Monday, March 31, 2008

Vanilla Icing

I'm not generally inspired to make any frosting other than chocolate, but this sublime thrifted saucer did the trick. The bitter dark brown with the white accents, all set on unbeatable aqua? Could only mean a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.

*Dairy-Free Vanilla Icing*

Soften 2/3 c. non-dairy margarine. Add 3 c. powdered sugar (don't need to sift). Add 2 t. vanilla, and 1-2 T. water as needed for desired consistency. Beat with hand-held mixer (because the stand mixer bowl is dirty from baking a cake. But it would work too, I'm sure).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More GLH for Sale

The rest of my Grace Livingston Hill stash is for sale in the shop!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring 1974

I love this picture because of the dresses. My mother made her gingham shirtwaist, and my smocked dress was a loan from an older neighbor. I used to love seeing it hanging in my closet; it was the prettiest thing I could imagine.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

GLH in the Shop

I just posted Grace Livingston Hill books from my stash of extras, in the shop. More to come in the next few days, in case you don't find the one you need.


Shuffling through the second day of a nasty bout of food poisoning--on Monday the Composer and Giles and I all took part in a commercial shoot and ate lunch on the set. Tuesday night we were all down and wretched. A few phone calls confirmed that the culprit was indeed the tray of fresh fruit. Horrors.

We spent yesterday sleeping and whining. Early this morning the two guys left for Giles' last college trip, this one to California. Looking on the bright side, Giles noted that having slept all day and being totally disoriented, he was ready to land in any time zone and feel right at home.

My little ladies and Felix have been good and helpful. Yesterday we printed out some glorious coloring sheets from Jan Brett's website (thanks Bethgem), and today Clara made play dough for Daisy. I believe the light is gleaming faintly at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Vintage Ladies Smock: Advance 6464

Seeing Clara enjoy her cobbler's apron so much made me want one for myself. I fell in love with this model because of the fetching Peter Pan collar. Though totally outside of my usual style guidelines, I couldn't help myself.

My mother had given me some black floral cotton of a sheerness and drapiness incredible. I think it dates from the Forties! Perfect for a blouse. Because of the rather busy print, I bound the collar in contrasting pink so it wouldn't get lost.

Smock on!

Monday, March 24, 2008

"I Tell You a Mystery"

Behold, I tell you a mystery;
we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed . . .

For this perishable will must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'

'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

I Cor. 15: 51, 52-58

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"What Should I Wear for House-Cleaning?"

"What should I wear for house-cleaning?

I could recommend all kinds of household wear. To begin with, it should be protective and attractive. I like skirts that have plenty of knee action without being too full . . .

Bandannas are wonderful if worn with style. Have a wardrobe of household kerchiefs to go with what you're wearing. Try a bright calico wrap-and-tie dress with a fetching kerchief to look as sprightly as Brigitte Bardot . . .

For really heavy household chores, wear dungarees with a neat cotton shirt and maybe a bandanna. I don't like dungarees for casual wear, but since they're the best thing for messy jobs, wear them with authority.

Don't look like a steam-fitter or a garage mechanic when what you are is, purely and simply, a wife."

--Anne Fogarty, Wife-Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife (1959, 2008)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ladies Vintage Housedress: Advance 5371

Hello, housedress! Your rickrack looks mighty fine. I think I'll sew you.

You make me want to fluff up the couch cushions!

I love your *real organdy* collar. Oh, it's from Denver Fabrics? Very nice! And that charming print--red with anything is my favorite combination!

You match my geranium. And your wrap styling makes for a perfect fit. I love you!

Smocks in the Shop

A batch of little girl smocks are posted in the shop tonight!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Various Productions

Yesterday was a day of multiple productions. My sister-in-law Kay led off with the birth of her second child, another boy! Glorious and healthy, although an abrupted placenta led to an unplanned, very emergency C-section at 5:15 in the morning. She's recovering slowly and gets to go home tomorrow. We've been lending Clara in the afternoons to run after the big brother who's three and very, very energetic.

Once that excitement died down (ha!), the Composer began shooting a commercial out here at the house (see photo above). Done in classic mock-heroic style, it required Felix's services all day as "Fire Wrangler", the crew member who pushes an old garden cart around with a fire in it, to get smoke to blow across the scene of action at the right time. He also had to keep a bonfire going all day for some other scenes, not an easy task with four inches of rain still settling into the ground!

I was "Craft Services", which meant that I made soft tacos for everyone for lunch (everyone being the Composer and the director and the "Talent"--that's him in the photo). I was also "Wardrobe Production" which meant that I'm the one who cut Talent's shirt sleeves off with my sharp sewing scissors.

My resume will never be the same.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wife Dressing: The Fine Art of Being a Well-Dressed Wife

What can I say? First published in 1959. Crinolines, white gloves, dungarees, housecoats, hats. Advice on what to wear while housecleaning. While enjoying at-home leisure. While motoring.

Vintage heaven. Check it out at Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Animal Toys in the Shop

Lady and gentleman frogs, and a soft giraffe, are in the shop tonight.

A Regency Dress for Bella

Bella's fabric arrived in the mail--a cotton sateen with a little stretch. It has a much sturdier, less drapey hand than Clara's cotton and rayon blend, which makes the dress hang differently.

More castle, less cottage.

She does appear to be channelling a duchess.

I admire that.

And the way she wears her great-grandmother's necklace.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Giles Checks Out Chicago

This weekend Giles and the Composer visited Columbia College Chicago.

I believe they experienced genuine Chicago weather as their ears are red in all their pictures.

Even the indigenous pigeons needed to warm their toes at the eternal flame.

That's a big city!

Giles has ranked Columbia second to SCAD; Columbia is more fine arts than he is looking for. He reported that all of the first year is spent shooting with film, rather than digitally, and he doesn't want to spend a whole year working with film. However, he did enjoy a giant cheese-free pizza.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Cleaning Through the Week

Monday: Change and launder all the sheets (that's a lot of sheets!). Water the houseplants. Dust and vacuum the front of the house (sitting room, living room, sewing room, kitchen). Boys vacuum their own rooms, empty the wastebaskets, and wipe fingerprints from doors and mirrors.

Tuesday: Sort out the fridge, clean where necessary. Bake bread and other cooking projects. Scrub kitchen in detail--counters, light fixtures, appliances, pantry, etc.

Wednesday: Clean my own bathroom, dust and vacuum my room. Get groceries (and pizza for lunch!). Catch up the laundry room--clothesbaskets emptied, ironing caught up, and laundry room dusted and vacuumed. Quick vacuum of the front of the house. Bake a dessert for our Bible study group.

Thursday: The girls and I pick up their rooms and their toy room, vacuum those rooms, and clean their bathroom. Errands in town.

Friday: Vacuum the front of the house (again! It needs it all the time!). Dust and vacuum thoroughly the boys' rooms. Clean those two bathrooms.

That's it! In addition to what I've listed, my kids have various daily chores that include doing quick cleaning in each bathroom, dusting specific areas, etc. And of course I'm doing laundry every day, and I keep on top of the kitchen. This plan allows each part of the house to be attentively cleaned once a week, and kept adequately well the other six days. Sticking to a sensible plan pays endless dividends--the house is never a pit, I always know what to clean instead of wandering around aimlessly, and doing a little every day is good for both me and the house.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Finishing the Week

The best part about having a weekly plan for cleaning the house is also the most obvious: at the end of the week, the house is clean! The fridge is full, the beds are changed, the schoolwork is done, and the weekend beckons.

I love finishing up on Fridays after a pleasant week. This afternoon, even dinner is prepped, since we are taking it to my mother's for a little sleepover. Daisy will be eating lemon bars and taking a bath in the funny tub, and at the crack of dawn Felix meets a birding group and Clara heads to orchestra practice.

And new fabric is probably in my very near future.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Regency Dress for Daisy

Daisy's turn for a Regency-style dress for Easter! This is a separate pattern from the ladies' and big girls' pattern, and it has fuller sleeves.

I made the dress up in a soft pink cotton sateen. The back buttons with round pearly buttons.

And because Daisy loves bunnies so much right now, I embroidered a bunny on the front at the hem. The transfer is from the delightful Pattern Bee.

And I love her eyes and eyebrows so much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


In honor of today's warm and sunny weather: limeade! Prepare a syrup by simmering a cup of water and a cup of sugar in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, squeeze a bunch of limes. Then into each small glass, put 3 T. syrup and 3 T. lime juice. Fill the rest of the way with water, add ice, and stir.

Naturally, you can made this tarter or sweeter by adding syrup or lime juice. Or make a bigger glassful. It's good.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vintage Summer Housecoat: McCall's 3416

I loved this pattern when I made it up in flannel for Bella this fall.

Clara fell in love with some clearance fabric I picked up at Hobby Lobby and asked for a summer housecoat. Isn't this totally a happy fifties morning?

I have finally figured out how to use my vintage bias-binding attachment. The thing with most of these attachments, I find, is that they take quite a bit of skill and attention to run--they're not automatic in any sense.

But once you master them, they get more beautiful results than I could get on my own.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Begonias Reblooming

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Housekeeping in College

My very first housekeeping experiences were in college. My first two years I lived in tiny dorm rooms and ate in the cafeteria, but my last semester (I got through school in two and a half years) I had a room in a house with several other girls. It was an older house, right off the edge of campus. Built in the 1920's, in classic foursquare style. I wasn't there when the rooms were divvied up, so I got last choice, and smallest, but I wanted it to be as nice as possible for several reasons.

First, I was depressed, and knew that living in squalor was only going to make things worse. Second, I had a very light class load and had lots of time to spend hanging out in my little space. So, clean, tidy, and appealing were very important to me. The first thing I did was winnow the furniture down to a bed, a table, and a bookcase. I kept the bed beautifully made every day, with some giant throw pillows to lean on. I used the table for a desk, and kept it cleared off except for my calendar with Impressionist painters, and a glass paperweight. In the bookcase I stacked all the pretty hand-knitted sweaters my mother had made me, folded tidily. I kept all my clothes in the closet, and out in the room I had a stack of primitive wooden fruit crates for a little storage. They had come from the little homestead down the back of this mountain, from when it used to be a peach and pear orchard.

I made and hung up white muslin curtains at both my windows that looked out into treetops, and set out my little lamp and one or two pictures, and had a basket with my embroidery project in it. That last semester I embroidered a huge elaborate quilt-top that ended up on my bed when I got married. I spent many homesick hours between classes working on it while listening to Chicago's country music station.

And I kept my room *clean*. Dusted, vacuumed, aired, and immaculate. It was a therapeutic nest for me during a hard time, and the beginning of my learning that housekeeping is something that pays you back.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Daisy Has a Dresser Now

Last month we had to do a lot of shuffling children's rooms around to squeeze in my mother and grandmother. Everyone is back in their usual place now, but all the juggling sparked some creative furniture rearranging that feels fresh and new.

For instance, Daisy has a dresser in her tiny room now. A white one with a mirror. Before this her clothes were all stored on shelves behind her door.

Don't worry, there's still room for Joe. He was great when my mother was here, as he faithfully held her back brace all night when she went to bed.

Now Daisy has a flat surface for her lamp, her pink daisies, and her jewelry stand. One great thing about having an orange room is that no one wants to buy the cool orange stuff at the thrift store so you can have it all. We got this great little metal tree for a quarter, and it is just perfect for displaying baby bracelets and necklaces. We even clip hairbows onto it.

Still loving this little embroidered quilt with orange fringe, folded at the foot of her bed.

And this little cross is new--a crocheted bookmark that was in Nanny's things. Love the orange and pink together!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"A Cosy Room"

"What a cosy room this is. . . I'll right it up in two minutes; for it only needs to have the hearth brushed, so,--and the things stood straight on the mantelpiece, so,--and the books put here, and the bottles there, and your sofa turned from the light, and the pillows plumped up a bit. Now, then, you're fixed."

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Daisy Models a Smock

Daisy agreed to model a smock I made yesterday. Usually I pin her down and put clothes on her, then Giles sneaks up with a camera and takes a picture through a crack in the door. Not sure why she cooperated this time. Oh, that's right. I bribed her with four doughnut holes.

I have made several of these in different delicious fabrics--some vintage, some modern--from a vintage pattern.

I'll be putting some in the shop towards the end of the week.

Thank you, Daisy. You can go strip now.

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