Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every room is the craft room

I think you would laugh if you looked around my house today: the dining room table is strewn with ephemera, there are two sewing projects in the family room, there is a computer project on the kitchen table, and the guest bedroom bed is literally covered with my laces and trims.  You would think I didn't have an entire room devoted to my creations, but I do!  The thing is, I never work in there.  (Who's with me on this?)

Anyway, the dining room table project is my current passion: I'm putting together pages for one of the Silver Bella swaps I'm doing.  I have to do 15 pages, and while they can all be different, I had a goal to make mine similar.  You are to start off with a 7" x 11" page, and fold it in half to make four 7" x 5.5" pages.

Here's what I've come up with for the first one.  It's the only one I've completed so far -- my first try. (Note: I don't consider this a spoiler for the swap, because this is only one of 15 pages I'm doing and I'm not going to show you any more than this...until afterward!)

One page is sort of a "fashion" theme.

The reverse is embellished with sewing-type items.  We were encouraged to include blank spaces for the recipient to journal, etc.

This page has a royal/king/queen/fairy tale theme going.

I included embellishments like a storybook page from a Primer, an antique doily, and this really great cigar label.
Here's the back of that page; I wanted an extra section so I added this piece of sculpted wallpaper, which I inked and decorated, and backed it with other beautiful vintage wallpaper.  When you open it, it reveals the little bag.

It's really not quite complete, because I also plan to create a decorated tag to go into the bag.

Vintage ribbon and a piece of Dresden foil.

I've also left plenty of room for the recipient to place photos and other keepsakes in the book.  Also, I had a very hard time covering up the blue pages of that beautiful 1858 ledger I bought in Virginia!  That's the best part of the Silver Bella swaps, I think: I'm forcing myself to go all out and use all of my best stuff -- the stuff I usually want to hoard.

Now...I just need to make 14 more!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Happy birthday to me: Indulge Your Shelf on Etsy turns 2!

Today is my Etsy shop, Indulge Your Shelf's 2 year birthday!  I'm pleased with it; there's a lot of competition on Etsy as you probably know if you have a shop yourself, so my 143 sales and 200 people who call it a favorite mean a lot to me!

To mark the day, I decided to restock the shop.  In addition to marking down some items earlier this week, I've spent some time this morning listing some new items and have many, many more that I hope to get to throughout the coming days.
Fun and Funky Train Piggy Bank

Fairy Birthday Candles
Tiny Framed Scrap
Sweet Homer XL Sugar bowl
Coors Pottery

Salt and Pepper
Cottage Rose Coffee Pot

I hope someday my other Etsy shop, Twice Shy Restored, catches up; meanwhile, thanks for looking and for making Indulge Your Shelf a modest success!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kindergarten days

Etsy Bloggers Street Team is reminiscing about Kindergarten.  I'm from the generation that attended at the end of the 1960's.  For me, Kindergarten meant a half day of stories, finger painting, ABC's, then graham crackers and milk.  Afterwards, a nap on a flat mat, then playing outside until mom came to pick us up.

"Outside" was a small yard, separate from the Big Kids.  The yard was carpeted with tan bark, and shaded by huge Eucalyptus trees.  Beyond its fence, a golf course.  We had swings, and monkey bars to play with.  And boys!

On the first day of Kindergarten, I was excited to be going.  I'd spent the whole year before adjusting to my brother's absence at home, and was ready to move up in the world.

My mother walked with me to the class entrance, where my kindly older teacher smiled her welcome and waved me towards her.  My mother let go of my hand and I walked happily to the door.  Just then, a little girl named Bronwyn screeched and began to cry, begging her mother not to leave.  I stood rooted to the spot, confused, as I watched the little girl crying for her mother.

I have a distinct memory of thinking, "Oh! I'm supposed to be afraid!"  And then I burst into tears as if on cue, and ran back to my mother.  She laughed, and told me it was all right, and to go on in.  After a short hesitation, I wiped away those tears and did just that.

On that first foray Outside on that first day of school, some of my little male peers chased me around the school yard.  When they caught me, they put me in "prison" under the monkey bar structure.  To get out, I had to give one of them a kiss!

I think I loved school from day one!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Blog Guidebook

Have you all noticed the pretty bee button on the left sidebar of my blog?

This bee is called Belle Abielle, and she's there because I'm listed in The Blog Guidebook, which is an awesome blog by Lyndsay and Sarah, who put it together as a blog community.  The Guidebook lets you list your blog for free under one of many categories; there, you can find like-minded bloggers.  I feel my blog is most closely associated with those under Vintage and White, so I put it there.  I could also have listed under Flea Markets and Antiques, or Junking/Thrifting/Collecting, or Fabric/Sewing/Quilting, or even Writing!  In any case, I can peruse all those and other categories to find new blogging friends!

Besides this listing and categorizing function, The Blog Guidebook is also a fantastic resource about blogging; check out their Giveaway section, and their Linky Party page.   Know someone who wants to blog but doesn't know where to start?  They even have a live help desk and a page called Blogging for Newbies!

I think you should all run over there and list your blog in the appropriate category so you can join in the fun and help the community grow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Ever since I learned it had opened in 1993, I have wanted to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and was very glad to have had the chance.  The museum has been described as "a lesson on the fragility of freedom and the myth of progress", and indeed it is chilling to visit it, and to remember.
Dennis outside of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The main exhibition, called the Permanent Exhibit, is very powerful and is not recommended for children under 11 years.   The exhibit is divided into three sections, each on a different floor: Nazi Assault --1933 to 1939; The "Final Solution"-- 1940 to 1945; and  Last Chapter.  It takes 2-3 hours to go through the entire exhibit.  During those hours, I hardly heard any of my fellow museum-goers speak out loud.  It struck me that we passed through the exhibits, it was as if we were all paying tribute, and our silence was a sign of respect.

Upon entering the exhibit, you are given a small pamphlet; it is labeled "Identification Card".  Inside is the story of a real person who lived through the Holocaust.  You are instructed to read the first page of the pamphlet with the person's story on it, and turn the page only as you move from one exhibition room to the other.  My card was Rachel Lee Galperin, from Vilna, Poland.  You can read her story in the Museum's online encyclopedia, here.  Dennis got a 2 year old little boy on his ID card.  By the end of the exhibits, we learned that both of the people on our cards had died as a result of their persecution during the war.

Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This exhibit, called Tower of Faces, made a huge impression on me.  Each photo showed happy, wonderful images of all the normal things in life: graduations, picnics, holidays, festivals, births, weddings -- everything!   

This three-story tower displays photographs from the Yaffa Eliach Shtetl Collection. Taken between 1890 and 1941 in Eishishok, a small town in what is now Lithuania, they describe a vibrant Jewish community that existed for 900 years. In 1941, an SS mobile killing squad entered the village and within two days massacred the Jewish population.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.
One of the special exhibits we saw was State of Deception: Power of Nazi Propaganda.  It was an extensive collection of the papers, posters, books, films, photographs, etc. that the Nazis made use of in their rise to power.  The exhibit explained how the people of Germany and other countries were bombarded with messages that furthered the evil Nazi plan.  The images were so evil; so, the only photo I felt I could show you is this happy one, above, taken as the Allied Forces liberated Europe.

The denazification program in Germany mandated the elimination of Nazi names from public squares, city streets, and other venues. U.S., Soviet, and British soldiers enthusiastically removed Nazi emblems and renamed public spaces. Krefeld, Germany, March 9, 1945.

I remember when I lived in Germany and spent a lot of time walking around the streets of Cologne, I was surprised at how "new" the architecture I saw all around me was; of course, I came to realize it was because so much of the city had been destroyed by bombing during the war.  It was just one of the ways I was so aware of Europe's recent history, and how at that time (in the 1980s) there were still repercussions from the war and Germany's part in it.

Cologne in 1945

I remember my visit to Berlin, which was still walled at that time, and how it was as if there was a knife through the heart of that city -- it was half a city, and so obviously so.

I also remember when my "host mother" took me to be registered in the town I was living in -- something I had to do as a foreign, temporary citizen -- she vehemently instructed me not to complete the line on the paperwork that asked my religion.  I realized this was because of how the government has used the information during WWII, and how she, having been a small child during the war, must feel about it. 

Photo courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Visitors to the Museum pass under this gate, a cast taken from the original entrance to the Auschwitz death camp, inscribed with the ironic phrase Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes One Free).

In 1987, some friends and I went to visit the concentration camp Dachau in Southern Germany.  Here I am standing next to the sign that says, in several languages, "Never Again."  (They also have that wrought iron fence that says "Arbeit Macht Frei.")  Inside, Dachau has exhibits about the Holocaust atrocities, and you are able to view even the camp's crematorium.  Outside, you can see the barracks, the yards, and a wall with bullet holes in it which was used for firing squads.  I was there on a winter day with several friends, (including Karen who I just visited in VA); all of us were profoundly moved by our visit to Dachau.  I will say to you that never in my life have I so strongly felt that the very earth I was standing on held memories and emotions.  I was overcome with pain and sadness when I stood in that place.

Some people I spoke to before going to DC told me to skip the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  They said it was "a real downer."  Well, it's not a cheerful subject, but it is an important one, and I wouldn't have missed it.  If you're interested, visit the museum's website.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The happy crafter

I've done it!  I've spent some time knocking out the projects I mentioned earlier this week!

 For everyone who said they wanted to see it, here's my 46 squares project framed:

The same day I did the framing, I also had a chance to complete a scrapbook I'd started a couple of weeks ago.  It's a book of some of my favorite photos of my hand made creations!:

It's in a pretty K&Company scrapbook.

Forgive the glare!

The products should look familiar!  Some of them are still in my Etsy shop!

I also worked on that quilt: first, I traced a fleur de lys (the Scout symbol) onto a piece of fabric.

Then, I arranged my son's Cub Scout patches from several years ago into the shape I'd traced and applied them to the fabric:

I finished it this morning and I am very pleased.  Now, I can pack it up, along with several fabrics I've chosen, and send it off to Angela to piece it!  The above patches will become the center square of the quilt.

Meanwhile, look at what arrived in the mail yesterday!  A cool surprise:

It's "mail art" -- kind of like a postcard made from original art, sent by Corrine!

I can't wait to create a piece to send back to her!  The world is a creative place, nicht wahr?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wishing I was back at Mount Vernon

I hadn't had a chance to blog yet about what was probably my favorite part of our trip to Virginia: visiting George Washington's estate, Mount Vernon.

I think what intrigued me most of all about it was the history of its restoration by the Ladies Association.  When a group of women learned the estate was in ruins, they took action, and the country's first historic preservation society was born.  To this day, members of the Association -- all women -- seek out original belongings of the estate and try to buy them, or get them donated.  They try to bring them home.  I found that so romantic.  From the website:

"Mount Vernon is owned and maintained in trust for the people of the United States by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, a private, non-profit organization founded in 1853 by Ann Pamela Cunningham. ...Mount Vernon does not accept grants from federal, state or local governments, and no tax dollars are expended to support its purposes. Primary sources of income are revenue from the retail and dining facilities, ticket sales, and donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals...

The estate, gardens and farm of Mount Vernon totaled some 8,000 acres in the 18th century. Today, roughly 500 acres of this historic estate have been preserved 16 miles south of Washington, D.C., on the banks of the Potomac River. Visitors can see 20 structures and 50 acres of gardens as they existed in 1799. The estate also includes a museum, the tombs of George and Martha Washington, Washington's greenhouse, an outdoor exhibit devoted to American agriculture as practiced by Washington, the nation's most important memorial to the accomplishments of 18th-century slaves, and a collection which features numerous decorative and domestic artifacts."

 Mount Vernon is situated on the Potomac River.  This is the view from the back porch of the estate...

There were so many picturesque views, everywhere you looked:

the promenade...

the weather vane...

his gardens...

this sweet side yard, where the laundry was laid out to dry...

and so much more!

I hadn't realized that Washington was buried at Mount Vernon; this was his original tomb.  In his will, he made a provision for a new, larger tomb to be built for his family, and his remains moved there upon completion.  He even chose the spot.

And so it was.  Here is George and Martha's final resting place.

We weren't allowed to photograph the inside of Washington's stately, but humble, home.  I did buy some wonderful postcards of my favorite rooms, though:

We saw Washington's presidential chair in the house, as well as the very bed in which he passed away from an upper respiratory infection.  The museum and learning center, which is separate from the house, was SO worthwhile.  We spent hours there.  In the museum, you can see Washington's false teeth!  I thought that was pretty incredible.

We ate lunch in the restaurant, called the Mount Vernon Inn, and I would encourage anyone visiting to do so.  I was just in love with the paper menu, and I asked for and was given a souvenir copy.  The note card laying on the menu was the only other thing besides a Christmas ornament that I bought at the gift shop, although I was very tempted to buy more; it's a whole set of stationary made from some of the sketches of the estate, in sweet red toile!

This is Dennis in the restaurant, holding up the restaurant's own brand of Harvest Ale and Stout -- both of which were delicious!  That concoction in front of him is their famous Virginia Peanut and Chestnut Soup!  It was also very, very yummy, as was my roast beef sandwich.  Everything there was amazing!  For dessert I had, of course, cherry pie!

While dining, I was just in heaven admiring the reproduction of original estate wallpaper that decorated the walls of the room we were in.  Each room's wallpaper was different, and I was very glad we were seated next to this beauty!

In fact, my newest inspiration is some of the lovely colonial beauty, especially the fabrics, we saw all over the estate!  I think I'm on the road to becoming a fan of Mrs. Washington's style!

I am also on the lookout for the George Washington memorial plates -- most especially the purple (or mulberry) colored ones!  Swoon!  (I saw a single such plate in an antique store for only $15, but didn't want to have to worry about getting it home in one piece.  Naturally, I'm kicking myself now!)