Monday, August 18, 2014

Clara's Knitting: A Goldenrod Cardigan for Daisy

Clara just finished this sweater for Daisy, so even though this is the hottest day of the year so far, the sweater is getting a wearing. It's knitted in a slightly variegated goldenrod merino, from this Ravelry pattern

The sleeves are *supposed* to be 3/4. The pattern says nothing about turquoise buttons though.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Red Orchid at Morning

(sailors take warning)

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Big Old Fancy Dinner

For Christmas we gave the Composer's parents a dinner party--we would host and plan and cook; they would show up with their friends and enjoy. For whatever reason, we didn't get it done until now (just under the wire, as almost all my help leaves within days!).

My theme was Southern food gone fancy. So we started with "Dixie Plates" for the first course--half a deviled egg, tiny pickled shallots, celery with pimento cheese, a skewer of fried okra, and a tiny biscuit. Just a taste of each thing.

For the salad course I made a variation of the beloved green pea-mayonnaise-bacon salad and served it in cucumber shells in a nest of butter lettuce.

The main course was a beef tenderloin with roasted beets, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach, and fresh corn pudding baked in poblano peppers.

For dessert we made individual Pavlovas and served them with homemade vanilla ice cream, summer fruits, whipped cream, and raspberry coulis. 

Okay, that was a lot of work. Clara did dishes for two hours (her choice, we would have helped!). But so much fun to see everyone enjoying themselves, and for our parents to feel honored. Worth it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks

Well, this wasn't Loch Lomond, but it was Scotland. And the lad is home now!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Glowing Jade Formal for Clara: Vintage Simplicity 8389

My copy of Simplicity 8389 is a wreck, but look what it wrought:

Clara's dress for this year's orchestra banquet. I had ten (count them) yards of this vintage jade-colored Dotted Swiss with Daisies--we only used about four. We found a perfect match in kona cotton for the lining. A perfect match for an invisible zipper.

Although the pattern doesn't call for it, we interlined and then lined the bodice, stitching the boning into the lining layer. The pleats are long bias strips of fabric, folded and then appliqued onto the bodice, then the raw edges are felled underneath. Interesting. 

And the boning goes all the way up the dart and over the bust, so that it runs from the very top to the very bottom of the bodice. I thought this was unlikely until I remembered the dresses in the dress-up trunk--formals my mother wore in the fifties, that were boned the same way.

Our last lucky find was a newly-opened tattoo parlor in town, with exterior walls painted this shade. I popped my head in and asked if we could photograph in their parking lot. Life is full of surprises; a photo shoot at the tattoo parlor is one I did not see coming.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt: A Good Year for the Cutting Garden

I sewed the binding on this quilt today. That is a satisfaction indeed. It's hand-quilted with perle cotton.

It's my largest log cabin quilt to date. Instead of my blocks being five strips x five strips, they are each seven x seven. And the quilt is six blocks by six blocks, which makes it plenty big to cover a double bed.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Messy Kitchen, Happy Family

Cooking together--one of the great joys of family life. We had guests for dinner tonight, so Clara cubed a watermelon (Daisy gnawed the rinds), while Bella finished the leek-potato-bacon pizzas that only she can turn out.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt Top: Grandmother's China

I finished piecing this quilt top today, with Clara's help.

Me: "Oh good, I'm done putting this quilt top together. Now I can sew anything I want."

Clara: "But that's what you say every day!"

Friday, August 08, 2014

Pimento Cheese; Also Tomato Salad

Pimento cheese. Back there in the aqua bowl. This is good stuff. Stuff it in celery (spring for the organic), spread it on a homemade roll, make it into a grilled cheese sandwich.

*Pimento Cheese*

This multiplies well and keeps well, so consider making a bigger batch.

Grate 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese.

Drain a small jar of pimentos (to keep you from being like me and living in ignorance until you're twenty-five, I'll just mention that pimentos are roasted, chopped red peppers. You've seen them in green olives. I used to think they were tomatoes. They are not.) and add it to the cheese.

Very lightly stir in about 1/4 cup mayonnaise (you can use light--if it's Duke's).

Add several shots each of Worcestershire sauce and any hot sauce you may have in the cupboard.

Stir lightly until it's well-combined, and put it in the fridge for an hour or two if you can bear to be separated from it.

This is rich stuff, so you might want to cut the richness by serving a tomato salad alongside. I bought two bags of wonderful tomatoes at farmer's market--they are bigger than cherry tomatoes, but too small to be regular tomatoes. Daisy cut each one of them in half and added a handful of fresh basil cut into strips.

I made a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar (so nice and mild), Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt, and a tiny bit of sugar. Oh yes.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Faithful, in Her Red Boots

Morning and evening, she is faithful in attending the animals--feed for Mabel and a handful of cracked corn for her best goat.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Things I Made Today

The girls were up and out early fishing with their grandfather this bright summer morning. I stayed home and made these things:

cleaning spray
wheat flour
chicken stock
tomato sauce

Then I cleaned the kitchen.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Long-Term Log Cabin

I started this thing so long ago, then thought I was finished. Then decided it wasn't quite big enough. 

It's no fun to drag the bag of scraps out and piece another stack of squares, but I did it. They're all together now, and it's a jersey quilt--unbacked, no batting, just the one layer. 

And it's reversible--this is the right side of the jersey, and all the seam allowances. The other side (see top photo) is the wrong side of the jersey, and has no seams.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Sunshine Patchwork

I put together some very long strips of patchwork squares thinking I would use them to border the quilt I was working on, then realized the colors weren't quite right. 

With a little reconfiguring, all that piecing became a tote bag. Red and yellow, in the shop. All proceeds given to charity!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"In This Town, Betty Owns Lemon Pie"

[image from Garden & Gun]

"I learned very early that women competed against each other culinarily and that recipes were like currency. It's like, You can't make lemon pie because in this town, Betty owns lemon pie. And that's when I started to really understand food and understand the value of food and what it meant to Southern identity."

--interview with Alton Brown,
Garden and Gun (August/September 2014)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clara's Knitting: Pistachio Lace Shawl

I know this is from Jane Austen Knits Magazine, and I'll get the pattern listed as soon as I can.

Clara's knitting is amazing to me!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rose and Raspberry Dessert

Bella always chooses raspberry jello for her birthday "cake", but this year we took it to the next level with a recipe from the UK Country Living magazine. It called for a layer of fresh fruit (we used two boxes of raspberries) suspended in a crystal clear solution of simple syrup, gelatin, and rosewater.

The rose fragrance was really strong, but it was very mild in the eating. Served with a big cloud of soft whipped cream, it was delicious and different.

Here's my adaptation:

*Summer Fruit Jelly*

Gently wash and dry two boxes of fresh raspberries.
Lay them in a glass loaf pan (or the mold of your choice) that's been sprayed with Pam or lightly oiled.

In a small bowl, dissolve two envelopes of plain gelatin in 1/2 c. cold water.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 7/8 c. sugar (I know, just fake it) and 2 c. water to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Stir the dissolved gelatin in, then leave the pan to cool for 30 minutes.

Stir 1 T. rosewater into the sugar syrup, then very gently pour the syrup over the berries. Put it in the fridge to chill for several hours until it's set.

To unmold, carefully loosen the edges with a thin knife, then turn upside down on the serving platter. If it won't drop out onto the platter, try using a hot wet towel draped over the bottom of the mold for a few minutes.

Serve with cream you have whipped with a little bit of sugar and maybe even another tsp. of rosewater.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The "Zoe Dress" in Pistachio Silk

Here's a sweet dress pattern from an independent pattern designer, Sew Serendipity. I liked the really wide inset waistband and elbow-length sleeves, so I made it up in some pistachio-colored raw silk I had in my stash.

I decided to lengthen the skirt by five inches, which was fine except I only remembered to lengthen the *side panels* and not the center front and back. So they got an extra design detail in that they have a five-inch band at the bottom. Oh well. Even with five extra inches this is not a very long dress. If I make it up again I'll probably put at least another four inches on there. Lately I just want the gravitas of a lot of skirt, it seems.

This was a very easy fit, and the only problem I encountered with the pattern was that the front side panel piece was missing the grain line. It wasn't the kind of thing you could eyeball (definitely not cut on the straight grain) but I flipped it over and modeled it after the back side panels, which seemed to be right, and it hangs nicely.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Easy Almond Cookies for the Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free

Not to name names, but some people out there can't eat gluten or dairy at the moment, and they run a lot of miles every week, and now their pants are falling down.

If you want to fatten those people up, you can make these cookies I just invented (heavily inspired by an earlier peanut butter iteration). They are gluten-free and dairy-free, and they look and taste normal!

Here's how:

*Easy Gluten-Free Almond Cookies*

Preheat the oven to 325, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

With a sturdy spoon, or in a Kitchenaid mixer, mix
1 c. almond butter
 1 egg
1 c. sugar
 1/4 c. ground almonds
 1 t. vanilla
 and, if you like, about 1/4 c. slivered almonds*.

Form the dough into balls using about a soup spoon of dough at a time, and flatten them gently on the cookie sheet, leaving enough room for them to spread just a little.

Bake for about 12-14 minutes: you can go for softer or crispier.

*These are optional but they will give your unbaked cookies a charming resemblance to the "porcupine" meatballs that perhaps your grandmother made you, with rice and tomato sauce. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sweet Fridge Pickles

This dishpan contains Daisy's very own, no-help-from-anyone-except-Mommy-sliced-the-onion, batch of fridge pickles. She made a gallon, using my grandmother's recipe.

• Sweet Fridge Pickles •

Slice 3 quarts cucumbers, leaving the peels on but removing the seeds if they are big and ungainly. 
Thinly slice 3 onions (or fewer), and add to the cukes.
Sprinkle with 2 T. salt, and let sit for two hours.

Drain in a colander, then pour over them 1 1/2 cups of vinegar (we used cider, but you can go fancy), and 3 cups of sugar.

Cover them (we keep them in a giant jar) and refrigerate indefinitely.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Obedience Isn't for Us"

"Our stories affect one another whether we know it or not. Sometimes obedience isn't for us at all, but for another. We don't know how God holds the kingdom in balance or why He moves a chess piece at a crucial time; we might never see the results of his sovereignty. But we can trust Him when He says press on, cling to hope, stay the course. He is always at work, even if the entire thread is hidden . . . .
The story of God's people comprises a billion little moments when an average believer pressed on, carried through, stepped up. In the quantity of ordinary obedience, the kingdom truly advances. "
--Jen Hatmaker, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess  (2012)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Clara's Knitting: Linen and Wool Shawl

Apparently Clara really can knit anything there is.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt Top: A Good Year for the Cutting Garden

It is factually true that this has been a good year for the cutting garden. Also a good year to make this bright quilt.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

I found this on the counter this afternoon. Bella must be getting over her cold and getting her energy back.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bugle Bead Treasure

In retrospect, blog reader Kyndra's note was way too casual. Would I want her Italian great-grandmother's bead stash? Gee, sure, I guess, right?

Oh. My. It came in a groovy rice pudding box (for the bonus) and when we took the lid off a collective gasp ran around the room. This was booty of the highest order. Ropes and ropes of glass bugle beads in dreamy never-seen-before colors. 

They were all in a terribly tangled mass, and Clara spent the last two days sorting them out and making plans for matching knitted garments.

Kyndra. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Folkwear #233: Winter Dress-Up

This is Folkwear 233, the Glamour Girl dress. Straight out of the forties with a dramatic hip yoke that ties in front, a beautifully draped slim skirt, and an authoritative shoulder line.

I had many yards of an unbelievable heavy silk crepe in chocolate brown (a $2/yard find at Hancock's one lucky day!) and decided to make the long version.

I struggled with this pattern--the waist was huge, which meant I was taking in a seam with a zipper (sigh). And I failed to look closely at the drawing which resulted in my having a lot of trouble getting the "back neck facing" to lie down. Maybe because it was actually a band collar that was supposed to stand up, huh?

But I'm glad I pushed through because it truly is a flattering, comfortable dress. Now for an occasion!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

At Last: Ruffled Tied Jersey Wrap

The back story is that two years ago I was at the fabric store with my cousin Sally and I said, here, get some of this jersey and I'll make you a jacket. Which she did, and I took it home with me, and then (enter the conflict, this one is man vs. fabric) figured out I didn't have enough to do anything with.

 A year later I realized I could make a wrap with it, so I cut it into three rectangles and laid them on top of each other, and cut out a bunch of strips to gather. But the grain wasn't straight, the strips were no fun because they twisted, and so on and so forth and the project went back in the basket.

I finally worked my way down to it this month, and got it together. I gathered those strips up, tediously uncoiled them and pinned them in place, then used button and craft thread to stitch them down with a chain stitch.

Last, I sewed ties to the two short ends, and then surprised myself by *loving* this wrap. First, it looks astonishingly like piped chocolate ganache, always a win. Second, it's so heavy and drapey with all the layers and ruffles. Third, it's finished!

Sally, it'll be on its way shortly!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Flowers for Daisy's Birthday Table

Cosmos, zinnias, butterfly bush, pink salvia, culinary sage. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Her Last Night to Be Nine

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