Wednesday, March 04, 2015

My Jersey Wrap Cardigan

After making the sleeveless short stays, I decided to modify the pattern into a 3/4 sleeve wrap cardigan. The best thing about it is that it's made from a thrifted men's t-shirt (long-sleeved, of course). The color is wonderful and the jersey is very thick and warm.

To turn a sleeveless garment into one with sleeves often involves changes to the shoulder strap part of the shirt. This took a couple of tries, and I might still need to trim the armhole down a little and extend the width of the sleeve cap, but you know jersey--always forgiving.

I hope someday soon to turn this into a downloadable pdf pattern!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Living in the Not Yet

When we fast we place ourselves in the Not Yet, the place where we look forward to the provision of all that we need.


O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers:
Mercifully accept our prayers, and grant to your servant Lisa the help of your power,
that her sickness may be turned into health,
and our sorrow into joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Bonnie and LulaBelle

The neighbors had six baby goats born at Thanksgiving, and now that they are old enough to wean, they've moved into our pasture to live with Daisy's two young lady goats.

The two very best, sweetest, and prettiest are Bonnie and LulaBelle. Bonnie is white with a black head, and has a lame back leg. But she's so pretty! And LulaBelle has a half-pink nose and long, lustrous hair.

Neither one was doing well on Friday though. They got cold and wet and just couldn't get comfortable (AND they had loose droppings--a bad sign in goats), so we brought them inside. For two days and a night they lived in a playpen by the stove, carefully tended by Daisy.

Then I couldn't take the smell anymore--just too barny--and they went down to Phyllis' house. Now they're well enough to be back out in the pasture. But I ask you: would you look at that pink nose?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Invitation to a Fast

This Tuesday, March 3, I will be fasting and praying for my cousin Lisa. That day marks three full years of severe chronic pain for her. 

If you are willing to join me in fasting or prayer, please let me know. She would love to know that you are lifting her up to the throne.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Jersey Quilt Top: No Fun

This, as they say in the South, is like to have been the death of me. I've been making a twin-size quilt from jersey strips and I've been string-quilting them to a cotton batting on the machine. And I'm going to say three things about this project.

 First, if someone tells you it is fun to work with strips of jersey, they are lying to you. Strips of jersey want to curl and twist and get out of line.

Second, if you think that one twin-size quilt will use up all your scraps you are mistaken. 

Third, this project creates a lot of fluff and also will take up your whole dining table for a few days, since it's too cold to sew in the sewing room.

There. I'm glad I got that off my chest. I'm going to put this quilt top away and look at it sometime in June, and then I'll sew a back on it and maybe I'll like it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grateful for My Ferns

What can I say about my love for my ferns except that Ferns Save The Day when it comes to comforting us with some green?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

If You Roast a Chicken Every Week

If you roast a chicken every week, you can make a nice pot of chicken stock every week. And if you make a nice pot of chicken stock every week, you can make soup for lunch--twice. Quick, convenient soups that don't take all morning

• Celeriac Soup •

Peel (with a vegetable peeler) and dice one celery root, any size. Put it in a quart of homemade chicken broth. Simmer until the celeraic is tender to the poke of a fork. Puree it, either with an immersion blender or by putting it in a real blender. Return it to the pot, and stir in 1/3 c. cream and (optional) about a half cup of white wine. Salt and pepper generously.

• Quick and Easy Vegetable Soup •

Put 2 T. olive oil in a soup pot, and turn the heat on. Dump in a package of frozen mirepoix mix (regular is fine: carrots, celery, onion, but I prefer Cajun: celery, onion, bell pepper). Add a crushed clove of garlic to the vegetables.

When they are translucent (give them about five minutes), add a can of crushed tomatoes, a quart of homemade chicken stock, and some good shakes of Worcestershire sauce (or use Pickapper--it has a parrot on the label!)

Let the soup simmer for half an hour or much longer. Thirty minutes before you want to eat it, add a package of frozen okra and a package of frozen green beans. Salt and pepper to taste before serving.

You can see that this soup has the virtue of requiring no chopping at all (I don't count crushing a garlic clove). It is also gluten and dairy-free, and fairly low in carbohydrates.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Working with the Magdalena Stencil

This is my first project with the Alabama Chanin "Magdalena" stencil, which I cut myself out of pennant felt. I used fabric paint and a brush to get it onto my navy jersey. Eventually this will be a dress for Bella, but first I have to finish all this reverse applique and add some beads. Not that that's a chore.

I really do love this stencil design. So curvaceous and floral, and fun to work.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Jersey Short Stays

So the knitted short stays  came out a little strange, but I picked up the thrown-down gauntlet with a yard of jersey (actually way less). I traced my knitted garment, cut it out in fabric, and then added a lot of length. And a princess seam at the bust.

And my favorite part, the pintuck and two flanking darts at the back.

I don't love this turquoise color, and I really don't love it with brown, but I think I nailed the fit! And I'm drafting a version with sleeves now. Cozy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Daisy Makes a Whale

The afternoon took an unexpected turn when Daisy announced a burning desire to make a stuffed animal. We found a simple pattern for a whale in Erica Wilson's For the Baby, the first sewing book I ever bought.

Sure, the pattern pieces were simple, but the instructions said, "Join seams. Stuff." I kid you not. I gave her advice as she went along, and she did everything herself except the final bottom seam attaching the top to the mouth and the belly.

It's all hers, and she's named it Barnacle.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Good Morning, Snow

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Button-Covered Hand Mirror

Years ago my mother covered the back of a vintage hand-mirror with a whole bunch of buttons. I'd forgotten how pretty it is.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Bird's-Eye View of the Garden

Perfect view of the snowy garden from the upstairs bathroom, and it looks better now than usual. Those snowy paths are usually (unfortunately) royal blue (scraps of our last pool cover). They definitely look more elegant in a snowy white.

The garden layout has really come together at last. The paths are in just the right places at last. The narrow strips around the outer edges are planted with blackberry vines (trained on the fence), peach trees at the far end, and perennials tucked in here and there. The big square bed is for my okra, tomatoes, and squash (and flowers on the arbor), and the two long rectangles are asparagus and herbs (on the left) and strawberries (on the right). Now all I need is that last frost date.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Day Without a Meeting

Grateful today for time to tend to my house (scrubbed all the bathrooms and their floors), work on my writing, get the oddball chores done, and stock up on avocados before the temperature drops below freezing.*

*What's a gluten-free, dairy-free Southerner** to do when there's snow in the forecast? We can't buy milk and bread.

**We're not all GF and DF, but we all love avocados.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Hem Full of Bugle Beads

Clara's dress-to-be, lower hem. It's not really pleated, I just folded it that way for the picture.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Felted Kitty, Freestyle

A while ago the Composer went to visit Giles in New York and they stopped at our favorite Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookstore in midtown. Mostly we go for notebooks. But the Composer also brought home a "kit" to make this felted kitten. I say kit, because really it was just some bunches of wool roving, and one photo. That was it.

 Yes, there were instructions in Japanese, but they appeared to say something like, "Create felted cat." So to have this little critter even remotely resemble a cat was a huge victory for me. 

Needle-felted animals are not going to the top of my list. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Baby Day

Today we picked up a friend's little foster baby--only three months old!--and we'll keep him til Thursday. Daisy is reveling in all the baby care, and changes diapers and does bottles all by herself. And has laid out all his outfits to make her choices easier.

In the spirit of enjoying babies, I'm posting this just-unearthed image of Daisy as a baby herself. Dad gum, she was cute!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Ah, Paint!

At last the floors are dry enough to satisfy even the highly conservative-when-it-comes-to-paint-job-safety Composer, and we've moved all our stuff back in.

It's as beautiful as I had dreamed it would be.

Friday, February 06, 2015

A Different Part of Winter

It's still winter, but it's a different part of winter. 
The silver maple is budding, and the wind is from the south.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

A Better Jersey Dress

A couple of years ago I made up this Simplicity 2369 and it was okay--I may not have used the best jersey, and I didn't like the loose flappy sleeves. 

This week I tried a pattern that's very, very similar but works much better: Simplicity 1653. Basically they've given you cup size to choose from (I followed the pattern's chart with great success) and best of all, there is a curved center back seam and there are *four* darts for the derriere. If you choose the curvy option.

 Highly recommended.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

More from Flourless

We've been very happy with the baking from Flourless. Bella made the Coconut Cake (this was just before the Chocolate Ganache Glaze was added). It disappeared quickly.

The cake is structured around flaked coconut, eggs, and a little bit of cornstarch, and the ganache can be beautifully dairy-free made with nice chocolate and coconut cream from the can. 

Monday, February 02, 2015

Winter Solstice Log Cabin Quilt

I'm very proud of this example of scrap quilting. I'm blessed in my scraps, that's for sure! This is a sumptuous creation, full of velveteen and linen.

And blues and greens, of all kinds. It's backed in a silvery-blue linen, and hand-quilted using perle cotton in blues and creams.

And it's very heavy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Grating Cheese

On the odd occasion I cook a little throwback to the days when we could all eat wheat and dairy. That's called Macaroni and Cheese from scratch. I made a casserole of it for the girls this week, using one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools, Grandma Helga's grater.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Luxurious Almond Cake, in Chocolate

Remember how I said I was going to do our Almond Cake in chocolate? It took two tries, but we got it right. It's a simple substitution of cocoa for some of the almond flour. Here you go:

•Luxurious Almond Cake, in Chocolate•

Line a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper, and spray it with Pam. Preheat the oven to 350.

Separate the yolks and whites of 5 eggs.
In a large bowl, whisk the yolks together with 1 cup of sugar, from which you have removed 2 T.
Also whisk in a pinch of salt and 1 t. vanilla.

Using an electric mixer, whip the whites until they are almost soft peaks.
Then add the 2 T. sugar and whip until they are legitimate soft peaks.

Take your whites over to the bowl with the yolks. Dollop a big spoonful of whites into the yolks, and with a rubber scraper, gently stir them in to lighten the yolk mixture. Then scrape the rest of the whites in, and fold them in lightly. Now sift 1 c. almond meal with 1/2 c. cocoa, and sprinkle that mixture over your batter, and fold it in. And then sprinkle another 1/2 c. almond meal into the bowl and fold it in too.

Scrape into your prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top is barely firm and springy to the touch. The cake gets moister the second day (ha! if it comes to that!).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

That Smug Look

 . . . that smug look when you've cheated death . . .

 . . . and are completely back to normal . . . 

 . . . and have the couch to yourself.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rose Jersey: Beaded Border

I'm taking another class in Formal Poetry Writing and loving it. When it comes to writing poetry, I blossom within constraints. Also, I love the class because I am doing beadwork while listening, talking, and making notes.

This is one of the panels of Clara's next jersey dress, the one she knit an incredible lace sweater to wear with. The beading has become heavier than this--this is only two passes (with two kinds of beads) and I think there will be at least five. For scale, the border is currently about two inches deep. That will change too.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Begonia, Winter Sunrise

This begonia has been catching the first intense light each morning. The leaves literally sparkle with some sort of natural glitter. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Teas I've Been Enjoying

I made a point this month of stepping out and trying some new teas, beyond my usual PG Tips in the morning pot, and Cream Earl Grey in the afternoon. Here's what I've enjoyed:

I ordered this from It's kind of smoky, only needs to be brewed for three minutes, and I've been craving it around 3:00 during this winter afternoons. I drink mine with milk.

A standard black breakfast tea, almost as hearty as PG Tips. I like it! I actually picked mine up at TJ Maxx, but it's widely available. Or order it.

This is a wonderful just-before-bed tea. More floral and honeylike than chamomile, it feels very European to me. I buy my boxes at an Eastern European grocery store when we go to visit Clara, but you can also order it online.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Our Beloved Almond Cake

Really, this is "The Composer's Beloved Almond Cake." Because everyone else can eat, you know, regular dessert, but his treats have to be gluten-and-dairy free.

Also, this is the cake that powered him to a Boston-qualifying marathon time this winter. That's right,  he ate a whole cake each day the two days before his race, and qualified for Boston. Your results may vary. I know mine would.

I can't remember the source for this recipe, but here's how we do:

•Luxurious Almond Cake•

Line a 9-inch cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper, and spray it with Pam. Preheat the oven to 350.

Separate the yolks and whites of 5 eggs.
In a large bowl, whisk the yolks together with 1 cup of sugar, from which you have removed 2 T.
Also whisk in a pinch of salt and 1 t. vanilla.

Using an electric mixer, whip the whites until they are almost soft peaks.
Then add the 2 T. sugar and whip until they are legitimate soft peaks.

Take your whites over to the bowl with the yolks. Dollop a big spoonful of whites into the yolks, and with a rubber scraper, gently stir them in to lighten the yolk mixture. Then scrape the rest of the whites in, and fold them in lightly. Now sprinkle 1 c. almond meal over your batter, and fold it in. Sprinkle another 1 c. almond meal into the bowl and fold that in as well.

Scrape into your prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top is barely firm and springy to the touch. The cake gets moister the second day (ha! if it comes to that!).

Also, one of these days I'm going to stir some cocoa in and see what happens.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

His Mercies! They Are New Every Morning!

Fitzwilliam came home this morning! Doped on, as the vet said, enough diazepam to take down an elephant. I'm supposed to shut him in the bathroom to sleep off his drugs, but for now he is curled up so soundly asleep in his so-favorite chair by the fire, I can't bear to move him. When he wakes up, and starts tearing around the house in a frenzy--that's when we'll talk about the bathroom.

Thank you, my friends all over the world, for praying for this dear creature who is restored to me.

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