Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Another Thanksgiving - and so many things to be thankful for - - -

Family -- grandsons -- children -- friends -- health -- rain -- sunshine -- peace and quiet -- a new house to celebrate in -- good food - oh so many, the list goes on and on.

We won't be having the big crowd this year - just Don and me, our oldest daughter and her family (Ben's family) - and his other grampa. A nice size crowd, and a huge turkey to be eaten. Our daughter will be helping with the cooking of the feast - and we will all be helping with the eating.

Our menu---

Massed Potatoes
Baked Squash
Green Bean casserole
Home made rolls
Deviled eggs
Stuffed celery
Pumpkin Pie
Bumbleberry Pie (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Apple Crisp

and a good nap!!!

Two of our "kids" and their families are in Virginia (visiting) and West Virginia (living there) - and we will miss them so much. Brother (WV) and Sister (VA) will be visiting each other some time during the holiday so that warms our hearts - though we wish we could all be either there or here, together. Some years are just like that - we have to learn to share. :-)

We are so thankful for all that we've experienced in our 44 years together - our family and friends - our adventures and our quiet times - our visits and trips - a wonderful trip together.

May your holidays be special - with those who are special to you.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In my last post I stated that there were ribbons and greens in the window boxes. Well, after re-thinking, and looking at the picture - I see that those are not ribbons at all - but cotoneaster berries. For those not acquainted with them - they are pronounced ca-tony-aster - one of life's interesting words. They grow all over in N CA and we gathered some to put in with the greens and the candles in our window boxes and three sides of our old school house home.

Two funny (or strange) stories go with these window boxes. One evening we invited some friends over for Christmas cookies and tea. It was dark and I liked to light the candles in the window boxes so we could see the candles from inside the house. We like to sit in the house with the lights off, most any evening, and watch the evening come in. At the holidays it is even more fun, with the candles burning in the window boxes. (If our kids drop over when we are sitting in the dark they call us the moles)

Back to the story - before our friends arrived, I went outdoors to light the candles. We lived out in the country, with woods up behind the house - and a pasture between the house and the woods. I had to walk almost all the way around the house to get to the window boxes at the living room windows, so I was a long ways from the door, and I heard this horrible scream off in the woods - like a woman being tortured. I stopped still in my tracks - while lighting candles - got the last two lit and the scream came again - and I didn't stop for anything - I made it back around the house, up the steps and indoors in record time.

We didn't have any idea what the sound was and were about to call the police when our friends arrived. We rushed them into the house and told them what we had heard (Don could hear it inside the house with Christmas music playing. They said they had heard that a cougar could make that sound - and there were plenty of sightings of cougars in our county at that time -so we didn't dial 911. But we were very cautious about going outdoors at night for a while.

Then a happier story -

We had flocks of these darling little birds - about 2" tall, 4" long and can weigh up to 1/3 ounce. They flit about and eat the berries off the cotoneaster bushes - and they found the ones in our window boxes. We'd sometimes have 10 or more eating there. They are such fun to watch and listen to. They make a little tick-tick-tick noise.

One sunny afternoon, after Christmas, I decided it was time to bring in the candles and clean out the window boxes. I was busy dismantling the decorations when I kept hearing tick-tick-tick - then a bit more insistent tick-tick-tick-tick. Looking around I saw a Ruby Crowned Kinglet - sitting on the deck railing, scolding me for all he was worth for bothering his berries. So I stepped back and he flew in to get a few more nibbles before they were all gone. I decided that they would stay a while longer until the birds had their fill, or had eaten them all.

We don't have window boxes at our new house, but thinking about this makes me consider having some built just so we can see the birds up close. I do have a plastic window feeder that attaches to my studio window with suction cups - and that is fun - the chickadees and juncos feed there and entertain Ben and Jahn and me.


Bows and candles in the window boxes

Bows on my collection of watering cans.

A ceramic candy train I painted one year. The three cars are the candy dishes Our son always checks for M&Ms - and if there aren't any he grumbles a little until I go and get some, just like when he was a kid (he's 40 now) :-)

Our house overflows with fun and decorations during the holidays - I love to decorate any little corner I can find. We put lights up outdoors - wreaths along fences (when we have a fence) - wreaths on the inside and the outside of the front door - wreaths at the windows - bows on anything that doesn't move, and on some things that do.

My tole painted Santa - with a bundle of sticks. He is the one that started all the fun of collecting Santas.
I use holly dishes - made by Lefton in the 60s and 70s for lots of holiday entertaining - and for christmas eve with the family. We have picked them up at thrift stores and yard sales (one time Don got service for four, for about 12.00 total - what a bargain!) - and lately I've gotten a few fill-in pieces on ebay. This past month I bid on, and won, four more dinner size plates and the seller put in one more set as a bonus - so now we have enough dinner size plates in holly for everyone in the family. I have solid red and solid green depression glass pieces that go with the holly.

One of my favorite pieces - a small pitcher and plate. Ben loves to get these out along with some cups and make a tea party for us. He is a very careful little boy and has never broken anything. He knows where they are stored in the pantry and can get them himself.

Setting up the tea party on the coffee table

Pouring "tea" into a bowl

Now it goes back into the pitcher. The dish towel protects the coffee table - which has a leather top - since Ben doesn't always have perfect aim.

Do you notice anything "interesting" about the three photos of Ben?

These little guys may be our favorite holiday decoration.

When our kids were in grade school in Kansas we rented a farm out in the country, while Don was going to college. We didn't farm, just rented it and then rented out the pastures for horses. Anyway - at Christmas time one cold Kansas night the three kids came downstairs all bundled up in hats, scarves, mittens, coats and boots. They were whispering among themselves and ran out the back door.

Soon we heard their little voices singing Christmas Carols - as they walked around and around our house. We were far from town and there was no way anyone else would be coming out to sing carols for us - so they wanted to. As they came around to the back door after a few times around the house we opened the door and listened to them sing one more song and then invited them all inside for hot chocolate and cookies (that I had hurriedly prepared when we saw what they were doing).

They came inside, took off their winter gear and talked to us like we were strangers - "thank you sir and m'am for inviting us in on this blustery night" "Thank you for your kindness and warm drink and cookies" "Might we sing one more song for you?" - it was just the cutest thing ( We are sure the oldest one told the two youngest ones what to say).

Later the next year I was going to ceramic classes and found three little chubby carollers to paint - two girls and one boy - and I painted them with our kids' color of hair and the same clothes they were wearing that night. We still put those figurines out each year.

And what is christmas without a christmas wedding. Our son and now daughter-in-law were married in West Virginia (her home) in December 2005. We flew back for the wedding and had the best time. They got married in a log cabin church (really old, authentic one) and spent the first night of their honeymoon in the log cabin next door - then flew to Hawaii and escaped the snow that was coming down the night they got married. Everything was wonderful - the reception hall was decorated with 14 christmas trees in silver and blue, with twinkly white lights. The church was decorated in the same colors and the wedding was fabulous. We all got dressed in the log cabin next to the little old church - and when our son was dressed in his tux with blue vest he came out - smiling so big and said "I look so good tonight, anyone would marry me" - it was so darling - he was as excited as a little kid.
Inside the church

The first dance - they are a lovely couple!

Happy Memories!!

Friday, November 21, 2008


At our house at christmas time - we have to watch out for our teddy bears - they seem to get into mischief without much trying.

Don dresses them all up each christmas - in their Santa hats. It makes them think that they are the main focus at christmas and they want to be involved in everything. They are sitting on the stairs going up to the attic in that drafty old farmhouse (previous blog).

They like to ride on the sled, and take along their horn and some snacks - just in case they get hungry - and bears get hungry quite often. And you never know when you'll need a good French Horn.

They like to hlep decorate - and there is a frog on the floor reading a cookie cook book - deciding on the kinds of christmas cookies that they want to eat. Seems they have decided on one batch of every cookie in the book. There is coffee and a coffee cup on the little table and someone is putting some holiday music on to add to the festivities.

I love to decorate with teddy bear items - and I found this cute little door hanger in WV when we went back there our son's wedding in December 2005. His future mother-in-law and I had a grand time shopping before the wedding - she knows all the good spots, and prices in WV were so much cheaper than WA prices, so we had a blast.

More teddy bears - these are wooden and I painted them many years ago in my tole painting phase. I have always had a sheltered porch to hang them on where ever we've lived - but in this new house I don't have a place like that (the sheltered area of the porch is too small) so I will have to find another place to hang them indoors. I also shrunk this pattern and made ornaments of the same design.

Here are all the bears - posing for a family portrait one Christmas in CA. Don has never been one to take photos but one day he asked me how to use my camera - a pentax with zoom lens (before we had digital cameras) - he said he wanted to take some pictures around town. So I gave him a quick lesson - thinking he didn't really want to learn how to take pictures - and off to work I went. That night he asked me how to get the film out of the camera - I was surprised and asked if he had taken a whole roll of pictures already (36 photos). He took the film out and I forgot all about it. On christmas day this photo, framed , was the last present I opened. It had to wait until last because the black bear on the top right and the small pink bear in the middle of the back were gifts that year - and I would have seen them in the photo if I opened it before I opened my bear portrait. He did a great job - and said he had quite a time picking the best photo - what with the sun dodging in and out of the clouds and the bears acting silly.

Don tells a funny story about this. He lined up all the bears on the front porch of our house, on boxes and wagons and chairs so all could be seen. We lived in a small town of 1200 and we lived right in the center of town, across from the small post office, so everyone in town went past our house every day to get their mail. One man stopped his car and got out and said "I have to see this". Several friends dropped by while he was taking the roll of pictures - he wanted to make sure he got a good shot and no one was frowning or fooling around in the picture! He told everyone that stopped by that they had to keep this a secret - and that was going to be hard, because we knew everyone in town and someone was bound to blab - even if it was by acccident.
No one did blab - and I was totally surprised when I opened the package that christmas.

Here is a new bear that has come to live with us since that picture - from a dear friend in FL - she lived in NY at the time. She sends new sweaters from time to time and the grandsons love to change her sweaters for the seasons.

She is wearing her new "Let it Snow" sweater - sitting next to some dish towels I received as a gift two years ago. She thought it was a tablecloth for a picnic -silly bear.

Hope your christmas is full of fun and bears - and every good thing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Our kids in front of our tree in Kansas - we lived on a farm and rented out the pastures and stables in the barn to people that had horses. The kids had so many fun adventures on that farm - this was taken in 1976.
I get so excited this time of year - I just adore Christmas and the decorating, the shopping, the hiding of gifts (bought two for Don yesterday on the way home from work), the baking, the visiting with friends, the rainy season that lets us stay indoors and feel cozy, the excitement of the kids - I just love it all.

Our main tree, when we lived in a rennovated school house in N. CA The windows were fabulous, giving us views of pastures, hillsides, mountains and a river. We had a friend (she was 72) that lived down the road who had gone to school in our "house" when she was in grade school. It had been a one-room-school until it was remodeled into a home. The stories she told us were delightful, like when the river flooded in the spring and all the students would stand at the banks of windows and watch the bridge go floating down the river. Or about when they all had colds in the winter and their cloth hankies would get soggy so the teacher would have them put their hankies on the heat registers to dry out. It is a wonder anyone survived those times. Or about the dances where everyone on the road would come to dance and flirt and meet their future husbands and wives there. Wonderful stories.
So today I am sharing Christmases past - with some of the fun stuff we have done and some of our trees. The tree is basically the same every year - just a different arrangement of ornaments.

Looking in the window - with the outdoor lights to the right side - this is what you would see if driving past our first house in WA - a fabulous house with a gigantic living room and a very spacious dining room - where I put the teddy bear tree (and didn't get a picture of it ). This was on a farm - and again we rented the pastures out - this time to a man with cattle and two horses. We love being able to see and talk to the farm animals - and yet we have none of the work of owning them.

Inside the same house - the reflections in the windows are great!!!

One year in SoCal I started collecting ornaments for a teddy bear tree. It is our secondary tree - the main tree is of ornaments we've saved over the years, some were gifts, some were made by the kids, some were made by me - and all have such special meanings. The local newspaper did a story about our teddy bear tree that first year. It was sparse then, but we have added so many more ornaments that I can barely get them all on a 6 foot tree. The strange thing is - with all my picture taking, I don't have a picture of the teddy bear tree - except the one below - which doesn't show the ornaments at all - just the white lights I use on it.

This is the teddy bear tree - viewed from outdoors, in the same farm house. Guess that was my year for outdoor views of the trees in the house.

Our main tree - in our first house in town in Bellingham - I love the way the lights look when they are a little out of focus - and with no flash. This house was a small, cozy cottage - built in 1920 from a kit ordered from Sears Roebuck - they sent all the pieces, numbered, with instruction for building your whole house. We have lived in two of these kit houses.
Again - the main tree - with the plastic popcorn strings. We used to string popcorn and cranberries every year until we came upon some realistic looking plastic popcorn and cranberries in the Sears christmas catalog, that looked so real we've had people try to snitch a piece of popcorn off the tree. Then one year our youngest daughter found more strings at a thrift store - I was so jealous because we didn't have quite enough with the strings we had bought years ago - and one year soon after that she gave us her strings, she said they just "didn't go" with her elegant christmas trees. I was so happy, as I'd never seen the same kind in all the years of looking for the strings.

This house was also on a farm - actually a horse ranch (do you see a theme of the houses we are attracted to?) and was also a Sears Roebuck kit house - built also in 1920. It was built before the area had electricity so there was no provision made for a refrigerator (they had one of those air circulating cooler cupboards that kept their food cold) and we had to put the refrigerator in my studio - just a couple steps from the kitchen, because it woudn't fit in the kitchen.

The kitchen, at first outfitted with a wood burning stove for heat and cooking, was remodelled to have an electric stove, a sink and small drainboard -and I mean small. We had only 14 inches of counter spcace - and part of that was taken up with our breadbox. I had to be very creative to cook large meals in that kitchen, fortunatley there was room for a small kitchen table - which held the canisters and microwave - but provided a little more space for food preparation.
The house was not cozy, was not insulated - we had to pile hay bales around the foundation to help keep the pipes from freezing every winter - was drafty and hard to heat - with a very noisy furnace in the dining room - just barely covered with a thin "closet" - which did nothing to soften the noise, and we had to shout to be heard when the furnace was running - or just wait to talk until it was done running. We weren't sorry when we bought our house in town and moved away - to a cozy, warm, insulated house.
Some of the trees shown today belong to our youngest daughter. She has such a flair for decorating trees and does themes. She has a seal tree - all done up with baby harp seals - and a turtle tree, featuring all kinds of sea turtles. It is fun to look for a new sea turtle ornament for her each year - or a baby harp seal ornament. Some years you can find lots of them - some years - almost none. The specialy ornament shops are the best place to find them.
Her seal tree - in her apartment three years ago. Here it is - in her house last christmas - along with some stocking she made for Jay and Jahn. With the flash - to show all the seals and the cute Santa Hat for the tree topper. The stockings are made of felt, Jay's is a "bigfoot" and Jahn's is a Hot Wheels racing car- such intricate details - she is a super artist. Sea turtle tree - taken last year.

And it wouldn't be christmas without santa

Santa on our porch of our first house in WA. He is about 5 feet tall and we call him "Giant Tacky Plastic Santa". I love these light up Santas - I have have several smaller ones that I use indoors. Unfortunately GTPS is no longer with us - at our first in town house someone walked up into our porch and took off with him. We advertised and tried very hard to find him - even wrote a letter to the editor - but nothing. How can you have fun with a christmas decoration that you have stolen?

We have seen a couple of the same Santa - he's taller than most - and Don even offered someone 50.00 to buy theirs but they declined - guess they love "Giant Tacky Plastic Santa" as much as we did. We'll find another one some day!!!! And soon I hope!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


While at the thrift stores yesterday I found two bags of vintage buttons. They were 1.99 each bag and I couldn't resist getting both of them. I could see that there were some wonderful buttons in each bag.
First Bag o' Buttons

Second Bag o' Buttons

Some of the special buttons I picked from each bag.

They filled a quart and a pint - lovely buttons! Can't you just imagine the wonderful coats and sweaters that these buttons were on? The lovely little dresses for lovely little girls, and shirts and jackets for the boys. A jar full of buttons is a jar full of memories.

I have them sitting out on the dining room table - so I can enjoy them before I start using them in some special fairy projects I want to do.

I love thrift shops - what are some of the wonderful things you have found at the thrift shop?

Saturday, November 15, 2008


You just can't keep us away from the thrift shops. Today we started out to do some birthday and christmas shopping. We have 5 birthdays between now and Jan - so there are lots of presents this time of the year. Our first stops are always the thrift shops - and then we go the the "regular" stores.

We went to the thrift shops in the next town south of Bellingham - Mt. Vernon, WA - and the prices are about half in those shops than in the ones in Bellingham.

I also got 7 more Santas - each one cuter than the last. Ben is really going to have fun when he sees those.

Santa Paddington

All the guys - from both days of shopping - and I didn't spend 15.00 for them all!!! I love thrift shops!!

We found the Fisher Price Family House for Ben - I had been pricing them and they are a bit spendy - but when we walked into Value Village - there was one for 4.99 - I couldn't believe my eyes. I had just been telling Don about the house and how Ben was asking for a house for all his Little People. I can't wait until his birthday in early December to give him the house. Now to find a good hiding place.

We also found a small pirate boat - that makes noise and drives itself - a tractor and a tow truck - all for the FP Little People - and a farm truck and a school bus that sings and honks and talks. Oh the cute things they make for kids these days.

We were looking for something scientific for Jahn - like a science kit, or astronomy kit, but didn't find anything. There is a special toy store in Bellingham that would probably have such a thing. We already have a car repair/painting garage for Hot Wheels, set-up for Jahn, and two nice books on science - plus some great stocking stuffers. We did most of his shopping earlier, and his birthday was in September.

I found a pair of shore bird statues that I really like - even though they are painted in the awful pink and turquoise of the 80s. I am going to repaint them in realistic colors and then they will fit nicely in our house.

Before pictures- I'll show the after pix when they are painted

We stopped at Hallmark and got two darling ornaments - but I'll wait until after we give them to the kids at Thanksgiving to post photos - just in case "someone" is reading this blog.

After a nice lunch at Royal Fork Buffet we headed to the outlet stores and got two pair of nice trousers for Don at Van Huesen, and four dessert plates to match my chutney corelle - at the Corning Ware/Corelle Outlet - (we keep running out of small plates before the dishwasher is full) and another birthday present that I can't tell you about until after Tuesday - but it is something fun. Then to Hickory Farms and more birthday presents - more secrets - I love shopping and secrets.

I got some white felt and some stretchy gold elastic for another craft project I am going to make - coffe cup holders - quilted even. At last something quilty to report. And I got some golf tees that will be used in pincushions - now doesn't that make you curious???

And that was our shopping day - we were glad to be home and rest our weary feet - but happy for all the things we'd bought. Many things off our christmas list.