Sunday, November 29, 2009

Kewpie Doll by Cameo

The little doll I found in my storage shed was the Kewpie doll. After doing some checking, this doll was manufactured from the Cameo company out of Port Allegany Pa. in 1974.
I think the clothes were either made from Grandma Stafford or Fritche. It looks a bit more like Grandma Fritche's work though. Does anyone know anything more about the Kewpie dolls?


Green Cleaning

Earlier this year I decided that I'd had enough of expensive laundry detergents and decided to make my own, and have done so ever since. I scouted the internet for a recipe and proceeded to make my first batch. And it was very easy. Here's the recipe:

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
2 gal. bucket

Grate soap in a saucepan. Add 6 c.water and heat until it melts.
Add washing soda and borax; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour 4 cups hot water in a bucket, now add soap mixture and stir.
Now add 1 gal. plus 6 cups of water and stir.
Let soap sit for 24 hours and it will gel.

Use 1/2 cup per load.
Don't wait for any soap suds, you won't get them.
I feel this laundry soap has been doing fine job, has saved me lots of money and has been much gentler on the environment.

I'd also like to mention two other cleaning products that make rather than buying the expensive, sometimes caustic products. The first is an all-purpose cleaner.
In a 32 oz. spray bottle combine 1/4 c. white vinegar, 3 1/2 c. hot water, and 1/4 c. liquid dish soap. Mix thoroughly. Label the bottle. I have this handy in the kitchen and use it daily.

The other is a window and glass cleaner. Mix into a spray bottle 1 Tablespoon white vinegar, 1/2 rubbing alcohol and 1 quart of water. For best results use a small squeegee to remove excess water. Polish with a soft. clean, lintless cloth. Label the bottle.

Distilled white vinegar disinfects and helps break up dirt, Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol disinfects and borax disinfects, bleaches and deodorizes. Simple, everyday products that are safer for you, save money and are kinder to the environment.
Sources for the last two products National Geographic's Green Guide, " Rachael Ray at Associated content and Mom's Guide to Growing your Family Green," by Terra Weillington (St. Martin's Press).
There are many more ideas out there for cleansing scrubs, oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners and daily shower cleaners.

Vintage Dolls

I don't know how many people admit to playing with dolls but we all know now that Anner and my Mom play with their dolls. I was looking for a doll to give to Avery and I found one that I got a long time ago from Grandma Stafford. I knew I had the dolls but they were in a box in the shed so I decided to drag them out. It has to be old but I haven't really researched it yet. This doll might looked familiar to some of you. If you know the history, feel free to elaborate.
I also remember a doll that was in Grandma and Grandpa's house at Mud Lake. Her name was Clatilda. She now belongs to Margie. Tess

Leaving My Rut

Since I'm just a recreational / hobby jewelry maker, I don't stay tuned in to the trends very well. I have found products that work well for me and, out of habit, have continued to use them. For example, sterling silver French hooks. Always a winner, and very popular. And still in demand.

But there is more out there! And I am now officially going to get out of my rut.

The online environment for handmade, vintage and supplies - Etsy - (where 3 of us have shops) - is a fantastic place to locate supplies. I have found a couple of wonderful shops - Desert Fire Designs , for fabulous beads and chain - and Beads 4 All - where I can find bronze. Both of these sellers are friendly and professional. The products are exceptional.

I have just located another shop that I intend to check out today. I am interested in these handforged almond ear wires for Christmas gifts. Never heard of almond ear wires before - but look how sleek and modern they look. They would be great with a fabulous crystal or stone attached. Credit goes to the shop - Rockis Supplies for the photo, and the inspiration! I will be shopping today!

I have always tried to support main street businesses. When I was in Bismarck, this was very simple. A quick walk or drive downtown - 1 stoplight. I walk into the bead store where the owners are my friends, and they start heading toward the sterling silver case because they know that is what I am after. They share their ideas, fill me in on some special stones that will be coming in and always tell me in advance about the sales.

But living in Minneapolis is a completely different story. The closest bead shop with the best selection is in Uptown. If you are not familiar with Uptown - it's a young, hip and happenin' neighborhood just south of downtown. There are lofts, trendy hair salons, great restaurants, and lots of tatoos. I feel very old when I enter this neighborhood. At the bead store, the snooty young lady with the cat-eye glasses and jeans folded up on the bottom (to her knees - why do they do that? Looks like she's wearing GGG's jeans only she's about 22" around the middle) looks at me like I'm on 'leave' from the nursing home. She watches me warily to make sure that I'm not going to 'boost beads'. When she is confident that I am probably an honest customer - she goes back to her bead counting and sorting. I have to work very hard to get her attention when I have a question, or want to pay and leave. Also, it takes me 15 minutes and 15 stoplights to get here on my work noon hour. So add that to the 'waiting to get noticed' and check out - plus my return trip - pretty much burns the entire hour.

Why do this?

It will be less and less - that's for sure. I am leaving this rut too! I now have favorite sellers on etsy, where there is a relationship and loyalty forming. I give these marvelous women and men credit for creating a great personal shopping experience in an online environment. It is not as easy as one might think!


ps - by the way, I try to not look as elderly as I am by using natural products from JoyfulGirlNatural on etsy. The products are wonderful and a great value. I will never buy Estee Lauder again (sorry Estee!). When the packaging is too complicated to open and is worth more than the product inside - you know it is time to move on....but that's another story.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vintage Sweater

I finally got Avery's sweater done. The pattern had one large button on the top and since I don't know how to knit button holes, I just knit a small I-cord for the closure. I had left over yarn so I knit a small hat, and baby skinny scarf. Hey, I wonder if they make baby skinny jeans??

This sweater is so soft and it really reminds me of Grandma Stafford's sweaters, although there is a mistake in the cable. I was going to pull it all out but the gal that owns the knitting shop told me that if i pulled it out that she was going to beat me. Ha Ha!!!! Tess

Drop Spindle

I finally got the roving back from Marilyn last week. She spun the first round on this Baltic top merino and told me that I should take a crack at it. If you remember from one of the blogs, Marilyn used her Mom's Navajo Spindle, which is a lot bigger than the one I have. It looks a lot easier watching ladies spin on a spinning wheel but it was fun. The thing about spinning is that you get totally engaged in it and you don't think about much else. I had the music going and it was probably about 68 degrees or so. This yarn is a bit chunky and slubby. The definition of slubby is where you get kind of a thick and thin or at least that is what I gathered from the gal I bought the spindle from. We'll see how it comes out after I knit that hat. I think Anner said she might have some lime colored accent yarn that I will do the fair Isle with. Stay tuned for the finished product. Tess

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet Breads

We were invited to our neighbors last Sunday night and they had the recipe books out on the table trying to figure out some ideas to make for Christmas gifts. Well, other than knitting and buying some cheap gifts for the kids, I was thinking of doing some baking. I know that this is nothing new but I had never really baked during the Holidays. This year I will try some sweet bread and maybe some type of dessert to make for my close friends down here. Other than fruit cake, does anyone have any other ideas for baking over the Holiday? Thanks, Tess

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sonoran Desert

I really liked Anner's blog and I wanted to add something about one invasive species that is encroaching the Tucson area. This invasive species is called Buffelgrass and it was brought in to bolster the range production for sheep. The main problem is that it cures out relatively fast and becomes a fire hazard. In the mid 90's, a lot of the west was going through a drought there were several fires in the Phoenix, Tucson, and surrounding communities. These fast moving fires typically damage the stems of the cacti and ultimately kill them. This bunch grass grows and reseeds so fast that local volunteer groups cannot keep up with it's advance. If you would like to know more about this invasive grass, click on the link. I wanted to add another image of a Saquaro that I saw at the Saquaro National Park. Tess

Saguaro Cactus and the Mysterious Sonoran Desert

The Native Americans of the Sonoran Desert are very in tune with the nature in this region. They look at the land as your relative and if you throw trash on the land you are throwing trash on your relatives. When we die we go back into the earth so let's take care of it as best we can.

The saguaro cactus and the Sonoran Desert are very sacred and mysterious to the Tohono O'odham Indian people. These cacti are thought to be people and if you look long enough especially at dusk or dawn...they truly look like people. My kids said that at night these cactus walk around and when morning comes they go back to their spot. I can just picture it...can't you?

The fruit of the saguaro cactus are very important as well. When the natives harvest the fruit of the saguaro it is so important it is considered their New Year. They use the fruit to make jam, syrup and even wine. The Sonoran desert may seem like a prickly and desolate waste land but in fact it is filled with life. So many animals, insects, rodents and reptiles live in the desert and let's not to forget the hundreds of varieties of plants. I would love to see the desert in bloom someday...I think it would be spectacular!

The size of cactus shown in the picture is approximately 100-150 years old...isn't it incredible? He also looks like he is alongside the road hitch hiking his way to California or some other exotic destination.

I just love being amongst these quirky cacti...Make sure to stop at Saguaro National Park if you are ever in the Tucson area. I don't think you will be disappointed unless you were here in the middle of the summer and hit a day of 114 degree temperatures.

Until next time...Anne

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tohono Chul Park Tucson Arizona

My family has been in Tucson Arizona a few days visiting family and it has been great to feel the heat of the the sun. My mother in law and I visited a really neat place today called Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. Tohono is a Native American tribe name of the region...Tohono O'odham Nations. It is only about five minutes from my brother in laws house which is really great because it was recently named one of the top ten botanical gardens in the world. I had never visited this park before and thought it was just awesome. It is located in the city which makes it even more special because it is a mini oasis amongst tons of homes, businesses and convenient stores. Living in the mountains we never get to see all of the cool desert plants such as agave, cholla cactus, saguaro cactus, ocotillo, palo verde trees and so much more!

The history of this place is quite interesting. We talked to a volunteer at the park and she told us that a family named Wilson owned 39 acres of land here for many years. They were offered a truckload of money to sell to a development company that wanted to build a strip mall. They turned down the offer and decided to turn the property into a non profit park. Teaching people how to preserve the fragile Sonoran Desert was much more important than the lure of money. This was an incredible decision because it has turned into a wonderful park that people from all walks of life can visit and learn from. Plus at the same time this family has a legacy they can leave for their children and generations to come. Such a gift to give....

I would say it is worth a stop if you are ever in Tucson. They have a tea room where they serve "high tea" and they also have an excellent lunch menu using local organic produce. There is a wonderful children's garden area, performance garden, art exhibit area, gift shop and much more. They also have "Holiday Nights" coming up here for a couple of weekends at the end of November and first of December showcasing music, lights, hot cider and holiday fun!

It was a lot of fun to check out a new spot in Tucson. I have been here many times before and I have to admit it is growing on me. I know I wouldn't survive in the summer but in the spring, fall and winter it is just lovely.

Here is a photo of the typical desert scene in Tucson....saguaro cactus, prickly pear and many more poky plants! By the way...we had a prickly pear lemonaid at lunch and it was super refreshing and interesting to try. Next time I will try the Prickly Pear Margarita! Are you up for it girls?

Until next time....Anne

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Vannas of Vintage

The women in our family and many of my friends have a shared interest in vintage. We love to re-use, re-purpose and find great bargains. I found this fantastic green glass serving dish for $1.00 at a very secret junk store. I used it today to tote cranberry - walnut bars to a gathering with girlfriends. This is so 1950's !! I can just see the original owner - a woman wearing heels and a little apron serving her cocktail party guests.

We "Vannas of Vintage" are continually spinning the Wheel of Fortune to find another perfect treasure.

One of my friends shared her practice of buying inexpensive bowls or plates and delivering food to a pot-luck or party - and telling the host to 'keep the dish' ! She has done this with small covered casseroles found for little or nothing. Bringing warm apple crisp and leaving the casserole dish it was prepared in is a great way for your host family to remember your special time together, and the special friend who left her treasure!

Just look at that handle!

Vintage is interesting, unique, generally high quality. It has history, and can be a conversation piece. I love the retro look of glassware and cookware. Old linens are very fun as well. Clothing generally runs smaller than today's sizes, but the place I often look for vintage ( is very good about giving detailed measurements. Several high quality photos are generally provided, and a disclosure about things that the seller wishes shoppers to know before purchase. I have never been disappointed.

This morning I purchased a pair of grey suede Salvatore Ferragamo flats (1970's) for $20 on I know that they will be smashing, and I didn't need to go near a mall - which is perfect. And I'm supporting an 'at-home' business - which make me feel good.

The Blue Cottage in Mora, MN is a great place to find re-purposed household goods and some clothes. It is a wonderful place to shop for gifts, as well. It is lots of fun to find a little item that is perfect for that special friend. Last weekend I grabbed a comfortable, crisp white shirt for myself for $4.00. If you need to down-size at home, places such as the Blue Cottage are a great place to consign. Plus - it's just downright fun.

The "Vannas of Vintage" are in full swing this holiday season - being thrifty, earth-friendly and supporting small businesses. Most importantly - having a great time! Kathy

Friday, November 20, 2009

pecan/pumpkin pie

Does anyone have a good pecan pie recipe? We have been invited to Carolyn's for Thanksgiving and she wanted us to make a pecan and pumpkin pie. I have tried baking these before. Help!! I rarely bake desserts. Tess

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New designs

Why is it that everything comes back into style? I have been trying to design some new hats and sweaters but what I dream up is something that was once popular. But wait, it should come back into style soon. I talked to Anner about some boot toppers, which are knitted boot socks that fold over your " Frye' boots. What else right! Well, it seems as though some people are saying to me that they are " Way 80's and out of style" I say to them that they are just coming back into style. The styles in the early 80's were weird but they are all coming back into style now. This makes it easy to knit up new trendy stuff for gifts, especially for young people. The other styles that I am attracted to are styles from the 20's and 30's. The idea is to knit items for women with curves. All I see in magazines now are models that haven't eaten in 2 years or so and they just look angry. I would be upset to if I had to eat a carrot and a glass of water every day. I think that healthy women are much more attractive, especially if they have a few curves. I am looking for some new ideas for knitting items for women that have curves. I think that I would like to focus on ski clothing. Tess

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

...Speaking of Playing with Dolls!

What I want to know "Skippy" the Scarecrow ready for Thanksgiving?? He must be, as he was recently spotted sliding down the banister in Mora. Grandma just can't control this guy, and Grandpa is the instigator.

Stay tuned for a full report. There were plenty of antics last year!

"Heirloom Design"

An article was recommended to me by GGG. It was written by a fellow kayaker Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin, and references a phrase "heirloom design" - coined by 2007 MacArthur Fellow Saul Griffith. He states that making products durable, repairable and upgradable lowers the quantity of energy required in making and distributing products.

The author of the article makes great points about consumerism, quality, trends, the global economy, history, keeping jobs local, the environment, food, and much more.

I remember growing up there was a shop in town where you could get your tv and radio fixed. Fixed! How novel. Also, Mr. Mauer would come to the house if he was needed to repair the washer. My mom and I frequently joke about coffee-makers - which brand to buy, which will last? How do you find that balance point where the cash you dish out for the new appliance will get you an adequate amount of satisfaction - as measured by time. As a society, we are forced into situations similar to buying the $20 coffee maker and fully expecting to trash it in 6-8 months. And we usually do.

I say enough!! I know lots of people including most in our family, plus several friends - who gets tons of satisfaction at the junk and thrift stores, repurposing things, making something out of nothing. Making "hand made"!

I'll be looking at Louie's (junk place) for a percolator coffee pot when our drip model gives out. I don't need my coffee maker to start itself, tell me the time, anticipate the kind of grounds I use, give me a weather forecast, or channel MPR.

I just need coffee.

Read the article - it's well worth your time.

By the way, I read an inspiring article about a local businesswoman who has started a Twin Cities affiliate of Dress for Success - nonprofit organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged women "in work and life". A great place to donate work clothes no longer needed.

Ole and Lena Ski Colorado

Quite a few years ago my Dad gave me these hand carved gnome skiers which are named Ole and Lena. As you can see from the photo Lena is 'lena down the hill' if you get what I mean? He actually carved these fun characters and I still don't understand how the whole process of wood carving works. I do not have the visualization to see the final carved piece in a block of wood. Wood carving is among one of my Dad's many, many talents. Yes Dad, you are "uber talented"! And yes, I just used the word "uber" in a sentence.

Back to Ole and Lena. Normally these gnomes would be cross country skiing which is kind of like running on skis. You use your skis and poles to move your body across the snow which takes some serious strength and endurance! In Scandinavian countries cross country skiing was used as a way to get from point A to point B. It was also used during hunting as it was an easy way to get around in these snow covered areas. Cross country skiing has evolved into a recreational sport and gets your body into excellent shape. Trust really does.

But Ole and Lena were getting tired of working so hard while skiing. They decided to take a trip to Colorado for some downhill skiing. Now of course they were interested in the big time ski areas like Aspen, Telluride and Vail but their budget was tight (they are after all wood carvings). They drove all the way to Colorado from Minnesota to check out some smaller more intimate ski areas. They were pleasantly surprised when they found areas such as Loveland Ski Area, Wolf Creek Ski Area and Monarch Mountain Ski Area. These are just a few of the smaller more "wallet friendly" ski areas in Colorado.

As you can see Ole and Lena had a gorgeous day of skiing in the mountains. Ole was trying to impress Lena by dropping off some cliffs into the fresh powder but not to be outdone Lena was right on his tails. That is some "sick air" you guys! I hope you stuck the landing. Eventually the couple had to get back to reality (you and kids back home) but their time in Colorado was so incredible they are planning a return trip for next season. Until then...keep on skiing. If a carved gnome can do can you!

Ski ya later....Anne
(see what happens when you spend too much time start playing with and talking to dolls that don't talk back) Scary! See "Crazy" Gnarls Barkley....

The happy couple...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beautiful and Functional

This is intended to showcase my sister Margie's great leather goods. I agree with her, there is something very special about fine leather. And when it is crafted with exceptional care into items that bring beauty to everyday tasks and events, it is even more special. This photo was taken by GGG up at the hunting camp. Pictured are the new camp 'log', and the larger one is a photo album that is used to hold pictures from a game camera. Another great accessory is the planner that can be filled with any brand of planner pages. GGG is never far from his.

These items are perfect for the outdoor and hunting aficionado. They fit in perfectly 'up at camp', and will travel easily to work. At that big meeting, others will look with envy on the fine leather planner with the antler closure. (This has really happened!). Kathy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another thought!!

How about a cool shot of all the Sister's for Mom and Dad but with a theme of some sort. I was thinking if we could have someone (Dave) to take a photo of all of us girls in our togs from our ancestry. Really!!!!! Irish and Vikings. I get to wear the helmet. Ha. Ha. Just a thought.

I think you would be impressed that I have nearly all my Christmas shopping done and on the table in the living room. Jason is scratching his head????????????????? Tess


I have an idea. Thanks Anner (Lorenna McKennitt) for putting the thought in my head.

How about a video of the Sister's for Mom and Dad. Like a video of all the girls and their passions and dreams and expectations. We could start it at Anner's house and then she could e-mail it and then the next sister could add something really cool. I think that would be a real cool timeless piece for Mom and Dad along with their B&B somewhere. This could be your special 10 minutes of time to express your thoughts and dreams to Mom and Dad. I know I am more comfortable doing this.

Or, you could tape your own and then mail to Anner or Kathy so they could photo shop it and edit changes of any kind. I think it would be cool. Some IT specialist (Jimmy) may be able to tell us how to do it.

Let me know if this is to weird. tess

Be "Sparkling" at the Holidays

Lately I have been intrigued with using oxidized metals - especially bronze. Oxidized sterling is great too, but I don't have a source. I think that the professional jewelry makers oxidize their own silver. If anyone knows about this process, please let me know.

The picture shows three earring options for incorporating a Swarovski (c) crystal with bronze. I think the reason that I like bronze is that 1) it is less expensive than sterling, and 2) it goes great with darker or olive skin tones (like my sisters and I!) It seems more natural looking to me.

Simple, elegant and sparkly.

What was that line in 'Rainman' where Dustin Hoffman told the woman of his desire (his brother's girlfriend) - that she looked "very sparkly"? Love that movie.

Here is a way for you to shine at the holidays for just pennies. The Swarovski crystal is the finest in the world and comes in a huge variety of colors and shapes. I have used round faceted beads in two of these examples, and a helix shaped on the kidney wire. My favorite source is They have a free shipping option! If you order your color in AB (aurora borealis), it will have extra sparkle and really toss the light around. The three samples are in clear AB.

This photo is a pair of earrings that my friend Lila
(Dog Day Studio) made in a very unique Swarovski bead shape, cosmic, using sterling. This is a larger bead - nearly an inch from top to bottom. Perfect for a special performance at Orchestra Hall, or a night on the town.

The sparkle on your ears will match the sparkle in your eyes with these! Kathy

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Canyon de Chelly

This photo was taken by E.S. Curtis in 1904. This was De Chelly canyon before any of the Tamarisk, Russian olive, and Cottonwoods were in the canyon. The residents of the canyon typically had two homes, one in the canyon and one of the mesa top. There are really old trails that go to the top of the mesa. Some of the trails still have the original hand and toe holds from the Anasazi (Ancient Puebloans) people. The Hopi and Navajo came in after the Ancient Puebloans and inhabited some of their dwellings. I am not an Archeologist but I have heard from my co-workers that most of the Navajos will not enter cliff dwellings or burial sites. It's kind of weird working with our crew and Archeoligists. In most cases, myself and crew will discover artifacts that have been covered for years. Most in the form of rock art, ancient hand and toe holds, and surface sites. My co-worker Anderson just discovered an ancient rock art panel just after we had cleared the trees away from the walls. The panel had horses, antelope, and other figures that were in perfect condition. An etching on a wall for nearly 1000 years still blows me away. The Archeologists had not ever seen it, which didn't surprise me. Most of the sites on the Colorado Plateau are covered with vegetation now. They believe that the Indians used a lot of wood for building and heating, making the mesa tops very spare. Tess

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just another day on the job!

When I am not knitting and gardening, I have another job where they pay me. Ha! We spent the entire week burning the slash piles that we created all summer long. The weather was beautiful. It was probably high 60's low 70's all week long and the guys and myself burned nearly 56 acres worth of piles. We even worked on Veterans Day. The slash that we are burning is made up of Tamarisk (salt cedar) and Russian olive species. These species were planted in the canyon in the 30's to prevent erosion. Little did they know back then, that the canyon would be filled with these species. The main problem is that they suck up an incredible amount of water. The channel incision is so deep because of the canyon being chocked out by these species. The Park officials decided that they wanted to "restore" the canyon back so that the native grasses, forbes, and tree species could thrive providing habitat for wildlife and open range.

The Park is still considered tribal land but the Park Service takes care of tourism and protection in the canyon. The locals call the canyon the "The living community".
I am glad that I am able to help them restore their lands back to it's original state.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gettin Gifty in the 'Hood

The owner of my hair salon "Foiled Again" in NE (Nordeast) Minneapolis, invited myself and 6 other 'artists' (I'll use that term loosely for myself) to show our stuff at an event tomorrow night. The event is "Gettin' Gifty in the 'Hood". I haven't participated in anything like this since I left Bismarck 2 1/2 years ago. But I'm sure it will be fun.

NE Minneapolis is a ethnic melting pot, made up of descendents of Polish, German, Slovak, Finnish, Russian and Ukranian immigrants that came for the employment opportunities offered by the grain mills and sawmills along the Mississippi River. The demographic now is younger and even more diverse with a relatively recent influx of African American and Somalis.

This is not your suburban strip mall environment, or pre-fab 'town' with the fake Main Street (think Maple Grove). It is quite trendy with fabulous 'one of a kind' restaurants, galleries and shops. The city's only authentic Irish fish n' chips place, The Anchor, recently opened in the neighborhood, and joins the classics such as Nyes Polonaise Room, Jax, and many others that have been around for decades. I'm sure that our parents went to these places on their 'hot date' nights back in the late 40's early 50's.

A favorite haunt of ours is "Grumpy's" bar - famous for hotdish night (a buck a bowl) every Tuesday, and vinyl night (bring vinyl albums to spin, and your first drink is free) on Thursdays. Annie makes the city's best cosmopolitan - and I am certain to be there when she is tending bar. It's really fun to watch Dave (Gitche Gumee Guy) belly up to the bar in this blue collar neighborhood and then totter back to our table balancing a pretty pink martini. Priceless.

Well, Nordeast has a Catholic church of one ethnicity or another, and at least one bar on nearly every block. Interesting dynamic. So, maybe there will be some hip urban folks who need a rosary bracelet for 'grandma' tomorrow night.

Dyeing Wool with Black Walnuts

My sister sent me some black walnuts that she had picked up down in Arizona with the thought that I could use them to dye some wool. It took me a while to get around to it but I finally did it. I soaked the black walnuts in a large stock pot for a couple of days. I was going to soak overnight but it turned into a couple of nights. I strained out the walnuts and other gunk and was left with a dark brown dye bath. I then heated up the dye bath to a simmer and placed the wool yarn in the pot. I then turned the heat way down so it the wool would not turn into felt in the pot. After a bit, I turned the heat off completely and let it soak all afternoon. I noticed that the color wasn't soaking into the yarn that well so I added some alum into the bath. Alum is used as a mordant which helps set the dyes into the wool. There are many other mordants such as tannic acid, sodium chloride, salts of aluminum, chromium, copper and iron. These aren't that readily available so I used what I could pick up at the local grocery store which was alum. I believe that the color ended up a bit lighter because I may have needed more walnuts. I will get some more from my sister hopefully and try it again. Black Walnuts are supposed to be the best for natural dyeing. It was fun to try it and I will do some more natural dyeing as soon as I get my hands on other plants. Plus I need some lessons from our expert Misslynn. Now I just need to figure out what I want to knit up with my new color.

I found this great website...check it out! Pioneer Thinking.


"The Legend Lives On......

from the Chippewa on down, of the Big Lake they call Gitche Gumee."

Tuesday afternoon brought the 5th anniversary of the 'Gales of November' paddle by a group of kayaking friends in the Twin Cities. Rather than the stormy Lake Superior seas, we were on lovely Lake Minnetonka commemorating November 10, 1975 - the day the 'Fitz' went down with all hands near Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior.

Althought the spirit of the day this week was light (thanks to great weather and friends), the commemoration was relevant, since Veteran's Day followed. Additionally, those of us who frequent Lake Superior on skinny 16-17 foot boats are still trying to understand recent kayer deaths on the Big Lake. Maybe we are not meant to understand, but to remain ever vigilant about this lake that can dish out joy and terror within minutes of each other.

"....and all that remains is the faces and names of the wives, and the sons and the daughters...."
Gordon Lightfoot

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Navajo Code Talkers

I was listening to the radio today and heard a report about the Navajo Code Talkers. This topic hits close to home because my sister works at Canyon De Chelly National Park in Chinle Arizona and works with many Navajos. I am so impressed with how talented and artistic the Navajo people are. They were interviewing a man named Keith Little, a Navajo and retired Marine, about his involvement with the secret code that the Japanese could not crack during World War II. He said that the code was already made up when he became involved in the military...he just had to memorize it. He explained how different words such as hand grenade meant potato in the Navajo language and field artillery meant many big guns. The words they used were simple but effective. There was no way the Japanese would know the Navajo vocabulary and it was unbreakable. Little spoke of how proud the Navajo code talkers were to serve in the military and how they strove for speed and accuracy. The talkers were not honored until 2001, 60 years after the code had been made up. The remaining men want to keep the memory of the code talkers alive and hope to create a museum. I really hope this happens, maybe it already has. I will have to talk to my sister because she is sure to know much more about the topic. From a previous post, her co worker, William Yazzie traveled to Iwo Jima with one of the Navajo code talkers. Let's see if we can get her to elaborate a bit on this topic. I am sure she has lots of fun stories! I was just intrigued by the story and wanted to share so we can help the Navajo code talkers keep their legacy alive.

Make sure to check out our Navajo friends gorgeous jewelry at Misslynn.
until next time...Anne

photo is the monument to the Navajo Code Talkers in Window Rock Arizona...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bald Eagles

Do you think you know about Bald Eagles? I have seen eagles my whole life and what I know for sure is that they are the most majestic raptor. Their numbers started dwindling in the 1800's because of habitat loss. Of course, you all remember the loss of eagle population due to the use of DDT pesticides. These pesticides harmed the eggs of eagles. On June 28th, 2007, the Interior Department took the aagles off of the Endangered Species list. Unfortunately, the feathers of eagles are still being used for Native American purposes. I know that my co-worker Anderson is always looking for eagle feathers. He now looks into places that have eagles that were injured or are being held in captivity. It is really amazing how many eagle feathers you will see at Pow wows or the "Gathering of the Nations" or other ceremonies. I truly love this raptor. I still am amazed when I see an eagle if flight. Eagles seem to stay around this area in the winter, feeding on fish and small rodents. You will see them roosting in old decadent cottonwoods along the Dolores, Animas, San Juan, and La Plata rivers.

Does anyone know any more trivia about this magnificent raptor? Please feel free to add to this. Tess

"In Flanders Field" by John McCrae

November 11th, 2009

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

I learned about this poem in my Contemporary World History class. I don't claim to know a lot about poetry but I found this poem very moving. I had heard the poem before but had never learned much more about it. In discussing the poem I learned so much more about World War I and how it affected the author personally.
This poem was written by a man that had witnessed his friend die during this war. It made the history of this war more real to me. World War I was way before my time so I never learned that much about it. There seemed to be so much more written about World War II so I read more about that war. This poem is just one of thousands written during the war. Writing was one way to cope while being involved in such a horrific situation. While doing some reading on the topic I found out that soldiers published trench magazines for their division or unit. Stories, poems, lyrics... the written word... can be very powerful during times of distress. After the war there were many, many memoirs written as well. What struck me about the poems reference to the poppies was that there was something beautiful growing where there had been so much death and destruction. Read through the poem a few times and think of those who were was very interesting to study the poem line by line and find out what the author might have been thinking at the time he wrote it....

Let's remember our service men, women and veterans....


images from an online source...

Leather Messenger Bags and Clutches

After years of making leather journals I decided to start making leather messenger bags as well. A few years
ago I took a piece of leather that was far too shiny for my taste and cut the pattern pieces, and using the backside or sueded finish on the outside, created my very first messenger bag. The bag measured 9" W by 13" H. The flap is cut on the jagged edge of the hide if I can and I use an antler button for the closure. The shoulder strap is about 48" in length and long enough to sling across the body.
Once people started to see the rather rough-looking bag the orders started coming in. In fact my sister Kathy was my first customer. I did make one more bag ahead of hers to "iron" out the details.
With this pattern I can create a bag that is longer than wider, or wider that longer using the same pattern. Those familiar with the bags hear me refer to them as vertical or horizontal.
I like to cut the flaps for the bags on the jagged edge of the hide if I can and use antler buttons for the closures. I have upon request used vintage buttons for the closures.
I wish that I would have kept track of how many of these bags I have made. The orders keep coming in and I have made several that are larger than th 9" x 13" and at times, smaller.
Photographed here is my own black messenger bag (horizontal) with an exterior pocket ,and of course antler buttons.
Another style that has been popular is the clutch. The clutch in the photograph I made for myself the night before my brothers wedding. It matched my outfit perfectly. Here I used a vintage button for the closure.

I hope to return to the drawing table this winter a create some new styles for 2010. After all we have to constantly keep reinventing ourselves.

Native American Flute played by William Yazzie

My dear friend and co-worker William asked me to come to his presentation in Chinle. He plays twice a week, typically drumming and playing his flute. He is Navajo but is familiar with playing a wide array of music from the Colorado Plateau. He is one of these guys that is good at everything. He has traveled all over the world with his playing. Most recently he traveled to Iwo Jimo with one of the code talkers that stills lives in Chinle.
If you ever come to Canyon de Chelly, you have to see William play. I am sure that you have heard about the Navajo sense of humor? Well, William is a comedian. He had this elder hostel group laughing so hard, they were almost crying. William is married to gal from Pojoaque, New Mexico. Their children are half mexican half Navajo. Tess

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Native American Style Flutes

I don't recall how this interest....... or rather obsession with the Native American Style flute began I only remember that it started last winter.

I was shopping around on Ebay and found an affordable bamboo flute which I bid on and won. Unfortunatley the sound was not the best.

With my next search I found a flute, an F# made of aromatic red cedar. This flute had an eagle block and a feather burned into the wood. Eagles and feathers being very important to me, I bid on this flute and won it! I often feel that this is my favorite flute although as time has passed and I have added to my collection, now I have to say that my favorite flute is the one that I am playing at the moment. However, this red cedar flute plays like a dream. It has a very clear and crisp sound. Created by Desre' Dory of Cloud Walker Flutes. Beautifully crafted, his work is truly an art.

My next flute was yet another created by Cloudwalker Flutes, a closed-end flute made of Red Gum Wood with Ebony accents. This flute is tuned to the Key of G and has a closed end of an eagle head with beautifully carved detail and glass eyes. This flute is the longest flute that I have and is simply stunning to look at with all the beautiful detail. The sound is rich and haunting.

By this time I have developed an obsession with flutes and contacted Desre' Dory about my next venture. On his recommendation we decide on a drone, tuned to the key of G. The creation of this flute was delayed a bit but so worth the wait. A drone flute has two chambers. I actually had no idea how to play this flute but quickly caught on. If you play the flute using only one side of the mouthpiece, you get the sound of a single flute. Once you blow into the entire mouthpiece, what you hear is not only the individual notes being played, but a steady sound ,or drone from the other chamber. Sounds as though two flutes are playing very rich and beautiful! As you can see from the pictures, this flute is wider than a typical flute and once again Desre' Dory burned a feather into the wood for me as well as little dots around each finger hole. Truly a work of art. His work is beautiful and I have such confidence in his knowledge and craftsmanship.

Just a couple of weeks ago I bought a High Spirits flute ,a Merlin Key of C. This little flute measures only 18" in length and is made from Maple/Mahogany wood. It is a great little flute for hiking and backpacking. This little flute produces and light and very cheerful sound.

Desre' Dory and I talked about my next venture. He suggested a bass flute. I am not sure what key the flute will be tuned to. I usually go on his recommendation.

So far my flute playing takes place at home for my own enjoyment, or my captive audience.....Bob. He's getting hooked on this music as well.

Each summer we travel to our favorite lake in the Superior National Forest of Minnesota to camp, fish and simply enjoy nature. Over the past few years we have either set up a tent, a lean-to or the tepee to live in for a week. I guess my dream is to set up the lodge and play my flutes on the beautiful rugged shores of our favorite lake and hope that our eagle friends pay us a visit visit as they do each year.

I don't know that I can choose a particular flute to take with on those trips. Perhaps I will take all of them.

I have purchased a couple of wonderful Pendleton wool flute bags to safely store my flutes at home or on the road. You can see one of them in the photos.

The Native American style flute is very easy to play and anyone can learn. The flutes are 5-hole and 6-hole and based on the pentatonic scale ("penta" meaning five).

There is so much more for me to know and learn about the flutes but in the meantime there is no right or wrong way to create this music so I just keep on playing and making up songs!

Using Wonderful Materials

I am continually amazed at how certain strands of beads 'speak to me'. I found a strand of rough cut abalone at a local shop, and knew that I had to have it. My thought was to send the strand to friend Lila in Bismarck - see Dog Day Studio - for her to make a custom design for me. I have purchased her wonderful designs for many years. But alas...she is not doing that much custom work these days.

So the strand sat around, and I kept looking at it and holding it. The abalone is rough on one side - the outside of the shell. The other side has the wonderful and iridescent shades of cream, taupe - and soft green. I also had a strand of new jade serpentine around that I purchased to make a rosary bracelet. This gemstone is a beautiful pale green, and the beads are in a pebble shape.

They go perfectly together, and when combined with large filligree bronze beads and strung on a bronze chain - make a great piece! This is a super long necklace that can be worn as is - or wrapped 2-3 times. It is lightweight and fun! I am in the process of finishing matching earrings and a bracelet.

Beautiful materials inspire us to create! I have learned over the years that if a strand of beads or focal point piece 'talks' to you - it is a great idea to take it home with you. You are meant to be together! Kathy

Art in Toilet Paper

We are coming to the end of a bathroom remodel - several months of planning and work, and several thousand dollars. We are asking ourselves - how can you spend this much on a 4' x 4' bathroom??
Well, it's lovely and worth it.

My friend Jackie specializes in kitchen and bath design, and oversaw the project for us. When I was getting ready to purchase the light fixture and shelf from Pottery Barn - we looked at the other pieces in the collection....TP holder, shelves and towel racks of every size, and hooks. I was getting ready to hit the 'send' button on the order and Jackie said "WAIT". Why are we doing this? You are not a match-y / match-y sort of person - why don't you look on etsy for your tissue holder and towel ring? "Why not, indeed?", I said.

Not that I don't love Pottery Barn, but now I know about Boone's Hooks!

I found this wonderful hand-forged TP holder and a matching towl ring made by M. Smyth Boone of Paonia, CO. Smyth, as it turns out, is an 18th generation master artist/blacksmith - and a direct descendant of the famous pioneer Daniel Boone! Not only is he a fabulous artist, but very friendly and customer oriented. He accidentally sent a towel bar instead of the ring, and offered a complimentary hook for my trouble (no trouble!) in returning the wrong piece.

I did mapquest Paonia and discovered that Boone's Hooks is located mid-way between sisters Anne and Tess in Colorado. Now, how would we find talented and dedicated artists such as Smyth - if not for etsy?

So, the bathroom is filled with wonderful art including a cherry vanity and mirror handcrafted by my brother Mark, a pottery bowl by Morris Pottery an artists proof of a whip poor will by Michigan artist Ladislav Hanka. This is the same artist whose work (fish) is featured on the Bell's Two-Hearted beer bottles! And of course - the wonderful toilet paper holder and towel ring by Smyth Boone!

This is currently the best room in the house - and I'm wondering how we will fit everyone in at the holidays? Kathy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Spinning on the Navajo Spindle

Misslynn started spinning the roving that I got last week. That was the Baltic Top(merino). She will spin the first round and then pass it off to her Mom so she can spin it down and ply it. Her Mom is an expert weaving so she is very experienced with spinning wool. I think that they will spin it to a worsted weight so that i can finish this hat for Michelle.
More to come......................Stand by. Tess

beach glass necklace and earrings

These are a couple cool gifts made from beach glass. The necklace was made by Kathy. The beach glass was collected from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, on the shore of Lake Michigan. The earrings were made by Marilyn James. The beach glass came from Cholla beach, Sonora, Mexico (aka Rocky Point).

When I wear these out on the town, I always get compliments. Tess

Lake Superior Beach Glass

Yes, this is the real deal. Beach glass found on the shores of Lake Superior. As an avid sea kayaker, I am privileged to be able to sidle up to places in the lake that regular boats (the kind that bring tourists!) cannot. Therefore, I often come upon a treasure of glass - usually on the rocky or cobble beaches. After the winter season or summer storms, there is generally a fresh 'crop' of glass in the places we frequent.

Beach glass, sometimes called "sea glass", is glass that has been tossed overboard, or dumped into the lake as garbage. This was done back in the day when the precious natural resource of Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake in the world) was not so carefully taken care of. A more romantic image is that the piece might be fine glassware from the dining room of a magnificent ship that met its demise on the rocky shores - shipwrecks being a once common occurrence on the Big Lake.

The glass pieces are washed ashore, tumbled by the wave action, and ground to smooth shapes. The most common color is white (which was clear glass), then green, brown and various shades of blue ranging from cobalt to pale turquoise. In the past, I have wire-wrapped pieces for pendants and earrings. Now I am interested in making wine glass charms for my paddler girlfriends, a nice reminder of paddling days while enjoying our holiday wine. My sister Anne has agreed to drill some pieces for me.

My prize piece of beach glass is a large brown circular chunk about 2 1/2" across that has faint raised letters O R O and part of an X. I figured it was maybe an old Clorox bottle. I sent an email to the company and received in return a complete history of their bottling and packaging practices - by year. As it turns out, this piece of brown glass is from a 1930's vintage bottle of Clorox bleach. I wire wrapped it it sterling for a very distinctive pendant. It is certainly a conversation piece!

When I wander the shorelines of Gitchee Gummee and find these rare gems, I find myself wondering what they once were - and how long they have been tossed about by the magnificent forces of Lake Superior. Kathy

Connemara Marble Ireland's Gem

Connemara marble, a 600 million year old piece of metamorphic limestone rock found only in Ireland! THAT ROCKS! as my husband with the dry sense of humor would say. Yuk, yuk, yuk... It gets old after a while believe me...we just have to keep telling everyone not to laugh at him but it just makes it worse. Anyway, back to the marble...I have a piece of it I picked up in Ireland (not exactly picked up...bought) and I love it. Problem is, I haven't done anything with it yet. It has a neat hole drilled at the top and is begging to be made into a pendant with sterling silver or something awesome like that. I suppose I should hint around to the jewelry designer in the family and see what happens...
This marble is said to bring serenity...NO...not senility! I know what you all were thinking, just admit it. "Connemara Marble brings on senility". HaHaHaaa. Serenity, which is by definition, the absence of mental stress or anxiety and would be wonderful for the whole world to have, don't ya think? I know, I am dreaming again, head in the clouds, senility is closing in...but it is a nice thought anyway. Ok, back to the marble once again. Awesome rock, found only in Ireland, rare, serenity, gorgeous, green and white...What more do we need to know? The only thing I need to know is if I can hit my sis up to make it into something fabulously cool! Until next time....Anne

My Friend Marilyn (Misslynn)

My friend is kind of bashful and she is going back to school so you have not been able to see any of her treasurers on her so I decided to introduce her myself. Thanks to etsy, I got her bio. She won't see it unless I bug her next week. She works at Canyon de Chelly as a community liaison, interpreter, and works closely with the canyon farms. She distributes seeds and fruit trees and helps the local re-establish their farms in the canyon. This is taken right in front of Fortress Rock, an famous landmark during the Spanish invasion and the Long Walk period. tj

My name is Marilyn James, Diné. I am of the Big Water clan and born for Coyote Pass clan. The maternal and paternal clans are Towering House and Bitter Water. I am from Smoke Signals, Arizona. My mother and father are Mary C. James and the late Philip James. My grandparents are the late Ruth Nelson Chee and John Kayonnie Chee. My mother is a homemaker and a Navajo Textile Weaver. Her expertise is in Pictorial weaving. My father has always been away at work; working on the Railroad or working in fields in other states. My grandmother was a Navajo Textile Weaver, too. She wove Yeis, a pattern of ceremonial dancers. My grandfather was a Medicine Man. His practice was doing Crystal Gazing and one (1) night singing (a Diné Ceremonial practice). I come from a large family; six (6) sisters and four (4) brothers. (This is how I introduce myself in Diné).

As a child before age six (6) years old, I grew up around an area called Owl Hat. I played within these hills and plateaus and at every watering hole there was. The whole world around me was a playground. What I learned then to prepare me for life, is so different from what I know today. Most of what my mother and grandparents basic life necessities were living off the land and taking care of the livestock. Being at home, it wasn't all play; I helped herd sheep in the pastures, taking the sheep to the watering hole and working around the house which included sweeping, doing the dishes and keeping things in order, plus babysitting my younger brothers and sisters. The whole family took part in taking turns doing each chore.

Sometime after age six (6), I went to boarding school; this was something that everybody did and it had to be done. I didn't go very far from home but it was still away from the comfort of home. The memory of the experience must have been traumatic because I don't remember the first day of school. That was probably the beginning of staying away and not getting back home.

In boarding school, activities of daily living were a routine and setup on a time base. It was during that time that I learned all of what I know about Arts and Crafts. There were clubs and small groups you can sign up for to learn how to knit, crotchet, and even weave a Navajo textile rug. I recalled a knitting group I entered, the instructor started off by telling us to cut a piece of yarn and put it in our mouth and chew on it so we can be expert knitters. I think it worked... Female, Born on September 16

The Desert Clutch with straps

Well, I finally finished the Desert Clutch but I might have to change the name now because I put a strap on it. I was thinking about making some felted pouches with leather straps that go around your waist. Good for travelers and/or people that go to casinos with their oxygen bottles. Ha!!

Margie, If I experiment with one, can you make me a belt for me?
Anner, Got any ideas? Tess

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sesame Street is 40! Where has the time gone?

Wow, this news is really making me feel old! Sesame Street is 40 years old! Ok, I am not sure what the relevance is but I felt compelled to write about it anyway. I was telling my kids that I grew up watching Sesame Street and my daughter asked if it was filmed in black and white. I thought it was funny because there were black and white television sets back in the day but I believe we had moved up in the world and had a color television (Mom you might have to refresh my memory). I also had to remind her that they were filming in color by this time. Geez, what is she thinking? I reminded her that we were not riding around in a horse and buggy at that time either. She looked at me a little perplexed and then caught on to the joke quickly enough. Boy, nothing get's past her. I also tried to explain to her that we didn't have the millions of kids shows like they have these days (another puzzled look). Ahhh, kids these days! Good times, good times.....

I will never forget all the fun puppet characters of Sesame Street...who could forget? Jim Henson was a genius! The silly skits and animation really proved to help children learn ABC's and counting. Gotta love the Count Dracula...and of course my favorite Kermit the Frog and let's not forget Bert and Ernie, the odd couple. Those were the days of life just a little bit simpler.

By the way, I still have my big bird stuffed animal which looks a little haggard at this point but he still brings back memories and NO I don't have it on my bed anymore. He is packed away in a safe place for one of my kids to have someday. Just to note...these photos aren't posters I still have on my walls...they are from an online source. Until next time...Anne

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Want a Bedspread Made of Cashmere!

I know, I know...that would be a little expensive right? But a girl can she gazes off into the distance...hhhmmmm..... Cashmere goat fiber comes from the soft undercoat of these particular animals and is super lightweight, soft and warm with out the bulk. While doing some reading on the cashmere goat I found out that the fiber is also called pashmina which is a Persian word for wool (you think I would have already known that considering how much time I spend with regular wool). This pashmina wool was used to make shawls in Kashmir centuries ago, wouldn't we all love to own one of those? I think I will start saving up my money to buy some spun cashmere and knit one myself. Wait a minute, maybe I should buy a cashmere goat and spin up the wool myself, I do live in the mountains and these goats come from the mountains. (excitedly dances around the room!) Slow down, I am getting ahead of myself here. Maybe I should just buy the wool and knit it! Now all I need is money, time and a cool pattern. Any thoughts on where to buy some of this fabulous wool at a fabulous price? I know, I am rambling...not sure how to get on track here. My brain got all jumbled up thinking about cashmere this morning and see what happens...I make no sense. But seriously, if anyone knows a great source for this wonderful fiber I would love to hear from you! If you have any other comments drop me a note!
...slinks off to sulk in the corner until some cashmere appears out of nowhere......Anne

P.S. photo was taken from an online source... honest...I did not go out and buy a goat!