Gardening and decorating


As I look around our house, I notice I have a lot of what I call “found artwork”.  That is, items I have made or others have made that I framed and use as accessories in my decorating. They always make a space really personal and in many cases bring back very fond memories of people from my past.  Very often, I am able to find ready made frames from Target or art stores that serve the purpose very economically.  Other items, merit using a  professional framer. Even the vintage suitcase has been relined with one of my fabrics and I often use it as a display piece, both open and shut and always for storage.  I generally keep my “found art” in the suitcase when not displayed.img_0180

Two items that I did a few years back involved scrap book paper, Modge Podge, clay board and an office clip to have decorative mounting boards for snapshots of Taylor and Ella.  At the time, Taylor was really into Teenage Ninja Turtles, so I cut out images from a little book from the grocery store and made a collage of the popular group.  I then glued on old-fashioned office clip and clipped a favorite picture of Taylor in his Teenage Ninja pajamas.  The clay boards can stand on their own, or be displayed on a small easel, or hung.

img_0168For Ella, I picked papers that were definitely little girl in nature and picked the bird print because that was one of her first words.  I glued the row of bows along the top edge because her mom always had a bow in her hair, even at a very early age.

img_0167Both picture display boards have found their home in their rooms at our house.  Great thing about these…no glass to break as they handle them and move them around their rooms.  I often find them in the playroom.  You can see a glimpse of a bow in Ella’s ponytail.img_0194img_0189           Long ago, I found a quilt block in my grandmother’s things when she passed away and had it framed for my sewing room.  She was a very early influence on the things I love to do and it is  a nice reminder of her talents.  The basket block is from a quilt made for my husband’s parent’s wedding.  It was the only handmade quilt they had as a family and it was well worn.  I was able to selvage 4 blocks from it for all four of the children in his family.img_0185

The toy horse tree ornament is a favorite handmade ornament that I made 25 years ago.  I also have it in my sewing room displayed with a favorite baby toy from each of my children. The giraffe was my son’s and the rattle was my daughter’s.  They share a shelf with a unique antique rabbit puzzle.img_0187img_0170

The lion artwork is a piece I saved from my daughter’s 2nd grade in elementary school. It is now hung in Taylor’s room at grandma and bapa’s house.   It is perfect for this space above his bed.

img_0191I made this piece of artwork using two Dutch Boy paint chip cards.  They have large color cards that combine coordinating colors as suggestions for the home decorator.  I often cut out animal images while playing at the “art table” with Taylor and Ella and this shape was a favorite.  I traced it onto one of the color cards and carefully lined up the stripes on the background piece.  Because the color cards displayed different colors the animal shape pops out.  It now hangs above the blue folding kids chair on Taylor’s bedroom wall.

img_0192The crazy quilt picture was a Christmas gift from a co-worker.  It is a piece from a quilt her grandmother made well over 100 years ago.  My co-worker lost her battle to cancer a year ago and this too hangs in my sewing room and I think of her every time I walk into the room.

img_0186Lastly, I even find things in magazines that are flammable…this was a picture used in an ad.  I loved the graphic wood cut look it has and use it during Halloween.  It just looks like a Halloween night to me.

img_0178These are all of little value to others but priceless to me.


I have had a number of questions about the markers used by Taylor and Ella to draw their quilt blocks.  I purchased these from Target awhile ago.  They are my Kid Made Modern.  I see they are available on line from Target.  Go to  You will find the Target link. I did heat set the drawings, but they seem very durable and did so just to be safe. I finished Taylor’s quilt today and it is off to the quilter tomorrow.  I can’t wait to show him the quilt.  One quilt down, one to go.  I must get started on it tomorrow.  IMG_1858

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Neil and I have just returned from a delightful trip to Iceland, where we spent our 49th wedding anniversary. Certainly, 49 years ago, it never entered our minds that we would be in Iceland for the occasion. This was our 4th trip to that wonderful island country. Twenty some years ago, I met Gudfinna and Helgi, the owners of Virka, a fabulous quilt shop in Reykjevik. She arranged a seminar in her store for me to spend a few days with her customers. That started a love affair with the country and the people as well as a wonderful friendship with dear people who we consider the real treasure of the island. We always stay with them their home and have met their children and now grandchildren and experience the culture the way everyone should be able to get to know a country, its customs and its people…through the eyes of those who love their country and are proud of every square mile. They have made sure we have experienced everything wonderful there is to see and taste in Iceland. We have also been able to spend time on their private little cluster of islands off the east coast of Iceland, which is difficult to explain how wonderful that experience is. We have been there in every season of the year and all have been wonderful…even experiencing the days of 24 hour sun. But, for me, August is the best. By now, I am really eager for some relief from the heat an humidity of the summer and the busy summer schedule. It is cooler there, but not cold as many people think. It was a wonderful break for us and a truly restorative vacation. Our thanks to Gudfinna and Helgi for another wonderful visit. In the end of it all, the friendhsips that I have developed over the past 30 years of being involved in the quilting industry, are the most valuable part of having my little Thimbleberries business.

Of course, when we returned, there is a lot to catch up on. Aside from the new book that I am working on with my team, there is a lot of pressure here to get the quilts I am working on with my grandchildren, Taylor and Ella ,on their way. They have finished drawing their blocks and would like to see those quilts done ASAP. This weekend, I sewed Taylor’s blocks together and collected fabrics (Cotton+Steel fabrics leftovers from the quilts from the new book) for the borders. As usual, I don’t have enough of anyone fabric so the borders will be a “mixed bag”, just like the stripping around the blocks. It just might be best…it will look like I planned the whole thing, when in fact, every pieced used was a left over fabric.   Check it out so far. I will get the borders on this week and off to the quilter. And then, Ella’s is next on my list.  The dog block below is my personal favorite.




We have had our share of wild storms this summer.  The rain we get seems to be combined with high winds and hail making yard work and gardening a challenge.  This week, one of our 80 foot trees took a hit and did a little damage to a few fence sections.  Clean up took care of anything else I had planned to get done this week.  As always, property damage is a pain, but it could have been so much more worse.

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Other parts of the garden are now coming into the late summer bloom time.  The wind flattened some plants and grasses, but they will probably recover.   This is what is blooming now.  The next phase will involve fewer blooms, but the foliage will start to change adding another color profile to the garden.

IMG_1949 IMG_1950 IMG_1951 IMG_1952My September Project of the Month offered by Fons and Porter Love of Quilting is this delightful  Kaleidoscope Runner with a bonus scrap project for pillow shams.  The runner  reminds me of the simple kaleidoscope toy that has charmed children forever…shards  of color falling into place.  It is a generous runner and a snap to make.  Patterns and kits for all 12 months projects are available from Fons and Porter Love of Quilting.



As you probably have noticed,  I took a few weeks off  of writing my blog to spend some time with visiting family.  I always intended to get back to my computer at the end of each day to get back in touch with you, but after cleaning up from the days activities,  getting food ready for a crowd the next day, not to mention…garden duty, I would head off to bed and another day would go by without a blog post.

We are in the middle of an extreme heat and humidity event here in MN this week so after I go outside at sunrise to water my flower pots and do the daily maintenance the yard requires, I go back inside for the day. I treat this kind of a day as “summer blizzard”.  Yesterday, I spent the remainder of the day in my sewing room which is on the lower level of the house and even cooler.   It was a wonderful day.  I didn’t get one thing completed but did lots of sorting, organizing and cleaning and started to accumulate fabrics for 3 projects.  I can’t wait to go down today and get started by sewing the binding on two quilts so I have hand work for tonight.  It sounds like a “blizzard” is forecast for the remainder of the week.

I am in the middle of working on a new book for Landauer Publishing.  I have published many books with them over the years, many of which had a lifestyle bent to them as well as quilting projects.  This one is going to be a little different.  It will feature traditional quilt designs udsing traditional quilt blocks with my fabrics and the same quilt blocks made from the modern fabrics from Cotton+Steel, a division of RJR Fabrics.  I am convinced a good quilt design works for both and the most important thing for any quilter, new or experienced, is that the instructions be clear and well written.  Thimbleberries has always set the standard for excellent instructions, and this book will be no exception.   It has been a lot of fun reworking my designs to showcase a new look.  My home is still firmly planted in the traditional “lane”, but the quilt world is big and there is room for all color and fabric preferences.  The modern ones are so different that in some cases it it had to believe the basic quilt block is the same.  I am on my way this morning to pick up two of them.  I can’t wait to see them quilted and bound.  I always consider binding like whipped cream and a cherry on a dessert.  Here is a glimpse of a few I have completed with traditional fabrics.

IMG_1897 IMG_1893 IMG_1891Here’s what is blooming in my garden this month. Some of the perennial blooms come and go quite quickly.   Mid July often has the most color in my garden and it is the toughest to keep looking good….lot of dead heading and trimming to do as well as the ever present weed management. That does drop off a bit though as the plants get larger.  However, daily watering is required when it is this hot the plants get big.    I plant a few pots of Coleus that I can move around the garden areas to add color where needed. The add a lot of color and do not need deadheading except for the rare tiny blossom now and then.   It helps bridge the gap between blooming times of various perennials and bushes.

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IMG_1245IMG_1243IMG_1241IMG_1239IMG_0996IMG_0843IMG_0819IMG_0732IMG_0401IMG_0395IMG_0393Here is a view from my sewing room last winter when a real blizzard was in the forecast.  I guess my sewing room is where I head to on those days that I should just stay inside.  Stay cool.













June 1 was Global and National Running Day.  I decided it would be appropriate for me to participate in a “Fun Run”…that is, heading to my sewing room to make the easiest, fastest fun runner.  I had just small cuts of samples of the Cotton+Steel cotton/linen blend canvas and used them to make two runners.  On both, the smallest piece available determined the width of the runner.  I cut random widths and played with the placement using the same print at the each end of the runner.  Somehow, it just seemed more balanced that way…you know, a beginning and a end.  I had a binding prepared and not used from years ago in my binding scrap basket that turned out to be perfect for the long narrow runner.  The other runner sports a scrap binding, always a favorite for me.  The long narrow runner found its home at my daughter’s cabin on the white harvest table.  It is pretty cute there.IMG_1841

IMG_1842The second runner found its home at my house….often on the kitchen island or the dining room table.  I even use it now and then on the back of the couch just to add some touch of color that we can see from the dining room and the kitchen.IMG_1849

2016-07-01 09.13.03My Garden this Week  This is my favorite daylily…Rosy Return.  If I deadhead faithfully it will bloom throughout the summer.

2016-07-01 08.00.14Some of my hydrangeas have started blooming.  They really help brighten up large spaces in the garden and their blooms last all the way into the fall, changing their colors as the season progresses.

2016-06-28 19.05.44These Annabelle’s are pretty glorious and I love them grouped with Sun King peeking out just behind.  The contrast is stunning, especially in the morning sun.2016-06-28 19.07.552016-06-28 19.05.57

This variety (Kyushu) has an airy bloom that will turn rusty/pink later in the summer and even a deeper hue in the fall.  It is about 8 feet tall and a visual anchor in my back garden.  The other varieties of Hydrangeas bloom later in the season.  It is always a good plan to have blooming times staggered throughout the summer.  There is always something to look forward to each week.2016-06-28 19.13.58

This is one of my favorite combinations…no blooms but great leaf color and shape contrast (Tiger’s Eye Sumac and Britt Marie Ligularia).  Mixing plants is much like coordinating fabrics for a project…a blend of different sizes of prints and print images is the most pleasing.

We are having company at the cabin this weekend and into next week, so it is off to the kitchen to get things going.  My niece and her family from CO are coming and we are all very excited to see them and spend time with them at what she remembers as her grandparent’s cabin.  The weather forecast is good so all should have fun in the water, in the boat and on shore with a cold drink and plenty of good food.


2016-06-20 07.02.59This is where it all started.  Last weekend, Ella picked out a little book for me to read to her. Taylor can read by himself, but always sits in on a story if he is in the room.  I picked this little book up a few years ago at Quilt Haven on Main here in Hutchinson.  When we finished the little story, we decided they should draw pictures on fabric and I would put them in a quilt. They had lots of questions on how this might all work.  I know they have never thought about how the quilts they have were made…why would they. The quilts just magically appear on their beds.  I went through a brief explanation and they got very excited about participating.  However, one quilt led to two quilts because they both had very specific color preferences.  And, we know, there is no shortage of fabric, so two it is.  When Neil and I returned home from the cabin, I organized some fabrics for both quilts and prepared 12″ squares of white cotton for them to start their drawings.  I plan on cutting them down to 10-1/2″ blocks and then sewing pieced borders around the blocks.  I’m using scraps from the collections of Cotton+Steel that I have been working with on an upcoming project.  They are colorful, bright and whimsical, just like their pictures will be.  I taped the squares onto cardboard so the fabric would be taut and easy for them to handle.  They are using both textile markers (Target) and crayons.  The markers are good for drawing and the crayons are good for filling in.  If crayons are used, layer the picture block, right side down on a few layers of paper toweling.  Press with a iron set on the cotton setting without steam.  Iron to remove the wax.  The dye will remain.

IMG_1858IMG_1857IMG_1855IMG_1854Both Ella and Taylor love art projects and I think they will really enjoy doing this as long as I move quickly with the sewing which  will keep them interested in the project.  I always have the week between weekend visits to sew and can have blocks finished by the next time I see them. This is a great rainy day at the cabin project, and we have our fair share of them over the summer, especially in June. Here is one I worked on today so I have something to show them on Friday night.  I’ll work on one of Ella’s blocks tomorrow so they both have one done for their own quilt.  I will keep you posted on our progress and definitely will post the finished project.  I have a feeling this one is going to move quickly.

2016-06-23 19.37.34Garden Update…this is what’s blooming in my yard this week….Asiatic Lilies.  I have this same variety along a wall at the edge of the front courtyard.  It’s always so fun to look out one morning and see “the show”.



If you are looking for a fun way to brighten up your home and welcome summer, take a look at this fun runner that I designed for the Fons & Porter Project of the Month Club.  It is not too late to join in on the monthly kits that are sent to you each month. The projects are all fairly small and each one includes an extra small project that uses scraps straight from your stash. In all, you will receive more than 24 patterns over a years time.  The projects have strong seasonal hints that will give you a stash of charming small projects for your home or gifts.  I think the charm of the program is receiving a kit each month that is very doable and easy to get done.  The extra scrap projects are an added plus.  And, A Note from Lynette is included in each kit keeping you posted on what I am doing with hints and decorating tips and a recipe or two.


IMG_1752Check out these two Blog posts pertaining to this runner for extra Tips and Hints.

Keepsake Quilting – Pressing Tips for Pinwheel Blocks Strip Sets

Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting – Lynette Jensen’s Quilt Binding Tips, Giveaway & Summer Quilt Table Runner

This charming Notebook Cover is the extra scrap project pattern included in the Summer Pinwheels Runner pattern.  It is a cutie and fun to make.IMG_1751

I don’t know why, punch and cookies always seems like a summer treat to me.  I am sure it harkens back to summer picnics from my childhood.  Do people still drink Kool-Aid?  It was such a big deal when I was a child.  Whatever the beverage, cookies are always in order…always.  The Ice Box Cookie has been in my recipe box for years and I turn to it often because the cookies are so yummy and I like have extra dough ready in the refrigerator or freezer to take out and bake a fresh batch.  This tip is not in the original recipe, but I like the end result for a change of pace.  Instead of making the dough into long rolls, I put the dough in empty butter boxes and chill.  When cold and ready to bake, I cut the block of dough into quarters, just like sticks of butter.  Then slice into 1/8″ slices and bake.  This produces a very nice little square cookie.  This reminds me of how many ways my mother got another use out of butter boxes when the butter was gone. They would be flattened and saved all winter and then during the summer harvest from her garden,  she would line them with small plastic bags to freeze berries and veggies from her garden.  She loved the way they would stack neatly in the freezer, and because she had labeled the outside of the box, she could tell at a glance what the contents were in the box.  At first sight when you opened the freezer door, it looked like the Land O’ Lakes truck had delivered a lot of butter to one household.  My mother could have written a book on recycling.


A summertime favorite… they are very tender cookies and will break if handled before set. This is why they melt in your mouth and are so yummy.  The recipe yields about 4- 6 dozen, depending on how the rolls are sliced….much more if the “butter box method” is used for smaller square cookies.

Well, now I am craving these cookies and think I will make a batch and tuck a portion in the freezer for a busy July 4th weekend at the cabin coming up very soon.  It will be nice to have that treat ready to just slice and bake.


I have been going in a lot of directions this past week and eventually, did accomplish a few things.  Someone once asked how often I work in my garden.  Interesting question.   I seem to work in it a little everyday.  Sometimes it is a full day, but that is only now and then. When things get planted and on their way, it is less but when the weeds want to show their stuff it needs tending. I do what I call a “walk through” generally the first thing in the morning when it is cool and everything looks its best.  I carry a small trimmer and a light weight basket or plastic bucket as I troll the garden.  Then, if I spot something that needs pulling or trimming, I can do it immediately and don’t have to go back to clean up.  If I do this most days, it never seems overwhelming or much like hard work.  In the beginning of the season, there are a lot of days of lifting, bending, digging and walking.  But I guess that is all good. This week, my Peonies, Astilbe and Lady’s Mantle are in full bloom.  I have 16 Peony bushes so I cut some everyday for the house. They bloom fast and furious for a few weeks and then they are done.

IMG_1821Today a bucket is going to the cabin.  The bucket I have them arranged in was my Dad’s minnow bucket.  Aside from the cool, vintage look, it is certainly another sweet reminder of him…especially at the cabin where I spent every summer weekend of my young life. Then the very same cabin became our summer weekend destination with my own family and now our grandchildren.  It is a pretty special place for us all.IMG_1820IMG_1824IMG_1825

Cucumber Salad

This week also meant a two day trip to Atlanta to meet with the gals at the Cotton + Steel Studio.  Most of you may know, they are the collaborative group of five young designers for RJR Fabrics, designing a broad range of cotton, rayon, canvas and double gauze modern prints.  We are working on co-branding a project that will debut next fall at the Houston Quilt Market.  We will keep you posted on that project as we get closer to October.  While there, we did visit some really fun restaurants.  At one, I ordered a Cucumber Salad.  When it arrived the presentation was so appealing.  As it turns out, it tasted just like the recipe from my mom that I make often,  except…the cucumber was cut differently and crushed red pepper flakes were added turning the whole dish into something really fun. I made some for this weekend.

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Tomato Veggie Bisque

Also on the menu for this weekend was a Tomato Veggie Bisque.  Every adult in my family is trying to add far more vegetables to their diet. We all like almost everything, but keeping fresh veggies on hand and ready to use at the spur of the moment is sometimes a challenge. I have concocted a soup recipe that uses a huge variety of veggies.  I make it in a large turkey roaster in the oven and then freeze some and give some to my daughter and son for their households for the upcoming week.  It is a quick way to get a serving of many veggies and actually hearty enough for a meal on its own.  It makes a big, big batch and most importantly, is ready to eat in a flash.  Every veggie you add makes it bigger and better.

Whenever I try to pass on a recipe that isn’t exact, I know I am taking a chance.  But if you are willing to taste as you go and alter the spices to meet your palette, this is a great way to pack a lot of vitamins and fiber into your diet… and freezing some for later is the best.  All the mess and work is done at once and you can enjoy over and over again later on or share as I often do.  The ingredients change, depending on what I have on hand.  But, this is what I used this morning…. 2016-06-12 08.40.07

I serve the soup with tiny, homemade croutons and ribbons of fresh basil.  Tonight we had it with grilled brats and cucumber salad.  It was a great way to end the weekend.

We just had a huge thunderstorm which means I don’t have to water the plants in the morning.


There is a very tiny town near here (Carver, MN) that most of the storefronts have been turned into what we call occasional shops.  They are open only one long weekend a month, Thursday through Sunday, and they all are open on the same weekend.  So for a short period of time each month, the town is flooded with customers looking for a deal on antiques, architectural artifacts and collectibles.  It is kind of a festive, fun outing and I always find something I “need”, right?
































See those little red chairs on the counter, ready for me to take home.  I was very excited to find three at one time.   Here they are at home with me.

2016-06-06 14.46.55I have always loved old trucks.  Definitely a nod to my father.  Isn’t the color great on this one?  My husband has always been fearful that one of these shows up in our driveway.


Check out the back of my car.  It always tells me when I must stop.  I have found a spot for everything I found that day.  I need to always remind myself that If I don’t use it, it is just junk in my garage and actually not a fun find or accessory.


The chair is in the playroom in our basement.  The star is hanging in our cabin. A tin picnic basket was added to my collection above the pine cupboards at the cabin.  The kitchen has a vaulted ceiling so there is plenty of room to add colorful tins.  The circular metal pieces of two different sizes are in my garden nestled among bushes and Hosta and the metal grate on the floor of the car has become a backdrop for old croquet mallets that I have painted and wired on it for an outdoor art pieces on the back of our utility shed at the cabin.  It is the first thing you see when you turn into the driveway.

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Other little chairs that I have collected are about the house and at our cabin.  I can’t resist them, obviously.  I at least now only buy ones that do not need fixing and are sturdy enough to actually use.  The two painted chairs in front of a hanging quilt are also doll size. They are new, but I have always loved them.  They have been used in every room of my house at some point in the past twenty years.


2016-06-06 13.40.02These little chairs below are not full size but yet a little too tall for a kids table. They were perhaps chairs from a country school house a very long time ago. My dad found these for me years ago and I like how short and stout they are.  They have a very “mission oak” style about them.  They have really flat slab seats and are very uncomfortable. Nobody lingered or lounged in these chairs! I use them as shelving for quilts.  There are never enough surfaces to display quilts.  It also makes them pretty handy to grab and use for anyone.  You now how I feel about showing color, pattern, prints and all the hand work and care that goes into a quilt.  The quilt on the top of the stack is over 100 years old.  It was a quilt top I got from a neighbor.  I had it quilted with a very light batting and a flannel backing.  It is everyone’s first choice around here including my grandson,  so it is now housed in his room.

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