peas, please (and cherries, too)

I've been busy the past couple of days cleaning and preparing my house for guests, who will be arriving in a few hours. The guest bedroom has clean sheets and piles of towels have been set out. We have a simple menu planned for tonight—grilled lamb chops (that are marinating in olive oil and herbs), couscous with pine nuts, a green salad, and some of these gorgeous baby French peas that are just coming ripe in my garden.


I'll wait to pick and shell them until just before we start cooking. I'm also going to make a cherry clafouti for dessert. I've been wanting to try this recipe (from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 1) for years. The cherries at the grocery store were beautiful today and it's supposed to be easy to make.

(Updated to say that, unfortunately, this wasn't a big hit. I don't think I did anything wrong but it tasted very eggy, which is a bad thing in flan or creme brulee and now this, too). One of my readers commented that it's her favorite recipe so, as with all recipes, personal taste is key. The peas, however, were perfect.)

Cherry Clafouti

3 cups pitted black cherries
1/4 cup kirsch or cognac
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

Let the cherries stand for an hour in a bowl with the kirsch and sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put remaining ingredients and the liquid that the cherries have been soaking in into the jar of your blender. Cover and blend on high speed for 1 minute.

Lightly butter an ovenproof 7- to 8-cup baking dish or 1 1/2 inch deep pie plate. Pour 1/4 inch of the batter into the bottom and set over moderate heat for a minute or two until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from the heat.

Spread the cherries over the batter, then pour on the rest of the batter and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.

Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about an hour. The clafouti is done when it has puffed and browned and a knife plunged into the center comes out clean.

Sprinkle top with powdered sugar just before bringing it to the table. It doesn't need to be served hot but it's supposed to be better when warm. And it will shrink down slightly as it cools. Serves 6 to 8.

(If you want to make this without alcohol, don't marinate the cherries. Increase the amount of milk to 1 1/4 cups. Sprinkle 1/3 cup granulated sugar over the cherries before adding the rest of the batter.)

Tomorrow we're heading to the Shupp's Grove flea market in Adamstown, PA for one of their extravaganza weekends. Hopefully I'll have some treasures to show you next week!


depression-era aprons

While browsing at a local antique store I came across an 8-page newsprint flyer from the S. B. McCain & Son department store in Rush, PA. Called Facts and Fashions and dated April 1932, it's an interesting glimpse into depression era products and prices. In amongst the products for sale (everything from silk stockings and synthetic pearls to baby creepers and wave combs) are several small columns about fashion trends...

Fashion has the BLUES! Navy blue, bright light blue, chalky blue....wear them plain or combine them with white!

T'will be a White Summer! You had better prepare early with an extra box of soap flakes for this summer will be "whiter" than ever—plain or combined with color.

and housecleaning tips...

Don't throw away old wide mouth glass bottles. Use them as handy icebox bottles for protecting food.

An ordinary dish mop—well oiled—cleans out dust from coil bed springs in a jiffy.

Most of you won't remember ice boxes or beds with coiled springs. I'm not that old either but I remember those things from my grandmothers house.

I really bought the flyer for the beautiful black and white line drawings, and I'll show you some of the aprons today.

pickford apron

The Pickford Apron, which I believe is named for Mary Pickford, the silent film star who wore an apron in the film "My Best Girl" where she played a five-and-ten cent shopgirl who falls in love with the owner's son.

And the Hoover Apron, which wraps around and ties in the front and is more like a housedress than an apron. Named for Herbert Hoover, who was in charge of the FDA during and after WW1, and was elected President during the depression. His wife may have invented the apron—the story isn't very clear.

hoover apron

29 cents and 69 cents for an apron seems cheap to us now, but I'm sure women found this expensive at the time. I know that many women in the area served by this department store (rural and dotted with farms and small towns) must have sewn their own aprons and clothing. There are other ads within the flyer for fabric and sewing notions (which I'll post at another time)—perhaps they found inspiration from the drawings and came up with their own unique designs.


embroidered flower skirt

I love when readers send me pictures of their embroidery projects and I'm always happy to share, especially when it's something a bit more creative than the usual tea towel. Like Sarah's solstice skirt.

She designed the skirt herself in bright orange linen and then embellished it with rows of interlaced band and palestrina stitches in purple and pink. The flowers are done in a combination of satin, woven filling, chain, back, and raised herringbone stitches—all of which she learned from my Stitch School posts. And I think she deserves an "A+" for this project!

Read more about her process and see more photos on her blog Pacific Rain.


Stitch School: Monograms

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Monograms Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


black and white

And I'm not talking about those cookies made famous in that Seinfeld episode, although they're pretty good, too. Black and white as in buttons. In the comments to my post about my new button rack (which arrived yesterday and is as awesone as I thought it would be), Rosemary wanted to see some of the buttons that came along with the rack. Most of them are newer and pretty basic but I picked out some of the prettier ones to show you. All black and white, and the polkadots are my favorite—as if you couldn't guess that already :)

polkadot buttons

Some faceted black jet buttons by Streamline...

faceted jet  buttons

And a white pearl and black plastic, both with a square in circle design...

vintage buttons

As with most groups of buttons I buy, I'll keep the ones I really like for my own work, then resell the rest on my website. I have nice groups of metal and pearl buttons listed now and just added another batch to the plastic button section (my biggest sellers) yesterday. If you see something you like grab it fast! I have regular customers, including a couple of people in Japan, who tend to snap up the good ones.


vintage button rack

vintage button rack

My newest Ebay purchase is this vintage button rack from an old store. I'm sure I paid too much for it, but I couldn't help myself. It came with button cards attached (and I can resell some of those buttons to recoup my costs) but that's not why I bought it. It will make the coolest display rack for craft shows (if I ever get around to doing them) or for the shop I dream of having one day.

vintage button rack

I don't sell them on my website but I make fabric-covered buttons with scraps of vintage fabrics left over from other projects. And I package them sewn onto cards and inside little plastic bags with heavy paper folded at the top. Which I could punch with a hole and hang from this rack.

Are you picturing how cute that would be? Especially if I paint the rack a fun color—like turquoise or hot pink :)


Stitch School: Braid Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Braid Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


more ways to use rickrack

From a vintage baby pillowcase. Two rows of white rickrack attached along the edge with tiny tacking stitches at the points. It gives the illusion of crocheted or lace edging without being too frilly.

rickrack pillowcase

Updated on 7/2 to add this photo of the back so you can see how the rickrack has been sewn on.


Rickrack flowers that I found in a bag of vintage sewing things at the flea market. The points are gathered and tacked through to the back with tiny stitches to hold them in place.

rick rack flowers

A closeup of the back in case you want to try it for yourself. These would look cool combined with embroidered (or appliqued) leaves, maybe on a bag or clutch.

rick rack flower back

For those of you just discovering my blog (thank you Craft: magazine!), I did two posts about rickrack last year. You can find them here and here.


blog connections

When you have your own business, one of the hardest things is getting people to see your work. Do you spend money (which is always tight) on advertising that may or may not work? Do you send out postcards and newsletters to your mailing list? Do you send samples to magazines? Well, you do all of those things because you don't really know what's going to work. But, of all the things I do, I have to say that blogging has been the least expensive and also the most rewarding. I've met wonderful people that I may not have met otherwise and have found a forum for showing my work to a greater audience.

And sometimes it leads to unexpected opportunities. After being tagged by Charlotte a couple of weeks ago, then checking the blogs of the others who were tagged, I discovered T-Cozy and a kindred spirit in Susan who used to be a graphic designer, is also very tall, and who has very similar tastes in vintage things (sounds a lot like me). One thing led to another and I'm now selling some of my things in her shop in Connecticut. All of which happened in the space of two weeks! It's funny how some things just come together like that.

Susan is featuring some of her recent blog connections this week and wrote about Primrose Design today. I'm thrilled to be featured and to have the opportunity to be part of T-Party Antiques! So, if you live near Darien and want to see my things in person, plan to stop by. And do make a reservation for tea. It looks scrumptious and who could resist these tiny brownie cakes?

Some photos from the shop...

Pillows, handkerchief sachets, and tea towels.

Vintage eyelet sachets and sachet stacks tied with grosgrain ribbon.

I'm hoping to make the three-hour trip to Darien myself later in the summer, perhaps staying overnight and visiting the Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market in New Milford, CT on the way back. You know me, any chance to visit a new source for vintage goodies :)

T-Party Antiques and Tea Room, 2 Squab Lane, Darien, CT 06820


early morning in the garden

I like to take a short walk outside in the mornings, usually with camera in hand just in case I see something worth photographing. We have an old fieldstone wall across the front of our property and I often see the garter snake sunning himself and chipmunks running along it's length with their tails straight up in the air. I've always wondered why they do that.

This morning our columbines are in full bloom. These are the cultivated kind, not the wild (we have some of them, too, but I missed getting photos this year).


I'm always reminded how perfect and beautiful nature's creations are. We try to capture that in our own creations, whether in photos or needlework or whatever crafts we make, but it always comes in second to the real thing. That's not to say that we shouldn't keep trying :)


Stitch School: Twisted Chain

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Twisted Chain Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.


a little birdie told me so

My friend Jenny stopped by on Saturday to visit and to pick up a pillow I'd made for her to give as a baby gift. This one uses another of the original quilt blocks I bought several years ago on Ebay and have since turned into the Lil' Birdie Quilt Blocks embroidery pattern. See what cute pillows they make? And they would also make cute framed pictures, or bibs, or to decorate the bodice of a jumper or the front panel on overalls. Of course, you can use all ten of them together in a quilt—that's the original intent.

birdie pillow

The little birdie is looking at his reflection in a silver spoon. How sweet is that?

birdie embroidery

I've actually made quite a few of these pillows and blogged about them here and here. In case I haven't yet convinced you of their absolute adorableness :)


puppies and birdies

I added two new embroidery pattern sets to the website—one of extremely cute puppies with polkadot bows (two designs) and the other of the little bird designs that you've seen me use many times for baby pillows. They'd be super cute used together for a baby quilt, too!

VP109 Shaggy Puppies

VP110 Lil' Birdie Quilt Blocks

More designs coming soon!


Stitch School: Ladder Stitch

Stitch School has moved to it's very own space on the web! You'll now find the Interlaced Running Stitch post here. Comments are now closed on this post; if you'd like to leave a comment please do so on the new one.

happy 5th birthday...

,,,to my not-so-little-anymore girls, Sienna and Amaya!

baby pics

This photo was taken when they were only a few weeks old. Now they weigh 10 pounds and are fully mature (at least most of the time). They'll probably sleep most of the day since they were up all night chasing a mouse in the kitchen. We have an unfinished basement with fieldstone walls and they often catch things down there and bring them up here. Sigh. See what I mean about maturity :)

Happy birthday, ladies!