Friday, August 31, 2007

Floor Pillows

Another thrift-inspired project: pillows for Felix's room. I found this tremendously pleasing egg-blue chenille bedspread at the thrift store, and cut up some of it for his pillows. One huge one for the bed or floor, a smaller one for the chair or bed. Never again though will I make big piping out of chenille--my poor machine barely lived to tell the tale.

Then Clara got inspired and decided to make her own set of pillows--big and small. She used the fabric I *will* use when I do her curtains. Check out the hot pink gabardine ruffle! She did a fine job.

And the pillows have withstood scientific testing by Daisy. They are comfy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Giles Turns Sixteen

Big week for Giles--he started college last week, got a cell phone, and turned sixteen. He celebrated his birthday with a swimming and dinner party. Unlimited grilled bratwursts, baked beans, cole slaw--lots of hungry teenagers to feed.

For dessert we had our cake of the moment: pound. Foregoing any frosting, instead I set out two big platters of fruit to eat with it, and a pitcher of homemade chocolate sauce. The party kids ate every scrap of fruit! It was a delight to see.

As for college, he's taking Two-Dimensional Design, Intro to Photography (ha!), Drawing, Honors History, Honors English, and an Honors Essay Seminar, and the word is: so far, so good.

Pockety Apron Giveaway

My favorite sewing projects are those inspired by a thrift store find. Last week I found a large organdy curtain covered with pockets, except for the corner which was missing.

How about some aprons? I had more fun matching trims and scraps to come with up a whole line of Pockety Aprons. They are so pretty! And practical for tidying--sort your little items as you pick them up.

I have put six in the shop, but I am going to give one away--my favorite because of its vintage trim. Black and white is so stylish!

Submit a comment putting your name in the hat, and I'll draw a name on Monday, September 3 at noon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Funeral Flowers

The same weekend my grandmother turned ninety-three, her best friend of seventy-four years died. Although her death was not unexpected, and was in some ways a blessing, of course it was still a sorrow. Strange to have both events going on at once. My recurring houseguest Elyse came for the funeral, since she's the granddaughter. During the service I was marvelling at a friendship that has been passed down through three generations.

Elyse and her family only stayed three days, since they had to get back for school. She very sweetly gave me several large floral arrangements that weren't used at the graveside. The flowers themselves were beautiful, but the arrangements were very institutional and, frankly, had sad connotations. So in order to enjoy the flowers, make them friendlier and homier, I took them apart.

I started with two of these:

The first step was to discard all the filler, such a ferns, statice, baby's breath. Then I grouped the flowers by color. I collected all the whites for a bouquet for my bedroom:

Then all the pale pinks (love those stargazers) on the living room table:

And all the rich pinks and reds together in the kitchen:


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Goodies in the Shop

Wonderful bags and a handful of patterns in the shop tonight!

Storing Gift Wrap

I have to admit that I am feeling like a genius here, having solved the problem for all time of how to store gift wrap. Previously my rolls have been unrolling and lolling about on an entire shelf, but no more. I bought a really cheap vinyl over-the-door shoe hanger, and hung it up inside the closet. Then, with a utility knife, I cut out the bottoms of all the pockets but the bottom row. I slid my rolls down through all the pockets and stuck their ends in the intact pockets.

The hanger was tall enough to do two stories of this, so I can store lots and lots of rolls in no space at all, and they stay in good shape.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ninety-three Birthdays

Oh, it's so good to be back. Our trusty microwave dish on the roof suddenly stopped receiving signals. Three dishes later we gave up and have gone to DSL. I hope to never think about internet access again . . .

In recent events we celebrated my grandmother's astonishing Ninety-Third Birthday:

In her diabetic honor, I created the world's tiniest birthday cake. A dollop of batter in a mini-muffin pan, with the tiny cake split into layers and frosted. Set on a fig leaf and topped with half a fig for an elegant presentation. She ate the whole thing!

Clara and Bella prepared a wonderful guitar-cello duet of "Happy Birthday." With all Clara's double stops, it sounded like a small orchestra!

For the rest of the guests, a full-size chocolate cake, decorated the same. To keep the figs from rolling off during transport in my new vintage cake box, I impaled each of them on a hidden toothpick. I must depend on beauty from nature to make good-looking cakes. If I try to get fancy with the frosting, not good.

Four generations in a row--me, Daisy, my mother, my grandmother. A ninety year span!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Technical Difficulties

Back after we get our internet problem solved!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Pool Full

We are making the most of the last few days before school starts. Not that we will stop swimming here, but it's hard to get friends over on a weekday!

Felix and his best friend:

Girly friends and neighbors:

And Daisy, hanging in there with the big kids:

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Truly Useful Magazine

Why do I love Everyday Food, the Martha Stewart Living digest-sized food magazine sold at the checkout counter of the grocery store?

• The recipes are not too complicated, not too fancy, not too many dirty dishes.
• Fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Beautiful photography, and helpful layout of sides and entrees together.
• Everything tastes really good, and I might not think to make these dishes otherwise.
• A single issue inspires me for weeks. They are keepers.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pumpkin Harvest

My kitchen island is full of pumpkins. This morning there were seven. I have decided to approach them cautiously, one at a time, so that I will hardly notice that I'm dealing with them.

I chose one this morning, rinsed it, cut it in half and scraped the seeds out, then cut it into large pieces and piled them into the Crock-Pot with a cup of water. After several hours on high the flesh was very soft; I let them cool, then scraped the cooked pumpkin out of the rinds. Done with one!

I put half in a gallon ziploc in the freezer. The other went into dinner in this form, a tangy Asian soup:

*Summer Pumpkin Soup*

In 2 T. olive oil, saute
1 diced onion
2 cloves garlic minced
2 T. ginger, grated fresh

til onion is transparent.

1 quart chicken stock
1 can cream of coconut
3 cups cooked pumpkin

Simmer for an hour.

Stir in:

juice of one lime
1/3 c. tamari sauce
salt to taste

If desired, puree in blender, then reheat.

Excellent with a cold pasta dish made with crabmeat, broccoli sprouts, sliced cucumbers, and a spicy Asian dressing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Detail of a Dotty Handbag

. . . in the shop.

Thrifted Cake Box

A beauty at the thrift store--this vintage coppery cake box (three dollars and fifty cents!). When I first got it home I couldn't figure it out; turns out the box was upside down. You don't put cake in it, you put it over the cake!

The top comes off, and underneath there is space for transporting your serving utensils. I love this!

Sure enough, it holds a pound cake very well.

Fortuitously, it exactly matches the white and orange pumpkins we picked from the garden.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Beauty Oasis

Yesterday was a powerful 107 degrees. Clara was just back from camp with two weeks of laundry, I changed all the sheets and had regular laundry day, and I took it in my head to mop all the downstairs floors. Which entailed dusting and vacuuming first. In fact, I worked so hard I didn't see the need to swim "laptops", as Daisy calls them--it was a housework workout.

So imagine how good it felt to run into town in the late afternoon for a quick bang trim at the salon. Giles came along with his camera: there's beauty everywhere.


We love to keep travel notebooks when we're on a trip, with drawings, statistics, clippings, photographs, etc. If you want inspiration to get started, I've put some of the books that inspired me in the shop.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Quick Wedding Gift

An easy shower gift: a pleasant teapot with a homemade tea cozy. The outside is a fun red and white heart print, the lining is white flannel with black polka dots.

An embroidered label just to make sure the bride knows it isn't a hat . . .

Because I Like to Look at Daisy

Friday, August 10, 2007

Wedding Luncheon

This has truly been a wedding summer for us. After Sunday's shower for a friend, today I hosted a luncheon for my brother's fiance--their wedding is tomorrow evening outdoors and the high is in the 100's, heaven help us all.

But today's luncheon was cool and serene. My mother and two sisters-in-law co-hostessed with me, and we used pale blue and chocolate brown for colors. Because the wedding is in the city, not near my house, we had our party there in a lovely restaurant. Not my usual gig, but it turned out beautiful, mostly due to my mother's exquisite taste.

Chocolate roses and blue hydrangeas for the centerpieces.

Waiting for the last guests to arrive. Including my brother's birthmother, whom he located last year. He and his birthbrother joined our family when they were six and eight years old. They had come into foster care after their father, who had custody, died. Their birthmother, who is Korean and not fluent in English, had been pushed out of their lives through a combination of miscommunication and malfeasance. In the twenty years since we adopted them, she had never stopped praying that someday she would see them again.

I got to meet her today. What a miracle! She is loving and beautiful and looks *exactly* like my youngest brother.

Favors: goat's milk soap.

Sometimes it's nice to have someone else do the cooking!

Felix left before the party started, but Giles took this picture first.

Last of the Dick and Jane Totes

I have put the last of the Dick and Jane totes in the shop--enjoy!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Late Summer

We are deep in the dog days now; the highest heat has settled down on us and the cicadas sing night and day. I try not to get in the car after noon--all emergency rickrack runs must be done in the morning.

It is easy to wish the summer away but I've learned better. Fall will be here soon enough, and I am learning not to wish *anything* away. Instead, I am keeping my eyes open for each day's marvels.

Late summer corn.

Felix's boy hands turning into man hands right before my eyes.

Cold fruit, air conditioning, iced tea.

Swimming by moonlight.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vintage Forties Nightgown: Simplicity 2000

How's this for practical glamour? I love this pattern: those Forties ladies knew how to get it done!

I made this up in a thrifted poly-cotton blend, a beautiful watercolory pink and white floral. Love the revers collar. On a nightgown. The waist is finished with an ivory ribbon belt that ties in back, taking up the fullness.

Shoulder detail: shirring, my first time ever.

Love the gracefulness of the gathered dart below the bust.

Since I prefer to wear this in a all-cotton fabric, I'm going to put this one in the shop.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Girly Wedding Shower

This weekend we hosted another wedding shower (does it seem like I do that a lot? It does to me!). I cut loose with the pink this time which was lots of fun. Really, though, I hardly did anything; just a few special beautiful things made for a lovely party.

First, I hung these tissue bells which I found at the thrift shop two days before the party. The Composer screwed cup hooks into the twelve-foot ceiling of the living room and I strung them to dangle over the round table full of presents. Vintage loveliness!

A classic candy choice: *the* mints for brides.

The punch bowl was also simple and beautiful: the day before the party I filled my Bundt cake pan halfway with pink lemonade, and tossed in a carton of fresh raspberries, and a handful of mint. I let that freeze, then filled it the rest of the way with more lemonade. For the party, I turned it out into a punch bowl, and filled the rest of the way with more pink lemonade (all made from concentrate).

I've been picking up odd punch cups at the thrift store for a couple of months now. They're all pretty pressed glass: I love the mixed patterns and never pay more than a quarter a cup.

The cake was also beautiful and simple. My cake genius friend Carol made a square cake iced in pale, pale pink fondant with a swag around the sides. Right before the party we covered the top with stargazer lilies in little flower picks. So easy.

This was my prettiest shower ever, and so easy and inexpensive: a pleasure to host!

Related Posts with Thumbnails