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.  Later, the series was re-issued as complete panels with faux pieced borders that required only quilting to finish.  The Pumpkin Boy was always one of my favorites and I had the artwork printed in a very large format and framed.  It is the first thing I put up each October.

VINTAGE HALLOWEEN

It is always tempting to collect vintage paper Halloween items but pretty difficult to display.  I like them best when gathered into a collage which make a great piece of art.  This makes much more of a statement than trying to display them individually.  This is a collection of paper items I have collected.  I started with an interesting old frame and covered cardboard with some orange fabric for the background.  It serves as a bulletin board for mounting the items.  For the most part the items are slipped under the frame edges and ocassionally a small stick pin was used to anchor the items in place.

FALL QUILTS

This drapery rod mounted on the wall has been one of the best ways to display quilts. I shared this with you previously but must tell you it is really a handy way to show many quilts grouped together.   Sometimes I will carefully fold and hang the quilts in an orderly manner but this is probably my favorite way to group them.  It is so much fun to see them clustered together rather than folded up and hidden away in a cupboard.  I change the group many times throughout the year, generally reflecting the season.  I got my rod from West Elm but I see them everywhere.  It has an industrial look and is so strong and perfect for the job.  But, I am sure any strong rod would do and the great thing is the size can be adjusted to exactly the space you have.

RECENT PAINTING

Last fall I ran across a picture taken of a barn on the farm where my father grew up.  The picture was taken 40+ years ago the day the barn was demolished.  I have fond memories of my grandma’s farm and specifically playing in the hayloft.  I am one of those people who love old barns and am always drawn to images of them or in a natural rural setting.  I am sure that all started in my childhood with grandma’s barn. I painted this simple image of the barn, exactly as the photo captured it 40+ years ago and love seeing it each day.

FALL ARRANGEMENTS

One of the best things to do is to repurpose items you already have to create something new.  I recently added an antique punch bowl to my collection and went about creating this showy piece for my kitchen island.  Years ago I found some orange Christmas ball ornaments at a discount store on sale after Christmas.  I had no idea when orange ornaments would ever be used on a Christmas tree, but purchased them at a deep, deep discount (no wonder) thinking I might just be able to use them in the fall.  They finally got their chance.  I filled the punch bowl with the assortment of orange balls and faux moss balls.  I then gathered up some artificial grass, berry and leaf sprigs from my stash and inserted them into the bowl.  The ornaments and moss balls held them all in place.  I placed the arrangement, surrounded by a fall twig wreath, on a tin cake stand to elevate it, which always makes an arrangement like this pretty outstanding.  The best part is, all of the items were in the house and got reused in a new way.

The best thing about fall arrangements is that just about anything goes.  Here I collected items from outdoors.  It is just about ready to freeze here and kill the plants so it is a good time to bring a few of the fall blooms into the house.  This arrangement is simply Little Lime Hydrangea blossoms with Autumn Joy blooms, ornamental kale and cedar.  It will last a long time and here it is grouped with a cluster of white pumpkins and Carnival squash, which is my favorite baking squash.  Oh, the colors of fall can’t be beat!

 

 

 

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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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GARDEN TOUR

July flew by and I guess I have spent the whole month in the garden and at the cabin.  I did work on some fun stitching projects for Ella and Taylor’s rooms that should be ready to share with you next time.

I have little to show you from my sewing room, but did take snapshots of my yard last week. July is the peak for most of the plants in my garden. Some early blooming plants are lingering and the late summer blooms have arrived. Take a few minutes and “stroll” through my garden (more…)

LONG GONE

I think the category of “out-of-print patterns and books”, most specifically, past Block of the Month patterns is the most requested information I receive.    Next is the category of “out-of-print fabrics”. In many cases, consumers are looking for items from ten to fifteen years ago and I just do not have resources for those items any longer.  I understand many of you are (more…)

CATCHING UP

I can tell summer activities have consumed me.  Between yard work here at the house and the cabin as well as kitchen duty, the summer is flying by and I haven’t kept up on my blogging.   In my last post I think I included a picture of one of my pots that I was planting.  Well, here it is a month later.  It has survived 4 hail storms, some high winds and some unseasonal cold temps but is thriving.  I like having the pictures…it comes in handy when deciding what to plant next spring.  Above is the pot the end of May, and here it is now. 

This is one of my favorite views of my back yard.   (more…)

IT IS TIME….

This week found me outside everyday.  We had one of those weeks of weather that makes a gardener go crazy.  We call it Minnesota beautiful.  That means sunny, no wind, a high of 70° and no humidity.  It was perfect for everything…work and leisure.  I have learned over the years that I generally need two to three trips to the nursery. (more…)

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