ALMOST TIME TO GO

We’re getting ready to go. Of course, as usual when there are kitties and springtime involved, it’s a little bittersweet, because, like this . . .  here’s what it sounded like on Martha’s Vineyard this morning . . .  MUSICA MusicaIMG_7223

Spring has sprung . . . Joe is outside planting things in the soft sunshine this very moment . . .

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My kitchen windowsill is filled with
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And the back yard is having a wedding all by itself . . . those petals fly away like confetti on every breeze . . . And the birds are singing . . .
SingingBirdstripofflowersAnd the ground is stirring . . .

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And the lawn is greening up . . .stripofflowers

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We’re in there!

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The dogwood has tiny little buds, not like this photo, right now it’s just beginning . . .

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We’re going to miss the bloom, but this is what it will look like in another couple of weeks.home

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We are preparing to leave home for two months (and believe me, we really do need this break in our normal everyday, work-at-home, butt-defining action, we are really looking forward to it!!!). We’ll be driving 8,000 miles and visiting 23 bookstores across the country . . . So my darling Joe (who has very long hair, looking extremely cute, and on his way right now to get a haircut) is loading up the van with a few extra books to bring along just in case we run out (like we did last time)!

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We’ll bring all three books with us . . . and even a few Autumn books too. (If you’re interested to see how they’re being reviewed on Amazon 😂, you can start right HERE, and may I say THANK YOU, you sweethearts who have left reviews! Your word of mouth means everything, as it always has. We still have signed copies if you need them . . . thinking, Mother’s Day .)

The FINE ROMANCE Van

And while Joe is loading everything up our trusty Fine Romance Van . . . I am doing what I always do when we go on a long trip . . . trying to figure out what to bring so I don’t bring too much . . .bathingThat’s a very old photo of me getting ready for a trip to California, trying on my Laura Ashley slip under my dress, and Joe has the camera! So right now there are piles of clothes hanging and folded all over the bedroom, everything written down as above . . . all I have left to do is to stuff it into the suitcases.suitcases  But first . . .  we should get Vanna, and THEN, after she has done her thing, I have more surprises for you . . . to take the sting out of what Vanna must now do. BTW, for you Newbies, Vanna is our in-house “random number generator,” which is what they call the function on this blog that chooses the winner. We named her Vanna because, I think you’ll agree, it is a better than “random number generator,” and has a nice flavor of game-show hostess about it. Now she Vanna's shoehas become part of the family. On “work days” we let her sleep in our Peter Rabbit Room, but normally she, being a sort of Euro-trash, satin-slipper kind of gal, is off getting her nails done or shoe shopping, or playing tennis in the south of France. She randomly generates just for us, no one else, she is ours, and we love her because she is so wonderfully dramatic and whimsical. For instance, she came downstairs just now wearing her favorite lime green lizard suit, skin-tight, shiny with scales, perfect for slithering through 3,000 tiny slips of papers with your names on them. Also, she is wearing a bathing cap covered in tiny pink rubber points. What a picture! She took the Silver in the 2004 Olympics for the high dive, which she still does exquisitely. She is now poised like a luna moth on tip toes, standing on the very edge of my art table, UP she goes, swan like, perfect orange fingernails streaking down like flames into the vat of names . . . and we wait, while the game show theme plays . . . and we remind ourselves of the lovely parting gifts . . .

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There will be three winners, and each of them will get a complete set of books,  “the trilogy” (signed by the author, better known as Friend Of Vanna), PLUS a stubby overworked pencil, a used up paintbrush, and bookmark made from my paint blotter paper, all exquisitely drenched in the DNA of kitties, lavender tea with milk and honey, a few deep winters and crackling fires, and many, many daydreams .

xEach of our lucky winners will also get a package of wisteria seeds from my garden. (Sad note, must add: Be sure to check your area about seeds from foreign lands, like Massachusetts, and don’t use them if you are somewhere like California, where seeds from other places could wreak havoc with the lettuce crop among other things . . . just bundle them off to a less exacting state . . . 💛)

And now, Vanna?  The winners please?

wisteria on the porchHer flaming fingers reach out to me, with three tissue-thin pieces of paper in them . . . and it is my pleasure/pain to announce . . .

Winner number One is the much loved Sharon Civale (on behalf of her generous sister Jennifer Chapman)

Winner number Two is the adorable Shellie L. (the Shellie L. with “the little girl’s room” and the wonderful step-mom)

And Winner number Three, drum roll, is the luv-lee Suzy B. of Bamburger Family Fame.

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S to our Fabulous Winners, and thank everyone who entered, one and all! This would be no fun without all of us!!! 

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And now . . . oh, the unbearable weight of the waiting, zee lovely Vanna just flung herself back into the vat, scissor-kicking clear to the bottom, all elbows and knees bumping the sides of the canvas vat . . . I am so sorry because we can only have ONE HANDMADE VINTAGE QUILT WINNER, and I would like EVERYONE to win ~ BUT, Here we goooooo . . . the Grand Prize Winner for the quilt flapping in the wind above (the mostly white one) AND for a package of wisteria seeds fresh off my driveway where they bounced out of their little pods . . . IS:

Trisha . . . who we are apparently going to meet (as she wrote in her comment), along with her daughter-in-law, this coming Saturday our very first event in Plainville, MA! Congratulations Trisha!!!

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FANTASTIC!

I’m so excited for our winners . . . AND now, I’m going to do all I can to take your mind off the devastation, with lovely consolation prizes and fare-thee-wells from me to you . . . I wish I could fix you all a plate of soft-in-the-middle, crunchy-on-the-outside, buttery potato pancakes, because I know that would make you feel 100% better, but this is the best I can do from here: Mark page 110 in Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams (so you can make them for yourself) ~ and do it with this . . .

MVID-BookamarksA special Little House bookmark, a tiny, 9″ token of my great affection, from me to you with love, and huge amounts of gratitude.

get-attachment.aspxstripofflowersYour sweet words in your comments have been my joy and my strength, and caused me hours of laughters and tears reading them . . . honestly, I know it probably sounds corny, but it is the truth. I can’t help it, I’ve become addicted to you, not just to you, but to us. Just click on that link above, print your bookmark on card stock, cut around the black line, and maybe even give it to all your favorite moms for . . .Mothers dayflowerWhich is coming up . . . but since we’ll be traveling I want to make sure we get to celebrate this very special day together. So in honor of Mom’s and of Spring, I thought we might enjoy an early Mother’s Day and make some plans with the perfect MUSICA  and my recipe for . . .

ChocChipPancakesDelicious Chocolate Pancakes in honor of  good Mom’s everywhere, and especially for this little doll . . .OriginalFairyTaleGirlAreYouTheReason

She definitely is.  And, while we’re at it, something else perfect for giving, easy, and just delicious for this time of year when the strawberries are at their very juiciest best . . .Chocolate-dipped-strawberriesAnd another surprise, because you’ve been asking . . .

Dream Charms

Our Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams & our Girlfriends Forever Dream Charms have come back in! Yup, we have ’em. 

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Each comes in a cello bag on his own little gift card. Unfortunately the manufacturer did not send us as many as we ordered, but I think we might have enough for everyone who wants one. Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams . . . Dream Charm

Because nothing happens unless first we dream! Also, Janie made us some new banners, the most darling little Mother’s Day Banners, each with their own tiny tulip-decorated envelope and gift card.And then, one more thing . . . to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of my very first book . . .

MEDIUM SIZE

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surprise!Heart of the Home Dream Charm

  It’s a new Heart of the Home Dream Charm ~ which is on order now. Little hearts of course, what else. We will let you know when they arrive at the studio! Pretty cute, eh?
charmNever stop!!!! As for fabric . . . I’m being asked if there will be more, and Oh, yes, there will be ~ all the whites will be up there soon, some are already, the Crabapples were the most recent addition . . . and more . . .

Susan Branch whites

Feed Your Creative Heart

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Labels, 3″ to 7″ across . . . with art and quotes on them . . . just went up in the last couple of days and will be for sale as soon as they are deemed okay by Spoonflower.

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And the same with my “Little Patches” . . . each about 3″ wide . . .

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as shown on this quilt made by Blue Ribbon Designs . . . That fabric will be available within the next few days also. And while we’re away, Kellee will keep on adding to my Design Library on Spoonflower.

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One of our Girlfriends suggested I make fabric from those blotter cards I test paint and pens on . . . and I think I will! What a colorful idea!  My kind of “contemporary!” Contemporary with heart.

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And our lambs and other “Baby Love” fabric will go up very soon, too. We’ll do our best to keep you busy! 

I guess that’s about it for today . . . but if you didn’t get the newest WILLARD, you can go HERE to read it, and sign up HERE to get the next one . . . and feel free to sign up your beloveds . . . we’d be happy if they were our beloveds too.

Isle_of_Dreamsbouquet flowers

May Day is coming, leave a flower on a doorknob or under a windshield wiper to surprise someone. If it’s a bouquet, a small basket is traditional, but old wallpaper, rolled into a cone, makes the sweetest Tussie Mussie holders for your arrangement. Read about the tradition HERE. And something else we should all do on Rabbit-Rabbit Day . . .

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May dayThose white flowers on a hawthorne tree are heavenly, the dew must really be something!

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And now, away I go! We drive onto the ferry boat early Saturday morning for our first event that afternoon . . . I will be blogging and taking lots of pictures from the road . . . so check in and be reminded of how beautiful our country is . . . with possible “glimpses of heaven in unexpected places” as our Twitter Girlfriend, Bren, is wishing for us. we’ll drive safely and you do that too, and take care of yourselves.  Come see us if you can.  And, remember, we’re going to England in the fall, so eat right, take deep breaths of fresh air, park a long way from your destination, provide yourself with lots of Red Letter Days so you are rested and healthy for a wonderful trip, k? Love you! See you on the Mainland! XOXO

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WELCOME WILLARD PEEPS

Hello to everyone popping in from Willard (or wherever you’re popping in from)!  MUSICA (sorry that the Musica doesn’t work unless you can open two screens at a time on your device. If you can, click on the link, then come back to this page while it plays) . . . Welcome to my pink kitchen!

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Well, it’s not really pink. But there’s yesterday’s sunrise . . . see what it did to my kitchen . . .Susan Branch pink-daisy-borderIMG_7067

You can see the reflection of the sunrise from the windows directly across from these . . . turning daffodils, walls, and Beatrix Potter People sunrise pink!

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The stove was splotched in pink too . . .

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Morning sun sent rays across my dishes cupboard . . . had to grab the camera! Such a nice way to start the day! tea cup

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Later on, a breeze came up from the harbor and under blue springtime skies, out went our sheets for . . .

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. . . a little flight in the cool salt air  . . .

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And that reminded me, of a really good idea I had, of the perfect 30th Anniversary Giveaway for some lucky person . . . I thought perhaps a vintage quilt would be just the thing! The Grand Prize I mentioned in WILLARD. . .

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I actually decided to do this way last summer . . . you can tell by the leaves on the trees and the green . . . to give away this quilt, the one closest to us in the picture, white with the patches of color . . . I’m not sure where I got it, I’ve had it for so long. Be sure to sign up for it at the end of this blog. I do this A. because I have lots of quilts and it’s fun to share the wealth. B. It’s the 30th Anniversary of Heart of the Home and that would never have happened without YOU . And C. In honor of my dad who told me to beanelf

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Here I am in 1999,  thrilled because I had just gotten my first collection of fabrics with Springs Industries. They put me on the cover of Giftware Business (which I don’t think exists anymore), wondering, in the headline, “Who the heck is this person?”  So this was an unexpected thrill. I never imagined my cookbooks could lead to designing fabric (I couldn’t even imagine cookbooks!). We won a prize for our booth at the studio 280International Quilt Show in Houston that year. My corner of their huge showroom was set up as a bedroom, furnished in white wicker, a bed (the headboard), chairs, desk, even a hope chest, and the Springs people had made everything in it from my fabric, pillow cases, duvet covers, throw pillows, dolls, dresser scarves, cushions, quilts, book covers, wall hangings, lamp shades, table toppers, you name it. At a time when so many quilting fabrics were tea stained, we stuck out, not like a sore thumb, more like a rainbow on a sunny day. I’ve always loved sewing and quilts and embroidery and every kind of needlework so designing fabric with my watercolors just seemed like a natural to me, and now they were actually letting me do it!  How could it be anything but fun?!

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And it was fun!  After Springs Industries, I was lucky again to be approached by RJR and I designed fabrics and quilts for them for several years. The only thing about fabric designing I didn’t like was that they would print the fabric only once and after it was sold out, that was it, they didn’t make any more. You’d blink and it would be gone. Like everything you see above, all gone. So it wasn’t all roses in that respect.  And it was hard to get the fabric stores to know you existed, because consistency was impossible.

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See those cute little teapots? I was heartbroken when they sold out and no more were made. “Why?” I wailed . . .  But, it was fun while it lasted and I did love having fabric, I loved designing.

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I had so much fun piecing together quilt design ideas with paper on my living room floor.

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I’ve loved quilts ever since my grandma gave me one that her mom made. That was it, I was hooked, and since then I have looked for old quilts wherever I go, antique stores, flea markets, anywhere and everywhere.

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Fairy2I used to quilt a little bit myself, but then I learned that I could paint quilts faster than I could sew them. So when the time came, I was thrilled to design my own fabric. I just wished it could be around longer.

Susan Branch fabrics

But no, I was not in charge, it was all gone, no cupcakes, no blue flowers, no hearts with teacups in them, no flipping tea balls. Months of work, on the parts of so many people, only six months on the market, it was all gone.😳happiness The licensing business has gone topsy turvy in the last 15 years, along with many manufacturers and many fabric houses. Huge wonderful Springs Industries, for all practical purposes, doesn’t exist anymore. So I have waited, still getting letters all the time from you asking for fabric, wishing and hoping and thinking, maybe someone will find me again someday.

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Susan Branch fabric

But so far I’m still waiting. And while they were not finding me, wonderful things were happening on the Internet. New ways of doing things were being invented. Even our small studio could give you free bookmarks and stationery to quiltprint out. We could send you patterns, via email. A new world was opening. And somewhere else, genius people were learning how to print fabric on demand. ON demand!!!  Which meant a designer could put a fabric design onto their website, a customer could find it there, and get just what she needed, a quarter of a yard, 10 yards, whatever. The customer had a choice of  designs that were available in no other place. And those print-on-demand sites have just been getting better and better.

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And now, in case you haven’t heard of them, I’d like to introduce you to Spoonflower.com.  Because all by myself, with no contract to sign and nothing standing between me and you, I can upload any fabric designs I want to this site, and you can get them there, in a magnificent almost unbelievable choice of 20 (twenty!) different fabrics. And you know what else? Not only can I do this, YOU can do it too! You can design your own fabric, and they will make it! Anyone can! Your child’s drawing could be fabric!  They will send you one of their little swatch books for $1 (like the one above and below) so you can see all the different fabrics, check the quality, touch it and feel it. Too good to be true.get-attachment.aspx

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 Not only can you provide your own designs, but you can shop Independent Designers from all over the world. And they have twill, they have organic cotton, they have silk Crepe de Chine, they have poplin, they have stretchy! You choose the fabric you like, and then you choose what weight you would like it in. You Fairy2can cover chairs in their fabric! You can line picnic baskets! And you know what else?  Let’s say you like a fabric so much you wish it was wallpaper. Guess what? You can have any of the fabric designs in wallpaper!  AND in wrapping paper!!!!  I am beside myself.

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So I asked them to send me a fat quarter sample of my Martha’s Vineyard Toile in “Linen-cotton canvas”  so I could check the quality, and this is what they sent. I wish you could feel it. It’s gorgeous. Digitally printed, eco friendly. You could make a bag out of it, or heavy drapes, or thick pillow covers.  But you can also get this design in quilt fabric, you could make poplin jammie bottoms, it could be curtains, it could be wrapping paper. It could be wallpaper. And you can do this with any fabric on their site. All of it designer, all of it one of a kind.easyaspieIMG_6942

My samples came fast too. Took maybe a week.

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I asked for samples of my birthday fabric designs . . . and here’s what they sent. I thought it was wonderful. And this is a new design for me, it was never made! So we’ve decided to go ahead and let this fabric make its debut on Spoonflower! I see napkins, I see pillow cases, I see an apron. I see wrapping paper! I even see wallpaper used as drawer paper, polka dot drawer paper!domestic blissSept 2010 245

I’m a pros and cons person, so I really thought about it ~ the pros for doing fabric this way far outweighed the cons: Spoonflower fabric is made in America! No one can discontinue my fabric but me.  I could wallpaper, make drapes, cover a chair, and make a duvet all in the same pattern. It ships internationally so my Australian and German and Japanese Girlfriends can get some if they want!
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(Does anyone recognize those shoes on the window sill in my sewing room! Agnes!)

The other thing is that Spoonflower isn’t my business. They will sell my designs, but Spoonflower is responsible for the business side, not me. They take care of the customers, answer questions and are responsible for quality control.  Once I upload the designs, they take over. And they carry so many choices of fabrics, they even have patterns you can buy that come with the pieces all cut out for sewing. And believe it or not, there is no minimum order! The Pros go on all day. I think they offer an amazing service. And they started their business the same way I started mine, at their dining room table. So I get to support a small business.thou-shalt@SameliasMum

My wheels keep turning  . . . I can have a line of Baby fabric again! My Teds! Lamb wallpaper! Lamb wrapping paper! Lamb curtains!creativityBaby Love fabric line

There is only one con that I can see, better known as a drawback . . . but even that has a pro side.  It’s the price. Print on demand and “made in America” doesn’t come cheap.  And their fabric isn’t available anywhere else! But prices aren’t really as bad as you might think, especially for the heavier weight fabrics ~ compared to other designer prices, it’s IMG_5682affordable. And the bright side of this “con” is that Spoonflower does not compete with all the wonderful little quilt stores that we love and want to stay around forever, because for all of this amazing service, they really can’t compete with quilt-store prices. The good side of that is that the shops don’t carry Spoonflower fabrics, and Spoonflower doesn’t carry the shop’s fabrics.  They are the same yet entirely different.

studio 537And you can make a lot of pretty things with just a little bit of fabric. You can edge pillowcases, and make tiny quilt squares . . .pins border

studio 051You can have sweet little appliquéd dish towels with way less than a quarter of a yard.pins border

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You can appliqué cupcakes for almost nothing. You can line a bread basket or make a window valance, or a scarf  (because they also have 100% silk). You can cover boxes or line your shelves in the peel and stick wallpaper. You can use the wrapping paper as scrapbook paper. And I’m sure, with your kind of creativity, you can think of a jillion other things to do with it.pins borderIMG_6901

A little fabric goes a long way . . . someday I’ll design an I Love England collection. I’ve been playing with paper ever since I learned about this. I love the birds, that will be next.

Gone, but not forgotten. ↓

'08 May, Vineyard 045Just so you know, this is not paid advertising, or even unpaid . . . I have never spoken to anyone at Spoonflower, we’re not connected in any way. They don’t know me from Adam. I just like them and knew that if you didn’t already know about them, you would want to. You can follow them on Twitter, along with their 33,000 other followers, of which I am one, at @spoonflower. So NOW:

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As of today, we’ve put up three collections, 15 designs, HERE. And we’re just beginning . . . The first is called “They Say It’s Your Birthday” ~ the second is the “Martha’s Vineyard Watercolor Collection” ~ and, lastly, just in time for the think-July 08 Vineyard 247ahead people, our “Christmas Watercolor Collection.”  And we will just keep adding on . . . we’d love to hear what you want, you want the big Santa face that looks like Joe? No problem! We will always do our best. Slowly, over time, when we are not crazy with new books or on the road traveling the country, we will add more collections and build up a nice little store where the fabric designs  stay up forever and ever and ever.  Ahhh, the Internet, how I love thee, let me count the ways.sb borderIMG_7160

And here are a few more reasons to love the Internet ↑ Giveaways! And we can connect in a way we never could before. This back and forth we have together is just amazing.  When I was in my twenties, I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled, and they gave me some sort of knock-out drug. While they were waiting for it to go into full effect, I started talking to my mom in a drugged-up-loony-bin-way about how someday, la-la-la . . . I wanted to have a knitting store, la-la-la Mommy, where all my girlfriends could come and we could sit around and knit and embroider and drink tea from a tea pot and watch soap operas and teach each other things. The idyllic world.  And guess what? If you count Downton Abbey as a soap opera, which I do, I got my dream! Pretty darn close, anyway!pink-flowers  So Girlfriends, Happy my Anniversary! Please be sure to leave a comment at the end of this blog.  Just any little comment will enter you in the drawing . . . there will be three winners, three names drawn in a week or so, each getting a set of books (the trilogy) PLUS a well-used paintbrush, a pencil stub, a blotter bookmark, and a seed package from my own driveway . . . And then, ONE MORE name will be drawn, for the Grand Prize . . .

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This gorgeous old quilt ~ and of course, a package of wisteria seeds.  Because I know you. Happy Almost Mother’s Day! See you at the bookstores! ♥ Lots to look forward to in 2016!get-attachment.aspxDig and be dug Girlfriends! Wob you!Love

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