Sunday, April 28, 2013


Lately, Fridays have been my designated fun day of the week—a chance to relax and unwind after a busy work week. After all, I don't want my life to be all work, work, work! So when I was invited to the annual Junk Jubilee with a few friends, I eagerly accepted. Mary, Colleen, and Carolyn met at my house and we headed over to the JJ bright and early Friday morning. As usual, there were many fun booths to explore, including this one which featured framed antique quilt remnants.

We all have a passion for things with patina. While the painted finishes on these items were new, they evoked a sense of weathered charm. I loved their muted putty and French blue tones.

My favorite find was cards of vintage lace trim, which I plan to use for my papier mache doll dressings. They were only $2 a card, so how could I pass that up? 

After the Junk Jubilee, I headed over to do lunch with my good friend, Merry. I was anxious to hear how her Tai Chi classes were going. She recently received certified training to teach Tai Chi for Arthritis classes and is teaching them at the Christian Life Center at Ankeny First United Methodist Church in Ankeny! Correct me if I'm wrong, Merry, but I think that you can participate in the center's wellness programs for just $10 a month! How can you beat that?! Merry said the program is not only great for those living with arthritis but for those who have not tried Tai Chi before and want to familiarize themselves with it. The health benefits of Tai Chi include improved flexibility, coordination, and strength. For more information on Merry's Tai Chi for Arthritis class or to sign up for it, visit this page

And last but not least—here is a cute cat pic of the day. It's my kitties Poe and Teddy basking in the sunlight. I was going to move my Featherweight cord and extension cord out of the way but figured I would spook Teddy (on the left) in doing so, so I figured I should just take the shot!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Once in awhile, we all need time to daydream about the creative possibilities within our imaginations. If you're like me, when inspiration strikes, you have a handy journal to jot them down in. I thought this one had an apt title! Within it are ideas and doodles—many of which never come to fruition but nonetheless help me tap into whatever meager creativity resides within my imagination!

Isn't it funny how the most mundane of objects can help us tap into our creativity? I was making more of my pincushion tuffets today and as I looked at the simple vignette of tuffet and thread, I thought what a lovely combination of colors it would make for a doll bonnet for one of the papier mache dolls I make (You can see examples of them in my blog's right sidebar).

This prompted me to to look in my sewing box of doll millinery where I found some lovely silk velvet and equally enchanting vintage trims that echoed the color palette of the thread and tuffet. So I guess a doll bonnet will be next on my list of to-dos. If you happen to like the little mother-of-pearl sheep with the thread wrapped around her in the previous photo, I have a few left. They are $6 each plus $2 shipping.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Thank you to all those who left kind comments about my new designs in my previous post and ordered kits for my lily of the valley scissor keeper! The response to them was so much better than I could have hoped for. I sold out of my kits in the first week but should have more available in the next week or so for those of you who may still be interested in purchasing one. I don't have anything particularly interesting to write about today so I thought I'd post some photos of my blooming streps—such an ugly name for a pretty plant, don't you think? They are members of the African violet family but much easier to grow than their violet cousins.

To get a decent photo of them, I had to move them over to my washer since the backlighting was terrible where they were in front of the window. In the background, you can see a little green shelf decorated with vintage English and Dutch candy tins, miniature watering cans, and tiny baskets. They give me something pleasant to look at it when doing the laundry! Here's a close up view of the pink strep...

And here's a detail shot of the magenta one...

And last but not least—look what I found cuddled up to my quilted owl bag this morning! Yes, this is dear Poe who is on diet food. Have a good day, everyone!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


One of my favorite pastimes is finding new ways to incorporate vintage wooden spools into my designs. Inspired by my grandma's garden of old-fashioned bloomers, my lily of the valley scissor keeper and coneflower pincushion can be made with just a few scraps of wool. I'm not a huge fan of purple coneflowers, so I decided to make mine gold and burnt orange like one of my favorite varieties, 'Harvest Moon'.

This blooming duo is featured in the current issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine (Summer 2013) along with many charming designs by some of your favorite quilt designers. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already!

This month, I am selling one of my scissor keepers and coneflower pincushions on the TDIPT site (To Dwell in Primitive Times—a juried gathering of artisans with a passion for prim). This month will be our last update since TDIPT is closing its doors after a successful 6-year run. It has been a wonderful venue to share my creations the past five years and I am so grateful to the talented founders, Patty, Jan, and Susan, whose tireless dedication made TDIPT a site we could all be proud of. I found many kindred spirits among the other artists and friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime. I will continue to sell my wares as I can on this blog. 

For those of you who may be interested in making one of the lily of the valley scissor keepers, I’m also selling a small number of kits, which include the wooden spool (not necessarily vintage), wool, buttons, and black scissors pictured with them for $20 plus $6 shipping (thread not included). If you’d like to order one, just email me by clicking the “Email me” button under my blog profile. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


It's been 10 years since Better Homes and Gardens published their comprehensive quilting reference book, The Complete Guide to Quilting, but now there's a fresh, updated edition! Last year, I assisted with the copy-editing of this must-have resource, whether you're new to quilting or a seasoned quilter.

With more than 750 step-by-step color photographs, dozens of tips, and helpful troubleshooting advice, the experienced editors of American Patchwork & Quilting have assembled this handy updated edition that covers all aspects of quilting from designing blocks, cutting, and piecing to machine-quilting, binding, finishing, and more. Plus, four projects are included to help jump-start your creativity! The book sells for $39.95 and you can order a copy by calling 800/881-1327. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013


After a busy work week, I was ready to escape the office for a short outing on Friday. I spent most of the afternoon at my friend Mary's lovely shop called Mary Rose, where I was greeted by lots of new pretties like these hand-felted flower pins. If you're on the search for unique, beautifully-made gifts, look no further than her shop of delights.

These colorful small bags made in Mexico would make a wonderful gift for a friend—or yourself!

Aren't these hand-felted creatures adorable? Love that little beaver gnawing on the log!

My handmade wool owl portraits will also be available for sale there. I finished making another two of these yesterday (just like this one!)—so some of you fellow owl lovers may just be getting one of these in the near future! I gave my very first one—a pink and red owl named Valentina—to my friend Merry. It remains the one closest to my heart since she was inspired by a barn owl that I saw at the local Owl Prowl. This owl fellow looks dapper in teal and watermelon pink wool. To spiff up his portrait, I used some of my vintage turquoise buttons. 

I like to package my owl gifts in fun and fitting owl wrapping paper like this. Add a final flourish with a glittery glass woodland owl ornament and some vintage seam binding! Voila! You have a fun package that will hopefully brighten someone's day before they even open it. 

Mary sells lots of beautiful pottery, including this lovely hand-painted birdhouse.

For you fellow quilters—aren't these quilt labels fun? What a great way to label containers in your sewing room! There was also a coordinating little notepad to take along with you while on the go.

This is what the labels look like...

These little woodland labels were too cute to resist, so I had to buy a couple.

After I finished perusing the shop, we decided to catch up over some chai and delicious homemade lemon cake at the local coffee shop. Yum!

I loved the shop's pink, black, and aqua color palette! So fun and cheerful! The aqua metal chairs really popped against the black tables.

In previous posts, I've mentioned my love of vintage dressforms, so naturally this one caught my eye. They had painted it a wonderful shade of pink! Got me thinking that perhaps I should paint mine a pretty pink, too!

It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Time flies by when chatting with Mary as we have much in common. We both live in old homes and like to exchange stories of our many projects-in-progress. The project list is never-ending when you live in a 19th-century home like we do! She is one of the few people who doesn't think I'm crazy for wanting to remodel our cob-webbed attic into a cozy, little sewing haven. I could just see stitching the day or night away up there. Thank you for the support, Mary! We all need friends like you who can see past the problems to the possibilities! One last photo to brighten your day—This is a pink heart collage in the coffee shop window.

If you're looking for a fun gift or just want to be inspired by beautiful things, be sure to visit my sweet friend Mary's shop, Mary Rose, in Perry. There's no other shop like it!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


One of my favorite ways to spend a day is working wool, glorious wool. Using hand-dyed wool from my friend Max, I designed and made these pinkeeps to celebrate my love of gardening and nature. With a little bit of embroidery and a few mini buttons, they sew up in a jiffy. Strips of pinked wool cut with my scalloped pinking shears add a fanciful flourish to their edges.

Want to make one of your own? You can find them in the current issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine! This trio is featured in their June 2013 issue on newsstands now.

All images used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2013 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Top photo by Heirlooms by Ashton House.

In other woolly news, I've been having fun filling my vintage post office box unit with wool. I don't yet have all the compartments full but they're quickly getting there. The compartments are extra deep, so I can fit two pieces of wool in each compartment.

Here's a shot of the vintage compartment in case you missed it in an earlier post from last month. I got it from my friend Linda, who was moving to Omaha at the time. It took two strong guys, including my hubby, to move it to Ashton House as it ended up being about 400 pounds. At first, I was going to put it in my sewing room but then I decided to put it in one of the parlors that rarely gets used and turn part of that space into a little sewing area since it is on the main level. That way, I won't have to go upstairs all the time when I want to sew. I'll keep my main sewing machine up there but use my small 1938 vintage Singer Featherweight that I use to piece my blocks downstairs.

Since I work with wool so often, I thought it would be handy to keep some of my stash close by so I can easily retrieve it when I need it. Hopefully it will keep me better organized! If you're like me, the busier you get in the sewing room, the messier things tend to get because the ideas and fingers start flying, but I guess that's part of the creative process. Saw a quote the other day on Pinterest (below) that captures that well!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


This past Saturday, my friends MJ and Anne invited me to go with them to a local old-fashioned country store that sells organic, Amish, and other premium products such as flours, spices, sugars, cereals, candies, dried fruits, nuts, and snacks at budget-friendly prices. It's only about 10 minutes from my home. The shop also sells fresh-baked goods, produce, meats, and cheeses. While catching up over blueberry tea, coffee, and cinnamon rolls, Anne showed us her latest quilting project—these lovely potholders made with 1800s reproduction fabrics. I immediately recognized them as some of the fabric I gifted her when she first got into quilting. When a friend shows an interest in quilting, I always like to give them a bundle of fabric—or several yards, if possible—to help them catch the quilting bug! I thought Anne did a wonderful job on them, so I just had to snap this photo.

Anne, MJ, and I spent a couple hours shopping the aisles, which were filled with specialty baking supplies and grains like coconut flour, spelt, and turbinado sugar, which can be harder to find in regular grocery stores. Anne likes to use the turbinado sugar to roll cookies in or to top muffins with. She is a fabulous baker and cook, who has won many a blue ribbon with her culinary creations at the Iowa State Fair. MJ also enjoys cooking and bought a bunch of the spelt.

Here is their spice section with just about any color of sanding sugar you could imagine, including my favorite pink!

I was also amazed by their selection of baking chips and am sure I'll be heading back for more of those.

While searching for the pasta aisle to see if they had any of the kind I like to use in my romaine lettuce salad, I spotted these bags of homemade egg noodles, including a spinach version. 

Had to get a container of candy to satisfy my hubby's sweet tooth. That wasn't hard to find among their huge selection of candies ranging from pink grapefruit gummy bears to yogurt-covered raisins.

I saw lots of items that I have never seen before--like these mustard eggs. Don't think I'm adventurous enough to try that one. 

We were delighted to find seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, located right here in Iowa. It brought back memories of writing an article on saving seeds many years ago when I interviewed the owner of SSE. 

I also got a large package of golden flax seeds for only a $1.30. I had heard from my sister, who is really into healthy eating, that they are very good for you, so thought I'd give them a try. The sign near them said that they can be put into cereals and other foods such as yogurt, fruit, smoothies, and muffins. The golden kind supposedly has a nuttier flavor, so I decided to buy that one. Also found some of my favorite pasta noodles and a blueberry cheesecake mix. Yum! Before we knew it, five hours had passed and it was time to go home.  What a great way to spend a rainy Saturday morning!