Saturday, December 29, 2012

Catching up...

Christmas was hectic but fun.  Had a chance to go antiquing with Linda and Duane.  Linda struck gold.  She found a lovely nightstand for $27 at one of our favorite places to go antique shopping -- D&D Antiques. Solid wood with a pretty design and storage space. She may eventually paint it another color but she's decided to live with it awhile first.  Linda also found a piece of Japanese porcelain that she liked.  Lovely.  It was definitely her day for bargains.  Duane and I actually ended up only spending money on our lunch which is fine since we love the 'hunt' as much as a 'buy.'  We had lunch at one of our favorite places -- The Front Porch.  Great food and nice atmosphere in an old house that was converted to a restaurant. 

In the days leading up to Christmas I was busy working away on various 'yarn projects.'  I finished the three Santa ornaments for my nieces and then I started on two kitty toys for my nephew Sam's cats.  Then my sister Pam asked if I'd mind making a third toy for her to give to her boyfriend's cat, Smudge.  So I ended up making three goldfish (with catnip centers, yum).  They're crocheted and they actually worked up pretty quickly although I felt like I was getting down to the wire time-wise.  The black string coming from the mouth of the goldfish is there so that you can dangle it in front of your cat to pique his/her interest.  Hope it works.  Here's the pattern I used.

I'm also getting back into recording.  I'm currently working on a mystery.  Have to get cracking on chapter 3 on this one tomorrow.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pre-Christmas Estate Sale -- Status: FAB!

As usual, the really good estate sales seem to take place in Duane's part of town or at least in one of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Linda couldn't join us today since she's just returned to work after being out of town so Duane and I set out on our own.  This sale took place in another one of those deceptively small looking houses that, in reality, meander much further back and are much larger than they appear from the front.  There was a lot of stuff and it was good quality.  Duane overheard the woman holding the sale (not the owner of the house) say that the owners took what they wanted from their house (must have just been mainly their clothes) and left the state to live in North Carolina.  Yesterday.  They sure left a lot of nice things behind.  We think at least one of the owners taught at the university, possibly in the theater department, judging by the books that were left behind.  Lots of beautiful glassware and, boy, did I wish I had been looking for furniture.  There were so many nice pieces and they were fairly priced. 

Needless to say, neither of us left empty-handed.  Duane found quite a few CDs and a beautiful piece of Delft china that was not in the usual blue and white color scheme. 
I was able to feed my enamel addiction with two cooking/serving dishes made in  Yugoslavia, the larger one is yellow enamel and the smaller one is blue.  I also found a signed print that I was drawn to and continued to stare at so I bought it.  It's a monoprint by an artist named Vladimir Strutinsky.  I was only able to find out a little bit about him on the Internet.  But, that's fine since I did the usual -- I bought it because I liked it.  For now, I think I'm going to hang it in the newly decorated guest room.  I also found two beautiful English silk pocket squares in fantastic condition along with an old rosary attached to some beads on twine.  I may pass this along to a friend who's Catholic.

After this score, Duane and I headed to Starbucks for a light snack and some 'talk' time.   Whoever the owners of this house were, they had great taste and we thank them for leaving their 'leftovers' for us.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where did the time go?!

Every year I vow to have everything that can possibly be done for Christmas finished ahead of time.  Sigh.  It's been a long time since that's actually happened.  I just realized a couple of days ago that Monday is the deadline to mail items to The Humble Stitch Project in order for them to meet their deadline of getting the clothing to people who need it.  All I have finished for this last shipment for the year is the hat and scarf pictured.  Then I suddenly remembered that I had specifically bought some bulky weight yarn in order to be able to whip up some scarves and/or hats or gloves quickly and easily.  AND I finally get to use my size 35 vintage knitting needles, too.  The second pic shows one of the size 35 needles
next to a size 11 which is a standard size that many people use.  Quite a difference.  Using them reminds me of those huge pencils we were given to learn to write the alphabet in Kindergarten.  Only I'm using two of them and I've found some great patterns that work up super fast.

Here's the scarf I'm almost finished knitting with the
size 35 needles.  It's a bulky (6) yarn called Red Heart
Light & Lofty.  This color is called Salt & Pepper.  I found this type of yarn a real pain to work with when I made a pair of slippers for my mother last year.  However, it makes a big difference when you're using needles this large.  This is a great dropstitch scarf that only requires casting on 7 stitches.  The pattern can be found here.  It's called the Marley Scarf and the pattern is free.  There are other free patterns on this site that also work up quickly that I may try.  I do have other bulky yarn that isn't 'fuzzy' like the Light & Lofty so I may be able to squeeze in another couple of items before the Monday mailing date.

This scarf measures approx. 5.5 inches by approx. 70 inches when it's finished and I have to say that the Light & Lofty yarn is incredibly soft to the touch and should keep someone very warm.  After I finish with the last of the Humble Stitch items, I still have a few gifts to make.  I'm on my last Santa ornament mentioned in the previous post.  I'm also making a bracelet for my niece and a couple of goldfish that I'm going to fill with catnip for my nephew's cats.   I've been assured that they'll like them. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Solo estate sale and Amigurumi Santa

When I received my weekly email regarding estate sales in my area, I noticed immediately that one of them was Friday (today) in Duane's neighborhood (big surprise).  However, poor Duane has been sick as a dog since just after Thanksgiving with a horrible cold and cough so, although she feels a little better each day, she's still not up to going out.  Linda couldn't take time from work so I went to this sale solo.  Just me and Mrs. Peel. 

The house was an adorable little bungalow, similar to Duane's house.  Neat as a pin and just about everything for sale including a Cadillac in the driveway.  There was some gorgeous midcentury furniture including an absolutely beautiful wood parquet coffee table in the 'surfboard' style that was popular in the 1950's.  If I had room for it, I would have considered it because it was so eye-catching.  However, none of the rooms in our house (where we would put a coffee table) could accommodate one that length.  Whoever bought it got a lovely table at a fair price.  I did find a couple of little treasures, though.  One is the white porcelain vase that caught my eye.  It has a beautiful flower on the front and is in pristine condition.  I thought it was unmarked until I got home and took a better look at the bottom (with a little help from a magnifying glass and good lighting) and discovered that it's signed and made in Hawaii.  I'm going to do a little research on it.  I also picked up the cute set of vintage cocktail picks in their original container and a ruler that was a promotional item put out by Coca-Cola.

I also came across an array of knitting supplies that had been put together to sell as a lot for $40.  The biggest reason for the price was a complete set of nice circular needles (including their case) along with some extra circulars and various other items like vintage straight needles and crochet hooks.  I asked the lady holding the sale if she would consider selling me just a few items from the lot.  She didn't want to do that, though, because her mother (apparently it was her mom's house) wanted all of it sold as a lot.  If I had thought about it at the time I would have asked again before leaving about selling me a few of the items.  I was only interested in the plastic straight knitting needles and the crochet hook.  She could have made more money by selling those 2-3 items to me for a few bucks and still kept the bulk of the lot for $40.  The set of circular needles was worth that much alone.  I just prefer to use straight needles and didn't think about striking a deal with her until I was driving away.  It never hurts to ask.

On the yarn front, I just finished the second of three Amigurumi Santa ornaments that I'm making for my three nieces for Christmas.  The first two turned out really cute but I don't think I'll ever make this pattern again.  It's always a little tough on my hands to make Amigurumi items because they have to be tightly woven (in the round) since you stuff them and you don't want the stuffing to be visible on the item.  However, I've never worked on a pattern that caused my hands and arms to feel so sore.  Yikes.  I felt like I had been hauling cement after making the first one.  Luckily, I only have the third one to make and I have plenty of time before Christmas.  Good thing because I'd hate to end up in traction due to a hook and a few balls of yarn.   Here's the pattern if anyone reading this is interested in making one.  I did leave off the little wire rimmed eye glasses.  I thought they were cute without them.  All I have to do to the one pictured is run a silver or gold cord through the top of his hat and he's ready for hanging on the tree.  

UPDATE:  I researched the info on the little porcelain vase with the flower and I did score a nice find!  The artist was Hawaiian. Her name is Dorothy Okumoto (now deceased) and it's signed and numbered.  There's a nice array of photos of her porcelain pieces on a Pinterest page here. Woot!

Monday, December 3, 2012

New audiobook release -- a Christmas story!

My current audiobook narration of Christmas at Alpine Village by Maralee Lowder was released today on Audible and Amazon.  If you're looking for a fun holiday listen that is short (less than 1 hour), this book is for you.  Edna, new owner of the Alpine Village lodge in a tiny California town, is determined to win the annual prize for Best Business Christmas Decoration.  Each year that she doesn't win, she becomes more determined to nab the honor.  With the help of her friends, both human and canine, there is almost no limit to what she'll try.  (Based on a true story!)

Hope you enjoy listening as much as I did recording this one.  It can be purchased here at Audible.  Cheers!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Small Business Saturday Shopping (& yard sales)

Duane and Linda and I all like shopping at small locally owned businesses.  Not that we don't like department stores or malls but we like to support local merchants.  We decided to shop and eat at only small local places yesterday -- mostly in Duane's neighborhood -- and, yes, that did include a few yard sales, too.  We decided to hit the yard sales first since some of the stores hadn't opened yet.  All three of us found things at the yard sales.  I bought  some DVDs and (my cool scores) an old metal/cardboard matchbox featuring Allegheny Airlines DC-9 VistaJet and a cigarette holder.  Although I don't and never have smoked, I thought
there was something neat about the cigarette holder.  It reminds me of Lucille Ball on "I Love Lucy" whenever she was play-acting as a vamp.  It's part heavy stiff cardboard and part some type of resin.  But it also has advertising on it -- "Furs by Gaylon.  Create Warm Friends.  Ardmore, PA."  I would also never wear fur but this is vintage stuff we're talking about here.  I think it'll look neat inside my living room glass display table with other 'finds' and gifts. I also nabbed a full skein of pretty variegated yarn that I'm going to use for some items for The Humble Stitch Project. 

Duane found a ceramic pitcher, two attachments for her mixer, and some books.  Linda found a movie she wanted so none of us were empty-handed even before we hit the local stores.  We walked through Sherry's YesterDaze shop first.  It's always fun to pop in and see what she has among the tons of items she carries.  Apparently, she had a very busy day the day before, on Black Friday, which was a pleasant surprise.  Linda bought some lovely vintage embroidered handkerchiefs from Sherry.  After doing some window shopping, we hit a new store that we'd never been in before called Cleanse.  It's an apothecary type store and they were serving champagne to their customers.  They also had the sweetest dog, a Shar Pei, who allowed himself to be petted.  We all found things to buy at Cleanse.  Besides handmade soaps and lotions, etc., they also carried really cute Christmas ornaments.  Linda and I both loved the 3-D pinecone ornaments made of wood and each bought one.  Linda also bought a painted wood star ornament and some cleansing items.  Duane purchased some darling make-up items.  This is a store that we'll definitely return to when we shop.

We were all ready for lunch by then so we decided to hit Nicko's Diner.  We sat in the "Elvis" booth and had a great lunch.  Next weekend we plan to go to a huge arts and crafts sale being held in a suburb of Tampa near where Linda lives.  I will, of course, report back here.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Semi-Annual Parking Lot Sale

One of the stores that my friends and I like to check out is in Duane's neighborhood.  Sherry's YesterDaze is a cool vintage boutique that features a little bit of everything from jewelry to housewares to furniture and clothing.  Twice a year Sherry has a sale in her parking lot where she puts out items from her store and also has other artists/merchants/friends set up tables.  There's always a great variety of stuff so we always try to make these sales.

Linda's buys.
Today, Duane and Linda and I hit the sale a little after 9am.  Linda and I both bought stuff for ourselves and as gifts.  She bought a "Life" magazine in terrific condition that was published after President Kennedy was assassinated, a fab enamel bowl, a folk CD, a pair of bottle top candles and she got a great deal on a vintage 'moonbeam' clock.  L.L. Bean sells new versions of the clock but Linda scored this vintage one for a lot less money in working condition.  She also bought a pretty signed sketch of a cat that she plans to frame. She and I both also liked these woven bracelets made by children in South Africa.  Beautifully made in bright colors, they can also be used as bookmarks.  I bought three for my three nieces in their various favorite colors and Linda snagged one, too.  I also bought a cool little china dish made in England by Staffordshire with an outline of Charles Dickens on it.  I've put out a few little dishes that I've come across and like in my guest bedroom for people to use as coasters. 

My buys.
Then we hit a couple of yard sales that we happened to pass on our way to get some coffee.  We were waiting for the store that Sherry's husband, David, owns to open at 11am.  I've mentioned A Modern Line a number of times on this blog and all three of us have purchases from this store in our homes.  I bought a bark cloth pillow that goes great in my guest room on the sofa bed.  It picks up the colors of green and yellow in the room.

Another fruitful morning with good friends.

Mr. Dicken's dish.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My latest recording -- a new mystery available on Audible

My latest recording has just been published on Audible.   Edited for Death by Michele Drier is a mystery told mainly through the eyes of the narrator, Amy Hobbes.  Amy is the managing editor for a local newspaper in a small town in Southern California.  She and her best reporter, Clarice, are covering the death of a U.S. Senator and World War II hero when a couple of other deaths in the area appear to be linked in some way to the Senator.  All of the victims had ties to the local hotel that the Senator's family owns.  Pretty soon, Amy, who is also aided by a Holocaust survivor and her old friend (and, now, new boyfriend) Phil, gets in pretty deep as things begin to heat up.

It was an enjoyable experience 'playing' Amy for this book.  She's smart, savvy, and independent but finds herself involved in a dangerous situation.  I believe that Michele Drier has a sequel planned for Amy which has an approximate due date of Spring, 2013.  In the mean time, you can get to know Amy Hobbes by purchasing Edited for Death here on Audible.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ready for The Humble Stitch and a Fashion Show Birthday Party

My buddies Linda and Duane and I have a box ready to ship to The Humble Stitch Project this week.  We have caps, scarves, fingerless gloves and squares for Knit-A-Square to be made into blankets.  You can find out more about both projects by clicking on the titles.  We also have a nice selection of extra skeins of wool and acrylic yarn that we're sending for other stitchers to use to help out.

I'm particularly proud of my first broomstick lace scarf.  It was really fun to make and I plan to make more of them.  I chose a pretty mocha brown for this one and made it approx. 6 feet long.  I may make the next one a little wider so that I won't need to make it quite as long.  I just wanted to make sure that it would be warm enough for the lady who wears it.  I looked at a number of sites while trying to learn how to work with this stitch.  The best instructions I found were at this site: Speckless by Heidi Hengel.  She has her own wood 'pins' that she uses to make her lace.  I used a size 35 wood knitting needle to make my lace.  Heidi's easy to follow steps, complete with pictures, really helped me and I wanted to point anyone her way who might like to learn this stitch.  So pretty!

Now, for something completely different, I attended my niece Ava's 6th birthday party last Sunday and, as usual, my sister Carol (Ava's mother) pulled out all of the stops.  The theme was 'A Fashion Show' and the guests, along with Ava, modeled outfits on a runway built by Ava's dad and a friend.  Carol made all of the decorations and the food including the fashion doll cake and the cupcakes.

The tables set for the party.

Cake and cupcakes

Included in the activities, before the 'fashion show' began, Carol had set up three different 'stations' for girls to 1) have their nails painted, 2) have makeup applied and 3) have their hair styled by three lovely girls who were all part of 'Salon Ava' -- yes, my sister actually embroidered that on their aprons with her sewing machine.

Ava having her hair 'done' at the hair station.

A guest having her nails painted.

There were also tables set up with flower shaped sandwiches and cheese doodles for the party-goers to have for lunch.  And, there was a candy table with tiny cardboard purses for each girl to fill as she liked with the various candies on the table.

The 'fill-your-purse' candy table.
Ava's big brothers, my nephews Sam and Ben, were able to make it home from college to attend the party.  Sam also served as 'emcee' for the fashion show.  He entertained us with a little Bobby Darin while we were waiting for the girls to start coming out.

Big Brother Sam as Emcee
Ava's Runway Sign

Ava's entrance.

Ava posing.

One of the guests strutting her stuff.
Finally!  Time for cake and cupcakes.
Ava opening presents.
Mommy helping Ava read the cards.
Big Brother Ben wondering, 'How did I get here?'
As usual, the kids had a great time and took pink or purple gown shaped plastic bottles filled with candy and small toys home as party favors.  Carol never does anything half-way.  I was so tired, it's taken me a week just to blog about it.  Heh, heh, heh.   I wonder what Carol has planned for Ava's 7th birthday...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Seminole Heights Community Yard Sale

Yesterday morning, Duane, Linda and I hit the community yard sale being held at various houses and places in Duane's neighborhood.  This included a church sale and a Friends of the Library sale, too.  We each found a few items along with meeting a lot of nice people and, best of all, we found more yarn to send to The Humble Stitch.  Duane bought some figures that light up along with some books.  Linda bought some books and a CD and I bought an easy primer on crocheting (with basic stitches and patterns) AND we came across a box of yarn -- almost all of it 100% wool.  It's a little unusual to see people selling wool yarn in Florida.  It's mostly cotton and acrylic.  The lovely lady I bought the yarn from only charged $1 for the box and wanted to let us have it for free when Duane happened to mention that we were buying it to donate or make items for The Humble Stitch.  I insisted that this lady accept the dollar.  She was already practically giving it away.  Oh, and I found something else for George this time.  A nice Vivitar zoom lens with it's case for only $4.  It's in excellent condition and George can add it to the lenses he uses for his photos.    

After a few hours, it warmed up outside and we were getting pretty tired so we ended up at Starbucks for some refreshing iced coffee and treats.  Great time to gab and relax at the same time.

We did have one other treat (for me, most of all) when I spotted a classic Mini in the driveway of a house we were passing.  Linda was nice enough to get out and take a picture for me to post.  This one reminded me of Mr. Bean's car.  Steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car, driving lights and in beautiful condition.  Obviously someone loves this Mini as much as I love mine. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

I hate to paint but love the results AND an Amigurumi Angel Fish

I've been meaning to redecorate our guest room for several years now and I'm finally in the process.  I finished repainting the room yesterday so the worst part is over.  The rest will be fun stuff -- decorating, etc.  The walls in the room were white so I chose Benjamin Moore's Spring Bud -- a lovely green to cover the walls.

I'm using some yellow in the room, too, and the trim is all white with large white closet doors.  This color really pops against the white and I love the way it turned out.  Then, because I follow
the wonderful blog Young House Love, I discovered that the designer Nate Berkus was releasing a line for Target.  I would
have realized it eventually but you really do have to be fast on your feet when designers license items for Target (thank you, Sherry of YHL!)  I checked online and found that the Target closest to me had two items that I wanted for the guest room.  (Ironically, they turned out to be the same two items that Sherry of Young House Love  also purchased for her home!)   The tortoise shell, which even George loved, looks gorgeous against the green wall.  I also purchased the white urchin to place on a mahogany side table.  
I plan to hang botanical themed items and probably some of  George's nature pics to finish off the room. 

Tomorrow I'm hitting some estate sales with my buds, Duane and Linda.  I may find something else for the room then.  On Sunday, I'm attending my niece, Ava's, 6th birthday party.  My sister, Carol, always goes all out when she throws a party -- her daughter and both of her sons have reaped the benefit for their birthdays.  This year the theme is a fashion show.  Big brother Sam will be home from college to 'emcee' the show.  Should be fun.  I blogged about Ava's party last year here.  I'll probably post photos again from this year's 'do.
Oh, and, of course, I had to make something for Ava to go along with what I bought for her from the store.  This year I made her an Amigurumi angel fish.   Makes a nice stuffed toy for her bed.  The pattern can be found here.

After this weekend, it's back to work.  My next audio project is a sweet, funny and short Christmas book. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Horror Book & Free Short Story on Iambik and Amigurumi Candy Corn

Iambik Audiobooks is currently offering a free short story by Jon Papernick called My Darling Sweetheart Baby narrated by John Greenman.  You can listen here and also read an interview with Jon Papernick.  Iambik also recently released a new book in the horror genre -- perfect for this time of year.  Horror Story and Other Horror Stories by Robert Boyczuk is narrated by Alex Foster.  This is a collection of tales described by James Grainger, Rue Morgue Magazine here:  "Boyczuk builds up his hauntings and often gruesome metaphors and imagery from the base of his stories' human relationships, which imbues his fiction with an uncanniness that mimics the feeling of being trapped in a maze-like dream. Readers need not worry, however. The horror here is very real—Boyczuk just wants you to have a little fun finding it."  You can purchase this book directly from Iambik for $6.99 here.

Of course, I never let Halloween or any 'kid' holiday pass without making something for my three young nieces who are now 6, 5 and 3 years old.  I decided to make them a piece of candy corn (out of yarn, natch) using an Amigurumi pattern offered free from Lion Brand Yarn.  It can be found here.   Since they're rather small, I decided to crochet a chain using the orange yarn and attach it to the top of the candy corn so the girls can wear them as necklaces and then they can later be hung as decorations.  I didn't forget one of their favorite candies, either.  Each of them will also receive a tube of Halloween M&Ms in their packages.  

On the recording front, I have a mystery now in the processing stage and will be starting work on a psychology textbook and a fun contemporary Christmas book soon.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A (Monday!) Estate Sale

Well, this was a first for us.  My friends and I have never been to an estate sale held on a Monday.  When I saw the ad for this sale I knew right away that it was near where Duane lives.  The time for the sale (which was actually held Monday-Wednesday) was 3pm-6pm each day.  This was too good to pass up.  It wasn't convenient for Linda to take time from work so Duane and I headed over to the address and got there a little early.  Very few people showed up due to the odd time -- which is not a bad thing.  The house was an old one.  Built in 1919 and surrounded by a white picket fence on a corner. 

The woman having the sale was a little emotional because this was the house she grew up in.  Now, with both parents gone, she had to sell off what she and her sister chose not to keep and then sell the house itself.  The only problem we had was that almost everything we pointed to or asked about wasn't for sale.  This was on our Monday visit and this poor woman was tired from packing plus she had flown in from out of town to take care of this.  I did pick up a cool old camera for George.  He's always telling me to look for cameras and photo equipment so I took a chance on this old Kodak.  Well, I did something right because his father had the identical model and George had wanted it but was never able to find it after his dad died.  So he was a happy camper.

There was a small painting that I asked about but the seller became teary again and said that her mother's best friend had given it to her mother.  By the way, there were oil paintings on the walls downstairs and upstairs in the house painted by this lady's father.  Many of them were quite nice-looking (he had won awards for some of his art) but, understandably, the seller and her sister were keeping all of those.

Duane and I told her that we'd come back on Wednesday.  The seller admitted that she might be singing a different tune by then once she was less emotional and just wanted to get stuff out of the house.  She was right.  When we returned on Wednesday afternoon, she was definitely ready to let more of the items go.  I asked again about the little painting and made her an offer.  She accepted it and now I have something else I plan to put on the wall of our guest room when I begin my 're-do' (beginning with repainting the entire room first).  Duane also came across a very pretty Christmas angel that looked like glass but turned out to be a type of resin.  She bought it for her sister who collects angels.  At that point, we thanked the seller and wished her luck on the sale of her parent's house.  She was in much better spirits and seemed happy that she had a little more cash and that these items will have a good home.

OK, officially, now the only day of the week that we have NOT attended an estate sale is Tuesday.  Who knows what next week will bring...