Sunday, December 21, 2008

Frozen Charlottes

I've always loved Frozen Charlottes...little dolls with a big lesson in vanity and disobedience. For Charlotte, you see, refused to muss her dress by wearing a coat to the big winter dance and as a result froze to death en route! I've been poking around Etsy's vintage listings for a few months looking at these little sweeties but am having a very difficult time choosing just one! Throughout all of my ruminating on the topic, however, not once did I ever consider the possibility that I could become a Frozen Charlotte myself!

It sure felt that way last week when our power went out due to the big New England ice storm. I have to admit we do loose power quite frequently in our neck of the woods, but with a maximum outage time of maybe five hours. This time it lasted FIVE DAYS!!! We toughed it out for the first 24 hours and even enjoyed our time spent playing games by candlelight. By day two reality set was really cold! Why we ever bought a house in New England without a fireplace is beyond me...what were we thinking? Luckily the power at my parents' house was restored by then and we were able to relocate up to their place for the duration.

The joy of returning home was great but short lived. In the midst of unpacking my eyes feel upon our calendar and the realization that Christmas Eve was only one week away stopped me in my tracks. With oodles of laundry, a barren refrigerator, numerous unfinished Christmas gifts, and two more major snow storms on the way something had to be done. . . or actually, left undone! And so it's going to be a "make-do" Christmas. I've had to surrender to the fact that our cookies this year may have to come out of a box, our Christmas cards will be mailed in time for New Years and heaven help me I'm going to have to step foot in a mall. Many of my handmade Christmas gift projects have been stashed away to finish for next year, let's just hope I can remember where I put them!
Needless to say in the midst of all this I never did acquire the much anticipated December issue of British Country Living. So in the spirit of "make -do" I adjusted. The 2007 edition was dug out, the kettle was put on, and the last of the Dundee cakes (found thawed in the freezer) was sliced. All in all, I must say it was my most enjoyable tea time of the season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Housekeeping

My Thanksgiving pies (which were previously baking in the oven) are long since devoured at this time. The day itself was deemed a success by all involved and included not only a huge feast but also a birthday celebration and a Yankee Swap. As an extra surprise my mom created an entire Christmas village with a personalized house for each guest to take home (mine is the Piccalilli Patchwork Quilt Shop!) It was so pretty all set up together it was almost a shame to dismantle it at the end of the day. I'm glad we did though because now there's a cute mini village set up at our house.

So cheery and festive was the sight of it in fact, that I was driven to devote the rest of the long weekend to holiday housekeeping. Each year I am repeatedly amazed at how time consuming the process actually is. First a bit of spring cleaning frenzy occurs as each room is dusted, vacuumed, and boogied of lingering evidence of past seasons (this years round up included bike helmets, water guns, wellies, terra cotta pots, a pumpkin or two, and lots of empty Halloween candy wrappers.) Next the holiday boxes are brought down from the attic and opened by a whole troop of helping hands. Fast forward two hours later and the "helping hands" are fighting over the remote control, the wise men are in league with a troop of power rangers, and the now empty holiday boxes have become a fort. At this point I begin to wonder if it would have been more relaxing to go out shopping on Black Friday than to decorate at home.

In the end, however, all is well and by Sunday night we are able to enjoy our first hot cocoa of the season by the twinkle of fairy lights. It was all very peaceful and Tasha Tudor like...until one of them discovered candy canes make great light sabers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where I Will Create...

After much ado I have finally completed my sewing nook makeover! It involved quite a bit more shifting and sorting of materials than I had anticipated but was well worth it in the end. Not only is it much cozier and more inviting than before, but the space actually functions quite efficiently as a creative area now. I couldn't help but sneak in a few minutes to work on a project or two earlier today (I should have been baking my pies for Thanksgiving but don't worry they're in the oven now!) was amazing to me how pleasant and relaxing it was to sit and sew without having to constantly move about the house looking for my scissors, a pen, the button box, a skein of floss, or a certain book. Everything is right here at my fingertips. I'm in awe at the moment, but I'll be truly amazed if I can keep it this way for any length of say a week? Good luck to me!

My new favorite seat in the house! I suppose I should have a dust cover over my featherweight but it looks so cute sitting there, plus I use it almost everyday.

Spent some time rummaging through the kitchen cupboards and attic boxes gathering fun treasures. I've got buttons in the swanky swigs, doodles in the green thread box, and a bunch of my favorite pens.

Notion central....pins, needles, buttons, floss, seam binding and such all ready and waiting.

Not a great picture but I'm so tickled with my ironing board I just had to show it. I recovered it in red gingham which for some reason tickles me to no end. I'm hoping it also inspires me to put it to good use as my ironing pile has grown tremendously over the past two weeks. I thought of taking a picture of that too, then thought again of how horrified my mother would be to see such a sight posted here!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where, Oh Where....

I've been on a desperate mission recently in search of the British edition of Country Living for December. This is my all time and forever favorite magazine! Based on past month's experiences it should have been at our local bookstore ten days ago. But alas, it's not. . . and I should know because I take a swing by to check almost every day. I can't believe I've added this obsession to my agenda. As if the past two weeks haven't been busy enough what with Halloween parties, Election Day hoopla, a few nasty colds in the house, and a surprise adventure chaperoning a school field trip which involved being in the same room with a net basket containing at least six live writhing snakes! Well, maybe they weren't actually writhing, but it did take me a full day to recuperate from the experience! Obviously I wasn't wearing my wellies.

Luckily, yesterday I discovered a diversion to my madness. While frantically searching the newsstand piles I found the treasure pictured above. . . .Where Women Create. Apparently it's the premier issue published by Somerset Studio and I so love getting the first issue of magazines. Being that the work spaces of the featured artists are amazing, the photography quite beautiful, and that Mary Jane Butters name is on the cover I quickly made my purchase and headed home.

I wish I could say I sat down and read it cover to cover with a lovely cup of tea. The reality of the situation is, however, I've only been able to steal five minutes here and there to read snippets of inspiration and drool over the studios pictured. Even as such, I must say I have been amazingly motivated to attend to my own creative space. While tiny and heavily trafficked (I sew in the upstairs hallway next to the staircase) I see areas for improvement. Even on a small scale they could be influential. Jars of buttons that look like candy, baskets full of embroidery floss, and spools of ribbon hanging around. New mission: Where I Create. . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It feels so good to have them all lined up and ready to go! Yesterday, however, was a much different story. . . . . it began while I was finishing up the eighth and final pin cushion (did you notice there are only seven in the picture?) Little Bo Peep was featured in the center square with some of her lost sheep placed in the patchwork pieces around her. It was really cute if I don't say so myself. My mind must have drifted while making the final cuts and. . . . . . poor little Bo met with a very unfortunate accident with the rotary cutter. I felt like a murderess! I tried to put the whole incident behind me but remained shaken while taking photos of the survivors. I could not get a picture in focus for the life of me. Finally, I decided to make do with what I had. The miserable shots were downloaded onto my computer. . . . or so I thought. When I went to post the blog last night the image file was empty! What else could I do but go to bed? So I did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tiny Pillows

I had quite a productive day up in my sewing nook. I finished some piecing and embroidery and now have five pin pillows almost complete. So far I've got a coffee pot, a Scottie dog, "Alice in Wonderland," a cardinal, and a little girl's face. As of yet I haven't been able to pick a favorite although the little girl's face is really cute. I crocheted the small strip of pink edging as an experiment...I want something to tack around the side seams of the pillows and I'm not real happy with the store bought stuff as it tends to fray on the cut ends. By crocheting my own I can custom size it to fit perfectly. It will take a little bit longer to do, but well worth it in my opinion!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pincushion Pieces

I have some new projects in the works....and am having so much fun with them. I sold a tiny kitty pin cushion on Etsy a while back and the customer requested three more (thanks Jukester!!!) In our conversation we also decided to multipurpose them by adding a hanging loop so that they may be hung as Christmas ornaments. I wanted to give her an assortment from which to chose, but seem to have gone a bit overboard on putting different combos together. Now I've got pin cushion pieces everywhere! This could go on indefinitely, so I've decided to wrap it up. I"ll post my daily progress through the rest of this week and then list them on Friday. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lost and Found

If nothing else, joining etsy has certainly motivated me to establish some order amongst my sewing projects and paraphernalia. And believe me it needed it! I pieced this little patchwork over a year ago with great plans to make a crazy quilt pincushion out of it. Somehow it got mislaid with a collection of fabrics for some other creation. I looked high and low for it last spring as I wanted a small handwork project to take with me while out and about. Then several days ago, I decided to clear out a drawer in my sewing hutch to use as storage for the items I'd listed for sale. There it was! On the very bottom of a pile of fabric leftovers from a wedding quilt I made last August. When I cleared those remnants off my cutting table I must have scooped this piece up along with it and then shoved them all in the drawer together.
What an exciting moment it was to rediscover it. Unfortunately I still had a very busy weekend filled with errands and much overdo yard work ahead of me. It wasn't until this afternoon that I finally sat down with a cup of tea and my needle to begin playing with some embroidery stitches. What fun!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Piccalilli Patchwork both you and me!

I'm creating this blog as a companion to my etsy store which I have decided to name Piccalilli Patchwork, much to the exasperation of many around me. Most of the arguments concern the word "piccalilli." They feel it is too awkward to spell, has too many i's in it, and refers to a food they not only dislike but feel has nothing to do with my sewing. I, however, love the taste of piccalilli, enjoy putting the dots on every single "i" in it, and just plain think it's a fun word to say. As far as pairing it up with "patchwork" and using it as a representation of my work. . . I could not think of a better match! Piccalilli itself is a mixture of the odds and ends of the garden's produce. Mustard, vinegar, and hot spices are added to these chopped vegetables to create a relish that often has enough of a bite to it to warm your innards. Similarly, patchwork is a form of quilting which makes use of the bits and pieces of fabric left over from larger sewing projects. Tiny pieces are stitched together in any number of patterns and color combinations to create a quilt as a means of warming the body. It is in this habit of not letting things go to waste that I hope to pursue my creative work. To gather small materials and spare moments of time, combine them with a bit of inspiration, and create something of greater value in the end. . . what a great way to warm the soul!