Sunday, February 28, 2021

A Finished Spring Stitchery, At Last

Today and yesterday were busy, for me! But I finally finished the last cross stitch chart of my Spring Bees series. I don't know why I am into such muted palettes lately; I think it might have to do with "watching" somber British mysteries while stitching and charting. I keep them on as some sort of "company" as I stitch. The landscapes are so washed out, not by blazing sun but by lack of it! Come summer here, however, I will be wishing I was in one of those chilly, drab climates. 

I did live in a tiny log cabin on a little island in the Pacific Northwest for a few years. It was beautiful, in its way, and I absolutely loved the unusual plants I was able to grow there (like wintergreen and monkey-puzzle trees) but there wasn't enough sun, not enough warmth, and near-constant light drizzle. For all the years I lived there, there were only two days when I didn't need a fire or the heater (run with stinky heating oil), and I never was able to wear anything lighter than a thick long-sleeved shirt. I grew up not even wearing long pants in winter. I had summer shorts, and winter shorts. 

chart cross stitch listed in etsy shop themerryoldedame

I finished this stitchery as...a pinkeep sachet! Oh, I'm getting wild, mixing it up here -- to finish not just as yet ANOTHER pinkeep but one with a handful of lavender inside. 

Link to my Etsy listing for the chart: HERE.

Actually, the pinkeeps are pretty versatile. I mainly use them as decor. Some call them "cabinet tucks" when they are used like that. 

themerryoldedame etsy cross stitch chart for easter

I really miss the "open table" days at my local beadshop. Those were times when you could bring whatever you were working on, and just sit around the big table or on the old comfy armchairs and visit and work on your project. COVID ended that! I still do beading, and I like to add beads to my cross stitch, too. But how I miss the company of others who love handwork. It was my absolutely favorite part of each week.

Has anyone else experienced the end to a really fun activity due to the lockdown? 

As always, thank'ee for stopping by. Now I am off to read the blog posts I have been saving as a treat!

Kind regards,

The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Monday, February 22, 2021

Free Easter Images and Free Thoughts

Warning about free stuff: As the old saying goes, "Free, and worth every penny."

One week ago, the U.S. was gripped by three winter storms in a row. Even here in the desert Southwest, we had snow, graupel, and several days where the high temp was below freezing. My heart goes out to those who were severely affected; two animal rescuers in Texas I know are still in bad shape, and only their lion-hearts are keeping their rescues afloat as they scamble for water and warmth for the animals in their care. 

But what a contrast, here: We have sun, spring-like temperatures, and flowers beginning to bud. I noticed that a winecup plant that last week was ice-encrusted, has today put up two big flower buds. I bought the tiniest size of the winecup at the nursery last year, a weak-looking plant with four leaves, and today it takes up half a fire-ring (fire rings are like stock tanks, but no bottoms). The winecup is in a struggle with an ice-plant as to who will dominate that particular bit of garden. My heart is with the winecup, so I give it a bit of help with judicious pulling and re-homing of the ice-plant. Do not grieve for the ice-plant! It easily roots wherever I place it.

I am greedy for flowers in my yard; flowers and wild grapes. I was able to snag a plot in our community gardens here in the city today, and that's where I will grow vegetables this year. That leaves all of my fire rings here at the house free for flowering plants. The "plot" of land I am assigned has had some improvements made, including PVC pipes arched over the top and secured at the sides of the raised bed. That is going to come in handy for "shade cloth," which helps shield the veggies from the full strength of the sun. Even full-sun plants here do better with some shade. I have the water faucet at the end of my plot, too, so that's a bonus. 

Here are some shabby tags for Easter. Maybe you will find a use for them: Glue them to a can or bottle, tie onto a cabinet pull, place with some greenery. As always, since mean ol' Google compresses files and makes them smaller, use this LINK <--- right here and download the original big size from Google Drive. Don't save the image, as it will print too small or be too fuzzy since it was reduced in size. get a better view of them, you can right-click them, choose open in another tab or window, then regular-click and use the little magnifying glass to see them better. Sometimes it's hard to make the little magnifying glass appear.

And as always...thank'ee for stopping by.

free shabby prim easter tags rabbits bunny parade
Kind regards,

The Merry Olde Dame, Holly

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Printable St. Paddy's Tags

St. Patrick's Day tends to get skipped. It is the Thanksgiving of spring, in that way, overshadowed by Valentine's Day and Easter, just as Thanksgiving is squeezed between Hallowe'en and Christmas. Of course, St. Paddy's is just a minor holiday here, without the deep meaning of Thanksgiving.

Here are a few St. Pat's tags with a few spring-like tags, ready to print and be fussy-cut. My favorite is the wee colleen with the umbrella.

I had an aunt who was married to my mother's brother. She hailed from Ireland, and since she had the same name as another aunt, we called her Irish Mary. Amazingly, she didn't seem to mind. Irish Mary eventually was widowed, and decided to return to Ireland to live out her days. After about a year, she returned. She said it would take her two years to thaw out. She had grown too used to Southern climes and could no longer take the chill. Ireland's summer was colder than New Orleans' winter.

I was just musing that in English, we do not capitalize the seasons. Spring, summer, fall and winter are all lower-case words, not proper nouns. I think they're important enough to be capitalized! I think "The birds and blooms of Spring are delightful" looks better than "The birds and blooms of spring are delightful." Perhaps "Cat" should be capitalized, too. [The previous sentence was sponsored by my cats].

I was also just musing that when I am visiting other blogs, a thousand ideas and memories are sparked. And then, when I sit down to write a post, the ideas fly from my mind. I need to jot them down as I hop from blog to blog!

Please use this LINK <--- to download the free file from Google Drive, which is supposed to be quite safe. If you save the image below, it is compressed by Google (Google again!) and might not print the right size or clarity.

free diy printable digital easter spring st patrick's tags st pats
Kind regards,

The Merry Olde Dame, Holly 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Hopping Towards Easter with Free DIY Digital Printable Tags

We interrupt this blog post to bring you this alert:

I hope you are all warm, with electricity, calm, and safe during winter storm Uri or any wintry weather abroad. 

Carry on!

The Valentine's decor is whisked away safely for another year. And, the Easter decorations are placed, with the exception of the cross stitch items I'm stitching up. They are in progress. Pinkeeps -- again! 

Here are some thrifty tags to print out, turn into garlands, use in cabinet displays, etc. I always hang a few from the armoire latches and tuck them here and there in the house. Please use this LINK <--- so that you get the full, uncompressed file stored safely in the Google Cloud. If you save the image below, Google will have unfortunately compressed it and it won't print as nicely. I am stuck on using the musical tags as the base for seasonal tags lately. The very first tag I ever received was a musical tag, and I must have imprinted on it.

I am continuing to be a bit lean in decorating. I do have my eye on some orchard grass. I want to put heaps of it in baskets and make "nests" of it in boxes, and put some empty eggs in them. I have seen some very expensive orchard grass online in some prim shops, but I usually get the Oxbow brand dried orchard grass that is good for guinea pigs (which I used to rescue). It's much less expensive and looks just as primitive.

Anyone have any decorating plans they are putting into place for Easter? And what about your color scheme? Yes, Easter is most often pastels and white, yet...I don't know why, but I'm going for very dusty-looking pastels this year. Muted. Faded!

free printable digital easter tags themerryoldedame merryneedle

Kind regards,

Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

Sunday, February 14, 2021

If You Didn't Get A Valentine Today... is one for you.

pretty antique valentine

For the love of blogging!

Happy Valentine's Day from me to you!

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Golden Age of Blogging...Arising Again?

Cloudy days are rare here, and they usually place me into an introspective mood. I was thinking about blogging, how it was in the early days, how there seems (I hope) to be a resurgence, and then more thinking about Facebook versus blogging. I'll save that last thought for another post.

One of the fun things in the early days of blogs was the giveaways. They added so much excitement to the community. During the time blogs were really hoppin', there were giveaways in abundance. Sometimes they were held to encourage commenting, and sometimes just to reward faithful readers, and sometimes just  because the blogger was so generous-natured. 

I am noticing that on Facebook, in some of the groups, there are giveaways happening. I think the "Groups" are following along a track similar to what happened in blogs, but I will boast here that I do not think Groups will ever equal the true community of blogging. 

I was happy to see a giveaway on a BLOG the other day! It made me smile, thinking of the heyday and how fun those times were, and how strongly blogging is rebounding.

I like to comment on blogs (one childhood nickname was "Loud Mouth Lime" due to my spouting off constantly) - just to add in my little bit of knowledge, chit-chat, or support. But a comment left did enter me into a giveaway, and I won, over at Acorn Hollow! What a wonderful bounty: Hooked pillow that is an absolute heirloom, hooked heart box with delicious chocolates (even shared with hubby), let me add here all wrapped so beautifully, fuzzy socks I put on immediately, and fussy-cut vintage Valentines. As someone obssesed with paper items, I can't tell you what a thrill the Valentines gave me! It is all so lovely.

Just take a look:

Lovely Valentine's red wrapping

BUNNY ALERT: An heirloom of my house now, in pride of place on the mantel

Two of the dear Valentines
Thank you, Cathy, of Acorn Hollow! Charming name for a very charming blog! If you admire hooked rugs and love sweet blogs like I do, please visit Acorn Hollow. Her work is beautiful, and just wait until you see her new workroom devoted to her rugs. 

It truly is delightful, for me, to follow the blogs I do, and read and see their posts. Some may think that their days or their gardens or their thoughts or crafts aren't "interesting" enough for a blog or worthy of a post, but I assure you, I read them with great interest and learn many things, am reminded of many things (my mind will go a mile a minute on the memories I recall), and take joy in the "small things" written about, photographed, and shared. And I am hardly alone! There is a whole army of us out there, who really enjoy the special sharing done on blogs. And once again, our ranks are growing!

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Wild Strawberries and Passing Years

I finished my second Spring Bees counted cross stitch chart, "Bee and Bunny Frolic," and sewed it into a pinkeep yesterday, and have it out on the nature table. I have to watch my little "lamb" dog, Sophie: She is very smart and wants to get the pin keeps / pillow tucks down and play with them. 

When I first taught, I was very surprised that the students, without appearing to, watched my EVERY move. It came very much in handy: If I called out, "Where did I put my coffee?" all the kids would call out, point, even excitedly jump up and go immediately to wherever it was. No more lost keys, cups, grading, etc. Sophie is like that. She doesn't appear to be watching, but she is. Always! 

The new design has some little strawberries in it. The house where I was born had 3 acres around it, a small hill, and a beautiful clear creek. All along the slope of the hill down to the creek, wild strawberries grew by the hundreds, perhaps even thousands. The berries were so tiny, but the flavor was out of this world. Their bigger cousins cannot compare. Wild garlic also grew on that slope, in the sunnier areas, and the bulbs sent up tens of thousands of stems topped with delicate pale purple flowers. At first they had no scent, but within a few days, they reeked. I loved them. Tigerlilies and amaryllis grew wild there, too, with native plums, maypops (passionflower vines), and muscadine grapes all through the pine woods.

bee and bunny frolic etsy cross stitch spring

 I warned of this on my old blog: Do not go to Google Maps and look at the "street view" of long-ago places unless you can take a shock. I decided to go look at my old home after stitching the strawberries. All I can say is, 50 years is a long time to be gone from a place. Evidently the acreage was subdivided, and the hill razed, and the creek diverted or stopped somehow. There are houses encroaching on the house my father built, and the flora is gone. My mother's incredible gardens, gone. The house is still beautiful, but it is no longer sitting in splendor, surrounded by trees. Now untidy houses are right up to the setbacks. Have you ever gotten a shock from the changes the years have wrought on a favorite place?

I am now working on design #3 for the Spring Bees series. I think I will leave it at three. And I think this next pinkeep will be stuffed with lavender, and work as a sachet/pincushion.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Simple Decor for Easter, and Fabric-Wrapped Eggs

This year I am keeping Easter very spare, in terms of decorating. I am not buying anything new, and I will not put out very much of my existing decorations. In fact, I have a box of pretty decorations that are going to the thrift store that supports one of the main animal rescues here. I did the same with Valentine's day decor, a few weeks ago. Sometimes I get a "pang" when parting with something. But honestly, after I give things away, I often cannot quite recall them later. 

chocolate bunny hiding behind an antique mexican crockery

I did take a few plastic eggs and glue some strips of black-and-tan checked homespun onto them, while watching the Weather Channel's coverage of Winter Storm Roland, and their predictions about Winter Storm Shirley. Valentine's Day is giving the U.S. a very cold shoulder this year. 

homespun check checked easter eggs fabric covered

The eggs are easy to do. I have seen eggs finished much more neatly for sale, but I don't mind my less-perfect creations. I tried two different ways I found on the internet, and I like the way that uses strips best, not the way that wraps the egg and just has some slits to overlap. Aleene's Fast Grab Glue worked very well on these. The egg underneath is one of a dozen "chalkboard" finish eggs that I got last year at Walmart, for just pennies after Easter. 

I mix my primitive items with sparkly ones, new ones, vintage mid-century, whatever. I like a mix. Some are purists, and that is fine, too! I put several nests and eggs in a big tin "tart" on a pedestal, and that is by my front door, at a window that looks directly at the courtyard. 

pastel sparkly easter eggs in nest

the merry needle themerryneedle easter decorations in tin tart

I know how to make Ukrainian eggs, known as "pysanky." I don't know if I will make any this year. I would need to order new dyes. A very kind Ukrainian mathematician taught me how to make them, and gave me a "kistka," the tool that draws wax onto the eggshell, decades ago now. I have so many little projects going that I am not able to get to them all! But with these winter storms coming, it might be best to have some distractions on hand. I think there might be quite a few power outages and certainly it is going to be hard to get around in many areas. Do you have enough yarn, fabric, paint, and trim to tide you over the coming winter storms?

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Mint to Be

I know in other areas mint can be very invasive. Here, I can keep it in its place through watering. Where I do not water, it does not grow. I call it "water edging." Even with ample water, I must implore it to grow. This is my new mint. This one is called "Chocolate Mint," in honor of the famed peppermint patty confection. I think some dollar weed has emerged to keep it company. The juniper branches placed on the area to protect it did a good job, but the weeds, of course, saw their chance to grow, too.

mint growing in winter

The mint is disagreeing with the groundhog's assessment as to how long winter will last, and thinks it's safe to poke up its fragrant head and begin spring. It's clearly a foolhardy plant; brave, but unwise. It is the plant equivalent of a chihuahua. 

I brushed my hand across the sprigs to gather their scent, then picked up my rosary. Now, I have it on the nightstand, and I can smell it from here. 

The Superbowl is on in the other room, but I am watching another battle: Which will win, my newest cross stitch chart, or my ability to count properly? I have "frogged" so much it's like a rainforest in here. Usually, when I butt heads with a chart, I put that chart down and pick up another one for awhile, except when mulishness sets in. I want it done, and on display, starting tomorrow. This will be too long ago for most of you, but does anyone recall "Francis the Talking Mule?" Well, we have "Holly the Stitching Mule" now. But I am wanting a basket of spring-themed pinkeeps on my nature table, and I'm going to have it, by golly!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

DIY Vintage-Style Ceramic Jar Knobs, and...CANDLEMAS

It is Candlemas! Groundhog Day and Candlemas fall on the same day. Today we had a blessing of candles at church. Before Mass, there was a sudden rustling of bags and parishioners flooded to the front to place them before the altar, but respectfully to the side a bit. Then the priest, warning that few churches do this anymore, blessed them. He ran through a quick list of many "-mas" events, with Christmas being the best known, of course. He mentioned Candlemas, Michaelmas, Martinmas, and Lammas. I had not heard of Lammas and am going to research it. 

I found a mislabeled box today that I had not opened since our move of over a year ago. I opened it up, and there were several items inside that I had been missing. Not the vintage Pyrex I'm missing -- boo! -- but some other cute things.

What I'd like to know is why it didn't bother me, and why I didn't notice, a rather large cardboard box sitting against the wall of the den for over a year. The cats like to sleep on it. So there was the raggedy box, with a ginger cat (both are gingers), always a-snooze atop it. 

But inside was this little Mason jar lid with a ceramic knob added.

DIY mason fruit ball jar lid with knob

When the knobs at Hobby Lobby are half off, I often pick up a few. They reside in the "junk drawer" until needed. I seem to use up a lot of them. In fact, I have none left.

Do you see that feather in the photos? I'm pretty sure that's an owl feather.


do it yourself mason fruit jelly ball jar with ceramic knob lid

To add a knob to a metal jar lid, you can drill a hole in the top of the lid just slightly larger than the diameter of the screw portion of the knob. Obviously, the lid will no longer be airtight, but it's not meant to be. It's more for storage of non-edibles or a little "terrarium-style" decor item. If you do not have a drill, or a hand-drill, then you can use a biggish nail and turn the lid upside down (so you don't dent it), and carefully tap a hole.

The problem with most decorative knobs is the length of the screw that sticks out. You're going to have to cut it shorter, with a hacksaw. I sometimes just wrap a rag on a loose blade and use it, but that's naughty.

BEFORE you cut the screw shorter (way shorter), you need to thread a nut on it. They come with a nut on them, usually, and sometimes two, and sometimes they also come with a washer. Anyway, this is important: THREAD the nut on it, snug it up, and cut BELOW the nut. Then, when you work the nut off, it will rethread the threads that were damaged when you cut them off with the hacksaw. That way you can then get the nut off and on easily, which is important because you will need to be able to thread that nut back on there and snug it up once you stick the screw end of the knob through the hole in the lid.

My explanation is way too wordy, but as you actually do this project, it will all be obvious.

So you will end up placing the knob's end (the shortened screw part) through the hole you made in the lid. Then add the washer if you want, and definitely add the nut. Tighten up that nut but don't be too rough. Now you can put the lid on a jar. 

The workaround for those of us who don't have a drill or just don't want to deal with punching through metal is to get one of those metal lids that already has a hole for a straw. You will DEFINITELY need to add a sizeable washer with a small hole under the lid if you plan on using one of these lids, so that the knob is held securely and doesn't wobble.

Do you remember that song by Barbara Mandrell? "I Was Country, When Country Wasn't Cool." Well, I was a canning jar fanatic before they were popular. They can be "out" now for all I care, but I will always love them and decorate with them!

    Kind regards,

    Holly, The Merry Olde Dame