Saturday, January 25, 2014

Creative Play

Wanted to try out my new camera - my birthday present from Wonderful Husband! Thank you wonderful husband!!  Of course I haven't read any of the instructions yet, but I just kept pushing buttons until it seemed to work.  I can just picture my technically inclined eldest daughter cringing as she reads this!!  :-)   Anyway, here's what I've been up to lately............

 I was reading one of my favorite magazines, the October 2013 issue of Somerset Life,
when I came across the following article, by Sarah Hawkings:

 She gave a tutorial about covering small journals with vintage blankets,
embellished with trim, buttons, etc.

 Aren't they beautiful? 
So I got to thinking about ........

my VERY PLAIN journal.  I've already filled it up, but I'd been wondering how best to change
 it into something a little more appealing to look at.  So that's just what I did!

Ta Da! 
Of course, it isn't nearly as nice as the ones Ms. Hawkings made, but this is my very first one after all!  And now that I have the hang of it, I plan to do a lot more.  You see, I have diaries and journals dating back to the 5th grade and they're all in a huge variety of shapes, colors, sizes, etc.  However, if I covered them all with the same base fabric above, but used different fabrics for the embellishments, they would still be unique, but also have a more unifying look.  And why is this important you may ask?  Well, I admit it, I'm a trifle O.C.D.    Okay, okay, I'm a LOT O.C.D.  And I just thought it would look really great, displaying all my journals in one place - sort of a stroll down memory lane!
I only have about 15 more to go!

 Also last fall, I was re-reading an article by Marianne Ford that I'd cut out of a magazine some time ago.  It was in the Holiday 2011-2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.  Ms. Ford gave a tutorial on creating quilted strips of fabrics, adding a bit of bling to them, then connecting them together like old-fashioned paper chains. You can see in the picture above that she used hers as a tree garland.

Well, I don't mind following others up to a point, but I also want to put my own spin on things too.  So I decided to make fabric chains that I could drape up and over curtain rods and doorways.  The ones above are just a few of the ones I've made so far.

This shows a little better what I'm talking about.  I currently have about 10 feet of "chains".
 
 The best thing about these is that its "hand work", which I love to do much more than machine stitching.  And if I get bored with it, I can just put it down and do something else (like creating journal covers!)  The next best thing about them is that they're SO MUCH FUN to make!!  I get to do what artist Mary Ann Moss refers to as "Commando Sewing" by not having to stick to tried and true sewing rules.  The idea here is just to let your imagination fly - along with the buttons, beads, fibers, and anything else you can think of to add a little more color and texture!
 
 Each strip is connected by snaps (my own addition) which makes them easier to put together
or take apart, easier to store, easier to make into different lengths, etc.
 
 And because a lot of hand stitching is involved, I can work on them during my lunch break at work -
when I need something to get my mind off of ......WORK!!  I also thought about doing some in cream colors, sort of a soothing cool palette for summertime d├ęcor.
Well, there you have it!  My latest and greatest!  As you can see, it's never boring at the Fursdon House!  BTW - If anyone would like me to scan these two articles and send to you by e-mail, just drop me a line at FursdonHouse@aol.com.
 
And MANY THANKS to both Ms. Hawkings and Ms. Ford, for giving me and others a great way to add a little more creativity into our lives!
 
May God Bless, Jan

Friday, January 17, 2014

MONSTER HUGE Christmas Posting!!!!

I took a HUGE amount of pictures over the Christmas season, because I wanted to put them on the blog. Then I forgot about them!!  I also got caught up in the "busyness" of everything going on.  At one point, I thought about just deleting them, but now I've decided to plague everyone with them instead! So here goes.......

 My pride and joy!! It's an authentic German goose feather tree!!  I've wanted one (a large one that is) for years, but could never afford one. But this year, I found one at a GREAT price, so I decided this year it would be MINE!!  Of course, Nigel calls it a "Charlie Brown" tree because it's so sparse looking. But it holds more than you think!!
 
 Of course, we were more than a little nervous when I first set it up.  Definitely looked a little bare!  And I began wondering if I'd made a terrible mistake.  But my BFF Sherry told me not to worry about it; just decorate it only with things I truly loved!

 So....first came my beaded fruit garlands. Makes it look like a candy tree!!
 
 After I started putting my favorite ornaments on it, I really got into the swing of things and it came out like this!  It's definitely not "everyone's cup of tea", but it's certainly MY cup of tea!!
  
 Always first ornament on the tree  -  stitched by my grandmother.
 
 The next three ornaments to go on are these three terra cotta ornaments!
  
 Nigel gave them to me for my 19th birthday present! He's bought them in England and thought I might like them.  When he got back from England, in addition to these ornaments, he proposed!!

 Little did he realize how much of a Christmas Decoration NUT I'd turn out to be later in life!!
  
 Nigel is ALWAYS working on the house, inside and outside, so I thought this ornament was particularly appropriate for him!

 Auntie Doreen Abraham knitted this little mail box for the girls when they were little. The flag actually raises up and down, and inside is a letter the girls wrote to Santa one year!

 Back in my cross-stitching days, I made this one for myself.
  
 From a very dear, sweet friend of the family - Ginny Lavender - who was both my girls' Godmother.

 Another one I cross stitched.  Good thing about cross stitching is that it's relatively inexpensive and you can do little things as well as very large things!

 This is the angel my sweet mother-in-law, Valerie, gave to me the year my Gran died.

 Laura created this in school - a French medallion

 The First Christmas ornament for Laura, born in 1981, in El Paso, Texas

 The first year Christmas ornament for Elizabeth, born in 1985, in Wiesbaden, West Germany

 I cross stitched this when I was first learning, and I created the pattern myself.  This was the year Nigel got a pair of water skis, and he tried very hard to convince me that it was easy.  I knew better!!
 
 A Santa face, made by Isabel, tracing her hand on paper.
  
 Not a "usual" Christmas ornament, but then.....who's "usual"?  My Dad ALWAYS wore Old Spice after shave lotion.  When I found this little plastic sample bottle, I knew just where it was headed to!
 
 One of Isabel's baby rattles!  We called her Busy Bee when she was little!
 
 Another "home improvement" ornament for Nigel, from Home Depot.
  
 Another "unusual" ornament. This little monkey was among some of my Dad's things we found, after he passed away in 1998. 
  
 For Nigel's English ancestry!  Nigel's Mom (Valerie) found this on a shopping trip to England and brought it back for me.  Nigel was the first one in his family born in the U.S., in Denver. Both his parents are English.
  
 To represent my "Southern roots" - a cotton boll angel!!  When I was a young girl, we had a field of cotton on our farm. And in case no one has ever told you, picking cotton is ..... M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E.!!
Between the mosquitoes and the cockleburs, you were covered in scrapes and bites!
 
 The "world" - given to us by Ginny Lavender. She said we needed something to represent all the traveling we did since Nigel was in the Army!!

 This was a gift card holder! Of course, for me, it was the perfect ornament for Nigel!
  
 A beautifully hand-stitched ornament Laura brought me back from Afghanistan, where she was stationed with the Corps of Engineers for two years.
  
 Ooopps!! Santa's underwear!!  Can't a guy get a little respect around here!?!?

 Another knitted ornament from Auntie Doreen
  
 One of Isabel's early pieces of art - a fuzzy worm!!
 
 My Mom painted this ceramic ornament for me.

 And my Aunt Pat painted this one for me.

 When we were first married, Nigel had a little red Volkswagen, so when I saw this ornament, I knew it had to go on our tree!  That little car was a great one too!
 
 One of three wooden geese, hand carved in Germany. We got the three of them our first year in Germany, in 1982, at one of the Christmas markets held on the town square of Mannheim.

.
 Another one painted by my Aunt Pat; she's been on my tree for years and years!

 A pine cone angel, made by Elizabeth when she was a little tyke!!  When she was a teenager, she would beg me to (1) Not put it on the tree, or (2) Put it in the very back where no one could see it.  You see how well that worked!!

 One of several pieces we always referred to as "God's Eye" that Isabel made for me.
 
 Cute clothespin reindeer that Pat made for the girls when they were little.
 
 A rather well-loved, worn little box ornament that once belonged to my Gran.

 For the first several years we were married, we had no money at all. That's when I learned to cross stitch.  This ornament came in a little kit from Wal-Mart!

 One of my granddaughter Isabel's first Christmas ornaments - it's a little book about "The First Christmas", given to her by her paternal grandparents Jim and Lorrie
 

 A very dear, sweet friend, Jadene Navarro, made me this little ornament years ago.  She died of breast cancer in 1995. I miss her.

  Angel topper made by Isabel
 
 When Laura was little, someone gave her a "popper" toy from Fischer Price.  Laura loved it, but I hated it because it made SO MUCH RACKET!!  So when I saw this ornament, I couldn't pass it up!

 A cute popsicle stick reindeer made by Isabel
 

 Another reindeer head, made by Elizabeth if I remember correctly

 When I was little, I always wanted a Barbie doll, but we couldn't afford one. Instead, I was given a Midge doll.  I think Midge was Barbie's cousin.  She had long brown hair and freckles, just like me.  Wish I could find a Midge doll!
 
 Nigel is known for ALWAYS having coffee to drink, so when I found this Santa, I knew it had to come home with me.  It's designed for putting incense underneath the seat he's sitting on, and smoke comes up out of the coffee pot, like steam, when its lit.
 
 My Snowmen!!

 The Welsh Dresser - a favorite place for our pewter collection, and at Christmas, the perfect backdrop for my collection of Santas and bottle brush Christmas trees! Following are close-ups!
 
 These look vintage, but they're actually new!

 Mr. and Mrs. Claus, by Jim Shore, a favorite artist of mine.

 
Vintage chenille Santa and tree




I've collected the trees and Santas over the past 20 years or so. The one to the far left was found in July one year, completely forgotten about, laying in a jumble of other odds and ends.  That is - until I rescued him!!  The one on the bottom right belonged to my Gran.

 The white bottle brush trees are more rare than the green ones, so I was especially pleased to find this one, along with the felt Santa one year.

 I love the trees with the ornaments in them.

 This last year, I bought an assortment of antique and vintage cotton spun miniature fruit, which I then glued into my trees.  I LOVE the effect it gives them.  You can also use small new pieces of fruit, or new miniature ornaments. 









 Occasionally I'll admit to having too many Santas.......but NOT very often.
 
 

 The French doors, leading to the deck.  Next year, I plan to use a 4-foot cream colored tree I have and decorate it with these white cotton batting ornaments, and other Victorian style ornaments.  One can never have too many ideas, can they?  I mean.....the idea is to have fun, right? 

 Santa Village, in the kitchen garden window.
 

 My Kitchen Tree!! I've had great fun with this tree, and this year, it went to a larger size tree that my Mom had.  Following are some close-ups of the ornaments on it.  They're fantastic!!
 
 My favorite ornament - the three-tiered basket, holding all sorts of Christmas goodies!!

 I just HAD to have a tea kettle!!
 

 Aren't these utensils cute?!

 A miniature hanging pot rack!

 Every cook needs an apron - especially at Christmas!!  The small redware plate on the right came from a trip to Winston Salem, NC.

 I've had Mr. Mouse, with his Gingerbread Man, for years!  He's an old favorite.

 I keep Hallmark firmly in business.  But when the ornaments are this precious, how can you resist?!?!

 If the woman has an apron, the man has to have one too.  And the miniature cookie cutters and utensils above and to the side are also adorable.

 Now I ask you - don't these look R.E.A.L.???  Couldn't possible resist them!!
 
 I love blue and white porcelain, and I love tea.  So this one was a natural!!

 I also love my sweets!!

 Goes nicely with my blue and white tea pot above! 

 Sweet utensils, and the Gingerbread man ornament is made from a mixture of . . . . cinnamon, apple sauce and white glue (like Elmer's).  Weird yes?  I found the recipe years ago, and they last a long time, and smell divine!!  You just mix it all together, roll it out, cut out the shapes, and let them air dry!  The whole house smells like cinnamon when we make them. 

 My kitchen wreath!  It has "regular size" utensils, some of which belonged to my Gran, and some I've purchased over the years. I've also put the girls' baby spoons on it, though they don't show up.
 
 Every woman needs a man in the kitchen, helping out!!!

 Mr. and Mrs. You-Know-Who!!

 The gingerbread house Isabel made this year and the tree she and Mom made about two years ago!
 

 Another Jim Shore favorite - my Nativity
 

 A new way to decorate the chandelier!  Berries, greenery and red glass balls
 

 I call this Fursdon Harbor!! It was Nigel's Christmas present to me in 2002 (I think he wanted it for himself as much as he wanted me to have it, but don't tell him I told you so!!)

 The Nautical Tree
 
I created this tree in 1998, when Nigel was stationed in Korea and couldn't come home for Christmas. I had to keep myself busy, so I took sea shells I'd collected for many years, spent a LOT of time punching holes in them with a hammer and nail, then hung them up! The "garland" is multiple strands of shell leis I found at Michael's that I strung together. Perfect for what I needed!!  Of course, it's grown over the years, but following are some "nautical ornaments" also on the tree.
 
 Another favorite by Jim Shore

 I wonder where we found this ship?  Hmmmm.....

 Nothing like a natural looking turtle, huh?  Okay, so I have a little fun.  Although I don't have pictures of it, I also have a 3-foot Margaritaville tree, that has really wild creatures on it, like crocodiles on skates, and sharks with fiddles.  Honest!!!

 Ever seen one of these at the ocean?

 Lovely little sailboat!!

 A Jim Shore sailboat, about to be attacked by a GIANT colorful fish!!

 Didn't know Santa had a sailboat, did you?  Well, as you can plainly see, he does!  So there!!

A  new way of decorating the curtains over the door windows.
 
 Now HOW did this picture get in here?  Can't imagine! This is Isabel making macaroni and cheese.  She's becoming quite the good cook!! 

 Though I don't have a picture of the whole tree, the following ornaments are on .....you guessed it.....
The Cat Tree!!
 
Jim Shore Cat

 
This is what Dundee looked like when he was a kitten!  At the end of the post, you'll see what he looks like now!

 If you didn't know better, you might get the impression that the Fursdon Family likes ........CATS!!!

 Even weird looking cats!!

 Okay, VERY weird looking cats!!!

 Another Jim Shore Cat

 I've heard of cat heads, but this is ridiculous!!

 Don't tell Isabel, but I took this sleeping cat from her doll house!  Ssshhhhh......he's sleeping!
 

 This little chap belonged to my Gran
 

 Hey, I can't help it if they make weird cat ornaments!

 A favorite!  We had a cat once, named Maxwell Smart. He was named this because........well, he acted just like Maxwell Smart!!  And this cat looked just like one of the multitude of predicaments that our Max found himself in!!
 
 Nigel's Military Tree!!  And what do you put on a military tree?

 Medals, toy soldiers, tanks, military patches (this one is a replica used in WWI), and......

 actual military patches that Nigel wore over the years, and some of the ear plugs he deployed with, and toy jeeps and tanks, and......
 



 unit crests and insignia Nigel word, and medals he was awarded, and more unit patches, and...

 more unit patches, and buttons (which his ingenious wife strung together), and......

 name tags, more medals, patches, and toy planes (Army for Nigel and Air Force for our girls).....

 More medals (hey...he was a GOOD SOLDIER!!!) (actually, he was one of the BEST), and.......
 

 "dog tags" and more unit patches (his favorite, which was The Big Red One).....

 and a device that opens cans, etc., (the silver "thing" at the top of the picture) which I think Nigel calls a P-38.......and

 a camouflage sewing kit (the half moon shaped "thingy") and a shell casing, and more medals.....
 
 and his small flashlight he deployed with, and....
 
 The topper, which of course is.....Old Glory!! These are the three flags that the girls and I were waving to him when he first got off the bus, straight home from being deployed
  
 A new addition this year - a Chinese carved corner cupboard.  So......I had to break it in correctly so it would get used to the Fursdon House at Christmas time!
Lousy photos, but here are some close-ups
 
 This village was the first one Nigel gave me for Christmas, when we were in Nuernberg, Germany, about 30,000 years ago!  Do you detect a pattern here?

 A beautiful scene (you'll have to trust me on this, due to the lousy photography)

 Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Church

 The Williamsburg style fruit plaques I made a few years ago.  I love the look of the real thing, but I HATED the waste of real ruit.  So, I did the next best thing, and used ....what else....FAKE!! I've thought seriously about making these to sell on my Etsy site (that is, if I ever get back to my Etsy site).  Anyone have any input about that idea? I'd love to hear from you!  I've also got ones done with red apples and greenery. They're fun to make, and best of all, they're also easy to make!!

   
Vintage Jewelry Tree
This very special tree only has jewelry worn by my two grandmothers, Irene (known as Gran) and Zella (known as Grandma), and my great Aunt Arlie. No other piece of jewelry is allowed on it.  I made this about 10 (?) years ago, as a way to show off all the vintage jewelry I'd inherited from these three lovely ladies!

 The stair case! Turns out rather nice I think. 

 Dundee,  getting cat hair all over the nice, freshly dry cleaned velvet tree skirt.  Naturally!

 "Mom, what are you doing?"
 
 Okay Mom.....hurry up already with the picture taking! I have a nap to get back to!!
  
Whew!!!  FINALLY got through all these pictures.  Are you still awake?  Hey.....wake up!!
 Well, that's it for now, as I'm sure many of you are snoring.....so have a lovely NEW YEAR 2014!!
 
 
With Love and Blessings!  Jan