Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving done, on to Christmas

Thanksgiving is done, it's cold and snowy; time to think about Christmas. It was a great weekend to visit the 'Hall of Trees' at the arboretum- six large trees in the great hall decorated with handmade ornaments made from natural materials. I am an avid collector of natural materials, I'm always picking up pinecones, seedheads,leaves, and flowers when we go for a walk and now I have lots of ideas.
These little box cottages are simply made, covered in paper or birch bark and decorated with seeds, dried flowers,twigs, and the seedheads of ornamental grasses for the 'thatch' roof.
These looked like large flowers on the tree and are dyed or painted corn husks.
A couple more little cottages- I like the curly dried leaves on this one's roof.

This one below uses my favorite material- lightly pink tinged maple 'whirlygig' seeds.
They make such perfect little shingles.
Each tree is a little different, but all unlit- they didn't seem to need lights.
One tree had fanciful 'bugs' and 'butterflies' made from leaves and flowers and then varnished so they were shiny.

It's hard to tell in the photos but grass seed heads form the bodies and the leaves are multiple wings.
The one below uses a dried chili pepper for the body.
They are so pretty even if you can't see the 'insect' in them.
Some were just a simple bouquet of dried flowers sprayed with shellac- so pretty.
Nestled in the branches were little gift boxes decorated with shellacked leaves and flowers. This would be beautiful on gifts under the tree.
This butterfly was gorgeous!
Of course the arboretum is the perfect place to gather all these materials. Our long Fall lulled me into thinking I had lots of time to do a little foraging myself- I had my eye on some really big magnolia leaves- but then the snow hit and I missed my chance. Next year I will be prepared.
This idea for packages was one of my favorites.
Another great idea was the dried and painted milk weed pods coupled with a pinecone to form a poinsettia.
A couple more pretty little 'bugs':

Dried berries attached to a pinecone:
A corn husk doll:
Pumpkin seeds varnished to a shine :
This little plane made from a corn cob is so cute:
These milkweed pod poinsettias have been lightly painted a pinkish red:

A little birch bark and seed star:
Candy canes from dried and pressed flowers:

The garlands on this tree are made from the feathery heads of ornamental grasses:
Dried seed heads:
and more grass heads formed into star shapes with a little square of mirror in the center for sparkle:

A very tall, very snowy white looking tree:
All in all a very inspiring display!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

wrist warmers

I finished my eyeglass cases and ornaments to restock the Textile Center's gift shop and brought them down yesterday. While browsing through all the beautiful items there I came across some lovely knitted fingerless gloves. I have been meaning to make some for myself as I like to keep stitching no matter what and this cold weather does a number on my hands. I tried them on and realized for doing any stitching, be it embroidery or crocheting, I don't like the material around my thumb. I have small hands and all that bulky yarn around my thumb was uncomfortable even though they were wonderfully warm. I needed a bit lighter weight yarn and wrist warmers instead of fingerless gloves.
So, when I got home I had my day planned. A cup of tea, my pattern book, and yarn. I chose the hempathy yarn I have been using for afghan squares. It is lightweight and made of cotton and hemp- warm but not bulky. The pattern I chose was a fan,or shell stitch.
This book is great for choosing textural patterns. I worked out how wide the swatch should be to fit around my wrist and hand and then worked it until it was the length I wanted. Stitch up the seam and done.
It worked up fairly quickly and feels really nice. I have full use of my hands with no bulkiness. Most of the aching in my hands is along the back so this covers that plus there is an added benefit:
I bought these stones that can be warmed in hot water and placed wherever you need a little warmth. They are basalt- flat and really hold heat.
I can slip one in the wrist warmer and it holds it nicely in place. Nice warm therapy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

staying in

We have had a beautiful, warm, lengthy (for us) fall this year. Believe me I have nothing to complain about, but this weekend the other shoe dropped:
winter arrived with an 8 to 10 inch snowfall. The temps haven't dropped into the deep freeze yet so hopefully most of this will melt, but we've been known to start winter in Oct. and not come out of it completely until April. It was a good weekend to stay indoors and read-
I decided to start with this old supplement to Woman's Weekly from 1923- The Home.
Only a few of the pages are in color, but it is chock full of helpful household hints, decorating tips,but mostly floor plans and room designs.
A poem by Edgar A. Guest:
There is even a long article on the new availability of the radio for every home including instructions for making your own radio receiving set. My dad told me about making his own crystal radio set when he was a kid in the 40's.
When watching the Home and Garden channel I am always amazed by what first time home buyers expect in there first home. Apparently the term 'starter home' means something else these days. I wonder how well these cozy little numbers would go over today.

In this one the space for the cars seems bigger then the living space. I wonder how many people owned 2 cars?
This is one of my favorite articles. I had never heard of 'garlows' before- a combination of garage and bungalow. Apparently you built this with partitions for walls and one of the exterior walls could be easily disassembled. When the money was more plentiful you added on the permanent structure and this original building became the garage! Ingenious!
You bought what you could afford rather then starting out with way too much house. We started out in a house almost exactly like this one.
I love this interpretation of an English cottage:
The interiors in the book look so cozy. I love this sunroom:
and this sunny kitchen.
How nice that every home aspired to having a sewing room.
And look at the modern conveniences for the laundry room!
A helpful color chart for your decorating decisions:
and a nice example of a porch pictured in color.
It even includes ideas for the garden. This page shows beautiful annuals to plant. I may be looking at this page for a long time!