Sunday, September 30, 2007

Of parks and pumpkins

Yesterday we attempted to take Jack to a local PBS event called Arthur's Picnic in the Park. I stupidly thought it would be great fun, we would get to meet Curious George (which Jack has already done once, but he was pretty young then and doesn't remember), Bert & Ernie, Arthur and more. What I didn't realize was that they would set up tents, put a different character in each tent, and then have 2 and 3 year olds line up for up to 2 hours to see "each" character. (So 5 hours later you would have seen maybe 3 characters.) I had imagined the furry things would be walking around, like at Disney World, so I told Jack that George was just too busy to play today and we left.

We did what any other Halloween crazed people would do, and went to the pumpkin patch instead. (But not before playing with a giant Hibiscus we found lying on the grass on the 2 mile hike back to the car. Man, he is so cute in that flower picture I could eat him up.)
As soon we arrived at the pumpkin farm Jack yelled out, "It's a pumpkin party! Look at all those pumpkins." (That big pile o' pumpkins is reportedly 56,000+ pounds of pumpkins.) He ran around the farm putting pumpkin after pumpkin into the wagon. I think he would have bought 100 pumpkins if we would have let him. He is particularly fond of the "tiny pumpkins."

I guess it's a good thing I decided to have a pumpkin party for the "number free burfday" then, eh?
When I was uploading the photos from yesterday I realized how much taller Jack is than last year when he could walk through that tunnel easily. By next year I imagine he will be crawling through it!
And my sewing machine is repaired at last! I whipped up a quick pillow as a gift for someone, but I need to get on that huge pile of things to be sewn. Jack really has his heart set on an owl costume for Halloween, and with time flying at the rate it is right now, I need to get the other projects done so I can get started on that very soon.

Guess I had better go clean up the messy disaster in there now then. LOL

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tablecloth Thursday

Wow, Thursday again already? Jack and I went to a HUGE kids consignment sale this morning, and as a treat for not acting like a wild thing while we were there, we went to the park afterwards. There was a toddler there having a gigantic temper tantrum, and Jack very seriously asked me, "What's wrong with that baby?" I really had to chuckle because this is the kid who does the same thing several times a day. LOL

I tried to choose a few cloths this week that illustrate those burning questions everyone asks me about: stain removal and cutting. I found this huge cloth wadded up in a box at a flea market for a dollar. It was really dirty and smelly, but I am not at all phased by that. My general stain removal arsenal includes: spray and wash, liquid oxiclean (in the blue bottle), dawn dish soap, powdered oxiclean, Clorox bleach pens, lemon juice, and sunshine.
(Sweet little bridge tablecloth, used for St Patrick's Day.) I know I say this a lot, BUT, it is worth repeating, do not get crazy trying to remove stains from a cloth that is really precious to you. Washing, drying, bleaching, etc. can cause holes. Stains, holes, etc. are part of the cloth's history, in some cases more than 60 years worth of Sunday dinners, and I am totally ok with those imperfections.

Usually I start cleaning a cloth by just spraying it with the Spray N' Wash, letting it sit and then laundering in cold water. If I do not get decent results that way, then I move onto boiling them in Oxiclean. I have a pot I use just for that, and I just let them simmer on the stove until they start looking clean. As a last resort, I use the bleach pen. If the spots are particularly greasy looking, Dawn works really well. I line them dry as much as possible, in the winter I hang them in my laundry room.

If a cloth is really precious or rare, then I try the old lemon juice and water trick and just keep letting it sit in the bright sunshine (re wet it every time it dries). You would be amazed at what stains just the sun alone will bleach out.
I also picked this cloth up for a dollar because the dealer had been unable to get it clean. I spot tested it with the bleach pen, and the stain wouldn't budge. Since it was a brownish stain, I pulled out the rust remover. (I like Whink.) Sure enough, the stain that covered more than 75% of the cloth was rust. The rust remover removed it completely within a few minutes.
I picked up this sweet fruit cloth 2 weeks ago. I know that it is really the "in" thing at the moment to cut up vintage tablecloths, but honestly, even seeing that makes me feel a little weak in the knees. (Particularly when I see the valuable or rare cloths being cut up, I have to click away quickly and bite my tongue.)

I will only cut into a cloth as a very last resort, and I have only done it once before. Sadly, this beauty will be number 2.
I have tried every permutation possible to try and work out how to just cut it into a smaller tablecloth, but there are just so many holes, and so many really, really big holes, that I cannot find a way to salvage it other than cutting it up. I can live with dime sized holes, or even a quarter sized hole or two, but this one has 3 or 4 holes as big as a softball plus a million smaller ones. It's too bad really, but it does happen.

You can see more tablecloths today at Vacuuming in High Heels & Pearls and The Hunt for Vintage and Brenda's Little Cottage . Leave me a note if anyone else has their tablecloth up today and I will get a link to you here!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's a Jack attack

In the deep dark recesses of my mind I knew that age 3 would be more challenging than age 2. We are still a few weeks away from 3, but Jack is definitely kicking it up a notch around here. Every request is met with "Ugh, fine, whatever you want." Or even worse "I don't want to" or "I don't need to" or "You do it." Apparently he no longer needs to do any of the following: eat, sleep, pick up his toys, follow directions or wear pants! (He said to Dave the other night at bedtime, "My father, I told you I do not need to wear pants!")

And the temper tantrums. Well, oh my is about all I can say about them right now. I really hope this, well, phase, stage, whatever it is passes quickly.
(According to Jack the carrots are the train track and the apples are the train.) Good things have been happening with him too though:
*He is pretty independent (finally!) about putting on his pants and his shoes (no shirts yet).
*He is puzzle crazy right now.
*He is asking more involved questions and recognizing sequential events. "Why are all the 'leebs' falling?" "Autumn is here, all the leaves will fall off the trees by Halloween and then in the winter time it will snow." "It will snow?" "Yes." "And Daddy can play with me in the snow?" (When we have a good snow day Dave works from home so we can all play in the snow together.)
*He is asking me to write the ABCs with him all the time. And still asking to read a million books. I ordered the pre-reading Hooked on Phonics set for him last week, and hopefully that will help me keep him entertained/interested and less frustrated!

I stumbled on an awesome website yesterday My Kid Rocks , and we will be putting her ideas to good use. We used to have a pretty rigid schedule so that Jack always knew what we would be doing and when, but over the summer we have been totally lazy about a schedule. It's definitely time for Jack and I to go back to a schedule of some sort to keep us both moving happily along.

Back tomorrow with Tablecloth Thursday!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Over the moon

About a month ago I decided I needed to find an old owl die cut and put it on a giant glittery moon for Halloween. I had been trolling Ebay for an owl that was reasonably priced (forget it, vintage Halloween on Ebay = crazy) and then I stumbled on some old Halloween decorations at a yard sale 2 weeks ago. Jackpot! There was my owl.

Dave helped me cut the HUGE moon out of a big piece of mat board I had left over from when we framed Jack's new room art. I glittered it outside one morning while Jack was digging in the sand. Man was that ever a mess, I had glitter everywhere for days. I used that Martha Stewart glitter that I swore I didn't like, but this thing is nearly 3 feet tall, way too big for glass glitter. And actually I wasn't even sure how many bottles of the Martha glitter it was going to take. (For the record, it only used about a 1/2 of a jar, but I had to keep refilling the jar.)
(A bedhead Jack for scale, Jack is about 38 inches tall.) The only other issue is that because the Martha glitter glue dries rather quickly, and the moon is so big, I could only apply the glue in small sections at a time, which left me with some stripes where I had to overlap with the next section.

But never mind all of that, I am still over the moon for it!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Time off

In an effort to carve out a little more time to myself, I have been heading off junking alone on Saturday mornings while Jack and David go for bike rides or work on "projiks." It works out pretty well, since I leave early and get a good 4 or 5 hours to myself, but yesterday I was stuck in traffic for hours and I just plain missed my guys.

I did find some really spectacular treasures this weekend. These pottery candlesticks, which aren't that old, but are the perfect soft shade of robin's egg blue.
Awesome melamine dinnerware. The birds! The trees! The color! This is the platter...
and there were 5 dessert/salad sized plates also.
A pink feed sack with a cotton print. I will never, ever cut into this beauty. I think I am going to add some kind of edging and use it as a curtain over my back door window.
Back to the grind with me! (Although it hardly feels like work when it just looks so gorgeous on that clothesline.)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Momentary lapse?

Hmmm, apparently yesterday was Thursday. LOL I sorta spaced on tablecloth Thursday. It's a good thing I am up for tablecloths any day of the week. I love, love, love this brown cloth. I hope you will click on the pictures to enlarge them so you can really appreciate the delicate yellow designs on it.

For me this cloth is a shining example of how my tablecloth love has evolved. I am not sure I would have even noticed, much less bought, this cloth a few years ago. I am not sure it would have been "vintage" enough, if that makes any sense. I think I prefered the more classic ones then, red and blue or pink and white. Oh, but she will be beautiful on a harvest table, won't she?
This is also a recent discovery, with lilacs. Lilacs remind me of my grandmother. It has a bit of a pesky hole about the size of a dime right in the center green field, but, I am not deterred by a pesky little hole. I will patch it if I find the time, otherwise I will use it as is.
This cloth was an Ebay purchase a few months ago. I very rarely buy them on Ebay, and this cloth is pretty representative of why. It was relatively cheap (I think $4 or so plus shipping) and I couldn't resist the fat little birds, but the seller was totally clueless about the HUGE problem this cloth actually has.
If you look closely here you can see some yellowing which is actually a fugitive dye problem. See those faint scallops and the polka dots? Additionally the entire center should have been whatever color the figutive dye was.

I noticed this when I held it up to the sunlight to check for stains. What I first thought was a lot of staining started to appear in a very regular circular pattern. Had the seller known what he/she was doing, she would have noticed that half the dye is missing from the cloth!

I think that figutive dyes are not a particularly rare problem, and it generally happens with green, brown, black or blue dyes that date to Pre-World War II. Obviously the cloth is still useable, but by the time I have shelled out $10 for a tablecloth, I would have preferred it to be in better condition. And really that is why I never buy on Ebay, everyone has a different idea of what top dollar is, and a different idea of holes, stains, etc. I never trust anyone who says that the stains "will come out with oxiclean," because chances are she has already tried that so she could make more money on the cloth.

Speaking of stains, someone was asking what I do about the stains and such. I do have some info in FAQ section, which is linked to in the sidebar over there, but, in general, I do not have any sort of top secret method. I wash every cloth differently and use a different amount of aggression on getting it clean based on it's importance to me. If I really, really love it, I go easy on it. They tend to get holes if you wash them too much or too agressively. (Particularly the Christmas ones. Goodness do they shred easily.) I will try and get some more specifics down for you all next week. (On Thursday this time! LOL)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Keep on swimming

Thank you all for your kindness. I need to keep working to find some acceptance for our current state of affairs, as it is quite apparent that this going to be our reality for some time. So, I am going to just keep on swimming. (Thanks LLA!)

With no sewing machine I am "forced" to resort to paper crafts. (I actually quite like paper crafting, but I don't really have the supplies that I do for sewing, so it requires careful planning. Jack only lasts about 2.2 seconds in Archivers before disaster is looming. At least during this trip there were about 20 other kids his age having an equally hard go of it.)

Despite having taken 20 photographs of this guy in every light imaginable, I haven't really captured the metallic papers very well. But you get the idea, right? I always have one idea in my head and then when I get to the store I can never find the paper I envisioned. (I was hoping for orange and brown polka dots for the background.) I am glad I had to go with the stars now, they are just right. Hoooooot, hoooooooot, I am still looking forward to Halloween!

BTW, did anyone else watch Kid Nation last night? I cried a little with Jimmy, but man kids are amazing creatures. I was so impressed with their kindness, their enthusiasm and their bravery.

I will be back tomorrow with something. Who knows what though. LOL

Monday, September 17, 2007


Where to begin? I feel like I have been on a sinking ship for at least the last 6 or 7 weeks. Just when things start to right themselves a little, we hit another big wave, take on more water and sink just a little lower.

My grandfather has been back in the hospital again since last Friday. At this point I have lost count of how many hospital stays he has had since late July. The extra work of caring for him, his house, his dog, the hospital visits, the home health care, the social workers, and now even animal control is wearing on us all. Particularly Jack, who is still not sleeping, who is into everything and who will not behave while I am trying to answer a million phone calls.
We had a very balanced life before all of this. Time to cook, time to play, time to craft, time to do just about everything.

Now there is always a mile long list of "must do's," seemingly none of which can wait another minute. Time to myself is quickly becoming a distant memory, and the lack of any free time to be creative, to do anything other than take care of everyone, is really starting to show as I get crabbier with every passing minute.
This is pretty obvious around "here" too, where things are quiet for nearly a week at a time, where I have no time to scan Jack's new portraits, no time to record the passing milestones, no time to look forward to his upcoming birthday and so much more.

This is the first year that Jack is really aware of his upcoming birthday, he knows how old he will be, he knows what month his birthday is in now, he knows he will be getting presents, and yet, this is the first year that I have not put a moment's thought into the party. By now I should be knee deep in making the invitations, crafting the decorations, ordering the supplies, planning his presents, and scouting out party food.
Oh well. Hopefully things will slow down soon, and if not, I will survive. Everything is temporary, right?

Photos are from the top: thrifted enamel pitcher (been looking for one of those forever), hanging aluminum tree (perfect solution to the "I want an aluminum tree but the cats will eat it" problem), HUGE piece of Haeger pottery (not sure if I love it or hate it, but the price was right), gorgeous glass bead ornament (hard to come by and in excellent condition).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tablecloth Thursday

Until about an hour ago, my mind had been filled with a million different things. The death of that darn pumpkin already, how to deal with Jack's burgeoning 3-year-old attitude, the Husqvarna sewing machine that is less than 6 months old and the parts that Husqvarna apparently can't seem to manufacture to fix it until October, the ton of chemicals I had to load onto the backyard so that we can actually go out the door again, the birthday party invites that need to be made quickly, and on and on and on.

And then I popped onto Katie's blog and suddenly there is nothing more on my mind than her little family and their well being. If you don't already visit Katie, I am sure she could use plenty of extra words of encouragement today. At least we can fill up her blog with love, right?
So, how about them tablecloths? (I am having a hard time finding the heart to talk about my tablecloths now, so please excuse any awkwardness.)

I counted the collection a few weeks ago and I was at 125. (I have added a few since then, of course.) The tablecloth of the week in the kitchen is the autumnal leafy one. I try to change the kitchen tablecloth at least once a week in the hopes of them all getting used in the course of a year. However, I was having the hardest time choosing when I opened those drawers, so now that is Jack's job. He is great at it, and he often picks ones that I was never choosing.
One thing I really love about collecting tablecloths is that no matter how many I seem to amass in those drawers I never seem to find the same pattern twice. (Aside from the strawberry cloth, one of which now resides with Heidi .)

I was SO excited to find this one this week. I almost did that squeal out loud thing. It's a Wilendur cattail pattern. I seem to have very few of the highly recognized Wilendur cloths, so I was thrilled to add this one to the collection. (I don't even have one of the American Beauties that is featured at Hollyhocks today, and that is a pretty common pattern.) If you want to see an interesting Wilendur cloth, do a completed Ebay search for the "Wilendur Indian Corn" and watch your eyes pop out at the price of that beauty!
I also found this one this week, and more squealing ensued. I have been eyeing this pattern on Ebay for quite awhile now. Sweet little farm scenes complete with scarecrows. Perfect for fall.
Getting a good photograph of this Startex teapot cloth is still eluding me. The teapots are very light colored and the tablecloth is a very feminine, shabby beauty.

Now that I have eliminated some of the mosquito problems, I hope to carry on with getting every single tablecloth photographed and up on Flickr. In the meantime, I do have the ones I got photographed this summer up there and I will put some close-ups of today's cloths on there as well.

You can see another Tablecloth Thursday at The Hunt for Vintage . (Her kitchen is so sweet!) If you have posted one of your tablecloths leave me a comment and I will add a link to you as well.

Happy Tablecloth Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lord of the gourd?

Did anyone else watch Lords of the Gourd on PBS recently? Many, many moons ago my old pumpkin finally rotted. We threw it on the compost heap and never gave it another thought. Sometime around June of this year, Dave called me outside to ask me if there was a pumpkin vine growing in our compost heap. Sure enough, my old pumpkin had sprouted.

We have two of these HUGE vines in the backyard, but getting a pumpkin to grow on them is truly a battle of the wills. I have had a zillion flowering problems, squash beetles, and the mosquitos try to carry me off every time I go out there. (It finally turned cooler here last night and I swear the mosquitos are in a final frenzy. Suddenly there are millions of them swarming me constantly, it's worse than when we lived in Florida and went into the swamp.)
About 2 weeks ago I finally had a good male flower and good female flower, so out I trot to hand pollinate them in hopes of having a pumpkin (finally!). I do "the deed", come back inside and not 30 minutes later a nasty old squirrel had torn up the female flower! I was so mad I could have spit. I covered up what was left with the only thing I could find quickly, a cloth napkin from our wedding. LOL

Maybe it worked, cross fingers, knock wood and all of that. As of this morning I have the beginnings of a pumpkin.

The PBS documentary really made me feel better about the pumpkin problem, those people can grow a 1400 lb pumpkin, but everyone of them faces the same problems I have faced with mine this year. I couldn't help but laugh at the tales of chasing woodchucks with the garden hoe (I had serious thoughts of doing bodily harm to the squirrel) and the ring of mouse traps. I will certainly appreciate the pumpkin patch more this year!
I thrifted this book for Jack for 80 cents (retail price was $15.95). It occurred to me last night that books might be the best deal in the thrift store*. Jack and I walked the very long walk to Barnes and Noble yesterday, and after an hour of playing with the Thomas set up there, we walked away with 2 magazines for almost $10. Books and magazines are crazy expensive! It makes those books that I buy at yard sales for 10 cents each all that much sweeter. (And the crazy cheap internet magazine subscriptions too!)

*My local Goodwill is now trying to charge $4 for one, used flat twin sheet. I don't mean to be grouchy, but that is ridiculous.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


We are a bit grounded this week since our mini van is in the shop. (And we think in need of a rather large, expensive repair). Between being carless, having no sewing machine and Jack not napping I think I am going a little crazy. It might be a very long week!

We did manage to get to flea market this morning, but it has really been a dud for a few weeks. I picked up this rose fabric, which I really adore and is screaming to be made into a new bunting, but it is currently just going to taunt me until the return of the sewing machine.
A few vintage dish towels. The strawberry one has cute little berry baskets on it. I think the other is a tablecloth that someone cut up into towels. The dealer had a lot of them, and the pattern is just not quite right for a towel.
A Luray ball pitcher. I have no clue what I am going to do with this. I don't really collect these type of things, and it has 2 chips so not really a huge resale item. When he came down to $2 I figured I could throw some flowers in it or something. It is a pretty thing.
Ever since I saw the owl quilt block on Jessica's blog , I have been unable to get it out of my head. With the Husky down and out, the only place I could put it was on a shirt for Jack. (I am the world's slowest hand sewer.) With Halloween coming I could seriously make a million of these owls and put them everywhere. Love them, love them. Be sure to see her chicken quilt too! Amazing what a difference the bright colors made in that quilt pattern.

Vicki at Hollyhocks asked me if I would like to do a weekly tablecloth post, and we all know I could not resist that. Starting this Thursday, September 13th, I will be doing vintage tablecloth Thursdays. Would anyone else like to join us? If you do, leave me a note here or on Thursdays post and I will be sure to put a link to you up so other people can check out your lovely cloths.

I hope you all had lovely thrifty/crafty/relaxing weekends!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ode to summer

Summer is starting to draw to a close. We've gone swimming for the last time. We've gone to the last carnival.
We've chased fireflies and butterflies and even yucky old houseflies.

We've seen parades and tried cotton candy and eaten funnel cakes.
We've gone on long walks and bike rides and even tried flying a kite.

We've made our own ice cream and had family movie night and went to the movie theater for the first time.
We've gone on big train rides and little train rides and long car rides.

We've collected beetles and grasshoppers and cicada shells by the hand full.
We've been hotter than hot and played hide and seek in the house and hunted for turtles in the woods and oh so much more.

It's been a good summer.

We can't wait for fall. Pumpkin patches (Jack asks me every day when we can go) and Halloween costumes and turning "number free" and gathering acorns and watching the leaves change and our big family camping trip are awaiting us next.

I miss Florida a little, but the seasons in Missouri are grand!

Other bits of news from my world this week:
My grandfather had his surgery this week, it went well, and he is home already. Hopefully this will help him significantly.

My sewing machine is STILL not working.

Jack has been on a dairy free diet for 3 weeks now and for the first time in 2.5 years he is totally OFF his reflux meds. That is a very big deal for us.

We have a playdate tomorrow with an old friend from high school who I have not seen in (eeeekkk) 14 years? We reconnected via this little blog and I can't wait to see her and meet her beautiful kids!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

61 miles

We did all 61 miles of the 61 yard sale yesterday. Considering the sale started on Thursday night, I found some nice treasure. And cheap too. Next year I am going to try and get there on the first day of the sale. We took Jack with us like last year, and he was pretty excellent. (It did help that we had the portable DVD player with us to keep him entertained on the way down.)
I found some lovely pottery for my new collection, including this vase that is the perfect shade of pink on the inside.
Some nice ornaments. I think that color grading thing was called Sunset by Shiny Brite.
Gobs of old millinery flowers. I really never find those.
The sweetest, sweetest old crib quilt. 25 cents! Be sure to enlarge the photo to see the detail on the blocks.

And loads more, including vintage fabric and some pyrex, which will be on Flickr here .

We are off to take Jack to the last carnival of the season, and then swimming the last time tomorrow. I hope everyone is having a lovely holiday weekend!