Monday, September 26, 2016


It's a sweet start to the work week here at Ashton House. I couldn't seem to stay asleep last night so I got up at 4:00 a.m. and made some 50-calorie, healthier brownies (can't say it's healthy as what brownie is?!) for my husband to take to work today. They do not contain any flour, butter, oil or refined sugar (except for the pink sprinkles, of course!). Those of you who read my blog regularly know that my sweets-loving husband was pre-diabetic so I am always looking for low- or no-sugar delights to try. That way, he can still indulge without developing diabetes.

Instead of the typical powdered sugar, butter and milk mixture, the frosting is made with a low-sodium, soft cheese called quark that has a smooth, creamy texture that lends itself well to frosting. I'd heard that this is a nice alternative to traditional frosting for both people like my husband who want a no-sugar option and like me who have to be on a low-sodium diet due to my kidneys. I do flavor it with natural sweetener.

In other news, it has been a productive last few weeks here at Ashton House. We wrapped up production on the winter issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine, which I edit. Gracing the cover is our stunning wool sampler by Blackberry Primitives. This issue, which goes on newsstands in mid October, features part 2 of the 3-part series.

I also write regularly for Quilt Sampler magazine. The Fall/Winter issue is out and you can find one of my articles in it.

I got to write about Merry's Stitchins, an inviting quilt shop right here in Iowa! Owner Merry Backes started the shop in a room in her house and expanded over the years before building a 4,000 spacious square-foot building across from her driveway. Hers is truly a homegrown success story!

It is always a treat to write for this gorgeous bookazine, Country French, and I have an article in the latest issue.

If you happen to see it on newsstands, my article is titled "Everyday Escape", so named for the homeowners' idyllic surroundings both indoors and out. 

A few of you emailed me asking how my organizing efforts were going. Although I got sidetracked by a few big work deadlines the past couple weeks, I am back at it and found a couple more books to part with. If you're interested, I would sell the Pennsylvania Patchwork Pillowcases book for $15 plus $5 shipping (SOLD) and the Quilts and Coverlets: The Beamish Collection for $20 plus $5 shipping (SOLD).


I am also parting with these new cross stitch supplies from Sudberry House—a candle screen, small carriage clock, Shaker boxes, and Nantucket lightship basket cushions. I would sell any for half the regular price. If you want more detailed information and pics, just email me by clicking the "Email Me" button in my blog sidebar. I wasn't sure how many readers are cross stitchers so I didn't want to clutter up the post with too many photos. The large Shaker box is $90 (SOLD!), the small Shaker box is $50, the carriage clock is $17, the candle screen is $25  (SOLD!) and the Lightship basket cushions are $5. The dark brown square box ($15) in the top photo is actually set inside a larger whitewash oak box (SOLD!) pictured in the bottom photo.

Monday, September 12, 2016


I'm delighted to announce the winner of my latest giveaway. By random draw, the winner is number 15, Jocelyn, who wrote:

I think all girls love doll quilts. I've made a couple from scraps. But bobbins are so fascinating. I have a small collection of factory bobbins and I love it when I come across the old wooden ones at thrift stores. I pack them into a jar with other vintage sewing things.

Congratulations, Jocelyn! I hope you will enjoy these goodies as much as I have!

Jocelyn, please email me your mailing address and I will ship your prize out later this week when I make my weekly run to the post office. You can reach me by clicking the "Email Me" button" in the right sidebar of my blog.

Friday, September 9, 2016


My zucchini plants are going bonkers! My husband just brought in 10 zukes for friends and coworkers this morning and I just noticed this afternoon that there was more to harvest. After setting aside four for myself, I have some to spare. For those of you friends and family who know where I live, please feel free to pick up any of the zucchini in the black hanging wall basket next to our back door. These are great for zucchini bread, zucchini fritters, stir fry, zucchini noodles (made with a spiralizer) or cut some into wedges, sprinkle with your preferred seasonings and parmesan cheese and bake them in the oven. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


As those of you who follow my blog already know, I've been organizing my sewing room. Along the way, I'm finding treasures I no longer need. I love to share the wealth, so I thought periodic giveaways might be a fun way to bring some joy to others. Next up is this charming little doll quilt top (note that it is NOT quilted) and an oldie but goodie book about wooden bobbins. I finally got a good photo of them without my kitty Figgy lying on them (see previous post)!

The little doll quilt top was featured in the December 2004 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting as the alternate color way. It's a replica of a 19th-century Dutch doll quilt. I should note that this is THE actual quilt top that appeared in the magazine. I purchased it for a couple dollars at a prop sale while I was working at Meredith Corporation, which publishes the magazine.

The bobbin book has long been one of the favorites in my library and somehow I ended up with two copies. It's both a collector's guide as well as an informative historical resource on these old-time treasures. It contains a wealth of wonderful photos and illustrations depicting the colorful history of bobbins.

If you want a chance to win this lovingly assembled package of goodies, just leave a comment telling me what you like about doll quilts or bobbins. Due to the higher cost of shipping books, this giveaway is only open to those in the United States. You have until Monday, September 12, at noon central time to enter. I'll randomly draw a name and announce the winner later that day. Best of luck to all who enter!

Thursday, September 1, 2016


I'm not sure where August went. It's hard to believe it's already September. My sewing room organization efforts got sidetracked until late August when I gathered up a car truckload of things for my quilt guild's annual sale, which takes just before their charity auction. I saved a few things back for my blog giveaways that I'm doing in celebration of getting organized. Next up for my blog giveaway will be a well-loved copy of The World of Wooden Bobbins and a little doll quilt top that appeared in a past issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. The goodies are in the below photo (kitty not included!). If you're interested in the giveaway, watch for it next week.

I celebrated a birthday in August. My husband spoiled me with two fun new additions to the kitchen. One was this aqua Keurig, which replaces the larger black one we had. It's a perfect match for the colors of my kitchen. By the way, if anyone needs a Keurig, we will sell our old Keurig Platinum for a good price!

I've been needing a new set of kitchen knives and spotted this beautiful set of pearlized handled ones a couple months ago. They are so much prettier than the typical black handles and they go perfectly in my buttercream yellow and aqua kitchen. I know it sounds silly to get excited about a set of knives but with the increased amount of cooking I've been doing as a result of needing to be on a low-sodium diet, I can honestly say that I use my knives a lot. As you know, a good set is a considerable investment. I just couldn't justify the price of them but my husband was able to negotiate a substantial discount from a local sales representative. So he decided to make it my birthday gift this year and I couldn't be more delighted. 

Speaking of low-sodium diets, the next two photos definitely do NOT illustrate that (although I do request that the restaurant hold the salt when I eat out) but we do have to treat ourselves once in awhile on special occasions, right? For my birthday dinner, the hubby took me to the new downtown Des Moines restaurant, Bubba's, which specializes in southern comfort food. Most of the menu sounded scrumptious and it was difficult to choose but I finally decided on the chicken fried steak since I have never eaten it before in my life. It is served on a small bed of white cheddar mashed potatoes and green beans. I ate every last morsel and as you can see in the below photo, the portion was quite generous! The chicken fried steak usually comes smothered in the gravy but I asked for it on the side so I could fine-tune it to my tastes.

I also tried a few bites of my husband's choice, a chicken crock pie. We'd definitely go back as the food, service and decor made for a quite an enjoyable experience. 

August also found us taking a free class on vinegars and oils at Vom Fass. It included a demonstration of two dishes, including this corn blueberry quinoa salad, that incorporate various oils and vinegars. We also received recipes for a blueberry mango fizz that uses blueberry balsamic vinegar and a black bean corn salsa that incorporates fig chili balsamic vinegar and garlic extra virgin olive oil. I would highly recommend their classes if you are in the area. 

I wish you all a happy Labor Day! I'm anxious for the weekend as I plan to venture over to Cedar Rapids to see my good friend Anne while she is visiting her family from a neighboring state.