Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I've been taking a little break from blogging and Pinterest, etc. as I recuperate from minor surgery earlier this month. So what have I been doing in the meantime? Not much, sadly! But I did finish binding my Schnibbles quilt. I made a quilt in this same pattern for a friend in my quilt group when we had a summer gift exchange several years back and had always wanted to make one for myself. I had all the blocks finished and just needed to put them all together.

Music has always been a therapeutic influence for me, and so I've also been trying to play my violin as often as I can. I was so excited to get the sheet music for Edward Elgar's "Salut d'amour" (Love's Greeting), which I learned he composed as an engagement present for his wife. So romantic, don't you think?! Guess I must be getting in an amorous mood with Valentine's Day approaching! It is such a pretty tune. If you're interested, you can hear a lovely rendition of it by violin extraordinaire Sarah Chang by clicking the play button on the following YouTube link in the photo or clicking here.

My mom-in-law was kind enough to spend several days with me last week while I was recuperating. Now that she and Dad have moved just around the corner from us, I see a lot more of them. I can't begin to express how much it meant to have her here. I like to stay busy and when I have to slow down for a reason beyond my control, I tend to get anxious and antsy. My mom-in-law knew just how to cheer me up. She patiently listened as I worried aloud. She spoiled me with a bag of cute owl goodies, including this little solar-powered owl that moves his head back and forth. When she wasn't here, she called me every day to see how I was doing. My dad-in-law even came one day and he emailed me the neatest electronic owl calendar, which really lifted my spirits.

My mom-in-law also loaned me her Nook so I would have something to read while resting on the sofa. The first book I read on it was The Help, which prompted me to watch the movie version that my husband had gotten me several months ago. I had never used a tablet before, so she had to give me a little guidance. I know that might sound crazy but my husband and I don't like to be tethered to technology, so we don't have things like smartphones or a fancy flat screen TV (in fact, we still have the one we got as a wedding gift more than 15 years ago). But I must say that I've fallen in love with the Nook. On the second day my mom-in-law came to stay with me, she took me to Barnes and Noble and surprised me by buying me my very own Nook HD+!

My mom-in-law even got me a charming Nook cover with The New Yorker, one of my favorite mags. I couldn't believe they had a cover with The New Yorker on it. It was perfect.

While I'm old-fashioned at heart (nothing really can ever replace the look and feel of an actual book in my opinion), I must say I have formed a strong attachment to my Nook in a very short amount of time. It's so handy to take around the house and to appointments. But most of all, I treasure the time that my mom-in-law spent with me. Time really is the most precious gift. After all, I'd gladly relinquish all the gifts in the world for a day spent with a loved one! I'm so thankful that I have a mom-in-law who gives of her time so generously. My own mom and dad will be visiting me later this week. And before I know it, I'll be back at work! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Like so many of you trying to stick with your New Year's resolutions, I've been doing my best to get 2013 off to a productive start. Some—like drinking more water—I'm having only marginal success at so far. I'm up to two glasses a day, which doesn't sound like any great accomplishment, but it's definitely progress for someone who doesn't care for the taste of it. After suffering so many kidney stones, I started drinking Crystal Light last February at the suggestion of my urologist and am now trying to make the transition to unflavored water. In other new year endeavors, I'm making much better progress! This morning I organized some of my vintage buttons, which were scattered here and there. Most of the buttons pictured below are from my maternal grandma's button tins. I've been organizing many of my buttons into fabric-covered jewelry trays. I have about three filled so far. If you have creative button storage tips, please do share! I'm always interested in storage ideas that are practical yet pretty.

These white plastic buttons make quite a statement with their array of fanciful shapes.

Vintage pearls have long been close to my heart. These pink beauties were manufactured in Muscatine, Iowa—once the pearl button capital of the world.

I did not have many brown buttons before inheriting Grandma's. I could not get a very good photo of them because they are so dark but they are really quite lovely in shades ranging from dark chocolate to caramel.

When I was home for Christmas, Mom found this old piece of fabric with a bunch of vintage buttons randomly sewn to it that once belonged to Grandma. I wonder what kind of projects Grandma made with them? If only buttons could talk!

Several years back, Mom also gave me this wonderful old pincushion that used to belong to my great aunt Tilly, who I named my very first pincushion design after. I never met Aunt Tilly. I only know her through the stories that my mother told me. Apparently, she was a meticulous seamstress and cook. Everything she did was done with exquisite detail and a humble heart. In short, she was a perfectionist. Mom told me that she had a big sun-filled yellow kitchen and loved to entertain guests with lavish meals. This pincushion has survived the passage of time in fairly good condition. It is very firm and heavy and its floral motif appears to have been hand-painted. It is very sentimental to me and holds a place of honor in my sewing room.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


In an earlier post, I wrote about researching an article on antique boxes for Victoria magazine. Some of you wanted to know when it would be published. Well, I'm delighted to tell you that the issue with the article is now out! Doesn't the cover look enticing with the beautiful teacups?

My article, entitled "The Allure of Antique Boxes", explores the history of antique boxes. It was a joy interviewing antique box collector, Barbara Ashford, proprietor of Henhouse Antiques—a treasure trove of fine antique European boxes and other furnishings in Birmingham, Alabama. I relish the articles that incorporate history as it reassures me that my history degree was not totally in vain! With my lifelong love of history, I had always intended to use my history degree to become a museum curator or archivist but somehow ended up a writer and editor. I never even pursued my dream of becoming a curator or archivist but I should not lament it too much as I have been putting my journalism degree to good use!

All of the 19th-century boxes featured in the article are examples of tea caddies and lap desks, which unfold to reveal writing slopes. Most of them came equipped with lock and key. When tea was introduced in England in the late 17th century, it was an expensive commodity and those who were wealthy enough to afford it stored the leaves in lockable tea caddies. The lady of the house often kept the caddy key on a chatelaine around her waist so that overly curious servants would not be tempted to pilfer the contents. For more insights on these versatile remnants of the past, please check out the article in the January/February issue of Victoria.

Also on newsstands is Victoria's special interest publication, Best of Bliss. I have one article (on the luxurious Fearrington House Inn in North Carolina) in this publication as well. 

Don't those heart cookies of the cover (above) look tempting? Speaking of sweets, I had to make an additional batch of SOFT strawberry candy as someone with a sweet tooth (not me!) ate all of my previous batch in one night. To those of you who emailed me questions about how the candies are formed, they are shaped by hand into strawberries. As they cure, they lose their shininess and eventually dull to a matte appearance but they remain soft. The ones I showed in my earlier post were freshly molded and thus, shinier than these that have cured for 24 hours. Hopefully, these will be it for the season! Time for us to get back to healthier eating! 
NOTE: Several of you who contacted me about the recipe are no-reply bloggers, meaning that no return email address came through with your emails. If you have requested the recipe and not yet received it, it is because you are no-reply bloggers and I have no way of returning your emails. Please email me directly at the email button under my profile pic and I will email you the recipe! 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Happy New Year's to you! With its many challenges, last year was a tough year for many of us and I hope that this year will bring better days for all. And here's some glad tidings for my fellow prim quilting lovers! The latest issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine will soon be arriving in your mailboxes if you subscribe. It was a treat editing the spring issue, which is bursting with fresh ideas for quilts, table mats, and much more. That's Cheryl Wall's quilt on our cover. This issue also features the first of two year-long projects—a captivating medallion-style quilt by Dawn Heese and a series of seasonal quilts by Laural Arestad—which will be published in each of our 2013 issues. I would like to take a moment to thank our team of dedicated pattern testers, who reviews each project for technical accuracy.

You'll also notice a fresh design within our pages as shown in this opening spread for a mini hexagon masterpiece designed by the talented design duo of Yellow Creek Quilt Designs. If you aren't a subscriber, be sure to check us out on newsstands this month!

After wrapping up the spring issue of the magazine last week, I made the last batch of my holiday goodies. My mom has been making this strawberry candy ever since I was a little girl. Several years ago, I got her recipe and started making it myself. 

This past Sunday, my husband and I enjoyed our last holiday gathering—a visit from my sister. She brought her dog, Tilly, and Mildred, the sweet elderly blue heeler that she is fostering until she can find her a permanent home. Thank goodness my sister found her when she did. Mildred was going to be euthanized the day that she visited the shelter where Mildred was staying. The shelter was able to locate Mildred's owner, who had her for 11 years but no longer wanted her after experiencing complications with her pregnancy. After meeting Mildred, my husband and I fell in love with her. She has a calm, gentle disposition, however she would be best placed in a home without cats (We have two!) as she likes them so much she rather bugs them. She does get along great with other dogs. It was very hard to capture a photo of her because she does not like photos! Mildred is still available for adoption, so if you know of anyone in the Twin Cities area who might be interested in giving her home, please contact me at the email button under my profile pic and I'd be glad to put you in touch with my sister.

I don't want Tilly to feel left out, so I must share a photo of her, too. My sister said that Tilly has been very lonely since the recent loss of her brother, Albert, a beautiful Bernese Mountain dog. Having a new temporary companion in Mildred has cheered her up.

Did you all have a happy holiday? I hope so. We spent the holidays with my family and then had our own little holiday celebration later that week. With doubts that Congress would avoid the fiscal cliff, dear hubby and I decided to keep things very simple this year for Christmas. So I was especially touched by this sweet gift that he gave me. It's a vintage owl illustration book! Perfect for the owl lover in me. 

He also surprised me with these fun accessories by Cath Kidston—just one of my many loves for all things English. I was so surprised that he remembered that I liked CK stuff. I think he normally checks out my Pinterest page wish list for gift ideas but this time, he went out on a limb. The little case in the center of the pic below contains owl magnets. The eyeglass case will come in handy for my new glasses, and who can't use a cheerful keychain? I will also put the handy owl scissor holder and floral tape measure to good use with my many sewing projects. 

He also gave me this cute Cath Kidston squirrel pincushion.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that 2013 brings much happiness, good health, and fulfilled dreams!