Thursday, March 06, 2014
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Baking again from Vintage Cakes (of course), this time the Plum Streusel Cake. Jane Brocket carefully explains that streusel cakes aren't actually vintage in Scandinavia because they've never gone out of fashion. They've always been in style at my house too, and taste just as good as if they *were* vintage.
The cookbook directs you towards plums, but I used giant blackberries I picked and froze this summer. Also, I've taken to putting all these round cakes into the springform pan for easy removal and serving.
Monday, March 03, 2014
It's meant to look like brown paper. It's really a linen blend from my stash.
And I wanted it to look like Daisy had glued on a paper flower--so I used a vintage applique (with "cut here" lines around the design) and machine-zigzagged it on.
For that little bit of scallopy texture at the top of a paper bag, I just did a handsewn running stitch. They aren't actual scallops but they do break up that top line.
This one was a commission, and won't go in the shop.
Saturday, March 01, 2014
Although posing on my ladies' mannequin, this tee is indeed for Felix. He left me one of his Uniqlo V-necks to work on, and I stenciled and stitched him the classic rooster. I did this same design several years ago on a yellow jersey for a pillow and somehow it seemed like the biggest deal and took forever to finish.
I guess my thousand hours of practice are paying off--after the paint dried this took me just a days' worth of sewing to quilt and then cut. On a busy day, too, with plenty of baby-sitting.
This was quite possibly my favorite project of all time to work on . . . because the shirt smelled like Felix.
Friday, February 28, 2014
"An artist in New York is famous for her dinners. And they are all based on stews! She has collected stew recipes from all over the world, and her friends collect to enjoy them. Anyone who feels that a stew should be presented with an apology should try one of these 'stew dinners.' First the stew itself, with Puffy Dumplings, bubbling hot in a big tureen. For the next course a mixed salad in a great bowl, with crackers and cheese of various kinds; after that comes an ice-cold fruit cup. And last of all the demitasse with little crisp cookies."
--Ida Bailey Allen's Money-Saving Cookbook (1940)
Thursday, February 27, 2014
When I first started baking sourdough bread (wow, over two years ago!) I had feeding several more people and baking several times a week. These days I generally just need one baking a week, so have been slacking off on keeping up with my starter.
Using the scientific method I have found that I only need to feed it once a week. The science part is where I forget to feed it for a whole week, then feed it and it still works. That's an experiment! And I'm passing my knowledge along to you. Keep it in the fridge, go all week without touching it, then feed it the day before you want to mix up your poolish (Sunday nights, around here, just when you're starting to think ahead for the week). I actually hate the word poolish but there it is. It's the thing after the starter, before the bread. It gets started the night before.
Wow, it sounds complicated, but it's not.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Pieced at the end of summer and just now quilted. My mother is calling this one of her favorites. She did the quilting, and for some reason did the rows so close together it took her a long time to finish.
Also, this quilt wins the Most Appropriate Backing Award. I had three yards of this sweet print that looks like--wait for it--zinnias going to seed.
Sadly, I think this was the last of the gorgeous Italian cotton twill I bought for a dress for Clara. It has served me well.
You might think I have a lot of quilts now. I do. I can no longer bear to part with them except to give them to my children, so good thing I have five.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Today moved at Little Baby Speed. You probably know that tempo--it's the way time moves along when you're caring for very small children. We had a friend's five-month old daughter all day and my, she was very sweet. Never fussed a single peep.
Lots of talking in the rocker by the fire, walking around and looking out windows, shooing the cat away from her bottle, and plenty of lying on a folded blanket in the sewing room playing with Daisy.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
In my last bout of quilt-buying I found this gorgeous finished quilt, quite old and in great condition. What I really liked about it was that the squares were separated by solid strips, because I was looking for a quilt to embroider words on.
"In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety."
It runs down the length of the quilt now. I just embroidered freehand, though you could chalk some guide letters in.
It's a beautiful quilt anyway. Beautiful concentric half-squares of quilting, like you see above. She started in one corner and worked her way outward.
The back is beautiful faded brown, pieced from several fabrics. Much of the quilting is done with black thread.
Some fabric details--great faded, cool tones.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Blackberry cobbler for thirty tonight (church dinner). These two pie plates, plus two big rectangular dishes. An excellent way to use up the fruit before summer rolls around again.
I usually stand by a cobbler made from sweetened fruit and topped with biscuits, but today I turned to the simpler "washday cobbler" traditionally made on Mondays in a busy household--butter melted in a pan, topped with a flour-milk-salt-baking powder batter, then topped with sweetened fruit. It sorts itself out during baking.
Here is a similar recipe.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
First the stilts, now the harmonica. If she gets a coonskin cap we'll have done an entire 1950s childhood.
We stopped at the very old-school music store downtown today. They had a whole case of harmonica choices behind glass. The Little Lady was too tiny, but the Pocket Pal came home with us.
Monday, February 17, 2014
This beauty is finished and spread on a bed! It just took a week because I didn't put a lot of quilting in it--just outlined the squares, and then did a little diamond in the blue intersection squares.
I bound it with a black and white print.
But let me turn your attention to the marvelous piecing. The artist who did this alternated her nine-patch blocks between solids and string-quilted squares. But the string-quilting was often done in a very deliberate way (see above) to bring even more linear interest into the pattern.
These pieces are miniscule. The two-inche-square piece above has SIX strips sewn together, some just a sliver. I would have liked to have met this lady. I feel like I know her now. And I'm happy to have my hands on her quilts.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
I've always known this type of blanket as a utility quilt. I think another name is "whole-cloth quilt." The top is all one piece of fabric, and it's tied to a back. I got this one last week at a wonderful antique store where the textiles are painfully cheap.
The print is of dogwood blossoms, in two colorways, and the back is that sweet lavender. It's tied with green floss, and it's currently airing over the front porch rail, before I fold it up on the foot of my bed.
Friday, February 14, 2014
It's a treat to have Felix and one of his roommates here for the weekend. And why? Because they eat cake. This time I made a coffee-walnut cake (from Vintage Cakes, of course) and Bella made a cheesecake.
This morning they put on bow ties and suspenders and went out working for my florist friend as flower delivery boys. I'm sure they made a lot of ladies in offices very happy.
Then they dug out the old box of Pokemon cards and taught Daisy to play, and it's like we've travelled back in time to 2001. Apparently Daisy is very fierce with the cards, too.
I gave out Pop-Rocks for Valentine's treats around the house, and the Composer distributed flowers, and everyone is happy.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
I started quilting the third and last quilt top from the series started back in December. I found this top to be the least compelling of the set--until I got to know it better.
Then I saw that its structure asked for a grid of quilt lines, rather than parallel horizontals. And that it had been so thoughtfully pieced, with squares alternating between solids and strip-quilting. And that somehow, the modest fabrics were suggesting a Japanese kimono.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Malt loaf from Jane Brocket's Vintage Cakes. It's sweetened with three syrups--molasses, malt syrup, and sorghum (my take on dark syrup), and filled with my choice of dried fruit: dates, apricots, and the last of a packet of cranberries.
Like many other Vintage Cakes recipes, it has a thoughtful finishing detail. Here, after baking, the loaf is brushed with a syrup made by simmering a tablespoon of sugar in three of water for a few minutes. After it thickens, it's brushed on the hot loaf, leaving a beautiful crackling glaze.
Monday, February 10, 2014
An "Eyelet Doily" is a very doable way to dip your toe in the water of hand-stitching jersey. I made mine from a little white jersey--it's just a tee shirt's worth. Simple cutting and construction, and then the fun of adding embroidery embellishment to your own taste. You could even bead and sequin this--but then you might not want to put a big bowl with a bird nest on it.
You can find full instructions here at the Alabama Chanin Journal. Have fun!
Friday, February 07, 2014
Here are all our coats, which accompany us for every outside moment, unlike during other winters. Other years, we'd just dash to the car, knowing it was warm from all the sun pouring in the window glass. Ho, not this year!
In fact, we almost need a coat to be in the sitting room (above). We've all pulled back into the center of the house around the stove, away from the windows and the walls. Little piles of books and stitching all around the fire, cats everywhere, scraps of bark on the floor.
And where, seriously, are the daffodils?
Thursday, February 06, 2014
I happened to pick up Uncommon Beauty at the library this week. Two things: the title has nothing to do with the content, and also, I am not in the middle of a medical crisis with a family member.
But if I were, this book would be a great resource. It's written for parents of medically-fragile new babies, but the information on navigating a hospital, accessing care, managing insurance paperwork, and advocating for your family member is really good stuff for anyone who has to interact with the medical system in a serious way.
That could be any one of us, at any time, so these things are good to know. Find it here on Amazon if you're interested.
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Monday, February 03, 2014
Felix came home with a housemate this weekend, which is always a treat and something I like to bake for. They ate two cakes and a bunch of butternut squash at dinner, and bought lounge sweaters at the thrift store.
Also, they went hiking in the fog--Jonathan took this photo--and accompanied Daisy to see the new baby goats at the neighbors.
Saturday, February 01, 2014
We go to a small church. We used to feel kind of apologetic that it wasn't bigger.
Not anymore: I'm actually excited about it. We've been thinking about who we are, and we're a Small Church. Yes!
NewSmallChurch is fantastic writing about Small Church. Even if you go to Big Church.
Friday, January 31, 2014
I've been drooling over the new Spring & Summer Collection at Alabama Chanin. I love these color combinations, that tender blue-gray and that gorgeous nude. And the nipped-in waists and fuller skirts in these new garments.
Much inspiration for future sewing! I hadn't really thought about the pale pinkish-tan she's using in this collection before--now it's at the top of my list.
And how cute are those stripey socks and boots? Cute enough for me!
(photos from Alabama Chanin)
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Basically I went with a mullet concept here ("Business in the front, party in the back"). I took the tee shirt pattern from Alabama Studio + Design and found it to be a little tame. First I cut down the neckline, a super-easy fix. Just cut it to please yourself, as it's simply finished with a strip of binding.
I had actually already gone with a seam down the back, to accomodate the swayback adjustment I needed to make. I left the seam open from the bottom up to the point I wanted to add my "bustle", then cut out a half-circle of fabric (the circle's radius was the same length as the unsewn portion of seam), and added it into the seam as a godet.
For sparkle, and to assist in good draping, I beaded the hand-sewn seam with chop beads. If I had been thinking (which I didn't do apparently until this afternoon on my run, when I thought of this), I would have beaded the bottom edge of the godet as well, for the same reasons. I'll do it tomorrow.
And the neckline is beaded. All these materials, by the way, are from my local Hobby Lobby. Use that 40% off coupon and get bold!
*Sharp-eyed readers may recognize my skirt as part of my "Anna's Garden Reverse Stencil Jersey Dress" from last spring. I found I didn't like the bodice of the dress, and chopped it off. Then I finished the top edge of the skirt with foldover elastic and gave it a new lease on life.
Monday, January 27, 2014
A tiny jaunt down the two-lane highway this weekend blew my cobwebs away. The Composer drove so I had the double pleasures of looking out the window and stitching at the same time.
I hoped to duck into a particularly awesome antique store where I bought three quilt tops a few weeks ago--thinking I could provide a home to the tops I passed up the first time.
But it was closed for the day and we could only look in the window, admiring the cross-eyed bobcat
and the fancy-dress raccoon.
After a stroll down the sunny sidewalk, we got back in the car and drove home, picking up hamburgers on the way.
That's a good Saturday.