Monday, April 30, 2012

Pretty Silver Set

I wanted to wear my pretty pink turtleneck to church on Sunday, and there's nothing prettier with pale pink than silver and white.  I decided to work up a jewelry set for myself to wear.  I had just bought some silver chain. The rest, I had in my beading kit.  What do you think?


Can you tell I was fighting the wind the whole time?  My granddaughter, 8-year-old Kai, took these pictures.  I think I have a budding photographer on my hands!



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sass's Sunday Salvation Show

Oh, I've been a bad girl.  I've been off ogling vintage beauties, instead of staying at home and posting wedding sneak peeks.  Sorry, no Saturday post this week.  MMM gave me a lovely treat, instead.  He whisked me off to Missoula, where we spent the afternoon looking at such lovelies as this:

 and these:

and this:


And then he took me out for dinner.  It was a all-day date, and I have the sweetest sweetheart there is!

Don'tcha wish you were me?  (Well, without the stretch marks and freckles and the tendency to say 'y'know?' at the end of every sentence.  Y'know?)  It was the Prairie Sisters' Vintage Fair, and it was wonderful.  I took a million (!) pictures, saw some beee-yooo-teee-ful finished products, met some marvelous people and just had a great time.  I'll be sharing some of it over the next few days. 

Let's talk about last week's Salvation Show.  I have a favorite!  Kei has been at it again, making really fun and unique jewelry.  Her map pendant is out-of-this-world.  

Fortunately, if you make one - and make it carefully - you'll have a map to find your way home.  Go see her stuff at Unfortunately Oh!

For Kei - if you want another, my 'Featured' Button:

Sassafras Salvation


Time for this week's Salvation Show.  First, a few rules:

Share something you've done recently.  Take a moment to look at and comment on someone else's link - we're all in this together!  Please consider becoming a follower of Sassafras Salvation and take a Sunday Salvation Show button to remind yourself and others to come back again and again!

Sassafras Salvation

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Pair of Lacy Scarves

While I was busy keeping my hands busy at a conference last week, I churned out a couple of lacy scarves from regular old yarn from Walmart.  I don't remember exactly the brand, but you know, it's just the regular skein in a standard weight - essentially, sort of standard, make-an-afghan type yarn.  I loved the colors, knew that it would take no thought to crochet these, and felt confident that I had a pretty good vision of what I wanted.  

The first is this pretty flecked sage green:


The other is variegated - seems like every shade of nature is in there!


I particularly love the rust against the turquoise.  

To create one of these is pretty simple.  Chain between 250 and 300, then go back on the chain, skipping three, joining, and then chaining five, repeating until you've done a circuit of both sides of the original chain.  Then, work in the loops you've created, chaining five, then single crocheting into each loop to create the scallop-y lace.  I added some extra loops on the ends to be sure that the scarf would lie flat.  I just kept going until I felt like it was wide enough to make me happy.  When I finished, I pressed the scarf with a damp towel, shaping as I ironed.  The ironing takes the body out of the yarn, and makes it feel delicate. 

I sure like these a lot.  What do you think?



Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sass Writes! What Do You Love Most About Your Job?

I am writing in response to one of Mama Kat's writing prompts.

My job.  Hmmm.  My job.  

Well, here's what I do, day in and day out, for a living.  I am a Program Specialist for the Community Development Block Grant program for the State of Montana.   It's a HUD program. I read and evaluate grants, work within a team to rank them by priority, need, and benefit to people of low-to-moderate income, and then, once the grants have been awarded to cities, towns, and counties, coordinate with local project administrators, engineers, and architects to get the actual project constructed and to ensure compliance with federal regulation.  The maximum grant is $450,000.  We do a lot of water and wastewater infrastructure, build community facilities, such as food banks and youth centers, as well as do some direct benefit assistance, like first time homebuyer downpayment assistance and housing rehab for low-to-moderate income homeowners.  Sounds complicated, doesn't it?  Well, guess what - it's really complicated! 

We have a staff of three to serve the entire state.  I have about thirty projects going, although, if you've been a reader for a while, you will remember that I set, as one of my New Year's resolutions, the goal to get a bunch of projects closed out.  The federal government kind of implied (yes, I meant that) pressure and made it easier to, in a sense, clear the docket, so that these closeouts could take priority.  And most of my old projects are gone - hurray!  I have a few tricky ones that I am still working on, but I'm getting closer to have a normal project list.

But this question was all about what I like best about my job, and in a way, I've already told you.  I really like complicated work.  I like to be surprised and stimulated by the demands of the job.  I like having to do research and find things out.  I like feeling like I am in on something big.  I like knowing what's shaking.  Whenever there's a big new thing happening - like the Bakken oil field in western North Dakota and eastern Montana, I know that it's a possibility that, at some point, I'll be in the thick of new developments.

Couple of other things:  I have the world's nicest boss. My colleague and peer is a really smart young guy who's a sweetheart, too.  I go to sleep at night, knowing that we're helping to make things better in Montana communities.  

Of course, I have assigned myself this part-time blog as a second job, and I love that too.  Maybe working with the photos and writing are my favorite parts.  

Thanks, Mama Kat, for the exercise in thinking.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sass's Sunday Salvation Show

What a crazy weekend!  They all seem to be anymore.  We run, run, run - try to get everything imaginable done and feel like we never get a moment to sit down and just appreciate life.  Although.......on Saturday, (before I got serious about scraping and sanding adhesive) I actually downloaded and read a whole book on my Kindle.  I lurched out of bed momentarily to use the bathroom, then lurched right back to crack the book and get rolling.  I read it straight through in one sitting.  Now, that's something I have done many, many times, but it feels like it's been a while.  

I want to recommend the book to you.  It's called On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves.  It's her first book, but it's extremely well-written, and right now, it's a huge bargain for Kindle users - only $2.99 (regularly $11.99), delivered wirelessly.  Now, you can see, off to the right there, that I'm an Amazon associate, but I don't get a thing for promoting this book - unless, I guess, you decided to click through that ad on the right to order it.  Do that, if you're feeling generous.  I really just want to bring this book to your attention.  It's that good.  A synopsis:  Anna, a 30-year-old schoolteacher, takes a summer tutoring position with a family whose almost-17-year-old son has recently gone into remission from Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  The teacher and her student are scheduled to fly a little charter flight into the Maldives Islands to join his family when their pilot has a heart attack, and their plane crashes into the ocean.  They manage to make it to a deserted island, and there they are.  The rest of the story focuses on  their growing relationship. 

 Now, don't get ahead of yourself, imagining that it's a weirdo 'Mary Kay LaTourneau' kind of relationship.  The author dealt with the age difference in a really smart and respectful way.  I really enjoyed the story, and, although it's fiction, it rang true. 

Let's talk about my favorite links from last week.  Actually, there were two (What can I say? - it's a tie!):

The first was from Katie at The Crafty Blog Stalker whose Anthro-inspired necklace is bound to get her lots and lots of attention.  Isn't it cute?

Nextly.... (I just made a word up for you.  You are welcome to use it if you like.  Nextly.  Nextly.).... I have to tell you that it's been years, but when I was a kid, my mom made a killer chocolate sheet cake.  She baked it on a cookie sheet, and frosted it up in lovely chocolateyness.  (More new words, apparently.  Help yourself.)  And so did Alexandra at Talking Dollars and Cents:

Try not to drool on your screen!

For these two lovely and creative bloggers, my 'Featured' Button:
Sassafras Salvation

Time for this week's Salvation Show.  First, a few rules:

Share something you've done recently.  Take a moment to look at and comment on someone else's link - we're all in this together!  Please consider becoming a follower of Sassafras Salvation and take a Sunday Salvation Show button to remind yourself and others to come back again and again!

Sassafras Salvation

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Sneak Peek - Crochet Doily & Heirloom Table

Welcome back to another Saturday Sneak Peek.  As you may already know, MMM and I are getting married in September, and I have committed to either thrifting or making by hand all the wedding "stuff", as much as is possible.  Here is a project that I have spent beaucoup hours on:  a doily for our centerpiece table.

This is the pretty little table that will sit beneath the chuppah (Hebrew for 'canopy' or 'covering').  We're not Jewish, but I love the idea of a canopy over our heads.  MMM knows that I have plans to build a platform on which we will stand with our officiant.  We'll be in front of this little table, which is an heirloom to MMM's family, having belonged to his great-grandmother.  Doesn't it have a wonderfully - well, almost Bavarian feel to it? (Ignore the stuff in the background - it's kinda in storage right now, and that's where I took the picture.)  

I wanted to make a pretty doily for the top, and I have put a sincere number of hours toward that end.  Here's the result:

I have never crocheted with tiny little crochet hooks and skinny little crochet thread before, so you're looking at my maiden voyage here.

I realize that this last photo is the only one in which you can see the whole thing.  I put this little bottle of craft paint on it, so that you can get a sense of how big it is.  I didn't really intend for it to ruffle at the edges, but, if you recall, I don't follow patterns.  This doily was done on the fly, and I just added to it in different ways as I went along.  I couldn't tell you now how I did it.  I really like it, however. 

The irony is, of course, that the day after I took these pics, I found a creamsicle orange doily at the thrift store.  It isn't as pretty as mine, but it would have done just fine.  I bought it anyway - thinking that I may find a place to put it to work.  I probably have at least ten hours of crocheting in mine, and the thrift store one cost ONE DOLLAR!  Irony, I tell you.

Of course, I bought the crochet thread for this one at the thrift store, too. There you go.



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sass Writes

I am writing this in response to one of Mama Kat's writing prompts, e.g., "3.) Tell us something you learned about a grandparent that surprised you."

I never knew my grandfather.  He died within a year of my birth, and I think, after having spoken to many who knew him, not knowing him was a real loss.  He was, by all accounts, an interesting, intelligent, kind, giving, loving man.  For instance, in my baby book, I have a letter he took the time to write – directly to me, his newborn granddaughter.  He writes as if I’m twenty years old, telling me the news of the day, and about all kinds of relatives I would never know.  His letter is funny and charming.
Later, when I was doing research to support some family genealogy, I asked around for some family stories.  I love genealogy, but I hate just the dry factual stuff.  Birth, birthplace, death, death place, names of children, name(s) of spouse(s).  Boring.  What makes genealogy interesting are the family stories that invigorate the dead bones and bring those dry facts to life.  I had known a few things about my grandpa.  As an example, he was a very successful businessman.  He died in 1962, but by that point, had made and invested well enough to support my grandmother, who lived on until 1991.  When she passed, she still had close to three quarters of a million dollars to pass on to her children.   (Never fear – my spendthrift father made sure that not one cent ever made it to his children.)  But my granddad was ambitious, sensible, and wise.  So much so, that his friends and neighbors elected him to serve in the State Senate for a while, back in the 50s.  He was, by turns, a livestock buyer, an auctioneer, a salesman, and the owner/operator of a grain elevator company.
But here’s what surprised me.  Turns out, Grandpa had a musical gift.  When he was a young man, he, his father, and four brothers all settled on homesteads in North Valley County in Montana, around the turn of the 20th century.  They were primarily farmers, and farmers simply didn’t have a lot to do during achingly cold, long winters.  So, these five young men ordered musical instruments from the Montgomery Wards catalog – a violin, an accordion, some rattlebones, a harmonica, and an autoharp.  Every one of them eventually learned to play all the instruments.  And they were entirely self-taught.  They often played for the local dances, a prime entertainment, an outlet, and a social gathering for the entire community.  
My grandmother’s story is less poetic and more harsh.  She was the second daughter, born just before the turn of the twentieth century, in the middle of what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  They were hardscrabble, but surrounded by extended family.  However, at some point, my Grandma’s young family travelled to find a new start and found themselves in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake.  That experience sent them scuttling back home to Tennessee.  Within a year of their return, my great-grandfather, Samuel, was bereft; alone with four small children, aged 8, 6, 4, and 2.  My great-grandmother, Maude, and the baby inside her had both died in childbirth.  The days were very different then.  There were no social nets to protect young families from harsh reality.  Sam had difficult decisions to make.  Today, I can’t imagine the agony he must have gone through – terrible, heartbreaking decisions.
The three eldest children were placed in an orphanage.  The youngest boy was given to a cousin whose wife was barren.  Samuel left Tennessee for the promise of land in Montana.  There, he worked to settle up on a homestead.  When that day drew near, he returned to Tennessee to claim a mail-order bride who’d been widowed and left with two children of her own.  He also reclaimed his three children and brought them to Montana to live.  Grandma never talked about her time in the orphanage, but there was a distinct impression that it was far, far from happy.
When she came to Montana, life with a new stepmother was like Chapter Two of the orphanage.  Soon, she found ways to be out of the house, earning a little money.  She farmed out to families who needed an extra hand in the kitchen.  She was always an excellent cook and housekeeper and was much in demand. 
As you can imagine, a farmstead with a father and five sons needed her help.  It wasn’t long before this pretty and capable girl with grit and an unvarnished view of the world caught the eye of one of the five.  They soon married.  A happy marriage, by all accounts.
When they celebrated their fortieth anniversary at my Aunt Pat’s home, Grandpa seated himself on the floor in front of the piano.  Remember that he taught himself the accordion?  Well, he learned it upside down and backwards.  He played the keys on the left hand, and the chord buttons on the right.  Seated there in front of the piano, he reached up and played a tune, upside down and backwards – just as he did on the accordion, with great skill and verve.  He loved a joke, even when it was on him!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Zipper Flower Wreath

I decided that I wanted to try my hand at zipper flowers.  Turns out, I'm not very good at making them the way so many tutorials say they should be made.  Essentially, most folks seem to be stitching them entirely by hand, and not using hot glue at all.  I can't make the bulk in the zipper behave without using my hot glue gun (which is, by far, my favorite craft tool - it's kind of masochistic of me to choose that, since I can barely use the thing without inflicting third degree burns, but I digress.)  So, for this project, I just fiddled around with them until I felt like I had something presentable.  Fiddling around does not make for a good tutorial.  I say, if you want to make zipper flowers, there are plenty of tutes out there.  If you, like me, are destined for failure at the traditional method (is there a zipper flower 'tradition'?), then try fiddling around with your zippers a bit.  Cut them apart.  Use glue.  Pull out your favorite craft tool.  Whatever it takes.  

But here's my result.  I think, at least this time, fiddling around worked out just fine:

Here are some shots of the detail work:

One thing you may notice:  I've added everything to this wreath by pinning it on.  Those are nothing more than straight pins in the buttons, and the flowers are pinned on, too.  I liked the green yarn base color a lot, and I think it will be versatile, so I didn't want to commit.  I also think I can use those zipper flowers in other ways, as well.  They're even a good match for my wedding colors.  Who knows?

To create the base, I found some really chunky yarn.  It's almost rug weight, but it's really soft.  The wreath form is a large one, but it's just one of those plastic-wrapped straw wreaths.  You can see a bit poking out here, though a bit of careful rearrangement hides that little gap.

 And wasn't the day glorious for taking these photos?  I love it that Spring is starting to show off.  I surfed over to someone's blog the other day and drooled all over their roses, but they were in Georgia, I think.  It's a pretty far cry from Montana.  In fact, I took these pics in the afternoon, but we had had a pretty good snowstorm that morning.  Truly.  It melted off by the time afternoon rolled around.  

I staged this in our blooming apricot tree.  Aren't the blooms beautiful?  I hope this means a nice crop of apricots.  We love them so.

And one shot of my helper.  This is Lucia.  According to MMM, she's five pounds of quivering fury.  I know you're terrified.  It will be OK, I promise.

MMM loves his little dog a lot.  And, unless you have a chihuahua, you don't know what devotion they have.  She is a one man dog.  She tolerates me, but she comes positively ALIVE when he comes in the room.  It's kind of amazing.

I'm pretty devoted to him, too.  I get it!



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sass's Sunday Salvation Show #20

Sunday went by in a blur.  We started the day with sausage gravy and biscuits, ended it with chicken fajitas, and are looking forward to warm lemon pudding cake for dessert - I'll share the easy-peasy recipe later in the week.  

All of our in-between time was filled with some pretty hard work.  Here's what I've been up to:

Doesn't that look like fun?  Believe me, it wasn't fun, but it was really a good feeling to get that all up.  MMM and I are working to get the mother-in-law apartment attached to the house prepped and ready for his mom to move into.  At present, they share the main house, and this apartment needs to be made liveable, so that he and I can re-work the main house to be our home.  You'll get plenty of pics of that process, once we're married and it's completely underway.  While we've worked quite a bit on MMMom's place, I haven't really felt that it's OK for me to share her home.  It's her own bit of privacy.  

 But I thought you'd like to see what I've been up to.  Fortunately, the rug pad was only glued around the edges, as you can see from the foot-wide strip under the garbage can, above.  The tack strip pulled up little divots from the cement floor as I popped it up and wedged it free with a crowbar.  We haven't entirely worked out the floor finish in this room, as we're working on a limited budget, but it's coming along.  We've set a goal to have it ready for move-in by mid-May.  I'll keep you posted.

My favorite link from last week's Sunday Salvation Show was this wonderfully colorful and useful game cabinet by Lori at Bleak to Unique.  She found a real treasure, perfect for her game-lovin' family, and transformed it into the perfect dedicated storage for their many family games.  It's happy and bright.  You need to check her out!

 For Lori at Bleak 2 Unique, my 'Featured' Button:

Sassafras Salvation

Time for this week's Salvation Show.  First, a few rules:
Share something you've done recently.  Take a moment to look at and comment on someone else's link - we're all in this together!  Please consider becoming a follower of Sassafras Salvation and take a Sunday Salvation Show button to remind yourself and others to come back again and again!

Sassafras Salvation

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sneak Peek Saturday - Tablecloths

It's Saturday again, and while I don't have anything handmade that's ready (actually, that's not entirely true, but I want to present things in a more logical order) to show you, I have something to share that may be of some help to others out there who are planning an event.  

To bring folks up to speed, MMM and I are getting married on September 1 of this year.  I committed early on to do everything I could, within reason, to make my wedding by hand or via thrift.  And I've done pretty well.  We're well under the six month mark, and I have pretty much made all the decisions and begun (or completed) all the projects I intend to feature as a part of our wedding celebration.  That little phrase "within reason" plays a large part in this post.  You will probably recall that our rings were among the things that simply couldn't be thrifted or handmade, so reasonableness played a part there, too.  

[To run a little rabbit trail for a minute..... we did consider looking at both regular and online pawn stores for rings, but, with the exception of antique rings, we both agreed that there was too much 'bad juju' tied up in someone else's pawned wedding rings.  I know that's a little superstitious, but there you go.  We wanted something without anyone's bad ending tied to it.  And we both found rings we loved outside the consideration of antique rings.  It would have only been for mine anyway.  Pretty tough to find antique titanium for him!!]

In any case, today we're talking tablecloths.  Now, generally you wouldn't think that tablecloths would present such a problem.  But it's hard to consider that the tablecloths you're purchasing are intended for one use.  Despite that, I wanted them to be uniform.  I could have had plenty of fairly inexpensive tablecloths via thrift, but they would have been a patchwork, and if there's one thing that can pull a wedding  together visually, it's uniformity.  It's why, even when each bridesmaid has a dress of her own choosing, it's generally within a specific spectrum of color and style.  It's why the floral arrangements follow a certain plan.  It's why the guys all have that same set of suspenders and a newsboy cap.   That continuity of color and/or form keeps it visually pleasing.


So I rejected plenty of thrift store tablecloths in favor of either renting or purchasing linens.  Turns out, renting is actually more expensive, and the colors are pretty limited.  Please note:  I am about to endorse a company, but I am NOT being paid a thing.  I want you to know just because I was so delighted at what a great price I got.  I went to Linen Tablecloth, and I got 90" round polyester tablecloths in chocolate brown for between $8 and $9 apiece - what a fabulous deal!  There would be no way to beat that even by sewing.  The fabric alone would cost too much.

Of course, I have plans for the center of each of these tables, but that's for another day!



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bunny Parade

 While I was at Mama Sass's house over Easter weekend, I pulled out some project materials I had brought along, thinking that she and I could create a little something.  Here's the materials list:

Two thrift store sweaters - one, mossy green and the other, pink;
Polyester fiberfill;
Pellon iron-on interfacing (in a pretty heavy weight); and
White pompons.  That's it!

I had previously downloaded a bunny outline that I liked and then I sketched up a larger version of that same bunny, so I had two differently-sized patterns.

We started by cutting the sweaters apart along the seam lines.  I only used the body of each sweater, putting the sleeves aside for some other project, some other day.  I ironed the fusible interfacing to the backside of each sweater to stabilize it.  (For anyone who's never used this stuff, you want to apply the shinier side to whatever you want it to fuse to.  The duller, less glossy side doesn't have any fusible power.)  Iron with a pretty hot setting and add a little steam to it.
After I was sure they were good and fused, I laid a bunny pattern on the interfacing and simply sketched around it with a pencil, leaving a 3/8" margin for seam allowance.  We placed interfaced sides together, and then just stitched around them, leaving the bottom open for stuffing.  We packed in a little stuffing (although you will see that, perhaps, I am less than the world's best animal stuff - there goes my career at Build-a-Bear!) After stuffing, we just machine-stitched directly across to close the opening.  I like that rough-finished edge.

I used a tiny pair of scissors to trim up the edges where the interfacing was obnoxiously apparent.  Then, with hot glue, I added large and small pompons and tied ribbons around each neck.   Then we marched them down the hall and took pictures.  Whew! We started with just two - but you know what you get if you have two bunnies, right?  Pretty soon, we had a small bunny army!

I realized as I was prepping this post, that Picnik's days are really, really numbered.  I haven't figured out Google's replacement - maybe it's not up yet?  I have to get that done!

These bunnies may look a bit like Easter, but I think they're just as much Spring as anything!


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