Wednesday, December 16, 2009

snowflakes 101

snowflake_09082, originally uploaded by fwwidall.

I found this link through another amazing blog ( And I had to share it with you! He has created a somewhat complex camera sytem and snowflake capturing box and is able to capture amazingly detailed images of individual snowflakes. Their complex structure is breathtaking! It's almost difficult to believe these are formed by nature, and not photoshop (we are so jaded, aren't we?)
Click through his entire show of 100 perfect snowflakes!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Dear Blog'

I know you thought I had forgotten about you. I know you probably lay awake at night, shivering, wondering; "Whyyyyyyy! WHYYYYYYY!?!?" My absence was not your fault. It was nothing you did or said, or didn't do or say.

It's not you, Blog. It's me.

I was lazy and negligent and I accept responsibility for how I've made you feel.
Please accept my apology. Please? And I promise to do my best to never leave you for so long again.
All I can do is my best....

Wadda' ya' say?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kaleidoscopes....A New Shop!

I finally did it. I opened a new Etsy shop to list and show off my handmade, stained glass kaleidoscopes! My inventory is on the light side at the moment, but there's more coming...MUCH more! I called the shop CrowsFolly because crows so love shiny objects and are involuntarily drawn to them. I think we all have a bit of that in us, as well!

I started making kaleidoscopes about 8 years ago, give or take. I wasn't very skilled at making large stained glass panels, and frankly the size of them intimidated me. One day I was cruising eBay looking for one of those old cardboard tube kaleidoscopes like we would get as kids (I just loved that click click click sound the plastic objects made in that magical cylinder!) During my quest, I discovered a book from the 1970's about the Brewster Society
There was a whole world of kaleidoscope enthusiasts out there! Artisans and collectors. A world opened up for me!
After about a year of trail and error, I discovered the secrets to making a quality scope. One main secret is front surface mirror. Most artisans wont tell you that. They would rather you plug away making scopes using standard one-sided mirror and let you wonder why the image was always distorted. Not me, though. I'd tell anyone who wanted to know. I'd even tell you where to get it (which is no small task sometimes.)

Once I perfected the mirror assembly (a 3 mirror configuration is my favorite) I began to work on the exterior. Again, this was no small task. It takes a lot of care and patience to assemble one. You have to know when to not use flux, never use water to clean (it seeps under the copper foil despite all best efforts to prevent it) How to assemble the object chambers. But after several failed attempts I had figured it out.

For several years my scopes were the most sought after and hoped for gift among my friends and family. (And I don't think a single one of them doesn't have at LEAST one on their shelves.) I toyed with the idea for years to sell them, not really thinking there was a market for them. Until I started getting custom orders. So now, along with doing custom orders I decided to introduce my scopes to Etsy. The clear glass used in my scopes is re-purposed from picture frames that I would discover in waste bins or in thrift stores. The colored glass is obtained from local merchants, and occasionally from salvaged pieces of broken stained glass boxes and other objects.

I hope I will be able to provide a mix of scopes and glass objects that will make you say, "Ooooooooooo."

So much for a Wordless Wednesday post. Ha ha!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tokens of the Great American Roadtrip

Summer is winding down. Families prepare for the school year and the onset of Autumn. Children returning to school with stories of "How I spent my summer vacation." I remember those days. I loved having a souvenir of some sort to bring with me to school. Giggling and excited, we would ooh and ahh over the tokens each of us had collected that summer. Postcards, snow globes, key chains, and my favorite; cedar boxes.
I remember my first cedar box from Hearst Castle in Northern California. It had a postcard image of the Castle lacquered on the lid, with a tiny, lockable brass hasp. I LOVED that box! I had one from Lion Country Safari in Irvine, CA. The Grand Canyon. Tijuana. Las Vegas. How I adored those cedar boxes, each with its cursive-font stamp stating the destination.
As I grew up, the boxes were lost, misplaced, broken, and in one odd occasion, burned by my step-brother. I missed them. So I began a mission last year; to find as many cedar souvenir boxes as I could.
My goal is to find one from every state (but where I will keep 50 varied sized boxes is something I haven't yet considered. Who can think clearly when on such a noble mission?!)

I have amassed a sweet little collection so far. My two favorites being one that has a poem to ones "Sweetheart," and the rounded-top box that resembles (in my eye) a tear-drop trailer.

They make me sentimental for the days of long car drives in the back of an non air conditioned station wagon, with the eternal question posed to the patient driver....."Are we there yet?"

I hope your summer was full of memories!

Friday, August 7, 2009

If they only knew.....

Then I wouldn't find such amazing treasures! Something drew me to the stack of 1980's mass produced prints of pastel palm trees and coyotes in howling profiles. There it was, a bronze gilded frame and a huge Maxfield Parrish print. GASP! The backing was shredded, save a tiny corner that had an art shop label for The Golden Rule in St Paul Minnesota. $19.00. What?!? Well, even if it turned out to be a repro, it was a great find. The frame alone was worth more than that! So I take it home and research the Golden Rule. GOD BLESS THE INTERNET!!! Turns out the Golden Rule was the #1 department store for folks of considerable means from the 1890s up until the 1940's. They had an atrium where you could have an extravagant lunch while the porters stood at the ready with your newly purchased items. There was an entire floor dedicated to fine art. And in the 1920's a Max Parrish framed and numbered litho could be had for about $90. IN 1920! Even then he commanded a great price! After carefully removing the brown paper backing, I discovered the litho number on the back of the Parrish print. Turns out its and original run litho. GLORY BE!!! Sad part of the story is it has lost a lot of its glorious purple hues. Possibly was kept in a sunny parlor and was exposed to hours of abusive UV glare. *sigh* But just the same, I adore my new Parrish!
Until I can afford a mint condition version, this one suits me just fine.......

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tiny plates....a growing obsession

One day I was having a snack. A few slices of cheese and some crackers. I assembled my snack on a linen napkin, walked through the kitchen, one cracker was precariously balanced and when I stumbled on the corner of the area rug, the cracker flew and I tried to stop it and then I lost the whole mess. I thought, Maybe I need a small plate for small food. Currently I have large chop plates and pasta bowls, but no small plates. You know, like a bread plate that comes with a set?
At that moment, an obsession was born. I don't like using paper plates (trying to leave a small footprint and all that.) Reusable is the way to go. And up cycling, I'd be saving them from a landfill! So I'd be doing a good thing by buying a few small plates, right?

My next trip to the thrift store sussed out a single, funky 6" plate. A few days later I found 2 more plates in yet another funky design. Surely 3 plates was enough. I mean, how many snacks on any given day will I have? But what if I have company....and THEY want a snack? I need more plates.
2, 3, 4 more plates added to the collection. But what if I had a Tapas party? I have that really amazing Tapas cookbook. It could happen.... I need more plates! And the stack grows. Clattering when I take one off of the top of the stack. (The same plate each time, by the way. I only ever use one plate at a time. And place it back on the stack. And use it again. And again. The same one.) While the rest of the plates go largely unused, it doesn't stop me from scouring the thrift store shelves for that stray Franciscan bread plate or milk glass saucer missing it's tea cup and doomed to spinsterhood. I'll have a tapas party one day. I swear I will.

I just need a few more plates first......

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It always starts with One

4 years ago I discovered a brown leather, hand crafted saddle shaped purse in a thrift store in Minnesota.
Instantly I was transported to 1976 when my mother carried a purse almost exactly like it. I had to have it! Here in CA., I would sometimes carry the purse out on my errands. I would receive mixed comments from my friends anywhere from, "Oh my God where did you find that! I've been looking for one for years!" to "Don't ever wear that again if you re with me." LOL! I loved my purse. Say what you want, I think it's adorable. My friend calls it hippy-dippy. That same friend; knowing how much I adored my Minnesota saddle bag; purchased for me a second hand made leather purse for my birthday. (Her name is Kori. Tee hee, Kori, youre in a blog now!!)
And I thought I couldn't love another purse as much as I loved the first! Beautifully detailed, including the monogram "MJS," as well as a spot darkened from many years of being carried under the arm of "MJS."

Ahhh, and then I found the third. At a thrift store I practically saw it from the parking lot before I entered the store. Like a beacon it called me. A handcrafted tote depicting Aztecs, cacti and a Mayan pyramid!
Even the bottom is beautifully detailed.
The entire bag is SO detailed, it's almost tacky! OK, so it's a little tacky.... that just makes me love it more!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No Sharpies, Please

OK, I've established that I crawl thrift stores regularly. Not regular as in once a week, I'm talking every day. I find really great, really odd and, lets just say the last stop should have been the waste bin for 70% of what's in a thrift store.
Sometimes I look for things to put on my ETSY shop, and sometimes I look for items to round out a collection I have started. This particular day, I found a great vintage lunchbox. Silver with red trim. Vent holes in the sides.
An amazing leather handle still attached. Sure, the silver paint had rubbed off from the lid, but it didn't detract form the appeal. How much could it be? I turn it over, and right there, written in black Sharpie permanent marker on the exposed metal of the outside of the lunch box, was the price.
Really? A permanent marker? You can see there is a price sticker not 2 inches from the graffiti. Did they really deem it necessary to essentially devalue an item by permanently "tagging" this treasure? Needless to say, I took it home. I felt that in its current state it may not find a home as forgiving as mine. My other 3 metal lunchboxes don't make fun of it. Even though humiliated, it seems to have adopted a proud stance up there with all the pretty lunch boxes.

Friday, July 17, 2009


So I had a job interview in Paramount a few weeks back. (Not a successful one. I could tell the job was already filled before the interview started. I was the obligatory white female over 40 to satisfy the affirmative action requirements. IMHO.)

But from lemons, lemonade! I noticed that on the corner just a block away from the interview location was one of those grand iconic giant-donut-on-the-roof donut shops. I take my camera everywhere (even to interviews!) so I went to get a donut (devils food with chocolate frosting and chocolate jimmies. Hey, I had to console myself!) and take a picture or two.
As I pull in to the parking lot, I see a dumpster behind the shop with the back rest of a Danish modern chair peeking out from above the rim. Oh my stars....could it be?
The holy grail of mid century dining chairs? In the dumpster? I tottered over on my high heels and hastily pulled out the chair. A light from heaven shone down upon the chair and I swear I heard a harp...... With no delicacy, I stuffed the chair into my car, grabbed a donut, sanitized my hands (icky!) and sped away. All done under the watchful gaze of a homeless man with long, long dreadlocks.

I got it home, cleaned it, and began looking for appropriate fabric to cover the original reverse-concave seat. I'm thinking a solid red bark cloth......


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vintage Cookery!

I have a passion.... ok it's an obsession... for vintage cookbooks. I especially love the ones created by industrious church ladies' groups. (The ones that list recipes by Mrs. John Brethwhite and Mrs. Lars Kidrowski.) While I will sometimes test a recipe or two, I never really dove in and utilized the recipes in my everyday cooking. (And I do mean everyday, as I prefer to cook rather than dine out. Cooking is so much fun!) My personal repertoire of recipes that are "go to's" has become too predictable. Beef stroganoff, spaghetti with meat sauce, macaroni and cheese (yes, from scratch!) crust casserole (I'll get in to that one later.) So I decided to start incorporating the recipes from my vintage cookbooks into my rotation.
My most recent find is a Mennonite cookbook from 1950 that has "Eleven hundred mouth watering recipes from old Mennonite cookbooks..." Perusing this cookbook showed me that these ladies made hearty meals from local ingredients on very modest budgets. And it made sense to me to try these recipes. There really are "mouth watering" recipes that really inspired me. (Well, except for the recipe for Mock Turkey made with a loaf of stale bread and ground sausage. I may have to try that just because!)
I started with Corn Fritters. And I tell you, these are wonderful! They can be served to supplement a meal or as a dessert (if you sprinkle powdered sugar on them and omit the black pepper. Yum!) I recommend these highly! They are inexpensive and can probably be made from ingredients you already have on hand.

Corn Fritters
2 cups fresh corn kernels (I used frozen, thawed and drained)
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Flour (I added an extra 1/4 cup as they didn't hold together well)
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Cream (Low fat milk or buttermilk can be used and still yield a tasty result)
4 Tablespoons oil
Beat the eggs, adding in the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper to make a slurry. Mix well till flour is blended. Add this to the corn and mix well.
Add cream.
Drop mixture by the spoonful to hot oil. (These will splatter and pop, be sure to use a splatter screen!)
Brown on both sides

Sprinkle with salt when they come out of the fryer (or powdered sugar if you prefer sweet fritters, but then omit the pepper in the batter.)

These are ridiculously yummy! I ate them with a dash of Franks Red Hot Sauce and some sour cream. It's so versatile you can come up with any number of condiments.
Try adding some diced Ortega chiles to the batter, or a small amount of shredded cheese. The possibilities are endless!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Giant Home Workshop Manual, 1941

I found this at a thrift shop. A 1941 Popular Science printing called "Giant Home Workshop Manual." During the war, materials and finished goods were scarce. Many publications were created that instructed ladies on creating first aid essentials, home improvement items, cleaners, and I had a book that advised how to make lipstick! This particular book has such beautiful graphics and wonderful blue prints and photos, I have to share.
Todays submissision is how to make a tin can submarine. The confidence this book placed in a young boys ability to create such a toy is nothing like we know today. Video games and 24 hour TV has slowed the thinking of our youth. Sad.
At any rate....lets build a submarine!!!


About Me

My photo
I peruse thrift shops like a junkie. I find such amazing things sometimes that I wanted to share them. I tinker with glass and a hot soldering iron as time allows. I have a collection of thousands of glass beads carefully selected and purchased with the excuse I will make jewelery, but I can't bear to part with a single bead. Not one!! So don't even ask! Ok, you can have one.