Sunday, November 25, 2012

Froggy Went a Carolin'

Thanksgiving involved a whirlwind trip to Illinois and special, quality time with family. Today, back home, the Christmas decorations are tugging at my sleeve.

I'm struggling a bit to find my decorating mojo this year. Can't really explain it, other than that I seem to have lost several months between last Christmas and this holiday season and it's thrown me off my game. My, how time flies when you get older!

Sitting in the family room last week, I looked across at the stack of flower frogs that showed off some of my pressed leaves. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it before. The stack looked a bit like a tree.

So, even before I pulled out the boxes of Christmas decorations, I created a row of frog Christmas trees to display on a small, rustic shelf.

Two of the trees stand atop bases of overturned antique sconce pieces.

If you have a few flower frogs laying around the house, you'd be surprised at how versatile they can be. I use them year-round for decorating. They are handy for displaying photos and postcards and holding pens, pencils and paintbrushes. And, yes, they're great for the purpose they were intended to fill.

A beautiful black glass frog, hidden inside a jack o' lantern, created the base for my annual fall collection of dried garden goodies. I call him Wilson.

Use a collection of frogs as a focal point in your decorating year round.

The small glass frogs look a little like snowflakes and make a nice, sparkly addition to holiday decor..

If you're one who thinks frogs are fair-weather friends, dust off your pieces for endless year round decorating fun. If you don't have any flower frogs, consider picking up a few at an estate sale, thrift store or on Etsy or eBay. They're reasonably priced and a joy to work with.

Make it a great day!
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Finally Found Her

I can't even remember how long I've been looking for an affordable vintage dress form. She didn't have to be perfect. She didn't have to be beautiful. She just had to be.

Now, after all this time, meet Marvey (short for Marvelous).  I met her at a local estate sale and took  her home with me. She isn't perfect. Her body is unevenly faded and more than a little dusty (she fits right in around here), her innards are rusty, but all the parts work (more than I can say about myself!) and she has a number of small blemishes on her skin. But, she stands tall, proud and stately.

Take a look inside her and you get a glimpse of a bygone era and a forgotten project.

Recently, when I was cleaning out my work room, I pulled out a few items I had stored away in one of my old steamer trunks. Here's Marvey modeling some of my personal '70s fashions.

My mother was an accomplished seamstress. When my sister and I were growing up, Mom made most of our clothes (something that, unfortunately, we didn't fully appreciate at the time). She taught herself to knit and also knew how to crochet. In 1970, I headed off to college in style in this wonderful poncho she knitted for me.

While I was still in college, she crocheted this striped beauty. Are you getting the sense yet that I loved ponchos?

It didn't stop there. In what could have been dubbed The Year of the Poncho, Mom also made me a gorgeous brown plaid wool poncho with a hood. It was fully lined and finished with a gorgeous brown trim and big wooden buttons. Imagine the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I discovered that poncho wasn't in the steamer, where I thought I had stored it along with the other two. Oh, I do hope I find it somewhere. When I reflect on my college years, I most often visualize myself in one or another of those lovingly made, wonderfully special ponchos.

To close out today's 1970s style show is this fabulous crochet and suede vest. Far out, as we used to say! My mom didn't make this one. I found it at a thrift store back in the 1980s and have held on to it over the years. It's in like new condition.

Thank you, Marvey, for making this fashion retrospective possible.

Make it a great day!
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Melancholy November

How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

-   Elsie N. Brady, Leaves

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny autumn day. The temperature here was 75 degrees--unusual for this time of year. By evening, it was raining and a cold front moved in. Today's high is predicted in the upper 30s.

So, here it is. Another November.  Melancholy November.

November makes me feel unsettled, caught between the teardown of Halloween and the anticipation of decorating for Christmas in the manner to which my family has become accustomed.

Do you feel it yet? That itch? That urge to pull out the Christmas boxes and get right to it?

No, no. Patience. Still nearly two weeks until Thanksgiving. Oh, if I can only hold on for another week! Yes. That would be better . . . 

Make it a great day!
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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pearls and Scraps

Halloween's over. No point in lingering. I'm ready to move on to Christmas.

What happened to Thanksgiving, you ask? For the past 26 years, we've traveled to Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with my husband's family. Over the years, weather has prevented us from going only a couple of times. Because we don't spend the holiday in our home, I automatically move directly from Halloween mode to Christmas mode in my decorating. And, now that our children are grown and gone, that's even easier.

Even though the Fall decorations are still up throughout the house, this weekend I was itching to make something Christmas-y.

After the holidays last year, my local grocery store, which has a fantastic floral shop, had what seemed like a mountain of Christmas items left for clearance. I bought out every one of these little feather trees, among other holiday items. The trees are small and sweet and whimsical.

Being vintage myself, I have a distinctly vintage decorating style. So, I didn't care for the bright white of these pretty little trees and planned from the outset to "age" them and give them some simple embellishments. I also planned to plant them in these small, vintage metal molds.

After giving the trees a tea bath,  I prettied them up with little scraps of a net crinoline and satin from a beautiful, but tattered 1940s wedding dress that I am using on a custom project for a friend. Then I added faux pearls from my collection of broken-down and cast-off vintage jewelry.

As I was preparing the vintage mold bases, I remembered I had three small vintage milk glass jars and decided to see how they looked. Can you believe it? The base of the trees fit perfectly in the jars. They seemed to be made for each other. I'll likely make more of these and put some in the metal molds.

I'm toying with the idea of a light dusting of glitter. What would you do? To glitter or not to glitter--that is the question.

Make it a great day!