Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HAPPY WEDNESDAY!

So happy that autumn has officially arrived! I love this time of year. Not even a rainy day like this can get me down for it's nice and cozy inside Ashton House. There's a sweet cuddly kitty named Poe to keep me company as I write my magazine articles. As you can see in the below photo, his hair is growing back nicely after his July surgery.




There is another batch of healthy pumpkin cookies fresh from the oven for my hubby to take to share with his coworkers tomorrow. 


One of the reasons I'm baking healthier is because my hubby's latest blood sugar results were in the prediabetic range and I don't want him to develop full-blown diabetes. Making his favorite treats without sugar is a great way to do that. As I mentioned in my previous post, they also have no flour but they're just as tasty as regular pumpkin cookies. The last time he took them to work, people couldn't believe they were made without sugar or flour. Indeed, these are a much healthier alternative to the below monster cookies, which the hubby has been getting me the past month after recovering from a bad kidney infection. Just munched this guy up!


I found the cutest owl/woodland paper to wrap the pumpkin cookies in.




Even though I have two cookie scoops, I didn't have the right size for these cookies. So off to Target I went to find the perfect size, which makes them nice and uniform.


After I finish my work, I plan to find homes for the pink goodies I picked up while visiting the Omaha area earlier this month. I was especially charmed by the vintage pink, brown and teal kitchen curtains. The tag said that there were four but we only spotted two. We left a message for the vendor, who was kind enough to ship the other two to us. 


The pink-adorned glass jar on the right was labeled a vintage refrigerator jar. I think the pink tray will look nice in our upstairs bathroom with some of my pink soaps, etc. displayed on it. The postcard is vintage. I loved the yellow, blue and pink colors against the gray background.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

COOKIES AND QUILTS

Cookies and quilts. Sounds like a delightful combination, doesn't it? Well, it's a lovely day for a blog post here at Ashton House. We just sent the latest edition of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine to the printer this morning, leaving me to enjoy a leisurely afternoon of cookie baking. With fall in the air, I was in the mood for pumpkin cookies. I'm making a healthy version of them, which contains NO sugar or flour. I did sprinkle the tops of them with mini chocolate chips since I don't like a lot of chocolate. I used a non-sugar natural sweet baking substitute in place of the sugar.


Instead of regular flour, I used oat "flour" (aka oats that are processed until they are the consistency of flour). If you can't find oat flour, you can find lots of easy guides on how to make your own on the internet. For small amounts like what this recipe calls for, I like to use my Cuisinart mini food chopper instead of my regular food processor. And in case you're wondering, yes, it's pink! No other color brightens my world quite like this hue does!


While the cookies are baking, I thought I'd share some wonderful photos from a fellow quilter's home, which I'm featuring with her permission. This past Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Marge's home for tea time and an introduction to the latest quilting class she's leading at one of the local quilt shops. She invited all her past students and future students to her beautiful home. I've been to Marge's home before and believe me, you're in for a treat!


Since I decided to scale back on my work starting now, I'm actually able to take her class. It seems like ages since I've been able to take a quilt class and it feels great. The class Marge is leading is Kim Diehl's Simple Whatnots class with an added bonus that Marge will also be sharing tidbits of Iowa farmwife history and a mini lesson on a sewing technique with an additional crafty project to make. I'd say that's a pretty good value for this six-month quilt class that costs $50 at The Quilt Block! I've taken classes from Marge before and she's an excellent and kind teacher. Don't you love Marge's sewing room (below)? It's decorated with lots of fun vintage finds, including antique toy sewing machines and vintage sewing accessories.


This darling vintage child's drying rack holds an enchanting array of doll quilts. Marge has another child's size drying rack filled with quilts nearby--you can see a hint of it in the previous photo.


This sweet vignette of quilts and doll accessories is just outside her sewing room. Marge is a decorator after my own heart—she loves to fill walls with her finds. They're meant to be used after all! A bare wall always looks so sad to me.


Marge and I both like to collect vintage doll cupboards. Here's another one of her cupboard treasures that pairs perfectly with a little antique crazy quilt.


It sits atop another table that reveals a treasure trove of antique quilts. Indeed, every nook and cranny is filled in Marge's home!


This cheerful little cabinet enlightens an area just off Marge's kitchen. I love how she paired it with a quilt and shelf enlightened by vintage lunch boxes.


In a lot of houses, a wall like this might go unused but not in Marge's. It showcases everything from aprons to mini vintage lanterns.


Quilts even take center stage in bathrooms. 


After all of Marge's students had the opportunity to explore her charming home, we gathered for tea and treats served on beautiful vintage china snack sets. 


After the tea, Marge treated us a trunk show of some of her many quilts. Marge had this beauty on her design wall.


This medallion masterpiece was made with a wonderful center chintz panel imported from overseas. Marge's quilts have won many ribbons over the years. As you can see, she is a very talented quilter.


And you might remember this captivating quilt pattern from Cheryl of So Many Quilts, So Little Time who graciously provided patterns for it on her blog a couple years ago—or was it a few years ago. I've lost track of time! Marge's version certainly turned out beautifully.


Well, I hope you enjoyed this little quilted house tour—or should I say BIG quilted house tour. There's so much more that I wasn't able to show you in a single post. If you're like me, seeing warmly decorated homes like these renews enthusiasm for the pleasures of an everyday haven where we can be surrounded by the things we love most. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

FALL FLOURISHES

It's about that time of year when I start decorating the house for fall and Halloween, and this year, I have a special painting to add to my display of seasonal splendor. My dear hubby gifted me this sweet portrait of our cats for my birthday. It's by the same artist (Sara Pulver) who painted this earlier portrait of them. I was really touched by how he included our kitty, Teddy, who passed away this April, as an angel. He's holding the hand of our remaining kitty, Poe. Until I can find a fitting frame for it, I have it displayed on the marble mantel in our front parlor where I can see and enjoy it every day.


You might notice from the previous photo that I like to decorate with old books. To me, these beauties are as much objects of art as much as good reads. They add a cozy feeling to any display. I have found most of mine for $2 or less.


I found this little beauty at a tag sale this weekend. It was only $1. In an earlier post, I'd mentioned that the color gray was growing on me. I used to not like it all but something has changed. I especially like it when paired with yellow as on this book cover.


Do any of you like decorating with books, too? If so, how do you incorporate them into your decor? Would love to hear what you do with them. Even new books can be pretty. As a magazine editor and writer who works on a variety of subjects, I receive new books from publishers. Earlier this year, I was sent this beautiful pink book. Naturally, the pink cover had me intrigued! Nutritious food really is good medicine. I have noticed since I've been eating more fish that my skin and hair have improved remarkably. Best yet, I can eat more, not less, and feel better. I have always had a healthy appetite for savory, non-sweet food. 


My favorite fish are halibut, wild pacific cod (Atlantic cod is endangered), wild pacific (non farm-raised) salmon, and of course, the wonderful local bluegill that my father in law catches for us. We enjoyed a feast of it this past Saturday. I typically fix about 30 pieces, half for my hubby and half for me! 


With fall just around the corner, it was time to start eating some comfort food on Sunday. This slow-cooked boneless pork chop with roasted garlic mushroom sauce certainly fit the bill. We relaxed the rest of the night by watching the Ken Burns Roosevelt documentary on PBS.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

ALMOST CAME HOME WITH A KITTY

A funny thing happened on the way home from our evening walk tonight. This furry fellow ran toward us and followed us all the way home. We were so tempted to give him a home. After losing our sweet black kitty, Teddy, this past April, we are just now open to finding a furry friend to join our family—if the opportunity presents itself. It would practically have to smack us in the face. We always thought Teddy would send us sign when the time was right to welcome a new kitten or cat into the family. I think our remaining cat Poe would like a new friend as he sometimes seem lonely. The only thing is this cute kitty seemed way too friendly not to already have a home, even though he had no collar or identification, and we'd hate to take him in if he already has one. So we sadly bid him a good night and left a little bowl of food out for him in case he gets hungry.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

SPOOL DREAM COME TRUE

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember this wooden spool pincushion and scissor keeper that I designed last year.


I'm always on the lookout for vintage wooden spools to craft into creations like those above and more. In fact, I'm getting ready to sew up a new "garden" of scissor keepers and coneflower pincushions. Thanks to my sweet dad-in-law, I hit the jackpot with spools. It was the stuff that spool dreams are made of. He recently surprised me with this treasure trove of vintage wooden spools in a 12-inch tall bag filled with more than 100 of them!


Here is a small sampling of what was inside.


I was delighted to find that there were even some vintage needle holders! I can't wait to dress some of those up in wool.


I love the graphics on these vintage wooden spools and boxes. They just don't make them like this anymore. A big thank you to my dad-in-law for gifting me these awesome treasures!


Monday, September 8, 2014

FALL FUN AT MINGLEWOOD LODGE

It feels like ages since I last posted. My only excuse is the overlowing pile of work that awaited me once I recovered from my recent health issue last month. I've been preparing the latest issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects to go to press next week. Just in time for the holidays, we have some bonus gift tags and appliqué templates to help you with your gift-giving. Watch for more details later this month! We're still working on the cover but here's how it's shaping up. We hope you'll like the new look of the magazine title and the top banner detailing our focus features—quilting, rug hooking, and stitching. I welcome any constructive comments. Feel free to drop me a line by clicking the Email Me button under my profile pic.


One week, I literally didn't leave the house because I had so much work to catch up on. Needless to say, I was ready to escape the house, and a recent quilt book trunk show for one of the quilt books I edited gave me an excuse to do so since it was just a couple hours drive and therefore, a nice and easy relaxing day trip for me. The Quilted Moose in Gretna, Nebraska, hosted my author, Betsy Chutchian, for a special book signing of her hot-off-the-press book, Just Treats, No Tricks! The shop's owner, Deb Roberts, hosted the event in her charming Minglewood Lodge just a short drive from her quilt shop. This rustic fireplace lent a beautiful backdrop for Betsy's talk.


Betsy brought quilts from all four of her books with The Kansas City Star—Gone to Texas, Lizzie's Legacy, History Repeated, and Just Treats, No Tricks (the latter two of which I edited).


Attendees were treated to a fabulous show of quilted eye candy and fun tidbits detailing some of the wonderful stories behind these beauties.




It was fun to revisit some of the quilt projects that are featured in Betsy's latest book, Just Treats, No Tricks. They will definitely get you in the mood for fall! This little quilt called Max's Matches was inspired by vintage matchbooks in Betsy's dad's collection.



As a book editor, you occasionally get the opportunity to name some of the projects. I had a fun time naming this sweet little bag "Jack Be Little" and his larger counterpart "Jack Bewitched."


We called this hooked version of Betsy's chair pads "Cozy Comforts."


Searching for a fun fall pinkeep? Try this sweet wool bat named Batilda! In the book, you'll find a couple bonus projects as well.


We had quite a crowd for the event.


Deb and her team staged a gorgeous fall tablescape with lots of edible delights for guests to snack on. The dips were especially scrumptious.


How can you not love fall looking at this scenic table setting?


If you ever have an opportunity to attend a quilt retreat or event at Minglewood Lodge, you're in for a treat. I shot this photo of the cozy kitchen from the stairs that lead to the second floor bedrooms. The shop hosted two workshops by Betsy at the lodge the following two days after the trunk show. I had to return home right after the trunk show on Wednesday but it was a fun quick trip for this editor who was getting some serious cabin fever!