Friday, June 26, 2015

Tiny Elephants in a Row

A troop of tiny elephants had a cocoa party behind the couch this afternoon.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Magdalena Stencil: Reverse Applique

I had enough wine-colored scraps left over from Clara's dress to cut out a long bolero. I stenciled the pieces using the "Magdalena" stencil--my absolute favorite because of the graceful, feminine flow.

I'm stitching around each shape just outside the painted line, then cutting away all of the painted shape. This is the perfect technique for you if you're not totally happy with your stenciling job--it's all removed! I've even put my design on with just a black sharpie, since it all gets cut away. Try it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Petunia Pots

I never do much container gardening--being blessed with an abundance of actual ground--but this year I did plant up several pots with petunias to sit out in the bistro. They are giving me their money's worth, with just a little watering required.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Beginner's Mind, with Roses

I'm taking a very informal oil painting class. It's more like getting together with people who like to paint, and working at the same time. With someone in charge to answer questions. I've never really painted in oils before. Beginner's mind!--I keep telling myself. A humbling place to be, for sure.

I'm loving oil. You can do so much with it. Not like watercolor--with that, you drop your paint on the paper and hope for the best. With oil, there's more personal responsibility, if you will.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Carrots and a Beet

Daisy pulled a few vegetables out of the ground tonight. Everything is itty-bitty (I planted round carrots), but picture-perfect and very sweet.

Friday, June 19, 2015

This Year's Lavender

Maybe the best thing going on in my vegetable garden right now is the great big lavender plant growing right by the gate. All the dried buds fall off and get crushed as you walk along, so the whole garden smells heavenly.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two Cats and a Box

I can tell you this: before the arrival of Sister we would probably not have found Fitzwilliam in this cardboard box. 

But a fellow has to take refuge wherever he can find it--at least until he's tempted beyond what he can bear, and he has to leap out of his box and pounce on a kitten.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oak Leaf Hydrangeas Near the Front Porch

Oak leaf hydrangeas, beautiful from the first opening of the flowers until frost.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Leaning on Each Other"

"Contemporary culture encourages us to make islands of ourselves for the sake of self-fulfillment, of career advancement, of entertainment, of diversion, and all the demands of the sovereign self. When suffering and death come for you--and it will--you want to be in a place where you know, and are known. You want--no, you need--to be able to say . . . 'We're leaning, but we're leaning on each other.'"
--Rod Dreher, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming 

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Sunday Evening Feast (for Clara)

Clara's graduation party, though short on photos of people, was lots of fun and featured some really good food! I was smart and took two turkeys, two pork loins, and a chicken to the best barbecue place in town, and had them smoked. So we cut those up, and made a bunch of side dishes.

Two crustless quiches with leeks and bacon. A butter lettuce and avocado salad surrounded by radishes. Tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad. A platter with olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and fresh peppers. Giant bowl of cucumbers in vinegar. Cream biscuits with homemade jam. Mushrooms stuffed with spinach and cream cheese.

Do you even want to hear about dessert? Homemade chocolate ice cream, raspberry-almond slices, lemon drizzle cake, flourless brownies, and a gorgeous two-layer Victoria sponge filled with jam, whipped cream, and strawberries and blackberries.

So we ate a lot, then wandered out to admire the donkeys and the gardens, and stood around in the beautiful yard looking at clouds. And Clara is truly done with college.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hard Work, Beautiful Bouquet

A strenuous Saturday! Lots of food shopping, baking, cleaning, weed-eating, and general fluffing up of the house in preparation for Clara's college graduation party tomorrow. We also welcomed Felix home--he spent three weeks in Peru. When he got back, he finally bought himself a car. No more catching rides with friends to get home.

Then two groups of company at the end of the day--first a string quartet that stopped by to pick up Clara and rehearse the music they would all play together at a wedding. We didn't mind *that* in the living room. After they left, friends over to visit the donkeys and enjoy big bowl of peaches and blackberries.

Clara's flower arrangement above: a success!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Twice a Day Chore

Twice a day chore: not really a chore. More of a triumph.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cat's Cradle

Yes, that's Sister wrapped in a blanket and lying in a cradle. She's probably also wearing a pinafore that you can't see. All of Daisy's dreams have come true.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Daisy Makes Blackberry Jam

The awesome part is that the blackberries were from my garden. And the other awesome part is that one of these jars is going in Daisy's growing stash of Items to Enter in the County Fair.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Instead of Ham Broth

If you can't or won't do red meat, but you want your pot of greens or beans or gumbo to still taste right, you can make stock with smoked turkey instead of ham. Kroger carries packages of smoked turkey wings, necks, and tails(!). Put them in a stockpot with an onion, a carrot, and a stalk or two of celery, and boil away. If you truly want the taste of ham broth, add a bunch of salt. This will serve you well.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Opposite of January Log Cabin Quilt

Clara and I pieced this quilt in January, stuffing it full of all the color that was missing from the winter landscape. We quilted it in May and June. The opposite of January.

Friday, June 05, 2015

A Day for Drama

The audience gathered in little chairs, waiting for the curtain to go up.

They were all at the theatre to see Sister performing in the new state-of-the-art Brown Box Theatre.

On the program: "O Sister!", "Terror at the Flower Club", "The Mystery Umbrella," and "A New Kind of Honeymoon."

Supported by a talented cast including a bunny, a knitted hedgehog, and two kinds of elephants, Sister starred in everything.

Until things got a little *too* interactive and she jumped down and started pulling audience members down out of their chairs. The show was over then.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

A Backwards List for Today

I just didn't have it in me today to write up a list and work my way down it, so I decided to do a backwards list, and I wrote down everything--after I achieved it.

submitted a batch of poems to a journal
picked the garden
stripped my bed
did a white laundry load
started the sourdough bread
cleaned the birdcage
cleared and wiped the table
dusted the living room and dining room
read two days' worth of Bible
dealt with a tricky work email
vacuumed the front of the house
put away my laundry
made up my bed with clean sheets
finished two wrap cardigans for my etsy shop
signed Daisy up for Safe Sitters at the hospital
picked up things at Lowe's and Walmart
interviewed two clients by phone
worked on a poem
made dinner
baked the sourdough loaves
planted three butterfly bushes, one foxglove, and two Russian sage plants

There were some other little things, but that was the bulk of my day. Writing it all down I can see why the weekend seems like such a good idea.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Blue Hydrangea Time

I'm afraid it's that time again . . . hydrangeas, blackberries, blue skies.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Raccoons have savagely eaten all of Daisy's chickens. Ugh. Gruesome. We're building a bigger and better coop and will try again soon.

In the meantime, we've borrowed a live trap from the neighbor. The Composer set it out last night with some catfood--while a raccoon was watching from the dark weeds. Three minutes later, she was trapped.

Just to see, he set the trap again tonight. First someone stole in and got half the crunchies. He reset the door five minutes later, and within moments had another raccoon. Both of them have been transported to the lake and set free there. 

I guess we'll set the trap again tomorrow. There may be no end in sight.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Sunday Afternoon

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

Blueberry Cobbler in a Skillet

The blueberries are ripe for picking and we've been to the berry farm twice this week. Clara made this cobbler for those who eat gluten. Besides that, we've been feasting on milk glass teacups full of them with every meal.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blue-Gray Facets: An Alabama Chanin Jacket

I was happy today to finish this jacket which required many stitches. I used the Alabama Chanin bolero pattern in an extended version  that's more jacket and less bolero.

I made two layers. The outer one I stenciled using the "Facets" stencil--and let me tell you, cutting that thing out is a project in and of itself. 

Then I stitched around each shape using one strand of button and craft thread. Then I cut around each shape.

Then I added strategic beads and sequins. They helped the shapes to read as organized rosettes or stylized flowers.

Then I constructed the garment and bound the edge.

I'm wearing it over a six-gore dress that's been pumped up with four godets to add fullness to the skirt. Two in the front, two in the back.

All done, at last.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Afternoon Walk

Afternoon walk. Or scooter, actually, for some.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sister's New Skills

 Sister continues to study the Cat Manual. Today she covered two lessons: Climbing on People's Shoulders to Bat Their Hair, and Hanging Out Near the Budgie. Francis, the budgie, doesn't care that Sister napped by his cage. He seems unaware that she is a cat--she's the wrong size, and she looks like a part of a dust mop.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

A big fresh bouquet of oak leaf hydrangeas,
new overalls for Daisy from the farm store,
a visit to the cemetery to my grandparents' graves,
and a family walk on a newly opened nature trail.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Making Progress

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