happy holidays

Somehow, not only for Christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.

—John Greenleaf Whittier

Illustration ©1991 Sally Holmes from The Book of Christmas published by The Albion Press, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, New York, 1991.


miserable cold

Sorry for the lack of posting the past few days. Not sure where I picked up this miserable cold I have but my nose is running and I can't stop coughing. I haven't been sick for so long that I forgot how bad it feels. And how really awful cough medicine tastes! As soon as I get off the computer I'm heading to the sofa with a book and a hot cup of tea. Hopefully, none of my clients will need anything from me today.

Hope you all are enjoying the mad rush to Christmas and finding some time for yourself amongst all the shopping, baking, wrapping, crazy relatives, etc. Take some time to stop and smell the gingerbread :)


get your indie fixx


If you're looking for some great holiday gift ideas this year may I suggest the Indie Fixx Holiday Guide for inspiration. Yes, I'm participating (that's one of my tissue cozies in the bottom row up there) but you know about me already. There's a whole handmade world out there and this guide has a little of everything—from crochet sushi magnets to dog bandanas, beehive neckties, and monster pals finger puppets—there's something for everyone on your list.


mystery solved

Remember that cute laundry-themed fabric that I used for the cat pillow? The one that someone asked where I'd gotten it and I couldn't remember? This one...

laundry-themed fabric

Well, I was at Joann Fabrics on Saturday buying zippers for some little vintage fabric cosmetic bags I'm working on and I walked past the quilting cottons (which I always do because you just never know what's going to jump out and say "you must have me") and there it was. There wasn't a huge amount on the bolt but I told the cutting person I'd take 4 yards. And wouldn't you know it but there were exactly 4 yards left. Fate, I tell 'ya.

Unfortunately I can't tell you much more about it. On the selvedge are the words Our Family and the ten colored circles that show the number of colors printed and that's all. Usually when a fabric is manufactured exclusively for Joann it will say so, and this didn't, so I don't know. No other colorways either. OK, maybe we haven't solved this mystery after all.


paper cranes

Looking through an old Christmas issue of Better Homes & Gardens (December 1961), among the weird recipes for cookies made from peanut butter, butterscotch chips and chow mein noodles* (no kidding!) and the letters to the editor about the dangers of communism (this was during the "red" scare), there was a section on making homemade Christmas ornaments. Most seem kind of silly, but the origami cranes made from colored tissue paper still look modern today.

I like the directions for folding paper cranes on this page.

This is a one of the harder designs to make with lots of tricky folds, so if you need more help, try here (and read about the peace crane project), here, and here (this is a Greek blog so you probably won't be able to read it but she has a nice photo of the finished cranes on a tree).

I bought a package of origami paper (the folk art print kind) yesterday at AC Moore so I'm going to try a few of these for my tree. And I think a string of them along the top of a window would be kind of cool, too.

* OK, I guess I know nothing about cookies because yes, these haystacks are quite popular and can also be made with chocolate chips and no peanut butter. I didn't know. Maybe it's a regional thing? They still don't sound good to me but having never tried them—who knows? Anyway, I stand corrected :)


And the winner is...

Tammyca. Congratulations! I actually made this a two-day contest because I was sure I wouldn't get enough participants otherwise. Thirty six comments later and boy was I wrong. Thank you all for the wonderful comments and welcome lurkers—I knew I'd get a few of you to speak up :)

To answer some of your questions from the comments. No, I didn't embroider this—it looks machine-done as many handkerchiefs would have been. Yes, Stitch School will be back soon. My work load (the graphic design one, that is) got overwhelming and I just couldn't manage it every week. I can't promise I'll do it every week but I will be doing more of them.

Several of you mentioned handkerchiefs. You can always frame them (and they can be very pretty that way), but don't be afraid to use them either. Most of the ones I use for sachets are damaged in some way so I don't feel guilty cutting them up. As long as you have one corner that has no holes, stains, or frayed crochet, you're good to go. And even if there is a tiny hole or spot, you can always cover it with a button.

So, Tammy, email me (janet@primrosedesign.com) with your address. And watch for more contests in the future. This was fun and I'll probably do it again!


it's beginnning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas sachet

I've been sewing like a mad woman and stocking the Primrose Design website with lots of goodies for holiday shopping. I tend to not make many holiday-themed things because, if they don't sell, I'm stuck with them until next year. But I had a cute handkerchief embroidered with poinsettias and holly in my stash and it was just crying out to become something holiday-related. Another hanky with green crocheted edging, some poinsettia fabric, and a red and white button stack were the perfect companions. Voila—a hanky sachet!

Christmas sachet

I've never done a give-away on my blog before but this seems like the perfect opportunity :)

So, leave a comment here before noon on Thursday (that's November 29th) and I'll throw all the names in a hat and pick someone to win this sachet. I'll announce the winner in another post and that person can then send me their mailing address. I'll wrap it up and send it on it's way the next time I go to the post office.

Sound like fun? Well, get writing :)

(Please note that I moderate all comments before they're published, so don't panic if your comment doesn't show up right away).


happy turkey day

We're spending Thanksgiving with friends as we usually do. They have a big family and cook a huge turkey, so there's plenty for the various friends who don't have families of their own to celebrate with (or whose families are too far away). I've spent the morning baking my contributions to the feast—prosciutto and parmesan puff pastry palmiers for an appetizer and a linzer torte for dessert. I'm not crazy about the traditional raspberry jam filling so I substituted cherry preserves. I particularly like Bonne Maman brand preserves and the jars are cute for storing buttons and beads in your craft room, too!

jam torte

Palmiers with Honey Mustard and Prosciutto

1 sheet puff pastry (the packaged kind is fine)
3 tablespoons honey mustard
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2 teaspoons water

Place the puff pastry on a work surface and spread the mustard over the top. Arrange the prosciutto evenly over the mustard to cover all the pastry, and then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Lightly press cheese into the prosciutto with a rolling pin.

Starting on one end, roll up the puff pastry like a jelly roll just to the middle of the dough; then roll up the other side in the same fashion, making two rolls that met in the center. Squeeze the rolls together a bit with your fingers. Using a serrated knife, cut the rolls crosswise into ½-inch slices. Place the slices on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and press lightly with your hands to flatten. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl. Brush the top of each palmier with the egg wash. Bake until puffed and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 20.

Since there will be ten people today (no way will they only want to eat two of these), I doubled the recipe, using the entire package of puff pastry.


Recipe courtesy of The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, Workman Publishing, New York, 1984.


first snow

Just enough to dust the leaves of the rhodedendrons with white...

first snow

Aha, but here's what the five inches that fell later and during the night looks like...


Now I wonder if I'll be getting to the post office today after all :)


I mentioned in passing a while back that I'd purchased an ad in a major magazine's winter issue. It was Adorn and it's out on the newstands now! I've been adding lots of vintage buttons and trims in anticipation of heavier web traffic from the crafty girls who read this magazine. And a special welcome if you're one of them!

I've recently added a smallish section for vintage sewing patterns on my website and will likely be expanding that soon. I kept finding cool patterns in my travels this summer and last weekend at a local antique mall I scored an entire box of 1960s patterns—at least 100 of them and all in perfect condition! I may end up selling them on Ebay but I'll announce that here if I do.

I've been spending some time cleaning up my studio and reorganizing my fabrics. With that flurry of sewing and orders recently it got to be quite messy. When I can't find things I know it's time :)

After that, who knows? I have some ideas to test out for new products. And I may still get a few more custom orders for the holidays. I can't believe how quickly that's approaching!

Don't forget Project Runway: Season 4 starts tonight—Bravo, 10pm!


no two are the same

My friend Anni recently sent me a link to an interview she did about her participation in the auctions to benefit Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure. Having two parents who died of cancer and being a cancer survivor myself, this is an issue that's close to my heart.

So, what's this all about? I couldn't describe it any better so here's what they say on the website:

Own a piece of art from your favorite children's book illustrator while helping to fight cancer. Participate in Robert's Snow: for Cancer's Cure, a unique fundraiser for cancer research. Since 2004, this online auction has raised over $200,000 for Dana-Farber, and with your help, we can continue this holiday tradition in 2007.

"Robert's Snow" is a children's story about a mouse not allowed in the snow. Children's book illustrator Grace Lin wrote the book, which was inspired by her husband Robert's battle with Ewing's sarcoma. After the book was published, Grace gathered artists from all over the children's book illustrating community to create special snowflakes to be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting sarcoma research at Dana-Farber. These snowflake auctions became known as the event "Robert's Snow."

When I worked as a children's magazine art director I had the opportunity (really more of an honor since these artists are so awesome) to work with so many wonderful artists and illustrators including Anni and several others who've I've since kept in touch with. Many of them made snowflakes for this auction and I'd like to give a special shout-out to those I've worked with personally—Stephanie Roth (whose snowflake you can see here), Ellen Beier, Philomena O'Neill, John Nez (see his snowflake here), Jane Dippold (see hers here), Judith Moffatt (my personal favorite snowflake—I'm keeping an eye on this one) and Anni, whose snowflake she generously allowed me to publish a picture of here.

Pop on over to see all the snowflakes and make a bid on your favorites if you're so inclined and finances allow. It's a worthy cause and you'll have a chance to own an original piece of art from some truly talented and creative artists. Auctions happen on November 19-23, November 26-30 and December 3-7.


cute baby stuff

One of my readers emailed me to say (nicely) that it's not fair of me to mention my cute Ebay embroidery finds without showing pictures. LOL! It's true that I often show the finished items but some people don't want to wait that long.

I've bought two kits for baby things in the last month that are going to be so cool when finished. This first one is a 4 piece baby layette that has a blanket, kimono, sacque, and bib—all in white flannel trimmed with bright yellow binding and featuring cats to be embroidered. Unbelieveably, no one bid against me on this. Maybe they were scared off by the few stains mentioned by the seller, but the kit was in a sealed package and I figured it was a combination of dust and sunlight and they'd wash out easily. It's always a bit risky to buy a stamped-for-embroidery project with stains because you can't wash it until after the embroidery is done. I once had a seller at a show tell me that wasn't true—that the stamping doesn't really wash out—but don't you believe it... it will.

The other kit I bought is also for baby and it has a top sheet and matching pillowcase, both in white cotton and stamped with a mama bird pulling her baby in a little wagon. The motifs on these are so small and the lines so fine that the instructions call for a single strand of embroidery floss. I've started this project and work in small doses because it make my eyes tired!

I don't know who made these kits, although they're obviously the same manufacturer. The instructions on the back call for O.N.T. 6 strand embroidery cotton—maybe that's a clue. I just love them, though. And they'll make super cute baby gifts, and easy ones, too. As it says on the package "Nothing to do but simple embroidery."

And since it's Halloween tonight...


Mondays are for washing

I've always been fascinated by the idea of day-of-the-week towels, or D.O.W. as they're often called. Did women really change their towels every morning?

Each towel depicts a household chore and the day of the week that corresponded to that particular chore rarely varied. The day for baking sometimes switches with shopping (Thursdays and Saturdays seem to be interchangeable) and perhaps that was a regional variation. But Sundays are always go to church or rest. And Mondays are always wash day.

Wash Day

Was there a rule that you had to do your chores on exactly those days? Who decided that? And were you considered a rebel if you mixed up the order? I could picture myself as a frustrated housewife getting some small satisfaction out of using a Saturday towel on Tuesday. So, there!

It just seems so silly. But the designs are wonderful. One of the new pillows I've just completed uses a Monday towel that features a cute kitty sorting her laundry—rather messily. When I found the laundry-themed fabric I just knew it would be perfect for this pillow.

laundry-themed fabric

Since I had to embroider this anyway I could work with colors to match. And remember those vintage French buttons I bought a couple of years ago from an Ebay seller in Paris? The blue and white ones look kind of like the soap bubbles in the fabric. How cute is that?

soap bubble buttons

Happy Monday! And you do have laundry to do, don't you?


before there was television

I'm sure you've heard of hope or wedding chests (also called glory boxes in the UK and Australia)—all the linens and household goods that girls were expected to have (and often make themselves) before they got married. I found this list of hope chest items in the January 1926 issue of Needlecraft Magazine and it makes me tired just reading it. Even though girls started on these items as soon as they were skilled enough at embroidery and sewing to do it, and there was no television, it's an exhaustive list of items.

"I found the following hope chest list very satisfactory for my own little home: Eight sheets, eight pairs of pillowcases, four sheet-shams, four comforts, two pairs of double blankets, three pairs of pillows, two white tablecloths, two dozen white napkins, two Japanese luncheon-cloths, two dozen napkins to match, one between-meal centerpiece, four miscellaneous centerpieces, two buffet-scarfs or sets, four dresser-scarfs or sets, two machine-scarfs, two library-scarfs, one centerpiece and piano scarf, five cushions, three dozen dish towels, eighteen each of hand-towels and washcloths, one dozen bath towels, six holders for kitchen use, laundry—bag, combing—jacket and kimono, one each, three envelope-chemises, four camisoles, six petticoats, silk and washable, five each of nightgowns, house-dresses and bungalow aprons, and six slip-on aprons. This list was intended for four rooms and sleeping-porch, and is ample. It may, of course, be taken from or added to as required, but in a general way is very good."—Mrs. M. L. K., California

Now, imagine having to wash and iron all these things without modern washing machines and electric steam irons. Yikes!


embroidery tutorials

The Renaissance Store has a two-part tutorial on Viking embroidery by Gael Stirler, originally published in their newsletter—

Part 1
Part 2

This store is a great place to find costumes (or patterns if you want to sew your own) for medieval and renaissance gowns that are perfect for attending Renaissance Faires or for Halloween costumes. Long story, but I once dressed as a Celtic priestess for a Renaissance-themed party, and I found a number of accessories here. And lots of information as well.


new embroidery patterns

I've just added three new embroidery patterns, for a total of seventeen so far.

VP115, which I'm calling Lil' Angels, has 12 designs of little boys and girls. They don't have wings but are posed on clouds with stars sprinkled around. Plus, some of them are doing household chores! If your kids did that you'd think they were angels, too :)

VP116 is an older pattern, probably from the 1940s. Four cute designs, also of boys and girls. There's a girl feeding a lamb from a baby bottle, a boy watering flowers, a boy eating an ice cream cone (and just look at the expression on the cat), and a girl with a puppy on a leash. I especially love these!

VP117 are quilt blocks with fruits (peaches, plums, cherries, pears) and flowers (wild rose, tulip, morning glory, poppy).

I expect to add more to my offerings this winter when I'm stuck at home with nothing to do (hah!) but trace patterns. It's quite a lot of work but I'm too much of a perfectionist to settle for simply scanning them. I've been buying some of the cutest stamped projects lately on Ebay—many of them for baby things. So look for the cuteness to continue.


still here

Two magazines designed and shipped to the printer; one 84-page catalog three-quarters done; 34 tissue cozies made; 30 sachets made; 18 pillows sewn (including the cute 12 inch square ones I mentioned a few weeks ago and shown below); hundreds of product photos taken; many changes on the web site which is being stocked in time for the holidays. Only 8 weeks away (eeek!) And no time for blogging. By the time I get a chance to sit down in the evening it's all I can do to eat something for dinner, watch a few minutes of tv, and collapse into bed with a book that stays open for, like, 10 minutes. I'm so looking forward to a break, and maybe (fingers crossed), getting back to normal.

Back to the pillows for a minute. What I thought would be a challenge turned out not to be so. I found that I had lots of linens with small motifs that were perfect for these and I was able to use some of the smaller buttons that I had stashed away. These were done for a shop in California and I found out today that they arrived safely. So, if you're anywhere near Cotati, stop in to Cotati Clothing and check them out. They specialize in new and recycled clothing and accessories but also have a fair trade gift and boutique section.

little pillows

And they have some of my sachets, too...

turquoise stripe sachet

After a quick trip to Joann's for pillow inserts this afternoon I'm headed back to the studio to finish up some of those pillows. I hope to have them listed by the end of this week. And then get more vintage buttons, trims, and patterns up. See, it just never ends :)

Cotati Clothing, 8200 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati, CA 94931


Road Trip: Weil Antique Center

For the second year, the Weil Antique Center has featured a special sale during the second week of October with most dealers offering 10 to 40% off their regular prices. And, if you're on their mailing list, they send you a postcard that's good for an additional 5% off everything that costs more than $15. And that makes October a great time to stop by. Housed in an old factory, there are 150 booths and it's a great place to find what are called "smalls" in the antique business. Small things like jewelry, linens, china, purses, and vintage toys. But don't worry—there's plenty of big stuff, too!

I bought too much stuff to show in one blog post, so check back after I get more things photographed. But I wanted to show you my coolest find from the trip. I paid $5 for a box of vintage flash cards!

flash cards

You may have seen these around lately. The Sundance catalog is selling them framed with the words forming funny sayings. Like (picture these as stacked cards)...



Too funny. And, at $150 to $225, out of my price range. My cards are mostly nouns so they don't lend themselves to making phrases or sayings quite as easily. But mine have pictures and theirs don't. So there! Here are a few quick attempts :)



I'll show more of my finds in a few days!

Weil Antique Center, 2200 31st Street SW, Allentown, PA 18103


vintage magazines

Remember last spring when Irene asked about how to do the lazy daisy stitch with two colors? And I said that it must have been done with two needles. I was looking through some copies of Needlecraft Magazine that I found at the flea market yesterday (more about these in a minute) and found a reader comment about this subject. Here's what Mrs. W.C. from New Hampshire had to say:

" When desiring to hold down the tips of lazy-daisy petals with another color, instead of using two needles. I make the tiny holding-stitches first, all around the flower, then the other can easily be brought up and slipped in under."

So, now we know another way to do this without juggling two needles!

Now, about the magazines. If you ever come across these in your travels, and can find them at a good price (these were $4 each—which is incredibly cheap for their age), don't pass them up. Not only are they full of vintage patterns for embroidery, sewing, and crochet, but they're a unique slice of life from the period. And the ads are hysterical—like this one for "educated" canaries.


The issues I found yesterday are from 1926, 1929, and 1930, so lots of cool art deco-inspired designs. I'll see what else I can find in them to post about. I know there are pages of gorgeous dress designs in the fashion sections!


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


on the road again

Maps printed - check
Cat sitter arranged for - check
Digital camera batteries charged - check
Bags packed - almost

Tomorrow is day one of the first real vacation I've taken in about five years. Since we bought our house actually. Because you know how that is—every free bit of time or money goes into the house. But, freelance work is going well, all my current projects are up to date, and I can afford to take a few days off.

This trip will involve delivery of pillows to shops, afternoon tea, flea market adventures, scenic drives, and dinner and lodging at an old inn that's been in operation since the 1700s. So I hope to have lots of fun posts and pics for next week. I always bring my digital camera on trips but often get so caught up in just being where I'm going that I forget to take pictures. I'll try to do a better job of it this time.

I've been seriously neglecting blogging lately and hope to get back to normal in September, including more Stitch School. Thanks to all of you who've stuck with me during my unplanned hiatus. Hope you all have a great weekend!


Road Trip: Bouckville Antique Show

The sun finally came out and I was able to photograph some of my vintage finds from the show last weekend! I'm going to go with what I originally wrote on Sunday even though it's now days later—

Boy do my feet hurt today! You don’t realize how big a space this show takes up until you’ve been walking around for 4 hours and come to realize that you still haven’t visited every booth let alone every row of booths. Yes, it’s that big! And at some point in the day you go on overload and run out of money anyway.

For me it was a vintage fabric kind of day and I found some beautiful barkcloth (which I’m starting to like again), feedsacks, and floral cottons. Here’s a sneak peek at a few of them.

bark cloth
Barkcloth curtains—very 50s glam!

bark cloth
Doesn't this barkcloth have the best colors? I think I may redecorate my house based solely on this fabric!

vintage fabric
Vintage cotton with daisies.I actually have a feedsack in this pattern but the background is orange.

This is a tablecloth and it has great colors, too—very fruity and bright.

baby sacque
I bought this sweet flannel baby sacque embroidered with kittens from a woman who could have been Cate Blanchett's twin sister. I swear, she looked just like her.

quilt top
Another of those 1930s quilt tops that I seem to be finding lately. Bright colors set off by a black background and three colorways of the same fabric. I’m not so crazy about the gold border fabric (plus it isn't cotton) so I’ll probably replace that.

And my most fun find was this stamped for embroidery towel with a little black girl pushing a grocery basket with a watermelon. Not very PC, I know, but this is from the 40s so you have to consider the times. You’re supposed to do French knots for her hair but I may try bullion stitch (one we haven’t done yet on Stitch School) for a little more texture.

little girl

Right before we left I finally found Emily Lewis’s booth and stopped in to say hello. Emily was featured on Vintage Indie last week and we both advertise there so I had to go introduce myself. And she’s just as sweet as the wonderful little cakes she crafts from vintage chenille and trimmings. Don’t they look good enough to eat? Her biz is called Crazy Cakes and you can find her online at Etsy and read about her adventures on her blog Now What is She Making?.

I also met a seller from Pennsylvania who has a 14,000 square foot warehouse full of vintage fabric that she’s invited me to visit. I bought three gorgeous feedsacks from her at the show so I can just imagine what she’s got. Better start saving my pennies now!

So, it was a good day for me. I spent too much money but I’ll have materials to work with all next winter!

Next years show is August 16-17 so mark your calendars and consider making the trip if you live within driving distance. Even if you don't buy a thing (if that's possible) it's very inspiring to see the huge variety of antiques that are out there.