Friday, December 31, 2010

The Magic Suitcase

It took my mother-in-law several years to figure me out, but now she gives me the most amazing gifts for Christmas.
This year had to be the best!
This rough, metal clad suitcase is a treasure box.

Christmas afternoon at my in-laws' house I opened it to find not a set of encyclopedias, as I had joked, because it weighed a ton!, but several old Bibles and many old photos.

Two of the Bibles are falling apart so I won't feel bad using their exquisitely detailed illustrations and beautifully aged manuscript pages in collages or swaps.
The one above is German, set in lovely old Germanic script (like Olde English).

The photos are varied.

Young, old and in between.
Last night, while taking pictures for this post, I got down to the very bottom of the suitcase and found old negatives in their original processing envelopes, dated from 1960-67.
Also a paid property tax receipt dated 1930 (two payment installments @ 79 cents for a half acre of property!) And, the most amazing prize-- a very ornate ribboned medal with metallic bullion fringe given to proud members of the National Wood Cutters Association. The name on the tattered envelope, holding the medal, matched the name on the paid tax receipt, so I can only assume it too is from the 1930s, maybe even earlier.
I don't think my mother-in-law realized the magnitude of her gift, since she hadn't fully plumbed its depths.
She just thought it was full of old Bibles.

Happy New Year to you, dear readers!
May it be a year of new discoveries, fresh ideas, exciting art and priceless treasures.
And may you enjoy good health in the pursuit of it all!
Today my husband and I are also celebrating 16 years of marriage.
That is just about a record these days!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Creative Break While Supposedly Cleaning the House...

While putting away Christmas decor and rearranging my poorly stacked junk in the basement, I ran across this random snapshot of my niece (who was maybe 9 years old in the photo, but is maybe twenty-something now). It fell out of or off of something and looked very sad lying in the basement dirt and dust bunnies. I brushed it off and decided my niece needed to be displayed properly and gifted to her grandmother (my MiL). Never mind that I was abandoning my reorganization project-- like the clutter was going anywhere!

So I cut my niece out, stuck her down on a festive bit of Christmas stationary and sandwiched her into a garage sale frame with a bit of faux mica flakes.
Much better than the over priced, "giftable", shadow frame, whatnot I started with (below).

Back to cleaning and gleaning more junk, er, valuable stuff for repurposing and upcycling.
I have bags and boxes of thrift store and yard sale purchases that are waiting to be rediscovered!
Do you ever buy stuff, bring it home, tuck it into your closet and forget about it?
Please tell me that I am not alone in that habit!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nursery Tea (It's Tuesday!)

Rebecca has had a sore throat, but thankfully she enjoys (warm) tea. Here we are set up with a small pot of honeyed Celestial Seasonings Blueberry for her and a pot of plain ol' Lipton black tea for me, hiding under a cat cozy (I like my tea piping hot!) An old suitcase not only makes our tea feel like a picnic, but is the perfect elevation for cross legged seating.
Not pictured-- the large stack of books she chose for our reading pleasure. I think I need to brew more tea!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter White

Our jockey looked even more flamboyant than usual this morning with frosted highlights on his scarf.

It was foggy last night, which combined with well below freezing temperatures over night, created a wonderful shabby chic landscape.

The view down our street.
Sidewalks are a luxury in this small town.
There is so little traffic anyway that we walk comfortably in the middle of the road.
Although it was terribly cold, it was a beautiful day to stroll and admire the scenery.
How's the weather in your part of the world?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Merry, Merry Christmas to You!

And may God bless us, every one!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 24

I saved the tree topper for last. It was hard not to share it sooner, because I had it photographed from the very beginning, but I wanted to do things "right". The best for last. This is my most prized ornament on our tree. My mother used it when I was a kid. I'm sure she brought it from Europe. The topper has a small chip in its base, but no crack (amazingly enough). Each year I am concerned about jamming it on top of the tree-- some of our real trees have had pretty thick branches and I have been afraid to have the piece shatter. This is one ornament that could not be easily replaced with a quick search on ebay. This topper has crowned a tree for almost 50 Christmases. No small accomplishment.
Now don't stay up too late wrapping those last minute gifts!
Tomorrow is the big reveal. The Full Monty, as Patty so aptly put it.
Christmas Day!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 23

This pretty tart pan treasure is Linda's "junk-le bell" contribution. A clever combination of materials. It would have never occured to me to use paper shred and yet, the glass pebble looks more precious because it is nestled in the stuff. I told her that what "made" this ornament for me was the blown glass silver bead strung on the ribbon. I recognized it immediately as having come from a vintage garland.

Linda's ornament was presented in this lovely bag. You know I am going to store the ornament away in its bag when not on display. As if I will ever want to put it away!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 22

Goodness, can you believe how this month has flown? Just a few more days and my Show and Tell is done.

Today I am featuring one of my new-this-year ornaments. This gorgeous gem is by Patty and is her contribution to our QB5 "Junk-le Bell" swap. I think the "junk" part is supposed to be the thimble, and the rest is just amazing. Inspired! I just can't believe I own this beauty. Patty really outdid herself. She used my favorite elements-- blown ornament, shiny stuff and the whimsy of using a thimble as a bell. I need to seriously create a tree just for my most treasured hand made ornaments from artist friends. They can't be just thrown in with my general decorations.
Margaret found the "junk-le bell" idea on this blog and got us all excited about repurposing junk as ornaments.

Here are my ornaments.

They are almost done, I promise you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 21

A blast from my past. A pressed styrofoam owl with felt and gold trim details. My brother and I each got one for Christmas in the early 1970s, when we were maybe 7 and 8 years old. My mother sometimes bought us ornaments as stocking stuffers. I really should have written the date on the back of this one. My mom probably paid 19 cents for it, but now it may be worth at least 10 times that. ;)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 20

No, it's not a military execution., it's another one of my clothes pin doll ornaments. A little paint, gold trim, craft stick arms, and a pom-pom hat.
Voila- toy soldier!
Now wouldn't that be a neat swap? Clothes pin doll ornaments! Or "Clothes Pin Art Dolls".
I think I am onto something...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 19

Pere Noel. Father Christmas. I think I prefer this earlier image of "Santa Claus" to the cola guzzling, jolly old elf depicted in American advertising later. This is another one of my favorite European blown glass ornaments, probably bought from Halls with my discount. He is the only Father Christmas I have and I am amazed that he has survived all of these years.
Sorry for the blur-- do not adjust your eyes. I am sacrificing focus for better lighting and I don't have a tripod!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 18

This ornament is cleverly made up of three layers of paper, separated by foam dots, for dimension. It was sent to me, years ago, by an on-line friend Karin (from Canada!). All of the outlining and glitter is done with emboss powders. The inside was left empty, so I stuck in a photo of Seth when he was 4 years old or so (now he is 11!). I love having "photo" ornaments of the kids on our tree. Each year we see how much they've changed and grown

Here is Seth on an ornament made last year as a kids' craft. Cardboard beverage coaster, spray painted silver and laced with tinsel-y fiber.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 17

I made several of these clothespin doll angels many years ago and gave them all away except this one. I made up the simple design-- it requires no sewing and no glue. Well, maybe the halo is glued on. A sparkly chenille stem wrapped around the neck, not only covers how her hanging string is tied on (around the neck- choke!), but also forms her arms. Her robe is a length of wide satiny ribbon, folded in half, with a small cut for her head to poke through. Her chenille stem belt not only cinches her robe, but also attaches her wire-edged ribbon wings (a short length of ribbon pinched in the middle).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We Interrupt This Program

"Ornament Anecdotes" has been pre-empted to bring you this important news bulletine.

We take you now to this sleepy little gingerbread hamlet to report on an alarming trend.

Marshmellow people imbibing icing to the point of affixiation.

"Oh NO!" cries an inhabitant, looking on in horror at two "plastered" neighbors.
"They said they were just makin' snow angels, but I guess it went too far!"
Please, please, party responsibly this holiday season!
Don't eat icing and stagger around the village square making a public spectacle of yourself.

Miniature gingerbread house village kit from Wilton.
Gingerbread flavored marshmellow "men" from Jet Puff. (They also have vanilla flavored snowmen.)
Gingerbread hamlet assembled by The Thompson Family. :) Tonight we feast on gingerbread!

Ornament Anecdotes will resume tomorrow with Day 17

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 15

I had a set of Chinese men ornaments that a friend had sent me for Christmas eight years ago or so. I think I gifted one away, at least one met its death at the hand of a curious child and the third I don't know where he is, but suffice to say, I have one left that hangs on the tree. They were all dressed differently, but all had human hair accents and I just liked them, for some reason. They were so not like any other ornament on my tree.
Last Friday I got a box from Linda containing all kinds of goodies. Not that I do not appreciate her hand made items, but the one piece that stood out to me was the yellow clad Chinese man-- the exact, but smaller, twin to my surviving ornament! She said she found a set of them at an estate sale. What are the odds?! My heart almost burst from the divine serendipity-ness of it all.
Unlike other similar ornaments, these two won't be separated on the tree. I think they deserve a long visit together. A family reunion of sorts. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 14

The trio.
Sometimes ornaments get hung on the tree perfectly.
The kids got these three right.
Unlike the silver balls in a previous post that got ganged together.
Oh well.
In three weeks, the decorations will all come down and any attempts at perfection won't matter for another year.
I tried not to do much rearanging this year, unless I saw that the life of an ornament was endangered (branch not hooked properly).
Or too many divas shared a small branch (they each need their space to shine!)
My kids are a huge help and often have more enthusiasm for the decorating task than I do.
And I think they are getting an appreciation for the fragile collection that only comes out once a year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 13

This wooden ornament doesn't sparkle or shine like the glass ones, but she makes me smile every year when I pull her out of the box.
Maybe because she is defying gravity.
Maybe because she is the coolest act in the circus.
Maybe because she has big thighs yet still looks good in a short skirt.
Maybe because I wish I was her.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 12

Why a sparkly banana ornament?
Well, doesn't everyone have one?
All of the apple and pear ornaments were bought up before Christmas. The bananas were left because they don't have the same a-peel. (hahaha- sorry, I had to!). After Christmas, marked down 50%, plus another 20% off with my Hallmarker's discount, I am buying. Looks like marzipan!
I did limit myself to just one of these.
I didn't need a whole bunch!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 11

These are the "expendables".
I don't cry when one of these break.
At least one has already hit the floor this year.
They are not the unique, boutique baubles, but they do still play a role in sparkling up the tree. I snap them up just as readily at the thrift store (by the box or randomly tossed into a "$1.00" bag) as I do an old, rare ball.
I am a magpie attracted to shiny objects when it comes to acquiring Christmas ornaments!
And sometimes I am about as discerning.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 10

My mother had peacocks, with angel hair tails, on our tree when I was a kid.
I remember that when one peacock lost its plumage and its clip (we kids loved to play with the ornaments!), my mom attached a hanger to its "butt" and hung him on the tree beak downward.
He still shown proudly.
I have 3 (I think-- I buy many ornaments in threes) of these birds and possibly a goose also.
I love that they clip on top of the branch instead of hanging below it.
When a clip fell off once, I made sure to reglue quickly it before the clip got lost.
There will be no "butt hangings" on my tree!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 9

Not one of the glitzy-er decorations on the tree, but I keep it around, because 1. it is virtually unbreakable, 2. I did the wood burned designs on it when I was 13 years old or so (Girl Scout craft) and 3. being wood, it has an old fashioned appeal.
The first Victorian ornaments were paper.
I bet the second ones were made of wood!
Why my name has an "h" in it?
To Canadians and Europeans, it is THE spelling of that name.
To everyone else I explain, "it's the French spelling".
I was born in Belgium, in a Catholic hospital and the nuns automatically spelled my name that way on the certificate.
Funny that I married someone named Thompson,
where the "h" is also silent!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 8

This is THE Grande Dame on our tree. She is about 3 inches long and over 50 years old. There was a woman in my mom's college sorority (late 1950s) that supplied pink and silver ornaments for the house's tree. When she graduated, her ornaments were left behind. My mom found them in a closet and quietly claimed them. No one cared about Christmas ornaments in June! I have a couple pink balls and small silvery pine cones left (and buy more reproduction pinecones, when I find them), but this pinecone was the only one of its size and color. Isn't it fabulous?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ornament Anecdote: Day 7

Well, you know there is going to be a few hand made ornaments on our tree!
This wreath is something I designed for a kids' craft at a church party many years ago.
A cardboard disk cut to the size of a bagel with puzzle pieces encrusting the surface.
The puzzle was of Christmas cookies, so the colors and images were perfect!
The computer generated photo is of Rebecca at 10 months old or so (the blop on her cheek is a water mark-- water soluble ink you know!)
And here is Rebecca, age 6, last Friday night visiting with Santa at the Corder Community Christmas Party. Soup, chili, Christmas cookies, an old fashioned sing-a-long, door prizes, lighting contest winners awarded and recognized and, last but certainly not least (!), Santa came by with his Misses (she in mob cap, long dress and shawl). She assisted handing out bags of candy to the kids. He patiently spent a few minutes with each child asking their name and what they wanted for Christmas. He is the REAL deal. Like he stepped off the set of "Miracle on 34th Street".
I believe!
How about you?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 6

I am delighted and amazed when I find a rare treasure like this cottage at my local thrift store.
And for 25 cents!
It was in a plastic baggy with another, more contemporary, less fragile plastic ornament (a heart).
I don't know how someone could part with it.
Or how it survived being tossed into a box with other donated items.
I just found this little gem last week.
It is, as yet, living in my china cabinet.
There is no place like home.
And there is no thrill like rebuilding childhood memories,
one small thrift store purchase at a time!
(My mom had a couple cottages like this one hanging on our tree, when I was a kid.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 5

I love European hand blown ornaments.
They covered our tree when I was growing up.
When I got my own place and started decorating my own tree, I naturally seeked out the fragile, glittery, sparkly hand blown baubles.
I bought this church from a friend's shop. It has somehow survived 18 or so Christmases.
This is a miracle since my kids have helped trim the tree for the past 10 or so.
There is nothing more disheartening than the CLINK-crash of a glass ornament hitting the hardwood floor.
I try not to over react.
That's why I rarely pass on buying almost any glass ornaments at the thrift store or garage sales.
I can always use the replacements!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 4

I have several of these, although a couple are broken-- I just hang the bad side to "the back".
I got this vintage treasure several years ago when I helped a friend clean out a foreclosed property.
All of the Christmas decorations were left behind in the basement.
Made me sad for the former home owners.
But it also made me think about not holding on to "stuff" too tightly.
You can't take it all with you if food, clothing and shelter are the greatest needs.
Hold onto the things that matter.
The stuff that floods, fires or earthquakes can't destroy.
Or bank foreclosures can't rob from you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 3

I worked as an artist at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City for over 12 years (in another lifetime). I enjoyed a nice discount at the Halls department store across the street.
Even on sale items.
Like after-Christmas-marked-down ornaments.
I'd buy several of each kind of design I liked, because they were so cheap with my discount (95% off!)
I had 5 or 6 of these teddy bears.
At least 2 were given away as gifts.
I collected teddy bears at one time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ornament Anecdotes: Day 2

This precious ornament is not even hanging on my tree.
It sits in an egg cup, in my china cabinet.
Behind glass.
Two years ago I bought a whole plastic box of Styrofoam apple ornaments at a summer garage sale, because I saw this tarnished treasure nestled in the mess.
25 cents well spent!
The apples eventually went into the trash (even I couldn't think of a creative use for them!)
This beauty went into the china cabinet for safe keeping until Christmas.
But has ended up living there permanently.
I can enjoy it all year 'round,
long after the other ornaments have been put away in boxes
and hauled down to the basement.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Counting the Days: Day 1

I decided that this year's "advent calendar" on my blog would be a daily ornament post.
I am very sentimental about the baubles and chatchkes that hang on our tree.
And each has a story.
Some are more exciting or interesting than others, but you can be the judge.
So welcome to my Ornament Anecdotes.
Day 1
My great aunt had hand painted, blown glass, ornaments like this one.
I remember them from visiting her house once as a kid (1960s, if you must know!)
Mine came from the thrift store, I think.
And I don't know if I have but the one.