Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Monday, November 2, 2015

International Quilt Festival

My sister and I were privileged to attend the 2015 International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas this last weekend. What an experience!  We came home with our brains bursting with inspiration and ideas!
Among my favorite vendors was Isabelle Biche of L'atelier D'Isabelle. 

Isabelle Biche of L'Atelier D'Isabelle

Her gorgeous, beautifully worked samples were very popular among shoppers. She uses linen and wool for charming little projects in colors that are light and cheerful. I bought the kit for the little "Poules Mouillees" in the center of the photo. (It is 30cm x 45cm or a little smaller than 12" x 18")

Isabelle graciously gave me permission to take a photo of her and of the little projects here.)
 She had some Christmas projects that were really gorgeous, but she had sold out there at the show. 
(I don't even pretend to speak French, but I tried to find the translations of the words around the border of the stitchery. It reads, "Pied de poule - lait de poule - chair de poule - poule mouillee - poule au pot - mere poule." Now I knew that "poule" was chicken because that is close to the Spanish "pollo" for chicken. The more literal translation of the words is  "chicken feet", "eggnog", "goosebumps", "wet hen or sissy chicken"(?), "chicken pie", "mother hen". Now I know some of you (I have a couple in mind!) are probably laughing at my attempt at translation! Is this a children's song? Just a play on words? It really doesn't matter to me because I think it's adorable! 
Check out some of her projects on her website here. 
We spent two days at the show and didn't have near enough time to really take it all in. 
Besides antique and traditional quilts, were
 the whimsical,

You Are My Sunshine by Bodil Gardner of Lystrup, Denmark
the pictorial,

Napa Valley Vineyard with Red Barn by Cathie Hoover

  and even the abstract!
The Patriots of Boston by Loris Bogue (this is actually a map of Boston showing the Freedom walk!)

 There were also dolls!
"Pinwheel" by Angela Jarecki
 There were so many, many more items that I would love to have shown you, but many could not be photographed and there were too many to show here! 

 This was a huge building, but there were nice places to rest.
I wonder how many of you I passed while walking along the aisles?


Monday, October 26, 2015


Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 
"The earth laughs in flowers."
 How true that is!  I consider myself a happy person. I want my home to reflect that. I was asked to show how I use plants and flowers in my home. They are certainly important to my decorating, but also to my creative process. I feel calmer with plants and flowers around. 
We had the contractor and an engineer out last weekend to let us know where we could move walls in the lower level of our house. So the drywall dust has "hit the fan" again!
 I am so excited about starting the next phase in this renovation. This is part of what will become my new sewing room. I am also a little stressed, so I came home with a bundle of fall flowers. (My husband didn't even raise an eyebrow!)

They looked a little"puny" for my big space.

The only other vase I have is a large rectangular vase. It was too big! So.....
I added some rocks (cleaned first) and filled in the flowers with cedar sprays (from my yard)  and a few wildflowers. 
Now I have a space to enjoy a little bit of "finished work"! Flowers can work wonders!

 Some of my restful spots are very small and almost hidden. This little vintage plant holder makes such a sweet little spot to rest your eyes. There is something so happy about him! His little wagon with the tiny succulent plant is going to be great in my sewing room (when it is finished!).

 In the living room, I have fresh greenery in a galvanized bucket beside the fireplace. It adds a fresh touch and a really nice cedar aroma!

I have an arrangement of brightly colored flowers on an end table in the living room. The galvanized watering can is a "hill country" touch.

 I even have plants on my coffee table. The little greenhouse has succulents. You can see that there is also a plant beside the chair in the background.

 My new sitting room, off the kitchen, has lamps with glass bases. You have seen these filled with sea shells, I'm sure. I decided to make little outdoor scenes in mine. 

One has a Longhorn because my husband is a University of Texas fan!

 One has a deer because that is what we see outside our window!
I have used real cedar, but you can use anything you can fit inside the lamp. (I also added a little silicone packet to absorb moisture!) I know the cedar will dry up because I can't water it, but it will hold its color for a long time. Then I can change the greenery or the scene! These don't scream out at you from across the room, but after you sit down and look around, you see them! (Like a little surprise!)

 If you find that your room is left "needing something" after you arrange it, try popping a plant in!

Here is a seasonal plant in my husband's office. 

Don't wait until a sad occasion like an illness to have fresh flowers around! Also, don't wait for some special person in your life to give you flowers!  Pick some up "just because" you want them around! See how it makes you feel! You can also order flowers easily from your computer!
Check out BloomNation,  an online marketplace that supports local florists, and get inspiration through their Pinterest board! 

You just might be inspired!


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dracula and A Little More Progress

I HAVE done a little sewing lately! I designed and made this Dracula doll that is on it's way to my son in Oregon.  This doll is fairly large. I made him just for fun!

On the home front, we installed the screen door to my pantry. It swings both in and out  and I LOVE it!!
We also did a little cosmetic work on the master bath. 

 We  painted the walls. You can see the old wallpaper on the left. We will change the countertop and sink  later. For now, this brightens it up quite a bit!
 Before... and after.
I will bring a lot more color in next.

 We bought a vintage Kilim rug and placed it under the dining room table. The cowhide has been moved to the new sitting area off the kitchen. We will pick up the furniture for that area Thursday, so I will show it next time.
I'm off to the hill country to enjoy this cooler fall weather!


Monday, September 21, 2015

A Recipe Gift for You!

A mini Gingerbread on a plate from  a child's tea set!
I have returned now from almost three weeks of helping a friend in need. I am so happy to find cooler temperatures and fall landscapes. I am republishing the recipe for one of my favorite fall treats. (This post was originally published in October of 2013.) I  made a batch yesterday. They are very quick to make and really, really easy!  If you have never had lemon sauce with gingerbread, you need to give it a try. It's one of those classic combinations because it is GOOD!
  Cooler weather has me thinking of childhood comfort foods. In my childhood home, Fall meant gingerbread and lemon sauce. Yum! Today I made MY version of this delicious treat.

             Linda's Gingerbread Cupcakes

      (this recipe makes 3 dozen Mini-cupcakes, but can easily be doubled)

In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until it forms pea sized crumbles.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
dash salt
1/2 cup butter, cubed
(Reserve 1/2 cup of the above mixture to use as a streusel for the top of the cupcakes.)
To the remainder of the dry ingredients, add:
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
Mix well.
Boil 1 cup water. To the water, add 1/2 cup molasses*. Mix and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until well blended, then spoon into 3 dozen mini-cupcake** liners (placed in the tins). You should fill each one about 3/4 full.
Sprinkle the streusel on top. 
Bake in a 350 F. degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. Use a toothpick to test for doneness before removing from oven. Do not overbake!
*You can use honey in place of the molasses, if you need to.
**You can use regular sized cupcake tins, but increase the cooking time by about 5 to 10 minutes. 
 After removing from the oven, let them cool. 

                      Easy Lemon Sauce
In a microwave safe dish, put:
1/4 cup sugar
dash salt
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Mix well. Add:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Mix well and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and add about 1 tablespoon butter. Mix well and let cool.
              Now to build these delicious little delights! 

                           Remove the tops of the cupcakes.

Place in a fresh cupcake liner, if desired, then spoon a dollop of sauce onto the bottom section. Replace the top.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Upcycling Fun!

I found a striking red top and skirt in the thrift store last weekend that I bought. When I got it home, the skirt was a size smaller than the top and I couldn't wear it. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but didn't. It had a red print shell with a solid red linen skirt. The skirt had embroidery across the front bottom hemline.
I decided to make a little sun dress for my niece, who is about to turn 5. 
Although I had a couple of patterns, I didn't have enough fabric to make them. I decided to just come up with a design of my own.
I used the embroidered front to make a little "sewn in" apron. The top became the bodice and sash, and the solid linen became the rest of the dress.
 It cost me $3. 
My niece's favorite part is the apron!
 My husband and I married our Junior year in college (university to my British and European friends). We were "dirt poor", to say the least, paying for schooling and trying to manage on our own.
Several times I went to a thrift store and bought dresses that I could take apart and use as fabric. It gave me a chance to sew and have something new on a pauper's budget! time you start to throw out that beautiful piece of clothing that no longer fits or is no longer in style, rethink it as fabric! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Getting Plastered!

Here is our kitchen as it looked when we bought the house. 

In the planning and construction  stages ...

...and this week with the vent cover plastered. (Oh, did you think I meant myself? NO! NEVER!!)
I may add another layer, but I got this done Friday. I stained the rounded wood trim. We still have crown molding to put up and baseboards, but I'm liking the look so far.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Hill Country House in August, 2015

It's hard getting a photo in a small space! This room is about 12' x 7'. This is the pantry space we have been working on for the last few weeks. We have several names for it:
Prep Kitchen
Butler's Kitchen
Dirty Kitchen (I think we've nixxed this one!)
My husband has been calling it the Prep Kitchen, I have just called it the Pantry. 
It is designed for the prep work, the "dirty" work of cooking. This type of room has come about because of the openness of new homes.
I've divided it into areas:
This is the baking area. I have emptied all bags into air tight containers and labeled them. The drawers and cabinets under the counter hold measuring cups, measuring spoons, bowls, etc. The vintage cannisters on the top shelf hold my collection of cookie cutters. They were stored at my parent's house and survived the fire! Each cannister is labeled to hold different types: Holiday, Animals and People, Shapes, Molds, etc.
This is the coffee/tea center. The k-cups for our Kuerig are in the drawer. (I didn't get a photo, phooey! I have divided the drawer into sections for different types of coffee.)
The coffee pot conveniently rolls out for use and when not in use....
...the door can be closed!
Beside this you can see the toaster oven. Above that on the shelves are coffee cups, breakfast cereals, and other breakfast foods.
My spice jars (8 oz. canning jars labeled) are on stair step risers that my dad made for me according to my specifications. Actually, it is one piece that fits exactly between the shelf supports and is a lot like stadium seating!
You can see in the panoramic picture that I have interspersed cookbooks and baskets (for things like chips). We use fresh vegetables as much as possible, but cans are beside the spices so far.
I'm sure I will make changes when I start doing more cooking in this area. 
I have my bread machine out in the picture. I prefer baking bread in the oven, but it was wonderful smelling baking bread as we worked! 
We have a wooden screen door on order that will be installed between the pantry and the main kitchen. 
We picked up a couple of trays for our coffee table when we were at Home Goods last week. I'm sure the display will change, but for now I have some succulents (not real but they look real!), antique books, and a pair of my husband's great granddaddy's glasses sitting on the books.
I found a large Mexican blanket at an estate sale and I threw it over the dining room table for that elusive "you know it when you see it"  Texas hill country look.
We also bought a few antique
"milk of magnesia" bottles that I have soaking. $1 each! 
These predate the Phillips brand of my childhood.
Things are coming along! We have tons of little finishing details to do, but I am having so much fun cooking in my new kitchen now.

 There is still a LOT going on behind the scenes right now. My life will calm down some day, I'm sure! Nothing bad, only busy!
Until next time.....


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