It seems like I spend a lot of my time getting ready for holidays and events and then cleaning up and putting things away to make way for the next big deal.  Well, that is exactly what is going on now.  We have had a spectacular fall season, enjoying beautiful weather and even more beautiful fall color.  Now it is time to get the yard and garden cleaned up and “put to bed” for the winter and start thinking about decorating outdoors for the winter months.  It is so great to have mild temperatures and sunny days for the task at hand.

Today, I am going to take care of the final yard work at the cabin.  That usually doesn’t get done because the weather turns cold and it is the last thing on my list so I conveniently put it off to do in the spring.  However, I love nothing more than a clean yard ready to pop as soon as the weather is nice, so fall clean up should be a must for me.  The lake will be quiet and that beautiful shade of blue that Minnesota lakes are known for this late in the year.img_0450img_0457

img_0455Speaking of getting ready, this is when I start planning decorations and collecting recipes for Thanksgiving.  I like to have harvest items incorporated with winter greens for Thanksgiving serving as a transition between the two seasons and keeping Christmas items “at bay” until after Thanksgiving.

For my dining room table I have bundled some small birch logs into a pyramid and tucked in artificial leaves and real bittersweet branches.  It will easily transform into a Christmas arrangement by just changing out the leaves and  orange berries with greenery and red berry sprigs. I like the fact that it is low and can easily be looked over making conversation with guests across the table comfortable.  I am hosting a birthday party next week for a group of friends and it will  be a perfect pre-holiday table decor.img_0447img_0448

Here is a recipe I am planning on using this season.  My family really does like all the traditional favorites that they associate with the holidays, but I always try to introduce something new each year that may just have a chance at becoming a new favorite that I can add to my traditional menu.  Everyone in my family likes Brussels sprouts…I know…kind of strange.  I think they are really going to like this salad.  I will do a trial run, perhaps for the birthday dinner coming up next week.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-7-56-34-amLemony Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad


Just as I predicted, we did get a frost that put most things in the garden to rest.  This however, gave me an opportunity to regroup and gather together the things that still look good and create new arrangements in the yard.  It may refresh everything enough to get through Halloween and closer to Thanksgiving when outdoor decorations really do become the beginning of Holiday decorations.

I love stepping outside my front door to be treated by all the glorious colors each day.  All the colors really intensified in just 24 hours.  These colorful  moments are fleeting and it is important to not take one day for granted.  I try to capture what I see in photos, but they are never as grand as the actual experience.  You can see why I am inspired by my surroundings, even just outside my front door.img_0420 img_1486 img_1084img_0956 img_1081

Inside, a touch of fall color starts to appear in every room.  Most of my basics are quite neutral which really gives me an opportunity to transition from one season to the next by changing out some artwork, switching out pillow covers, tweaking arrangements of pottery and of course, changing out quilts.  They are the best for adding color, softness and interest to a room as well as actual warmth and coziness.  All the beds get new quilts and of course the dining room table is a great place to change out the multiple runners I have for Halloween and general fall decorating.  It is fun to bring the fall colors indoors. 2016-03-03 13.41.03

2016-05-30 09.52.02Sneak Preview . . . Quicker By The Dozen

t-25I promised a sneak preview of the Block of the Month made from the River Song Fabric Collection that will be debuted at the Fall Market in Houston at the end of October.  The colors in the River Song collection reflect a traditional color palette that appears along river banks everywhere, and definitely here in my home town.  The basic quilt is Quicker by the Dozen.  Each month, 12 blocks of one block design are made.  This is what makes it “quicker”.  The cutting is easier and the piecing is easy and multiples can be made quickly.  One size version is a Throw that uses 6″ blocks and no border.  Another size version is a generous Queen/King that uses 9″ blocks with a border.  Of course, borders are optional on either size.


I collaborated with the ladies at Cotton+Steel and RJR Fabrics showcasing two other fabric collections.  This gives you, the consumer, a very valuable design that can be used for so many quilts that will be remarkably different.  It is easy to piece and would make a great project to do with someone who may want to learn to quilt while working along someone who can pass on hints and tips and they can make it in a fabric collection that appeals to their sensibilities.

It is a one size fits all kind of BOM.   Included in the pattern is also a view using the RJR Thirties, Everything But The Kitchen Sink collection as well.  All the versions are vastly different giving you a lot of choice.  Actually, it would be fun to make one of each.   Ask you local quilt shop to inquire about the Quicker by the Dozen – Block of the Month from their RJR representative.

My favorite Halloween Decoration:

img_0424My two grandchildren, Taylor and Ella, both wore the same Halloween costume at about the same age, just 2-1/2 years apart.  A similar picture was taken of both.  They are the first two things I pull out each year and if I didn’t get any other Halloween decor displayed, they would be enough.  Both Taylor and Ella, now 5 and 7 love to see the pictures as well.


I know, I am a little crazy about fall…the temps, the colors, the sites  and the food are all favorites of mine.    It is such a fun time for decorating the house and the yard.  I know our time here in Minnesota is very limited when we will be able to enjoy anything left in the garden before our first hard freeze arrives and closes the door on all the beautiful garden color.  We have had a longer than normal growing season, and I guess it is time.  This is my last  fall outdoor display of the season that will involve any colorful blooms.  Garden clean up is on the schedule for next week.

img_0324I found this wonderful penny rug at an antique shop last fall and now it is finally time to display it again.  It is always hard for me to pass up this much hand work and wonderful colors as well.  It is perfect on my table in the front entrance.  The wool circles were stitched on a burlap background with a hand blanket stitch.  It was then backed with a piece of fabric and simply hemmed with a double 1″ hem.

img_1507A few weeks ago, I found a picture of my grandmother’s barn that I fondly remember playing in as a child. Just before it was demolished, I took a picture of  it (now 40 years ago.)  I have been looking for the picture for years, and was so excited when I came across it this last month.  I decided to paint a picture of it to use outside in our covered porch for a while until the weather gets too cold.  I can see it from a number of rooms in the house.  It is my newest “fall” accessory, I will certainly find a spot indoors for it indoors as well, but for now, it certainly adds a nice pop of color to the porch.

img_0025I am busy getting samples ready for Fall Quilt Market in Houston.  The samples need to be sent off next week.  I will give you a  sneak preview next week before I leave for market.

I have had a few questions about the availability of the Garden Collage fabric collection used in the Spinners quilt pattern I posted last week.  If it is not available in your area, please call Quilt Haven on Main at 888-843-8215 or 320-587-8341.  As of yesterday, they had the collection in stock and can ship you what you need.img_0394



My recent fabric collection, Garden Collage has been so much fun to work with making many new quilts.  The collection has a really great signature print in two color-ways with a host of coordinating side prints that work with both of the color-ways.  Now, with summer winding down, I hope you have a chance to make this wonderful quilt.

img_0221Spinners is a really fun quilt to make using the collection, but it would be a great quilt to have in your collection of quilts made from any fabric and a great scrap quilt option as well.


FREE Spinners Pattern






This weekend, we are hosting a Groom’s Dinner tonight and a wedding ceremony tomorrow afternoon here at our home.   The challenge all summer has been keeping the garden in tip top shape through some pretty challenging weather situations…lots of heavy rain, hail and even damaging storms.  (Remember the downed tree and crashed fence a month ago?)  This week, we are experiencing rain fall totals in MN that are historic.  There is a small town not too far away from us that received 18″ of rain in one 24 hour period of time.  We, luckily, received just 4″ that same night.  More is on the way for today and tomorrow and we are crossing our fingers that we can squeeze in our events between showers.

I snapped a few pictures of the garden as it is now in the fall….fewer flowers bloom now, but at least the hydrangeas and coleus plants are their strongest at this time.  I will hopefully get some shots of the set-up tonight with all the lights on and candles glowing.img_0233

Our bedrooms are all filled with family from out of town so the house is hopping and I have lots of food prep for tonight to do.  So, as the sun comes up…another busy day ahead.

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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


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.


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