"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pink Santa Claus Carving

With school fast approaching and
no job in sight for me this year, my
worries turn to anxiety.  To cope? 
My hands pick up a piece of wood
and start carving.
 Anxiety levels off as my hands take
on a mind of their own, hacking away into
a piece of wood until a Santa appears.
 And my eyes, as they grow older
and now require glasses to see
things up close, what would I do
without them?
 Satisfied, I bring out the brushes.
What's my angel whispering in my
ear?  Paint him pink! 
And how about trimming his
clothes with pretty pastel flowers?
OK.  Looks good.  Now, how about
sprinkling him with fine glitter
for that extra sparkle?
 Hmmm.....considering how worried I
was when I started this piece,
is it no wonder I subconsciously carved
Santa's eyes closed and his hands
clasped as if in prayer or meditation?
 Sure, I'm still worried to the point of tears,
but I have this gift God has given to me
to make art out of nothing at all.   If I can
replace all the wasted time worrying with
using these gifts productively, who knows
what else I'll be able to create?
It's funny.  I'm a nail-biter and  I've got
a scar on my thumb from when I needed
stitches.  One finger has a tiny callous
from carving wood and my left hand
blows up from time to time, probably
arthritis.  It amazes me how my hands,
though not the prettiest to look at, can
make such pretty things.  There's a lesson
 in there somewhere, I'm just too
mentally exhausted to figure it out! 
I think some Halloween Jack O'Lanterns
might be next.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

African Meat Pies!

I'm bored with myself.
I hate when that happens.
Time to try something new.
How about discovering the secret to making
African meat pies?
African meat pies, also known as, "Samosas", are crispy
little pastry-filled pockets of hearty beef, chicken, or
vegetables. Since this was my first attempt, I kept
 the filling easy. Ground beef, onions, tomato sauce
and lots of different spices filled each pocket.
The one flavor that stood out was Smoked Paprika.
I could have cheated and bought pre-made
pastry dough, but the whole point was
to try something new.  
Once bundled, I tossed them into hot oil and fried
until golden brown.
I was very excited to see the results.
But......how would they taste?
After all that work would anyone
like them?  Ted's a no-brainer.  He'd
practically eat anything I put in front of him.
But......the kids.......
Score:  Mary -1, Nicolai - 0. 
He saw onions and never even gave
them a try.   Mary, on the other hand,
totally surprised me!
 Meanwhile, poor old Blue waited
under the table hoping for Mary
to have an unfortunate accident. 
They say necessity is the mother of
invention.  I say, boredom is.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Luck Be a Lady Today!

It's been a long time since I've had a good
thrift store run.  Today, Lady Luck
was on my side!
 The first place the kids and I visited was
what we always call, "The Barn." 
Here I found this old-fashioned Playskool
Time Teacher.  To my Etsy shop it
will go!
 Two Archie and a Richie Rich comic
all for only $1.50 each.
In case I decide to dye some more
bottle brush Christmas trees.
I blame my mom for my glitter
appreciation.  While I always liked earthy
country colors, she always preferred, "sparklies."
One day, I made something sparkly for
her and a new love was born.  Finding these
old glitter bottles brings back memories. 
 On the way home we stopped at Impact Thrift. 
Although I usually leave this shop disappointed,
that's not what happened today.  Immediately,
I spotted a long table filled with Christmas
decorations - and everything was half off!
This old tree topper is for a pint-sized tree.
Not sure if this is vintage.  
 MAJOR FIND!  A baggie of old
celluloid reindeer!! 
 Labeled 95 cents!  Half off too!
This itself was worth the trip!
And check out this vintage Nativity set.
These are all marked Germany on the back
and sold for 79 cents each - again, half off!
 Another grab bag.  Selling for $2.50, I got it
for $1.25.  Wasn't sure exactly what was in it
until I opened it to take pictures.
 A cute grouping of angels and for some
reason a rattle.
Made in Japan.  Only about 1 inch tall.
These are little bells.
 These are tiny too, maybe 1 1/2 inches. 
They seem to be made of celluloid.
This is my favorite!
There's one more holding bunnies,
but looks like the picture didn't
go through.   Fun finds!

Friday, July 25, 2014

My first hand-carved walking stick

After two years of being too afraid to start, I
finally grabbed this walking stick and started
carving.  It's almost 5 foot tall and I carved
most of it using just one knife.
 The top is an eagle's head.  It was carved
separately from the walking stick and
mounted on last.  Love his attitude!  I got
him from a pattern by Shawn Cipa.
For Ted's stick, I wanted to add symbols
that mean something to him.  I knew he'd like
a cross and chose this Celtic one.  

Going downward, I carved out
American stars and stripes.
Next, I thought Ted would like something
to show his Ukrainian heritage.  After seeing
their flag, I knew it was something I
could carve.
 Ted's also part Irish, and I'm about
3/4's so the celtic knot was appropriate.
Below that, I gave a nod to Star Trek.
Love me some old Star Trek!!
 Ted asked me if I could carve or paint
the Phish logo (his favorite band).  Based on
the logo, I knew it wasn't something I could
carve, but painting didn't feel right.  So I
compromised and burned the logo into the wood.
This is the other side of the logo. 
It was harder trying to get pictures
than it was carving it! 
 Ted's a big fan of the classics so I wanted
to pick something to symbolize his love of
reading.  I chose Poe's "The Raven".
The words above read, "Poe" and "Raven" burned
into the wood.  Below the carved Raven
is his incessant, "Nevermore".
 Most of these carvings go completely
around the stick.  The raven sits
on a branch.
 Just for fun and more interest, I
carved a twist nearing the bottom.
 At the bottom, the stick got very thin.
I was concerned with carving out
too much of the wood for fear it would
cause it to become weak.  So I chose
a design on one side.  I went with
another Celtic knot.
 Ted's very happy!

 For me, it was one more project finally done.
 It also proved to me once again
that I should stop worrying so much
about the finished result, because all it
does is stop me from trying.  Instead,
I should just enjoy the process.  Because
you know what?  It was fun!
A new experience for me!
I think I'll try another - maybe
with a Halloween theme....or
maybe Christmas?!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Visiting Byers Choice Christmas Museum

Let's celebrate Christmas in July by taking a
trip to the Byers Choice Christmas Museum
in Chalfont, PA.
When you go in, you're greeted with
an old town of England scene.
In this theatre, you can sit and watch
how Byers Choice figurines started.
 It's a great place for photo-ops and
it's NEVER crowded.
 You can look inside the windows
to gorgeous Christmas scenes.
 And, of course, you'll see tons
and tons of the figurines captured in
different miniatures villages.

 One room even had some Halloween!

 This is the Observation Deck where you can
look down and see the artists creating
the figurines.  Looks like we caught them
on a lunch break!
 In some areas, there are scenes behind glass.
This one represents Russia.
 Scandinavian Christmas.
 Merry old England
 Germany - my favorite!
Another rooms houses huge scenes of
smaller figurines - I think they're elves.
 The room with all the little elves helping
Mrs. Claus bake was my favorite.

 Another room houses walls of
Nativities from around the world on
both sides. 

 Little guys were popping out everywhere!
This fella was on a pole.

What's inside? 
 You also have professional portraits
taken here.  They have early century
costumes to dress in and you pose
on the main avenue.
 And it ends with the gift store.
They're open most days and it's a free day
trip.  My kids are feeling a little old for it now,
but it still made a hot July day feel cooooool!