August 31, 2011

A Scrappy Quilt Gift...

My BFF, Lee recently gifted me a cherished family heirloom. It's a scrappy quilt made by her Grandma Busse. Lee thinks is was made in the 1960s, which makes it about fifty years old. That makes this beautiful quilt an antique. (Funny how I like thinking of things as antique, but my fifty plus years still don't qualify me as antique in my mind!)
Lee said that her grandmother gathered her friends to help hand-quilt the front, batting and backing together. Don't you love the squares, joined to the circles to make the blocks? There aren't many squares where a fabric is repeated within the block. Most change fabrics for each component of each block. I only found a very few that repeated (corner to corner) like this one does.
You don't have to look too hard to see all the tiny stitches that went into this quilt. The fabrics are diverse and colorful - each more interesting than the last.
I think the backing - a red and white print - is perfectly paired with the scrappy front. The front border is a blue and green floral that just makes me smile.
All those hands gathered to make this quilt is a testament to their friendship. Now, it's a generous gift from my dear friend, Lee to me.

I will care for it and think of Lee and her quilting Grandma Busse whenever I look at it. I'll be reminded of generations of warm hugs - handed from grandmother to mother to daughter (Lee) to this friend - whenever I sit beneath its colorful squares. I'm honored to be able to call this scrappy quilt mine.

Thank you, Lee.
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PS: Jess asked me to thank all of you for your comments on yesterday's post. She will be listing crowns for boys and girls in her Etsy shop right after Labor Day, so please check back. You can also friend "Granola" on Facebook for her latest updates and newest creations.

August 30, 2011

Granola Crowns...

Our daughter-in-law, Jess is an artist. She creates the most wonderful watercolor and oil paintings, and now has a new venture. With two young daughters, she and our son are always busy, but she's found time to make something new and then make it available to others.
 You can always find her busy in her studio, as her girls sit at their own little work stations making art of their own. Right now, her creative outlet is to make colorful felt and fabric crowns for children.

They're suitable for boys or girls and are extremely well-made. She uses beautiful patterned ribbons to embellish the bottom edge of the crown, and the top center peak of the crown sports a fabric-covered button or felt shape (like a heart or bird).
They're perfect for a special party, but they also make children feel special every day of the week. I mean, really. Who wouldn't love to feel like royalty whenever they chose?
You can contact Jess through her Etsy shop, or her email (shown on her business card in the above photo) for pricing or more information. If you're in the Cedarburg, Wisconsin area, her wares are also for sale at the Cedarburg Toy Company. (I've made "Etsy shop" above and the store in Cedarburg active links, so all you have to do is click on them to visit.) I bet you know a little someone who would love to have their own crown!

***I'm writing this post strictly out of love and will receive no compensation (other than hugs) for my endorsement.

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UPDATE: Jess asked me to thank all of you for your comments on yesterday's post. She will be listing crowns for boys and girls in her Etsy shop right after Labor Day, so please check back. You can also friend "Granola" on Facebook for her latest updates and newest creations.

August 29, 2011

Tuesdays With Tag - Please Vote For Me...

Taggart is a finalist in the Corgi Butts blog "2012 Corgis With Blogs" calendar. This is the photo that is among the finalists. We'd be ever so grateful if you'd follow this link and vote for him! You don't have to register or anything. Just choose your favorite twelve photos to be in the calendar. (We hope you choose Tag as one of your twelve!) The winners will be announced September 1st, so please visit and vote before then. Tag says, "Thanks!"

He's getting so big now. He weighs a little over twenty pounds now and his head and face are showing more black markings. Handsome's taken to nicknaming him "Tagwarts". Our younger son and his daughters call him "Nubbers" (because of his nub of a tail). It's so cute to hear our four year old granddaughter say, "Hi, Nubbers!" I just love it!

I'll have updated photographs of him for you next week.

'til then...
"More wagging and less barking!"

09/01/11 - UPDATE: Tag wasn't selected to appear in the 2012 Corgis With Blogs calendar. Thanks to everyone who voted for him. We really appreciate it.

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August 28, 2011

Memory Lane Monday - Comfort Food...

Welcome to Memory Lane Monday for August. It's always so much fun choosing a favorite story to share. I originally planned a "Back to School" memory for you, but I was unable to locate the specific old photo I wanted to complete the post. I'm going to save that story for next month, and will spend the time between now and then tracking down that missing image!
In it's place, I've chosen a "Homemaking/Cooking" them instead. Mum taught me how to crack eggs and prepare them when I was about eight years old, so I've been a bona fide cook ever since. Nothing makes me happier than making meals for my family and watching them enjoy the fruits of my labor as they enjoy each others company.
Handsome's mother was a consummate hostess, entertaining guests, caring for her family and filling their home with the fragrances of delicious meals. In addition to a few of her favorite cookbooks, I consider myself fortunate to have her copy of the Sunset Hostess Handbook.

By the way, if you're interested in obtaining your own copy of this handbook, I found them available at eBay, etsy and even Amazon.com. Just do a Google search under "Sunset Hostess Handbook". 

It was written in 1936 (there's also a 1937 edition) and is full of tips, black and white images and recipes for being a good homemaker. There are helpful articles about hosting a dinner party, planning a special meal or features like The Kitchen Cabinet with recipes for delicious dishes.
I think my favorite thing about turning the pages in this book is finding a little check mark or notation in the margin where Evelyn showed which recipes she made and liked. On this particular page, she made the Cranberry Salad Mold, and left a check mark as her note.

I do the same thing with the recipes I try. I like to leave a comment in the margin to say what I did or didn't like, what I might change, and the date that I made it the first time. I always make it exactly as the recipe instructs the first time. I improvise from there, unless I'm making it with notes provided by a previous cook. In that case, I follow their recommendations.

I'd like to think that my daughters-in-law (or whoever ends up with any of my cookbooks) will enjoy turning the pages for the same reason. It seems to me to be another way to share an interest across time. I hope Evelyn is smiling down on me as I prepare the same dishes that she did, and as I aspire to create a happy home for our family.

Do you have the same rapport with your family cookbooks and guides? Perhaps some day, our grandchildren will turn the pages of Grandpa's bread cookbook and read his handwritten notes as he perfected his favorite Seven Grain Bread. Or they'll find the full dinner menu in my hardcover annual collection from Gourmet magazine that has become our Christmas meal for the past twenty plus years and want to make it for their families.

So many of us create family memories over meals. I hope that our family can continue the tradition of making those special dishes...as they add their own favorites to hand down. I think that's the true meaning of "comfort food". Don't you?

Thanks for joining me for this month's memory. I hope you'll share a memory on your blog (Don't forget to link back here!) or visit the other contributors (below) to read their stories, too! Bloggers will have until September 4th to add their link to Memory Lane Monday.
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August 27, 2011

Sunday Scripture...

"I do not cease to give thanks for you,
remembering you in my prayers."
- Ephesians 1:16
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August 26, 2011

What A Wonderful World...

The Lord works in mysterious ways. Yesterday, when I least expected it, a package arrived in the mail from one of my Wisconsin friends, Kathy. It came with a beautiful card, a handwritten note (don't you love those?) and a wool pincushion created by her own hands.

Kathy used to come into my Wisconsin needlework shop (Stitches) years ago, and like me, she misses having the shop in Fond du Lac. I miss it because of the daily contact I had with so many talented and lovely people - and the friendships that were nurtured over our handwork. She told me she misses it, too - especially at this time of year, when the needlework bug bites her to create something new in counted thread. Those were fine days, my friend.
About the time I was closing Stitches and moving to the next creative phase in my life, Kathy was opening a beautiful shop (which I frequented), selling hand-dyed wools, beautiful threads and patterns to make items just like this pincushion. She purchased many of my shop fixtures (counters, cash register, etc.) for her new venture.

The note began with her condolences on the loss of our good dogs, but it wasn't a sad message. Rather, it was full of kind thoughts and reminiscences of good times we shared. Her dogs loved chasing rabbits, hence, the bunny-themed pincushion for me. So sweet!

All of your comments this week have made me smile, and I think Kathy's gift was the icing on the love-fest cake that we all shared together. You know how I adore pincushions and this will be a treasured addition to my collection. I hope that I'll be able to see Kathy sometime soon, so that I can tell her in person just how well-timed and appreciated her gift is.

Thank you, Kathy and all of my friends. I thank God for you in my life.
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August 25, 2011

A Succulent Post...

You might recall my saying that I'm not much of a gardener. Many of the plants I've purchased over the years have died slow deaths under my watchful eye. I apparently kill them with kindness.
One genre of plants that seems to suit me to a "T", are the plants in the succulent family. I've owned the same jade plants (now impressively huge) for over twenty five years. One of them even flowers at least once a year now! They reside in enormous pots on wheels and have yielded many offspring that I've shared with others or repotted to other places on our pool deck or in our yard.
I absolutely love "hen and chicks", but hadn't had any for years. I found some while shopping yesterday and purchased a small container of them. They're so beautiful with their silvery green, waxy leaves, and when I picked them up in the nursery, there was water inside their petals.

Of course, I had to again fill them to photograph them for you. Doesn't the water look like little gems hidden inside the folds of the plant?
I know that this isn't a "crafty" post, but the fact that these plants love living with me really relates to the fact that I love to spend time in my studio. You see, when I'm in the studio, I'm not hovering over them. And these plants require so little care that they thrive from my neglect and give back so much.

I guess it's been an introspective week for me this week. I've shared more about my thoughts with you than about creating. You've all given back so much to me in return. I've read every note left for me relating to my "Because It Matters" post, and can't tell you how much I appreciated your kind and loving words. Thank you, my dear friends. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Next week, I'm going to launch my Eight Hundredth Post Giveaway. Can you believe it? It's actually closer to eight hundred forty now. That's a lot of talking, isn't it? You deserve a chance to win something for sticking with me, I think! So, I just want to give you an early heads-up so you know to look for the giveaway post next week.

Also, just a quick reminder that next Monday - August 29th - is my next Memory Lane Monday. I wanted to be sure to give you plenty of time to choose a favorite memory to write about on your blog and then link back here.

You can choose any subject, from any time in your life. Perhaps you have a fun "Back to School" memory you'd like to share? I've really enjoyed reading the stories of those who've participated in the past and would love to invite you to join this month.

With love and gratitude,
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August 24, 2011

More Hobo Quilt Love...

You might remember when I wrote this post about hobo signs and their popularity during the Depression. I had glanced at this book - Hobo Quilts by Debra Henninger - prior to that post, and decided that I should add it to my quilt library. It arrived two days ago and I couldn't wait to open it up and read between the covers!
I love the various blocks that go into the Hobo quilt, and have started to decide which blocks I would use if when I make my own. Of course, the "Kind-hearted Woman" (Lady) block would be first on my list!
I also liked the "At The Crossroad, Go This Way" block, because we all have had at least one crossroad in our lives, right? Most of us weren't lucky enough to have a "go this way" sign to guide us, either!
"Housewife Feeds For Chores". Yup. That's me! I'm a sucker for a handyman.

I've already decided that my Hobo quilt will only have happy blocks on it. No "Evil Man Lives Here" or "Dangerous" blocks in my quilt!

I'm really looking forward to reading all the stories the author tells about the lives of hobos (or tramps, as they were sometimes called), and the photos that go with them. Gosh! I guess I just added another quilt to my list, didn't I? That means I'm going to live a long, long life, right? I mean, I have too many projects to go anywhere anytime soon!
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August 23, 2011

Because It Matters...

I know that we bloggers all keep track of the number of "followers" (I prefer "friends") who choose to add our blogs to their reading lists. I've read some bloggers who've said that they've considered removing the "followers" option from their sidebars because watching the numbers haunts them.

I've noticed lately that my numbers are on a downward trend. I say that it's ok for people to choose to go somewhere else. Perhaps they don't like the subject matter of my posts? I'm certainly a likeable enough person in my own right. I tell myself I don't care. We say out loud that we don't care, when we actually do. Why else would we even look at the numbers?

I know that between my own blog writing, studio pursuits and family, my blog reading/commenting time allotment is pretty tight. I don't like to stop by without commenting, because I'd like you to know that I care about what you're writing, your life and your pursuits. Surely, I'm not the only one who has to make decisions about where our time is best spent, so we become more selective about our blog reading. We are attracted to those who share our interests. We, sometimes sadly, have to let the rest go.

Why am I choosing this as a subject for my post today? Well, it's like this...
Thank you, Dawn - The Feathered Nest - for the sweet image.
I have been following LOTS of blogs in the years since I discovered what a blog was and then started my own. I actually have never "un-followed" any of those blogs (with the exception of one blogger who really ticked me off), so I feel like I've been a good friend to those of you who write their own thoughts on the internet.

In the wake of my numbers dropping, I thought, "Alright, ladies (and gents). I'm going back to review those blogs I've added to my reading list over the years and drop some of y'all who I don't really even recognize anymore." (Thinking, "That will make me feel better!")

Well, I deleted my name from one blog (which seemed to take forever), and then POOF! I found that ALL the blogs I've been following all this time have been deleted from my list!! All my dear friends who will see their numbers diminish by one might have the same thoughts going through their heads that I've had. BAAAA! How am I going to fix this?
Another beautiful image from Dawn.
I'm going to start by heading over to my sidebar, clicking on each and every blog that is listed there and re-add myself as one of their (your) followers. Then, I'm going to go through some of my bookmarks on my computer to track down the rest of you. I know. It's going to take a while.

The result of this massive event is that now I'm wondering if my numbers were going down because someone consciously deleted me - or if Blogger did it for them with a mass deletion of all their reading list?

I don't care. (Of course, I do!) Numbers don't matter. (Of course, they do!) I'll change who I am and what I write in order to be wittier, craftier and more likeable. (Is change even possible? I'm 56 years old!) Or...I'll just keep being me, loving those friends who like me the way I am. People with whom I have something in common. Yes. That's what I'll do.

I've said this before, but I'll say it again because it really is true. All of you, my friends, mean the world to me. I started writing my blog for me, to me. I continue to write for me, but now I write to you, too. Thanks for being there, even when you don't comment. I know you're there by looking at my sidebar.

Thanks for inspiring this introspection, Blogger. Really. Thanks.
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August 22, 2011

Tuesdays With Tag - Clickers and Snaps...

I've been working on obedience with Tag lately. I came across a little gadget called a clicker. It's an inexpensive and interesting training tool that, when combined with a treat, promotes the most wonderful behavior from my Corgi. (He's even heeling next to me off-lead when this technique is employed.) It reminds me of a toy that we played with when I was a kid - sort of a little noise-maker that can easily be held between your thumb and fingers.
We've always used whistles for training our retrievers and I may yet decide to go back to whistle training for Tag, but the clicker is quieter in situations where there are other people nearby.

It's also a great device to use when taking pictures to get the dog's attention, and doesn't sound as silly as some of the sounds I've made in the past. (I've got a killer pheasant call that I'm really proud of, but Handsome says it sounds like I've got a bone stuck in my throat. For years he's been trying to teach our dogs to call "911" when I do it!)
Now that Tag's four and a half months old, I'm able to get on my knees (Corgi-level, you know) and take a few nice portraits of him.
Uh...well...most of the photos were sweet and cute. He's always got to toss me at least one "disapproving Corgi look"! He's got that one down pat. I swear he practices this one when I'm not looking!
Of course, I'll admit that Handsome stood behind me making some noises to get Tag's attention. He really knows how to bring out the best poses. Handsome said that Tag is following the Rules of Good Canine Posture by keeping his tongue out the front...which is a good thing, considering he's got so much of it!

In tribute to Fezzik, Taggart asked me if we could sign off the way his predecessor used to. I think it's fitting, so I said yes. We'll be back next week with more Corgi attitude.
'til then...
More wagging and less barking!

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August 21, 2011

More Fabrics For My Farmer's Wife Quilt...

I came across a kit that caught my eye last week. While "window shopping" at a LQS I saw a finished quilt hanging on the wall that I thought was really quite sweet. It had applique' (probably needle-turned - and you know how I feel about that! I did manage to finish a quilt using that technique, so I'm proud that I didn't quit), but this quilt on the wall was so pretty, I had to get the kit.
All these fabrics were included in the "Flutterby" kit.
The pattern is called "Flutterby" by Whimsicals, and the fabric line is called "Heart and Soul" by Whimsicals for Red Rooster Fabrics. Cute, right? The finished quilt was only 45" x 45", and even with the butterfly appliques', I figured it was imminently "doable" for me. 
When I opened the kit, these fabrics jumped out at me. I couldn't help but notice that some of them might be just the right additions for my "PIP" (Pile In Progress) for the Farmer's Wife quilt I'm going to make!
These fabrics are my starting point for the Farmer's Wife Quilt.
Remember, these are the fabrics that started my project PIP. I'll be sure to add more tans and golds, but I think at least some of the new fabrics will coordinate with these. 

Some of you have asked about how I'm going to organize the Farmer's Wife quilt project for anyone who wants to make one of their own at the same time. I think I'll be starting it mid-October (closer to the cooler weather here in Florida), and it will be a Sew-Along. We won't be trading blocks or anything drastic like that. All your work will stay with your own quilt. There will be no deadlines. I know that we don't all stitch at the same pace, but I'll set a goal for myself and you can see if my schedule will fit yours. I'll open a Flickr page where anyone making their own FW quilt can add photos of their blocks. That sort of thing. No one will be pressured or monitored. Fun for all. That's the way I roll at Brynwood.

I'll keep sharing my selections for my PIP, but will fine-tune my fabric choices as I get closer to actually cutting to start the quilt. I'll just keep showing you what I find and see where it goes from there.
Make your week joyful and creative!
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