Friday, July 30, 2010

Everyone has a story to tell

Giant neon pink poster board signs screaming ESTATE SALE TODAY were stuck on the side of the road as I was driving to work this morning. Automatically my hands turned the steering wheel to the right, straight in to the driveway. WOW! This sale must be crazy... about 50 people were parked on the front lawn... and there was a line waiting to get in. So... I too parked on the grass and got in line. Oh... I see... we are to take numbers... like in the deli. OK... I reach in the basket, grab the next number... 69... of course.

Two and a half hours later I emerge clutching my 'treasures'. I didn't purchase much... just a few things that I thought were interesting. DARN! I should have looked for a toaster... someone bought mine at our whole house sale.

The woman who lived here is 96 years old and needed to be placed in an assisted living facility. The contents of her home now being sold off by her children. A product of the depression era, she saved everything... and I do mean EVERYTHING! No, none of the balls of string, rubber bands or aluminum foil, but sea shells, yarn, plastic canvas, jars, and zippers. Yes, I bought the zippers... how could I pass up 50 perfectly good metal zippers??? Teeny, tiny bits of thread still clung to the edges from where they were ripped from slipcovers and such. There was a box of pocket linings lovingly cut from work pants... I guess so she could replace worn ones? No, the pockets didn't call my name.

The basement was overflowing with more 'treasures'. One man unearthed a framed letter from President Ronald Reagan... with his real signature. The same man pulled a picture of Farah Faucett out from a box and was ecstatic to discover that it was an iron-on for a t-shirt. Woo! Hoo! As the saying goes... one man's trash is another man's treasure. 

Everything that had ever been given to her had been saved. Most were found in their original box or wrapping, others were banded with rubber bands. ALL had scraps of paper attached with who gave it to her and when. For example... I fell in love with a 3 tiered dessert tray. The note taped to it read, "Elmer's Christmas gift to me, 1955". Baby blankets not only had notes of who made it and for which child, but who else used it... and a photo of the gift in use. All of her craft supplies, although all thrown in drawers, boxes, and baskets... were labeled with which part of which craft item it was used for.

The most amazing collection were her sea shells. Old mayonnaise and pickle jars were filled with shells she found over the years on their family trips to Florida. Each strip of masking tape on the lids identified the type of shells and their craft use. They were so beautiful grouped together on the table... but what on Earth would you ever DO with all of those shells? I wish I could meet her and ask.

One entire bedroom was filled with tables holding the Styrofoam packaging of the special plates offered by the Franklin Mint on a subscription basis. I have never seen so many of them all in one place. There must have been at least 100 collected over the years. All have their certificate of authenticity with them. I am sure she thought she was making an investment when purchasing these plates. Sadly no one is interested in them... so there they sit.

Her sewing room... if that's what you want to call it... held the most interest to me. I spent about an hour just in that room alone. Most people go to these sales and look at the furniture and appliances. Not me... I head right to the crafts and linens. Did you know that the Star Ledger sold sewing patterns through the mail? I found a real cute pattern to make a retro apron still in the envelope sent from the Star Ledger... and I found the perfect fabric to make it too. The drawers in her hutch were bursting with baggies, old checkbook boxes, baby food jars, and baby wipe containers holding lace trim, rick rack, sequins, pins, and all the other little odds and ends a sewer could perhaps find a use for... some day. At the bottom of one drawer I found an old spice jar filled with sand, labeled, 'From our trip to Sanibel Beach'. A small olive jar held a different color sand... also labeled however the name of the beach escapes me. I wonder why she held on to those two jars of sand? From the looks of her sea shell collection she has been to many beaches... why only those two? Don't you think this would make a great story line?

An organ sits proudly in her living room. Happy 'sing-along' type music books are stacked in a pile on the floor. I can almost hear the family singing gathered around her while she looked up and smiled. I don't know if this ever really occurred. Maybe she didn't play the organ at all. Maybe one of her children did... or maybe her husband. I'll never know. However, I do know that she must have been a dear sweet woman that loved her husband and family. 

Two sentimental items were found and given back to the family. Love letters exchanged between her and her husband while he was away in the military. Hers to him tied in blue ribbon and his to her tied in pink.

Everyone is interesting. Everyone has a story to tell. What's yours?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Procrastination and Pillowcases

I took a day off from the quilt today... I know, I know, that's how procrastination starts. The next thing you know I will get involved with another project and the fish quilt will get pushed aside, then things will get piled on top of it and in no time at all it will make it to the bottom of the pile and be forgotten. I promise that won't happen... REALLY!

And do you know why that won't happen???? Because one of you (THANKS Sassy) emailed me with a FANTASTIC suggestion and I can't wait to 'get to it'. I'll keep the suggestion a secret for now. In a few days I'll post a picture for you all to see. I'm so excited!!!!!

In the meantime... I took a day or two to sew pillowcases for the MILLION PILLOWCASE CHALLENGE by All People Quilt. Their tutorial on how to sew the pillow case 'burrito' style and have no raw seams is not to be missed. I have used this technique years ago and simply forgot about it. It was nice to view a refresher. Gee... speak about a STASHBUSTER... this challenge is eating away at my fabric stash. Woo! Hoo!

Keep sewing and smiling!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quilt - Days 2 & 3

Day - 2... Making the patterns.  Running a bookstore in the summer can be a bit boring. Just about everyone is away on vacation (except me)... so business is extremely s-l-o-w.  Not to mention that we are in a heat wave here on the east coast and if customers are not at their shore home, then they are holed up in their air-conditioned house. I can't blame them... if I didn't have to come out to work I would have stayed home and sewed. So... I brought my project along to keep me from falling asleep at the front counter. Wouldn't THAT be embarrassing?

In true stashbuster fashion I grabbed whatever paper I had on hand and began to draw my major elements like the fish, lilly pads and flowers. BTW stashbuster's yahoo group is really cool. For those of you that don't know about them... check it out. Their main theme is to NOT PURCHASE ANY MORE FABRIC! Since I don't have any funds for this project this is a rule I strictly adhere to!!

Day - 3... cutting the fabric and positioning the major elements.  I have to admit, I didn't give ANY thought at all to the size and proportion of things. My paper was 8 1/2 x 11, so that was the fish size I drew.  I drew the lilly pads and flowers using the same size paper. That didn't really work out when it came time to position the items on the background fabric. A lot of trimming was needed to make things look more in proportion. The whole piece turned out much larger than I imagined it would be... but all in all I like it.

Here is the piece with the major pieces ironed on in place using Heat and Bond Lite. The blue gap above the fish to the right is for a turtle. Two lilly pads get frogs on them.  I will still have to trim the background fabric once the appliques and quilting are finished which will cut off some of the flower edges and lilly pads... by design.

Originally I thought about adding more interest to the water by using 5 different colors and creating a patchwork... but I thought that would take away from the original picture that I so loved. Maybe I'll do that to a small piece or two and make little hanging in the future. Hmmm... I'll see. In the meantime... remember that I am kind of new to this whole process. If anyone has any comments or suggestions please let me know!!

My plan of attack is to machine applique around all of the pieces. Then add the turtle. Trim to size and add border/s. Layer and quilt... add the frogs... embellish... make a label... and hang. If I am doing things out of order, or you see a flaw in my plan don't wait to tell me. Please tell me NOW!

And now... to bed!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Quilt - Day 1

Seven years ago I came up with the idea for this quilt. Two years ago I bought the fabric. Yesterday the picture and fabric worked it's way to the surface of my craft mess. Let's see how long it actually takes to make it.

7am this morning - Take the fabrics outside in the natural light and 'audition' them. Make sure there is enough contrast. No decision is set in stone... this is just the beginning. I originally chose a mottled blue fabric for the water... much like the picture... but I liked the movement of the swirls in this fabric better.

7:30am - Put all the 'winners' together and walked away. Went inside and ate breakfast... well if you consider a slice of apple pie and a glass of seltzer breakfast. Went back outside and took a look at the choices. Does anything look out of place? No? Good! Enough play time... Put the fabric away and go to work!!

                                                                                    9:00pm - What a mess! Threw it all in the washer and dryer and got ready to iron. I really should have been doing my laundry... but this was way much more fun. I'll dig something out of my closet to wear. I haven't gone to work naked... yet!                    

11:00pm - Ah... doesn't that look pretty? It kind of looks like it did in the beginning... but I know it's all clean, pressed and ready to roll tomorrow. Isn't this a crazy obsession? First we buy fabric, wash it, dry it, iron it all so we can cut it up in pieces just to sew them all back together. Crazy I tell ya... but oh so fun and creative!!

BTW... My Rowenta iron is a snob. It glided smoothly over the good quality quilting fabric... but dragged over the cheap stuff. It's amazing it could tell the difference. And my ironing board? It too is a Rowenta... but the legs aren't straight and it wobbles when I iron. I tried to straighten them out, but the board kept collapsing in the middle of ironing ... so I just put up with the wobble. Very frustrating!! 

Good Night All!!! I'll let you know how far I get the next day I work on the quilt.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Fishes, Flowers, and Frogs, Oh My!
This painting titled 'Fishes, Flowers, and Frogs, Oh My! is by Pierre H. Matisse... grandson of the famous painter Henri Matisse. I am a HUGE Henri Matisse fan and was THRILLED to see his grandson inherited some of his talent and sense of color. When I saw this picture about 7 years ago I knew IMMEDIATELY that I wanted to make a quilt like this... someday. I was drawn to the clear, bright color combination and the fluid movement of the fish. It reminds me of 2 of my favorite vacation spots... Hawaii and Maine. I downloaded and printed a copy of it as a subtle reminder that one day when things calm down I intend to make a wall-hanging quilt using this picture as my inspiration.

Two years ago the crinkled paper copy surfaced in my craft pile... OK, craft mess. I had forgotten all about it. I was so excited I went right out that very day to select fabrics for the background, fish and lily pads. One day turned into another, the bookstores needed my full attention and so the fabric and picture were pushed aside and eventually lost in a pile in my bedroom closet. Until.... my whole house sale!!! This morning I was mucking out my closet and EUREKA... the most fabulous orange fabric with metallic gold splotches and dots peeked out from the top of a bag. I thought to myself... gee... that would be the perfect choice for a goldfish in that quilt I want to make. Duh!!!! It slowly dawned on me those were the exact words I said when I spied the fabric bolt in Pennington Quiltworks 2 years earlier.  I gleefully plucked the rest of the fabric out of the bag as the picture floated to the floor. Ah.... it was like seeing an old friend. My heart warmed as I broke out in a gigantic smile.

I did a little research on this painting before I started blogging today. I was totally surprised to learn that this painting is offered as a 'limited edition' giclee print, signed and numbered from many sites including... wait for it.... are your ready? Amazon! Of course, I should have known. At least all the sites are listing it for the same price... $800.00! Like we all have that kind of money in our back pockets... geesh! AND... most of the sites are pushing it as a picture to hang in a child's room!! Naturally, MY quilt will be priceless and will hang in a place of honor :-)

Can't you just see it in your mind? With so many new embellishing techniques out there it will be hard to choose which ones to try. Right now I envision machine applique for most of it... maybe with a tulle overlay to make the water more realistic. Embroidery on the flowers and shiny beads... lots of shiny beads. Meandering machine quilting on the water and more leaf like stitching on the lily pads. Oh... I can't wait to get started!!! I'll keep you updated as the project moves along. At least I already own everything I need to get the job done... so there is no reason to delay.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Take THAT Kindle!!!!!

One of my favorite blogs on the web is called Just Something I Made. Her entry on July 15th was about her favorite books as a child and how seeing them brought back such warm and soothing memories of being little. Check it out at Just Something I Made.

What would happen to the world if kids were taught to read at an early age and were given an electronic e-reader to read before bedtime instead sitting in mom or dad's lap? As yet this is not a reality... but it COULD happen. Wouldn't that be sad?

So far I have never heard anyone utter while reading an electronic reader that the story brought tears to their eyes. To date I have never seen a person lovingly stoke the cover of an e-reader fondly remembering the 'good old days'. Nor have I seen a heart felt inscription on the front page of an e-book hoping the reader enjoys the story as much as the sender had.

Don't get me wrong... I don't HATE the Kindle or e-readers in general... I just think it has it's own place in our world. Personally I think the Apple iPad is a better device as there is so much more you can do with it when NOT reading a book. I think e-readers are wonderful tools for the trade. As a bookstore owner I would love to be able to read ARCs (Advanced Reader's Copies) electronically before deciding to purchase for my stores. Publishers could provide book buyers with one... they would then go to the publisher's website, enter a secret spidey code to prove they were a legitimate buyer... and download their current reads. No more printing copies on 'spec'.

So take THAT all of you e-readers!!! You will never be fondled lovingly. No one will purchase you on eBay in a whim of nostalgia. In the future you will be sitting on a dusty table at a flea market, right next to the 8-track player and a manual typewriter.

What do YOU think of e-readers?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Simple Life ?

It seems to me that everyone is talking about 'The Simple Life'. Obviously I'm doing something wrong because I don't see it as being all that simple. For example, I recently sold the contents of my home... and trust me there was nothing simple about it.

Even though I hired a liquidation company, We Make It Go Away it was still a few weeks of hard work on my end. Pulling hidden 'treasures' from every closet, cupboard, drawer and from under the furniture and deciding if the item was to be kept, sold, returned, or trashed was exhausting! That project took 2 weeks... with help from friends and family. Mold and mildew caked under our nails, sweat dripped down our faces leaving a path in the dirt, our nostrils twitched with the smell of fertilizer and/or dust bunnies... but we got the job done.

One would assume that after the sale life would NOW be simple. Oh no... not in my world. People purchased the craziest things... some of which you don't notice until you go to use them. For example... the other night I was making peanut butter cookies. The peanut butter, sugar and eggs were mixed, I reached for the vanilla extract in the cupboard where it has been a staple for over 27 years. Nope, not there. Huh? Did someone move it? I ransacked every cupboard in the kitchen... no vanilla. Come to think of it I didn't see the baking powder either. UGH!!! Someone bought them right out of my cupboards!!! Someone also purchased my frozen shrimp... right from my freezer!!! There goes my special treat of shrimp and grits for dinner.

All of the things I didn't want to sell I had put in one room. Three weeks later and I'm still mucking it out. Is there an 'upside' to all of this? Yes. I have found a few things I thought I had lost, revisited some items that were packed away, learned that many other people are crazy like me, and earned a few dollars to pay my bills. All in all I would give this process 'two thumbs up'.

BTW... my daughter, Stephanie and her husband, Curt are on a 3 week trip to Europe. Speak about 'The Simple Life'... they only packed one backpack each. It makes sense since they will be traveling on buses, trains and such. HOWEVER... it took Stephanie months of planning which EXACT items they would pack... so it really wasn't simple after all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Lieu of Flowers...

A friend suggested that this blog should be named "In Lieu Of Flowers". It took me a moment to understand but when I 'got it' I burst out laughing!!! Yes!!! In Lieu Of Flowers please send donations to the following charity... ME!

Have you read the memoir Save Karyn: One Shopaholic's Journey to Debt and Back
? Karyn was a shopaholic and found herself in $20,000 worth of credit card debt. She had an ingenious idea to set up a website and ask strangers for money. This book was written in 2003... and here I am seven years later blogging for bucks... although I'm not in debt... just trying to keep my head above water. The real co-inky dink is that Save Karyn was released on September 2nd... my birthday. Read it if you get a chance. It is perfect summer reading.

Did you notice that the title of the book is a link to Amazon? I became an Amazon Affiliate yesterday. For those of you who know me you must think I have gone crazy. No, I didn't. Go to the Chicklet Book website and read why I decided to do it. While there sign up and become a member. I will be making book recommendations, running virtual book clubs, sell FABULOUS gifts, and give prizes for silly contests.

I'll be looking for you!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


As I was rushing to my car the other day I was taken aback by the beauty of this butterfly in my back yard. I just had to stop in my tracks to enjoy the moment.

I grabbed my iPhone and began to click photo after photo. I stepped a little closer, hoping not to scare off the butterfly. I crept closer and closer... and closer still. Not only didn't it fly away, but instead spread it's wings so I could get a wonderful shot.

In a way, I feel like this butterfly. I've been wrapped in a cocoon for the past few years; and am finally emerging.

Remember to stop and smell the roses... and the butterfly bush!

Rock Bottom

Hi all! Welcome to my first post... and the beginning of my new life.

I am starting at ROCK BOTTOM... which has become my TERRA FIRMA and seems like the best place to begin. My husband passed away 3 years ago from ALS which depleted our life savings over the 10 year illness. All 3 kids have successfully reached adulthood.
I can no longer afford my house and must move; all of my possessions collected over 27 years of marriage have been sold... including my bed... to raise money for food and electricity. My 2 INDEPENDENT bookstores are closing because we can no longer compete with all the discount stores and online sellers. In short... I have no money, no income and soon, no house. Am I sad or upset? No, I'm excited!!!!

I am not without talent, family and friends. I can't wait to see what life throws at me next. I know I can handle it.

First on my list is to secure housing. I don't know how much longer my daughter and I can stay in our family's home, but I can assume it won't be much longer. So that is priority #1.

Next, I will start working on earning money. In the short term I will begin to sell my crafts and artwork on Feel free to follow my shop... uniqueandnovel. I am crafty in so many ways, expect to see all kinds of items. In the long run I have a few ideas up my sleeve. A few I can't talk about yet, but one I can is... I'm writing a book.

Apparently my life is not as normal as I thought it was. Over the years so many people have listened to my stories and commented that I should write a book. I finally listened and have begun the arduous task of working on my memoir. The working title is... Wearing High Waist Panties With Low Rise Jeans. It's kind of a 'coming of age' story for a middle aged woman.

Follow along as I reclaim my life and finally live for myself!!