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 it, 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).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Crib Quilt: The Neighborhood Pool

This crib quilt is pieced from three by six inch blocks in very cool turquoises, pale blues, and pale greens--and some strips of dark velvet. And hand-quilted in cream.

It'll go in etsy in the next day or so.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Daisy's Okra Pickles Have a Date with Destiny

That's right. They're going to the county fair. As first-timer pickle competitors, we didn't realize they needed a ring over the flat lid in order to be entered into the fray. A quick side trip to the hardware store fixed that, and Daisy was in business. 

We will go see them in state in a couple of days.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Bella's Big Adventure

Bella left yesterday for a semester working at an orphanage overseas. She'll be back for the holidays and then return to spend the spring semester there also--and she's so ready for this adventure.

She navigated the international airports gracefully and arrived safely this afternoon, and I know that anyone who saw her saw a beautiful self-possessed young lady with a plan.

Only her mother saw a spunky four-year-old driving off in a car made of Duplos.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Anna Locket

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A Good Spot for Quilting

This is my current quilting-and-listening-to-my-Bible spot. This activity usually happens after lunch. If I am very lucky, a raccoon or woodchuck will walk by the window. That happens about once a week.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Colette "Oolong" in Deep Purple Jersey

This is the Colette pattern "Oolong" which I've made up in jersey before. It's a lightweight cotton-bamboo which is good for fall because it's not hot but it looks nice and rich.

It's easy to reconfigure this pattern for a stretch fabric--just turn the pieces 45 degrees and cut them out on the straight grain. It goes together quickly . . .

 . . . and looks good with a corsage.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Inspiration from Janet Bolton

Sometime in the days before I began sewing (2004) I studied Janet Bolton's books over and over. Those little shapes. That fabric texture. Those delicious little stitches.

At the time I was working in watercolor collage--inspired directly from these books. My collages were very much like paper versions of these jewel-like little pictorial quilts.

I almost never work in paper now, and am hardly ever so representational, but the idea of telling my own stories through my quilts has stayed with me.

These delightful books are available at Amazon.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day Brunch and the Rest of the Day

Several years ago we fell into the tradition of a big Labor Day brunch. Brunch is good, because when else are you going to make a quiche and/or cook truly *enough* bacon? We also had sticky buns, dried cherry scones with clotted cream, turkey sausages, and lots of cut-up fruit. And coffee and cocoa and orange juice.

And it seemed like there were a lot of people--Baby J in his high chair, and grandparents, and Felix and a friend. I did several rounds of dishes afterwards, and the Monday laundry, and then people started going home, and then the Composer built a bench out at the pool, and suddenly, at bedtime, things are quiet again.

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.

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