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Day of the Dead 2022

Remembering Julie and Mr. Burns today.

Fall 2022

We started our Fall decorating with some dried pods we got in Saugatuck. We saw them in the window of a closed small wellness store while we were waiting for a restaurant table one night and I have no idea what plant they’re from but I loved them so I went back the next day to buy them.

Then we began adding some tried and true elements – the pillow I made from a quilt block my sister sewed on the bench, the grapevine branches with the Fall ornaments in the living room, and the black Halloween trees in the dining room area. I also hung up the grapevine wreath with the Day of the Dead ornaments that I made last year. And we have a new piece of furniture this year so we had a new space to decorate!

Our neighbor moved to California for a year and rented her apartment unfurnished so we inherited a tall bookcase that seemed like it was made for our apartment. At first I thought it would go between the china cabinet and the bench and it fit but was overpowering so we moved the small bookcase there permanently (instead of just for Christmas) and put the large bookcase next to the sideboard. I filled it with the large bowl my sister gave me for Christmas last year, the Alexander Girard book my husband gave me for Christmas many years ago, a few art books and a bowl a friend gave me for Christmas one year on top of a little wooden stand from India that I bought at Marshalls as well as our Christmas memory books and a good chunk of our other memory books. I thought this new bookcase would be a good place to put the velvet pumpkins this year. There are some on the top shelf, some on the middle shelf in the bowl and on the stack of art books, and two on the Christmas book shelf below. On the top shelf I also put the wooden mushrooms I bought last year along with a new one I bought at an art fair this summer from Donzell Gordon.

I put a spooky barber shop I bought at an end of the season sale at World Market last year on the small bookcase. It needed something to camouflage the wooden bottom and the spooky graveyard skeletons we bought at that store that was going out of business a few years ago was perfect.

I was taken with a cute gnome on Instagram holding a lantern so I made two (and another little gnome holding a pumpkin when I came across the pumpkin buttons I got at the recycle table at the dump in Northampton several years ago) When my grandchildren came over I invited them to make some peg people too. They were spending the night and we watched Over The Garden Wall and I kept thinking the main character would make a cute peg person so I made him the next day.

My older granddaughter’s changing seasons people- Spring to Summer and Fall to Winter
My younger granddaughter’s Fall peg people and my Wirt from Over The Garden Wall along with some of the Fall fairies I made many years ago.

And finally I searched for a vintage Halloween card to make my trick or treats this year and since they featured a pumpkin headed witch ghost I paired them with pumpkin candies.

Vacation Shopping

One of my favorite parts of going on vacation is the opportunity to shop in different stores. On our latest vacation it was too cold and rainy to go to the beach the first day so we decided to check out a store I knew about because I follow one of the owners on Instagram. The Found Cottage was further than I thought it was from Saugatuck but it certainly was not as far as the trip we took the time I thought it would be a good idea to detour to Athens, Georgia on the way from Savannah to Atlanta to visit the store of potter Rebecca Wood after she was featured in Country Living. Luckily the road to Hudsonville did not involve a detour and a two hour rural traffic jam. And when we got there it was the perfect place to putter around in for awhile as it included individual booths around a large open floor filled with many items both new and antique. I bought a new wooden tree for my latest Christmas collection and this cute little pumpkin made with a soft gray tshirt like fabric.

For now (since it isnt September yet) the pumpkin is perched here waiting for the rest of the Fall decorations including a new arrangement of dried seed pods we bought in Saugatuck.

Shopping in Saugatuck is always one of the highlights of vacationing there especially if we happen to be there during their Sidewalk Sales Day which happened again this year. The Amazwi Gallery is one of my favorite stores in Saugatuck and I was thrilled to find something I loved on their Sidewalk Sale table. The zebra gourd shaker obviously belonged in my collection.

He fits perfectly in the living room window corner.

In South Haven, Michigan They

Have artist painted bike racks:

And utility boxes:

And plant related sculptures:

Suns Are Having a Moment

I started collecting suns as a teenager and they have always been around, especially in garden stores, but lately they seem to be becoming even more popular. My daughter gave me a roll of sun wrapping paper for Christmas and while I didn’t have enough space to hang a sheet of it I decided it was too pretty to just put away in a closet so it found a space next to the one of the CD shelves.

We found some sun napkins at World Market and then my husband gave me a sun mug for my birthday. Perfect for my morning tea!

World Market also had a sun pillow which I didn’t like but it got me thinking that I needed a sun pillow for my bench. I thought a dish towel I found at Inkling would make a perfect bench pillow especially if I added some tassels.

And speaking of sun pillows, my Birmingham niece sent us some new pillowcases.

My husband said he wanted the moon one because the sun one might keep him awake but since it also includes moons I don’t think I’ll have a problem!


I’ve become aware lately of varied pieces of mermaid art in Starbucks. Or Siren art according to Starbucks. Their website says: “The siren is like a super mermaid. A mermaid with one tail is just a plain ol’ mermaid. (Sorry, Ariel.) But a siren is often depicted with two tails.” This is all they have to say about Sirens – they don’t address the mythology of sirens and their voices that lure sailors to their death nor do they give examples of any sirens with two tails (other than the label on their source picture)

The image that Starbucks adapted (top) and the original Starbucks logo

According to the Mermaids of Earth website: “Twin tailed mermaid are not uncommon in history at all, dating back at least to the 7th century…When depicted with a crown, old mermaid illustrations almost certainly refer to the story of Melusine, who according to legend was transformed into a mermaid every Saturday. She married Prince Raymondin of Poitou – without mentioning her little transformation problem – and with him founded the royal House of Lusignan and bore him 10 or 11 children. The house of Lusignan ruled much of Europe from the 12th through the 15th centuries so Melusine would clearly have been entitled to wear a crown.”

Be that as it may, as my mother would say, whether you call them mermaids, sirens, or Melusine you can find a lot of different renderings of them at different Starbucks.

It’s kind of hard to see because of the lights shining down on it but this art at Navy Pier in Chicago pictures Navy Pier floating in a coffee cup with the mermaid’s two tails wrapped around the cup as she peers over the top on the right.
At another Starbucks in Chicago this piece looks like a linoleum or wood cut. A Google search for Starbucks mermaid art led me to an Australian design company who installed one of these “design by Starbucks” pieces and a description of how they achieved the “lino look”
Two other pieces from rest area Starbucks that we stopped at on a recent road trip east.

I can’t wait to find more!

Latest Creations

Several years ago a friend gave me some old embroidery supplies that I think belonged to her mother. I started using them when I began doing hoop embroidery last year and in the middle of embroidering my Stitchtober fairy tale piece the inner part of the vintage embroidery hoop broke. I would have just thrown it out except that it had a vintage label on it from F.W. Woolworth’s that included the price – two for a dollar – and the country of origin – Taiwan.

It just hung around broken for awhile and then I realized what to do with it. I could use it to frame a vintage image. And maybe because I had been to three Henry Darger exhibits at the Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art over the last year, I thought of searching for an old coloring book page to use as an image.

I found this little girl and with Henry Darger in mind, I thought she would be perfect. I had some challenges transferring the image to my fabric. This time I just traced directly onto the fabric but since I don’t have a light table I have to use the window and it is challenging. Getting her face right was quite difficult but I finally had to accept that I had done the best I could and as long as I don’t compare her to the original I’m pretty happy with it.

I used some of the vintage embroidery thread on her dress and apron and her hair. The label is on the right on the side of the hoop.

I was almost finished with her when I had to stop to take a road trip to go to a wet felting class with Dawn Edwards I had signed up for with my felting friend. We could have taken a weekend long hat felting class but since our first foray into wet felting had been with the master hat felter Beth Beede, we opted for the Friday Flower felting. We were imagining flowers with stems and while Dawn did show us how to do that, the main focus of the class was on flower embellishments. I made most of a poppy at the class and when I got home after I finished the embroidery, I needlefelted a center for the poppy and added some beads for seeds. I think I’m going to attach it to a headband and turn it into a sort of fascinator.

I plan to tackle some flowers with stems next but I’m not sure if I will wet felt or needlefelt them.

New Mermaid!

The best thing about collectors is that they collect for others as well. So when my collector niece saw a mermaid plate at her friend’s “living estate sale” she knew it was for me. Her daughter gifted us the plate when she came to stay with us for a week.

There was a space waiting just for her in the bedroom. I was intrigued by her so I googled the name “Antoni” and Denmark which were on the back. In 1963 the artist Ib Antoni was commissioned by The Tourist Association of Copenhagen to make a poster to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the sculpture of The Little Mermaid on Langelinie in Copenhagen.

New York has the Statue of Liberty and London has the Bobby. The Little Mermaid is and will always be the best symbol of Copenhagen Ib Antoni

The plate was designed by Antoni for the Danish porcelain manufacturer Bing & Grondahl. I like the changes especially how the bird has hopped off the photographer’s head to occupy one point of the mermaid’s tail while the photographer now stands on the other.

Art Studio – Collage

We have been exploring collage in the Chicago Children’s Museum art studio. First we offered black or gold background paper and different types of paper to collage with – solid colors, textured, patterned, recycled art projects, pages from magazines and calendars, crepe paper, and old postage stamps.

We also offered hole punchers, foam shapes, and tape and since we were encouraging guests to think about ways to shape and cut paper without cutting we presented the scissors at the “educator bar” rather than on the tables or with the center additional materials.

And then after awhile we switched it up and talked about Hebru Brantley and images of flying and challenged guests to think about Things that Fly and create collages inspired by flying. We placed markers and scissors on the tables and offered blue background paper and cotton balls and polyester filling to create clouds.

With these changes the collages took on a whole different look!

Potatoes and Tomatoes

Since my grandnieces like balls so much I wanted to make them another type of food that they could also use as balls for their birthday. After thinking about strawberries for a bit I realized that tomatoes were a better option. I found a felt tomato pattern that used 4 pointy egg shape pieces. My first attempt came out looking more square than round but adding another section solved that problem. I made them three tomatoes each and also made some produce baskets out of stiffened green felt.

Recently my youngest granddaughter wanted to show off her clean play kitchen area and when I went to check it out I was pleased to see the needlefelted potatoes I had made them after seeing some similar ones at the children’s area of the Swedish museum.

I had this little paper bag with the see through window which reminded me of a potato bag so I had searched online and printed some potato bag images to add. They’ve held up better than I thought they would!

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