Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gorgeous Golden Orchid

Everybody, bloom together now!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Easter Dress for Daisy

I started with New Look 0959 and laid the pattern pieces out on some handworked linen tablecloths my mother had given me. Each one had embroidered motifs in the corners which I tried to place artfully.

I lined the whole dress with ivory cotton voile, and also used the voile to make the inset band in the skirt, and the underskirt which was added for length. Sorry there's no picture of the front; it's just like the back.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Six O'Clock Sky Log Cabin Quilt

 When I started this quilt I was thinking about cloudy skies, but it came out more blue and white than cloudy. After it was pieced, I backed it in white and quilted it with natural perle cotton, and it still didn't feel like the colors were finished.

Then I bound it in coral and was happy.

Six o'clock sky, sunrise or sunset, your choice.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tulips and a Velvet Chair

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Clara's Saturday at Home

Clara didn't make it home last weekend because her flight was cancelled last minute--she shlepped her tote bag back to campus and we pushed the whole thing forward a week. Which means she's home right now!

Let's see. We have knitted, gardened (a lot), washed outside furniture, cut her bangs, cooked, and eaten a lemon drizzle cake. 

Actually, just Clara's been knitting while I piece my quilt. She's doing this beautiful lace-weight merino in a vintage pattern, and she's enthralled with the picot edge she got from turning down a band with a row of eyelet knitted through the middle. I'll make her model it when it has sides.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Lesser China Cabinet

Nothing special here, just a nice corner of the dining room.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Dinner for Thirty, Cheap and Easy

Just in case you ever need to cook a real meal for a crowd, here's a plan and shopping list that feeds thirty people for $60, and won't kill you to get it done.

Meat loaf:

5 lbs. ground chuck
2 lbs. ground turkey
2 packages frozen mirepoix mix (chopped onions, celery, carrots--sautee ahead of time)
bottle of ketchup
bottle of Worcestershire sauce
small box of oatmeal

Mashed potatoes:

lots of potatoes
bottle of half-and-half
pound of butter (don't use it all)

Big pot of mixed greens:

bag of kale
bag of collards
bag of turnip greens

Bowl of fruity jello:

8 small or 4 large boxes of raspberry jello
large can of sliced peaches in light syrup
3 cans pineapple tidbits in juice

This will not be the most elegant meal ever presented, but it will feed people comfortably for about two dollars a person.

Order of works:

Make the jello early in the day and leave in the fridge to set. Start the greens before lunch with some broth, bacon grease, and red pepper flakes. Mix the meat loaf around 3:30 and shape into four large loaves in a big roasting pan and stick in the oven. Last, peel those potatoes, cook and then mash. Dinner can be served at 6:00 and the clean up is not too bad.

You may never have to feed large groups of people. I, on the other hand, seem to have one of those chalk marks on me like tramps used to put on houses. But I don't mind! 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Piecing the Inevitable

It had to happen sooner or later: 
log cabin meets jersey hand-sewing.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday Chores

I like my Monday chores. Most of them take just a few minutes, but make a big difference to the health and happiness of the household.

Watering the plants.
Emptying the wastebaskets.
Changing the sheets and making the beds up fresh.
Changing the bird cage.
Vacuuming the floors.

It's nice to work my way down a list that isn't too challenging, but definitely makes life better.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

A Good Day to Read

Storms coming and going, and all the errands done yesterday--today is a good day to read.
And clean up the toy room, and make an orange sandwich cake

for Clara! She's coming home tomorrow just for the weekend. We didn't see her over spring break because she toured with the orchestra. But she's ours tomorrow, then just one more month of school! 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A Bustling Avenue of Commerce

"A bustling avenue of commerce" is how the Composer characterized the hallway after Daisy's sign-making weekend. She's set herself up as a lawyer (with Sunday hours even!) and committed Felix to possibly more stencil designing that he bargained for.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Topsy-Turvy Doll for Daisy

My mother gave Daisy a copy of Wee Wonderfuls, a book of doll and toy patterns. I told Daisy I would sew her one thing.

She chose the Topsy-Turvy doll, which is kind of cheating, since I had to basically sew two dolls, especially if you go by the hardest thing, which is hair, and which I definitely had to do two of. I didn't enjoy the hair.

Daisy swears I told her I had always wanted to make a topsy-turvy doll. That seems so unlikely. But anyway, I did it, and the doll is finished, both sides, and Daisy likes it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Without Monday"

"How could he have considered taking Monday off? Monday was the diving board poised over the rest of the week. One walked out on the board, reviewed the situation, planned one's strategy, bounced a few times to get the feel of things, and then made a clean dive. Without Monday, one simply bombed into the water, belly first, and hoped for the best."

Jan Karon,  At Home in Mitford

Friday, March 28, 2014

So-Pink Smock

My new dress-into-a-garden-smock thing is so quick and easy! Keep your eyes open for these linen dresses at the thrift stores--they're abundant and this project is gratifying.

I've put this pink smock in my shop--and it won't be the last.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Barn Owl Stencil

Felix has devoted part of his spring break to designing some stencils for me. We started with a barn owl. His first rendition shows the owl just standing there, like it was posing for its identification drawing for Mr. Sibley.

"Make it more dynamic," I said. 

So now it's clutching a mouse in its talon.

Giles says it's macabre. I say nature is red in tooth and claw.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Encyclopedia of Gemstones Log Cabin Quilt

She glows.

Also, bedjackets and more in my etsy shop.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Service Berry

A big vase of service-berry clippings in the kitchen, courtesy of Daisy. So beautiful, but everyone asks, "What's that smell?"

Additionally, a couple of new things in my etsy shop.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cream Biscuits

Cream biscuits. I recommend them.

Friday, March 21, 2014

French Farmgirl Apron. So Easy.

It was so easy to make this linen apron for the garden. I started with a thrift store linen dress--you've seen these a hundred times. Long length, shell buttons down the front, lapel collar.

I buttoned it all the way up, put it on the dress form, and cut away a scoop neck front and back. Then cut straight up the side seams on both sides, then went around to the back and cut out a back neck shape. See below.

I cut strips from some of my back fabric, and sewed them up into waist ties, then sewed them to the dress at the waist seam. 

Next I carefully sewed the full length of the button placket closed, following the topstitching on the placket, two lines of it.

Then I took that long front skirt and doubled it up to make giant pockets for my garden produce. Generally that will be okra, with an occasional green bean if I get lucky.

I stitched the pocket in place up the sides, then up the placket again to divide it into two pockets. (I removed those inside buttons first so I wouldn't break a sewing machine needle).

Last, I looked in my giant trove of bias binding and found that old ball of handmade binding someone made--oh, it looks like at least sixty years ago. I machine sewed it onto the front side of the edges, then took my time and slipstitched it invisibly in the back. I say invisibly. Some stitches actually show, but you know.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thanks, Forsythia

Extra sunshine in the back yard.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday to Monday

Although Irene Parrott's Friday to Monday is hard to find, I want to tell you about it so that if you ever see it you can snatch it up. It's only the best *ever* vintage lifestyle book I've ever come across. Published in 1941, it's a guide to enjoying your weekend--still a novel concept at that time--whether you are a host, a guest, or just a family at home.

It's written for the crowd who might own a weekend house, or visit those who do, but the standard of living in those cottages is eye-opening. She advises letting your guests know ahead of time if they'll be having to use the bathroom in the woods!

I adore the chapter on menu-planning which gives you the hostess' stream of consciousness as she plans the meals:
"Lamb chops (oh no, because I want roast rack of lamb for dinner). Swedish meatballs then (remind Sophie not to let the sour cream get too hot or it will curdle). Parsley potatoes. Lemon meringue pie (not the perfect dessert but I promised Phil I would give him one while he was here) . . . ."
It's so full of zest and joie de vivre, it just makes me happy to read it, and I hope that someday you can read it too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flower Shoppe Day for Daisy

Daisy has long dreamed of working in a flower shop. Thanks to a church friend who is both 1) understanding; and 2) a flower shop proprietress, that dream came true today. I dropped her off at 9:30 with a lunch and took off down the interstate to tend to my post-surgical mother.

When I came back for Daisy, she was loaded down with a beautiful bouquet she had made for us, and an even more beautiful bouquet in a basket, for the neighbor.

She made them herself. And also inflated a lot of helium balloons.

But Flower Shoppe Day wasn't over yet. Later I found this set-up in the kitchen. A "Great Big Daffioodle Sale" was going on in my very own house.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Faithful Purple Orchid

This faithful purple orchid blooms again, maybe the third year in a row. These are such great plants to have around. They're always doing something--blooming, or recovering, or sending out roots in unexpected directions.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Springing Forward

Springing forward like many of you, I'm sure. These are baby kale, parsley, and cilantro plants my neighbor started, then ran out of indoor room for. If I keep them watered, and keep Fitzwilliam from lying on them, I'll be rewarded with good things for my garden.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Rock Collection Table Runner

I've been rolling through unfinished projects and found that I set aside this table runner pieced, but not quilted. It didn't take too long to put it together with batting and the good parts of a pair of monogrammed linen pillowcases for the back (sorry I forgot to photograph that part!).

Hand-quilting around each block took just fifteen minutes total and made all the difference. 

My color inspiration was this box, for the piecing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Greek Salad

Scratching the Greek salad itch--a bed of romaine decorated with feta, cucumbers, peppers, avocado, and broiled chicken breast strips.

Notable that Daisy did *all* the chopping and prep except for the meat. That girl is getting big.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Daisy Goes Out Calling

Suddenly keen to recreate the chapter in Little Women where Amy and Jo go out calling, Daisy outfitted herself in correct calling clothes, stocked her little bag with her calling cards, and headed out to the lady neighbors.

She had made herself some notes regarding correct calling etiquette (what to say, how long to stay, etc.) and that may by why her visits were so successful.

Or maybe the success was due to something else. Like her bonnet.

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Alabama Chanin Bolero with Wild Embroidery

Elbow-length bolero I made to top a matching sleeveless dress. This is the "June's Spring" stencil from Natalie Chanin's Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I don't see this stencil used much, and it is different from many of the others which are more botanical in nature. This one's got the odd tree shapes and a bunch of circles.

I kind of cut loose, doing some reverse applique, then taking the circles I had snipped out and applying them in their turn. I used several shades of steel blue thread, and both bugle and chop beads. It felt more improvisatory than most of these projects, which was fun and Bohemian. See an empty space, fill it up! About ten hours of that happened last week when I had to sit for continuing education--I made my hay while that sun shone.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

A Last Look at the Snowbird

Hoping that yesterday was the last visit of this snowbird. 
May it all melt, and spring come soon!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Partly Cloudy Log Cabin Quilt Top

Shades of blue and white, with a little bit of gray and yellow slipped in there. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Streusel Cake

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. 

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