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The Latest Addition to a Collection

As I was appreciating my kitchen ornament collection one more time before packing it back up till next winter, I realized I hadn’t featured a new addition. Back in the before times, in the beginning of 2020, when I stopped in at the Museum of Science and Industry to see Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle (Other People’s Collections V) I also stopped in at the gift shop and found a ceramic egg carton ornament with a red label with great graphics and a red and white checked gingham ribbon. It obviously belonged in my kitchen ornament collection.

I hung it at the end of one section next to the Hallmark “pinch of love” mixing bowl and the gingerbread cookie sheet that was one of our first purchased Christmas tree ornaments. It moved from the tree to the kitchen after I began collecting the cooking ornaments.

I love the realistic back of the carton too

In Our Neighborhood – Ice Shelters

We’ve been watching the lake and the harbor freeze and unfreeze and now the harbor is completely frozen. Yesterday something new appeared on the ice – two portable black fishing huts.

I walked down to get a closer look and took these photos but I was too scared to walk across even though I could see that people had walked to the huts from both sides of the harbor. By evening both of the huts were down. I wonder if they caught any fish.

Update: After writing this I came out to the living room and saw there is a new blue hut. I zoomed in from the living room window for this photo:

Happy Valentine’s Day 2021

We got so much candy for Christmas this year that it spilled right into Valentine’s Day. The peppermint kisses we got from my Pennsylvania in-laws became my Valentine treats. And the wrapping paper my Alabama in-laws used was perfect for the accompanying hearts. I searched online for something to write and came up with “Peppermint Kisses and Candy Cane Wishes” and then changed it to “Peppermint Kisses and Valentine Wishes” I wore the Valentine facemask I got from my Alabama niece when I delivered one to the doorman this morning.

We left the Christmas garland up and decorated it for Valentine’s Day. I’ve been making valentine decorations for many years so there are a lot of decorations and ornaments. I asked my husband if he thought it looked too crowded. “Have you seen the rest of our house?” he answered. Fair point as my younger daughter would say.

But of course it wasn’t too crowded to buy another ornament. I’m not sure which is the best way to hang the cute Valentine envelope I bought at Four Sided so here it is both ways:

We had a fun Valentine’s Day breakfast with pancakes (my husband made me hearts of course) and fresh squeezed orange juice. My Pennsylvania in-laws gave us a pitcher that came with an orange squeezer top for Christmas and today seemed like the perfect day to use it for the first time. We didn’t buy each other candy because of the aforementioned Christmas candy so truffles from my Maryland in-laws decorated the table along with the many Valentine cards I made with my grandchildren. It all made for a lovely Valentine’s Day!

In Our Neighborhood- Snow People

We finally got some substantial snow this winter and one morning when my husband came back from his walk I asked him if he’d seen any snowpeople. He said the park was covered with them so I took a walk later that day to check them out. There were so many and my favorite thing about the park snow people was how their features were created with twigs, bark, and other natural materials.

Then the next day my husband came home from his walk with a photo of another impressive natural creation.

Crafting in the Time of Corona X

I had been doing less Corona crafting lately. Partly because of Christmas but also because the gym opened and I’ve been going to the pool so I haven’t had as much extra time as I did in the beginning of the time of Corona (it seems a little funny to continue to use this phrase but I feel kind of stuck with it). After settling into the still weird new year, I was glad to begin the Sashiko embroidery sampler my sister gave me for Christmas.

Sashiko (little stabs) is a type of Japanese embroidery traditionally used to mend or remake clothing using white thread on indigo dyed blue cloth. Sashiko patterns are worked in continuous lines of running stitches. Several running stitches are gathered on the needle before being pushed onto the fabric which helps to keep the stitches even and the lines straight. Traditionally there is an ordered sequence to how the lines are stitched, first all the vertical lines, then the horizontal, then the diagonal. This results in the pattern looking much the same on the back as it does on the front.

The Sashiko mini sampler kit from Minature Rhino came with the patterns already marked so it was a good introduction to Sashiko embroidery. I found it easier to control the tension than with “regular” embroidery. I’m not sure if that was because of the stiffness of the fabric or the different method of stitching. I liked the way the sampler looked so rather than cut it apart as suggested, I decided to buy some white duck fabric to match the white lines that separated the squares and turn it into a pillow.

Perfect for the work room/guest room futon covered with a blue and white quilt made by my younger daughter (which I must note looks much better in person than in the photo) and with the batik fabric pillows I made a few years ago. I had been given the African fabric when I was in high school and had made it into a dress. Since it no longer fit me and I wanted to keep it, I turned it into pillows incorporating the dress buttons as well. I also recently added an abandoned and rescued vintage quilt with embroidered “Happy French Chef” panels to the back of the futon (a long before I got there family had sent it to school as a child’s napping blanket and had left it when the child graduated). For now my husband and cat get to appreciate it all while I do yoga in the living area but someday we may even have guests sleep on our futon again!

“Like Living in a Memory Bottle”

When I registered for the Art Against the Flow summit in 2018 I had the opportunity to register for a Chicago Collections Crawl the day before as well but I passed for a couple of reasons – additional cost, the fact that only conference attendees could register so I’d be by myself, and a fear that the collectors would be rich and snooty and I would feel intimidated. Then a woman I met at the summit who had gone on the crawl was raving about Susann Craig and her collection and said if I ever got a chance to go on another tour I should do it. So when Intuit offered a virtual tour of two collections including Susann’s to members recently I signed right up. I was glad to find that Susann’s collection is amazing and that she is not intimidating at all. Her apartment is overflowing with folk art and outsider art. As she pointed out some of the pieces, she uttered the line “…like living in a memory bottle” and said she feels a connection to and has a story for each piece in her collection. And I thought that’s exactly how I feel about living in my home with my more modest collections!

Photo by Kendall Reeves from “A Home of Her Own” by Nancy R. Hiller

Unfortunately we only got to see a tiny part of her collection and now I definitely want to see more. I found these photos online and I also found out her home is featured in a book called “A Home of Her Own” by Nancy Hiller which I’ve ordered. I also saw that Susann has given quite a few home tours in the past so I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to go on one in the future.

In Our Neighborhood – Angel of Death

A couple of weeks ago I was walking down Broadway and I was surprised by this sculpture on the sidewalk. Literally surprised, as due to Covid 19 evasive sidewalk weaving, I almost walked into it. I stepped back and took a look around to try to figure out what it was doing there. Was it connected to the mysterious gym it was in front of – mysterious because all the windows are covered with photographs on blue film and according to the sign on the door even before Covid 19 you had to make an appointment and then text them that you had arrived in order to be let in. Or was it one of the sculptures of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibition that I’d seen around the neighborhood before? Although those usually had a bit more real estate and signs identifying them. I looked around but couldn’t find a sign either near the sculpture or on the gym. Whichever it was I thought she was pretty impressive so I snapped a picture.

The other day I walked by the angel again and this time there was a Chicago Sculpture Exhibition sign in front of it. Turns out it is The Angel of Death by Jack Howard-Potter. I did some googling and found out that the Chicago Sculpture Exhibition (CSE) is a 501c3 organization whose mission is to bring art to neighborhoods. The organization puts out a call to artists each year. The juried selections are installed for a year and the artists receive a stipend. CSE is funded by private sector contributions and The Angel of Death is sponsored by East Lake View Neighbors which I guess explains the location.

Mermaid Incorporation

I got two new mermaids for Christmas! My sister gave me a mermaid tile and I knew that it had to go in our bathroom above the sink with the other tiles. They started at the wall on the left side but only went to the end of the counter on the right side so there was a space but at first I wasn’t sure if it would look unmoored over there. It fit so perfectly in that space I knew that was where she needed to go.

“Guitarra”
Sher Stevens
My new tile all the way on the right

I like that she is right next to another guitar playing mermaid but I thought it might be better if there was something underneath so I brought the clothes drying rack over from the other bathroom to anchor her a bit.

My younger daughter and her family purchased the other mermaid in Saugatuck when they went there for a Fall weekend. At first I wasn’t sure where she would go but it turned out she wanted to be on the gallery wall.

“Mami Wati Mermaid”
B. Paxon
My other new mermaid hanging out with the lizards above a paper cut mermaid from my brother and sister in law and one fashioned from an oil can from my sister.

The mermaid came with handwritten tags that identify her as a Mami Wata Mermaid and state “Mami Wata is a water spirit found in Africa and the Caribbean. She often appears in a dream. She offers health, wealth, and freedom to those who honor her.” Given her origin and other images of Mami Wata I’ve seen, I found her complexion surprising! But be that as it may, as my mother used to say, she’s a nice addition to the gallery wall.

The gallery wall still sports some Christmas decorations including the deer candleholders which never really worked in other spots but are perfect on my older daughter’s bench.

In My Daughter’s Neighborhood

Two years ago on a street a few blocks west and south of my daughter’s house a neighbor erected arches covered with lights over the sidewalk to enhance their Christmas decorations. The next year surrounding neighbors began erecting them too.

And this year they spread even further into the neighborhood along the same street and on the parallel streets and the cross streets. We’d see more every time we went to visit and one day when we arrived our son in law and his neighbors were installing them on their street. In the daytime you can see that they are PVC pipes wound with lights and at night they become truly magical.

Our granddaughters under the arches as they try out the roller skates we gave them on Christmas morning

Christmas Windows 2020

For the most part we decorate the same way every Christmas but each year I make new decorations for the windows. In Chicago I’ve been making one large decoration for each north facing window and this year I made Swedish snoblomma – snow flowers.

In the kitchen I’ve hung the garland that used to hang in our kitchen window in Northampton above our kitchen sink above our kitchen sink here as well even though we have no window here in Chicago. This year I made Christmas Tree Farm signs and hung them with purchased red trucks and a red car carrying Christmas trees. I saw the signs on a blog post I could never find again but I remembered pretty well what to do. I found the small unpainted sign boxes and stained them and then downloaded Christmas Tree Farm signs from the internet and sized them to fit. I glued them in and covered them with mod podge.

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