Monday, December 26, 2011

Pretty ~ pretty

Several months ago I found an enterprising blog packed full with creative idees and information. One in particular stood out from the crowd. Who wouldn't love making pretty tapes in a variety of sizes and widths.
The blog is called "Just something I made." Click here to visit the cute blog. I love the fact Cathe, the blog creator offers sources to purchase the items needed to make your own pretty, pretty tapes.
The tapes would be a fun winter craft project, I think.


Jill 00

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Vintage Christmas Aprons

I absolutely love this! If you're fortunate to have a vintage Christmas apron collection then why the heck wouldn't you show them off? Honestly, I see no logical reason why you would NOT!
How Calico Cute is this? Love the red and white. Two of my favorite colors when decorating. The gingham wall covering is to die for! It could have been too much, but the creator of this darling Calico kitchen has perfected the look with just the right amount of white trims, counters and appliances, Perfect, with a capital P,  I say! New decorating term, "Cutie Patootie!"

Happy Christmas!


Jill McDowell 00

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nosegay oh Nosegay where can you be?

A Calico favor to ask my readers... Have you seen this nosegay fabric? I purchased a few yards at a local fabric store a couple of years ago and have been on the search for the posy textile ever since!
I've searched high and low online but no luck finding this pattern.

The nosegay was the perfect choice for these handmade Calico's. Love mixing the blossoms with gingham.

The search continues...


Jill 00

Monday, December 5, 2011

♥ Soulful Gift

My friend Julie gave me this hand painted vintage jar for Christmas a couple of years ago. The jar was filled with an array of old ric-rac, trims and baubles and such. It was a joy to go through the jar exploring what its contents were.

I now store vintage notions and millinery flowers in the darling bluebird jar. I proudly perched her upon a shelf in the studio. Every time I look at the jar a smile appears on my face. What a thoughtful gift my friend gave to me.

Running some idees before you...

A vintage glass jar filled with baubles and bows, such a delightful soulful idee to give as a gift during the holiday season.


Jill 00

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pretty Little Coasters

I'm trying to sneak in this handmade post. The recipient reads Bittersweet blog but I don't think she comes to Calico Petals.
Making these pretty little cloth coasters for her for Christmas. Easy to pull togerther and sew, minus the ric-rac and trims. They are a bit finicky to add.
I'm sewing an assortment of six. Two each of the same swatch and trims.
I think they will fit in with the other handmade gifts I'm making this year. Cocoa and homemade marshmallows, herbal vinegar, cranberry chutney, toffee, Scottish shortbread, and maybe if I have time some "hot pads" as my grandma would say.

If you want to try your hand at making the coasters. Cut a four inch square of two matching fabrics. Then cut another four inch square of interfacing. I had thin interfacing on hand so I tripled the cut. Insert trim or ric-rac in the inside and make sure two fabrics are front to front, place interfacing on top of one and carefully sew around the edges making sure you attach the layers. Turn inside out and poke corners with something sharp making sure not to tear corners. Sew a running stitch along all four finished sides.


Jill 00

Friday, November 11, 2011

Printing on paper bags

photo courtesy of Pinterest
A friend added a tutorial picture on Pinterest on how to print on paper bags. I'm a seasoned print on whatever I can stick in my printer kind of girl. Fabric, heavy card stock and a number of other things have slipped through my printers over the years.

I must warn you. Depending on the type of ink jet printer you may have considers whether the job shall be daunting or simple and sweet.

I print every day with the operation of my business and have found over the years that some printers accept foreign objects better than others. I've found the inexpensive printers actually perform better than the more expensive ones.  There's really no way to know if your printer is going to print on other things than paper unless you try it!
Sometimes you have to help push the object though so that it won't get caught and stuck.
I was using smaller paper bags that I purchase from a wholesale supplier and found the smaller bags would not allow me to feed through the printer without getting stuck and then I would have to pull them out. I do however believe a regular sized paper bag would be easier to maneuver.

Give it a try and let others no how it works for you.

Jill 00


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Trimming with Doilies...

I've been adding doilie accents to my gift packaging. Seriously, who doesn't like a doilie? Last year for Christmas I made homemade cocoa and marshmallows and embellished the packaging with small round doilies. The recipients seemed to appreciate the gesture and the doilies added just the right touch.
Recently, I had a customer that ordered small containers of lavender laundry powders to be given as hostess gifts at an event. Once again, I incorporated the use of doilies.

So the next time you're wrapping gifts include a paper doilie.

Jill 00

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Natural Wood

Although I'm fond of white washed furniture I'm equally fond of wood in its natural state. The picture above emphasises how mixing textures with a touch of modern retro and natural wood compliments each another in a modest way. The table becomes a focal point in the basic design. I prefer clean lines in decorating.
My home is filled with vintage wood pieces. Most of which have been passed down from generation to generation. For instance, the pie safe you see in this picture once sat in my Great Grandmothers kitchen. I can only imagine the variety of pies she baked and placed in the hutch to cool. The young children would probably sneak a chair and climb up to trial the treat by poking a finger through the flaky homemade crust as they anxiously awaited a piece of their own.

What about you? Do you like old furniture in its natural state?


Jill 00

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Herbal Vinegars as gifts...

You may have traveled here by way of Bittersweet Soap blog. If you did this is the homemade gift idee that I wanted to share with my readers. If you jaunt over to Bittersweet you'll see the other ones. 
Years ago I purchased pretty glass bottles and made herbal vinegar to give as gifts. The bottled vinegar was well received.
It's a fun easy gift to make but you will need to begin the process now for it to be ready by Christmas.
I'm going to purchase gallon size containers of vinegar and then add my herbs. I'll allow the mixture to season and brew a couple of months and then pour into glass vessels. I'll probably label them with contents and tie raffia or ribbon around the stem. If I have time I'll share some pdf vinegar labels with you. 

I purchased this book a long time ago when I became interested in the idee.
You really don't need a special book though to make herbal vinegar.
I'm picking rosemary, basil and parsley from my garden and then adding gourmet garlic I purchased from my friend Peg, (aka garlic lady.)

Did you know there are tons of varieties? I like the spicy hot ones to put in vinegars. I also prefer hard neck garlics over soft neck. Most supermarket garlics are soft neck variety.

If you don't have access to gourmet garlic, store bought garlic is just fine to use.
The herbal vinegar blend is a wonderful staple to have on hand. It's herbal infusion may be used to make special salad dressings and marinades.
Jill 00 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Drying Hydrangea's

I posted a tutorial on Bittersweet's blog about how to dry hydrangeas. I have received a number of requests for the information.

Jill 00

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sundries & Haberdasher

I just launched a new Etsy shop called Sundries & Haberdasher.
You may remember how I offered a  few vintage items on Calico Petals blog.
Realizing how much time it takes to list new items every week, I decided the least time consuming venue would be Etsy!
Seriously, who doesn't like Etsy?
Sundries & Haberdasher will offer unique one of a kind items such as packaging, merchandise pieces, sundries and haberdasher notions.
Most items offered were or used in my shop.
Since I've been a shop owner for over fourteen years, I have a large loot!

If you're interested in something particular, drop me a line. Most likely I have what you're looking for within my collection.

00 Jill

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Applesauce

I remember growing up watching my grandma Lola make homemade applesauce. I'm certain if my grandmother were still around she'd have already picked her plump juicy apples in anticipation of making a large bowl of the sweet Autumn treat. 
I also remember right after she cooked and prepared the apples and added the perfect amount of cinnamon and sugar to the naturally sweet fruit she would spoon me a bowl of the delicious warm treat. 
Sometimes she would add a few drops of red coloring and make it pink.
The pink applesauce always seemed to taste better than the plain colored one!

Grandma Lola owned a cafe for many years in small town America. Lola's Cafe.
Although I was too young to remember those restaurant days friends and family stories have been kindly passed down as well as pictures of my dad as a young boy sitting at the counter with his best friend. My grandma and grandpa are in the background.

grandma Lola and Grandpa Homer
my dad and his best friend

Homemade Applesauce
a recipe from the internet
I would increase apples. Doesn't seem that this would make too much.


4 apples - peeled, cored and chopped

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1.In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.


Monday, September 19, 2011

painted floors

Have you ever considered painting your wood floors or linoleum? Maybe they're in less than perfect condition and you would like a cost effective way to spruce them up. I would suggest painting them!
It takes little time, more prep work than anything, and the finished result should have you smiling.
 First you need to decide on whether you want an all over color or a specific design.

Designs take a bit more time, but worth it. All over floor painting can go pretty quick.
Start with an enamel paint. Depending on the color you choose, you may need to apply more than one coat of paint. Allow the freshly painted floor to dry completely, usually 24 hours is recommended and then apply 3 to 4 coats of varnish. If you want a shiny floor like the picture above you will need to apply a high gloss varnish. If you prefer a more satin finish then you need to cover with a satin or matte varnish.
After you've applied the varnish, allow to dry for another 24 hours.
Place a fan on the completed floor to speed up the process.

Painting old wood floor white is one of my favorites.
If done correctly, they will last for many years to come.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Calico Kitchen

Someday in addition to the calico cookbook I'd like to publish a "Calico Kitchen" idee book. The books pages would be filled with charming calico's and gingham's like the picture above. A different take on the norm you see nowadays in all the magazines. An original Calico Kitchen.
Color pallets of pink, green and blue would suffice with floral touches here and there.

White washed wood floors and floral motif wall covering would fit the bill.
Vintage appliances similar to this one.

When I dream of my Calico Kitchen those thoughts come to mind.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Autumn Packaging

I've had a recent obsession lately with faux wood idees.
Recently I stumbled upon a nifty crafty blog that had the cutest gift wrap idee.

I'm making every attempt in between soap production and open house preperation to get ahead of the seasons and share some of the great tutorials and autumn recipes recently discovered.

Check out Bugs & Fishes and check out the wonderful tuturorial on how to achieve the faux wood packaging.

Jill 00

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting you in the mood even more!

It's almost apple picking time!
Seems an appropriate time to share with you my apple dumpling recipe.
This recipe is the old-fashioned one with real thick gooey caramel sauce drizzled over the dumpling, YUMMY!
Easy to make too. Takes a little while to prepare the dough but worth it, I believe to serve this special autumn treat to family and friends.

Amish Apple Dumplings 8 servings

Prep: 40 minutes

Bake: 45 minutes

Cook: 14 minutes

Cool: 10 minutes

Stand: 10 minutes


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups shortening

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon vinegar

8 small cooking apples (about 2 pounds)

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2/3 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup butter, cut up

2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup whipping cream


1. For pastry: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. In a small bowl, combine egg, the 1/4 cup cold water and vinegar. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture until all of the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. (Dough will be slightly sticky.)

2. Divide dough in half. Turn one portion dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll to form a 12x12-inch square. Using pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut into four 6-inch squares.

3. Peel and core 4 apples. Place an apple on each pastry square. Fold corners to center over apple. Pinch edges to seal. Place dumplings in a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Repeat with remaining pastry and apples.

4. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown. Cool at least 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, for caramel sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, 2/3 cup whipping cream, and corn syrup. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Transfer to a bowl; cover and set aside to cool slightly. Makes 8 servings.

6. To serve, in a chilled small bowl, whip 1/3 cup cream to soft peaks. Serve warm dumplings with caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Monday, August 8, 2011

summer and then...

The original plan was to offer my collection of vintage prop items once used for displays in Bittersweet shop.
All too often plans get tossed to the side simply because there's so much going on in our lives.
Design work and Bittersweet Soap takes up most of my day.
If I'm not making soap, I'm designing web sites and logo's for clients.
I know, I know, lucky girl! I really do count my blessings each and every day!
The plan of sharing those vintage goods has been placed on the back burner for awhile until further notice.
Autumn is my busiest time of year and preparation's have already been put into place to get ready for the holiday season.
It's always exciting at Calico and Bittersweet around the holidays. We host a holiday open house and our signature scents of the season premier both on the web site and studio.

Calico Petals blog posts will be going back in time reflecting on the real life stories that unfold. Possibly down the road, we will begin listing our vintage goods again, but for now it's business as usual. Well, if you're familiar with Bittersweet or Calico and are an avid reader you know business as usual is what we do best!

I'm really looking forward to fall!

Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Welcome to Calico Petals
Extended summer break until Autumn

I have been a shoppe owner for over 14 years.
My vintage collection offers a variety of items that were once used as merchandise props or displays mostly.

The vintage goods available are a calico blend of essentials some quite rare while other's more common, but nevertheless your choices range from cute, shabby, cottage, prairie and antique.

Each piece that I offer holds a special place in my vintage loving heart, but having said, there is no way I can keep everything! My lower level of my home also functions as a studio and merchandising area and the space is small so every little inch matters. It brings comfort to know that each treasured piece I offer will find a lovely new home!

This is how it works...
Each week I will add new pieces to the offering. An individual item will remain on the blog for 1 week only and will display final showing date below the item. After that, it will no longer be available.

I have installed Pay Pal buttons for ordering and shipping charges are added into the price of each item.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Happy Hunting!


Jill 00

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vintage offerings coming soon

Calico Petals will soon be offering vintage wares for sale.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I've been putting together these inspire boards. Why? For inspiration of course!
Enjoy caring and sharing days.
Jill 00

Monday, January 31, 2011

For everyone who wished we'd get lots of snow this winter. Your wish has come true threefold! A powerful blizzard is soon to move through Calico Petals and I'm beginning to wish and yearn for an early spring!
Thoughts of lavender and butterflies, forget me not and lush green grass linger in my mind.

Indoor spring thoughts are taking shape at the studio regardless of the snowy landscape outside.

Spring always brings fresh ideas and creations and is my favorite time at Bittersweet and Calico.

Those pondering thoughts of colorful blooms and pretty flutter bugs will be confined to indoors. Bittersweet's new spring line, "Botanical Blooms" is sprouting and it's roots are boldly escaping their boundaries! I can't wait to put it all together!

Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.

Jill 00

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

♥ Heart Felt Thoughts about Handmade...

This is the busy production time of year for both Calico and Bittersweet. It's also my favorite time. After Christmas, I begin working on new spring creations for both small handmade companies.

It feels as though my winters have been spent creating forever. In fact, I can't recall when I didn't entertain the idea. I guess 14 years of making stuff for a living would be considered a long period of time. I am very fortunate to have such a soulful occupation. I try to count my blessings each and every day.

I was thinking the other day about how I've always been so easily bored doing the same thing. I have never had a long attention span. Although I'm kind of doing the same thing, creating the new spring lines. I never get bored  because I'm allowed to design new ones!

I began to think about how each year I contemplate the ideas and how I employ and implement each one.

A considerable amount of time goes into marketing of each item as well as packaging.
In fact, packaging, presentation and marketing are definitely the top three ingredients for making or breaking your sales.

Everything I make needs to stand out from the crowd, so to speak. Price points are also important.  Depending where you live, pricing can be tricky. I live in the Midwest.
I became more aware of price points after owning a shop for 5 years.

Living in the Midwest does have its downfalls when it comes to selling handmade.
Handmade just hasn't gotten the respect it deserves in my part of the world. Those are personal thoughts, but ones I believe to be true from experience.
So, how do you combat such nonsense? What are some tricks from the trade?

I would say the top three components in running a successful handmade business must include the following.

Passion, No 1
Persistence, Always
Perseverance, Never give up, EVER!
There are going to be times you think you should, but that is when you should begin seriously thinking about not quitting.
I forgot a very important component!
Always listen to those little voices and trust your judgment. If you make a wrong move, which you will, then you learn from that experience and move on. Don't dwell on it.

The experience will help you to make wiser decisions on down the road.

There you have it. My personal advise for running a successful handmade business.

Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.

Jill 00

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vintage Valentine

I'm sharing some vintage Valentine love on my big sister blog, Bittersweet.
Enjoy caring and sharing days.

Jill 00

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vintage February

Advertising postcards Bittersweet Cottage Design created for Aggieal's Attic Vintage Boutique.
A vintage sale offering 50% off! Oh my!
Here's a little peek into Aggieal's boutique.

Yes, I agree, sweet vintage indeed!
Enjoy caring and sharing winter days.


Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one

Monday, January 10, 2011

For the love of snow and an established neighborhood...

If you have visited Bittersweet blog then you know that this is my neighbors beautiful estate across the street.
We've lived in our home for 22 years and during that long time period so has Mrs. P., the owner of the stately old house.
When we first moved to our 1921 home most of our neighbors were elderly. Now they have passed and new occupants have moved in with the exception of Mrs. P.
Her home is always picture perfect in the snow. She has Bittersweet growing along her fence in front that I admire each Fall. A fruit cellar and carriage house that sits on the acreage, all lovely and admired from across the street.

Today I'll enjoy making a large pot of gumbo. I don't use a recipe, but in case you want to make some this is the ingredients I have used to make it for many years.

Cook whole preferably organic chicken in large stock pot until done. Do not discard broth, save for gumbo. While chicken is cooking in another pan, pour 2 - 3 T. of peanut oil in pan and add 3'4 cup of diced celery, onion, green pepper 2 cloves garlic.
Saute those ingredients for 5 minutes.
When chicken is done, de-bone and return to broth. Add sauteed veggies and garlic.
Pour in 1 can stewed tomatoes and organic chicken broth if you like lots of broth.
Add, 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, dash pepper.
Cook on low covered for two hours or more. Add okra, I use a large bag.
Allow to cook for another hour or so. When ready to eat add two cups of cooked rice, brown or white, your choice.
Serve with crusty garlic bread.

Jill 00
Two hugs are most always better than one

Friday, January 7, 2011

If you read Bittersweet's blog then you'll know how I recently changed the look of my living room and fireplace mantle. You will also know the oval picture above is an actual photo of my great grandmother's family as well as my second cousins great grandmother.
I am so very blessed to have a collection of these old photographs and treasure each and every one of them.
I'm now on the hunt for two small antique mirrors to hang on each side of the picture, creamy to match the look and add cohesiveness.
I've also put in a request to my carpenter husband to build enclosed book cases on each side of the fireplace.
Finally, my book collection in one handy place. I will love that and I'm so very excited to have it.
He has however informed me that we have a number of home projects that take priority over the cabinets, one being the painting of our vintage home. We were planning on painting last year, but somehow it got away from us and we postponed it to this year.
Our home is not an easy home to paint. It's 1920 stucco and the home itself stands over 40 feet in two sides.
Luckily for my husband I'm not afraid of heights and can assist him in the house painting, prepping.
We have lived in our home for 22 years this February. I love my home! Although ownership of an older home automatically comes with continual maintenance. Again, luckily for my husband I have experience in most carpenter skills and enjoy the before and after of old home projects.

I have cut and layed quarter round trim around hard wood floors that we did ourselves, messy by the way, the re-do of wood floors. Knocked out walls, kind of fun, hung sheet rock, not my favorite thing, the mudding and taping, yuk! Installed new cabinets, ceiling to counter, painted the exterior many many times, and too the interior almost as often as I change clothes. Cut and placement of new cedar molding around exterior windows, new storms. The list goes on and on.... The painting,,,
Always go back to neutral colors it seems.
We've installed new dishwasher, furnace, air conditioner, gutters, hot water heater, thermostat, a new roof, driveway, major landscaping. All of which since it's been 22 years is time to start that list over!

Doing the work myself gives me a feeling of contentment and pride.
This year I hope to experience more hard work and those same feelings.
I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Enjoy caring and sharing days.
Jill 00
Two hugs are better than one


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