I am glad you chose to visit! My blog is a compilation of the many hats I find myself wearing. On any given day I may be an encourager, an instructor, or just a lady who is venting. You, dear reader, will probably identify with my triumphs and my tribulations! These snapshots fit into my Life Scrapbook I have named A. McInnis Artworks. I hope you will find something worth your while.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chicks & Bunnies & Eggs! Oh! My!

Happy Pink Saturday and Welcome to my blog, A. McInnis Artworks! I'd especially like to thank Beverly for featuring this blog on How Sweet the Sound today. She is one of the nicest bloggers in Blogland. I hope you will visit her and all the bloggers who posted on her Pink Saturday.

My Give Away is announced down the page...

Make sure you "follow" so you can be eligible! The Deadline is April 12!

For 13 years, before I became a librarian, I taught a Foods & Nutrition Class at our local high school. (And yes, I am still relatively sane.) I taught approximately 150 students each semester...that's 300 a year...mercy.

Each Christmas my classes participated in a Gingerbread House Competition and each Spring we had a Spring Gingerbread House Competition. I also taught my students to make sugar bunnies and sugar panoramic eggs. Some of my sugar eggs have lasted over 35 years. Some of the gingerbread houses have lasted as long as 5 years... if they were frozen and saved in a small cardboard or plastic container in the freezer. I think you will enjoy seeing the process.

This is a dinner plate from a vintage set of china that I use at Easter.

I love the way the little sugar eggs look arranged on it. You can see how various types of Easter grass look when changed about. The top grass is iridescent green, the bottom is just iridescent.

The eggs can be bought at Cracker Barrel now days, but it's so much fun to make them. I thought I'd share some pointers.

Of course, we MUST have sugar bunnies, too!

I use a plastic two piece mold. It can be used for chocolate also. This is one side of the mold. The other side is the mirror image of it.I use a small porcelain bowl to mix my sugar and water until it is the consistency of moist sand.

This is the "mold" I use for sugar eggs. I just happened to have a tin egg that comes apart and can be used as a mold. If you don't "carve" out the middle for a scene, the egg will be rather heavy. If you do carve, do it while the egg is still damp. Once it's dried, it will crack if you try to scoop out the center. "Glue" the two halves together with icing as you did with the rabbits and then let them "set" before begin your decorative outside icing.

Your sugar should look like the above picture...you DO remember playing in the sand, don't you?

The sugar is pressed into both sides of the mold. After packing, place a cookie sheet on top of the packed bunny and flip the mold over to release the rabbit.

Turn the molded rabbits out onto a cookie sheet; place in a very low temperature oven and let the rabbits dry ... be careful that you don't over dry...just make sure the rabbit is dry all the way through. Let them cool and MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU GENTLY SAND OR SCRAPE THE BOTTOMS OF THE EGGS OR BUNNIES SO THEY WILL STAND UP STRAIGHT.

Mix your decorative icing (Royal icing recipe can easily be found on the internet) or use meringue powder to make your icing...Note: Icing that is made with raw egg whites is not safe for you to eat...Be careful there! Either use a plastic decorating bag or a Zip Loc type bag. Cut off the tip of the bag and insert your decorating tips, add the icing with a large tablespoon pushing the icing down as far into the bag as possible. Fold the bag securely so icing doesn't come out the other end. I used a small star tip for decorating these items.

For some of the larger "flowers", I used a medium star tip.

This is the side of a large panoramic egg. I tinted the sugar with a tiny bit of blue food coloring before molding.

This is the top view of the blue panoramic egg.

Inside the little yellow egg is a scene with a tiny bonneted duck. Add the scenes before you "glue" the top and bottom of the egg together.

I once tablescaped my Easter dinner table with sugar bunnies as the place cards. Everyone had a sweet memory to take home at the end of the day. When packing my mother in law's home recently, I found her bunny...it was just like the day I gave it to her.

This little basket can be done in chocolate or sugar. Inside are nestled Cadbury eggs. Oh, yum! On to other things...
I promised someone I'd do a little tutorial on the Spring Chicks I crochet each year...so I'm letting you in on my secrets here...ha! Fuzzy and fun, I received my first chicken over 30 years ago from a special little girl. Her grandmother brought her to my story hour at the library every week! That little chicken is at the bottom of the tutorial and serves as your visual for the pattern directions.

"You Are No Spring Chicken" tutorial begins here.

(These little peeps could be yours, if you win the Giveaway..their basket is shown in the picture above this one.)The second part of this tutorial is directing you in the construction of the "You Are No Spring Chicken" chicks.

If you are interested in purchasing them rather than doing them yourself, feel free to email me and I will give you cost and postage details. In case you'd like to crochet them on your own, here are the "loose" directions.

Chain 23. (I use a "J" hook.)

Chain 1 and turn.

Work a single crochet in each of the 23 chains for a total of 23 SC.

Chain 2 and turn.

*Work a double crochet in each SC. Chn 2 and turn.*

Repeat from * to * twice more for a total of 3 DC rows.

Fold the crochet piece in half and slip stitch the top together

working left to right and down the back to join. Tie off.

For the comb, work 6 single or double crochets on the top of the head & tie off.

For the beak work one double crochet and tie off on the inside.

Wrap enough rounds of yarn around your four fingers

to make a fluffy little tail.

Tie in the middle and use

that "tie" yarn to attach the tail to the ...well, the tail!

Clip the tail to make it pom pom-ish.

Glue a black bead or shaky eye to each side of the chick's "face".

Pop an egg into the chick to fluff her out!

Here's my original little chicken...I still love her best!

Wow! Did you make it from start to finish? Lots of pictures and directions. I hope I didn't bore you to death!! I'd like to hear your comments and questions. Feel free to comment and if you feel so inclined, I hope you might even "follow"!!

Please, join me for Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.

May all your bunnies be sweet and all your chicks be fluffy,

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tutorial and a Give Away Are Coming Saturday!!

I have some very fun news to share!

I will be a featured blogger this Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Each Saturday, Beverly hosts Pink Saturday and everyone who joins the party posts something PINK! It's great fun and brings back such wonderful memories...

it's definitely a "girl thing"!!

My pink Kewpie doll was my contribution this past Saturday. Hint: Do you like sweet bunnies and fluffy chicks? AND tutorials?! AND a Give Away!!

My heart, be still! I am fired up and ready!

No! I will NOT tell you any more...

You will just have to be sure and drop by for a little visit on Saturday!

Prepare to be dazzled,

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Using Up Your Mornings

Good grief!! I have an HTML problem today! Please, excuse all the spaces in this post. I've tried to determine what's going on...no can do!

I was recently talking to a class filled with 17 and 18 year olds.

I had them multiply their age in years times 365. They were to circle the product.

Then I informed them that the average life expectancy of most people

in the United States is 77 years.

If they are "average", God has allotted them 28,105 mornings (give or take).

I then informed them that it was just a blink ago

that I was sitting right there in their seats, thinking everyone over 30 was insane

and that I had tons of time left to do whatever the heck I wanted to do.

They were shocked to hear that I had used more than 22,265 of my given mornings.

The state of Michigan has an ad out saying that we are given 25,000 mornings and we ought to all come to Michigan to enjoy some of them there. That's what made me stop and ponder.

When you are on the 6,000 end, things look pretty rosey...however, the over 22,000 end...not so.

I have come eyeball to eyeball with my mortality.

While this post isn't a particularly cheerful one, it's a necessary one because I've used up more of my mornings than most people who are reading this.

I've learned many lessons along the way and I need to tell you the outcomes so that

(a. you can repeat those actions and have a happy outcome and

(b. you can run like the wind the other way and not experience a bad outcome.

Bear with me,

here are just a few lessons I'd like to pass on to you:

1. It is of utmost importance to NEVER give up...

the United States (what it stands for) and your family, your religious and personal beliefs,

your freedom must be fought for.

Yes, people who don't share those beliefs will snicker and laugh at you,

talk about you behind your back even,

but YOU DON'T GIVE UP standing for those principles which are good and right.

That trait MUST be passed on to your children.

2. So, how do you know what IS right? You have a book, it's on the shelf, it's called the Bible and it tells you what Christ has done for you, that there IS a plan for YOU as an individual, what is expected of you and the blessings and the problems that will come if you do or don't obey.

It's actually very simple.

If you have trouble understanding what is being said,

use the New International Version.

3. While money isn't the be-all and end-all of everything, and the love of it IS the root of all evil...

it makes things a little more comfortable when times are tough.

Spend wisely...

use what has been given to you and use your capacity to earn a living for good, not for evil.

Help others, with nary a thought of re-payment.

My father calls this the "redounding" principle.

This applies to not only money but certainly your talents as well.

This isn't easy, I struggle here.

4. Be grateful and express this sentiment in word and deed.

Being appreciated makes all the difference in the world.

Show people that you appreciate what has been done for you.

5. Listen to the advice of older Godly people...seek their wisdom and see how that advice lines up with the Bible...if it's in line...take it...

don't shun good advice because it's not exactly the answer you wanted to hear.

Many times people ask for advice when all they want is for you to agree with them.


President James A. Garfield was presented a slip of paper when he was young by an older friend,

he kept it always and cherished it until the end of his life.

Google Garfield "A Guide" and see what all is on list...

but two admonitions that struck me were these...

"Your character cannot be essentially injured except by your own acts.

If anybody speaks evil of you let your life be so that no one believes him."

How many more mornings?

It isn't too late...it's never too late until there isn't another morning.

Don't just exist...seize the morning...Carpe diem.

May you not waste another day,

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Pink Saturday!

Each Saturday, Beverly, at How Sweet the Sound, hosts Pink Saturday.
I love attending the party and hope you will hop over and look at all the pink items
shown by bloggers from all over the United States. (Go to her home page here.)

Many years ago, my mother (who LOVED the color pink) presented me with several
pink paint color swatches and informed me that she was hiring "Willie", the best painter in town,
to come paint my bedroom.
I was to have pink dotted swiss curtains and a small club chair covered in pink flowered fabric.

I was going through a "my mother knows nothing" phase in my life and I will never forget how hurt she looked when I didn't jump up and down and clap when she presented her plans.

She also wanted to have "Willie" wallpaper my ceiling in pink rosebud paper. I said "ok" to everything but the wallpapered ceiling. I thought that was just too over the top.

So I dramatically rolled my eyes
and put the "squaeetis" on the rosebuds on the ceiling
and that ended that.

I have always regretted my stupidity...
my mother was ahead of the curve, because shortly after our conversation,
wallpapered ceilings became the "in" thing and I was stuck with a plain old white one.

(Live and learn!)

My "entry" in the Pink Saturday Party today is a
shadow box that I arranged for my granddaughter.
Her great, great grandmother's Kewpie Doll is the star of this show!
She once was naked as a jaybird, but I made a tutu from an elastic hairband and a top
from a piece of ribbon to cover her properly.

I don't know how it happened but I broke the "grandmother" cup while assembling
the shadowbox...behind, Kewpie is a needle keeper in the shape of a pink rosebud. In the upper
right hand corner is a tiny piece of embroidery made by her great, great, great grandmother!
Wow! We have some serious memories here.

The porcelain Minnie Mouse was the possession of my husband's mother when she was a little girl.
Another Kewpie forms the background...a little gift enclosure card...my grandmother gave
me a set of the cards when I was little and I've always kept them...
couldn't bear to use them.

A doll's spoon, a few pressed flowers and a Mother of Pearl button complete the scene.

Today, my house doesn't lend itself to pink and I think I might have to do something
about that! I'm beginning to lean in that direction once again.

I also found a package of Barbie notecards for granddaughter..

For some reason tonight a wave of nostalgia hit me like a ton of bricks.
I thank Beverly for hosting Pink Saturday,
it reminds me of days gone by...
when things were simpler, sweeter, prettier somehow.

May all your Saturdays be PINK,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crazy for Crazy Quilts

I have no idea why I am attracted to some of the things that I am attracted to...I love symmetry...(my sister has a name for that which I won't use in polite company). I like order and
neatness. When things are strewn about, I get antsy. (Is that a real word? I can't find it in the Oxford American Dictionary.) But that's the feeling I get...like fingernails scraping a blackboard. I don't mind if someone writes "Wash Me" on the car's back window in front of me as long as the letters are scribbled neatly. I am not a neat freak...well, maybe slightly, but I PREFER order.

Long story, short. One of my favorite collectibles is the Crazy Quilt. Now if you don't look closely, you won't see the order...you will see a jumble, but if a Crazy Quilt is done correctly, orderliness and symmetry emerge.

This was my first CQ acquisition...I was hooked, but good. It came from upstate New York and the backing is an old feedsack.

The only thing I did to the quilt piece was to replace the maroon triangle at the bottom..the rest of the silks and satins were pretty well intact. It was love at first sight. Thus began my quest...

I ran across this piece in a basket of "junk" pieces..I kept searching and then a dream came true. After many years, I actually talked the "hubster" into going to PA to Lancaster County...Amish country. He wasn't one bit happy (he prefers sunny Florida, not a place where electricity is frowned upon) but I finally wore him down and off we went! Oh, it was glorious and on our way out of Lancaster, I stopped at a little Flea Market and down in a big ole basket of linens, there IT was...my prized possession...a piece of an Amish quilt. ( I went to PA fully intending to buy a whole Amish quilt. I took $200...what a joke! I couldn't touch one for less than $400.) So I came roaring back across the Mason Dixon line with the following: a child's snow shovel, a piece of redware pottery by Ned Foltz, some assorted salt glazed pottery, an Amish made iron bowl holder and THE PIECE OF AN AMISH CRAZY QUILT!

Now, this picture does NOT do it justice. I pinky promise, it is beautiful!

Check out those stitches...every once in a while you will see one that's not just perfect, but all in all it's some of the most symmetrical stitching I've ever seen....love it!

I continued my search and found several more pieces here and there. This one is also in my living room and it sports a big white velvet heart right in its center! Stitching isn't as pretty, but I like the heart. Then one day I woke up and said to myself, "Self, why don't you try some Crazy Quilting?" I argued with me but I won and I started doing research on Victorian CQ's and
decided that I'd give it a try.

My first feeble attempt...a little cushion for my son's old rocking chair. Ok, this wasn't too hard...let's try something a little more...well, decorative, I am NOT Amish I reasoned.

I paid too much for this chair at an auction...I let my desire get the better of my sense and I kept on bidding...that lady with the hot pink blouse on was NOT going to beat me out of this chair...so to sort of "hide" my purchase, I designed and made this pillow. Does that make sense?

I used Amish colors but just sort of jazzed them up...a little...anything worth doing is better with a few sparkly beads I always say.

Why not do a little something for the bathroom? Maybe a 20x24 design...oh, brother.

A few beads here, a golden spider web there...thus, began my spider web period...uh, oh.

Let's buy a book of fancy stitches to go with the beads....
Book was by Linda Causee.

Now I progressed to "not so" Amish colors... and satin ribbon roses...such fun!

Have I lost you yet? Oh, poor reader, I am so sorry, but when I get on the CQ rampage, I can't help myself...it's almost over! I promise!

A pin cushion for my Mother.

So there you have it...a few of my pieces of another's life...the Crazy Quilt...a thing collected by a Crazy Girl! If you've never tried your hand at crazy quilting, then you really need to!

I am linking to The Shabby Chic Cottage's Transformation Thursday...grab the button on the right to join us.

May all your days be crazy,