Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013's Last Hurrah

There's good news and bad news. I'll let you each decide for yourselves which is which, although there will be a quiz at the end of this post.

You may recognize the "gobblet" from last week.  They survived and hand-wash and -dry just fine.  If you missed all the exciting details about the $4 centerpiece, they can be found here and here.

Anyone who's still paying attention is in for quite a treat: I took a bunch of photos of our Thanksgiving table! WOW!  And they all consist of pretty much the same content (see above), only at different angles.  It's like I never picked up anything about ruthless editing from a professional.  YES!

The napkins are some I gave to Eric several years ago and the napkin rings were an ancestor's and engraved 1898 and 1899.

So the neat thing for me is that I blended a bunch of different patterns and pieces to make it pretty or at least interesting, but not formal or stuffy.

The flatware is a mix of sterling and plate and it felt really nice to actually use it instead of just keeping it in the cases.

And it was sentimental as well, since we used pieces from family, friends and things we (meaning I) picked up or made ourselves (meaning myself).

We, meaning Eric, made some traditional foods in not-necessarily traditional recipes.  I mis-remembered most of the pie-making so that took me much longer than I expected. I had planned on a sweet potato dish and a green salad.  Meh, there's always another year.  The pie was apple,  instead of pumpkin, with apples from our tree.

I imagine posts here will be pretty sparse over the next few weeks, because most of what will be going on here is me making presents for people who may or may not read this little blog, so I can't really post about those.  But after the holidays wind down, I may post them, just because usually I get pretty excited about the presents I make AND this year since we're staying home I won't get to see the response of most of the recipients so I'll need a vicarious response via all y'all. (ahem)

~~ QUIZ ~~

1. The good news was:
C. Both A and B
D. None of the above

2. The bad news was:
C. Both A and B
D. None of the above

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Doubled the Cost of My Centerpiece to $4!

I didn't think that a couple of decoupaged pumpkins constituted a real centerpiece, so I had to embellish.  I hit the dollar store again and picked up a (very sparse) faux oak vine and a package of loose faux maple leafs ($1 each, of course).

I used a candle stand that I have had for ages as the base, looping the vine on itself and taping it to the bottom so the leaves would show, but not the "stem."

You get what you pay for with a dollar store vine. I had to rotate some of the leaves so the tops all faced the same way. Luckily, wrapping it around a few times added an appearance of fullness.

Then I set it upright on the center of the table and spread some of the loose leaves on the top of the candle stand.

Finally I added my decoupaged pumpkins AND these fun turkey salt & pepper shakers that I received as a surprise in the mail from my dear friend over at Fizzy Party!  Check out her new etsy shop while you're at it.

Look at that wee ceramic turkey ready to pepper some dinner!
I didn't think about the centerpiece being a 360 degree thing when I made the pumpkins. So I have one facing one corner of our rectangular table and the facing the opposite corner.

I think the result is simple, not too-fancy, and won't take up too much space on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table.  I'm really looking forward to setting our table this holiday even if it is just for the two of us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Toast to Turkeys

One more crafty creation to help us set an interesting, fun table on Thanksgiving.  Yup. Gobbler-decorated goblets, or as I've been calling them "gobblets."  When I was re-sizing and printing up clip art for the $2 decoupaged pumpkins, I got the idea to decorate a couple of stemmed glasses from which to drink our T-day wine.*  I've decoupaged stemware before, but that was before Martha Stewart came out with her decoupage medium that is top-rack dishwasher safe+. [GASP]  Before, I used resin to seal the decorations which is a lot fussier to use and takes a lot more hands-on time.  AND I don't know if the result is dishwasher safe, so I just told recipients that they weren't.

I used a "copper leaf" paint pen to frame the "etched" oval. It also helps disguise where the decoupage medium sneaked under the masking.  We'll see how it holds up to the top rack.**

Things I would do differently:
1. I would do them at least 28 days before I wanted to use them so they would actually be dishwasher safe.
2. I would get the gloss-finish decoupage medium so that variations and mistakes wouldn't be as obvious on the shiny glass.
3. I would have used contact paper instead of painters tape for my self-stick stencil and drawn the oval before adhering to the glass.
4. I would have bought appropriate glass paint to do an edge detail while as was buying the decoupage medium.

And in other week-before-Thanksgiving news, this big ol' turkey bird flew up onto our deck rail last Thursday!  We were both downstairs to hear the ruckus, but Eric saw the whole thing through the dining room picture window.

We asked him (or is it a her), "Don't you know Thanksgiving is next week?"  He ignored us.  Isn't that just like a turkey?

*Note to self: remember to buy wine
+Well, after 28 days it's top-rack dishwasher safe, so... yeah. I'm going to carefully wash them by hand this time, but next year those sons a' guns are going in the dishwasher!
** This is a project I may redo to get better results. As much as I don't like to "make again" things like this, I think I really want to have these "gobblets" and I also really want to have them be dishwasher-safe. That's the biggest perk with dollar store stemware, you feel good about putting it in the dishwasher.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Turkey Season is Open!

This year Mavis has gotten into the spirit of the autumn season and decided to wear Delia's turkey costume.  Now that Delia is well past her second birthday, she does't fit it anymore anyway.

And Ramon is feeling his hunter instincts kick in!  He's a conscientious guy though and made sure to don his flash orange hat. "Safety first!"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Who's Poop Is This, Anyway?

New poop!  And I know you're as excited as I am.  It's been all deer and bear (and, let's face it, dog) all the time until this week.  I spotted a new type on Betty's morning walk last Wednesday, but didn't have a photo taking device with me and forgot to go back out.  Hey, coffee and fire needed making and I have my priorities and mine is coffee.  Eric made the fire that morning.

I'm told the long piece is about 6" long and that they are indeed furry, but otherwise look like domestic dog doody.

Then on last Friday evening when Eric took Delia out for her pre-dinner walk, he came upon this.  He thought it might have been the one I saw, but it's quite a bit different.  We think this one is fox; finally some foxy turds!  Anyone else have any ideas?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful For $2 Centerpiece

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday.  For most of my adult life I have had anywhere from two to four celebrations to attend that day and, let's face it, this particular holiday is all about dinner*. That's a lot of dinners in one day. I'm thankful that my mom has graciously switched to a Thanksgiving brunch to help me spread out my meals, but I still hadn't been able to shake my lack of enthusiasm for this particular Thursday.

At first I was considering some cornucopia clip art instead of a monogram for my decoupage, but nothing really seemed to go well with the turkey. I even saw one with bananas in it, which I guess might be "autumn harvest" food somewhere to someone.

However, this will be our second year here and suddenly I'm interested in celebrating here at home with a more traditional meal and, get this, even some decorations. (I know!)  I want to set a pretty, or at least interesting, table for us and that means some centerpiece-y type decorations.  I don't want to spend a lot of time finding something and I am not ready to commit to buying something lovely, in case I go back to my Scrooge McTurkey** attitude.

I dug around on pinterest, started a Thanksgiving pinboard, and then remembered I had bought a couple fake "Funkins"*** at the Dollar Tree when they first started putting out their Halloween things. They're the quality that you'd expect to get for a dollar, so I never got excited about carving them.  So, I decoupaged them for our Thanksgiving table instead!

Tear the finished edges and crumple your tissue, then tear into convenient sizes.

They have that awful seam around their "equator" and instead of sanding and/or filling and making this even more complicated than I knew I eventually would make it, I just used the tried-and-true tissue paper method to give the whole thing a consistent, rustic-y, wrinkly surface.  I used Mod Podge for this, but I'm sure white glue would've worked.

I had saved a few of these food containers for another project and they came in very handy as a support for these while all the layers were trying.

Then because I was going to use simple black/white clip art printed on white paper I painted them white. Unbeknownst to me, my white craft paint had dried up so I used some flat white house paint I had.  It worked fine, but didn't dry as quickly as craft paint would have.  It required two coats to cover all the orange and brown.

Painted flat white; the "equatorial seam" is still obvious.

While that was drying I found and re-sized some clip art images to print out. I also downloaded some appropriate fonts for the monogram; I love monograms, so I'm thankful that Eric share a last initial in common. If there is anyone reading this who doesn't know, that initial would be F.  Once printed and cut out, I used good, old, reliable Mod Podge to attach them and then coat the whole surface. I did that to seal the ink and make a surface with a consistent porosity for the glazing step.

I used Proceed brand glazing medium (tinted raw sienna), because that's what I had.    I am sure it made this take a bit longer, but I didn't have to make a special trip or buy any more craft materials to store. That brand of glazing medium is a bit shiny, so I then applied Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish to protect and dull the surface.  They're a warm white now; not nearly so stark/chalky white.

I think that the prevalence of wild turkeys around here has influenced my ideas about decorating for Thanksgiving.  I am considering starting a collection of certain kinds of turkeys to decorate the piano with in upcoming years.  A quick yet thorough search of a couple stores yielded no non-paper turkeys. NONE!  Not even some turkeys that I didn't like the looks of.  Huh.  But I did find a clip art turkey I liked and decoupaged that feathery butt to a fake pumpkin!

I'm not exactly sure how I'll make them into a centerpiece or other table decoration, but I'll share our table settings when it's set up for dinner.

UPDATE: Clear on the other side of the country, my friend Crystal has transformed this same dollar store pumpkin!  She used a similar process, but with a different and totally charming result.  You should check out her blog post about hers here.

* I realize for some people Thanksgiving is as much, if not more, about football; no one cares if I'm there for that.
** You know, like Scrooge McDuck, but a turkey instead and not especially greedy.
*** An imitation fake pumpkin... is that meta or just redundant?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blatant Self-promotion Time!

This is from a photo of Ella, the cat we lost late 2011.

I've designed a new "product line" for my Etsy shops.  WOO!  It works for both, Bubble Off Plumb Productions and GreatBigBeautifulDog so you can get [dramatic paws*] YourPet Silhouette cushion covers in both.  Lucky you!

I scoured my digital photo files for a suitable pose of a dog I had yet to make a silhouette of and found a lovely, happy side view shot of my dear friends' dog, Otto.

That's right, any beloved animal's silhouette can be put on a throw pillow.  They come in two sizes (12" and 18"), with a choice between two basic colorways**: the black/white brocade (cat at the top) and the brown/khaki tiger (dog above), but with any animal you love immortalized in the center in any of 7 color choices!

The seven silhouette color options.

The backs are the same solid color cotton as the ovals on the front and use an envelope style closure for inserting your own 12" or 18" pillow forms.

I'm really looking forward to seeing many (hint, hint) different fur family members' photos and making them into pillows!

*See what I did there?
** I will consider COM (Customer's Own Material) requests at an appropriate price adjustments, too.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Snapshots From A Day: November 4

Fir trees are not nearly as common as the pines in our forest, but this small one is near the property.

October passed without any snow this year. I was pretty bummed out, because I really wanted to see (and photograph) snow on my Halloween bone yard.  Luckily, I was busy with other tasks and chores over the weekend and didn't get to taking down the Halloween decorations until Monday, because on Monday morning we woke to snow!

Snow on the bone yard.  I've been thinking of names for our Halloween cemetery; "Valley View" is accurate, but sounds too nice.

After I got a few shots (and started the fire, made and drank coffee, fed the dogs, ate breakfast, promoted the new items in my Etsy shops all over Facebook, and ran errands), I took down and put away the Halloween decorations (mostly).  I'd forgotten that it's almost as fun to pack them up as it is to put them up.  Mwahahahaaaaaa!

Our "beverage fridge," the one in the mudroom, housed all the Halloween specimens this year, including this mask rolled into in that jar.  Soaking in cold water for nearly a month stiffened it up, so I let it warm (and dry) on the drainboard in the kitchen before packing it away.

It snowed off and on all day, but didn't stick around except in little patches here and there and to form the icicles at the end of the front deck handrail.

Even though they can be dangerous if they fall and damaging if they get too heavy, icicles are one of the visual joys of moving from a temperate climate to a cold and snowy place.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Whose Poop Is This, Anyway?

I finally captured a new critter's poop!  I can tell you're all just as excited as I am and that's why I went back for the camera... for you guys.

That's the poop on the right. The pine cone is included to reference scale, but pooping a pine cone might also make one standoffish.  And weepy.

I totally know whose poop this is, but I want you guys to guess.  Hints: 1. It is about a week old and perhaps not originally this color.  2. I think the shape makes sense with the attitude of this particular creature; you'd be kind of standoffish, too, if you pooped at purt' near a right angle.