Cucumber Salad

I was recently on 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. While in Atlanta, we visited 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’ve make often, except… (more…)


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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I had a full notebook sheet of items on my “to do” list for this past weekend, which also included Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday visits to the cabin.  Getting food ready for a group is always on the weekend agenda.  For Saturday brunch I prepared a make ahead potato egg bake which is always a great thing to have ready to put in the oven.  I can make it at home and it travels well to the cabin.  This time I changed up the recipe by using Italian sausage rather than the usual breakfast sausage blend and served it with warm Marinara sauce.  That with some fresh fruit and cornbread muffins, got everyone on their way for the day.


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Also on my “to do” list was to finish planting and getting some new mulch laid in the garden.  A few weeks ago, we had a very late frost three nights in one week.  Even though I covered what I needed to with bed sheets upon bed sheets, some of the very tender plants did not survive.  So I had some replanting to do.

Here is a quick glimpse of what is blooming in my yard this weekend.  These blooms are always the first out and so rewarding to see after the long winter and spring clean up. The plants will show their splendor on a weekly basis, blooming throughout the summer.  The garden changes every day.  That is the joy and the challenge.  The garden house garden is the first thing I see from my deck in the morning.  I love how the sun makes the birch tree leaves light up.  The purple Iris with the variegated leaves are early bloomers.  The blooms are modest but I grow them because of the pretty leaves that add interest to the garden all summer.   I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the Hosta with all of the lovely dew drops.  And, my favorite new Hosta this year is the 2016 Host of the Year…Curly Fries.  It is a charmer.  I planted it in a pot arrangement this year to raise it up a bit.  When it is larger this fall,   I’ll put it in the ground for its permanent home.  It is small and I thought it deserved a bit of a babying and its first year.  I have planted a ten foot row of staggered Creamy White Marigolds around my back patio.  They are in front of a row of short Blue Stem grasses and when they are all filled out will be a nice contrast in both color and leaf shape.  These look quite yellow here but are very soft , creamy yellow.  The last two pictures are of my two different Weigela shrub varieties that I use in a number of spots around the yard.  The blooms are lovely in the spring and I like the leaf color and shape of both all summer, even when not in bloom.  Tomorrow, something else will be ready to pop.  My Peony hedge is on the verge….can’t wait for those plants to blossom out.  They make the whole east side of the house smell so good.

2016-05-29 08.49.00 2016-05-29 08.50.12 2016-05-29 08.50.42 2016-05-29 08.51.10 2016-05-29 08.52.20 2016-05-29 08.53.332016-05-29 08.51.31As usual, sewing is always on the list of things “to do”.  I had two quilts that needed binding and one runner to finish.  I save that kind of handwork for after gardening is done.  It’s a good way to relax, and rest up a bit.  I can share the runner with you now.  The other two quilts I will have to save for later when the patterns and kits will be available.

The Ricky Racky Runner is made from my new Autumn Landscape fabric collection which will be arriving soon, if not already, in you local quilt store.  I am in love with the prints and colors, especially the large floral print. This particular color way is yummy.  It’s always a great starting point when putting together fabric for a project.  Notice how the design focuses the attention inwards to the lovely floral center.  It’s a quick project.  You are going to love making it in any fabric collection. The pattern for the runner is also on as a FREE download. Look for the Ricky Racky Runner.

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If you can’t find bulk Italian sausage, purchase the links and simply cut the casing to remove the meat and crumble before browning. I use half mild and half spicy sausage because my family likes spicy food. However, I have also used regular breakfast sausage as well. Many times I use a mixture of cheese… cheddar, colby, mozzarella, Asiago, etc. (more…)


The Big Quilt Cupboard has arrived!2016-05-25 05.26.38

Whenever I amass a collection of a category of things, storage becomes critical.  When my quilts started to become an issue, I decided I needed to dedicate a special storage space to accommodate them. A  spot that was easy to access and a good environment for the quilts…meaning not plastic tubs or plastic bags, but shelving with good air flow was a must. Luckily, I have a spare room that really has become my grandson’s bedroom that he uses when he visits. The room had a nice big vacant wall that allowed me to design a wonderful quilt cupboard.  It actually is three separate cupboards that were placed snuggly against each other and then the top crown molding and bottom base molding were applied to make it appear as if it were one, huge cupboard.  It certainly would not have been able to move it into the house without breaking it up into thirds.  It has adjustable shelves.  Right now, they are placed about 18 inches apart.  You can see a couple of throw pillows tucked in the sides of two of the shelves on the right.  Just in case…the measurements of one of the three units are 34″ wide, 20″ deep and 72″ tall.2016-05-25 05.16.39

Most of my quilts are housed in this cupboard….well most.  Others are in use around the house, some are in big baskets ready to grab for TV watching  and I do have another closet that I had shelving put in for quilt storage.  I left the rod bracket in the closet and the shelves are removable so the closet can be easily turned back to one for clothes.  This closet houses my antique quilts.2016-05-25 05.20.122016-05-25 05.19.13

Let me be honest here, my quilts often get used for many other creative things.  We have a cute playhouse in the corner of the playroom of our house that for some reason, Taylor and Ella always want to have dark inside, so the quilts come out to cover the whole house….go figure!2016-05-25 05.12.36

Now, the challenge is to not grow the collection beyond this so I have to be willing to share, keeping those that for some reason or another, seem special to me.

I have posted these quilt display items previously, but they too, are a part of my quilt storage system.  The quilts on the metal curtain rod in the basement family room gets changed out often. It is a good way to rotate the quilts and to actually enjoy the design, color and workmanship of more quilts.2016-05-25 05.11.45

The cupboard in Ella’s room is a new addition and will probably always hold quilts that match her room.  She may unpack them now and then, but that is okay with Grandma.2016-05-01 15.49.19

If you have a few quilts to store, remember not to store in plastic bags or tubs.  Fold and put in cotton pillowcases to keep the dust away and gently protect the quilts.  Take the quilts out often and refold in a different way so fold marks don’t become permanent.  Sometimes, a quick fluff in the dryer on the “air only” setting (no heat) is a good way to remove dust. Treat your quilts nicely and they can be loved for years to come, well into the next generation.


2016-05-07 12.41.08Last week, when I took these pictures of the blossoming trees in my yard, we were having warm, sunny, spring weather.  I was busy planting annuals in the garden and in my many pots around the yard.  In a few days, the weather turned on us and it has been rainy and downright cold.  I am actually going to have to cover my planted areas and pots this weekend to try to protect the new plants from frost. This is way too late in the season to worry about frost, but it is happening and there is nothing I can do about it except hope my efforts will save the plants.  I think we go through this every year and I never learn my lesson.  But generally, we can plant after Mother’s Day.  Just not this year, I guess.  This weather actually puts me in the mood for flannel quilts.  We are certainly still reaching for them this week at our house.

2016-05-07 12.44.412016-05-07 12.44.16So, it is back to the sewing room while I wait for nicer weather.  A dear friend of mine is about to move into a new home and is finding items deep in the closets that need to be addressed.  She found a Thimbleberries kit for a flannel quilt from the late eighties.  I was at her house when she found it.  I  took it off her hands to get it made so she can enjoy it in her new home   in front of her new fireplace.  The quilt is Fireside Cozy. It was a very popular quilt design and I am sure many of you made it.

2016-05-15 12.53.29We are still using the original two I made.  It’s the perfect size for curling up on the couch for a little TV watching or nap.  Flannel quilts are the best for overall family use. Everyone loves them…just as they love well worn flannel shirts.  The designs are generally simple and piecing is easy.  Quilters often categorize quilts as “users” or “keepers”.  Flannel quilts definitely fall into the” user” category.  I really have to dig out my flannel stash and make a few more. Everyone grabs the flannel quilt first and there just aren’t enough to go around when everyone is home for the weekend.  This pattern is no longer available but I have included a great flannel quilt design in this post.  It is a quick and easy quit to make…that goes for any fabric, flannel and otherwise.

Here are some general hints when sewing with flannel and a FREE PATTERN for a flannel quilt called Block City for those cool spring evenings.

SEWING WITH FLANNEL Sewing with Flannel






2016-05-07 06.16.39Like many communities across the US, mine has a group of dedicated quilters that give of their time and talents to make quilts for our service veterans.  The Quilts of Valor effort is nation wide and flourishing by all accounts. Check out for the full story.  There are general guidelines for sizes and quality requirements, but in our group, the quilt maker makes the decisions concerning fabric selection and pattern.  However, most of the group does stick to the red, white and blue theme.  Sometimes a family of a veteran will request a specific color scheme, but that is the rare exception.  The labor is all volunteer and in most cases the materials required are all donated.  Our group also accepts donations of cash to purchase batting and fabrics for the quilts.  I am one of the many volunteers involved and my job, along with others,  is to do the hand stitching on the bindings.  When I pick up the quilts they are already for me to sit down for the evening and stitch.  Even a label is provided for me to stitch on the back.  It takes many hands and dedicated people to pull this effort off every year but such a touching tribute to the veterans in our country.  Each year, a beautiful display of many of our groups quilts are on display at our McLeod County Fair.  It’s quite breathtaking to see an all-patriotic quilt display. My local quilt shop, Quilt Haven on Main is instrumental in helping our group coordinate the piecing of the Quilts of Valor by providing their sewing studio to the group on a monthly basis so the quilters can gather to sew together.  It’s also where we all drop off and pick up quilts for all the various stages of getting the quilt completed.  Since we are approaching Memorial Day at the end of the month, I thought I would share the quilts I am working on right now.

2016-05-07 06.18.032016-05-07 06.19.572016-05-07 06.22.31This is a sample of the lovely labels that are prepared for each quilt.  Two sides are stitched on when the binding is attached leaving just the other to to be stitched on my hand.  A special thanks to Nancy Greve and her entire group of volunteers who make these quilts and present them to the recipients each year.2016-05-07 06.59.28


I had a very busy and productive weekend.  The weather was perfect to do a lot of outside scrubbing, cleaning, painting and planting.  I was even able to squeeze in a trip to Babe’s Blossoms to pick up my first load of plants on Saturday and got all the plants in on Sunday afternoon in the midst of other projects I had going.

This dresser has been bouncing around our family for a number of years.  I bought it second hand ages ago and gave it to Kerry about twenty years back when she was in college.  She kept it through the first years of marriage and then when Taylor came along, she painted it yet again and turned it into a changing table for the nursery. It worked great and then two and half years later and another coat of paint and new drawer pulls, it became the changing table for baby Ella.  Now, 4 years later it has been permanently replaced, mostly because the bottom of the lower drawer completely fell apart leaving the drawer bottomless and useless. 2016-04-12 10.46.23

To give this chest another “life” I had my handymen, Butch and Rod, put shelving in where the two drawers previously occupied.  Next, the interior needed to be painted yet another coat of paint  and new drawer pulls were added. This has become a cute quilt cupboard for all those quilts that look like they belong in a sweet little girl’s room at Grandma’s house.  The top two drawers are perfect for stashing small treasures.

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2016-05-01 15.49.19To think this was on its way to the trash.

MORE OLD BECOMING NEW AGAIN…I really can’t resist a good flea market find.  This little table has so much character and is such a good size. It has been hanging around for a few years and it is time to make it “new” again.  Today is the day!2016-05-01 10.44.06

It will be perfect in so many places in my house.  Just enough space for a book, beverage or a cute accessory.  I pulled a page from a 2015 Country Living issue.  I love the color scheme…all rich and neutral with a pop of this great teal green in the side table.  This was my favorite aunt Gladys’ color scheme of choice.  I wonder if that fond memory has always influenced by affection for the color combination and why I have always been attracted to antique pottery (and new) in this color family.

2016-05-01 11.14.58I keep a file of pictures like this so I don’t have to go back through all of my older magazines to find pictures that I eventually use as inspiration around the house whether it be for gardening, decorating or design.

I cleaned the table with warm water and a little PineSol to remove the dirt.  Then rinsed with clear water with a bit of white vinegar.  I use this combination on most of my finds that need refurbishing.  Then I allow it to dry thoroughly.  I use satin latex paint for furniture.  It gives it just enough sheen to be a bit easier to keep clean than a flat, matte finish would produce.

2016-05-01 10.55.35Now the table is ready to use and adds a nice pop of color to the room.  It is the perfect size and shape for a painted piece of furniture…really, an accessory all on its own.  FYI…I used Benjamin Moore satin in Caribbean Teal.

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Next ups on the OLD IS NEW AGAIN category are were my father’s horse shoes that were  used many a Sunday afternoon by my father and uncle Vernon at the lake cabin we now own.  I still love the sound of clinking horse shoes that I can hear from the park across the river on a summer evening bringing back some very sweet memories.   I am cleaning up the horse shoes with a good scrub of soapy water and then finishing with a spray of polyurethane to give a little clean sheen to the shoes and keep any further rusting from occurring.  My son remembers playing a few games with his grandpa at the cabin and is now planning to use them as an accessory in his new office.  It is always a good thing to have a fond memory around you on a daily basis.

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Now they are clean with a coat of finish and ready to display.

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“TO DO” LIST PROJECT UPDATE…I did get four outdoor pillows made last week during our rainy weather for our patio chairs.  I found an outdoor fabric at JoAnn Fabrics that coordinated with the chair color. Granted the fabric is waterproof, but I will often put them under cover when I know rain is in the forecast.  I have a large drawer from an old pot-belly kitchen cupboard that I quickly pop them into  and keep on my covered deck out of the rain.  It makes them handy to grab and a good looking display of color and print on the deck while protected from the elements.

2016-04-27 18.19.09It is a good feeling to have another project checked off my “To Do” list.

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