Tuesday, July 15, 2014


It's a great day here at Ashton House. I'm making good progress on two of the quilt books that I'm editing this quarter. The one closest to completion is Betsy Chutchian's ode to autumn joys. The title is Just Treats, No Tricks: Bewitching Quilts and More to Celebrate Autumn. Her love of all things Halloween is a common thread throughout the book but you will find much more than just fun accents for that holiday. There are plenty of autumn-inspired quilts and projects to enjoy, too!

Not far behind Betsy's book is Dawn Heese's latest title, Autumn Splendor: Folk Art Quilts and Projects. Inspired by the splendor of the season, Dawn has created a charming cornucopia of six quilts and two coordinating smaller projects. With her folk-art flair for appliqué and patchwork, she puts a fresh twist on autumn-inspired motifs. Don't you love the kitty on the straw bale on the cover? Luckily, both Dawn and Betsy are fellow cat lovers.

Both books will be released in September, so be sure to watch for them at your favorite quilt shop! And stop back in August for a giveaway when I'll share more details about both books.

In other good news, I just got a good report from my doctor at my appointment today! My blood pressure is now down to 98/68, an all-time low for me (and that's with no medications). I've been off my blood pressure medication for more than a year now and it feels great. My cholesterol numbers had also improved from last year and especially from 2012—again without any medications of any kind. My doctor said that it's best to have a total cholesterol level of less than 200 and mine is now 154, down from 220 in 2012 and 194 in 2013. My triglycerides (fat in the blood) level is now 81—down from 133 in 2012. My doctor said the ideal range for triglycerides is under 150 and under 90 is even better. I'm still battling some kidney issues but am hopeful they'll improve soon. Now I'm celebrating the good news by eating a couple blue raspberry cookies my hubby made last night! Yum! Yes, my doctor would probably cringe at this but a girl's gotta have her sugar, right?! 

I've also been making good progress on my summer-cleaning venture. I've been tackling my bedroom closet and gathered six whole bags of handbags as well as clothes which no longer fit to donate to Goodwill. I realize this venture is long overdue as I still have some clothes from my college days! The only down side to the cleaning fest is that it left only a handful of clothes in my closet. Most are pink.

Well, I suppose I should get back to work now. I was just so elated about my cholesterol reading that I had to record the great news with a blog post.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


About seven years ago, our arbor garden was featured in Country Gardens magazine. Well, a few months ago, we learned that it made the cover of The Best of Country Gardens magazine—a compilation of favorite CG gardens from previous issues! I meant to post about it sooner but the loss of our dear kitty in April seemed to overshadow any bit of good news, and I don't think the issue is on newsstands anymore.

Here's a little backstory on the garden, which occupies a small enclave between our sidewalk and driveway. When we moved into our house, it was just a patch of lawn with a few ferns. Not being crazy about lawn, my husband and I decided it would make a neat potager (aka kitchen garden) since the space is just off our kitchen. The following spring, my husband and I set to work laying the brick-lined beds and planting the Korean and English boxwood edging (To save money, we bought really tiny plants).

At the time, I was working as a garden editor for Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications and once the editors caught wind that we'd created an idyllic little garden haven, they expressed an interest in shooting the garden. They offered to install an arbor to serve as another focal point for the freshly designed landscape. 

Using plants that they donated to the project, we added three large spiral conifer topiaries, several roses, and fanciful purple-flowering alliums to the existing planting scheme. Urns were filled with spring bloomers that would lush out in time for the spring photo shoot. Our deep window wells were adorned with potted geraniums from my favorite geranium grower, and I sprinkled the original fern bed with a few pink caladiums. To me, more is more when it comes to gardening and I like a really full look. I wonder if the original owners of our 1885 Victorian home were the same way? I've heard the Victorians had a penchant for that growing style.

To choke out weeds, the brick-lined beds were planted to the max. It was very gratifying to see them so full that even the weeds couldn't grow! Here, coleus and penstemon mingle with a chartreuse carpet of moneywort.

I took all the photos in this post the day of the photo shoot. Please also note that the photos and text for the article in The Best of Country Gardens are from the original shoot and not new ones. I hope you enjoyed this little journey down memory lane!