Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Heart of Country

If you are an antiques lover now is the time of year to be in Music City!  This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Heart of Country Antique Show Feb 2-4.  American art, folk art, western art, pottery, quilts, decoys, sports, jewelry, nautical, historical, rugs, baskets, paint, pewter, silver, books, and endless decorative accessories from North to South.  This year Jill Peterson, author, American country stylist, and editor of the popular magazine, A Simple Life, is the guest speaker.

In addition to the Heart of Country Antique Show there are two other antique shows happening across the street.  One is The Fiddler's Antique Show and the other is Tailgate-Music Valley Antique Show.  Bring you wallet.

While you are in Tennessee for the antiques shopping consider taking a drive to Athens to see the Schoolgirl Samplers at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum.  The McMinn County Living Heritage Museum is well known for its beautiful quilts, coverlets, and hooked rugs.  The Museum textiles collection will be temporarily expanded to include rare American and Tennessee samplers.  Ashley Rush, the Museum's executive director says "young women not only created exquisite and unique works of art, but the motifs and phrases they stitched also allowed them to study spelling, geography, and morality, as well as the needlework technique prized in well educated young ladies of the time."

So, if you love antiques and especially antique samplers now is the time to come for a visit.  You are most kindly welcome to stop by Thistle Manor, I'll ask AppleJack to put on the coffee pot!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Garden Gate Sewing Book by Stacy Nash

WOW!  It is the end of January, time flies when you are having fun!  There are still many weeks of winter left.  The winter has been very mild to date.  Only one snow (a light dusting) and temps not so cold.  In walking thru Next Year (the garden) I have already started seeing many signs of spring!  Including weeds, lots and lots of weeds.  As we get closer to spring, I am going to be a busy busy girl with yard work and pulling weeds, more weeds and when that is finished more weeds!  As I look forward to spring, here is another Stacy Nash piece called Garden Gate.  I found this piece in my "needs more work stash."

This is front of the sewing book.

This is the inside of the sewing book.

This is the back of the sewing book.  Stacy's original design for Garden Gate does not have any stitching on the back.  Hmm.  In typical Thistle Manor style, I thought this would be the area to take some creative licensing and make it my own.  I have searched through my Stacy Nash designs and will be adding some personalization on the back.  I over dyed the linen for this piece with some of my black walnut concoction.  The black walnut dye has worked its magic, aging the piece.  I have to wait until AppleJack is on a mission  to break out the black walnut concoction because it has a mighty smell!

These are the fabrics I have selected for the inside of the sewing book--Civil War reproductions!

So, while I wait for spring, Garden Gate will be a nice distraction.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Clouds and Stars

 It is a beautiful sunny cool winter day in Music City, I am still cleaning, sorting, and organizing in my work room.  I have confessed I am a S L O W stitcher, now for my other confession.  Hey, it's Sunday and confession is suppose to be good for the soul. I have ADD.  Not just any ADD, but stitcher's ADD--it's a special kind of ADD.  Come on, 'fess up.  I suspect there are others who might suffer with this diagnosis.

While cleaning, sorting, and organizing in my work room, I allowed myself to get distracted and started working on stars and clouds.

I have added a few more stars to the 2012 Stars Christmas quilt.  There are many more stars to be made.  I have been studying quilt designs and am trying to decide how I want to set the stars together.  I foresee a trip to the Quilt Shop for fabric.  A friend told me about a new quilt shop so sounds like a road trip for AppleJack and me.

I have also been working on the clouds on the right hand side of the sampler--An All Was For An Appil.  I did not make my goal, but that's okay, am still making progress and that's what is important.  Right?  Here is what Appil looked like before the clouds on the right.

Now here are the clouds

Almost finished with the clouds--I have the afternoon to stitch.

This is Appil to date.  Since I am so close to finishing the clouds, it is time to set a new goal.  Both AppleJack and Callie Mae are taking a Sunday afternoon nap, so time for me to get myself in gear and get that needle pulling thread.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stacy Nash Hanging Cupboard Pieces

As I continue to clean, organize, declutter, and try to make sense of my work room, I decided to take a break and share a couple of hanging cupboard pieces.  I have many favorite designers and designs.  Samplers will always be my first love, but there is room in  my needlework heart for many other kinds of needlework in addition to samplers.

For myself, I find stitching smalls gives me a break from a BAP and also gives me quick results, which makes me think I am accomplishing something.  Stacy Nash Primitives is one of my go to designers when I need that quick fix.

This is Fancy Peacocks Hanging Pinkeep, Thistle Manor version.  Yes, I changed the initials--they are Great Grandmother Sarah Miranda's initials.  I also changed some of the colors.  It is a mini sampler with the alphabet.  This pinkeep hangs on our corner cupboard.  (This corner cupboard was the very first piece of furniture AppleJack and I bought together).  One day I will share its story.

The second hanging cupboard piece is also a Stacy Nash Primitives design called Early Style Bluebird Cupboard Sampler.  Of course, I made a Thistle Manor conversion.  The original design had Ohio stitched at the bottom.  The Thistle Manor version was changed to Tenn and the year Tennessee became a state.  This cupboard piece hangs on one of our antique dry sinks which AppleJack refinished several years ago.  AppleJack has many talents--aren't I the lucky girl?

Okay, breaks over, back to the Work Room.

Friday, January 27, 2012

We interrupt this blog for . . .

We interrupt this blog because . . . of the gigantic mess in my work room!  AppleJack walked into the room and said, "was there an explosion last night?  Are you cleaning up the aftermath."  Do not even think I am brave enough to share before and after pictures.  I am sorting fabric, charts, ironing, (family) research materials, fibers, etc.

Have been working more on the red stars (Christmas quilt 2012) and hopefully will have more progress to share soon.  Does anyone else make a mess when they work on their projects?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Marinated Asparagus

Raise your hand if you do not like asparagus.  True confession--until a couple of years ago, I was in the category of "No thank you, no asparagus for me."  Visualize in your minds, Snoopy going "Bleah."  My Mother taught nutrition classes for several years and would sound out the health benefits of eating asparagus:

1,  can detoxify our system
2.  has anti aging functions
3.  considered an aphrodisiac
4.  protects against cancer
5.  reduces pain and inflammation
6.  prevents osteoporosis and osteoarthritis
7.  reduces risk of heart disease
8.  prevents birth defects
9.  solution for world peace

Not really about the world peace, but Mother would start singing the virtues of asparagus and she was convinced it was the answer to just about everything.  I became very clever in ways of moving asparagus around on my plate.  All this changed when our friend, Sandra invited us to dinner and she served marinated asparagus.  The recipe is very simple and is a great make ahead dish for all of us who have limited time.

Marinated Asparagus

one large can of asparagus
one half cup of sugar or Splenda
one half cup of vinegar
one half teaspoon salt
one teaspoon pepper
one half lemon, juiced
three teaspoons canola oil or olive oil

Mix everything but asparagus until sugar is dissolved.  pour marinate over asparagus and refrigerate overnight.

No more Betty Snoopy going "Bleah."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rador Lake

Every place has a hidden gem.  Rador Lake is one of Nashville's hidden gems. 

In 1913 the L & N Railroad Company purchased  a thousand  acres of land in the Overton hills south of Nashville for the purpose of constructing an earthen reservoir large enough to supply water for its steam engines and livestock at nearby Radnor Yards.

It was also intended to provide a private hunting and fishing preserve for L & N officials and their guests.  But, soon after construction, birds discovered the haven too and began feeding and resting there during their annual migration.

Efforts to preserve the Radnor Lake area began in 1923 when an L & N executive stopped all hunting and fishing and declared the site a "Wildlife Sanctuary" at the request of the Tennessee Ornithological Society.  The beginning of Radnor Lake as we know it today was born. 

Sixty years later. . .creative thinking, fundraising, political action, grassroots work and last minute heroics by dedicated conservationists and leaders, 747 acres of land were preserved in 1973 as Radnor Lake--Tennessee's first natural area and protected eco-system. 

AppleJack and I go to Radnor Lake frequently.  We have put many miles on our walking shoes hiking the trails.  We have solved problems, planned trips, listened to birds, watched the ducks and turtles.  It is a peaceful haven.

Nashville was flooded in 2010.  Think about 17 inches of rain falling in two days.  Parts of Radnor and Nashville are still recovering from the 2010 flood.

In spite of the flood damage, I encourage everyone to go find your city's hidden gem.  It is a treasure you are giving to yourself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Life and Times of Miss Callie Mae Calico

Don't you love it when you go to the movie and the movie has a happy ending?  Am going to give the happy ending first--our Miss Callie Mae Calico is fine, feisty and is her wonderful spunky self.

Before Christmas, AppleJack and I had a very sick kitty.  There were two trips to the vet, one at midnight.  I will spare everyone the details and drama.  Am just very, very thankful, she is healthy.

                                  What's up Cat Mother?  Is it time for a turkey snack?

                          Why yes, I do enjoy playing with the selvage edge of quilt fabric.

I am very gentle, I do not bite or scratch.  I have impeccable manners.

What the world needs now . . . a good, long afternoon nap

Monday, January 23, 2012

1st Jo Morton Little Women Class

Saturday was my first Jo Morton Little Women quilt class.  WOW!  Our instructor had completed examples of the miniature quilts we will be making. 

After seeing the quilts and reading and hearing the instructions for the first project I am feeling more than intimidated!  One thing I have learned:  there are always going to people with more advanced skills than me, always going to be over achievers, always . . .  So, its decision time.  I can either choose to let myself feel intimidated or pull on the big girl britches and get started.   Want to guess which one I am choosing?

The first project is in the lower left hand corner.  It's pink. I am not a pink fan.  Good thing I have a good supply of walnut dye.

Here are some photos of the fabric.

Those fabrics are calling my name!

While waiting for the class to start, I found Barbara Brackman's William Morris Tapestry fabric.  If you have not seen this fabric, go to your local quilt, fabric, hobby shop and see it.  I knew I was in trouble when I started hyper ventilating and the shop owner brought a brown paper bag to help me with my breathing!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shopping Solutions

AppleJack does not enjoy shopping.  Surprise! Are there any husbands/men out there who enjoy going shopping especially needlework shopping with their wives?  Thank goodness we were able to resolve this shopping dilemma early in our married life.  You see, AppleJack loves reading The Wall Street Journal.  He reads this newspaper from cover to cover, every article, every word.  He thinks this newspaper is the Holy Grail of newspapers.  So. . . when it is time to shop, I make sure The Wall Street Journal is packed.  Add a cup of coffee to this mix and we are both happy campers.  Shop owners are so surprised--AppleJack will find himself a chair and patiently wait, reading The Wall Street Journal and sipping on his coffee while I shop.

Margaret Cottam by La D Da has been added to my stitching inventory.  Grandmother Bessie had a sister  named Maggie (Margaret), after her Grandmother Margaret.  My brain cells have already kicked in and I have started thinking about ways I can modify Margaret Cottam and turn her into Margaret Cottam Thistle Manor version.  While shopping for Margaret I also picked up the Weeks linen 30 count Cocoa for this sampler.  Very nice!  Primitive--just the way I like it.

Also found these charms at Michael's.  I have no idea how I will use them, but am sure inspiration will hit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Remembering Grandmother Rebecca

Yesterday, I wrote about Grandmother Rebecca's role and influence in my needlework.  I have a couple of samplers I have stitched in memory of her.

The design is Mary's Wreath by Barrick Samplers.  I love everything about this sampler--the simplicity of the design, only three colors, Birds of a Feather linen, and important facts about Grandmother.  Does anyone else miss the Birds of a Feather linen?  I think the frame is from Valley House Primitives.

This is a mourning sampler also stitched in memory of Grandmother Rebecca.  This was a freebie design by Hillside Samplings.  It is stitched over one.  The weeping willow represents the sorrow and dejection of the bereaved.  The weeping willow was a common motif used on American mourning samplers.  In England the weeping willow motif refers to the early death of George IV's only daughter, Princess Charlotte.

As I was writing this post, I started looking around Thistle Manor for other needlework about Grandmother Rebecca.  I could have sworn I had other pieces.  Hmmm.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Every Stitcher has a story

Every stitcher has a story--their story.  Their story of how they became passionate about needlework.  The stories are filled with inspiring people and creativity.  When I take classes, the instructor will sometimes begin the class by asking the students to introduce themselves and share their story.  I enjoy listening to stitching stories and how each person became a needleworker.  I'm going to share my story and I hope others will share theirs--I want to get to know you.

My stitching story begins here.

This is the treadle of my Grandmother's sewing machine.  I loved visiting Grandmother Rebecca.  She had two cats, Blue and Babe, she had a German cuckoo clock that sang on the hour and half hour, she made delicious banana pudding and she was a quilter.

In addition to being a quilter, Grandmother Rebecca was a seamstress and it was quite common during my visits with her for clients to stop in for a fitting or to pick up a completed garment.  There was always fabric at Grandmother's.  I loved watching Grandmother operate her sewing machine.  I image it took some coordination to operate the foot pedal to get the machine going and sew a straight seam.  Don't tell Grandmother but I did not inherit the coordination gene.

Grandmother made many quilts, I wish I knew the number.  Each of her nine grandchildren received a handmade quilt.  Being one of the younger grandchildren, mine was the last quilt she made.  It is a Sunbonnet Sue.  Sadly, while Grandmother was making my quilt she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died before the quilt was completed.  My Mother completed the hand quilting and she gave it to me when I moved into my first apartment.  

When I visited Grandmother Rebecca she would give me scraps of fabric from her sewing basket to keep me occupied and to help me with the beginning of my own quilt.  She would teach me the names of different quilt patterns.  We would talk about colors--lights and darks.  We talked about the layers of the quilt and the borders and bindings.  Needless to say, I thought visits with Grandmother Rebecca were way better than visits to Disney.

The second part of my story began after I had graduated from college.  I was teaching school and we had one of the worst winters on record.  We missed days and weeks of school because of the weather.  Don't get me wrong, the first few days of being home were great.  I stayed up late, watched movies, caught up on the laundry, caught up grading papers and making lesson plans.  But. . . after the first few days which lead into weeks, I needed something to do.  During a break in the weather, someone had told me about a "cute little shop which sold cross stitch patterns."  Remembering Grandmothers advice about an idle mind being the devils workshop, I thought it was time for me to find myself something to do.  Off to the shop to find myself a project and keep myself occupied.  The shop was filled with beautiful samplers!  Beautiful samplers stitched on linen!  Ugh!  I did not know how to stitch on linen.  One of my buddies was with me and jerked me into reality by saying "do you know how to count?  Can you count to two?  Okay, you can stitch on linen."

The third part of my story, which is the on going part, is the wonderful, creative, stitchers who continue to inspire me every day with their incredible pieces of needlework.  They encourage me to step outside my box and comfort zone, take classes, learn something new, try a new design or designer, learn a new technique or stitch, try a new fabric, stitch with a different fiber.

So to Grandmother Rebecca and her magical sewing machine, to my friend who knew I could count to two and to the many needleworkers in many genera, I say "thank you" with a grateful heart. Now, I'm ready to hear your story.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Helleborus orientalis--Lenten Rose

Helleborus or Lenten Rose is one of my favorite perennials.  It blooms in the winter!  It has been know to push its way through  a blanket of  snow to show its beautiful blooms.  This perennial has a very dark green leathery foliage. Helleborus perfers to be planted in a loose woodsy soil where there is shade.  The woods behind Thistle Manor seems to be the idea home for Helleborus. The blooms range in color from white, pink, purple, and mauve.

Many of the plants at Thistle Manor are on the "get tough or die" program.  Being a neglectful gardener, many of the plants thrive on neglect.  Helleborus is one of the plants which thrives on neglect and made the decision to get tough. One of my outside winter chores is removing the very heavy leaf covering from the Helleborus so I can see the beautiful blooms from the kitchen window. 

Seeing the Helleborus bloom always brings a smile to my face, because I know spring is on the way and the other perennials will soon be showing their heads and returning like old friends.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Home of a Needleworker Thistle Manor Version

When Little House Needleworks released the design Home of a Needleworker, I fell hard for this sampler.  My stitching buddies were surprised.  The reason they were surprised is because of the color palette--I am not a pastel girl, I am a primitive girl.  Anne, a very creative friend, once said to me "make it your own."

So, I decided to make Home of a Needleworker--Thistle Manor version.  I changed the fabric, I changed the colors (all of them).  I bring you Home of a Needleworker.

When my stitching buddies saw the completed sampler they almost did not recognize it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Red Solo Cup

Living in Music City USA, one might think I am a country music fan.  I am not.  The Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium, home of the original Grand Ole Opry are popular tourist attractions.  Each year, the CMA Music Festival (formerly known as Fan Fair) brings thousands of country fans to the city.  Many visitors to Nashville attend live performances of the Grand Ole Opry, the world's longest running live radio show.  Sightings of country music singers is very common. 

Every now and then a country music song will come along which catches my ear.  Red Solo Cup is one of those songs.  Toby Keith sings the song and there are parts which are a bit irreverent.  Here are the lyrics

Red solo cup
I lift you up
Let's have a party
Let's have a party

I love you red solo cup
I lift you up
Proceed to party
Proceed to party

The reason this song caught my ear:   I started thinking about the number of times I have drank from a red solo cup.  Fruit punches and sweet iced tea are favorite southern drinks and are often served when I get together with my stitching, quilting, hooking buddies.  The LNS uses red solo cups.  I have shared many a good laugh, ate good food, and saw some beautiful projects while drinking from a red solo cup.  So, Toby, even thought parts of the song are a bit irreverent, thank you for triggering the happy memories.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Peach Cobbler

 Can you believe AppleJack is not a fan of desserts?  Something just seems terribly wrong.  He isn't.  If given the choice between dessert or another serving of veggies,  he will choose the veggies. Except, when it comes to cobblers.  AppleJack is a huge fan of fruit cobblers.  His favorite is blackberry made with wild blackberries.  However, if they are unavailable, he will settle for tame blackberries.  Peach cobblers are a close second.  Not just any peach but a South Carolina peach.

I should consider myself fortunate, fruit cobblers are relatively simple to make.  Choosing to spend my time on stitching projects I look for cooking short cuts.  One of my cooking short cuts is using frozen biscuits for the dough portion of the cobbler.  The peaches are frozen South Carolina peaches.  Music City has a good Farmers Market and during the summer there are neighborhood food fairs, we make frequent visits to both.

Begin by rolling out the frozen biscuits--the thinner the better.  The dough will rise during cooking.

While rolling out the frozen biscuits, bring the peaches (unthawed) to a boil.  I add a teaspoon of vanilla to the peaches.

Line the bottom of the baking dish with one half of the frozen biscuit dough.  Spoon the peaches and juice over the top of the biscuit dough.  Note:  I do not add sugar as the sugar used to make the simple syrup is enough.

Grate nutmeg over the peaches.  Dot butter over the entire mixture.

Top with remaining biscuit dough.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Sometimes I serve this with frozen yogurt.

Stand out of the way!  AppleJack has been known to eat the entire cobbler by himself.  The man may not like desserts, but he can do some serious eating when it comes to fruit cobblers!