Friday, January 22, 2021

A Little Love Banner Free Printable

Here is a thrifty one-sheet banner to print that spells out "LOVE." Might be cute printed out, maybe grubbed on the edges, or sweetened with mica or metallic ink, and tacked on a shelf edge or across the top of an armoire. 

I had the pink version up on my old blog, and have added a tan and black raggedy version.

Use the links to make sure you get the full, uncompressed file, stored in the Google cloud. 

I'm still working on my Strawberry Bunny cross stitch designs. I've got the second one nearly stitched. Where I slow down is translating the actual stitchery to chart form. I dread that part! I like the stitching part best. Of course, I remember when charts were made using graph paper and an old Underwood typewriter!

We had our first foggy day of the year today. It's a rare event and was very exciting to those who have lived hereabouts their whole lives.

Pink Link

Tan Link

diy cardstock banner valentines free freebie printable digital

free printable valentines love banner diy

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Get Ready for Valentine's Day with These Free Tags to Embellish

It's not too early to begin the Valentine's Day crafts. Not with how time flies by so quickly! It seems I barely get in gear and the holiday -- any holiday -- is upon me. 

Here are some little tags to embellish. Each sheet prints out on a regular letter-sized piece of cardstock or paper.

One set is just plain, waiting to be cut out and embellished by your scraps, buttons, and bits. Punch a hole and add some twine or ribbon. LINK!

Free diy valentine cards designs printables
One set is already "decorated," but certainly it could be fun to add on some lace, rhinestones, string, flowers, G L I T T E R (or mica, I have a jar of it somewhere around here), or what have you. Now I am second-guessing the glitter idea, although I have so many pretty glitters. I just recalled that some scientists think it very bad for the environment. I do hate to think of some earthworm biting down on a piece. I don't think they can spit it out. Or a plankton swallowing some. Maybe I'll just use mica from now on. LINK!

free Victorian valentines valentine's cards tags to print out
One page is old Victorian images, to be cut out and glued on with whatever you have on hand, too. I enjoy fussy-cuts but not everyone does. I found I liked them very much once I had the right scissors (slim, small ones, very sharp). Does anyone remember the awful elementary school scissors of yesteryear? Impossible! Those rounded tips, and such poor machining, with the blades wallowing around a loose rivet. They chewed the paper, not cut it. Yet we managed to create many a pretty thing with them. In fifth grade were were allowed to have the "pointed" version. Not much better, but we felt very grown up. LINK!

free printable victorian vintage clip art designs diy valentines valentine's
Use the links, please, so that you get the uncompressed files. Blogger compresses large files, and sometimes they won't print the right size. The links are stored on Google Drive, safe. Get them while they're hot, because I might pull the blank ones down after a week or so.

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame - Not Always Merry, but Always Olde

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

It's Good to Be Cross Stitching Again!

Energy, time, and inspiration all in one place -- rare for me! I too often let myself be weighed down by, well, weighty matters. The concerns are real, but sometimes I can break out of the Worry Dome and feel free enough to breathe, to create, without guilt. 

I have been having a wonderful time the past few nights, stitching away to please myself, creating a little series I call "Strawberry Bunnies." I probably will put the charts up on Etsy, but frankly I don't care if they sell or not. Maybe that's why I'm having such a great time with them! 

I had years and years of having to produce saleable stories and designs when I was a writer and a graphic designer, before I tried my hand at teaching. It took all the joy out of art for me, and I'm only just now recovering the fun of creating without an anxious eye out as to what others will think. My husband tells me there is a saying in Spanish, "Los que derĂ¡n." It means, "What will they say? What will they THINK?" but the saying is to rebuke those kinds of thoughts. It's to give confidence and take away the power of that worry. 

So, I'm having a ball with my bunnies that have somehow crossed with strawberries! I hope your day is filled with fun and whimsy, too. Hope you like the Sneak Peek. I hold my cloth scrunched up and don't use a hoop, usually. So, wrinkles! I am adding much more to this design, whatever catches my fancy. Fun!

etsy shop themerryoldedame cross stitch designs 2021

Strawberry Bunnies TheMerryOldeDame themerryneedle on Etsy cross stitch charts

Kind regards,

Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

Monday, January 18, 2021

Finished Wall Garland from Cardboard Scrap for Valentine's Day

I finished my little cardboard hearts garland (blog post HERE about sewing cardboard hearts). It is very quick to do. I deconstructed some inexpensive trim from Hobby Lobby and used the flat ribbon part of the trim to glue the hearts on, and the frizzled threads to further embellish the hearts. It's very quick if you use hot glue. I always have my trusty magnifying glass (second picture) nearby. I can't remember if it came from Hobby Lobby, too, or Michaels, or Tuesday Morning. It is metal with chippy, creamy paint, prim-looking.

DIY cardboard paper hearts wall garland with trim

magnifying glass paper valentines hearts garland hanging

Glue the hearts along the ribbon or string by using two points on the back of each heart, near the top but just slightly below the notch of the heart. That way, the ribbon or string will not show between the upper humps of each heart, but will still lie nicely against the wall.

do it yourself inexpensive Valentine's valentines heart garland hanging

I use map pins on my walls, each painted with a bit of acrylic paint to exactly match the wall colors. That way, they almost disappear when viewed.

paper cardboard scrap hearts easy wall garland

Inspiration and time finally coalesced and I am busy cross-stitching a little series of what I call "Strawberry Bunnies." Sometimes, I have to give myself permission to create without worrying about what others will think of my ideas! Tomorrow I'll post a sneak peek of the first chart as it's being stitched. It is such a lift to be cross stitching again. I can barely wait until "stitchin' time" each evening after the chores are done.

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Two Little Words: Remember Me

I have a small collection of autograph books from long ago, five in all, and that includes one from my childhood, a gift from a kind aunt. I have an early Scholastic paperback with verses to copy, too. In the 1960s, autograph books were having their last hurrah. These weren't books for collecting signatures of the famous; they were sweet little books signed by neighbors, school friends, teachers, and others who were part of a child's world. 

Sometimes someone would just sign their name, but usually, there was a sentiment or brief poem penned onto the page. In viewing some of the thoughts, it strikes me how very rigorous the upper primary grades and junior high grades were. Mixed in with the humorous verses are lofty, elegant thoughts with elevated vocabulary. 

It also reminds me how popular puns were, and how poems in general were more a part of life. 

vintage copyright-free forget-me-not postcard

The lovely "Forget-me-not" plant is featured on many pages, and in many forms. I love the blue of that little harbinger of spring! A hand-drawn bloom graces a page in 1943 that also includes a jesting insult ("You have a shape like the B-19" - a particularly rotund bomber).

page from old autograph book 1930s

yours till niagra falls scholastic vintage book

cute and funny autograph book vintage sayings

autograph book verses and ideas

One issue of the old "Reminisce" magazine had an article about autograph books. There was a haunting verse written by a young man before he left for World War II, not to return alive. It read:

"You ask me to write;
What shall it be?
Two little words:
Remember Me."

I do my best to remember those I love who have passed. And of course, God remembers us always!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Washing Tinfoil, Using Margarine Tubs as "Tupperware," and Sewing Pretty Cardboard

I still do many of the make-do type of things my grandmother did. If "tinfoil," which I guess we now know as aluminum foil, is not very soiled after use -- for example, if it was just used to shield some baked squash from getting too brown -- I wash it and put it into the warm oven to finish drying. 

If you peek in my fridge, you'll think I eat an awful lot of margarine and am afraid of running out. There are little tubs of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" sitting on every shelf. The real tub of margarine is always kept in the little butter area on the door! Everything else is holding bacon grease, leftover black olives, baby carrots floating in chicken broth (for the plump doggies to snack on) and so on. 

diy vintage cardboard valentine's valentines hearts make-do thrifty

Maybe this was common in the 1960s only where I grew up, but we had wallets, coasters, collapsing coin holders, and recipe-holders sewn from pretty cardboard. Many department stores placed blouses, shirts, and so forth in lightweight cardboard boxes, usually printed with the store name or initials. Others had fancier boxes with all-over patterns, and the five-and-dime had stationery boxes that were just divine. I remember some gorgeous shoe-boxes as well, back when all shoes were expensive. 

diy coral blue cardboard hearts for garland

My grandmother would desconstruct the printed cardboard boxes and cut out pieces for useful items, then sew them. Many times, she would sew through a double-thickness of cardboard, with two different patterns, so that the item was "lined." But for some items, it was just a single thickness with the pretty side of the cardboard "out." Sometimes she'd rub beeswax onto the cardboard to "seal" it and make it more durable. Sometimes she used crochet to connect the pieces. Until it fell to dust, I had a sweet basket she had crocheted from the fronts of Christmas cards.

diy depression era make do cardboard hearts sewn

In keeping with that tradition, I have been making both flat and stuffed hearts to make into a garland for the wall. I used part of a lovely old cardboard gift bag that a friend from India gave me years ago. Coral and blue aren't the usual Valentine colors, but they go very well with my Southwest home, and in my stash of collage materials I had paper flowers in all the right hues. Most of all, I just love make-do's. My mind is so happy and engaged, full of memories of my grandmother, when I'm doing the same handiwork she did so long ago. 

I wonder if anyone else has unusual and extremely thrifty little ways that were handed down to them or that they discovered?

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Saluting Homemakers of Yesteryear and Today

Oh, I know that those rose-colored glasses we sometimes wear when viewing the world in hindsight do not give us 20-20 vision, but I think there were some beautiful and worthy aspects of the past that have been lost. I'd like to see some features of olden days return. Not all! 

I am not very interested in Facebook, but the small amount I was on during the past two political dust-ups cemented my determination to never bring politics into my blogging! So this is just a peek at the past, not a hidden message as to political leanings. 

Maybe I will retype the creed and add "I Believe...homemaking should include cross-stitch, embroidery, crocheting, or other needlework each day." Ha!

Betty Crocker Homemaker's Creed retro housewife

Friday, January 8, 2021

Computer Goes Kaput, And Portable Sachet Making

It started with a funny little noise, a noise of the disk whirring when there was no reason for it. Then the whirring added a tick-tick-tick sound, and the screen would freeze, and a disk error would pop up and require the computer to go through lengthy "checks" which always ended with the funny noise and the tick-tick-tick sound.

And then, the computer was no least for now.

Luckily, I have an external hard drive I keep updated. But it is very difficult for me to do techie tasks and set up a new computer (as in "new old" computer). I had on hand three of the same kind of all-in-one computer that were the choice of a school where I taught a few years ago. I saw the abuse and bumbling the machines withstood, and got these three when another school district upgraded. Unfortunately, of the three, the one I was using is no more, but this "new" one might, just might, also last a couple of years. The other one is set up for my husband. For $50 each, I am happy with them. I have spent 10 times that on fancy computers that didn't last three years, and I'm not doing that anymore! I don't mind being behind the times computer-wise.

But it is working well enough! So now I get the treat of going to various blogs and seeing all the news and musings!

My husband had his first cataract surgery three days ago (on his birthday, no less). He really didn't want to do it, but now he is extremely pleased. I feel it will help him be more involved in life. He was getting very shut down...While waiting at various doctors' offices and the surgery center, I had plenty of time to do some stitching. 

diy easy heart lavender sachet cloth

easy do it yourself cloth velvet sachet for Valentines's day

Valentine's Day lavender sachets from velvet ribbon inexpensive

cute quick diy sewn sachets

sachets sewn and easy to make

I also made two little hand-quilted coasters out of cotton fabric scraps and cotton batting (shown under the sachets), and another scrap bag heart sachet, this one with beading. Then I started on some little sachets made from velvet ribbon. I just cut a length of ribbon, remove the wiring, fold and stitch. I'm stuffing them with lavender. I use culinary lavender, both to make sure it has no nasty chemicals and because I've noticed the culinary lavender seems stronger.

I like to chew a bit of it to keep my breath fresh. I use clove and fennel the same way.

Hoping everyone had a good week (and a non-kaput computer).

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Handsewn Scrapbag Heart

I can't face a house with no decorations when the Christmas decorations come down. It looks too empty and lonely, but I don't like to go full-Valentines too soon, either. So I go with what I call "early Winter" decor, which is natural and pastel tones on hearts and sachets mixed with cold-blooming florals like snowdrops. I also have some solar-powered "fairy lights" in jars (see end of post) I sit around the house. I was surprised that my husband is very fond of the jar I put where he can see it at night. He says it cheers him to see it if he awakens. simple sewn hearts from scraps

do it yourself small sewn hearts from scraps and trim

diy simple sweet scrap bag hearts

I like these scrap-bag hearts because they give me a chance to paw through my little snippets of materials and strange little bits of trim, beads, and trinkets. I find things I had forgotten completely!

These are very quick to stitch and they don't take much stuffing or lavender to fill out nicely. If you back them with a calico or with Valentines colors, you can flip them over and get double-duty from them. Use any small heart shape for a template. I think the naive style makes them so enjoyable to create. Wobbles and wiggles just add to the simple charm.

One of the solar-powered fairy jars: 

solar fairy lights in an old canning jar mason bell jar

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Monday, January 4, 2021

Prepare for Twelfth Night! And Some Broom Lore

the magi epiphany twelfth night

Twelfth Night is celebrated on the Eve of the Epiphany. There is argument among countries as to when to start counting down "the twelve days of Christmas." Some countries count Christmas Day as Day One. Some begin the count the day after Christmas. So there's a difference about when exactly is the 12th night.

We always used January 6th as Epiphany, with Twelfth Night celebrated on the evening of January 5th as it turned to the 6th. In New Orleans, Epiphany was also called "Three Kings' Day," and it was the first day of the Carnival season. Epiphany was the day the first King Cakes were served, and kept being served, until Mardi Gras.

So, in my former neck of the woods, Twelfth Night is celebrated the evening of January 5th, in preparation for marking the Epiphany. 

Most of my little celebrations are just me and the pets, as husband is usually resting or asleep. Back when most of my family and friends were alive, and my first husband was in graduate school, we had many friends, and Twelfth Night was loads of fun, with loads of company. With COVID now, many still blessed with friends and families aren't able to meet, either.

But don't let the lack of comrades stop your enjoyment of holidays or events! Enjoy them yourselves. Draw memories of good times to yourself, and enjoy.

For Twelfth Night, lay in a goodly supply of nuts to crack, especially walnuts, and make a batch of spiced cider or wassail. 

If you have the money, get some little pots of ivy to place around the den, or get any houseplants, really.

GET A NEW BROOM if you want to get extra luck for the year! Keep reading to find out where the new broom comes in.

NOTE: If you can't manage Twelfth Night, don't worry: CANDLEMAS is another very olde celebration. It has you taking down all decorations by February 2nd, and runs much the same way as Twelfth Night, but with even more plants to be placed around in anticipation of spring. So, if you are running late, just plan on Candlemas.

And, if you have no way to burn the items mentioned later on in this post, don't worry. Just remove them from inside your house and you're good! Out they can go, to the compost pile, the garden recycling bin, or the trash.

Back to the celebration:

All greenery and natural materials decorated with for Christmas need to be out of the house by midnight! Preferably, burned. But at least out! The swags and the wreaths and the popcorn strings and the buckets of fir branches and spruce and cedar and so forth, OUT. (I'm not talking the strung gourds or artificial materials or bird nests, just the trimmed greenery as is traditional).

(I now have to wonder here if maybe this was actually a fire-preventing measure dressed up as a fest.)

If you can, have a smorgasbord: Cheese, meats, crackers, boiled eggs, carrot sticks, dip, jams.

If you have a fireplace or stove, have a fire. Have it burning brightly once it's dark out. Twelfth Night is a LONG party - it goes to past midnight. If you have no fireplace, and you can SAFELY do so, have some candles lighted. If you are having a bonfire, get it ready. If you have no access to actual fire, play one of the fireplace videos!

During the evening, well before the stroke of midnight, feed the old greenery, twigs, cinnamon sticks, etc. from Christmas into the fireplace or bonfire, while snacking and talking. If you have a bonfire, I'd suggest throwing it all on at once, and get back inside and get warm. If you are lucky enough to have some teens at your fest, they will probably be "firebugs" and love to keep going outside and throwing things onto the bonfire.

If you are inside and have access to a pot-bellied stove or fireplace, it's fun to throw the things into the fire a bit at a time. My favorite thing to throw in is a pinecone. If I bought cinnamon cones before Christmas, I toss them in, too, since the scent's gone. Don't burn your cinnamon brooms, however; they are useful for the whole year.

Now, Twelfth Night is not for the faint of heart. It's a time for telling ghost tales and odd happenings. In olden days, so was Christmas Eve. Remember, in the Christmas song, “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” the stanza “There'll be parties for hosting / Marshmallows for toasting / And caroling out in the snow. /There'll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” In olden times, frightening tales were popular features of get-togethers. So let your tongue run freely as to strange sights and old strange stories (I have a million such), and if the feeling moves you, tell some new tales that pop into your mind. The key is to tell tales of wondrous happenings without being gruesome or awful - kind of like the "Sleepy Hollow" story.

As midnight nears, continue to crack open the nuts and eat them, throwing the shells into the fire. Pop popcorn and salt it well for luck. Talk of the year ahead, and sing old songs. Remember old times and old friends and don't let the fire go out before midnight.

Now, about your new broom: Well, get it ready. Get your OLD broom ready, too. At midnight, you are going to THROW that old broom out your back door, bristles first. That broom is now your "yard broom" and its indoor days are over. It took last year's regrets and errors with it. Out they went. Take your NEW broom and draw it thrice across the front door threshold, drawing in luck.

I often stay up most of the night, just dozing on the couch. I will have a small bonfire tomorrow, if the wind isn't blowing.

I hope you enjoy Twelfth Night, wherever you be!
    Kind regards,
    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Friday, January 1, 2021

2021: A Blogging Renaissance

blogging revival and renaissance 2021

I don't know about others, but I have been hoping for a resurgence of blogging and the blog world. I blogged during The Golden Age of blogging, way back in 2004 until the Rise of Facebook and the later platforms such as Instagram. 

I followed many interesting blogs, and attempted to follow my favorite "original" bloggers as they transferred their attention to Facebook and abandoned their blogs. It was a bittersweet experience; of the former bloggers I "kept up with" on Facebook, only two people seemed to post anything authentic. One of them, luckily, also generously keeps up her blog. And some of my favorite blogs morphed into commercial ventures so heavy with ads that I couldn't find the posts sometimes, and some former favorite bloggers began posting nothing but memes and sales (with no real content, ever). 

I fared a bit better with Facebook "groups." But I have seen so much bullying, and so much of it seems to be "Look at this, but look quickly, because this is going to disappear into oblivion very quickly" due to the speed of "feeds." Hundreds of posts and thousands of comments in the space of a day is too rapid and too shallow for me.

Now, I'm not judging. No one owes me anything, least of all heartfelt posts, interesting information, a slower pace, or real glimpses into their real lives. But I missed it.

When I decided to begin blogging again, I encountered a bit of pushback from some of the people I know. It was as if I had declared I wanted to go back in time or go join some Luddite commune. One person told me, "Blogging isn't even a thing anymore." I got warned not to mention blogging during any job interviews (ageism and COVID ate my job): "It makes you seem old." Well, I am old. So what? 

I think blogging is indeed a "thing," an important thing. A chance to share, to capture moments in time, to build a community, to keep crafting alive, to serve the idea of inclusion in a fragmented world, and to offer encouragement. It doesn't have to be any of those things, but it can be. And it can also just be anything a blogger wants it to be.

I didn't get (or need) gifts this Christmas. But I gave myself a gift -- permission to enjoy and value blogs, to take the time for old-timey hopping from blog to blog, and I'm already discovering little gems of beauty or humor or knowledge that brighten my days. In The Time of COVID, I think blogging is MORE important than ever! 

May 2021 prove to be a revival of blogs and blogging. The world is brighter because of simple blogs!