Gift Baskets

2018-08-29 Pastor's birthday giftOne of my latest interests has been in making and giving Gift Baskets.  I think the first time I ever noticed them was in my early 20s at Christmas time.  I’d seen some unique baskets or boxes with a variety of small, related items that you could buy at the grocery store and give as gifts.

As I got older, I would sometimes see a unique Gift Basket being given to someone at a wedding or baby shower.  I remember thinking how cute it was and that I should remember to do that the next time I have a gift to give. But time would pass and I’d forget.

A few years ago I finally took the time to put together a Gift Basket for my pastor and his wife. It turns out it was not as hard to do as I had thought it would be. Nor was it as expensive as I feared.

A Gift Basket can be as large or small as you’d like it to be. It can be filled with pretty filler to take up empty spots and to dress it up. And it can be as expensive, or inexpensive, as you want it to be.

My favorite type of Gift Basket is a themed basket. The theme can follow the type of room the items will go in, or the type of food such as a popcorn basket.  I recently gave a small ice cream basket that had an ice cream scoop, ice cream designed napkins, a Hershey’s syrup coffee mug, a jar of topping and a variety jar of sprinkles, along with some ice cream treats stamps and a gift card to an ice cream store.  It was such fun to put this basket together, and I can’t wait to start my next one!

If you’re having trouble figuring out what to put into your Gift Basket, check out Pinterest or Google images.  There are an endless supply of photos showing all sorts of Gift Baskets for any occasion.

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Posted in Daily Life

Depression Glass

Pickle dish - Copy

Aside from my main collections, I also have a few keepsakes of interest. One of them is a small group of pink Depression Glass. It started with a pink Pickle Dish produced by the Imperial Glass Corporation of Ohio. It had belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

In my research, I learned a few things about glass itself. Obsidian is natural form of glass. It’s volcanic glass.  A second natural form of glass is fulgurite, which occurs when the heat from a lightning strike melts sand. The first glass made is thought to have been around 3500BC in Mesopotamia and Egypt when heated crushed quartz was used to make glazes for ceramic vessels. Blown glass was invented during the 1st Century by glassmakers of Syria.

Depression Glass came about during the Great Depression Era, which began in 1929 with the stock market crash. The economy was devastated for many years. The mainstay of agriculture was then demolished by the drought of the 1930s and the tragedy of the Great Plains Dust Bowl. President Roosevelt’s New Deal helped, but it wasn’t until World War II, with the need for new industry, that the problems caused by the Great Depression were solved.

In order to survive those years, glass companies began to mass produce. They offered lines of “elegant glass” which they marketed through promotions and premiums. You might buy a box of cereal and there would be a dish inside. Or you might win a piece of glassware in a drawing at a movie house. Pink was the most popular color for the Depression Era glass.

I’ve added a few interesting pieces of pink glassware to my small grouping. I found a small slender vase at an antique store that even the cashier fell in love with. Then there was a pull chain for a light fixture that featured pink glass. I don’t remember where I found it. I even have a tiny, glass root beer mug in pink.

My Pickle Dish was made in the Beaded Block pattern and has stippling in the blocks, which some collectors refer to as Frosted Block. Over the years I’ve purchased two more pieces of this lovely glass that Imperial first called Rose Marie and latter just called Rose. I now have a creamer and a Jelly/Jam dish to go with my pink Pickle Dish.

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Posted in Keepsakes

Mineral Names

Smithsonite on Hemimorphite - Copy (487x500)

Many minerals are named after people. For example, Smithsonite (see photo) was named after James Smithson, the British philanthropist who founded the Smithsonian Institute. Some minerals are named according to the location where they were discovered. For example, Aragonite was named after the former kingdom of Spain. There are also minerals named after Roman, Greek and Scandinavian mythical beings while others are named according to their association with other rocks or minerals.

There are minerals given names that refer to their chemical composition. Color also gives rise to several mineral names. Celestite, named after the Latin word for heaven, is a good example of a mineral named for its blue color.

One other way some minerals are named is according to their use. Amethyst was believed to cure drunkenness and was therefore named after the Greek word for not drunken.

Some minerals had many names; such as a name from each scientist that wrote about it. In 1955 there were 25,000 names for only 2,000 minerals. In 1960, the International Mineralogical Society established the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names to make sure scientists weren’t giving names to minerals that already had names.

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Posted in Minerals & Gems

Longaberger Lefty Baskets

Lefty basketRecently someone asked for a better explanation of how to tell if a Longaberger basket was a Lefty or not.  So I’ve decided to write a little more about it in this post.

First of all, a “Lefty” basket is a basket that was made by a left-handed weaver. Most baskets are made by right-handed weavers because most people are right-handed. The way you can tell if a basket is a “Lefty” is by looking at the basket’s trim strip; the part that goes around the top rim of the basket to finish it off.

If the trim end is facing left, it’s a Lefty.  Just look at the basket trim strip.  Hold the basket in front of you with the pointed end of the trim strip facing you. If it is a Lefty, the trim strip end will be pointing to your left rather than to your right.  Take a close look at the photo above.  Both baskets are Longaberger Button Baskets.  The one on the right was made by a right-handed weaver and the one on the left was made by a Left-handed weaver. As you can see, the Lefty has it’s trim end pointing to the left.

Lefty baskets are quite rare, and they make the basket even more desirable to the collector. For this reason, the value of a Lefty basket is often higher.

 

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Posted in Longaberger

Facebook Photos

2018-05-08 FacebookDo you ever look at photos on Facebook and wonder, what was this about?  Where was it taken? When was it taken? Who is that person to the right or left?  I find myself puzzled, confused, frustrated, and sometimes I take the time to contact the person and ask them about the photo.

I made up my mind a long time ago that I wouldn’t add to the confusion by posting photos with no date and no explanation.  In fact, I sometimes take the time to tell the story behind the photo. I may write a paragraph…..or two or three.  But if nothing else, I at least add the date the photo was taken and who is in it.  I’m trying to abide by the Bible verse in Luke 6:31 that says: “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

When I post a group of photos to my timeline, I don’t just give a brief explanation in the post.  I take the time to go to each individual photo and make sure the date and some information is added. It’s a good way to give further information without having an extra long post on your timeline.  Some people will only read the brief post hit like and move on, but others will take the time to click on the photos to see the larger version and they will be pleased to find interesting and informative info is given there.

I hope this post will encourage others to take a moment to add at least the basic information whenever they add photos to their Facebook page.

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Posted in Daily Life

Longaberger Condition – What’s Acceptable

Basket - 2006 Heartwood Bread close upWhen I first started to collect my Longaberger baskets, I found myself closely examining them and wondering about things like tiny cracks and other blemishes. After buying the Longaberger Collectors guides, I learned that many of these things are common and should not be considered as damage or a defect.

On page 193 of the 2009 Edition (the last one published) of the Longaberger Collectors Guide, is an explanation of what is acceptable and what is not for the condition of Longaberger baskets. The following is what it says.

What should you look for when you are evaluating the quality or condition of a Longaberger basket? It is first helpful to determine what is considered to be “normal” for these handmade baskets. The Company has offered the following to explain what to accept as “normal and acceptable.”

It is normal for there to be some room between splints. This is a natural occurrence as the splints dry and slightly shrink, therefore it is normal to be able to adjust the weaves up and down.

If you basket has colored accent weaving, there will often be a small amount of dye on the upsplints where they touch. The dye is not completely colorfast, therefore this “bleeding” is very common.

Small hairline cracks around the tacks are a natural occurrence as the wood dries.

Some wood has natural swirls or “beauty spots” in the grain that will absorb stain differently. This may cause the stain to appear darker in some areas.

A trademark of Longaberger baskets is the wrapping of the trim strip around the band for a cleaner finish. This “turn-under” may fray or crack as the wood dries. Because it is very difficult to bend wood at this angle, this fraying is very common.

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Scan & Touch-up Old Photos

People don’t always realize that the free software that comes with some scanners can help a great deal with fixing up old photos. I haven’t written in this blog for a while because I’ve spent the last few months scanning hundreds of old photos.

I have an Epson WorkForce 545 all-in-one. It has a scanner in its top. That scanner came with software that has some really nice features. What some people are not aware of is that the software has more than one mode, and if you want a lot more features, you have to set it to “professional mode”.

Professional mode allows you to adjust color, contrast, brightness and much more. If you are scanning a magazine or newspaper, you can tick the descreening feature and all those little dots and blur will disappear.

Photo help - scanner color restoration exampleOne of the features that I love in this software is “color restoration”. Just tick the box and scan your old photos that have turned reddish over the years.  It does an amazing job of restoring to the original color (see above).

After a few adjustments on my scanner software, I then go to my Windows Gallery program where I store my photos and I can further adjust contrast, brightness, shadows, highlights and best of all there is a histogram that will do wonders for photos that need help. And if photos have scratches, tears, spots and other unsightly areas, you can help them a great deal by using the “retouch” feature in Windows Gallery (see below). By the way, Windows Gallery works on Windows 10.

Photo Help - Windows Gallery retouch

Most features take no time at all to use. If the photo is in bad shape, retouching can take must longer. And some photos that were taken with a shaky hand are sometimes beyond help.  But out of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, that I have scanned and touched up, I have found very few that I couldn’t greatly improve.  And many of them took less than a minute!

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