Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Mascot for Felix

For several weeks in a row I eyed this beauty at the thrift store without buying. Meanwhile, he was hanging out in the party supplies waiting for me to realize how perfect he would be for Felix's dorm room this fall. Perfect because he hangs from the ceiling, folds up flat, weighs nothing, and is, bottom line, a dimensional tissue paper penguin.

Life size.

Monday, June 29, 2009

S'mores at the Lake

Carol and I are the Cookout Queens, which is how we ended up grilling at the lake yesterday evening with the church youth group that yes, has teenagers, but somehow always includes their parents and little brothers. Which we all like.

Because there were enough marshmallows to go around.

On a very Hot and Dangerous Fire. Fire safety courtesy of David.

S'mores and swimming are good for all ages.

They're just good.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tea for the Japanese Students

The girls and I invited over the eight Japanese students enrolled at the local university. We didn't know any of them, but my good friend, mother of the curly redheads, teaches them at the school.

They were an absolutely charming group of young ladies (especially the one with freckles!) and one young man who was sitting pretty as the only male. We chatted rather carefully over tea and goodies--I would ask a question, they would consult with each other in Japanese making sure they understood correctly, then give me a carefully worked out English answer.

My favorite moment came after a lull in the conversation, when I invited them to go back for seconds. As a group they immediately stood up and rushed to the table with their plates. Some things transcend cultural differences, and one of those is the appetites of eighteen-year olds!

After we talked and ate, I herded them out to the pool for an hour of swimming. Their reserve disappeared and they joined right in the diving contests, water tag, and big game of Sharks and Minnows with my children.

Tea was our Standard Menu: scones, cookies, cucumber sandwiches. Then, at the last minute, because it was so very hot, I made a cold punch bowl of grape juice and Italian lemon soda, which was all I had in the way of punch fixings, and a big bowl of cut-up watermelon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Painting Shelves

Last month Giles was helping our neighbor move his science classroom from the old wing into the new part of the high school, and since the old room was going to be gutted anyway, thought to bring me home six big wooden cupboards with adjustable shelves and sliding glass doors.

They will transform my sewing room. In fact, they already have, because they're taking up all the floor space as they sport their primer coat and wait for the semi-gloss top coat. Which must be done outside. And it's 100 degrees.

It will be worth it. It will.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Poppy Pillow

I love it when the thrift store throws down the crewel-work gauntlet. "Here!" it says. "Take this piece of crazy handwork and make a pillow out of THIS!" I can never turn down that insolent challenge.

And really, you know, the worse the embroidery, the better. Because it's fun to see what I have in my stash that can pull a cute pillow out of a woollen nightmare. What piping? What backing? What crazy buttons?

I really love this one. Orange, red, and big fat black. It works for me, and it's staying on my couch.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brownies on a Wednesday Night

Week in and week out, a small group of friends has come to our house on Wednesday nights to study the Bible and pray together. For, oh, about fourteen years now.

I really love these people.

It's my privilege to offer them something nice on Wednesday evenings. We went to the blackberry farm today, so late this afternoon we made a big pan of melty brownies. Later they were plated, draped in whipped cream, and sprinkled with berries. To say to these people, "I'm glad you came, and I'm glad you like chocolate."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bella Makes Potato Chips

Bella decided to make potato chips to go along with lunch. I tell you the girl is fearless in the kitchen!

She worked from a recipe but quickly realized that there was no trick to slicing the potatoes thinly with a knife, dropping them in hot oil, fishing them out, then salting them. The only trick is not eating them all at once!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fridge Pickles

I was going to make my grandmother's easy recipe, but when I realized that it called for a cup of sugar for each quart of cucumbers, and realized that we love our cucumbers in a simple brine of vinegar, water, and a little salt, I simplified. Into each quart jar of sliced cukes Clara put two peeled garlic cloves, 1 T. salt, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, then topped each off with water. What could be easier?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Shop Full of Goodies

Many new goodies posted in the shop. Do you need a quilt? An apron? A bib or a tiny sugar and creamer set from the Army hospital?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Morning at the Berry Farm

. . . and the last for a little while. It seems like we picked everything that didn't blow down in the storm!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"A Vine-Clad Porch"

"She led him to a vine-clad porch where easy willow chairs and tables, a few books and a bit of sewing made it seem almost like an open-air living room.

'How cosy this is!' he said, as he settled down in a big willow armchair and put his head back against a convenient cushion.

'We like it,' said the girl with a quick glance around to see if the little sister who was supposed to put this room in order the first thing in the morning had done her work."

--Grace Livingston Hill, Daphne Deane

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Visit to Jody's Farm

Sweet friend Jody is a true farmgirl. She raises baby-face sheep, boutique goats, and assorted domestic fowl. And makes it look like so much fun!

Today's itinerary: a catch-up tour of the farm, that famous Tiny Town barbecue (the Composer ordered a *dinner* at *lunch*--he says he's "in training"!), and enough time at the antique mall to scout out two delicious aprons. Giant-size appliqued strawberries, anyone?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Three-Legged Race

Bella and I were triumphant (the field was small).

This photo? My summer so far. A happy blur. Fun with the kids. Going just fast enough I think I'm going to topple over.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Butterfly Bush

The deer don't eat this one either, but the butterflies do.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two Days by the Bluff

It is *always* worth it once you get out in the woods. All the bins, boxes, grocery shopping, and mildewed towels.

A little trouble sleeping the first night: the (very loud) Barred Owl Smackdown in the valley was followed by a Giant Squirrel Fight directly overhead, then a thunderstorm which led to Carol's loud and extensive use of packing tape in the next tent. *Then* the raccoon attack on the pots and pans. But we slept really well the second night! In spite of a second thunderstorm.

I did get up and run through all the wet spiderwebs festooning the trail. I loved it. Downhill more than up. These handy shoe-drying logs were a gift from the campers next to us who wanted to trade them for some butter. When we had none to give, they left the logs anyway.

My best friend Carol and her wacky five-year old David were our camping companions. These chips were brought as David's "breakfast dessert." A new, somewhat intriguing concept for the girls.

Although Daisy doesn't buy into all of David's nonsense. Just the good parts.

Locust blossoms dropping into the transparent creek. We felt like we had wandered into a rural Japanese paradise.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Trifecta at the Berry Farm

That's right, for a brief time I can pick them all at once. Then the blackberries come on . . . .

My big kids are gone for the week, doing service projects in the Appalachias, so Daisy, Bella and I had to pick without them. Not as many hands: not as many berries!

Tomorrow we girls are heading off on a little trip of our own--a couple of nights camping in the big woods. Lots of good things to eat, and my first ever trail run! I'm hoping I don't fall off the mountain.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Trumpet Vine

Never needs water and the deer don't eat it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Clara in Evening Light

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Little Shop Update

. . . just letting you know that I've posted a new scrap tote in bright apple green, a wall garland, and a luscious bed jacket in an extra plus size in my shop.

Sewing Circle

All it took was an announcement on Facebook and suddenly I had ten teenage girls coming to the house to sew together.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow: three afternoons in a row, and we'll meet once a week after this. I'm *thrilled* that there's this much young interest in creating with fabric!

Some girls have never run a machine, one has sewn in "Consumer Science" at school (is that not an all-time worst name for the practice of domestic creativity?), but everyone is enthusiastic.

Two girls are sewing gored skirts with flounces, Hannah's tackling a duffel bag with six exterior pockets, Riley's going to town on a shaped jacket, Leah's starting small with a simple tote, and Ashton's charging ahead with a lined skirt.

The concentration is amazing. I pry them away from their machines for cookies and tea. There's very little chatter.

But a lot of smiling.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Little Appliqued Quilt

My mother gave me an antique quilt fragment--eighteen appliqued blocks sewn together six by three. They were in very good condition, and very old, but there weren't enough for anything. Right before we left for Savannah I had that desperate must-have-a-hand-sewing-project feeling, and I decided to carefully divide the thing in half.

After cutting the stitches, I had two pieces each three by three squares. They're about three feet on a side, just right for a baby's play blanket. I took one along in the car and indulged in some hand-quilting.

Yum, those soft very old cottons. I put a soft, thin cotton batting in too. Really feels good to quilt.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Owls in the Apple Tree

It could happen.

You could be walking down the driveway in the evening and look up and see owls in the apple tree.

A little barn owl fledgling, peering over its mother's shoulder.

Or a noble Great Horned Owl scanning the horizon.

(see more about these friends in my etsy shop.)

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Lettuce Green Hooverette: Mail Order 3041

Though I may get distracted momentarily, I never really take my mind off the search for a Real Hooverette. This may be it.

Because look--it wraps in the front, has pockets with trim, suggestions for organdy ruffles, and is comfortable to work in.

Can you see how the half-belt comes out of the front princess seam?

It finishes in back with a fabric-covered buckle which I made non-functioning. Can't function because if it does, that charming fabric cover will come off.

We took pictures down at the barn this afternoon just to enjoy the green and red together.

Which is also the reason I put my farmer's market lettuce in a red basket.

Envisioning a happy future with a few more of these . . . .

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