Saturday, September 29, 2007

Daisy's New Shoes

A bit of deliciousness I look forward to every fall: new shoes for Daisy.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Schoolhouse in Autumn Sunshine

Leslie's Goodies

Generous reader Leslie M. sent me a box packed with these goodies! Vintage fabrics, notions, crocheted work, and treats for the children. Thank you so much . . . that flannel is calling my name already!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What Must I Thrift?

I'm sure everyone has her own idiosyncratic mental list when thrifting. You know, those things you just *are* going to buy if they cross your path. On mine:

• Restaurant and restaurant style dishes--Buffalo, Jackson, etc.

• Sewing notions, especially packages of bias tape in odd colors. But not thread, which might be too old and weak and ruin a project. Always zippers. I'll never have to buy another one in a fabric store.

• Fabric yardage if it's at all cute. If not for me, then to pass along.

• Gift wrapping supplies--curly ribbon, little fake flowers, great bows. Also crepe paper rolls and fold-out tissue wedding bells!

• Ironstone china.

• Pillowcases in terrible seventies yellows and brown--perfect for car travel.

• Books on vintage homemaking and sewing. Grace Livingston Hills.

• Pieces of handwork, even if they're tacky. Given the right setting, almost any little bit of embroidery will sing! (See above: pillow created from a pretty tasteless piece of crewelwork, but I think it came out cute!)


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Look what I have!! A serger! A hand-me-down from my handy neighbor Phyllis, computerized screen and all. Giles and I tried on our own to get it up and running, but as they say, who can figure out such devices? I ended up taking it to the sewing machine center to be cleaned and threaded.

I'm getting a little more comfortable with it, having serged the side seams of a little flannel robe for Daisy (oh, she looks cosy in it!). So I've cut out a bigger project to work on--don't be shocked, but it's a vintage fifties housecoat for Bella.

I am proceeding with caution, but things are looking good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cranberry-Blueberry Cake

This beautiful and delicious (and dairy-free!) cake picnics easily if left in its pan until needed. Just slice in the pan, and flip each serving out onto the diner's plate so she can enjoy the beautiful deep colors.

*Cranberry-Blueberry Cake*

Grease an 8-inch cake pan, and preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together in a bowl, and then sprinkle in the pan:
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. allspice.

Evenly distribute:
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries and
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
over the sugar. Set aside.

In electric mixer, cream:
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. sugar
until light and fluffy.

Beat in:
1 egg
1 t. vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together:
1 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt.

Blend into creamed mixture.
On low speed, beat in:
1/2 c. rice milk. Or use regular milk.

Spoon batter into the pan over the berries, slide into the oven, and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick poked in comes out clean. Cool in the pan, and if serving at home, turn out onto a platter.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Top to Quilt

On my last trip to Tiny Town for court, I used part of the lunch break to duck into the world's best and cheapest antique mall. The first thing I saw when I entered was this quilt top. It was marked $18, and is almost flawless (one seam needs restitching). It's hand-pieced out of 1930's fabric. Okay, I'll take it!

I've always done my quilting by hand, but this time I'm going to machine-quilt. I plan to get a walking foot for the machine, but at $40 I'm wondering if I can get along without one. I'm assuming that I'll be resigning myself to the little ridges at the end of the seams.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Sunset Picnic

Tonight we planned a picnic at one of the best sunset-watching spots around. It's up above everything and has a comprehensive view of mountains.

I just cooked our regular meal at home and packed it up, along with the thrifted plates I love in different yellow patterns. A pasta with caramelized onions, tomatoes, lentils, and arugula. French bread. A salad.

To our surprise, a brass ensemble was presenting a concert nearby. We were just the right distance away to hear the music drifting quietly towards us, but we could still be silly without bothering anyone.

The lemon soda disappeared quickly.

So did the cranberry-blueberry upside down cake, which travelled nicely in its baking pan, still upside down. Daisy insisted that hers should be "upside right."

Hot tea in real mugs to watch the sunset with (really just an excuse to use my thrifted vacuum Thermos bottle).

Makes me want to whisper.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Vintage Fifties Coverall: Advance 7757

In search of the Holy Grail of house dressing, the perfect bungalow apron, I tried this new coverall pattern. Remember, a bungalow apron must be comfortable, practical, and attractive. I love, love, love this one! It is much more structured, much more like a fully-fashioned dress than others I have tried.

Note that it has a collar and facings rather than just a bias-bound edge. It was a lot more work to sew, but it turned out lovely. If you can't tell from the pattern front, it wraps around and fastens in the back with a single button at the neck, and the waist ties at the back waist.

Don't even ask me about the pockets: their enormous size! Their front and center placement!

Sewn in a beautifully silky green cotton print--almost Japanesey. Housework serenity.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Charm Bracelet

A daisy, a lion, a cello, a cockatiel, a still camera, a movie camera. What charms would you have?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Rejoice in All the Good"

" . . . you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household . . ."

Deuteronomy 26:11

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kitchen Projects

Tuesdays are kitchen days around here, and usually that means that we do the week's baking, and a speedy deep-cleaning of the kitchen. This week I decided to forego almost all of the cleaning and instead do more of a deep-cooking, getting to all of the cooking projects I had in the back of my mind but hadn't gotten around to.

First, I put Clara to work with the Granny Smith apples and a package of puff pastry.

Apple tart, dairy-free.

I scoured the freezer for all the bags labelled "Use for Stock", and made a huge pot of chicken stock, and a smaller pot of ham stock.

A large bowl of hummous for snacks. Pita chips for dipping.

A double batch of chocolate cornstarch pudding. Poured into pretty china coffee cups, it will keep for a few days in the fridge until we finish the apple tart.

A double batch of yogurt, long overdue. I haven't had any around in a week, and I miss it.

And bread, as usual. *Now* I need to deep-clean!

Monday, September 17, 2007

County Fair by Daylight

The canned goods are my favorite exhibit.

A display of sweet embroidered linens. The sewing display in general was disappointing--mostly tie-dyed tees.

Complementary colors always work. Salsas and pepper sauces taken very seriously here. I saw men in business suits making cell phone calls to report on the judging of the hot canned items.

Style to spare.

A sweet-faced goat.

Empty is more interesting than full.



Soft-faced rabbits.


Daisy tries cotton candy.


My husband.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Happy Dog

Daisy: "What are you making, Mommy?"
Me: "A stuffed doggy toy for you, honey. Look how cute he is!"
Daisy: "I don't want it. You can sell it."

Friday, September 14, 2007

"A Warm and Creative Homemaker"

"A warm and creative homemaker, Eloise shared with the world glimpses of her big, busy, welcoming household, its rooms papered with gentle patterns, its drop-leaf tables and rocking chairs aglow with hand-rubbed sheen, its four-poster beds covered by hand-stitched quilts. A devoutly religious person, she shared ever so gently her values, her sense of the beauty of order and love, of implicit self-discipline, and of regard for others . . . she has left us, only slightly idealized, rich reminders of a lovely time not very long ago."

--Jane Werner Watson, Eloise Wilkin Stories, afterword

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learning to Grocery Shop

It's Bella's turn to learn to shop. She was born with the right instincts--for years her allowance was spent on macaroni and cheese in the box. But now she's doing the real thing. Unit pricing, reading labels for dairy, checking sizes and expiration dates: there's a lot to think about.

My grocery shopping crew these days is Bella at my side, getting it done, and Felix off somewhere else in the store with Daisy in a red racecar trolley. They have their own agenda--first a deli stop for a free cookie, some cruising up and down aisles with a lot of talk about crazy driving, a visit to the florist for a free balloon, and then the dairy case to select just the right tiny box of chocolate milk for Daisy's lunch on grocery day.

How did I ever get it done without help?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Vintage Thirties Housedress: Hollywood 1333

I bought this pattern to fulfill my dream of sewing myself a floor-length beach frock for wearing to the lake (why are you looking at me funny?). My trial run was this cocoa-colored cotton housedress. I cannot resist brown combined with pink or red. And look, the pattern *calls* for rickrack trim, it wasn't my idea!

Isn't this a dignified dress? Note that it's a "princesse frock." I had forgotten how nice it is to put together a princess-seamed dress. Once you've made the (very long) bodice, you're done with things! No constructing a skirt and attaching it at the waist.

This is evidence that I'm on a rhinestone buckle roll. I just can't resist that little bit of jewelled glamour calling attention to the waist, breaking up that long expanse of calico. So long, it used twenty buttons. Fortunately the beach frock only buttons at the middle.

Hello, raspberry rickrack. I love you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wild Pears

Little wild pears that grow beside the driveway . . .

Monday, September 10, 2007

Vintage Stuffed Toy: McCalls 1972

I'm sure these pictures speak for themselves.

But if not, let me say that this alligator pattern was my personal Mt. Everest. I get that there's no practical point served in accomplishing it, but it's there and it's a challenge. And I enjoyed every minute and didn't lose any fingers or toes.

This is an incredible pattern. Maybe it's not the most practical pajama bag (actually I omitted the zipper, and stuffed and sewed him closed). But the elaborate machine quilting in different patterns on the top and bottom! The rickrack teeth, the floppy tongue, the lined and rolled nostrils! The menacing sideways glance of the eyes! The endearing stuffed feet!

For now, the alligator is sitting in a place of honor in the sitting room posing as a piece of soft sculpture. I'm not sure what I'll do with him, but I'm definitely putting a notch in my belt, now that he's done.

Dinner with the Composer

In an early celebration of the Composer's birthday, the two of us took off Saturday for a little backroads fun. No children: my mother kindly hosted the girls, Giles took off *in a car*, and Felix was camping with the Boy Scouts.

We went down the highway to a tiny village with a cosy restaurant and had supper. Steaks! New potatoes! Really good salads! After stormy weather all day, the evening sky was full of drama. After we ate we drove up to the top of a nearby ridge and enjoyed the tumultuous clouds, and the homey street lights turning on in the valley.

Then we headed home ourselves.

(photo by the Composer)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Vintage Bag Patterns

If you had told me a month ago that I would soon be fascinated with vintage bag and purse patterns, I believe I would have scoffed. I guess you just never know what's coming at you!

Isn't this pattern delicious! My first project from it was the round knitting bag (of course!). Typical forties pattern instructions told me to "assemble bag." So I just sort of made something up. Which you can see here if you like!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"Simple Fare"

"They had a cheery supper that night in spite of simple fare. The mother was resurrecting all her old recipes, plain wholesome food, cheaply bought and deriving its savory taste and smell from the old deftness in seasoning, the trick of long cooking, and careful preparation . . . Bean soup made with tomatoes, potatoes, and celery tops. . . brown bread, baked apples and cream, even bread pudding with a dash of chocolate to make it tasty, hash . . . It all seemed so good and they were so hungry from their work."

--Grace Livingston Hill, The Patch of Blue

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

White Pumpkin

Our packet of mixed pumpkin seeds yielded several white pumpkins. Love the autumnal shape, and the ghostly color. Like a moon floating on the green cupboard.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Daisy Looking out the Window

Vintage Forties Shirtwaist: Butterick 4086

I have been wanting to make a classic tailored shirtwaist, and decided on this pattern. My girls were really thinking the long pointy umbrella would take the outfit up a notch, but I've been making do without in this sunny weather.

When I was at the Creative Needle fabric shop in Denver this summer, I splurged (with some guilt) on several dress lengths of really premium cotton. I used one for this dress, and I have to say, the guilt is gone. It is such a pleasure to sew with, drapes so beautifully, and feels as weightless as silk when it's on.

I went with a fabric-covered belt and a jeweled buckle to add a little glamour. I like to wear the buckle over next to my hip rather than in the center.

These red buttons are vintage. My stepmother gave them to me and she dates them to the forties, I think.

The pattern went together really well but was a little large. I'd like to try it again in a smaller size. I love it!

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