Thursday, January 31, 2008

"No Box"

"There is no box labeled TIME FOR GRIEF or TIME FOR A DEATH which gives protection against all the responsibilities of life. Life goes on, and the days right now are important . . . It isn't necessary to waste them."

--Edith Schaeffer, What Is a Family?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Full Plate

My mother is still here recovering from her back surgery (doing well!), and now we've added my grandmother, who was released from the hospital this weekend after a bout with pneumonia, but is far too weak to be on her own in her apartment.

A full plate.

But life goes on, with high winds, power outages, good meals, and the occasional platter of cupcakes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Felix on Sunday Afternoon

Saturday, January 26, 2008


For the convalescent's room:

• Cheery company as tolerated (Daisy likes to provide this, and she brings her bunny family with her).

• Tidiness. Who wants to lie there looking at mess and disorder they can't do anything about?
• Lots of sunshine.
• Fresh pillowcase every day, fresh sheets as needed.
• Fresh flowers.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sweet Roll Dough and Variations

From Betty Crocker, this basic sweet roll dough:

1 T.yeast in
1/2 c. warm water and
1/2 c. warm milk (I use rice milk).

Stir in:
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
1 t.salt
1 egg
4 c.flour (I use whole wheat)

Knead until smooth, then let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours.

Cheese-Filled Rolls

1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar
3 T. flour
1 egg yolk
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

Roll half the yeast dough out into a rectangle, very thin. Cut into three-inch squares and top each with 1 T. cream cheese mixture. Bring up opposite diagonal sides over filling and pinch together. Let rise 45 min, then bake for 12-15 minutes in 375 oven. Remove and dollop with a tiny dab of raspberry jam.

Orange Rolls

Roll half the yeast dough out as for cinnamon rolls. Mix until smooth and creamy:

3 T. butter or margarine
zest of an orange
juice of an orange
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Spread half the frosting on the dough and roll and cut as for cinnamon rolls. Let rise in pie pan until double, then bake for 20-25 minutes at 375. After removing from oven, spread with second half of frosting.

Butterscotch-Pecan Rolls

Heat 1/2 butter or margarine until melted, then stir in
1/2 c. brown sugarr
2 T. corn syrup
1/2 c.pecan halves

Roll out half the yeast dough as for cinnamon rolls, and spread dough with butter or margarine, then sprinkle heavily with sugar and cinnamon. Pour pecan sauce into 9 x 9 baking pan, and cut roll of dough into 9 slices. Place them over the sauce, let rise til double, then bake for 20-25 minutes at 375. As soon as they are done, turn them out onto foil or a rimmed baking sheet, so butterscotch can dribble out onto tops of rolls.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Three Pans of Sweet Rolls

With our very cold weather, and my mother convalescing here after her massive back surgery, I am sticking close to home. Far from feeling housebound, I'm finding myself inspired by the appreciative audience that is my mother: hence, a flurry of sweet rolls.

A pan of butterscotch pecan rolls.

Cheese-filled yeast rolls garnished with raspberry jam.

Orange rolls heavily doused with orange-zesty glaze.

I think we're set for tomorrow's breakfast.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Useful Apron for Clara

Here is the ubiquitous vintage cobbler's apron done up in a fun tiny calico print for Clara.

She loves wearing it as part of her outfit for the day. It has already caused her to bake two cakes!

An Even Bigger Year

Felix's birding plans for the year have taken a great leap forward, as he learned today that he won a spot on a national birding team (that I won't specify here) that will go out in the field in the spring.

There was much excitement after this phone call, to the point that the Composer was afraid that someone had "lost a leg."

Way to go, Felix!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Unlikely Tea

Because who buys tea at the beauty shop? If Elyse hadn't made me a pot of this at her house, I never would have tried it.

Each sip begins by tasting like a mild herbal blend (and in fact the tea is made from fennel, licorice, basil, and mint). But after it goes over your tongue, it turns into an immense bloom of sweetness.

Comforting Tea by Aveda. A little pricey but so worth it!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Lovely Apron

I was so pleased with my wrap dress that I ordered a couple more kits from Suzanne.

This apron came out beautifully, with a lovely drape. It was so much fun to sew on all the trimmings--satin binding, cotton lace, narrow ribbon . . .

and tiny floral appliques.

I realized while doing this project that it is time to fancy things up in general. Nothing left plain anymore is my new rule of thumb!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Friday, January 18, 2008

Big Year

Felix has declared a Big Year: a birder's term for a year in which to find as many birds in a given area as possible. He's doing just birds in the state, and has made a good beginning. The published state list has about 200 birds on it, and in these first weeks of the year he's found 54. Of course, these are the easy ones, but he's satisfied with his start.

Every weekend he can, he joins up with an Audubon group on an outing. Tomorrow morning he'll be catching up with a group in a wildlife reserve. Many times he doesn't know anyone there, so once, when we were looking to join them in a restaurant parking lot to follow along, I asked how we would know them. He told me to just look for a bunch of dark sedans.

I love his enthusiasm, his freedom from self-consciousness, and his willingness to hang out with lots of elderly strangers in the pursuit of a good sighting!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Petit Four Footstool

I just had a worn and ratty footstool recovered, using thrifted floral fabric and a little candy-striped yardage from the store.

We all think it looks like some sort of silly confection, which to me is a good thing!

The cats love it too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Daisy Has a Cello

The first thing to do was to put on a fancy skirt and add an extra hairbow. Then we wrote out the check and Daisy folded it up into her own wallet.

Then we drove to Yoshio's house, where Daisy paid for the cello herself. Out of her own wallet.

When we got home, it was time for the first lesson. We learned good cello posture, and how to keep our thumb on the fingerboard. When we're not using that thumb. For thumb-sucking.

Now we're working on a song. It's called "Ants".

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ski Trip

What a treat to fly instead of drive the many miles to Colorado. This was Daisy's first trip in an airplane in her memory, and she behaved like a very grown-up girl (aside from the blankie). She wore her backpack without stopping and was very glad to have her own fold-down tray.

Giles didn't need a blankie to relax.

Because of uber-generous family, we got to stay in a palatial house instead of cramped quarters. Giles had his own *floor*. Everyone had their own bathroom. Daisy was still sleeping in my space, though. That felt cramped.

We found ourselves astonished by the snow. Of course we had expected it, but we'd never *lived* it in such magnitude. Incredible beauty! And so cold!

But sort of undaunted, we headed out to ski, some of us three times a day, as the slopes are lighted at night. I'll just mention here that I did *not* go skiing in the dark, as I can barely see at night, and I can barely ski. In fact, this photo is of my very first moment on skis, at my lesson. I did learn to ski, but I did not learn how to be not afraid while skiing down a mountain!

However, Clara was not afraid! All the kids are good skiers.

Felix is a great skier. Giles, as you see, stuck with the snowboard. And a helmet, after the first day.

I still can't believe we would all go out to play in such cold. I mean, we're from the South! Good thing about the fireplace and the massive pile of firewood.

Our inside time was grandly cosy, with beautiful views out every window.

Card games to play with grandparents.

Good things to read.

Stuffed animals to play with in the lamplight.

And something nice to knit!

On our way home, everyone a little tired. . .

But not too tired to knit.

Now, mountains of skiwear to launder, blue skies to walk under, an empty fridge to fill. Schoolwork to start back up, a new semester for Giles. New fabric to share . . . .

Home Again

Home safe and sound, with just a few ski-shaped bruises here and there, some cracked fingertips from the 5 degree weather, and kudos for Felix who turned out to be the family's best-by-far skier (black slopes!) and Giles, who mastered the snowboard, suffering only a minor concussion in the process.

I'm off to the city to visit my mother in the hospital (her first surgery went well), and looking forward to sharing some great pictures tonight.

Thanks to everyone praying for Sherry!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Packing for the Ski Trip

" 'Well, I'm nearly ready now,' answered Mrs. Beaver at last allowing her husband to help her into her snow boots. 'I suppose the sewing machine's too heavy to bring?'

'Yes. It is,' said Mr. Beaver. 'A great deal too heavy.'

--C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Off to the Woods and the Mountains

We are off this morning for two trips back to back: first a weekend in the woods with my extended family, then Sunday Clara and I fly to Denver, where we will spend the afternoon in a major fabric shopping frenzy. Monday the rest of the family will join us and we will head up into the Real Mountains for a week of snow skiing. This will be my first attempt at staying upright on skis, as Daisy and I have stayed home other years.

So, I will be back here on January 14 with some photos, no doubt!

In the meantime, I want to ask a favor from my readers. My mother is having an enormous painful back surgery on January 14. When she's released from the hospital she will be with us recuperating for a couple of weeks. If you're willing, would you leave a comment with a verse of comfort or encouragement for her? Don't worry about duplicating; the more the better!

See you on the 14th!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Two Last Chores

Every night the house gets dark and quiet. The kids are all sleeping. The sewing machine is turned off for the night, the magazine put down on the table, and the fire is burned down to coals.

I love doing the two last chores of the day, the dishwasher and the coffee. The kitchen is almost dark; it's clean, with only the Composer's ice cream bowl sitting beside the white sink. All that's left to do is tuck the dirty bowl into the dishwasher and start it up. I'm easy to thrill: knowing that the machine will wash all the dinner dishes without me, and there won't be any more mess until tomorrow, makes me happy.

And then I set up the coffeemaker for morning. I love the fragrance of the ground beans, my personal blend of caff and decaff. I love knowing that all I have to do in the morning is flip a switch, and stand at the cold east window watching the sky turn red while my coffee brews. My green cup, milk and no sugar, and the day spread out in front of me.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sweet Plate of Yo-yos

Yesterday I had the must-sit-by-the-fire-and-hand-sew bug so bad! No chance to get to the yarn store to start a knitting project, so I turned to my scrap box instead and started making yo-yos.

When I was growing up my neighbor had a pedestal table in her living room, and it was topped by a yo-yo tablecloth that must have had a thousand pieces in it. I was always fascinated by it. In fact, their whole house was fascinating, since Gloria did a lot of very skilled tole painting. All the interior doors were painted with landscapes filled with tiny realistic people. *And* they didn't welcome company, so I was always getting just the tiniest peek whenever I was there on an errand.

Anyway. Back to the yo-yos. I started making them up in pastel colors, and they looked just like buttercream rosettes, or meringue kisses! I'm enchanted with them, and so is Daisy, who arranges them in piles as they leave my needle, and offers them as cookies to her stuffed bunnies.

I used Heather's pattern, because it's pretty. It's found here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Girly Backpack

Simple to construct--a drawstring top with straps that are secured to the bottom of the bag, and an outside pocket (which I, don't faint, trimmed in velvet ribbon). All from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing book. One for Clara, and one for Daisy.

Oh, the fabric? A thrifted ten-yard swath. More fun coming!

Man Proposes

Looking ahead as best we can into the new year: lots of adventures planned. Best of all, to my mind, is lots more of the same.

• Ten trips planned already: skiing, spelunking, visiting colleges on both coasts, birding, a couple of literary tours . . .
• Clara begins piano lessons this month--looking towards that piano competency exam in a few years.
• Giles will leave home this fall for his second university year. Savannah College of Art and Design or Brooks Institute of Art? Which will it be?
• Therefore necessity will drive me to doing my own photography (yikes!).
• Everyone's running: a half-marathon for the Composer, 10K for the boys, and Clara, Bella, and I are going to do a 5K by April. Running shoes first, please.
• Heaven help us all, Daisy's getting an 1/8th size cello, and Clara will take on her first student!
• Bella in a soccer uniform this spring!
• And many, many, happy hours of sewing, I hope.

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