Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL

For the past several months, I've been busy editing another quilt book and we'll soon be sending it to press. Those of you who love the whimsical work of Australian designer Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched are in for a treat. Published by Kansas City Star Quilts, the book should be arriving in quilt shops by early May. We are still in the process of reviewing the layouts, so nothing is final just yet, though!


Whether you love appliqué, patchwork, punchneedle, or hand stitchery, you'll find the perfect project in this 112-page book's diverse array of quilts, sewing accessories, bags, and home accents. Each of the 16 lighthearted designs reflects Anni's favorite things—relaxing at home, shopping, traveling, and of course, sewing! Her passion for hand stitching plays a fanciful role in most all of the projects.


Need help corralling all those pins, needles, and other sewing supplies we quilters accumulate? Check out Anni's sewing case, needle book, and pincushion designed to keep everything in its place. As soon as I can breathe between work projects, I am hoping to make a new sewing case for my cross stitch works-in-progress. 

It's hard to believe my editing work for this book is winding down but production is already underway on the next quilt book I'm editing for Kansas City Star Quilts. If you love reproduction 1800s quilts, stay tuned for more details about it in May.

Monday, March 28, 2011

HAVENS OF THE HOME

The June issue of Kitchen and Bath Ideas magazine will soon be out on newsstands and it's packed with some great design ideas for the heart of our homes. This particular issue is devoted to small kitchens. I promise not to bore you with all the articles I write but I thought my piece in this issue might have some helpful lessons for those of you pondering a kitchen remodel. After all, most of us don't have mammoth-sized cooking zones! By the way, don't you love the color of the kitchen on the cover? The color green is second only to pink in my heart!


My article talks about how a neutral color palette, space-savvy planning, and architectural details help a small Florida kitchen live large. Located just off the living room, it's a cozy haven for the homeowner. The wall's shiplap board turned on the vertical is a nod to the home's coastal locale.


In that same issue, you'll also find my article on a serene Michigan master bath. The homeowners were inspired by the sleek, sophisticated baths in their favorite luxury hotels. Check out the issue to see how they transported those blissful retreats to their own everyday retreat.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

GIVEAWAY WINNER

The winner of my Victoria magazine Gardens of Bliss publication giveaway by random drawing is.....farmersdotter! Congratulations, Brenda! Please email me your mailing address at my email button on the right side of my blog and I will send the magazine on its way to you next week. A big thank you to all who participated in the giveaway and for your interest in my Gardens of Bliss articles. I enjoyed hearing about your favorite flowers and hope all your garden dreams will come true this year. For those of you still interested in purchasing the magazine, it should be on newsstands now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CREATURE COMFORTS

When I purchased this pint-size wingback chair at an antiques shop for my kitties, I had no idea how much they would love it. You can get an idea of its size in comparison with the fireplace in the background. It belonged to the owner of the antiques shop, who told us it was a salesman's sample. It is quite heavy for its small size.


I just had to share these sweet photos of our kitties enjoying their new chair. This is our cat Poe (named after Edgar Allen Poe). Believe it or not, this chubby little guy is on diet food yet he continues to gain weight.


Here is Poe's brother Teddy. They are not brothers by blood but they do bear a strong resemblance to each other. Teddy is the eldest at 14 years of age. 


As you can see, our dear catboys are quite spoiled. They bring such joy to our lives that we love to pamper them with these little surprises. And here's an interesting sidenote: the previous owner said her cats loved to sit in the chair, too. So I guess this is a chair meant for cats!

Monday, March 21, 2011

GARDEN INSPIRATION

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I recently wrote some articles for Victoria magazine's special publication, Gardens of Bliss. It was such a thrill to work with the magazine, which should be out on newsstands tomorrow. I wrote the following sections: A Gardener's Palette, Solitude and Sanctuary, and Bountiful Bouquets. The magazine doesn't list bylines with the articles but you can find me listed in the masthead and credits section.


In addition to the sections that I wrote, you'll also find an article on roses, three showcase garden profiles, and wonderful recipes that use herbs and edible flowers. Think Lemon Mousse Cake and Lavender-Lemon Shortbread! Yum! 

To celebrate the debut of this beautiful magazine, I'm giving away a free copy. Just leave a comment telling me your favorite plant by midnight this Friday, March 25. I'll pick a name from the entries and announce the winner on Saturday evening.

Here are some of my favorite plants, pictured in my garden. These blue-flowering forget-me-nots extend a cheerful early spring welcome in my arbor garden. I also have pink-flowering ones.


By summer, the coleus take center stage. I love them for their fanciful foliage and showstopping colors. This one is peeking out from underneath a penstemon. You can see a hint of the golden moneywort (pictured under the coleus), which creates a chartreuse carpet under my Alberta spruce spiraling topiaries (not pictured).


I look forward to hearing about your favorite plants! And for those of you who regularly read Victoria magazine, check out my article in the upcoming May/June issue. It's not out on newsstands yet but I will share more details when I can. Until then, I wish you many happy garden dreams!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

HOW I SPENT NATIONAL QUILTING DAY

Yesterday started out like any other Saturday. I wasn't planning to do much more than catch up on some writing assignments when I found out about a fun local quilting event. And with that, an ordinary day turned into a fun one. I didn't realize yesterday was National Quilting Day until that afternoon while attending a free local presentation by quilt designer and creator of the popular square-in-a-square technique Jodi Barrows. While introducing Jodi, our local shop owner mentioned that it was NQD and I thought how cool it was that quilting had somehow worked its way into my day!
          I've never met Jodi before and it was a real treat to hear her speak and to see her many beautiful quilts. She has been traveling the Midwest recently as part of her Pony Express Tour. If you haven't already heard of the quilt she designed to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express, here is a photo of one that our local shop made up. They're offering it as a block of the month.


Jodi spoke about the symbolism behind the quilt and the history of the Pony Express. As a history buff, I found the talk very interesting. I forgot to bring my camera along, so I have no photos of the event to share. After the talk, everyone shopped Jodi's many books, rulers, and fabric. In 2009, she designed a line of fabric called "Celebrating Abe" to commemorate the 200th birthday of Abe Lincoln. Its images were taken from Civil War-era photographs. I particularly liked this one.


Here are my other treasures from that day. Although I'd heard of the square-in-a-square technique a long time ago, I've never tried it. But Jodi's inspiring presentation motivated me to. Being a doll quilt lover, I particularly enjoyed all the smaller quilts that Jodi showed us during the presentation, so those are the ones I'll try first!


But my day of quilting celebration didn't stop there! I also had the chance to meet talented quilt designer Pam Buda, creator of the Prairie Women's Sewing Circle program. I participated in my local shop's program this year and we'll soon be starting the second journey. Pam stopped by the shop during her visit to this area to teach and lecture at a local quilt guild. Several of the women who participated in the program were there to greet her. It is always so fun to meet the people behind the quilt designs and Pam was no exception. She was so warm and friendly. I wish I'd brought my camera but alas, I forgot it then, too! What a fun day it turned out to be. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WONDERS OF WOOL

A recent Saturday morning antiquing trip yielded a unique find—a Victorian-era wool flower shadow box. It didn't get much attention from other passersby, who probably just thought it was just odd, but it certainly caught my eye. I must admit I tend to gravitate toward the unusual, but normal is boring, right? The price was right at $28, so I took it home with me.


Being an avid crafter, I feel an affinity with Victorian women, whose pastimes exercised their creativity. I also share their tendency for being frugal. They saved their leftover scraps of wool yarn to fashion into flowers for fanciful displays under glass domes or in shadow boxes. Many of the popular magazines of the day featured instructions on how to make them. In fact, one of my old volumes of such magazines happens to have a tutorial for making these woolly blooms. As a wool lover, I'm mesmerized by their artistic beauty. For more detail, click on all the photos.


They used beads to embellish the flower centers.


These fluffy cream-colored flowers are among my favorites. I also love how they created the yet-to-bloom buds (above the fluffy cream flowers) by threading the yarn in an artistic way. 


This isn't the first of these shadow boxes I've purchased. Several years ago, we picked up the larger one (below) at an antiques shop. It is 46 inches square and hangs at the top of our curved staircase. The cross motif is particularly meaningful to us. We purchased this particular one in memory of loved ones who are no longer with us. I think I must have been a Victorian in an earlier life! I seem to share their sense of sentimentality! 

When we had an antiques appraiser out to our house a couple years ago, he dated this to the 1880s, so I'm guessing my latest find must also be that vintage. The vibrancy of the flowers might make it hard to believe they're that old but they're remarkably preserved under the glass, which is wavy just like 19th-century glass. They don't make it like that anymore!


Here's a detail shot of some of the flowers in this one—even more exquisite than those in the new shadow box I found. 


This shot shows the beautiful handiwork that went into each little flower. It almost looks like beadwork, it's so fine.


And here are those fluffy flowers again. I love the way they wove different shades of green into the leaves.


We saw a similar Victorian wool shadow box when we visited the Rensselaer Russell House in Waterloo, Iowa, four years ago. This is a photo I took of the exterior. The house was built in 1861 for $5,878. 


This is the Victorian wool shadow box that hangs in the home's upstairs hallway. It really captured my heart, so I had to take a photo of it. I have many other photos of this grand old home that I will share with you someday.


If any of you happen to own one of these delightful framed treasures, I'd love to hear from you. I always enjoy learning more about these lovely remnants of the past!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

ADDING TO THE FABRIC STASH

It's been another hectic week of deadlines, so there's been no time to get in the sewing room lately. But that hasn't stopped me from shopping for some fabric in the late night hours when I can take a break from the hubbub of daily life. My friend Belinda told me about the cutest new owl fabric the other day when we got together for her birthday lunch. As you regular blog readers know, I am a sucker for anything green, pink, and owl-related, so this fabric was just too adorable to resist. I immediately ordered some yardage online.


Here's a close-up shot of the owls with their inquisitive expressions. I'm not sure what I'll use it for yet. 


One of the online fabric shops I like to visit recently had a sale, so I purchased some of Kaye England's Pride and Purpose and Jo Morton's Variable Stars. It is always a happy day when I receive fabric packages like this in the mail. 


Speaking of sales, I recently noticed that Jo-Anns had the AccuQuilt Go! Fabric Cutter on sale for $199 and decided to buy one. I'd been looking for a good deal on it for a few months and this was the lowest I'd seen it go. I have heard good things about it from friends and am looking forward to putting mine to good use. If any of you who already own one of these have any tips or advice for me, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A DELIGHTFUL DIVERSION

It's been another crazy week here working on a new Victoria magazine assignment, a kitchen article, and Quilt Sampler magazine shop profiles, plus editing another quilt book. So I'm afraid I don't have any new quilt projects to share with you like the ones I've been seeing on so many of your blogs. For now, I will have to live vicariously through your beautiful projects!

After spending four straight days cooped up in my house working on assignments last week, I was going a bit stir crazy. So I escaped for a mid-afternoon diversion to some of my favorite haunts. When I head out on these spontaneous excursions, I never know what I’ll find. Even if I come home empty-handed, it's always refreshing to get out and about. This trip proved to be a very fruitful one. First stop was a delightful antique shop where I happened upon an intriguing old book. Judging from the cover, it looked fairly nondescript but I'm drawn to even the look of old books.


When I opened it, I was astounded by the beauty of what I found before me. It was a whole year's worth of a ladies magazine from 1881, still in wonderful condition considering its age.


The book also included these gorgeous fold-out portraits of ladies dressed in all their finery. The detail was exquisite. I'm afraid my photos aren't doing them much justice.


I also purchased an 1856 book for its beautiful illustrations. It's fascinating to read these old tomes and see what what was fashionable during those times. Here is an article on hairstyles of the period.


This huge roll of soft yellow vintage lace seemed to call my name for just $5. What I'll use it for, I do not know, but it was just too pretty to pass up. The tag said it had at least 300 yards on it!


Then it was on to another antique shop where I found this delicious handspun and hand-dyed wool roving created right here in my home state. The colors were absolutely glorious. 


The colorations in this one were captivating—beautiful streaks of lavender and green mixed with the yellow.


I couldn't resist this sweet pink one. A few years ago, I designed a wool bunny pincushion named "Parsley", which I make for quilt shops and boutiques, and I think it will make a nice little tail for him!


Speaking of bunnies, the fanciful ones on this fun handkerchief charmed their way into my heart. I've never seen one like it before. If any of you have, let me know. 


I love to collect old china teapots, saucers, and other serving pieces. Since this charming little cup was marked down to $2, I thought I'd take it home with me to hold some of my makeup brushes.


This last find wasn't found on my outing but I absolutely fell in love it at first sight. As a reward for getting through my root canal, I bought myself a cute little ruler box at Temecula Quilt Co. The boxes come in two sizes as shown below. Sheryl, the owner, gave me permission to use her lovely photo here as I don't think I could take a better picture of them than that! Aren't they just the sweetest things? I've already filled all the compartments in my box with my grandma's pearl buttons. Sheryl, please thank your husband for making these handy little organizers!

And thankfully, as it turned out, my root canal was a breeze. The numbing medication in the shots made me fall asleep in the chair! The next thing I remembered was the doctor saying he was done.