Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Many many teens headed my way tonight for dessert and games, so I made two kinds of cupcakes. A straightforward yellow cake recipe for the vanilla ones, to be topped at the last minute with fat clouds of sweetened whipped cream.
Standard chocolate cake made up with darkest cocoa for the black cupcakes, then Daisy's best efforts in chocolate chips.
Add an urn of hot cider and lots of decaff coffee, for beverages in both light and dark.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
An exciting morning with Bella's new pasta maker! Also a Christmas gift--she had long had her eye on one of these, and we got her an Italian Imperia hand-cranked machine. The girl, she loves to make things from scratch, especially if they are made from flour.
None of us had ever done any of this before, and the instructions and recipe are basically in Italian. But oh, the handy internet. We had a good idea of what needed to happen.
How delightful when our mass of dough actually turned into beautiful fettucini. The machine is great! It does exactly what it's supposed to do, not more, not less. And it feels solid and good.
Hm. Like pasta.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Bella got Mad Hungry, by Lucinda Scala Quinn for Christmas. Score!
Perfect for Bella because of the gorgeous photography, straightforward writing, and most delicious food!! She's already planned all the menus for the week straight out of it. She's cooked four already and at this rate we'll have sampled every single recipe in the book by February. And be happier for it.
This cookbook gets *all* my stars.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Having spent the entire afternoon scouring thrift stores with Giles and Felix (what? it was only two hours? it felt like more!), I find this evening the perfect time to share the Thrift Store Look Book. Photo credits and styling to Giles, wardrobe credit to Alejandro, writing by Giles and Alejandro.
Hand-crafted of the finest cashmere-rayon blend in select Japanese factories, the Lounge sweater (Billow model worn by Alejandro) is specially designed to create a dynamic visual match with the sleeves only when the wearer stands awkwardly still.
Alejandro shares a laugh with chums at Le Chateau du Castle, sporting this season's newest plaid-on-plaid combo. Tie pin customizable with your initial. Featuring our vintage pleather-lined 1993 Nissan pickup in Crimson (call for details).
Paul models our always up-to-date cardigan-tie combination on Le Chateau du Castle's rugged woodpile. Dress it up: dress it down: the outfit takes him from a leisurely afternoon badminton match to a sensuous evening at Le Cafe a la Chateau du Castle.
Alejandro and Paul return from a dusky ramble. Paul in gray cardigan-tie combo. Alejandro in plaid-a-la-plaid featuring authentic Patagonian boots.
And that should be plenty of inspiration for all of us!
Friday, December 24, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The girls were in charge today, and had the gingerbread dough chilling when I got back from town. Then we all got in on the rolling, cutting, and decorating. I guess frosting is so last year--they went with just the sanding sugars and the glitter. Beautiful in the last sun this afternoon.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Clara usually helps Bella with her voice practice, accompanying her on the piano and working with her on good practice technique. She decided early this year that Bella's sight-reading skills needed upping, so they usually warm up, then sing several pages in a row out of the hymn books. For Bella it is sightsinging; by now Clara is piano-fluent in the whole hymnal, and usually sings along on the alto line.
It's been great for the rest of us as the girls bring many unknown hymns out of obscurity. Though some of them should be left there. God of Concrete, God of Steel? What was someone thinking?
And in the last year the boys have both developed so much interest in singing that at the first sign of the hymnals coming out they jump in and try to learn the bass lines. Daisy trills along in a "high voice" and, well, it's wonderful!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Definitely a go-to pattern for Bella's dresses. Something about the pert collar and sleeves and the tailored cut is just right for her. This one is made up in a brushed cotton-poly twill (I'm guessing) that someone gave me.
To make it more interesting I used a striped cotton to face the collar and the front band. The undercollar rolls out just enough to make it looked piped, which is fun! And the little flash of color in front goes a long way towards making it fun, and not just utilitarian. Though it is that. It doesn't even need ironing.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Finals are over for everyone, at last. Clara had her first college finals (Freshman Composition and advanced Spanish) and got her grades today. 4.0!
This Spanish class was the best deal ever--it is a third-year class, for juniors, and any student is free to enroll in it who has adequate Spanish skills, without taking the beginning and intermediate years. Then, if they earn a high enough grade, the student gets the actual credit hours for the first four classes--a total of nineteen credit hours in Spanish! Clara loved the class, which had a fine teacher and attracted lots of native speakers who wanted that bonus credit. So besides working on her language skills, she met students from Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other points Latin.
Now, vacation. Then onwards and upwards after Christmas!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
These owls are so much fun to make. Every stitch is such an important part of the story--the eyes, the feet, the little V-shaped feathers . . . .
I've been needle-felting yarn onto felt to make the outline of the face, and to mark some feathers on the back of the tail.
A parliament of barn owls!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Slightly obsessed with the barn owl's charms lately. Here's a pillow with a barn owl in a tree on the night of the winter solstice. Not sure you can see the big pale full moon, but it's there.
So much fun to work with felted wool textures. I cut up several coats and washed them til they were firm enough to work with. The images practically assemble themselves, and it all feels so good.
This one will be headed to etsy soon.
Monday, December 13, 2010
For days the living room has been filled with coffee cups and laptops. Everyone settles in with a notebook and a Bible and his current C.S. Lewis selection. Then they go to the thrift store and buy hip outfits.
I want permission to post the Winter 2010 Look Book when Giles gets back from hiking.
After dinner they get out Bella's guitar, lure Clara to the piano, and sing and sing. They like obscure new hipster worship music, and the very oldest, most mountainy hymns.
It all ended with a perfect Sunday--groovy outfits to church, a massive nap pile on the couch, and then an all-out session in the kitchen. Paul, who is Cajun, presided over my very largest pot full of genuine gumbo, served the real way with potato salad. Giles cut up a chicken (I couldn't believe my eyes), while Alejandro diced massive piles of onions and peppers, his architectural background evident in the tiny precision of his chopped vegetables. They had their favorite music on and the girls and I made cookies by dodging between everyone. So fun!
Now Paul has gone home (by train, so indie), and Giles and Alejandro and braving some very cold nights backpacking. They should be fine, though, Alejandro totaled up the number of calories they were each carrying and it came out to 23,000. Whew.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Feeling very festive this year, but also wanting to keep the house understated. It's so full of festive people it hardly seems to need decoration!
Here's my Christmas card display this year--instead of taping them to the door frame as we've done every year since 1974, we're putting them under the bell jar. Just as beautiful, and a little quieter to the eye.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Because she thinks everyone should have a Christmas-themed waist apron that *fits*. No messing about with a grown-up sized apron.
I found a bundle of Christmas napkins at the thrift store--eight matching ones and two others. I thought I would use the odd ones to make her apron. She was very upset at the idea of having "odd" napkins in her apron. But once we had that idea ironed out, she gave me explicit directions. The border print was to be trimmed off one side of each napkin, and those sides were to be sewn together before the skirt was gathered and attached to the waistband. Right, Daisy.
I like to make you happy.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Giles just got in from a road trip with some school friends. Judging from the photos, they focused on their main travel interests--decaying buildings, coffee, and rural Southern culture.
Alejandro considers the feasibility of historic preservation here. Prospects not good.
Famous all over the monde--beignets and chicory coffee.
The boys are all here now, having just fed on a big, late pot of chili and a pan of gingerbread. I will continue to feed them for a couple of days, then Giles and Alejandro, who seems a little urbane for this prospect, are off on a five-day hike. Giles has always had his Boy Scout side, and Alejandro is going to develop one. I guess.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
So many birds with one stone--I used up all the red and green sweaters from my stash, found a project Daisy could do the sewing on, and made something I adore to decorate the house for Christmas.
A wonderfully easy project. We just cut out a bazillion circles freehand from our felted thrift store sweaters and wool scraps, and Daisy strung them on a doubled length of quilted thread. I kept the segments about two feet long and then attached them to get a completed garland of about eight feet, with a very organic feel, as though it may have been, at some point, alive.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
I've been storing my lengths of velvet ribbon on vintage spools of thread for, I don't know, a long time. Then I saw yesterday that Sundance catalog has jumped onto that bandwagon. They're actuallly selling new velvet ribbon on vintage spools! Perhaps I've seen their buyers at the thrift store . . . .
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
Thursday, December 02, 2010
So far, my favorite Colette pattern of all! It went together in an absolute flash, because it has no lining, no facings, and not even any bindings. How's that for easy?
On the other hand, it's not really a wear-alone garment. It makes up into a beautiful slip or nightie.
My version is in flannel, and it's for bedtime. Isn't it fun, with the great fit and the tiny double straps that act to cinch up the fullness of the bust? I'm ignoring the fact that I didn't do any fitting until the project was finished--and then had to sew a dart across the midriff to take it in. I'll catch that next time, indeed. I've already made the notes on the paper pattern.
Because it's cut on the bias, it takes up very little fabric. And also, the bias drape allows you to make this gorgeous lettuce-ruffled effect at the bottom hem. Just pull back slightly on the fabric as you feed it under the foot. Instead of a plain narrow hem, I used one of my machine embroidery satin stitches, in white, to add some weight and improve the drape.
Colette is selling this as an intermediate pattern, but I say, any beginner can handle this one!
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
My thrifting sorties have indicated that this holiday season I will be grouping little white trees together. Here we see the lightly spray-painted pine cone tree, the skinny curly white tree (Clara: "What's it for?" Me: "Nothing. It just is."), and the little linen trees I made a different year. A flocked forest.