Friday, February 4, 2011

"Love Me" Prim Cross Stitch

Using what I have on hand and Primitive Betty's free pattern, I finished the little Valentine above. In my attic I found some old 14 count cross stitch fabric that had some natural age and stains. The floss is DMC 814 Dark Garnet and the backing is a fabric scrap from a quilting project. PS note the little heart by the jar Betty included with my rug order! How sweet!

This was a really rewarding project, stitches up quickly.

It's interesting how more of a border creates such a different look. Not quite as prim but it still works. As a matter of preference I always sign and date everything I make, if you look closely you can see the 2011 and my initials at the bottom.
Thanks Betty, this was great. A bonus is that this project did not cost a dime and helped me put some of my supplies to good use.
Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Betty's Primitive Horse Rug

The hooked horse rug on an antique 6 board trunk with hog scrapper candlesticks and an Indian pottery "horse" bowl. Everything on this chest, including the chest is handmade!

Recently, I saw a wonderful primitive hooked rug for sale on : Early Work Mercantile I am very selective about buying anything new but this rug kept calling out to me. It is completely handmade and the colors are a perfect complement to my home and it blends well with the antiques in my home. Plus it is a "horse rug" and I am a horse lover. So after several days of looking and thinking I took the plunge and bought it. When it was delivered to my home, I unwrapped it I got that wonderful goose bump moment when you realize that it is much nicer than the picture on the Internet. It was lovingly made by Betty from "

Picture of Nitro taken this past November! Seems like that was a long time ago.

Betty, it looks just perfect in my home, wouldn't you agree? Also, as promised Betty , here is also a picture of my horse, Nitro. I am totally in love with my sweet handsome boy. (he has an amazing resemblance to the horse Hidalgo).

If you get the opportunity go over to Betty's blog. She has some wonderful rugs that are of art and patterns for sale. She has also generously posted some free patterns and these have inspired me to make one of her Valentine cross stitch designs. I will share it in a future post.

Have a wonderful day and keep warm and dry.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Belle of the Ball" Use What I Have Resolution

My Completed Belle! A real sense of accomplishment!

This month I finished a project that had been in my craft closet since April 2010, the Belle of the Ball Art Doll from the NJ Art Opera Workshop. This doll was designed by Heidi Wallingford (see: for Art Opera and I had the opportunity to take her class. But my desire for perfection during the class put me far behind the other students. In fact, out of the four classes I took at this event, the Belle of the Ball languished as a work in progress for months. Each time I would look at her I would become intimidated and put her down. Finally, I made a New Year's resolution that in 2011 I would begin to finish my partially done/undone projects and not buy any new craft supplies or projects. It was time to work through the craft closet and "Use What I Have." The one caveat is I could start a new project as long as it did not cost me anything and as long as I was able to begin the process of "using up things around the house." It makes sense from a clutter and money perspective and my primary goal here is to simplify my life.

Back view of Belle. Note the seam tape flower made from Heidi's kit's packaging and the vintage buttons from my button jar.

"Belle of the Ball" was my first 2011 "Use What I Have" project and despite a bit of aggravation at times, I feel terrific about how she turned out. I rummaged through my supplies for all of her embellishments and I made a point of trying not to be too perfect (a real problem for me) as I finished the embroidery. When I started to organize my supplies and think of ways to use things versus running to the store, I was pleasantly surprised at how much versatility I had in my own supplies and ingenuity. (PS See the neck warmer I made earlier, same thing, did not have to spend a penny!)

Every day when I see Belle on my dresser it gives me a wonderful sense of accomplishment and she has now become my mascot for 2011. It is all about using what I have, being a bit more frugal and a lot less of a perfectionist.

Look for more completed projects from me in 2011. This is just the beginning.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gently Coaxing Spring Blossoms

Several weeks ago I attended a baby shower. The centerpieces were simply beautiful. They were birds nests with quince blossoms and orchids and a tiny bird nest with eggs. I was thrilled when the "Mom to Be" gave me one of the centerpieces. Once I had it at home I realized that I could refresh the blossoms with some flowering quince from my garden. The only problem is that my flowering quince were dormant. They were covered in snow.

Beautiful, a nest in a nest. Simple and elegant.

Years ago Martha had a magazine piece on how to "force" spring blooms. I remember chatting with a fellow at the florist about this and he felt "force" was too harsh. He called it "coaxing," and I love the term, don't you? Somehow it is less controlling, more gentle. So right after the shower, I began to gently coax my blooms in my pantry.

One group of quince slowly coming to life in my pantry. It takes time, you have to be patient for the blossoms to wake up and come to life.

The other group coming into bud at the verge of bloom. If you notice in my pantry is a very old large iron sink. It was in the house when we bought it and it must be from the 1920's or so. It was a mess but I did not have the heart to throw it away, so we had it refinished and re glazed. It only cost a couple of hundred dollars versus well over a thousand for a new one. The fellows who installed it tell me it weighs hundreds of pounds. I love this sink.
Soon, the blooms will be ready to go into the arrangement. If you like, I can share how the above arrangement was made, it is really quite simple.

We went to our beach cottage today to make sure there was no storm damage and look at the surprise in my small garden. Over the weekend we had a Nor'easter which was brutal. But what a nice surprise to find these after the storm. They were gently coaxed into bloom by mother nature.

Have a wonderful week, hope it is gentle and not forced.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Glow of Vintage Lighting Fixtures

Lamps and lighting fixtures have always been important to me. I feel that light fixtures and lamps add mood and richness to any room. Vintage lighting is especially appealing to me and I always make a point of trying to buy old before I consider new. When we bought our circa 1890 home four years ago, it needed a tremendous amount of restoration. We tried to find old fixtures for the home and found three that have become my favorite. All three were restored and rewired. While the cost was less than new fixtures, the richness that these bring to my home are priceless.

This one is a favorite in our bedroom. I love the crown, the shield and the candles which are new but look vintage. An old key and a vintage crystal were added by me.

Above is the powder room fixture. It is solid brass with very detailed faces and vintage prisms. We also added the stained glass window. The wooden mirror is also an antique.

Front hall fixture is above. This photo does not do it justice, it is very detailed and beautifully made. You cannot get this quality or workmanship in new. Plus I love the adventure of the hunt in finding these. There is always a story to tell about how we found each fixture. Ah, the romance of it all.

Have a wonderful week.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Peaceable Kingdom - Lion and Lamb in March

For as long as I could remember, I have loved the Lion and Lamb Peaceable Kingdom. Maybe it is the combination of the gentle lamb and the strength of the lion, maybe it is the symbol of peace. It doesn't matter but I love the image especially for the month of March. March is the month when we experience the cold harshness of winter but at the same time we begin to feel the gentleness of spring. Many years ago I taught Scherenschnitte at a local art studio. It was my escape from work and family commitments. It was my time. I always made a point of designing the work myself to add the extra dimension to the class. While I have a degree in Art History I am self taught in American Folk Art. Below is one of my designs that I taught in a class. It was done in the style of Claudia Hopf who is a very accomplished folk artist. It is cut paper with water color. The frame is hand grained.

The above painting is from the Williamsburg Folk Art Museum. I have a framed print of this painting and have always loved it. The artist Edward Hicks was a Quaker Minister (1780-1849) who lived in Pennsylvania. It is interesting that five years ago we bought a home in a Quaker Village established in 1766. Chances are good that Edward Hicks may have visited the Quaker Meeting House across the street from my home. I like to think that was the case.

Enjoy the month of March, may we all experience the peace of the lamb and the coming of spring.

Have a wonderful week.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spring Nests

Several weeks ago I saw a wonderful hand knit nest by Vicki at I rarely make impulse purchases, but this was an exception. This beautiful hand knit nest just spoke to me and I did buy it on the spot. It is nicer than I expected and has given me such pleasure, the textures and colors are just beautiful. Several years ago I painted some wooden eggs a soft metallic gold and I decided to add these eggs to the nest. Last year my daughter received a bird ornament as a wedding favor and it also seemed perfect for the nest.

I love the nest on my antique marble buffet as it sits against the old onyx lamp. If you look outside the window you can see the snow. The juxtaposition of the spring nest and snow makes me happy because it signals that spring is around the corner.

The nest against the iron and crystal tree. I purchased the brass tree after the holidays last year and added vintage crystals to make it shimmer and shine in the sunlight that filters through the window.

A photo from a family baby shower. The theme was "Nests." Note the bird motif cake and the nest arrangement with forced cherry blossoms. Since I am the "Mom To Be's" godmother, I was given one of these arrangements. I am planning to recreate it myself with fresh blossoms from my garden that I will nudge into early bloom. Please also notice the snow on the beach.

Keeping Warm..........My favorite picture of the knitted nest on our 1890 ornate radiator.
Have a wonderful week.