Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HOORAY!!!! The Greatest Thing for Penny Rug Enthusiasts Since Dyed Wool!!!

I have loved and been interested in making Penny Rugs for a LONG time - maybe 8 years or more!  That's when I found my first copy of the Time Life Country series of books at our little library, and saw the antique penny rugs pictures and profiled in them.

LOOK at those!!!  WOW!  And remember the one in the bottom picture, it's hanging over the back of the blue couch???  I already posted a picture of it in a previous entry, saying how I would love to make a penny rug like that one someday! :-D  Of course, I love the one in the middle picture, too, and the hexagon one in the top picture - on the page on the right! *Sigh!!*

As I saw more and more of them from favorite magazines that I collected (Country Living, Early American Life, A Primitive Place), the ones that inspired me to create them were the actual antique rugs or the truly authentic reproductions.  While I thought the "cutsie" penny rugs were pretty or cute, they didn't move me like the rugs that were created to look like they had been made 150 years ago!
As I looked around, I stumbled upon THE GREATEST penny rug artisan there is (in my mind) -- Cee Rafuse!!

First, I found her old website......
She hadn't posted anything new on it in years, but I scoured it to find any news of where she was online - did she blog?  Was she still creating rugs?  On Etsy??  I kept going back over and over to her gorgeous rugs that she had designed and sewn and sold -- I thought (and still think!) they were so perfect, each one in a different way!!!

Then to my amazement, I found her on Pinterest!! ~  I saw even MORE rugs, and some recent captions and she WAS still around -- YAY!! :-D

And while looking at her pinned rugs, what do you think I saw.....???

That's right, my first penny rug -- the very penny rug that I had seen in a google image and just had to make, with no idea that it was HER design!  That was it for me, I decided I simply MUST email her to find out where she was and if she was still creating penny rugs!!  And to my delighted surprise, she actually emailed me back! :-D  I felt like I was talking to a celebrity!!! LOL  She said she had been busy, but WAS thinking of starting to blog again, and to get back into designing and creating again, maybe even putting kits together or offering tips and techniques!  YAY, again!! :-D

So now, she has her first posts on her brand new blog, and I am SO EXCITED about it!!!
First, I love the design of her blog, the colors, her links, the pennies in the background - even the font is perfect!  But her way of writing and expressing herself is so refined and classy (which I noticed from reading her older website, as well), I love reading her thoughts!  She also finds the most amazing antique rugs to share with us, and to get her design ideas from!!  And as for her rugs, I really think they could be in a museum, they are so lovely and accurate.  She has even used real antique feed sacks for backings -- you don't get more true than that!  She has a wonderful eye for putting colors together, too..... I love going back to her Pinterest page and just looking at all those beautiful rugs!  I can't wait to see what new designs she comes up with!!  And the fact that she will be providing tips and ideas is just the icing on the cake!!  So now I have another "Favorite Places" entry for my sidebar! :-D (once I remember how to get it over there....!)

Don't wait for me to check her blog out.....

For anyone searching for flawless reproduction penny rugs, Cee is the artisan to go to first!  I told her she should publish a book -- wouldn't that be perfect?!  She is a PURIST, with a flawless attention to detail!!  I am delighted she is back, for myself, but also for the Early American community!  She is such a valuable contributor to the look and style that we are all single-mindedly searching for!!

HOORAY, Cee!!! ^-^

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Not Slumped, but Not Posting, Either.....!!

It looks like my posts are going to be a little slow in coming for a few weeks.....I've been helping my neighbor, who is very sick and had major surgery last week.  My boys play with her son, and we live together at the end of our dirt road, so we are involved in eachother's lives, and have formed a supportive friendship over the years!  She has helped us sometimes, and we have helped her sometimes.  She is a bit older than me, by about 15 years, so I feel like I have an older sister....which is fun because I'm the oldest in my family!!
 I've helped her with gardening, and Brian has helped her when she needs wood for heat, or when her pipes burst a few years ago!  She and I have been planning an herb garden to grow behind my house for this spring!!

She told me two weeks ago that she was diagnosed with cancer, and had to have major surgery to remove it, which was a week ago, Friday.  That was very difficult to hear and think about for her, and I immediately began praying so hard that it would be minor, not spread, and she would be able to be ok!!!  I can't imagine something so awful happening to her like that!  My kids also were very worried for her, and for their friend.  But she came through the surgery GREAT, the cancer did NOT spread and they believe they got it all out!  She had to stay in the hospital for several days, so I was helping her by keeping an eye on her kids.  They are both pretty independent, and actually her son practically LIVES here anyway!! :-)  She has been home since Tuesday, and I've been going over there to help her with her medicines, and meals, and shopping with her daughter once.  She says she is healing nicely!!  Thank you Lord!

She is still waiting on the pathology report from the lab for the doctors to decide on a treatment plan once she is healed and on her feet again.  But I am hoping that the fact that they don't have it on a fast track to get the results is GOOD NEWS, meaning they don't think her cancer is dangerous!  I still pray.

So needless to say, I haven't been thinking very much about crafting and creating!!  And deep worry like this kind of dampens the creative spirit.  I CAN feel it perking back up a little, as my watchfulness and worry subside a bit.  I HAVE been doing a few little things, but I don't get to devote a full amount of time to them right now, so I can't get them finished!! :-P
Mostly by nighttime, I'm a little weary and burned out, and I spend the night watching old movies and looking around online ------ NOT blogging! :-(  SORRY!!!

So just hang on with me!  I've got some good ideas brewing, and some fun things to post about, once I get something finished!! ^-^

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Crocheting By Candlelight

Well, I just had a weekend from the 1800s!!!

Ok, I'm exaggerating a little, it wasn't that bad.....actually, it was kind of charming! :-)
For some unknown reason, after 4 days of rain, just as it was getting colder (from a cold front moving in), our power went out -- this was Thursday night.  So we lit a bunch of candles, wrapped ourselves in blankets and comforters, and waited it out!  There wasn't much to do.....without TV, movies, or the computer, so the kids sat near the candles and played cards and dice games, and I grabbed my crocheting, which I was planning on doing anyway! (Brian was already in bed)
The picture makes it look brighter than it really was -- seeing my stitches was difficult!!

There is something about the power being out, though.....did you ever notice how silent it is without the power on??  It always amazes me, I guess because I am so used to hearing the sound of our gadgets running that I never realized how much noise I am accustomed to!  Sometimes the silence seems loud!!  But I felt so peaceful sitting in the candlelight, crocheting my table I said, it was charming!  I'm sure most of that charm came from knowing it wouldn't last!! :-D

The power came back on after a few hours, just as I was contemplating making a fire in the fireplace as the temperature dropped in the house!  It would have been strange to do that at 12am!! LOL
It WAS nice to have the lights again, but I didn't like how loud the heater sounded, or the refrigerator.....but I DO like the heat, and ice cubes for my water!!!

Anyway, that was pretty exciting, until the next morning, when the PHONE went out.....!!!!!
.....and it stayed out all weekend!! :-P
That also took the internet with it!  And being at the end of a dirt road, in the woods, cell phones don't work well here -- in fact, they don't work AT ALL in the house.  So I had to walk to a high spot in the driveway with Brian's cell phone and call the phone company!

*SIGH!*  They finally got here today at suppertime!!!  It ended up being (another) wire that apparently became un-buried after all the rain washed part of the dirt road off of it, and it got mangled and split!  So I am now back in the modern era!!  I DO like when the phone doesn't ring at all, and I didn't really miss the internet (except that I needed to make an online bill payment, which I was getting a little nervous about!).....but all the weirdness threw off my weekend!  AND my blog posts -- I had some fun stuff to tell everyone about!! :-D

I will have to post next time about the Fun Stuff, but I AM going to post the cookies/candy that I made before and then again this weekend -- they are SUPER YUMMY!!!
It's called Chocolate Saltine Toffee, or Christmas Crack, but I don't like that doesn't sound as desirable when you name something after a real, BAD drug! :-P

Behold the yummy awesomeness......!
And it is amazingly simple to make!!
Preheat the oven to 350.
First, line a 9x13 pan with FOIL, and grease it, oil it, or spray it - whatever your choice is! (a jelly roll pan is the best)  DO NOT skip the foil, or you'll never get the pieces out of the pan!!

Then you spread a single layer of saltine crackers in that pan.....
(notice the now-gorgeous floor in the background of my picture!!! :-D)(with a piece of a dead leaf from outside on it, that I should have noticed and swept away before taking this picture!)

In a pan, melt 2 sticks of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar......
Of course, anyone who reads my blog knows that I don't usually HAVE brown sugar, so I used white sugar and added some molasses (most of it is under the butter on the left!) -- it tastes the same!

Get it all melted and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.....
.....and boil it for 3-5 minutes, until it thickens.  I probably boiled it for 4 minutes.

Pour it over the saltines.....
.....and place them in the oven.

Bake it for 5-7 minutes, until it gets bubbly......
Isn't that a GREAT picture??  I got all the bubbles!!! :-D

Take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes, then sprinkle chocolate chips on top.....
.....and let it sit for a few minutes again, while they soften.....
THEN, smooth them around.....
.....and try to WAIT for them to cool!!!!
I put mine in the freezer...... they were ready in about 10-15 minutes!!  Oh yeah, I'm brilliant! LOL

Here's where you are so glad you used the foil.....
This is what the kids did to it, before I got the chance to cut it into bars (roughly!)!!
The cracker is in the middle of the toffee.....
This container should be FULL.....
This stuff didn't even last 24 hours!! :-D

This recipe is all over the internet, even Paula Dean has a recipe (she calls it Pine Bark), and everyone has their favorite variation -- white and dark chips swirled on top, Heath Bar pieces instead of chocolate chips, adding vanilla or almond flavoring to the butter/sugar syrup, sprinkling kosher salt over the melted chocolate -- anything you can imagine!  I just made the basic recipe, and it was a HUGE hit!!  As a matter of fact, Brian made sure we grabbed another box of Saltines today at the store, so I can make it again! LOL

SOOOOO.....another weekend is over....*sigh!*  My Sunday-night-sadness has set in (NO Brian home! *Sniff!*), but I'm hoping to channel it into getting some organizing done this week -- he LOVES when I put my "stuff" away!! (it doesn't happen very often! Haha!!)
I'm NOT making a list, just so I can avoid being embarrassed if I go off on a completely different tangent tomorrow, but it will be very exciting IF I DO manage to get's been awhile! LOL

I'll be sure to take pictures of the rare, miraculous event.....IF it happens!!! ^-^

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

UN-Slumped!!! Yay!! :-D

Well, I've come out of my slump with a VENGEANCE!!!!
In the past 24 hours, I've tackled several things that I was looking forward to (pre-slump), plus I've done 6 loads of laundry!!  That's almost a miracle!!! LOL
At least that proves to me that my slump was hormonal, which is a good thing -- it means there will always be a quick end to them, AND I'm really thankful that a "slump" is my only hormonal side-affect!!  I've heard of lots of other symptoms that are much worse than an occasional "down time" -- I could be really grouchy or moody, or feel sick, or gain lots of weight or have lots of pain!  I'll take a SLUMP!!! :-)

Anyway, on to my far, the best is the pineapple!  I'm amazed by it!  IT WORKED!!! :-D  I love how it came out!
And it was SO easy!!!!!!!!!!!  I couldn't believe how easy it was, now I'm going to dry a few more!!!

First, I cut the bottom off the pineapple.....
Then I cut out the pulp, first with a knife, and then I used my melon scooper.....
BE CAREFUL scraping the inside, because I got a little too close and I almost went right through the skin!  It's ok to have a layer of pulp around the skin, because when it's dry it will give it support.
This is as thin as you want it.....
I rinsed it out after and sprinkled salt all over the inside -- I read someone else did it to help dry it, but I don't know if it helped or not! LOL -- and then I stuffed it with paper towels.....
Luckily, I had a whole roll that Minnie had "played" with that I could use the scraps of!  I stuffed it tightly....
I also saved the bottom, because I want to glue it back on (maybe!) -- I don't like the dried pineapples that look weird and short when they are done because they are cut-off.
Into the oven, which was set at 185......
I rolled up some foil to make a "pillow" -- I wanted to keep the green top off the pan while it was baking/drying.  And in it stayed for about 4 hours!
After that, I pulled it out to check on it and change the paper towels.....
You need tongs to pull them out, they are HOT!  I replaced the towels with new ones, and laid it on the other side (just to keep it even), and left it in the oven for about 4 more hours.
Then, I took the paper towels out completely.....
....and since it was still a little damp inside, I put it BACK in the oven for about two more hours.
It still felt slightly moist, but I figured that shouldn't matter.....
So here it was!!! :-D  The bottom piece shriveled a little and hardened alot, but I got it to FIT.....
Isn't it GREAT?!!!!  It has such a primitive, dry color and feel, I just love it!  I'm going to buy one or two more to do it again, so I have more and can make an arrangement with them! :-D
I'm also going to try drying more oranges that way.....because my air-dried pieces didn't turn out very well.....

Those are the two lemons, and here's the orange....
It looks pretty good from this side, but if you turn it over.....'s NOT very decorative looking!! :-/

Well, I think they need a few hours of the oven-treatment to start them off -- that might help begin the drying process and cut down on the rotting that can start from too much moisture.  I'll still use these, but I want to make some that look ALOT nicer than that!!  Let's see how it goes this weekend! :-D

While I was waiting for the pineapple, I decided to cut out my wool pennies for the next penny rug I want to work on.....
This looks simple, and I have all the wool colors here already!  Plus, I love the date in the middle!!  I might want to make mine in the 1790s!!! :-D
Here are the pennies all cut out.....
See how they will be stitched together?  And I replaced the black in the original picture with one of my dark brown textures I felted from a wool jacket I got at the thrift store!  I love it for this rug!! :-D
Fun, fun, FUN!!!
While I was struggling with cutting these circles, I knew I needed a better system.  I had changed the size of these, so I didn't have anything to help me quickly - I had to cut out paper circles which were hard to work with.....I just HAD to make something better!
Sooooo......I grabbed a plastic folder that I've had for years, and no one ever used it, so I got an idea.....I'd make plastic circles in every size I could want!!! :-D
I used all kinds of circles from around the house, and measured them, and I used the ones that were the sizes I needed.....
I got every size from 1 inch to 3 inches!!
Now I'm ready for the next penny rug!!! :-D

So after all that, I was sitting looking through Pinterest and got an idea from a wonderful table picture I saw......
Besides everything else that is so wonderful on this table, I noticed the awesome mat that is under the riser.....see it?  It's brown and off-white, and I LOVE it!!  But I'm not great at weaving, but I AM great at crocheting......maybe I could make one with crochet!?!
I have the perfect yarn.....
So I just started, using just single crochet stitches across.....
It will have to be tea or coffee stained to "age" that bright white - even though it's off-white, it's too bright for the look I want!!
I think if I alternate the colors, it MIGHT look like mat in that picture.....maybe!! :-D  My fingers are crossed!
And boy, I'd love to make that wooden shelf or tray or riser -- whatever those are called! -- that is ON the mat, too!!  Isn't that such a cool piece?? much wood would I need for that?!!! :-D

So PHEW! - I'm back to my normal self again!!  After finishing this post I'm going to work on my crocheted mat and watch some of the series "Revolution", about the Revolutionary War (I saved it on my DVR)!  And I have some cleaning to catch up on tomorrow, but then I might try making some new cookies that I found online -- WAIT until you see them!!!

Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!  It feels good to be joyful again!! ^-^

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Ummm.....well, my winter embellishments are looking a bit out of place with THIS going on......
This is from yesterday and it was the fourth day of these temps!!

NOT that I'm complaining -- NO WAY!  I LOVE having my windows open to let in fresh air in the middle of winter, and I LOVE LOVE not running my heater!! :-D  It's really fun to have a little blast of spring come through....especially because it's supposed to get cold again by this weekend.  I'm enjoying this while it lasts!

But it's really hard to have mittens or ice skates around as a celebration of winter while I'm wearing a sleeveless dress and bare feet, and my windows are open!! LOL

OH!  Speaking of which, in my quest for a "prairie dress", or whatever I'm wanting, I decided to check out the thrift store and look what I found......

Pretty good, right?!!  I've been wearing the black one, and it's so soft, I love it!  And the beige one looks like one I posted a picture of, remember it?  I'm going to take the shoulders in an inch or two and sew some lace around the bottom, won't that look so pretty? :-D  I was so excited to find these dresses, and they were only $1.50 and $2 each!!  You can't beat that!

Of course, they aren't true "Period" dresses.....I'm going to have to work a little harder for something that's more authentic, but I FEEL prairie-ish (is that a word??) while I'm wearing them!! LOL

I also made myself some little wool slippers this weekend - not prairie-ish either, but they are cute and comfy! :-D  I crocheted them out of some thick green wool yarn that I've had for AGES!!  I bought it on ebay years ago, and like usual with yarn (or wool!) online, it got here and wasn't at all like my computer showed it to be!!  So it's just been sitting in my yarn box, waiting!
I just kind of made these up, just crocheting a circle and working up from there.....
I added a little ribbon and bow to them, after I saw a picture of another pair that had it......
......somehow, it looked cuter on the OTHER I don't know if I'm going to keep them -- maybe some buttons would look better??  Now I can really twirl around on my new floor!! :-D

So I guess I could say I'm PART-way out of my slump.  The weekend was better, of course, because Brian was home (YAY!! :-D), but I'm still lacking in motivation.....which is not good, because I have things that I need to get done here (besides crocheted slippers!)!!

I have GOT to decide what I'm going to do with my kitchen cabinet/trim color -- in a few more weeks, there will be enough money to start buying the wood for the trim, and I've GOT to know what color I'm painting it!!
I have two basic choices -- keep it or change it -- and then there are more choices after I make that big one!  I HATE DECISIONS!!!  I stink at them!  And when I finally make one, I'm never satisfied that it was the "right" one!!! :-P
I am leaning towards changing the color, mainly because the only reason I would keep it would be so I didn't have to face trying to decide what to do next!  That's not the right reason!! LOL  If I did keep it, I would be constantly thinking about changing it, wishing I had changed it, and eventually I would change it.....which would be so much more work than just dealing with it now!

The reason I want to change the color is because I wanted a goldish-mustard in here, and that's what my color looked like until I put the red, cream, and brown tiles in here!  Next to those colors, my gold turned green!!  So if I change it, a whole slew of other decisions comes crashing down on me -- which mustard-gold do I pick - darker or lighter?  Should I change to a goldish-TAN instead of mustard? (I'm looking hard at Benjamin Moore's Tyler Taupe - the paint chip is gorgeous)  Maybe I should paint the lower cabinets a darker shade and the upper cabinets a lighter shade (of whatever color I finally pick).....I love how that looks in other homes!  Or they could be totally different colors!!  BUT, I don't think I'd really like that, so.....there's ONE decision behind me! :-P  Haha!!

And of course, the whole paint-sample-fiasco has begun -- I am on my THIRD paint sample! :-{
Well, at least I think I LIKE this third color, although it might be too dark.....

Ok, and that first picture really frustrates me!!  If that's what my original paint color actually looked like, I wouldn't have to change it!!!  I guess I have to shine a flash on it all the time to be happy with it! :-P  OH, that's annoying!  Anyway, that's the latest sample that I actually like, it's an Old Village Paints color, perfectly matched at Lowe's (thank you, Daniel, my favorite paint-guy!!)'s Valley Forge Mustard!  What a great name, right?! :-D it too dark??

The top picture is my bottom cabinet, and the bottom picture is my top cabinet (I could have planned that better, couldn't I?)......see how different the colors all look in different parts of the room?  They are all the same color!!!  How can you pick a color if it changes all the time???  *SIGH!!*  So here's where I'm STUCK! :-P  But what do you guys thing about the darker color in here?  Should I paint darker on the bottom and lighter on the top?? Hmmm.....I have more questions, but I don't want to overwhelm everyone!
I guess I will get one more sample of that Benjamin Moore color, just to check how it looks, and then I'll try with all my might to DECIDE something..... wish me luck!!!

I have a few other things to post about, but I'm going to save them for next time.  This whole paint-color-fiasco is really my biggest obstacle to overcome this week, so I'm staying focused on it until I am SURE I know what I'm doing!  And ANY opinions are welcome!! :-D  Oh yes, please someone tell me what to do (oh, and make sure I will like it)!!!!  Anyone up for that task??? ^-^