Monday, December 31, 2007

The story behind my headboard.....

Tanya spotted my headboard as looking like a fence when I shared some photos of Cranberry Cottage. She was right as it really is a fence! There is a story behind this headboard so I thought I would share it with you here even though normally my needlework is on my other blog. It all started with a quilt.....

I used to teach patchwork and quilting and this project was a very special one to my heart. It is my baby and I wanted to make it different from all the other Underground Railroad quilt code samplers you see nowadays. I designed this quilt using the Underground Railroad quilt code (which you can read at the bottom of this entry) but wanted it to have a look all my own. I also wanted the story of slavery to come alive for the ladies who took the class. I named my quilt "Sukey's Road to Freedom" and used all reproduction fabrics from the 1800s for my own quilt.

I organized a quilt show back in 2005 which was set in a Dutch farm near my home. We always feature the quilt projects I taught as well as the projects the quilt group work on. Here I am setting up the display for Sukey's quilt. Since the story goes that the quilts were used to give signals to escaped slaves and were often hanging out over a fence, I asked Jos to make me a fence post to hang one of the quilts on. We used two standing poles and attached the fence between and added finials to the posts. I knew when I came up with the idea that it would make a great headboard for the cottage after the quilt show.

This was one of the last classes I taught and it will always be very special to my heart. I created a booklet for the class.

I wrote the individual lessons up as if it were a diary of a young slave girl who runs away to freedom. Her name is Sukey and during the lessons, they followed her from the South to Ohio and then on to Canada. It was a moving quilt to teach and I remember one of the ladies sitting with tears in her eyes as I sat telling Sukey's story.

This is the period dress my mother sewed for me to wear during the quilt show.

Ozella's Underground Railroad quilt code:

"There are five square knots on the quilt every two inches apart. They escaped on the fifth knot on the tenth pattern to Ontario, Canada.

The 'monkey wrench' turns the 'wagon wheel' toward Canada on a 'bear's paw trail' to the 'crossroads'.
Once they got to the crossroads they dug a 'log cabin' on the ground.
'Shoofly' told them to dress up in 'cotton and satin bow ties' and go to the cathedral church, get married and exchange double wedding rings.
'Flying geese' stay on the 'drunkard's path' and follow the 'stars'."

taken from "Hidden in Plain View" by J. Tobin and R Dobard

Friday, December 28, 2007

Wonderful blogging friends.....

It has been a great experience to meet new friends around the world through blogging. I received my first gift from a blogging friend this Christmas and thought it would be fun to introduce her to you now as I show you my wonderful gifts.....

I received this pretty box which held some wonderful surprises. Kim from 'Ragged Roses' emailed me to get my address so she could send me some chocolate bourbons.

What she sent me was a box full of goodies...

Not only two packages of bourbons but also pretty tissues, a mulled wine kit, dark cherry chocolate bar,and a very special surprise of one of her handmade ragballs.

Kim sells these ragballs in her Etsy shop online and now that I have seen one real and up close, I must tell you that they are so adorable! This one smells wonderfully of lavender too. I tied a bow in the ricrac and hung it in my Christmas tree. I was thinking how cute these would be hanging a couple of them in a window for January. They look like snowballs and would set a pretty winter scene.

You can see Kim's blog at and there is a link there to her Etsy shop also. She has a wonderful home and shares glimpses of it on her blog.

Thank you so very much Kim for your thoughtfulness!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A winter wonderland and dinner anyone?

We drove up north on Saturday morning since our Christmas Days fell in the middle of the week this year. It gave us a 5 day period to spend up at Cranberry Cottage. We took a detour on the way up through the heather fields of Doldersum as we knew this area would be very beautiful with the frozen frost we were having.

This is a condition that happens in Holland if all the conditions are just right. It must stay frozen for a few days and the mist and damp start to form beautiful ice crystals on everything. It was virtually no wind which in itself is unusual for Holland but also helps with the ice formation.

This is an area I have shared with you before on both blogs as the Scottish Highlanders (cows) graze here often and you are able to get some wonderful close~up photos. Today they were somewhere warmer I presume.

Even a simple wire fence to keep the wildlife in becomes a thing of beauty!

In August, this is a field of purple heather but for now the grasses and heathers are frozen in a wintry white.

If you click on the photos, you can see the detail better as with the deep crystals on this shrub.

Unfortunately, Saturday was the last day to see this pretty sight. It was all vanished the next day but it really boosted our feeling like we had a bit of a white Christmas here afterall.

Christmas dinner for us this year was started with a Spanish wild mushroom cappuccino. This is a wild mushroom soup with a layer of real cream laced with Madeira.

We then had Carpaccio Milano which is a thin slice of roast beef rolled with spinach, salad and roast potatoes.

This was a new recipe for the potatoes and was so tasty that I thought I would share it with you.

Small new potatoes with skins
Red onion
Black olives
Sun dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Precook the potatoes with skins on so they start to soften. Now cut the potatoes in half and place in a dish with a red onion which has been cut in half rings and rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with olive oil and roast in 175C/350F oven for about half an hour. Once the potatoes and done, toss in black olives cut in half and sun dried tomatoes which have been sliced.

Dessert was an ice cream yule log. I love decorating a dessert plate by first adding some whipped cream and then sprinkling the plate with cocoa powder. It gives a festive look.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas at Cranberry Cottage

We are back home from our 5 days up at Cranberry Cottage. We enjoyed our time. I have had a number of requests to share more photos of the cottage.

Here is a hint of the winter wonderland we arrived in on Saturday. I will share some photos of the pretty white countryside tomorrow. This is the back of the cottage.

This is an older photo so you might notice that the Cranberry Cottage sign had not yet been hung. This is the front of the cottage. It is small but we just love it. We spent time chatting to many of the neighbors this weekend who all talked about the special atmosphere this road has. It is so peaceful and relaxing to be here. We all feel privileged that we were able to buy one of these little cottages as there are only 19 of them here. In Holland, this is a very remarkable place to find. It is a tiny country and very heavily populated.

The bedroom of the cottage.

The cottages were built as weekend houses back in 1975. When we first bought it, there were many things still in the cottage from the 70s including the original curtains. It was like going into a time warp. You see that time period in many of the features of the home such as this fireplace. We have a small Alpine tree at the cottage which fits well in the space. As you see, Santa did not forget us this year...

I have my quilts hanging in three rooms one of which is here in the living room...

The kitchen is still a relic of the 70s and we hope to make this one of our future projects. We do a project each year and some of you may remember the photos of the renovations we did on this bathroom before we did the ones at our house in the city.
The bottom cupboards were an avocado green before my mother and I used a laminate coating to give them a bit of a face lift.

Our table is set for Christmas dinner. Tomorrow I will share a new recipe I used as it was simple and very tasty.

We have no electric lights above the table here. Only our candle chandelier which we love to use.

Our coffee table in the living room has a festive touch with some quilts I made...

My vintage cardboard village and trees on the bookshelves...

Santa watches over me as I cook us our Christmas dinner...

I wish you all a wonderful holiday week as the end of the year approaches. I hope you are enjoying your family time and the sights of Christmas...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas...

I had taken some photos of our beautiful heavy frost but they are blurred so I will take some tomorrow and share them with you on my next blog entry. That will be later next week as we are leaving for Cranberry Cottage now through to the Dutch 2nd Christmas Day (Wednesday).

This is our sidetable in the living room. I just adore reproduction cards of Santas from the Victorian period. I have been framing the cards I have found over the years. Whenever I find a frame I really like I save it for one of these cards.

I love amaryllis at Christmas time, don't you? This old looking bowl is a find from many years ago and I still love it. It is fun to find different ways to use it. At Christmas, it looks really pretty with pine and flowers in it.

Remember my love of old red books? Here are three Christmas books I have. The large one on the bottom was a gift from my sister and is very special to me. It is a compilation of 'fireside stories' for Christmas. The little plate was a find last year at an Christmas open house in a beautiful shop up north that I visited.

I wish all of you a truly wonderful and blessed Christmas! No matter where you are and whether you are enjoying winter weather or not, enjoy your holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Awards and artwork.....

A little while ago, Julie over at Nunnie's Attic gave me the Nice Matters award. Thank you so much Julie! I really appreciate the sweet words you spoke about me.

I am passing this award on now to Nancy at Knitting Paths of Life. She is my mother and I am so proud of her blogging! But I am passing this on to her because nice really does matter in life and she is very special to me. She is not only my mother but my friend! I can go to her for advice but I can also spend time laughing and sharing fun things with her.

I also want to pass this award on to Mary over at Across the Pond. Mary has become very special to both myself, my mother and my nieces! She is just the sweetest person and we have adopted her into our family at her request. She has a warm and inviting home and garden. She has a beautiful personality that really comes through in her own blog and her interaction with others on theirs.

I like to change my pictures in my home around the holidays. Here are a few things I have hung for Christmas. This is a beautiful flue cover that my mother gave me as a special present a couple of years back. It brought back a memory for her of my childhood and she gave it to me with a sweet message. When I was very young, I would ring our doorbell at the house and my mother would very patiently come answer the door and ask who was there. I was always someone else but one of my favorites was Little Miss Red Riding Hood. No matter how many times I rang that doorbell, she would answer. I still remember doing it to this day and I was only 4 years old at the time. It was our special game to play together!

A cross stitched greeting I made about 11 years ago...

A new find this year. Vintage signs...

A real Victorian print I found in a market in London...

An old parchment picture with a cute poem about Santa which I set each year by our woodstove. This was one of the last Christmas gifts I received from my sister and I love it! I had fun making the poinsettias arrangement this year which is in a small doll's sleigh.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My MUST SEE tip in Brugge...

I have shown this shop after my last trip to Brugge in August. This is a must see shop in the city! It is just THE best shop. The shop is called 'De Binnentuin' and is a treat for the eyes before you ever enter...

As you approach the shop during the holiday season, the outside is draped in green swags and pretty white lights. As with any season of the year, you really must look at all the window displays before even going indoors. This is a real joy and the windows stretch all the way around the corner of the building.

Just look at all the beautiful things they have for the festive season.....

Don't forget to click the photos so you can enlarge them and really see the details.

You are greeted in this shop by the two owners who really have a great flair for how to put things together. They make the floral arrangements you see in the photos themselves. We arrived to hear they felt it was very chaotic in the shop as they were in the middle of putting out some of the new holiday items but we found it to be so pretty as usual. Jos laughed as he says I say that also when I am in the middle of being creative with my decorating. He says it might seem chaotic but to others it looks wonderful. I guess I can now see what he means when I do the same thing.

I must admit that I went into the shop this time with a goal in mind. I bought four very pretty frames to use for some miniature portraits and was very fixated on that goal. I now look at these photos myself and think why did I not look more closely as a number of items. *Sigh*

Everywhere you look there are 'rooms' made up through the arrangement of furniture and vignettes. I could live in this shop. I did not take photos everywhere and there is just so much more to see.

I find so much inspiration of how to use the items I even already have with sometimes buying items to go along with these things. It is truly an amazing place to shop. If you are ever in Brugge, do stop by and see all the wonderful things. In the meantime, I hope you may find some holiday inspiration from the photos!