Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Girls Purchase Dresses

The girls and I went and actually bought dresses, one of them actually in a store, for this spring filled with graduations, concerts, and special events. I calculated we hadn't done that since 2007.

Clara chose a very striped Maggy London frock in a fantastically vintage cut--stripes turned into chevrons, kimono sleeves, and beautiful construction details. We ditched the red belt but did buy some red, heeled Mary Jane shoes.

And Bella chose this dress from Garnet Hill, in a pink and coral colorway. With a pistachio cotton cardigan over her shoulders, she's set.

I won't say there was no sewing involved--both dresses needed some modesty work at the neckline. But still, what a treat!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bella Bakes a Strawberry Shortcake

Breaking from tradition, Bella created a strawberry shortcake from a glorious golden sponge cake, and not biscuits. Is it okay to confess that we all liked it even better? When the Composer pointed out that it was very much like a good fancy Twinkie, he meant it as a compliment.

Any sponge cake recipe will work here. Bake it in two layers and split them apart, then re-form with two boxes of strawberries, sliced and sweetened, and two cups of cream, whipped and sweetened.

We all had a slice after dinner outside at the picnic table. Then Felix and the Composer both backed out of going to see a Gilbert and Sullivan production with us, so they could stay home and polish it off.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Storm Cellar Patchwork Collection, and Bad Weather Totes

During the last couple weeks of truly terrible weather I have been, as they say, sewing up a storm. Unable to work outside, I've puttered in the sewing room, watching the north sky through a window streaked with rain, sometimes leaving a project in the machine to gather the girls up and retreat to the safest closet in the house while we waited for a particularly violent system to pass us by.

No wonder my thoughts turned to thoughts of turbulent weather as I designed my patchwork projects.

10% of these sales will go to families who have lost their homes across the South.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Clara in Muddy Boots

Clara keeps heading out between storms to check on the garden and weed. She has to stay on the paths or she's inches deep in mud. For myself, I'm waiting til things firm up a bit.

It's not just the garden she's on top of.

She got her ACT scores back this week and she has gone and scored a 35!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Storm after Storm

When I invited all the divorced parents for Easter dinner it never occurred to me we might *all* have to squeeze into one tornado closet. In the end we didn't, though there was a lot of standing around in the yard looking down at iPhones, looking up at the sky.

We receive the weather as it comes, unable to stop or control or change it. Here we are, watching it roll in, changing our plans or postponing our trip to the city, doing what we can to stay safe.

It is so beautiful, so powerful and large, taking up the whole sky. We are one family in a wooden house on a hill, trusting ourselves to our Father, at Easter, and all the other times too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"An Eager, Wide, and Absorptive Culture"

"[Emily read that] Browning's schooling, which had been irregular, ended with a single term at London University, but ' . . . his education then was just beginning and was to last through a long lifetime of eager, wide and absorptive culture until death itself.'

Emily wrote down that phrase, 'eager, wide and absorptive culture.'

'That's what I'm going to try for,' she thought."

--Maud Hart Lovelace, Emily of Deep Valley

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lying Around with Tintin

Oh my goodness, there has been so much of this going on. Just lying around reading Tintin, All Day. She spent her own money on two new collections.

And, she likes to keep a fresh rose tucked in her headband. It makes her head smell good.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Black and Silver Patchwork

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Last Bulbs to Flower

These narcissi are the last of my spring bulbs to flower. So dainty.

Monday, April 18, 2011


I can't get the fancy columbines to grow, but these humble, unimproved ones seed freely in my shady beds.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Daisy's Spring Wardrobe: Madras

Daisy is in Wonderland these days--the real book by Lewis Carroll. In fact, she likes Through the Looking Glass even better, because there are more scenes with cats.

She's pulled out some of her favorite soft toys to cast her own version of Snowdrop, Kitty, and Dinah.

Dress is the same pattern I used here, done in a very soft and light cotton madras plaid.

Friday, April 15, 2011

African Violets for Clara

Clara's best friend breeds African violets and gave her this plant before it ever flowered. So gorgeously velvet now.

Wool and Linen Table Runner

I actually pieced scraps in a way that wasn't random--and the resulting table runner is in the shop. I like it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In Which I Attempt Propagation

A nice long line of spirea for the side of my garden would look beautiful and keep grass from growing in, but I can't bring myself to buy that many bushes at the nursery. That's a lot of money.

Instead I've taken cuttings and unearthed a bottle of rooting hormone I bought in 1995. It may be that nothing comes of this experiment. Or I'll get some roots. That would be nice.

And while I had out the pots and dirt and such I took some cuttings from the Sarah Van Fleet rose. My bush is nine feet high and bears hundreds of spicy pink flowers and the deer won't touch it. Some more of that would be truly nice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A New Colorway Altogether

Apricot, charcoal, brown, and gray. I'm loving these colors together. Not very springy, but fresh for me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crisping the Garden Lettuce

Clara manages to do what I never could: get the lettuce picked early enough in the day to give it a rest in cold water before using it for the salad. It's crisper and sweeter that way.

We are way too excited about the garden. Multiple checks a day to see what's popping up (everything), weeding of the most miniscule green sprouts. For now.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Woolen Owl

Here you see my very loosely rendered Great Horned Owl. You may think "raccoon" but if you do, please keep it to yourself. Half the fun of making a soft animal is just going for it, you know?

He's for sale here, but please don't buy him for a scientist.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Cooking in the Moment

"Cooking became less about what flavors I could scheme to combine or track down and more about what was already here."

--Andrea Reusing, Cooking in the Moment

Friday, April 08, 2011

Under the Wisteria Arbor

You'll have to imagine the buzzing of the bees (significant) and the fragrance (heavenly).

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Daisy's Spring Wardrobe: Dotted Swiss

Here you see Daisy having styled herself for a visit from her best friend, Hope. Many accessories are in place.

A case of less not being more.

Pale green dotted swiss made up into this dress.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

"The Other Loaves"

"The odor of the fresh bread was floating all about her. On the clean new shelf that ran across one side of the kitchen stood the other loaves across their pans to cool, beside the sponge cake and pies."

--Grace Livingston Hill, The Honor Girl

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Daisy's Spring Wardrobe: Red Lawn

A little girl's dress with no zipper or buttons, with a loose waist that ties in back to catch up the fulness, is the simplest of all things to make. And this one came right out of scraps in my stash, which is win plus win.

Monday, April 04, 2011

After I Embellished It

My violet jersey dress is so cosy, I'm glad we had one more chilly day so I could wear it after I did some embellishing. I love that these Alabama Chanin clothes aren't necessarily finished, if one day you get the urge to add some fancy.

So I cut out some leaf-shaped appliques from a tee shirt that Giles brought home from school and hand-stitched them on the front panel. Then scattered a few seed beads around.

Next time I'm abandoning the buttonhole stitch in favor of a straight quilting stitch. It will be so much faster, and I can turn on a dime instead of trying to make up something legitimate to get around corners.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Apple Blossoms and a Linen Runner

Two things. The apple tree is in bloom,

and the blossoms look beautiful with the linen log cabin table runners I've made. The eight-foot one is staying on my dining table (you know it's too long for yours)

but the four-and-a-half-foot one is going in the shop.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Daisy's Spring Wardrobe: Jacks

I wanted a classic little girl's dress--think Dick and Jane--with a full skirt and Peter Pan collar. And a back zipper, since Daisy doesn't like the bumpiness of buttons down the back. I found It's So Easy Simplicity 7422 in my stash, and it was just right. I cut out a size 5 with a length of 7, and it came out a little baggy. My favorite part? The deluxe five-inch hem.

And of course the face above the collar.

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