Monday, April 30, 2012

The GREATEST Show on Earth!

Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin was an unexpected delight on our 30th wedding anniversary trip to (our honeymoon destination) the Wisconsin Dells.  The restored Circus Wagons are the most spectacular rainbow of colors and wonderment!  The museum is on the campus of the former summer home for Ringling Brothers Circus and is an absolute feast for the eyes!

Each circus wagon was restored to its original splendor and down to the wheels were an unbelievable explosion of colors!
After reading your comments about the Circus tags I had to include a few pix, because you really do have to see it to believe it!
 I  want to tell you about a book called The Great Circus Fire.  It's a sad account of a catastrophe that occurred in a Big Top tent in the 1940's.  You can find it here: 
I listen to books on my commute  and  this story is so amazing that there were times that I sat in the car not wanting to stop listening when I got home!  There are compelling stories of heroism and sorrow.

I hope that you will think fondly of your circus days and consider a little circus craft of your own or better still, plan a road trip to Wisconsin to see the beautiful circus sites for yourself!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

When the Circus Came to Town

"Back in the day" (which is how my children refer to anything before 2000), there didn't used to be colored television.  There didn't used to be colored photography either and if the circus train came to town, people came from far and wide to watch the parade of beautiful wagons and costumed folk.  

We went to Baraboo, Wisconsin to see the Ringling Brothers Circus Museum and the restored wagons literally took my breath away.  I can only imagine the pandemonium when those wagons pulled through the streets and children saw the colors and the phenomenal carvings and heard the Calliope playing!   I come from the generation that thought Silly Putty was the coolest thing ever so I know that what kids expect from entertainment now is a much higher standard.  But the circus coming to town had have been the highlight of childhood in the '30's and '40's,  like right up there with Christmas!
With the sites of the museum in mind, I created these tags.
Just like Elizabeth at teaches, I use the 'sandwich' method to layer the tag papers.  Start out with your pattern cut out of a cereal or lightweight cardboard box, layer scrapbook paper on the front and the back.  I usually date the back for tags I keep, I decorate ones that are going to be gifted.  The cereal box layer keeps the tags from bending when they are hung.
I carry the color scheme on to the next tag, see how the sheet music under the Ringmaster is on the border of the elephant's Show Time tag?  
All of the graphics were found in Mary Engelbreit's calendar, I save every graphic in file folders on my desk for future projects.  I even cut her page borders to use on my tags, I love polka dots!
I cut  my own trims because if I didn't I'd be in the poor house after a trip to Archivers! I love to garnish the paper crafts, I just can't afford to pay the piper!  
This one reminds me of the pony rides in the park when I was a little girl.  
Popcorn is a staple at our house, as in we must have bread, milk and popcorn!  I cut the popcorn bag out of scrap paper because this bear actually had his arm around something else that I had to cut out of the graphic.  The clown on the 'Say Cheese' tag had someone else in front of him too, I just hid half of him behind the curtain!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Now I Know my ABC's

Click the picture for close ups
With the faux paint treatment in my craft room I like using bright and cheery colors in my wall art.  Finding a pair of vintage children's alphabet books in bad shape, I decided to make a little tag banner.  I used the red, turquoise and yellow color scheme and repeated the papers through the series as borders or accents.
Despite the fact that the illustrations came from two different books, the graphics are so cute and colorful that it didn't matter that there were different illustrators!  I incorporated a song my Little Grampa used to sing me in the letter G tag.  "There was a man named Dandelion, had three red shirts on his clothesline.  He bought a goat and tied him hard, right by the neck, in his back yard."  Then next verse of the song had the goat coughing up the shirt to flag the train, see the red shirt?  
The old barn window from the Gold Rush Days Flea Market is a frame for a vintage circus poster; it came from the summer headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  I'll tell the circus tale in the next post, it was such a fun place to be!  We revisited our Honeymoon destination on our 30th anniversary, Baraboo is just a short distance from The Wisconsin Dells.  
This set of tags are hung on vintage measuring tapes.  The tiny clothes pins made of plastic are vintage dolly clothes pins, the pinching ones were from JoAnn and are a perfect way to hang tags.  
Next time won't you sing with me...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tea Time, No Golf Clubs Allowed

When I was four years old my Great Grama Gina gave me this little sugar and creamer set.  She had it in the box it came in, a souvenir of her trip from Iowa to Galena, Illinois to President Grant's Home.  I imagine it was some time in the 1940s.  I displayed them on my hutch dresser for years.  The roses are the opposite color on the other side of each piece and the trim says 24 carat gold.  The set is precious to me no matter their material value.
I started thrifting five years ago and developed a unique habit of putting things back together.  It sounds like something from a children's storybook; the two candlesticks that sat on some grandmother's table forever and a day can't be in two different places in the great big thrift store.  They have never been apart their whole lives, they'll have separation anxiety!  I put the candlestick in my cart and 'drive it around' till I find its mate and put them together.  They are happy once again.
This little habit also pairs creamers and sugars in holy matrimony.  'Look, there's a cute little sugar bowl.  I wonder where the creamer is?'  Into the cart, drive up and down the isles.  If I didn't find it, I drive through the whole place looking again (there are about 6 isles with four layers of shelves on both sides).  I am not taking OCD medication, in case you are wondering.  This is the only place I do this, things that were together at some grama's house must REMAIN together.  
  So you see, once they are reunited, they just are so cute, and when you can have both pieces for around $3.00, why shouldn't they come to tea at my house?  They come in pairs, two by two, just like Noah's animals into the ark, I mean into my buffet,  TOGETHER AGAIN.  Only paired sets of creamers and sugars come home.

I did have to bring home the little red Pyrex fridgie without his lid.  I walked through that great big thrift store three times trying to find his mate!  He came home and I'll keep hunting, he's willing to accept a new partner at this stage of the game.  I asked Stephanie at Gilded Junque, my spring swap partner if she put things together too, we are so much alike...sometimes, she does.  Do you?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cherry Blossom Tea Time

We started with warmed Cherry Scones
With Deavonshire Cream (also called Clotted Cream)
I used this tatted tablecloth (saved from life at the great big thrift store) to ground the centerpieces this time,  I love it with the cream colored dishes.  Can you imagine someone donating a year of work??
English Cucumber Sandwiches with a sprinkle of salt. 
Cream and sugar in my vintage cherry blossom set with a Korean serving spoon.
A little cherry pick in the jam jar.
Oh, and there were two decadent desserts but we ate them and I didn't stop to take pictures!  
And they brought me fun presents!  Specialty teas (Spearmint and Mango), English Tea Biscuits, Toffee Almonds, and Cherry note paper, makeup bag and my favorite:  cherry buttons in a cherry box!  Oh and not in this picture:  the pink hat with felt flowers encircling it (group photo) and another hat for my collection!   We chatted, drank five pots of tea and it was over, like Christmas, before I wanted it to end.  Now I think I'll put those English Biscuits where they belong because tomorrow I might have room  for one!

Friday, April 20, 2012

With a Cherry on Top

Cherry Blossom Tea tomorrow and I am ready.  The house is clean, the baking is done, the table is set and the guests are confirmed!  This does not mean that I won't be running around like a maniac tomorrow morning perfecting things just a bit more.  I do that, it's the curse of the first-born Norwegian.
I tried the Chocolate Cherry Bars last night, they must be tested you know.   Mr. Wonderful told me in his adorable way that they were good, "You can make these again anytime!"  As opposed to the quote I hear when he dislikes a new recipe, "You don't have to make this again if you don't want to."
Enjoy the photos of Washington DC at cherry blossom time, tomorrow we'll look at the highly caloric display of cherry menu desserts.   Oh!  I just remembered, I have to get out the sugar cubes and my fancy hostess apron!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just a Bowl of Cherries

Cherry Blossom Tea Menu

Sour Cream Cherry Scones with Devonshire Cream
English Cucumber Sandwiches on Oat Bread
Chocolate Cherry Bars
Cherry Delight Dessert

Earl Gray Tea 
Cream & Sugar

Today was baking day, I laughed at myself with the mix of eras on the kitchen counter.  Next to my Kitchen Aid mixer was my set of Pyrex bowls and by the laptop open to the recipes were the 1950s aluminum measuring cups.  Wooden spoons and chocolate chips and the reading panel all in one place! 
The countdown to my annual Cherry Blossom Tea began a month ago.  It's my fourth year of hosting an April tea after seeing the blossoms in Washington D.C.  I began my planning by making tags for each of the guests I had invited.  I used Japanese cherry blossom paper purchased in D.C. on my trip there for the Festival in 2008.  For this set of favors I used the same papers on each of the six tags but made each one different.  It's always fun to watch the ladies circling the table deciding which tag they want!

I'm washing linen and have a pile of china and serving pieces on the buffet.  Next up, tablescape, stay tuned!  And if you're in the vicinity, my dining room table pulls out to 110", you are all welcome to come!  I have to go iron and maybe, I'll try sprinkling with that 7Up bottle!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Precious Memories

Note the "sugar saving" suggestion 1944:  rationing days
My mom had primary colored Pyrex bowls;  why is recapturing items from my childhood so important?  For the last three years I have been searching for these precious pieces of Pyrex like nuggets of gold.  I found the big yellow one first; the popcorn bowl in my memories.  Last summer at one estate sale I found green and red!  The elusive blue could not to be found in my acceptable price range.  The thrill of the hunt I told myself as I went to every flea market with that bowl on my list.

Do you search the estate sale photos for something from your childhood memories?  I found IT last week. I persuaded Mr. Wonderful to go with me; two sets of eyes to find IT.  I told him the other items in the photo that IT was sitting by.  I made a run for the basement while he searched for a room with paneling; IT was in that room.  My quest in the basement (cinderblock walls in the background):  knee hugger elves. 

I went upstairs finding after only one elf, someone else had scooped the boys up.  I stopped in the kitchen where I found a recipe box, smelling of storage but full of 1940s recipes all written in the same beautiful handwriting.  Mine for $ 2.00!  A little bakelite syrup server for a quarter...bliss.
The cookies and cakes section of the recipe box was the fullest, a woman after my own heart!  We're dessert eaters here in Scandinavian territory.  I love all these little bonus recipe books found in the box.  And then I spied it, the Pyrex bowl for $ 5.00, my top price but at last, it was found!  
My Little Grama used to sprinkle clothes with a 7up bottle filled with water.  The bakelite topper is cracked but a $3.00 price tag brought back another precious memory.  When Grama would pick me up after her job at the bakery we went home and drank some coffee (mine 90% milk) and she ironed while we watched General Hospital.  I had forgotten that piece of Grama history until I saw the bottle at the sale.  I sat the bottle down next to my Grama's cookie jar, a Gay Fad treasure.  

Cards of buttons and a needle book to add to my craft stash.  Did you dump your Grama's button box and play with them?  I can't tell you what I would give to have one day with her, sorting buttons, playing hide the thimble and going to the park to feed the ducks.  I was her first grandchild, when I had my first one I took him to meet her.  It wasn't until then that I knew how lucky I had been; there's something magic about the first one.  

What price can you put on memories?  I spent $16.00 for a bowl, buttons, Christmas decorations, syrup pitcher, recipe box, a crocheted pillow case  and a vintage story book.  In reality, no price can be put on my precious memories but a few dollars can trigger them.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where do Babies Come From?

Mr. Wonderful and I had been married for two weeks when we went to the State Fair and gazed at a table of black and white pictures of babies in Korea.  We had never spoken of adoption before but in a two minute time frame, we made up our minds.  We wanted to adopt a baby.  

The baby would be a girl, we felt that if there were to be prejudice, it might be easier to have a darling little pink princess.  Who could look into those black eyes and not love her?  We watched a  movie with William Holden called The World of Susie Wong.  We knew we would love the little girl with black hair and almond eyes before we ever saw her.

We moved back to the Upper Midwest from Oregon because the adoption agency here didn't require that we be married for five years to qualify.  We both worked two jobs for a year and we prayed for the birth mother who we knew would now be expecting.   We had a home study with the social worker taking notes about our families, our future goals, our opinions on parenting a child who didn't look like us.  We wrote the answers to essay questions, 35 pages worth of answers about why we wanted to parent a baby from Korea.  And then we waited.  And waited and waited some more until one day, there was a call.  
The term 'up for adoption' comes from the late 1800s when orphaned children were put on the trains in New York and headed across the country.  The trains would stop in small towns where the children would literally stand up on the train platform and families would come and  pick a child from the lineup.

Our daughter was delivered by a 747 Northwest Airlines stork.  We took her into our arms and hearts and called her angel baby because she had been in Angel Babies Hospital in Seoul before coming to us.  She grew up, got married and now has babies of her own.  Today we celebrated the third birthday of her own little black eyed baby girl.    I call grandparenting 'the bonus round', anything I didn't have the time or the money for the first time, I have a second chance for now.  

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back!'
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth...
Isaiah 43: 5-6

Friday, April 13, 2012

Timmy & Lassie

On Sunday night, right before Wonderful World of Disney, I used to watch Lassie.  By that time she had left Timmy and life on the farm.  Lassie now saved small children, adults and whatever else needed rescue, she was the partner of Cory Stewart, a Forest Ranger.
We got our first Shetland Sheep Dog (Sheltie) in 1982,  a puppy we named Cider because of her Sable coloring.  The puppy was not healthy and hundreds of dollars went to the vet.  We had a two year old girl, Mr. Wonderful was in grad school and the money for milk was spent on the little dog we loved so much.
Finally, it was determined that Cider needed  surgery that had a 50% chance of making her well.  We took her to the Humane Society and left her hoping someone else could take care of her medical bills.  Back in the parking lot and cried our eyes out.  The grief went on for about two months, then one day the two year old came asked, "Where did Cider go?"  We said we would 'never do that again.'  We had two more children but no dogs.
In her senior year of high school our youngest daughter took a marketing class.  She used it to her advantage, I'd close the bathroom door and there was a poster with the words, "I want a puppy."  Her sister got married, her brother was in the Air Force, she wanted a dog.

We went to the Humane Society and brought Maja home, a five year old Sheltie.  She was the smartest dog we had ever met, her vocabulary was more than 75 words!  Our daughter taught her Spanish in addition to English!  She liked catching popcorn mid-air and she could bounce a ball repeatedly off her nose.  She lived to be 11 years old.  We cried our eyes out again.
We lasted six weeks (with no dog) when Toffee, a beautiful 18 month old barking boy came from another shelter.  That Sheltie is another story, he was with us two years.
Shelties are herders and love to run, they are small but quick.  Bo Peep's sheep don't have a chance!
Everybody sing:  "There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name -Oh!  B-I-N-G-O!
The last tag on the string, the names of our Shelties and Baby Sally making doggie cookies.
Here's Miss Josie hanging out in my craft room, this is the last "baby" I intend to have!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Which Came First?

The chicken?

Or, the egg?

Neither!  Really, I found the picture of the little girl having a tea party with her little teapot that looked like a chicken and THEN I found the chicken tea pot!  What's a thrifter to do but take it home to join that cute little picture?

So of course, when the egg tea set was found, it had to come home too.  This little set also was a thrift shop score.  A sugar, creamer, egg shaped teapot and the two matching cups.  You've heard the expression, "They must have grown legs and walked off"?  Well, in this case, they did!

You can't drink out of something with legs on it?  Well then, the cups work well holding jelly beans too.  Hey! There were more jelly beans in here when I set this up; we won't name any names but his initials are...  Mr. Wonderful!  Norwegian with a sweet tooth, that one is!