Thursday, May 30, 2013

FOLK Summer 2013 Preview!!

FOLK Magazine~ the perfect summer companion!
FOLK Summer 2013 is due to hit the stands in the coming weeks and it is alive with the spirit of New England! Perhaps it is because summer lasts for such a short time in the North East that the towns and people of this region burst into life, welcoming natives and tourists alike to take in the birthplace of American freedom and ingenuity.
Visually stunning (as always), FOLK lays out the North East from every angle.  Veteran FOLK writers walk the reader through the two biggest cities, New York and Boston, while FOLK readers have submitted their takes on other popular destinations such as Portland, Maine.  Vacation memoirs, reader's photos, and essays on iconic New England life fill the nooks and crannies of FOLK Summer 2013. 
Take in the artists of the North East as FOLK introduces artists such as, Johanne Cassia and leads a tour of her beautiful Ipswitch home. Stitch up a treasure with Trudy Honeycutt's complimentary primitive doll pattern.  Meet the creative minds behind jewelry innovators JuNxtaposition and Bel Monili.  Be tempted by the food sirens as well!  All hail the berry in this summer issue which includes mouth watering recipes for strawberry jam, cherry butter, blueberry sundaes, and fresh fruit parfait! 
Though FOLK Summer 2013 focuses on the North East, the constant theme of Homegrown America burns brightly.  In an ever-growing global community, FOLK unites people striving to rekindle Main Street America.  By sharing stories of family traditions, local history, and heirloom recipes, the fabric of the future is weaved with the past.  By spotlighting current retailers grounded on American made quality, consumers find the rewards of shopping local.  By reviving Main Street as a commerce destination, the dream of those early New England colonists' remains strong: an authentic life based on freedom and ingenuity.
If you haven't subscribed to FOLK Magazine yet, the Summer 2013 issue is the perfect time to start!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Palette

Aaaaaahhhhhh summer!  That time when sales slow, whimsical demands dwindle and time for me to whip up a little something for myself.  My summer bag harbors stowaway projects worked as the sun rises and sets over the hotsy-totsy sands of the Gulf shore. 
I have been busy making linen flags to hang from my patio.  Using patterns from Robyn Pandolph Designs, I am replacing the called-for cotton fabric with my vintage cashmere wool. This dream fabric soaks up the summer dye palette of teal and pink perfect for shoreline living!
No backyard is complete without a summer banner!  To compliment the linen flags I am making a double sided chipboard banner.    The natural aging and buttery soft texture of 1886 paper on bright teal are pure lazy summer afternoons swung away in a shaded hammock!
 As the school year winds to a close, longer hours can be spent tending my personal projects.  I look forward to having my sisters-in-law in town next week for my daughter's high school graduation and know we will spend summer hours stitching, sipping Asti, and wishing such summer days could last a little longer.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Secret Project: Choosing The Right Guide

Once a secret project matures from an idea in infancy, nestled and coddled, into an adventurous toddler in need of supervision while experiencing new grounds, the need for a project guide emerges.  Someone to shape the project in terms of manners, obedience, and love.  For without guidance, the project is at risk of turning feral and doomed to roam a dark forest forever. Because this project has been a goal twenty years in the striving for, because I've been explicitly asked to NOT do this, and because I will have to spend an inordinate amount of time visiting my dark side, I needed to seek out a therapist.
I will admit I was ready to run at first.  Filling out paperwork in a sterile small room I had 15 minutes to myself.  Time to bail.  The moments ticking away like hammer slams, my shoulder blades burned with anxiety.  I need to do this..... I need to do this.  I've got this...... Ok I'm outta here! It would be so much easier to deny this project!  No nooooo.... just NO.  The door opens and I am trapped.  But I can still keep everything to myself, my locked box. I don't have to say a word.  But then nothing moves forward.  Everything remains the same and what needs to be spoken is denied a voice for another decade.
There is magic medicine in therapy. It is pure mental massage. I say, proudly, I have sought the help of a therapist at many key points in my life.  I can bear my soul without judgment, without prejudice and under strict confidentiality.  Therapists are like shoes- some look great but feel awful, others have a pillowy cushion that provides support in all the right places. I've tried on some fabulous heels that rubbed me the wrong way but the therapist I met today was pure Dr. Scholls! We chatted fluidly and had an instant connection. She has agreed to be my guide and I feel in my heart she is the perfect fit for my secret project.
A key ingredient for therapy days is a sweet reward; something I can look forward to after the hard working out of mental clogs. A gentle reminder to not take myself so seriously and that life is a journey where I can choose the course.  And let's face it, sugary prettiness appeals to the toddler in all of us!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Insta-Awesome At Auction

It's been many years since I've been to a good country auction!  Recently I stumbled across a local ad for an auction company just up the road in Bacliff, Texas.  Hubby was out of town, Baby Girl was off with her friends, and the dogs were fast asleep.  It was a Saturday night and I had money to burn!  Perusing the online flyer, I saw many a fine item I knew had a place in my home- so off I went.  Prepared to splurge, I soon found myself in bargain heaven and scoring insta-collections at scrumptiously low prices!
 Upon entering the gallery, I assessed the crowd, sizing up my competition.  I can spot dealers and resale stockers and rule them out as competition because they predominantly swoop in on glassware and furniture.  I am on the lookout for other artsy-fartsy types such as myself with the telltale swag bag full of projects to keep idle hands busy.  Spying out other people who want rusty cast offs and layers of useless knickknacks, I see no others.  I am alone on the pond of possibility.  All the fish are mine for the taking!
I was prepared to pay $50 for the camera box lot- a heaping mound of Kodak gems including manuals, lenses, and vintage video cameras.  I scored at $15!  The bottles were a steal at $3 for all! The only real battle I had was over the skeleton keys.  Resalers know they are a quick flip- I just had to go high enough to force other bidders out of their profit margin.  Still a bargain at $10.
This sweet Argoflex camera is by far my fave purchase!  Not only was it the target of my attendance- but it became the battle of wills, the defining moment between me and the auctioneer. The worst possible scenario for an auctioneer is to have awesome merchandise but only one bidder interested.  By time this camera came up for bid it was well known I was the lone vintage hunter in his audience.   He knew it would be undersold but had to control just how low it would go.  I knew I could score- but I had to get as low as possible before he pulled the item. We sized each other up as the Argus made its way to the block.  He started high- calling out for $30, scanning the audience, staring into my eyes with a burning intent of, "You will not walk away with this one too!"  It was a serious threat masked in that toothy grin of his.  I stared back with a challenge of, "You can go lower...."  Finally dwindling down in numbers, scraping the bottom at $10, I knew I had to pounce as  the auctioneer was verging on the pull. 
 This was the last camera offered for the night.  The remaining cameras, antique typewriters, and bubble glass frames would have to wait until next Saturday's auction. A good auctioneer knows to give away just a sweet taste to leave bidders hungering for more.  I was a little disappointed but knowing that the life of the auction is bidding drama, I will be thankful for this week's bargains and return next week to bid again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Prim Party Time!!

It's celebration time in the Old Farmhouse Gathering!  Today the Etsy OFG artists bring out a sneak preview of summer wares, prims, quilts, painting and rustic country goodies to feather your nest!
Graphic by ewe-n-me printables

Search SFCOFG on Etsy to see prims on parade!
Hand of Bela Peck is represented by
And their fave pin cushion to rest their tired heads upon at night!
Swing by the Etsy farmhouse and see what's new for summer before all the goodies are gone!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Good Psychic Read

I am a firm believer in seeking advice from neutral parties; people who stand to gain nothing by telling me something good, bad or handing out reality checks.  Usually I seek out a good therapist to help me untangle my path.  But from time to time I seek someone who can reach beyond what's snarled up in my brain.  Someone who can consult my spirit guides and unclog the mental drain of over-plundered creativity, life events, and frustrations.
Image property of The Witchery
On Post Office Road, just off the Strand, in Galveston, is The Witchery.  A fantabulous occult shop that features weekend psychic readings.  This lady is goooooooooood.  No hocus-pocus generic boardwalk shenanigans.  She is the real deal.  She is specific, on point, and direct.   Starting with an aura read while I shuffle the tarot cards, she tells me I have a strong spirit guide standing in front of me helping me to reach my goals- sort of like my own personal line backer.  Awesome!  I am offered a helpful exercise to strengthen the weaker side of my aura before getting into the meat of the read.
I go with a set of questions I need answered but the read always treads on the fields I go out of my way to avoid.  Currently I have revived a project I have contemplated, attempted, and scrapped repetitively for the past twenty years.  It is a deeply personal project and one that I've known for years will set free many demons locked up in my psyche. When she told me this time I would see this project to fruition, I knew it in my soul to be truth.  This knowledge nugget was an unsolicited gem that I see as the prize of the read. 
I am fortunate.  My life is good.  My marriage is strong and our daughter is healthy again and set to remain that way.  My reading forecasted this happiness o continue and grow, opening a path for me to truly focus on my own journey.
As the reading wrapped up, the psychic asked what I was recently so disappointed about.  I explained my shallow hurt of exerting lots of energy helping people around me to achieve a common goal.  I was harboring icky green monster feelings when everyone but me received the glory.  She cocked her head and gave me a look I used to see on my mother's face after some sort of adolescent upset and said, "Well I guess maybe next time you should put yourself first."  Okay.  Point taken.  But it's something incredibly difficult for me to do. Gulp!  Looks like I will have to call my therapist first thing Monday morning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Hubby returns from Bangladesh today and the house is full of excitement.  My favorite part of his homecomings is watching our Baby Girl, now 18, light up when I announce, "Homecoming Day!!" She has always been Daddy's little girl, and she wears this badge with pride!
Over the years they have been connected by their motorcycle fanaticism and a deep seeded need for adventure. It started early with dirt bikes... watching her Dad race hare scrambles in the palmetto ridden woods of Florida.  Soon she was riding alongside him. When we moved to Texas, the dirt bikes gave way to bigger machines. 
Then came the impossible question: would a teenage girl want to take a cross country trip to see the back roads of America? With her father?  On a motorcycle?
Without blinking an eye, the answer was YES!  This set in motion three summers of endurance riding across America with the goal of seeing every US state and the majority of Canada before Baby Girl graduated high school.  The trip through the Yukon Territory and into Alaska was by far the most perilous with snowy steep mountain roads, free roaming bison, constant rain and the need to wear every item of clothing they packed just to stay somewhere above freezing. 
 In the summer of 2010, the travel goal had to be delayed while Baby Girl had open heart surgery.  By 2011, she was back on Dad's Harley and racing into Michigan, Maine, and Connecticut on an Eastern US tour.  The bond these two share just melts my heart.  They are one in the same and driven to go farther, see more, and be a part of the greater picture.
This also scares me.  The same traits that made me fall so in love with Hubby are the very traits I see burning wildly in our soon-to graduate Baby Girl.  There is fire in her eyes of working in Africa, on world relief missions, and getting the hell out of Houston (which is a dream we all share!).  There is the realization that she is 18 and free to go where she chooses and I sense the wheels already turning on short term summer trips.  She is like her Dad in every way. Stubborn and ready to take on the world.  I can only imagine that in time I will be running in to announce to Hubby, "Baby Girl is coming home today!!" and he will light up just as brightly as she does for him.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Garden Bugs

On this morning's garden stroll, I spied two little eyes spying back at me!  I nearly stepped right atop this wee fellow but his antennae twitched ever so slightly, distracting me from my path. Amongst the coriander blooms, just below the buds, I found a precocious aphid with a social disposition.
 Locking eyes, he flashed me a toothy grin, tipped his head and introduced himself as Bartholomew. He freely admitted his love for the fragrant herb and kindly requested permission to remain there, waiting for his friends.
 Bartholomew promised his group would not remove too much sap, only taking a small delight and leaving the plants to flower, seed and grow with renewed vigor.
Hmmmmm, I thought to myself.   Garden bugs can be problematic but something about Bartholomew's smile put my pale green thumb at ease. A few aphids can't do more damage than my pit bull who also enjoys rolling around in the coriander. I just wish that Bartholomew had told me he was the smallest of his friends.

Monday, May 13, 2013

All Buttoned Up

 People say I have a button problem. I prefer button situation.  I've confessed, owned my problem.  I spelled it out in this earlier post- owning my button hoarding ways.  After all, Dr. Phil says I can't fix what I don't acknowledge.  So I have raised my hand in proud declaration!  I am a button hoarder.  Tried and true! 
 So I decided it was time to wrangle in some of these buttons, corral them into a storage display that would be both attractive and functional.  I found a ratty fab canister set, gave it a tlc coat of paint and prepared to empty 9 of my button barrels into a shiny new home.
I got through 2 barrels and filled 2 1/2 jars.  I decided this was not the wisest way to use my revamped canisters.  I would just end up with even more button barrels that would be infinitely more difficult to dig through.  And I need easy access to my obsession!  So I left 2 for buttons and filled the remaining jars with thread and bits- things I use often. 
Dr. Phil would probably say I am avoiding my issue.  But I say I have taken an honest inventory and I really don't see a problem with my button obsession.  At least I'm not hoarding gum wrappers or something totally useless.  Who's to say I'll never be able to use 1,467, 876 buttons?
Stop by By Your Hands blog for step by step instructions on how to revamp your own storage solutions! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

In To The Mystic

 I wasn't going to write on this topic- even though it was on my mind all last night.  It's not my story to write but at times I feel like something much greater than me guides my words. 
When I fired up Pandora this morning for my usual writing background tunes, Van Morrison was playing.  Odd.  I have Pandora set to the Lumineers.  I've never heard Van Morrison on all my mornings of listening to Pandora's repetitive rotation.  Maybe I just haven't been paying attention.  But on this particular morning I feel it was more of a nudge from Heaven, a spiritual cue that what most people find easier to doubt might possibly be real.
Over the phone last night, wine glasses in hand, my dearest friend Martha and I raised a toast to her one true love, Mark.  Yesterday was his birthday. Martha remarked how strange it was to hear a Van Morisson song playing in the grocery store as she bought him a birthday balloon.  Mark loved Van Morisson almost as much as he loved his garden! In that moment, I could hear his boisterous laughter bellowing out, "Sabadooooooooooo Gigante!!!" for no reason whatsoever as he passed through the house with a box of fudgicles and new veggie plants in his hands.   Larger than life itself, Mark's soul seemed to be right there toasting alongside us. Sadly, Mark is no longer with us on earth.  But when someone lives so fully, so richly, with such genuine love for his family, that type of soul leaves us all empty as we have to move forward knowing his earthly journey is complete.
Martha and Mark have been my constant role models.  As parents, as spouses, as friends, these two are soul mates and every step they made together reflected that. I am married to Martha's youngest brother, Kevin, perhaps the most difficult sibling of the bunch! But watching Mark and Martha, I learned marriage means taking the good with the bad and what matters most is family.  Petty squabbles subside into a fuller love and those pesky traits are usually what we miss most when they are gone.  Kevin travels a lot and I miss his sarcastic sense of humor, his mild OCD pantry organization methods, and clop clop clop of his cowboy boots on wooden floors.  But I know he is coming home.  I ache for my friend's heart knowing she does not have that same luxury.
So with Van Morisson playing I smile, add the Van Morisson station and listen away.  Perhaps it's just the way every song was written in the 70's? Could Van Morisson, James Taylor, the Rolling Stones, and Otis Redding be sending a sign?  Should I seek professional help? Maybe I read too much into random details. But just maybe the universe weaves a pattern to let us know our loved ones do see us on earth.  Even if it's just me needing a sign for my friend; It is what it is.  I tried to not write this post, but for unknown reasons, I felt compelled. And with every song that played out as I typed- it just seemed  a note someone above wanted to pass on. I am not one to ignore my instincts- so here is what I heard in between my ticka-typing today.
Just like way back in the days of old
Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.
I've been loving you too long to stop now.
You just gotta see me through another day........
Knock, knock knocking on Heaven's door. 
Faith has been broken, tears must be cried,
Let's do some living after we die.
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float into the mystic.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Journey Satchel

If I could sum up the past year in one word it would be "JOURNEY".  Yes, all in caps because the word is so versatile it can swing from a romantic ideal to a sarcastic enthusiasm for the year's events.  There have been incredible highs, new opportunities, speed bumps, trying lows and nail biting suspense.  I have weathered it all, held fast to the ship and currently use the word journey with deep gratitude.
Along this journey I have made unbelievable connections and formed friendships with artists I've admired for years.  I have leaped out of my reserved shell to promote my business. Failures became opportunities to improve and be better from the fall. I feel the approving hands of my ancestors guiding me on this journey and that is why I chose the whaling ship as my summer satchel theme.  With family roots deep in the early American whaling industry, the sea air is the wind in my soul.
I have a special project in mind for the first dozen of these wee gems which I will share in a later post.  The Journey Satchel is made of aged cotton, lightly stuffed with a mix of fiberfill and lavender flowers.  I hand pick the shells straight from the Galveston shore where wee shorebirds have done the piercing job for me. Placed by an open window, the breeze sends in light whispers of lavender.  A perfect summer scent for whatever journeys await us all just ahead.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Summer Patina

I am attracted to patina like a moth to a flame.  The golden flecks of age, chippy signs of everyday use, and hand-worn surfaces make me swoon! Naturally, patina is key in my creations and this summer, well-aged elements, nursery rhymes and vintage fabrics will support a new cast of primitive characters.
My summer resource,  Fun And Thought for Little Folk, has finally been located after a year of MIA.  Let's just say codfish and beetles will reign the Hand of Bela Peck studio this summer.
 Adding to my summer vintage supply is this textured green fab delicious Pendleton wool.  Scored yesterday at Goodwill for $2.99!  I just love vintage awesomeness!
I am off to an energetic start and hoping the momentum continues! Stay tuned to see how these prim ovals take shape and come to life.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Proper Arrangement

Ahhhhhhhhhhh....... Spring is truly here!  The gardens are in bloom, busy birds chirp from branch to branch, and a fresh color palette rises from the earth as all watch in wide-eyed wonder.
 My green thumb is inspired by my mother's and grandmother's gardens where height and texture variations created a natural canvas that kept admirers oohing and ahhing, begging to pick a few blooms, me included.  I think they both new that a childhood me + a pair of garden scissors = total deforestation.  Patience would have to be learned first. 
One of my favorite floral traditions is the flower frog.  My grandmother introduced me to these glass wonders when I was a little girl; when it became obvious that my wee hands could not be kept out of the garden. 
My grandmother's home was (and still is) formal, as were her gardens.  Cutting flowers would be a precise task with a specific end. The reward would be a table centerpiece fit for a proper ladies' luncheon.  So with scissors in hand I was allowed to snip prized blooms to fit in the flower frog.  I would spend hours in the garden, visiting ladybugs, and making the final cuts. Back inside, my Grandmother was selecting a fine crystal bowl for the finished frog. Once the bouquet was arranged and set in the bowl, my work was given a place of honor at the center of the dining room table.  We would then sit with our lunch, note the sun reflecting prisms through the crystal bowl,  and admire my work.
Now as a big girl, I fill the frog in much the same way.  Color, color, and more color!  Varying heights for definition, and texture galore!
 I take my time to choose just the right bowl.  Today I am going with a vintage country feel as this bouquet will grace my outside office space.  
 With today promising to be beautiful spring weather in Connecticut, I know both my Grandmother and my mother will be outside tending their gardens.  Perhaps at lunch time, all three of us will be sitting on our patios, admiring the rewards of our patience.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kitchen Pin Cushion Love

I can't bake.  I can burn a frozen Sara Lee Cake just by looking at it.  Much to my family's dismay, I would rather starve than fire up the oven.  So when I finally found a non-cooking use for vintage jello tins I rejoiced!  At least I was doing something baking-related......ish.
I am just in love with making tart tin pin cushions!  It's my stitching quick fix, my evening idle hands fix, and of course- my woolen up-cycle fix.
Recently I found a floral sweater with my favorite words "100% wool"!  Usually these Hong Kong vintage lovelies are an acrylic blend that I have to leave behind.  But this mint condition gem, covered in 30 hand-stitched flowers was the perfect match for a score of 30 tiny baking tins!
Most of these sweet treats are headed to Hendley Market (pop on in my Texas peeps!), but some will land in my Etsy this weekend as well.  Here's hoping y'all have a constant companion craft that makes your hands, heart and the environment oh so happy!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Early Home Was This

Cleaning out the buffet drawers is always a mini expedition here!  That fabulous Victorian chunk-o-tiger-maple is my catch-all for old photos,  crafty baubles, vintage tidbits and random thrift store silver.  At the back of the drawer I found a cross stitch piece I had finished ten years ago, back in my sampler-obsessed days.
I designed this pattern as a folk art replica of the 1759 colonial home where I grew up.  I made two samplers.  The first I gave to my parents as a Christmas gift.  The second I made a year later as a gift for my brother.  Apparently I decided to hold out for the right frame and 9 years later I still haven't found the perfect match, though I suspect I gave up looking about 8 1/2 years ago.
Cross stitch and I have a love-hate relationship. I absolutely adore stitching historic samplers! But I usually screw up a line somewhere near to the project's end  and hate looking for where I went wrong.   Using over-dyed threads means ripping out all that is not right and starting over.  For me, it's easier to part ways and move on to a new project.  I will forever be that sampler stitcher whose linen's backside is a rat's nest of knots, whose stitches jump a line, and whose wrinkles never seem to smooth.
Thank goodness I am a primitive artist where all mistakes are forgiven as a sign of the times!