Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Don't buy generic cloth napkins! Sew your own!

Christmas is next week, so why not start a Christmas sewing project over this past weekend, right?  This at a time my Christmas shopping was not fully finished.  And it's still not, though the sewing project is done, so there's that triumphant accomplishment! (Post Script:  Now my Christmas shopping is officially finished. Thank you Target.com.)

It's an exciting Christmas this year!  For those who don't know, our very small family is spread among 4 states.  My brother and his significant other, Jessica, live in New York.  His daughter lives in Arkansas.  My dad lives in Illinois and we live in Kansas.  When my mother was alive, Christmas mostly centered around the family home in Illinois.  It was a "come if you can" type thing, but since her stroke and death, we've only had two family Christmases; one in Arkansas the year after my mother's stroke in 2005 where it was such a torn feeling to be happy we were all together and so burdened, at the same time, that mother was up in a nursing home in Illinois lying in vegetative coma; especially since Christmas was her favorite time of the year.  The second Christmas was a few years ago when we all made the trek to Illinois.  This was under the assumption that my grandmother was doing poorly.  Thankfully she is still with us, though that was a difficult Christmas, too.

However, this Christmas will be at the lake.  My brother and Jessica are flying out to Missouri and picking up his daughter in Arkansas and then coming up to Delavan Cottage.  My dad is coming down from Illinois and we will all be together for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, at least.  Hopefully longer!  This is the first time Delavan Cottage will really get a workout as a "guest cottage!"  It will be nice to spread out among the two cottages, just as I always envisioned!

There is no sadness this year just a complete nuclear family together at a place that I hold so near and dear!  I cannot wait!  So, as I've blogged before, I purchased an antique farm table for Delavan Cottage.  Though the cottage has mostly a mariner theme, I still like to incorporate vintage touches, especially through linens.  I have antique quilts folded in the cabinet that I hope will be used to keep everyone warm as we relax and visit with each other.  For the Christmas table, I was looking at using cloth napkins.  After shopping online, I decided I'd rather just sew up my own napkins.

When I go to auctions in the warmer months, I'm always scoping out feed sacks and grain/seed sacks. I just love the graphics, the advertising, the stains and the different material of each sack.  Even though you may find multiples of the same sack, they are never quite the same depending on the wear and the worn graphics.  Oftentimes, I have to bid on a large stack of sacks to get the perfect one I wanted which means I have a collection of worn sacks of all types.

Some of the better sacks I've turned into pillows and sold.  A few sacks are in my own collection, but when it came time to sew up some double-sided napkins, I turned to my more worn seed sacks because I knew I was going to use them and I wanted to see how they'd turn out before I actually cut up perfectly good sacks.

I also needed backing fabric.  It might have been last year or the year before when I had Spoonflower print up a yard of fabric each from an old 1930's advertisement from our lake neighborhood at the Lake of the Ozarks.  One of our part-time neighbors at the lake has the original advertisement which is a 3-fold ad.  I scanned both the front of the ad as well as the inside and sent the files to Spoonflower.  So two napkins have one part of the advertisement as the backing material and 2 other napkins have the other side.  The last 2 napkins have a sweet vintage calico print.

Now, before I show pictures, I want to reiterate that I chose the sacks that were in the poorest condition since I'm using them myself and I won't go postal if anyone gets a stain on the napkin!  Ha-ha!  And, since it's cloudy outside and my dining room table is full of Christmas gifts that need to be wrapped, I grabbed an antique tablecloth to drape over my cutting table for the pictures.  My camera needed to use the flash so the stains look worse in the pictures than in reality and the pictures aren't my finest work, but I wanted to get this blogged before I take the napkins down to the cottage this week.

Each napkin is double-sided and has a good weight, which I like in a cloth napkin.  They were fairly easy to sew by measuring the fabric to 18" X 18" and sewing right sides together with a 1/4" seam before turning right- side out and top-stitching both the seam and the entire napkin.

They fold nicely and look substantial:

I used a sugar sack for this napkin:

This clover sack is delightful with the yellow and red:

The Morton Hybrids sack is interesting because it's just black and white which I thought paired beautifully with the black and white 1930's advertisement of our lake neighborhood on the back fabric.  This pattern was the front page of the advertisement.  I love turning something that was paper into fabric and then using it in a meaningful way!

Of course I had to use a DeKalb sack!  This is the only sorghum sack I've come across.  It had a hole in the material, so I cut out a heart using bumblebee fabric (of course) and appliqu├ęd it over the hole. Bees like sorghum, right?  ;)

Let's face it, there's something charming about flying ears of corn.  DeKalb has the greatest logo of all time until I came across this ear of corn airplane.  I mean, c'mon!  Isn't this the greatest design ever?  (Don't tell the DeKalb folks I said that. I'd never be let inside the DeKalb, Illinois city limits again!  ha-ha!)

This napkin is backed with what was the inside of the 1930's Lakeview Height's advertisement.

And lastly is this delightful corn seed sack.  I especially like the award-winning ribbon!

I love the idea of having two-sided cloth napkins.  You can reverse the design for a different looking table setting.  After the holidays are over, I may dig into my good seed sack collection and sew up more napkins and perhaps put some in my Etsy shop.

This was a super-fun project!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

In Antique Mourning

Last night I cried actual crocodile tears after finding out my all-time favorite antique shop in Illinois is closing December 24th.  Real tears, folks!  If that's wrong, I don't wanna be right because my gosh, this is a loss felt to the core.

Many of you know I was born and raised in Sycamore, Illinois.  My family lives in both Sycamore and the adjoining town, DeKalb.  Just as the name DeKalb implies, we lived in and amongst corn fields.  Good, black soil on flat land is our farming neighbor's bread and butter.  While I grew up in town, I have always been enamored with the large, old farmhouses and barns that dot the northern Illinois landscape.  A dream of mine is to someday live on a farm, though I doubt that will ever come to fruition at this point.  So you can only imagine the joy I always felt when visiting Josie's Antiques in Maple Park, Illinois, just a jaunt away from DeKalb.

In the 26 years that Josie's has opened her barns and outbuildings filled to the brim with the most exquisite primitives and antiques, I've been a customer.  Kansas has been my home now for 20 years, and there are quite a few pieces here that were purchased at Josie's over the years.  It was a frequent stop on my excursions to Illinois.

My Mother and I loved going out there.  In the Spring when the warm winds blow mightily through the empty corn fields and bring with them storm clouds, Mom and I would don our rubber boots, rain coats and tromp through the mud and muck to shop.  And just this past March, one of my closest friends and I tromped through the melting snow and shopped, this time cozying up to the two old wood-burning stoves in the long building.  And have I mentioned the chocolate cookies?  Every single day, Josie baked fresh chocolate cookies.  To say the shopping experience was more than browsing antiques is an understatement.

There were plenty of barn animals to pet, peacocks to admire and the most gorgeous grounds to just stand and soak in.  And of course, the antiques.  Josie always stuck to her beloved primitives.  She didn't mix genres. So if you loved authentic primitives, this was the place for you! And if you liked to see antiques in what would have been their original surroundings, then this was nirvana.  While I like the large antique malls, nothing comes close to shopping for antiques in an 1800's barn.  Nothing.

In March, I took my cell phone camera and shot some pictures.  This is just a sampling of the wonderment that is always Josie's Antiques.  I understand she is now going to pursue a different avenue; one in which she is passionate about so I wish her well.  But for me, this is just another chapter in Illinois closing.  Along with the future closing of Moxie in DeKalb, another delightful store that holds such great memories to me, going home to Illinois is going to be that much emptier, especially with my Mother's death in 2009.  The special places we visited are going along the wayside and while I'm thrilled that the proprietors shared that part of their lives with us and they are following their dreams, I'm just sad.  So sad, my cup runneth over last night and I choked up for a bit.

Life charges on and I must, too. I just wish I could swing a quick trip back for one more stroll through Josie's Antiques.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tricky Dogs Still Cool As Ever

Here in the Missouri Ozarks, summer skipped to winter in just a few days.  One day I have the air-conditioning on in the van and then the next thing I know I'm turning on the steering wheel heat and cranking up the heated seats.  So it was, I woke up early Saturday morning to make a trek to a "3-story home" auction.  The owner had passed away and it was purported to be a very large auction with 2 rings!  

When I came into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee while getting ready, I noticed the window panes on our 1930's log cottage were frosted from the cold.  I saw shadows dance across the layer of white from the wind blowing around the leaves on the trees.

I looked at the thermometer and it was in the upper 30's.  

In October.

We are still at the "summer house" which means that I don't have all the winter necessities but I have brought down long pants and sweatshirts, which I supposed would be good enough.  I got ready and warmed up the jalopy and off I went.

It's a gorgeous drive on 83 Highway.  Large stone outcroppings give way to the vastness of Truman Lake.  The road is windy and heavily forested on either side.  I just couldn't wait to get to the auction which sounded completely worth the cold weather and longer drive.

Except the auction wasn't worth the drive at all.  Three levels?  Only if you count the unfinished basement filled to the rim with ceramic molds and half-painted ceramics and old caked past-their-expiration-date ceramic paint.  There was a large tent but it was quite a buzz-kill going inside.  There were a couple of choice pieces of furniture but the rest were duds.  Dirty, too.  There were boxes upon boxes upon boxes of books, flotsam and jetsam, and plain junk.  The two flatbeds of better things were just slightly better than the boxed goods.  Just slightly.  

When the auction started, I immediately knew this was a mistake.  The prices were ridiculously high. I was kicking myself in between shivering from the cold wind because I went to an auction several weeks ago in the same vicinity by the same auctioneer and swore off ever going again because of high prices and an overrated auction bill.  But now I know well to just skip over this auction company's name and not even bother reading or looking at pretty pictures to entice me to their auctions.

I stayed through the first flatbed; 2 hours worth, and then headed over to the tent while they auctioned furniture. (Still in one ring, I might add)  The prices were going higher than retail, so I took my few items I bought and paid the $11 at the trailer before piling back in the van.

I did, however, pay $2 for a special memory.

(Photo Credit:  eBay  )

I haven't thought about these dogs for years!  I don't know if my great-grandparents had them or if it was at my grandparents' home but I was fascinated with these magnetic dogs as a child.  I could entertain myself for quite a while and I'm pretty sure I'm equally as fascinated now in my 40's!  

When the box went up for auction I threw up my number.  I was tickled with this buy that will be headed to Etsy soon.  That is if I can bring myself to sell them!  

So while I didn't stay at the auction long or fill up my van, I did enjoy the gorgeous drive and was thrilled to find a piece of childhood I had forgotten about all these years.  Auctions are all so different.  Some are good and others are not so good.

It reminds me of my grandmother.  Two doors down, her friend of many, many years passed away.  Awhile later the family held an estate auction.  My grandmother walked over and was absolutely appalled at the dust on the furniture and glassware!  " She would be so embarrassed if she knew this was what her furniture looks like. People will think she lived in a dirty house.  She was such a clean person.  I can't believe no one in the family cleaned all of her things before putting them outside."  My grandmother was beside herself.  My grandmother is a clean freak, too.  

But she's right.  Things would display much better if they were dusted and cleaned.  But the reality is what I see; dirt and caked-on dust.  The house I went to Saturday had been empty for 11 years and the items showed it!  

Still, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt even if I hit a dud or two.  It's just the way of the business.  At least I didn't walk away empty-handed.  And I'll make a few bucks overall from my purchases and that's the name of this auction game.  That and the memories.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Aaannnnddddd it's October. October! OCTOBER!

Ahem. With all good intentions, I am back to my shop blog.  Not that I ever truly left or didn't think about it but my best reason I'm going to give for a lack of blogs is that my MacBook Pro bit the dust. Seriously?  But I have an Apple!  Apples don't break.  Well, they do and by the grace of our Lord Jesus, I had just 80 days left on my extended warranty which meant I left my computer with the fine Apple people to be fixed.  Fixed meant wiping every living thing off my hard drive.  I lost everything BUT for a few spreadsheets the fine Apple Geniuses were able to salvage.  The rest, well, I'm not sure where that stuff goes, but if there's a hard drive heaven, it is now filled with much of my drivel.

The upside is that my computer has all new insides.  So it was like picking up a newborn Macbook Pro (for free!) which meant I had to load everything else back on, connect to printers and so on and so forth.  Except I really haven't done much of that, to be honest.  But, it put me on a blog diet.

So, what's been up, Head Bee?  Well, we have a Facebook page.  I'm sure I've mentioned it before but I am good at keeping that updated because, well, I do love my Facebook!

Need the link?


I'd appreciate a "like" on the shop page.  Occasionally I will run Etsy coupon codes, so keep watch!

We are still in Missouri as my husband is filling in at a pharmacy where they need his help.  I'm hoping to take my camera out soon to take pictures of the gorgeous, ever-changing leaf colors.  We've never been down in the Ozarks during the change and my, it's quite beautiful!

Delavan Cottage is mostly finished.  I say mostly because we have just a few little things that need to be done and landscaping to plan, but for all intents and purposes, it's done.

We need to paint the front 2 doors a different color green, but here is the finished look!  I just love it!

The living room/kitchen turned out great, too!

We put in a pathway between our two cottages:

The bathroom is all done and now has a washer/dryer!  And drywall!  Man, was that ever a fiasco.  I will eventually bring my good camera and take a complete folder of pictures to see the finished product!  But as far as dealing with the construction company, we are done!  Yay!

I have been going to some auctions as my health allows.  Here's a sneak peek of some things that will be hitting the market soon.

And here are just a few pictures of our cottage space at Big Creek Antique Mall in Greenwood, Missouri.

There's many more pictures of our booth on our Facebook page!

Stay tuned!  A big old sale is in the works at the shop!  So if you're keeping your eye on something, you might want to keep up.  I'll post when it happens.

What does the Fall bring?  I hope many more auctions.  I'll also be heading up to Illinois to help my dad begin downsizing.  With that, I'm hoping that some of his vintage and antique items he will not be keeping will make their way into the antique mall.  Never a dull moment!  Right?

Thanks for reading and I'll be back soon.  I promise!