Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Loud and Happy New Year

New Year's Eve Party at the Schoolhouse! I just counted fifteen (I think) teenagers here to eat, play games, tease each other, burn a bonfire, and drink cider. Merriment til midnight, then a long bath for me!

In the morning I'll get right down to keeping two of my new resolutions: Make More Waffles and Enjoy Lots of Cut Flowers.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

On the Little Table

On the little table by the kitchen door:

The filofax is deceptive: this week is free and easy. We're working puzzles, inviting friends over, and ordering hamburgers.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Big bags of lemons at the grocery store today for $1 a bag. Clara and I squeezed at least thirty and made a double batch of lemon curd, and a huge jar of lemonade base (equal parts simple syrup and lemon juice, and simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water simmered together until dissolved). We fed that lemonade to a big crew of teenagers coming through the house during a progressive dinner. Lots of chicken and broccoli stir-fry, too.

After they left, and I popped the dirties into the dishwasher, Daisy and I sat by the fire in our big and little rocking chairs and thought about things, and talked, and enjoyed the Christmas tree. A lovely evening.

Friday, December 26, 2008

An Easy Thai Supper

While not the Thaiest of Thai, this simple dish is easy, inexpensive, and feeds a tableful of people. Very popular with big kids.

•Schoolhouse Thai Beef and Rice•

In a large skillet, saute:
1 lb. ground round and
1 chopped onion.

When almost done, add:
2 minced garlic cloves
red pepper flakes to taste. I use about 1/2 t.
4 carrots, thinly sliced.

2 c. jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk, regular or light
enough water, to equal 4 cups of liquid total
1/4 c. tamari sauce.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Serve with crushed dry-roasted peanuts, and a squeeze of lime. Cilantro, too, if you're a fan. Feeds about 8 people generously.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Peaceful Christmas

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken,

let us show gratitude,

by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Everything in Order in the Sideboard"

"She sifted powdered sugar over the great platter of beautifully brown crisp doughnuts . . . she cleaned the fine old family silver, and got out the best long tablecloth to look it over for possible breaks, counted out the napkins, and arranged everything in order in the sideboard so that the dinner tomorrow would be assembled with the least possible effort . . . .

--Grace Livingston Hill, The Substitute Guest

Monday, December 22, 2008

Red Basket of Flowers

Doing my enormous grocery shop this morning I stopped to chat with my friendly florist and thank her for last week's lilies (marked to half because they were three days old). She pointed to a cart full of potted mums and explained that she was trying to get rid of them, that I could have as many as I wanted for a total of ninety-nine cents!

I chose white ones, and brought them home and tucked them in a (thrifted) red basket. Set in a peeling green chair, it's like a really cheap daisy-filled Christmas meadow. If there is such a thing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Daisy in a Corduroy Smock

A length of mossy green corduroy at the thrift store . . . bias binding made from a vintage dress . . .

My favorite Big Pocket vintage smock pattern . . .

Daisy will never wear it but a girl can dream.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Skippy Plaid Skirts

Using up a large piece of flannel from my stash: simple half-circle skirts for my big girls. Such soft fabric I *should* have let them hang overnight, as the bias parts have stretched down quite a bit. I'll have to re-hem tomorrow, but in the meantime, the girls enjoyed skipping around in them today.

Sewn from this magic formula, with a little extra in the back gathered into a waistband, and a zipper in the side seam.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Footed Milk Glass in the Bathroom

I never pass by these at the thrift store because: look!

They do all my bathroom countertop storage. Makeup, cotton swabs, toothbrush and toothpaste.

I love this shallow footed dish. With a layer of small river rocks, it makes a fine soap dish.

Hope I haven't bought up all the milk glass in town; it's been a little thin at the thrift store lately. Hope they have giant stashes of it put away until after Christmas. That's it, a January white sale!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Polishing Off a Tablecloth

So I haven't bought any new fabric in months and have been living out of my stash. This has been such a source of inspiration! All those little projects I've thought up along the way but never got to, lured as I was by the glowing new yardage folded on the shelf--those dogs are having their day!

My most recent irrational goal was to use up every scrap of a delightful vintage tablecloth that has appeared here before. Done! All that's left are postage-stamp sized pieces. A little retrospective of the tablecloth's earlier appearances:

A wallet:

A handbag:

A smock for a toddler:

A drawstring purse:

. . . and the very last projects are here at Etsy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Icy Day for Baking

We woke to a coating of ice.

Today's morning of baking was cozier than usual, with a gray and brown world frozen outside my kitchen window.

Things were more golden inside--loaf after loaf of yeast bread, chewy coconut macaroons, and these shortbread thumbprint cookies with their dark chocolate squallops.

Use your favorite shortbread recipe, dent the cookies halfway through the baking, and for the filling melt 4 T. butter with 2/3 c. chocolate chips and 2 t. corn syrup.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Decorating without Clutter

I like the house to look dressed for Christmas, but I don't like a lot of extra things strewn around. Too busy for my eye, too crowded to live with. Instead of *adding* Christmassy things, I like to edit the house to make it look festive.

The stack of dishtowels folded by the sink? If I take out the blue and yellow ones and tuck them away for the month, I have a stack of red and white. Topped with a useful tub of peppermint hand cream, this looks deliberately Christmassy.

A quick switch of quilts, from autumn colors to the red-and-white schoolhouse quilt.

One cutting of red geranium turns a pot of basil into a holiday decoration.

Pure white flowers in the living room.

By putting away all my pink and blue aprons, and pulling out my three vintage Christmas aprons, my hanging display is deliciously decorative.

A stack of red books on the coffee table.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Party Night

My friend Carol turns forty this week, and we got up a surprise party for her tonight. She was *indeed* surprised, which makes all of us feel clever! We had about forty people, who all brought potluck, and we set out forty candles on the various cakes.

Then her husband, who has never played the guitar in front of anyone, sang her a song he had written. I'm picky: but this was beautiful. Like Carol.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bossy Before Breakfast

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tiny Silk Elephants

I'm so pleased with the little tote bags I just made and put in my shop! They developed out of project "difficulties"--namely, my inability to get my stuffed elephant to come together in the middle. So I split him down the middle and appliqued him on two tote bags. He's silk! He's dimensional! He's got the cutest little red mouth in the world!

A Fine Lunch for Cold Weather

Chicken-noodle soup with an addition that takes it up a notch--a roughly chopped bunch of Swiss chard stirred in at the end.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Bunting for Christmas

I tossed my kitchen curtains during the big Kitchen Repaint this summer and *still* haven't made new. I love the increased light without them, but on the other hand would like to soften the window line a little. I decided today to use the empty space for a Christmas bunting.

I used twill tape from my stash, and cut out triangles from a vintage Christmas tablecloth, a new-but-looks-vintage Christmas tablecloth, and some red stripes (all from stash. Can I say how much I love sewing from my bottomless stash?). I just zigzagged the top of each to my twill tape--so easy!

The ends of the tape are safety-pinned into a loop with is caught over a nail hidden on the top of the neighboring kitchen cabinets.

And the Composer wants to know if you'd like to buy a used car!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Counting Down with Chocolate

I dearly love chocolate Advent calendars (shades of my childhood when my uncle was stationed in Germany and sent them to us--to all of us--to all fourteen of us!) for Christmas. Last year I found some in the Vermont Country Store catalog, but hadn't run across them this year until serendipitously I stumbled on them at the military grocery store. I was lured there by a military wife who described the aisles full of Italian cookies and German candies and English biscuits. She did not speak in vain. I snapped these up and we've been counting down ever since.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Giles Finds a Christmas Tree

The kids and I were ready for a tree already! this morning, but the Composer thought he would spend Monday working. So Giles tricked Daisy and friend David out in jackets and loaded them into the pickup announcing that "This was the day he went into the woods with a hatchet and proved he was a man." He had good help from Daisy, who asssured him that she knew the perfect tree: it was the first one you saw when you looked in the pasture. I looked for myself and the first thing I saw was a cedar fifty feet tall and as wide as the house . . . .

They brought home something a little smaller, without incident. Giles thinks it was something of a Christmas Miracle.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Composer Runs a Fast One

I went with the Composer to a half-marathon this morning, one he'd been training for for months. He had his carefully calculated target time, and I sat waiting and watching the finish line for him. Completely missed him because he came in way too soon!

In his own words:"It was really hard, but it was really fun."

That's it! I'm doing a half-marathon next year, and you heard it here first.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Daisy Has a Delicate Doll

Daisy thinks of a certain kind of doll as a "Delicate Doll." She has been aspiring to own one, and yesterday she bought one at the thrift store. When we got home, she told me I could cancel her order for the Samantha doll from American Girl. Because she only needs one doll with real hair.

Real hair covered with a homemade bonnet.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tiny Oak Tree

Felix moved his little acorn start into his room and has been caring for it faithfully. His tiny oak sapling has four leaves now.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Items in the Shop

My sewing room was busting at the seams, so I've gotten organized and posted many goodies in the shop tonight. Look for little items that are shipped free with another purchase!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New Growth on an Orchid

Those crazy orchids are always up to something! Sure, you expect the new roots growing out, the new stems growing up, and new leaves unfurling. But this plant has decided to grow a second story. Up at the top of a trimmed, finished-blooming stem, it is sending out a collection of leaves, and what looks like it might be some roots. In the air.

I love these plants!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Felted Rocks

It's a little bit of a stretch to call this a sewing project, although I found it in Last-Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen. Perhaps there should be a separate book for last minute gifts to wrap in roving, drop into an old stocking, and scrub in the sink? Because that is what I did.

I just love how these look and feel, and plan to give them as paperweights to someone who owns the land the rocks came from. Hope he's not reading here.

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