Monday, July 18, 2016

HAPPY MONDAY

Thank you to those of you who purchased some of my items featured in the previous post. It's nice to know they are going to good homes! My cat Figgy and I just spent this morning preparing the guest room for my sister who is coming to visit in early August. We changed out the quilts on the rooms's two Jenny Lind beds with cheerful 1930s beauties. Figgy particularly likes the bed with the star quilt on it! He loves to "help" whenever he can.


With the new carpet finally installed, we're moving furniture back into the parlor. I thought this would be a good time to change things up. So I decided to move our Victorian whatnot shelf to a new spot and decorate it with my vintage English candy tins and miniature Grandfather clocks. On the bottom shelf sits my husband's grandmother's hand-crank sewing machine, though you can barely see it in this photo.


I meant to write a couple weeks ago that I was elated to finally harvest the first of my zucchini from the plants and seeds we started in late April! These seem like behemoths compared to the grocery store's. They measure about 12 inches long and 2 1/2" in diameter. 


We planted six plants, which might have been overkill for two people, but we've never grown them before so thought we should plant extra in case some of the seeds made it. The zucchini in the above photo is Renee's Garden variety called 'Clarimore'. According to the seed packet, they have a unique creamy texture and a delicious nutty sweet flavor. They do take up a fair amount of space in the garden as you can see from my below photo, so we will be sure to space them farther apart next spring. If anyone in Adel wants one, I have one to spare!


Speaking of veggies, I normally don't like salads because I am not a huge veggie fan but I must tell you about a delicious veggie salad I love ordering from this lovely new bistro (Flavory Bistro) in Ankeny. The owner takes great pride in her dishes and it shows in everything she makes. I've ordered different things here (chicken gyros, smoothies, baklava) and always been delighted with them. Seems like it would be hard to be impressed by a salad but I am with this one that features romaine lettuce, cabbage, walnuts, and sautéed asparagus, peppers and yellow zucchini sautéed in lemon or lemongrass. You also get two tasty pieces of toasted pieces of bread. If you live in the area, I hope you'll try it out. Tell them that Kimber who loves the veggie salad sent you and I'm sure the owner will get a kick out of that! Have a lovely Monday, everyone!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

SUNDRIES FOR SALE

I'm embarking on a summer cleaning fest and have decided to part with some of my furniture like this vintage Cheval dresser. The mirror is pretty tarnished so I would not consider that part functional but if you're looking for a pretty decorative piece for a bedroom, it might be a great fit. I actually used the piece to display my vintage quilts by stacking them in front of half the mirror. I thought I'd see if there might be any interest on the blog before I send it over to my friend's antique shop. If you have any interest in it and can pick it up (we live just a short distance west of West Des Moines), we are selling it for $80. You are welcome to come out and take a closer look at it before deciding whether you want to buy it. For more specifics on the piece, feel free to leave a comment or email me by clicking the "Email Me" button in the top right sidebar of my blog.


Also for sale is this set of whiteware plates with fretwork (these are new) for $35. The largest platters are 12 inches across and the smaller ones are 10 inches across. Because of their delicate nature, I'm just selling them to those who might be willing to pick them up. 


I'm also selling one of my vintage White sewing machines (below) for $50. I generally use these oldies but goodies as just display pieces rather than as functional sewing machines so I haven't tested this out to see if it actually works. You would be welcome to try it out before deciding whether to buy it. As I continue my cleaning, I may be posting some other items. 


In other news, we finally have our carpet installed! Our quest to find patterned carpet for our 1898 Victorian house turned out to be quite the saga! The carpet we picked out fell through a whopping four times due to assorted issues ranging from manufacturing flaws to a careless forklift operator who slashed the carpet. Kane Carpet (a carpet manufacturer), in particular, seemed to have problems with their die-lots. They were so off that they didn't come close to matching the actual samples we saw in the showroom. They tried twice to get it right but after the second failed attempt, we decided to look elsewhere. If the hardwood floors (below) under our old carpet were in better condition, we would have just stuck with those. With the "help" of dear Figaro (pictured below), we gave the hardwood floor a thorough cleaning before the carpet was installed.


Luckily, Figgy approves of the new damask-patterned carpet! Figgy just had a checkup at our vet and we were delighted to hear he now weighs 10 pounds. Our vet had told us earlier that he would be a smaller cat boy due to his rough start in life. I think he wanted to warn us not to expect him to get as big as our previous kitties, Poe and Teddy, who were considered big boys at 17 pounds!


In celebration of the completion of this long overdue project, I've ordered a pink tufted sofa and hope it will go well in the living room. If it does, we may be selling our camelback sofa but it not, we'll keep it. I'll leave you with a scene from that room as evening fell the day our carpet was finally installed. By the way, we would also like to eventually sell the blue wing back chair (with the quilt draped over it) in this photo.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BEST OF FLEA MARKET MAGAZINE

In this post from last year, I mentioned that some of my collectibles were being photographed for Best of Flea Market Style magazine. It seems so long ago but the issue is now on newsstands!


You can find photos and write-ups of my collections on pages 45, 82, 122 and 123. I recently found out more of them will be published in a flea market book that is in the works! I was so tickled that they photographed my collection of wooden peg dolls (below) but was not fond that they wanted me to be in the shot as well.


My colorful vintage English and Dutch candy tins were one of the first collections to catch their eye when they came to the house. I love their fanciful forms and charming decoration. When I spotted a two tiered chippy blue stand several years ago, I knew it was the perfect stage for these delightful containers. The magazine staff didn't have to readjust anything for this shot. Usually, they like to move a lot of things around to achieve the perfect shot.


I also have an article in the magazine. It's about a New York woman's cozy cottage filled with treasured heirlooms and timeworn finds.



I'm slow at getting the word about this issue, so I hope it's still on newsstands. If so, I hope you can check it out!

Friday, June 3, 2016

STRAWBERRY SEASON

Can it really be June already? Strawberry season is right around the corner here in the Midwest and everything's coming up berries in the house and garden. In the evenings, I've been making more wool strawberry make-dos for custom orders. It looks like my new kitty Figgy does not possess the fascination for wool that our previous kitty Teddy did so they are safe from curious kitty paws.


In the garden, my strawberry pot is putting on quite a show. I like the combination of chartreuse and pink!


The garden is off to a pretty good start this year. We re-edged the front beds and replaced all the much with a fresh layer.


We also planted a few patches of lettuce seeds from Renee's Garden as well as some zucchini plants. People are always so kind to give us tomatoes and cucumbers, which we really appreciate. We've never gotten any zucchini, which happens to be our favorite veggie, so we thought we'd try growing our own this year. Since I took the below photo, the lettuce has grown by leaps and bounds so I'm hoping I'll be able to harvest some soon!


In the kitchen, I've been experimenting with some recipes I've been wanting to try. My sister, who has to be on a gluten-free diet, is coming to visit this summer and I thought this cauliflower crust pizza might make a nice dinner while she's here. I was pleasantly surprised that the crust, made of only cauliflower, herbs, and 1/8 cup parmesan cheese, actually looked and acted like a crust! It was actually easier to make than the Jiffy pizza crust mix I usually use. Most recipes for cauliflower crust call for more cheese than I use but because I can only eat cheese in limited quantities, I used only a quarter of the amount called for in the particular recipe I used. 


I also made these all-natural, no-bake, flour-free and sugar-free brownies. They have been a great alternative to the sugary snacks my hubby likes to eat and he can eat these liberally! 


It's been a great spring for vintage clothes. I've already found a couple pretty yet inexpensive dresses. This 1960s one was in perfect condition and only $22! The only alteration required will be to take in the hip area but that should be an easy fix since I'm used to doing that with my non-existent hips.


I also found this pretty vintage pink belt for $6 to go with the dress. Talk about the perfect match!


Wishing you all a happy Friday and wonderful weekend!

Friday, April 15, 2016

PINK FRIDAY

Hope you're all having as wonderful a Friday as I am. I'm loving the glorious spring weather that has finally come to central Iowa! That alone is worth celebrating. I'm also in a celebratory mood after just completing the quilt top for the little Irish Chain quilt I'm making for my niece. I thought the pink and green palette would be perfect for a little girl, plus this project was a great way to use up some of my 1930s repro prints. As you can see from the photo, my kitty Figgy approves! I was able to quilt it up in practically no time on my Bernina. Now comes my least favorite part—binding.


And here's some more pink cheer for your Friday. I was delighted to receive this pretty variegated pink-and-cream kalanchoe from my hubby. My vintage candy tins make charming stages for potted plants like these.  This pink beauty was made in England. I bought it several years ago at Junk Bonanza in Minneapolis. I always thought it was next to impossible to get kalanchoes to rebloom indoors, but I've discovered it can be done if you have a really bright window. I've had one for three years now in my sunny bay window, and I'm hoping I'll be able to coax this one to rebloom.


Figgy did his best to get in the photo of the vintage tin. Can you see his little head peeking through the lace curtains below? He is curious about everything! 


Since Figgy has already been in two of today's photos, I might as well share another one of him. Early this morning as I swept our porch, I noticed him following me from room to room inside, looking out the windows. I think our poor little boy is so bored that he could use a friend! Once we get our carpet installed, we plan on looking for one.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

WHAT A HOOT

Not much exciting happening here at Ashton House today so I thought I'd share one of the pincushions in my collection. Dressed in bright blue and purple, this little owl makes quite a statement on my pincushion shelf. I know his colors are pretty wacky but he was made in the 1960s, after all.


Turn him around and you realize he's also a handy tape measure. Curious to know if any of you who lived through the 1960s might have remembered a pincushion like this? Seems like a lot of these novelty examples were made in Japan. They certainly had a knack for quirky designs!


In other sewing-related news, I spent Sunday afternoon at The Quilt Block for our monthly Kim Diehl Simple Whatnots quilt club and got inspired by this show-and-tell quilt from one of the members. Don't you love the colors she used? I should have asked for the name of the pattern!


Back at home, we're still busy preparing for new carpet this spring. We have all the old carpet torn up and hope to get either carpet or hardwood installed by May. We're still checking out other carpet options like this beauty, which unfortunately turned out to be out of our budget. Figgy liked it, too!


We soothed our dampened spirits with some homemade sour cream peach pie. My mom has been making this quick and easy pie for years. It's a little lighter than traditional peach pie because it doesn't have the top crust. Instead, the top is layered with a creamy mixture of sour cream, flour, and other goodness. Luckily, it doesn't use very much flour and I substituted the regular white flour with whole-wheat flour, which my friend Anne says has more fiber. It makes the topping darker, so it's not quite as pretty. I also halved the amount of sugar and used lite sour cream and canned peaches packed in water versus syrup. The topping is then sprinkled with a hearty helping of cinnamon. The verdict? My husband could not tell any difference taste wise. He liked it so much that only three pieces of the original eight remained in the pan this morning! 


Thursday, March 17, 2016

SPRING FEVER

Signs of the coming spring are popping up all around Ashton House as I see signs of life in my garden. This latest issue of Best of Country Gardens magazine, on newsstands only now, also gets me in a spring mood. A couple weeks ago, I found out my African violets made the cover. The miniature violets are staged in my collection of demitasses and tiny tea cups. Inside is an article that I wrote on these pretties. As always, I am happy to provide anyone who contacts me with a brochure on how to grow these enchanting houseplants.


This afternoon finds me preparing my program on Victorian sewing trade cards for my P.E.O group. I enjoy bringing out all these treasures from yesteryear, then choosing which ones to present in my slideshow. I prefer that format since they are a little hard to see otherwise given their size. I hope the ladies will enjoy the slideshow.


I also did a little organizing in my impromptu sewing nook in one of the parlors. I change out the vintage dresses on the antique dressforms with each season. I only purchase dresses that I can actually wear. To me, they are like works of art, so the dressforms are the perfect way to display a couple of them when they're not in use. The brown and pink one on the left is one of my favorites. Maybe it's because that is one of my favorite color combos.


Little Figgy (Figaro) thought he needed to help with the organizing!


When Figgy gets tired like after "helping" me with a task, he retreats to his little chair. This is a shot of him from last month. I can't imagine being comfy in this position but he was sound asleep.


Enjoy St. Paddy's day, my friends!