Tuesday, December 27, 2011

GIFTS FROM THE HEART

I have the best hubby (don't we all?!). He puts together the nicest gift packages for me every Christmas. The most touching thing about them is not the gifts themselves but the thought and care he puts into each one. He makes it a point to remember things that I like when we're out shopping and visiting antique malls throughout the year. I was so impressed with his wrapping and embellishing skills. The photo doesn't show it well but he even picked out some neat pink and brown ribbon and made a bow with it for one of the gifts!


Here are the goodies unwrapped. It was hard resisting the temptation to peek at the little quilt in my favorite shade of pink but it was worth the wait. I also got a drawer to store my Keurig machine's K-cups, a cute owl soap dispenser, a Williams-Sonoma cakelet pan, and two vintage glass leaf dishes in a soft shade of shell pink.


I think pearl buttons would look lovely displayed on these vintage glass leaf plates. The photos don't show their true pale pink color.


This quirky felted frog was the only item I put on my wish list this year. I think he's adorable!


I also got a kit to make this sweet little felted owl by the same artisan who makes the frog!


I adore this cozy scented heating pad filled with cassia seeds. It's so pretty in pink and blue.


My husband knows I love 19th-century books, especially ones with pretty illustrations, as I always stop and ooh and aah over them when I see them in antiques shops. I was so touched that he was observant enough to find this beautiful bound edition of St. Nicholas magazines from 1888. I can't wait to explore this wonderful treasure.


Even the inside covers, covered in beautiful illustrations from yesteryear, are exquisite. 


And last but not least was this mini pie maker. In an earlier post, I spotlighted my cake pops and pie pops makers. Guess my husband thought they were the launching pad for other good gift ideas like this one! Thank you for making this another extra special Christmas, my dear hubby!

Monday, December 26, 2011

CHRISTMAS WITH THE PETS

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas. I'm enjoying spending some time with my family. Yesterday, my sister came with her sweet dog, Albert, and a new puppy that she had just picked up the prior day. Her name is Tillie (short for Matilda). There she is on the left. My sister lost her other dog, Khloe, earlier this year, and Albert has been missing his companion ever since. So my sister thought he might enjoy having a new friend.


Tillie was remarkably spry for just having had been spayed a couple days earlier, but after fully exploring mom and dad's house, she got a little worn out.


Albert is a beautiful, bighearted Bernese Mountain dog. This picture doesn't really show how large he is. He is one of the nicest dogs I've ever met. Anyone who meets him seems to fall in love with him. 


My mom and dad have three cats. One of them is this mischievous little black boy named Felix. He couldn't resist inspecting one of mom's opened gift boxes. 


Can you tell that we are an animal-loving family? I grew up with dogs and cats. Although my lifestyle doesn't gear itself well to having a dog, I'm always very tempted to get one when I see cute ones like these! I'll be back tomorrow to share some gifts the hubby gave me. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A CHRISTMAS MEMORY

During the holiday season, I always revisit my copy of Truman Capote's touching short story, "A Christmas Memory", originally published in Mademoiselle magazine in 1956 (you can read it here). Those of you who are familiar with it know it's a bittersweet memoir of friendship between a young boy and a sixty-something woman who is his distant cousin. Inevitably, I end up reaching for a kleenex or two by the last paragraph! Truman Capote is one of my favorite authors. I can remember reading all the books I could find by him in the local library during one summer as a high school student. My favorite is his classic 1958 novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's, which also happens to be my favorite movie. For some reason whenever I'm down, I can watch that movie and feel better.


As I was thinking about Christmases past, I was suddenly reminded of the importance of recording those pleasant memories—or special memories that bless us anytime of the year. Someday they are all we will have of loved ones lost. So this year, I gave all my friends these Christmas memory books among other gifts.


As I look back at this Christmas, one of my fondest memories will be spending a lovely day with my friends, Belinda and Merry, for our annual gift exchange. Those of you regular blog readers are already familiar with their generous spirit and creative talents. This year was no exception, so I cannot resist sharing their heartwarming gifts with you. I will start in alphabetical order with Belinda! My heart skipped a beat when I unwrapped these amazing handmade gifts—a notebook cover and drawstring bag—both made up in my favorite owl fabric by Adornit. Belinda told me that she had chosen this fabric because she knew I would not want to cut into mine, and oh, how right she was. That owl fabric is still sitting on my fabric shelf. I can't seem to bring myself to cut into it. Belinda even personalized the cover with my name on her embroidery machine!


Isn't this drawstring bag adorable? I would have been so grateful to have just have received one of these gifts! Can you believe the drawstring bag was filled with more goodies? Among them were this cute notepad, a delightful owl-adorned pin, pink polkadot scissors, the sweetest mini wooden ruler, and a lovely Modern Priscilla box kit for making an interior box cushion.


But that wasn't the end of Belinda's surprises. She also gifted me the most incredible quilt book! I can hardly wait to dig into it.


It's packed with photos of gorgeous vintage quilts and profiles on well-known quilters such as Ruth Finley and Averil Colby.


Merry's gifts were equally astounding. They both put mine to shame (I won't bore you by showing you the gifts I gave them). She actually knitted these cozy socks for me! The only problem is I can't bring myself to wear them because I don't want to get them dirty! They're too pretty. She also made this fun flannel blanket, perfect for keeping warm on those cold winter nights or during a winter car ride.


Merry even crocheted its decorative edge! I was simply in awe of the workmanship that must have gone into this.


Merry's generosity knows no limits. Would you believe she also gifted me all these goodies, too? Vintage mini oil cans to add to my collection, a faux book storage case, a handy little bag made with Jo Morton laminate fabric, an owl rubber stamp, handmade magnets, and the loveliest sewing tray I have ever seen—complete with a handmade pincushion and embroidery scissors.


I gasped with delight when I saw this homemade pincushion/tape measure! Merry made it herself. The cute little bee pins are handmade, too. 


Being a gifted baker, Merry always surprises her friends with some edible delights. This year she gave Belinda and me a mouthwatering assortment of her homemade biscotti in flavors such as chocolate, snickerdoodle, almond chocolate, anise, and gingerbread. Yum! I love the smaller size, which will be the perfect treat with a cup of chai latte, egg nog, or tea. 


As our holiday gathering came to close, I felt so blessed to have good friends who actually chose to spend their time making me these heartfelt gifts. Just like the young boy named Buddy in "A Christmas Memory", I'll remember times spent with good friends like these for years to come.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

PLAYING CATCH UP

To say I'm behind on my holiday shopping and wrapping would be an understatement. A hefty list of work deadlines has left me little time to make much of a dent in them. Over lunch yesterday, I was able to catch up on some of my holiday to-dos. I've been printing out holiday images on my Cricut Imagine machine that I can craft into gift tags. The machine is a huge time-saver because it both prints and cuts out these nifty images...


This pretty blue and pink package is one of my favorite images. Makes me think of all the pleasant surprises I've been blessed with over the years.


This sweet stocking in my favorite shade of green is going on my mom's package. 


And who could resist a package adorned with this lovely paper ornament?


Things like this help get me in holiday spirit, and that's a good thing because I have a lot of wrapping to do the rest of this week! Late last night I finished wrapping a couple goodies. I found the cutest owl wrapping paper earlier this year.


After I wrapped the packages, I put them in these holiday bags and boxes. I hope they will bring as much joy to the recipients as they did to me, wrapping them. It's so fun to give, isn't it?!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A VERY QUILTY SURPRISE

We had the first of our family holiday gatherings with my husband's parents on Saturday. After they took us out to dinner, we stopped by an antiques shop on the way home and were delighted to find a wall of vintage quilts. After we oohed and aahed over them for about 15 minutes, my parents-in-law told me to pick one of them and they'd get it for me! I was astounded! First of all, who knew that I would get such a special gift that day? And secondly, how could I choose from the many beautiful vintage quilts before me? There was a beautiful tangerine 1930s Drunkard's Path quilt and an indigo patchwork quilt among them. But of all the vintage quilts, it is the scrappy ones I love most. The many different bits of fabric seem to reflect all the love that must have gone into them. So I chose the scrappiest one. Thank you so much, mom and dad! I'll treasure this gift for years to come.


Last night, I noticed an email message from my friend Anne. She had sent me a scan of a reader show and tell clipping from Fons and Porters' Love of Quilting magazine. Three ladies had made my Oliver the Owl pincushion that had been featured in one of their previous issues! And what a kind friend to think to send this to me. Thank you, Anne!


Earlier this month, I made a few of my Holiday Hoots dressed in yuletide colors to sell on the prim marketplace selling site that I belong to. They have all flown the nest to their new homes. If you are interested in making your own Holiday Hoot, I sell patterns for them. I also occasionally sell finished owls. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

TREASURES BIG AND SMALL

Remember all those jars of vintage pearl buttons that my parents-in-law gave me that were in an earlier post? I've been wanting to find a nice way to organize and display them and finally came up with a fun solution.


In a previous post from last year, I shared a vintage button sorting box that I found at an antiques fair. It was just a simple old compartmentalized wooden box. This is a picture of how I found it at the fair. You can read more about my antiquing adventure from that day here. I found a lot of old good things there!


Anyway, the box worked great for stashing all those wonderful vintage pearl buttons. It even has a drawer where I can stash yet more buttons. The ones in the drawer are vintage pearl buttons I've found over the years. I especially love the pink and green ones on the right!


My parents-in-laws are coming tomorrow for our family holiday gathering and I am excited to show them what I did with their buttons!

In between button sorting and preparing a quilt book and quilt magazine for the printer, I had an appointment yesterday and on the way home stopped by one of my favorite thrift shops. This is what I found. It is well used and not in exquisite shape like Tabitha the Treadle but it was also a fraction of the cost at just $10. So I brought my new old Singer home to Ashton House. According to the Singer sewing site, it dates to 1923. If anyone else knows anything about this model, I'd love to hear from you. This one is not in its original case. With pink and tan colors, the case looks like it came from the 1950s or 60s!


My hope is to eventually find a vintage sewing machine to display in every room in my house (except the bathrooms—I do actually have a treadle in my kitchen that I will have to share with you another time). I have a ways to go and it will likely take awhile as my budget for vintage portable machines is $30 or under. The treadles, of course, are more expensive, but I think I have all of those that I can accommodate! The temptation is to buy just one more and with a big old attic that can hold a lot of junk, I really have to exercise self control!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS

As many of you regular blog readers already know, I write for Victoria magazine. I recently had the chance to write an article on the historical Chatillon-DeMenil house in St. Louis, and it is in the soon-to-be-released January/February issue! Here's a sneak peek of the beautiful cover dressed in winter whites. Doesn't that cake look divine?


There's an interesting sidenote to this story. Years ago, I actually visited this house (We have several relatives in Missouri, including St. Louis). Who would guess that a decade later I'd be writing an article about it for my favorite magazine?! Life certainly works in mysterious ways.


Here is a sneak peek at the first spread of the 6-page article. Quilt lovers, notice that gorgeous crazy quilt on the bed? Alas, there weren't any details on it to write about. Hope you will check out this gorgeous issue once it arrives on newsstands! As I write this post, I'm at work on another feature story for Victoria and hope to share more details on it after the first of the year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A GOOD NIGHT FOR READING

This seems to be the perfect night to catch up on my magazine and book reading. With a hectic weekend spent editing a magazine and writing articles, I need a little R&R tonight. Being a magazine editor and writer, I must confess I'm somewhat of a magazine junkie. I could spend a small fortune on magazines if I wasn't careful. I've tried to narrow down my subscriptions to only those magazines that I really love. I've been subscribing to Old House Interiors for years. I love the color of the blue wallpaper on the latest issue's cover.


Although I could never afford the beautiful furniture featured inside, I find decorating ideas here and there that I can inexpensively apply to my own decor. My favorite piece of furniture in this issue is the wonderful blue hutch with the vibrant red interior.


For years, I have enjoyed Victorian Homes. It's truly a feast for the eyes. This issue had a fun article on Christmas ornaments.


And of course, I subscribe to more quilt magazines than I care to admit! How can I resist when they feature beautiful antique-insipred quilts like these?


The books have also been piling up on my parlor table. Luckily, I'm just in time to read one that I had pre-ordered this summer. It includes some fun vintage-inspired crafts from the 1920s-60s. I wasn't even alive in the 60s but love the crafts of that era.


I love the vintage graphics inside!


I'm also enjoying this book on the gentle art of domesticity. Love the title. And how could a book with French-style macarons on the cover be bad? 


And I'm a big fan of any Tilda book. I have all of them and usually pre-order them from Amazon. I recently purchased some of companion Tilda fabrics so I can create a similar look to some of her projects.


So with all these good books and magazines piled on my parlor table, you might guess how I'll be spending the night. Yes, I'll be curled up with a good read and a little something sweet to drink. This mocha egg nog will do. It's the perfect blend of egg nog, chocolate, and coffee. Yum!



Thursday, December 8, 2011

WOOL INSPIRATIONS

The other day, I searched my wool stash for some pieces to inspire me and found myself with this harmonious quartet of colors. They remind me of spumoni ice cream.


Then I had to find a project for them! So I searched my stash of quilt mags and books and found the perfect one for the holidays—this pretty poinsettia pin. Granted this pattern doesn't call for brown wool but I might find a way to incorporate it. As I looked carefully at the photo, I realized I have the same herringbone green wool somewhere in my stash, too. So I guess it's time to get stitching!


I've also been making more of my wool flower ornaments for the feather tree. I just have to make a few more and I'll have just the right mix of wool flowers and other ornaments.