Wednesday, May 29, 2013

CROCHETED CHARM


Over the holiday weekend, we visited my parents-in-law, and I was pleasantly surprised when my mom-in-law gave me her collection of vintage crocheted potholders! She has been collecting these little treasures for several years and found most of them at flea markets for just a dollar or two each. Aren’t they darling?


I especially got a kick out of the little pink and cream and aqua and cream vests! Just my colors!


Not to digress, but I found this saying on Pinterest about pink and think it is very true! I'm drawn to pink because it makes me feel happy, hopeful, and energetic. Just seeing this uplifting hue can change my mood! I pinned it to my Pinterest board dedicated to all things pink!


This little boy’s outfit was also sweet. As you can see from these photos, my mom-in-law had quite the collection of them. It’s fun receiving an instant collection like this! I feel very fortunate have such a generous mom-in-law. 


We were both curious to know what this particular potholder was used for. It has a little hanger that allows it to hang down like this. If you happen to know, please email me at the email button under my blog profile photo as we’d love to solve the mystery!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

COZY NEW INSPIRATIONS FOR WOOL AND COTTON QUILTS

Thank you to my kind blogging friends who left comments on my previous post about Sunday's scary weather at Ashton House (including a too-close-for-comfort tornado). It's so nice of you to take the time to write. I really do appreciate your kindness. Now on to today's news...

As most of you know, I'm a huge wool fan. So when Tara Darr told me what the topic of her next book would be, I couldn't have been more thrilled (I'm her book editor, by the way)! Her new book, which will be released in July (we're still putting the final touches on it), is all about wool appliqué and cotton patchwork quilts—a charming combo, indeed. The cover quilt, called Star Play, is a delightful example. I love the way Tara accented the wool star blocks with a colorful piano-key border of cotton prints. We chose this particular quilt for the cover because it really pops with its rainbow of hues. We hope our customers will agree!


In the book, Tara shows you how to spice up your quilts with a cozy mix of wool hexagons, stars, blooms, and much more. The designs are a great way to put your scrap basket of cotton and wool fabrics to use! Whether you love the classic charm of the Rose of Sharon block, the delightful whimsy of Dresden Plates, or the twinkling splendor of Texas Stars, you'll find the perfect project in this medley of 11 small scrappy projects. Yes, all of the quilts are delightfully small! The book not only contains projects but a handy wool appliqué primer covering all the basics you'll need to create beautiful wool-on-cotton quilts. I regularly receive emails from blog readers with questions about working with wool. This section should be a terrific resource for those of you who are interested in working with this wondrous fiber. Be sure to watch for this fun new book coming soon to a quilt shop near you! I can't share more photos than this at this point, but soon enough you'll be able to see all of them if you get the book!


After posting about the darker side of Mother Nature earlier this week, I wanted to end this post with a photo of her brighter side. My parents-in-law sent me this photo of a rainbow that emerged after the storm just outside their townhouse. Their house backs to a nice little pond. They recently donated the money to add the fountain spray pictured in the center of the pond. And here's the sweet sidenote to this story: The fountain was donated in memory of their dads, and they like to think that the rainbow was their dads' way to telling them they liked the fountain!

Monday, May 20, 2013

THE DARKER SIDE OF MOTHER NATURE

Since this blog serves as my electronic journal of sorts, I am recording the first major storm of the season here. Just as my husband and I sat down last evening to enjoy a dinner of sautéed morel mushrooms, we heard the town's tornado sirens blare. In a matter of minutes, everything turned dark outside and the sky had a slight greenish cast to it. The phone rang and it was my dad calling to tell us to take shelter in the basement as a tornado had been spotted on the southern edge of town. So we quickly gathered the cats and put them in the basement. Dime-size hail started pelting against our 6-foot tall windows—a sickening sound as I thought how much it would cost to replace them. I know that's what insurance is for, but it was still sickening. And then I realized if the hail were to break the windows, all my violets, which were sitting next to them, would be lost. So I started gathering all of my violets and brought them into an interior room. Before I could finish gathering them all, the storm had passed as quickly as it arrived. Afterward, we surveyed the damage. An inch-thick layer of hail (some as large as a quarter in diameter) covered my arbor garden and most all the plants were bedraggled. The plants in the below photo are tansy, which look like delightful miniature ferns—when they haven't been tormented by an onslaught of hail.




In the backyard, I noticed one of the vintage metal garden chairs that my friend Linda had given me had been tossed about. We also had several broken tree limbs but not as bad as some. Our poor neighbor had a limb that fell on his garage. Even the door to our root cellar had been tossed aside, and our neighbor's shed door was ripped off.


I was thankful the storm had passed without anyone getting harmed. When we get these kinds of monster storms, I can't help but wonder if we'll have a home after they're done, but then I remember that our old home has stood for more than 125 years and I'm sure it's weathered some horrific storms in its long history. Thankfully, it's still standing, and I hope it will for many more years to come. Needless to say, I did not get to enjoy my morels last night but we'll try again tonight! More are soaking in water in preparation for our feast as I write this!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

After a few days out out of the office this past week/weekend, I'm getting back in the swing of things and catching up on a bit of work this afternoon, but I did manage to sneak in a couple hours of yard work, including getting the birdbath fountain cleaned out and ready to go for another year. Things don't yet look like they do in this photo from a previous year. The roses are looking great, though, and I bought a couple geraniums for my windowsill. I am not planning to buy much this year as I already have so many perennials. For annuals, I usually only buy geraniums, and I start my own zinnias.


There are few things I love more than roses with perhaps the exception of morel mushrooms. This has been a pretty good year for them, and my husband and his dad have enjoyed hunting them. Last week, they found several more pounds of them! I bagged them up in gallon plastic storage bags and refrigerated them to keep them as fresh as possible until we can eat them. So you can guess what we'll be having for dinner tonight! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

TREASURE HUNT

It is once again that glorious time of year when those wonderful mushrooms known as morels make their appearance. Due to a cold snap last week, they are a little later than normal. Here is a photo of them from one of my past posts.


My husband and his dad decided to hunt for morels yesterday. I was so excited when my husband emailed a photo of their first find of the day from his cell phone...


What a treat it was when he arrived home with several morels. This is just a handful of them but they found more than this—enough for a few meals!


Speaking of meals, I prepared some of them last night. First, I had to soak them in salt water to remove all the little bugs that come along with them. Then I prepared them in my usual fashion and enjoyed a savory late-night meal. You can read more about how I prepare them in this previous post. They are my favorite food in the world.  


After a blissful evening of eating morels, I got a good night's rest and headed out early this morning to do some thrifting in a neighboring town after reading this garage sale advertisement. It seemed promising!


Indeed, the sale had all those items and more. The best stuff was in the garage.


It was well worth my short trip over. I found several treasures, including several vintage candlestick bases to use for pincushion make-dos. Also found one of those metal carts that people like to take to flea markets to carry their finds around. I plan to spray-paint it and sew an interior fabric bag for it like I've seen done in the magazines. Here are some of my other finds from the sale—a big vintage wooden bobbin and six smaller ones for $4, a vintage wooden photo paper cutter for $4 (I collect these—they are smaller than normal paper cutters, only about 9–10" in width), and a little set of vintage Blue Willow demitasse cups and saucers for $5.


The sweet little vintage 6" ruler gives you a good idea of the paper cutter's size. Oh, and the paper cutter works great! I have five of these vintage photo paper cutters and like to use them for my papercrafting. 


I even found this sweet little doll sofa for a song! Here you can see Poe and Teddy checking it out. Sorry, Poe, I don't think you'll fit on it!


When I visit small towns like this, I like to drive by their old homes. On my way back home, I snapped a photo of this Victorian brick beauty with the kind of metal roof cresting I hope to one day install on our 1885 Victorian. Legend has it that this house is haunted.


Well, that's all for today! If you haven't had a chance to stop by my last post to see my latest quilt book editing project for Yellow Creek Quilt Designs, I hope you'll take a look. For fans of traditional quilting and 1800s reproductions fabrics, it promises to be a great addition to your quilt book library!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

KINDRED SPIRITS IN QUILTING

For the past several months, I have been editing two terrific quilt books—the first of which I'd like to introduce you to today. We are thrilled to have sisters Jill Shaulis and Vicki Olsen writing their first book for us. Since 1992, they've shared their passion for traditional quilts through their quilt shop and pattern business, Yellow Creek Quilt Designs, known for its warm 1800s reproduction prints and wool. Now they celebrate their mutual love of these classic quilts in their new book, aptly titled Kindred Spirits: Celebrating Pieces of the Past. That's a childhood photo of the two on the cover below!


As you can see from the cover, Jill and Vicki love working with 1800s reproduction prints and weave them into their quilts beautifully. The cover features two quilts from the book, which contains 13 cozy projects ranging from bed-size quilts and wall hangings to table runners and framed art. In an earlier post, I wrote about the photo shoot for the book, which took place in a grand old home in Kansas City. You can read more about it here. During the photo shoot, Jill spoiled us with homemade Valentine cookies (the shoot took place in February). I seem to be getting spoiled a lot lately—One of my other quilt authors sent me a sweet care package of fabric and other delights as a thank you for editing her book. Then the owner of one of the Quilt Sampler quilt shops that I wrote about sent me one of their wonderful signature cookie-scented candles and Chocolate Mousse Martini Mix! Here's a pic I snapped of the dynamic duo during our Kansas City photo shoot in February.


Jill and Vicki's book will be out in July and I hope you will watch for it in your favorite quilt shop! In a future post, I'll spotlight my other quilt book editing project—Tara Lynn Darr's second book with us. It was a treat getting to work with Tara again after her first book with us. If you love mixing wool appliqué with cotton patchwork, you'll want to check it out! Tara has combined her love of the two in a new collection of cozy quilts that are sure to warm your heart.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

MAGICAL MINIATURE GARDENS

This morning, my mom-in-law are going to a fairy garden class. A few weeks ago, we stopped by a greenhouse to get some garden inspiration and noticed a spectacular fairy garden display that stands about 3 feet tall...


Beautifully landscaped in miniature plants and dainty garden accents, it was the grandest fairy garden display I had seen.


I loved the little cottages that looked like something out of a storybook, and I thought it was neat how the designer used colored pebbles to create the look of a winding stream.


Over this weekend, I found this little serene-looking stone lion—one of a series of Zen creatures designed for dish gardens. He is only 3 inches in height and I think he would make a great addition to my fairy garden. According to his tag, he symbolizes courage—a quality that definitely comes in handy when navigating life! This little fellow reminds me of Aslan, the lion in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—one of my favorite childhood books from the Chronicles of Narnia. It brings to mind memories of my sister and I when we were young, searching the back of the wardrobe in our bedroom for some magical kingdom just like the children in the book.


While at the garden center a few weeks ago, I saw these adorable owl garden picks made of metal and stone—perfect for the owl lover who has everything! I brought one home and put him in the boxwood garden.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

QUILT SAMPLER MAGAZINE ARTICLES

Have you seen the latest issue of Quilt Sampler magazine yet? I was extra excited about this issue since I had the opportunity to write three profiles for it!


What a treat it was to interview Melanie Simpson, co-owner of Front Porch Quilt Shoppe in Ozark, Alabama. Nestled in an idyllic 1888 Victorian home, her shop is the epitome of Southern hospitality. One of the things that most impressed me is that she relies on a staff of kind-hearted volunteers rather than employees!


I also enjoyed interviewing Susan Shute, owner of The Quilting Quarters in Almonte, Ontario, an old textile mill town. Her shop building was once the town pharmacy and many of her customers can still remember enjoying a root beer float at its soda fountain. Today, however, it's fabric and shop samples that whet their creative appetites.


Through blogging, I've been able to meet so many talented quilters from Arizona, so it was a treat to find out more about one of their area shops, The Quilt Basket of Tucson. Owner Lena Tsuruda encourages quilters to think outside the box with unexpected fabric offerings such as douppioni silk, silk Matka, and linen solids and prints.


If you haven't already seen this inspiring issue, I hope you'll check it out to find out more about these three amazing shops plus many others! 

As the weekend comes to a close, I've been pondering what to do with my latest vintage finds from yesterday. I was planning to go to my first flea market of the season on Saturday but a rainy forecast put a damper on those plans, so the hubby and I decided to do some antiquing instead. Found a few more trims to add to my collection. The three packets of pink trim are vintage and the wooden spools of velvet ribbon in soft salmon and pewter gray are new, though they certainly have a vintage look to them.


Also spotted this set of antique dresser hardware that I couldn't resist. Each piece is only about 2 inches wide, so they are pretty small for hardware but I loved their patina and design. At first, I wasn't sure what I could do with them and then I asked myself when that has ever stopped me from buying something unique that I'll probably regret not buying if I don't?!! It so happens that once I got home I remembered a large old doll dresser that I bought in Walnut, Iowa, several years back. It needs new hardware and these would be perfect for it! So it turns out I made a wise decision after all! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

THE CHARM OF COTTAGE STYLE

I was so excited to get my copies a couple weeks ago of the Victoria magazine special publication, Classic Cottages, that I wrote. The magazine is always brimming with beautiful photography and inspiration, and this issue is no exception. Just a note that this special interest publication is NOT included with a regular Victoria subscription.


I was fortunate to get to write the entire text for the magazine, and they kindly credited me on the masthead.


Doesn't this porch scene decorated with vintage and new quilts look inviting? You'll find lots of decorating ideas for outdoor as well as interior spaces in the magazine. It is on newsstands now!


I will be back soon with a post on my latest articles for Quilt Sampler magazine, another one of my favorite publications. In the meantime, I send Happy May Day wishes to you—compliments of my lilacs that will soon be in bloom. This is an earlier photo of them in my dining room. I like to display them in my vintage funeral baskets.