Sunday, July 31, 2011

Revival on the River

*photo from AmazonOutreach
30 malaria pills.  Check. 
Brazilian Visa.  Check. 
Bug Spray.  Check.  Check! CHECK!!!
On Thursday, I'm hopping on a plane, sliding through Miami for a 12 hour stay, and then flying on down to Brazil.  I'm going with a group of people to the Amazon River to meet, learn, give, and receive what I know will be an education of a lifetime.  Our purpose is to finish up a few churches begun by other teams that headed this way before us, build wells, and bring some basic supplies (flipflops, hats, clothes, sunglasses, and gifts) to the folks living along the river as we participate in daily activities to get to know our neighbors to the south.  This is all being done through www.amazonoutreach.org.  I won't be the first to go this way, and if it's God's will, I won't be the last either.  I'm going with a group from my church, and other churches across Texas.  Our 'home' is the above boat.  We sleep on hammocks.  With bugs.  Today's guest pastor said something that 'stuck' with me. "I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I know who's in charge of my tomorrows." 
I have so much to say already about this trip, and everything I've already learned.  I've been overwhelmed with support and encouragement, but I know my learning isn't done.  I look forward to blogging the whole story from start to finish when I return in two weeks from my personal perspective.  I have set my blog to post two "week's of...' projects full of ideas I've gathered over the last few months. 
In the meantime, please be praying for me, and the other's I'm traveling with, and most importantly, for the people we will have the opportunity to meet. 
If all goes well, and we can get the satellite working, there is a great possibility I'll be able to help share our story live via the boats blog.   We will be on the river as of August 5th, and then we head 30 miles up the river to visit 4 villages.  Here is the link to the boats blog where I will hopefully be posting our stories.  http://www.ao-lindaesperanca.blogspot.com/

The Antiques Roadshow in Tulsa

 I do believe this post will be high on the list of strange things I've blogged about.....more on that in a moment.  Last year I took up Antique Roadshow on my list of weekly TV programs.  I'm completely addicted.  I now hunt through stores looking for something that must be worth a million dollars that some grandkid tossed out, the store tagged, and I can take home.  My Mom signed up for tickets (they open up the lottery system in January, and contact you in the late spring if you are drawn.  There are six locations (six days of filming) a year, and 2000 tickets given out for each filming).  We were drawn!  Now, I'm double hooked.  We drove to Tulsa (a four hour drive) on Friday morning, one of this year's 6 locations.  First, there is a great antique store called J's around Exit 1 in Oklahoma when you leave Texas on highway 75.  He has great prices.  Down the road in  Atoka is an Amish store we also stopped at on the drive. 
 They had some pretty incredible looking items.  I purchased gummy bears because I'm  a dare devil like that, but I recommend everything I sampled....which was everything they offered.
 This is my first time to spot the Tulsa skyline. 
 We checked into our room, and then went out to see what the city had to offer.  My Mom had surveyed some experts on the subject.  We visited Cherry Street with some fun stores and restaurants. 
 There is a lot of art deco style buildings (apparently 3rd only to NYC and Miami.   I didn't have the camera I usually use with me, but you get the idea). 
 I also found Route 66.  I'm in L+O+V+E with everything Route 66.  I can't even start on this subject, but there's an old sign commemorating the route and what once was....
 We then headed out to Jenks (more advice), a suburb along the Arkansas River (that runs throughout Tulsa).  We ate at Los Cabos.  The queso was muy beauno.  There were also more antique stores along old main street leading up to these river front restaurants, but most were closing at this time we arrived. 
The next morning we drove to the convention center for our slotted time, 9:00 am.  Something I learned is that you can bring carts to wheel your stuff around.  I'd do this next time.  You can also bring chairs to sit in, but we didn't have to do too much standing around.  You also can't take pictures once you enter the appraisal area (behind one of those large TV screens).  These are the lines.  Each person can bring a guest, and both you and your guest can bring two items each for a total of four objects. 
 We saw some really bizarre things.  I can't WAIT to see what makes it on the show. 
 Once you weave through the line (it goes quickly once your time arrives) you go to a check in point.  You show your items, and you are given a ticket that describes the category your item will fall under.  This directs you to where you will stand in line to see one of the appraisers (firearms, decorative arts, toys, collections, textile, furniture (people were actually wheeling these in on large dollies etc).  There are volunteers you then show your ticket to, and they direct you to lines.  The appraisers are all in a large circle with backdrops behind them, and they are filming in up to three places in the center with large spotlights.  While we were there they were filming a segment with a blue lamp with a brass base.  Can I pause for just one moment and say the Tiffany Lamp thing....it's overdone.  I'm just sayin'.....seen one seen them....fine, I'm just mad I don't have one to bring and be filmed with on the show because it's pretty much their favorite thing to talk about!  I also saw a guy with a painting in the process of filming. 
You take your item up to the appraiser, they look at it, tell you about it (sometimes, depending on the appraiser) and tell you what it's worth at auction.  Usually appraisers cost money, and they might give you a brief snippet about your item, but then again, they don't have anything they are using for research so you just have to assume they have the info filed in their head.  I saw a lot of ladies arguing with the value of their items.  If the appraiser thinkss your object is interesting, they send you to a seat, and a producer comes to see you.  This didn't happen to me, but I did see some people waiting in line, one had some silent movie reels.  The producers came and they decided to film this lady, but they are just going to feature her online.  "Just"....I know, it's more than I will be featured, but really, I'm already planning what I'll bring next time.  As for this time, I have no regrets, I learned a lot about some items I've had for quite awhile.  I have this painting, my Grandfather got it in Japan.  He served in the Navy clean up efforts after WW2 .  I learned that's Mount Fuji and this is a reverse glass painting (I'm still not sure on this because it looks like it's silk, but two people said it).  The guy told me it's worth 25 dollars....uhhh...OK.  Whatever, I wouldn't have sold it for anything because it's a piece of my Grandfather, but this appraiser and I shop at different places. 

 Next up, a surprise.  I brought this because my brother asked me too.  It's a lighter, also from my grandfather.  He gave this to my brother.  He got it in Japan, it's made out of American Beer cans due to the metal shortages at the time.  Value-$50
 Next up, and this one I didn't argue with, but.....this is my Grandfather's Daisy Red Rider beebee gun from the 1930's.  I'd say at least 20 people asked about this in the short time we were there, but the value (from the 40 year old appraiser who said he had one when he was little....which is interesting because he's at least 40 years younger than my Grandfather would be)....$30.  Again, I'm not selling it, but I'd think sentimental people would place a LITTLE more value on this guy.  I can't even find them on ebay.  One thing about firearms, you have to check them in at the entrance before going (which explains the white tag on this)....hey, it's just something good to know.  I don't have anymore guns to bring for appraisal, but....

 Last up, and this is where things get weird.  My Great, Great, Great Grandmother made the below peicture.  It's about 2x3 feet.  It's a flower wreath with a harp in the middle, well over a hundred year's old, winner of a blue ribbon in the state fair of Texas in the early 1900's, and completely made out of her children's hair.  ...yup...hair art.  I can't say this will ever make my list of projects to try, but I can also say when examinging it very closely, I don't think I could ever do anything this intricate if I wanted to pick it up. 
Here's the harp in the middle, even the strings are hair. 
Apparently this was a popular art form in the late 1800's.  I have been examining how she made those little loops and I can't figure it out. 
OK, seriously, check out those roses.  After 120 years, there are a few hairs that have pulled out of their original hold. 
My great-great grandfather's hair is in there somewhere.  My dark brown hair comes from my dad's side. 
The weird craft projects.....I guess it clearly falls from my Mom's side.  Had I lived a hundred years ago and there were no craft stores I'm sure all my kids would have been bald because I'd be busy weaving their hair into my harp as well.
Apparently, there isn't a big market for family hair pictures. Shock!  The guy who appraised it first called it bead work.  I had to correct him, but I don't think the value changed.  He was impressed by the work, but at auction...only $250.  I guess it's off to my Aunt's house to hang for another hundred years. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lady Bug Pretzel Bites....and Some Fun News

 I have some fun news...more on that in a minute, first....about the bugs.  I've seen this post a bazillion and 4 times over the last few months on various sites, but I don't know where the original post came from?  Does it count if I just say it's not 'me?'  I put it on the back burner of crafts I want to try someday, but it got bumped up to my list today because I have a pop up project I need to get done for something fun....
I will say these bugs have a bigger purpose I'll be posting about in a few weeks, and hopefully their home will be a cute one.  These bugs are so easy to make.  Pretzels, red, and milk chocolate...(and white chocolate if you want to add eyes, which is not necessary). 
 Melt the chocolate (I just place this in the microwave for 30 second intervals between stirring, and it is usually melted within a minute.  The white (or red) chocolate takes less time-45 seconds or so). 
 Dip the bottom of the pretzel into the milk chocolate.  Tap off the excess.
 Let these dry on wax paper.  I usually toss them in the fridge to speed up the process. 
 Melt the red chocolate, and dip the double looped half, the 'wings' if you will....and if you won't.....why?  Ignore me, it's almost 3 am.  I'm delirious...and I've been around glue all day.  Granted, it's only Elmer's, but still...I'm coated in the stuf. 
 Repeat the drying process. 
 I then shoveled my left over milk chocolate into a ziplock bag, and I reheated this for a few seconds (just long enough to get hot).  I made a TINY slit in one corner, and piped on my dots.  (You could also add dark sprinkles while the red chocolate is still soft if you don't want to play with piping dots.)  I repeated the process with white chocolate to make two eyes. 
*One thing I've learned (and maybe I'm the last one on earth), but I put any left over chocolate in a ziplock bag, or a blob on wax paper.  Once it dries, I dump it back into the bag to reheat for another project. 
OK....and before I get to my news....when I got home today.....my chihuahua, Peanut, had found a pack of matches I had next to a candle and chewed them up.  They were all over the carpet, and near his favorite spot to bury things....couch cushions.  He's still alive to tell the story, but I am disturbed that my dog is playing with matches now, he's only two after all....lesson learned. 
....and last.  I got a call from a producer of Good Morning, Texas who found a post about pinatas I popped up on the blog last May for my Week of Cinco de Mayo projects.  I'm heading in Tuesday morning to do a segment on 'how to make a pinata' live, sometime between 9-10 am (pending interruptions by national news stations, I'm sure).  I'm trying not to think about everything that goes with that, but I'm really excited to have this opportunity.  I've been paper maching for two day's straight now to get all my pieces together.  The ladybugs (I know...this is a stretch) are my back up if I need to fill any time, it'll make sense when I post the rest of this project....if all goes well, I'll post about the experience, and maybe even link up to a clip.  If things fall apart, I'll be deleting this portion of the post and pretending like I never said this....ever.  ;o) 

Linking To:  Sundae Scoop Under the Table and Dreaming Saturday Shindig Sunday Showcase Nifty Thrifty Lines Across My Face Savvy Homemade Messy Help a Mama Out Blue Cricket Creative Spark Trendy Treehouse Night Owl 7-33 Free Things For You Tea Rose House

My Article in Today's Paper

Christy Robbins: Public schools should not fear religion Opinion, Commentary, Editorials, Op-Ed and Letters to the Editor - News for Dallas, Texas - The Dallas Morning News
In 2003, an elementary school student brought pens shaped like candy canes to a Plano ISD classroom to hand out at the annual holiday party. Attached to the pen was a legend about the candy cane, including symbolic biblical reasons for each marking to explain the Christmas story. The school would not allow him to hand these out. Eight years later, this battle is still rolling around the court system as First Amendment rights are evaluated.
Now, I’m a little foggy on whether the candy cane story is a fact-filled legend or just an old tale passed down through generations. All evidence points toward the candy cane legend being written to more clearly explain Christmas. After all, the candy cane is rarely a sermon topic in Christian churches. I’ve yet to come across candy cane references in the Bible.
I have, however, read many legends from various cultures and religious groups within the pages of Texas textbooks written to paint clearer pictures about circumstances and traditions important to cultures. And that’s what people who have taken sides in this fight need to remember: The official Texas curriculum is full of legends, myths and fables that are used to impart a greater truth.
There are no court cases pending regarding the popular library book The Legend of the Bluebonnet. In that book, Native American spirits visit the hills of Texas and fill them with blue flowers because of a little girl’s sacrifice.
If The Legend of the Candy Cane received a Bluebonnet Award, would it be classroom-approved?
Delving deeper into the candy cane case itself and what it represents is the line drawn between education and a student’s right to share his or her religious celebrations. Sharing stories about why Christmas is celebrated falls under the umbrella of facts about a religion celebrated by people who live all over the world. “Multicultural studies,” which encompass religious celebrations, is another Texas standard listed for all students to cover. Many districts set aside time to observe multicultural learning. So why do standards change when Christianity becomes one of the religions under study?
Comments in previous articles about the candy cane case reflect a misconception that Christians are the only ones asking for the right to observe, celebrate and share their customs freely in our schools. Not so. There are many public displays of various religious customs in Texas elementary schools. They look different, but each aligns with the particular group’s customs and beliefs.
Local districts make accommodations for students to pray toward the east during school hours. Places are provided for students to gather when observing Ramadan, allowing these students to forego lunchroom visits. Special dietary needs are met through the district’s meal planning for students with food restrictions based on their religion.
Sharing a religious story attached to a pen, praying before a football game or even using the word “prayer” instead of “moment of silence” is a hotly debated topic when you attach the name of Christ.
If you don’t believe in the power of those prayers, why fear the effects? If Christmas is just a story, why suppress a student from sharing his religious beliefs?
If you want to prevent students from sharing personal beliefs and feelings with each other, we need to go to silent lunches and solitary recess.
There’s just no reason to fear the spread of basic knowledge. After all, having knowledge of why Christmas is celebrated doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s believing Jesus died for your sins and placing your faith in Jesus that makes you a Christian.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Watermelon 5 Cents Screen Door Hanging

 ...and speaking of screens.  I made this one for my summer door.  I saw this original painting design on Gainer's Crafts.  I love this idea b/c watermelon just screams summer to me.  I used a piece of screen, and placed it on top of a trashbag to paint.  This made the paint pool and when it dried it stayed better on the screen. 
I'm now out of screen and frames this size, so I guess it's on to a new crafting venue.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

50 Cent Screen Snowmen

This is very much a work in progress, but I've added screens to my list of things to play around with this year...except, I wanted to find a cheaper form of doing this other than finding old screen doors and windows....I wish they were readily available, but they aren't.  I have no doubt this has been done before, and much better, but here's my version of screen painting.  I found an empty frame at a garage sale, and a piece of screen left over from my friend Terry's, sister, remodeling job.  I'm sure you can purchase this at stores like Home Depot.  I also found a picture of a simple snowman in Terry's pile of projects I wanted to try out. 
 I painting my snowman.  I tried to make the paint thick, but it still seeped throughthe box.  Penmenship is my next issue, but I have a long way to go!  I can handle that, I have a long life ahead of me. 
 It took a lot of paint to get the screen completely covered.  I tried this a second time and found placing the screen on a trashbag took less paint and helped keep the coating thick. 
 Even though I made the paint thick, it still stayed on the box, and only the screen ended up being painting. 
 I added a wire to the back, and gave the frame a light spray of paint.  I just used supplies I had at home, so for 50 cents....new series of projects have been launched. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Le Retreat...Part Four-A Huge Hodge Podge of Everything

 I'll get back to the above picture in a minute...
     Last week, I headed up to Gainesville for Le Retreat and scrapbooking/quilting/eating/educational discussions that will only help you if you ever compete in a television trivia game show. 
     This has become a fun summer tradition.  I wrote all about it here, with lots of great house pictures...and town pictures, and several links to links to links on the subject....OK, I think that covers my point, but it's a great house.  If you live in North Texas, or on planet earth, and like to craft, and have friends, I recommend this getting away thing with friends and gluesticks/sewing machines. 
     What I like most about retreating is laughing at things that would never be that funny if laughter wasn't contagious, but suddenly rival stand up comics in the company of friends.  I like hearing each person's personal connections with various topics that arise.  For instance, my friend Mary's mom stuffed olives for a living for a few years before heading to Oklahoma into the life of farming.  This then lead into a lengthy pimento conversation, that lead to a google search on the inter'tube', that lead to me needing to order a pimento cheese sandwich for lunch one day. 
    Another fun side effect of retreats are things you see, things you learn, or random shared traditions.  The lady that owns the house swung by when we arrived, and she had the above quilt top in her car for someone (long story).  It is from 1923, and she uses it in one of the classes she teachers called "They spoke with their needles."  In this case, a family member moved away, and each of the ladies in the family created a square from feed sack.  Each signed her name, left some information, and often a picture that somehow represented her.  Each member then embroidered their piece, and they were compiled together to send with the family member moving out of state to lay on her bed and keep her from feeling homesick. 
 Dear Friends, I want one of these.  I'm not moving anywhere, but I still think this idea is so neat, and I might consider moving just to get one...kinda tempting, huh?  It's like a needlepoint scrapbook, and each square would represent so much about the people.  I'm pretty sure I'm an Ada (see below).  A little overbearing.  A little loud. She almost needed two squares. 
      We also do a lot of eating.  The house is fully equipped for cooking all your meals, but I can't convince any of the ladies to stop working and go make me lunch so....we go out.  For a small(ish) town, the restaurants are really good.  If you go to Gainesville, the fried pie is a must, but my favorite (of the places I tried this go round) cafe was Sarah's. 
     This also (conveniently) falls around my birthday, and my friends helped celebrate with sugar...my favorite.  From Jolene: 
 From Mary and Sonia: 
      In between eating, and philosophical pimento discussions we sometimes take a break to work.  The house has ironing boards and cutting boards for quilters.  The below are a few of Mary's squares.  She went through her sewing room and pulled all her extra fabric and is making a hodge podge quilt.  I love this because most of these represent other projects she worked on for family members, and these colors are so 'Mary'-yellow and orange.
 The house is also equipped with internet for digital scrapbooking. 
 ...or introducing people to Bon Qui Qui....maybe not the right crowd, but...
There are project boards to pin finished quilts.  This is Sonia's, she completed this (after working on it for awhile pre-trip) on the retreat.  It's a block of the month quilt.  The green is a really different outline.  Cream colors, blues and reds....these scream Sonia. 
 Jolene used the board to lay out her squares and move them around once they were sewn.  This is the center of the quilt she is making for her Grandson.  There is a border too.  She makes each of her grandkids a quilt and makes a cross stitch their first year.  She also gives them each an ornament every year.  Each grandkid has their own-one gets Santa's, another Ballerina's etc to represent the year.  I'm just throwing that in because I love that idea too.  I'm a LITTLE ways off from grandkids, but I'm going to do this for godchildren....not the quilts and cross stitch, that'd be punishment, but the store bought ornaments are good.
 ...and then there is me.  I pretty much take over three tables and I scrapbook.  I'm still (a year later) working on my Europe album.  I have about 1/4 left to do even after 3 days, it was a long trip, I took a lot of pictures.  Here are a few of the pages.  Every time I scrapbook I get into some new trend, this time it was to push all the photos into the center of the pages. 
...and with so many photos, this whole album has been about cramming as many photos on a page as possible, with one introduction page for each stop. 
 Things I'm obsessed with:  flowers, and buttons.  I never have enough.  Thinking about it makes me want to go buy more. 
My aunt gave me a tag maker for my birthday.  I might need a 12 step program. 
...and another chapter closes on Le Retreat.  We are booked for next year, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone in commemorating in their work when the time rolls around again.