Tuesday, March 24, 2020

My Florida Skirt

This post has literally nothing to do with COVID-19; it is just me getting around to blogging this skirt I made in January.

The best everyday tablecloths I have found are twin sheets from thrift stores.  And one day in November, I came across this ridiculously wonderful queen-size flat sheet with lemon trees, orange groves, egrets, bunnies, and red-roofed Spanish-style villas.  I held it in my hands and could not even guess what I wanted to do with it, but it had to come home with me.  

In December, my husband wangled a way for me to go to Florida with him on a business trip in January.  Suddenly, I realized that I needed to wear that sheet somehow.  I chose a full circle skirt to get as much of that declarative, whimsical print on display as possible. 

I've made half-circle skirts before, but the volume of a full circle skirt really gave me the giggles.  I used an entire package of "spruce green" bias tape on the hem and had to finish with a scrap of blue, which means the bottom circumference of this skirt is about 6 yards.  Six yards of swish at my legs!  Delicious.
The little scraps left from hemming.

I really like the side closure on this skirt that includes the pocket.  It was fairly easy to do. I had some difficulty getting the waistband just the right size - first it was too tight, then I pieced in some ease and it was too big.  But this print serenely disguises lots of things and keeps up the blue sky.

I got to wear my circle skirt for a beach walk and dinner on the deck, although I was shivering by the end because Florida in January is not really balmy and there was a sharp breeze off the Tampa Bay.  But I'm a Northerner and I wanted to wear my Florida skirt in Florida.  Spring is gently rising around us, and I am eager wear this skirt soon again.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Home-All-Day Beans

Now we are home all day, every day, thanks to COVID-19.  I'm a little distracted and I'm prone to teariness - is that what you're doing? I start something, walk off, and do something else, and stare into space, and burst into tears.

We are playing board games, doing chores, watching movies, eating our normal good food with extra desserts (morale booster!), and deliberately, consciously, running around in the fresh air every day. I am an introvert and a homebody, so overall, if I don't look too hard at what is causing this situation, I'm content to cuddle down and nest with my dear ones. 

So, the beans. I actually don't have a photo of these beans because they only look like black beans, a little bit soupy. Enjoy these photos of Phoebe playing her daddy Uno instead!

As I put the beans in my slow cooker this morning, I realized they are just absolutely what I want to be cooking in this strange time.  They are forgiving of my distraction, they do well with little check-ins throughout the day but they're fine without, they might get done early if the beans are fresh and then they can sit and wait for dinner.  They use pantry staples, and they are cheap and nutritious. They don't make a big mess, which is lovely because even though I have time - lots of time! -  to clean up the kitchen, I'd rather be sewing.  These beans are the kind of  simple, fundamental food we didn't realize we were craving.  They are creamy and salty and while they have flavor, they can be a side dish or the main dish of a meal.  Tonight we ate them spooned over cornbread with a crunchy purple cabbage salad with cilantro and lime and frying cheese. Also great next to garlicky greens and mac and cheese, or over rice with salsa.

Home-All-Day Beans
Put 1-3 cups dry beans, whatever color you like, in slow cooker in morning (I typically do 2 cups black beans in my 4-quart cooker).  Add water to cover by an inch or so.  Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil, a few shakes of cumin, a sliced garlic clove or two - I just slice it in my fingers with a paring knife, very quick and casual.  Turn on High. In an hour or so, stir the beans, add a little more garlic or cumin, and keep it all cooking.  I check on the beans intermittently, tasting and adding more garlic and cumin if I feel moved, and when they are almost soft, I add salt (the experts vary on when to salt cooking beans - eye roll - I get contrary sometimes and add it whenever I want to).  Sometimes I turn the cooker down to Low.  Sometimes I take the lid off mid-afternoon if the beans have more liquid than I meant them to have.

Phoebe lost the Uno game, can you tell? Be well, friends. Let's keep in touch and lift each other up.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Phoebe Gets Her Quilt

It is a big deal for me to finish a quilt! I started Phoebe's quilt in October 2018 and finished 14 months later.  Now, each of my children sleeps under a quilt I made.  Oh, that makes me happy!

For Phoebe's quilt, I used crib sheets and scraps of clothing that she and we wore.  I limited the colors to pink, blue, and yellow, but I mixed in little exceptions to liven things up.

I am quite serious about sewing down my stash, so I used the white fabric I had on hand for the squares, which means there are actually two slightly different whites.  For a few weeks after I made this choice, I was ashamed; the church of my childhood believed in  matching as part of its religion. For years, I have been slowly growing away from this perfectionism. Quilting and mending are spiritual metaphors for me, I reminded myself, so these whites are my choice to "gather up the fragments and let nothing be lost" (paraphrased from Jesus' words in the book of John after he extended the little boy's lunch of  bread and fish to feed thousands of people).

Another use-it-up material did not work out so well for this quilt.  I bought pink yarn from the creative reuse store, making ties in the center of each pieced star with the goal of little felted balls.  But when I put the finished quilt through a hot wash and dry, the ties would not felt: the yarn was not 100% wool.  Cussing a little and refusing to drive and seek pink wool, I re-did the ties with pink perle cotton in my stash.

I like to work in a bit of machine quilting on my quilts, but it didn't seem to fit in Phoebe's quilt.  So I handquilted the whole thing in white perle cotton, outlining the stars and then highlighting them further with diagonal lines.  I am not fond of quilting that runs all over a quilt, but prefer quilting that works in harmony with the patchwork.

Phoebe's quilt pleases my eye.  She loves it, and so do I.  I am already deep into another patchwork project for the patchwork surprise I adore, as well as the pleasurable mental work of planning and dreaming The Next Quilt until I blink and find myself cutting fabric for it.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Still Here

I have plans to knit myself a robin's egg blue hat.  I'm almost done with a pair of striped socks for Phoebe. 

The superintendent came to the PTO meeting tonight, and I am now fired up about inequitable school funding and considering more ways to get involved. Mr. Thrift is not pleased, as I run intense about stuff like this and he would prefer I calm down. I might.

The oldest has a new pet, a sweet little bunny,  that she worked long and hard to prepare for, but I was still out to the Amish stores yesterday to buy pellets and see about getting hay for her to burrow in. 

I bought the most beautiful, soft fabric at the creative reuse store the other day - I think, I dare to hope, it may be cashmere; the strongest, most declarative green  - not kelly, not dark green, just a strong, rich green green.  

I overheard a standholder at market say she needed to get rubberbands for the egg cartons, and I had a bag of rubber bands down to her the very next market day because I am oversupplied.  We were both tickled.  And this is also the stand that still has local storage veggies, which I am so grateful for because buying and eating local food is my act of defiance and hope in the face of very large world problems.  

Phoebe has had a dreadful cough and of course, it is worst at night and people are sleeping poorly around here. We read the news about the coronavirus with disbelief and worry. 

I do laundry every day.  I keep up!  I keep the family in good food.  I have a sore foot that is healing very very slowly, so I can't jog as much and this is changing my mental and physical health.  I do Pilates.  I try. 
Ben has soccer games and soccer practices just about all the time (it seems).  He just absolutely loves it, so I try to work on my attitude about driving him all over creation.  We carpool, and I take my knitting along, and I enjoy my boy enjoying himself. 

I am studying sourdough bread.  I have borrowed books on the subject, and one or two blogs I read.  I made a few notes.  I make something with sourdough every week, as I have for about 10 years now, but I am tweaking and understanding it differently, and the feel of the silky strong dough is pure delight in my hands. 

I finished Phoebe's quilt.  That does really need its own blog post. I'll be back.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A Blue Blouse for a Kilt

Years ago, my sister brought Genevieve a little red kilt from Scotland.  Now it's Phoebe's turn to wear the little kilt. Since most of Phoebe's clothes are hand-me-downs from a very clever group of mamas, she didn't really have a top to go with it.

I bought this blue fabric at JoAnn's because the blue scrap I had in my stash just wasn't big enough and I really wanted that strong, bright blue for my strong, bright girl. Phoebe and I poured out the buttons and put our heads together; I love the combination of ladybugs and little vintage flowers!  Then I found this scrap of woven ribbon in my ribbon drawer and scratched my head good and long over where to use it.  I put it on the mandarin collar and divided it evenly down the sides of the placket (it doesn't actually reach the hem), making little black machine-embroidered welts to finish the tops and bottoms.

The blouse is from this pattern, and I do actually still have the flowered blouse that I made Genevieve. It's hanging in Phoebe's closet and we'll see if I can get her to wear it.

The blue blouse turned out so cute, and Phoebe wears it, so that's a win, too!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

My Favorite Hair Product is Water

Ok, that title is kind of click-baitish, I know, but I'm here to update you on my curly-girl methods and it's true: water is my favorite product! I started trying the curly-girl method about 2 years ago. I finally feel like I have a handle on what my hair can do and what I'm willing to do for it.

I love the DevaCurl shampoo and conditioner the best - I've tried several different brands by now. My hair is thick but fine, so it can easily get weighed down by the heavy moisture in lots of curl-recommended products. I never skip shampoo, and I do put my hair up after a shower in a regular towel for a few minutes so it's not dripping - I don't rub or pat my hair with the towel, so it doesn't make it frizzy. 

Then I put on some DevaCurl Wavemaker and gel and clip up the roots to help hold up the weight of the wet hair so it doesn't dry flat. I use about 5-7 clips, mostly on the top of my head; one key clip pinches a cowlick in the back so it doesn't show so much.  I give it as many hours as I can to dry, remove the clips, and scrunch a little to break up the crunchy gel.  When this bottle of gel is done, I'm going to try something else that doesn't give me the 80s rocker look.  Not my look.

So at bedtime, here's when I use my favorite hair product: I spray my hair thoroughly with water and go to bed with a wet head. Overnight, my curly waves bounce back into soft, generous curls.  In the morning, I ruffle my hand through the curly waves and that's it! I used to try spraying my hair with water in the morning, but it never did much except dripped on my neck.
Bedhead! Still in my jammies so I can show you
I don't know exactly why sleeping with a wet head makes such wonderful hair, but at my fall haircut, the stylist said that's what she does (locals, let me know if you want an amazing DevaCurl stylist who is totally cool with low-maintenance girls like me and a desire to be environmentally friendly).

 I only wash my hair every three days, so I get two days off from everything hair-related except for some squirts of water at bedtime.  See? Water is absolutely my favorite hair product.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Magic Elderberry Elixir

My friend and neighbor Jess told me elderberry was great. Rebecca told me it was great and sent it with her kids to college. I finally thought I would try, too.

I used Wellness Mama's very simple recipe; I bought dried elderberries at a local grocery store, $4 for the amount needed for this recipe (locals, email me and I'll hook you up). The other ingredients are raw honey, water, cloves, cinnamon, and gingerroot, making this much less expensive than commercial versions. 

I figured it would be like taking vitamin C or putting extra garlic in the chicken soup when we had colds - just another tool to possibly shorten the length of the cold.  But no! I am convinced that taking elderberry syrup has literally killed several colds in our family already this fall! No one has taken to bed with a cold. No one has gone through more than a few hankies before we upped the dosage of elderberry and pow, the cold has entirely disappeared. 

For general maintenance, we take a half teaspoon or a teaspoon a day. We either take it straight or mix it with a little water.  When we feel cold-like sypmtoms, we take that dosage several times a day. We all like the taste of the syrup except Ben, who falls on the floor in dramatic horror every time I force him to take some. Whatever, Ben. You haven't missed out on any fun because of elderberry syrup, so your protests are in vain. 


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