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October 2008
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December 2008

November 2008

Ahhh ... that nostalgic holiday look!


What is it about seeing these old-style Santas that pushes you right back to being six years old? This display is one of the first you see when you walk through the doors at Hunt & Gather in Minneapolis ... one of our stops on Christmas in the City. It was fillled with tons of Santa items ... I've always been fascinated by the Santa cups ... they were the kinds of things you saw in Women's Day or Good Housekeeping ads ... the one item that would make your Christmas party a step above Sally Smith down the street. But here's their dirty little secret ... they're hard to drink out of and pity the person who gets stuck with dishwashing duties ... all those nooks and crannies. They do look darling on the shelf, though!


Yike! When I saw this tree made of empty cans it didn't send me back to my childhood but instead flashed me back to my time in the Air Force. We were on our way from Minnesota to England for training and our C-130 broke down in New Foundland. A planeful of airmen with nothing to do waiting for parts but watch it snow and visit the BX. And the package store. They could have insulated rooms with the empties ... no one thought of making them into functional items!


I love old Christmas carol books ... I have a small collection of them that I like to tuck in among the decorations. There's something sweet about the covers ... the font of the text ... the graphics ... the words of the songs.


I want big wooden candy canes for outside my store!!


I was always jealous of my friends who had these candle decorations. We weren't allowed. Fire hazard!


I wanted to look at every single thing crammed into this showcase ... it was loaded with goodies.


Loved this little hand made cabin and the bottle brush trees.


Not my style but might be for someone who has a new cabin up north and a husband who has an elk head that needs to be decorated for the holidays! (You know who you are!!)


Love skates and sleds dolled up with greens and pincones. There's something very welcoming about things you find in nature.


Poinsettia time!


Now that the turkey has been unstuffed and everyone around the table IS stuffed ... time to turn our thoughts to Christmas and those big beautiful flowers that tell us it truly is the season!


We know they've been around since the 14th century because the Aztecs raised them for the medicinal value as well as the dye they produced. Botanists discovered them and in the early 1900's, they were brought to the United States and grown in greenhouses, eventually making their way to the commercial market. This photo was taken at Linder's on Larpenteur. Acres of poinsettias under glass.


You can find all kinds of information about caring for your holiday flowers on the internet but I think this story about the Legend of the Poinsettia is especially charming. There's always a beautiful story surrounding so many of our holiday traditions!


It doesn't matter what your holiday decorating scheme is ... you can find a combination for any look you want!

I'm kind of partial to the patriotic look ... think I might need to set up a little red white and blue area this season!


A Thanksgiving poem


When the frost is on the pumpkin and the lumber's in the shop, And you hear the cluck and gobble of the strutting turkey-cock, And the clacking of the guineys, and the clucking of the hens, And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence; O, it's then the time a feller is a-feeling at his best, With the rising sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest, As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock, When the frost is on the pumpkin and the lumber's in the shop.   James Whitcomb Riley

Happy Thanksgiving!


An incentive to go 'handmade for the holidaze'!

Handmade coupon028   

There's still plenty of time to make gifts before the holidays get here ...  but maybe you just need a little motivation! Well, hopefully saving a few $$$ will be the perfect push. If you need to fine-tune your list, scroll down to the entry last week on Handmade for the Holidaze and see if you can't find the perfect gift to create.

Print off the coupon and bring it in for savings before Thanksgiving on Wednesday ... or afterwards on Friday and Saturday.  The coupon can be used for mail order, too, if you don't live nearby.

Don't forget to let your family know that if they're at a loss for what to get you this year, quilting supplies and gift certificates are always a sure bet. This would be a good time to ask for a bias ruler, don't you think?

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! I'm always grateful for my customers.


Christmas in the city ~ reviewed


It's wonderful to get away ... even if it's just for a day! I knew it was going to be a perfect time preceded by a dusting of snow during the night to get us all in a holiday mood. Everyone arrived promptly at the Cottage and after they checked in and picked up their goodie bags, we headed to the bus.


I love anything with initials ... I know it's trendy ... but it's personal, too. Everyone had an initial button to wear on their coat. (I made them on my new button maker!!)


The American Swedish Institute was all dolled up for Christmas with wreaths, greens and so many potential decorating ideas. You need to go and visit ... either for the holiday or some other time of the year. The beautiful craftsmanship in this mansion is so amazing ... the attention to detail on every little thing ... intricate carvings ... handpainted plasterwork on the ceilings ... stonework ... the entire building is a work of art. My favorite part ... after the fireplace in the entry ... was the third floor with its tribute to Swedish immigrants and wonderful examples of Swedish crafting. The gift shops were fabulous but because they were Christmas oriented, I'm waiting until Thanksgiving has passed to show them ... don't want to rush the season!


We had a delicious lunch at Christos on 26th & Nicolett ... the atmosphere is light and accented perfectly with photos and colorful pottery and glassware from Greece. It was nice to sit for a bit, chat and relax. I've already decided to get Bob to take me to their location at the Union Depot in downtown St Paul ... they opened another one in St Louis Park recently. If you're not familiar with this restaurant, put it on your list to visit!


Hunt & Gather at 50th and Xerxes did not disappoint! They were decorated for Christmas too ... you'll have to wait for those pics! But there were enough other things non-holiday related to report on.


This looks like just a normal American Red Cross uniform ... until you notice the subtle humor peeking out of the pocket!


Rocking horses just hanging around!


Where do they find these things? And so many of them!!


Color in every shape and size!


Wanna play doctor?


But finally ... the last bit of weirdness ... all the maps and globes were turned to Afrika! Do you think someone there knew that Alex and the Marines in Djibouti have been on my mind this week ... or did some other mom from the unit get there before me! It was the perfect ending to a great day.



Handmade for the holidaze!


Well ... the countdown to Christmas traditionally starts once Thanksgiving passes ... and this year with the way the economy is people still have the desire to give but maybe are a little squeamish about pulling out their wallet. Which, actually, isn't such a bad thing! Because we all know ... handcrafted is from the heart. Making something for someone gives you the opportunity to think about that person ... reflect on your relationship ... envision how they'll receive your gift. Plus it's fun! So here are some of my picks of things from around the Cottage that you could make between now and Christmas Eve!

First up ... this wool mat from Wooden Spool Designs. This has been a Cottage favorite for several years now ... it speaks to everyone. Simple stitching makes it a snap!


Square Deal Centerpiece Quilt was a hit at our retreat two weeks ago. Look through our photos and you can see a variety of fabric combinations to get you inspired. We have kits available to match our original with cardinals and pinecones ... or you can put together your own combo. The pattern is free when you purchase six fat quarters at the Cottage. Here we've used Pretty Paisley. In two hours, you can get the entire project completed. Make sure you look at the simple way we quilted it. Fast hostess gift!


We have all of GE Designs new patterns but my favorite is the table runner pattern on the right ... specifically the skinny one on the left side of the pattern photo. It is cute ... looks easy enough ... and is just the right size for a counter or side table. Gudrun's directions are perfect ... you'll have it done in a flash!


These ornaments from Happy Hollow are totally complete in their espresso cups. You'll only need to search for your sewing tools. They come in three styles ... a wreath, Santa face and snowman. Luv 'em all!


The Tag Along Tote by Atkinson Designs has huge appeal ... especially if you're looking for something for those teenage or college girls. They are easy to mass produce by doing all the same steps at once ... Chris made three at once ... quilters were churning them out at the retreat. Not expensive either ... all you need are three fat quarters.


Sherri Falls from This & That patterns has come up with some more simple yet classy totes ... she also has a new notepad cover that would be perfect for your business friends. We've got her whole new line up. Oh ... and here's a stocking stuffer for your quilty friends in the foreground ... the emery pincushion kit ... make it for them or let them make it themselves. Everything including the thread in the kit.


We have a bucket of these skinny wall hanging kits ... thanks to Jeri coming in on Saturday and making more each week. We've put in all the fabric and wool you'll need ... some kits have the special buttons. Other Christmas ones available are a cute Nutcracker and the Tipsy Snowman ... but these are all really popular so don't wait too long to get yours!


Itty bitty patterns from Perkins Dry Goods are in! They make nice sized wall hangings or table runners and true to form, have Celine's perfect directions. Chris is making the table topper in the center and loves that each section is broken down with it's own diagrams.


Aunt Martha's new primitive iron on embroidery transfers are a hit ... and inexpensive at $1.50 each. Match that to one of our two dollar towels and you can have a nice gift after a couple evenings stitching and watching tv.


And what could be more perfect than my scrappy pincushions in the latest Quilts and More magazine!

Need one more stocking stuffer? How about a travel bottle of Mary Ellen's Best Press. And here's a bonus ... Terry Atkinson has bottle cover directions on her blog so you can doll it up.

Are you inspired? Come into the Cottage for more ideas! We'll be happy to point out our favorites.


The quilt retreat shopping experience!


When we go on retreat, we literally pack our bags and take the store with us! One of the things we did was load up this vintage suitcase with patterns, rick rack, magazines and fat quarters. It's hard to anticipate the needs of the quilters at the retreat so I like to think that what we bring along is a creative buffet of our favorite things.

I'm fortunate to have been able to bring along a trunk show from GE Designs. Gudren lent me samples from the patterns she introduced at Quilt Market a few weeks ago. I'm torn between which ones are my favorites but I'm really leaning toward the Dual Duty runners ... they come in several sizes within the pattern but I'm partial to those little ones for shelves or my countertop. Gudrun is from the Twin Cities, designs for Red Rooster Fabric and has a blog.  Next Monday, she'll be speaking at the Northern Material Girls quilt guild ... Silver Lake Methodist Church, 7pm, $5 fee for non-members. You should come meet her! And of course, we have her new patterns at the Cottage.


We had people scooping up the new patterns from Sherri Falls at This and That as well as the Tag Along Tote from Terry Atkinson. In fact, they were also scooping up fat quarters and whipping up their new projects in the middle of the night!


One of the things we introduced at the retreat was our affiliation with Stories By Everyone. This is an online opportunity where you can create books with your own photos. Imagine including a book for the new baby or bride that introduces them to their new family ... something you can tuck into the quilt you've made them. Brand new ... a 2009 calendar ... that would be perfect for a holiday gift! In December, you'll be able to get the template for a quilting swatchbook by American Patchwork and Quilting ... a ring bound book sitting on the corner of the table here. It's a great way to show off the quilts you've made. Stories By Everyone has tutorials and samples in case you've never done something like this. You need a retailer code to make your puchase ... the code for the Cottage is 2YM2JUBTA6 ... copy and paste this into your shopping cart at the end. There are samples at the Cottage ... come in take a peek and get hooked on them!


Oh ... and here's one of my favorite things! Aunt Martha's ... you know ... the iron on embroidery patterns you grew up with on dishtowels ... they've come up with three primitive style embroidery designs! They are sew cute and a huge hit at the retreat ... I had to reorder! Perfect for dishtowels, pillowcases or even stitched on fabric and framed. You can get several printings out of each design and one great discovery ... each pattern has a bonus design not shown on the front. Dig out your floss box.

So if you decided not to come on the retreat, don't worry ... we've got more at the Cottage. Call or stop in!