December 11, 2013


I recently went to search for decorations at The Dollar Tree for our office Christmas cookie exchange party and stumbled on the wall of snowflakes they have to offer. I bought a handful of different shapes and sizes, some having multiple in a package, some only one.

I laid them all out on my workspace into a wreath shape then began hot gluing the places where the tips touched. And as simple as that, I have a beautiful snowflake wreath and glittery ribbon that cost all of $5. With it hung on a mirror, it makes it look twice as pretty and twice as glittery. Love it!!

November 25, 2013

Quirky is as Quirky does

I’m a sucker for a lot of things… mostly things that I’d like to think all people are suckers for, like crying babies, or injured animals, or a sweet old couple still walking hand in hand after 60 something years of marriage, the kind of things that tug at your heart and make you weak in the knees. The kind of things that make you put your guard down for a minute or two and step out of that cozy comfort zone to offer a hand for someone in need.

But I’m also a sucker for a few weird things, things that might define me as quirky. I don’t mind being called quirky. Really, we all have some degree of quirkiness, that’s what makes us fun and interesting. The quirkiless (I just made that a word) people are the boring ones. I wouldn’t want to be friends with a quirkiless person.

• I’m a sucker for Christmas music. I’m listening to it now, and have been since last week. All day every day, and all the way up to Christmas day. Then I’m done until next year. My son would hate that, being the Scrooge that he is. (Where did he get that from?!) But I have my Pandora station loaded with awesome artists and songs. In general, I can't stand Celine Dionne, but I will listen the heck out of her Christmas albums. Isn’t there something so soothing about hearing a Christmas song? It brings calm to my otherwise hectic November and December.

• I’m a sucker for my grandchildren. I was a pretty hardass mom, kept ‘em in line and all that, but now I seem to have that mellow grandma thing going on and will do just about anything they want that makes them happy or smile for a minute.  We get silly and play, and have Happy Meals, and watch Sponge Bob Squarepants together. “Gigi, can I have a Fruit Rollup?” Yes you can. “Can I have another Fruit Rollup, Gigi?” Yes, yes you can.

• I’m a sucker for my children, both adults now, and they mean the world to me. My heart hurts when they are in pain, and I am filled with true joy when they are happy. I would sacrifice everything I have for them. I feel the same way about my siblings and my handful of good friends. How lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life.

• I’m a sucker for sparkle. OK, that’s a little weird, but my head will spin for a sparkly bracelet or some other piece of chachke jewelry. I don’t need diamonds anymore. I’ve had my fair share of good expensive jewelry that brought me pleasure at one time. I am gaga over simple rhinestones and glitter. Right now I have on a Christmas charm bracelet I made (loaded with crystal charms), and a rhinestone bangle bracelet that I paid $5 for at Walmart, and my Fossil watch with a crystal bezel. And there is a jingly, sparkly necklace around my neck.

• I’m a sucker for mindless TV. And don’t we have a boatload of options out there! I sadly still watch all the Housewives. They’re rude and shallow, and mean divas, and maybe that makes me feel soooooo good about myself, I don’t know. Why can’t I turn my head when they are on? It’s like a train wreck right before my eyes. Kudos to Bravo TV... laughing all the way to the bank. Ah, Andy Cohen, you genius, you.

• I’m a sucker for shoes. Love, love, love them and could shop all day trying on every single pair just for the fun of it. I even notice other people’s shoes and have many times made comments to total strangers “love your shoes!” Yeah, I’m that person, the weirdo in the mall looking at your shoes.

• I like laughing and I’m a sucker for a good comic strip.  Right now, I love Pickles, it’s my favorite. My all time fave was Calvin and Hobbes. Man, do I miss that one! Belly laughs galore. For the life of me I don’t understand why some of the old weird ones are still around like Beetle Baily and Mary Worth and Blondie. I can honestly say I have never once read Mary Worth. The comics are the only part of the paper I read. My 6th grade civics teacher would not be happy about that. He once made me do an oral report every day for a week about current events, because I shared that I did not read the paper. So, booya! Mr. WhateverYourNameWas, still not reading. Current events are still sucky, and I don’t have to know about them to get through my day. Actually, I feel like I’m better off not knowing the creepy things that they deem fit to print.

So call me a sucker or quirky. If you’re my friend, you’re not learning anything new here. I wear my quirkiness proudly on my sleeve and offer no apologies. Booya!

October 14, 2013

Halloween shadow box

I found these little Zen Garden thingies at the Dollar Tree. I’m a sucker for a wooden shadow box, so for a buck, I got a perfect, already black, wooden shadow box to make something for Halloween.

I must say it wasn’t all that hard to toss out everything that came with the box. The little bag of sand and rocks went into my garden, (HA! – I say “garden” like I have one of those. Let’s be honest and call it the "back yard") the tiny rake was worthless and went into the recycle bin and I was left with a nice black box.

I have the mother load of Halloween stickers in my stash and ribbon too, so this was truly a $1 project. OK, $1.06 with tax. Uncle Sam needs his share. If you had to buy all of it, it would still be under $8.

First, I measured around the perimeter of the box and applied some red-double-sided sticky tape to secure my ribbon. You could just use glue if you don’t have that tape. But you should have that tape, it’s that awesome with ribbon.

I found the music page on-line for the background , printed it out, and applied it with ModPodge. I have a bat punch and used some black cardstock scrap to punch them out. I creased their wings to give some dimension. I cut a piece of spooky cloth from my stash (also from the Dollar Tree) and place it at the bottom to anchor the collage. It looks like a spider web - bonus!

A few minutes later, after playing around with placement and gluing everything down… project done and cute as a button. I have it propped in my kitchen window in front of one of my K's I collect.

Cackle, cackle, screamy screamy! Happy, happy Halloweenie!

August 30, 2013

Up, Up, and Away!

My favorite age to do just about anything with a child is around 4 years old. They’re out of that baby stage, have no inhibitions, think the world revolves around their little lives, are full of a genuine lust for learning, and can make you smile out loud with their words, thoughts and actions. After that, the snark quickly sets in and the questioning of authority, and you start saying things like “because I said so”.

This is my little man at about 4. Everything this boy touched transmogrified (thank you, Calvin & Hobbes for that awesome word) into a Super Hero accessory. This “sword” was, in its earlier life, his little sister’s glitter baton which had been tied with a ribbon found in my craft supplies so he could wear it “ninja style” around his neck. His “mask” was of course, a swim goggle worn upside down so it fit more like a mask and less like a goggle, but when he donned both of those accessories he became a certified super hero limited only by his imagination. And he had plenty of that.

He was an 80’s baby, so his heroes were aplenty. Superman was at the top of the list, but he also loved He-Man, Thundercats, Batman, all the Ninja Turtles and every DC comic book character there was. Every single one. He knew their background story, their powers, their weaknesses, and their arch enemies. He had super hero underwear, super hero pj's, a super hero toothbrush, and super hero sheets.

He knew that Jor-El and Lor-El were Superman’s birth parents from the planet Krypton, and that John and Martha Kent were his Earth parents. The first movie he ever went to see was not a kiddy Disney movie, but Superman IV, the Quest for Peace. He went with his dad, and I (lucky me) got to sit through The Chipmunk Adventure with his little sister in an adjoining theater. It was definitely the short stick draw for me, but was the absolute highlight of my little man's day.

He could, and did, sing the theme song to all of the cartoons on TV. He-Man was one of his favorites to watch. He stood to sing the He-Man song, holding his imaginary sword in the air. That magical sword harnessed the power of the mysterious Castle Greyskull and transformed Prince Adam into He-Man. For that moment, he was He-Man, with his neck veins protruding from saying “I HAVE THE POWER!” with all his little might.

On most days, my little SH had some sort of cape attached to his neck by a clothespin, and I’m sure it made him run faster and have big muscles. Usually it was fashioned from a kitchen towel, but he had a plethora of capes from Halloween costumes to choose from. Most had been tied so many times the strings were all broken, so that clothespin came in handy. We had many excursions out in the “real” world fully costumed. He walked tall and proud and totally “in-character”. I got a lot of looks at the grocery store and post office, but they were sweet looks and not the “OMG, you poor thing” looks. He had the Superman stance perfected with his fisted hands on his hips, feet spread and his head looking to one side.

One of his plastic Halloween masks from a Superman costume had the traditional Superman haircut – you know, the one with that little swirl in the front.  He once asked me “the next time you cut my hair, could you please cut it like Superman's?”. I knew exactly what he wanted... it was that little swirl in the front. Oh, if only I could have, but alas he was blessed with stick straight hair and no amount of product was going to produce that swirl. It made my life interesting and full of smiles and warmed my heart like only a mother’s heart could be warmed.

He was adorable and an incredibly happy little boy. My little SH is 30 now and still has that warm, happy heart he had at 4. He’s a good man, with the same nerdy panache for super hero trivia, and can still melt my heart. He’s intelligent and loving and considerate, and most important to me, he’s kind. A good human being, plain and simple.

I treasure my memories of you in your carefree moments of imaginary role-playing.  You sure were good at it. I love you, little man. “Up, up, and away!”

July 29, 2013

from the Countess

Ha! With all the royal baby stuff taking the center stage, having a website to generate your own royal title is the timely thing to do.

Give it a whirl, just for chuckles, or as we say in the UK - sniggers (somehow that seems so inappropriately racist)

You're welcome!

truly yours,
Countess Magnolia of the Night

July 28, 2013

Repurposed Baby Shoes

Another Pinterest inspired craft that came to life yesterday. We are always on the lookout for awesome repurposing ideas, especially those that look vintagey (vintagish?) and shabby chic-ish. Yeah, I make up words... cuz I can.

We have been stocking up on old baby shoes we have found at thrift stores and antique malls. This is the box of stash we had to work with. Some are from my granddaughter's discarded, outgrown shoe wardrobe. One pair is from Jan's oldest son when he was a baby, the leather white high top shoes. I call them Zippy shoes, because they look like the kind that circus chimps wore as they rode their bikes around a stage. And there was always one chimp named Zippy. Do you remember those acts? Ed Sullivan would occasionally have them on his show. Yes, I am old as dirt and know who Ed Sullivan was. There is a black pair of shoes in there too that I want to turn in to Halloween sump'n sump'ns.

We gathered up some of our stash of lace and bling and ribbons and went to work to turn these adorable little shoes into adorable little pin cushions. We started by placing fish tank pebbles in the bottom of the shoes for stability. After researching a few how-tos about making the pin cushion part, we went with filling a circle of tight woven material with bird grit. That's the stuff you put in a cup for caged birds to help with digestion, and you can find it in any pet supply store. Draw up the cloth into a ball with a needle and thread, secure tightly and then cover that with a more decorative material like vintage velvet.

Then came the bling part. We added some old lace, old rhinestone jewelry pieces, vintagey tinsel (I'm sticking with that version of my made up word), flowers, pearls, and replaced the shoe laces with satin ribbons. We hot glued all of the components to the shoes.
Every single one is stunning! and very easy to make. We'll be selling them in the fall.

This is one of Kinsley's shoes. Baby pink sneakers that I think she might have worn once. Isn't that the way it goes with newborns? Their little feet grow so fast. It has a beautiful pin made of clay roses attached to a piece of an antique crochet doily. Pearls were glued around the edge of the shoe, and a little bird charm hangs from the doily. The pin cushion is made with pink velvet that has been embossed with stars.

 This one looks similar to a Zippy shoe. It has that incredible aged look and was well worn.

Off white flowers, satin ribbon and a rhinestone piece decorate the front of the shoe, while a tea stained crocheted lace encircles the top of the shoe. It has a white velvet pin cushion.

All the ingredients for a sweet shabby chic pin cushion.
This one is a little Mary Jane shoe, which is hard to tell because the straps have been covered with embellishments. It too has vintage lace, a vintage rhinestone pin, satin ribbon and pearls for decorations.

It was also a well worn shoe. I guess babies wore them longer back in the day. It seems like now, people don't put sweet shoes on tiny babies like they used to. And the trend is more towards something a rock star might wear. Lots of bling, lots of sparkle, or gold lame´ type material. The new shoes aren't very sweet... they're gutsy. And too grown-uppy.

I suppose that makes our repurposed shoes all that more special. Something gone by the wayside like good manners and respect and Ed Sullivan.

Look how cute they are on Jan's chippy shelf. And the antique turquoise Mason jars add to the ambiance.  So cute! 

July 25, 2013

Gator Chomp, or Nole Chop?

Living in Gainesville, Florida, you'd think there's only one choice of school colors, wouldn't you? Well, guess again. We have a large Seminole following here too. So, today I made 2 bracelets for my daughter's fund raising event benefitting Breast Cancer Research.

We'll see which bracelet brings in more money for her silent auction.

July 20, 2013

Recycled Treasures

We are the queens of junk yard art. This year we have extended our repertoire to include some Christmas dioramas using vintage clocks for the bases. These are gone-by-the-wayside clocks that have become obsolete with the advances of technology. Hell, even watches are becoming obsolete. Most people younger than us (the rest of the world) don't wear watches. Why would they? They have their cell phones attached to their hips and since they look at their phones about 5000 times a day, they are much more aware of what time it is than us geezers. Ooooo, I feel a soapbox approaching, so let me put myself in check. I'd much rather talk about crafting stuff.

Old clocks aren't nearly as accessible as you would think, but we found some and after gutting them like fishies, we put together some adorable dioramas. We had a ton of stuff already on hand, but scored some more vintage decorations from thrift stores to bling them up.

This one was a white plastic case clock, perfect for a vintage feel with the red and white color scheme. The little chippy angel in the middle is holding her own little tree and is surrounded by a snowy bottom and glittery sides. She has a sparkly snowflake in her background which is a piece of vintage packaging from old Christmas lights.

This one is about 6 inches tall.

This one is made from an old brass Big Ben style clock.

The vintage soldier looks like he is guarding the tree and its treasures below. We kept the glass front intact on this one.

 Really, cute!

This is the rear view. A piece of vintage style background paper was added to cover up the openings in the back, and gold braid was added all around the front and back rims for a little glitzy flair.

So far we have made 30 of these and they are all adorable.

Some are made from crystal clocks and those are awesome too. Very shabby chic, and hopefully well received by our customers.

July 08, 2013

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

I posted two years ago that Jan and I were through with bottle snowmen. I lied like a rug. We thought we were, then we caught our breath and got inspired to keep going. I don't know how many we have made over the years, but it is at least 600. OMG, six hundred! (thank you Sue Pelletier for your original inspiration) We have this year's batch ready for our fall show in October and are considering a second show in November if we can score a good venue. We honestly have a huge following, and people come looking for our booth at the show we do in October. True validation. And much appreciated.

My house is covered in glitter, and crates of finished snowmen line my guestroom walls. I can't even begin to tell you how much fun we have making them all. Each and every one is a creation of love from the first step of picking out a bottle, to the end step of glittering them all.

Our early techniques were much more crude, and scattered. We made a lot of "themed" snowmen... anything from University colors, to beach themed, nautical, patriotic, and everything in between. They were all very well received, but I think the theme-style wore us out. We've settled into making adorable, sweet faced regular snowmen (and women). Here are some in the "drying" stage. After we have completed assembling each one, they go onto my kitchen shelf unit for about 3 days of drying time. It takes that long for their clay heads to dry. Next will come gluing all the parts in place with a strong adhesive, followed by a blushed cheek, then glitter.

How lucky am I to get to see all these smiling faces pretty much year round! Here are some after getting their glitz on.

 This one is made from a crystal salt shaker and has a top hat made from a VW knob that has been glued to a large black button. He has a neck full of jingle bells and a satin ribbon that catches more sparkle from the glitter.

So cute! We make handmade tags for each one and include their name. Yes, of course... we name each one. I like to use old fashioned names like Walter or Sarah. Sometimes, a customer will pick one up and say "OMG, my grandmother's name was Sarah. I'm getting this one." Makes us smile.

 Here's a partial look at this year's bunch, all gathered up and having a snowman conference on my dining room table.

Here is another group, waiting to be tagged and stored away. Notice the billiard ball bodies on some of them. Jan's idea! She is best at thinking outside the box.

We've also added some tiny ones that can be used on a Christmas tree like an ornament. They fit in the palm of a hand and are also adorable.

 Here is a grouping of them hanging from one of my display pieces. They are too sweet.

... and a close up view of that face.

Yup, it's Christmas in July at my house. And April, May, June, August, September, October, and November.

Ho Ho Ho!

June 28, 2013

Middle names

As I sit here waiting for my kitchen floors to dry, I am surfing Pinterest, my favorite on-line obsession. Today I ran across this...

Nothing could be truer. Although my blog is named Karol Ann, no one ever calls me that. There was a time when, if I heard that called out loud, I kind of peed a little. The hair would stand on the back of my neck, and I would wait for what seemed an eternity for the proverbial "other shoe" to drop. My siblings and I were experts, I mean real experts, at covering our tracks, and staying under the radar. We knew from a very early age that mama don't play. I'm not saying we were angels, we weren't. Our fights were plentiful and legendary. We name-called and hair-pulled, and could spit in each other's eye like a champ. But when we acted out it was behind her back. And it was quiet. Or should have been. I can remember covering my brother's mouth so he couldn't scream out and blow our cover. I got my hand bit a few times pulling that, and if he couldn't bite, he'd push spit out onto my hand. Ah, the fun memories. If mom heard the commotion, this is what followed:  "Ellen Karolyn, ugh... Jan Annette... shit... KAROL ANN!" She'd have to go through all of our names and finally spit out the one whose butt was fixin to get kicked.

Mom was one tough cookie. She was born in the early twenties and was one of eleven children. She had five brothers close to her age and was, I understand a handful herself as a teen. She rolled with her brothers and didn't take crap from anybody. Ironically, she entered the convent as a teen to continue her education. In the 30's, school was free until the 8th grade. After that, it cost money. My grandparents were not wealthy and an extended education for eleven kids was out of the question. The convent offered a free education. She joined with her best friend Mary Ellen (my oldest sister's namesake). I imagine Clarissa Augusta (mom) and Mary Ellen got in plenty of trouble in the years they were there together. Mary Ellen stayed in the convent and was a nun until her death. Mom didn't. She came home to help out with the younger siblings and eventually joined the Navy. She met and married my dad (a Navy man) and we were raised by strong, disciplined, and loving parents. 

Jan and I visited mom recently in her assisted living home. She has a much softer look about her, and seems so frail and fragile now. My sibs see her every day, and I thank God for them for being there for her. They are dedicated children and love her dearly as do I. My distance from her home keeps me from seeing her often, but when I do, she smiles when I walk in the room. This trip, she was in the activity room playing Bingo, one of her lifelong pleasures. I sat quietly next to her as she concentrated on her 2 cards, waiting for each number to be called. Most of the time, she is in a state of confusion and isn't sure what she is supposed to be doing. Bingo seems to ground her and for that hour or so, she is rock solid.

 I'm so grateful you still recognize me, and are in a safe and happy place. I think of you often and laugh at some of our childhood shenanigans that we got away with. And cringe at the ones we didn't.
Love you, mom! from Karol Ann.

June 02, 2013

Tubing the Itchetucknee River

One of my all time favorite Florida things to do is tube the Itchetucknee. I've done it all my adult life, starting probably about the time I got my first car and became mobile. Tomorrow is my husband's 70th birthday - holy crap on a cracker - and I am surprising him with a trip down the river. We live about 45 minutes away, so it is a perfect way to do a watery Florida activity without having to travel to the beaches.  And since we are in central Florida, beaches are 2 hours away in either direction.

This river is spring fed so it remains a constant 72° all year long and is crystal clear. It flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River. The current is strong enough to keep you floating without having to paddle, like the lazy river in Disney World. Only you can see live white-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons from the river. I have even seen otters and an occasional snake. Mostly you see dragonflies. They love to hitch a ride on some part of the boat or the tip of your toes, and float lazily along the river. There are a bazillion rental places around to rent tubes and one man boats, which is what most people do. Some bring canoes or kayaks. Some bring their own gear, but if you have ever traveled with a carload of kids and inflated tubes (we have), you'd know that the cranky factor goes way up before you even reach your destination. 

These people are in inner tubes. Ha! Inner tubes have holes in them which means your butt gets wet and cold. We rent one man boats which is, well, a boat... with no open middles, and that means you don't get wet. Theoretically.

Hubby and I each rent our own boats and this is how we roll... he helps me get in my boat at the beginning of the river, he gets in his, ties our boats together, and then we float together until the end where he helps me out of my boat. I can wear shorts and a t-shirt and don't have to wear a bathing suit, which makes me very, very happy. I carry an umbrella and have it open to protect my skin from the Florida sun. We look just like Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in African Queen. I even call him Charlie while we are floating. It's his duty to keep us out of the grasses so snakes can't get to me. Yes, I know they could drop out of trees, but I choose to pretend that can't happen. It is truly beautiful scenery, worth any risk of an up and close contact with any critter. Well, not really. If I ever have a snake drop in my boat, I promise you will see me on CNN.

After we get out of the river, a shuttle bus takes us back to our car which is parked in a picnic area, and tomorrow we will be picnicking. It's the perfect plan, and a perfect way to spend your 70th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Pieface.

May 19, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy

My blogging mojo has been conspicuous by its absence. To say that I am busy is an understatement to be sure.
I have been working hard with Janice (for one thing) getting ready for our fall craft shows. We love being up to our eyebrows in snowmen and snowmen parts. It's a constant source of entertainment for each of us to always be on the lookout for body parts. I don't believe either one of us goes shopping at thrift stores or antique malls or anywhere else for that matter without looking at "things" with an artistic eye. Occasionally, each of us will message the other with a photo of a potential hat or embellishment, and a message "what do you think of this?" or "can we use that?"
This year we have already made 2 big batches of our vintage bottle snowmen, over 200 already, and we are now working on adding to our repertoire. Jan made a snowman last year for herself, taking the idea from a Pinterest post that is so cute, we decided we could make a batch of them. Here is a sneak peek of our batch...

Oh my! How flippin' cute! We have about 14 of them so far. Lots of sizes and shapes. Some 3 spools tall, some 2.

We'll be testing the waters with these on October, but I'm pretty sure they'll be received well. We'll name them too, just like our other snowmen.

Pretty self explanatory on what they're made from. We had everything except for the spools of crochet thread, and scored those from Ebay and thrift stores. Crafting is my Happy Place. I don't get to go there often enough, but when I do, it is the most therapeutic thing I do for myself. And to get some sister time in there is a big bonus for both of us. We get together again this weekend for more therapy. See you soon, Jan.

February 04, 2013

RAOK update

It has been one year since I posted about Random Acts of Kindness. I asked my friends not to give me any gifts or celebrations for my 60th birthday, but to do RAOK's for 60 days instead. I got wonderful input from so many people, all of whom I knew all along would do kind things without me asking.

One in particular was incredible! My friend Nancy and her husband kept a journal for an entire year for me of the acts of kindnesses they did in my honor. OMG, I was overwhelmed with joy when she presented it to me this year on my birthday. I read through tear filled eyes some of their posts. Here are some of the wonderful things they did: gave up their "you're next" status at a restaurant to another couple; took in neighbors trash cans; mentored some high school students for an upcoming competition; helped a fellow motorist move his car from the road; picked up trash at the beach; did a surprise carpet cleaning for their son's apartment; mailed a card to a couple listed in the paper who were celebrating their 75th anniversary; made several donations to scouts/students outside of Publix; made a call to the Publix manager about good service by one of his employees (she received a free meal voucher).
The list went on and on, each as sweet and wonderful as the next.

As I said before, I believe strongly in Paying it Forward. One of my favorite quotes is by Leo Buscaglia (remember him?) I loved watching him on PBS when I was younger. Such an incredible man. His quote: Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. 

I wrote this today because another sweet friend, Kimmie, posted on her Facebook page about an act she performed over the weekend in my honor. She mentioned my challenge to her from a year ago. I have such wonderful friends in my life, and love them all dearly. They are all kind, and awesome. 

Thank you, sweet friends for your kindness, and touching others lives on a daily basis.