Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beauty in the Sewing Room

My pincushion:

Some pinks and lavenders:

Stitch-ripper (can't live without):

Lovely color:

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yellow Gladiolas

Not a flower I usually buy, but these were offered freely after a baby shower at church, and I happily gave them a home. They are a huge burst of sunshine on the dining table.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Flannel Baby Jammies

I found this precious vintage-looking flannel last summer and set it aside for this winter's cozy pajamas for Daisy. I had enough for one long nightgown and one pajama set. The jammies are trimmed in robin's-egg blue grosgrain ribbon and the nightie in pale pink velvet. Luscious! The pattern is a favorite Daisy dress I've made up several times, including at Easter and in juicy polka dots.

Detail of fabric:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Beauty in the Kitchen

At last I got around to replanting the kitchen window planter that sits on on a shelf of quarry tiles behind the kitchen sink. My last attempt, impatiens, did not do so well. But look at these begonias!

Last weekend's find--cheap and charming canisters. Also my towering stack of dishcloths next to the sink; we use 6-8 a day for various cleaning and wiping activities. We are *not* a sponge family.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

"A Sewing Apron"

More from the New-Way Course in Fashionable Clothes-Making:

"Your sewing apron should be an example of your dress-ideals. It should be appropriate, well-made and attractive. And of course, you should make it yourself.

While it need not necessarily be large, your sewing apron should have pockets large enough to hold some of the smaller things that are constantly being lost or misplaced—the small scissors, the spool of thread, a tape measure, a thimble. And these pockets—three of them are an excellent number—should be high enough to prevent being caught on an unexpected corner or knob.

The material for your sewing apron should be heavy enough to resist the attacks of scissors and needles and pins. Percale is a good material, and unbleached muslin is really very substantial. You may add a touch of hand embroidery down in one corner of one of the pockets if you wish, or you may use hemstitching at the bottom as a touch of neat trimming. Avoid anything that is elaborate."

Of course! Who wouldn't know this already!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Last of the Children's Birthdays

Giles brings up the rearguard of children's summer birthdays which go: June, July, July, July, August. Not being hard to please, he accepted our offerings of fried chicken, garlicky pasta, giant salad, huge cherry pie, and a "wad of cash" present to put towards a new bicycle.

"An Apron for Housework"

Delightful wisdom from the 1926 New-Way Course in Fashionable Clothes-Making:

"To be entirely consistent, an apron that is worn in the performance of household duties must cover the whole dress underneath. Otherwise it wouldn't be much of a protection, would it? But the apron must be absolutely neat, for surely one cannot do neat housework when the apron one wears is untidy! And after all, why shouldn't a woman look as attractive in her own home, among her own dear ones, as she does at a fashionable dinner?

If you intend to wear your apron in the morning, make it of the type that can be easily slipped off. Your pattern will tell you whether or not the apron, when finished, is going to be convenient. It should be very simply styled and made of a sturdy material. Gingham is perhaps the most favored material for work aprons, although unbleached muslin when bound with checked gingham is really ideal. You may also use percale if you wish.

In making your work apron, you will find the binder in your box of sewing machine attachments very valuable indeed. With it you can bind in no time at all, all the edges and corners of your apron, adding a certain smart finishing touch that no amount of hand sewing can impart. If you have ruffles on the bottom of your apron—which, we think, are not entirely appropriate but a forgivable attempt at trimming—bind the edges of these ruffles with contrasting color and you will achieve a delightful effect."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bird Gymnasium

Felix ran out of money before purchasing a "gym" for Henry, so spent part of this morning building one from scratch. Taking a cue from his grandfather's approach to Christmas, he wedged a leafless branch of maple in a large glass vase filled with driveway gravel. Then he added things to delight Henry--strings of wooden spools, stalks of millet, yarn. I love it--it looks like art.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Henry and Other Birds

Felix's cockatiel, Henry. Love the perky topknot!

Henry is not the first bird to occupy Felix's room. Here is a partial view of his collection of stuffed ducks, neatly attired for summer in their straw hats:

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cockatiel Day

It's probably my fault, regaling Felix with the tale of the charming scarlet macaw I met at a coffee shop in Denver. He was sitting at an outdoor cafe table, with a sunflower hull stuck to his chin, gazing sideways up at Daisy and me. I only learned a little bit about him (favorite movie? The documentary "Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill"), but I did get to see him ride home on the handlebars of his owner's bike.

Felix has been thinking and reading of nothing but parrots since then. And then today--a trip to the city with the Composer, with *all* his money in a canning jar, and probably a little of Clara's too, since she is generous with him, and they brought home Henry, a beautiful powder-gray cockatiel.

Felix has been studying up on the most approved methods of raising small parrots (my favorite library book title: My Parrot, My Friend: An Owner's Guide to Parrot Behavior), and is good to go. I'm sure Henry will be sitting for a portrait or two tomorrow, so check back!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Jug of Flowers

Once again I am enjoying farmer's market zinnias in my favorite blue ceramic jug.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

"The Secret of Being Filled"

" . . . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. . ."

Philippians 4:11-12

Schoolhouse Grilled Pork Loin

This is a delicious and easy way to fix a generous quantity of meat. It stays moist, has a crisp crust, and is deliciously spicy. We get at least two meals out of it (gasp!). Important safety note: do not remove the meat thermometer (which has been in the closed grill) from the meat with a hot pad, set it down, and then moments later pick it up with your bare fingers. This will result in your having to carry ice in your right hand for the next eight hours. Trust me.

*Schoolhouse Grilled Pork Loin*

Early in the day, remove the pork loin from its wrapper and lay it on a piece of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle it *generously* with any seasoning mixture. I adore Cajun seasoning on the pork loin and use it with a heavy hand. Make sure to roll the meat to get your dry rub on all sides. Roll it up in the foil and pinch closed, and set it back in the fridge for now.

I use a gas grill, which is so straightforward. For charcoal, you're on your own.

If you remember, pull your meat out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to start grilling. Then preheat the grill on high for a few minutes. Then turn off the burners on an entire half of the grill. That's where your meat goes. Throw it on there. Leave the other two burners on, the closer one on medium and the farther one on high. Close the lid. After fifteen minutes, turn the meat over. I generally leave it on about an hour, turning it every fifteen minutes. The outside gets to be a rich mahogany. Just slice it open to peek if you're not sure about doneness, but 45-60 minutes, if it's a big loin, is what you're looking at.

Yesterday I did this (complete with burns), and used about a third of the meat diced in a pasta-vegetable salad with lots more Cajun seasoning in the dressing. That was good!

The rest is waiting to be thinly sliced and served with risotto for Sunday dinner.

Be careful!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Green Apples and Rosemary

My friend Elyse stayed here while we traveled, and I came home to an immaculate house with beautiful arrangements of greenery everywhere--hosta leaves and herbs. I added the Granny Smith apples around this vase because they shared a similar pearly quality with the sage and rosemary.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Geranium Ironing Spray

One of the joys of travel is the chance to gather up goodies for home, to enjoy when the trip is over. Rather than collecting souvenir-type items or--heaven forfend--cups with words on them (!!!!), I like to bring home dish towels, aprons, clothespins, and other little things that don't take up too much space, and can spend their useful little lives bringing happy travel memories to mind.

Of course, another joy of travel is the chance to enjoy shopping in a Really Big Town. I loved cruising the aisles of that most fantastic of grocery stores, Wild Oats, in Denver. It was there that I made a new acquaintance, one that is making the task of ironing even brighter than it was before: Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Ironing Spray in Geranium.

All these years spent being a plain water girl have just been a waste of time. I can't wait to use up this bottle and then buy the Lavendar and Lemon Verbena. Addicted.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Family in the Rockies

Several children suffered from what the Composer called "altitude madness". . .

Giles took many pictures but complained that he didn't have long lenses. I think his photos came out okay though . . .

We ate . . .

We rested . . .

We hiked, of course. And some of us took pictures of ducks.

We enjoyed the elements:

Most of all, Felix went birding. He passed the 200th bird on his life list during the daily bird walks led by rangers who were, with one crotchety and offended exception, absolutely delighted with his knowledge and enthusiasm.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Camping with a Large Family

We're home from our week of camping in the Rockies--a strenuous, wonderful week that made us all appreciate the comforts of home today. Specifically, at home we noted the lack of dust, the nearby bathrooms, the washer and dryer, and the running water. You just don't appreciate things until you go without!

I'm feeling wise and smug after managing a large family in a fairly primitive campsite for a week, and am prepared to share my wisdom while I still remember it:

•Pack a permanent marker to label those cups. Six cups every time we're thirsty (like that's going to happen in the dry high altitude!) is a lot of cups. With names we can use them almost all day.

•Splurge on sturdy paper plates, if you're going to be using disposables. Rocky Mountain National Park has very limited water and washing facilities, so I knew I wanted to use paper as much as possible. The stiff cardboard Chinette oval platters were a cheap luxury. They didn't bend, fold, or soak through, and the larger size gave us room for our usual large green salad with dinner.

•Full-size apron with pockets. Makes that quarter-mile stroll to the bathroom with a toddler on the hip and a pan of dirty dishes on the other a lot easier. I was constantly back and forth from our campsite to the bathroom with my front pockets loaded--washcloths, dishwashing liquid, toothpaste, toothbrushes, you name it. I used my sturdy pretty Cath Kidston apron all week and washed it at every opportunity (there were two).

•And don't forget substantial rubber gloves for dealing with greasy dishes in cold water!

•Art supplies for everyone. We always make a travel book while we're gone on a trip, with clippings, drawings, written accounts, watercolors, etc. Everyone contributes if I prod them, and it's a great thing to do when you're sitting around in the shade in camp chairs after a long, virtuous hike.

Delicious pictures to follow!

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