Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Smartening Up a Chocolate Cake

I don't have cake-decorating skills or even a functioning pastry bag, but give me a stack of Oreos and I can make a chocolate cake look smart! If Bella helps.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bella Gets It

 The birthday girl opens her card and reads the riddle . . .

 and thinks . . . and thinks . . .

and finally realizes she's getting a skylight in her bedroom. Happy birthday and happy new room, Bella!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tiny Tiles

Hurray, I've got my tiny tiles in place and walkable. And vacuumable. And the Composer has trimmed out the floor in one of the bathrooms. We're working on a never-ending list of things that need to be painted, and when all is dry, I'm decorating and taking pictures.

Friday, July 26, 2013

More on Clara's Crinolines

I don't have any photos yet, but I can tell you that Clara is making her crinolines from these instructions for a crinoline. They're really just a footnote to a dress pattern, and see, you can purchase the pattern as an inexpensive downloadable pdf.

You make a very simple, very short elastic-waist "skirt" that's really just a hip yoke, then gather quite a bit of stiff netting on to it for the skirt of the petticoat. Clara then adds another fully gathered ruffle around the bottom for even more volume. You can repeat the layers until you get the fullness you want.

One of her crinolines will be built on a slim, gored "short skirt" taken from a skirt pattern, closing with a short zipper, to give a slimmer hip line. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Clara's Crinoline Factory

Clara has decided to bring the crinoline back. A little fabric shopping today, and now she's ready to sew up crinolines in emerald green, navy, and black. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Alabama Chanin Couching: Chlorophyll

I've stencilled the "Bloomers" pattern in an intense green paint, over grass green fabric. Now I'm couching each shape with jersey pulls (narrow strips that have been pulled into cords). They're stitched down to form the outlines.

A green thought in a green shade.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Orchids Again, in a West Window

I know, I know, orchids again. But I've moved the whole set of blooming plants on to the wood stove and when the late day sun comes in on them, they glow.

Monday, July 22, 2013

At Work in the Bathroom

We have a little bathroom that's sort of the public bathroom--it's downstairs and not in anyone's bedroom. It was sadly in need of freshening up, mostly because the painted wooden floor was so very, very chipped and shabby. Last week we got tiny white tiles laid instead, and this week, before the fixtures go back in, I'm painting everything my Atrium White.

I love the interesting and new angles of light and shadow I always find when things are really torn up. I'll love it even more when they're back together, though.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

In Which Heaven Sends Me a New Electric Skillet

This afternoon the girls and I hopped over to a neighbor's house to help out. Lisa was finishing going through the last of her parents things before hosting an estate sale, and mostly just needed help moving boxes of things up and down the stairs, since she has a bad ankle.

We were almost done, when Clara came in with controlled excitement and said, 'I've found a new Roberta. In the basement."

Roberta was our much-loved electric skillet, an inheritance from my grandmother. Somehow Roberta embodied Nanny's essence to me in a way that no other object ever has. But we loved her too much, I guess, and she fell apart last year.

To have a new one? Such a treat. I think it's exactly the same vintage, in excellent condition. This seriously warms the cockles of my heart. So glad Lisa sold her to me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

First Ones at the Lake

We were the first ones at the lake this morning. I do adore these CCC gems dotted all through our little mountains. 

This one is spring-fed, and you can see the dam across the way, and the little sandy beach, and the jumping platform.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

So Many Petals: Alabama Chanin Bloomers Stencil

One of the very first Alabama Chanin designs offered, "Bloomers." I've never worked with it in the multitude of repeats (though I've used the single stencil handily included in Natalie Chanin's first book--in fact, I think it was the stencil I cut my jersey teeth on). 

Cutting it out of pennant felt today, using my hot stencil-cutting tool, and planning some green-on-green goodness for later in the week.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tiny World

Daisy's been lost in her tiny world for several days, set up in the mouse house (still not finished, but good for play), with her back to the ficus tree.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Daisy Turns Nine at the Pool

With a jello cake, three friends, and a pile of presents, Daisy turned nine.

A cool evening swim, candles and flowers,

 and this awesome knitted goat (love the beard blowing in the wind!).

A new Freddy the Pig book, a nice assortment of Sylvanian Friends sets (these are tiny toy critters we admired in Germany--you'll see them sometime, I'm sure),

and the hedgehog from Clara. And her own scrubbing brush and timer, by her request.

With all these, she turned nine.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Clara's Knitting: The Hedgehog

Clara knitted Daisy the hedgehog from Purl Bee, for her birthday. She has another one on the needles that's destined to be the mascot for her dorm floor.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Room Full of Music

House concert time again! This big wooden room is perfect for sharing with performing friends.

The Composer filled the living room with light, and a singer-songwriter friend filled it with music. House concerts are magical events, more than the sum of their parts. We are all blessed to be here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Foggy Summer Morning

Now, I thought I had captured this morning's fog perfectly, and then the Composer told me my photo was just out of focus. Pretend with me. It really was beautiful.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Queen for a Day

Daisy always plays the song.

And this year she made a crown.

It's not every day a girl turns eighteen.

Happy Birthday, Clara.


Monday, July 08, 2013

Bouquet Turning

Clara put this bouquet together last week. This week it's not as bright, but just as beautiful, with the hydrangeas starting to rust, and the asparagus turning to gold.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Pizza for the Gluten-Free

Bella put together gluten-free pizza for the family* yesterday, by making a polenta crust for the base, then loading it with potato slices, chopped bacon, sauteed leeks, Gruyere cheese, and a last topping of spinach.

Polenta is a great solution to the conundrum of gluten-free crust. I can't get excited about the flour substitutions that go into GF "bread", but polenta is its own thing, and that's the way I almost always want to go.

*The Composer is temporarily GF, and my visiting mother is permanently GF. The rest of us eat whatever.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

*Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream*

This works perfectly to celebrate the 4th of July, or indeed, any holiday that involves either eating food outside, or eating ice cream. My own invention, modeled after the gorgeous shortbread cookies with a similar name, in Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.

Whisk together:
1 c. milk
1 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. Dutch or black cocoa
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. almond extract
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground coffee
1/4 t. cayenne (if you are of the Go Big Or Go Home persuasion, you can use 1/2 t.)

When it's reasonably well-blended, stir in:

2 c. cream

Now, freeze it in the ice cream freezer. Have some, and have some more.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

This Summer Week

This summer week: watering my garden, keeping up with the laundry, running every morning, watching my mother get stronger every day, sewing a summer dress out of chambray, making the usual bazillions of work phone calls, eating peaches from Farmers' Market, and reading Bella's stack of vintage Cherry Ames books.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

This Is Not a Headshot

One of my most handsome brothers came to visit this morning. We hardly ever see him, he lives so far away and stays so busy, but he came to see our mother. A treat for us all.

The Composer asked me if I had gone into the headshot business. These aren't headshots--but when you're really handsome an above-the-shoulders picture runs the risk of looking like one.

He took all the ladies out to lunch, and brought home fries for Mother. Such a sweetie.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Lace! It Counts As Lace!

At last I have knitted something approaching lace--a little trim on the sleeves and bottom edge of my sweater (it's the "Barton Cottage Shrug" from Jane Austen Knits). Although the rows are only 10-12 stitches long, they offer infinite opportunities to mess up, so Clara has rescued me over and over. It's so fun though, and it looks great from a distance!

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