Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Cleaning Day and a Crib Quilt

I got lucky this morning: the house needed quite a bit of work and all four of my children were free. No one was rehearsing, or painting a deck, or getting a haircut. So we started at ten sharp to power down my housecleaning list and I was astonished at how much we got accomplished in an hour.

I started dreaming big with my list, passing by it on the table and casually adding more and more far-fetched chores to the bottom of it, until everything that had been nagging at me was included. And they all got done.

Some mothers see their workload go down as their children leave home. I don't see how this can be. When all the kids are gone, I'll have to do everything myself!

And I've got another crib quilt in the shop. I did a lot of piecing last month and my mother is catching up on the quilting--that's how they appear so rapidly, in case you wonder. This one was reminding me of a big bowl of cut-up peaches, maybe with a little cream and sugar . . . .

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Frederick Doesn't Make a Friend

For a moment there, Frederick thinks he has met a tiny Amazon parrot.

Nope, not really.

Blackberry Patchwork in the Shop

Blackberry patchwork shopping bag new in the shop.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Sunny Twill Dress for Clara: Vintage McCall's 3643

Beautiful Italian cotton twill cross-woven in yellow and white, and this elegant pattern from the stash. Too bad my pattern photo is so out of focus.

I worked with a junior size 11, which was a little small and required resizing that went about okay. I ended up with darts that ended too high, and fabric too unforgiving to allow a do-over. Oh well, only Clara and I (and you) will ever know!

This pattern has a truly lovely shaped cap sleeve that looks really unlikely on paper, but works our well. And I love that all the bodice edges are bound in self-binding that shows--a trick usually reserved for aprons, but very effective with fine fabrics.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sea Glass Log Cabin Quilt

A new baby quilt in the colors of sea glass (I've seen pictures!). Palest of pale blues, greens, and turqoises. It if weren't a quilt, it would keep you cool.

Shopping is here, if you have a baby you need to buy for. Oh, and there's another pink quilt in the shop too!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Evening Graze

Daisy's looking after two new goats now. She still has Luscious Kandy, but Sinnamon has gone home and in her place we have Summer Diamond and Cocoa. Phylllis is using Daisy to civilize the babies. They come here rather wild, not used to being handled, and hating the leash.

After a week in Daisy's custody they accept kisses on the nose, allow belly-scratching, and are comfortable enough with the leash that she can take all three out at once by herself.

She likes company, though, so she can talk about how cute and sweet the goats are. And so that we can cut the armfuls of brush and branches that must be thrown in the pen daily for the goats to eat when they aren't out grazing.

So the evening graze is sometimes a family affair, with Fitzwilliam keeping an eye on things from the corner.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cake Lady: Italian Cream Cake

I made it forty-two year without ever baking an Italian cream cake, though I have eaten many a slice of Carol's. Wow, it's a good cake!

I did the layers, Bella did the frosting. This one's time-consuming, but a keeper.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Layers of Floor Paint

My bedroom floor, stripped of its pale green paint, showing the old layers of teal and chocolate brown. Soon to come: sanding, and a fresh new coat of dark cream.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Green, Green Log Cabin Quilt

If I called this one "Time to Mow," you'd get it, right? It's about the patch of Queen Anne's lace in the middle of that expanse of green . . . .

My scrap boxes have been inspiring me with a capital I these days! I can safely say that the box of green is emptier since I started this project.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rooster Pillow, Finished

I finished this rooster guy and then appliqued him to a larger square of natural-colored jersey.

I had a scrap of stencilled yellow to applique on the back side for a little interest there.

And then I sent him down to live at Phyllis' house, in gratitude for the many dozens of eggs she's provided to me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sourdough in a Summer Kitchen

I was afraid I'd have to give up my sourdough for the summer, but I've found a schedule that works beautifully.

At breakfast time I mix up my leaven (a tablespoon of starter with 150 grams each of flour and water). I let it rise until about 3:00 in the afternoon. It's flexible, I can leave it for hours later; I just need to work with it so that there are still three or four hours before bedtime.

At 3:00 I mix up my dough for the bulk rise. I'm usually home during the hot part of the afternoon anyway, because in the summer I like to get errands done early while it's still cooler. So in the later part of the afternoon I make sure to turn my dough every half hour or so, until it's had a three-hour rise.

Right after dinner I shape it, set it into my Pyrex bowls, and leave it in the refrigerator overnight for its bench rise.

First thing in the morning, while I make my tea, I heat the oven to bake, and within an hour the loaves are out on the counter smelling delicious.

What's so great about this schedule?

1. The hot oven baking is done first thing in the morning, not during dinner prep.
2. Fresh bread is ready to share during the day if you want to give a loaf away. I never found that convenient when my loaves were finishing at 6 p.m.
3. The second rise is much more controlled, and the finished dough comes out of the towels much better.
4. A warm summer kitchen doesn't compromise the quality of the bread.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Iris Garden Log Cabin Quilt, Finished

I am in love with the saturated purples of this quilt, but. I don't need it! I decided to let the market decide, and I've put it in my etsy shop for the next week or so.

I do love this palette. That's why I kept making the top bigger and bigger (it's not a baby quilt, it's plenty big to cover the foot of the bed, and helpful in an adult napping situation).

My mother hand-quilted it in running embroidery stitches, our new favorite way of working with pieced quilt tops.

It's available for the next week only, then. If it's meant to be yours, I'll happily sell it to you. If not, I'll make room on my bed!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: A Flaming Dress for Bella

Bella's sporting her new fitted jersey dress from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. I made the sleeveless, knee-length version, and then used circle-spiral appliques to embellish the hem. The circle spiral is a great entry point for the new embellisher--no paint or stencils are necessary, just the ability to cut out a sort-of circle. And sewing them on a garment is great fun.

The dress is topped with a cap-sleeved bolero from the same book. Such an easy pattern, and it takes just a dab of fabric. Also I've found that it fits both my differently-shaped girls like a glove. It's such a lovely design.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Big Happy Graduation Lunch

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to surprise Clara-she thought it was a Mother's Day celebration. In fact, it was her own graduation party she helped prepare for!

Sixteen people eating, right after church. And the meal had to be gluten-free, and we had some other odd dietary things going on.

A giant fruit salad was a good starting place. A canteloupe, a honeydew melon, two boxes of strawberries, two of raspberries, one of blueberries, a quart of dewberries. A lime juice and honey dressing.

Mexican is good for gluten-free. We faked it with a giant platter of rice topped with black beans and then cilantro. A platter of flank steak broiled, sliced thin, and drizzled with chimichurri sauce. Another of chicken breasts, the same. Tortillas, guacamole, chips. All done the day before.

Flowers from the garden. Flan and fallen chocolate souffle to follow.

And grandparents everywhere! My stepfather Dan and my father beside Clara. Sweet for her, sweet for us.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Floral Dress for Clara: Advance 6118

We call this the Kitchen Curtain Dress because originally the fabric was intended for (wait for it) kitchen curtains. Changed my mind though and made it up into a dress for Clara.

Which has come in handy this spring. Sometimes she wears it with cowboy boots. But only when she wants to be adorable.

It sure came in handy for her Surprise Graduation Party this weekend! More on that to come.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bella with the Dewberries

Bella's got half the evening's take of dewberries. It was a good night--no wasp stings, or snakes, just one humble stray dog. By the way, Bella doesn't like to smile for the camera. She really does like picking berries.

And eating cobbler.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Your Guide to Natalie Chanin's Books

Rather than answering individual inquiries, let me help all of you with questions about which Alabama Chanin book to buy.

Alabama Stitch Book
• Contains all the basic sewing and applique information.
• Major garment patterns: Corset (sleeveless top). Quite beautiful, extremely fitted, very low neckline (fixable). Swing skirt. A-line skirt made from four gores.
• Smaller projects: bandanna, shawl, boa, flowers, pincushion, stuffed bunny.

Alabama Studio Style
• Contains all the basic sewing and applique information.
• Major garment patterns: Tank dress. Six gore dress with curved seams, low-cut neck (fixable), sleeveless. Can be cut at waist to make tunic, shirt, and skirt.
• Smaller projects: placemats and napkins, shopping bags, throw pillows, doily, apron.
• New techniques: circle spiral applique, eyelet embroidery, stringing.

Alabama Studio Sewing + Design
• Contains all the basic sewing and applique information.
• Vastly expands the vocabulary of embellishment with stripes, ruffles, variations on inking and beading.
• Major garment patterns: Fitted dress. Four gores, sleeve variations from sleeveless to cap to short to flared long. Bolero. Fitted tee shirt. All lengths of skirt from the dress pattern. Hat. Poncho and tied wrap.
• Detailed "fabric maps" and embellishment samples.

Most of the Alabama Chanin stencil patterns are available as downloads at Alabama Chanin, so they are available no matter which book you choose.

Ooh, have fun!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Cake Lady: Poppy Seed Cake with Almond Buttercream Icing

Mild and moist. We took this one to church potluck, hence the glamorous sunrise photo. Not that we leave for church at sunrise. But the cake was ready to go.

Lots of Baby Cloths

Ten new sets of nursery cloths in my etsy shop, all in cheery bright colors and suitable for boys or girls! Shipping is discounted for multiple selections, and Canadian orders are welcome!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Dewberry Spritzer

Every night after dinner the girls and I have gone out to the dewberry patch. It's a five-minute drive and the berry vines go on and on and on. Though we park in plain view of the road, no one ever seems to realize that there are millions of dewberries for the picking, and it seems that we are the only ones taking advantage of the over-abundance.

We have gallons in the freezer, jars of jam setting on the counter, and cold berries in the fridge. And we're drinking:

Dewberry Spritzer

In a medium saucepan combine 4 c. vinegar (cider or wine), a cup of sugar, and 2 c. blackberries, dewberries, or raspberries.

Simmer gently for five minutes, then pour through a strainer, putting the vinegar back into the bottles, or into a clean Mason jar. Discard the solids.

To make a spritzer, put a couple of tablespoons of the vinegar in the glass, add a spoon or two of sugar if you want (I don't), fill with ice, and top with seltzer or even plain water. A mint garnish is nice, and so is a straw.

Southern people traditionally drink vinegar and fruit tonics in the spring and early summer. They taste best then!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Rooster in Yellow Jersey

From Alabama Stitch Book, this rooster stencil done in reverse applique using two t-shirts. Reverse applique is fairly quick, and so fun to cut open.

This square will most likely turn into a pillow front.

Friday, May 04, 2012

A Tabby Log Cabin Quilt for Giles

I made a medium-size log cabin quilt for Giles out of linen and cotton from the scrap bins.

And wool--that dark center square is wool suiting.

It's backed with a neutral silk that came from my upholsterer friend. I never thought I'd find a use for it. You never know!

And I never realized that I had worked out a tabby-colored scheme. But Fitzwilliam knew.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

She Winds Yarn

An easy finals week for Clara means starting a new lace knitting project. A shawl out of this beautiful blue merino. A mile of it in a a hand-sized ball.

Dress is the long version from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, with cap sleeves added.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Retro Print Utility Cloths

Someone passed along lots of cute retro nursery yardage recently, and I've got the girly colorways sewn up into utility cloths in my etsy shop.

Take a look if you're in need of a shower gift. . . all the proceeds from these items go straight towards orphan care in Africa!

{edited to add} Thank you for buying these! I love the process of taking scrap fabric and turning it into things which you loyal readers then turn into cash, and that cash ($50 a month) turns into life and opportunity for two young boys in a far country!

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