Monthly Archives: March 2024

Liberty of London Nine Patch Quilt – FINISHED!


Hello Farmgirl Friends! Do you remember the Liberty Nine Patch Quilt that I started almost two years ago? Normally I am a quick finisher… I do not do well with unfinished projects. But that quilt required more (expensive) Liberty fabrics and more time than I had energy for (smile!) so I literally put it away. (Knowing that if I left it in sight it would drive me crazy!)


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So nice to meet you!

Hi to all the Farmgirl friends, I’m Mary and I’m so excited to be able to join the other Farmgirl Bloggers as your Rural Farmgirl!  

Welcome to my corner of the world…a small farm in Ohio built in 1864. Originally a 160-acre cattle and sheep farm, as time passed it became a dairy farm, and then a horse farm. Now it’s home to goats and chickens, and with any luck, someday a pretty Jersey milk cow!

I was born and raised here in the Midwest, and much of that time was spent at my grandmother’s home. I have sweet memories of a little white house beside a grassy hill, bordered on one side by fragrant lilacs, with a meandering creek nearby. The woods along the top of the hill offered endless places to explore during the days, and each night the song of the whippoorwills would sing us to sleep. My grandmother tended a large garden and made the most wonderful bread and rolls. In early fall, rows of canning jars were lined up, each filled with the summer’s harvest such as dilly green tomatoes, bread & butter pickles, and hot peppers. Even though I spent most of my growing-up years in the suburbs, her country home always holds a special place in my heart.

Fast forward, a few years after college I was working in a bustling downtown city, when one day I stepped outside to clear my mind. It was then I spotted a single flower growing in a broken section of concrete. Somehow, in the shadows of the high-rise buildings and noisy surroundings, this lovely flower was blooming. That sharp contrast was all I needed, it was time for a change.

It was in that hectic corporate world that I first discovered MaryJanesFarm. A friend shared a copy of the Artists in Aprons issue and immediately I was hooked. There it was in writing: Farmgirl isn’t so much a place, as it is a frame of mind – no matter where we are, we can be connected to solid values and things we love. I kept that in mind while I began to dream. 

Still holding onto those memories of my grandmother’s home, the search began for an old farmhouse near a small town. It seemed like endless Saturdays were spent on winding country roads looking at homes for sale. Finally, an 1864 farmhouse on 10 acres was available. Yes, it needed quite a bit of renovation, but with mahogany and red oak woodwork, I was pulled in by the craftsmanship of another time. Soon changes began – shag carpet came up and flocked wallpaper came down. While there’s still much I want to do, the uneven floors, tiny closets, and even the tree trunks in the basement that help support the main floor (yes, I’m serious!) don’t bother me. I just smile and see it as a house with “character.”  Round it out with some goats, chickens, bees, gardens, and family, then it becomes Home. 

I love simple things…old houses and wooden barns, tying on an apron for Sunday dinner, barn sales & county fairs, roadside stands, porch swings, and handed-down quilts. Most Saturday afternoons you’ll find me in the milkhouse selling baked goods, jams, and garden vegetables to friends & neighbors.  

I’m so glad to meet you! The next time you stop by you may find a new recipe, ideas for upcycling, or travel a country road with me. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll find something you enjoy and leave feeling inspired!   

Floral Fever (and a Giveaway!)

Spring has sprung for many of you, dear readers. However, in my part of the country, winter hasn’t quite let go just yet. Even if Mother Nature graces us with some early spring-like days, we usually get a cold snap around St. Patty’s Day, and nothing really starts blooming until April. I’m finding myself with a case of floral fever! 

I love flowers and floral patterns! Every room of my house has some nod to flowers and plants – be it a picture, a textile, or a plant. I think living in a cold climate makes me an even bigger fan of florals. I have lived most of my life in Connecticut, yet in my memories I can still clearly see the wildflowers in the Texas hill country from when I was small. A field of Texas wildflowers is a sight I will always miss. 

Toddler me, wildflower picking in Texas, 1970 something.
Fields of flowers, Texas hillcountry, 1970’s

Living in New England, I appreciate blooming trees and plants now even more, and especially love flowers. I look forward to my favorite flowers blooming each spring, signaling the end of winter’s rest. 

Early spring blooms will be here soon…

While I love all flowers, my favorite flowers are peonies. I just love their big, fluffy blooms that remind me of an old-fashioned petticoat.

Blooming in cooler climates, peonies have a short bloom time, and can be delicate, losing their petals in a heavy rain. Even so, the scent of a peony is Heavenly! 

One event that we look forward to each year is the Connecticut Flower and Garden show. It’s usually at the end of February, and is a sign that the end of winter is near. There are vendors of all sorts, plants, and beautiful displays. Held at the Connecticut Convention Center, it is so exciting to go up the large stairway and into the doors where it is a gardener’s proverbial candy store! This year did not disappoint.

I really loved seeing “Disney Princess” dresses created from flowers and plants.

Could that be the World’s Largest Watering Can?

We had a wonderful time at the show this year, but my most favorite booth this year was that of a local artist from Westport, Connecticut, Kerstin Rao. Her booth was so bright and happy! My daughter bought me a beautiful tote bag, featuring a stunning bouquet of peonies, as an early birthday present.

The beautiful birthday bag my daughter bought me is the perfect knitting project bag! Using my pretty floral bag makes me smile with the vivid colors and fluffy blooms so perfectly captured.

Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

Sketching all the time as a child, Kerstin Rao was known in school for her drawings. Originally from Minnesota, Kerstin moved to Kentucky when she was in the third grade, when her college-professor parents moved to the state for positions. An art major in college, when Kerstin moved to New York in the 1980’s, she realized at the time the New York City art trend was grunge and dark – the complete opposite of Kerstin, whose art was more delicate and cheerful. (Kerstin herself is a sunny breath of fresh air). Knowing she had to make a living, a sculptor friend suggested that Kerstin try teaching. She loved it from day one, and teaching became her calling. 

Using art as a way to engage and explain to her students, Kerstin was an educator for 34 years, teaching in inner-city schools, and eventually ending up in Westport, Connecticut in 1999. 

Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao, Vivid Cottage

It was during the lockdown of March 2020 that Kerstin found her second calling, creating the art that now graces her beautiful totes, tea towels and note cards.

A beautiful tea towel featuring Kerstin’s art, photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

When the Westport Farmers’ Market carefully reopened, the first thing Kerstin bought was  a beautiful fresh flower bouquet from Kristin Burrello’s Muddy Feet Flower Farm. (Her bouquets and fresh flowers are amazing)!

Looking at that first purchased bouquet in the breezeway of her home, Kerstin pulled out her sketchpad. Kerstin began sketching bouquets she purchased each week from Kristin, loving the shapes and colors. She would lose herself in drawing, leaving behind the tension and worry of the Pandemic. Kerstin says she feels she “vanished into a world of natural beauty.”

Kristin Burrello, Muddy Feet Farm, and Kerstin Rao, Vivid Cottage at the Westport Farmers Market. Photo courtesy Kerstin Rao

After posting her sketches on Facebook, Kerstin received lots of encouragement and requests for items like greeting cards, and the rest is history! Kristin’s flowers inspired her, and she helped Kerstin as a sounding board, as Kerstin left teaching in her late 50’s to become a woman business owner of Vivid Cottage. Kerstin says “bouquets are a tiny world”, and “every bouquet is a fresh opportunity for adventure as an artist.”

To me, flowers are also medicine for the soul. I’m looking forward to spring, summer and fall blooms. 

Until then, I will enjoy my bag, my flowery dresses, and other florals. And to help YOU with floral fever, I put together a little floral-themed giveaway: flowery note cards, a cute little hanging sign, flower seed packets, floral emery boards, and beautiful floral seals. One reader this month will be randomly chosen from the comments, so don’t forget to let me know that you stopped by!