Monday, December 31, 2007

Wrapping Up the Year

Someday the time will come again when the Composer and I go out for New Year's Eve, but it's hard to imagine at this point! The big kids are all away at a youth group function, but Bella has a small crew of girls here spending the night. Daisy just raced through shouting, "I'm going to play with the big girls! If they will let me!"

I can tell you that there will be some playing of games and some fancy dressing up, and some snacking. And in honor of "wrapping up" the old year, we have themed our food for the evening.

Roast beef, mangoes, red pepper, and spinach lightly dressed in a mustard vinaigrette and served as a wrap sandwich. Ha ha!

And in a minute or two, I'll finish making the crepes stuffed with cream cheese filling and served with raspberry sauce and sour cream. One of the benefits of staying in, for sure.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wrap Dresses

For a refreshing change from vintage sewing, I bought a dress-making kit from a gorgeously talented Etsy seller. I've been drooling over the creations at her blog for months, and was anxious to make one of my own. This kit contained all the dress pieces already cut out (darts marked with little round stickers!), and some lushly crisp rayon binding. I want more of that!

The dress went together absolutely perfectly and the fit was just right . . .

but before sewing into the red linen I created a muslin to check the fit. I did need to adjust the sleeves to keep them from being too tight. And just for fun, I made the muslin four inches longer so that it doesn't require leggings or a petticoat underneath.

A truly gorgeous design!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Miss Suzy

Daisy got a book for Christmas that I loved as a little girl. I hadn't seen the book in years, and couldn't remember much about it except that it was a favorite.

Oh my.

When I opened this book again, I was almost rendered unconscious by the sweetness. The cuteness. The charminess! Pick me up off the floor and read to me!

Miss Suzy the Squirrel, desires only to keep a cosy home in the top of a tall oak tree. But things go a little awry.

Miss Suzy, by Miriam Young.

Friday, December 28, 2007

"Comfort and Consolation"

"Because it is true that whoever loves the end also loves the means, all of us who really do enjoy living in a well-kept home can come to enjoy the rituals of its care. The act of taking care of our homes brings comfort and consolation both in the enjoyment of the fruits of our labor and in the increasingly rare freedom to engage in worthwhile, unalienated, honorable work."

--Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts

Daisy on the Trike

First she puts on shoes. Giles helps.

Then she goes slow.

Then she goes fast and rings the bell.

(photos by the Composer)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"A Sixth Sense about the Place You Live In"

"Domesticity does not take time or effort but helps save both. It is just an orientation that gives you a sixth sense about the place you live in, and helps you keep it running with the same kind of unconscious and effortless actions that keep you from falling when you walk down stairs. This sixth sense lets you do things fast and cut the right corners . . . ."

Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Three Bags in the Shop

Three new bags in the shop--one you've seen before, two you haven't!

A Quiet Snow

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Sunshine

A sunshiney day overflowing with God's blessings, like beautiful children in new clothes.

And wonderful things to eat, and a tableful of family to share with.

A spotting scope for Felix, and a trip to the lake to practice viewing the gulls.

Lots and lots of cello-piano music from Clara and the Composer. A fire in the woodstove.

A tree full of beloved ornaments. A hike. A happy baby riding a tricycle down the hall.

"Your sun will set no more; neither will your moon wane; for you will have the Lord for an everlasting Light, and the days of your mourning will be finished."
(Isaiah 60: 20)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve Menu

• Smoked oysters on crackers
• Relish tray
• Rich mushroom soup
• Rosemary breadsticks
• Spiral-sliced ham
• Roasted new potatoes
• Grapefruit and avocado salad on butter lettuce
• Cheese tortellini skewered, drizzled with vinaigrette
• Hot dogs in sweet and sour sauce (don't worry, they're optional)
• Raspberry-ginger ale punch

• Tray of Christmas cookies

A Vintage Christmas Eve

"Anna banged on the gong to summon them to oyster stew. She was wearing a white apron and her hair was curled. The dining room table was set with the company dishes, but the room was littered with tissues and ribbons, and packages, large and small.

After supper was cleared away, Mr. Ray brought in the tree. Cold and a delicious forest smell came with it. It was set up in the dining room, and Betsy and Margaret brought the cardboard boxes of decorations down from the garret."

--Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy and Joe

Friday, December 21, 2007

Vintage Cotton Dress: Simplicity 2744

A lot of vintage patterns look alike, but this dress looks fresh and singular to me. The oval neckline, the deeply notched collar, the get-me-every-time 3/4 length sleeves with darts. The ribbon belt!

And look, it's made out of only six pattern pieces!

This is a very nice silky quilting cotton from The Creative Needle in Denver, CO. Did I mention I'll be going fabric shopping in Denver again in early January? Let me mention it now.

Collar and ribbon details.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

End of the Semester

Everyone is enjoying the wonderful feeling of having finished the first half of the school year. Clara and Bella worked extra hard last week to get to the halfway point in their books. Felix had his first taste of final exams (aced!), and Giles now has an official college GPA to brag about.

So, a little present shopping this morning. Oh, the joy of a driving teenager! I stayed home with Daisy while the girls spent all their money. After they got home we turned my bed into a wrapping station:

and pulled out all the ribbon rolls I've been picking up at the thrift store.

With no school to oversee, I had time to make up a batch of genuine French bread (inspired the January issue of Living) and see how it looked on my newly thrifted snowflake tablecloth.

Good thing there's no school tomorrow either, as it took us only ten minutes to eat those loaves, and we'll need more in the morning.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Windowsill of Orchids

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Last of the Summer Blackberries

The last of the summer's blackberries shaken into a saucepan with a little sugar, simmered until juicy, thickened with cornstarch.

Poured over pancakes, then drizzled with heavy cream.

Then fed to Felix.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Vintage Teen Dress: Butterick 9201

A little sewing for Bella this week-- luscious warm brown flannel with rosebuds from a happy 1950s pattern. For my tiny but statuesque daughter I used a Junior size 13; her wide shoulders fit right into the larger size. Thanks to the sewing wizards at Sense and Sensibility, I know all about taking darts in the neckline so was able to cope with the resulting gape. I must say that the bodice is absolutely riddled with darts, but who cares? The fit is nice, and that's what matters.

A simple bias-bound neckline trimmed with a little red velvet ribbon.

But what the dress is all about is the stitched-down pleats. I love it, she loves it!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Amaryllis in a Tin

Friday, December 14, 2007

Moss Tree

This cold gray afternoon we bundled up and headed out to collect moss from the woods. That scratchy, blue-gray-green moss that fluffs up on top of the green-velvety-carpet moss.

It lifts right off in your hands, in a sheet.

We filled two trays full, not collecting too much from any one spot, and brought it home.

Then I took a tree-shaped grapevine form from the craft store, stuffed some floral oasis inside it, and centered it on a vintage silver tray. Starting from the bottom of the tree, I pinned the moss on using floral pins (shaped like hairpins).

Then Daisy pinned in two red cardinals.

Though she has claimed it as her own, she has consented to it remaining in the living room, where we can all enjoy it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shopping Bag from Vintage Pattern

I think this pattern illustration is so alluring. Look at that bottom left shopping bag. She's wearing a glove to do the grocery shopping. And see the celery poking out? All right, all right, I'll make the bag already!

With linen expensive and difficult to find, I have been experimenting with plain cotton canvas as a lining or interlining to bags. I'm loving it, as it is cheap, has a nice crisp body and a beautiful natural texture and color, and is much easier to sew through than interfacing. It also has vintage cache, as it was the actual suggested material in this project.

Of course I love the buttoning outside pocket for your money and keys (or carfare?) I love that these quotidian items were made with such care. The pocket flap is lined!

In honor of that vintage spirit of making the ordinary beautiful, I lined the straps with crimson velvet. In addition to being beautiful, they also feel very good to hold, if you're not wearing white gloves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Vintage Christmas Papery Sweetness

Elegance is refusal, but who could refuse these unused pop-up cards and these brilliant happy children celebrating?

Or this thrifted tissue tree? Perfect under the kitchen wreath. Must remember to move it when I mist the greenery.

In the Shop

I have Grace Livingston Hill's Sunrise in the shop this morning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sunday Dress: Vintage Simplicity 3749

You've seen this pattern here before; I liked it enough to make it again, this time in a fine pale pink gabardine wool, for Sundays. This time I knew to shorten the bodice before cutting, so the fit is better. Last time I shortened it after constructing the bodice, so the darts were trimmed to a place where they made the waist a little too big. Oh, those unintended consequences!

I just love this fabric, which is very heavy to feel, with lots of body and drape, but is still almost sheer. Once again I enjoyed using pale pink velvet ribbon (a perfect color match!) as a waist stay, and in a place of bias binding to finish the cuffs.

I believe I will make a matching belt.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Gingerbread Wonderland

Yesterday: Jane's annual Gingerbread Open House. Bowls of frosting, muffin tins of candies and tiny pretzels and crackers, lots of sticky creative work.

Daisy sat at a tiny table and made a house. I'll skip the gingerbread and just eat her up, thank you.

Gorgeous decorations everywhere, and an unbelievable gingerbread piece de resistance by the hostess:

The Squirrel's Gingerbread House. Can you believe Jane is self-taught?

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