Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Topsy-Turvy World

At an estate sale last weekend, I found this little treasure. I love dolls, and handmade dolls are even more special in my eyes than "store bought"! This little vintage gal could easily be older than I am and was very well made. The thing that is special about her is that she has two personalities.

 She is a type of "dolly conjoined twin" called a "topsy-turvy doll". 

 Here you can see that if you flip her over you will find her other half.
 There are a couple of theories about how these interesting dolls originated. It is known that they were first seen before the mid 1800's. These were the days of slavery, when white plantation babies were cared for by black slave women. 
One theory is that these dolls allowed little slave girls to practice caring for babies of different races, just like their mamas did.
Another theory is that little black slave girls were not allowed to have a white baby doll and this toy allowed them to flip their baby over to the "legal" side when being watched.
(There are probably more theories out there, but these are the two that are hotly debated.) 
I would love to know who first came up with this idea. Wasn't she clever!!! Perhaps she just wanted her daughter to have a fun and interesting toy!
There have been many variations of this concept over the years. When I was little, there was a popular Little Red Riding Hood with Grandma at the other end. If you flipped Grandma's bonnet over, the wolf's face was behind it.
Another idea was the sleeping baby on one end and the awake baby on the other.
A quick Google search will yield many variations.
In the meantime, I will enjoy owning this piece of Americana. I'll think of the busy fingers sewing away for someone they loved dearly. I am inspired to make my own version now. 
Watch for it! I've already started!

Monday, July 27, 2015

July 2015 Update on the Hill Country House

My flowers are doing well in the back patio area! They are protected from the deer.

That's a good thing, because the deer have been here in large groups. The bucks still have their velvet. This photo is taken through the dining room window, where we can watch them while we eat.
After these guys left, another visitor came along. A gray fox!

My oldest son was here all week, so we were busy having a good time. We did manage to get some things done, though.

 We got the rug down in the office. 

 We started organizing the pantry. (I don't have it stocked with many cans yet.)

 My son talked us into getting a P-Touch label maker to help with the job! I love it!

 I managed to create a temporary guest bedroom out of a 12' x 6/5' closet! It had wallpaper in it along with shelves, so I stripped them out and repainted tan over the dark maroon. I added a twin sized bed, a $5 thrift shop table, a lamp, and a rattan chair that I bought months ago for $4. The ottoman I had already along with the lamp and coral. The bedspread was an estate sale find for $5. I made the pillow by sewing a rectangle of burlap to a pillow I made from a canvas drop cloth. I hand painted the word "beach" on it. Later, some of these items will go in the beach bedroom I hope to create so I can showcase the large watercolor my sister did of my granddaughter and I on the beach.
A new Goodwill store opened in Kerrville and I bought this coffee table to replace the one I was using (and didn't like.) I touched up some dings with stain on a Q-tip!
We found these playing cards under one drawer.

I'll save another find for another day. I think it will bring back memories for a lot of you!

Monday, July 13, 2015

A "Bad Chair" Day and More Progress!

Now this is what I call "Fixer Upper" chairs! They were only $5 each, although some people think I should have been paid to haul them off!

 I tightened them up with wood glue, fixed a small split, and removed the old seats.

After a little sanding, they were ready for their makeover!

Chalk paint and a little selective distressing and they are ready for a seat!

I had pieces of upholstery left from other projects, see here, and I combined the scraps for the two seats I needed. I had to pay more for the foam used for the cushion than I did for the chairs or upholstery! 

(The Morris chair is still in the background, but will be eventually moved to the sewing room.)

My husband got all my shelves up in the "Butler's Kitchen". I cut out the brackets for the shelves, then stained and sealed all the pieces. I still need to fill the screw holes.  
 It is taking a LONG time to get this house the way we want it, but now that I can see progress, it is more fun! We still have a lot to do, but the main floor is close to being finished!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Still Working, But Enjoying the View!

We were at the Hill Country house this weekend, enjoying steaks my husband had grilled (YUM!!!) and also enjoying watching the wildlife just outside the dining room window! This sweet doe saw us and was curious about what we were doing.
 We did get some work done. The first photo below shows the installed countertop before I put the hand rubbed finish on it. The second shows it after.  The difference was even more noticeable in "real life"! The countertop is red cedar. I put a finish on it that is a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil. It feels silky and smooth after rubbing.

We installed a built in trash can in the working pantry. (I still need to do a little touching up where we removed the hinges on the cabinet door.)

We replaced my scroll saw (lost in the fire) and I will be cutting out brackets this week to hold the pantry shelves.

I've started playing around with the breakfast area. I found a couple of old farm chairs since this photo was taken, but they need to be painted and the seats recovered. ($5 each, so what do you expect?) The chairs seen here are extras from my dining room. This was my 1930's farmhouse table, chalk painted again in a brighter color than the gray I ended up with last time.

We did manage to attend a couple of estate sales on Friday and Saturday. I bought an old Navajo blanket. (Hand woven from wool). This is a LARGE blanket.

We also found a turn of the century Morris Chair. It was the first type of recliner sold. If you look closely, you can see a bar behind the seat back. That bar can be moved back on wooden "cradles" and the seat rests on it. The farther back you moved the bar, the farther back the seat will recline. I will recover the seat......some day! The original casters say 1894, but the chair could be a few years older.

My oldest son will be coming in a couple of 
weeks to help me organize my kitchen and pantry drawers and shelves, so we want to have all the shelves up before he gets here.

My sister and I still have some sewing news in the works, but we're waiting on some paperwork to come in before we can finalize it all. All that to say, I have been sewing, but I can't show you just yet! Stay tuned!
In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Happy Place!

I've been in the beautiful Portland, Oregon area for the last week. Wow! What gorgeous views! Beautiful yards! Breathtaking horizons!
 In the photo above you see Mt. Hood as it appears from Vista House at Crown Point, east of Portland. We could also see Mt. Hood from Portland because the skies were clear. In fact, they were having a freakish heat wave and it was hotter here than it was back home in Texas!

I had been sent a month's supply of HCF to try in exchange for an honest review and I finished it during this trip. I have to say that I could really tell a difference. I was warned that it might be a gradual thing, but I guess my body really needed those amino acids this supplement supplied. I have some serious food allergies and I think this supplied some things I might be missing by avoiding those foods.
 I am always a nervous wreck going through the entire airport experience, but I was calmer this time around. I also felt that it helped with the occasional depression I have always fought.  I consider myself a happy person, but that doesn't mean I don't sometimes deal with anxiety and worry.  I would certainly take it again! It is a little pricey, but you can save by enrolling in their auto-ship program. Even without the savings, it is cheaper than the gym or doctor! You can also get a free 14 day trial on their website. At least check it out. I was impressed.

I will have a lot to share in the next few weeks about progress in the hill country as well as some exciting sewing related news that is on the horizon. My year has been a whirlwind of travel and renovation work, but I still have my sewing machine humming during those quiet moments!
Speaking of sewing machines, look what I found for $37.50 at the thrift shop (they were having a 50% off sale)! It runs beautifully, too! (You can never have enough sewing machines, right?) It didn't come with any extra feet or accessories, but I know I can find those online.

I'll be back soon!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hill Country Update, June 2015

My life has been REALLY busy this spring and it doesn't appear to be slowing down now that summer is looming near! My husband and I are spending four days a week at the Hill Country house now instead of only weekends. That means we are getting twice as much accomplished! 
Someone asked me for a photo of the exterior of the house. It is really hard to get a good photo of this house. I took this photo last week.  
I attempted a photo of the front and because I was standing on a slope, the photo makes the house look like it's slanting down into the ground! The house is on a little over 2 acres, on a hill,  and is at the very highest point of hill!

This is the front, taken a year ago in winter. You can't see the front steps in this shot. The door to the left of center is to my sewing room.

In the last couple of weeks, we have made progress in the pantry kitchen. So far we have:
  • Had granite installed
  • Installed the appliance garage
  • Installed the dishwasher 
  • Installed the faucet 
In the main kitchen, we have:
  • Fit tested the red cedar island top for installation. (After installation, it will be waxed with butcher block wax.) In this photo, it is just sitting on top of the frame. The boards you see sticking out at the ends will be trimmed and corbels added. (We still have the refrigerator to tackle. The door needs fronts to match the cabinetry and the cabinet space above needs to be finished.)

  • Painted the hardware with a brushed nickle metal paint

  • Lined most drawers with cushioned shelf liner
  • Moved the food items to a different location in preparation for moving it to the pantry when shelves are installed.
  • I've played with how we might use the breakfast area off the kitchen. (I just pulled in extra furniture to see what could be done.) 

In other rooms, we have:
  • Played with furniture arrangement. (Unfortunately, we have determined that the sectional makes the room less functional when set up as an L shaped arrangement. I would like to replace the coffee table with a lower one, also.

  • My husband installed new ceiling fans. You can see the old white one as compared to the new wooden one here:
  • I've tweaked the bedroom decor.  

  • I chalk painted a $50 thrift shop dresser to use under the television in our bedroom. 
  • We bought the hardware to hang the television on the wall, but haven't done it yet.
  • We started opening up the dark, claustrophobic stairwell!!!! 
I'm very excited about showing the after on this one! It will take a while, though. We ended up removing quite a bit of the walls you see here, both in the doorway and the side with the railing. It's going to be so much better!!! (We haven't tackled the floors in this area yet, either.)
Outside in the fenced patio area, we:
  • Cleaned out old, overgrown shrubs and weeds.
  • Planted hydrangeas and roses in the terraced beds and installed drip systems on them.

  • Cleaned up existing rose bushes and pulled up all the overgrown "stuff" around them.
  •  Everything got a very thick layer of cypress mulch.
The shrub on the left has been given a lot of TLC and should be looking better soon!

  • Transplanted irises to the beds along the fence where they can get sun. 

 I didn't have the time to do much estate or thrift sale searching this week. I did find a minute to look through a downtown antique shop. I spotted this little guy and it immediately sparked an emotional response in me. I had to have him. My sister thinks maybe our grandmother had one when we were little. 

 In the meantime, I am preparing to fly to Oregon to visit my youngest son for a week. He has just bought his first house - a 1930's bungalow.


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