Saturday, May 23, 2015

Homemade Bread - The Total Package

I've always said that some of my goals with my blog are to promote family traditions, to show how vintage can play an important role in telling your family story, and how frugal living can actually improve your quality of life.  Nothing accomplishes all three of those goals at once like baking bread.

It's the total package, frugal, soulful, and delicious!

Bread Baking a Rewarding Tradition - Feeding the Soul

I can't say it any better than Meg Cox, a traditions expert states, "There is a great difference between routine and ritual. Routines are obligatory activities that require little or no thought. Rituals encompass spirit, magic, and that overused word, empowerment, to transform you to new levels of accomplishment and being."  She goes on to outline how rituals benefit children.  

Ten Good Things Rituals Do for Children

1. Impart a sense of identity
2. Provide comfort and security
3. Help to navigate change
4. Teach values
5. Pass on ethnic or religious heritage
6. Teach practical skills
7. Solve problems
8. Keep alive a sense of departed family members
9. Help heal from loss or trauma
10. Generate wonderful memories

Baking with your children or grandchildren does or can actualize all of the above.  Your children or grandchildren will take pride in saying our family makes our own bread.  Cooking and baking are a great way to use reading and math skills in everyday life.  The importance of learning and taking tasks one at a time leading to a great outcome.  It affords you time for small talk and sharing things that have happened during the week.  It's also a great time to share things you did with your parents or grandparents passing along your family story.  These are the things which unite us as families. They build and strengthen family bonds and help to create a strong sense of identity.

Another lovely thing about using bread baking as a ritual is the variety of bread recipes which are seasonal.  As everyone's skill level increases, your weekly bread recipe can change as an outward expression of the seasons, holidays and family celebrations.  Even combative siblings can find common ground in the kitchen and learn to work together.  Instill your family values, bread baking will help to create a positive family culture and build strong memories.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Wild Foamflowers are Blooming

"In nature every moment is new, the past is always swallowed and forgotten, the coming only is sacred.  Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit.  Ralph Waldo Emerson"

Come along with me and hike the back woods to a lush area where the Foamflowers are blooming in mass.  And yes, they're called Foamflowers (one word), it's not a typo!

It's spring up here in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Georgia.  Nature is on the move and the wild Foamflowers are blooming.  I promise you some enchanting views.  We've had a couple exciting sightings, the snakes are on the move, and our first bear; which really put me off hiking for a bit back in this area because it's exactly where he was headed.  Then our "resident" doe come check out my compost spot for any goodies like apple peels.  I know she has at least one fawn hidden away near by.

Click on any photograph it will take you to a larger view.

Wild Foamflowers in North Georgia
I'm slowly learning the names of the wild flowers and which ones are edible.  I've been drying some wild flowers thinking it would be nice to make wild flower potpourri.  I didn't get as many wild violas this spring because it rained almost everyday during the very short season (about 3 weeks).  So it's important I know which ones are poisonous to the touch beyond the normal poison ivy, oak and sumac.  Not to worry I successfully avoided all rashes!  Now bug bites are another matter.  They are kind of baked into the hiking cake.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Chinese Cloth Folk Art Dolls - A Research Case Study - Part Two

Part Two

Hello there!

Welcome to Part Two of the Research Case Study for Chinese Cloth Folk Art Dolls.  In many ways this is a prologue to my previous article which includes notable mentions, some lessons learned, and some things which didn't quite fit but are worthy includes.

You can read Part One HERE.

One of my first Tips was to make sure you ask a lot of questions when you are making your purchase.  Not sure what you should ask?  Here's the skinny on the questions to ask so get the most information you can about a find.  Not only will it save you time researching it will add value.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Where I've Been


It has been an unseemly Spring.  The juxtapostion of seeing flowers bloom in the winter of my Mother's life.  My Mother had a series of strokes about a month ago, combined with her increasing dementia, it hasn't been an easy time.  I've never had a moment in my life when I haven't in some way defined "time" by a rememberence or visualization of my Mother.  Her life, my life, our lives and the world that surrounded us both together and apart.  So many images, like the red dress just like the one she wore, holidays, poems and songs all convoluted into a whirlwind of now vanishing memories.

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments

It is so often the littlest of things, she asks "What were your favorite things I used to cook?"  And oh, if she could just smell Grandma's bread baking one more time.  Mother, when was the happiest time of your life?  "When I was living in the lake house.  Those where the happiest years."  In my mind I flip though the pictues of parties and celebrations.  Yes, that was a good time wasn't it.

I'm just now really getting back into the swing of things as my focus hasn't been on blogging or my shop.  While I will get back to the "regularly scheduled programing" right now I just want to be real. I'm a emotional creature, an introvert in many ways trying to break free of my communication limitations and just share.  In the end there is only love.  As Mother's Day approaches, in my mind I hear the Beatles song In My Life play, and I think yes, more than all the people and things that have gone before, in my life I love you more.  A 50's and 60's housewife, was so much more than the dress she wore.  One day I'll share.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chinese Cloth Folk Art Dolls - A Research Case Study - Part One



1950's Chinese Dolls can be found in CreekLifeTreasures shop on Etsy


It is impossible to know "everything" antiques and vintage, professional appraisers and collectors have specialties.  That said, growing the skills and proficiency required to answer questions and build not only your knowledge base but also your reference "library" of links are key.  Most vintage sellers have a good general knowledge, are committed and actively work to expand their capacity and hone their research skills.  In our "at your fingertips" information age, researchers are fortunate for the plethora of online resources.  Not only via web sites but also the many detailed and comprehensive blogs created by collectors.  Naturally, there are vintage and antique guides which can be purchased or loaned from the library.  The downside of printed pricing materials is they're oft outdated.  Good practices still require a thorough search online to verify accuracy. Within all this it's important to not overlook the story.  It is the framework, comprised of the history and the provenance of an item, which is important.

With smart phones, Etsy, eBay, and Facebook support groups, along with pricing apps a lot of research happens on the fly.  Frankly much of researching is pretty mundane, checking the current market prices, nailing down a year of manufacture, verifying it's not a reproduction worse yet a counterfeit prior to a purchase.  But then, every once in a while you come up with something you know is special but you haven't a clue, you go with your gut and make a purchase without any knowledge.  Once home you begin the process of researching and appraising an item in preparation to list it for sale.

This case study begins with one such occasion and my first research tip.


Mimi of CreekLifeTreasures, on Etsy, purchase the three Asian cloth dolls pictured above.  It was one of those estate sales which is the real deal.  Retired military family, life-long collectors of just about "everything" especially Chinese Art and Artifacts says Mimi.  A "huge home with a full attic, and had room to keep everything.  I think more than anything they simply didn't throw anything away"  Mimi went on to say, "They had full decorative Chinese robes that were also for sale.  The first thing that sold was a jadeite hand mirror for $7,500.00, the man drove 4 hours one way and stood in line for over 4 hours to get it.  It was that kind of sale, I so want a 'do over'." "The entire house was like a museum." Who wouldn't!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

John Martin's Spool Pets Kitty Cat No. 1. 1930

John Martin's SPOOL PETS KITTY CAT NO. 1. 
Wooden Display of  Spool Pet Miss Kitty aka Kitty Cat No. 1.

Her green eyes captured my heart and made me smile.  Back in 2011 when I was researching my  wooden advertising display version of John Martin's SPOOL Pets KITTY Cat No. 1. I learned she was inspired by a J&P Coats and Clark O.N.T.* thread trading card copyrighted in 1930.

*Note:  O.N.T. - Clark's O.N.T. thread  - What O.N.T. stands for, according to the "All Things Ruffnerian" blog, "In 1806, Napoleon blockaded Great Britain, which meant that silk thread was not available to British weavers. The Clark family had a loom supply company and they were also big suppliers of silk thread.At the time of the blockade, Peter Clark developed a method of combining cotton threads so that they were strong and smooth enough to be used in place of silk, and he advertised this important advancement as "Our New Thread."

My finding was, whether created by an individual or provided by the J.P. Clark Company, she was used as display.  She is obviously screen printed (as apposed to hand painted) and would have been sitting on top of a wooden Coats and Clark thread display.  Her dimensions are 4" tall x 2 1/4" wide x 2 1/2" deep.  She bears no manufacturers markings and was attached to a large spool of J.P. Coats black thread.  Highly lovable right down to her soiled natty little tail!  She was my fourth sale and sold for $29.00 not including shipping.  Although I was sad to see her go, she was adopted by a "good home" and is loved.

Initially there were 6 pets available 1. KITTY CAT, 2. PUPPY DOG, 3. BOB BUNNY, 4. HAL HORSE, 5. CLARA COW and 6. PETE PIG.   Each of which were included in your purchase of Coats and Clark bias trim or you could send 5 cents to THE SPOOL COTTON COMPANY, Dept. 101, P.O. Box 551, Newark, New Jersey if you wanted all six.  A First Class stamp was 3 cents in 1930.

Now days they'd be downloadable on the companies web site or blog.  Hey, some are!  Coats and Clark blog has a wonderful bit of history including the second release of a Spool project called "Spool Zoo".  You can read all about it there and you'll find a great free downloadable graphic perfect for a child's tee-shirt project.

John Martin's SPOOL PET No. 1. KITTY CAT via Pinterest

According to in the 1930's, depending on where you lived, a nickel would purchase a loaf of bread, or a can of pork and beans, or one pound of fresh peas, or a couple of oranges, or a half a gallon of gas.  In other words, a nickel could be important to a family during the Depression.

My mother, born in 1926 to a farming family, had very few toys when growing up resulting in a love of toys as an adult.  Educated as a Home Economics teacher she passed on the love of sewing and all things crafty.  So, when I had to choose an avatar for myself when I opened my vintage shop on Etsy, I couldn't think of anything better than Kitty to represent me as an avatar.  Kitty knows good vintage!  Kitty embodied a part of my past, my family's past, and certainly my present.  Who could ask for more?

Link to John Martin's Spool Pets Search on Pinterest

Kitty knows good vintage!
I imported a photograph of her into GIMP a free image editing program and "posterized" her.  I love that I see her everyday.  She's a playful reminder of our past, how vintage and handmade go hand in hand, and is steeped in American history.

When a new Google+ friend asked about my avatar, commenting that she looked similar to a baby toy of hers handmade by her mother, I decided to create this post.  That's one of the lovely things about selling vintage.  It pricks at memories, the little things that really aren't so little, which sometimes become the "thread" used to create and share family stories, traditions and heirlooms.  For me, it doesn't get any better than that.  If +Margaret Siemers can find her toy, which is now packed away, I'll add it to the post.

UPDATE:  Meet Kitty Kye who inspired this post.

Made in the 1950's by  Margaret's mother in anticipation of her birth Kitty Kye.

Margaret says Kitty Kye's body was from a kit.  Kye is 8" tall and 6" wide constructed with a feed-sack front and muslin back, I see researching vintage cat toy kits in my future!  She wonders if the embellishments were Spool Pet inspired.  Could be?While I can't answer that, I can say Kye's adorable and in fabulous condition!

If you have a Spool Pets story you'd like to share, send it to me and I'll post it, or feel free to add it to the comments below.

Deb AKA Kitty