Friday, March 20, 2015

HELLO, SPRING!

The first day of spring is always a welcome sight here at Ashton House. That means it's time to start thinking about seeds, and packets galore are pouring in from the seed companies. As a freelance garden writer, I get to trial various seeds and plants in my garden each year. It's interesting to see which ones fare well and which ones flop. My climate is not very forgiving of anything that needs a lot of maintenance.


This year I'm hoping to try more edibles. Family and neighbors often gift us a bunch of tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, and potatoes but it seems we hardly ever get zucchini, which happens to be my favorite vegetable. So this year I hope to remedy that problem by growing some of my own. Renee's Garden sent me the following mixed variety package containing Clarimore—a plump pastel green zucchini, Raven—a glossy dark green beauty, and Golden Dawn—a buttercup yellow variety with a delicate, nutty flavor. 


Among the other seeds was this vibrant purple carrot from Holland that is said to be a vigorous grower and loaded with antioxidant flavonoids. It has a little yellow core.


I also received some All-America Selections winners, including this 'Butterscotch' butternut squash bred by Johnny's Selected seeds.


I am not a huge fan of beets (This 'Avalanche' variety is a sweet, mild-flavored variety bred by Bejo Seeds). Let me know if you'd like some seeds and I would be glad to share. 


Spring is also the time when many of us look forward to retiring our winter clothes to the back of the closet in favor of some spring-fresh ones. I love my coral pink daisy embroidered dress because it reminds me of my garden, which includes these cheerful flowers. In the below photo, I've displayed the dress on my vintage Bauman dress form. I wasn't able to find a dress form in my specific size but this one still works pretty nicely and makes a charming accent for my sewing area. Speaking of dresses, I watch an Italian cooking show called "Extra Virgin" on the Cooking Channel and it's hosted by the most charming couple, Debi Mazar and her Italian husband, Gabriele Corcos. Debi wears the neatest dresses even in casual settings (I rarely see her in something other than a dress) and I thought it would be fun if I challenged myself to wear more dresses this spring and summer. For the longest time, I shied away from them because I didn't think they would fit normal body types, but you know, life is too short not to try something new. A health scare last year taught me that I need to do the things I want to do NOW, not later (If there can be a "blessing" in a health crisis, perhaps it is that it makes you realize how important it is to live the life you have more fully, no matter how mundane the details get). So I'm going for it! Luckily, this dress is designed to be very loose fitting, so it's really comfortable. For a cheerful dose of more pink goodies, head over to my pink blog by clicking here


And for all you quilters who haven't yet heard, C&T Publishing is having a SPRING FLING sale with up to 70% off some items this Friday–Monday. They asked me to help spread the word. So head on over to the sale by clicking here.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

TREASURES FROM THE PAST

Greetings, my friends. It's been a busy week here at Ashton House editing the latest edition of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine, which goes to press late this month. Seems like we just wrapped up the spring issue. Where does time go? I'm also staying busy with my writing. Design profiles for Country French magazine and Decor magazine are in the works this week. Last Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed going to the latest installment of my monthly quilt club where we got to see some stunning quilts. Our teacher Marge shared this lovely little Carolina Lily quilt that she made. What makes it even more stunning is its tiny size. I don't think it was even 18 inches long! The border strips are even—I just cropped this photo badly!


I also enjoyed seeing this vintage beauty made of cigar silks. We were talking about those types of fabrics in our textile history lesson, so it was a fitting show-and-tell! It was truly astounding to see this variety of them all in one quilt! In the foreground, you can see some of Marge's vintage laundry child's toys. Laundry days of the past were one of the topics of our conversation.


After the club meeting, I made a quick detour by one of my favorite antique haunts, where I found this vintage doll bed. It's very similar to one I purchased from Mary Ghormley (author of Childhood Treasures: Quilts Made for and by Children) seven years ago. I don't believe this one is particularly old (probably from the 1960s) but the price was right at $16.


Also snagged this darling antique pink lusterware bowl for $10 and blue feedback print for $4.


I capped off a wonderful day by watching the season finale of Downton Abbey and indulging in fried cod strips from my favorite seafood restaurant (Their half pound special is a great deal at just under $7). Since I now cook most of our meals, it's quite a treat to get carryout once a week!


A few weeks ago I found out that one of my favorite local antiques shops is closing its doors later this month. I've enjoyed going to Found Things for what must be close to a decade. Its owner, Marsha, is a real gem, and I forged an instant connection with her. Have you ever been lucky enough to meet someone who instantly "gets" you? Well, Marsha was one of a handful of those people for me. She had a way of making me feel like I was the neatest person in the world—don't worry, I didn't get a big head. That's never been of my problems! Her one-of-a-kind shop will be sorely missed (I can't imagine how the new tenant is going to fill those shoes!).


Over the years, I've found everything from Victorian scrapbooks and calling cards to toy pianos and 1960s kitchenware in this treasure trove. When I see each find, I'm reminded of how fun it was to discover them. Along the way, Marsha was there to share in that excitement. I think she was as genuinely thrilled for me as I was. If you're in the area, I hope you can stop by her going-away party on March 28. It will be a sad day but we all wish her the very best in whatever new adventure life takes her next. 


Last but not least, I'm selling a couple of clothing items on my pink blog here. If I don't sell these by next Monday, I'll be taking them to Goodwill so someone else can hopefully enjoy them. If you're local to the area and are interested in any of them, let me know.