tissue cozy

I made three dozen tissue cozies last week (yes, Susan, some of them are for you), and two dozen eyelet sachets after that. Well, those aren't quite done since I had to wait for a shipment of lavender. Which is here now—all 15.5 pounds of it! I'm also trying a couple of new fillings/scents—rose petals (which should go well with the floral fabrics) and balsam (kind of homey and Christmasy).

Yesterday I started on a wholesale order for a shop in California. They want six pillows but very small ones—just 12" square! I've gotten used to working larger so it's a challenge to think "small" again. But I'm liking that I'm able to use up smaller embroideries and fabric scraps—things that were too small to work with the larger sizes.

Of course, I'm still busy with graphic design but that should start to slow down soon. At least I hope so ;)


little cutie

Look at how cute this is...

Baby French (Charentais) canteloupes that are finally ripening in my garden! I got a late start with the seeds I bought from Seeds of Change this spring so wasn't hopeful that I'd see any fruit. And this may be all I get since we had frost last night. They're the size of a baseball but look just like their larger cousins inside.

And they're really fragrant and sweet.

I'll definitely try these again next year, but I'm starting them much earlier!



I signed up to be part of this year's Project FeederWatch! I first read about this a couple of months ago and then again in the current issue of Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, with help from volunteer bird watchers all across the U.S. and Canada, does an annual survey of wild birds that come to backyard feeders.

I'll know more about how to take counts and submit the data after I receive my research kit in a few weeks. But basically, I have to choose an area to watch, then take weekly counts (from November 10th to April 4th) of the type and number of birds that visit and submit that info online to the lab. I watch birds anyway so this seemed like a very doable project. We have a new feeder stand that holds four of our feeders plus we'll be adding a suet cage this fall for the woodpeckers.

Check out the website if you want more info or would like to sign up. It costs $15 to participate but that fee goes directly to their research. And you get a bunch of cool posters and materials in the mail. This might be a good project for your kids, starting with putting up a feeder!


more stitching Q & A

Someone must have linked to my "Stitch School: Blanket Stitch" post recently as I’ve been getting lots of comments, and a couple of questions.

Chloe asks: “I want to use this stitch to finish a fleece blanket. What is the best way to start and finish with the floss when you have no where to hide loose ends? Because of the size of the blanket I can’t use one long piece to stitch all the way around. I’ve tried tying the new piece to the last one but found it difficult to get it just right. I don't want to end up with pieces of floss sticking out every time I have to start with the new piece. Any tricks to that?”

Unfortunately when you’re edging a large item—like a fleece blanket—you’ll have to do some starting and stopping and you don’t have a hem or folded edge to hide your knots inside. The only thing you can do is to be as neat as possible with your knots. Always keep them at the bottom but slightly under the edge towards the back side. Make your knot right at the place that holds down the thread from the previous stitch, and begin again at that same place. Trim any extra threads away from the knot to keep it as neat as possible.

As artists and crafters we’re often more critical of our own work than others are. Most people aren't going to look closely enough to even see the knots.

Carrie asks: “How do you know how many threads of floss to use? Or is that just a matter of preference? Also, it looks like it is all sewn with the floss as a single strand tied at one end as opposed to doubled and tied together. Is that correct?”

It really is just a matter of preference. It’s pretty standard to break the floss in half so you have two lengths of three strands each, but, if you’re doing something very delicate, like a lightweight linen tea towel, you may want to use just two strands. I sometimes use just one if I'm outlining in black—like for an eye and eyelashes. For blanket stitch, especially on a heavier weight fabric, you may want to use all six strands.

I usually knot the length at one end. I find doubled-over thread (sewing thread or embroidery) harder to work with because it twists, but that’s just my preference. You have to do what’s right for you, even if that’s different from the way everyone else does it.

I'm still super busy with design projects and restocking my website with goodies (including new embroidery patterns) for the upcoming holiday season. That seems like a long ways away but it's never too early to get started. I've purchased a magazine ad (more details to come later) and, fingers crossed, hope it will bring lots of new customers and sales. I do plan to start Stitch School up again soon, but you can always practice the basic stitches in the meantime.


the rest of the weekend

We continued on to Stockbridge and got checked into our room at The Red Lion Inn. The inn is a big rambling place on the main street and has been in operation since 1733. There’s a great porch along the front and you can sit here in the morning with the newspaper and coffee or have drinks and coffee after dinner. The rooms are furnished with antiques and it feels very comfortable and homey.

Our first night we ate here in the main dining room and also ate our breakfasts here each morning. I highly recommend the blueberry pancakes!

All those teapots up there are part of a previous owners collection and they’re scattered all through the inn.


On Monday we drove up Route 7 to Williamstown, which is almost to the border with Vermont. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute had a special exhibit called The Unknown Monet and it included mostly sketches and pastel drawings, including caricatures he did as a teenager (who knew he was so funny?) and studies for the waterlily paintings. You can browse the sketchbooks online if you like—just follow the link. The main collection was great, too, and I saw some of the paintings I remember from those fat (and heavy) art history books I used to cart around in college. Love those Renoirs!

On the way back we stopped for a late lunch at Bistro Zinc in Lenox. To-die-for mac and cheese and tuna salad nicoise. After that we just hung out, had a late snack and dessert in the hotel bar and drinks on the porch. After breakfast the next morning we headed for home.

I'll definitely be back to this area again, especially since it's only 3 hours away! Unfortunately the restful vacation afterglow only lasted a few days, so maybe next time I'll go for a longer stay :)

The Red Lion Inn, 30 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA 01262, 413.298.5545
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown. MA 01267, 413.458.2303
Bistro Zinc, 56 Church Street, Lenox. MA 01240, 413.637.8800


later on sunday

We're heading north again on Route 7 and eventually will settle in one place for a few nights. But we have a few stops to make first. We take a detour off the main road and we're on so many small back roads that I'm starting to question the maps I printed out before we left. Where the heck were we? But finally we come back out into civilization and arrive in Southfield, home of Buggy Whip Factory Antiques. The shop is located inside an old wood frame factory building and has 20,000 square feet of space, antiques downstairs and reproductions upstairs.

I find a painted wall shelf...

wall shelf

...some vintage towels, one with bluebirds and the other with a cute embroidered dog. And I can’t resist this vintage tiered egg rack with chippy cream paint.

egg rack

I don’t know yet what I’ll use it for but it looks like a display piece to me! Oh, and I score a vintage sewing basket with lime satin padding inside. Some of the rattan is coming loose at the edges of the top but it’s in almost perfect condition otherwise. It makes a perfect storage place for all those trims I bought yesterday :)

sewing basket

sewing basket

We wind our way back out to Route 7 and continue north. By this point we're starving and spot a Greek restaurant called Aegean Breeze where we have a very nice lunch. We love Greek food and don't have any restaurants near us so this is a treat.

greek restaurant

And, of course, we finish up with thick Greek coffee and baklava (made by the chef’s mother!)


Then it's back on the road to Stockbridge. More on that tomorrow. Told you I'd get lots of posts out of this trip!

Aegean Breeze Restaurant, 327 Stockbridge Road (Rt. 7), Great Barrington, MA 01230, 413.528.4001

The Buggy Whip Factory Antique Market Place, Main Street, Southfield, MA 01259, 413.229.3576


sunday morning

We’re up bright and early this morning and it’s cold! After checking out of our motel we head back down Route 7 for a couple of miles to the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market. This market takes place every Sunday in a big open field and can have up to 300 dealers. Since Brimfield starts later this week many of the dealers who are normally here are already there. Still, there are at least 100 dealers and plenty to see.

Had I been looking for furniture and been able to fit it into my car (not!) I would have bought more things. Like the pink dressing table (far left) with side mirror panels that fold in.


But I find some nice linens, including this pillowcase embroidered with daisies and a little girls dress, which is torn but has the greatest fabric (little black and red flies).


I also score some buttons, vintage trims, and a quilt with pretty pink fabrics from the 40s. It's backed with an awful 1950s fabric and I'm not liking those little puffball things so I'll probably take it apart and rework it a bit. I'm going to use it in one of my bedrooms, which is painted the exact same green as that flower in the second row from the bottom right corner.

We spend a couple of hours at the market, then head north on Route 7. I live in Pennysylvania which is a pretty large state and it amazes me how small some of the New England states are—we're in Massachusetts within an hour! We make two stops along the way to our final destination—one involving lunch and the other involving antiquing (lots of cool unusual things). I'll write about both tomorrow.

Elephant's Trunk Country Flea Market, Route 7, New Milford, CT (7 miles north of Danbury)


tea for two

Vacation was so relaxing that I’m having a hard time returning to normal. I got back late on Tuesday afternoon to a full email box with notes about design projects and shops inquiring about wholesale and proofs for a magazine ad I’ll be doing. Much craziness. But the fact that I can’t just snap back tells me that the trip did it’s work. I needed some R&R and that’s exactly what I got!

We left on Saturday morning and drove clear across New York state into Connecticut. Three hours later we arrived in Darien and only got slightly lost trying to find T-Party Antiques and Tea Room, which is tucked back behind the main street. We have a reservation for their Petite Tea at 3pm and we’re a little early. I’m also delivering a few more pillows and some tissue cozies for the shop and I wanted to leave plenty of time for that. We find owner Cynthia back in the kitchen preparing for the next seating. I hadn’t met her before but she was very friendly and we felt at home within minutes. Co-owner Susan popped in a few minutes later to welcome us and gave us the grand tour.

The shop is so cute as you can see by these photos (more photos here) and the tea was wonderful, too. You choose your tea from a list and it comes to your table in it’s own little beehive teapot (for sale in the shop and we bought one to take home) along with a tiered tray of tiny desserts, all homemade. Remember those little brownie bites whose recipe appeared on their blog a few months ago? Well, they’re every bit as good as they look!

After things quieted down we explored the shop, chatted some more (we felt like old friends by then), and bought a few things before we headed out for the next leg of our journey. An hour or so later we were in New Milford where we spent the night. Both the place we stayed (a motel) and the dinner we ate (overambitious food combinations) were nothing special so I won’t discuss details. But the town itself was cute and, if we go back, there are better alternatives for eating and sleeping.

Next day (and next blog post)…Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market! For another blog post about our visit, go here.

T-Party Antiques and Tea Room, 2 Squab Lane, Darien, CT 06820 (203) 662-9689