Dear friends,

I came home today to the best stack of mail, ever!

First, there was a sweet and thoughtful handwritten letter from my CupKate . . . the kind that makes a mother’s heart melt and that somebody will no doubt find after I die amongst my most treasured keepsakes.

Then, there was a typed form letter from the Missouri Department of Revenue. Magpie Quilts is legit! I have a tax ID number and am finally authorized to do bidness in the Show Me State.

<Picture me here doing a spot-on Steve Martin/Navin Johnson impression after the phone book arrives in The Jerk. “I”m somebody now! Things are going to start happening to me now!”>

As I have a habit of reading the mail over dinner, I very nearly did the happy dance over my plate of Mr. Mom’s homemade spaghetti. For a day of the week that normally produces little to cheer over, this Monday kicked boo-tay.

So here’s the deal: I finished a new quilt last week. And because it doesn’t make sense to mail my quilts one at a time to my cousin in Oklahoma, I’m going to post it for sale here. If none of my 47 faithful and 13 random readers are interested, I’ll ship it off to my bidness partner after I finish two or three more and the shipping cost is worth it. (Yes, I’m going to keep saying bidness through this entire post. I’m sorry. Chalk it up to Government-Stamp-of-Approval giddiness.)

By the way, I’m still thinking about opening an Etsy Shop for Magpie Quilts, as a friend suggested I might develop a Missouri following who will be disappointed that my creations are only available in Oklahoma. (I realize she was probably just being nice, but I’m willing to run with it.) Anyway, it’s going to be a while before I can make that happen for a variety of reasons mostly related to not enough time in the day.

So here it is folks . . . Listen hard and you can hear the drum roll reverberating in my head.

Sunday in the Park (Strawberry Jam, #2 in a series) — $125.


A picnic basket. A shady spot under an oak tree. And a soft and colorful quilt on which to stretch out and spend a lazy afternoon with your sweetheart. These are the elements of a relaxing Sunday in the park, and Magpie Quilts’ latest design creates the perfect landing spot for your next outdoor excursion.

Strawberry Jam is the second in a series of Sunday in the Park quilts. It is made from 100% cotton fabric and features cheery and modern prints, with a touch of old-fashioned gingham. The front is an expanse of whole cloth featuring pink “berries,” punctuated by a column of multi-colored geometric and floral patterns.  The back features four large panels of pink gingham with window-frame sashing made from the primary print. The quilt is entirely hand-made — pieced, quilted and bound by a single artisan in her Missouri studio — and measures 58″ X 60″, making it suitable for covering your lap as well as your picnic spot.

All Magpie Quilts are safe for the washing machine if laundered in cold water with a gentle detergent and dried on a low-to-medium setting. The batting is an 80/20 cotton-polyester blend, which gives the quilt an exceptional drape and a light weight. The quilt was made in a smoke-free environment and has been pre-washed to give it the vintage appearance of well-loved linens.

If you’re interested in Strawberry Jam or have questions about Magpie Quilts, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or email me at magpiequiltsbyjoan@gmail.com.

With gratitude {for a creative passion that is definitely lighting my fire},

Joan, who wishes to say one more time that Magpie Quilts is the brainchild of a woman who grew up in a heartland town she calls Mayberry, where catching fireflies on summer nights, sleeping under quilts hand-stitched by the local quilting bee, and sharing the bounty of a backyard vegetable patch never went out of vogue. Her quilt designs combine both vintage-inspired and contemporary fabrics in unfussy patterns that evoke a simpler time, a slower pace, and a love for the creature comforts of home.

A present in a pear bowl.

Dear friends,

Last week was grueling. I worked six straight days that each spanned 12-14 hours, leaving home before anyone else had awakened and arriving home just as my boys were bedding down.

One night I came home and found a package awaiting me on my kitchen desk. Carefully wrapped in brown paper and sent by USPS from my friend Maridel, I had a hunch what it contained. Given my schedule, though, it was yesterday morning before I even had a chance to unwrap it.

It was totally worth the wait . . . A trio of pears to complement my own (featured here), each more lovely than the last. Here’s my favorite:


It’s made from a vintage fabric kitchen calendar. It’s beautiful, and charming, and perfect in a way I never could have imagined before it landed on my counter.

Here’s all of them, in a bowl on my kitchen island as if I might wish to choose one to eat.


I couldn’t be more delighted with my quartet of stitched pears. If you’d like to know more about the artist, just click here.

With gratitude {for gifts from the atelier and from the heart},

Joan, who thinks presents made by hand and sent through the mail are a brand of 0ld-fashioned divine that can’t be matched

First I swooned. Then I stitched.

Dear friends,

While searching the internet recently for embroidery inspiration, I stumbled across this creation . . . so charming, so lovely, so startlingly original that I swooned.


Source: Etsy

For days, I was obsessed with the notion of a stuffed pear. In the same way I get obsessed with an elaborate dessert and plan it over and over again in my head, I was inspired by this delightful combination of crazy quilting, embroidery and fiber art. I was determined to replicate the design.

So I spent Saturday afternoon making a prototype. Because I had no idea if I my experiment would be a rousing success or a colossal failure, I kept it simple — where simple equals starting at 1:30 pm and finishing at 7:30 pm. So, yeah, even simple art takes time. But I was happy with the result.


I had no idea before today that six hours stitching nothing more than a pincushion (or a windowsill tchotchke) could be such a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Had I adorned my pear as lavishly as the inspiration photo, I would have spent two or three afternoons stitching. Today, I just wanted to finish. To know whether or not my fading eyesight and increasingly stiff fingers could pull off such a thing. The answer, apparently, is yes, so next time I’ll take all the time I need to bling my baby up.

Speaking of next time, I recently ducked into a flea market on my way home from work and found a vintage quilt for a song. It was terribly tattered around the edges and ripped down one side. But at $17, enough of the quilt was intact that I couldn’t pass it up, especially since the top was made from a lovely shade of faded cotton the exact color of Jadite. (If you read this post last year, you know I have a kitchen full of Jadite dishes. The serene seafoam color associated with these vintage dishes is a shade I simply can’t resist.)

I envisioned cutting up my tattered quilt for a number of craft projects, including another pear pincushion. But before I cut into my vintage treasure, I had to know I could pull it off.  Today’s prototype pear made from inexpensive fat quarters purchased at Wal-Mart gave me the courage I need to stretch my sewing wings a bit more.  Now I’ve got more designs than I can keep up with swimming through my mind, all competing for my limited weekend  crafting time.

The good news is I won’t be bored for pretty much the rest of my life.

With gratitude {for my kickin’ new sewing machine, limitless inspiration, and enough spare time to pursue my textile dreams vigorously},

Joan, who thinks the internet is the coolest thing ever for crafters and is especially grateful to the lovely people who post free patterns and tutorials like this one

The pretty thing.

Dear friends,

I promise after this post I’ll retire the naming convention of “The+adjective+thing” for my headlines.

It’s just that I had a bunch of stuff in my brain — all of which has been swirling around for more than a week and some of which I plucked out here and there and plopped down in a post. And I promise this is the last of that bunch.

Although I want to reiterate, as a thing, what I’m talking about today is very pretty.

But I guess by now you know I love pretty things.

Anyway, here’s a photo of my dining room I took about a year ago.

I have despised the dining room light fixture since the first day I toured the house in January 2011. The previous owners had a pool table in this space (guess they weren’t high on dining), so that sorta explains the billiards-appropriate light fixture even if it doesn’t explain the cheap, fake-brass approach to lighting up a room.

It’s shocking, really, that I lived with this monstrosity for more than a year, especially given how quickly I tackled the other eyesores in this house. (Anybody remember the awful blue Formica counter tops?)

Problem was, my house is contemporary. And I’ve never lived in a contemporary home, so all my stuff is not. Even though I’m learning to like the contrast of antique/vintage furniture in a contemporary home, I have been stumped on the lighting front.

Which way do I go? Vintage? Modern? Something in between?

I’m not kidding you when I say I’ve looked at thousands of chandeliers over the last year. I considered everything from starkly modern ones . . .

To something with a little mid-Century flair . . .

To something far more traditional (but with a twist) . . .

And part of the puzzle is that I’m cheap. I found chandeliers that, as Goldilocks would say, were just right, but they cost upwards of two grand.  So finding something I liked AND that was in my price range ($500 or less) was one tough assignment.

In the end, I decided the room was busy enough that I didn’t want a light fixture that made a statement. Something simple, something not too heavy, something with decent wattage for a big room, something not too modern but not too traditional was what I searched for. And I finally found it at Ballard Designs. Take a look:

I think it’s even prettier up close.

The white finish of this light fixture helps it recede against the white walls of the room. Given that my dining room is open to my living room — which means there’s a lot going on in a big space — I found this to be especially important. Better yet, the jute-wrapped shades bring a little warmth and earthiness to the decor and also match the jute rug in the living room (which, unfortunately, you can’t see in these photos but is visible in this post if you’re curious).

Ballards’ white coral chandelier is a knock-off of an insanely expensive designer version that’s been photographed in some very chi-chi rooms. I love a good knock-off and even though coral is hot right now, I also think it’s classic enough to last a good long while.

I’m getting very close to finishing up what I envisioned when we purchased this house. I still need two major light fixtures (one for the master bedroom and one for the den) and a couple of lesser ones (for the laundry room and the back hall), one more window treatment, and a couple of rugs, but I’m getting there.

And we all know getting there is most of the fun.

With gratitude {for the convenience of online shopping and a very handy man who tackles my honey-dos},

Joan, who’s not ashamed to say she’s mad for twinkly lights and always has some wrapped around her buffet mirror, which you might have noticed in the last photo and which she considers another very pretty thing