Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alabama Chanin Rose Skirt: Gunmetal Gorgeousness

I started a beaded skirt in August and it was my trusty handwork companion through the fall. Now it's far enough along to be worn, though I do plan to continue embellishing it (probably until it's so heavy it won't stay on my hips!) because beading is fun.

It's the Alabama Chanin four-gore skirt cut to tea length. The top is finished with foldover elastic--I found a perfect color match on etsy. Too bad I had to buy ten yards--let me know if you need some, seriously.

I have decided that the four-gore skirt is not my favorite. The center seam down the front is awkward for me. Skirts from now on with be six-gore, with smooth center panels front and back and plenty of flare. Plenty of room for beads and embroidery!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt: Grandmother's China

I pieced this in the summer, and it is the most delicate collection of pale values--I felt like I was working with flowered china. I quilted it using perle cotton in pink, with a few rows of blue and green for fun.

A friend bought it before it was even quilted, and today it went home to live with some beautiful girls.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vaseful of Autumn

French blue and oak leaf hydrangeas. Two stems of each and the bouquet is done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Silver Morning

Monday, October 20, 2014

Log Cabin Quilt Top: October Wedding

On Saturday Felix brought a friend over, and she brought a stack of fabric with her. Her older sister had just gotten married, and she had asked each of the fourteen (?!?!) bridesmaids to give her a piece of fabric that somehow reflected her relationship to the bride. 

Believe me, there was no rhyme or reason to these fabric choices. Fourteen imaginations, all going in different directions.

I pulled out some cranberry squares for the centers (the bridesmaids had worn this color) and we got to cutting, sewing, and pressing. After four hours, we had a quilt top.

And it was beautiful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Daisy's Room on a Sunny Afternoon

Daisy likes to change out the quilt on her bed. This vivid, fuschia-forward one looks surprisingly good in her pale blue room.

This is a rare sight--the top of her desk. That little green cabinet sitting there is something I found at the thrift store, in plain wood. It was the worst thing of all time to spray paint--the paint slid off even after sanding *and* chemical stripping. Whatever. It's cute now, but don't look too close.

Last, here's the view outside Daisy's window. The hydrangeas are blooming late this year and no one is complaining.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vintage State Flowers

I've noticed before that my stash is full of mysteries--for instance, I have no idea where this collection of state flower embroideries came from. I think there were about thirty-six, all beautifully worked on a creamy yellow silk (?). How can something like that just appear?

I've made them into two table runners, both backed with linen. I hope to get them in my etsy shop soon, in case there are people out there needing a Vintage State Flower Embroidery Table Runner. I hope there aren't more than two people like that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Parrot and a Clown

I don't want to scare anyone, but, a parrot and a clown. I saw this giant framed picture at the thrift store when I first went in, and I started laughing. Out loud. Really out loud.

I finished my tour of the store, and was still laughing when I got to the check-out counter. That's when I realized I needed to go pick it up and take it home.

It took some convincing, but Felix agreed to take it to live in his apartment at school.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Plums for a Cake

This is not the first time I've made the delicious Plum and Almond Chocolate Cake from La Tartine Gourmande. First you caramelize some plum slices with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, then mix up a simple cake batter with melted butter and chocolate, and ground almonds and buckwheat (I think it calls for spelt, actually). The plums get poured over the batter and all gets baked, to pleasing effect. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

"A Window Towards Jerusalem"

On this gloriously rainy day

• Daisy rearranged her room all by herself AND made the chili for dinner

• I vacuumed the entire house, top to bottom

• Professional window-cleaners, for the first time ever, made their first pass at the insides of the windows (hurray)

• I wrote a Petrarchan sonnet about credit card fraud


• I pondered this: "The sheer activity of reading scripture, in the conscious desire to be shaped and formed within the purposes of God, is itself an act of faith, hope, and love, an act of humility and patience. It is a way of saying that we need to hear a fresh word . . . To open the Bible is to open a window towards Jerusalem . . . no matter where our exile may have taken us."

(N.T. Wright, After You Believe)

Friday, October 10, 2014

And Now It's a Fruit Plate Collection

I found a strawberry-printed platter at the thrift store--a larger version of one that I already own, but hadn't thought about in a while. So now that I have two, I've put one on the wall with two other fruity things.

And this is a really crooked picture, but that's okay. Because all of these charming objects are pretty crooked themselves. Even the strawberry platter (which says "Shortcake" on the back, for the win) doesn't sit flat on the table.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

"The Long View"

"Taking the long view allows us to be truly attentive to the details of the here and now. It all matters. Nothing is wasted."
--Christopher Smith and John Pattison, Slow Church 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

An Operatic Weekend

We visited Clara this past weekend (well, it was an extended weekend). Unbelievably, this is her last fall away at school. She graduates in a mere seven months.

So it's imperative to fit in as much gelato, thrift-store shopping, and opera as possible while there's still time.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

October Centerpiece

A placeholder until the leaves turn brilliant.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Boys in the House

Home for the weekend, hurray! Science reading, science talk, chainsawing, eating,

card games, clearing brush, and tickling Daisy.

That's the kind of weekend we like.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Kitchen Window Sedums, from Above

Giles thinks I need to start getting some new photographic angles, and he demonstrated what he meant by standing on the kitchen counter to get this shot. I might wait until he comes home again to get something this interesting, just for safety's sake.

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Morning's Light

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Green Afternoon

Daisy and I are taking some of our Friday afternoons for little excursions. Today we went up to my in-laws' cabin. It was just us, with our books, stitching, and sketching materials.

We found some muscadines. Muscadines are magical. If one is ripe in the area, you can smell it. One is all I ever need.

The cabin's built on the site of an old farmhouse. The stone chimney, unmortared, is still standing. Mostly.

The river was running remarkably clear for September, which can be a stagnant month. But then this past season was, as the long-term weather forecasters called it, a "garden of Eden" summer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So Much Beading

Here's a little progress report on my current jersey embellishment. As you see, I am going to town with beads, having finished the reverse-applique step.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fragrant Pear Preserves

I finally tackled my baskets of pears. I'm drying several sheets right now (you can hear the dehydrator, right? I sure can).

I also made two batches of pear preserves. To do this, I cut up a bunch of pears, added some sugar, a lot of chopped candied ginger, and the zest and juice of a lime. This smelled unbelievably good while it was cooking.

I called Daisy over to get a whiff. "That smells just like Cornelia," she announced, "and I should know. We shared a room in Germany for a week."

*Cornelia is Giles' girlfriend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Corky's Third Day

 I'll probably slow down after this, but I finally got the light behind him.

And I can't get over the fact that here in my front yard, there's a second cow where there was only one before. 


Monday, September 22, 2014

Mabel's Calf

Sunday morning when I went down to the milk stall with Mabel's feed, she (most uncharacterically) wasn't waiting for me with an accusing eye.

Instead she was hanging out below some bushes, patiently cleaning up after this little guy! Her calf, whose delivery date was the subject of wild and varying speculation, was here.

We're calling him Corky. He's so attractive--that velvety fawn skin (he's 3/4 Jersey), an inquisitive nose, and plenty of eye makeup.

And, Mabel started mooing at last. With her lips closed. 
Ah, Mabel, you were born for this!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Weekend Blowing In

Thursday, September 18, 2014

La Tartine Gourmande

For whatever reason, I have been excruciatingly slow to embrace gluten-free baking. Maybe because the gluten-free goods from the store have tasted so terrible . . . or the cookbooks remind me of the depressing unsold cookbooks at the thrift store, put out by the American Heart association . . . or the feeling that I've given up enough, cooking without dairy, beef, and pork. I've always preferred to make something *else* entirely, rather than bake with substitutions.

But La Tartine Gourmande is seductive. Beautifully photographed, oh-so-French, so . . . aesthetic. Beatrice Peltre seems to revel in her careful choice of flours, from hazelnut to buckwheat to quinoa. *That* I could get on board with. So I have finally laid in a supply of flours, and have enjoyed the sight of the Composer eating five oatmeal-apple muffins in one sitting, many hazelnut-banana muffins at once, and some beautiful tiny molten chocolate cakes for his birthday.*

(*Do not try this at home unless you too are running sixteen miles every Saturday and have the metabolism of a twelve-year old.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Baskets of Pears, and a Snake

Walking up the driveway today I discovered a pear tree that I had no idea was growing just ten feet into the woods. Daisy and I went it with a big metal bucket, but before we could pick a single pear, she spotted an enormous snake. I think (hope!) it was a king snake, and it eventually unfolded all five feet of itself and slithered into an invisible hole.

When that was behind us, we fell upon the pears. I'm sure we picked twenty pounds in five minutes. We will be ripening these in baskets, and then embarking upon pear sauce, pickled pears, and dried pears.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hedge of Four-O'Clocks

These four-o'clocks have grown into a huge hedge along the edge of the bistro. They hide the metal border and make it look like it's been here forever, *and* they smell good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

"The Vocation of All Human Beings"

"The vocation of all human beings, it seems, consists in this: to stand at the interface between God and his creation, bringing God's wise and generous order to the world and giving articulate voice to creation's glad and grateful praise to its maker. . . .

Worship and stewardship, generating justice and beauty: these are the primary vocations of God's redeemed people."

--N.T. Wright, After You Believe

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cake, Cake, and Cake

Felix is home for the weekend, and will be going back to a houseful of hungry college friends, so I made cake, cake, and cake. Mocha cake decorated with huge malted milk balls. Molasses cake cut into dark squares.

And the Dundee cake (a Scottish fruit-filled cake) was still in the oven.

All the recipes were from Jane Brocket's Vintage Cakes, which I adore, but the mocha cake recipe had some weirdness you will need to correct (change 1 1/28 cup sugar to the more doable 1 1/4. Also, there's too much batter for a single layer; make two).

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