January 28, 2010

Good Things #2 Art

This is some of my water colors & color pencil work. They are all pictures of my children except for the landscape which is a Wyeth reproduction. I charge $125 for portraits.

This is some of my Uncle Ed Kellogg's art that hangs in my home. He works in oils, block print and silk screen. Some of his larger pieces are sold to business offices or hospitals. A few years back I happened to be in Nashville, TN staying at The Grand Ol' Opry for a Longaberger Convention when I had one of those priceless moments of walking into a room with friends and coworkers and seeing one of my uncle's paintings on the wall. I did a little name dropping.

These two prints are original color etchings. The one on the left was part of a set complete with french mats and frames. They were $40 apiece ..... a fraction of what you would pay to frame it now. The one on the right was found at a yard sale in Virginia in a box of frames marked 10 cents apiece. I took etching in college and know what goes into it. These are amazing. You can learn more about the etching process on Wikipedia.

A lovely watercolor purchased from my neighbor Kim Kelley for $18. An artist will charge you much more but this piece has probably changed hands a number of times.

This is only a print of an oil painting and has little value but the carving on the frame was so beautiful that when I saw it nailed on a tree at a yard sale for $8 it was mine. Choosing a frame can make or break a piece of artwork. If you're going modern basic black, white or metal will do but in my home I generally choose wood or maybe gold leaf. Also when framing an original or signed piece of art work an acid free rag matting is best so that the work will not yellow over time.

These are signed prints by my friend Janet Dixon. She won the Flower Market Art Show in 1993 with the watercolor on the right. It launched her art career. On the left are her two daughters. She also has twin boys. Our kids were the same ages and often played together. Janet and I sometimes took art classes at the DE Art Museum. The Dixon's moved back to North Carolina a few years back. I miss her.

The photograph on the left hangs in the upper hall. It reminds me to pray every time I go upstairs. It was a wedding gift. The signed watercolor print on the right was the former home of Dave Longaberger which is now an inn. I have stayed there many times.

Good Things #1 Coffee

The best coffee I ever had was in France. Since then I have been on a search for something comparable. To this date my favorite is Java Delight Double Chocolate Light Roast .... Java House is available in a number of bean at the Acme (ground or whole). I also like their Ethiopian Coffee and Hazelnut Cream Decaf. I keep my coffee in tightly sealed Plastic Protectors that came with my Longaberger Canister Baskets. We like our coffee perked in a Faberware coffee pot. It produces a hot cup of coffee in under two minutes. For awhile we were purchasing our Faberware from a vendor at the flea market but the coffee was not heating properly in the old units so we did the necessary and went to Kohls with a coupon.
I like my coffee with cream. No sugar but with toast or desert is nice. Having given up gluten I found I was not drinking as much coffee. I will be reintroducing gluten in moderation because I really can take it or leave it. Sometimes fasting from something is about breaking an addiction. Addictions cause imbalances in the body and in behavior. I believe that fasting is most effective when combined with prayer in breaking addictions because imbalances begin with a life that is off center and if God is not the center something else has to be. We were made to worship something .... if not God then we will worship something he created (Good things in themselves when taken in context). This is revolt (commandment #1 Thou shalt have no other gods before me). The scriptures also tell us that behind addictions their are evil spiritual forces. They do not love God and they do not love us. They would see us destroyed mentally and physically and every other way. Satan is a harsh task master.
While I give this idea mental assent I'm still learning to let go .... it's really about trust. Trust that my Father in Heaven, The Good Shepherd, loves me and will do what is best for me ..... and it's about intimacy. The closer I get to him the more I realize he is the incomparable .... the Pearl of Great Price ... perhaps I should go back to French coffee.

January 26, 2010

Good Things #3 Baskets, Pottery & Ironstone

I like rustic and natural materials. While I do have Mottahedeh and Canton Blue & White China, for daily use I prefer my pottery & ironstone. The Longaberger Pottery is durable (microwave, oven, freezer & dishwasher safe) It is chip, crack and craze resistant. Our pottery and baskets are made to mix and match. Above (lower right) is an American Heritage Basket with Cutting Board Lid and the Soft Square Bowl. If this sounds like a commercial it is because I have been a Longaberger Rep for over 20 years. Our pottery is the number one selling pottery in America today. To meet public demand for lower cost we outsource our Woven Tradition line of pottery from China. To meet public demand for American made we have our own Made In America Matters line of pottery. I believe we employ about 40 American pottery factories and hundreds of American Artisan Basket Weavers in Dresden, Ohio.
Being a Longaberger Rep. has provided a good income for my family as well. As a consultant I receive discounts with my company and others. Free product, literature, samples, .... even a Bose Radio/CD Player & PlayStation 3, to mention a few extra perks. Consultants receive personal websites supported by the company, lots of training in sales, marketing and leadership and it has paid my family's bills, helped to keep our home and allowed my husband and me to travel some including a trip to Paris, France.
The top two pictures are most of my pottery and ironstone. My kitchen cupboards have glass front in the butler pantry style so that I can display my pretty collection.

Good Things #4 Quilts, Lace, Linens & Silks

I love fabric and needlework. My business, Cotton Ginnie Studio focuses primarily on fiber arts. So I collect bits and pieces at flea markets and such places where the cost is not high. A table cloth for $8-$18 .... $6 for a set of pillowcases .... $2-$3 for bits of this and that. These bits and pieces have adorned handmade gifts and pillows .... yards of hand crocheted lace became the edging for my kitchen curtains. An antique, lace edged counterpane folds gently over my silk comforter in my bedroom. Vintage linens hang over the towel bar in the bathrooms.
I have a beautiful set of linen napkins waiting for a hand stitched monogram. Table linens hang on individual hangers in the closet awaiting their seasonal day. I've blogged before about finding vintage fabrics for a child's quilt and I picked up a woman's linen skirt at the Family Thrift and tailored it for the sink in the downstairs bath when it was redone. Some needlework is suitable for framing. I have a large cross stitch that I did when my children were young and a child's quilt made by my great grandmother Ora Peterman that are both framed.

Good Things #5 Twittering

No I am not referring to the Internet. I mean singing, making or listening to music. I mentioned earlier that I have been on a health quest the past year. One of the Scripture verses that seemed to keep coming up during my prayer time was, "Sing praises to the Lord." I have always had prayer and scripture reading during my devotions but praise songs were something I did on Sundays or road trips. Let me tell you, along with vitamins and exercise, singing is one of the best things I have done for my health. But if you are skeptical you may recall the fellow who cured himself of cancer with laughter. I recommend praise songs to God in particular .... music and lyrics can provoke many moods including riot, sadness and even anxiety. But a praise song promotes thankfulness, love, joy and comfort.
At first I sang for an hour every morning and then sometimes for an hour at night. Gradually my health improved. Now my singing sessions are shorter but much like my vitamin regimen ..... now and then I get busy or distracted and miss a day but if I go two to three days without, I suffer for it.
This morning I was singing in my rocker near the window when my ears caught a churppie sound. I stopped and it stopped. I started and it started. This happened several times. At first I wondered if my chair was squeaky but then ... no ... it must be coming from outside. I peeked out and there was a little bird perched in the burning bush just outside the window. I think it is a tufted titmouse as you can maybe tell from the pictures above. It was light blue grey with a white and coral belly and a tuft on it's head. It was soon joined by it's cousin. We sounded something like this; "There is a name I love to hear, (churp! churp!) I love to sing its worth; (churp! churp!) It sounds like music in my ear, (churp! churp!) The sweetest name on earth (churp!) O, how I love Jesus, O, how I love Jesus, O, how I love Jesus - Because He first loved me (churp! churp!)!
I Heard A Bird Sing
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.
"We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,"
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
-Oliver Herford

And it is now January so we are even closer!

January 24, 2010

Good Things #6 Candles

Candles are comforting. I always light my kitchen candles when I am cleaning up, or sitting in my bedroom chair, knitting and listening to rain drumming on the window pane .... another good thing. My favorite candles are the splint candles because they crackle while they burn. You can hear them if you are very quiet. Generally I burn pumpkin or cinnamon in the fall and pine in December. I like pear. And I prefer coach candles to tapers. They are shorter.
For practical purposes vanilla absorbs household odors. Other scents just lay on top of the odor. I gave this bit of advice to Jesse before he was married and living with two other guys, a cat, a litter of kittens and fleas. He was a little slow on the take but once he tried it he was sold. I may not be able to credit vanilla candles for bringing him and Gabrielle together but they certainly didn't hurt. Longaberger candles are the best I've found and Jesse likes to be well stocked even though he now has a wife who smells very nice.

Good Things #7 Finding Old Friends On Facebook

Facebook has certainly broadened my social scene. I was able to reconnect with my friend Kris Horton most recently. As you can see she came for Sunday Supper. We had curry and homemade coconut ice cream. Kris is currently taking a course in small engine repair. She already knows a good bit about what is under the hood of a car. She likes motorcycles too. In turn she has invited me to Lancaster for the weekend. Her aunt & uncle own an empty house there where she often weekends. David promises to take care of the dogs.

I was also able to reconnect with a childhood friend who is coming all the way from Massachusetts with her two boys over Easter weekend. Looking forward to seeing you then Cyndi. Cyndi is the organist who likes my gloves.

Besides these most recent finds I have gotten to know some of my acquaintances so much better and I can keep up with my kids too.

Good Things #8 Organization

I love organization and I am usually reaching for higher levels of excellence in this area. If you have ever seen an artists studio other than in a magazine you will know that it's not pretty ..... paint splotches, fabrics, books tossed willy nilly. Some can work in this atmosphere. I generally feel most creative when I have a clean slate. Everything is put away from one project and ready for the next and I know where everything is because it has been organized. I like my home office and closets this way as well. Mostly I sort and organize with baskets and over the years have bought storage furniture and shelving to help in the endeavor.
In the above picture is a notebook which I have fitted with plastic sleeves to hold my favorite knitting patterns. They are alphabetized, categorized, preserved, protected and at the tip of my fingers. Some of the sleeves will even suit to hold circular needles.
The knitting project you see is going to be a sweater made form alpaca wool. An alpaca can easily be mistaken for a llama. Alpacas are herd animals and not loners. Apparently if a farmer wants to deliver an alpaca he takes three. One to drop off and two to keep each other company on the ride home. Sounds like a Polish joke. But they have very soft wool.

Good Things #9 Free Knitting Patterns

One can currently find just about anything on-line, including hundreds of free knitting patterns and even free knitting lessons. Sometimes I do color copy .... I guess nothing is really free. My Snow On Cedars Fingerless Gloves were adapted from the Squirrelly Swedish Mittens above. I recently had an order for these particular gloves from a friend who plays the organ for a big cathedral in Massachusetts. She says she gets quite chilly especially during her long practice sessions. I like them because they keep my fingers free to do more knitting. These particular gloves sell for $41 and can be made in your favorite colors. A pair of fingerless gloves without the Fair Isles Design would sell for $37.
Another good way to keep your hands warm is to wear a scarf around your neck. I make these too. So many patterns. So little time.

Good Things #10 The Rice Sock

I decided just the other day to post some simple ideas that work for me around the house. Like everyone I have a basket in my laundry room with stray socks. I believe this idea came from my brother -in-law Bryce but you can fill a sock with rice (a funnel is helpful with this process) and tie a knot in the end. The rice sock can then be heated in a clean microwave for 2 minutes and applied to achy back or shoulders for arthritis or muscle relief. It can even be used instead of a hot water bottle on a cold winter night. To purchase a heating pad at the drug store costs about $24.99. For this article I purchased a pair of socks for $3 on sale and bag of white Acme rice (also on sale) for $3.49.

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