2017 Reflections In Photos...Jan-Feb-March

1,303...not my lucky number, but a Blogger STAT...number of posts published since the beginning of CollectInTexas Gal in August 2009.  STAT numbers use to be a big deal for me during the early years of blogging...not so much in the last several years.  I imagine, like many other Bloggers, my reasons fall into categories like, other Social Medias and Life.  However, like many other Bloggers, my Blog continues to be a 'Journal'. 
A Journal of my 'All Over The Place' interests.  Hmmmm, that would have been a good blog title!  Anyway, back to reflecting on 2017 in these last four days of this year.  Let's begin with my favorite photos from January, February and March.
 See you tomorrow for



Our Forever Card
Thank you for sharing your life with me and making so many dreams come true.
Our times together are my most treasured memories.
You are and always will be
The most important person in my life.


Twas The Season

'The Tree' came out of the closet three weeks before Christmas with best intentions of decorating.  It was pretty with just the lights, and for another week or so, I plugged and unplugged with thoughts of dragging the decorations out of the closet.  On Christmas Eve day I hung 'The Ornament'.  Yes, you have seen it before.  I decided to keep one of the 'Origami Ornaments'...Twas the last one.
I had to go back to Christmas 2009 to find a picture of my fully decorated tree and fireplace.  Now I'm really beginning to regret not dragging all the decoration out of the closet.  Oh, wait, I don't have ALL those decorations anymore.  Last year I decided to downsize decorations!  What was I thinking!
This may be one of my favorite 'Christmas Tree' photos. 
From Christmas 2011 post 'The Un-Decorator Is Here'. 
Then there is 'The OverDoSue' Christmas Decorating in 2015 post 'Merry Mantel and More'.
In the coming years, I'll look back on Christmas 2017 as a Simpler Santa Season,
and it's not just about the Tree or the Mantel or the OverDoSue Decorations. 
Twas The First Season in 52 Christmas' it
Twas Just The Two of Us!


A Family History Christmas Blessing

In December 1889 my Great Aunt Beulah Magnolia and husband Samuel were expecting their first child.  After almost two years of marriage, the much anticipated arrival of the baby was one of great joy for Beulah and Samuel as well as grandparents and extended families.  Likely, everyone thought a Christmas day birthday would be a blessing.  Perhaps everyone, but Aunt Beulah.

While waiting for the 'blessed' event, Beulah may have thoughtfully wished for a boy like the one in the Christmas card she included in her gifts for family and friends. 

Beulah was the oldest of ten children and no doubt an experienced homemaker.  Her Christmas gifts were very likely home baked and handmade.  The Christmas card her only purchase.

 I can imagine her 'Baby Hope Chest' filled with tiny baby clothes and blankets in neutral colors suitable for either a boy or girl, and perhaps a few skeins of blue yarn and a few yards of blue flannel.

And Blessed they were. 
 On Christmas Day, December 25, 1889,
Henry Grady James
was born in
Lithia Springs, Douglas County, Georgia.
Grady, as he was called, made his first appearance in the US Census in 1900...he was 10 years old.  He was listed along with his parents Samuel and Beulah, his younger brother Clifford who was born August 11, 1893, and to my surprise and great delight, my Grandfather Chapel Pittman, age 24, was listed as a farmer laborer.  This was significant information to the whereabouts of Chapel after the death of his mother in 1895 and his father and younger siblings leaving Georgia for Texas in 1898.
I'm glad Grady got to know and work with his Uncle Chappo.  Yes, at 10 years old Grady was listed as a farm laborer.  It's assumed that Grady went to school, too.  In the 1910 Census he was noted as able to read and write and had continued his occupation as a farm laborer on the family farm.  Again, his parents and brother were listed.  Samuel was 52, Beulah 41, Grady 20 and Clifford 16.  His Uncle Chappo, my grandfather, had moved on to Texas and was listed with his father, stepmother, and brother.  Chappo was 34....not yet my grandfather, but still Grady's Uncle.

  Grady spent his life in Douglas County, Georgia.  Never far from his birthplace and always a devoted son to his mother.  Grady celebrated 64 Christmas Day birthdays with his mother Beulah.  He, wife Eugenia, their two sons Herbert and Frank, lived on the James' family farm when in1940 his father Samuel died.

In a letter to her brother in 1943, Beulah wrote about her grandson Herbert being like his Dad Grady..."don't talk much, but a good boy". 

Grady's younger brother Clifford died in 1937 at age 43.  Beulah likened Grady's son Frank to Clifford in same letter saying, "He is like Clifford in ways;  got a word for everybody and makes friends where he goes.  Frank is witty and full of life." 

Beulah had been a widow for three years at the time she wrote the letter that included her picture.  It is now a treasured piece of history in our family.  Her telling of picking cotton, the hard time in making enough profit to keep renters on for another year, and in her words, "For next year seems as world is upside down.  I will never live to see it straightened out".  Beulah Magnolia Pittman James died 11 years later on July 30, 1954.

Grady had 16 more Christmas Day Birthdays. Less than 2 months after his 77th birthday his son Herbert  died in February 1967.    Grady and Eugenia remained on the James' family farm until their deaths only 3 days apart...Grady on February 9, and Eugenia on February 12, 1970.  Their youngest son Frank who had survived World War II in the Air Force, died at age 76 on February 12, 1995.

Henry Grady James, my once removed 1st cousin , nephew of my Grandfather Chappo, son of my Great Aunt with a lovely southern lady's name, Beulah Magnolia, has the only Christmas Day Birthday in our Family Tree. (as far as I can find).
Merry Christmas and Happy 128th Birthday in Heaven Cousin Grady!
Please tell Great Aunt Beulah the world is still upside down,
but on your Christmas Day Birthday it gets somewhat straightened out!


WordlessWed...Santa & Me...One for the Family Album!

Hi Santa!
I've been good all year.
Most of the time.
Once in a while.
Never mind.
I have a Nana.


The Story of Christmas Ornaments

As we all know, Christmas ornaments take on many different forms, from a simple round ball to highly artistic designs.  The ornaments I made this year are...I think...both.  Made to sell in my Studio Shop, it is my hope they will fall into an age old tradition of being reused year after year and added to someone's collection. Even become a family heirloom to be passed on from generation to generation.
 Lucretia P. Hale's story "The Peterkins' Christmas Tree" tells about the Ornaments used in the 1870's.  Some still relevant today.  "There was every kind of gilt hanging thing, from gilt pea pods to butterflies on springs.  There were shining flags and lanterns, and bird cages, and nests with birds sitting them, baskets of fruit, gilt apples and bunches of grapes".
The first decorated trees were adorned with apples, white candy canes and pastries in the shapes of stars, hearts and flowers.  Glass baubles were first made in Lauscha, Germany, by Hans Greiner (1550-1609) who produced garlands of glass beads and tin figures that could be hung on trees.  In the 1880's, American F. W. Woolworth discovered Lauscha's baubles during a visit to Germany.  He made a fortune by importing the German Glass ornaments to the United States. (Wikipedia)
  The first American made glass ornaments were created by William Demuth in New York in 1870.  In 1880, Woolworth's began selling Lauscha glass ornaments.  Other stores began selling Christmas ornaments by the late 19th century and by 1910 Woolworth's had gone national with over 1000 stores bringing Christmas ornaments across America.  By the 20th century, Woolworth's had imported 200,000 ornaments and topped $25 million in sales from Christmas decorations alone.  As of 2009, the Christmas decoration industry ranks second to gifts in seasonal sales. (Wikipedia)
Now to the 21st century where Handcrafted Christmas Ornaments have become a staple of craft fairs and many online businesses owing much of the success to both the internet and growth of Artisan Communities and Shops.  Just another example of  'history repeating itself'...with different mediums and quicker access. 
However, nothing beats shopping in quaint and unique 'Brick & Mortar' shops
 with shopkeepers who can tell you
The Story of Christmas Ornaments.
PS...Links for Ornament Collectors:


Quilt Block with Family Ties

Every so often I challenge myself.  To do what...you ask.  It depends on which Fabric, Fiber, Bead or Collectible that has my interest and attention.  Usually, there are more than one at a time.  I don't know whether that classifies me as having a short attention span or a specialist in multi-tasking.  At this point in my life...I'll take both and chalk it up to 'It's how I roll'!  For example...the quilt block on the back of this jacket called 'A Connecticut Yankee'. 

The challenge was to piece advanced level blocks with 'set in' patches from Judy Martin's Scraps, Blocks & Quilts book ©1990 published by Crosley-Griffin Publishing Company, Inc. A Connecticut Yankee is on page 33 and the first block in a series of advanced piecing blocks.  Of course I challenged myself to start with #1 and piece every one through page 59, which was a total of 66 blocks.  With a ginormous scrap pile beside my sewing machine, a copy machine for copying templates, rotary cutting tools and felt wall to layout the 79 pieces in A Connecticut Yankee...it was not long before my short attention span kicked in.  All in all and between other projects I completed at least a dozen blocks...I skipped around...so much for starting with #1 and finishing with #66.

So, how did A Connecticut Yankee block get from felt wall layout to pieced block to a scrap quilt and finally to a YoYo Jacket?  It's a rather long story with at least a 15 year history.  I'll just cut to the chase and say...the Scrappy Throw Quilt was at the top of the heap for recycling.  The YoYo's were made from vintage reproduction fabrics.  Their button centers and the white closure buttons from my button collection. 

Wow...all of a sudden, I'm realizing there is a 'Family' historical connection to this YoYo Jacket with way more than a 15 year history...more like 312 years. 
My 5th Great Grandfather and Grandmother were 'Connecticut Yankees'.
A Connecticut Yankee Quilt Block with Family Ties!


Kitchen Fabrics...Recipe for Success

 For me, the letter 'U' for 'Useful' could easily replace 'A' for Apple in Alphabet thinking.  For many years, as an artist/designer/crafter/quilter/etc., I made a conscious effort to think and work abstractly.  It did not come naturally, but armed with the technically learned  elements of abstraction, success in abstraction in multiple mediums, including fabric, was accomplished. 
I should say...somewhat accomplished.  Here on my 'Ta-Da' Wall the two 'Abstract' Quilts' still have a modicum of balance and repetition that signifies my inability to completely 'Let Go'.  As for 'Usefulness'...they are useful table toppers and wall hangings.  Whew!
One can't deny the double up 'Usefulness' of these fabrics.  First being  perfect 'Microwave Bowl Warmer fabrics and then you get 'Recipes' for Banana Bread, Parker House Rolls and Sugar Cookies...all which can be warmed up and served in the Bowl Warmer.  What a great selling point! 
Really, once folks hear about how they are sooooo 'Useful' as potholders for hot bowls no other selling points are needed.  Another attraction is the combination of fabrics I put together.  I hunt high and low for unique and fun fabrics like the ones above which I found on a recent trip through Fredricksburg, Texas. 
Yep, any fabric with a Texas theme becomes a #1 best seller! 
And a
Recipe for Success!


Catching Up In December

Quoting Dr. Seuss in the first post for this month of December seems to have been a fore telling of how this month has gone.  For instance..."How did it get so late so soon"....I'm going with "When you are busy as a shopkeeper with Christmas sewing, crocheting, knitting and ornament making...it's better to be sooner than later! 
I have reached the point of enough is enough.  Really!!  I know that is hard to believe with all of my 'OverDoSueness'.  Not that I haven't been tempted to get right back in the production mode to replenish inventory as it sales and goes out the door of my Sue's MadeWith Fabric&Fiber Studio.

Truth be told, I have had to make 'Microwave Bowl Warmers' about every week.  Crazy how they sell as soon as I put a new batch out.  I think it's due to the fact that everyone can relate to burning your fingers on hot bowls.  I have lots of return customers for them.  They use them and come back for more to give as gifts or have enough of their own to serve everyone who sits at their table.  So great to serve a bowl of hot chili straight from the microwave to the table.

As Dr Seuss said,
 "December is here before it is June.  My Goodness how time has flewn".
Sure enough December has 'flewn' for me.
It is past time to put up the Christmas Tree.
I'll do it tomorrow...as soon as I finish 'Catching Up'!


It's A Wild West, Chicken Pickin', Shoppin'Spree Saturday!

1st Saturday's Double Your Fun-Entertainment & Shopping at
 'Old Fort Concho' and 'The Chicken Farm Art Center!

  Don't miss Madam Sunshine and Marshall Jack's Wild West Show at the Fort. When the pistol smoke clears head on over to The Chicken Farm Art Center for more entertainment with the Chicken Pickers, have lunch at the Silo House, and Shop the Studio Artists and Vendors. 
(FYI Trivia Tidbit...Madam Sunshine and CollectInTexas Gal are from the same West Texas town of Monahans and from the same graduating class.)
Remember to follow the Chicken Tracks Path all the way to the back to
Studio's 13, 14 and 15.
Sue's MadeWith Fabric&Fiber is having a 'Red Tag Sale'.
 HoHoHo...it's going to be a beautiful weather day! OPEN 10 to 5...see ya there!