Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clara Knits a Quick Beret

Miss Speedy Needles cast this beret onto her size sevens when we pulled out for our overnight camping trip. It was finished by the next day. Jealous!

She used a beautiful Rowan Tapestry yarn which contains wool and soy fibers and is the tiniest bit variegated, as you can see from the striping on the hat. She chose the pattern from the many options at Ravelry. And when I asked her if she ended with the right number of stitches, she looked at me funny. She always does, I guess.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"The Familiar Task of Making Biscuits"

"She went about the familiar task of making biscuits. The feel of the flour and golden butter as she worked them together the big mixing bowl was good again . . . .

She smiled dreamily as she measured the water, ice cold from the spring in the back yard, and stirred her batter daintily with a silver knife, touching it lightly as if she were weaving a charm over it."

--Grace Livingston Hill, Blue Ruin

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In Concert

The Composer has all those contacts in the music world . . .

and, well, my favorite, *favorite*, singer-songwriter gave a house concert right here. This weekend.

Still weepy about that.

Thank you very much, J.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Exterior Painting

I am oh so thankful this is not my job. I can't believe that even a professional painter has the strength of will to take on this project, it's so very endless.

But he has. These old boards are very needy. Scraping, replacing siding, caulking, sealing wasps into the walls(!), priming, and eventually a fresh new coat of Benjamin Moore Cottage Red.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reluctantly Bound Buttonholes

What you *must* do, you can do, I guess. These fat orange buttons were too big for my automatic buttonhole attachment so I had to make my first-ever bound buttonholes. If I had known this was coming I would not have attached my facings first, but at this point? Water under the bridge.

The surprise was how good-looking they are from the front side. I looked at some tutorials online but they freaked me out. Organza windowpane? Drawing rectangles and basting to the 1/16th of an inch? Yikes! Instead I followed the two lines of instructions in my vintage pattern.

Yes, and next time I'll see what can be done about the back side!

This dress, by the way, is a gorgeous 1940s pattern for Bella, in a sweet, energetic cotton. Big collar, kimono sleeves--the pictures will tell all, very soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bella in the Kitchen

When I came in from my workout this morning the stovetop was covered with three pans of German puffed pancakes, and once again I marvelled at Bella's ways in the kitchen.

It's not just that she can follow a recipe, although that's where she started. What impresses me more is that she knows how to *manage* the kitchen. She chooses what to cook based on what we have (her mental inventory is better than mine), what should be used up, what we are almost out of, and all those hard-to-express intangibles that hopefully develop by a decade or so of homemaking.

She can do all the grocery shopping for the week ahead completely solo, with my money and after a brief conversation with me about the week's activities and menu ideas. In the world's most ideal division of labor, I've taken to dropping her off at the grocery store and going thrifting! I give her free reign to buy whatever she thinks best and she always makes good decisions. Truly, it is awesome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One Tiny Thing

I can't help leaving something of a trail behind me in my bedroom where I am changing clothes and rushing out, or bringing clean things in but then answering the phone before I get them put away.

So what I do over the course of the day is tell myself, One Tiny Thing. Each time I go in the room I do One Tiny Thing to make it look nicer, or be tidier, or to serve us better.

Then usually by bedtime, I have laid out a trail of peace and order.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Knitted Camisole, Complete

Speaking of Clara's fabulous knitting, here's the silk-edged cotton camisole from Vintage Knits that was her back and forth to class project this school year. It's so dense and textural--very nice!

We are both in a knitting mood, and we did some yarn shopping this weekend, mostly vivid cotton for a year's worth of knitting. Clara is plowing through her projects.

I'm thinking about how fun it will be when I actually knit, a different day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bella Sings Rutter

Bella sang a solo with the community choir this spring, a piece by Rutter. Stay with it to the end and hear her hit the high notes!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Intense Apricot Ice Cream

Like peach ice cream, but more so.

Use any combination of fresh, dried, or glaceed apricots, to the tune of about three cups worth of chopped fruit. I used a 7-ounce package of glaceed, and five small fresh apricots. I chopped all the fruit, then simmered it in about a half cup of water til everything was nice and soft, and stirred in a half cup of sugar. I would increase the sugar if my fruits weren't glaceed, because hello, that means simmered in sugar already!

This I pureed in a blender with several drops of almond extract and the juice of half a lime, then I stirred in a cup and a half of half and half.

I'm beginning to think that you just can't go wrong with ice cream. Ever.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Clara's Shrug, But Not Mine

Clara and I started knitting the "Avril" Shrug from Pretty Knits by Susan Cropper, each of us casting on and beginning our projects on the road to Savannah last weekend. She sailed away with this fairly complex lacy stitch, while I knitted my swatch once, twice, eight times. Not funny.

Finally I got through seven rows without messing up, chose a needle size, and started the sweater. The five rows of seed stitch went fine, but I messed up the FIRST ROW of lace. Sigh. I've set mine aside.

Clara, on the other hand, is about to begin shaping the front yoke, and it's knit from the bottom up. No fair. Unless I can get her to make mine for me . . . .

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Alabama Studio Style: The Sharpie

A $2 stencil from Hobby Lobby, a Sharpie permanent marker, and some cotton jersey from a friend. Way more than the sum of its parts by the time I finish this dress for Bella.

Fabrika Winner

And the oilcloth goes to commenter #188, hotpinksky35, who commented on June 13 at 9:14 p.m. Please email me (through my profile) and I'll get you set up. Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who entered. I wish we could all go fabric shopping together, though we wouldn't all fit into Fabrika at one time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Frederick at the Mirror

Felix is halfway through his month in Costa Rica and it has been rich with birds. Thirty--thirty!!--life bird on this trip, including a cloud of scarlet macaws right beside his hiking trail.

Pff. I found a cloud of gray parrots in my own sitting room today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lavender and Honey Ice Cream

Now that the heat has settled in I'm diverting my dessert energies to homemade ice cream. I do so love the little countertop unit.

Lavender and honey ice cream shown above. Before lunch I steeped two tablespoons of lavender blossoms in heavy cream, light cream, honey, and a pinch of salt. Strained it into a jar and chilled it. Later in the day I froze it, then put it in the freezer to ripen.

The jury might still be out on this one. I know for a fact you're not going to want a whole big bowlful. But a few spoons? Yes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Zinnias in Soda Bottles

Saved from lunch, cut from the garden--

A week's worth of happy color.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fabrika: A Giveaway!

Fabrika is a jewel box of a fabric store in Savannah, Georgia. The girls and I had (too much) fun there this weekend--I brought home the most beautiful raw silk in a celadon green, a sweet turquoise print for Daisy, beautiful wool felt, and the odd Colette pattern.

The shop is exquisitely curated--not a bad fabric on any shelf. And some truly beautiful, work-of-art textiles. Like the black satin-backed cashmere. Sigh.

The shop owner was so gracious and friendly to our big group crowded into that space. All of Daisy's questions (mostly about rubber thimbles) answered. And I learned that soon their stock will be available online!

I loved Fabrika so much I asked Emily if she would like to do a giveaway to celebrate our new relationship (in which she will, I believe, be the clear winner!). It was a yes, and so if you would like to win a yard of stylish oilcloth from this charming store, then leave a comment! I'll pick a name randomly on Wednesday, so don't forget to leave contact info just in case it's you I'll be contacting!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Chocolate Sorbet, Dairy-Free and Fantastic

There's no dairy in this magnificent sorbet (ignore the optional whipped cream). Smooth, luscious, not at all icy, and so very, very chocolatey--like the best gelato, I promise.

*And* made from easy pantry staples. I'm sharing the recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop and encouraging you to seek out the book if you like homemade ice cream.

•Chocolate Sorbet•

In a large saucepan, whisk together:

1 1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. Dutch-process cocoa (please find yourself some good dark cocoa for this--worth it!)
a pinch of salt

Bring to a boil, whisking, and let boil for 45 seconds.

Turn off the heat and stir in:

6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I use dairy-free chocolate chips) til melted.

Then stir in:
3/4 c. water
1/2 t. vanilla

Now pour it all in the blender and blend for 15 seconds. Stick it in the fridge until it's quite cold (I mix it up in the morning and freeze it in the afternoon).

When it's deeply chilled, put it in the ice cream maker.

Then if you want, top it with coffee granita (4 cups of strong coffee, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, stirred together every half hour or so while it freezes in a plastic container in the freezer).


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Our (Almost) Last Savannah Hours

Winding down after graduation. Ice cream from Leopold's and a quiet bench in a square. Jazz from the outdoor wedding reception a block over.

Sunday afternoon, wind and sunshine at the beach on Tybee Island. Cecile found the only live sand dollar and starfish I've seen in the wild. She promised to bring in a baby dolphin next.

She may be a mermaid. At least partly.

Then dinner at the Crab Shack as the sun set.

We scored Alejandro's company also. You can't hear him talking in this picture, but trust me: it was funny.

One of the unforeseen gifts my grown and growing children have provided--they reel in friends for all of us to cherish.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Magna Cum Laude

I remember this. It wasn't that long ago.

He made such good use of his years here. He grew and grew. His technical skill, his artistry, his friendships, his responsibility, his leadership. His life.

He's nineteen, and sort of fearless. Sort of. I've told him he doesn't have to support himself yet. Not til he's twenty-one. He looks at me witheringly. He's ready.

It makes me teary. It makes me happy.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Wool Pillow: The Barn Owl Flies Home at Dawn

For Felix, and he drew the owl for me. All the fabric is upcycled from wool garments collected at thrift stores.

Felting a snippet of yarn onto a wool shape is a beautiful way to make softly defined lines. For sharper ones, I embroider with cotton floss.

Daisy loaned the prop.

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