Thursday, March 29, 2012


I was going to share another one of my vintage doll beds with you today but when I went to retrieve it from a spare bedroom, this was what I found on it. My old cat, Teddy, was taking one of his many cat naps, and it didn't look like he wanted to relinquish "his" bed any time soon. So my photo will have to wait for another day. I'm not sure why he likes these beds so much. He barely fits on them! I don't know if you can see the little mattress very well under all that fur!? A few years ago, my mom made me mattresses of ticking for nearly all my doll beds. Apparently, they must be comfy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


For the past 10 years, I've presented a program on Hitty, a 19th-century wooden doll and the subject of a 1929 children's novel that won the Newbery Medal literary award, to local groups. I'm preparing for another program next week. I bring along my own Hitty doll made by Gail Wilson. Tuesday morning, I started working on a simple quilt kit (pictured below) that Gail sold for Hitty, who is just 6 inches tall. It's not yet done but Hitty wanted to hold on to it in the meantime! The chair that Hitty is sitting on and the little spool rack sitting at the base of the chair were also kits by Gail that I put together several years ago.

After working on Hitty's quilt yesterday morning, I headed over to meet my friends, Belinda and Merry, for lunch at our local Mimi's Cafe. I've had a rough few weeks and our lunch was just what I needed to lift my spirits. Good friends are the best medicine, after all! Belinda, a cross stitch designer (Blue Ribbon Designs), had recently been in Nashville for the annual needlework market and brought me back this darling pink owl figurine she named "Pinkie". What a hoot!

Belinda also made Merry and me these fun collapsible cocktail napkin holders stuffed with treats for Easter. She always wraps things so prettily in cellophane and brightly-colored tulle.

Take a close look at the fabric. She picked the purr-fect print for me, being the owner of two very spoiled kitties. I love the inner coordinating print she chose, too. This will look perfect in my pink and green dining room.

Merry brought me farm-fresh eggs from the food co-op, where she volunteers. It's such a treat to get these tasty eggs.

She also treated me to this breadboard, Japanese organic tea, and a jar of her homemade lemon-flavored salt. I hear the latter is great on grilled asparagus.

Before we knew it, our luncheon was over and it was time to head home. What a wonderful diversion with two of my favorite people. Now it's back to work on some quilt and kitchen articles! I wish you all a wonderful day!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Saturday is usually my favorite day of the week but this one has been extra fun, thanks to my dear hubby, who took me on a road trip. We rose bright and early this morning to see an African violet show, where we oohed and ahhed over the beautiful blooms of the show plants. WARNING: This is a long-winded post but please stick with it as there's an interesting sewing-related item at the end.

The show was held in a greenhouse, so we had a chance to browse some of the other beautiful blooming plants, such as these lovely lady-slipper orchids—one of my favorite houseplants...

...and these showy tulips with intriguing leaves.

I couldn't help but notice these quirky brightly-colored garden books by Amy Stewart. The one on the left is entitled Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napolean's Army & Other Diabolical Insects and the right one is Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities. I always find it interesting to learn little-known facts like the ones in these books!

After the show, it was on to a fabric store where I found this cheery quilted fabric in my favorite color. Its reverse side is equally cute.

On our way home, we stopped by some antiques shops. I thought this antique cupboard would look nice in my bathroom (remember, I was talking about remodeling it in a previous post), but unfortunately, the price wasn't in my budget. 

In another shop, I spotted a fun grouping of vintage mini sad irons. Didn't need any since I already have a few but how sweet they are. 

I am a sucker for vintage frames! For some reason, they (and lamps) are my biggest weaknesses. While I was tempted to buy this beautiful frame, it wasn't in my price range. I'm not really drawn to what's inside the frame as much as the frame itself.

I've been looking for a pink feather tree and found one today! Best yet, it was marked down from $44 to $18! This is actually a very good price for these trees. It is decorated with little green nests filled with eggs.

This vintage tub planted with pansies just outside the garden shop made me smile.

Then it was on to one of my favorite quilt shops, Prairie Star Quilts. In a previous post, I mentioned that the owner, Julie, is retiring. The shop has been holding a retirement sale for the past several weeks. Everything in the shop (with some exceptions) is marked down 40 percent, so be sure to check it out before the sale wraps up next month. There are still many beautiful 1800s reproduction prints to pick from but the shelves are getting bare fast! I am really going to miss Julie, her dedicated staff, and the incredibly inspiring shop she created. I'm still crossing my fingers a buyer can be found to carry on the Prairie Star tradition. 

While there, I couldn't help but to indulge in some fabric. Most of these are 1800s repros (from left: Windham Colonies Chrome, Jo Morton, Nancy Gere Old Glory, Riley Blake Daisy Cottage, Moda Rural Jardin, and Windham True Madder).

My favorite of the bunch is the one in the middle. I've been buying little bits of it over the past year but this time, I bought the rest of the bolt! 

I love the eagle medallion in it.

In addition to the inventory, Julie is also selling many of her store fixtures, including some antiques and vintage sewing machines. Here are some of the beauties that were for sale.

My most special purchase of the day was this vintage So-e-ze sewing machine. It will be a nice reminder of Julie and her shop. Can you tell I'm sort of a sentimentalist at heart? I owe so much to this shop for sparking my interest in quilting. The first time I stepped inside the doors 13 years ago, I thought I was in heaven! I wanted to buy every kit in sight. Back then, I didn't yet have a fabric stash, so I was so grateful for the kits. I knew I could never go wrong with the kits as Julie and her staff have such a wonderful eye for color and pattern.

I love the floral decals on this charming machine. My photos don't do them justice. There's a hint of my favorite shade of pink among the graceful leaves. So now I'm one step closer to my goal in my continuing quest to find a vintage sewing machine for every room in my home. This one will go in one of my spare bedrooms. It will share the space with my vintage Featherweight, which has resided there the past 8 years. I anyone knows any history about this machine, please contact me. I think it might actually be a New Home machine. 

As you can see from these photos, I had a fun-filled day. Usually, I feel guilty for indulging in such days but this time, I relished it to the full extent as I've had a rough few weeks. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend as well.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


It hardly seems possible that I've wrapped up editing another issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine. During the past few months, we've been working hard to bring you another inspiration-packed issue. And soon the summer issue will be here! Quilt designer Laural Arestad's captivating wall hanging graces our cover.

This is a special issue for us as it marks our first anniversary, and we're celebrating with a treasure trove of summer-fresh projects, including a yummy Farmer's Market tote and appliqué and scrappy quilts of all sizes. Wool lovers will delight in our sweet berry sewing clutch, folk art wall pocket, patriotic wall hanging, and more! We're also debuting our new quilt book feature, "Book Nook". If you know of a book that might interest your fellow primitive quilt lovers, email me at the email button on the right-hand sidebar of my blog. I'd love to hear about it. I hope you'll check out our summer issue, on newsstands next month, or sign up to subscribe here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This morning I was doing some editing work at Meredith Corporation (home of magazines such as American Patchwork and Quilting and Better Homes and Gardens) and picked up this special quilting publication called All Small. It's packed with 20 favorite small projects from the editors of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine.

As a quilter, I love the small stuff. After all, doll quilts are my favorite projects to make. So naturally my eye was drawn to this classic little table topper by Quilts Remembered. It features reproduction fabrics from Windham Fabrics' Alexandra collection.

There are lots of other charming projects, including wall hangings, baby quilts, a needle keeper, and a fabric banner. I can think of all sorts of uses for these sweet little treat bags. If you haven't seen the magazine yet, be sure to check it out on your local newsstand.

When I got home from Meredith Corp., I noticed a nice package from Aurifil on my doorstep! Inside of it was more of their beautiful Lana wool thread, which I will soon put to good use on a project that has been in the works for awhile now. To read more about this dreamy thread, go here. Once you use it, you won't be able to stop!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I am one of the many quilters who are crazy about owls. I spent part of National Quilting Day yesterday sorting some of my fabric and didn't realize how many owl prints were in my stash. I hate to sound like I'm not selective; I really am. I don't just buy every owl print out there. They do have to speak to me. These little guys say playful and whimsical.

Dressed in watermelon and lime hues, these flirty owls would make the cutest curtains for my sewing room.

This print is also a good candidate for window treatments, or perhaps a ribboned pinboard? The possibilities are really endless.

I have this fabric in three different colorways I liked it so much!

You might have seen this owl print in an earlier post.

I love owls so much that even my husband will surprise me with something owl-related once in awhile, like this adorable Valentine's Day pop-up card. 

For whatever reason, owls make me smile, and that's a good enough reason to add another owl print to my stash! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012


With this winter's unseasonably warm temps, the garden is greening up earlier than usual. We have several garden areas at Ashton House but my favorite is the arbor garden, which my husband and I planted shortly after arriving at Ashton House. We chose a location for it just off the house because both the kitchen and dining room enjoy a view of it. I took this photo of my arbor garden just before it was shot for Country Gardens magazine a few years ago. The arbor was brand new at the time, so the clematis had not yet had time to establish itself. That's why the magazine brought in these beautiful potted rose topiaries.

The arbor garden is a small, intimate enclave that envelops our home's silhouette. To save money, we installed all the brick-lined beds, plants, and pea gravel ourselves. Considering this area started as a bland patch of lawn, it has filled in nicely. Since this photo was taken, the 'Green Velvet' boxwood has formed a lush hedge. We chose that variety because it performs well in our Midwestern climate. It's a cross between the gorgeous English boxwood and the hardier Korean boxwood.

Most of the plants in the arbor garden are herbs and perennials but we mix a few annuals in for visual impact. This old-fashioned stock reminds me of my grandma's garden. You might have noticed some rose foliage mingling with it; we plant very tightly to discourage weeds.

We usually mulch with a simple layer of black compost, but for the shoot, we mulched with cocoa hulls for their texture and color. When it's freshly applied, it has a wonderful chocolatey aroma. However, you should not use it if you have dogs because it is harmful to their gastrointestinal systems.

There is a quilt-related connection to this story. A few years ago, a quilt book used the arbor garden as a backdrop for some of their photography. The photo team brought in this lovely quilt and props. Unfortunately, I didn't shoot this photo at a good time. It was afternoon and that's a bad time to shoot outdoor photos unless it's an overcast day. All the professional photographers I've worked with say the best time to shoot a garden is early morning before the sun's garish rays overpower it. I've learned a lot from them over the years. They all say that the key to good photos is NOT using a flash. Who knew?! Now I never use the flash when taking my photos! Hope you enjoyed this little garden tour.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


One of my favorite afternoon diversions is visiting my friend Mary's shop. She and I met in china painting class eight years ago. We are kindred spirits in our love of art, antiques, and preserving the past. Mary is a true artist with a talent for painting, stained glass, and much more. In 2006, she and her husband renovated a vintage brick building into a homey haven for art, antiques, and decorative accessories. Mary supports other local artists by selling their work, including these finely crafted lamps and the framed artwork.

The shop is filled with several lovely paintings, such as this fun button one (I forgot to see which artist painted this one). I am fortunate to own some of Mary's original paintings, including a lovely poppy portrait. She also paints wonderful pastoral scenes of sheep. Those who know me well know that I love sheep. Remember the photo of Yoda, the Lincoln sheep, that I took while at last year's Sheep and Wool festival? If you're interested, you can see him here.

Mary has a keen eye for antiques. Many of her display pieces are antiques with a weathered patina. She found this amazing old hutch in an old barn. I love its chippy finish. Now it holds Danish accents.

A local woman crafts these cute spring baskets filled with bunnies and little handpainted accents. They make wonderful gifts for Easter or anytime of year, really.

These artful letterpress cards come in all sorts of fun themes. Love that owl! Mary also sells owl pincushions and pillows.

This old hutch makes a charming stage for vintage blue and white china—always a classic color combo.

Mary also carries an enchanting array of April Cornell linens. I like to drape the dish towels over my farmhouse-style sink and change them out with the seasons.

Want something warm to slip your feet into during the winter months? These woolly slippers will certainly do the trick!

It's often hard to find truly unique baby gifts but Mary has a bunch of them—all handcrafted like these sweet knitted caps and hand-dyed shirts. She also has a great selection of baby blankets, bibs, and little hats made of handkerchiefs (I didn't get a photo of those because they were all sold out at the time). In addition to her many other talents, Mary smocks and made several little smocked dresses for summer. I wanted to get a photo of those but they were all gone.

Hopefully these photos tell the story of why this is one of my favorite places to go. There is always something new to see!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


My church holds a few rummage sales throughout the year, and yesterday was the first one. So I stopped by and found a few goodies to bring home. I spent all of $8 on these finds. I am obsessed with owls, so I couldn't pass up this $1 vintage owl linen calendar—with my birth year of all things! It must have been kismet! The colors are kind of bright but I thought the owls were so cute. For privacy purposes, I have hidden the year under the blue card.

Then I happened upon a small bag of vintage buttons. They fit my budget of no more than 50 cents per card—in fact, they were even better than that! The whole bag was $2 and had several original cards of vintage baby pearl buttons! These usually run $2-$5 per card, so I was thrilled to find such a good bargain. I'm only keeping the baby pearls and the little girl-face buttons, so the others are free for the taking. UPDATE: THE BUTTONS HAVE BEEN SPOKEN FOR!

Our older church ladies always bring in some interesting finds. I met the lady who was selling these two medium-size jars of vintage buttons for $2 each. How could I pass those up?

And lastly, this little $1 book on antique corsets caught my eye. Thought it might come in handy for my dollmaking. I enjoy studying period clothing, especially that of the 18th and 19th centuries.

What fun it was sifting through other's people's trash! After the rummage sale, I decided to visit my friend Mary's enchanting shop in a nearby town. We met in china painting class several years ago and have been good friends since then. I'll share some photos of her wonderful shop in my next post.