Wednesday, October 29, 2014

AUTUMN REFLECTIONS

Fall usually flies by so quickly I barely know it's there. So this year, I'm trying to take the time to savor this beautiful season. That means stopping to notice the small things like these lovely freshly-fallen leaves on my driveway.


Having been ill for nearly two months this past summer reminded me that health is truly is our most precious gift. I count my blessings that mine was fully restored. Earlier this month I celebrated my recovery with a visit to the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market, where I was delighted to happen upon this colorful display of gourds galore.


I picked out the wartiest pumpkin I could find to bring home and put on my little green stand.


Fall flourishes can also be found indoors, where I display my festive lighted Halloween house on the piano.


Fall also means it's time for Houston's International Quilt Festival, which runs October 30–November 2. If you're lucky enough to go, please stop by Millie P's booth to see all the quilting eye candy and check out my latest pattern, Florabunda (pictured below). I hadn't been planning to complete it in time for the Festival but finished it just in time for Becky, the shop owner, to take it with her. So she will be the only carrying it at IQF. I hope you'll stop by her booth to see all the wonderful things she has in store for you. And if you're in the Anoka, MN, area, be sure to stop her colorful shop! It's definitely worth the drive. 


The only thing I don't like about fall this year is that I have to do some clothes shopping as I was left with only a couple fall/winter tops that fit after my illness. So until I can fit back into those, I need a few things to make do on. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I abhor clothes shopping. Last week, my hubby had to practically drag me to a store where he was hoping I could find some fall clothes but what did I do instead? We spent the entire evening in the shoe department. While I hate clothes shopping, I do LOVE looking at shoes and bags. I've been searching for a nice set of wellies to wear rain or shine. When I spotted these blue floral English ones, I knew I had to try them on. Sorry the shot is not so good. I did not have my camera along, so hubby had to take it with his crummy work phone.


I had so much fun trying these on! It seems these were meant to be mine as they even had one left in size 5, which fit me perfectly. 


Not only did they go home with me but also a pair of cute pink and cognac duck boots and these adorable gray rain boots, pictured below. The gray boots are also available as small as a size 5, which again fit perfectly. I spent the sunny weekend wearing these everywhere. No need to wait for a rainy day—they look just as cute on anyone in the sunshine!



My hubby was a good sport for taking me out and not coming home with a single item of clothing but three pairs of boots instead! I'd gladly pay someone to shop for my clothes so I don't have to. I even tried a personal styling/shopping online service. You give them your measurements and likes/dislikes and for a nominal styling fee, they send you a selection of clothes to try in the comfort of your home. You can send anything back you don't like free of charge. I tend to go for pretty simple fare like these turquoise cropped pants and cozy gray flannel skirt, which I did decide to keep since they fit well.


This past summer, I was looking for a dress for a special occasion and they sent me this cute black one, which much to my surprise, fit me perfectly. Best yet, it was only $35 but I would have gladly spent more on it just not to have to look for it myself!



I could get used to this service but I'd still rather spend my money on shoes and bags—or fabric—any day!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

QUILT BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS

As promised, it's time to draw two winners for my quilt book giveaway. Let me first tell you how much I enjoyed reading all your comments about your favorite autumn joys. I share many of them and am glad to live in a state where I can at least enjoy part of this fleeting season. I also enjoyed reading about your many projects. I must live vicariously through you as I rarely get into my sewing room these days with so many work deadlines encroaching but I'm hoping that will improve as I make my work schedule more manageable. As always, I wish I had a book to give to every single one of you who commented. Don't be disheartened if you didn't win as there will be more giveaways on my blog. Without further adieu, let me congratulate the following winners:

The first winner via Random Number Generator is The Civil War Quilter, who wrote:


I'm a follower. I forgot to mention what I'm working on in my first comment. I'm putting my queen-size "Civil War Generals" quilt in the frame this weekend for my hand-quilting project this fall and winter.

She will receive Betsy Chutchian's new book, Just Treats, No Tricks

The second winner via Random Number Generator is SLM, who wrote:

Autumn .... I love this season so much. The air seems to crackle with energy, and the smell of wood smoke lingers throughout the air. Pumpkins, corn stalks, tree leaves turning beautiful colors, mums, soups, stew, and chili. Pumpkin pie, apple pie, apple cider, hay rides, and oh so much to enjoy. Sweet Halloween decor is fun too. I am working on a quilt pillow for my grand-daughter.

She will receive Dawn Heese's new book, Autumn Splendor

Just a reminder to both winners to email me your mailing addresses by this Monday at noon central time so that your books can be on their way to you! I will be shipping them out later this week. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

FALL QUILT BOOK GIVEAWAY

It's a wonderful time of year to hold a giveaway for two quilt books that celebrate the splendor of this season! They're also very near and dear to my heart as I had the pleasure of editing them! There will be two winners of this giveaway—one will receive a copy of Dawn Heese's latest title, Autumn Splendor, and one will receive a copy of Betsy Chutchian's latest book, Just Treats, No Tricks. So sit back and take this sneak peak at these two hot-off-the-press titles, then read the details on how to enter this giveaway.

With her signature flair for folk art style and appliqué, Dawn has created seven fall-fresh designs to celebrate this gorgeous season! Appropriately named Autumn Splendor: Folk Art Quilts and Projects, her latest book is filled with lots of eye candy to put you in a fall mood.


Her stunning feature quilt abounds with vases and a cornucopia overflowering with Mother Nature's bounty. All the location photography took place at Dawn's idyllic property in the country. The photographer even managed to capture one of Dawn's furry friends in the cover shot, above. Talk about a terrific photo op!


Here are the other spectacular designs you'll find in Dawn's book. You can read more about them or order a copy of her book at the Kansas City Star Quilts website by clicking here.


The other fun fall book I had the pleasure of working on this past summer is Betsy Chutchian's latest must-read, Just Treats, No Tricks: Bewitching Quilts and More to Celebrate Autumn. Like me, Betsy is a big fan of that festive fall holiday of Halloween. But it's worth noting that this book has much more in store for you than just Halloween-themed projects. It also features LOTS of fall projects to warm your home this season or year-round.


A colorful patch of pumpkins, a fanciful bat make-do pincushions, and cozy quilts in earthy tones cast a bewitching spell in this celebration of autumn joys. 



To find out more about this creative concoction of quilts and more or to order a copy of this book, check out the Kansas City Star Quilts website by clicking here.


Here are the details on how to enter my giveaway. Simply leave a comment on this post telling me what you love most about fall and what quilt or sewing project you're working on now. This giveaway ends on Sunday at noon central time (October 19). I'll draw random winners and announce them Sunday evening. The winners will then have until this coming Monday at 6 p.m. central time (October 20) to contact me with their mailing address. I ask for them to contact me because some who enter end up being non-comment bloggers, which means your email comes through with no corresponding email address to reply to. If I don't hear from the winners by Monday, a new winner(s) will be drawn. Books will go out to the winners next week! As usual, you do NOT have to be an official Google/Blogger follower to enter but I would like to thank those of you who are for your support by giving you an additional entry. In order to get the extra entry, you need to post a SEPARATE comment since I'll be drawing names via Random Generator.  
Good luck and happy fall to all!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

HELLO, OCTOBER

It hardly seems possible that October is here already. This month's arrival signifies a favorite fall tradition as we visit our last big flea market of the year. It's located near my family's home, so we usually take my mom to the annual AAUW (American Association of University Women) book sale at the nearby mall the same day. It was there that I happened upon my most exciting find of the day—a beautifully bound book of 19th-century ladies magazines. A year's worth of them!


It so happens that I collect these vestiges of the past, so I was thrilled to find it and especially at the bargain price of a $1. These beauties are filled with treasures, including hand-colored portraits of 19th-century ladies in their fanciest frocks.


Charming illustrations of storybook dwellings...


The latest fashions of the day and much more...


I have several volumes of these wonderful magazines, and as you can imagine, they provide endless hours of inspiration. I saw many fun things at the flea market as well but most—like this 19th century wool portrait—were too pricey for my pocketbook. We have two of these wonderfully woolly portraits in our Victorian home. They're a fitting accent for a wool lover like me.


I pondered this handmade chest of drawers made from old cigar boxes (another collectible of mine) but it was out of my price range. I love the charming graphics that you can find on many of these vintage repositories. This might be an idea I'll have to keep in mind for future reference. I think my hubby could make something similar with some of my old cigar boxes.


This box of vintage Christmas baubles caught my eye. I like to decorate my wire tree with ornaments of this vintage.


So what did I go home with? Not much but I did find these fun vintage wooden spools. They were a larger size (at 3 inches tall) that will work well for some of my pincushion designs, and their price was right at $5 for 30 spools.


Before we knew it, the day was drawing short and it was time to head home. On the way home, we stopped by to visit Grandma, who as usual, had some homegrown goodies to send home with us. Just look at this lovely acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and onions that she gave us! I took this photo of them in my kitchen. The vintage scale matches the blue of my kitchen walls. 


Grandma also gave us some regular potatoes, which I threw into the slow cooker with the pork roast that I'm fixing for tonight's dinner. 


I also found some cute small Parisian potatoes at the local food mart, so I threw those in, too. I usually cook my roast in chicken broth but it's been a challenge to find a broth that's low enough in sodium for me. Because of my kidney condition, I had to severely reduce my sodium intake. That was very difficult as I LOVED salt. Most of the reduced-sodium chicken broths are still very high in salt. For example, the Swanson's reduced-sodium broth has 570 mgs of it or 24% of your daily allowance. I finally found an organic low-sodium chicken broth with only 70 mgs of salt or 3% of your daily allowance. If any of you have found one lower than that, please let me know. I sure love the ease of pot roasts, and they're so yummy on these crisp fall days! Nice to know that dinner is taken care of! So it's back to work for now. There are magazine articles to write and quilt projects to edit! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

TICKLED PINK

Is there a color that never fails to make you smile? For me, that has always been pink. I realized I had enough pink photos to warrant a post, so here goes! I found the prettiest pink vintage Singer Featherweight at the AQS quilt show here in Des Moines on Wednesday. I was not intending to come home with a sewing machine, let alone a pink one. I usually shy away from larger ticket items like this but this lovely 1939 Featherweight spoke to me and it didn't take me long to whip out my checkbook and get her. I decided to name her Penelope and I plan to do some of my piecing on her. I currently do some of my piecing on Fanny, my 1936 black Featherweight.


The vendor had even painted Penelope's original Bakelite pedal pink. In my photos, the colors of the pedal and machine are not matching but in reality they do.


On the same day I went to the show, I got a call from a local department store that the pink handbag I ordered was in! So it turned out to be a very pink day! I don't think my camera captured the color of the bag quite right so I've included a photo of it from the manufacturer's website below it. Yes, it's rubber but I absolutely love it. It seemed to get a lot of attention from others while I was out, and some ladies even stopped to ask me about it. I'm sure they thought it was silly but you know what, I love being different! 



I collect vintage pink booklets of all sorts and a few weeks ago, I found a couple to add to my collection while antiquing with my friend, Cinda. Don't these look fun?


Here are the rest of my finds from that fun day of antiquing. I loved the aqua trim color of the vintage antique double boiler, which was on sale for a mere $7! The Little Golden book reminded me of my childhood days, and I thought the harvest colors of the vintage tin rooster trays would make a cute display in my child's cupboard where I usually keep my vintage tin pink and gray tea set.


I also found these adorable mini pink playing cards with a sweet homey scene on the back of them. The photos show them much darker than they really are. They are a pleasing pink!


I was gifted several fun pink things from friends and family for my birthday this year. My friend Cinda knows I love Dean and Deluca and gave me this fun assortment of pink (plus blue, amber, and green) goodies from their store.


Anne showered me with lots of pink goodness in the form of these beautiful vintage English candy tins as well as few fun books to curl up with in my chaise longue this fall. 


Mary, a fellow pink lover, gave me this sweet assortment of pink and owl goodies. I plan to display the little owl rock (in the bottom right) to my rock garden next spring. The other owl items are sprinkled throughout my autumn decor.


My multi-talented friend, Belinda, has designed a cool stitching wallet and I was lucky enough to be the recipient of one! Below are photos of it open and closed. I love its many pockets, which are perfect for storing all your stitching necessities. And how can an owl lover like me not adore its owl ribbon embellishments and the owl sewing labels that Belinda included?! If you'd like to order one, check out her shop at this link. She plans to start offering them soon. 



At home, my precious pink African violet trailer is blooming up a storm, bringing beauty to my kitchen where I keep a good share of my violets. Trailers like these have multiple crowns, creating a lusher look than typical African violets. 


Tomorrow I'm off to the last flea market of the season and then there will be a long dry spell during the winter months. It's just as well as I'm getting in nesting mode where I like to stay put for awhile—but not too long or I get cabin fever! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

So happy that autumn has officially arrived! I love this time of year. Not even a rainy day like this can get me down for it's nice and cozy inside Ashton House. There's a sweet cuddly kitty named Poe to keep me company as I write my magazine articles. As you can see in the below photo, his hair is growing back nicely after his July surgery.




There is another batch of healthy pumpkin cookies fresh from the oven for my hubby to take to share with his coworkers tomorrow. 


One of the reasons I'm baking healthier is because my hubby's latest blood sugar results were in the prediabetic range and I don't want him to develop full-blown diabetes. Making his favorite treats without sugar is a great way to do that. As I mentioned in my previous post, they also have no flour but they're just as tasty as regular pumpkin cookies. The last time he took them to work, people couldn't believe they were made without sugar or flour. Indeed, these are a much healthier alternative to the below monster cookies, which the hubby has been getting me the past month after recovering from a bad kidney infection. Just munched this guy up!


I found the cutest owl/woodland paper to wrap the pumpkin cookies in.




Even though I have two cookie scoops, I didn't have the right size for these cookies. So off to Target I went to find the perfect size, which makes them nice and uniform.


After I finish my work, I plan to find homes for the pink goodies I picked up while visiting the Omaha area earlier this month. I was especially charmed by the vintage pink, brown and teal kitchen curtains. The tag said that there were four but we only spotted two. We left a message for the vendor, who was kind enough to ship the other two to us. 


The pink-adorned glass jar on the right was labeled a vintage refrigerator jar. I think the pink tray will look nice in our upstairs bathroom with some of my pink soaps, etc. displayed on it. The postcard is vintage. I loved the yellow, blue and pink colors against the gray background.