Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Catching up on lots of stuff - What I've been up to and upcoming Creative project plans

Hi Retro & Vintage lovin' friends!

Many apologies for the radio silence these past several months.  Time does have a way of sliding by pretty darn quick when you aren't expecting it.    By way of explanation, life has been a series of not-so-great events that have zapped much of my creative energy and put me on auto pilot.   My mom had an illness and hospital stay.  My son had a cancer scare that culminated with a surgery and removal of a large (thankfully benign) tumor.

Then there was the  Never-ending Winter, where we routinely had 8 ft. snowdrifts and were digging out until April.      



I am incredibly thankful that all my family members are on the mend, and winter is now behind us.

Creative Endeavors 2015

This year in sewing -  My daughter went to Anime Boston in March.   She wore her Elizabeth cosplay that we made for PAX last year for one of the days.  Then she and her friends had decided to do Steampunk versions of the DC Comic characters.  She was Harley Quinn.   I didn't unfortunately document carefully the fabrication process of the cosplay, as I usually like to do,  but here are some pictures of the finished ensemble.   (I made the skirt and frock coat,  she made the hat & hammer prop.  the bodice, gloves and wig were purchased).    

This is the Elizabeth Cosplay from last year, she is posing with "Booker," Her character's brother in the game. 

Steampunk Harley Quinn

The Girls of DC Comics:  Poison Ivy, Black Canary & Harley Quinn.



DC Comics' gang

I have plans to work on another dress for my 'adopted' daughter.   Our inspiration dress is one by Romanian design team Chotronette, comprised of Silvia Chiteala & Laura Cazacu.  Their dresses are beautiful and whimsical.  They have a 50's- (early) 60's vintage feel to them.   My plan is to use one of my vintage patterns and make modifications as I go. 

"Ivy Garden Sorbet" by Chotronette

Other crafts:

Earlier this year, I stumbled upon a video about lacemaking on youtube.  I have wanted to learn how to make lace for a long time.  (my ancestry is Dutch,  I love the beautiful lace that it made there. In addition to things like hankerchiefs, table covers, pillow edging, etc., there are the bonnets. In the 1700-1800's, traditional Dutch costumes included a bonnet or cap that incorporated lace. Each area of the Netherlands has a different costume.  My people come from Alkmaar, (one of the great cheesemaking towns) where the woman's dress is a blue & white striped one, red kerchief, and a simple flared bonnet.  Anyway, I bought myself a set of lace-making bobbins, and am slowly amassing the other items needed to give it a whirl.    



Reading

 So maybe not a creative endeavor, but definitely an individual passion.  For the past several months, I have been indulging myself in reading.  When I was younger, I almost always had my nose in a book. The library was my second home, so much so that when I turned of age, the librarian offered me a job there!    When my kids were little, I always felt guilty about stopping to read. There was always something to do - housework, shopping, kid wrangling,  all the mommy and wife and caregiving stuff. Maybe the mommy martyr syndrome had set in....we are really good at denying ourselves things.      Although I would catch a book here and there, it wasn't as much as I used to.
 I started reading more again awhile ago and it feels like part of my soul has been awakened again after a long slumber.    I am partial to historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy & paranormal stuff. I  have discovered several new authors and am literally devouring books. At some poing I might create a 'have read' page on my blog with a summary and what I thought of the book.

Gardening

My son & I came upon the idea of creating a Carl Sagan tribute garden.   Not sure how the idea came about exactly, but Peter is a big fan of Carl Sagan, and astronomy in general.   The plan is to create a plant bed that includes several species aptly named flowers - 'comet gladiolas', 'stargazer lilies'  cosmos, sunflowers, moon flowers etc.   Along with several gazing balls that will be placed strategically as the solar system,  some ground cover flowers meandering down through the center to resemble the milky way (probably white alysium), and maybe some twinkle lights as the kuiper belt. We are still in the creation phase, and I expect that most of the things we do this year will probably not come to fruition until next spring/summer,  but it is a great project and we are having fun planning & doing it.

stuff we got for the Carl 'da man' Sagan Tribute Garden.


Also this year, we set up several birdfeeders next to our large window and have had a ball watching tons of birds and squirrels come daily to have breakfast  (and probably lunch & dinner!)    Gives the kitties something to watch too.  (I call it Cat TV)

Birdies!

That's most of what I've been up to.   Probably a few things I have forgot,  but I will try to get back in the habit of posting a little more regularly.     

Have any great summer plans?   I would love to hear about them!  Comment below :)

xo Yvonne

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Little Houses, little houses - Christmas Crafting!

Greetings, friends on the Interwebs!

Halloween is over, and it's finally getting cold enough that I can think Christmasy.   It seems like a long way off still, but only a month and few days.

One of the local Garden Centers does a "Ladies Night" in November that my daughter & I have gone to for the past few years.   Area stores, crafters and other vendors put up tables inside the greenhouse to sell their wares, and they have Christmas music playing and little trays of cheeses, crackers, cookies and other noms to sample.   The Garden center has a "Christmas Shoppe" with an array of lovely ornaments and other decorations and decorating ideas.   So it was all quite beautiful.

My lovely daughter near some of the Christmas decorations

Little Houses, little houses, and they are all made out of Ticky-Tack.  (well actually cardboard, glue and glitter)

If you are like me,  you can go back in your mind to the Christmases of your youth, and remember all the special ornaments and decorations that you had.   Some of you may have those very same ornaments for your trees now, inherited from mom, dad or grandparents.  Or maybe you are creating your own special memories with your kids by making ornaments with them.  

One of the memories I have are of a few little houses that went to our Christmas Village.

Vivid pink, aqua blue and white. Honestly, they seemed very out of place with the other alpine-esque houses.  These little cardboard homes look like tiny replicas of stucco houses that would be found in Florida or some other temperate climate.  But we would set them up on a snowy peak, along with the rest of the village that centered around the manger. (truth be told, those houses were probably much more suited to the type found around the Mediterranean climate of Bethlehem, but we'll get into ethnocentricism of our own culture another day).

(picture from Retro-renovation)

More Putz houses on display from Retrorenovation.com

Until recently, I didn't know that these little houses had a name, and had lots of little sister houses out there!   This style of house is known as a "Putz" house.    Brief history -  the name 'putz' comes from the German  'decoration' or (putzen) 'to take your time decorating.'   (you may also have heard someone say that they are 'putzing' around, meaning they are taking their time doing whatever task they are doing.

In the 1900's,  candy would come in little boxes shaped like houses or stores, and people would use the boxes (once done with the candy!)  to decorate under their Christmas trees,  creating little villages.   Around 1930, the Japanese started creating the little houses (sans candy) for the American Market for Christmastime.  They were popular into the 1960's, when consumers moved onto other decorations.

There are several websites that have much more detailed history, links and PRINTABLES!


"Little Glitter Houses" (Howard Lamey) http://www.littleglitterhouses.com/paul/howard_how_to.htm

"Retro-Renovation" (Pam & Kate)  http://retrorenovation.com/2012/12/11/vintage-putz-houses-a-history-and-online-guide/

(Etsy & Ebay also offer many of these vintage houses for sale if you don't trust yourself with craft scissors and glue).

The nice thing about these houses is that the possibilities are limitless in terms of decoration and personalization of them.

Crafting with Putzes

So anyway, I'm not just waxing poetic about the little houses from yesteryear....  
I actually came across not one, mind you, but TWO crafts recently that featured the little Putz houses.

"Ally's Scrap Blog"  http://allyscrapsblog.blogspot.com/2012/09/vintage-christmas-village.html

The first craft I came across via many pictures on Pinterest, and followed them back to "Ally's Scrap Blog." She credits the original craft to Linda Albrecht.      These are adorable little houses set atop covered tins.   I am having a hard time figuring out the actual size though, as the tins if they are standard cookie tins which are about 7" or 8"  diameter, then the houses must be fairly large.  (Her page does not give any indication on which tins they used).   Regular (vintage) Putz houses are only a few inches big, so several would fit on a larger tin, or maybe you can find smaller tins to use.

Her blog page also doesn't include a schematic for the actual house, just a notation to download them from the Victoria Magazine Website.

[Note - a little digging on my part and I came across one of the downloads:
https://workspaces.acrobat.com/app.html#d=M-yWmAwgLTOkHFbtZecFJQ

via this blog here (that has more printables & links YAY!) http://melstampz.blogspot.com/2008/09/wee-houses-35-templates-tutorials.html

SPECIAL NOTE - a pop up box says they (Victoria Magazine) are discontinuing the Workspace/PDF patterns as of January 2015, so download it soon if you plan on using them.]


The Second craft jumped out at me while grocery shopping from the cover of the latest Martha Stewart Living Magazine (Dec/Jan issue)



Martha and her elves  say you  can purchase the houses online, but also have templates at marthastewart.com/winter-village 

The magazine article guides you through glizting up the trees, teasing out cotton balls, painting the houses, and nestling all the stuff with glue into the wreath.


So there you have it folks,  Fun with houses!   
I am hoping to make some soon, will post follow up pictures if I can.   

What Holiday crafts do you enjoy doing?   Please share in the comments below!

xo Yvonne



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cat Lady Sewing Challenge & "Falmouth Dream Cruise" highlights

Hi Friends!

For all you crazy cat people out there,  fellow sewing Blogger "Miss Crayola Creepy" brings us a Cat Lady sewing challenge.   Within the month of October, sew an article of clothing made with fabric with cats on it.       Someone who knows my weakness, obviously!     She has a flickr group set up to for us to upload pictures of our finished projects.  Not sure what to sew yet,  so many ideas!  I will have to think about it and post later.  

Falmouth Classic Car Dream Cruise

Every September, the Falmouth Classic Car Club holds their "Dream Cruise" event,  where vintage, classic and unique automobiles are on display to the public on Saturday, and then Sunday they drive around town strutting their stuff.

Of course you know this was on my son's calendar months in advance,  and the weather last weekend was beautiful for it.    There were way too many cars for me to go into detail about the history of each, so hopefully you can enjoy the pictures we took and some thoughts I had about some of the cars we saw. (There were many, many beautiful cars.  I only chose a handful that I liked the best to post here)

I decided to wear the dress I made for the Mad Men sewing challenge last year (the lavender rose dress from McCall's pattern circa 1961) but with the exception of one of my vintage purses, I did not have time to accessorize or do my hair.

 First  up is a 1958 Chevy Impala.  It's Pink!  XOXOX
This car was a real beauty, I love the two tone pink & white they did.  Original sticker price on this baby was approx. $2500.  Six tail lights, eight headlamps, and it measures in at a whopping 17 1/2 feet. 







ooooh, how many bodies do you suppose I could hide in this trunk?






Across the lot, We saw this 1963 Impala.  I was amazed at how different looking the same car was after a mere 5 years. The length is still about 17.5 feet,   the sticker price has gone up a few hundred dollars - with the exception of one model, a 4 door, 6 cylinder station wagon model priced at just above $2000.  Says it seated 9 passengers!  (told you there was room in the trunk!)    I'm guessing that this was an economy model targeted towards families. 








This pretty gold & white two-toned car is a 1957 Dodge Custom Royal.
and it has tail fins (I'm a sucker for tail fins)    Only 4 headlamps on this one,  but still has 6 tail lights, but the top two are really small ones.  Dodge only had these in production from 1955 to 1959, then it became a trim level for the Phoenix. I had trouble finding an original price for these cars.




It's all about the tail fins baby!





















This next car is a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette.  We were sure that it was a custom built job, because this was one very odd body style. But no, to prove us wrong, there was a picture of the 'before'  the rebuild showing how it looked. There is no front or rear bumper to speak of,  it is all molded.   It is a little hard to see, but the front headlights are recessed with a cage type thing in front of them.   The tailights are bullet shaped, which was common for then with the atomic age just coming around. You can see the beginnings of the tail fin trend with a teeny little fin on top of them. The rear license plate is inset with a window.    This was only available as a 2 door roadster.  It still is a good 13 feet of length though.   Original sticker price was about $2700.  (interesting enough, the weight is about 2700 lbs - so that works out to $1 per pound of car! Cheaper than deli meat, I tell ya!)




The 'before restoration' photo, showing what a unique body style that was apparently all original.



The next two cars here are 1954 Kaiser-Darrins',  sitting next to eachother on the lot - one in a pretty lemon color, the other in a lovely lime.    Made me think of sherbert!  Was 1954 just the year for the strange looking cars?   My Mom's father had a Frazer, which she described as being the 'working man's Kaiser'.  They were made by the Kaiser Frazer company,  and the Frazer models were a lot less showy.     The Kaiser Darrin's as shown here are the first fiberglass sports car produced  in the United States, beating even the Corvette (if only by a month).   The original price on these models was about $3600, really pricey in those days- higher than even the Caddy and the Lincoln models at the time. It had lots of stuff - electric windshield wipers, tinted windows, whitewall tires, tachometer - little things that probably added to it's high cost.  Apparently there were some other issues with the car as well: design flaws, mediocre performance (Alfa Romeo Spider, Jaguar, Nash-healy and other comparable sports cars of the time were much faster)  Sadly, the company had produced many more than were sold. The company stopped selling in the US the following year.  (Howard Darrin, the creator, bought a bunch of the surplus cars, souped them up using V8 engines (as used in Caddy Eldorados)  multiple carborators, and superchargers, and remarketed them as 'specials' a few years later for $4350.   These changes made the Specials go really fast.)










So there you have it, folks. Highlights of this years 'Dream Cruise' at least some of my favorites anyway.    There were, unfortunately, no classic Cadillacs, to Peter's dismay. 
Do you have a favorite classic?  I'd love to hear about it! - Share in the comments below.

xo Yvonne


Awesome resource for original pricing and other data:  http://www.oldride.com/index.html

Some info obtained on the Kaiser-Darrin's from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiser_Darrin