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!