Thursday, May 31, 2007

Finishing Well

I am happy to report that we have finished school for the year. Bella coasted in easily in mid-May, Giles worked extremely hard and had finals and completed his work around the same time, Felix picked up some big slack in composition last week, and Clara furiously nine-tupled up on math lessons in order to finish this last Saturday.

I realized a new benefit of homeschooling this year, one I'd never noticed. The way I remember my school days, as we wound down to the end of the school year, class time became less and less about getting anything done. We had parties, we had programs, we had playtime, and we drifted through the last weeks of the school calendar.

On the other hand, homeschooling is done when the work is done, not when the end date is reached. My kids are learning to budget their time, and the dire consequences of putting off what needs to be done.

I think this way is better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Purple Shamrock

A week of cool weather and frequent showers has made everything lush. Felix planted this purple shamrock last year--a garden passalong from a friend in Tiny Town. It's establishing itself into a very healthy clump.

Toddler Smock in the Shop

My etsy sale went so well I am trying it again, with another one of Daisy's rejects, this never-worn smock. My shop is here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Skirt in the Shop

I made this little baby skirt and it was roundly rejected by Daisy who only wears bathing suits right now. So I'm offering it for my sale in my etsy shop. Wish me luck!

New Skirt in the Zucchini Patch

I'm very pleased to note that the deer have not yet destroyed my vegetable garden! We have baby zucchini we will be picking later this week, as well as a spray of darling cherry tomatoes.

Also pleased to have finished this skirt, made from an irresistable length of crazy print with a delicious cottony-tencelly drape. I haven't sewn myself anything from a modern pattern in so long, but Simplicity 5259 was just what I wanted--a fitted straight skirt with a kick pleat in back.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Decoration Day

"She walked briskly, dressed for action in an old middy blouse and skirt. Over one arm hung a pail containing a small rake, a trowel, garden shears, and three empty quart jars. The other arm held big bouquets of snowballs and lilacs, tulips and painted daisies, their stems wrapped in newspapers which had been soaked in water.

She had picked them in her own yard while the birds trilled a welcome to their early morning world . . .

It was too bad, Emily reflected, turning east to Broad Street, that she had to go so early, for the cemetary on the afternoon before Decoration Day was a very social place. It was full of people putting their family graves in spic and span order . . ."

--Maud Hart Lovelace, Emily of Deep Valley

Saturday, May 26, 2007

"The Dining Room Must Be Well Aired"

"When in use the dining room must be well aired, scrupulously clean, and free from dust. It is best to air the room before each meal. A vacuum cleaner and oil floor mops are useful aids in cleaning. But the room must be not only clean; it must also be attractive. Flowers arranged in low bowls or a simple centerpiece of fruit add a charm to the table both at mealtime and throughout the day. The glass must be sparkling, the china clean, the silver untarnished, the linen spotless.

Between meals the table may be left bare, or it may be ornamented with a bowl of flowers, or a pot and plant with or without a table runner."

--Everyday Foods, Harris and Lacey

Friday, May 25, 2007

Revamping a Cushion

Inspired by the new polish of my sitting room, I madeover an old friend that has been residing on my green couch for several years. A needlepoint pillow of purple violets on a soft grey-green background, this pillow was flat and lifeless and backed in neutral-colored linen.

I cut the front and back apart, then made some fantastic piping from an irridescent green silk (a Jane Seymour "designer" shirt from Goodwill, the most fantastic green apple color).

I made a new back from another old shirt, this one purple cotton (you know it from stuffed elephants). I didn't have a new pillow form in the house, so I just wrapped my limp pillow in several layers of batting before stuffing it in the new cover.

As icing on the cake, I dug out a crocheted flower from another Goodwill bag, appliqued it on the back, then cut out green silk leaves which I tacked on to the back as well, trying to allow them some dimensionality, with some gathers and pleats. I was going for the look of the foliage on cheap fake flowers. Isn't that a great look, one that's always right on?

My new purple and green!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Curtains in the Sitting Room

As school finishes up for the year I am getting to some less urgent projects, and today put up new curtains in the sitting room. Previously there were valances hanging up, made from a Waverly ivy print that had faded to the point of shabbiness. This room catches so much sun all summer that it really needed something to filter the light.

Giles and I went to Lowe's this morning and found something that met my standards of 1. natural fibers and 2. simplicity (keeps cheap things from looking cheap). Plain cream cotton twill very reasonably priced.

We bought rods and brackets and he hung them all after lunch as I madly pressed curtain after curtain. I realized as I worked that these are the only curtains in the whole living area of our house, except for three valances in the kitchen. I do love those open expanses of glass, but these curtains are just right.

Geraniums on the Front Porch

Happily-grouped reds on the front porch this afternoon.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Walking West

The last few weeks I have been walking to the west after dinner--it's getting too hot to go for my walk in the afternoon. The advantage of the evening walk is that I can go straight out and not have to worry about coming back, since the Composer is happy to come pick me up two or three miles away. So, no gigantic uphill!

Giles came with me tonight to photograph some of the things I have been looking at.

Patriotic folk art on a mailbox:

Points for trying on another mailbox:

Great contrasting textures--rusty tin and weathered paint:

Hundred-year old logs in the corner of a shed (was this once a home?):

The odd geometry of a doorframe askew:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Vintage Afternoon Dress: "The News" 2442

A graceful afternoon dress from 1948:

I love the square neck and cut-in-one sleeves, as well as the pintucks to gather up the shoulder fullness. The pattern cover looks like a darted bodice to me, but the (unprinted) pattern pieces showed a "soft plait". I went ahead and darted the bodice to bring in some of the blousiness of the front.

A most challenging pattern because the instructions said "Create shaped facings and attach." !!! It worked eventually, but boy, did they expect you to know your p's and q's back then!

Retro-style printed cotton with great atomic bursts in red:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hydrangeas in Teapots

In an effort to break us all of the habit of setting stuff down on The Green Thing when we come into the house, this morning Clara and I set out a row of green teapots filled with Annabelle hydrangeas. Who would dare throw down their binoculars or their purse here?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Straightforward Asian Soup

I love cooking Thai at home, but sometimes find the lengthy ingredients lists quite fatiguing. Here is my own soup that captures the feeling of Hot and Sour Soup (without the Hot, unless you want it), with things quite easily kept in the pantry or fridge, and nothing esoteric.

*Straightforward Asian Soup*

In 2 T. oil, saute:

a small onion, diced
5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced.

Once they have settled in comfortably, add:

lots of fresh grated ginger (use the Microplane!)
2 pressed garlic cloves

and continue to saute til everything is nice and fragrant.


1 box chicken broth
and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.
Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are just tender.

Coarsely chop:

1 head bok choy.
Add to soup, cover, and let simmer about 5 minutes or until tender enough.

Stir in:

juice of one lime
1/4 c. Tamari sauce
1 c. cooked rice (if you have some sitting around)

Optionally, you may add:

cooked shrimp
cooked chicken, chopped
red pepper flakes

Don't forget--this recipe is just a starting point. I can completely imagine fancying this up with cubed winter squash, coconut milk, curry powder, etc. But the bare bones above is good enough!

Friday, May 18, 2007

An Accidental Nap

Daisy has generally given up her afternoon nap, but accidents do happen.

"The Cook's Creed"

"The health of my family is in my care; therefore--
I will preserve as far as possible the nutritive elements in the foods which are delivered to me.

My family's enjoyment of food is in my care; therefore--
I will preserve and enhance the attractive qualities of the foods with which I work.

Stretching the food dollar is part of my responsibility; therefore--
I will take such care of foods that none will spoil. I will use left-overs with thought and skill.

A well-prepared dish and an appetizing meal are a creative achievement; therefore--
I shall derive happiness from work itself.

Good food is of prime importance to my family; therefore--
I shall take pride in doing an outstanding job of cooking."

The Modern Family Cookbook, Meta Given, 1942.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Apple Pie

Clara and Bella made an apple pie all by themselves. Bella did the crust from scratch while Clara prepped the filling. All Granny Smiths, all goodness.

"The Food Shopper's Creed"

"The health of my family is in my care; therefore--
I will base my market list on meal planned according to the "DIET PATTERN."
I will choose foods of quality and in quantities that will provide the nutritive elements planned for.

Stretching the food dollar is part of my responsibility; therefore--
I will take advantage of what the seasonal markets offer in variety, quality, and price, to the end that I may exchange my dollar for maximum values.

My family's enjoyment of food is my responsibility; therefore-
I will use the possibilities of the market to provide variety, excellent quality and novelty within the limits of my food budget.

Purchasing food is an important link in the business of feeding my family; therefore--
I will make every effort to weigh possibilities offered by various markets, by various foods, and the forms in which they are offered from season to season, to the end that I may take pride in a job well done."

The Modern Family Cookbook, Meta Given, 1942.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"The Meal Planner's Creed"

"The health of my family is in my care; therefore--
I will spare no effort in planning the right kinds of food in the right amounts.

Spending the food dollar for maximum value is my job; therefore--
I will choose from the variously priced foods to save money without sacrificing health.

My family's enjoyment of food is my responsibility; therefore-
I will increase their pleasure by planning for variety, for flavorful dishes, for attractive color, for appetizing combinations.

My family's health, security, and pleasure depend on my skill in planning meals; therefore--
I will treat my job with the respect that is due it."

The Modern Family Cookbook, Meta Given, 1942.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Sweets

The Composer gave me a real live corsage! Such vintage glamour . . .

And copper roses, which made for a very happy breakfast.

Giles gave me a photography lesson, where I learned a little about fill light. To some extent, photography hurts my brain to think about, but I did take this picture:

Before Giles took the camera back where it belongs, and made a new picture of me

which I like!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Come in My Front Door

Friday, May 11, 2007

Homeschooling Heresies

Along the way, I have often been asked "how" I homeschool, and especially, what curriculum I use. I've been teaching my children at home for twelve years, and in that time I have come to hold some quirky views. Which I will now share. Remember, of course, that this is what works for *my* family.

1. Curriculum doesn't matter. I don't care what I use to teach my children. Give me something, and I will make it work. I am deeply wary of the desire for perfect teaching materials, and I view the search for the magic bullet curriculum as a time and money pit. Because at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you sat down with your child and together engaged in mastering an idea.

2. Mastery is everything. If my child can demonstrate that they understand and can do, we're out of there. Frankly, I have better things to do than spend twenty minutes rounding up tongue depressers, mylar balloons, and exposed light bulbs in order to demonstrate some science concept I can explain in thirty seconds. Further, if you can do the last three problems on the math page just fine, I won't waste your time asking for all the odd-numbered problems.

3. Diligence counts too. School isn't negotiable--we do school every day. I don't care if your essay is mis-spelled, just write it already! Just show up.

4. Trust the child on enrichment. The *idea* of unit studies is just fine, but my experience says that if my child expresses an interest in, say, butterflies, that if I jump on that and assign him to find five butterflies, read about metamorphosis, and create butterfly artwork, he will suddenly find butterflies the most boring subject in the world. Leave them alone! If they're interested *they* will create or request the opportunities to learn more.

5. Live an interested life. I cannot put this in bold enough face. You are interpreting the world to your child. Is it fascinating for you? Are you engaged in creating, in thinking, in knowing people? Do you make music, take pictures, cook, teach yourself to sew, hike someplace new, learn to fish, eat at a new restaurant, take the back way into town? Are you reading about the history of mental illness, repairing furniture, learning to oil paint? *Show* your child how interesting the world is, and they will love to learn.

And that is what we're after, isn't it?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Brick and Mortar for Free

Giles got his ACT score on Thursday.
We called the university with it on Friday.
On Monday they called back and offered him a scholarship.

Today he had his interview, and after half an hour, signed the acceptance into the university honors program. The program pays all his tuition, his room and board (although he'll be living at home, he can have lunch on campus), and a $1000 stipend for the year.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Blue Dress for Clara

I made up this charming pattern from the 1930's again, but smarter this time. Instead of assembling the bodice as instructed, and then binding all the scallops around the neck and armholes, I simply lined the back and the two front side pieces. Then I top-stitched the sides over the front, and sewed the sides together. Believe me, that was definitely easier and tidier. Much as I love to use binding, my mitered corners are not so good.

Clara sewed the buttons on.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tulip Collage

These days I only seem to paint when I'm pressed to by accepting a commission. I finished one up this weekend and delivered it today. The buyer wanted a "jewel-toned tulip botanical"--and this is what she got.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Beauty in the Strawberry Bathroom

Giles heard running water . . .

And found Daisy washing her little plastic dog . . .

. . . all by herself.

And admiring the mirror . . .

. . . and why not?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Brick and Mortar

This fall Giles will be entering college full-time--his first brick and mortar classes ever.

He plans to bike the four-mile commute, probably because the alternative is having his mother drop him off. He can't drive until he's sixteen, you know.

I must add that he got his college entrance exam score back this week. With no preparation whatsoever, he scored in the 99th percentile.

That's my boy!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Single-Flowering Peony

My single-flowering peonies are in bloom! Clara picked a bouquet and it's sitting in the window here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"A Head of Crisp Lettuce"

"Quietly she went about planning some kind of lunch for whoever would eat lunch in that disorganized household. Investigation of the store closet showed several rows of cans, canned vegetables and soups. A large porous earthenware covered tureen wrapped in a wet cloth, standing on a shelf in the open window, revealed a head of crisp lettuce, a few stalks of celery, a couple of ripe tomatoes, three green peppers and a little nest of raspberries in a lettuce leaf. They were all fresh and crisp. . .

Mary Elizabeth went on with hunting her condiments for the salad, her thoughts deeply occupied.

When the salad was finished she put it in a covered dish from the closet, wet a napkin and tucked it about and set it in the window."

--Grace Livingston Hill, The Strange Proposal

Salad from the Garden

For several nights in a row now we have enjoyed a salad from the garden. We earnestly appreciate the lettuce and spinach because first, it tastes so good and second, the heat may set in at any moment and spoil things.

This afternoon Felix and Clara went out and did the picking.

Felix also thinned the radishes and picked a plateful. So good with a grinding of sea salt! As for the salad, I have learned that it must be picked an hour or so in advance, and left to sit in a bowl of cold water in the sink. The dirt sinks to the bottom, and the leaves get extra crisp and sweet--so much for the romance of picking in the garden and whisking straight to the table!

We are outsmarting the deer by keeping the beds loosely covered with a mesh made of thin plastic threads. Within five minutes of spreading it we had caught both Bella and our lazy tabby Bossy, and it seems to be keeping the deer away as well.

Unfortunately we also snared a five-foot long black snake who died in the tangles. I really felt bad about that, even though I know he was after Mavis and Prunella's eggs; in fact, it was an egg already eaten which kept him from escaping. Just couldn't quite fit that bulge through the squares. That's some serious natural consequences!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"Morning Dress"

"Mary had loved to pick out that little pink flowered morning dress, for instance, with its airy dainty ruffled collar and think that when she would wear it she would be 'Mrs. Judson,' and 'Mr. Judson' would be sitting opposite at their cosy breakfast table."

--Grace Livingston Hill, Mary Arden

Vintage Simplicity 1778: Sleeve Variation

My favorite housedress pattern done again in a deconstructed gingham (squares are a little off-kilter). I used the long sleeve piece and cut it off right above the elbow to my favorite sleeve length, then gathered it into a white voile band.

I also did the pocket band out of voile. Gingham and voile! Now there's a reason to get up in the morning.

Related Posts with Thumbnails