Saturday, July 15, 2017

Vintage Pincushion Chair

A few years ago I purchased this adorable little pincushion rocking chair while shopping at a local antique store with my mom. We were thrilled with the unique find, since we are both seamstresses. I had never seen anything quite like it before. But I had hopes of updating the little chair and making it something extra special, all my own. : )
Here is what the little chair looked like when I purchased it. I am not sure of the age, but I think it may have been made in the 1940's due to the fabric.
It is very handy as it has pegs to hold six spools of thread. The back and seat of the chair are just perfect for pins and needles. It felt like the back and seat may have been filled with walnut shells or something else with an unusual texture. I read once that walnut shells help keep needles sharp.
There is a slot in the chair back made for a pair of scissors. It truly is the perfect pincushion for hand sewing! I can have my thread, scissors, pins and needles all in one spot that I can carry with me.
The fabric I used to recover the cushions is very special to me. It is one of the fabrics my mom used to sew my sisters and I dresses when we were little girls. It has always been one of my favorite prints. I had fun crocheting a miniature doily for the chair. When I was growing up my mom and grandma would often place doilies on the backs of chairs. I thought it would be the perfect finishing touch.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Strawberry Jam and A Sale

This past Saturday Adam, Jemimah and I went to a local farm to pick strawberries. Our own strawberry patch is still quite small and most of the few berries we had were eaten by a mysterious critter. However Saturday proved to be the perfect day to pick strawberries! The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze and Jemimah was overwhelmed by the abundance of strawberries, her favorite fruit. All weekend long she referred to our time picking as the "strawberry party". There was quite a crowd picking and several children among them.
 Saturday afternoon I made a batch of jam, as well as strawberry shortcake. Making strawberry jam brings back many sweet memories of being a young woman at home. My two sisters and I first learned to make and preserve strawberry jam in our late teens. We were absolutely thrilled with the outcome and went on to make jam from every berry we found fresh in our area. We would generally put on some music, wear our calico aprons and make a real event out of making jam.
 You do need an apron when making jam. It has a tendency to splatter when boiling or when pouring the jam into the jars. I always wear an apron while canning. : ) With this thought in mind I am offering a discount of 15% on all of the items in my shop this week. A new apron is a great way to inaugurate the canning season! Strawberry jam also marks the beginning of the canning season for me and I am sure for many other ladies. Please be sure to stop by my shop and check out the different style aprons I have currently listed. To take advantage of the special offer use coupon code LILAC15 when checking out.
 I hope you all have a lovely week enjoying the beauty and bounty of springtime! Have you made strawberry jam yet this year? Do you have a favorite jam you make each year?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Our Garden

Last week I finished planting flowers and putting down wood chips for the season. My flower beds have been a real challenge for me over the past four years. The previous owners of our home had planted something with a lot of roots, plus the house is surrounded with huge old maple trees. Each year I have battled roots and I am still learning what grows best in our soil.
Dianthus have grown beautifully here! Each year I add a few new dainthus plants, and I always have some plants that return from the previous year.
Last year my mom suggested that I might add some potted plants for extra color. Plus it would allow me more control over the soil. I added a few pots of petunias, one of my favorite flowers!
I hope that as the summer progresses my petunias will grow fuller, as they are wave petunias. I just loved this soft lavender color.
I also added an Asiatic lily this year. It is so pretty and vibrant!
Here is another one of my favorites! Wild roses grow everywhere this time of year. They smell so sweet. I can actually smell the wild roses as soon as I walk outside. There are a few large plants growing along the edge of our property and even more growing across the road.
This particular rose bush is growing near the stream. We now also have elderberry bushes growing along the stream! Adam planted eight plants this spring, they were actually eight sticks. To tell the truth I was a little concerned as I watched Adam go to so much trouble planting his eight elderberry sticks. : ) However they are no longer sticks, they are beautiful flourishing plants that have grown taller than Jemimah. The elderberry plants have just begun to blossom. We are delighted!
Our vegetable garden looks quite a bit different in comparison to the photo above, which was taken a week ago. Last week we enjoyed some lovely days in the 90's, as well as, plenty of rain. I am thrilled to see little tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers forming. Plus everything looks so green and healthy!

In front of the raised beds Adam has planted black raspberries and red raspberries. The black raspberries are growing quite quickly this year and each plant is full of berries. Adam also planted two red current bushes and four blueberry bushes.
Our strawberries are beginning to ripen. Jemimah is excited to visit the strawberry patch each day and pick as many ripe strawberries as she can find. We don't have enough for jam yet, but it is fun to enjoy a few fresh strawberries each day.
One of Jemimah's favorite songs this spring has been "Bullfrogs and Butterflies", so when I spotted these books recently I knew she would enjoy them! Each book describes the life cycle of a butterfly/frog in a way that is easy for little ones to understand. Plus they rhyme, something I love in children's books.

"Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered."
Psalm 40:5 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Nan's 1940s Wrap Apron

This past winter my Nan (paternal grandmother) had to leave her home and move to an assisted living facility. At that time my dad and uncle offered my sisters and I the opportunity to have a keepsake from her home. Instantly I remembered this apron.

Throughout my childhood and teen years my sisters and I would sometimes spend the weekend with Nan. We had wonderful times going on picnics, visiting the lake and going for long walks. One time during our teen years we decided to clean Nan's house while we visited. As we started to clean Nan went down stairs to her basement and soon brought up aprons for each of us to wear while cleaning. I have always loved aprons and I remember being impressed with the clever design of this wrap apron. It was unlike any other apron I had seen.

This truly is a practical apron design. One tie pulls through a slot on one side and then ties in the back. Your entire outfit remains protected, even the back.
Soon after receiving Nan's apron I began to do a little research and discovered that this apron style was popular in England during World War II. This made sense since Nan is from England and was in her late teens/early 20's during World War II.

Over the years Nan has many times shared with us her experiences of being a young woman throughout the war years. The second in a family of four girls and one boy, Nan worked for Burberry's sewing coats while her older sister was in the RAF during the war years. One story Nan would tell us was how she would collect the scraps of lining fabric at the end of her work day and take them home. She made a tea cozy from the scraps, appliqueing a picture of a cottage and rising sun to the tea cozy. I wish I could have seen it!

Nan has many fond memories of evenings spent with her family. Her mum, sisters and herself would knit or sew while visiting. She also shared stories of her early years of marriage and my dad as a little baby. I remember Nan recounting the deep contentment and satisfaction she felt while knitting a sweater for my dad as she sat beside the fire, and dad was in his bassinet. I have a picture of my dad as a toddler wearing a coat Nan sewed for him.

I am grateful for the many sweet memories I have of spending time with my Nan. At this time she is 94 and her memory is poor, she has a very hard time remembering any of her family.

Here is a picture of Nan taken sometime in the 1940's. Wasn't she beautiful? Nan moved to America in the 1960's when my dad was a little boy. It was a difficult transition to make; she has always spoke of England as home.

P.S. I have made a copy of Nan's apron and it is currently for sale in my shop here.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Patch of Blue and Popovers

Yesterday afternoon I finished reading The Patch of Blue by Grace Livingston Hill. It was a delightful story set during the Great Depression. A wealthy family loses everything and has to learn to live with very little. The oldest son finds this change in life very difficult, but throughout the story we watch him grow and learn the importance of relying on God.

Grace Livingston Hill is one of my favorite authors. I love her descriptions of family and home life. I thought it might be fun to share a couple of paragraphs from The Patch of Blue, as well as, one of my favorite recipes.


"They had a cheery supper that night in spite of the simple fare. The mother was resurrecting all her old recipes, plain wholesome food, cheaply bought and deriving its savory taste and smell from the old deftness in seasoning, the trick of long cooking, the careful preparation. Perhaps because of its very difference from what they had been eating for years, its simplicity rather charmed the family. Bean soup made with tomatoes, potatoes and celery tops, a "mess of pottage" the mother called it; brown bread; baked apples and cream; even bread pudding with a dash of chocolate to make it tasty; hash! Yes, they loved it, Mother's hash. That was different. Mother could make hash taste like stuffed turkey."

"They sat down to dinner as if it were a picnic. Somehow it didn't seem so mournful, after all, as he had expected. Chris thought he would always remember his father's first blessing at the little golden oak table with mother's coarsest table cloth upon it, and the old dishes that had been used mostly in the kitchen at the other house. It was:

'Father, we remember that Thy Son had not where to lay His head at times when He was upon the earth. We thank Thee for this comfortable quiet home that Thou hast given us, and for this evening meal. Make us to show forth Thy glory by the strength of it. Amen.'

Chris was very quiet and thoughtful during the meal, jumping up to get a pitcher of water, and replenish the popovers from the pan in the warming oven, to save his mother and sister."

The Patch of Blue Grace Livingston Hill
One of our favorite additions to a meal of soup is popovers! They are also a lovely addition to tea when served hot from the oven with butter and homemade jam. I even serve them with a pot roast dinner in place of Yorkshire pudding.

Popovers :

2 eggs 
1 cup milk
1 cup flour 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tbsp melted butter

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees with popover pan in oven.
  2. Beat eggs, add milk together. Add in melted butter.
  3. Sift flour and salt together and add it to the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth.
  4. Once oven is pre-heated, remove hot pan from oven, grease muffin tins with cooking spray, and fill 2/3 full.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Woodland Dress

Back in January I discovered this charming woodland themed fabric at JoAnn's. Instantly my mind went to work trying to decide what I should sew. At first I only purchased a half yard to sew Jemimah a little pillowcase. She was absolutely delighted with the fabric too. Once I had sewn the pillowcase Jemimah then carried her pillow about the house hugging it and talking about the sweet little "critters" on the fabric. : )
On one of my more recent trips to JoAnn Fabrics, I could not resist purchasing more of our favorite woodland fabric to sew a garment for Jemimah. My first thought was a jumper, but I then decided it would make a sweet dress.

The pattern I used to sew this dress was New Look 6309. It is a simple classic pattern, just right for embellishing with embroidery and piping.
I always enjoy rummaging through my embroidery thread to find just the perfect colors to accent a fabric. I was also pleased to find pale lavender piping, it saves time not to have to make my own.
I added piping to the sleeves and I had a hard time deciding which animals to center on the sleeves! There is a fox centered on the other sleeve.
Jemimah loves to study the fabric and point out her favorite animals. She is especially fond of deer and bunnies right now.
To finish the dress I added blue flower buttons to the back. The pattern called for a zipper, but I prefer buttons. The dress as I sewed it is a size 3, Jemimah is 2 1/2 years old. The ties help with the fit, but I can see she will be able to wear this dress again next year as it is a bit big and I also made it extra long.

Spring dresses are my favorite to sew. Already I have sewn a couple, and almost everyday as I work on my orders Jemimah will ask if I am sewing her a new dress! I try to explain what I am working on and she will seem a little disappointed. I must admit I am blessed to know she enjoys the dresses I sew, because I sure do love to sew for her! : )

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Need Thee Every Hour

                                                                                  I Need Thee Every Hour

                                                                                   I need thee ev'ry hour,
                                                                                   Most gracious Lord.
                                                                                   No tender voice like thine
                                                                                   Can peace afford.
                                                                                   I need thee ev'ry hour;
                                                                                   Stay thou nearby.
                                                                                   Temptations lose their pow'r
                                                                                   When thou art nigh.
                                                                                    I need thee ev'ry hour,
                                                                                    Most holy One.
                                                                                    Oh, make me thine indeed,
                                                                                    Thou blessed Son!
                                                                                    I need thee, oh, I need thee;
                                                                                    Ev'ry hour I need thee!
                                                                                    Oh, bless me now, my Savior;
                                                                                    I come to thee!
                                                                                    I need thee ev'ry hour,
                                                                                    In joy or pain.
                                                                                    Come quickly and abide,
                                                                                    Or life is vain.
                                                                                   -Annie S. Hawks, 1835-1918
                                    "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:20b