Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gift Tags

Bring Christmas on: I'm ready now that Bella and I made a big stack of very simple gift tags. "To" and "From" printed out on cardstock, cut with scallops, and glued onto squares of scrapbook paper (I had two pages in the house, and both had some red and some green on them, so that counts as Christmas).

I have been on a huge use-up-what-I-have-without-buying-more kick, which extends to all parts of my life, including gift tags.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vintage Bowling Dress in Wool: McCall 7734

There is something about this pattern cover that speaks to my heart. Look at those ladies sporting with such elegance!

I had to make this pattern up in a business-like wool. In a business-like color. It's very fine fabric, comfortable over a slip, and quite lightweight. I could so golf in this dress.

Although all I've tried doing so far is coughing (better now though!). I found that the deep action-pleated back works great during a really powerful coughing spell. You have room to truly work your lungs and abs.

And the ginormous pocket can hold tons of Kleenexes.

The covered buttons are just there to make you feel like you've got it all together.

This was my second time to make up this pattern. I took about an inch out of each shoulder width, and I am not a narrow girl. But I nailed the fit this time! Love that.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Sweet Thanksgiving

Thou dost visit the earth, and cause it to overflow;
Thou dost greatly enrich it . . . .

Thou hast crowned the year with Thy bounty . . . .

By awesome deeds Thou dost answer us in righteousness . . . .

We went through fire and through water;
Yet Thou didst bring us out into a place of abundance.

(Psalm 65 and 66)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Markers

Giles brought the Expensive Markers home from college, now that Color Theory is over. Boy are we enjoying them here!

Every day Daisy completes many, many coloring pages printed off the internet (oh the boundless riches of mermaids, fairies, princesses, and roses!) with .3 mm artist markers. She always puts the lid back on when she's done with a color. She likes to keep warm and cool separate.

And if you were here, she would invite you to color with her.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Yo-Yo Patch

Bella dropped a marker in her lap and got a permanent mark on the front pocket of her skirt. Fortunate indeed that I keep an emergency supply of yo-yos on hand. We picked out three, appliqued them on, then found three buttons for their middles. Now this skirt can keep on trucking!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Daisy and Bossy

After many days of lying around hacking and coughing, this afternoon I was able to drag myself out into the sunshine for a few minutes. Sights like this one? They boost your health.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Afternoon Cider

More often than not, these afternoons, I make a pot of something hot to drink and sometimes even a tray with a bite on it, and we all sit down together around 4:00 and enjoy our snack.

Yesterday was spiced cider poured out for the kids--one tiny, diluted serving for Daisy in her special two-handled Charlotte tea cup, and *four* large servings for my *four* big kids gathered around the table.

(photo by Giles)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"She Was Determined to Knit a Whole Dress"

"Valerie gave Coralie a lesson in knitting, with the idea of making a sweater she very much admired. After which they took a brisk walk downtown to purchase needles and wool.

Coralie had a feeling as she came back with her fat bundle under her arm, as if she were really beginning to amount to something at last. She was determined to knit a whole dress like Valerie's. It might take her years but she knew it was going to be fun."

--Grace Livingston Hill, The Seventh Hour

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Taking to My Knitting

I am taking to my bed with my bag of knitting this evening. For one thing, I still haven't shaken my bronchial troubles. Even more to the point, the kids' excitement level due to Giles' arrival home tomorrow? That's at Bouncing Off the Walls.

Besides, a sweet family is awaiting the arrival of a beautiful, though tiny, Ethiopian princess, and even though I've never knitted lace before I intend to get her dress finished in time.

So, don't knock on my door unless it's an emergency!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Zookeeper's Pinafore

I was able to rescue this fox and his happy animal friends from the thrift store, where they resided on a pair of pristine nursery curtains.

Now they're trapped in a pinafore worn by a tiny zookeeper!

Available here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Very Late Roses

Despite our hard frosts, the rosebushes are still dotted with the latest, sweetest roses. Cutting them with abandon today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Clara's Daisy Bag

Clara's been working on the "Daisy" bag from Debbie Bliss's Junior Knits. Pink seed stitch outside, green stockinette lining, carrying handles worked in, and ornamented with knitted flowers. I'm proud of her!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thinking About Running

I'm thinking longingly about running today, since I've got a mild flu-type thing going on and had to--gasp--cancel today's run. How did this happen? I was the girl who had never in her life been able to run a mile. Oh, the humiliation of the Presidential Fitness Tests in junior high! I was good for maybe two of the four laps, then it was walking time.

I started out so slowly at the beginning of the year, and remember my first agonizing attempt *quite* clearly. It was a bitter, bitter cold afternoon with icy wind. Underdressed, out of shape, hating every minute of it, the girls and I alternated walking and running quarters for a mile and a half.

And honestly, although things got warmer, the running really never felt any better until The Day I Slowed Down. Prior to The Day, my longest run was 3 1/2 miles, all of which were trying to kill me. I could do it, but I was ready to die at the end. Then, on that hot morning on vacation in Florida, lost in a strange neighborhood, I Slowed Down. And ran over four miles, and felt sort of okay when I finally found the house again.

Cue the banners being flung down from heaven! Slow running is fun and it doesn't hurt! It makes you feel strong; it makes you skinny!

My long run now is 8 miles, which I do before church on Sunday morning. It does leave me feeling pregnant the next day (that is, hungry and needing a nap), but I look forward to it all week. Then I take Monday off (and do a quick weight-lifting routine instead). Tuesdays and Thursdays I run 2.7 miles on our road (hills!), Wednesdays I run fast intervals with Carol at the trail (3 miles total), and Fridays are my tempo run (3 miles at close to race pace). So.

Listen, ladies, if I can do it, you can too!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lovely Hooverettes

A rare sighting of the elusive Hooverette! I find these utilitarian garments infinitely more compelling than formal wear from the same decades. These particular Hooverettes are especially fine--look at the color-blocking, which gives the long, lean illusion, the curved corner of the wrap front, and the very Deco patterning done in (presumably) embroidery. Lucky ladies!

Vintage Clothing 1880-1980 elaborates:

"These are 'Hoover dresses' of 1931. Linen and gingham, sleeveless, easy to slip on tying behind with long belt in a bow knot. They could also be worn over more formal wear if necessary to dash into the kitchen. They were usually one size, considered a 'house dress' or overall apron."

Oh, and if anyone has this pattern lying around in the attic, you might let me know!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wearing My New Dress

(photo by the Composer)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Perfect Quilt for Fall

When my babies were little I quilted a lot. It was the perfect nighttime activity after they were asleep. Curled up in front of a movie with a warm lapful of cotton, I found the repetition soothing and the visible progress encouraging.

I made this tree of life quilt sometime in the first five years of my marriage. Most of the browns and reds were from clothes my mother had made me.

Right now I have it folded over the deacon's bench in the living room. Perfect for fall.

Monday, November 10, 2008

In the Vintage Kitchen: Salted Nuts

We generally put together a package of goodies and mail it out to Giles on Mondays--today we packed the last one until next year! He arrives home in ten days and stays til early January.

I wanted something lightweight and savory and found a recipe in a 1940s cookbook for Salted Nuts. I used a pound of almonds, 2 t. olive oil, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce, and a lot of salt.

I also did a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies because too many snacks is better than too few, you know?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Last Brilliant Saturday

This is the last Saturday of brilliant fall color that we'll have until next fall. The Composer and I were childless this afternoon and spent part of it driving home on the little back highways admiring the day. Then dinner for two to cook--how quick is that?--and an endless, pointless movie to finish up--how mindless is that?--and a fire in the woodstove and a last slice of chocolate cake.

Brilliant Saturday.

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Perfection or Nothing"

"When people insist on perfection or nothing, they get nothing."

--Edith Schaeffer, What Is a Family?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

In the Vintage Kitchen: Butterscotch Brownies

These have become my go-to bar cookie for all cookie situations. They mix up so quickly and are frighteningly good. I've been serving them, still warm, to our Wednesday night Bible study group, and I have no intention of stopping.

I generally double this recipe, add a bag of butterscotch chips, and bake in a 13x9 pan for eight extra minutes.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sense and Sensibility Swing Dress in Wool

You know how sometimes you just want a nicely-fitting tailored wool dress? Yeah, like that.

Beautiful forest green crepe wool was such a pleasure to work with. No shifting, no shedding, no twisting. I got it at Denver Fabrics last winter and finally got brave enough to just use it.

I have this dress in mind for church, or winter weddings, or even funerals. And of course, Christmas, with the flower corsage it's sporting in the picture. I made the pin from a Christmas tablecloth, and a scrap of red velvet to cover a button.

I love to sew!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Porcelain-Berry Vine

While I've been cleaning Felix has used a little of his outside time to do me a big favor--he built a tuteur for my sprawling porcelain-berry vine. The berries are fascinating shades from turquoise to lavender, and all points of blue in between.

Birds love it, and deer ignore it. It's a keeper.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Beginning My Deep Clean

"' 'Good night, Mom!' said Thurlow, climbing down from the ladder to change the water in his bucket. 'I never suspected this room was so large. I would have said I could do the whole thing in an hour. But then, I never knew it was so bloomin' dirty.'"

--Grace Livingston Hill, April Gold

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Camellia Bud

Amazing that these fragile beauties wait until cold weather to appear.

I've been *loving* my hours in the garden this week. Every day I stop after sixty minutes of digging so I don't absolutely cripple myself with lower back pain, but I can't wait for the next session. The turning maples, the smoky sky, the mild air, the Bermuda roots coming out of the damp ground so easily . . . .

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