Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Parrots love to chew. Frederick loves to chew.
I thought to give him the extra packaging from my Amazon order. Don't worry, he doesn't ingest it. He chews it and it falls to the floor in bits.
Boy, is he good at chewing.
He brings everything to the table.
And doesn't he randomly look like a corporate spokesperson in this picture? I think so.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
If you have one of those big map books with every hollow, ridge, and lane in the state on its pages, you can find your way down the dirt roads and up 1200 feet to the highest point in the county.
And if you leave at just the right time of late afternoon, you'll get there right before the sun sets.
You had better bundle up, because pure and leafless late November gets chilly on that windy knob.
What a beautiful world.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Yes you *can* put together a delicious feast for fourteen people without stressing! We had a big family dinner here tonight and once again I was gone practically all day bringing Felix home from school. This menu is mostly do-ahead and can't-go-wrong. And the quantities will feed a lot of hungry teenagers.
• Slow-roasted pork loin
• Potatoes au gratin
• Tart gingery slaw
• Sauteed squash
• Roasted garlic focaccia
1. For the meat, I laid two good-sized pork loins in my roasting pan early in the day, squeezed the juice of two limes over them, and dosed them liberally with Cajun seasoning (or any favorite spice mix). These need about three hours in a low over (300 or so). So plan accordingly.
2. The potatoes can be fixed at any time of day and reheated for dinner. Peel and slice about 5 pounds, chop an onion, mince two garlic cloves, and put all into a pot with two cups each of milk and cream and a small palmful of salt. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, then dump into a large pan and bake at 500 for about 20 minutes. Let rest before serving.
3. Slaw: Use two bags of slaw from the produce section, and slice a few radishes, a cucumber, and a red pepper to add. Dress with this: 1/4 cup vinegar or lime juice, 2 T. grainy mustard, a lot of grated ginger, 1/3 c. oil, 2 t. sesame oil, and a bunch of chopped peanuts. Toss it all together, and cover in the fridge for however long until you need it.
4. Just before dinner, or even early in the day, saute your squash or zucchini by slicing thin, putting in a skillet with about 2 T. olive oil and salt and pepper, and cooking covered over a high heat, shaking occasionally. Best when served immediately, but if you're busy no reason you can't do it early and reheat gently.
5. Make or buy some tasty bread.
6. Serve ice cream (or get Bella to make a cake!)
Monday, November 23, 2009
I picked up McCall's 5966 last time I was at Hobby Lobby and saw a sale, in need of something quick and comfy to throw together for Daisy out of stash flannel. She is so very very picky about her clothes and so loathe to wear pants and so in need of a warm dress or two.
What a relief to find that this dress was acceptable. Because it looks like the one Nancy wears to the ball at the end of Enchanted. It does? As long as Daisy thinks so.
Now I don't have to take her to town in her bathing suit.
By the way, it runs huge. I cut out a size 3, with the length of a 5, and I could have gone down to a 2 and probably will next time.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I've met my crewel-work Waterloo: a thrifted piece I can't bring myself to make into a pillow. Because it's so big. And the stitches are so big. And because, although it's funny, it looks good in a funny kind of way on the wall.
So it's going to hang there, at least for a while.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
An old friend is down with a horrendous neck problem. She's due for surgery in two and a half weeks, and in the meantime spends all her time lying flat or trying to find a comfortable position in her recliner. She can't drive, work, or fix herself a sandwich.
I went to see her yesterday and though her usual perkiness was understandably somewhat subdued, she still had a little of her twinkle as she described her current fantasy: a pillow that would be very soft on the outside, warm for around her neck, and that smelled of lavender.
That I could do. These are lined with muslin, then cut out of polka dot flannel and the softest salvaged cashmere. Filled half with rice and half with lavender, they smell heavenly. If only they had magical healing properties.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I've had this vintage quilt top in my stash for several years--long enough for the rusty orange and purple combinations to really grow on me. I'm so glad I turned to machine quilting in my later years. It's just not possible to hand-quilt all I want to do.
Put together with a muslin back and a cotton batting, this quilted up quickly. I outlined the stars, and in the plaid blocks I just did free-hand concentric square spirals. They don't really show on the busy front, but make a pleasant pattern on the plain back.
I should have taken my pictures after the run through the washer and dryer--it looked so much quiltier then!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I liked the restrained use of blackberries and the elegant reliance on a perfect crust in this dessert. It's from Nigella, of course.
Perfect crust. I never thought I'd need to use *those* words. My crusts are always tasty, but messy. I'm passing the baton to Bella.
Friday, November 13, 2009
So those long linen dresses at the thrift store? They make up into aprons so easily! I was doing these narrower lined aprons, but now I'm working them up differently. Unlined, but much fuller. Just cut off as much of the bottom of the dress as you want to use, then cut off the button strips (or zippered seam) so that you have most of a skirt, with an unfinished cut up the back (or front, just turn it around) and an unfinished waist.
The fun part is picking out coordinating fabric to use in a wide binding strip down the back sides. Once that's in place, I choose another fabric for the waistband and attach that as I did in my other linen aprons (see the link above), but I fold pleats in the side fronts of the apron, and into the back, basting in place before sewing the waistband on.
And to tie it all together, I like to do a little applique that brings both fabrics into play, and I am very partial to layered squares.
This one's going in the shop.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This lavender merino sweater suffered from a common Thrifted Sweater Syndrome (indeed, probably what doomed it to the thrift shop in the first place): the sweater bunched into the ribbing at the waist and wrists. Right. No one wants that blousy sweatshirty look going on in their sweater.
Fortunately there's an easy fix. Thread up the machine with matching thread, run a line of straight stitching just inside where you want to cut, then with sharp scissors carefully cut off the offending waistband. Then zigzag over the edge, and you're finished and secure. If you want a little lettuce-edged ruffle, pull back slightly on the sweater as it goes under the needle. If you want a flatter edge (I did here), feed it gently and steadily under.
On to the midriff! The sweater was okay without any further work, but I wanted more interest, and a more shapely middle. Silk embroidery ribbon from the stash, and a regular big-eyed needle. I knotted the ribbon and, working from the side seam in, did a simple running stitch to the center, with plenty of ribbon hanging out. Repeated from the other side.
Now I can cinch the underbust for a little shaping, or, conversely, pull it all out without any damage to the sweater. No commitment, just some fun!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I may have been shopping for my own stocking here. Maybe. If not I should have been! Everything is gorgeous and inspiringly homey.
So. I may have asked if Feather Your Nest would throw in an extra pair of frivolous rubber gloves for my readers. The world's most beautiful rubber gloves--and all you have to do is leave your name in the comments. I'll draw on Saturday afternoon.
This time, everyone's invited. I'll ship anywhere in the world!
Monday, November 09, 2009
Felix is too busy this month to come home, but he did allow that we could come visit him Saturday to share lunch, then attend his choir concert.
He misses home food so we brought a good picnic--a giant pot of potato-leek soup to heat up on the camp stove, and chicken Caesar salad all around.
We found a park not far from his school with picnic tables, a view, and beautiful hiking trails. No hiking this time though--it was enough to sit in the sun and look at Felix.
"I've realized that everything at home is beautiful," he told me while we ate. It is.
So much is.
Friday, November 06, 2009
. . . plenty of thrifted crewelwork, at least. This was a thrift store find stapled around cardboard (aren't they always?) and stuffed into a cheap rickety frame. I could almost feel its sigh of relief as it settled over the curves of stuffing when I finished.
The back is more of the loosely-woven gold silk, with a bright turquoise zipper boldly showing.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Bella made little hand pies for our lunch: cheese, onion, and potato from, of course, Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess.
They were so rich and good, I asked her if there was a whole stick of butter in the pastry. She looked rather offended and said that no, it called for only seven tablespoons.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
This is not just any basket. First of all, it's entirely handmade by my nephew. Second, it was in the car with us at all times for weeks, with a soft blanket in it, in case we saw a stray kitten.
Now, without any training at all, Lucy knows that she's supposed to sleep there.
Sometimes things just work out.