Saturday, December 31, 2011

Boys with Schematics

The boys did a whole lot of building and rigging this vacation. First Felix built a lamp out of a specimen jar with a horseshoe crab in it (no, he's not selling it at any price, so sorry). Next came various moss gardens and terrariums (terraria?) . . .

and then they decided to build an electric thingy that would sense when the light level is low and turn on the light. Multiple trips to Radio Shack. Lots of soldering.

Bella doesn't think so.

To each his own!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Raspberry Ripple Blanket, Finished

For Daisy's delectation. We're trying it out by the fire here in a minute.

I think it can be hard to incorporate white or cream stripes into your design. I like a very small range of values, myself, everything about the same darkness or lightness. This was different.

I had to get used to it, whichI did by repeatedly telling myself "Ice cream." It worked.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

January Plans

I love to make plans for January. It can be a long or dreary month; or, I can plan to fill it with things I'm excited about. In my notebook for this January:

• I'm bringing Clara's yellow dishes out for daily dinner use. Such sunshine!

• Painting the two downstairs hallways bright white--they're still the cream color the living room was before last January.

• I'm taking at least two little day-trips to farther off towns. These will involve thrift stores, for sure.

• New flannel sheets for my bed. And maybe even an electric blanket!

• Tracking down a good strong decaff black tea--I see that my darling P.G. Tips is now available decaffeinated.

• Serving citrus fruit every day of the month to everyone who wants it.

• I'm fitting a 1940s pants pattern, because I never have.

• I'm making felt slippers.

• Wish I didn't know this, but apparently I'm planning to run 88 miles this month as I gear up for a spring half-marathon. Man, I wish I hadn't done that math.

• And, I want to make some of the crazy salads from my 1940s and earlier cookbooks.

• Very last, I'll be taking two weeks off from posting here as we juggle some very large projects as a family. I'll let you know when it's time.

Anyone else have January plans?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Felix Gets a Hat

Felix hit the hat jackpot when my mother offered her father's carefully stored (original Dobbs hatbox) hat. Everyone who knew my grandfather knew the hat; he wore it every day.

It's the exact color of Felix's eyes and he'd been wanting a real hat.

Later, that same weekend, he found these shoes at the thrift store for $1.50. Giles looked them up when they got home. Apparently they are $400 Italian leather loafers. Who in this town buys those--and more to the point--who gives them to the thrift store?

Well, they've found a good home now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter Waterfall

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Happy Christmas Eve

Roses on the table, vintage snowflakes on the tablecloth, lots of good salty food (homemade egg rolls were the favorite!), two sets of grandparents.

Daisy wanted to get right to the part where we open the presents.

Okay! We had several themes going. First, Clara had knitted for everyone. Gorgeous silk tie for Felix: see it! Bella and I have a few days more to wait for our scarves to be complete, but they'll be worth it.

For Giles she made these incredible wool socks on something like a size 0 needle. Blue and brown stripes and a perfect fit!

And Giles had done all his shopping in Japanese stores. Muji, Uniqlo, and Kinokuniya. It helps to live in New York, right? Those were all well-received--Bella got a faux fur collar which I thought was coincidental (at least!) since I've moved my own fur collar to the front row of fashion seats.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

All Is Bright

Calm, and bright.

We are all together, and we call His name Immanuel, God with us.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Vintage Fur Collar

"Remember that furs are a state of mind, a symbol of affection and a mirror of luxury and femininity. I doubt if even diamonds can compare with the mood furs create . . . "

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

Not to mention, diamonds are awfully thin on the ground at the thrift store.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Granny Stripes Pillow

The last, the very last, of That Pile of yarn remnants.

Made into a pillow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Alabama Studio Style: Blue Eyelet Blouse

For Clara's blouse I used the tank top pattern from Alabama Studio Style, raised the neckline, and added sleeves. Also, I turned the neckline binding around so that the ends joined at the center front, and inserted tie ends into the binding, to give it a little tie-neck look. The little ties are just cross-grain strips of jersey that you give a good yank to. They skinny up and curl in and have many uses.

The seams are all hand-sewn (except for the sleeves), and then felled by hand with embroidery floss.

To embellish the front hem, I used a mix of bugle bead flowers and "eyelet" embroidery in various shades of blue.

The shirt fabric came from a thrifted tee, because I love the soft worn blue so much.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A White and Thrifty Table

A very rewarding stop at the thrift store yielded an entire new table setting: a very large white damask tablecloth, four cutwork napkins in cream and beige, and a heavy milk glass vase in an unusual pattern. I paid $6 for everything.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hosting a Funeral Luncheon: A Detailed Plan

I present you with some confidence-building information on how to host a funeral luncheon, lest you chicken out of this undertaking and allow it to become a lost art. Which would be a shame because it is such an important way to minister to a grieving family.

Speaking from my small town Southern experience, the funeral luncheon can occur either before or after the funeral itself. Regardless of when it's scheduled, it's going to take the greater part of a day and be a draining (but satisfying) undertaking, so plan accordingly.

1. Cook the food. The day before, if possible. Choose something that can sit, is easy to warm up, can be served buffet-style, and that won't scare anyone. Lasagna-salad-French bread is a good configuration. Pork loin-mashed potato casserole-green beans-salad. Soy sauce chicken thighs-coconut rice-Asian slaw. The keynote is ease for the cook and ease for the guest.

In case there are vegetarians present, an easy bring-along option (you can eat it yourself later if it goes unneeded) is a simple cheese plate--a pear, some nice crackers, and half of a small Brie drizzled with warm raspberry jam and sprinkled with walnuts.

2. Prepare the tables. I would go to any lengths (including bringing china plates from home) to avoid paper plates and plastic silverware at bare tables. Most churches have some real tableware, and almost anything looks good if the tables are draped in colorful (for white plates) or plain white (for bright china) tablecloths. Mismatched silverware, folded paper napkins, and real glassware make the tables look inviting, and are available in most church kitchens, I would think.

Take care of the details for each table--salt & pepper, milk & sugar, butter--and decide whether the tables need or can even hold a little bit of decoration. Long rectangular tables tend to fill up quickly, and no decor is needed.

I think that beautiful, welcoming tables speak very clearly to the family that they are cared for, cherished, and worth serving.

3. Arrange the food service. The best plan is a buffet set up on a side table very close to the family seating. For sure, drape the table in a lovely cloth or two, and plan room for your serving dishes and pitchers of ice water or tea. Coffee service can also go here, or coffee cups can be set at the table, and you and your helpers can walk around with coffee to pour.

4. Serve the meal. Realize that this will work much better if you don't attend the service, but instead make things ready. Ideally you will have at least two competent helpers. Get the food heated up and maintain it at serving temperature--you never know how long it will take people to gather. Brew coffee, ice the glasses. As people settle in, invite them to collect a plate and help themselves to food. After they are all seated, you can walk around offering coffee (if you've worked in food service, or entertained large groups often, this will be old hat! I write for the rest of us).

As the meal progresses, make sure that coffee continues to flow, that water glasses are topped off, and that the food hasn't run low.

As people finish, you can begin clearing plates. I have my helpers do this while I remove the main course from the buffet table and bring out dessert. If it is tidy cake, have it cut into small slices ready for self-service. If it is messy, plate it yourself and leave the servings on the buffet table.

Remember that you are there to serve as a friend, but you aren't part of the family. On the other hand, don't get to thinking that you have to act like a waitress!

5. Clean up. Self-explanatory, I know. As an aside, it's really nice if there is enough food that you and your helpers can have a quick bite.

You will be tired, but it will be good.

My girls and I did all of this yesterday for Veda's family, and I am so glad we could.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another Blue Wool Bag

Actually, it's a set of blue wool bags! This time they're in an inky dark wool, and the lining is drool-worthy silk that was a gift from a friend. Find them in my etsy shop.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Amaryllis Has Gone Live

Well, one has. The other six pots don't even have buds yet.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Clara Embroiders a Kindle Case

A folded-over piece of wool felt, machine stitched into a pocket.

And French knot hyacinths in a row across the top.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Beautiful City Afternoon

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Krispy Kreme Korset

Just what I didn't know I needed: an Alabama Chanin-style donut-themed corset.

Well, I have one now. Found the Krispy Kreme shirt at the thrift store, and backed it with a plain red tee.

Hand-stitched, except for the shoulder seams. Seams unfinished and left on the outside. Pattern found in Alabama Stitch, Natalie Chanin's first book.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Season

I've accomplished the four necessaries: chocolate-mint layered bars, coconut macaroons, rugelach (see), and molasses cut-out cookies. Leaving us two weeks to bake optional fripperies. Fun!

Friday, December 09, 2011

More Trees in Milk Glass

Loving these little milk glass cups: ashtrays or candy dishes? It's fun to have three identical, and they're perfect for holding my fabric trees.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Daisy's Tiny Tree

Daisy is old enough now to page longingly through craft books, and make lists of things I need to pick up for her. Mmm. However. No purchasing was necessary for this little cedar topiary--all I had to do was cut the floral oasis to fit the milk glass for her.

Extra credit for noticing the tiny paper star at the top.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Forest Green: Vintage Advance 7111

The third and last twill iteration of this lovely dress (fourth one is wool).

Nothing new here except the vintage velvet holly sprig to pin on the shoulder--well, not new exactly! But different.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Daisy Scoots By

After a rollicking weekend of chasing her friend David around the living room, Daisy is deep in a scooter phase. She's tricked the scooter out with a basket of kittens-for-sale hanging from the handlebar, and strips of bias binding used as streamers.

Now for a banana seat . . . .

Monday, December 05, 2011

Jersey Dress in the Shop

Navy jersey dress, in a larger petite size, in my etsy shop.

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