Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Pumpkin-Shrinking Fever!

 Maybe it's a reaction to the COVID shutdown and sadness, but suddenly the crafting/make-do/primitive world has gone crazy for shrinking down pumpkins in the oven, and turning them into hard decorations that evidently will last at least a year!

There is a huge amount of experimenting going on, and even while you're reading this, thousands of pumpkins all across the U.S. are being baked at this moment. All I can say is, before you even start, go get one of those fantastic fried Pumpkin Creme Pies from McDonalds, because if you don't, the smell of baking pumpkin - and none to eat - will drive you to distraction.

The fried pies are great. Better than my pumpkin pie, and it's delectable.

The consensus so far: Use small pumpkins. Use orange ones. Be sure to bake them on a cookie sheet/shallow baking pan. Jack O'Lantern pumpkins seem to do better than pie pumpkins, according to SOME. Don't undercook, and don't overcook!

They are cooked like Lowrider Pumpkins: Low and slow. 

They harden as they cool. Some people are cutting faces into them (don't cut out a nose, because it weakens that side of the pumpkin too much and you get a crack or a collapse), but some are just cutting two small slits in the bottom of whole pumpkins and making no face. Some haven't even cut the slits in.

Here's a screenshot of some instructions for your very own "shrunken" pumpkin:


    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Time to Gather and Save Those Seeds

Autumn is here, and it's time to start checking your flowers, trees, and bushes for seeds to trade, sell, or keep for next year's crop!


Of course, seeds are the result of the two parents, just like any offspring. If your pink zinnia was fertilized by the neighbor's variegated red and white zinnia, the offspring will probably not look exactly like either parent! In fact, with zinnias, the offspring of unlike colors is usually a light mauve-purple hue. It's pretty, but there isn't much variety. 

But some seeds are more likely to be "true" than others. They are more likely, in other words, to look like the plant that bore them. Around here, the red yucca is grown heavily, and is much more likely to be fertilized by another red yucca than the less-often-grown yellow yucca. So, you can gather red yucca seeds with confidence here.

I like to gather the seeds of the Texas Mountain Laurel especially. They're shown above. Not only are they gorgeous put into a jar or glass, but they will be true to the parent, due to the lack of other laurels growing in the area. They fertilize each other; no interlopers to change the strain! Native peoples once drilled these into beads and used their coral color to great effect in jewelry. The seeds are extremely hard and durable.

Make sure any seeds are completely dry before you store them. I suggest storing in paper or glassine envelopes. MANY folks who store seeds just hand-fold a little "envelope" and put the seeds in it. Then put the envelopes into a jar with one of those little silica gel packs that often comes with medicines or food, if you have one handy. If you don't have a gel dessicant handy, consider putting a handful of plain white rice (NOT COOKED RICE) and a tablespoon of salt into the jar, then a piece of paper towel, a coffee filter, or cupcake liner so that the salt is kept away from the seeds completely (or bundle the rice and salt in a coffee filter and secure). Place the little paper or glassine envelopes in and put the lid on.

Store in a cool, dry place, as they always say. Now you're ready for next year's planting!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Using Magnets to Simplify Decorating Atop Storage Boxes and Baskets

I have a variety of baskets and decoupaged cardboard boxes with hinged lids that I use for storage. I like how baskets look on my tables, desks, and dressers, and they keep the clutter hidden. What I didn't like was how the little decorative items I put on top of them had to be moved and replaced each time I opened the lid and put something in or took something out!

I decided to order some "rare earth" magnets from Amazon. These are the super-strong magnets that can even be used to hold metal tools onto the garage wall. 

I thought that if they were that strong, they'd be strong enough to "grab" and hold my decorations on the top, and allow me to lift the lid without them falling off.

And, it works! Here's what I do to allow me to have decorated storage baskets AND not have to bother with holding or moving my decorative items:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Mixing Fall Scented Wax Cubes

I love to have my wax warmers on several hours each day. I have four, so that the house is covered. I don't always have the same scents in all of the warmers. For the front of the house, I usually have a "welcoming" scent so that guests immediately thing "homey" and "clean." I might have florals in other the other areas.



This time of year, I like to go all-out autumn, with fall scents in all the warmers. I've discovered, since moving away from an absolutely wonderful candle shop in Texas, that I can't quite get the scents I want in my new city. But I've discovered the idea of mixing different wax cubes together to make combinations that mimic the scents I miss.

I found a great Yankee Candle scent at Walmart. Usually, Yankee Candle is a bit pricey, but these were at a good price, maybe because it was in Walmart. It's Sparkling Cinnamon, and if the name doesn't grab you, the scent will. It's like a big sniff of "Red Hots" candies! Also at Walmart, I found Better Homes and Gardens Rustic Woods, and what I think must be an unlabeled Wally brand that says Cozy Bonfire.

I have been combining the Rustic Woods and Cozy Bonfire together. It smells like walking in the woods when the ground has turned hard, and Thanksgiving is around the corner. It almost brings tears to my eyes! There's something so poignant and nostalgic about the smell.

I'm also combining the Sparkling Cinnamon with Rustic Woods. It reminds me of my Granny dropping Red Hots into a cup of hot apple cider for me, both of us sitting and looking at her little wall fireplace in her tiny shotgun house in north Louisiana. Fifty years ago, and I can just smell and taste it again.

Do you have a favorite scent combo for fall?

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Fall Fun

 This week marked the beginning of fall. Unusually for this area of the Southwestern desert, cooler temps arrived, too. It's time to realize that Hallowe'en is on the horizon! Are you getting ready? Will your locale allow trick-or-treat during these strange COVID-19 times?

I've already started decorating. I have two wonderful 4-foot-high "Pumpkin Men" in the front courtyard, standing sentinel on either side of the gate. I need to dig the candy corn and purple lights out soon. Inside, the mantel is ready and the pie safe and freestanding primitive cabinets and china cabinets are decorated. This year, less is more for me. I had to downsize dramatically during the last year, moving from Texas to New Mexico. I could bring very little, but it is enough.

To help YOU get ready for a prim and rustic fall, I'm posting this free printable banner that reads "AUTUMN." It takes only two pieces of cardstock to make. I hope you enjoy it. Remember, even if you have no printer at home, you can put the file on a thumb drive and take to an office supply store for printing, or even have it printed off remotely at most Walmarts.

Click HERE (A-U-T) and HERE (U-M-N) for the two sheets. DON'T just click and save the images, because Google reduces them and they will not print correctly.


    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tissue Paper Pom Poms from Vintage Sewing Patterns

I am careful about taking apart or using up vintage materials in order to make other crafts. Sometimes I want to leave a vintage item intact, as it's a piece of history. Other times, using the item lets it be seen and appreciated as part of a new whole.


I bought a big box of vintage dress patterns at an estate sale a few years ago, and since then, I have made many a pom pom out of the previously uncut aged tissue. They always get compliments. The best compliment of all is seeing the idea used by others.

To make these pom poms, you'll need an old tissue paper pattern and a piece of wire. You can use chalk on the edges of the tissue, if desired. I usually keep them plain unless it's a retro tea or party and I need to match the theme color of the honoree.

Take about eight to twelve layers of tissue paper and lay them atop one another. Cut out a rectangle -- the size depends on the size you want your finished pompom to be. I usually do somewhere around 15 inches on the short size and 20 on the longer side for a typical pom, or thereabouts. Sometimes I will make two smaller ones (perhaps 10" by 12" rectangles) and a larger one for a grouping. 


Begin to fold them up, along the LONG side, a bit over an inch, perhaps 1.25" folds for the large poms (and slightly less than an inch for the smaller poms). Keep folding them the whole way. You can think about if you want flat ends, pointed ends, or rounded ends at this point, once all the sheets have been pleated. Cut the ends at an angle like a rooftop if you want the points or a semicircle if you prefer the rounding.


Take your bit of wire (or string if you have no wire) and twist it very tightly around the middle of the folded "fan." Leave long ends if you have enough wire, so that you can hang it. Start pulling up a single sheet at a time from one side towards the middle wired area, then the other side. Be gentle but don't worry if something tears, because it will not be noticeable and these are supposed to be rustic anyway. I find I have good luck in slipping my fingers under the pulled up pieces and pushing carefully, kind of wiggling along the pleats, to make the lifted sheets as near to the middle as I can get them. Do one side, then the other.


You can also squeeze or bunch the pleats once half the sheets have been pulled up, before you then flip it over and start pulling the sheets towards the middle from the "other" side. 



Now the pom pom is ready to be fluffed. Just use your fingers to spread, smooth, place or bunch the pleats as needed. 


Simple, and simply pretty!

Do you have a favorite reuse/make do/simple times craft?

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Holly Rose

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Rustic Printable Tags Just in Time for Fall

Here just in time for fall is a sheet of prim and simple hangtags with autumny motifs. I hope you enjoy them.

Use the LINK HERE to download your own copy for your own use. Print out, cut out, grubby them or scent them if you like, and decorate with them, or sell them after printing and prepping. Do not sell the digital file.

Don't click and save the image. Google makes it too small and it won't print correctly. It's just so you can see the tags. Use the link above!

I love autumn. It's my absolutely favorite time of the year!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Pumpkin Spice...BOOKS!


This is a cute and thrifty way to decorate for autumn. Many of us have old paperback books that we don't want to reread, and that aren't really in good enough shape to donate. With just a few minutes of effort, they can be turned into charming pumpkins and apples, ready to decorate a book shelf, table, desk, or any niche, really.


First, get the book and remove both covers and the spine cardboard. With a few pages together, start from the beginning of the book and cut the pages to the shape of either a half-pumpkin or a half-apple. After your first pages are cut (they are still attached to the spine), you can trace where they lay on the next page, and pick up a few more pages and cut them along the line you traced. Continue doing this until all of the pages are cut.

Using hot glue, glue several pages lightly at the front and back of the book. Now fan out the book, bringing the front pages around to meet the back ones. Using those two "clumps" of pages, glue the together very well.

You can ink or chalk the edges of the pages orange for the pumpkin, or red for the apple. Add a little stem with a bit of a twig, and a paper or silk fall leaf if you have one, and you're all set to display!

Thank'ee for stopping by.

Kind regards,

Olde Dame Holly Rose

Friday, September 18, 2020

Free Witch's Boot Pattern

Halloo Prim Friends. Today we have a free "Witch's Boot" design I created many and many a moon ago. It can be used as a pattern for sewing, or for painting on a rustic sign, perhaps. I used to make these from muslin, stuff them very hard with cotton, and then paint with acrylics, sand, and grubby them up. Sometimes I would leave the top open, and stick drieds and artificial bittersweet down into the boot, like a vase.


Click HERE to get the pattern.

Crafts are seeing quite a resurgence due to COVID-19. And I think that can only be a good thing! 

This design should print out on a piece of letter-sized paper. You can always drop by an Office Depot or Staples and get them to print it off there, too, especially if you want to enlarge or reduce it. Just put it on a thumb drive and take it with you to the store. I do believe you can do it all online now, too! Even have it printed off at Walmart!

Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you enjoy!

Remember, click the LINK above to download. The image is just for reference -- it will not print out correctly.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Hollyhock


Thursday, September 17, 2020

Making Paper Rosettes for Decorating


How To Make Paper Rosettes

Paper rosettes are a particular love of mine. I like to make garlands and swags of them for each holiday, and I also use them in place of bows on gifts. I even like to sew seed beads onto them. 

Making paper rosettes is easy, especially if you use a diecut machine and one of the gorgeous European dies. But those dies and machines are expensive. There's another way to make them using a "Score Buddy" or other scoring board (I use Martha Stewart's). You can also carefully fold a strip of paper yourself, like a fan, and use it to make a rosette.
You will need: Paper to score and fold, hot glue or fast-grab glue, and cardstock circles (plain or scalloped). You can also use things like cardboard "milk bottle" caps, if you like. In fact, that would be very cute.

Don't doubt yourself - you can do it!

 Use a scoring board and score every 1/4 inch on a strip of paper you've cut about 1.25" tall (max) and 8 to 8.5" long. Use cheapie wavy-edge scissors or somesuch and cut along one long side for a "fancy" side. To fold the strip of paper by hand, and rub your thumbnail along each fold to crease it strongly. Unfold gently and use the wavy-edge scissors along one long edge. Or, to avoid any of this folding, scroll down to the very bottom of the post and find out about the "Cheater's Rosettes!"


When making a rosette, you may find you need to SNIP OFF one pleat - just one - not a whole section, just one pleat, before you begin. This lets the ends of the rosette "nest" together when you glue them. You'll be able to tell if a pleat needs to be snipped off or not when you go to glue the ends of the strip together.

Now you're ready to PLEAT, or accordion-fold, the rosette. Just like a fan, bend one section in, the other section out, all the way down the length of the paper, along the scored lines, or if you have no ScoreBuddy, as evenly as you can.



Plug in the glue gun or the glue pot.
Put a piece of waxed paper down to work on. If you have no waxed paper, you can use tinfoil in a pinch but it isn't as good.

Once the rosette is firmly pleated, let it expand and GLUE the ends together by tucking the last section under the first. It will be really hard to see how this rosette is joined, once it's finished! Very nice! Use super-grab glue, or a tiny bit of hot glue  - I LIKE THE HOT GLUE BEST BUT I ALWAYS BURN MY FINGERS SO WATCH OUT.

When just beginning, I would suggest glueing with super-grab glue and LATER going back and reinforce its hold with a thin line of hot glue on the back of the rosette.

Gather the rosette together. It will look like a bottomless cupcake holder!

Now, press down with a finger on the middle while kind of holding it up. See the photo, words can't suffice!

You can choose whether to push it so the FANCY edge is out, or the PLAIN edge! In the picture above, I have the fancy edge out.

Get one of the cardstock scalloped circles ready. Make sure you are working on the BACK SIDE of your rosette. You may have to flip it over, like a pancake. Of course, it will take this opportunity to try to unsquish itself. Just push it back down.

Put a dollop of hot glue on the back at the center of the gathers, don't force it down into the hollow, and spread it around maybe nickel-sized, and pop the cardboard scallop over it, making sure it's centered. HOLD IT till the glue sets SOMEWHAT, not all the way. But DON'T BURN your fingers like I do - use a pair of pliers or scissors or something to hold the scallop down. 

SUPER TECHNIQUE you won't see elsewhere: Don't let the glue grab all the way or your rosette won't sit right. It needs to be flipped and pushed down so that it hardens and is flat on the backside.

So flip the rosette over, very carefully. It might try to unfurl on you and pop off the scallop - just push it back down into the hot glue. Don't panic! Now you have the RIGHT SIDE UP.

Now squeeze into the center of the RIGHT side of the rosette a dab of glue, less than you used on the backside. Just have a drop sticking up over the hollow. Place the cardstock scallop you want to use on top, centering it. As before, push down gently until the glue grabs it. You want the rosette to sit firmly on its backside.

This picture below is just showing me reinforcing the "join" with a line of hot glue.


Now comes the fun part!

You can add a smaller circle atop the stabilizing cardstock circle. It can be cardstock or paper.You can add "gems" or doodads now, too!

Below photo is talking about a kit I used to sell, so you can see how sweet the rosettes look when in a bunch.


Some Hate These Cupcake Rosettes, Some Love These.

You can make them yourself, too. Go get some pretty colors or designs of cupcake holders, the paper or even the metallic kind.

Carefully cut the bottom off, and make sure you don't have any bits of bottom left. You want to remove the bottom completely and have the pleated part only. The pleats are not sharp and the paper tends to be soft, but the end result is still pretty.

You'll have to SHORTEN the liner. Cut along a pleat -- now you have a long strip. Cut off at least an inch, I always cut more. Glue the edges together, just like before. Push it down, secure it, etc, flip it, etc. 

They tend to be more "primitive" than the fancier rosettes, but they are fun to make and fun to let young teens and pre-teens help with. And coupled with your fancier, larger rosettes, they look great as a swag or decorating a tree as ornaments. I like to decorate with a combo of my "best" rosettes and the "cheater" ones.


    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Hollyhock and Her Merry Needle

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Tennessee Spinner Gourds and Wee Kettle Gourds

If you've lived in the South, you've likely seen tiny Tennessee Spinner gourds and Kettle gourds. These wild native gourds range in size from a grape to a pear, and dry to a hard shell. They look like miniature birdhouse gourds, and they are fun to craft with. I'm waiting to be able to gather the last of the wild gourds to ripen here, the Buffalo Gourd, which is almost perfectly round and about the size of a tennis ball, but they won't be dry until after Thanksgiving.

Do you live in an area where you can gather bounty from nature? I envy those who live where the bittersweet vine is, although I hear it can be invasive in gardens. But its berries just sing of autumn!

Earlier I decided to string a few Spinners and Kettles and make a mini-swag. They're easy to drill, especially with a cordless drill. Then it's just a matter of threading floss, twine, or wire through the holes. I used a simple black beading thread (very strong) and some strips of black-and-tan gingham cloth between them (from Hobby Lobby), tied in a simple knot. 



This prim country Gourd Swag is available in my Etsy shoppe! But it's also very easy to make your own. I like a rustic, raggedy look, so I just tore the gingham into strips. Gourds are naturally irregular and imperfect, so they look great in primitive decorations. If you don't have a drill, you could probably use a little pocket knife to twist a hole into each side of a gourd -- just be careful! I have done it before with a drill bit just held and twisted, before I learned how to use a drill (love cordless drills).

I think swags made from gourds and grungy wire would look great, too! And wire is so easy to thread through the holes.

I've seen some adorable dioramas made from gourds, too. I think I'll hold back a Kettle gourd or two and try that for Thanksgiving or Christmas. 

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Hollyhock



Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Welcome! And Some Free Printable Primitive Pantry Tags

Many years back, I ran a popular blog that featured chit-chat, old-time lore, homespun crafts, obscure recipes, and most of all, graphic designs, both for printing and for decorating blogs, which were very popular at that time, before the rise of Facebook.

Downsized by COVID, I am restarting a blog. Oh, I don't mind if blogs are relics of the past; I love the past. I don't see the past through rose-colored glasses, but I find it enchanting, interesting, terrifying, and worthy of attention. While I don't spend all my time noodling about "things that were and are no longer," I do try to draw ideas from "then," to incorporate into the "now."

I picked up my needle again after almost 40 years, and am enjoying rustic cross stitching and old-time freehand embroidery. I just start stitching away to make my designs, and will be offering my cross stitch designs in the future. For me, it has to be fun to stitch, or it starts to be tiresome. I think that's why I love rustic, primitive designs: There's something very wild, free, and vital about primitive work!

I hope to post each weekday, as I did before, and I hope you'll join me here. Each week I post a free printable. I enjoy making them, and I hope you will enjoy them, too. And to be totally transparent, I hope you will stop by my Etsy Shoppe "MerryNeedle" or my selling page and see if anything strikes your fancy. I miss many things about work; I enjoyed working, but most of all, I miss that it allowed me to contribute to animal rescues (my passion). I hope to earn enough from my little venture to be able to donate to the rescues who do so much for our animal companions.

To SAVE a printable, CLICK on the LINK below. This free printable is provided in PNG format.

Here's this week's printable, some general pantry tags.

Don't save the image below. It's just a small version to show you what the tags look like. Use the links or your tags won't print correctly.


    Kind regards,

    Olde Dame Hollyhock


Click HERE for PNG version of the free Pantry Printable Tags


Drop by my Etsy shoppe, MerryNeedle, for kits, patterns, and printables!