Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Hide and Seek

It happens every year during the last week in October.  I go on a sort of Easter egg hunt, only it isn’t Easter, and it sure isn’t eggs I’m after.  I’m hunting for something much sweeter.  The Halloween candy.

We always buy plenty.  Much, much, more than we’ll really need for the big night.  The way I figure it, we can spare a bag or two, and certainly a few pieces at the very least.  It’s not like I’d be depriving any of the ghosts or witches who turn up on our doorstep tonight, their hard earned reward.

But still, the candy disappears.  Hidden some place where I supposedly won’t find it.  I guess I’ve shown my husband one too many times that I can’t be trusted to exercise self control. (He’s right, of course.)

brachs candy

After searching out the obvious hiding place, and a few more creative ones, I come up empty handed.  Once again, Stuart has done his job well. 

Part of me is disappointed, but another part of me is glad.  Actually finding the candy would involve some tricky decision making.  Like how much to help myself to, and whether or not to confess  my sins.

I guess I’ll just make myself wait until this evening, when the candy will reappear, and be left out in plain sight, no less.  With all the confusion of trick or treaters coming, and the doorbell ringing, and the dogs going crazy, well no one will be keeping an eye on me…

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Happy Halloween, everyone!  And here’s wishing you endless pieces of your Halloween favorites!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



It’s hard to believe that next Monday is Halloween, and then begins the season for counting blessings. I don’t need a special holiday to be thankful for my daughter, though.

Before she was born, and after she arrived, we were like any other new parents. We read articles from the experts on the best ways to create a smart baby. We bought toys designed to stimulate brain development. We wondered about preschool, and which lessons and activities would optimize her chances for success later in life.

Amy Bunny

All of this is great. All of this is fine. It should be the desire of every parent to want the very best for his or her child.  But I’ve realized that we have done a good job in raising our soon to be 16 year old Amy, but not for the reasons that years ago I would have thought I needed to list.

I am proud to say that Amy is kind and caring, compassionate and helpful, and she always sees the good in everyone she meets.  She may never be a rocket scientist, or be a billionaire, win a Nobel Prize or even be the next movie star—but the world is most definitely a better place because of her.


Monday, October 24, 2011


Yesterday we went for a long walk along a section of the “Rails to Trails.”  This particular stretch is named the John Wayne Trail, although Kona and Willow were more impressed with the attractions that were off the trail…

We were impressed with the beauty of fall.  It’s come to our valley in a big way, and the color this year is spectacular!  Please enjoy these pictures I took-





I asked this wooly caterpillar for his predictions about the severity of the coming winter, but he wasn’t talking.

So to help prepare myself, I’ve gathered two of  my favorite recent vintage finds:

It can get pretty blustery here when the winds of late autumn blow.  Even though this bottle-from either the 40’s or 50’s-is empty, I still think it will help me. At $4.00 it was too charming to resist!


And on cold and dark fall and winter nights, I can read by the glow of this pumpkin colored lamp.  A steal at $3.99!

Have you carved your jack-o-lanterns yet, or are you waiting until next weekend-like we are?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Getting it Right


I’ve been spending the past few days doing something I should have done a long time ago-getting serious about my Etsy shop photos.  For the Love of Pete has been in existence for almost four years now, and up until this point I haven’t put that much work into my pictures.  In my own defense, it hasn’t been for lack of wanting to, but I was just so intimidated by the whole idea.

And then last week, I got the shoes.  I knew they would make an excellent photo prop, but there was a catch.  I was the only one able to wear them-they are too big for Amy, plus she has a pretty hard class schedule this year. With lots of homework every night,  she simply doesn’t have the time to help me.  I had one alternative.  Learn to use the automatic timer on my camera and take pictures of myself, and while I was at it, learn to master some lighting techniques too.  As you can tell in the above photo-I found out that I have to hold perfectly still in order to get a clear image.  After setting the timer and getting into place many, many times, my legs got tired from wearing the shoes, but I kept at it, and I now have several good photos in my shop.


I also decided to experiment with different backgrounds for some of my other pictures, opting for colorful and bold instead of white.  (First I even tried a piece of plywood for my background, but that didn’t look so good!) 

So what’s my point in all of this?  Too many times I think we all tend to believe that we can’t learn to do something new.  We sell ourselves short and give up before we even begin.  But we can!  I like to think my pictures prove that.

Is there something new you’ve found the courage to try?  Something that seemed overwhelming, but you gave it a shot anyway?  I’d like to hear about it.


P.S.  I’m proud to be using my dad’s old footlocker from his Navy days, too!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Terror in Daylight


Every fall, we make a trip to the local nursery to get our Halloween pumpkins. And every year I end up, for a short time, scared out of my wits. Why? Because I’m afraid of the soon to be Jack-o-Lanterns we buy? No. My fear stems from something much more sinister.

The corn maze.

On the surface, what’s to be afraid of? It’s a small maze, and from the outside I can see where its borders are. Some of the stalks aren’t even that tall. It’s a maze designed to be fun for the smallest of children. I know all of this. Plus, it’s broad daylight as we head for the “ENTER” sign.

But once we are in there, among the corn, my sense of reason leaves me. I am the last to go into the maze. Stuart heads down one row, Amy heads down another. My indecision lasts for just a few seconds, but it’s long enough to allow the corn to swallow them both up. I start down the path that Amy has chosen, hitting one dead end after another, the corn  suddenly seeming much taller than it did from the outside. As hard as I try to stay calm, I am gripped with the unreasonable terror that if I ever do get out, my family will have vanished, never to be seen again. I’m about ready to run blindly through the stalks and make my own exit (strictly against the rules, by the way-but then so is leaving your parents unattended) when I suddenly catch up with Stuart.  I’m ok after all, and maybe I’m even having fun. “Have you tried going that way?” I ask him. But when I turn to hear his reply, he has vanished again.

For two years, when I was a kid, my family lived next to a big corn field in Pennsylvania. “Stay out of the corn,” my mother would warn us. Why, I wondered? But I never asked. Maybe it was best not to know. When I was older, I read some Stephen King stories, and I understood. Terrible, terrible things happen in fields of corn.

I am so spooked by this time, and so lost in my thoughts of worry and regret for even allowing this trip into the corn maze, that I can hardly see. And then all of a sudden, I am standing in a clearing. Miraculously, I have found my way out. Stuart is right behind me again, and Amy is up ahead, running in the grass and playing with a fat brown cat named Pumpkin. I take a deep breath, straighten the collar on my coat, pull a stray piece of corn silk from my hair, and soon I’m laughing and enjoying the beauty of a bright fall day in October.

I do have just one last piece of advice though.

Don’t ever, ever go, into a corn maze after dark…


Photo sourced from the internet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


fall walnut tree

My grandma had a walnut tree in her yard.  Tall and massive, and I’m guessing as old as my grandma, it was situated next to the driveway, near the street.  Even though my grandma is gone now, has been for years, I hope the tree is still there.

It was her fall ritual.  To go out and pick up the fallen walnuts.  I guess that’s how you harvest walnuts.  You pick them up.  You don’t have to climb up and get them.  Not that my grandma wouldn’t have tried. In her early nineties, she insisted on mowing her own yard with an electric mower, the long power cord always trailing precariously around her feet.

Those walnuts.  I remember the sound they made when the tires of passing cars crunched over the ones that had fallen in the street.  Grandma would take a box, or basket, or whatever container was handy, and pick up the fallen nuts from her yard and driveway.  She’d carry them up to her attic where they would dry over the winter, waiting to be cracked open the next spring. She did not own a nut cracker, but seated at an old TV tray in her kitchen, armed with a cutting board and hammer, she would slam the nuts out of their shells, walnut shrapnel flying everywhere.  She would crack nuts by day, and when insomnia struck, she would get up, and slam away in the middle of the night.

At Christmas time, we could always count on getting a package from her, and the contents never varied.  A jar of her mincemeat, and a jar of her walnuts.  The walnuts were like gold. My mother used them sparingly so they would last as long as possible.  (They were also used cautiously as bits of shell were bound to be mixed with the nuts.)

I have my grandma's mincemeat recipe.  Amy and I make a batch every year.  I like to think it’s every bit as good as that which my  grandma made.  I miss those walnuts, though. We buy a bag at Christmas time now, because there is no package coming in the mail. Because there is no longer a grandma who lives at the house with the walnut tree in the yard. 

I just hope the tree is still there.

I’m missing my Grandma Helen today.  I wanted to write this little tribute to her.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Revealed! The Bathroom Makeover



before 1_thumb[1]


before 2_thumb[1]

Not very much to love here.  Bad wallpaper, wood paneling that had seen better days, funny angles and corners, a dirty glass shower enclosure…It seemed hopeless.


But with some new paint, in two different hues of green-on the walls, wood paneling, built in shelves, and wall cabinets, and by taking out the glass doors and putting up a barkcloth shower curtain (that I made), installing a new sink and light fixtures, the transformation began to take place. (I am so thankful to have a husband who knows a thing or two about electrical work and plumbing!)



I found this wall mounted hand dish and thought it would make a good hand towel holder.



I found these two dishes at Goodwill.  They used to be part of a 50’s lazy Susan snack set.  They will be useful for keeping small items like Amy’s hair bands organized.



A couple more vintage finds-a really neat piece of art pottery that can hold wash cloths, and a 50’s plastic kleenex box cover.  I splurged on two new sets of towels and new bath rugs-both on sale for 50% off!



The biggest expenditure was the two new light fixtures.  I wish my pictures did them more justice, but they are really gorgeous.  I got them from a company out of Portland, Oregon called Rejuvenation.  I also found the new soap holder and cup holder there too.  An incredible source for old house style lighting and fixtures.





I was not crazy about the wall cabinet and medicine chest, but they were too good to get rid of, and so I just painted them.  They look much better now.



So there you have it! 


If I’d had an unlimited budget, I would love to have had a claw foot tub and new floor too, but I am really pleased with how this project turned out.  I never could have imagined that such an ugly duckling of a bathroom could turn into such a swan!


Pinup art by artist Joyce Ballantyne (1918-2006)  She is best known for her iconic 1959 Coppertone ad with the little girl and the naughty dog. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Right One

Part of the finishing touch I give to every bag I sew is the addition of a vintage button.  I am extremely picky about this.  For me, it’s such an important detail, that I’ve even delayed finishing a bag when I can’t find just the right button that works.  Great barkcloth and high quality workmanship are always a given.  It’s finding the right button that is the unknown element.  The deal maker, or breaker, so to speak.

I was so excited to come across the collection of buttons above.  They are all winners, and they will all inspire me at some point in the future.  I love the big and bold ones.  I love the small, playful ones.  In short-I love a great vintage button.

This black button has to be the most enormous button I’ve ever come across. ( I’m wondering if I’ll need a building permit when I decide to use it some day!)

My question for you is-what part of your craft has to be just right?  Is there one detail in what you do, that if you can’t get it just right you are not satisfied?  This is a unusual question I know-but I’d love to know your thoughts!

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Fall!

It seems each morning now, the temperature dips a little lower.  Soon, we'll have our first freeze. 

Yesterday, Amy harvested  the pumpkins and gourds from our garden.  I love the colors!


I did some deadheading and cleaning up in the flower beds.


And we picked an autumn bouquet for the table.

This season conjures up so many feelings for me-sadness over the ending of another summer, nostalgia for times gone by, a sense of urgency that I must prepare for the coming winter, and a feeling of excitement over something I can never quite put my finger on.  It’s the time of year for woolen coats, and hearty soups and sidewalks scattered with fallen leaves.  It’s the potion of the calendar that I love most of all.

Happy fall, my dear readers!  Here’s wishing each of  you the best these golden months have to offer.