Friday, April 29, 2011

A BLISSFUL DAY

I woke up at 3:00 a.m. this morning to catch the live preliminary coverage of the royal wedding and have been up ever since. Because I'm a night owl, I only got two hours of sleep! Yes, I could have recorded it but there's something neat about watching it live. My husband was still sound asleep, leaving just me and the cats to watch this momentous affair. It was just like something out of a fairy tale—so very romantic! I wasn't going to post anything today but a special package arrived this afternoon that I wanted to tell you about. It was my copies of the special blue-and-white issue of Victoria magazine—which includes one of my articles.


I wrote the Touring feature on the gracious inns, boutiques, and cultural gems of North Carolina's scenic Piedmont region. The inn pictured on the opening spread (below) is the Fearrington Inn of Chapel Hill. 


The picture of romantic country elegance, each of Fearrington's guest rooms has a distinctive character all their own. However, all are furnished with antiques, original artwork, and luxurious amenities. I was especially taken with the coral and soft green hues of this room. 


Plush feather beds and comfy linens summon sweet dreams. And each room has an idyllic view overlooking the storybook courtyard gardens or the bucolic surroundings of what was originally an 18th-century dairy farm. 


To learn more about this inn and other area attractions, I hope you will check out the latest issue of Victoria! And if you are a quilter, check out my previous post for details about some inspiring quilt shops I profiled for the latest issue of Quilt Sampler magazine—now available in many of your local quilt shops.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

COMING SOON TO A QUILT SHOP NEAR YOU

The latest issue of Quilt Sampler magazine will soon be in quilt shops and on newsstands. And readers are in for another treat with 10 new must-stop shops, plus an old favorite from a past issue. You'll find two of my articles in this issue.


While visiting the Twin Cities last fall, I was lucky to get to visit one of the shops I wrote about. An hours drive from the metro area, Gathering Friends Quilt Shop in Bird Island, Minnesota, is well worth the stop. Located in what was once the town bank, the 1902 building now holds treasure of a different sort—fabrics, quilt samples, patterns, and notions galore. It even has an adjoining gift shop with decorative accessories and silk florals. 


Those of you who enjoy working with modern-style fabrics will love Karen Gray Design, the other shop I wrote about it. This colorful haven in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, carries exclusively Westminster Fibers fabrics, so you'll find collections from the likes of Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Denyse Schmidt, and Joel Dewberry. Karen is passionate about empowering her customers through fresh fabrics, simple projects, and encouraging classes.


I hope you'll check out these inspiring shops as well as the other featured nine shops in the Spring 2011 issue of Quilt Sampler. Sorry this post is so brief but I'm trying to get lots done today so I can take tomorrow off to watch the the royal wedding! Better get back to work! Have a great day, everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SPOOLS, GLORIOUS, SPOOLS

I am constantly in search of vintage wooden spools. Among my many uses for these fun finds are my bird pincushions, which were featured in a quilt magazine a couple years ago. I designed them some years back and still make them for various quilt shops and boutiques.


I find a few spools here and there in my price range and once in a while, a kind soul gives me some. But I was truly speechless and overwhelmed with gratitude to receive this wondrous bag of spools from Cherie, a friend of my mom-in-law's! She was so very kind to give me this entire bag.


When I opened the bag, out poured dozens of spools in various shapes and sizes. There were nearly 100 of them! Just picture all the bird pincushions I can make with these! I now make two smaller versions that will be perfect for the smaller spools.


I'm so thrilled to have these so I can resume fulfilling shop orders for the bird pincushions. I had to postpone them because I didn't have enough spools. This extensive supply should help fulfill the majority of my orders. Thank you so much, CHERIE! You are so very sweet to share these with me. Rest assured they will be put to good use! Thank you, too, to my mom-in-law Carol, who also gave me some spools. What a treat!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

THE POWER OF PINK

I started today feeling rather down as I looked out the window to gray skies and read in the newspaper that the high would only be 50 degrees. Plus, I've been nursing a bad cold while trying to meet a bazillion work deadlines. But I was looking forward to visiting my friend Merry in a nearby town and when we met for lunch, my spirits immediately lifted. After enjoying a leisurely lunch, we headed out to do some shopping at a nearby discount store. We both found a bunch of pretty things that we didn't really need. Shopping with Merry is fun because she encourages me to buy everything I like when I usually resist such temptations! My favorite find was this pair of pink plaid laceless tennis shoes. It can be hard to find decent shoes for my size 5½ -6 feet so I was just thrilled to see these.


Merry and I both go crazy over stationery. Am I one of the few people in this world who still enjoys writing letters? I try to write a letter every other week to my grandma. It doesn't always get done but usually it does.


And aren't these some of the prettiest post-it notes you've seen? Almost too pretty to use but I will put them to good use. If you're wondering why someone would get so excited about stationery and office supply products, keep in mind I am a magazine journalist by trade and use stuff like this everyday. I especially love it when companies beautify utilitarian objects like these.


Are you starting to detect a color theme here? Yes, my favorite palette of pink, green, and brown seems to follow me wherever I go!


I also found a photo album covered in an Amy Butler print, a fun laptop storage bag, and a whimsical pencil case.


This Amy Butler tote bag is generous in size and will be handy to transport my quilting projects when on the go. Before we knew it, it was time to call it a day and I headed back home. I had such a fun time that I nearly forgot about that bothersome cold. It's amazing how the color pink has a way of perking one up, and of course, friendship is a wonderful pick-me-up, too. Thank you, Merry, for such a fun day.


When I returned home, I found a package of fabric on my doorstep, including this fun print—just in time for the gardening season! What better way for a quilter to wrap up her day than with a new piece of fabric! To see some of my other recent fun finds, check out my previous post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TREASURE HUNTING

One of the guest rooms in our 1885 Victorian home has been in dire need of decorating for longer than I care to admit. But I don’t have a big design budget to work with, so I’ve been looking for fun furnishings that won’t cost me a fortune. Imagine my delight when I found the perfect dresser on a recent outing. It's sitting downstairs until we can get it upstairs to its permanent home. Weekends often find me scouring the countryside for treasures or bargains, and I feel like I hit the jackpot with this $125 find. The dealer had painted and distressed it because the finish was in less-than-stellar condition.


I love the carved detail in the drawers. Other favorite touches are the little candle stands that flank the mirror and the original brown marble top insert.


Another recent treasure-hunting excursion turned up this vintage commode—and although it isn’t an exact match for the dresser, I think it will make a nice companion for it in my guest room. At $68, the price seemed right on this piece, too! Click on the photo for a more detailed shot.


I was particularly drawn to it because of the wonderful acorn motifs. There's something so delightful about acorns, and it's hard to find furniture pieces that incorporate them. 


And just this weekend I found this lovely Cheval dresser, which I plan to put in a different bedroom. It doesn't bother me that these pieces are not exact matches as I like a somewhat eclectic look and I'm not a purist when it comes to styles. It's enough for me if a piece makes me happy! And like the other pieces, this one fit my budget at $130. My husband was kind enough to hold the mirror up so I could snap a quick photo of it for you (that's his arm peeking from behind the mirror).


The first two pieces will complete my guest room furniture ensemble. Fortunately, I already had two Jenny Lind spool twin beds—tag sale finds at $20 for the pair. All they needed was a good polishing and a pair of vintage 1930s quilts to dress them up. I guess the lesson of this treasure-hunting tale is that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to furnish a room. The tally for these furniture pieces totaled $343—not bad for furnishing an entire room, plus part of another! And their collective charm is priceless to me.

Other treasure hunts this weekend turned up the following fun finds. One of my weaknesses is ribbon. The patterned green and brown ones are from a Danish company.


If you regularly read my blog, you already know that I collect vintage books with pretty illustrations. I found this sweet little book, which is just 5 inches tall. It has the dearest illustrations of two little girls named Flora and Josephine. Click on the photo for a more detailed shot. It was published in 1863 and is in remarkably good shape for its age. It's neat to imagine some little Victorian girl reading it.


One of my other favorite collectibles is vintage ledgers from the 1800s through the 1930s. When I spotted this one, I knew I had to have it.


And lastly, I picked up this fun spring bag trimmed in one of my favorite shades of green. It's not the kind of thing I would normally buy but it grew on me. The dealer pointed out that it matched my green raincoat! Yes, it was raining here again!


So as I end this post, I'm curious to know: What is YOUR favorite vintage furniture find? I hope you've found that special piece to help make your house a home!

Friday, April 15, 2011

ENLIGHTENING READS FOR A DREARY DAY

It was a cold, rainy day here in central Iowa—the perfect day to curl up with a good quilt book and read the afternoon away. While a couple phone interviews for articles I'm writing took up a good share of my afternoon, I was able to catch up on this quilt history book I've been reading.


I belong to a local 1800s quilt study group and when our resident quilt history expert, Virginia, told the group about this book, I knew I had to get a copy. It features many of the quilts in the collection of Beamish, the North of England Open Air museum and chronicles the rich quilting traditions of the Northumberland and Durham regions. It's filled with photos of beautiful antique quilts—a veritable feast for the eyes for those of us who love these cloth treasures of yesteryear! Some like this beauty date back to the 1820s.


There is also an intriguing chapter on patterns and templates. As a quilter with a fondness for 1800s reproduction quilts, I am always looking for historically-appropriate quilting designs. The chapter talks about how quilting templates were prized by quilters and passed down from mother to daughter. They were often made by the quilter's husband, who carved them from wood or shaped them from tin. 


We don't see many antique quilt templates here in Iowa. So I was surprised to find this charming one last year at an antiques show. It reminded me of some of the ones I'd seen in this book. Needless to say, it went home with me!


Thanks to books like these, a dreary afternoon turned into an enjoyable one! One other thing that brightened my day was picking up my copy of the latest issue of Quilts and More magazine when I went to Meredith Corporation (where American Patchwork and Quilting magazine and their companion magazines are published) for a meeting with an editor.


I was delighted to see a wonderful quilt made by my blogging friend Kathie at Inspired by Antique Quilts. I almost didn't recognize it as Kathie's because it was a departure from her usual 1800s reproduction quilt designs. But it was lovely just the same! Congratulations, Kathie!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ANOTHER OWL PINCUSHION

Work and creativity converged last week as I made one of my owl pincushions that I designed last fall for a work-related project. She has since flown the nest and arrived safely at her new home on the East Coast. I had such fun working on her that I was a bit sad to see her go. If you go to wholesale Quilt Market this May, you will see her in one of the vendor booths.


The owl was featured in a national quilting magazine last fall. While that issue is no longer available, I now have individual patterns of it for sale in my blog shop. If you are interested, just click this link. Kits for my robin's egg blue owl Allie (featured in October on my blog) are also available at this link. If you like this owl's green and pink color palette, let me know and I might be able to get the wool together to make a kit.

I haven't had as much time as I would like to create lately because my work projects take most of my time these days. After a long day of editing a quilt book yesterday, I took a little break to run to a quilt shop, Adel Quilting and Drygoods. Of course, there were goodies to be found and I brought back a yard of the French General Pom Pom de Paris fabric and this book on quilts of the Plains (from Kansas City Star Quilt books). They do such a great job with historical quilts (Of course, I might be a bit partial since I work for them!).


In other work news—I'm now scouting gardens for one of Better Homes and Gardens gardening magazines. So if you know of a cool garden (particularly in the central Iowa region because I could visit it myself), I'd love to see photos. Just email them to me at the email button on the right side of my blog. Have a great day, everyone! Unfortunately, I'm having some dental surgery done today, so I don't imagine it will be a great one here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

EGG ARTISTRY

Signs of spring are slowing pop up around my house, including a few Easter decorations here and there. In early March I bring out my easter egg tree. I love the old-fashioned feather trees but I don't have the budget to buy the pricey antique ones. So several years ago I custom ordered this one made up in one of my favorite shades of green.


This little tree spotlights an assortment of handpainted real eggs, which I've collected over the years. Just look at the charming detail on this lady bunny.


This iris-adorned egg reminds me of the lovely flowering bulbs that brighten my early spring garden.


I have many a basket filled with handcrafted eggs, including this one with two handpainted wooden eggs and a handmade paper house. The delightful bunny in the foreground is entirely handmade with a charming ruff made of vintage crepe paper. 


It's amazing how artful ordinary objects like eggs can be when creativity takes flight. I belong to my local P.E.O. group and one of our members shared her collection of handmade egg creations with the group last year. A former art teacher, Betty M. always delights us with her many artistic talents. She hand-felted these eggs with wool roving and displays them so cleverly in these egg plates. She was kind enough to teach me her technique, so I'm making my own batch of felted eggs. The eggs pictured below are Betty's.


An avid gardener, Betty also loves to incorporate nature's offerings into her creations. She mixes up natural dyes from plants and edibles such as onion skins and larkspur blossoms to create these elegant eggs. Visiting Betty's house is a real treat. She has a greenhouse where she cultivates more than 70 varieties of scented geraniums year-round. The scent that greets you when you open the door is heavenly!


Betty crafted these eggs with intricate papercuttings.


I hope these eggstraordinary creations inspire you to think of eggs in a new way. Pardon the pun!