sewing machines

People sometimes email me to ask what kind of sewing machine I use, thinking that because I have a business I must have some fancy schmantzy machine. And I do have a Bernette that I bought that first year. But, you know what? The machine I use the most is my mom's Singer Featherweight that she received as a going-away-to-college gift in 1950.

It does nothing special—no fancy stitches and I can't even get the buttonhole attachment to work right. But for straight sewing it works like a dream. And it's all metal. Unlike the Bernette which I sometimes think will break if I look at it wrong.

My Mom (that's her on the right in what I think is a dress that she made herself on that same sewing machine) was officially a home-economics major in college but, as many young women of the time were doing, was actually pursuing her MRS degree. In her case she succeeded :)

1950s dresses

Actually, she did teach for a while, too. But, when I came along (and then my brother and sister) she opted to stay home. And she put those home-ec skills to good use. We didn't have much money but she was so good at stretching every dollar that I don't think we really noticed. Except for some of the weird casseroles (with Spam and canned salmon) she sometimes served for dinner. She made a lot of our clothes on that sewing machine, too. I wish I could find pictures of some of them.


snakes alive!

First off, let me apologize to all the people who left comments over the past week. I never received notification from Blogger so couldn't approve them and they never got added. Imagine my surprise when I logged on today. What's up with that I wonder.

After a flurry of posts every day for a week, I haven't been posting at all. I've been out in the garden every day—if I had a nickel for every weed I've pulled... I could hire a gardener! I'm working on a custom gift order for my SIL. And I've been gathering up product for consignment at a new shop that's opening next month. I'll tell you more about that later but I'm driving down on Thursday to deliver everything in person and check it out. Everything I bring has to be packaged, labeled, or tagged for retail sale. That's a little different than how I do it for my website.

I don't know if this photo will disgust you—it depends, I guess, on whether you're afraid of snakes. My husband has been cleaning up an area near the driveway and was moving some big stones this morning. Look what he found when he lifted one of them.


The picture's a little fuzzy but I wasn't getting any closer than I had to. Not because I'm afraid but because we don't want to scare them away. We're very happy to have snakes—in fact, the more the merrier. They eat insects and small pesky animals and they're really too small to be a bother. This photo makes them look larger than they are —those little green leaves are clover so you can see they aren't that large. This pair, probably a male and female (one's a bit larger and lighter in color), were curled up together and a third smaller one slithered off into the bushes. Another small one lives near the front porch and often suns himself on the top step. My cats watch from inside the screen door and are fascinated with it. I've also seen him lurking under the coneflowers in the herb garden. I think he's sort of cute!


tiger, tiger, burning bright...

Just a pretty photo for you today. Tiger lilies remind me so much of my grandmother, who died while I was in college. There was a long row of these old-fashioned beauties along the stone wall outside of her back door. The window above the kitchen sink looked out on them as well so she could enjoy them while she washed dishes.

tiger lily

It's really hard to choose a favorite flower because I love so many of them. But these come pretty close, at least they're among my top five!


rickrack redux

I found this very pretty embroidered runner at the flea market last weekend and wanted to show you how the rick rack was attached.


It's simply tacked down with a single stitch on just the top curves (the bottom curves hang over the hemmed edge so all you see is rick rack). The bottom row shows what the back side looks like.


Here's what happens at the corner turn:

runner corner

This is pretty for a runner but probably wouldn't work so well for clothing—it's not very sturdy and could easily pull off with rough handling. But I love how simple it is and think of all the color combinations you could come up with!


fresh peas for dinner

You know how I've been complaining that we didn't have a good strawberry crop this year and I've been buying them to make up for our shortfall. Well, there's no shortage of peas—this is just a small sampling of the hundreds of pods still on the vines.


I sat on my porch this afternoon and shelled these. And I'll cook them for dinner tonight with our grilled lamb and roasted potatoes. And for dessert we'll have what's left of the fresh strawberry pie I made yesterday - yum! I tried this recipe but added a bit of sugar to the cream cheese filling and cooked the glaze longer. People were mentioning in the comments that they couldn't get it to set up and I thought that might help. It did. It's very simple and fresh-tasting, not too sweet, and really let's the berries shine.


going to the dogs

I never knew where that expression came from but it means going to ruin as in food that isn't fit for human consumption (i.e only good enough to feed to dogs). Poor dogs. None of this has anything to do with my post today but it's so hard to come up with catchy titles and I do have some doggy things to show you. Both are newly listed items on my website.

scotty pillow

The first is a new pillow featuring an embroidered Scotty dog that I recycled from the corner of a vintage tablecloth. I think it's probably machine-done as I've seen it several times before and it always looks exactly the same. In fact, I think I made a pillow a couple of years ago with the same motif. This one is all about red, white, and black and I've used three coordinating prints in those colors and some vintage red buttons at the corners. This almost looks Christmasy with the little red berries and red bow around his neck.

poodle cocktail napkins

The other is a set of six rectangular linen cocktail napkins—three white and three black—with appliqued poodles in the corners. I love the tiny stitches and little red collars! One napkin has a yellow spot near the edge but the others are in good condition. A nice example of 60s cocktail culture—break out the Salty Dogs (vodka and grapefruit with a salted rim)!

applique poodle


button jewelry

I've mentioned before that I have several customers who buy buttons to make jewelry. And that I'm fascinated by button jewelry and, really, anything unusual and different made from buttons. I met another button jewelry artist this past weekend—Judy Perilstein from Pequea, Pennsylvania—at the flea market I attended and bought a bracelet from her.

She named this "Get Fresh" and I love how she's combined buttons with beads and sea shells to create something that reminds me very much of what you'd see spilling from a treasure chest in a pirate movie—a jumble of seemingly disparate elements that somehow work together.

Queen Anne's Bracelet by Round Two Jewelry

I'm also coveting her simpler Queen Anne's Bracelet made from white and cream-colored vintage pearl buttons on an elastic band. It's available at her Etsy shop—Round Two Jewelry. She has several bracelets for sale that are similar to the one I bought but in different color combinations along with gorgeous necklaces featuring larger antique and vintage buttons. I'm happy to recommend her work—and I'm pretty picky when it comes to buying jewelry!


10 flea market tips

Just my "two cents" and compiled after my recent flea market excursion on July 4th...

1. About timing. They say that you should arrive early to find the best stuff and that's true if what you're looking for is popular or the flea market is heavily visited by professionals. But, they also say that the best deals can be found at the end of the day because dealers don't want to pack everything up again to haul it home. So, it depends on what's more important to you. I'm an early riser anyway so I try to arrive as early as I can. But not so early that I leave my house when it's still dark outside.

2. Try to find out something about the flea market you'll be visiting ahead of time, especially if you'll be driving any distance to get there. Some flea markets are not what you think they're going to be. My local market, for example, is mostly junk—tables full of new clothing, shoes, beauty products, and CDs. I only occasionally find anything there and wouldn't go at all if it wasn't ten minutes from my house. The great thing about hunting for treasures at flea markets is the accidental great find and you want to travel to places where that might actually happen.

3. Wear comfy clothing and shoes. You'll be doing lots of walking and blisters are not a good thing. I wore a pair of crocs on my last trip and they worked great except for the tiny pebbles that kept working their way into the holes at the sides. Ouch! Next time I'll try sneakers.

4. Bring a big, lightweight tote bag for your purchases. It won't help much for larger items but it's perfect for smaller things—like the buttons, trims, and hankies I like to buy. I have a brightly striped one that is also good for identifying me in a crowd. That way if I wander off my husband can spot me from a distance.

5. Bring a tape measure if you're looking for furniture or something to fill a particular spot in your home. You don't want to buy something that's too big for the space you have to fill. Or too big to fit in your car!

6. Bring lots of small change. Yes, they'll think you're crazy at the bank but vendors will appreciate it if you have exact change. Many won't take checks or credit cards anyway.

7. Don't be afraid to ask for a better price but don't be rude. A simple "Can you do better on the price?" will do just fine. If you buy several items from a vendor they'll usually be amenable to a group discount. I bought a patchwork quilt from a vendor and she gave me the handful of handkerchiefs I had in my hand for free. Chatting up sellers and being nice will go a long way.

8. Stop to refuel. Large markets often have food stands and they can be a great way to sample local fare. Smaller markets don't always have the healthiest choices though. If greasy junk food isn't your thing then consider packing a picnic lunch. We do this for the Bouckville show—not because the food isn't good but because the lines are so long! Make sure you drink lots of liquids, too, especially if it's a hot day. Lemon-Shakeups (my personal fav) are good for this purpose ;)

9. About those liquids, make sure when you arrive that you scout out where the bathrooms are located. You don't want to be hunting for them when you really need it, if you know what I mean.

10. Have fun! Laugh about the silly things you remember (and wish you'd kept) from your childhood. Be open to discoveries but don't be disappointed if you don't find anything. That's the beauty of hunting for treasure—it's like a game—sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.


strawberry time

Wow, can you believe it's July already? Maybe it's because it doesn't feel like July weather wise—too much rain, not enough heat. Most of our garden is doing OK (at least I don't have to water it) but I was right about the strawberries—they never did very well. We got some but nowhere near the usual quantity. It was just too wet.

Luckily we have Pallman Farms in Clarks Summit, a wonderful place to pick your own strawberries! Since I'm still recovering from my bursitis, climbing around in a 10-acre strawberry field wasn't really an option, so I took advantage of the fact that they sell them already picked as well. This is actually the second batch I've bought—last week's eight quarts were either eaten (homemade ice cream and strawberry sponge cake) or in the freezer (put them in a single layer on a tray in the freezer until they're hard, then put them in freezer bags). Since it's raining again today (sigh), I'll be indoors preparing this new batch. But think how wonderful they'll be next winter, like a little taste of summer!


The cat is a stray I've been feeding since earlier this spring. I've hesitated to introduce him because I'm afraid he'll disappear as mysteriously as he arrived. He does go away occasionally for a few days here and there (I say he's gone walkabout) but he always shows up again. I've named him Little Bear because he looks like a mini version of the black bears we've seen so much of this spring. He's very sweet and well-mannered and obviously had a home at some point. My husband thinks someone dropped him off in the country to fend for himself, something I think is very sad. The average lifespan of a cat "on the street" is something like four or five years—it's tough out there. I do have to keep him outdoors (my cats hate him) but he's managed to find sheltered areas to hang out and knows I'm good for free meals.

Pallman Farms, 1511 Summit Lake Road, Clarks Summit, PA 18411