Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another vintage kids' book ~ The Animals' Merry Christmas

When our kids were young, we had the equivalent of this book contained within one of a four-volume set of Richard Scarry anthologies.  If your kids or grandkids are not familiar with Richard Scarry, they (and you!) are missing out.  His art and stories are both fantastic and so much fun for kids.

This Little Golden Book (copyright 1950, 1958) actually was written by Kathryn B. Jackson, but the pictures are all Richard Scarry, and just beautiful.  The book contains four Christmas stories:  Mr. Hedgehog's Christmas Present, The Singing Christmas Tree, The Cold Little Squirrel, and The Long-Ago Donkey.  It also includes two Christmas poems: Green Christmas and A Very Small Christmas.

The poem Green Christmas was a favorite of my children, so I will quote it here:

Green Christmas
"It's almost Christmas, and still no snow!"
Cry the woodland creatures.  "We still can go
Out of our houses to search for roots
And seeds in the dry grass, and maybe shoots
Of fern and fennel that think it's spring.
We may find acorns -- 'most anything
That's good to eat may be in sight
For Christmas dinner, on such a night,
When the ground is bare of ice and snow,
And stars are bright, and the winds don't blow.
Hurrah for Christmas and still no snow!"

"It's almost Christmas, and still no snow!"
Sigh the townsfolk, wishing the wind would blow.
"Our doors are wreathed with pine and holly,
And our Christmas trees would look extra jolly
Blazing with lights -- if the snow came down
Deep and white all over the town!
Why doesn't the sky go wooly gray?
Why doesn't it snow for Christmas Day?
It's not like Christmas without some snow!"
Sigh the townsfolk, wishing the wind would blow --

BUT -- 
"Hurrah for Christmas and still no snow!"
Cry the woodland creatures, and out they go.
-- Kathryn B. Jackson

Such a fun poem.  Helps kids to see that there may be more than one side to a story!

If you've not seen this book, I'm pretty sure you could find one on eBay or Etsy.  With its four separate stories and two poems, it would be a great addition to your family's library of Christmas books!

Friday, October 10, 2014

A fun little gift for a 1-year-old

 Our youngest grandson turned one year old in June, and -- although I really wanted to make something handmade for him -- I was at a loss as to what that might be.  Then I saw an idea on Pinterest for alphabet letters made of fabric.  Now this might be something he could play with, and I could see his siblings getting involved by spelling out names or words on the floor for him.

  I looked at the tutorial and decided to make it easier.  Here's how I did it.  First, I did a search for large alphabet letter templates.  I found some great ones on DTLK's Educational Activities for Kids, just the size I was hoping for.  They printed out two to a sheet of paper.  I printed enough letters so I had not only the ABCs, but also enough extra letters so that every child's name (he has four older siblings) could be spelled out on the floor at once.  Somehow I could just envision that happening!

Then I cut out enough fabric squares to have 2 for each letter.  I had lots of small colorful scraps in my stash that were just perfect for this.  Using dressmaker's carbon paper, I traced letters on half of the squares.  Then I cut a same-size cotton batting square for each letter. 

I sandwiched them together like this: plain fabric square, right-side down; batting square; fabric square with traced letter, right-side up.  I pinned them securely, then carefully machine-stitched around the outline of each letter.  Once the letters were all stitched, then I cut out each one with pinking shears, using embroidery scissors as necessary for some of the small cut-out parts of letters. 

Voila!  A multitude of fabric alphabet letters for a little boy and his older siblings to play with!  The letters could be packaged in a zip-top plastic bag, a plastic box, or whatever other storage you might find suitable.  Hope someone else can use this idea.  My grandkids loved it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rudolph Day for September

Isn't this so pretty?  It's a cross-stitched  effect from a "calendar" card from the 1960s or 1970s -- I'm guessing the latter.  My scan is so detailed that I could actually make a cross-stitch from this design if I so chose.
Unbelievably, Rudolph Day for September is here!  Do not ask me where the time has gone.  I have been so busy, mostly with spending part of time each day out of the house for eldercare responsibilities.  I had a simple, simple gift tag project (involving hot glue, some embellishments, and silver thread) planned for August -- I estimated it would probably only take about 15 minutes to make a dozen tags.  Well, somehow I didn't even find fifteen extra minutes.  How lame.

So when I thought about Rudolph Day coming up again this week, I thought that of course I would complete that project today.  It's not happening...

Instead, I decided I would at least crack open the door to the Christmas Kitchen and just give a quick little update.  In view of how busy my life has become,  I'm planning just one handcrafted gift per grandchild this year ... very simple projects, all using the same pattern but different themes.  We will see  how that goes.  I'm finding that some of the components aren't as easy to locate as they used to be, but have bought some online and am almost ready to start on the first gift.  (I don't want to be more specific, as some of the recipients (or their moms!) read my blog. 

Guess I'd better close the kitchen door and order some more materials now.  Hope all of you are having a more productive Rudolph Day than I am!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Another vintage kids' book -- THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

You can see this book was well loved!
Today I want to quickly share another of my childhood Christmas books.  I finally found a few minutes this summer to scan some of my favorites.

This one is simply the classic The Night Before Christmas poem by Clement C. Moore.  This Little Golden Book version was published in 1949.  What is really special about it is the lovely illustrations by Corinne Malvern.  There is a little bio of her in the front of the book: "Corinne Malvern has excelled in two of the arts.  She was a successful child actress, then studied art, and has since exhibited her work and done commercial art.  She has illustrated ... many of the Little Golden Books."

Since the poem was  written in 1822, the artist opens the book with an illustration depicting a calendar page from December 1822.

Don't you love it?
I scanned this page because it was easiest, being first in the book, but also because it's my favorite.  I love the little house and the falling snow by lantern light!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vintage kids' book ~ The Most Beautiful Tree in the World

This book was one of my favorite Christmas stories as a child.  It is a Wonder Book and, sadly, gives no credit to either the author or illustrator.  All it says is that the story was originally published in Family Circle magazine in 1954 and was copyrighted as a Wonder Book in 1956.

The book tells the story of children living on a farm and the beautiful gigantic spruce tree on their property.  The tree is sold and carried away by helicopter to become the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.  Andy and Ellen get to go to the city and see their tree in all its glory.  The story ends happily with a new little spruce tree being planted in place of the large one, and the promise that it too may one day be the most beautiful tree in the world.
Andy and Ellen's first sight of the helicopter passing over their farm
The story is fun and the illustrations absolutely fabulous.  If you can find a copy, this little book is well worth having in your Christmas book collection.

Monday, August 18, 2014

An attic find

As I've mentioned a few times, I've been doing some clearing out at my dad's home.  Not things that he sees and uses daily; just things in the storage areas, of which there are many.  While working in the attic back in June, I came upon this find:

It's an interesting-looking book, although the stories I've glanced at don't seem to be anything wonderful.  (In fact, they seem a little strange.)

The book's title is
 A Parlor Companion,

How's that for  all-inclusive?  I couldn't find a copyright date (or even an author's name; it seems the stories may have been written by a number of different authors, though I can't be sure).

However, the book was a gift from "Aunt Lizzie", and is inscribed "Merry Christmas, December 25, 1892."  That, and the fact that it will be a nice addition to my Christmas decorating, made me decide to hang on to the book, at least for now.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Down the Lane to Christmas

A favorite vintage card from my collection
Here is one last lovely poem by Mildred L. Jarrell.  Oh, the memories it brings!

Down the Lane to Christmas

Down the lane to Christmas
Mid fields adrift with snow,
I can see the old familiar home 
With windows all aglow.

I can hear the Christmas music
Carried o'er the frosty air,
And picture home folks singing
Round the organ by the stair.

The yule log will be burning
Near the tinseled Christmas tree,
And I hasten with a yearning
Towards the ones that wait for me.

Though the road is long I've traveled
Sure my heart no more will roam,
For down the lane to Christmas,
My heart is nearly home.
~ Mildred L. Jarrell

I hope you've all enjoyed this simple Christmas in July as much as I have.  It's been fun for me and a nice break from my everyday responsibilities.  See you in August!