Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Living Like A Swan

Australian Black Swan

                                                               Schwan by Max Weber

Because of their beauty and graceful movements, swans have inspired musicians, writers and poets for centuries. Though they may appear to be merely ornamental, they are very strong, and will fiercely protect and defend their families. They are known for their faithful loyalty to their mates, and their care of their little ones, watching over them and feeding them til they are able to care for themselves. Their feeding habits benefit various kinds of water creatures, as they often bring up plants from great depths, eat what they need, leaving the rest for others. People tend to associate swans with the qualities of strength and dignity.

The pattern I'm providing can make a paper swan garland or just be used for tags and cards.

You could also use the garland to grace a long shelf or mantel.

Just right-click on the template pattern and then select "print," to make your pattern for swan papers.

Above is a small card, and to the right is the tag, with the punched hole, outlined in blue glitter glue. When making these tags, you could simplify it by not making the cuts in the water area. Black construction paper paper would work great for these swans, since a great number of them, particularly in Australia, are black. Try adding black glitter to the wings or neck, an creating single ornaments.

Friday, November 26, 2010

God's Paintings

 I was out taking pictures yesterday and wanted to share these.  Some of the sky area looks like the strokes of an artist's brush. Don't forget to click on the pictures for a larger, more majestic view!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Pilgrim's First Thanksgiving, by Jennie Brownscomb

Path Through the Woods

Why the Pilgrims Starved and Then Prospered
 by Richard J. Maybury 1999

Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving's real meaning.

The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his 'History of Plymouth Plantation,' the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with "corruption," and with "confusion and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, "all had their hungry bellies filled," but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first "Thanksgiving" was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, "instead of famine now God gave them plenty," Bradford wrote, "and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God." Thereafter, he wrote, "any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day." In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, "they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop." They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock." A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that "young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children." Also, "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak." So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called "The Starving Time," the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was "plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure." He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, "we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now."

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that the annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863, Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

William Bradford Brief Biography:

(1590-1657) American writer. William Bradford was born in 1590 in Yorkshire, but he would become one of the most famous writers and leaders in American history, famous for the "Mayflower Compact" and "History of Plimoth Plantation," which wasn't published in full until 1856.

Although Bradford never received formal education, his leadership were exemplary when he took over as governor in 1621, after the first governor died. He held the position for the rest of his life (excluding five years), and his writings about the Plymouth colony, with all of their triumphs and tragedies is dramatic and unforgettable.

Read his book here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow Today

The large pumpkins on the architectural posts are called "Sugar Pie Pumpkins" and are the actual factual pumpkins for pumpkin pies. What you get in the Libby's can is a type of squash. This was told to us by a local farmer who sells the bright orange squash to the cannery for canned pumpkin pie filling.  I have already cooked my real sugar-pie pumpkin and found it tastes wonderful just on its own. I have yet to make a pie out of it. In old literature, pumpkins were called "punkins."

Heres a picture of a Sugar Pie Pumpkin from a local farm. You are more likely to get a real pumpkin when you buy it from a farm, than when you buy it in a can. They are called New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins.
Click on images and type in sugar pie pumpkins to find out more about them. They are not all the same, but apparently taste good and make the best pies.

The temperature is cold but it does not deter my enthusiasm. Today I'm locked in, but will continue my summery, sparkly cleaning, cooking and sewing. I hope to share a pretty muslin doll you can make, soon, and some paper tags, cards and ornaments, all while Ruthie's farmhouse music is turned up on my computer.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Use for Juice Can Lids

This is a craft I have been thinking about for a long time, because  frozen juice can lids are a metal that could possibly be recycled. Since they are also magnetic, a magnet could be glued to the back, so that the art could be used as a refrigerator magnet or used on a magnetic bulletin board, but for now, I'm just going to show how to make a gift-tag which can double as an ornament.

Gift tags from the tin frozen juice can lids.

In the photo below, are some possible things you could use to make a pretty ornament from these lids: glue, glitter paint, glitter glue, short pieces of ribbons for the loops, scrapbook paper, and any kind of decal, sticker, or clipping. Look at your grocery containers and cardboard boxes or magazines and catalogs and see if there is any kind of art work that could be cut out and used for a craft like this. 
The lid on the right is painted white, with any kind of paint you have (except oil paint), or, you may prefer to leave them plain.  On scrapbook paper, trace the lid several times, depending on how many tags or ornaments you plan to make, and cut out the paper circles.

On the back of the lid, put a drop of thick white glue on the upper center part, and place your ribbon, crossing it slightly at the end. Press it down with a brush and then scribble some glue on the back of the paper circle, brushing it afterwards with the foam brush.  Place the paper circle over the ribbon and press it down to the lid,

securing all layers (lid, ribbon and paper)  with a clothespin to make it hold together. (Note: your clothespin does not have to be painted and glittered. This was something I did to make clips for my papers). Leave the clothespin on for awhile, and brush on a layer of glue to the front, so that you can add your decal or picture. If you are using a water slide decal, be sure to dab it dry with a terrycloth wash rag or towel after you apply it.

At this stage, you can choose different methods of finishing the tag: paint on a layer of Gems glitter paint, and let it dry, or

paint on a layer of white glue and sprinkle some crystal glitter on top of the lid.

On the paper backing, write a greeting, rubber stamp an image, or just write to and from.

It can be left as is, or you can go a step further and paint a line of glitter glue around the outer edges or the inner groove of the ornament.

Some people save these frozen juice lids hoping to find a use for them. Try gluing them on a long ribbon and using them for garlands to string on a mantel, or even making a wreath of them.  These lids also might be made into something to use outside on the porch or in the garden, for chimes, plant markers (maybe by adding a wood popsicle stick).

This is another one, made with a single layer of tissue gift-wrap from the dollar store, hung with cotton crochet string,

and on the left are some of those nice ornament hooks--it is about time, since the old type were so sharp and hard to use, and they are also now available at Dollar Tree. In the past few years, you could only get them in catalogs, and they were a bit pricey.

To keep the project cost-free, look at old greeting cards that can be cut, for your pictures. Sometimes for a dollar at Dollar Tree, you can get a package of cards with florals or scenes that would work well in these lids. I wanted to make it a craft that was non-seasonal so that it could be used any time of the year, and I believe that the rose decal lids would look nice on a  long horizontal ribbon strung across a window, wall, or a mantel, shelf or upper doorway. Try letters of the alphabet or form a special greeting or word on the lids.

Waterslide decal and sticker sources and other types of decals can be purchased here




Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Decorating Led-Lite Pillar Candles from the Dollar Tree

Timeless Grace by Stefan Alix

Decoupaged and glittered led-lite candles: click on for a larger view.

I have often used  the little votive led-lights from Dollar Tree, which come two in a package for a dollar, and I have discovered that Dollar Tree stores are now selling the pillar size led-light candles. Since these used to be obtainable only at really exclusive stores and catalogs for $6.00 to $12.00, more or less, it was quite a thrill to find them in the dollar stores. They are plastic, coated with a layer of scented wax, and use three AAA batteries, also available at the Dollar Tree, in a package of 8.

 They look really nice simply put up on candlesticks of varying heights, and left plain white, without decoration.

The pillar candles are also available in the shorter size, as you see on the left.

When turned on by the little switch underneath the candle, it looks like a real flame, which glows beautifully from the outside.

These candles look lovely left plain, on a nice candle stick. There are no doubt hundreds of ways to decorate these, and for now I will show you one way I have trimmed the ones I bought.

 I used a pretty rose napkin made by Ideal Home Range, (IHR), but printed tissue wrap could also be used. You have to pull apart the napkin and separate the two layers, removing the white part, which you will not be using.
 You can cut out the design, and if the back ground is white, it is okay to leave a lot of the white showing.
 Another way, which is easier, is just to size up a portion of the print to fit the candle, and cut it to fit., then paint the entire candle with decoupage, and  apply the whole square of napkin that you just cut, to the candle.

Using Modge Podge, or a thick white glue, paint the candle. Then, carefully lay down the applique or the square of napkin you cut to fit the candle.
 Gently tap the outer edges of the paper,
and then, dip the brush in more modge podge or glue, and paint carefully over the top of the picture.

I did not have good success with the liquid white school glue, such as Elmers, as the candle was too slick for it to stick. I found the Modge Podge brand of decoupage glue worked better.

While it is still wet, if you wish, sprinkle some coarse clear/white or crystal glitter on it.

The pillar candle on the right and the little half-size one in the middle are glitterized, and the one on the stand on the left is not.  One dollar each, plus a napkin and some glue, is not a bad price to pay for something so elegant.  These candles are selling very fast at the Dollar Tree.

Just put a number of those stick-on gems (about a dollar a package) on to the candle, for a quick and easy decoration.

The picture below is a printed label, applied to the candle with an ordinary glue stick, with added gem stickers.

This next one is something I tried using a little print (Picking Flowers for a Posy, by Charles Haigh-Wood), which looks good just applied with a glue stick.
The image was printed on regular printer paper, from my pictures, then cut out and glued onto the candle. The lit candle glows through the picture.

Tissue paper sheet music print, decoupaged onto candle, and tied with sheer ribbon.

K & C brand scrapbook paper, with added old-fashioned pen nibs.

This one is decorated with an interesting sticker. You have to use a glue stick with some stickers, as the candle is too slick for them to stick. Try this with an added tie of some kind: rafia, or fancy wire.

This is just one of those printable house rows,  made by Lillibeth on her blog, The Pleasant Times. They were colored with crayons by a child and then decoupaged onto the candle.
Done with fabric, tissue wrap, and a water slide decal.
An antique metallic length of gift-wrap ribbon is decoupaged on completely around the candle.

Decorated with a large hydrangea sticker, sent by a reader.

Decorated with a seasonal card, applied with a glue stick, sent by a viewer.

These make great seasonal gifts inside the home, that do not plug in. Get a basket of them ready for spur of the moment gifts, or unexpected gift-giving.  These also look great used in church fellowship rooms for banquets.

Here are some a reader just sent me, that she decorated with stickers. This is even easier than the one I shared in earlier pictures. You might be able to find those large specialty stickers that you buy by the piece which you tear off on the perferated line, at craft stores. Roses, scenes, and more, could be put on these candles, and involve a lot less mess than the decoupage glue!! You might also try clippings from thin pages of magazines applied with a regular office glue stick.