Sunday, June 23, 2013


It's too hot to work out in the garden this afternoon, so I decided it would be a good time to catch up on some quilt shop sample orders for my pincushion designs. I made these Oliver the Owl and Love Bug pincushions for one of the shops. Each is made of 100 percent hand-dyed wool. I enjoy combining different color combos for the owl. His little pocket of wool "pennies" can easily hold a pair of embroidery scissors or other notions. In a future post, I'll tell you more about the treadle sewing machine behind them.

Yesterday afternoon, I found this gray unfelted wool at a yard sale—nearly 2 yards worth! It will work great for making more pink-and-gray Love Bugs. Also found this vintage trivet for 75 cents. I do have a creative plan in mind for it. More on that later...

It turns out I'm not the only one in our household who loves wool. Our dear cat, Teddy, has always had a fondness for the stuff. I frequently find the wool pincushions from my upstairs sewing room in his basket of toys and scattered throughout the rooms on our main living area! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


A few months ago, Australian Homespun magazine contacted me about featuring my spool bird pincushions. Blogging buddy Christine of MacDonald's Patch in Australia was kind enough to write me that she saw them in the current issue. And then a few short days later, I received my copies! I noticed they had redesigned the magazine. I like the new look of it.

And here is the page they devoted to my spool birds. I was thinking the photo would be rather small, so I was delighted to see they'd made it a full page! And whoever wrote the copy did a nice job.

The issue is on newsstands now! If you're interested in purchasing the pattern for these feathered friends, email me. I list all my available patterns on the left-hand side of my blog. While I'm on the subject of patterns—I've gotten several inquiries about my Sitting Pretty chair pincushion and it is no longer available for free on the Riley Blake site. You can purchase it from quilt shops or on this blog.

Monday, June 17, 2013


In anticipation of flea market season, last month I bought an ordinary metal collapsible cart like the kind that people love to take along to outdoor markets, etc. I snagged it at a garage sale for only $5 and figured I could spiff it up with a fresh coat of spray paint in guess what color? Pink, of course! I also added a fun fabric liner made with vintage and new linens, including an embroidered dresser scarf that creates a pocket in the interior. So with a little effort, my cart went from this...

To this...

Perfect for a pink lover like me, don't you think?! I got a chance to give it a workout at the annual Walnut Antiques Walk last week. We've had so much rain here in central Iowa that I was afraid we wouldn't be able to go. And sure enough, shortly after we stepped outside the truck, it started to sprinkle. Luckily, the rain only lasted 30 minutes and it was cool and clear for the rest of our stay. The foreboding skies didn't seem to keep the crowd away. We ran into several people we knew, including blogging buddy, Brenda, of the Farmer's Dotter. One of the first things I spotted was this fun vintage metal recipe box in my favorite colors and a vintage tea towel—both of which I had to get. 

The best part about the box was that it was filled with some lady's recipes. I've already found a few I'd like to try!

Then I spotted this vintage breadbox in another one of my favorite color palettes—pink and gray. The dealer gave us a great deal on it, so it did go home with me. I love the fact that it WASN'T perfect. I already have a project in mind for it.

Another favorite find was this pink vintage toy piano, which I couldn't resist adding to my toy piano collection. Are you starting to detect a color theme here?

I spotted several vintage crocheted potholders similar to the collection I inherited from my mom-in-law. Have you noticed that little vintage suitcases have become quite popular? 

I didn't see many antique quilts this time. Over the years, I've purchased several quilts in Walnut, some costing as little as $65 but it's not the best place to find antique quilts for a bargain.

One of my favorite dealers had an alluring assortment of antique doorstops. They cost a pretty penny, though, so I decided to admire them rather than buy them!

She also had this sweet little sewing basket. Its satin tufted interior was pristine.

This antique sewing needle display also caught my eye.

One booth had lots of fun vintage sewing items, including this weathered sewing box...

...and this child's sewing machine...

Wooden bobbins were quite plentiful at the show. 

I fell in love with this darling antique horse pulltoy, but his $135 price tag didn't fit my budget.

I also have a fondness for primitive spice chests, antique books with pretty covers, and old mantels (see below three photos).

I could envision this neat antique store counter in a quilt shop.

Before I knew it, it was time to go home. I missed stopping by Prairie Star Quilts in Elk Horn on my way back like I usually do. Julie and her staff were always so warm and helpful. On Sunday, my husband and I visited his parents and enjoyed a nice seafood dinner with them. I also called my dad to wish him a very happy Father's Day. My dad might not have known all the answers to life's many questions like my mom seemed to, but he was always there to lend a helping hand. He bought the weekly groceries (my mom dislikes grocery shopping and cooking), surprised us with root beer floats, taught us how to make chocolate chip cookies, and made the most delicious pot roast and meatloaf.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Thank you to those of you who left such sweet comments on my previous post about my grandma's birthday celebration. She and her twin sister had a nice birthday. She so enjoyed hearing all of your kind birthday wishes. As I've mentioned in earlier blog posts, my grandma and I share a love of gardening. Early June finds mine at its peak as more than 65 roses unveil their flowering splendor. After that, it isn't much worth seeing. Growing roses can be a challenge in our Midwestern climate but these Knockout roses (pictured below) flourish here. We planted this one several years ago for a magazine photo shoot of our porch.

I have always loved pink, so most of my roses are that color but I also have some apricot, white, and yellow flowering beauties. We added this bed of blooms in front of the porch the spring after we moved into Ashton House.  

Here's another view of the front bed. The roses mingle beautifully with two large green globes of  Canadian boxwood, which anchor one of the porch entrances.

Last year, we suffered a terrible drought and I was worried things might not come back. What a pleasant surprise it was to see that not only had they returned but volunteer plantings had decided to grace our gardens. I found this sweet lamb's ear growing between the cracks in our sidewalk that leads to our porch. When Mother Nature gifts you with such treasures, it's always nice to pass some along to friends and family. This clump will soon be on its way to a neighbor's garden. I have several others that sprouted up just outside the front bed. Many years ago while researching an article on garden designer Gertrude Jekyll's Munstead Wood home garden, I discovered the allure of silvery plants. Jekyll wrote that they added a "magical touch" to the garden and I must agree!

I've long admired the exuberant rose beds that beautify English gardens. My humble garden of roses is an ode to England. I wish they grew as well as roses do in England! I grow several English David Austen roses, including this dazzling 'Abraham Darby'.

Our garden is also home to Rugosa roses, some of the hardiest roses available. They aren't the prettiest but they are sure tough. I found this guy on an end-of-season sales bin for $2 one year and I honestly didn't have the room to plant him at the time, so I'm ashamed to say I threw him in a shady bed even though roses prefer sun. He doesn't seem to mind as he blooms regularly in the shade.

In the fall, he produces the most marvelous red hips, which can be used in jams, jellies, soups, bread, and pies—among other goodies.

In the arbor garden, we added a metal rose pillar to soften a corner and planted the climbing rose that my friend Luke gave to us last year. I love its pink color and can hardly wait to observe its ascent up the pillar. You can see a hint of its hot pink blooms in this photo.

Want a charming companion for roses? Try the drumstick flowering alliums. These statuesque growers stand 4 feet tall and put on a quite a show in the spring garden. I grow four different varieties that bloom in succession. I even have a dwarf white-flowering variety that stands just 8 inches tall.

Most of my garden flowers are pink but I also have a fair amount of purple because I think that color complements the pinks. One of my most cherished plants is this Siberian iris that hails from my grandpa's garden. Its foilage is very slender. The larger foliage you see in the photo below is actually Japanese anemone. I underplant a lot of the bulbs with perennials, which disguise their unsightly foliage after they fade. 

Birds and cats flock to my birdbath fountain—not a good combination, I know! Hopefully they won't flock there at the same time!

Being an owl lover, I can't close this post without a pic of one of these feathered friends—a rusty owl pick nestled amid roses, coral bells, and iris. Isn't he cute? 

Thursday, June 6, 2013


In previous posts, I have shared photos of my grandma and her many Project Linus quilts. Well, she's celebrating a birthday this week and I can't wait to see her soon. I'm pleased to report that she shows no signs of slowing down. Not even surgery for carpal tunnel could keep her away from her quilting for very long. Shortly after the surgery, she managed to finish another 60 quilts! Here she is at her trusty sewing machine that she loves to use.

Last I saw her, her Project Linus quilts had taken over a spare bedroom. Several are ready to ship out in the large boxes that you see in the photo.

I was delighted to see that several of the African violet cuttings I'd given her awhile back were flourishing! She has a wonderful window to grow them in. They seem to love it there.

June is also a celebration month for my husband and I with our wedding anniversary. We got married in the beautiful old church that I attended while I was going to college. Whether or not June is a celebration month for you, I hope you are enjoying it!