"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Make do and mend Mondays

A day late and a dollar short but here I am with my project for this week. Sorry for the delay. It took me longer to get this project done that I had anticipated...

I am a member of a Yahoo homekeeping list. This is a close knit group of very inspiring ladies. Lately, Susan and I talked about having too many craft projects going. We talked about needing to clear up some of what we are doing instead of being constantly inspired to start more new things. In this computer age, that is not easy. There are so many wonderful things you see out there on the web! And so many inspiring people...

I have set myself a challenge to clear out as many of the UFOs (UnFinishedObjects) sitting in my quilt studio by the end of 2011. I am not considering anything but the ones that are in the studio. There are 10 times
as much yet upstairs. *gulp* I want to just have an organized studio for now where I can bring down one of two UFOs next year to work on. This week, I completed the first UFO.

I had started a new quilt project at the beginning of the year with the Civil War block of the week from Barbara Brackman. I was not happy with them at all. Not the blocks themselves but I found them so big at 8 inches when I have been making tiny quilt blocks lately. Do you find that you throw something off into a corner when you are not happy with it? I do. So they sat and sat with my only have completed 9 blocks total of the 52. When I was looking for my first UFO goal, I decided I do love the purple fabrics just not making a large quilt with these. So what to do with them to use them in a different way?

I used to redo bags my husband would get at all his computer fairs he used attend. With the bad world economy, there are no more bags or fairs. I have made many gifts for others using these "prettied up" bags but do not have one for myself. I realized that the dark patchwork blocks would look great on this linen oil cloth bag which I use regularly to take handwork up to Cranberry Cottage. It was a free gift with an outdoor life magazine here in Holland and the size is perfect to carry even a quilt in it.

I sewed four of the blocks together two and two so that I could turn then into small quilts. I hand quilted the blog which you can see if you enlarge the photos. I then just had to sew the two quilts on to the front and back of the bag.

Machine sewing them on turned out to be impossible. This is a bag with an oil cloth interior. It is stiff and I was unable to fold or move it around. I had to rip out the two sides I could sew on and decided that the only way forward was to hand sew these on. It was difficult and took more strength than normal but I got them sewn in place and I am really happy with the results. A handy and practical bag is now also a pretty bag!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Welcome autumn!

Ah, sweet autumn! Welcome autumn! This is a season that I love and that is summed up in these words by George Eliot...

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns."

Yesterday, I decided to start my autumn decorating. I am adding touches of the rich colors of the seasons in my house. Where better to start than the front door. I found this wreath again when I crawled up into the attic and added some more accents to it to welcome not only the season but visitors to my home.....

While at the cottage last week, we stopped by a farm that was selling pumpkins and ghords. I decided to buy more subdued green and white ones for my garden table. Placing a pumpkin on top of a candlestick always add a dramatic effect.....

I also could not resist adding heather to an iron vase in our little coffee corner of the garden. I do so love heather.....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Make do and mend Mondays

A week at Cranberry Cottage was wonderful! Autumn was in the air. A chill in the air meaning wrapping up in sweaters or ponchos. But now it is time to get back to business...make do and mend business...

I had two jeans decorative pillows from my old IKEA sleeping chairs which were just laying around waiting to be made over. The demin is okay but does not match my living room at all. IKEA also sells real linen fabric for good prices so I grabbed the pillow, fabric and my tape measure to get started.

Now before I go further, I must tell you that I am a huge Kirstie Allsopp fan! She has done three seasons of her new show Kirstie's Homemade Home and I have watched and rewatched them. When her book came out, I had it on order. She has another book coming out in October which I also have on preorder called Kirstie Allsopp Crafts. This envelope cushion cover is from her book. I am sharing my own photo tutorial of it with a slight change. I used it in a different direction from hers and on a rectangle pillow.

Measure your pillow size. You will need 2-1/2 times the width of a rectangle pillow and the actual measurement plus 5 cm or 2 inches in the height. My pillow needed 35cm cut in the width of the fabric.

Then cut the piece to your 2-1/2 times width which was 122.5 cm for my pillow.

Place fabric wrong side up and fold over 2.5cm or 1 inch of fabric. I finger pressed this fabric to keep a crisp edge.

Now fold the fabric again to create a double hem. Finger press and pin along the hem.

Sew a running stitch along the edge of the hem.

With both sides hemmed, place the fabric right sides up on a table. Lay your pillow into the fabric placing the folds for the envelope in your desired position. I wanted mine to fall on the edge so I placed the folds along the side.

Mark with a small fold where edges are and remove the pillow.

Pin the sides and sew 2.5 cm or 1 inch from the outer edges.

Trim the edge to 1.5 cm or 1/2 inch and then zig zag the edges to keep them from raveling.

Turn the cover right side out. There is no need to trim the corners in this design. The second section of the envelope will show on the wrong side but simply turn this piece over closing the cushion cover.

Iron the cover and insert your pillow.

You can add a button or two simply for decoration. To be able to remove the pillow and wash the cover, be sure to only sew the button onto the outer lip of the envelope.

This cover is so simple to sew and yet looks great. Use a neutral fabric so you can add embellishments.

My pillows are being used plain now but I will share a fun way to embellish for any season in another Make do and Mend Monday post.

If you have some old pillows that are shabby or not the right color, try this simple envelope cover for them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taking some time.....

...just to relax! I will be taking a blogger's break this coming week. There has been so much going on here that Jos is taking a week for us just to do some things here in Holland that we have been wanting to do. We also have a new heater being installed up at Cranberry Cottage and have to be there when they come to put it in. We want to visit a museum or two and just enjoy some relaxation between doing odd jobs around the house.

May I introduce you to my sweet little namesake. This is my great niece Abigail Lynn. Her mother was also named after me so this is #3 Lynn. She is almost 2-1/2 months old but already holding herself up in a sitting position.

I am going to spend my weekend enjoying the beginning of autumn. It is my favorite season and I want to soak up every moment of it! Have a great weekend wherever you are.....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I am sitting here this evening just full to the brim with celebrations. Today is my 25th anniversary of immigrating to Holland. It does not seem possible that 25 years have passed in the blink of an eye. You can read a little more about my becoming Dutch here.

Jos picked up typical Dutch 'gebak' (pasteries) for with our coffee tonight. He also bought a little bag of Leonidas chocolates which he teasingly gave me. For us both, Leonidas are our favorite dark chocolates. But they also remind us of a funny thing I did within a month of moving over to Europe.

We lived for a couple of months when I first arrived in the city of Brussels, Belgium. I used to write diary like letters home to my parents about everything that I was experiencing. One of the things I found humorous was my daily grocery shopping at a tiny Nopri just two streets from our little rented studio apartment. It was so small that it felt like a clothes closet. And the woman would come in dressed in very expensive clothes with their poodles to shop. The poodles would spy each other and the yapping was deafening.

I had decided one day that I would wander down into the city to a large grocery store for my ingredients for dinner. I had been trying to pay attention to how we walked there in the evenings so I could find it on my own. After walking in circles for 1-1/2 hours, I finally dared ask a Belgian man if he could tell me where it was. I had been circling around it all that time. *sigh* I was very young and very leery about approaching people so it was not easy to ask right away. Needless to say, I would no longer do that!

I did know that if I left the large grocery store from a certain side that I was right across from a Leonidas stand. I wanted to bring Jos home a box of the same chocolates he bought for me when he picked me up at the airport. We had a favorite one in the box so I asked the woman for a kilo of that particular one. She turned away and was busy packing a box that only when she turned and politely informed me that she could not fit a kilo (approximately 2-1/4 lbs.) in a VERY large box and could she place the remaining chocolates in a separate box did I realize that a kilo was a LOT of chocolates. I was so embarrassed about this that I said it was fine, paid and quickly made my way back to our apartment.

Jos got home and I told him about my adventure. We had dinner and I brought out the boxes of chocolates. He asked why I bought so much and I told him the story. We still laugh about it today.

And guess what? I never underestimated what a kilo is again! *wink*

Jos was unable to buy our particular favorite kind of chocolate as they do not sell them here in Holland at Leonidas but he bought some since he thought that was appropriate to celebrate my 25th anniversary of becoming Dutch.

Note: The stitched piece is a gift from a dear friend (thanks again Saskia!) and you can read about by clicking the link at the beginning of this post.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Make do and mend Mondays

This make do has been too long in the making but after three weeks, I can finally show you what I was working on...

I have a miniature armoire which was cute in its shape but a drab finish. I had been wanting to refinish it for ages. Finally, I took it outside and we started sanding it...

Finally able to gather my smallest doll quilts I have made over the years which fit perfectly in this little cupboard...

I used my leftover paint from our living room walls which is an extra matt emulsion. After painting it, I distressed the edges and applied a coat of antique furniture wax.

Now this piece of tiny furniture has a new lease on life. I think Becky the doll is pleased but she needs a few more red and brown doll quilts don't you think?

Have you any items sitting about the house that need a makeover?

Edit: The cupboard is 16 inches high and 8 inches wide.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Falling into autumn.....

It is September 1st and I am totally thinking autumn! Well, I have been for a while since our weather has been fall like since the end of June more of less. Not that I mind since summer is my least favorite season due to the heat. I love the gardening part if the temperatures would simply stay on or under 20C (68F). *grins*

This weekend Jos took me to a pumpkin farm to pick out just a couple for now. I will buy more in a couple of weeks but was desperate to get a few touches of autumn around our home. This weekend, I will be searching for my box of decorations and pulling out my autumn quilts.

Click photos to enlarge...

Come visit my house...
Our driveway has a gate across the end by the house. It is not quite large enough for my car so we keep part of the gate closed and created a little sitting area there. Jos' oleander bloomed really well this year but I think the leaves look tired and it is time to refresh the soil. Note to self to do that this weekend...

Now my dahlia has pride of place. I bought these late in the season so popped them into a pot. They were marked down to 50 cents for package of bulbs. They look like fireworks, don't they? Nice that they have an autumn hue to their color.

Now walk up to my front door and ring the bell. It is chilly in Holland so I will make us a cup of hot Dutch cocoa. Would you like whipped cream on yours? No calories...I promise. *wink*

I redid my planter by the front door with one of the pumpkins I bought surrounded by heather. Heather is a must for me at the start of the season! The candle in my lantern is now orange to celebrate the coming season. I will be creating an autumn leaf arrangement in my hanging basket so have lots of fun planned for the weekend...

Today, my online book club started a new challenge. We are reading 10 books that we have on our bookshelves. Not such a challenge you say? We are now allowed to buy any new books until we finish these books though but with the chill in the air, curling up with a good book under a quilt is just the thing!