Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Very Practical Sewing: New Napkins

Some *really* down to earth sewing--cloth napkins. We've been running low so I bought enough of this cheery print to make fifteen. That's a lot of little hems to press and then stitch, so I did it in very short sessions. After a week, they were all done.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Alabama Chanin's Wrap Dress

Having downloaded the pattern, I'm trying out this Alabama Chanin wrap dress. The instructions are over-optimistically sketchy, I think, especially for that bust dart. It can be hard to get the corner point to lie nice and smooth. But we shall see.

I'm on my second go-round, since my printer actually gave me a slightly shrunken version of the pattern. My usual size was a little dainty. Currently trying again.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Making Lotion

I accidentally checked out a library book on making your own bath and body products. It's called Little House Living and it's by Merissa Alink. I figured it was a decorating book but it's all about the magic of making these awesome things at home.

After reading some recipes, I realized I had most of the ingredients at hand, and I dove in. I made an eczema salve and sent it home with Felix whose skin is sensitive to the dust of gardening and home renovation. Still waiting for some feedback on that one. I do know that the moisturizing lotion I made for myself is the most effective skin treatment I've ever used. My skin feels like a baby's!

Also, have you smelled cocoa butter?
It's like living in chocolate land.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Laying Out the Squares

I got my fabric cut into strips, and all the blocks sewn up, and here they are laid out on the floor to be sewn together.

Clara and I got the top pieced on Saturday, and now the ball is in her court to add some embroidery--this will be a wedding gift for a friend of hers.

It's going to be Rose Window.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Shamrock, Thriving

I took my sad spindly indoor shamrock to a bigger pot and put it outside in deep shade for a couple of weeks. That's all it took to grow by leaps and bounds.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Tonight I Painted Cosmos

This is just a section of my larger painting, which isn't done yet.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A New Quilt Stirs in the Sewing Room

The first thing we do is pull out all the pieces that are looking pretty today, and put them in a stack.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Baby Quilt in Almost Black and White

If Emma and Eliot want it, this little quilt will be for the Stone House baby in November. It's very neutral, although the centers are actually dark charcoal gray and then very dark green.

Then there are some pale grays and some neutral linen.

The Stone House baby is going to have a sophisticated palette, everyone knows that!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sunday Dinner: Carnitas

Fed a crowd after church Sunday with:

Pork carnitas
Corn tortillas
Guacamole, cilantro, salsa, sour cream
Sliced peaches
Fried okra
Green salad

To prepare the carnitas before church, right after breakfast I diced a good-sized pork loin into stew-meat sized chunks. Put them in the pressure cooker in a single layer with plenty of salt, pepper, and cumin, and browned them. Added a little water and sealed it up. About ten minutes at 15 pounds, and they were deliciously tender, and still had their brown crust on them. These went into the fridge until after church, and were reheated at lunchtime.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Stewed Tomatoes

A big batch of stewed tomatoes made from a big garden haul. I had enough tomatoes for about 10 pints--it was two big colanders full. I used two bags of Cajun-style mirepoix, which got sauteed in olive oil. I peeled and quartered my tomatoes, then added them to my veggies to stew with two teaspoons each of salt and sugar.

Then I canned them, which made me very proud. They are the best soup base ever.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Dog Days with a Cat

We're in the dog days of summer now, and the cats are spending much of their time indoors in the air conditioning. We do our gardening very early or very late, and we swim at least once a day. A month of summer life left before school things kick in.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Vintage Inspiration for a Mature Woman's Wardrobe

(Let's hope she likes neutrals!)

* a silver-gray silk--"she had white hair, and the effect was beautiful"

* a black silk dress

* white dresses--"that's what my chum's grandmother used to wear when I went visiting in the summer"

* real lace collars, to go with the gray silk

* half a dozen plain collars for everyday wear

* a gray voile dress, very simple and elegant, lined with gray silk and trimmed with lace dyed to match (reduced from sixty dollars to thirty)
(hopefully she likes neutrals!)

* a coat and skirt suit of fine soft black taffeta, for traveling

* a handsome black cloth coat for cool days

* a black and white dotted swiss dress

* a white linen suit

* a handsome black crepe de chine dress

* a black chiffon waist (blouse)

* filmy, dreamy, white shirtwaists, simple and plain in design, and exquisite lace simply applied, fine handmade tucks and finer material

* white linen and white lawn for morning wear at the seashore

* two white linen skirts

* several pairs of silk gloves, black and white, undergarments dainty enough for a bride, a dozen pairs of stockings

* a black lace bonnet on a foundation of white roses, with a drapery of fine black lace which swept around the roses and tied loosely on the breast

* a lace wrap from the cloak department

* a plain black bonnet

* a sweet little gray bonnet

*  a fine silk umbrella

* a lot of pretty belts and handkerchiefs

* some shoes and rubbers

* a handbag of cut steel

Grace Livingston Hill wrote Aunt Crete's Emancipation in 1911. It contains an exhaustive description (this list is verbatim) for a dream wardrobe for a woman of mature years.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Cobbler of Deep Summer

Cobbler for our Sunday dinner crowd this week was peaches and blackberries. Biscuit topping was added moments after this photo was taken.

Always remember: heat your fruit on the stovetop (with a little sugar and a little flour) until it starts to release its juices and the juice starts to thicken. *Then* you can put it in the baking pan and put the biscuits on top, ready to go in the oven.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Not Everything Has Changed

Daisy's got some sophisticated taste in birthday cakes now--this is Nigella Lawson's Christmas-Spiced Flourless Chocolate Cake with a glazed almond and fresh orange juice topping. I sent pieces home with Elliot and Emma to the Stone House. "Eat it when you can concentrate."

But not everything has changed. She still loves fried okra,

just like when she was littler.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July Is a Domestic Month

I typically find myself feeling quite domestic in July. The summer heat starts to keep us more indoors, the rush of school and early-summer travel is over, and somehow I just want to clean and rearrange.

This week I mixed it up in the living room, moving furniture that hadn't been shifted in years! Well, we move it out for special events, but then we put it back in the same place. This time, I decided that during the summer, our seating should be focused around the front windows, rather than the woodstove. This has never happened at the Schoolhouse before.

But we all love it, and I'm especially loving my new view as I come down the hallway (see above). The whole room seems larger and more full of greenery.

I've also been deep-cleaning my room--washing quilts, curtains, rugs, windows, flowerpots, polishing silver, rearranging the dresser, and all that . . . . also Daisy is at band camp AND turning thirteen, so I need some distraction.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I Finished Another Embroidery Project!

This dresser scarf was an awesome project--because it was 80% done when I pulled it out of the bag. I fished some almost-matching floss out of my stash of embroidery thread, and dove right in.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Modernizing a Dated Embroidery Project

My step-mother passed a big bag of sewing goodies to me which had belonged to her late mother.  I found quite a few new-in-the-package sewing kits--embroidery and crewel work. 

The crewel work--it is what it is: harvest gold mushrooms and olive green flowers. Clara may work them up for fun some day.

I appreciate the nice quality of some of the printed projects--these guest towels are on 100% linen, fun and mindless to cross-stitch. And they fit in my purse. I brought them into this decade by throwing out the bright color choices, and doing them in a monochromatic pale seafoam green.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Study Shelves Seemingly Everywhere

You know how the last 10% of any project can be the hardest to get done? We're still working to finish out the Stone House study and a couple of projects in the Stone House kitchen. 

I have an enchanting vision of built-in white bookshelves and a desk surface for the gorgeous dark green study. And the bookshelves are finally getting done! But there's nowhere in the Stone House to paint them, so they're taking up my sitting room for part of the week. 

Monday, July 03, 2017

A Shawl of My Own Devising

I've made a handful of the Alabama Chanin ponchos--they're the simplest thing you could ever sew, and they are nice! Useful!

 But I'm not a huge fan of asymmetry and I don't want to have to be constantly monitoring accessory placement. So I tweaked the design and put the seam in a new spot (and stenciled it with a little bit of the Magdalena stencil):

Just right for the symmetrical shawl-wearer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Rabbit Barn Looking Nice

Daisy's new rabbit barn sits nicely tucked into an unused corner of the yard behind the fig tree, and right beside the vegetable garden.

The Composer did a great design job, using inexpensive hardware store materials in a way that's actually quite elegant--see the "skylight" panel inset into the metal roof. Next up, the rows of cages for the rabbits.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Log Cabin Quilt: Dakota Sandstone

Clara and I made this quilt as a wedding gift for her geologist friend who was getting married . . . to another geologist.

He's from the Black Hills of South Dakota, so we drew our color inspiration from images of the layers of sandstone there.

Tans, faded purples, rusty pinks.

"And that house did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's Hydrangeas and Hospitality

We are in between houseguests for a few days--I don't think I mentioned we just finished hosting a friend from Taiwan who stayed with us twenty years ago and was brave enough to come back :)

We had a great time showing her the ins and outs of our daily life--from organ practice to Sunday dinner to tattooing the rabbits' ears to picking blueberries.

Tonight we celebrated Felix's birthday, a joy. The Composer suggested gifts inspired by things Felix had borrowed recently, so he got a cat carrier and an ice chest. I guess he's a grown-up now.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Landscape and a Still Life

Two recent pieces.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Mid-afternoon in mid-June. A day full of work, laundry, errands, and hospitality. 

I've moved my work computer upstairs into the Composer's studio and can't tell if I love or hate being out of the thick of things. 

I can concentrate, and there are no parrot squawks to apologize for when I'm on the phone, but on the other hand, what's going on downstairs without me? Is the laundry ready to turn over? I'm so far from the coffee! Does a cat need in?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June Looks Like This

June looks like this.

 It also looks like cars to buy, insurance policies to deal with, paperwork to complete, tree trunks to cut up and remove, gardens to tend, grass to mow, and trainings to attend . . . .

Friday, June 09, 2017

A Year for Giles and Tia

In honor of their one-year anniversary, Giles and Tia!

And these two . . .

 . . . met a year ago.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Daisy at the Organ

Daisy's piano teacher is also a church organist, so she was able to begin organ with her today!

Little sandals, big sound.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Zinnias at The Meadows

After dinner the Composer and I drove over to The Meadows (Felix's house) to deliver that lucky boy a load of goat manure. 

Marriage certainly changes people. Felix has become a super-gardener, and Molly, who grew up in New York and its surroundings, has started carrying a pocketknife so she can cut flowers whenever necessary.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Some Pinks Hanging Out in the Blue Room

Intense pink hydrangeas hanging out with some butterfly bush and some feathery pink spirea.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Duck Egg Filofax, Pretty and Blue

I continue to love my Filofaxes. I have a Original Nude Patent for work, this Original Duck Egg Patent for personal projects, and a raspberry Finsbury I use for my Bible reading plans and prayer lists. I LOVE having separate gorgeous notebooks for different parts of my life.

This binder is divided into a General Notes section (where I keep a running list of things I need to do, remember, schedule, etc.),  Festive Plans (where I work on whatever big do is coming up next--guests, menus, sleeping arrangements), Menu Tracker (where I note general dinner plans), Sewing (all kinds of notes about current, past, and future projects), Correspondence (I actually keep notecards, stamps, and addresses here so I can write a letter when I have a few minutes. I also keep a record of who and when I've written), and Weekly Goals (I write these across the appropriate week but without scheduling them. I generally pick 5-7 things outside my usual daily routine that I want to complete or make progress on).

For some reason, being able to hold all these in my hands makes me feel very connected to my projects and constantly inspired. 

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