FINISHING TOUCHES

Like many of you, I have many irons in the fire between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year I referred to photos from last year and duplicated the decorating vignettes that were particularly pleasing to me and added new touches here and there.  The day after I decorated outside, the next morning I was greeted with a fresh coat of snow which really sets the mood for the holidays.  Too bad that also means it is cold outside.    

I did take a day to sew a Christmas dress for Ella.  I bought a lovely piece of red and black plaid fabric while in Iceland last September and knew I had just enough to make a dress for her this year.  One size bigger would have taken more fabric than I had. The pattern required all pieces be cut on the bias which took a little extra planning and fabric.  The end result was wonderful and worth all the effort.  She loves the dress.  Here both Ella and Taylor are all decked out for a holiday brunch.

The Merry, Merry Tree Skirt in Quilts with a New Attitude is a great tree skirt for a large tree.  It is a fast and easy to piece project and would also be a great tree skirt for a modern setting using modern fabrics.  There might be someone in your family looking for that kind of tree accessory.

A treat I am making for hostess gifts this year is made from a recipe from Marilyn, a friend from forever ago and a really great cook. All of her recipes are keepers.  I have made a number of batches already and probably will have to make a few more.

Sweet and Salty Nuts –  These party pleasers are also mouth-watering tossed over a salad, casserole, or roasted vegetable dish.

Seasonal Pillows

Last fall, two of my pillow designs (the reindeer and tree) were featured in Fons and Porter QUILTY magazine.  The reindeer design was used again in this year’s Nov/Dec issue.  With my left over scraps, I made a log cabin block with wool strips and appliquéd circles on the strips so some of the circle would be incorporated into the seam.  I then pieced flannel borders onto the wool block.  I like the combo of the two fabrics and it is much easier to finish off the pillow when flannel is used on the outside edges.

While digging out the Christmas decorations, I found this Rudolph puzzle that I got for Christmas as a preschooler.  I think I will get it framed…it would be a fun picture to use next year and maybe one of those things that my daughter might like for her decorating next year while the kids are still small.

I hope your holiday is filled with joy, friends and family and you take time to enjoy the season.

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A FEATHERED NEST

TURKEY TIME

Before a turkey gets put in the oven, a few decorative ones are brought out to set the mood for this short time between Halloween and Christmas.  The day after Halloween, the Jack-o-lanterns and all Halloween things get put away to make way for Thanksgiving.  Granted, Thanksgiving decorations are limited but I do have my vintage wax turkey collection that I always display.  They add just the right touch here and there, blending in with my dishes and other display items.

And of course, some of my favorite harvest quilts take center stage.   (more…)

LAST GASP

We had fabulous weather all last week with temps in the upper 70’s.  This is pretty unusual for Minnesota so we all think we stole a week away from an early winter.  Warm days at this time of the year are treasured.  The cool nights combined with warm days really make the fall colors intensify.  I have lived my whole life in this climate and every fall I am still amazed at how beautiful this season is between lush green of summer and frosty white of winter.  I think you can see how my fall fabric collections were influenced by my surroundings.  Even the simplest image would have been an inspiration.

 

This past weekend was also the last of our Sunday night boat rides around the lake.  Everything is pretty wrapped up for the winter. Boats are put into winter storage (more…)

HALLOWEEN FAVORITES

Truth be told, I have never been too excited about the ghoulish elements of Halloween, but rather the fall colors and pumpkins with just a hint of Halloween whimsy here and there are always fun at this time of the year. There is a sweetness about childhood memories of Trick or Treating in the neighborhood with friends for me and for my own children.  And now, I get to experience the fun again with my grandchildren.  Granted the costumes are far more elaborate than the homemade ones from my past but the excitement of Trick or Treating seams to endure.  So, now it is time to dig out some of my favorites for the season.

KIDS ART

Here is a little piece of artwork made by Taylor at the age of 7. I thought was so special and deserved to be framed and kept to be used year after year.  He made it from white tape and black constructions paper.  Kids make things like this skeleton and bat in such quick order it is hard to understand why the proportions and details always seem to be right on.  For the background of the picture, I decopauged a fall napkin on a piece of cardboard with Modge Podge and mounted the skeleton and bat under the glass with just a touch of glue.  It is a perfect complement to the two Halloween figurines and brings a smile every time I catch a glimpse of it.

MAGAZINE ART

Years ago, I produced a series of fabric panels that featured artwork from magazine covers of the twenties and thirties.  The series was titled, Cover Story. Some of you may have some of these panels.  The original kits included a panel and instructions to piece into a wall quilt. (more…)

IT SEEMS LIKE FALL TODAY

GARDENING IN SEPTEMBER  

We are having one of those stretches of weather where our days are sunny and the nights are cool…just perfect as far as I am concerned.  My garden has started to take on a decided look of fall.  Everything is still mainly green, but hints of bronze are sneaking in and the plants that bloom late in the season are outstanding.  It is such a joy to work outside when the temps are reasonable and the humidity is low.  The weeds have settled down because all of the plants are big enough to crowd them out so there isn’t much weeding to do.  Mainly, I just need to deadhead and trim things back a bit when they get little out of control.  I can honestly say, my September garden is my favorite. 

AUTUMN DECORATING  

I have started to bring out the pumpkins and fall quilts.  The whole fall palette is still a favorite of mine.  It is hard to pick and choose between all of the quilts and runners that I have in my collection.  One of the newest, is the Harvest Lone Star Burst that was recently featured in my last book, Quilts with a New Attitude.  I know I designed it as a wall quilt but it looks pretty great on my island and table as well.

The deck got a makeover this season as well.  I just couldn’t resist.

And even the pumpkin potholder made the cut this year, adding a nice touch of fall color to my counter by my ovens.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER    

Just like all of you, I have been finishing up projects that I have unearthed in my sewing room. I started this wool project years ago while on vacation.  I purchased it as a kit and no longer know who published the pattern.  I do like working with wool and love to travel with wool stitching projects.  This one, however, got lost in the shuffle for many, many years….happy to have it done and in use.

PILLOW POWER    

The first thing I do in the fall is change out my pillows from the lighter ones I use in the spring and summer to my “harvest” pillows.  In general, I keep the same pillows, and switch out the covers.  That keeps the pillow storage under control.  The bench in my front entrance is a fun place to load up with a lot of different pillow designs and sizes.

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LITTLE STITCHES

This summer I have been doing some hand work, specifically, a couple of embroidery pieces for Ella’s room at their cabin.  She has this sweet little space that has been outfitted with two antique twin beds, comforters, quilts, pillows and a tiny dresser tucked under the window. The teddybear is outfitted in a sweater I knitted for Ella when she was a baby and grew out of in and instant.   I found two darling designs on NeedleCrafter.com in their free design collection and they were perfect for her room.  There isn’t much wall space as you can see so these little framed pieces of stitchery added the right touch.  Most importantly, she was thrilled with them.

Taylor was very interested in what I was doing for Ella’s room so he and I discussed what I could stitch up for his room.  He decided he would like a combination of his favorite animal (tiger) and his favorite sport (football).  So, I turned to my wool felt stash and embroidery floss to whip up this little treasure for him.  He was thrilled.  This might be my last shot of stitching something he will be excited to have.  He displays it on his nightstand by his bed, which obviously makes grandma feel really good.

Recently we entertained a group of friends and thought I would share a couple of the recipes I made for the evening that really work nicely for buffet service and a large group. Best thing is, both could be made ahead of time, which is always an important part of entertaining for me.  It takes all the stress out of that last minute rush that happens when everyone has arrived.

For my table decor, I used my antique McCoy flower vases filled with zinnias I picked up at the farmer’s Market earlier in the day.  Nothing says summer like these brightly colored flowers.  I made the runner from scraps of cotton and linen canvas from the Cotton+Steel collection.  The strips are cut between 4, 5 and 6 inches and randomly pieced together with the same print at each end.  This piecing was the best for the fabric…no need for complicated piecing.  It was also completed in a jiffy…perfect for when you have a few minutes and you want to sew a little and get something done fast. I thought it was a perfect complement to the flowers and vases.

For the main course, I served a salad, garlic bread and baked spaghetti and meatballs.  I found a recipe in a recent Southern Celebrations Autumn magazine (which, by the way, has a lot of great recipes in it as well as fall decorating inspiration…worth picking up), I altered the recipe a bit knowing a few of my guests object to both green peppers and mushrooms. I also doubled the meatball recipe because half the crowd was men. It was very tasty and a hit with everyone.  I made two casseroles for my group and everyone was happy.  I stopped in at our local farmer’s market earlier in the day to pick up all the fresh ingredients for a hearty salad and we were all set.

SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS CASSEROLE RECIPE

For dessert, I made a strawberry shortcake trifle.  This should be made at least 8 hours in advance, which is why I always turn to it for a dinner party.  Also, guests can serve themselves which makes it even easier when you are busy with everything else going on.  I do make my own bundt cake for the trifle, but a purchased pound cake also works well.  A tall glass bowl works well for a trifle both for presentation and the height allows for many layers of cream and berries.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE TRIFLE RECIPE

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