You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2007.

huge news

On Richmond newsstands now!

Photo from Richmond Magazine

I got a call just before Thanksgiving from Ashely Nichols, who is the Style Editor for the magazine.  She wanted to feature some of my items in the January issue.  (Someone pinch me HARD as I think I am dreaming!)  I brought some items to their office just before Thanksgiving for photographs. 

Ashley called back to let me know that they were featuring my cup cozies and that I had to keep a lid on it until the issue came out.  Well, it is on the stands and I am blowing the lid off of the pot!

richmag article
I will now go and party like it’s 1999 celebrate! You have a great one that is filled with awesome surprises, too!

Image from

In the south, we have black eyed peas and stewed tomatoes to bring good luck in the new year.  In case your tradition isn’t working out you may want to try one of these!

Old Country customs celebrate possibilities of the new year

Created Dec 27 2007 – 12:00am

If you find your neighbor’s windows open around midnight on Dec. 31, don’t be alarmed. They’re probably making room for the new year to step in.

For centuries, people have been ringing in the new year with a variety of customs and traditions — from banging pots and pans ridding themselves of the past year’s bad luck to placing a penny on a windowsill to increase the chances of prosperity in the year to come.

Some deeply rooted ethnic traditions find their way to revelers here in Sewickley.

First celebrated in northern Germany, the Palantine Germans, or Pennsylvania Dutch as they are known today, brought pretzels to America.

Legend has it, the pretzel twists, eaten for breakfast on New Year’s Day, represent good luck for the new year. That custom remains popular today thanks to a high number of German families throughout the state.

Tina Echement knows first-hand that this German custom remains popular. As owner of the Ultimate Pastry, Echement gets requests for the sweet dough pretzel right after Christmas.

“We don’t take orders for the pretzels except for a few days before New Year’s,” she said. “But there’s no doubt that people will be asking for them.”

Echement, who’s been with Ultimate Pastry for 15 years, never heard of the German tradition until customers started asking for them.

“It was new for us,” she said. “It must be a secret custom because I’d never heard of it before.”

She estimates the bakery makes about 100 pretzels every year, including a few extras for Echement who now celebrates the custom.

“There’s always a few extra pretzels left,” she said. “They’re very good.”

Not every German celebrates the new year with pretzels. Some ring in the new year celebrating bleigiessen, a custom that is said to tell the future.

The custom calls for heating small amounts of lead over a candle and placing it into a bucket of water, according to Hardy von Auenmueller, president of the German Society of Pennsylvania.

“The hot lead forms the most interesting shapes,” he said. “And then it’s up to your fantasies to interpret the shapes.”

While von Auenmueller wouldn’t suggest what the shapes could mean, his family celebrates the German custom annually.

“We will do it this year with the grandchildren,” he said.

The meanings of each shape vary from family to family but often point to success or misfortunes throughout the coming year.

But the Pennsylvania Dutch didn’t stop with the pretzels. Pork and sauerkraut reign throughout Western Pennsylvania and right here in Sewickley.

Sales of pork and sauerkraut skyrocket said Lew Safran of Safran’s Supermar-ket.

He sells more pork in the three or four days before New Year’s “than at any other time of the year.”

“Some people eat it on New Year’s Eve and others have it for dinner on New Year’s Day,” Safran said.

Safran and his family share in the custom, too, though he isn’t too sure how it all started.

Outside the United States, all sorts of customs have continued over the years.

In Greece, in addition to ringing in a new year, Greeks celebrate St. Basil’s Day on Jan. 1 with St. Basil’s cake — or Vassilopitta.

Legend says, according to, a Web site devoted to information on holidays around the globe, St. Basil helped less fortunate people pay their taxes by giving one piece of their jewelry to the governor.

After hearing of their misfortunes, the governor re-turned the jewelry to its owners.

St. Basil baked loaves of bread placing each piece of jewelry inside and giving them to the poor.

Whether your holiday celebration includes banging pots and pans in the streets, watching the celebration in Times Square or kissing your mate at midnight, chances are those traditions will all come around again this time next year.

Published on YourSewickley 

America’s Got Talent: Terry Fator – Crying (Over you)

America’s Got Talent: Terry Fator – What a Wonderful World

This has been a great holiday.  Crafting, munching, visiting, train gardens, dinners, sweets, and on and on and on.  Did I mention sweets?  I made myself a loaf of the Pumpkin Cranberry bread along with 2 others to take with me, received several types of homemade candies from Louise, and (oh yeah) bought some, too.  So it has been sew a bit, eat a bit, run for a snack, glue a coat, play with some wire, get a snack…it is a vicious, but rewarding cycle!

On the Sunday before Christmas I decided to get out the felted wool and make myself a present.  So a couple of hours later I had this.


The red is more a true red instead of the tomatoey that it looks.  I put lots of pockets inside and made this one more hobo baggish.  I love that style.  The lining fabric is some vintage fabric I found at a thrift shop over the summer.  Someone had made one pair of curtains and had a couple of yards of leftover fabric and I got both the fabric and the curtains.  Becky from BB’s Cottage (no website, but if you are in Colonial Heights it is in the shops by Ivy Memorial Church).  Becky is really good to me as I am a real regular browser.  I buy a lot of vintage fabrics from her and she always makes me promise to show her what I make.  She is great about keeping an eye out for what I am seeking for me, too.  Great lady, so if you live in the area check her out. 
I bought this book on clearance at Wal-mart a few weeks ago. 

Art To Wear

Here is the link from if you want to learn more about it.  There are a few projects I want to try in it, but this one I worked on over the last couple of days.

mm trims

The base is 5 pages from an old dictionary that were decopaged together.  I didn’t have the required brayer so used a rolling pin in the interim.  I then inked the pages a bit, added the piece of scrapbook paper, the image from a storybook and decoupaged it all.  I then added the rivets (which I don’t like at ALL!), wire, and the stone at the bottom to give it a bit of heft. 

I have it out and keep looking at it to decide how to eliminate the rivet part.  An idea hit me this morning and am going to try it on the next one.   

Saturday, I went to visit Torman and drop off some stuff.  James had made this lovely ballerina and I bought it before he had even determined what to sell it for. 


I love how he hung her from ribbons on an old half of a hinge.  He is very artistic and is forever rescuing things from the trash.  He has made some killer displays with items from the trash.  They are going to start a blog soon for the shop.  They no longer have their website as they had some issues finding someone to update it reasonably for them.  I will link it as soon as they do.  In the interim they are located at 29N. 17th St. in the bottom area of Richmond, VA. 

Lastly, I left a comment when the Michael Miller blog was giving away samples of their new bias trim and ruffle rac and it arrived before the holiday. 

mm trims

Black and white ruffle rac and pink dotted bias tape, I feel a prissy tote in my future.  I love black/white with pink.  Too sweet a combo. 

They let me know with the package that the entire color line will be available in January from JCaroline Creative.  So go and scoop some up for yourself!

Well, that was a lot that I had been sitting on since Christmas.  Hope yours was a great one, too! 

toy testing

I went with my friend Louise, her daughter, son, daughter-in-law and 5 grandchildren plus 2 other children to see this awesome train garden at Bevell’s hardware in Blackstone

Bevell’s Ace Hardware employees set up a 52-by-16-foot table featuring trains and miniature re-creations of local landmarks. The layout includes a 1940s version of Fort Pickett, when the Army base was created, and the long-closed Grove drive-in theater — complete with movie playing. A football field has Nottoway High School playing rival Lunenburg County’s Central High School, with the teams dressed in appropriate colors.

Bobby Daniels, the store’s owner, said the display started on a 4-by-8-foot table as a way to show off his love of model trains. “It is a lot of fun,” he said. “I don’t hunt and fish, so I do this.”

Last year, Daniels said, 3,000 families signed the guest book.

A holiday tradition nearly every year since 1977, the display goes into operation the day after Thanksgiving and usually remains up until the second week in January.

If you want to see more of the train display you can check it out here.  There was a drive-in playing Cars, a car accident scene, a house on fire with water coming through the hose to put it out.  The house even SMOKED before the flames started!  A circus scene, a winter display, 7 running trains including Thomas the Train, the local military fort, and way too much for my eyes to take in.  The walls were also lined with trains.  The owner is truly a collector of trains. 

It was a great time and topped off with lunch at McDonalds.  My new friend, Julia, (who’s is 3) and I had a lot of fun talking, playing and singing carols on the 45 minute ride.  I forgot how tiring little kids are.  It has been a long time since my nieces and nephews were that age.   Whew, she wore me out! :O)

Christmas was great as always.  I got the best surprise at the Daniel’s.  Elizabeth, the daughter, decided to gift me with a frame that said family and have us all pose for a family picture so I could have a picture of my “holiday family”.  That meant the world to me as I think of them as my second family.  Holidays spent with them are never an invite, but expected as you would with any family.  Thanks, Elizabeth. 

Here is the pic of all of us, my holiday family and I. 

holiday family
1st Row:
Elizabeth, Louise, Katie, Crafty Me, Rebecca
2nd Row:
Danny, Ronnie, Gene, Juliana, John, Allison, Joshua
Here’s hoping your holiday was spent with family, too!


Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of can’t.” When controversal subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

Here is that famous letter and Mr. Church’s response:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon
115 West Ninety-fifth Street

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Here is a link to an interview that Virginia O’Hanlon gave on 12-24-63 about the letter and her life since:  Yes Virginia – 66 years later

Let us always hold the wonder, hope and spirit of that letter in our hearts!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.  Now go and hug your kiddies!

 This holiday, America’s Second Harvest is projecting a food shortage of 15 million pounds – the equivalent of more than 400 truckloads or 11.7 million meals. By supporting the Keep Santa Fat mission, we can make a small but important dent in that shortage.

For very person that signs the on-line petition, they will donate 1 pound of food to America’s Second Harvest to feed the hungry.  So far 10,320 pounds have been donated!

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.
~Mother Teresa

One particular Christmas season a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip but there were problems everywhere. Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule. Then Mrs. Claus told Santa that her Mom was coming to visit; this stressed Santa even more.

When he went to harness the reindeer, he found that three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out at heaven knows where. More stress.Then when he began to load the sleigh one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground and scattered the toys.

So, frustrated, Santa went into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered that the elves had hid the liquor and there was nothing to drink.In his frustration, he accidentally dropped the coffeepot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces all over the kitchen floor. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made of.

Just then the doorbell rang and Santa cussed on his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with a great big Christmas tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, “Merry Christmas Santa. Isn’t it just a lovely day? I have a beautiful tree for you. Isn’t it just a lovely tree? Where would you like me to stick it?

Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the tree.

Author Unknown

Now you know!  Hope your holiday goes better than Santa’s! 

I made the ice skate ornaments using the tutorial from Not Quite Vintage with one tiny change.  I couldn’t find red sequins at Wal-Mart unless I wanted to pick them out of a bag of a million mixed ones (not going to happen) and the substitute seed beads I bought would not fit on the needle I had to use for the floss, so…I made french knots instead. 

You know how I like non-traditional holiday colors, so there is pink.  Girly skates?  Romantic holiday skates?  You decide. They whip up very quickly.

ice skates

I made 9 sets.  You never know who might show up at the Daniel’s (the family I spend the holidays with) and I want to be sure every family has a little something from me.  It is funny to see the expressions on the faces of the people that have never been there and I have not met when they get one.  If no one shows then each family gets 2!  Just a big elf, I am!

I had seen a pillowcase grocery tote tutorial on-line, but couldn’t get in my head what the person was trying to convey.  I am very visual, but was confused by what she was trying to convey about the corners.  So, I did my own thing and since the pillowcase was a king that I used it was quite roomy.


I cut off the top border and then cut it at the sides to make the handles.  I tri-folded them and then stitched 2 straight lines on them.  The remaining pillowcase was folded in half and then cut at that mid-point.  Since the one half had the hem all around the outside of the bag is already sewn together for you.  Now, sew the other half leaving an opening at the bottom to pull the bag through. 

You can make the boxed corners if you prefer by folding the corner and measuring (I used 2″).  Then sew a straight line  and then a zig zag on the point side.  Cut off the point side.  Do this to both the inner and outer pieces.

With the insides facing one another sew the top all the way around.  Turn it right side out.  I don’t sew the bottom seam closed until I am sure I am all good after the ironing.  Iron the top seam flat and then sew around with about a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Iron again.  Sew the bottom closed.

Now the handles.  Measure from the sides of the bag in 6″ (or however much works for yours) and about 1.75″ down on the front.  (Note: You may need to adjust all measurements for the handles based on your case).  Pin the handle onto the front of the tote.  Then sew the handle on with a square and then an X across the middle of the square for strength. 

Now, admire your new tote!  What a great way to recycle that pillowcase with the missing/ruined mate!  They go together so quickly they make a great quick gift, too.  And bonus, they are good for our environment! 

If you make one let me know as I would love to share it. 

Hope you are all ready for the holiday to come! 

Quote O’ The Month

"What this world needs
is a new kind of army
- the army of the kind."
~Cleveland Amory

E-mail Me

cindyforeyes at earthlink *dot* net

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