Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Craft Show!

One thing I love is to see someone's expression of talents and gifts in their craft. Next week Red Books & Chairs will have a traveling store at the Asbury Fall Craft Sale. But you never have to wait for an organized craft sale to get true one of a kind, unique items. Red Books & Chairs is always looking for items to showcase from crafters.

Gone are the goofy souvenier-type crafts. Today's crafters know that there is a need and desire to have items made by hand. Those that purchase these items do so for more than their practical use but also because they are true works of art.

This Christmas stocking is made of vintage kitchen linen, vintage satin & cording and embellished with a beautiful vintage string of pearls. A gift that would delight any recipient.

What child wouldn't love these adorable, hand-knitted caps from Katie's Kids? Each hat is completely different by style and yarn. RB&C carries Katie's Boys, Katie's Girls, Katie's Guys, Katie's Gals and Katie's Caps; something for every size and style.
Vintage, cottage & retro baby bibbies, burpies, lappies, and blankies are an RB&C original. Vintage, cottage and retro fabrics and inspiration create these adorable baby items in both boy and girl fabrics.

These beautiful sachets are so wonderful. Each sachet is made from a lovely vintage hankerchief filled with the most fragrant lavendar. Sunflower Harvest owner grows her own lavendar and hunts for the most amazing ribbons to tie it all up. These are perfect for stocking stuffers, new mama's, brides and a wonderful 'get well' surprise.
Snoozies are also made right here in the Ozarks. These amazing neck rolls are made of the most comfortable fabrics and filled with a neck molding fiber. The size is perfect for the back of your neck and babies love snuggling up to them. They come in a variety of sizes, colors and fabrics.

Cottage Sue makes these delicate floral arrangements using narrow neck vaces, vintage fabric pieces, vibrant colored posies and a vintage broach to bring it all together. This is a popular gift idea whether for a friend or a gift to self!
If you've read previous blogs of mine, you know how much I love to sew. These pin cushions are sure to delight the most experienced seamstress to the novice mender. Each made of fabric from years ago, embellished with vintage buttons and notions. So pretty to look at and nice to hold.

This is the season for craft sales, shows & festivals. Get out and see what local artists have to offer. Remember to come by the store for great handmade gifts and visit us at the Asbury Craft Sale located at 1500 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO, November 1st from 8:00 am - 2:00 pm.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Construction - Week Ten

The little wicker chair is in front of my door;
this view shows Eclectic (with the OPEN sign to draw attention
down the street where it's blocked off) and further down is Fusion Glass Studio.

As you can see, the revitalization is coming right along. We now have extended sidewalks, garden areas and a lovely crosswalk made to resemble cobblestone.

Each place on the sidewalk where an orange cone is will soon be a light post that is fashioned historically. I will have one right in front of my store which will wonderful for late night shoppers.

My orange cone needed a Halloween flair so I glued a black felt jack-o-lantern on it. It gets a bit of attention from passer-by's.
The street will be paved once the entire project is completed. What a great day that will be! The street in front of Red Books & Chairs is currently open while the crew works on the other end of the street so you can park close - you'll just have to u-turn to get out.

See you soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Back to Blogging!

My sister, Cathe gave me a nice digital camera. I take the camera everywhere - literally. I keep it in my purse with a rubber band around it so the batteries won't come out. I'm such a nut about documenting life; I journal, photograph, collect and draw any time I can. So you can imagine how distraught I was when my camera quit working! I think I have the problem figured out so the blogging will continue.
A wise blogger once told me how important it was to have photographs to go with your blog and I believe she was right. I decided instead of taking a picture of my camera in the mirror that you might enjoy these photographs of older cameras.
I remember how exciting it was to finally pick up your photos after developing them; standing at the counter watching the person in front look through their envelope with delight. Once in awhile I'll find rolls (or sometimes cartridges) of film that I had no idea what pictures were taken but I must have them developed pronto! Thank goodness for the 1-hour service that came along.

The cameras on this page are from the neatest antique store next door to my little Red Books & Chairs. Mr. Eclectic has something from every era and beautifully displayed.
I'll be posting construction updates soon - so check back!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quilts - Appliqué

My friend, Sharon is an amazing artist. Her medium? Fabric! She makes the greatest quilts out of the tiniest of fabric pieces. Her mind is an endless resource for creative quilt art.

This quilt is named "Jungle Jim" and is full of bright colors, designs and stitching. Sharon also has a softer side as depicted in the below quilt that is yet to be titled. What would you name it? What I love about this quilt is the 3-D effects throughout (see the daisies?). I love how Sharon took a traditional craft and made it contemporary! I hope you are as inspired as I am.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Writing - Journal Cigar Box

I've always enjoyed writing but when it came to keeping a baby book on my girls I failed miserably. I remember as a kid looking at my older brother, Tim's baby book filled out so nicely. When I looked at my big sister, Shelly's baby book it had a few details written in. But no matter how hard I looked there was no baby book for me or my baby sister, Cathe. What happened?

When you have your own baby you soon find out what happens! You can document in your prettiest handwriting the baby's first sneeze and hiccup or you can sleep.

I have kept a journal most of my life and just couldn't NOT write about the fun things my little darlings said, got in to, caused, or created. The journal cigar box was born.

I picked up the cigar box at a local humidor because I thought it was pretty not to mention free. I sat it on my night stand next to my bed and filled it with little snippets of memories. Regardless of where I was or what writing resources I had I would write about whatever my little girls did.

In my cigar box are dated entries on paper coasters, napkins, torn box tops, scratch paper and receipts. Here are some of my favorites:
This is a little entry I wrote 20 years ago when my daughter Stephenie was five. I hope you can read the dialogue.

One night while tucking my little Elizabeth in she informed me that she didn't like potatoes and that's why she hadn't eaten them at dinner. I called out to Daddy to make a note that she didn't like potatoes. Just then Elizabeth yelled out, "And write down that I don't like fruit-n-cotton-tail!" To this day, 14 years later we still call fruit cocktail 'fruit-n-cotton-tail'.
This is a little card Elizabeth filled out in school when she was 10 years old.
I love that she was 'usually happy'.
Don't let formality hold you back from documenting your children's life. When you get to my age you will be happy for any nugget that links you to those chubby cheek children of yesterday!

Construction - Week Four

The constant rain this week has halted work on the street. You can see by the photo that my little 'OPEN' sign shines bright in spite of the current demolitions. I'm not going to lie to you, my faithful reader, business has been affected. It's difficult to see that the stores on the construction block are open because your car cannot get close enough to see the signs, but WE ARE OPEN! So, grab your pals and spend the afternoon or 1st Friday together on C-Street. We'll be open until 10:00 pm (September 5th).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Domestic Tip - Hand Sewing

Hand sewing has always brought pleasure to me. Whether I am replacing a popped button, sewing an opening on a project or mending a discrete area, I enjoy hand sewing.
One reason I enjoy this small pleasure is because of the delicacy of the stitches. I love to see hand work that has tiny, deliberate stitches whether a slip stitch, a regular straight stitch or embroidery. Believe it or not, I even enjoy the fact that I have to slow down to do the sewing. You can't be in a hurry to hand stitch although you do pick up speed with practice. I would venture a guess that my heart rate decreases when I hand stitch because I'm forced to sit down, put my feet up (of course), wait for my cat, Niner to settle in, gather my sewing basket up to my lap and begin the art.
I love to slip stitch an opening of a project such as a purse or pillow. Often, I will slip stitch in a bold, contrasting color to the fabric in the project. I think this adds a quirky sense of character to the finished product.
My tip for hand sewing is to have all your sewing ditties in one place. You can see in the photo that my threads are in a rescued hot dog basket and my pins and needles are poked down into a cushion that is easy to find. I use small scissors called 'nippers' to cut threads and the nippers fit nicely in my hot dog basket. When finished, I put all the ditties on a shelf in my sewing area.
Another tip; don't watch the clock. Enjoy the time you are being productive and relaxing at the same time.

Construction - Week Three

This was the view out my window this morning as the construction crew filled in areas with gravel. The sidewalk is tore up and the guys are busy constructing areas to be paved. The outline of our new sidewalk looks amazing. Our sidewalks will be nearly double in width when finished! There is a area sectioned out for a garden and walkway to cross the street. I can't wait to see how this all develops.

Crew members, Dennis Wells and Lee Joy
work to create the new street scape for C-Street

You can see by this photo that the workers are busy...they don't seem to stop from the time they get here until the horn blows around 5:30 pm. This is a photo of the big hole outside my store. You can see the walk are is minimal, however customers still come in the store, bless their hearts! (And I mean it too!) Kinda reminds me of Fred Flintstone at the quarry.

By the end of the day, this is now my view from inside 215 W. Commercial Street.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Construction: Week Two

Since Red Books & Chairs opens mid-week (Wed - Sat); I've been arriving to the store with surprises each week. I park behind the row of buildings that my store is located in. Since I only have a back dock door I cut through my pal, Erin's glass studio (Fusion). I walked out of her building yesterday onto NO sidewalk. Maybe you can tell by the pictures that there is chat where sidewalk use to be then a drop off. I haven't seen the C-crew (Construction crew) for a couple of days. Maybe they're resting up to get it all done next week!

C-Street Revitalization in Progress

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Writing: Letters from Mom

In the era of text messages and email, it's such a delight when you receive a hand-written letter in the mailbox from someone. My mom is the most consistent and I never grow content by receiving her letters; I always look for the next.

My mom writes a little ditty about her week, upcoming events, the deal of the day at the Bargain Box (only the best thrift store in southern AR), updates on her community and sweet words like, "Have a great week!" or "I'm praying for you".

She always sends a magazine article (this last one was on Paula Deen); a snipped out cartoon of the Lockhorns, often times with Leroy or Loretta's name crossed out and mine or my husband, Greg's name written above. And always, without fail, a coupon for either coffee or toilet paper (only in the brands I love; Folgers and Cottonelle).

Always a treat. Always read with anticipation. And a quiet time and place where I can enjoy every second of the thoughtfulness it took for her to send the goodies to me.

If you long for a handwritten note; simply email me your home address and I will send you a little note, or better yet, maybe my mom will! There's a catch...when you receive it and you have read it, you must commit to handwriting someone else a note and send it the old fashion way - US Postal. If this gets crazy and the entire world asks me to send them a hand written note I may have to put the pen down and put the carpel tunnel glove on; I'll keep you posted.

Hint: Elderly, children, new mothers, dads and volunteers love to get notes...hmmm...that's just about everyone.

Note: Please put in the email subject line: SEND ME A HANDWRITTEN NOTE
I will not give your address out or send you other Red Books & Chairs information unless you tell me in your note it's okay. I'm not a spam pusher!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Construction: Week One

Great News - New Opportunities

Great News: Historic Commercial Street is in Phase II of the revitalization and it's going on right before my eyes. Construction workers are hard at work digging up old plumbing, street scape, light poles and sidewalks to make way for beautiful replacements with a historic flair.

New Opportunities: The street will be completly torn up from August to mid-November this year (2008). This means that customers that have been use to pulling right in to a store front parking space will now need to park south of C-Street on Blaine in one of the public lots and walk to Red Books & Chairs.
This creates new opportunities for both store owners and customers. Customers will hopefully walk past stores they may not have noticed in the past. Merchants are looking to new and creative ways to showcase their stores.

Several neighboring stores and businesses to the east of the revitalization are hanging signs in their windows indicating the the west end is still open for business as well as allowing stores affected by the construction to put items in their stores for advertising. WOW! What a great community.

Domestic Tip: Denture Brush

Have you ever purchased something at a flea market or rummage sale and just can’t get the years of life out of the tight corners and crevices? My favorite tool to get these treasures clean is a denture brush. This unique tool has a curved brush at one end and a tiny circular brush at the other end. You can find one where toothbrushes are sold for only a couple of dollars. I love that the nylon bristles are strong yet gentle enough for my old porcelain pieces.

Of course it goes without saying that a true vintage junk collector never cleans silver pieces. The patina alone is worth double what you paid for the piece!

Traditions: Crocheting

Crocheting & knitting
isn't the same as Ford or Chevy or voting Democrat or Republican -you can like both.

My mom taught me to crochet shortly after my grandmother had shown me how to knit. I was so attracted to the wonderful colors of yarn and felt it was a bonus that crocheting only used one needle, the crochet hook. I still can't hold my crochet hook like my mom. She holds hers delicately like an artist would hold a paintbrush; I hold mine like I'm going to core an apple. Have you ever seen a Hawaiian hula girl's hands during her dance; elegant, graceful and moving constantly? That's what it looks like when my mom wraps the yarn around her left hand when crocheting. A true sight to behold. Me? Let's just say both hands and legs are involved when I crochet.

My mom always created the most amazing afghans. She is famous in our family for her granny-squares. As a matter of fact, my mom still crochets afghans, only now they aren't just for family members but for Veterans. This only adds to my pride in her.

I started an afghan and it quickly became a scarf. Again, like knitting, I still crochet AND enjoy it but only for the memories and the great feeling it gives me.

Traditions: Knitting

The needles were my grandma Nettie's, the vintage bag is from my dear friend, Sue.

I learned to knit from my grandma Nettie. I don't remember much about what she created; I just remember us knitting. We would be completely intertwined on the sofa; her arms around mine and her hands shadowing mine. I was around 8 years old when she began teaching me. Her soft skin felt like aged velvet; I bet that's why vintage velvet is one of my favorite fabrics.

The patience it must have taken to teach a young girl to knit had to be tremendous. However, now that I am a grandma myself I can see where it may have seemed like a privilege to spend such tender time with her granddaughter. Knitting and pearling were very challenging but casting on was a breeze! I still like casting on. I am not a great knitter, not even a good knitter but I still dink around with it because I don't want to forget how it feels.

My daughter, Stephenie can knit beautifully. She didn't learn from me; my knitting is still at the 8 year old level. I started a nice cotton washcloth for my mom about two years ago; I hope to have it finished by next Spring...I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Domestic Tips: Ironing

I love to iron. I launder my clothes with care; taking them promptly out of the dryer so there are no unwanted creases but I still want them to be crisp. I keep my ironing board set up; equipped with a fine-mist water bottle, spray starch, a thin cotton cover cloth and my dry/steam iron.

Today most fabrics are made with a stain guard that resists liquids so when I am ironing a newer fabric I spray it lightly and allow the water mist to absorb into the fabric before ironing. If the water won’t absorb I turn the clothing article inside out and mist again. Often times the stain guard is only applied to the top of the fabric. Whether ironing the right or wrong side of fabric, always test in an inconspicuous location (try the hem line) or use a cover cloth to ensure the fabric can withstand the heat.

I love to use spray starch on cotton shirts and blouses to give a little extra structure. To avoid white flakes from the starch simply spray on fabric and allow the spray starch to absorb before setting with a hot iron. On dark articles of clothing (such as black dress pants) I turn the article inside out and spray with starch. When doing this on pants that need a center crease simply iron the pants completely from the inside flat with no crease, turn right sides out, fold crease into leg and iron set the crease. I recommend not layering one creased pant leg on top of the other when ironing but rather splitting the legs to crease one at a time.

To avoid unwanted bumps and creases never use wire hanger and always hang pants and skirts on hangers with waist clamps.

Do you have a favorite t-shirt with decal that you would like to freshly iron for crispness? Completely iron the t–shirt body inside out; this allows you to iron over the back of the decal without ruining it or your iron. Once you have finished ironing the t-shirt and it has cooled, turn it right side out and iron the sleeves. Personal preference determines whether or not to crease the sleeve from the shoulder.

Delicate fabrics need ironing? Hang the item up high (maybe on a door jam) so you can easily see entire piece. Using the steam option on your iron, hold the iron 10 inches from clothing and press steam button while moving the iron up and down. Caution: 1- Test clothing first in an inconspicuous area such as the hem line to ensure the material can withstand the steam heat, 2- Be careful not to burn your arm from the steam.

Having guests spend the night? Iron the top hem and pillow cases for a crisp, fresh appearance.

Traveling and no iron available? I have two solutions that I have used. One idea is to lift one side of your bed mattress and lay your clothing item crease-free on the box spring. Gently lower the mattress, (you may need help from your room buddy); in the morning lift the mattress and your item should have less wrinkles. Another idea is to pack a curling iron and use the heated iron to run over your clothing; again test an area to make sure the heat will not hurt the fabric.

Traditions: Birthday Story

Every year since my girls were born I spend a special moment with them on the eve of their birthday. I tell them the story of the day and events prior to their birth. At the moment the doctor comes in the room to deliver the baby I end the story. At this point the birthday girl usually asks the question, “What happened then?” The next day on their birthday, I finish the story from birth to their first day on earth.

After the girls had heard the story 10-12 times they would help me fill in the blanks. Now that both of my girls are young women (ages 19 & 25); this old mama relies on them to tell most of the story to me then I fill in the blanks. Last year my husband, Greg told them the story; I listened to hear his version. I was surprised and interested to hear the many details I had forgotten or hadn’t picked up on (come to think of it…I was in labor!).

I love this family tradition for so many reasons. The special, quiet time it allows me with my child to celebrate the day they entered our family, remembering all the wonderful people involved in those first couple of days, acknowledging the doctors, nurses and hospitals the girls had and memories of their baby nursery are still present in this ever aging mind of mine.