Seasons

Gardening and decorating

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…)

Spring Spruce Up

Each season always brings a renewed effort to spruce up the house and garden.  It is always fun to change things up a bit without major investments.  The first thing I turn to is moving my accessories from room to room and changing up the combination of items. This exercise always makes things look fresh again and each time I do it I think I have found the right combination. But soon, it will change again. The space above my china cupboard in my dining room is always the first place I start and is the most fun to do.  I know have shared  this view a number of times, but items are a new combination.

I have been dabbling a bit painting with acrylics and this past month did two new paintings for spots in my house that needed a change of pace.   (more…)

SEWING ROOM INSPIRATION

One rainy day spent in my sewing room always turns into either mending and ironing or rearranging fabric, sorting supplies and generally putting things back in order.  Usually, the process results in finishing a project and perhaps getting inspired to use up “stash” items to create something from “nothing”. It is always a good day when new, finished projects are the result.

If you remember the hearts I stitched for Ella’s holiday tree in her room….they needed to be replaced with bunnies and eggs for Easter.  She announced she would like decorations for the tree for every holiday throughout the year.  It sure is fun having someone who loves my little wool felt stitchery.  Here are the new spring decorations for her tree.  Luckily, I have a stash of wool felt, embroidery floss and pearl cotton that I can always dig into to make these small treasures.  There is no pattern.  I sketched a shape within a 2-3″ size and cut two pieces of felt for each ornament and stitched the edges together with a blanket or buttonhole stitch.  Just before I finished stitching around the shape, I tucked a very small amount of polyester fiberfil in to give a little dimension to the ornament.  Cookie cutters make great patterns for simple shapes if you do not want to free hand the shapes.

I think the next thing I need to do is come up with a special box to store all the ornaments in that can be tucked on a shelf in her closet so that as they accumulate they can all be stored in one place and retrieved easily for the years to come.

As I was looking for thread to use for these ornaments, it seemed like a good time to gather and organize all of the embroidery floss and pearl cotton that I have.  It is always frightening to discover the amount I have accumulated.  Over the years I have amassed quite a collection including threads from my grandmother, my aunt, my mother and everything from the Thimbleberries Studio.  They are now all in one antique picnic basket along with my embroidery hoops.  It is always a good thing to get every like item in one spot.

While sorting through, I thought of an idea that might use up a good amount of the embroidery thread stash.  I collected a group of threads of coordinating colors and stitched the strands onto a base to make a new pillow.  I found a neutral scrap of upholstery weight fabric that I had once used as a base for a group of appliquéd runners back in the eighties.  It was one of those pieces that I just kept over the years, knowing I would use it someday.  Well, that someday finally arrived and it was perfect for this project.  It is now a pillow and not a scrap of fabric.

I used a spool of variegated thread, and a huge variety of flosses, a wide zig zag stitch, a medium length stitch and stitched the floss onto the base in a diagonal pattern about an inch apart in both directions. I used the embroidery thread as it comes in the skein…6 single strands in a group.  This made a nice thick cluster to zig zag over.   As I stitched, I would slightly twist the 6 strands to make it easier to catch all the individual strands within the wide zig zag.

For the pillow back, I used the same zig zag stitch in the same diagonal pattern, eliminating the embroidery floss and used my usual envelop closer technique.  (Directions can be found in all of my books that have pillow projects.)

I love the finished pillow and also love knowing I made a little dent in my embroidery floss stash. The best part of the finished pillow is that I have found many places to use it in my house. Because I used so many colors, it seems to blend with all of my other pillow groupings in many rooms.

SCRAP QUILTS

I think most quilters have a soft spot in their heart for scrap quilts.  They were the first antique quilts that I responded to long ago.  I now know why.  Even then, I loved quilts that had large variety of prints in them and I think they reminded me of the resourcefulness of women that made very functional items from ordinary scraps.  We since have moved into an era of some pretty wonderful collections of beautiful fabrics and have many choices of “scraps” to use for scrap quilts.

Scrap Ease, found in my new book, Quilts with a New Attitude, is now my very favorite scrap quilt.  The book shows it in a queen size made from Thimbleberries fabrics and a throw size made in a coordinated collection from Cotton+Steel.  The piecing is easy, the cuts are big and the overall design very pleasing.  It has no border so it is to adjust the size if you need something other than the two sizes included in the book.  I just keep wanting to make more of this quilt design.  It would be so fun made in baby or kid prints….and Christmas prints and Halloween prints and the list goes on. A simple machine quilting design works well on this quilt.

Here is another version of the Scrap Ease made in another, rather wild collection of scraps.

When piecing the units for one portion of the quilt, you will get pairs of triangles that are trimmed off and technically waste.  I used my leftover triangles to make this narrow, long runner….I love it.

NEW ATTITUDE

My new book, Quilts with a New Attitude has arrived and is available from Landauer Publishing and hopefully at your local quilt shop. This was a fun book to work on using traditional quilt designs and showing them in both traditional and modern fabrics.  I am convinced that a good, well written quilt pattern works for all fabric preferences. Thimbleberries patterns have always been the “go to” for teaching new quilters.  Showing the quilts made  in a variety of fabric collections helps everyone imagine the possibilities.

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Throughout the book, each quilt was made using vastly different fabrics.  In some cases the same block was used but half sized.  In some cases, the same blocks were used but sashing and borders were eliminated and in many cases an alternate size quilt dimension was the result.  A touch of appliqué now and then also changed the flavor of the quilt.   Below is large Autumn Crescendo with appliqué and the second one is a half size version with wool appliqué.

 

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Following, the Citrus Crush quilt used very bright hot pink and orange prints.  A stark contrast to the traditional version using the same block and quilt design as the Autumn Crescendo quilt.  This makes the book a treasure of multiple projects.20170304181125599

I worked with my fabrics for the traditional quilts and used a variety of prints from the Cotton+Steel collection for the modern versions of the quilt designs.  Many of the quilts have already found homes to nestle into to add that charm only a quilt can give to a room.

As usual the blocks that were used for the quilts are simple.  The instructions are illustrated in color and so easy to follow.  A great example of the versatility of the quilts in this book involves the Very Merry Tree Skirt and the Black, White and Bright crib quilt.  Both use the same block construction  However, the tree skirt used the 8 inch block and the crib quilt used the same block but half sized at 4 inches.  The tree skirt used traditional red and green fabrics and the crib quilt used a large variety of black and white fabrics with a variety of solid bright colors.  The piping on the Black, White and Bright quilt is a unique mix of two different sized checked fabrics…a nice detail on this small quilt.

Here you see the Black, White and Bright quilt on my daughters new gray tweed couch.  It is a perfect accent to her contemporary room adding a bold, bright accent.  The Very Merry Tree Skirt has been tucked away for her tree next holiday season.  It will be a perfect Thanksgiving surprise to kick off the holiday season.IMG_0020IMG_003020170305081350782

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