Saturday, February 22, 2014


Anyone in the Des Moines area interested in a vintage dress form? I'm selling mine for $70 (originally valued at $120). Pick up only.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


The pre-Spring cleaning fest continues here at Ashton House, and with it comes the opportunity to bring out fresh quilts to display around the house. While washing the sheets for the two Jenny Lind twin beds in one of our spare bedrooms, I thought I'd audition some new old quilts to display on them. This room is home to many of my vintage 1930s/40s/50s quilts and treasured heirlooms like teddy bears, doll beds, and Peter Rabbit figurines that spark fond childhood memories.

While cleaning out another closet over the weekend, I also found a large box of cross stitch fabric. Since my stitching friends tend to use only linen and these were not, I donated it to Goodwill. I have only a few more boxes of it and will probably end up sending those to Goodwill, too.

I also decided it's time to get rid of my old Cricut personal electronic cutter. If you're in the Des Moines area and interested in purchasing it cheaply, let me know. I only used it a few times before I upgraded to their Imagine machine, but I don't think I have the cutting mat for it anymore (however, you can buy those separately and inexpensively in stores). THE CRICUT HAS BEEN PURCHASED, THANKS!

Before I close, I wanted to share a few precious Valentine's Day gifts that I received from my husband this year. The weather was not the best that day so we stayed in and had a nice grilled cod dinner, which I prepared on my stovetop grill. He gave me this sweet card featuring two of my favorite themes—kitties and a bicycle.

When I opened it up, I was serenaded by a melody you might hear in some Parisian bistro. 

I even got a card from my two kitties, Teddy and Poe.

The hubby gave me lovely trio of flowering African violets and a gift certificate to get some of my favorite Too Faced and Urban Decay cosmetics. I was also delighted to receive this new cast-iron teapot, pink watch made of recycled materials, and soft blue ceramic holder for my bamboo matcha tea whisker. It was another lovely Valentine's Day that I will look back on fondly. Now I should get back to auditioning those quilts for the beds. Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, February 13, 2014


For some reason this week, I got the notion to get a jump-start on my spring cleaning and have been having a ball cleaning out one of my closets. In a box at the bottom of the closet, I found some cool vintage sewing finds from a past antiques excursion in Minnesota. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning uncovering boxes of goodies like this...

I've seen lots of clever vintage thread racks before but none exactly like this one. When it's shut, it looks like this. It came with all the vintage wooden thread spools on it.

When it's folded out, it looks like this. At $10 (originally $12.50), it was a little more than I wanted to pay but it was unique enough and in good enough shape, that I decided to go for it!

I was delighted to find this vintage scalloped thread holder for $17.50 (originally $19.50). I've been debating whether to paint it since I don't think it is particularly old or valuable. It was the scalloped design that had me hooked.

If you read my blog regularly, you know I'm a sucker for vintage pink pearl buttons—so much so, that I broke my own rule about not paying more than $1 per button card. I rarely see the pink ones, so I had to snatch these up. My camera didn't quite capture the color of the buttons just right. They are a hot coral pink.

In the closet, I also found boxes and boxes of old fabric that I know I'll never use. So I packed them in bags to send to my grandma for her Project Linus quilts.

By the time I was done, I had three bags full of fabric (about 125 yards total)! I figured they might as well go to someone who can put them to much better use than I am. Some pieces were home dec fabric left over from prop sales from when I worked at as a magazine editor at Meredith Corporation (home of Better Homes and Gardens magazine). Grandma uses all types of fabrics for her quilts, so I knew she would love to have them. Next, I'll be hitting my sewing room to see if there are cotton fabrics I no longer need.

After thoroughly cleaning out the closet, I decided to hit our home library, where I found 48 home decorating books, quilt books, and cookbooks to donate to the local library. 

Lastly, I decided it was time to get real about some of the furniture in my house. This old Victorian sofa is one such example (I took this photo shortly after we moved into our house, so we hadn't even gotten the room in order yet but it gives you a good enough idea of what the sofa looked like). The sofa was lovely and went well with the style of our old Victorian home, but its wide cushions never fit my short legs well. I figure life is too short to deal with furniture that doesn't fit me well anymore, so off it went to Goodwill along with a matching coffee table. I must admit, it felt good to clear out some of the clutter—although I'm the kind of person who likes a little clutter in my house! To me, a generous stack of old books or a collage of collectibles feels cozy. I'm not one for sparse decorating!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Blame the lack of blogging last week on kidney stones! One of the remaining three in my kidneys decided to make an appearance last Tuesday. For some reason, mine are always huge! This one was 3/8" wide, not as big as the previous one I blogged about a couple years ago but big enough to cause a bit of pain when it actually came out. Ouch! Now that it's passed, I can move on to more important matters—like sharing news about my latest quilt book editing project! Many of you quilters may already be familiar with Tara Lynn Darr's first book on small scrap quilting, Simply Charming. Well, guess what?! She's back with a fresh collection of little scrappy quilts to help you whittle down your fabric stashes! Here's a peek at the book cover.

Like the blocks in her previous book's projects, most of the ones featured in this follow-up title require only 5" charm squares. From simple quilts featuring only rectangles and squares to star-studded charmers, there is a project for every skill level in this scrappy medley of 15 small quilts reminiscent of days gone by. As a fellow small scrap quilt lover, I was overjoyed to get to work on this fun book with Tara, and it hard to believe our book-producing journey is nearly at an end. Small Treasures from Scraps will be out in April, and I'll be blogging more about it then. We're in the final stages of proofing the book this week. I can't wait to share more with you when I can. In the meantime, save a few of your scraps for these marvelous little quilts!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


As I reflect on this past week and prepare to host a special Downton Abbey tea at my home this evening, I am feeling very blessed to be surrounded by good friends and everyday surroundings that bring joy to my heart. While most everyone else will be watching the Super Bowl, a few friends and I will be enjoying a Downton Abbey tea (We all love the television series and look forward to each new episode). I'm not really a football fan but I do love hockey and am watching that this afternoon now that my Lady Carlyle teapot, teacups, and other tea accoutrements are all out and ready for tea!

Have you seen the unofficial Downton Abbey cookbook that came out in 2012?

I bought it last year but have yet to try the recipes. Many look rather complicated. For now, I'll stick with my simple tea fare. My staple is cucumber watercress sandwiches.

This morning I was delighted to find that several African violets are now gracing my windowsill with their pretty blooms. I grow them in my kitchen window wells, which are extra deep. This allowed us to insert glass shelves into them. Many years ago when I was a youngster, I remember driving by a wonderful old home with a huge picture window adorned with shelves of colorful glass. Ever since then, I vowed that I would one day have a house where I could create window vignettes—only I paint mine with violets instead of glass! I think I will bring these pink-flowering pretties out to adorn the tea table! It's amazing how much beauty there is around our everyday surroundings. I find it in the smallest of things like these miniature violet trailers.

I always try to find something to be grateful about each day—some days are harder than others but this Friday, it was very easy because I was able to enjoy a nice lunch and afternoon with my friend, Merry. Always generous in spirit and heart, she surprised me with one of the most precious gifts I've received. She had it all packaged so sweetly in this felt owl bag. It was enough to make this owl-obsessed person squeal with delight!

Inside that sweet owl bag was an exquisite owl bento box! 

Here's one of the two little owls...

Also included in the owl gift bag were the cutest little Japanese condiment containers!

It was such a thoughtful gift and I was so touched that she took the time to search for an owl bento box for me. I've been wanting to learn more about bento box recipes and even purchased a cookbook (below) on the subject last year.

With a grateful heart, I am saying a prayer of thanks for all the good things and people in my life. I wish you all a good Sunday!