Pitter-Patter Potpourri

Greetings farmgirls! Spring hasn’t sprung in our part of the country yet and I have a raging case of spring fever (an annual occurrence). I have pansies on the brain … among other things. This time of year, I always wonder if perhaps the greenhouses have any in stock yet. I should know better by now, but that doesn’t stop feverish visions. I’m afflicted with both spring fever and cabin fever, so, I’ve been trying to maintain a good mindset by doing a variety of indoor things. If you’re a feverish farmgirl too, c’mon in, have a spot of tea & sit a spell.

To begin, I’m sharing an early-bird teaser with you. For the last couple of weeks, the pitter-patter of tiny feet on my work-table has been my theme … kinda sorta. In the next MaryJanesFarm sisterhood newsletter (The Cluck), you’ll see my vintage babyshoe pinkeeps. One of them is shown above. Many more will be in the newsletter – different colors, flavors, varied embellishments etc. The Cluck offers you a ‘MaryJane ‘fix’ between issues of the hard copy MJF magazines. The Cluck newsletter is designed for MJF sisterhood members; in it you get a close-up look at what your fellow farmgirl sisters are up to. If you’d like to become an official ‘sister hen’, click here: http://www.farmgirlsisterhood.org/ Members of the farmgirl sisterhood receive the Cluck every month via email.

If you follow my blog, you may remember that my husband and I are in the middle(?) of remodeling and adding on to our 18 year old mobile home. I question the use of the word ‘middle’ because this is going to be a long drawn out affair and I fear that we are, in reality, nowhere near the actual middle. But, we are making progress!! This is a full circle project … inside & out. So, I’ve been on the hunt for decorative accents for the house as well as for the new porch and covered patio. Above and immediately below are two new acquisitions. I’ve wanted a really nice antique quilt to hang for many years and I finally found one in the colors I like (and it was affordable). This nine-patch quilt sports a lot of red and that was one of my criteria. The timeframe in which it was made was the late 1800s – maybe 1900. Then, I got lucky and found another from the same era. It is in very good condition and I only paid $65 for this gem!  It will get to live somewhere in the new ‘porchy family room/dining room’. And, by the way, since I last wrote to you, the walls in the porch are done. We put up beadboard paneling and they’re wearing a fresh coat of barn red paint. My dear husband has the wiring done and he mounted cove heating strips near the ceiling.

Last weekend, we picked out sheet linoleum for the porch – it looks like slate tile – in shades of gray and dark tan. It won’t show dirt and that is important since this room is also supposed to be a working porch as well. I politely (ok, not 100% politely) informed my favorite husband that the term ‘mudroom’ is a figure of speech. We’ll see if furrowed eyebrows and a stern tone produces the desired effect.

Ok, back to staying busy. The porch has been taking care of much of that, but my assignments usually coincide with whatever it is my husband just did or is doing. Lights are next. In the meantime, I’ve been idea hunting and making a few things. I found the cutest cabinet remnant from an old ‘New Home’ treadle sewing machine. The raised lettering on it is in a twig font and I thought it would be cute with an eclectic mix of things somewhere in the porch … maybe on a writing desk or on the antique mantel (in storage). Anyway, I wisp-brushed a little off-white paint on the letters so that they show up better. I love helping old ‘junk’ find a new life. My sister has an antique ‘orphan’ cupboard top that I think I can talk her out of. I’m thinkin’ that I’ll place it on top of one of my old tables and make a quaint writing desk center – between two old hutches.

I’m also percolating ideas for all kinds of other things (too much time spent inside, me thinks). I saw the most beautiful dried sunflower heads the other day — they sparkle!! It is so easy to do too. Just spray dried heads generously with glue and sprinkle coarse grain german glass glitter on them. Oh – My – Gosh, are they gorgeous … so pretty for fall decorating and beyond. So, now I have a whole new reason for saving some spent sunflower heads just for this purpose.

Another little goodie I want to make is a box like this – out of barnwood scraps. I especially like the branch handle. I want to use a Birch branch. This project embodies the full extent of my meager carpentry skill set. Gotta be S. I. M. P. L. E. Wouldn’t this gathering box be prim & pretty with evergreens and candles in it at Christmas time … and filled with other assorted ‘naturals’ for seasonal decor?

Oh, I almost forgot .. … Back in the late 1980s, when I was a young(er) woman, I fell hard for country decorating. I’d always liked it, but that was the time in my life when I came of age as a homemaker. My mother called the style “Early American” and she too loved it. From 1986 to1990, I was living in Ohio and in that general timeframe, Country decorating really came into it’s own. Also, the heartland (as it is known) is an area brimming with country charm and a wealth of old-time arts & crafts. Folkart festivals were hugely popular and my friends and I went to as many as we could that were within striking distance. As we walked to the show from where we parked, you could hear hammered dulcimer folk music dancing on the breeze. I bought very little back then because I was a young military wife on a tight budget. I drooled over the antiques that are so plentiful in that part of the country. I taught myself to make historic, old looking dolls and teddybears (from mohair) because I couldn’t afford to buy them.

Another item I hankered for (but couldn’t afford) was a hand-carved, folkart style swan ‘decoy’. I’ve always thought Trumpeter Swans are one of the most beautiful animals the good Lord ever created. And, the folkart version really appeals to me because they lend the bird’s graceful beauty to a room’s decor. I’ve looked at them over the years with the same old hanker … and then, the other day, there before me in an antique store sat one. Now, I need to say that not just any swan would do – and I wanted hand-carved wood. So many I’ve seen in the past didn’t have a nice head – the set of the eyes wasn’t right or they were too stylized or they were made of some kind of plastic composite. Yet, right before my very eyes sat a hand-carved swan that made me draw a quick breath. I almost walked past her, knowing the price would deter me … but, my hand operated independently and turned over the price tag. At last, a price I could live with! She’ll reside in the porch, maybe sit on one of my antique cupboards … and look so striking against the red wall. I’m so looking forward to fashioning a fresh wreath of berried juniper for her Christmas dressing. I can now check an old want off of my bucket list :o) How about you, is there an item that you had a longtime hankering for and then finally found ‘The One’??

I feel the need to say here that ‘things’ are just things to me, but, home is my sanctuary and I want it to feel that way. Home decor to some is a matter of going to a showroom and picking out a set. Not for me. I enjoy being surrounded by an eclectic assortment of things from our life or family history. I also find homes decorated in that manner so interesting. You don’t just stand in a home like that, you’re embraced by the personality of the home and it’s family. I am very much a home girl.

One of the other things I like to have in my home is greenery. I don’t know for a fact that the presence of green plants in a home actually promotes health, but they sure improve my mental health. I winter-over my favorite gernaniums – how I adore their deep red flowers during the long winter months. One of the plants in our home is over 50 years old. My mother, sister and I have kept my grandmother’s Angel Wing Begonia going all these years — taking slips when the plants need pruning. I don’t know where it came from originally. As a wee lassie, I played with my horse figurines under it’s pink blossoms in my grandparent’s living room. Another plant I’ve come to appreciate is a Ficus tree. It is happy all the time and so easy to care for. Makes me feel like I have some outside inside.

One of the sewing projects I want to pursue further is pillow cases (bedding size). They are so easy and much prettier than storebought. I like to mix & match sheets and bedding. Here’s my first attempt at pillow case design — featured in last month’s MJF Cluck newsletter. You can get the directions by becoming a ‘sister’. For these, I paired a historic reproduction homespun plaid with a Tasha Tudor print (currently available).

This afternoon, my hens came around for a hand-out. I give them old bread, sunflower hearts, table scraps or a handful of dried meal worms for goodies. In the summer, they can forage for all kinds of things, but this time of year is slim pickins’ for forage-loving chickens. They found a nice sunny spot near the haystack and some dry dirt to dust in. You’ll find nothing more content than a hen sunning herself after a good dust bath :o) I sat on a bale, soaked up some sun and enjoyed watching them. We are all ready for spring.

Our horses are still turned out at the ranch (for the winter). Soon, we’ll bring them in as we get closer to calving in mid-April; that is when we start the riding season. Here is my golden girl, “Ribbon”. I think the photo was taken in early May. Sigh, I’m sooooooo ready for green.

I think the reason people adopt an Irish heritage for St. Patrick’s day has something to do with folks being sick & tired of winter. St.Patty’s day emphasizes GREEN. We’re all hungry for green this time of year when the earth is so drab, dirty and dead looking. Yck. The ice and snow that is left is also filthy. So, you know what color I’ll be wearing soon. I’m going to have my farmgirl sisters down for a bit of the blarney too … with a theme of green, ‘natch. I planted two pots of Shamrocks a month ago in hopes that they might be blooming for one of my farmgirl pals whose birthday is on the holiday.

Until next time, I hope you find ways to ease your own spring fever. What I wouldn’t give for a deep, lingering whiff of a hyacinth in bloom!!

  1. cora jo ciampi says:

    Shery, Yes, the re-do is an on-going, eternal (so it feels) project. We laid a "tile" (read that peel and stick) floor in the kitchen. Looks great. After reading comments left by other sisters last blog, I realize one of us needs to write a book about transforming trailers. Hmmm! Since we got snow here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire last night, I too am ever so ready for Spring. I saw my Daffodils were attempting to stick there little noses out of the dirt and I begged them to wait! sigh. Life is good, none the less. enjoy!

  2. Hyacinths are in bloom here in Tennessee so I’ll take a nice whiff for you! they are the best. I always love your posts, keep up the great work!


    Thanks Denise! Just knowing that SOMEone is enjoying hyacinths makes me feel closer to spring.  Shery

  3. Carol says:

    What a great blog today! I absolutely love the baby shoe pincushions! Oh my, I can’t wait to see the other versions!
    Your new quilts are lovely – plain and simple! You find great things and have wonderful taste. I thoroughly enjoyed everything you talked about today. I, too, cannot wait to finally see some color. Spring, in Pennsylvania, is right around the corner, I think. This morning I saw our neighbors daffodils and they are blooming! Yippie!

  4. Nancy says:

    Whew! Decorating can be both tiring and invigorating! What a great find in your quilt!

    It’s greening up here in Tennessee with a few tiny blossoms on the blueberries. I hope you see a little color soon!


  5. Oh Shery,
    I too find my self gravitating to warm sunny spots (like your hens do, lol!) and to bold colors,,, I am sooo over ‘white’ everywhere I look or go! Not to mention Cold!
    I grow violets in my home because they bloom for me even in the dead of Winter…. I bring in potted geraniums & azaleas for the Winter, and mine have been blooming for the past 3 weeks! :>)
    Hang in there, have fun & keep us informed as to the goings on at the Jespersen Ranchero ( & your wee trailer too!).

  6. Debbie says:

    Howdy Shery!
    I can tell by your post, you are in a fever alright…Spring is a time of awakening and I’d say you are bright eyed and bushy tailed! You are so talented with your sewing projects! Looking at all you do with needle and thread, ( and baby shoes ) makes me yearn for the hum of my machine purring along… but like you, so many other things are calling me right now! I just love your new/old quilts for decorating your newly designed spaces. Bright, cheery colors sure to ease next winters blahs! Your swan story brought a tear to my eye. You had patience and you found " the one "! Yay! You asked if there was something I had been yearning for that has found me. I’d say my china cabinet is right up there. But, there’s still something I pine away for! My very own HORSE! Someday!!!:) As always, I so enjoy your words, images and the way you live from your heart and so easily share it with us.
    Much love,
    Your Beachy Sister in the East!

    Some people are gifted with saying the nicest things…and you’re one of ’em. I’ll help you hold on to the dream of having your own hayburner. I know what it is to wait for that specific dream too. I began riding at age 3 and from then on I was in the saddle more than not until I was about 13. We moved due to Dad’s career and for many years afterward I waited … through my teen years and then the years of being a young adult unable to afford owning a horse. Eventually, the good Lord worked with the winds of change in my life and finally He was in a position to answer a threadbare heart-prayer. He does work in mysterious ways and bringing ‘the desires of your heart’ to fruition pleases Him. If it were not so, He wouldn’t have said so in His word. Hang on to your heart-prayer with both reins :o) Be assured, He hears. Love you my too far away kindred spirit farmgirl pal.   Shery

  7. Deb Esposito says:

    I too have been on the hunt for some pansies to sit on the windowsill and just smile! I guess we’ll have to wait a few more weeks 🙁

  8. bonnie ellis says:

    Minnesota is having record warm weather (for winter). For St. Patrick’s Day they are predicting 60’s and 70s. Say Happy Birthday to your friend. Our 50th wedding anniversary is that day too. Everyone can celebrate with us. Green is the color of spring and I too am really needing it to be here. Easter colors are my favorites and that comes so early this year. To us 40 is warm and we can’t wait to be outside. Warm weather is coming soon. I don’t know if I can wait! Love your blogs sister farmgirl.

  9. Jan says:

    Hi Sheri, What a great find you got with your quilts, they are really pretty! Are you going to hang them for decoration? Your babyshoe pinkeeps are adorable, you are sooo talented with your sewing!! You have a great eye for color and fabrics and putting things together!! I love the picture of your Ribbon, she is beautiful!! My golden boy isn’t very golden right now, he has been enjoying rolling in the mud!! The swan is very pretty, so glad that you were able to find just what you had been wanting. Well worth the wait. Sounds like your remodeling is coming along nicely, love that you chose barn red for your porch. That is one of my favorite colors too. Well, the crocus & hyacinths are blooming here in KS and my daffodils are up and getting nice big buds on them. With the warmer temps, hopefully they will bloom this next week. Yay! I am decorated for St Patty’s Day, all in Kelly Green – love that rich green color. I do have something on my bucket list that has been there for a long time and that is to have a few chickens….hopefuly someday. 🙂 Happy Spring to you Shery


    Jan,  Thank you so much for the friendly feedback :o) Yes, the red patchwork quilt is hanging my hallway where the sun cannot reach it. I’m shamrock green with envy that your spring flowers are springing. Everything here is still fast asleep with no real thaw yet. I’ll help you hold onto your dream having some hens and fresh eggs to gather. I do love them so.   shery

  10. Jan says:

    Thank you! Thank you! I have always been saddened when I run across little worn baby shoes at estate sales. Now I know that I can re-purpose them and they will have a loving home. My mom saved my brother’s ‘PF CANBUS’ (that was what he called them – so cute – also know as PF Fliers canvas)shoes and also a couple of pairs of my baby slippers. Now I just have to do something with them!
    My hubby just brought home a darling Singer sewing machine and it’s frame from a junk pile on a job site. He is making me a table for our dutch oven cooking (when you do it outside with charcoal )out of the frame. The sewing machine has the most wonderful green and orange patterns. I will be using it in my sun room as part of my green accents, perhaps. Sometimes I just can’t believe what people throw away!!!

    I feel so blessed that I have came in contact with all of the MaryJane gang and their abilities to creatively re-purpose and re-use older treasures. Can’t wait for your pics of the finished projects!


    Jan, what a lucky goil you are. One woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure!  shery

  11. Terry Harp says:

    I so enjoy your posts. Your ideas inspire me and I just love your down to earth attitude. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us each month.

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