Quilts for Sale

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh My!

I love getting comments on my blog. But I just discovered a very "adult content" one left by 'anonymous' causing me to remove my post and repost with a different title. Starting as soon as I find the correct command, my blog will no longer allow anonymous messages.

My apologies to any of my dear readers who happened to click on the shocking content.
Ellen. xoxox

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


These German stamps are too precious. I especially like the Browning riding the goose!

Yesterday's mail brought a surprise from Hamburg, Germany. Our friend Bianca sent a dear little metal angel - now greeting visitors from a prominent place on our tree. The little angel's smile is as bright and joyous as Bianca's.

Thank you, Bianca. Have a wonderful Christmas! xoxox Ellen.

Isn't this angel sweet? She looks happy and ready for Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Very Encouraging Words

Dr. Heather Havlik, Sports Medicine Specialist
Charlotte Medical Clinic

Everything I love doing involves using my hands. I've been a quiltmaker for nearly 30 years. Before that, I enjoyed other needle arts - embroidering pillowcases for my hope chest, knitting, cross stitch, needlepoint. Add piano playing and endless computer time and the result is not pretty. I've abused my hands terribly, refusing to stop a painful activity until they went numb. Not good.

I've had carpal tunnel syndrome for a long time. Having heard horror stories about the long recovery period, I'd convinced myself I couldn't be "laid up" for eight to 12 weeks. So the problem became more serious and I developed trigger thumbs - a very bad thing. I could no longer grasp, could not turn a doorknob, could barely squeeze a tube of toothpaste. It was painful to drive, as my hands quickly became numb.

In the past I'd been told my CPS was severe, that the nerve damage was permanent. But I learned after an EMG (electromyogram) yesterday that my condition is moderate. I had a cortisone shot in the base of my right thumb which will relieve some of the pain, and was fitted with splints to wear at night. Rest the carpal.

I sought help from Dr. Heather Havlik, a sports medicine specialist who'd been highly recommended by my brother-in-law, a master woodworker. I may still need to have surgery, but Dr. Havlik's approach is to employ more conservative measures first. After six weeks of wearing the splints and trying to rest my hands more, we'll take another look. I am very encouraged!

To assess nerve damage, the TECA Synergy machine records voltage levels in muscle tissue.

Oh my - are these for me?

I'll admit I was anxious about the EMG, having been told by a friend, "I cried through the whole thing." My experience was very tolerable, and quick. Even the cortisone shot was OK. I'm following Dr. Havlik's orders and look forward to regaining full use of my hands.


Kinda defeats the purpose of buying the cookbook, don'tcha think?

This display in a local supermarket makes about as much sense as serving bacon and eggs and white bread in the hospital. Oh my, what were they thinking?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Still Here

I'm still here, but have had appointments nearly every day this week, pushing me way off schedule. Look for photos tomorrow. Thanks, dear friends.
Ellen. xoxox

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sweetheart of a Find

This lovely cotton and silk jacket is embellished with 134 buttons!

This may be TMI, but as a woman on lasix, I've learned the locations of every public bathroom in my favorite thrift shops area. And I know the places where I can work my way in just by looking desperate.

I've been drinking a lot of green tea lately, so became just that - desperate - on a recent thrifting jaunt. As I scurried to the johnny in a thrift "outlet" where clothing is sold by the pound, I glanced around quickly at the huge bins. Filled to overflowing, they held everything from tee-shirts to formals.

Once relieved, I returned to the bin where a blouse with pretty buttons had caught my eye. When I lifted it, a once-buried pale yellow silk and cotton jacket caught my eye. It was covered in buttons! Heart buttons, both small and large. Buttons used to make flowers, buttons accenting leaves. I was mesmerized, clutching it to my heart as I headed for checkout.

The woman next to me in line asked, "Girl, how did you dig for that?" I didn't have the heart to tell her I was buying it just for the buttons. And I don't think she really bought my story about just needing to use the bathroom.

Detail of the beautifully placed heart buttons.
There are even more on the cuffs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Almost Christmas

I love my little German feather tree.

When I was a kid, minutes seemed like hours. My parents were strict in trying to build character and patience. For example, my sisters and I couldn't eat dinner unless we'd fed our animals, we couldn't dye Easter eggs until exactly 4 p.m., and we definitely couldn't open presents on Christmas Eve until ALL the dishes were done. The wait seemed excruciating. We older girls soon switched to paper plates for our traditional Dec. 24 dinner of hot cocoa and grilled cheese sandwiches!

With each passing year, time has seemed more fleeting. I try very hard not to get caught up in the hustle, bustle, and stress - and especially the overwhelming commercialization seen everywhere.

I used to put myself under tremendous pressure to decorate every corner of our house, dragging box after box of ornaments from the attic. I insisted on a huge tree which I then spent days decorating with hundreds of lights and an unending array of vintage baubles. Last year our tree was smaller, with less lights and a lot fewer decorations. Candles were in the windows and a wreath was on the door. That was it, and it was fine. Liberating, in fact.

It's just the two of us now, as our son is married and away. Holidays are very busy where he works, so we usually don't get to see him and his wonderful wife Christmas day. We hosted friends last year, kept it really simple and had one of our most relaxed Christmases ever.

I find it hard to believe we're just two weeks away from the big day once more. We've decided to help the homeless, the helpless and the hungry this year instead of getting crazy with all the stuff that doesn't really matter in the end.

A little German feather tree with very old ornaments is the only decoration in our home so far. It was an amazing SOR (side of road) find years ago. I'd gone to a yard sale where a fellow was selling the belongings of his late grandma. Thinking only new things had value, he'd piled old stuff on the curb. I picked up the box that had a few old lead icicles hanging out, went to a few other sales, had breakfast at The Athens (a 24-hour iconic Charlotte restaurant now gone) and then home before I took a peak. I was stunned to find not only the icicles, but two hand-blown German Santa ornaments and, way in the bottom, the smushed feather tree! To this day it is one of my very best SOR scores.

The tree sits on top of our old upright piano.

I collected the tiny feather tree ornaments over many years.

Another view.

Egg cartons are great for storing small ornaments.
I like the ones made from papier mache'.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Vintage Fabrics

Vintage fabric wedges ready to be sewn.

My vintage fabric collection includes scraps from many decades. I used some of them, along with vintage buttons and rick rack, to make pie-shaped pin cushions for a show last fall. They were a sell-out! I spent part of the weekend cutting and pressing wedges for a second batch of cushions. Hopefully they'll sell as well at the Quilting and Needle Art Extravaganza January 29 and 30 in Statesville. For more information: www.quiltersgallery.net

Monday, December 7, 2009

December Roses

Frost-nipped Roses

Temperatures dipped below freezing here over the weekend and there was snow on the Blue Ridge. I rescued the last remnants of our roses, albeit a little nipped, along with a bit of dusty miller. Bright red nandina berries will now offer the only color in our garden until spring.

Nandina Berries
Despite its appearance, the nandina bush is actually evergreen, not deciduous.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Birthdays - Be Happy!

Kari holding baby Grace

I think it's ironic that my DH and I each have godchildren born December 4. My goddaughter Kari and Bill's godson Chip both celebrate birthdays today!

Photo credit: Josh Chenier

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trying Hard Now - Escaping Reality

California Salad from Charley's

Having just learned my car needs four new tires, I need two crowns, we need a new roof, our grandpuppy needed surgery* and outrageous property taxes are due Dec. 31, I escaped reality today by having lunch with a friend. When I left the house, there were two men on the roof repairing flashing around our dormers. Never a good sign.

Once we'd gotten to Charley's, I chose a lovely grilled chicken salad sans bleu cheese (am I the only one in the world not fond of bleu cheese?). Debby's chicken pot pie looked divine! It was actually a business lunch, as Deb will help me vend at a needlework show in January. We were working on the booth layout. Really. We were.

Following lunch, I treated myself to a wee bit of retail therapy, buying the latest issue of Cloth Papers Scissors, a box of 50% off Christmas cards and a publication new to me - Art Quilting Studio. My next stop was Marshall's. Good grief! It was as if every person in the world had just been let out for an hour of shopping! The place was mobbed; shopping carts full. This was so fabulous to see in our hard-hit city with 12% unemployment!

The theme song from Rocky would have conveyed the mood today perfectly:

"Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky
Music by Bill Conti and Carol Connors
Lyric by Ayn Robbins

Trying hard now
it's so hard now
trying hard now

Getting strong now
won't be long now
getting strong now

Gonna fly now
flying high now
gonna fly, fly, fly...

Coming back. Coming back. Yup. Looks like we'll make it after all!

*Numa's surgery for a skin tag and facial cyst went well this morning. She's home, still a bit groggy but resting comfortably.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


We'd go anywhere to visit our son and DIL.
They are great together.

Photo credit: Bill Guerrant

Thanksgiving morning in Charlotte.

The day cleared for our first glimpse of the Blue Ridge.

Day two of our mini-vacation was spent in Black Mountain, a small town east of Asheville. It was absolutely bustling with happy people on Black Friday. I was encouraged to see most had actually made purchases!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving was wonderful this year. We spent it in Asheville with our son and DIL, her aunt, uncle and cousin and adorable dogs Lulu and Velvet. The food was divine, atmosphere relaxed and easy, and the welcome warm.

Suzie and Matthew work on a dish for the Thanksgiving feast. Looks like it's almost time to eat!

I've always loved Asheville, with its funky, arty feel, great restaurants and neat shops. Among my favorites on Haywood St.: Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe' http://www.malaprops.com and Earth Guild where one can find all manner of art supplies. http://www.earthguild.com/ It also has the sophistication of Biltmore Castle, Biltmore Village and numerous galleries.

I did not know we would see wonderful art in the yard of our hosts. See some of my favorites below:

I'd never seen a "tree face" before. Too cool.
Deb and Gary also have a bottle tree.

Stella was my favorite, especially with her rusted bed springs hair!

Bosoms are actually lamp parts.
This found object lady began with a garden rake. Click on the picture to see details.
Check out these dreadlocks.

It was a wonderful day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meeting Martine

Martine House with her piece "Family Entanglements"

No trip to Asheville is complete without a visit to the Folk Art Center. What a wonderful surprise to see Martine House exhibiting there! I've long admired her beautifully stiched work but had not met her personally. We had a chance to visit and talk about the power of art to convey our innermost feelings. Martine and I are definitely on the same page.

Do take time to visit her website http://www.housefiber.com/ Her work is intricately stunning. Click here to read Martine's blog: http://housefiber.blogspot.com

Mary Stori recently wrote about the current focus of Martine's beautiful work on her blog:

Martine and I with her recent piece "Reliquary" which makes a very strong statement "about the future of our planet and what we are doing to it." I share her concern.

Photo credit: Bill Guerrant

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thrifting - A Way of Life

I love old things. Parents who lived through the Great Depression, coupled with tagging along on junk yard trips with my father were early influences. Just the beginning, really. I was surrounded by old things growing up in a 19th century farmhouse. Unlike some girls, I enjoyed having a box of hand-me-down clothes arrive from Chicago, through Agnes, our neighbor down the road. Agnes was from Denmark and made the most delightful Danish pastries in the world! I could write several pages about Agnes and Elmer (Agnes called him Yelmer), but I digress.

My sister Sharon and I shared a couple of apartments in Chicago and LA after we were out of school. In those days, furnished apartments were quite common. But occasionally we'd need a piece of furniture. One of the best sources in LA was Allied Van Lines where unclaimed shipments were sold. Sharon was going for a new table, but I convinced her to buy an adorable old painted one. It was an aqua oval drop-leaf and came with four chairs. I think she paid about $17.00 for the set. She kept it for over 40 years before handing it down to our niece, Kari.

Old stuff lasts and increases in value. Nothing in our house is new except for appliances (which DON'T last) and the upholstered stuff. A lot of it came from thrift stores, estate sales, the flea market or family with an occasional SOR (side of road) find.

When I was a lot younger, part of my passion was the thrill of the hunt. That was when I was buying and selling professionally. But now it's more a matter of thinking green, of keeping useful things out of the landfill, of living responsibly.

Below are a few gems spotted last week when I was looking for wool.

Value Village is a national chain.

I spied this charmer at the thrift store across the street. My Mother had the same model.

Singer 401A

Whoa! For the machine AND the cabinet???

Quilts were less than $10. back in the day. This string pieced version is priced at $25.30.

My DH once had a typewriter just like this! The price is way out of line, imho.

There are many blogs devoted entirely to thrifting. One of my favorites is: http://apronthriftgirl.typepad.com/apron_thrift_girl/ Check it out. You'll be amazed at what this woman finds. She's one dedicated thrifter - and I love her blog name.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your day be blessed.

Contemplating Change

I've had a hard time working in my studio since it was redone over a year ago. Today, I think I finally figured out why.

In the former arrangement, my cutting table was accessible from both sides. I could face the design wall while cutting/contemplating. When my new Horn cabinet arrived, I placed it where the cutting table had been. I think I'll swap it with the table so I'll still face the design area but be able to get to both sides of my cutting surface. Ahhhhh. I feel better already.

I feel constricted every time I try to use this table. I'd planned to move it three feet from the wall, but never did. Bulletin boards I bought last spring are still not up.

I'm going to play around with the floor plan a bit. The room is much less crowded than before, but I'm not inspired in it at all.

There is no art on the walls and everything is white. This is a major part of my problem. My sister was probably right when she told me to paint the room a color, but don't tell her that. Now where did I leave my hammer? I have two wonderful Judith Vierow prints to hang!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Falling Leaves

My son Matthew planted this tree when he was little and it was too.

I love gathering the leaves in the fall,
and then using them in my work.
Artist trading card, 4 x 6"

Although leaves preserved in glycerine are more durable than those pressed, I have used both.

What Happened?

Hello again, dear readers. As Thanksgiving nears, I know you're all probably deep into preparations.

I've been absent for a while, catching up with things here. Today I decided my blog banner needed a new look. I'm having a brain fan, and can't determine what size photo I should upload. Guidelines are nowhere. After trying six different images which did not fill the template, I ended up with what you see. It is obviously too large and has thrown the blog layout all off. What happened? I'm off all caffeine - and it shows! I'll have to try again later.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank a Veteran

Bill Guerrant
Americal Division
Chu Lai, Vietnam

Thank a veteran - especially today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dyeing Wool

Original Wool

Dyed Wool

I've stockpiled a lot of wool over the years. Last week I overdyed some of it with Kool-Aid. This piece was done in strawberry. I love the transformation!

I did a google search and found several recipes. Next - Easter egg dye. Yes, I have it. Y'all should know by now I never throw anything away.

Semper Fi

Today marks the 234th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Semper Fi. I salute you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Source for Thread Holders

Mums straight from the grocery store.

I bought a bunch of spider mums recently. To keep the petals intact, the florist had enclosed each blossom in netting. I tried to remove the first net by pulling from the top, which didn't work. I had to carefully remove it from the bottom or else the whole flower pulled off. I'm going to save these little nets, as they'll be perfect to keep threads from raveling off their spools.

These nets are sold through quilting catalogs for just that purpose. But these were a free bonus with my bouquet. How cool is that?

Use caution when removing the netting.

Spider mum set free!