Thursday, December 31, 2020

Sweet DIY Sewn Paper Hearts to Brighten Winter

Many years ago, on my old blog, I made a post about sewn paper hearts made from loose pages of old books. It's a good way to make something creative out of books that are falling apart. 

Much of the country is having bad weather. These might be fun to make, tucked up snug and warm inside! Here in the desert Southwest, the skies were very pretty today and it was warm enough to go out without a sweater. But a cold front arrives tomorrow, they predict. I will be making more!

DIY sewn paper hearts Valentine's Valentines

I've picked most of the wording up from the old Penniwigs blog, but all of the photos that follow are new --- of some little hearts I made today.

TIPS: When sewing the hearts, DON'T PULL on the thread, because the paper will tear. Be very gentle when snugging up the blanket stitches. I also made one with a plain running stitch, to see how that looked. If the paper does tear a bit, don't worry. Just dab some glue on it and put some glitter over it.

You can make the hearts tiny or larger, depending on your taste and where you plan to put them.

Finally, on some, I decorated both sides. That way, I could get more looks from the same amount of hearts. I like plain ones, too. 

From the old blog:

On Pinterest, I saw a "Pin" that was very eye-catching. Someone had made hearts from the pages of an old book. They were written in a language other than English, in narrow columns. 

I don't have the same columned paper to use, so I used book paper. 

But there were no instructions on the post where the hearts were featured. I took a good look and tried to reproduce them.

They were slightly filled, and the edges were sewn with a blanket stitch after being darkened with ink or chalk. Then a little vintage cut-out was pasted to them, and what looks like "caviar" was placed around the cutouts in a heart shape. 

What's caviar? It also goes by the name "micro beads" and "micro balls" and I found it by searching for "nail caviar." It very much looks like little fish eggs!

So, to make these hearts, find a suitable book - I'd suggest an old hardback with decent paper. unfortunately used a very silly sci-fi paperback, and the paper was as porous and lousy as the plot. Hmph!



  • Cut out heart shapes using a template (you can make your own, or use those below). Pull or tear out four pages, trace around the template with a pencil, cut through all four pages at once. Continue until you have enough hearts cut out. Each heart takes two pieces.
  • Now ink the edges with a nice brown ink or piece of chalk. A Prismacolor colored pencil will also do the job quite nicely if you have no ink or chalk!
  • Sew a blanket stitch around the edges. When you have just a little bit still open, stuff a bit of cotton fluff or a bit of tissue paper in there, then finish stitching. I used the scissors to grab the fluff and push it in.
  • Print out some likely images, or get some old Valentine reproductions and cut out shapes or heart shapes
  • Glue to the middle of the hearts
  • Take your glue (I do like that Aleene's Fast Grab very much and Dollar Tree carries it here) and apply a thin bead where you want the caviar or glitter, and shake or spoon it over the glue very quickly. I used a small paintbrush to paint on the glue where I wanted the glitter or caviar.
  • Shake off excess.

  • You can print out and use these images if you don't have any scrapbooking paper or old book pages. Use the links so that they print out the right size! Images are stored on Google Drive so it's safe. 

    LINK<--- for the "printed page" image printable (from the cute website, The Old Design Shop) (see end of post)
    LINK<--- for the Valentine motifs printable
    LINK<--- for the heart shapes

    DIY sewn paper hearts to stuff for Valentine's Day

    do it yourself Valentine's day decorations paper hearts sewn with glitter

    themerryneedle Valentine's Day paper hearts sewn

    sewn paper hearts from book pages Valentines Day

    Glittered Valentine's Day paper hearts to make diy

    the merry needle Valentine's day crafting free printables

    free tutorial diy Valentine's Day hearts

    free printable tutorial for Valentines Valentine's Day sewn paper hearts to craft

    I think these look cute in a canning jar, a nest, an old bowl, etc. Anywhere! I stuffed mine with cotton batting but you could also put dried lavender inside.

    Thank'ee for dropping by. 

        Kind regards,

        The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

    free Valentine's images motifs for diy cards scrapbooking

    heart shaped templates diy

      from the old design shop website

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A New Year Is Nearly Here!

These holidays are at a full gallop now, it seems to me! Christmas Eve - whoosh! Christmas Day - whoosh! Feast of the Holy Family - whoosh! And now New Year's Eve just about a day away! 

Today I planted many amazing kinds of mint in my courtyard. I usually would not plant mint in January, but a kind internet friend sent me many kinds of mint sprigs for Christmas, after my husband inadvertantly ruined my mint beds. At 86, he has good days and bad days, and on the bad days, things like dumping the water softener's super-salty water onto my flowerbeds (and thousands of salt pellets onto the driveway) happen. So, my courtyard, at ground level, has been salted and ruined.This spring I will remove the topsoil and replace it with good soil. I grow most of my plants in fire rings (similar to stock tanks, but no bottoms), so they were spared. I have a thick layer of pine straw and juniper branches over the mint, so it is tucked in tight and I believe the mint will rest easy until warmer weather. Being in the southern desert, our winters are not onerous but it does freeze.

I calmed myself by creating some tags for New Years, featuring antique designs. I love to create digital items. I love actual hand-work, too, but sometimes it feels impossible to organize and begin such work. The computer is right there, ready to go, so I hop onto it and do some creating. With nighttime (and daytime) breathing problems, I am rarely asleep during normal night hours, so the computer is good company.

Use this LINK <---- to save the full-sized file. Blogger unfortunately compresses large image files in posts and then they don't print nicely, so don't just right-click and save the image. Get the real file stored on Google Drive.

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

free printable new year's new years tags diy digital

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Free Cute DIY Kitchen Gift Idea Printable

If you are in need of a thrifty and useful gift, consider printing out these little little 3x5 measurement equivalency cards and pairing them with a wooden spoon, a jar of spice or sprinkles, even some brown sugar in a Mason jar, and a favorite or interesting recipe.

You can punch a hole in one corner and put them on a ring or tie with baker's twine or raffia. I love thrifty, make-do gifts. Not everyone does, however; I was shocked (decades ago) when my own mother told me in no uncertain terms that she did not like handmade gifts after I proudly gave her a cross stitch creation and a jar of mulled cider spices I had blended. I believe it was partly a reaction to having been young during the Depression; my parents, and many of their generation, bore the scars of severe deprivation. They liked shiny and new, especially my mother, not reminders of lean times.

As always, please use the links so that these print out full size and are not the compressed files you see as images below.

Terra Cotta Tones Link

Mustard Tones Link

Turquoise Tones Link

free printable diy kitchen measurements

free printable diy kitchen measurements

printable free diy kitchen measurements

Thank'ee for stopping by. Almost Christmas!

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Monday, December 21, 2020

Last-Minute Free Printable To - From Tags

I was a bit shocked to go into a Walmart yesterday to grab a few last-minute Christmas decorations, only to find Christmas gone except for a few things in baskets by the garden section, and Valentine's Day candy and decorations where the Christmas items had been. 

Here are some free printable tags in case you find yourself in a similar situation. Free, gratis, no strings attached.

I remember a very elderly neighbor when my first husband was in graduate school. She lived a few doors down in what had then become a "student ghetto," one of the last holdouts in the entire area not to be a student or married to a student. She was generous in sharing little things she had, and she would never just say they were "free" -- she would say, "Free, gratis, no strings attached." I picked that up and have said it myself for about 40 years now.

I don't like to always be sighing over "the good old days," but I do remember the fun of shopping the last week of Christmas, and indeed on Christmas Eve. The stores were still full of Christmas things and the bustle was exciting. I don't know when exactly that retail began acting like Christmas was over before it was over.

In other news, I have yet to be able to do my embroidery this month, or last. Maybe in January. I have so many ideas for early winter and Valentine's Day.

And speaking of upcoming holidays, be sure to get yourself a broom (straw broom is best) before January 6th! You'll need it for Twelfth Night! Twelfth Night is actually celebrated on January 5th, the Eve of the Epiphany. So have it handy before then.

Click THIS LINK <----- to save a copy of the file below. I have it stored on Google Drive. If you click and save the actual image below, it might not print nicely, having been compressed and shrunk by Blogger.

free printable diy christmas tags for gifts

Thank'ee for stopping by!

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Friday, December 18, 2020

Simple Gifts: Dried Satsuma Peel

Heigh Ho Ho Ho, Christmas is nearly here. I finally finished up with surgical procedure after procedure last week, and am feeling like myself a bit again. 

The holidays seem to go by in a flash the older I get. And the older I get, the more old memories seem to pop into my mind.

When I was young, the winter holidays meant plenty of citrus where I grew up in the Deep South. My mother grew many different types in our yard, and we would also go buy them from the local groves. Satsumas and kumquats were always my favorites, while my mother loved the huge sweet green lemons that I have not seen since.

Bowls and baskets filled with citrus were on our table and counters during the Christmas season, often nestled in a bed of Loblolly pine boughs. The scent was wonderful and branches of kumquats looked glorious!

Nowadays, bags of "mandarins" are in most groceries. We called them satsumas. I buy them and eat them by the dozens during the holidays. 

Don't let the peels go to waste! Save the peels to dry and put in pretty jars to use during the year and give as gifts.

Dried DIY mandarin orange satsuma peels for simple gifts

Wash any mandarin or satsuma you plan to eat with dish soap, and rinse and dry thoroughly. Wash hands as well, and peel as usual, saving the peels. Using a small paring knife, scrape/cut away as much of the white pith as you can, just leaving the orange part of the peel. 

DIY dried citrus peel christmas gifts recipes

In the desert, we can just place the peel outside in the sun a few days, and have it dry. I usually do a combination of air drying during the day, and then placing in the oven at the very lowest setting, and baking with the door cracked open a bit until completely dry but not browned.

When dry, I place them in a clean jar along with an anti-oxidation packet of silica gel that I've saved from other food packages, such as come in beef jerky packages. You can also buy them. Sometimes I use a bit of coffee filter and wrap up a teaspoon of salt in it, then tuck it down in the bottom of the jar. Another small folded bit of filter goes on top, so that no peel rests on the salt directly.

Cap the jars tightly, tie on a simple ribbon, and they make a lovely gift. They keep their color well and their fresh flavor. I use them year 'round to mince and use in salad dressings and a citrus-oatmeal cookie we like.

Does anyone save peels to use later or dehydrate their own herbs or vegetables? My sister-in-law made lovely soup seasoning mixes with vegetables she dried and blended with spices, long long ago.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Gift Card Sleeves: Free Printable Holders for DIY Christmas

Last week was surgery week for me. Five surgeries, even short outpatient ones, in a row is draining! I feel like a very sore pincushion and look like one, too. Black and blue from stem to stern! After the third day, I got a bit lost. I'm not sure what happened to Thursday and Friday. I just know that now, instead of rest and magazines and pampering and daytime television, patients sit up in recovery, begin walking around, and keep up a schedule of walking every hour. It's evidently a lot better for us than the old way.

If you forgo sedation, you can even drive yourself home, to the pharmacy, etc. after just an hour's wait.

One thing I did notice in my few travels last week (to the grocery and the pharmacy) was that people were shopping like crazy. With stores just reopened this week in New Mexico, the shelves are being picked clean. We don't know if they'll be shut again before Christmas, so everything and anything is being bought. There are only a very few giftcards left, too, out of hundreds and hundreds per store. And for some reason, none of the little free holders are left. There are some rather pricey ones for sale, but that's not thrifty if you're on a budget. I love the fancy holders, but not the cost.

Here are two sheets of do-it-yourself printable holders for gift cards. You could also tuck cash into them. 

You can print them out at home or send them electronically to an Office Depot, Walgreens, or Walmart; in most towns they print them right there. Then you can cut out, fold in half, fold the tabs, glue, and the gift card holder is ready once dry. With the fancy dry-line adhesives, you don't even have to wait for them to dry.

The extra little card can be used or just discarded.

Use the LINKS to make sure you get the full-sized file stored "in the Google cloud." Blogger compresses and shrinks files and then they don't print as nicely. Better to use the "cloud" or "drive" and get the best file.

Use THIS LINK <----- for the old-fashioned holders.

free printable christmas gift card holders sleeves diy

Use THIS LINK<-------for the red/blue holders below.

diy christmas printable digital gift card holders sleeves

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Free Seed Packet Printable for Christmas! Digital Download.

If you like to gather and save seeds, and then share them, click on the link and download the free cute seed packet envelope to cut out and fold. It makes a cute gift and can even be placed in a Christmas card.

I have a small gardening area, so when I buy seeds, I have a lot left over. Be thrifty and divide up those specialty seeds among your gardening friends! I love to get exotic and rare seeds as well as heirlooms. My gardening buddies love them, too. This year, all of my Christmas cards have seeds tucked into them, some from gleaning and some from boughten packs.

Use the link to save the image, so that it prints out the right size and clarity.


free printable diy seed packet christmas

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Beauty All Around, in Unexpected Places

My location near the border with Mexico means things are done differently here. Our governor locked our state down tight, but our visitors from Mexico do not care and probably don't even know this. Their lives in Juarez are very difficult, in the best of times. And now, some are very desperate. Today when I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some things, I heard glorious music. I was surprised, because the piped out music is usually awful. But it wasn't coming from the store; it was a mother and daughter musical duo. The mother was dressed beautifully with a silver lamé overlay to her flowing pants, and played song after song on her violin. The daughter handled the amplifier and a sign telling of their plight. The sign was in English, but the pair had no English, so I used my awful Spanish to convey how lovely the music was. 

There is so little cash in our society now! The homeless, the Salvation Army kettle crew, and the wait staff are all feeling it. I try to carry some but it all can be distributed just within a single trip.  Today I had great luck, in that the violin player was still there after my trip into the store to get some cash. There was a bit of a wait to get into the store, as it was limited to 75 people inside at any given time.

I'm moving slow this week due to a series of surgeries I'm having. In the old days, such surgeries meant resting in bed. Now it means out you go from the surgical center, walk every hour, and don't use any sedation or pain killers if you want to keep up with your errands! 

I got a bit of a snippet of the violin music from inside the car on my way out. I'll try to post it here. I haven't posted videos before, so it's iffy whether it will work. I'll post a still picture, too. I was too shy to get closer, felt it might be intrusive. Here's hoping the video will play!

CLICK THE SECOND PHOTO and the video will play!

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Monday, December 7, 2020

Santa's Magic Key - Free Printable to Reassure Kids

Sometimes children become anxious that Santa will be unable to get into their home or apartment. They see their doors locked up tight at night, and most do not have fireplaces and chimneys.

I made this little printable sheet to reassure the kiddos. With the "magic key" tag left outside the door -- perhaps tied to the doorknob -- Santa can easily come in and leave the goodies.

When I taught in the primary grades, I had to be careful not to betray any information about Santa. My son was already older, and I had forgotten the angst some of the children felt about Santa. Some of the students had older siblings who would tease them about the veracity of Santa Claus and point out that they had no chimney for Santa-travel. That's when I started making "magic keys" for the students to take home - just old keys with ribbon tied on to hang outside the door and await Santa's magic touch. 

Print out the tags and either tape or glue on an old skeleton key, or fussy-cut one of the printed keys and affix. When Santa touches the printed key, it magically becomes metal, don't you know, and opens the door right up.

free printable santa's magic key

Please be sure to use the link to download the file. Blogger compresses large files, so the images in the post will be too small to print nicely. It's safe to download the full-sized image file from Google Drive.

Here's the LINK <------

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Friday, December 4, 2020

"Rompope" - The Eggnog of Mexico

I don't know if anyone has traveled to the Middle East, but one delightful aspect of the region (in olden days, anyway) was the number of almond-based drinks. 

Mexico, too, has a delicious almond-enhanced holiday drink. Yesterday I mentioned Ponche Navideño, but instead of that recipe, today I'll post one for Rompope. Rompope is actually more popular than the punch, although both are wonderful. But Rompope should come first, because it's first in the people's hearts.

Here is one old recipe. The main difference between Eggnog and Rompope is the almond meal. I don't know if many people will be making these elaborate Christmas drinks this year, due to COVID-19. They are labors of love that are usually made to celebrate our special guests. Many Yuletide recipes have expensive ingredients (especially so in olden days), and were only made for that special time or for weddings. With so many communities locked down, there isn't as much baking, mixing, and decorating as usual among many. 

You can right-click the image below to save the recipe.

Mexican Eggnog, rompope recipe receta

NOTE: You can substitute pre-ground almond meal for the freshly ground meal the recipe calls for.

Thank'ee for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy. Do you have a special drink for the season? I remember most fondly the Sherbet Island Punch my piano teacher would make for our Christmas recitals. As a preteen and then teen, I thought it most elegant.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Mini Wreaths in Action

Oh, today got away from me. I was trotting all day, so to speak, doing this, doing that. As all of you know, it takes a million small tasks to run a home.

Last year, after Christmas and on sale, I found a little set of mini wreaths at Target. I think they were intended to use as placecards, but I have used them otherwise. In the "guest bathroom," I have two soap pumps at the sinks, and each wears a little wreath. The others are tucked here and there into mole glasses in the old Mexican "china cabinet." 

mrs meyer's hand soap with little wreath on top for christmas

Just a simple touch to tuck them into glasses, but I see them in there. If you are wondering, mole glasses are the little drinking glasses that "mole" comes in. Mole (pronounced MOE-lay) is a rich Mexican cooking sauce usually thinned with broth and added to cooked, shredded turkey and served with rice or posole (what I call hominy). It is a deep, dark chocolate brown, and indeed, it does contain cocoa. It looks awful, and tastes divine!

Do you have little special touches around the home, too? Sweet little touches that might not even be noticed at first, but gladden your heart?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

"The Christianas, and the Stemming, and the Potsing, and the Schussing" in the SNOW! With Tom and Jerry Batter!

A movie I love to watch every year is White Christmas, with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen, and Danny Kaye. It's corny and a bit sappy, but I just love several scenes, especially when they are traveling via train, and a scene of a smorgasbord in the middle of the night in a ski lodge. I actually stayed at such as lodge 40 years ago. I think there are quite a few Hallmark movies out that attempt to recreate that cozy, wonderful feeling of being able to get up at 2 a.m. to wander down to the great room with its roaring fire and snack spread, snug in your flannel granny gown.

In the train scene, Bing's character is talking about skiing, before they launch into a lively song about "Snow." He speaks of  "The christianas, and the stemming, and the potsing, and the schussing" and "hot buttered rum, light on the butter." The "christianas" et al are all skiing moves, and who doesn't recall at least the Lifesaver flavor of Buttered Rum? 

screenshot of snow song in white christmas movie with bing crosby
"Snow" in White Christmas

There is another Yuletide drink that has almost disappeared, except in a few select areas, and that is the Tom and Jerry, basically a hot version of eggnog. No wonder it fell out of favor: There are a lot of steps to making it. If you go "junking" or antiquing, you might have run across a bowl and cup Tom and Jerry set, usually in Christmas colors and motifs. It's actually a BATTER/glop that contains raw eggs, used to flavor brandy and rum (or bourbon if you prefer), and here is an old recipe for it. Teetotalers such as myself can use hot milk in place of the water and alcohol:

Tom and Jerry Cocktail


6 eggs, room temperature, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream tartar
1 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
hot water
nutmeg for garnish

To Make:

  • Separate the eggs.
  • Beat the whites along with the cream of tartar until they are a soft meringue.
  • Gradually add the superfine sugar (can use regular granulated, too)
  • Continue beating until stiff meringue forms (but not totally "dry").
  • Place the meringue into a large mixing bowl.
  • Using the same mixing bowl that you mixed the meringue in, add the yolks and 1 cup of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat until light yellow and the consistency of frosting.
  • Add the spices. Mix for another 1 minute.
  • Fold the yolk mixture into the egg white mixture; don't stir, just fold
  • Using a clean mixing bowl to whip the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold into the egg mixture.
  • Fill a cup with hot water and 1 ounce of rum (or heated milk to fill the mug)
  • Top with a scoop of Tom and Jerry.
  • Garnish with a little nutmeg.
  • Serve (refrigerate leftovers).
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Free Printable Digital File ADVENT SET

Hello Bloggie Friends, I have a quick upload for you. It's little tags you can print and use for Advent. Numbers 1-24 and some other tags to add to make a gift of the set. I hope you enjoy!

I had a different post up but I'm switching it to tomorrow. I had forgotten today is December 1 until I saw another blog friend mention turning her calendar page over! Had a flu shot and have been kind of muddled and ill for a few days.

Here is a peek at what the little tags/cards look like, but use the link to get all the pages of the set. I sell this set on Etsy so ignore the watermarks, your files will not have them. The link is BELOW this photo:

 Advent Set <----click this

This is my first time uploading a "zip" folder, so I hope it works. Let me know if you have trouble. Remember that this link will Pop Up in a different window. If you have trouble, try to copy and paste this long linkie into your address window:


     Kind regards, 

     The Merry Olde Dame

Monday, November 30, 2020

Free Printable: Christmas Lanterns Tags, Retro Style

Here is a little printable set of Christmas Lantern tags to begin the week. I worked on several dozen image sets this weekend, including these simple tags. They are from copyright-free lantern images, mainly from Christmas cards. In the 1940s through early 1960s, lanterns were prominent in the card industry. I can remember a kerosene lantern in our Destin, Florida beach house. This was in the 1960s. We'd use it at night to walk the beach, looking at the sea denizens that had come ashore. We saw many strange creatures, with the most impressive, to my eyes, being the horseshoe crabs. We never tried to hurt or gather anything we saw. We were just looking and marvelling. 

I have seen on some Facebook and Pinterest pages that old heaters and lanterns are being used as decor now. My husband has two old railroad lanterns on a shelf. The big lanterns I've seen have red or amber "fairy lights" or "rice lights" in them, and it really does give a glowing look. 

Please use this link HERE ----> CLICK HERE <----- to download your copy of the tag file from the Google Cloud, if you care to. If you save the sneak peek below, the file will have been compressed by Google Blogger and won't print nicely.

I know I did something this past weekend, but most of it escapes me. Oh, chores, of course, but some crafty things, too. That's right, glueing mini-pompoms on some commercial Christmas cards, and starting on some beaded ornaments. Knew I did something. Came up empty on my fir branch/pine branch hunt, though. Did you do anything enjoyable? I'm working on my HTML coding to try to get "threaded comments" going, where I can reply to the interesting remarks left on the blog, but so far, no success.

free printable christmas lantern tags

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Friday, November 27, 2020

Overdying Floss with Coffee

I did a little experiment a bit ago. I had a bargain bag of variegated floss from J&P Coates. When I bought the bag, I thought it had a large variety of floss, but it turned out just to be triples of each color. I like bright colors in some moods for some stitcheries, and muted colors for other stitcheries, so I decided to overdye a set of flosses.

I just used regular ground coffee, and a low-tech drip pot. I made it pretty strong, and I pushed the floss into the hot coffee, stirred it now and again, and then took it out after about three hours. In retrospect, it was not long enough. It looked like a good, deep overdye, but when I rinsed the floss after letting it dry and "set," a lot of the coffee color washed out, too. So the effect is very subtle.

In the photographs, it's hard to see the difference between the overdyed floss and the regular floss (paper bands still on). In real life, the difference is more obvious.

Some needleworkers are adamant to never use tea or coffee for overdying, but I look at it a bit differently: I have seen samplers and stitcheries that are 200 years old, and they are intact, despite how the people of the day prepared the dyes and even the floss itself. They aren't disentegrated despite a lot of hoo-haw over acidic content or tannins. But everyone has the right to their own opinion. Some of the little things I stitch, like a simple pinkeep/pincushion, don't need to be preserved for the next 500 years. An elaborate stitchery, perhaps yes.

I might try walnut dye in the future, but I hear it gives a gray tone, not a brown tone. I go back and forth on whether I like muted yellow-browns, or muted cool grays.

I think I'm going to stitch up a Valentine's pinkeep and then overdye the entire thing. Perhaps. I like the look of the muted tones on a very clear pastel fabric, or clear tones on muted fabric. I'm not sure about both floss and fabric being muted. 

Do you like the look of muted floss in a stitching project?

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving and On to St. Nicholas Day!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving. Mine was very quiet. A bright spot was that the sickly little cat my son and daughter-in-law found a year-and-a-half ago, and promptly brought to me, ate mushed-up white turkey meat very, very well. I have to coax him to eat, and something he will eat willingly one day, he will refuse the next. Over seven vets now have not determined why he is so thin. We've tried so many tests and x-rays and ultrasounds. He is very happy and energetic, but I worry about his weight, even though he is a dastardly creature! 

Now our thoughts turn towards St. Nicholas Day! December 6th is his day, and the eve, December 5th, is when the children put out their shoes  (or a special "St. Nicholas boot") and leave food for his reindeer or donkey, in many olde countries. 

We don't have St. Nicholas in that form in the U.S., but we do harken to him in songs and poems where we hear about "Good St. Nick." He was evidently such a good man that he was later recognized as a veritable saint.

We also don't have Belsnickel, a very olde and strange gent. Many have heard of him because of the television show "The Office," where a character with a dour Pennsylvania Dutch background introduces the Old World precursor of St. Nick/Santa. The following is a summation from Wikipedia:

"Belsnickel is a man wearing furs and sometimes a mask with a long tongue. He is typically very ragged and disheveled. He wears torn, tattered, and dirty clothes, and he carries a switch in his hand with which to beat naughty children, but also pocketsful of cakes, candies, and nuts for good children.

"A first-hand 19th-century account of the "Beltznickle" tradition in Allegany County, Maryland, can be found in Brown's Miscellaneous Writings, a collection of essays by Jacob Brown (born 1824). Writing of a period around 1830, Brown says, "we did not hear of" Santa Claus. Instead, the tradition called for a visit by a different character altogether:

He was known as Kriskinkle, Beltznickle and sometimes as the Christmas Woman. Children then not only saw the mysterious person, but felt him or rather his stripes upon their backs with his switch. The annual visitor would make his appearance some hours after dark, thoroughly disguised, especially the face, which would sometimes be covered with a hideously ugly phiz [mask] - generally wore a female garb - hence the name Christmas Woman - sometimes it would be a veritable woman but with masculine force and action. He or she would be equipped with an ample sack about the shoulders filled with cakes, nuts, and fruits, and a long hazel switch which was supposed to have some kind of a charm in it as well as a sting. One would scatter the goodies upon the floor, and then the scramble would begin by the delighted children, and the other hand would ply the switch upon the backs of the excited youngsters - who would not show a wince, but had it been parental discipline there would have been screams to reach a long distance."

My family certainly kept the switch tradition alive. I often got switches (small flexible branches/long twigs) for Christmas, and I was often "switched" with them.

This is a modified representation of Belsnickel, straddling the fence between him and St. Nicholas. Note he still has his bundle of switches and a rather aggressive stance. For myself, I prefer the genial and gentle St. Nicholas!

Belsnickel St. Nick Pennsylvania Dutch Santa

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Remembering the Christmas Tree Lots of Yesteryear

I was very surprised to see in a friend's blog post that Christmas tree lots still exist in some big cities. With just one photograph, memories began flooding back. Why, it's been years and years since I remembered getting a Christmas tree from a lot. Some of that is because it's hard to remember, from a heart standpoint, when my family was full and living. There are so few of us left in my family of origin. And we had been a huge family, twelve around the table for supper. Now there are four and they are scattered over the globe. 

Christmas feather angel ornament

The tree lots had those hanging swags of lights, like a county fair. The bright smell of pine and fir was in the air. Sometimes, just like in the Peanuts show, there would be searchlights crisscrossing the low clouds that usually hung over New Orleans as the lots vied for customers. It seemed so strange and festive. And the sellers of the trees, hailing from Minnesota, were as interesting as the trees they sold. They were as astounded by our green and warm Christmastide as we were by their presence, their accents, and their talk of snow "back home." 

My last fresh-cut tree was bought almost 30 years ago, when I lived in New Mexico the first time. The area where the lot was set up is now unrecognizable, with a Walmart Supercenter sprawled over it. It had been raining, which is always exciting in the desert, and the lot was churned mud. I had a pair of knee-high wading boots on from my previous home, and I headed out to a cluster of Noble Firs when I bogged down completely. I could not pull my feet up, stuck fast and very surprised. At the time, I was still young and very thin, not even 100 pounds. To my relief but great embarrassment, one of the men at the lot slogged out to me and pulled me out of the mud -- but my boots were left behind. He carried me around, showing me the trees as if it's normal to have customers lose their footwear, and I picked one. Then he took me to the car, got it open, and in I went, socks still clean. But I never saw the boots again.

I wonder who still uses a fresh-cut tree? I'd love to, but even our hardware stores have stopped carrying them, except for potted Norfolk Pines. And they don't seem much like Christmas trees to me, even though we did have one on the porch in New Orleans for many years. At Christmastime, my mother would put a set of those red satin-wrapped 60's ornaments on it.

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Last of the Leaves

The sound outside of my window is a steady click-click-click, and brings to mind sleet or graupel, but it's just the falling of leaves. They are showering down at a steady rate, and already some branches are nearly bare. By tonight, I think they will be gone.

Did I already mention the lore about falling leaves? I think so, but it bears repeating: If you catch a falling leaf, you will have good luck for a year. Catching it in your apron counts, or in your held-out skirt. Keep the leaf somewhere. It can be tucked in a jar or the corner of a cabinet. Or it can be placed under a stone or in the hollow of a tree, and allowed to return to the earth.

I am very happy that I was able to catch a few photos before the leaves are gone. Seeing the sky through leaves is so uplifting. I'm now on the lookout for junipers or piñon growing in an abandoned area, so that I can take a few small branches for crockery or buckets. And I do mean small: in the desert, there is no bounty of growing things. So, one must be very strict about taking just a few tiny pieces.

autumn leaves against the sky in new mexico

What's your favorite natural material to gather for Christmas? Are you partial to fir, holly, bare twigs? Once upon a time I had many items I would make from wheat, but none is to be had here.

I'm not sure how I will decorate my table for Thanksgiving. It's just my husband and I during this lockdown - and really, any time - well, just us and our beloved pets, two dogs and two cats. I very much hope to be able to finally pick up my needle and floss and work on some cross stitch after Thanksgiving dinner.

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame, Holly 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Tag Fest During Lockdown

Our state (New Mexico) continues its lockdown, and most stores are closed. There's at least an hour-long wait to get into a grocery store or a Walmart, due to a rush on items, to both a Walmart and an Albertson's Grocery being shut because of COVID-positive staff, and to our location near the border and El Paso. 

Strangely, I was able to upload image files from home and have "contactless" delivery of the printed out tags from our Office Depot store. Hooray! 

printable digital tag sets from the merry olde dame on etsy, shown on a bed

So today I have been "fussy-cutting" the tags and now I'm ready to add the twine or ribbon to hang them, and to add extra decorations to some of them (such as fake snow or glitter). I have one up on the mantel already from a White Christmas set, and tomorrow or even maybe later tonight (I am awake during the night, unfortunately) I'll put the rest of that set up.

white christmas tag set on etsy by the merry olde dame

I found some nice "homespun" black and cream checked fabric at Hobby Lobby a few months back, and that's what I'm using to hang them. I just tear strips of the material and poke it through the hole I punched.

My poor doggie "Champ" was bitten/stung on his rear by SOMETHING. I'm guessing it was either a giant centepide or a scorpion. Ugh! He's "disabled," in that he was a victim of abuse that left him with a ruined back left leg before he was rescued, but he never lets that stop him. He's a mighty hunter, constantly hopping around the backyard and chasing anything he can. He's all heart, being a Chiweenie, and even confronts snakes, hoot owls, and once, a coatamundi. Our yard is walled, but somehow creatures find their way in, right in the city. Anyway, he saw the vet and he's predicted to be able to mend quickly. He's my little cuddlebug shadow; his "sister," a Bichon mix, is loving but much more reserved. 

I hope this Monday finds you well and happily occupied! If your state is in lockdown, or you are avoiding going out, what have you been doing lately to stay engaged and content?

Friday, November 20, 2020

Some Little Christmas Decorations

Many people are decorating very early for the holidays this year. The worries of 2020 have affected quite a few folks, and I think to soothe themselves - and I'm one of them - the holiday season has been brought forward, at least the "hygge" parts: The coziness, the warmth, the contentment in simple, sweet things. For a few years, we heard a lot about the Danish term hygge, then it faded a bit, but it seems to be back, with a definite American twist. I think here in the U.S., it tracks along with an appreciation of primitive and Colonial living, but is joined with our love of outdoor Christmas light displays. Our local stores have so little left in the way of lights!

Here are a few [bad] pictures of some of my decorations. I wasn't even taking the photos in low light, but was experimenting with the settings. I think I'll have to keep working at it! And I have more decorations to put up, mainly my tags and more Moravian Stars that I like to fold. One photo shows both the flat and the dimensional stars that can be folded.

Here's hoping you have a good weekend and if you are decorating, enjoy!

christmas birds decoration spool

handmade clothespin soldier 1960s

christmas frosty glitter roses decorations

1960s mid-century flocked santa ornament dimestore

glass hobnail snowman miniature mug Christmas

red and white small mushroom Christmas tree ornament decoration

mantel decorations old Christmas children's books

moravian stars christmas decorations rosettes

     Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Free Printable Hang Tags: A Pink Christmas

I was a bit surprised when I first started collecting and using Victorian "scrap" images, in how many were in peculiar colors and had odd imagery. Paper, diecutting, and printing were extremely expensive then, and yet really strange images would be produced. Using so much pink for Christmas amazed me. Santas in pink robes are not uncommon. Pink angels abound. The next time pink was so prevalent was in the 1950s and early 1960s.

So I made a free printable hangtag sheet out of some of these images. As usual, it's stored in the "cloud," wherever that may be. It's Google, so it should be safe. I think Google has control of just about everything so I've stopped worrying about what they may be doing. 

Remember to click the LINK to save the actual sheet, which is shown as the small inset in the graphic below. It's just one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet with six images. 

LINK IS HERE! <---click that

pink christmas free digital hang tag printables

It may seem far from Christmas, but I feel it bearing down. It seems so long off for so long, and then I feel it rushes by me too quickly. That's why I always get an early start on the season. It goes much too fast for me. And as my mother warned me, the older I get, the faster it all seems to go! And as she solemnly told me, "Even if you live to 90, that's just 90 Christmases." 

We are under a "lockdown" again in my state. It all feels so strange, to have no Black Friday coming up, to have the season unfurl so differently. I feel so very badly for the very elderly, who depended on going to Cracker Barrel or Denny's for their holiday meals. Their meeting places are closed now. 

But, we all carry on, don't we? The mantel is done, the two tabletop trees are up, and the top of the pie safe is quite crowded now. My decorations are nothing compared to what I see on the blogs I hop around visiting. Years ago, I loved the blogging world, and I was so happy to rejoin it and see the numbers of steady, stalwart bloggers who keep blogging alive! Some people have extraordinary imaginations and sense of color and style. But I'll share some pictures tomorrow of my little inside efforts. The courtyard has been aglow since November 2nd. 

Thank'ee for stopping by.

    Kind regards,

    The Merry Olde Dame