Monday, June 30, 2008

A Quick Skirt for Bella

Bella wasn't getting much wear out of her Easter dress, so I cut into it. A quick hem on the top made a great empire-waist blouse, and a quick casing and some elastic on the bottom half made this skirt.

I ran some cotton lace around the bottom and she was off on her busy way.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Waffles for Breakfast

Does anyone have a good source for maple syrup?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Waiting for Felix

. . . to come home from Boy Scout camp tomorrow. His furniture is all freshly painted white, and his chocolate bar and stack of new bird magazines await him.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vintage Blouse: Butterick 6223

I love this blouse for its cut-in-one kimono sleeves. It has two fronts, a back, and a facing piece! The easy work of an evening.

I made it in a very drapey linen-rayon blend. I gave myself an extra inch in the hips based on the pattern measurements. Boy, there's a lot of ease in the bust! Next time I might pinch some of that out.

I covered buttons with little scraps from an embroidered pillowcase of my grandmother's.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Swing Dress in Silk Charmeuse

This is a lovely pattern! I made it once before without taking the designer's excellent advice and shortening the bodice to the right length. Doing it right this time around made a big difference--look at the fit of that bodice!

I inadvertently installed a too-short zipper in the side seam which makes the dress very tricky to get in and out of, but it's worth the trouble and is extremely comfortable once it's on.

I omitted the ties that the pattern calls for and took in the waist a little.

The fabric is a very light silk charmeuse I bought several years ago. I adore the combination of pink, rose and brown. I thought I might have trouble with the drape as the pattern calls for a mid-weight drapey fabric, but it couldn't be better.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Clean Surroundings"

"Naturally you wish to live in clean surroundings. But a house does not need to be scrubbed daily from cellar to garret in order to be considered clean. Helen has worked out a practical system. . . . Along with the daily dusting she performs one heavier task--she vacuums the living room, puts up fresh curtains, or washes a few windows while the chili is bubbling on the stove and the salad is crisping in the iceless. In that way she avoids a Big Cleaning Day . . ."

--Beatrice Vincent, Make Mine Success (1950)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Felix Turns Fifteen

Let birthday season begin: Felix has turned fifteen! German chocolate cake and lots of bicycle accessories. And Daisy threw in a book of Little House on the Prairie paper dolls.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zinnias in Milk Glass

Boy do these bright zinnias pop when they're separated into individual milk glass vases! This is such a simple arrangement that can't go wrong, and costs only pennies! I buy my vases at the thrift store when the shelf items are half price--that puts these at two for a quarter.

Thrifty happiness indeed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers

Felix has discovered a nesting pair of red-bellied woodpeckers hard at work just below the deck. They're spending their days on the top of a dead pine tree, excavating a very large nest.

Fortunately the birds are doing all this work right where we can see them. Amazing looking at them through Felix's spotting scope--red-bellied woodpeckers are very large, with bright red heads and beautiful dark speckled bodies. We can see them bring pine pulp out of the hole in their bills. After several digs they groom the sawdust off, then get back to work.

Felix is documenting all of this in his field journal. I love his elegantly-recorded visuals and his tiny, tiny notes.

Dresses and Books in the Shop

Bella's been growing right out of her homemade dresses, and I've decided I would rather sew fresh for Daisy in ten years than keep these put away until then. So I'm listing a whole big girl's wardrobe of dresses in the shop.

I've also put in a major library of quilting books, so take a look!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blackberry Pie with Checker Top

Wisdom Teeth

Giles had his wisdom teeth out this morning, a relatively quick procedure due to the short, straight roots on his molars. I sat with him in the recovery room as he was waking up and he had me cracking up with his anaesthesia-induced euphoria. "This was my first surgery!!!" he kept exclaiming.

How do you get enough calories into a dairy-and-soy-free boy who can only have cold drinks? Forget the milkshakes, ice creams, puddings, and malts that the surgeon suggested. Fortunately I had frozen bananas waiting for today. Blending one with a little rice milk, a big dollop of honey, and another fruit made a very nice milkshake-like drink. I did banana-blueberry (he downed two of those back to back), banana-nectarine-blueberry, and my supreme caloric effort, a shake made with a frozen banana, a *half cup of peanut butter*, a lot of chocolate syrup, and a little rice milk. I'm thinking I got about a thousand calories into that last one. Then he had another.

It's a good thing he can't go running until Wednesday. Doctor's orders.

Gardenias in Milk Glass

A gift from my neighbor Eve. So fragrant . . . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nest from the Raspberry Field

Ah! The raspberries are still bearing, and we went up first thing yesterday to pick two gallons. On last week's trip we had seen a bird nest tucked into the canes, holding three eggs. This week the nest was abandoned, with just this one speckled egg left. We hope the other young ones fledged successfully.

Felix is guessing this belonged to a field sparrow. I love its delicate lines.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Evenings Full of Linnets' Wings

The kids and I spent the last week on the Katy trail along the Missouri River. They were on bikes, Daisy and I were in the car dawdling along enjoying ourselves and doing the feeding.

Our music of choice for our woodsy days was Claire Holley's salty Mississippi rendition of Innisfree and we drove from town to town singing along. We stopped at bakeries, at chocolate shops, at wonderful antique stores (nothing costs *anything* in southern Missouri, apparently!). We did massive leisurely grocery stock-ups for our sixteen hungry campers, and we enjoyed walking hand in hand down the cosy main streets of such beautiful turn-of-the-century river towns, with their ornate theatres and banks and dry goods stores.

But best of all was each night's rendezvous. We cooked and ate and did the dishes (Daisy's supreme joy: the three-dishpan system set up right at her level). I would go out for a walk down the trail for a mile or so, mesmerized by the endlessly disappearing white path, under a tunnel of trees, past honeysuckle and mimosa, and under a rising moon.

There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Deep in the Woods

We're off in the morning for a float trip, followed immediately by a week on bikes deep in the woods. The four big kids are biking with church friends, kids and adults, while Daisy and I drive Big Mike and a trailer, stopping to shop for food, and doing the cooking.

It's killing me to leave when the raspberries are ripe, but oh, well . . . .

We'll be back a week from Monday!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Travel Journals

On family trips we keep a travel journal. We've been doing this since 2001 and now have a stack of notebooks we treasure. There's no right or wrong way to do it, and our journals have changed some since we started.

Our basic format is to do a page for each day of our trip, with drawings, quotes, observations, or ephemera from the day's activities. And we always write down the day's mileage, whether it's an 800-mile marathon out West, or 15 miles moseying around a national park.

The trip book is where you put the postcards you just had to buy in the Redwoods--who could resist that slug?

It's a place to record the most awesome things, the things you might want to come back to with your own children. It's great to have a set of rubber alphabet stamps with you in the car, to make things look better.

Everyone is welcome to contribute, and I love to see what they think is important:

Practical considerations:

• Choose heavy paper. Spiral lies flat; bound is sturdier. A little bit of a trade-off. We found a notebook that alternates heavy watercolor paper with bond paper for written notes. Perfect!
• Pack Prismacolors with a sharpener, black pens, watercolors and a brush, scissors, tape, and a glue stick for souvenirs.
• Alphabet stamps and an ink pad.
• A running list of birds and animals is a great page to include.
• Loosen up. Let the kids at it however they want. It will be priceless.

Ladies' Clothes in the Shop

Ladies' clothes, handmade and vintage, in the shop this afternoon!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Negotiating with Daisy

Daisy: "The swimming pool is cold!"
Giles: "No, it's warm."
Daisy: "No, it's so cold!"
Giles: "Daisy, it's fine."
Daisy: "G., I think you will agree that you and I have a different point."

Green, Green Bouquet

Annabelle hydrangeas, oak leaf hydrangeas, and variegated vinca--soft greens.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


To any plain shortbread recipe add the zest of an orange, and a cup of finely chopped pecans or walnuts (or both). Serve on atomic saucer, if available.

Goodies in the Shop

I've updated the shop with some goodies tonight. More to come through the week; it takes a while to work down through the stack!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Backroads: Bella Goes to Mansfield

Bella took her Christmas trip this weekend. She's a big fan of the Little House book, and like any fan, knows that Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in the Missouri Ozarks in the tiny town of Mansfield.

This is her little white farmhouse. It is an absolute jewel. I could barely breathe when I was inside, I was loving it so much. It's preserved today exactly the way it was when Mrs. Wilder died in 1957. Exquisite.

A tiny front porch with low white rails, a gray-painted floor, beadboard ceiling, and a view of the sloping green front lawn shaded by pecan trees.

No interior photos allowed (a shame!), but a detail of the upstairs window. The all-white guest bedroom and its organdy curtains. Oh, there were ruffled and tied-back organdy curtains in the dining room as well. Shelves of depression glass. Green tins in the kitchen. Chenille spreads on the beds.

Laura and Almanzo were supposed to "retire" from working their farm in this fairy-tale stone cottage built on their property by their successful daughter Rose. They lasted eight years before getting homesick for the farmhouse and moving back. But. This house is a Sears and Roebuck mail-order plan house. Tiled windowsills. Little arched alcoves with shelves. An unbelievable tiled arched shower. The kitchen sink drainboard! The drawers built into closets! So human and comfortable. Warm yellow walls. And I love the brick terrace.

We rented a tiny cottage across the highway from the museum. Unprepossessing from the outside, but actually quite lovely inside, clean and fresh and well-furnished. And a lovely deck overlooking a pond with a Muscovy duck. We picked up a supper picnic and ate outside in the evening air.

After dark we sat out listening to an owl, until finally he swooped down in front of us in a flash of pale feathers and was gone.

A truly unexpected bonus with our rental was the presence of the ruins of a Renaissance Fair. Apparently the previous owner had tried to run one of these for a few years, and the set pieces were hanging around decomposing.

Fortunately not *right* where we parked.

The next morning we did a little low-key spelunking in a magnificent cave on the property. A perfect limestone tunnel with a stream running out of it--we were told it runs 1.8 miles underground, but we only made it to the first few turns.

We topped that off with a hamburger stop and then an afternoon at a water park. Fun for Bella, fun for us!

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