Thursday, June 28, 2012

So Long

We're off on vacation, leaving Felix to man the garden and study organic chemistry, poor fellow.

Back next week!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Everything I need for hand-stitching in the car is right here--beads, thread, needles, pressed binding strips, and under the tray, the garments ready to go.

I guess I need to look into packing some other things too. Like clothes and bedding and food. Soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jersey Ruffle

I'm putting together some hand-sewing projects for the beach. Preparing for a trip always means cooking, cleaning, and now sewing before I can get out the door!

I'm making jersey dresses for the girls and I want to have the machine-sewn parts done so I can settle in with the handwork while we drive.

So I've done the seams on the machine (zigzag stitch), and Clara's embellishment will be a pleated ruffle around the skirt and around the neckline. I cut two-inch strips across the grain, then pinned pleats into place until I had eighty inches of ruffle! These I machine-sewed with a basting stitch.

They get machine-basted to the dress, then I hand-sew a 3/4 inch strip of jersey down the middle to finish them. All the visible stitching will be by hand, but the long boring stuff will be already done!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birthday Boy with a Birthday Banjo

Felix has been interested in a banjo for a while now. I suggested he wait til after his birthday to buy himself one. I hope he didn't suspect . . . .

It is nice to hear an entirely new sound around the house. I love this, we all do!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Cake Lady: German Chocolate Cake

A towering three layers, this German chocolate cake performed well as Felix's birthday cake.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vintage Gardening Smock: Hollywood 1123

While most people will just shrug their shoulders and turn away uncomprehendingly, I know there is a very specific and tiny segment of the population who will understand my excitement at finding this pattern. I have three words for them: "Coverall and Bonnet."

I just can't resist the purpose-built vintage pattern, whether it's for bowling, gardening, cleaning, or 4H.

This one was extra perfect in being quite graceful, actually, and the perfect use for my not-quite-enough-but-I'll-make-it-work Wedgewood blue polished cotton with a lovely drape. I had envisioned something kimono-like for it, and this pattern fit the bill. I did run out of fabric before trying out the bonnet, though.

Next time!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Warm Afternoon at a Tiny Museum

Carol and I have a whole list of local adventures we're taking the kids on this summer. They're all pretty close by, just things that sound interesting that we've not done before.

Today we went to a tiny museum, a grand old house that's been preserved and furnished. Wonderful high ceilings, breezeway, fireplaces, covered porches, outdoor kitchen, wellhouse, sandstone slab sidewalks.

Beautiful natural light.

Often these tiny places are so intimate; we got to go in the attic and see this ancient sewing machine sitting in a bit of sunshine.

I love how the buildings were situated to make the most of breeze and shade.

One of the outbuildings sheltered a very old tractor.

That caught Felix's attention.

And the Composer liked these iron spikes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bella Takes Over the Mouse House Redo

I had been promising Daisy for months that we would redecorate the mouse house--our name for the large doll house that sits in the living room. It was made for me when I was a little girl, painted the same color as this schoolhouse, and (sort of) decorated on the inside to match the big house.

And my toy mice lived in it, with lots of furniture.

Thirty-eight years later, things are looking a little dingy in there, and many of the chairs are down to two or three legs. A do-over is long overdue.

Meanwhile, this summer, Bella began displaying hitherto unknown skill and persistence at actual house decorating. She tackled her closet, moving shelves outside to prep and paint them, prepped and painted her closet, ripped up carpet, and magically got the Compser to lay her a cheap but good-looking vinyl closet floor. Who knew?

So I should not have been surprised when she casually announced she'd steam the wallpaper off the mouse house walls. She's also ripped up the thoroughly-glued-down floor coverings, and I don't even know what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Guitar Lesson

Giles has taught himself to play the guitar, bass, and piano since he graduated from college. This weekend Clara decided she'd learn the guitar too. It's such a convenient instrument; it makes people sing together.

Giles showed her D, G, A, and B minor. "These are all you need to play any pop song or worship chorus."

Felix (obsessed with organic chemistry this summer): "Oh! They're nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon."

That's right. Now the kids can build anything. Any song, or any compound.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Am All Slipcover Astonishment

I did not expect that sewing the slipcover would be fun, or easy, or in the past. And yet it is. I can't believe how well it came together, and how little time it took. I made the cushion cover one evening, and then the entire slipcover in the next two days, during which I also made a long day trip involving a museum and an airport, and then catered an offsite function for fourteen people.

All that was left today was to finish serging the seams, and then sit down on the cushy seat.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thinking About Middle Age

"Middle age doesn't meant the same to everyone. It is a time of life when all the forces in a body are at their height, and if a person has lived an unrestrained, selfish youth, the very strength of personality will sweep him on in a current of self-indulgence.

Middle age is a time of realization, all right, but it depends upon what one has done with the preceding years. You've done the very best you could always; you've kept a firm hand on the wheel of your life and the compass steadily pointing toward the best.

Why shouldn't you find life a wonderful, inspiring thing? That's what the good Lord meant it to be for all of us."

--Emilie Loring, My Dearest Love

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Homestead Quilt, Complete

This quilt is finished! I hand-quilted it in a week, including hand-binding it. I hadn't realized that it's large enough to cover a twin bed--a nice surprise!

Should Giles choose to accept it, it's going back to New York with him.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Rest of the Summer

When summer started it seemed like endless idle weeks, right? Now I'm squeezing these plans into the next two months:

• Giles comes home tomorrow for a quick visit, shooting video for the Composer. Big shoot weekend: Bella and I are catering, Clara is directing traffic, Felix is the grip. Daisy's duties are undefined, but probably include serving water.

• A week in Charleston! I hear there's a milliner there, and a beach. Recommendations welcome!

• Putting on another wedding. This time the ceremony is at the church and the reception's at my house. Planning loveliness.

• The Composer insists that we will all (except Daisy) watch all the Star Trek movies before the summer is out. Three down.

• I'm slipcovering a chair! First time ever, and determined.

• Opera camp and chamber music camp for the girls, and organic chemistry for Felix.

• And then we have to take Clara to college.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Just Happy

Just happy Felix is home for a few weeks, that's all.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Green Beans from My Garden

Somehow this year, my vegetable garden is a little land of enchantment. It is yielding things for my table and is a joy to work in. I do have to water it every day--but the upside is that there is literally not a weed in it, since nothing grows that isn't watered, the drought is so bad.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

I Never Thought We Would Go Four-Wheeling, But Then We Did

A church friend insisted that Clara was not ready to leave for college until she'd been out in the woods four-wheeling. I don't believe that was on her bucket list, but she was game, since Dean was inviting. We drove up to his cabin, he gave a brief demonstration, and she did a very slow turn around the front yard.

Then Daisy did some hard-core driving.

Then Bella hopped on, with her two friends on the other machines, and they took off for the field where you can *really* get up speed. Faster than walking. So fast I didn't get a picture. Instead, Clara and Daisy and I gathered the buckets and took off for the wild raspberry patch. A good division of labor, for everyone!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Quilting the Homestead Quilt

This week's handwork project: quilting this very warm log cabin quilt. Lots of wool and corduroy here.

So close to being finished! Just one short side of binding, then I can get it out of my lap.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Filing My Sewing Patterns

Today saw all my sewing patterns consolidated at last into one set of filing cabinets. The Composer went to a business estate sale, and brought me home a five-drawer unit and two two-drawer units, and I have emptied my hall closet and filled it with filing cabinets and then mostly filled the cabinets with patterns.

I have about nine drawers of patterns, not stuffed very full. That's a lot. I will never buy another one, even if they just cost a dime, like many of these.

Now that I own a pattern for a 1930s gardening smock, with a sun hat, I don't need anything else, anyway.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Cake Lady: Peanut Butter & Banana Cupcakes

Peanut butter and mashed banana in the cake batter; peanut butter and cream cheese in the (very good) frosting, and a banana chip on top for garnish.

Since the girls don't like banana baked goods, this one's up to the Composer and Felix. Good luck, guys!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A Second Day of Rehearsal

I just have the one thing to say: ahh.


Monday, June 04, 2012

Lunch for the Trio

Clara is having a two-day rehearsal (or retreat, or chamber music house party) with her violin-cello-piano trio. Lots and lots of Mozart and Schubert filling the house today. It's kind of unreal; the music is so beautiful and it's so right here.

Bella really, really loves to cater. She loves to have a cooking plan and people to prep for. Today's lunch was platter after platter of salade nicoise, and sourdough bread. Blanched and marinated garden green beans (things from my garden!!), neighbor's eggs hard-cooked, and lots of other goodies.

I made the cookies.

More music tomorrow.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Log Cabin Quilt in the Window

This is my current quilt top hung in the window, with the light coming through. The glowing blue and gold are linen fabrics, and the others are denser cottons and wools.

This is what it looks like on the table:

I'm calling it Homestead with Hand-Dug Well.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Garden & Gun

Never did I think I would read, much less subscribe to, a magazine with the word "gun" in the title. Yet Garden & Gun has been a favorite here for the last few years.

Gorgeous photos, great Southern food, travel stories that make me want to get in the car, maybe a few too many dog articles (but then I'm a cat person), and just all-around Southern gorgeousness.

(Fried pie image lifted from G & G).

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