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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Yard Art from Old Valve Handles

My son and I (well actually my son) have been making flowers from old valve handles.

They are so pretty! You don't have to worry about dry spells, frosts or deer eating them, either. Which is a big plus around here.

We already had the old valve handles. Andrew bought long metal rods and cut them into different lengths.

Then he got out his blacksmith coal forge and put the ends of the rods in the fire to get red hot. Everyone needs one of these forges. I bet you could roast a marshmallow in no time.

Then he made a wooden form to shape the metal rods while they were still hot.

While I was out running around, he got out his welder and welded the old valve handles onto the tops of the metal rods that he had bent to look like a flower stem.

Here they are all lined up, painted and waiting for their button middle to be attached.

Do you think I have enough buttons to pick from?


Here they are planted in various locations around my yard:

I love the tiny blue ones with the yellow centers. They remind me of bluets.

I put a big brown button in the tall yellow one to make it look like a sunflower.

I dare a drought, frost or animal to mess with these flowers.

Have you ever made yard art before?

Posted byJanet Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I have many collections that I have blogged about before:
tablecloths, aprons, old books, salt and pepper shakers, milk-glass, vintage hats, vintage wash day collections, vintage kitchen utensils, etc.

But, many of you may not know that I used to collect postal stamps. Beautiful stamps are a weakness of mine. I do not collect anymore (too expensive), but still have my collection and get them out every now and then and look at them.

I love flag stamps

 space stamps

 stamps about letter writing

I think letter writing is a lost art.
In a way it makes me sad.
I think hand written letters (though not so quick) are so much more personal than emails and texts.

I have a stack of letters that Mom and Dad wrote to each other before they were married and Dad was in Japan during the occupation - after the end of WWII.

I also have a stack of letters Charley wrote me when he was in the Navy and we were dating.

I love getting the letters out and reading them every now and then. 
Notice the upside down stamp. Do you know what that means?
I bet you do.

 Dinosaur stamps

 Of course, I had to get the Elvis stamps.

 I remember using these Love stamps when they came out.

 Our town of Ripley even had a special post mark on envelopes on July 4, 2007

I have many, many more stamps. Sheets, plate blocks, first day covers, singles, etc.

Do you still write letters?
Have you ever collected stamps?

Posted by Janet Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What is January - and a Giveaway!

My Fun Facts for Kids
column for January

What is January?
      Knock knock. Who’s there?
     Wilma. Wilma who?
     Wilma hot cocoa be ready soon?
     January is a month named after the ancient god named Janus, which is the Latin word for door. He had two faces which allowed him to look both backward into the old year and forward into the New Year at the same time. He was associated with doorways, beginnings, and endings.       
     January is the month leading into the future of the New Year. It is special because it is the beginning of a long march of months that create an entire year for us to work, play, celebrate and journey through. It is the second month of winter and her cold days beckon us outside to play with Jack Frost and build snow forts and igloos.  Our house also beckons us to stay inside where it is warm.
     January is National Hobby Month. If you decide to stay inside and wait for warmer days, why not try out a new hobby each week. That way you can find out what you really like to do best.  Do you need some unique ideas? How about acting, board games, cloud watching, snowflake drawing, collecting, juggling, magic, storytelling, painting or writing. Once you find out what hobby you want to try, stick to it. Invite your friends over and share your hobby with them.  You and your friends can start a club and meet each month.  Check out books from the library and find out all about your hobby. Become an expert at what you love to do. Start out the New Year with a new hobby and step into a world of fun.
     I like to write. It is one of my hobbies. I write about kids, about my family and about fictional characters that do things and go places that I can only dream of doing. Writing takes me into a world of make believe.
     Your hobbies can take you into worlds of adventure, too. When your homework is caught up and your room is cleaned and you are free to do what you want, get out your hobby and create some fun and excitement.
     JANUARY IS. . . . 
     January is when snow falls like fluffy marshmallows from the sky and you build snowmen so fast you can create a village of frosty white figures before the sun sets.
     January is when the icy winds howl like wild wolves and your mom’s hot cocoa slides down your throat and turns your shivering body warm like a statue basking in the sun.

 Two-Lane Livin' is a regional magazine printed and distributed in West Virginia. 
So not all of my blogging friends have a chance to pick up a copy.
Would you like to get a free digital subscription to Two-Lane Livin' magazine?
Now is your chance.
Each month the winners will be able to read every column, see every picture and enjoy every page.

Just comment on this post and get the chance to win one. There will be two winners.
The winners just have to supply me with an email address and they can fly away with the prize!
I will draw the names of the winners next week.

Congratulations - Linda and Lil Red Hen
Posted by Janet Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Snow and Sledding

We've seen a lot of snow and cold weather lately. Late tonight more snow is arriving.

But, I haven't seen much sledding.

When I was young, sledding was a popular past-time for all the kids in our neighborhood. It was also a popular past-time for my kids when they were growing up.

You know the routine - begging to go outside and  putting on layers and layers of warm clothes and boots to keep you warm.

Once kids were outside, they did not want to come back inside. But when they did . . .

You know the routine - standing on the porch brushing off the snow with a broom, coming in and peeling off layer upon layer of warms clothes, boots, gloves and scarves and piling them up on the floor, running to the closest warm air supply in the house and then going to the kitchen to drink hot chocolate.

Those were the good old days when kids were not inside attached to electronic devises playing games.

I wish I had pictures to post of when we played outside in the snow. We sledded on the common wooden sleds, large pieces of cardboard and even hoods from old cars. The latter was suitable for many kids to ride at the same time - the older ones sat on the outside edge so they could guide with their legs and feet if need be.

We built bonfires out of anything burnable to keep us warm.

We rode down hillsides (which there are plenty of in West Virginia). All the neighborhood kids gathered at the best places for riding. We had a person on watch at the bottom of a hill where we met up with the road. If the coast was clear, we continued on to the road to see how far the sled would glide before coming to a stop. The only problem was, the longer the ride, the longer the walk back to begin again.

Our kids made igloos and snowmen. When they were little, they even slid down small mounds of snow in our yard, sitting in their small plastic bathtub they bathed in as a baby. They also slid on inner-tubes - large and small. They flew down the steep hills, hitting bumps and soaring through the air.

1983 - two oldest sons sledding in their baby bathtub down a small man-made hill in the front yard. 
My dad watching on.


I can still hear their shrieks of laughter and see their red cheeks.

Do you have any snow remembrances to share?

Posted by Janet Smart  on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Crafty Angel

I went to our Library's Christmas Open House a few days ago.
One of the crafts I made was an angel from a page of a songbook.
They are easy to make and beautiful.

First gather supplies.

Take out a page from an old songbook and tear it in half. Fold one half accordion style for the wings. Fold the other one into a cone shape and glue together. Make sure the top of the cone is small and pointy, so you can insert the head onto it. For the head I used small wooden beads with a hole in the middle. Or, you can use small heads with a hole in the middle of them. Put glue on the top of the cone and inside the hole of the bead and insert and allow to dry.

Tie a small ribbon around the middle of the wings and smash it flat in the middle, so it can be glued onto the back of the angel. I tied the ends of the ribbon for the hanger.

Tie a bow with the ribbon. Cut a strand of pearls. Glue the bow and pearls onto the front of the angel underneath the angel's head.

Thin a little bit of glue with water. Brush onto the wings and head and shake on glitter.

Here are three different ones I have made. One has a doll head, the other two have wooden beads for the head.

I love them! I think they are very pretty. As with all crafts, you can vary the way you make them. If you don't have strands of beads, you can leave them off and keep the tails of the bows long. In fact, I think I will make some that way. You could also use white or colored paper or card-stock for the angel instead of a songbook page. . . or maybe even pretty gift wrap paper. . . or pages from a newspaper or old book. With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless!

These can be hung on your Christmas tree or used as present toppers. That way the recipient of the gift will have the gift and an ornament!

If you have a little extra time, have fun and make a few before Christmas. 

Posted by Janet Smart  on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Deck The Halls

We have three holly trees, but this is the only one with berries.We braved the brrrr cold and gave our decked out tree a little trimming. If you notice, the deer have been eating the berries off the lower branches.

But there are still plenty of limbs filled with berries just waiting for us to trim.

The red berries pop out against the shiny green leaves.

They will brighten my porch on cold days.

Have you been decorating your porch with nature?

Posted by Janet Smart  on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mason Jar Snow Globes

First, a little update.

My Christmas tree is up! It is filled  with vintage, handmade and special ornaments given to me.

I love this vintage one. If you hang it in front of a light, the heat from the light makes the little fins spin around and around. It is so neat!

We've had lots of snow already this season . . .

 and I have been crafting - just a little.

I gathered supplies, such as mason jars, glue gun, fake snow, fake trees and ...

 real pine cones to be used as trees.

I put a little fake snow into the mason jar. I placed the trees on little wooden spools so they stood up higher and glued them onto the flat jar lid. I then twisted on the outer ring and we have a waterless snow globe. 

Below are three of my creations. In the smaller one on the right I used a pine cone and glitter for the snow.

The small jar on the left was filled almost to the top with distilled water, a smidgen of glycerin and a few dashes of glitter. I glued a plastic doo-dad (a small child holding a Christmas tree) to the lid and twisted the ring on tight.

The first thing I did before making it was put water in the small jelly jar and turn it upside down to make sure it wasn't going to leak.

These are very easy to make.

Have you been getting ready for Christmas?

Posted by  Janet F. Smart on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Made In America - Fenton Art Glass

I told Charley he could buy me a pair of Fenton teardrop earrings for Christmas.  He took me straight to the factory where they make them.


The man who makes the teardrop earrings wasn't there today. But, we went in back and watched some of the ladies make beads and paint them. People buy the beads to put on necklaces and bracelets. They are very pretty.




I didn't realize that almost everything in the showroom was 50% off! Oh my! But, I was good and didn't buy anything. That is, we didn't buy anything except my Christmas present. . . and I bought a couple of items from the clearance shelves.


I'm in awe every time I visit Fenton. They make the most beautiful pieces! If I had the room and the money, I would buy one of everything. 

I am lucky to live fairly close to them. I have went on signing days when family members signed my Fenton pieces. 

They don't make the vases, baskets, bowls, fairy lights, etc. any more. Now all they make is the jewelry.

 Fenton started in 1905.You can go here and read about them.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Special Day for Teddy Bears!

I saw in TV this morning that is was National American Teddy Bear Day. After a little research I found out there are other days to celebrate the Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear Day is September 9th and Teddy Bear's Picnic Day is on July 10th.

I loved stuffed animals and Teddy bears when I was a child.
I loved them when I was a teenager.
I love them now.
Contrary to what some may think, I don't think you are ever too old for a stuffed animal.

 The Teddy Bear has been with us since 1902. We have Teddy Roosevelt to thank for the origin of the Teddy Bear. Go here to read about him and his love of hunting and how the Teddy Bear came to be.

I used to craft a lot. Now I write. Neither of these endeavors pay very well.

When I was crafting, I went through a spell of making stuffed bears. I can never make one of anything - so I made a lot. Unfortunately, I never sold a lot of them. I love them, so I still have my stuffed bears.

I made these from old quilts and an old chenille bedspread.

These are my calendar bears - 1984 and 1986. Made from old cloth dishtowels.

Old jeans are wonderful to make crafts from. 
I have Eeyore and Piglet bears, my USA bear (which I love) and a bedtime bear.

One from a sock, a  fuzzy brown bear and the one on the right made from my mom's old tablecloth that was full of holes. It sits on an old chair in my kitchen.

A special bear in my dining room. 
It was made from a twin size quilt my aunt gave me when I got married. The quilt was used a lot and it finally gave out. The backing was tearing up and my mom and I replaced many of the blocks. It got so it couldn't be used on the bed anymore. I decided to make a bear out of it so I could look at it and enjoy it every day.

Two more special bears. They were given to me by my husband. 
The old one on the right is dirty and worn and was given to me on my birthday when we were dating (1970s). The one on the left he brought to me when I was in the hospital in February 1998.

As you can see, I love Teddy Bears. I am glad they have special days set aside for them.

Do you love Teddy Bears, too? Do you have any  bears or memories to share with us?

Posted by Janet Smart  on Writing in the Blackberry Patch.