Kitchen Towels Headed Down Under

SSue cats towel set.jpg

Sunbonnet Sue with Cats Kitchen Towels Headed Down Under

You have probably heard of the traditional Sunbonnet Sue quilt with a little girl in a gardening hat and long dress, a favorite applique pattern from mid-Century. I know you know about cats so this custom kitchen towel set combined both into different scenes, one for each day of the week.

When the kitchen towel set sold, it was now my job to decide which of the seven custom hand-embroidered kitchen towels would get our label.

At first I thought I would sew the label into this scene where Sunbonnet Sue is picking up one of the cats.

 Two cats keep Sunbonnet Sue company in this custom kitchen towel. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Two cats keep Sunbonnet Sue company in this custom kitchen towel. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Then I thought I should pick another scene where Sunbonnet Sue is walking while she carries a basket of apples. This set is headed to Australia so maybe a travel theme was more appropriate than playing with cats.

 Sunbonnet Sue carrying a basket of apples in this kitchen towel. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Sunbonnet Sue carrying a basket of apples in this kitchen towel. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Finally a decision, and a new maker label was sewn onto the back of the custom kitchen towel.

 Adding a label to the back of one of the kitchen towels. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Adding a label to the back of one of the kitchen towels. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Can you guess which of the seven days of the week Sunbonnet Sue with Cats kitchen towels I selected?

Here’s a hint, it’s the one where I felt I could sew on the label without feline interruption!!

Charlotte

Tiny Personalized Holiday Decor Gift

 This tiny holiday scene is an easy personalized gift. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

This tiny holiday scene is an easy personalized gift. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tiny Personalized Holiday Decor Gift

This is as close to holiday decorating in a box as I can make it. A friend moved into her first house earlier this year. She wasn’t sure she would have time to put up any holiday decorations so I thought about how I could help her have a little taste of the holidays. I was going to send her our Happy Holidays Cardinal Lap Quilt then remembered she doesn’t have a lot of room so I came up with this tiny personalized holiday decor gift.

I started with a tiny artificial tree, tiny garland and a set of small dog ornaments from our local hobby shop.

If you don’t have a hobby shop you can find tiny trees at any big box store. If you can’t find the traditional garland in a small size, the tiny Christmas tree garland can be anything from a small ribbon to a tiny necklace chain.

I added a few tiny cookie ornaments from my own tiny tree.

The dog ornament at the top has her dog’s name written on the back of the ornament.

 Tiny artificial Christmas tree with dog ornaments. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Tiny artificial Christmas tree with dog ornaments. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

So that she can finish decorating the tree, four cat ornaments with personalized cat names on the back are in a tiny gift box.

 Cat ornaments in a box so she can add them. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Cat ornaments in a box so she can add them. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

I picked up a cute Santa at the fireplace photo frame at a local thrift shop and repainted it with more primary colors. The original frame had a pink Santa Claus, pink Christmas stocking and hard to distinguish books on the mantle top.

A little paint to brighten the frame and a personalized photo now makes this fireplace ready to place next to the tiny tree.

 Repainted fireplace photo frame. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Repainted fireplace photo frame. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

When I was looking for a gift box, I found the little dog ornament that barks “jingle bells” so I had to add that, even if it is not to scale.

Now she can either use this in her home or take it to the office to decorate her desk. Or she can take the singing dog toy to the office and keep the tree and fireplace mantle at home and she will be all set for Christmas!

Can you think of anyone on your gift list who could use a tiny holiday decor gift?

Charlotte

Santa Dolls Getting Shipped

 One of two Santa dolls from cutter quilts climbing into the shipping box. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

One of two Santa dolls from cutter quilts climbing into the shipping box. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Santa Dolls Getting Shipped

Two more of our handmade Santa Claus dolls made out of old patchwork quilts are getting ready to travel East. These unique, one of a kind dolls add charm to any holiday home decor and are squeezable, too.

To get the Santa dolls ready to be shipped, their brand new metal doll stands go into the bottom of the box. The doll stands give posing options, including having Santa stand on a mantle or on a side table. These Santa dolls can also be posed sitting.

 Each doll is shipped with a doll stand so they can be posed among presents. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Each doll is shipped with a doll stand so they can be posed among presents. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Before going into the box, I add labels to the back of the old quilt doll garment. As I sew on the labels, I imagine Santa in his new home, bringing the holiday spirit.

 The last step before shipping, adding our label. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

The last step before shipping, adding our label. (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Each Santa Doll gets packed in a clear plastic bag to ensure it gets to its new home safely.

 Ho Ho Ho, happy holidays! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

Ho Ho Ho, happy holidays! (Photo by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins)

In past years I have given these Santa dolls as gifts and since have seen them return year after year as part of the holiday home decor.

Yes, Virginia, these dolls do bring the holiday spirit!

Charlotte

Four Unique Bluebird Dish Towels

 Charming hand embroidered bluebird dish towels ready to add color to a kitchen!

Charming hand embroidered bluebird dish towels ready to add color to a kitchen!

Four Unique Bluebird Dish Towels

One of the ways to quickly update home decor is to change the towels, whether it be in a bathroom or a kitchen. These four unique bluebird dish towels are a charming way to add a handmade touch to that high end kitchen and still have a touch of variety in the dish towel colors.

The white muslin dish towels are handmade themselves, each 16x34 inch out of an absorbent white muslin cotton. The made in Missouri, USA dish towels have been hand-embroidered with vintage patterned bluebirds wearing ties and bows standing around flowers, which add color to the scenes.

We added a stabilizer to the back to give these unique dish towels a longer life after regular washings in cold water. Dry on cool setting in the dryer.

These will make a great housewarming gift, wedding gift, shower gift, birthday gift for the cook on your gift list, quite versatile when it comes to the occasion to give them. You could also divide them into two sets if you wanted to present one set each to two daughters as gifts.

 This set of bluebird dish towels can be divided into two separate gift sets, too.

This set of bluebird dish towels can be divided into two separate gift sets, too.

I like to give these practical gifts because then I know they will be used and appreciated every day.

Charlotte

Fall Flowers Bouquet

 Colder weather is starting to move in so I picked a fall bouquet featuring my blooming zinnias.

Colder weather is starting to move in so I picked a fall bouquet featuring my blooming zinnias.

Fall Flowers Bouquet

We've had a fall drought this year, more than a month without rain and record hot temperatures so flowers have been few and far between.

I planted my zinnia seeds late this year so when the first flowers started to unfurl, I decided it was time to pick my first fall flowers bouquet. This time of year, it's hard to say how many more bouquets I will get before frost nips what is still blooming.

Of all of the seasons, fall is the one when my bouquets are a mixed collection of flowers. Blooming mums aside, I may only have a couple of one flower still blooming so the fall bouquets end up being an interesting mix.

 Zinnias make wonderful cut flowers, they can be cut still unfolding and will last a long time.

Zinnias make wonderful cut flowers, they can be cut still unfolding and will last a long time.

This fall bouquet has fall asters, red salvia, a couple of garlic chives still blooming - those are the little white flowers - butterfly weed and the Mexican sage, the long purple flowers. In the center, several zinnias, some picked still in bud form.

These should last a good couple of weeks if cats don't decide to munch on the green leaves.

Going out into the garden and picking a bouquet of flowers is one of my guilty pleasures. I do it when I am finished cleaning house; when I need a hint of beauty in a difficult day, when I just need a break.

I am hoping there is at least one more bouquet to be picked before cold weather settles in. Although I am looking forward to slowing down, I will miss having the fresh flowers to enjoy.

Charlotte

Surprise Lilies

 Surprise lilies in a flower vase in Bluebird Gardens kitchen.

Surprise lilies in a flower vase in Bluebird Gardens kitchen.

Surprise Lilies

One of the nicest garden gifts you can give is a bouquet of surprise lilies, even if it's just to yourself to brighten up a corner of your house.

Surprise lilies are hardy perennial bulbs that bloom usually in August in USDA zone 5b on leafless long green stems. Their aromatic pink flowers fade to a soft lavender as they age, the buds good to cut as they have first started to bloom.

Over the years, I have given away dozens of bouquets of surprise lilies, placing the pink flowers in tall vases and taking advantage of the dramatic look of the flowers on their long green stems. Some of the surprise lily bouquets have been used on altars in weddings.

 Surprise lilies popping up in Bluebird Gardens.

Surprise lilies popping up in Bluebird Gardens.

Let's face it, though, not everyone has the room for a bouquet of tall surprise lilies so don't let those long legs discourage you.

Try surprise lilies cut short in a smaller vase, as I have in my kitchen. You can still enjoy the aroma and beauty of the flowers without having to struggle to peer around the vase!

Charlotte

Framed Gift Bird Card

 I received this lovely hand-painted bird card from a friend over Christmas.

I received this lovely hand-painted bird card from a friend over Christmas.

Framed Gift Bird Card

I know sending cards is not in style any more but I am lucky to still receive them every once in awhile. And when they are handmade, who needs to buy art, here it is delivered to your mailbox.

This past Christmas, a friend sent me this lovely hand-painted bird card, a combination of bluebird and hummingbird on an old printed book page in french with a solid blue paper background.

This friend is going through a very difficult time so I kept the card on my kitchen counter for weeks to keep her in my thoughts and prayers. One morning, I realized I wanted this bird with me every day and found a perfect spot for it on a wall right off my kitchen. 

Taking it with me to a local thrift shop, I found a frame I thought would work to set off the card's blue background. The recycled frame was $2.

I don't always find something that quickly, nor does a frame easily come apart but it was a good start.

 This framed print at a local thrift shop was $2 and nicely set off the bird card.

This framed print at a local thrift shop was $2 and nicely set off the bird card.

Carefully removing the backing, I removed the frame, used it for the backing to the card and put it back in the frame. I thought about taking the solid blue card off but on second thought, left it on. I wanted to remember the story my friend had written, and the blue card reminded me.

 The print in the frame served as the backing for the bird card.

The print in the frame served as the backing for the bird card.

This way I get to enjoy the card every day I see it without spilling anything on it. 

It's now part of a collection of three similar handmade birds, all cards friends have given me over the years. Love the memories they hold.

Turned out quite nicely, don't you think?

Charlotte

Tiny Last Flower Bouquet

Tiny fall flowers bouquet from Bluebird Gardens.

Tiny Last Flower Bouquet

The weather forecaster promised a hard frost, the first of the season. It was mid November 2016 and we were still enjoying temperatures in the 80s and breaking established records for warm weather. In some ways, I was looking forward to the colder temperatures and a break in the garden work.

I went for my last walk in the garden, looking for whatever might still be blooming. I can usually find wildflowers in a nearby field but not much in my flower beds. I didn't expect to find much this time, either but I was wrong, around every corner I found some little flower still holding on and showing some color.

The New England Asters were the first so I took a little sprig off the side. Pink mums were in another corner, just one little sprig but it doesn't take much to put together a tiny flower bouquet.

A pink Knockout rose was in  a flower bed under a window, and the red geraniums were blooming in a pot inside I passed by on my way in.

The yellow mums were from a friend who shared his stash with me and a sprig was lying on my garage floor.

Together, they made a lovely little flower bouquet I now have on my kitchen island brightening up my kitchen and promising more red from the upcoming holidays.

Other side of tiny fall flower bouquet with mums.

We like to think flower bouquets have to be big but the small ones may have as much, if not more, beauty all by their little selves.

Charlotte

Mum House Witch

 This charming house is surrounded by fields of mums and a humorous decoration. See it?

This charming house is surrounded by fields of mums and a humorous decoration. See it?

Mum House Witch

I love to see how people decorate for Halloween and to pick up ideas in case I have a wave of energy to do something for next year. By far, my favorite Halloween home decor inspiration is this house where I live in mid-Missouri.

First, the mums are beautiful, what a wonder garden sampler of colors and varieties, and they make quite a first impression as one drives by.  So much fall color on the ground as surrounding trees start to change color, too.

I don't have flower beds where I can do this but I am inspired by the visitor to the mums - see the witch legs sticking up out of the orange mum to the right of the wall with the address number on it?

 Look at the orange mum in a metal container to the right of the front door. See the legs?

Look at the orange mum in a metal container to the right of the front door. See the legs?

So clever to add the two legs with telltale witch shoes in an orange mum in a metal container in the back. Those legs look easy to make, too. I'm thinking this same idea could be applied for Christmas decorating, too, only with elf legs.

Maybe on a snowy day this winter I will be inspired. Wouldn't this also make a cute housewarming gift?

Charlotte

Boo!

 Halloween Cat vintage postcard with a mouse friend gives any room a quick Halloween vibe.

Halloween Cat vintage postcard with a mouse friend gives any room a quick Halloween vibe.

Boo - Very Easy Halloween Decorating

I love to celebrate the different seasons in my home but I don't have a lot of storage space nor do I want to spend a lot of time doing it. You could say I am an appreciative but otherwise unfocused decorator but that doesn't mean I haven't found a very easy way to decorate.

You have probably seen them at antique stores, boxes and boxes of old vintage postcards with charming designs. I have been collecting them over the years. Every season I get to pick one to feature in a picture frame in my kitchen, and I do have a tendency to pick up cat ones, especially for Halloween.

This year, I selected this adorable black cat with an orange witch hat to keep a vintage ceramic mouse salt shaker company.

 Charming vintage black cat helps to bring a bit of Halloween into my kitchen.

Charming vintage black cat helps to bring a bit of Halloween into my kitchen.

 Did someone say fun and frolic?

Did someone say fun and frolic?

This is such a quick and easy way to add a little Halloween decor without taking up a lot of room or requiring a lot of effort.

If you want to add a little extra touch, add a complimentary salt and pepper shaker. I only have one of these mice but it looks like it just stepped out of the vintage postcard.

 Vintage made in Japan ceramic mouse salt shaker gives my little Halloween vignette dimension.

Vintage made in Japan ceramic mouse salt shaker gives my little Halloween vignette dimension.

Start Collecting Favorite Postcards

You can start your own little postcard collection visiting antique stores and picking up favorites for the traditional seasons: birthday, anniversary, spring, Independence day, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter. 

We all have a little stash of photo frames we don't use any more. If you don't, check your local dollar stores and vintage shops for inexpensive photo frames you can easily change. I double check the back to make sure the piece that holds the picture frame upright is not damaged or missing.

Changing out the photo frame is also a quick way to update the vintage postcard with minimal effort.

Wedding and Housewarming Gift Idea

Several years ago, I collected a series of vintage bird postcards and gave them to a friend as a wedding gift. When I visit, I still find them on display on her fireplace mantel, each one marking the passing of yet another special date. She uses one favorite photo frame and just changes out the post cards. Even simpler than what I do!

One more note: the treasure hunting can be a lot of fun. Start with one vintage postcard theme that sets the tone and go from there!

Charlotte

White on White

 Bluebird Gardens white peonies in white vase.

Bluebird Gardens white peonies in white vase.

White on White

Sometimes even in my home decor I want a calming presence. Whether it's a snowy theme throw with tiny differences in white fabric, or a flower vase with same colored flowers, the same color approach can be very soothing.

One of my favorite ways to soothe a space is to cut white peonies from my garden and add them to a white flower vase. They also look nice in a crystal vase but the white vase seems to magnify the peaceful spot and magnify the beauty of the flowers.

Cut flowers from your garden, in any kind of vase, also make thoughtful housewarming gifts.

If you use peonies in your home decor, make sure to shake them before you bring flowers in. Ants enjoy eating the honeydew on buds so don't bring any non-welcome hitchhikers into your home.

To keep peonies blooming longer, cut their stems daily and give them fresh water. What else have you done to keep your cut peonies fresh in a flower vase?

Charlotte

 

Think Fresh Flowers as Cake Topper!

Fresh flowers are not just for flower vases any more.


I've been known to tuck flowers in all sorts of things - as decorations for gifts, inside a get well card, once in a book as a page marker.

Decorating cakes with flowers out of icing can be fun, but who wants to eat all of that sugar icing - or even cut into the flowers?? At a recent farewell potluck lunch, I was delighted to see the cake decorated with a stunning bouquet of fresh garden flowers, all held in the cake by a small glass flower vase.

Best of all, after the cake is gone, they will still have flowers to enjoy!

Charlotte

Your Lucky Day!

Who doesn't remember spending a warm spring day looking for four leaf clovers? Those memories came flooding back when I found this pressed four leaf clover among pages of a wildflower book a friend recently gave me. At first I thought it was something she forgot she had pressed in the book. When I saw her next, she asked if I had found the four leaf clover book mark she had found in her back yard. Inspired by the thought, I made a four leaf clover out of felt, glued a matching green ribbon and gave it to her in a cookbook gift set for her birthday.

Great way to give back, don't you think?

Charlotte

Use Favorite Birdhouses as Table Decoration

This little birdhouse was a gift so it had special memories.

Last year part of the roof rotted, so I removed the piece, sanded down the edges and treated the cleaned birdhouse with a couple coats of polyurethane. I then found an old glass bottle that would fit through the opening.

Filled with flowers, the renovated birdhouse works well as an outdoor table decoration under a deck umbrella, or anywhere inside the house where you want some whimsy.

Charlotte

Pick the Right Flower Vase

Giving someone a bouquet of spring flowers out of your garden is a great gift for any occasion. Choosing the right vase makes all the difference in how flowers look, and how long they will last after being picked. I prefer to use flower containers that are rounded at the bottom. The rounded bottom gives cut flowers access to more water, and they won't be quickly traumatized by going dry overnight. So many cut flowers don't last long because they've run out of water!

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Chocolate Mice Flowers?

How do you thank a friend for taking care of cats and plants so well?

I first thought about giving her a vase full of garden flowers. Then I thought she also has cats so why not make something more personal.

I made this little pot of mouse flowers made out of homemade chocolate mice.

I used felt for the flower "petals" and leaves; floral sticks pre-wired to hold the toy mice, and the pointed end of the floral sticks to hold the chocolate mice.

Yes, she loved her bouquet of chocolate mice.  Yummm!

Charlotte

Welcome

Welcome to Made Just For You.

I started Bluebird Gardens in 1998 on the premise that everyone can make
something; they just don’t always think of it as being special.
In my world, it is the thought that counts.
I’ll let you in on a little secret; making something for someone is
sometimes more fun than giving it away.
I’ll be featuring those wonderful homemade handmade things,
and the people who are special enough to get them.

What are you making?

Charlotte