished house!
Until a just a few days ago, actually...
Someone asked me if I would consider selling it,
and I would, except that I had really only made it for myself,
 just to take pictures with in my garden...
and there were things that I thought should be "fine-tuned" before offering it for sale...
The steps, for instance, didn't go all the way to the bottom of the house,
as I had set it down in the soil a little in the garden, for stability.
So, I added more steps, "railings", and a few other little touches.
I'll show it in tomorrow's post, along with (hopefully) the finished Ellie ornament!
Happy Thursday!