Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Pink Day

Bella made lunch for friends. Romaine salad with Cara Cara oranges.

A cheapie from my florist friend who calls me Lily.

Daisy's bright coat.

New linen Folkwear blouse made from a thrifted tablecloth.

Messing around with the living room. Can you throw harvest gold in with pink?

Friday, January 29, 2010

An Ivory Day

Ivory sweater, pale wool skirt . . .

A frosting of ice on the rusty hydrangeas, and snow to follow . . .

Cheesecake with a graham cracker crust . . .

Ivory silk dress cut out for Bella . . .

A soft corner to sit and watch the weather . . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Grace Livingston Hill Cold Weather Reading List

Partners leads, of course. Dale is barely making it through the winter in the dreary poverty of her boarding-house when she finds a baby abandoned in the snow. Baby baths over a tiny oil heater! Little wool clothes! And finally, the world's cosiest and tiniest apartment.

The Prodigal Girl is actually a brilliant case study of adolescent peer-attachment issues. Fortunately Dad knows just what to do to bring his family back from the brink: winter in Vermont. Luscious hotel dinners, snow-shoveling, and ice-skating.

The Substitute Guest starts at Christmas, but the guest stays for days, snowed in. Cozy suppers, puzzles in front of the fire, and some seriously bad weather.

The Obsession of Victoria Gracen answers the question "What do older women wear to go sledding?"

Homing, finally, is good for cold weather because it's so darn hot.

And if you don't hear from me tomorrow, it's because our power went out in the ice storm!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vintage Layette Bag: McCall 1098

Who could resist these illustrations? I've been strangely fascinated by the diaper bag ever since I bought the pattern a couple of years ago.

It wasn't complicated, but it wasn't usual either. Long vertical pockets on opposite outsides of the bag, I guess for baby bottles. Similar pockets inside the bag, on the unused sides. The buttons crack me up. I don't think they're to keep things from falling out, I think the flap buttons up over the bottle to keep the nipple clean.

And really, no carrying strap. The drawstrings only cinch out a few inches. But it's darling! I want to put art supplies in it.

I made it up in some thrifted decorating-weight fabric that seemed old. The selvages were printed with the words "Happily Married." I love that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


A common breakfast sight since Bella got a popover pan for Christmas. The only drawback is that they take a while to bake. But worth it! And you can just use regular muffin pans if you want.


Whisk 1 c. flour with 1/2 t. salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk 2 eggs, 1 1/4 c. milk, and 1 T. melted butter. Then fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring very lightly until mostly blended. Bake for 15 minutes at 450, then 20 minutes at 350. Serve at once! With jam!

(recipe: Joy of Cooking)

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Shirtwaist Dress for Bella

Thoughts on the shirtwaist:
• Yes, I am obsessed at the moment.
• If you choose the correct shoulder size, the bust can make do with extra ease, the waist can be taken in with the sash, and the hips are free anyway. So it's not too hard to fit.
• A little piping goes a long way.
• I finally understand lapel collars on a truly profound level. I'll share a tutorial when I get to Clara's dress.

Thoughts on the fabric:
• No matter how cute the dots are, Hobby Lobby cottons just aren't worth messing with. Sleaze! Flaws!
• Boy, those dots are cute. Love the orange, Bella's signature color.

McCall's 4769, again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Thrifted Silvery Dress

Okay, I'm going to say I got really lucky this time. This three-piece ensemble is in perfect condition, in just my size, and it cost nothing. Really. Two dollars for all three pieces.

A medium-weight silk twill, and check out the bound pleats and covered buttons. Cuffs on the bias! Little bias binding bows!

I have to pass a gigantic thrift store on the way to Felix's school. Of course, I have to stop, and it's always right at closing time. So the routine goes like this: I race around the store with my cart while the checker closes out the Visa machine for the day. I rush up to the counter with my pile of unpriced goodies. The checker compliments my outfit, then eyes the pile and says, "Two dollars for everything but you'll have to pay cash." I love this lady.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Washes of Ivy

Not much is green at this time of year, but the variegated ivy clinging to the rock work still displays its watercolor washes of sea-green and slate blue.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Crewelwork Tray

First I was going to cut it out of the frame and turn it into a pillow. Now I'm thinking it's a perfect tray. For a while, at least.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Striped Cotton Dress: Vintage Simplicity 4729

I'm only sorry I forgot to show the ruffle on the sleeves. Because everything about this stripey pattern is so cute. Especially on Clara.

The stripes make such a statement turned on the bias, pieced together, and used to make chevrons in the skirt. You have to wear it like you mean it!

Not visible, but we used a very wide vintage grosgrain ribbon in black to construct a belt using a set of D-rings. So simple.

Monday, January 18, 2010

In Which We Wear Hats, Boots, Skis, and Skates

The Composer always wears his serious boots for these big winter trips. It's how he manages to haul all of us, and all our suitcases, over the snowy roads and through all the airports and up into the mountains in a strange car. Do not get in front of these boots.

Because he is excited about being right here: at the top of a ski run. That's okay, you go on without me. Daisy and I will stay at the bottom of the mountain and tube down this little hill. All morning.

Oh, ice skating! First time for the girls. I insisted that they stay far away from me if even one of us was moving. The winter sports are all about the controlled fall, I realized this year.

You will often find Daisy thinking about cocoa. Cocoa came after ice skating.

Snowy fun, but we missed the boys--Felix especially loves to ski, but they couldn't get away from school this year. We've spent the last couple of years adjusting to the fact that we have to plan fun even though we can't all be together for everything.

The big girls are together these days. Love their coordinated berets--my mother knit those out of cotton, and they made stylish travel gear.

Mmm. She's cute on a plane.

So good to be back!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

And We Are Off!

I'll be away for a week in the balmy Rockies. It should be substantially warmer at the top of the mountains than what it is here.

See you next Monday!

A Classic Cotton Shirtwaist: McCall's 4769

Timeless--this modern pattern, McCall's 4769, could pass for vintage if it needed to. I made it up in a little geometric print that I didn't love when I started, but grew to adore by the time the dress was finished.

I piped the collar and cuffs for a break in the ditsy. And set the front vertical band on the bias. Which, because I had a diagonal print to begin with, makes for a subtle change which I like.

As usual, I got lucky in the vintage button department. Where do they come from? They just appear in the sewing room in the exact shade and number I need!

I lost the instruction sheet for this pattern, so I did it without! The cuffs completely stumped me and I made up something wrong--I know because afterwards I went to Hobby Lobby, pulled the pattern out of the drawer, and made notes for next time. I've already got fabric ready to go for this dress for my girls. It's a classic.

Friday, January 08, 2010

"Cooking and Enjoying Yourself"

"It is worth deciding whether your goal, generally speaking, is really to get in and out of the kitchen as fast as possible. If you start out begrudging the time you give to cookery, you are going to create a false contest between cooking and enjoying yourself."

--Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bella Sings

Enjoy this clip of Bella at a Messiah rehearsal--accompanied by what may be the world's Worst Community Orchestra. The poor girl had to fight for every note!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Something Sharp

How fun is this? Someone--you know who you are because you emailed me!--put my name in the hat at Sew, Mama, Sew to win a prize as a Generous Crafter. Now, most of the other crafters there are making and giving away quilts by the dozens to soldiers, so I looked a little out of place, but I got picked for a prize anyway! It's going to be something sharp and cutty, and I know it will be fun.

If you are on a stash diet, like myself, do not visit the Sew, Mama, Sew fabric shop! See that strawberry fabric? That's why.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Portrait of Bella in a Shawl

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Suitcase

I took this picture because I had an essay all thought out about what it feels like to be a child of divorce. How you get handed this suitcase that holds all the family issues and you've got to carry it down the road with you as you go along, because it holds all that's left of your family and even though it hurts your arm and it's in the way, it's not like you can leave it behind in a field. And how if you're lucky you learn to take out the heaviest junk so it's easier to carry.

Then I decided not to post that essay.

But I like the picture.

Aren't we all using one hand to hold on to the ones we love, and the other to carry the suitcase as best we can?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Tattoo for Daisy

One of this year's big Christmas hits: the collection of 300+ tattoos for girls that Grandpa contributed. Not our usual look, but okay for at home.

Daisy spells out her love for her blankie (Sosie) in Gothic tattoo script. If only there were a tattoo of a skeleton head sucking its thumb . . . .

Friday, January 01, 2010

Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye

It seems like these two big boys just got home, and tomorrow is their last full day with us.

We are so proud of these two. The amazing grades, the way they spend their time at home . . . the satisfied mother in me sighs contentedly.

Tomorrow we stock up on snacks for the dorms, and probably some underwear, socks, and detergent. The year has turned and we're all looking forward to getting back to business.

The girls are ready for school and music, and Bella has lined up an entire week's worth of good things to cook--I saw the list this afternoon. Life goes on, and life is good.

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