Monday, August 24, 2015


I am one of the few people who likes rainy days—as long as they don't carry the threat of severe storms and tornadoes! Thought I should add that caveat. A soggy late Saturday afternoon and evening gave me a chance to bring out my vintage umbrella while running some errands. Like a lot of things, they just don't make them like they used to! This is one of my three vintage umbrellas circa 1960. It's a pagoda-style umbrella and has the prettiest gray and pink flowers on it. I also have a pretty pink vintage umbrella that I will have to show you sometime.

Rainy days are perfect for baking, and I took advantage of it by baking a cake in the vintage cake pan I found at the flea market that we went to earlier this month. Here is a photo of the pan with the cake. I'm not usually one for buying vintage pans but I was drawn to the heart design on the top of this one, plus the pan itself was a nice size. At just shy of 7 inches in diameter, it's small but that's perfect for our little household. I think it will be a pretty little pan to use for future cakes for teas. 

Speaking of cakes, I found the prettiest cake (gateau) recipe from marie chioca's website (below is a photo from the website where I found it—this is NOT a cake that I made), but it was in French! Luckily, I knew just the person to translate—my sister who is fluent in French and worked at a French-speaking elementary school. She translated it for me and I can hardly wait to try it! She found out it is actually gluten-free, so she plans to try it herself.

Saturday evening found us indulging in a favorite summer treat—freshly-picked sweet corn grown just outside our little town. Its flavor can't be beat. Since I can't have much margarine due to my kidney condition, I flavor mine with some creamy whole-grain mustard as shown below or I just eat it plain. Either way tastes good to me! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Last Thursday I escaped the work routine with a trip to the Iowa State Fair. I must admit the fair is something I can only take every few years but I was eager to revisit it after a three-year break. First stop was the Fabric and Threads area, which houses the quilt exhibit. Mary Shotwell, a very talented member of our local quilt guild, won Best of Show with this beauty.

Several years ago, I took a quilting class from quilt designer Froncie Quinn, who authored the historical quilt book, Enduring Grace: Quilts from the Shelburne Museum Collection. Perhaps you have it in your quilting library? Anyway, Mary also attended the class and shared her amazing quilt made with Froncie's fabrics. I took a photo of it and thought this would be the perfect time to share it. I happen to have yardage for a few of the fabrics—including the border—used in the quilt. If anyone is interested, I would be happy to email photos of them (or I might post them later if I get a chance). I will sell them for $8 a yard.

I also enjoyed this gray-and-yellow quilt by Margaret Beal, another talented quilter who happens to live in my town. This is one of my favorite color combinations. I wish they had space to display the entire quilt.

I was also captivated by this blue-and-brown LeMoyne Star beauty by Carole Livingston.

All that quilt inspiration made hubby and I hungry. Hee hee! So we headed over to enjoy our first food stop of the day. We'd heard about all the new food offerings but decided to try an old favorite first. This delicious fried cauliflower was our mid-morning treat.

Next we tried the new apple-pie-on-a-stick at this fun stand. Wow! This one was my favorite. The pie was light and flaky with a delicious apple filling. 

My hubby wanted to try the new garlic fried cheese curds, which were attracting quite a bit of interest at this stand.

I'm not too keen on cheese since I lack the enzyme necessary to digest dairy, but I have found I can tolerate the lighter colored cheeses like swiss and mozzarella pretty well. Luckily, these happened to be mozzarella. 

Hubby also enjoyed a foot-long corn dog.

As a sheep and wool lover, I had to check out the sheep barn, where I spotted this freshly shorn fellow enjoying a nap.

If my stomach weren't so full, I might have tried this Zero Gravity ride. Don't you love the pink, green, and yellow colors? I think it might have inspired a new pincushion design for me. Funny how inspiration comes from the most unexpected of places when you look at your surroundings with an open heart and mind.

To walk off some of that food, we decided to take in the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden in downtown Des Moines after leaving the fair. Before we knew it, we were walking the streets of downtown Des Moines for a couple hours. We sure felt better by the time we were done. 

My hubby mentioned that I should have included a photo of my red polka dot dress that I wore to the State Fair, which I forgot to take, but you can kind of see it in the reflection of the sculpture that I took in the above photo. 

Many people have asked if the red dress is vintage and it is not. I continue to try adding vintage dresses to my wardrobe. My goal is for at least a quarter of it to be vintage 1960s. I wore my vintage 1960s dress with white platform wedges, pictured below, to the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market on Saturday. I love how this dress is shapeless and conceals the waist and hips for a comfy fit. What really makes it special is the long bow that extends from the top of the dress all the way to the bottom. It was so windy that it wouldn't stay put in any of the photos my hubby took, so here is a self shot that shows it a little better. What I love about vintage dresses is that many are handmade and are better quality than today's clothes. I do have to carefully inspect them for damage but if you get one in great condition, I really think you have something special. I wish I'd lived through the 1960s. It must have been so fun.

If there's anything I love more than vintage dresses, it might be shoes. Do you like clogs? If so, you might want to check out the wonderful Swedish Hasbeens. They call them clogs even though they don't look like the traditional clogs one might envision. Below is a photo of my gray ornament clogs. Each shoe is handcrafted in Sweden from a single piece of lime tree wood. The quality is truly impeccable and the fit is great even for people like me with small, narrow feet. And NO, this is not a paid advertisement! I just love these shoes. I think I might have to start a Pinterest board for them on my Pinterest page.

And what pink-accented skirt would be complete without a pink phone purse? Couldn't resist this one.

I'll close with some photos of our dinner from Fair Day. We figured since we'd already indulged at the Fair, why not stop by our favorite Chinese food place on the way home?  

We also split this coconut bubble tea. I love how the tapioca pearls pop in your mouth, giving you a burst of fruity flavor.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Well, I survived the magazine photo shoot at my house! With the help of my hubby, we got the house in about as picture-perfect shape as we could get it. The house interior is not photo worthy, so I asked that the magazine team—which consisted of the magazine editor, designer, photographer, and two photo assistants—stick with tighter shots instead of ones that showed any substantial part of the house. The focus was supposed to be on my collections anyway. In preparation for the shoot, we gave all the china in the dining room a gentle wash so it would sparkle for the shoot. In the below photo you can see how I display my African violets in vintage china serving pieces. The table is adorned with my vintage yoyo quilt—and no we don't eat on the quilt. It's covered with a plastic cloth before anyone does that!

We spent an evening washing my collection of blue-and-white china on the shelves in the kitchen window wells.

Our organizing even inspired me to bring out some of the pieces that had been languishing behind cupboard doors and drawers and give them a spotlight in the kitchen. One example is my collection of vintage-inspired cookie molds, below.

I dressed up this tiered tray in the kitchen with my collection of Wedgwood small sweets dishes and trinket boxes. They go well with the kitchen's cozy palette of buttercream yellow and gray blue.

Even the small pieces of vintage restaurant ware on the window ledge behind my kitchen sink shined up nicely with a little elbow grease.

All that organizing got me thinking about how I could make better use of what I already had. Things like this little bench in the mudroom now serve double duty as a handy shoe rack for often-used footwear and wellies.

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what happened at the photo shoot. Jacob, the photographer, shares the photo he just took with the editor and designer (Sam and Kristi, respectively), then they make the necessary tweaks to get that perfect photo. Here they are shooting a small part of my vintage button collection, which I display in an antique wooden printer's tray.

My cat Poe is so mellow that he decided to take a nap behind Jacob as Jacob was shooting my vintage English candy tins.

He also caught some zzz's on my 19th-century quilt. The photo team even took a photo of me with my vintage wooden peg dolls but hopefully that photo won't be used in the magazine. All in all, it was a fun-filled day and I'm pleased to report that they managed to get enough photos. Originally they were going to be here for the morning but they found enough things to shoot that they were here until 5:30 in the afternoon!

In other exciting news, the new jelly bags I ordered I arrived! They are such pretty hues, they made me practically giddy. Anything that can make someone my age giddy is pretty neat!

I thought the little plush kitty keychain I got at a Japanese store would go perfectly with these bags. 

She also goes well with the blue bag that I'm carrying in the photo below with my new mustard yellow dress and matching vintage-inspired Oxford heels. I've always like saddle shoes or shoes with that sort of look. When I wore this ensemble, I was amazed by how many people stopped to comment on them. My mom always said that people aren't usually nice enough to actually stop and compliment others—a sad commentary on today's society—but I was pleasantly surprised with this dress. Yellow has always been a color I've struggled with but I knew I would eventually find the right yellow dress! Have you ever thought you just couldn't wear a certain color? I encourage you to give it another try as the right one is out there.

I love all my finds from the Japanese store. They have such cute little things!

I especially love the cute furry gray Totoro coin purse pictured in the above photo. I've never been much for cartoons but when I caught a glimpse the lovable forest sprite, Totoro, in a Japanese animated film, My Neighbor Totoro, that my husband was watching, I had to check it out. Its orchestral theme music is lovely. My husband downloaded it to my iTunes and I listen to it often while I'm working at the computer. If you like, you can check the music out here by clicking on the arrow in the photo below entitled "My Neighbor Totoro". That's sweet Totoro holding the umbrella.

Hope you enjoyed reading this rather lengthy post. I guess I had a lot to catch up on after the photo shoot!