Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Slip of a Dress on a Slip of a Girl

Blue linen from the thrift store (it was a ladies' dress) and Liberty bias binding (from Paris) together in an easy summer dress for Daisy. She's had it on for two days running, and it's time for a wash for this new favorite.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Vanilla Macaroons

We ate these in Paris, and though they are intimidatingly beautiful for the home baker, at Daisy's insistence (she's been poring over the book Macaroons that someone gave us), we gave them a try.

Egg whites, sugar, ground almonds, and vanilla, and a plastic sandwich bag for piping. Not bad at all, actually. And honestly, ours tasted better than the ones we paid a lot for in France.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Log Cabin Quilt Top: Freshwater Pearl

Dotted Swiss, embroidered voile, tucked linen. 

White, cream, natural, pale gray, pale pink. 

I'm thinking of freshwater pearls.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jar of Dried Orange Slices

A friend came over today to talk over homeschooling options and brought this beautiful jar of home-dried orange slices. They taste like candy, except that the rind tastes like bitter candy--very nice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Grace Livingston Hill Day

Visiting the GLH exhibit at Cairn University in Pennsylvania--hurry, only a few more weeks! 

GLH's own Scofield Bible--with the smooth pages, text notes, and fine margins that are noted in so many of her novels.

I loved this--her own copy of Blue Ruin, marked and notated for a public reading. Lots of blue clips left in, passages marked out, and paragraphs retyped and added in to make a readable section.

Finally, a drive by her real house, located near Swarthmore College. It's privately owned and not for touring, but you can see GLH's spirit in the stone arches, hospitable porches, and diamond-paned windows. Her grandson Robert Munce writes:

"It was a home for her children and her mother, and it was a studio where she could write. It was also a lovely and comfortable setting where she could counsel and encourage young people. . . .

It was more than a functional place for work and social activites. It was another art form in which Grace could indulge . . . The finished house was lovely and restful to the eyes. The gray granite stones sparkled in the morning sunlight . . .  The porch was paved with large red tiles, and the heavy oak front door had a large brass knocker. . . .

But she valued home more than house, family more than fame, and God's blessing more than a good bank balance. "


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Sunny Afternoon in Chinatown

Giles took me to Chinatown after church. Mysterious produce spilling out onto the sidewalks. Dragonfruit? Illicit offspring of a beet and an artichoke?

Stores full of unfamiliar ingredients, mostly the dried, sliced, fruits of the sea. I'd love to know what dried sea cucumber is used for. It runs about $5000 a pound. Maybe it tastes like truffles.

 Dim sum for lunch! 

We said yes to lots of things that looked good without knowing what they were. The carts had helpful plastic signs on them, but they were always placed so that you could only see them as the cart *left* the table, too late.

We regretted nothing.

Did a little walking about afterwards and ended up at the vegan ice cream shop. 

It was perfectly warm in the sun so we sat on a bench and ate our treats . . . for an hour. Some of that was spent admiring our benchmate, a flashy urban guy who was coordinated from head to toe--with his royal blue bicycle.

The shadows got long and it was time to go home.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Busy Day in Manhattan

We started with a stint at Mood. Although I had been planning for *months* that I was going to go heavy on the cotton jersey here, when faced with the multitude of choices I almost gave up without buying anything.

Fortunately I met George, who quickly demonstrated that he could read my mind and show me exactly the things I wanted to buy, so we ended with success. and two big bags to carry around the rest of the day.

We dropped in at Purl Soho. No yarn was purchased, but I did get some perle cotton for quilting.

Let's all just recognize that Purl is gorgeous and able to make you want everything on the shelves.

Quick stop for eggplant parmesan sandwiches.

Tea at Harney and Sons.

And back home to dinner at a friend's house.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hello from Giles' Place

I'm spending the weekend with Giles. These are his baby brussels sprouts,

here are the beautiful blossoms from around the neighborhood,

and these are his beautiful photos (with his new 40 mm pancake lens).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

And a Dress for Myself: Reverse Negative Applique

Though it has a long name, reverse negative applique is a simple and thrifty technique. Simple because you just stencil your design on a scrap of fabric (no risking those dress pieces!), pin the scrap onto your garment, and stitch around the painted shapes. Thrifty because you don't need any extra yardage--just use your leftovers.

It's also much more relaxing than regular applique, since there's no finagling the little cut-out pieces together like a wiggling puzzle. Everything's on one piece of fabric until the stitching is done, then you just trim out the unwanted negative spaces. It gives a beautiful mosaic-tile effect, and is addictively wonderful.

Here I'm using one of my favorite designs from Alabama Chanin, the placement rose cut out of posterboard, working on blueberry jersey from AC, with purple screen-printing paint from Hobby Lobby applied with a kid's paintbrush. Beads to follow.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Red Roses: A Jersey Dress for Clara

A few photos before I packed this jersey dress off to Clara. I used the "Kristina's Rose" stencil available from Alabama Chanin's downloads, and stenciled the design in dark red (plain old red I mixed with a little brown). Both the front and back of the dress have a border of about ten inches of roses. 

The roses vary in size from three inches across to about eight inches. I decided to approach it as a sampler of various jersey embellishment techniques. So you can see beaded stitching below,

 and below here is the wonderful couching technique, where you stitch down strips of jersey that have been pulled into ropes. I love this one and it goes really fast--and the ropes are remarkable easy to shape precisely.

I worked in two colors of jersey--the red of the dress, and a darker red from a tee shirt from Goodwill.

I did a bunch of roses from appliqued strips, sometimes laid flat with bugle beads on top, and sometimes done in random ruffles, with gathers stitched into the strip. This one's fun too.

And last, I finished the neckline in a beaded rosebud stitch.

I can't wait to see it on Clara when she comes home for summer!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"If You Are Patient and Paying Attention"

"Most of us figure out by a certain age . . . that life unspools in cycles, some lovely, some painful, but in no predictable order. So you could have lovely, painful, and painful again, which I think we all agree is not at all fair. . . But if you've been around for a while, you know that much of the time, if you are patient and are paying attention, you will see that God will restore what the locusts have taken away."
--Anne Lamott,  Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

Monday, April 15, 2013

Lilacs in the Kitchen

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grace Livingston Hill, World's First Hipster

"Cary's room should be painted white, walls and ceiling and all . . . and then she would stencil little birds around the top of the walls. That would be a room to which he could bring home his friends."

--Grace Livingston Hill, Re-Creations 

Blackberry Patch Log Cabin Quilt

Good morning, and look! A new quilt in my etsy shop. I pieced this last year in the heat of blackberry-picking, the week we were out at the patch of wild berries every night after supper. We always met our friends there, and David always picked into his yellow bucket, to match his little bright blonde head.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Peach Tulips and a Moment's Peace

Oh, it feels good to be back in this little space--I wasn't gone last week, just in over my head with life in general. The Composer was gone visiting Giles (I do have my turn next weekend!), and I've dipped my toe back into work-world in a way that involves a lot of time on the phone and a lot of computer time in the evening. It's finite and short-term, but it has taken some getting used to.

Peach tulips are just what I needed.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

A Quick Break

I'll be back in a week or so; taking a quick break.

See you then!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

A South American Feast

Tonight the girls and I cooked a South American feast for the Composer's parents and their friends--it was their lately-redeemed Christmas gift, a catered dinner! Fortunately for us, they chose to come to our house, so cooking and serving was much simpler than it could have been.

South American Feast:

Brochetas de Salmon y Piña (salmon and pineapple skewers)

Beef Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce
Ensalada de Papas con Chimichurri (potato salad with Argentinian chimichurri sauce)
Tort de Choclo (Colombian fresh corn souffle)
Couve a Mineira (garlicky collard greens)

Crema volteada (flan, with strawberries and blackberries)

It was fun putting together such an exotic menu (I broke the cardinal rule of entertaining and cooked things I'd never tried before!), and I did it all by looking at South American Food for ideas and recipes.

The diners were several couples who celebrate their birthdays together, so by special request the evening ended with a command performance from Bella: her special Show-Off Arrangement of Happy Birthday, with a lot of sustained high notes. Perfect!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

An Extra Cat

This kitty has been coming to the back deck for weeks now to get food and attention. At first he was too skittish for words but now he flops down to get the affection. We call him Mr. Collins.

When Hobbes dies, he is to inherit the estate.


We're trying not to love him but it's hard.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Felix in the Cloud Forest

He took a ten-hour bus ride from Cusco over to Manu National Park. He was the only one in this beautiful lodge, and every day he went out into the cloud forest to look for birds. He was the only one there. 

Four days alone, in heaven, he said.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter Sunday

Tis mercy all, immense and free,

for O, my God, it found out me.

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