Sunday, November 29, 2009

November Giveaway Winner!

 Thank you to all who entered...we have a winner!

Congratulations to commenter number thirteen, Lin3a Rossa!

Enjoy your prize! For those who didn't win this time, don't worry, I'll have another giveaway in December!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a little post to say "Happy Thanksgiving" to all of you!  This blog wouldn't be anything without readers, and I am grateful for your readership.  Have a lovely day!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November's Giveaway: Take up Dressmaking

Over the last couple of months I've been wading very slowly through all of my books in order to determine what to keep, what to sell, and what to give away. As you've probably guessed I have a lot of craft books and booklets. And I do mean A LOT. As for the craft books, I'm only keeping those that I use or am absolutely certain that I will use some day. Which leads me to this month's giveaway:

I'm giving away one copy of Take up Dressmaking, a simple little book designed to teach the newbie how to sew. However, the projects in this book can be used by more advanced sewists as well. It was originally published in London in 1994 (this edition hails from 1999), so it contains both metric and American measurement equivalents. It has directions and pattern layouts for eleven easy projects. For example, you can make a pair of retro 80s leggings, a Chanel-style jacket, and a slip or camisole:


To enter this giveaway, just follow my blog with Google Friend Connect and leave a comment below. If you are already following Serendipity Handmade, then please follow the Serendipity Vintage fan page on FaceBook or SerendipityVint on Twitter, and leave a comment below. If you are already doing all three -- thank you! -- just tell me so and leave a comment below! International entries are welcome, as always.

Update:  Sorry I wasn't clear about this earlier -- there is a maximum of one entry per person so the giveaway will be fair to those who are already following.  There are no multiple entries, so please just leave one comment as your entry.  However feel free to follow anywhere you wish!

I'll use the random number generator on to draw the winner, and the winner will be announced on Saturday, November 28th! Good luck!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday: Classic Jeweled Treasures

Several years ago I walked into an acquaintance's living room during the Christmas season. On the wall, lit from behind, was a Christmas tree made entirely out of costume jewelry. I instantly loved it, even if it was mounted upon black velvet. All she could tell me about it was that her grandmother had made it years before.

Fast forward to December 2006. I was reading Cathy Callahan's blog when, lo and behold, she wrote a post about Bobi Hall's Classic Jeweled Treasures! And thus I learned that there were actual directions to guide me in the creation of these lovely trees:

It wasn't until late this summer that I found two copies of the booklet at an estate sale. Lucky me! I wear the majority of my vintage costume jewelry, so I have been hard at work over the past couple of months looking for cheap and sparkly costume pieces at estate sales and thrift stores. Here are a few of my finds:

I've also found some lovely vintage rhinestone buttons that will work really well for this project. Most of them I've purchased online, because I hardly ever find these at estate sales in my area:

I think it may be a while before I have amassed enough jewelry, buttons, and beads to make myself a tree. I'm in no hurry. I may break down and use those wonderful rhinestone buttons in some other project.

What do you all think of the costume jewelry tree? Do you like them, or do they remind you too much of Elvis on velvet? Well, if you would like to make a "jeweled treasure" for yourself, I put the second copy of this wonderful craft booklet in my Etsy shop!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

One Project Down, and Four to Go

I finally finished the shawl for my grandmother. It's out-of-season now, but I hope she'll wear it around the house until next Spring.

It is modeled here by the lovely Esmeralda (Esme for short), a mannequin I purchased from a tiny discount clothes store that was going out-of-business a couple of years ago. Underneath the shawl Esme is wearing a delicate light blue vintage nightgown that doesn't fit me but I can't bring myself to sell quite yet because I love it so.

It took a lot longer than I thought it would to finish, no doubt because I was distracted by sewing class and there were a couple of minor setbacks along the way. It was my fault, really, because I didn't store the project safely away in a covered plastic bin, but left it in a soft-sided collapsible cube in my closet without closing the closet door. My mistake tempted a certain little dog named Teddy beyond the limits of his control. You would think he was a cat he loves to play with yarn so much. He "helped out" by playing with my last full skein of Cotton Ease as I was crocheting the border:

The culprit:

I wanted to finish it quickly after that, so I decided to find more yarn rather than spend several hours untangling the mess.  It seems that my local big-box stores have very little Cotton Ease on hand, because I had to go to three stores to find more.  As it turns out, Lion Brand has discontinued this yarn.  I'm disappointed because I really enjoyed using it and would have bought more for future projects. 

I think the shawl pattern was very easy and recommend it.  I didn't like the look of the border after row two, so I eliminated the second row of the pattern and just kept rows one and three.  The border is now just a simple shell stitch pattern.

I've also begun work on my holiday gifts, but I'm not going to say too much about them just in case the intended recipient read my posts.  I have almost completed the One Skein Scarf out of Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet, which is really very easy and quick to make:

This is one of the few times that I've actually used the suggested yarn when crocheting, because I wanted to see if I could really use just one skein.  However, I should have checked the gauge before I started, because I've just started on my second skein of Paton's Classic Wool in Paprika. If you would like to make this scarf, JoAnn's has also posted a free PDF of the scarf and a matching beret.

I've also started a bookmark and a pair of earrings.  More later!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Administrative Post

Just a few things to tell you:

1.  If you subscribe to this blog via email, you may have noticed that  Feedburner doesn't format my posts very well.  This issue depends on the email provider (Gmail seems to be ok, but Yahoo is a mess).   I have also noticed that multiple emails have been inexplicably sent for the same blog posting (again, this depends on the email service).  I just want to say that if you feel you've been spammed by my blog posts, you have my sincere apologies.

2.  If you have a special vintage item that you would like to see featured here on a future Vintage Thingies Thursday, email me and let me know.  I would love to see (and share) the pride of your collections.   The same goes for pictures of garments you've made from one of my vintage patterns -- please, send pics!

3.  I will be "away from the blog"  until the 14th, though my husband will be keeping the Etsy shop open.  Don't go away, I'll be back soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Velvety Butternut Squash Soup

I love the crisp, cold air of fall. Most of the time we only experience that at night here in California, but nevertheless it is a distinct change from the perpetual heat of summer. I begin to crave soup as soon as the weather changes, and I made this recipe, which makes a delicious and comforting bowl of soup, over the weekend.

Some tips: don’t cook the squash before cutting it up as the squash’s flavor is more robust this way. Simply peel it with a vegetable peeler, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, and cut it into chunks. If you have fresh pumpkin puree leftover this season you can add it to intensify the squash flavor. Be sure to use a high-quality unsalted butter for a rich finish. If you are not a big nutmeg fan, reduce the quantity but don't omit it entirely. I usually serve this with homemade whole-wheat bread and butter for a really simple, homey meal.


1 large or 2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium organic apple, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium onion, chopped
3 TBS. unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
4 cups low-sodium organic chicken stock (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Optional Add-ins:
1 cup homemade pumpkin puree
1 TBS chopped fresh ginger
1 carrot, cut into chunks
Fresh parsley, chopped, or dry parsley flakes for garnish

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Do not let the butter or the onions brown. Add the squash, apples, any optional vegetables, brown sugar, and the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender. Remove the squash and apple chunks with a slotted spoon and place in a food processor to puree, or pour the entire contents of the pot into a blender and puree. Return the blended mixture to the pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve!

I adapted this recipe from an existing Food Network recipe. If you like squash, I think you'll definitely like this soup. If you try it, let me know!