Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Working through the mess-mess

Whew!
Finally got the bulk of the Christmas supplies put away.
The 50% or more Christmas merchandise is all in one spot.
One display window has been redone.
The other is in progress.
Yay!

The shop will be closed the rest of the week.
Jessica is home for the holiday...so I'm going to take some time off to spend with her.

I'll try to keep posting though.
Jessica & I have some plans I want to tell you about...something you may want to do as well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Here a mess, there a mess, everywhere a mess-mess!

The store is a mess!
I thought about taking photos, but I don't want to show it to anyone.
Obviously, you can see the main store if you come in - the holes left after Christmas shopping.
The display windows that are practically bare.

But the back rooms....
I don't want to look at them, let alone let anyone else look at them.
One is full of odd & ends Christmas supplies.These will be used to decorate trees & wreaths for next year.
But right now, they are strewn all over, covering every surface. I hope to have them packed neatly away this afternoon.

The other room is full from our "junking" trip yesterday. We drug everything in last night, now it needs cleaned and priced.

The upstairs is filling up with stuff that's been around too long. It's being pulled off the floor, and taken upstairs. We'll have a big clearance sale this spring to move that out.

Our basement at home is filling up with craft projects. When I change to the new hours in 2011, I will have more time to work on those.

Everywhere I look, there's a mess!
Well, our house is clean. One of the advantages of hosting Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


Another Christmas is almost here!

It's down to "Crunch" time - but try not to worry about it.
What gets done, gets done. What doesn't, doesn't.

Enjoy the season anyway. Even Santa has a few last minute problems:


Take some time to relax. Take time to watch this:


George and I love this movie!
It's the 1984 version with George C. Scott.
It's our favorite version.

Well, okay, it's the only version we've seen.
But, we love it, and watch it every year.

We hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Smile when you think of loved ones who are no longer here.
Smile when you remember their laughter.
Be thankful they were a part of your life, & that they still live on in you.


Remember our Christ Saviour every day - not just at Christmas.


Take pictures.
Listen to details.
Keep laughing.

And from our house to yours.........


Okay, okay.........so that's not really our house.
Though we have stood on the sidewalk outside the fence and LOOKED at that house.
Does that count?

Anyway.
From our house to yours.........MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

God Bless Us, Every One!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Country life = Creative wrapping

In our house, we have a man who wraps at least 1 thing a year a little differently.
His name is George.
He is a Creative Wrapper.

Usually I am the recipient of his creativity.

I came home the other day and found this:


That would be a box with toilet paper rolls attached to each end.
And, he couldn't find ribbon, so he used green baler twine to tie it off.

A few days later, Kevin and I decided whatever George could do, we could do better.
So...........


We built George his very own factory. 
The West Stack leans a little, that's ok.
It's hard to build a sturdy stack out of cut down wrapping paper rolls when you're giggling.

Our packages come with lots of notes too.
Kevin giggled the whole time he was writing a note from Santa to his dad.
And then he said, "why can't we just wrap presents normally like everyone else?
Then he giggled some more.

Yes, in our house at Christmas time even a strapping 22 year old landscaper/farmer who stands at 6 foot 2 or so can be reduced to giggles.

I love Christmas.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cookie cutters and Sugar Cookie recipe

It's fun to sort through old cookie cutters.






What's that jumbled mess in a bag?
The number's 0-9 cookie cutters.

At our house, we usually only make roll-out sugar cookies once a year.
It just doesn't feel like Christmas without the cookies made from my mom's recipe.

I don't do much Christmas baking other than these, but these are a "must have".

Sugar Cookies

Cream together in large bowl:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup butter shortening OR 1/2 cup margarine & 1/2 cup regular shortening
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

In another bowl, stir together:
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt

Add flour mixture to creamed mixture. Mix well.
Chill several hours till firm.

Roll out small portions of dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8" thickness.
Cut with cookie cutters. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 - 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Cool, then ice.

Icing

Stir together with a spoon until smooth:
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla

If desired, stir in a few drops of food coloring.

If you don't want to ice them, before baking, you can add some sprinkles or colored sugar.
Sometimes we do a few that way, but for the most part, we ice them.
I divide the icing between 2 bowls, and color one red, and one green.
It's Christmas after all!

When Jessica and Kevin were little, they always had a cold at Christmas. We would give them each a little bowl of icing and a few cookies. They did their own, and George and I wouldn't get their colds!



We have lots of pictures through the years of us icing the cookies, but this is the only one I have on my computer. This was the last Christmas we had with dad. He died in his sleep just a couple short weeks later. But we have great, great memories of that last Christmas. The laughter we shared later that evening when we were playing a card game will live on forever!!!

In the picture (starting at left) is friend Bonnie, my dad, son-in-law Brian, Jessica and George.
There's some deep concentration going on there!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CHRISTMAS SALE

Lots of Christmas items are now half off, or more.
Not all, but lots.
Good time to stock up for next year, or decorate for this year, or give them as gifts!

Ben Franklin and baskets

Ever since the time changed, and it gets dark so early, I go home in the evening, and do.....not much.
In the summer there is so much to do outside, but now.....I go home and do....not much.
I think I mentioned that.

What happened to all that energy I had? Apparently the dark zaps it away.
I wake up most mornings around 5 or 5:30. I need about 8 hours of sleep a night.
If I try to stay up till 11, the simple math shows I'm going to be tired the next day.
For whatever reason I can pull that off in the summer. But not now.

Sluggish is not the greatest feeling in the world.
Sitting in the recliner to watch TV because I feel too lazy to do anything else isn't the greatest feeling in the world.
Falling asleep in the recliner soon after sitting down & getting a sore neck isn't the greatest feeling in the world.

Obviously, something needs to change.

I have discovered if I just give up and go to bed around 9, I feel much better.
Where is it written that adults have to stay up till 11?

So, I've made a very important discovery...Benjamin Franklin was right!
Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!!!

I'm expecting the wealthy and wise part to kick in any day now.

Now, for the baskets:


What do Ben Franklin and baskets have in common?
I have no idea.
I'm sure Ben Franklin liked baskets.
Doesn't everyone?


Monday, December 20, 2010

Country life = Almost ready

I had a very sucessful "get ready for Christmas" weekend.

The shopping is 97.4% done.
The wrapping is 94.7% done.

Our "big" present to Kevin this year is that George & I are paying the installation fees for hi-speed internet in his house. I don't know how we're going to wrap up the technician who is coming this week to install it. I'm thinking he is probably going to want to go home and spend Christmas with his own family, so I don't think he will let us keep him in a box.

The Christmas cards are in the mail as we speak. I heard on the news this morning that today (Monday) is the biggest day of the year for the post office. The report said that their volume is up 40% today.

When did I mail mine? This morning. Sorry Mr. Postman (Ms. Postwoman). I didn't mean to add to your burden today. I appreciate what you do. I really do.

The house is 81.2% clean. Still working on that. Sorry family, it won't reach 100%. But maybe we can shoot for low to mid 90's.

Oh - don't worry, I didn't spill the beans on Kevin's present. He knows. It didn't seem right to let someone in his house for a couple hours without his knowledge.

Merry (there's only a few days left to get ready) Christmas!!!!!!!

Ugh!

Of all the times to have camera problems!

The Monarch Choir from John Marshall High School came in a little while ago, singing carols. To have them stand before you and sing in the small confines of the shop is truly something to hear. Such beautiful voices!!!

After they sang, they crowded in for a picture, which wasn't an easy task. There's not much room for that many girls in big winter coats to manuever. But they struck a pose, I snapped a picture, and they left, still singing.

I rushed to the computer to put their picture up here and on facebook. I put the picture card in..........and got an error message - PICTURE CARD ERROR.

Nooooooooooo!!!!

Girls.............come back!

But, they were gone.

Shoot.

I took a random picture to see what would happen, and it happened again. So, I formatted the card, and now it seems to be fine.

Shoot.

Well, anyway, my sincere thanks to Mrs. Reva Icard and the Monarch Choir for coming. I truly, truly appreciated it. And we'll try for that picture again next year. Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More tabletop Christmas trees

I've been decorating more table top trees, & taking quick pictures as I go.

I need to do some "tweaking" on the pictures, but no time for that now. The trees look much better in person, but maybe you can get some idea of what they look like.










Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vintage Warm Morning stove

How fun would this be for a porch decoration?


Not a great picture (batteries were dying), but you get the idea.
I can see this as a porch centerpiece...surrounded with pine in winter...pots of flowers in summer.

Or out in the yard.
Or, tucked in the corner of a den or living room.
Or.......

I thought about painting it black.
Or red.
Or, rust is cool.

So many possibilities!!!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Beware of scams

Recently, I started listing some furniture on Craigslist, under furniture by dealer. For contact info, I didn't show my actual e-mail, but instead used the anonymous email Craigslist provides you. I thought that would help prevent scams, but I was wrong.

I got a couple e-mails that looked suspicious, so I deleted them. A few days ago, I got another one that made me wonder, but it was legit looking enough that I responded. The fellow wanted to know if a cupboard was still available, and if I could send him more photos of it. I replied that it was still available, and he could come in doing regular business hours to see it, but I could not provide more photos.

He replied back (in broken English) that he'd buy it. He wanted me to tell him the amount; then he'd send me a cashier's check for more than that. This was to be his commission, as he was buying it for his boss. Then, within 24 hours, I was to send him a check for the difference, and he'd send a shipping company to pick up the cupboard.

Yeah, right.
That went straight into the delete folder.

Since I don't have the mind of a scammer, I'm not sure how this works. I assume the idea is that I'd take the fake cashier's check to the bank, but it would take a few days for them to see that it was fake. By the time they discovered it, my good check would already be in the scam artist's filthy hands, and I'd be out. 

How disgusting is that?
It's a scary world out there.

I've also heard that there are fake $10's and $50's going around locally.

If these scammer's would only put their "skills" into honest work............
Sigh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vintage Christmas tree

I'm don't know how old this 3 foot tree is...I have the original papers that came with it, but there's no date.
If I were to guess, I'd guess 1970's.


I grew up on a small 'cut your own' Christmas tree farm.
How fun it was to see folks come pick out, and cut down their own tree.
Dad always warned them that trees had a way of "growing" when you took them in your house.
They didn't seem that big in the field...but once in your living room, they were suddenly huge!

Dad called artificial trees "bottle brush" trees.
At the time, it was bit of an insult.
I chuckle now when I order artificial trees for the store, and some of the most popular trees are indeed called
Bottle Brush Trees!

I wish he were still with us to share in the irony, and to chuckle about it too.


End table and checkerboard table

This end table came from a "junking" trip. It's very sturdy, and rather heavy.


As you can see, the finish was in bad shape.
Black paint and sandpaper to the rescue............


Much better! There's a drawer in the front. The back has a large opening for a stack of magazines.

While I had the black paint out, I did a semi-rescue on this checkerboard table.


You can't really tell from the photo, but it has some "issues". George bought this at an auction without looking closely at it.

It's a nice sturdy table, but the checkerboard part has separated from the border part. On one side especially, there was a noticable gap. Also, there were several water rings etc. from drinking glasses.

It would be hard to fix the gap, & it wasn't really worth it because of the water rings.
So, I decided just to paint the border black. That hid some of the water rings, & now the gap isn't nearly as visible.

There's still a dark water ring right in the middle...we'll just call that "character"!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Removing labels

I remove lots of old labels, price tags, tape, and sometimes sticky stuff I'd rather not look at close enough to identify. The best thing I have found so far to use is lighter fuel! I use Ronsonol lighter fuel, it comes in a yellow bottle. I'd think you could buy it anywhere that sells lighters.

I pick off as much of the label as I can, then I use an old rag or a paper towel to dab just a little lighter fuel on the sticky stuff that's left behind. It usually wipes right off, though you may have to do it a few times if the goo is being stubborn.

A couple times it took off the finish, but most of the time it doesn't seem to hurt it. It's best to test it on a hidden spot, just in case.

And remember, lighter fuel is of course FLAMMABLE, so be careful where you use it!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Country life = snow and accidents

This is a picture of the parking lot behind the shop this morning:


As you can see, there is just a skiff of snow.

This is a picture of our lane this morning:


The track through the snow is about 5 inches deep.
The drift on the side is about 2 feet deep.

There was a better picture of the drifts on out the lane, but it was cold & I didn't want to get out again to take the picture.

Why am I showing you this?
To give you an idea of why I sometimes close the shop due to snow. Many, many times, there is not much snow in town, but 5 miles from town, up on the ridges, it's a different world!

To further illustrate my point, I thought I'd share these pictures with you:




 

This is what happened to our PT Cruiser 2 years ago.
George came in from midnight shift and said, "the roads are bad, maybe you better close the shop today"

I said, "I'll be fine, I can't close the shop just a few days before Christmas"

Obviously, I should have closed the shop.
Instead...
I slid on the ice.
I hit a tree.
I hit a fence.
I totaled the car.
I almost hit a house while totaling the car.
I sheared off a natural gas line while totaling the car.
I prayed that there wouldn't be an explosion from the gas line.
I prayed for the workers who had to crawl under the car to stop the gas leak.
I spent the next 2 years paying for a new car.

(Did I mention that we had just paid off the PT Cruiser when I totaled it?)

And...........
I had to close the shop that day, because...
I had totaled the car and had no way to get to the shop, even if I could have got my legs to stop shaking enough to open it.

The moral of the story?
I now close the shop when it's that snowy.

Had to learn the hard way didn't I?

Oh - I wasn't hurt in the accident, just a little sore.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Country life = Building a chicken coop

We were looking at pictures last night of Kevin building a chicken coop this past fall.
When I got to this one, I started laughing.

Check out the cloud behind him.

I told Kevin he is supposed to be building a chicken coop, but he's really just blowing smoke!

Pillows

We just got in more pillows - all handmade right here in Moundsville...





The stitchery is done on an embroidery machine, then the pillows are sewed together.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cinnamon Gingerbread ornaments


These little cinnamon gingerbread guys smell so good!
These were made just a couple weeks ago, but I have some at home that Jessica and I made when she was a little girl. I put them on our Christmas tree every year, the rest of the year they are packed in a tin canister.

And guess what?
Close to 20 years later, that heavenly cinnamon fragrance is still there!
Of course, not quite as strong, but it's still there!

I suspect the key is storing them in the tin canister.
Opening that canister every year releases the fragrance...and the memories.



Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking for ideas

As stated in red at the top of the blog, & detailed in the FAQ's at the bottom of the blog, the shop will be making some big changes in 2011. To get ready, I'm doing some "clearing out". We have lots of inventory that's been hanging around too long. I'm in the process of packing it up, and this spring we're going to have a giant clearance sale. The plan is to have it UPSTAIRS - I'm excited about that, we've never had the upstairs open. More details on that will come in 2011.

That will leave lots of holes to fill. By being open shorter hours in 2011, I'll have more time for crafting, and for "junking", bringing in more vintage & antique items.

So I'm wondering.......

What would you like to see in the shop? I'm looking for ideas. What type of crafts do you wish I carried? What antiques are you looking for? Obviously, I can't promise to carry what each customer is looking for, but if several people mention the same thing......then maybe it's something I should think seriously about.

Feel free to leave a comment here. (Don't worry, I only see what you want me to see - you can leave your name, or remain anonymous). Or, send me an email at countrylanecrafts@comcast.net. Put Ideas in the subject line. Or stop in and tell me at the shop. Seriously, I'd like to hear your ideas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Some "new" old stuff

Love, love, love old crocks...


And old benches


We have 4 of these chairs


This little child's ironing board works just like moms!
It folds up, and has 2 heights. Unfortunately, 1 leg is cracked, so it's wobbly.
The long box would make a great shadowbox.


Wood box, sad iron and miscellaneous


These pictures are BIG! Like you would buy in a furniture store. Where oh where am I going to display these?


I'm not normally a big fan of  blonde furniture, but I like the legs on this table...


Just what every woman needs - she puts her feet up on this shoe store stool, and her husband gently puts her shoes on her in the morning. Well, a girl can dream can't she?


We got some other things too, another old fashioned popcorn popper, bar stools (they need some work),a box full of glass insulators, a coffee table (I may distress it) and a few other treasures.

How to Peel Farm Fresh Hard Boiled Eggs

I just posted a tip for peeling our farm fresh eggs when you hardboil them on our  Facebook page , and thought I'd share it here as well...