Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Jersey Shirt Pattern, with Back Extensions

I picked this up at the thrift store because of the back extension that comes up and over the shoulder.

However,  I don't believe I will be making contrasting shirt halves and sleeves. Or sewing that neckline as is, because who looks their best in a crew neck? No one I know. I'll be scooping it out a little.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Garland Do-Over

My garland of yesteryear fell off its string when I picked it up out of the box. So I've been restringing the wool circles on perle cotton. I've made about five miles of it, which is too much, but it's lots of fun. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another Sunrise, and Some Fruitcakes for the Gluten-Free

Another gorgeous sunrise, the first of the Return of the Exiles (as the Composer calls it when the adult children come home), and several fabulous fruitcakes.


Felix is the first one in the door of the three Away Kids. It didn't take him long to ensconce himself in what we call "Inventor's Corner"--a computer, a calculator, and a notebook not too far from the woodstove. Serious inventing going on today.


I've found fantastic fruitcake recipes that don't rely on any kind of flour at all! Just ground almonds and lots of fruit:

Christmas-Spiced Chocolate Cake by Nigella (oh my)
Gorgeously Golden Fruitcake also by Nigella, much more traditional
Alsatian Christmas Bread (not a bread at all. I didn't use this recipe, but it was the closest I could find. Mine required only dried fruit, fruit juice, spices, and ground almonds)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Colors of Early Winter

These are the colors of early winter around here. Warm browns, gray-browns, and long golden light.

Monday, December 15, 2014

In Goat News . . .

Anyone who loves baby goats will be glad to know that over at the neighbors' house Jezebel, Ruby, and Cinnamon have all had their kids. Seven of them, all together!

This is Cinnamon, a very good mother. She had twins. Baby goats are just about the best, for cuteness.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Patchwork Curtain Quilt Top

A while ago I made a set of patchwork curtains for my lavender bedroom. Then recently I got tired of them and wanted something visually calmer.

I took them down, sewed them together, and then started sewing strips of purple and brown scraps around and around my patchwork rectangle. Now I have a huge quilt top, and the center is my patchwork curtains.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Daisy Sets the Pace

Daisy decided it was time for a little more Christmas decorating around here. Fortunately we have an endless supply of cedar outside, and a bountiful supply of curly red ribbons inside.

Now there are beautiful sprigs everywhere.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Frost on the Barn Roof

This morning the ground and the barn roof were white with frost. 

I can't get enough of early morning. I wish it lasted for hours. It's just me, and my tea, and a fire in the woodstove.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Winter Tree

At my house it's not quite time for a Christmas tree, but it's not too early for a Winter Tree. I set up this pine cone tree in a milk glass container as the table centerpiece. Then I realized that the tree was from the thrift store, the pedestal was from the thrift store, the bird, the candleholders, and the doily--all from the thrift store. For the win.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Wholehearted Living

I've recommended Jennifer Grant's writing on motherhood before, and I'm doing it again today. Wholehearted Living is written for busy parents, who can find maybe five minutes to spend thinking or reading at a time.

Jennifer begins each reflection with a quotation from a real thinker or writer--and it's surprisingly refreshing to be confronted with the real deal in small, manageable doses, even for mothers who may feel like their thinker has gone missing.

But the real reason I am so drawn to Jennifer's writing is her genuine and lifegiving humility. She invites, never commands. She suggests, never tells. She is tender.

Written to last all year, this is a wonderful choice to stretch your soul.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Daisy's Sartorial Dreams Come True

She's been wanting a sailor dress for so long. I used a regular dress pattern and added a sailor collar overlay, and changed the skirt from the usual semi-circle to one with inverted box pleats. Better picture later, also maybe then it won't be falling off her shoulder.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Starry Shortbreads

Any shortbready cookie that needs to be pressed with the bottom of a glass can be stamped with a punch cup--and will be pretty.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Honeycomb Smocking

I had soft gray fine-wale corduroy to make Daisy a dress, and decided to insert a front panel of honeycomb smocking, because the texture seemed like it would be delicious.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Collecting Fabric for a Quilt, Gray and Pink

I'm thinking about a new quilt and for once in my life (as Daisy's friend David would say) I'm Planning Ahead on fabric! My key fabric is the not-too-in-focus larger gray strip with the pink end. It's an ancient but highly valued cotton skirt from the fifties, printed with cellos. To keep it company I've got some linens and wools from the thrift store, and a couple of men's shirts. 

And, in an excess of organization, I've got this little pinned together pile in my purse so that I can pull it out in any thrift store and scan the clothes racks for the perfect garment to join the pile.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Beautiful + Smart + Southern

This is what we've been listening to this week at my house. We've been Beta Radio fans ever since Giles introduced us to their first album several years ago. 

Colony of Bees is just out and is oh so good! If you only want a taste, check out "I Am Mine" and "Monument."

And their Christmas music--they release two or three songs every year, and I think they may be free downloads. 


Monday, December 01, 2014

Purple Velveteen

I found a cotton velveteen dress at the thrift store and brought it home because I can't resist really good fabric. Purple velveteen--where am I going to find that around here?

Turns out it was a Laura Ashley (that explains the quality). But the cut was so weird, I couldn't tell the front from the bag. So I lopped off the bodice, added a side zip, and had a luscious skirt for Clara.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Blue, Blue Day at the Cabin, and Rituals

I was marveling this week at how rituals effectively slow down time. Instead of this holiday weekend whizzing by, first we had Thanksgiving. The next day we had our annual Outside Workday, where we rebuilt an arbor, raked all the leaves and mulched the garden, burned both the bonfire piles, cleared brush at the end of the driveway, and brought five loads of firewood up from the pasture. And ate leftovers.

Today we had our Saturday Trip to the Cabin in the most glorious sunshine. The colors! The blues! The blue-green water! The silver and gray trees! And the knitting on the porch, and the hiking . . . .

(No one planned their clothes to match. The boys only own these neutrals. That's Jane that Felix is dating, and the extra boy is Jonathan, Felix's roommate, who is always, always welcome at our house.)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving, and a Psalm of Thanksgiving

 O taste and see that the Lord is good;

How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

O fear the Lord, you His saints;

For to those who fear Him there is no want.

The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;

But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous

And His ears are open to their cry.

The righteous cry, and the Lord hears

 And delivers them out of all their troubles.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Menu for Tomorrow

The goal: 
To feed twenty-three people and have plenty of leftovers.

The means: 

Three turkeys
A ham
Mashed potatoes
Dairy-free mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes with marshmallows
Sauteed green beans
Buttered rutabaga
Tian of potatoes, tomatoes, and beets
Butternut squash, radicchio, and kale gratin
Brussels sprouts roasted with chestnuts
Cornbread dressing
Gluten-free cornbread dressing
Wild rice dressing with dried fruit
Cranberry sauce
Green salad
Lots of pies
That ought to do it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Calm Before the Storm of Cooking

 Today was too early to start the massive preparations for our Thanksgiving meal (for twenty-five people). 

That will happen tomorrow. 

Today I puttered in the sewing room, bought Daisy some overalls at the thrift store, and visited the neighbors to get instructions on caring for their cat, dog, pigs, chickens, and goats. 

It felt kind of like the calm before the storm, but in a good way.

Oh, also all the girls are home!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Lucy Inspects the New Curtains

This weekend I replaced Daisy's blinds with new curtains. The blinds were falling out of their brackets and due for improving. 

The new curtains are single lengths of white denim hemmed topped and bottom and clipped to curtain rings on a rod, and they are much softer and cozier, especially when accommodating a cat.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Daisy's Room Plants

She loves orchids and has bought herself several from the grocery store. She waters them on Mondays, and they share bookshelf space with her aloe vera.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Embroidery in All Shades of Gray

 Last year I found a printed embroidery kit at the thrift store. Lots of flowers and plants, and I believe it came with a mess of crewel yarn. 

I threw that out.

I knew I wanted to embroidery this whole great big piece in just shades of gray. So I bought every shade I could find at the craft store.

When I finished, I thought it still needed something, so I went in and embroidered random star shapes here and there above the plants and in between them. And then scattered it with clear seed beads.

Soon I will make it into a pillow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Magic for Daisy's Drawers

 On Wednesdays, we make sure that we are all caught up on putting our laundry away, and that the laundry room is empty, tidy, and cleaned.

Daisy tidies her dresser up in conjunction with this task each week. Today she decided to re-sort her dresser. I walked in halfway through, and suggested she try the method in Marie Kondo's book and get some of that life-changing magic going.

 Fold the garments neatly, and set them in the drawer *vertically*. Nothing is stacked, everything is equally visible when you pull out the drawer. Nothing to topple over, nothing to get lost at the bottom  to be left unloved.

It worked perfectly. All her hot-weather clothes are in one drawer, all her cold-weather clothes in the bottom drawer.

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