Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Tiny Fishing Trip

Daisy got it in her head that she needed to go fishing. No doubt due to watching Grandpa take the boys out in the boat *with snacks*.

Fortunately there's a tame little fishing spot just down the road. Very accessible.

See that bag of snacks by Daisy's boots? That's what it's all about.

A minute of fishing, several minutes of snacks. That look better than they taste, apparently.

It was everything she dreamed it would be.

(photos by the Composer)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Dressing for a Road Trip

"Automobile travel permits the smallest and most easy-to-care-for wardrobe, especially if you use car cases that hang straight in the back seat. Wear a full skirt, which does not bind the way slacks might, and will also be acceptable wherever you stop to eat or sleep. At the end of a long stretch on the road, you'll feel less fatigued if you look presentable when you get out of the car. It's human nature. . .

The elements are at you every moment in a car, so protect your head, skin, and eyes with attractive covering."

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

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the Stage

Today the Schoolhouse was Studiohouse as the Composer shot a music video on the dining room stage. We moved *everything* out of the way (oh that's a lot of china in the china cabinet!) to make a beautiful empty space.

Everyone had a job to do: Giles gaffed and Felix gripped and Clara ran the music track and Bella kept the talent supplied with water and a hairbrush and Daisy rode her trike in several scenes and I cooked and wrangled Daisy.

In this splintered world it is a gift to work together.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This Is the Blue

Yes, this is the blue I had in mind. Walls are done, and Giles began on the white trim today. Lovely!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In the Vintage Kitchen: Oatmeal Cookies

Love the extra step in this recipe of simmering the raisins beforehand to soften and plump them. I actually substituted dried cherries for the raisins, and since cherries are softer to begin with, the resulting cookies were extremely moist and . . . toothsome!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hand Laundry

Memorial Day is such an undemanding holiday: praying for our soldiers, sometimes a trip to the cemetary with flowers, and dinner cooked on the grill.

And of course it is the unofficial beginning of summer, right? We made it this far without the air-conditioning but now it's okay to give in, which we happily did today. Until a huge thunderstorm blew in, drove the children out of the swimming pool, and cooled things back off.

Today may be a holiday but it's still laundry day. In addition to the usual I gathered up all my fine wool sweaters for a massive hand-washing session in the kitchen. Last year I had moth damage to several woolen things, and I'm determined to prevent it this summer. Can't remember what was clean and what had been worn, so I washed everything.

I'll make notes in my calendar to air my wool things outside in a few hours of strong morning sun every three weeks through the warm weather. I just can't bring myself to load the closet with mothballs; they've got to be poisonous. Cedar and lavender and sunlight are going to be my defenses this year.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tiny Bits in the Sewing Room

Doesn't sewing leave you with tiny bits too beautiful to throw away? I've taken to storing mine in the jars from our Bonne Maman jam. Snippets of rickrack, short lengths of bias binding, inches of lace. Time to trim some very small things!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cupcakes with Berries

We made a host of cupcakes today for Clara's solo cello recital tonight. How to decorate them when I have no cake decorating skills? The disciplined use of berries.

We did a plate of blueberries. Another separate plate of cupcakes with raspberries.

And the cutest ever, the plate decorated with tiny strawberries (we went picking yesterday).

The use of the single berry reminds me that "Elegance is refusal." No one was elegant at the recital, though, as these all got eaten.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Bonnet for Daisy

Some people might try to tell you that one bonnet is enough. Those crazies! Anyone can see that two bonnets are better.

I made Daisy an entire Mabel ensemble this weekend (that's fancy for a dress and a matching hat). She loves the bonnet, high-handedly rejects the jewel-necked dress (look for it in the shop soon) as she only wears decollete now.

I love how simply using a fairly stiff piece of thrifted eyelet gives the bonnet a whole hat-with-a-brim look. It was so easy to make!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Morning Glory Seeds

Soaking the morning glory seeds before planting. It takes less than a day for them to pop open and start sending out little white stems. I've read before that each seed needs to be scratched or nicked, but I never do that, and they all germinate quickly.

These will grow up the privacy fence around the pool. Love the multi-colored ones--don't they look like the decorations on the Pyrex cups?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pale Blue Kitchen Walls

I've strayed happily into the realm of more of a straight pale blue than a blue-green, and I'm content to stay here with Benjamin Moore's Blue Angel in semi-gloss latex.

Honeysuckle and privet are in full bloom everywhere I go outside. The air is full of their scents--the glamorous sweetness of the honeysuckle vines and the wholesome warm smell of privet are a perfect combination.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cheesecake and Coffee

Snack for a beautiful Saturday afternoon: cheesecake and decaff coffee. On my dogwood tray!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Red Roses in Milk Glass

Never getting tired of this line of vases down the dining table--this time with roses from the Composer.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Yellow Wrap Blouse

I cut down my wrap dress pattern to make a blouse. The fabric is an unlikely sheer wool gabardine that I bought a couple of seasons ago because I was charmed by the quality of the wool (while somewhat horrified by the color). Little did I know that this powerful yellow would be this season's favorite. It's such a light fabric that it's been good for even warmish spring days.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Daisy Needed a Bonnet

. . . to truly be Mabel from Pirates of Penzance. Having no bonnet experience, I extemporized.

I had a toddler sundress pattern with a brimmed hat pattern in the packet, and used the basic triangle-repeated-six-times to make the crown. I lined it with an identical skull-cup shape, and added the pretty frill in between the layers before sewing the lining to the hat. Turned it right side out, inserted a little elastic at the back, then trimmed with rosebuds.

A blushing bud of ever-blooming beauty, if I ever saw one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Giles Paints the Kitchen

Having completed his freshman year of college, Giles has moved on to his next project--painting the kitchen for me. He seems to be having a pleasant enough time, but did mention that the process was causing unfortunate flashbacks to Three-Dimensional Design (we watched with somewhat horrified fascination as he constructed a miniature Trojan horse out of popsicle sticks and hot glue; perhaps not the university's finest moment either).

Back to the kitchen--last year we painted all the cabinetry white, leaving the walls white and the trim a hydrangea blue. I'm ready to change that now for my favorite combination of deliciously colored walls and crisp white trim. So nice that the cabinets are already finished!

Still in the process of priming the blue trim, but tomorrow he begins on the best part: color. We've picked a delicate blue-green which will look wonderful with *all* shades of green vintage dishes. And red ones. And blue ones too.

(First two photos not by Giles. He's painting.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Felix Birds a Big Weekend

In conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, Felix had his big all-birding, all-weekend adventure. After flying together, we parted ways at the airport, me off to my cousin Sally's, and him to whatever it is that birders do.

Sally and I did major thrifting (hello, vintage dress for Clara! Hello silver-plated chafing dish! Will you fit into my suitcase?) and so much fabric shopping that I told her *not* to stop at any more fabric stores. That the day ever came . . . . In between shopping jaunts we napped with her baby in her tranquil apartment, and ate brownies from a Trader Joe's mix. Rejuvenating!

When I caught back up with Felix on Sunday for the flight back home, he had been up for 36 hours straight with the other bird enthusiasts. But it was not enough, apparently, as on the drive home he identified (by call) both a nightjar and a whipporwill. And spent all of this afternoon out on his bike looking and listening.

I spent the afternoon serenely doing laundry, stepping neatly back into my routine, as the Composer had somehow kept up with *absolutely everything in the house*.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Leaving Town

I'm off in the morning to pay a visit to my dear cousin Sal out East. She has outlined a plan of thrift store hits, bookstore stops, and dining that would take down a better man than me--and she'll be doing it with her baby in tow!

I noticed again today how getting ready for a trip involves so much *housekeeping*! There's extra shopping, laundry, pressing, planning meals, and cooking (if you're leaving meals in the freezer for the homebodies)! Now I actually *need* to go on vacation!!

Back on Monday, dear readers.

Wrapping with Thrifted Goodies

When it's time to decorate a gift package I love opening my plastic storage drawers full of goodies from the thrift store. I always keep an eye open for any tidbit that can be tied on a box--from half-empty curly paper ribbon spools to tattered plastic flowers. Not so impressive taken one at a time, but when I'm wrapping a present I can scrounge around through my supplies and come up with nice combinations.

This satin ribbon was from the thrift store (unless it's off an old gift--can't remember!), and the pale blue carnation definitely came from there for a nickel. I wrapped my gift in plain white, cut a narrow strip of pale blue vellum to go around the middle of the box, and cut out a turquoise tag. By keeping a tight color palette, my odds and ends go together nicely.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Mondays with David

This young man is one of my best Monday joys. He comes over first thing in the morning and visits til after lunch every Monday while his mother, my best friend, tends to some business. He's nine months older than Daisy and they have absolutely nothing in common. They generally ignore each other, except that David likes to hop on Daisy's trike and chase her screaming around the kitchen, and Daisy likes to report on David's misdeeds.

However, now that it is tent worm season, they have forged a tentative bond in sharing an enemy. Daisy abhors the tent worms that are so common out in the yard right now, and watches with approval while David spends hours alternatively collecting them into a jar, or squirting them with a spray bottle of soapy water.

And I approve of his hair.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Potted Hydrangea

Potted hydrangeas: excellent choice for fresh flowers in the kitchen, as the blooms will last for weeks, and the hydrangea can be planted outside later. If you love hydrangeas. I do.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Lessons from Vintage Fiction

Vintage fiction has been my treasure trove for figuring out how to put together a homemaking life. Old housekeeping manuals will give you out-dated specifics about how to iron or polish the silver the way it was done in the thirties or forties, but it's the mentioned-in-passing daily routine that fascinates me so deeply.

Here's what I have learned about a domestic life, courtesy of Grace Livingston Hill, L.M. Montgomery, and their ilk:

Homemakers have work to do. They get up early and make breakfast, since someone in the family needs sustenance before catching the trolley for a long day at the office. Homemakers have a plan for each day's special tasks. There's really no time to sit around; running a home is a demanding undertaking.

Homemakers dress the part. Need to make beds and clean? Try slipping a little cotton gown right over your nice morning dress to keep it clean. Going out to shop? A smart knitted dress is just right. Staying in for a family dinner? A crimson housegown is just the thing.

Homemakers make things beautiful. A room isn't finished until it reflects the homemaker's love of beauty. A pot of primroses on the dinner table, an embroidered bureau cover on the bedroom chest of drawers, a clean dresser scarf on the buffet in the dining room--creating a home takes attention to detail.

Homemakers think hard about meals. The planning and cooking of meals is an endeavor worthy of time and energy. Meals should be prepared with each day's needs in mind. Are the boys working hard on building a porch? Chocolate cornstarch pudding for dessert, as it can be eaten quickly, and people can get back to their project. No matter what else is going on, careful and appropriate attention must be paid to feeding the family.

Homemakers find out what they need to know. New to the neighborhood and don't know where to shop? Just follow the neighbor lady carrying the basket over her arm. Raised in splendor but married now to a working man? Take a cooking course. One of the privileged elite but ready to do your part for the war? Take that night course in practical nursing.

Homemakers can weather hard times. When money gets tight, they suck it up and move to the unelectrified shack in that rundown part of town and set out daffodils. When the bank fails they get the kerosene lamps and the oil stove out of the attic, and start cooking plain but delicious food. When the apartment's going to be demolished, they cheerfully move into a spacious stone barn for the summer.

Homemakers are indispensable. If mother can't do it, someone else must be found. There's no such thing as a family that runs itself, with every member gone to work or school every day. Without a guiding presence in the house, things go down deep and fast.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pansy Shoulder Bag

A new wool shoulder bag in the shop, and covered with crocheted pansies.

Oak Leaves in Milk Glass

Realizing that there is *always* something beautiful to display.

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