Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gold Leaf Roses on Jersey


Starting a new jersey project--this is the single Rose stencil used several times sideways around the bottom of a skirt. That "Pond Scum" fabric paint from Hobby Lobby is standing me in good stead--mixed here with some black and blue, it really looks like gold leaf.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Baby for the Weekend


This is what we're doing this weekend--respite care! This little boy is spending three days while his foster mother takes a short trip. This is Bella's project (she babysits him) with Daisy as her faithful helper. 

Daisy had *everything* laid out in the toy room two days ago--supplies for bath, play, diaper-changing, etc. Happy times for girls who love babies.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

On the Coffee Table Today


 . . . a dozen red roses, a china sock monkey, two books with red spines, and a large cat.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"A Part of Preparation"

"Today is important. Today's tasks, humdrum or exciting, are important in history. Today might be a part of preparation for many tomorrows, but only God knows what the tomorrows will contain--internationally, nationally, in our community, or in any one individual life. Today is the day that has to be lived with . . . strength."

--Edith Schaeffer, The Tapestry

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Glimpse of Daisy's World


Abstract and dreamy elegance in Daisy's imaginative play.








Monday, August 25, 2014

Alabama Chanin Long Jersey Skirt: Platinum Roses


I tweaked the long jersey skirt pattern in Alabama Studio Style for my own fit--the book's pattern is very straight up and down through the waist and hips, and that doesn't flatter me *or* stay up. 


After sewing the two front pieces together, and the two back, I stencilled the front and back with the "Kristina's Rose" pattern. It's a *very* large stencil. I didn't use the whole thing and it's still huge.



I waited until after the stenciling to hand-fell the seams.



For paint, I mixed up the colors I could find at my Hobby Lobby--black, white, and "platnium." These projects always take more paint that I expect, and it's important to mix enough the first time around, since it's so hard to match the exact shade if you have to make more.

The waist is finished with fold-over elastic from this etsy shop, where the elastic is very cheap and the service and shipping are very fast.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hack Those Grocery Store Flowers!


Today I loaned the house to a friend that needed a place to throw a baby shower. Tablecloth on the table, pretty dishes and a punch bowl set out, and a big vase ready for the flowers. Lisa brought a bunch of bright yellow daisy-style mums, and a handful of baby's breath. 

To quickly make a fuller, more interesting bouquet*, I ran out and cut some kerri japonica, some branches of Lady Banks rose, some grasses, leafless wisteria sprouts (new favorite),  and a few sprigs of crepe myrtle. Really just anything to break things up, bring in new lines, and fill out the vase.

None of these are fancy or expensive, and you can even do it with roadside clippings. Grocery store flowers are a good place to start, but don't stop there!

*With more time to fuss, I would have cut those yellow daisies apart. Oh well!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Clara Returns to School: The Last Autumn Edition

We just got back from taking Clara to college for her last year. These trips are so very bittersweet. The time together is so nice, and it's wonderful to help her get settled in--


and then she goes off on her own. For the third year in a row we spent an evening in the city park while she attended a meeting for the orchestra officers. We are good at entertaining ourselves: Bella had a book on sugar, salt, and fat, and I had an old jersey dress of Clara's that needed just a *few* more spirals appliqued to it.


Daisy ran hills.


The Composer walked about with a camera.


Oh, August.

So much beginning and ending. Coming and going. Losing and gaining.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Clara's Knitting: A Goldenrod Cardigan for Daisy


Clara just finished this sweater for Daisy, so even though this is the hottest day of the year so far, the sweater is getting a wearing. It's knitted in a slightly variegated goldenrod merino, from this Ravelry pattern


The sleeves are *supposed* to be 3/4. The pattern says nothing about turquoise buttons though.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Red Orchid at Morning


(sailors take warning)

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Big Old Fancy Dinner




For Christmas we gave the Composer's parents a dinner party--we would host and plan and cook; they would show up with their friends and enjoy. For whatever reason, we didn't get it done until now (just under the wire, as almost all my help leaves within days!).


My theme was Southern food gone fancy. So we started with "Dixie Plates" for the first course--half a deviled egg, tiny pickled shallots, celery with pimento cheese, a skewer of fried okra, and a tiny biscuit. Just a taste of each thing.


For the salad course I made a variation of the beloved green pea-mayonnaise-bacon salad and served it in cucumber shells in a nest of butter lettuce.

The main course was a beef tenderloin with roasted beets, mashed potatoes, sauteed spinach, and fresh corn pudding baked in poblano peppers.


For dessert we made individual Pavlovas and served them with homemade vanilla ice cream, summer fruits, whipped cream, and raspberry coulis. 

Okay, that was a lot of work. Clara did dishes for two hours (her choice, we would have helped!). But so much fun to see everyone enjoying themselves, and for our parents to feel honored. Worth it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks


Well, this wasn't Loch Lomond, but it was Scotland. And the lad is home now!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Glowing Jade Formal for Clara: Vintage Simplicity 8389


My copy of Simplicity 8389 is a wreck, but look what it wrought:


Clara's dress for this year's orchestra banquet. I had ten (count them) yards of this vintage jade-colored Dotted Swiss with Daisies--we only used about four. We found a perfect match in kona cotton for the lining. A perfect match for an invisible zipper.


Although the pattern doesn't call for it, we interlined and then lined the bodice, stitching the boning into the lining layer. The pleats are long bias strips of fabric, folded and then appliqued onto the bodice, then the raw edges are felled underneath. Interesting. 


And the boning goes all the way up the dart and over the bust, so that it runs from the very top to the very bottom of the bodice. I thought this was unlikely until I remembered the dresses in the dress-up trunk--formals my mother wore in the fifties, that were boned the same way.


Our last lucky find was a newly-opened tattoo parlor in town, with exterior walls painted this shade. I popped my head in and asked if we could photograph in their parking lot. Life is full of surprises; a photo shoot at the tattoo parlor is one I did not see coming.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt: A Good Year for the Cutting Garden


I sewed the binding on this quilt today. That is a satisfaction indeed. It's hand-quilted with perle cotton.


It's my largest log cabin quilt to date. Instead of my blocks being five strips x five strips, they are each seven x seven. And the quilt is six blocks by six blocks, which makes it plenty big to cover a double bed.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Messy Kitchen, Happy Family


Cooking together--one of the great joys of family life. We had guests for dinner tonight, so Clara cubed a watermelon (Daisy gnawed the rinds), while Bella finished the leek-potato-bacon pizzas that only she can turn out.


Saturday, August 09, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt Top: Grandmother's China


I finished piecing this quilt top today, with Clara's help.

Me: "Oh good, I'm done putting this quilt top together. Now I can sew anything I want."

Clara: "But that's what you say every day!"

Friday, August 08, 2014

Pimento Cheese; Also Tomato Salad


Pimento cheese. Back there in the aqua bowl. This is good stuff. Stuff it in celery (spring for the organic), spread it on a homemade roll, make it into a grilled cheese sandwich.

*Pimento Cheese*

This multiplies well and keeps well, so consider making a bigger batch.

Grate 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese.

Drain a small jar of pimentos (to keep you from being like me and living in ignorance until you're twenty-five, I'll just mention that pimentos are roasted, chopped red peppers. You've seen them in green olives. I used to think they were tomatoes. They are not.) and add it to the cheese.

Very lightly stir in about 1/4 cup mayonnaise (you can use light--if it's Duke's).

Add several shots each of Worcestershire sauce and any hot sauce you may have in the cupboard.

Stir lightly until it's well-combined, and put it in the fridge for an hour or two if you can bear to be separated from it.


This is rich stuff, so you might want to cut the richness by serving a tomato salad alongside. I bought two bags of wonderful tomatoes at farmer's market--they are bigger than cherry tomatoes, but too small to be regular tomatoes. Daisy cut each one of them in half and added a handful of fresh basil cut into strips.

I made a dressing of olive oil, rice vinegar (so nice and mild), Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt, and a tiny bit of sugar. Oh yes.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Faithful, in Her Red Boots


Morning and evening, she is faithful in attending the animals--feed for Mabel and a handful of cracked corn for her best goat.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Things I Made Today



The girls were up and out early fishing with their grandfather this bright summer morning. I stayed home and made these things:

ice
tea
cleaning spray
wheat flour
pickles
chicken stock
tomato sauce
applesauce

Then I cleaned the kitchen.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Long-Term Log Cabin


I started this thing so long ago, then thought I was finished. Then decided it wasn't quite big enough. 


It's no fun to drag the bag of scraps out and piece another stack of squares, but I did it. They're all together now, and it's a jersey quilt--unbacked, no batting, just the one layer. 


And it's reversible--this is the right side of the jersey, and all the seam allowances. The other side (see top photo) is the wrong side of the jersey, and has no seams.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Sunshine Patchwork


I put together some very long strips of patchwork squares thinking I would use them to border the quilt I was working on, then realized the colors weren't quite right. 

With a little reconfiguring, all that piecing became a tote bag. Red and yellow, in the shop. All proceeds given to charity!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"In This Town, Betty Owns Lemon Pie"


[image from Garden & Gun]

"I learned very early that women competed against each other culinarily and that recipes were like currency. It's like, You can't make lemon pie because in this town, Betty owns lemon pie. And that's when I started to really understand food and understand the value of food and what it meant to Southern identity."

--interview with Alton Brown,
Garden and Gun (August/September 2014)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clara's Knitting: Pistachio Lace Shawl



I know this is from Jane Austen Knits Magazine, and I'll get the pattern listed as soon as I can.


Clara's knitting is amazing to me!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rose and Raspberry Dessert


Bella always chooses raspberry jello for her birthday "cake", but this year we took it to the next level with a recipe from the UK Country Living magazine. It called for a layer of fresh fruit (we used two boxes of raspberries) suspended in a crystal clear solution of simple syrup, gelatin, and rosewater.

The rose fragrance was really strong, but it was very mild in the eating. Served with a big cloud of soft whipped cream, it was delicious and different.

Here's my adaptation:

*Summer Fruit Jelly*

Gently wash and dry two boxes of fresh raspberries.
Lay them in a glass loaf pan (or the mold of your choice) that's been sprayed with Pam or lightly oiled.

In a small bowl, dissolve two envelopes of plain gelatin in 1/2 c. cold water.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 7/8 c. sugar (I know, just fake it) and 2 c. water to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Stir the dissolved gelatin in, then leave the pan to cool for 30 minutes.

Stir 1 T. rosewater into the sugar syrup, then very gently pour the syrup over the berries. Put it in the fridge to chill for several hours until it's set.

To unmold, carefully loosen the edges with a thin knife, then turn upside down on the serving platter. If it won't drop out onto the platter, try using a hot wet towel draped over the bottom of the mold for a few minutes.

Serve with cream you have whipped with a little bit of sugar and maybe even another tsp. of rosewater.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The "Zoe Dress" in Pistachio Silk


Here's a sweet dress pattern from an independent pattern designer, Sew Serendipity. I liked the really wide inset waistband and elbow-length sleeves, so I made it up in some pistachio-colored raw silk I had in my stash.


I decided to lengthen the skirt by five inches, which was fine except I only remembered to lengthen the *side panels* and not the center front and back. So they got an extra design detail in that they have a five-inch band at the bottom. Oh well. Even with five extra inches this is not a very long dress. If I make it up again I'll probably put at least another four inches on there. Lately I just want the gravitas of a lot of skirt, it seems.

This was a very easy fit, and the only problem I encountered with the pattern was that the front side panel piece was missing the grain line. It wasn't the kind of thing you could eyeball (definitely not cut on the straight grain) but I flipped it over and modeled it after the back side panels, which seemed to be right, and it hangs nicely.



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