Monday, August 31, 2009

A Corduroy Shirtwaist: Vogue 8021

A little modern sewing! Actually I don't know if this one is still in print--I bought it at the thrift store. And *of course* omitted those breast pockets--who needs that kind of busy? I meant to add a pocket in the side seam and then got carried away and forgot . . . .

The fabric is also from the thrift store, so the project cost $1.10 total, including buttons from the stash.

Perfect match!

When I finished I remembered I had some leftover velvet, so I made up a little bag to accompany. I love the effect of pleated velvet.

Afterwards I was searching my memory to figure out why this garment seems so familiar. Finally it dawned on me that I channelled the Composer's ratty running shirt, a very precious and lucky piece.

I'm so glad I have one of my own now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A State Park to Ourselves

Where was everybody? Our beautiful state park was oddly empty in this unbelievably cool weather.

So cool that Giles built a fire for the girls to keep warm around.

Bella had made us a pot of sloppy joe filling. Heating it up at our picnic site was just the right amount of cooking for a picnic.

Dessert we cooked at home, right before we came. Rich flourless chocolate cookies from this month's Everyday Foods. Ingredients: sugar, cocoa, chocolate, egg whites, salt. Pretty easy!

Yes, the park was empty of people, but we were visited by a bold skunk.

No doubt he was stepping out to watch the sunset. It was worth coming out of your burrow for.

Lights blooming in the deep blue valley.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sweater Salvation

My mother knit a sweater for my birthday out of this beautiful pale green silk. She handed it to be with many apologies, because the neckline was about three feet across. I let it sit for a couple of months, just knowing there was a save for it, but having no idea what that might be.

Out of the blue it came to me yesterday--it should have come sooner because it was so obvious! A ribbon drawstring run around the neck opening!

I picked up the closest narrow ribbon and did it with a safety pin, no eyelets needed, and no measuring. The color choice was random, but I really like this black. Wearable!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Frederick at the Card Table

Grandparents took us out to lunch, then came back and played an hour of rummy with the kids. And the bird.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Felix Totes in the Shop

Three of these beauties are in the shop tonight!

Monday, August 24, 2009

More on a Course for Clara

Thank you all for your recommendations. It looks like I will definitely be adding Barbara Kingsolver's book to our list!

How will we use the books/are there lesson plans/how do I turn this into a curriculum?

My main philosophies of homeschooling are: Keep it simple. And less is more. We'll read the books, discuss them, follow up any ideas we want to with further research or reading. Clara will keep some notes with quick summaries of main ideas. I really don't see any need to fuss with the books any more than that. She reads, she understands, she recalls, she applies. If we can get to that point without any extra busy work, great!

If I could deliver one idea to homeschooling parents, it would be to relax. And have confidence! Well, that's two. Your way is probably the best way. Don't make it harder than it has to be.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Course for Clara

After a too-strenuous year of ninth grade (if she kept on at that rate she'd be done with high school at fifteen), Clara and I decided against her doing a traditional history or science course this year. We kicked around some ideas of things she might want to study, but nothing really sparked her, until this.

A course on Eating.

We're both fascinated. Starting with a history of food preparation and other housework, moving on to a history of why and how food started to become processed, then a couple of books that take on typical eating in modern America.

We're also looking at how to do it right.

So that's our history, our science, our home ec, and our common sense for the year.

A list of resources:
More Work for Mother (Cowan)
Fast Food Nation (Schlosser)
The Omnivore's Dilemma (Pollan)
The End of Overeating (Kessler)
The Hidden Art of Homemaking (Schaeffer)
Under the Tuscan Sun (Mayes)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thrifty Pompoms

Easy pompoms from a thrift store staple--packaged rug yarn! My finds here are a cream acrylic yarn, and a mostly-wool pale blue. Each package will yield 3-5 pompoms.

The only other things you need are scissors, and a source of basically matching yarn or heavy thread. I had knitting yarn to match the cream, and used regular embroidery floss to match the pale blue.

To get started, pick up a section of yarn pieces that measure about an inch across when squished. The acrylic is much loftier and smushier than the wool, which has more crisp definition. Try to keep the ends even when handling.

Cut a ten-inch length of matching yarn, and lay the bundle down on it.

Bring the ends of the yarn up and tie a regular old knot. An extra hand is very useful here to put a finger down on the knot while you're tying.

Cinch it up as rightly as possible while you're tying. Then trim the ends of your ties to match the ends of the pompom.

You might need to twist and tweak slightly to get it to fluff out. Also, if anything weaseled its way out a little, it can be trimmed to fit. But don't get carried away (it's fun!).

If you're using embroidery floss, cut your thread twice as long, about twenty inches. Double your thread loosely before laying the bundle of yarn down on it.

To tie, pass the two loose ends through the loop that's formed on the other side. You can then cinch tightly and tie the knot there.

Trim as before.

I think I'll use these to trim a gift.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Felix Settles in Away

Hard to believe that Felix is finishing his second week of boarding school. He apologizes for not being homesick--the truth is, he's so excited about taking zoology, environmental science, and marine biology all in one year that nothing can dampen his spirits.

We are so proud of him! Managing such a big transition, adjusting to a roommate, doing his own laundry, everything that comes with striking out on his own, he has handled with aplomb and great cheer.

He is such a sweet boy. So glad he's just a few hours away. I'm getting him this weekend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nothing Hard

"Five is when people go to school. But I won't go to school. I'll homeschool. But nothing hard."

So we're keeping it all soft. Just that little bit of reading practice, writing a few letters every day, and Daisy's favorite, "plussing." We usually set up a pencil store and I buy colored pencils from her. A delicious shopkeeper and pupil.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Canisters in the Sewing Room

Not only do my new cabinets hold lots of fabric, they provide me with clear surfaces for new sets of vintage canisters. Fortunately I live not too far from the ground zero of vintage storage containers, and was able to pick these beauties up for very little.

Not everything has to match. It's a set because I say it is!

Actually these are just perfect for storing all the sewing notions that come on cards--bias binding, rickrack, seam tape. Because if you put enough of them in, they stay vertical and every color is visible at once. So practical.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Stone Soup Shower

You know the children's book where the con artist wanders into town hungry, gets someone to provide a big soup pot, and by the end of the story has tricked the village into making him a big pot of delicious soup? That's how I host a wedding shower.

I lay a pretty cloth on the table, snap some crepe myrtle off the trees in the garden, hang up the thrifted tissue wedding bells (this is about a third of my collection!), and make a punch bowl with white grape and peach juice and ginger ale.

Then, by the time Connie has made little sandwiches, Mary Ellen has brought cheese and crackers, Kristen's made platters of Mexican dip, and Carol's made a darling cake, there's a beautiful shower.

Oh yes, I did contribute the sour gummy worms. Their bright colors inspired my choice of table covering--a length of striped fabric I bought last week to make into a forties dress. It will still happen, but it served me well on the table first.

You know how not every bride is quiet and elegant? Some are wacky and lots of fun. They're the ones who get the little thrift-store figurines for decoration.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Daisy and I are loving these together--they are the very volumes from my own childhood, an edition from the mid-Seventies. I love all the illustrations--the original artwork, the photography, the graphic design. And Daisy loves passing on the interesting factual tidbits to the rest of the family.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bella Makes Pizza

One of our best family friends heads off to college this weekend. She has been a part of my sewing circle, a very patient paper doll buddy to Daisy, an enthusiastic swimmer with Clara and Bella, and a card shark with the boys.

Bella said goodbye with homemade pizza. I hope that's part of Aimee's love language.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Fresh Infusion of Orchids

. . . because only one of my old ones is in bloom right now, and it isn't pink . . . and I'm hosting a bridal shower this weekend . . . and they're only $10 at Kroger this week . . . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cabinets on the Wall

While this picture hardly does justice to their splendor, it does offer proof that my new cabinet units are painted and mounted on the walls and filled with fabric. Sigh of pleasure. I love their sliding glass doors. And the fact that they are hung so securely that the Composer has instructed us to take cover under them in case of a tornado.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Wrap Skirt for Clara: McCall's 5430

This is really a fun skirt to sew. The sizing has been just right for my two girls also, without that bothersome gapping at the waist that plagues so many designs that sport waistbands.

Unlike my attempt with Bella's skirt, this time I managed to place the waist ties in the right place, so it ties at the hip the way it's supposed to. I used a chocolate denim with a little bit of stretch for the main skirt, and lined it with some leftover polka dot fabric.

An Update in the Shop

New goodies in the shop!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Last Call for Peaches

Now or never on freezing peaches for winter cobblers. I picked up my box this morning. It's a good life when your peach grower knows your name!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Frederick Kicks Back

This sweet bird is endlessly fascinating to all of us. Unlike a dog or a cat, his take on things is constantly changing and evolving. New words, new behaviors, new experiments: he's always surprising us.

Last week I thought I would try to train him to lay down in my hand. Believe me when I say that having an African gray nestle on his back in your palm is a *good* feeling! It only took three or four sessions before he was consistently obeying my command. "Grab on." (He's hanging from my finger by one claw). "Lie down." (He's kicking back in my other hand). "Have a nut." (Self-explanatory).

Have you seen anything sillier?

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