Wednesday, July 11, 2018

All My Faves Hotpads

My old hotpads were stained with that greasy feel that only partly abates after washing.  Some of the edges were flame-crisped, too (oops).  Time for some new ones! 

I dug through my piece bag and pulled out all my favorite scraps that said "happy kitchen" to me.



Such a good feeling to grab these bright hotpads out of the drawer.  They are my go-to hotpads for size and thickness.  For filler this time, I used one layer of old towel sandwiched inbetween some knit fabric scraps. For me, this is enough heft for heat protection while still allowing give and bending. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Dinner: Amish, with Red Beet Eggs and Apple Butter

I went all Pennsylvania-Dutch with this Amish Sunday dinner.  I marinated hardboiled eggs in my canned red beet brine, and set out tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, bread, and apple butter.  


I think my husband got out the mayo, too, and made himself a tomato sandwich (looks like he got out the wine, too!).  But we all ate various combinations.  I experimented with cheese and apple butter, and it was wonderful!  Until now, I had used apple butter like a spread on toast, or dolloped on cottage cheese as you find on the food buffets around here. But I now highly recommend that you make some cheese toast and spread some apple butter on top - it's been my breakfast for a few mornings running.



This was the Sunday dinner where I had made a pie, a French fruit tart with blueberries and blackberries. It did not photograph well, nor was it popular with the kids for various reasons.  Humph.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Phoebe's Easter Dress

When was Easter? April? Well, Easter Sunday was pleasantly warm around here and Phoebe actually wore the little outfit that I had fun making her.  And then, Sundays were chilly or we were away or because I rarely stage photo shoots for my blog, it was not until June that I actually got pictures of her to document the outfit.


The pattern is McCall's 8121 (used for Phoebe before) and I added  yellow bias-tape ruffles to the bloomers because how could I not?

 I recall that I was aiming for a little French girl in the spring, but where my inspiration came from is a mystery to me.  So the fabric is a lovely slubby blue cotton - very soft and fine.  The dress is quite plain with striped buttons down the back.  I used black elastic and more bias tape to make a bright headband to go with it.  The flowers are sort-of poppies with their black bias-tape centers.  

On Easter, she wore knee socks - I adore the classic look of little girls in dresses and knee socks.  She also did wear a black cardi on Easter, too. 


But now it's summer! And nobody is thinking about Easter. Phoebe wears her sleeveless dress now with sandals. 



Monday, July 2, 2018

The Last Straw

I was at a school meeting where a meal was served on styrofoam plates with bottled water and plasticware.  One of the dads casually whipped a reusable fork/knife/spoon set out of his work bag and avoided the plasticware.  I was thrilled. All the plates, plasticware, and water bottles were thrown away as trash, of course (which drives me crazy - our city has an excellent, comprehensive recycling program and has made recycling mandatory!! but enforcement and education lag behind, of course).

However, this dad inspired me to think about how I could replace the plastic trash with reusables when I go out. I have napkin rolls that already make potlucks and picnics easy - I'm going to start carrying them more places.  I've seen Zoe (on Instagram) take her own containers along to restaurants for any food leftovers.  And I have stopped using plastic straws (more education at this website). 

I made this little roll-up of metal straws to keep in my purse.  I bought the set of straws at a local store, and the handy cleaning brush came with them.  I got this set up before a big vacation to Maine (another post for another day!), but I am planning to be straw-free at home, too. 



The other day, Genevieve wanted to make a little project with plastic straws, and I had none whatsoever in the house.  But when I went for a little jog around our neighborhood, I found no less than 4 straws among the rest of the litter and brought them home to sterilize for her to use.



The thought of all those dumb plastic straws out there as litter is maddening. I'm going to try to do my part, and I might even turn into one of those people who decline the straw and then furthermore try to educate the person offering the straw. Might.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Dinner: Amish Church Dinner

I have been editing a cookbook written by an Amish woman, and among other useful, fascinating ideas I picked up from her is the Amish church dinner.  The Amish meet in each others' homes for church services and eat Sunday dinner together afterwards.
This is the menu:

homemade bread + butter
jam
church spread (peanut butter, marshmallow creme, and corn syrup)
homemade pickles and pickled beets
2 kinds of sliced cheese
cold meat
coffee
garden (mint) tea
homemade pie

Aren't the Amish ladies clever to plan for a meal that is easy to transport and can satisfactorily feed a crowd? I welcome the simplicity of this meal, the ease of getting this on the table after church. In the winter, I like a cozy Sunday dinner that is baking all morning long while we're at church, but now, in hot weather, no one wants that heat and heavy food.  So we're going Amish for Sunday dinners in the hot weather!



My version, today, was BLTs on storebought bread with popcorn. Homemade ice cream (Jeni's black coffee) and pretzels for dessert.  I'll share more iterations as we have them.  My only conundrum is what we're going to eat for Sunday supper, which was always popcorn and sandwich-y scraps and leftovers.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Tulip Shift for Phoebe

I had this nice big piece of chambray left from Genevieve's sundress, and Phoebe still needed some play clothes. 

I used some of Laura's pretty scraps, plus some rick rack and pink bias tape to a tulip with a stem and leaf.  There needed to be rick-rack on the back of the dress, too, because rick-rick.   I am really pleased with how it turned out! 

Except that, my, they wore their dresses short in the 70s. This is the same pattern I used to make her anchor shirt.  I put little shorts or leggings under this shift for Phoebe - I suppose I could see if I have enough scraps to make a pair of bloomers, but I'm on to other things now. Just trying to keep up with blogging it all!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Ben's Summer Haircut

One of my friends was telling me how she cut her son's hair, and I looked at the YouTube tutorial she used and thought I could do that.  I asked Ben if he wanted his hair a little shorter before the summer heat, and then I bribed him with Minecraft time, and everything was golden.  For every minute I would spend cutting his hair, he would get a minute of Minecraft time (this is an extremely big deal to Ben: currently he only gets 30 minutes of Minecraft on Saturday and Sunday).


I took him out in the yard with the clippers my dad gave me, and set to.  I cut off his longer hair (we're still finding chunks in the grass, to Genevieve's disgust), so the clippers did not hurt so much. The haircut lasted 15 minutes - Ben was almost disappointed it wasn't longer, but I was so pleased with the results and he was ultimately pleased to have extra screen time.  Bribery is probably not a great parenting tool, but it gets great results.  It's also how I'm getting ponytails on Phoebe these days.


Ben felt so fine and sharp after his shower to wash off the hair that he put on his favorite shirt for supper.  Someone in the house dressed for dinner!  How I love that boy.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three At Last

Phoebe was sick on her birthday and after her birthday party was rescheduled twice, we finally celebrated with grandparents.  I had baked her cake in early May and stashed it in the freezer, so finally I could pull it out and finish it up.



 It's a wacky cake (chocolate) flavored with bergamot.  So when the recipe called for hot water, I used very strong decaf Earl Grey tea!  I got the idea from my friend Jess.

Then I iced it with Italian meringue tinted pink, and served sour cherries on the side; I got the idea for the cherries from Moosewood - Mollie Katzen calls them Danish cherries, but most of us would call them cherry pie filling.  I decorated the cake with mint leaves and candied cherries (I have them to use in Grandma's Christmas bread), and I do think the effect was more Christmassy than I intended.

I used my frozen sour cherries that the girls and I picked at an orchard last year.  The whole combination was so delicious.  I've been on a kick this year to use fruit in interesting ways for desserts.  Typically, I think I would have served ice cream with this cake.  No one missed it here.



Phoebe loved her cake, loved her party, was just a total birthday champ from beginning to end. She was fascinated by "the number on my cake." She actually tried to eat it in the happy chaos after she blew it out and I was cutting the cake. And now one of her conversation starters is "the number on my cake" and "it's wax, and we don't eat wax."


I'm glad we waited until she could fully participate and appreciate her birthday. She's a kid now, not my baby - I have such mixed feelings about this passage of time.



Thursday, May 24, 2018

Phoebe's Piece Bag Dress

Continuing the theme to dress Phoebe for the summer from my stash. . . I limited myself to my piece bag for this one.  It was fun! I thought at first I would do sherbet colors, but somehow, I was irresistibly drawn to Amish colors.  I call this Phoebe's Amish sundress, which is a hoot because they would never mix colors like this, wear sleeves or flounces like this; no part of this is Amish except my imagination.



Phoebe likes this dress because she can put it on so easily and it just floats around her (privately, I think the dress looks like it's wearing her, but since she's just a little kid playing, we'll let it pass).

As you can see from the photos, the dress is seeing some serious play time. This is Phoebe's new little sandbox that her daddy made her for her birthday.  She turned three while she was sick, and we had to postpone her birthday party twice, but we gave her the sandbox on her birthday.  And it brought a smile to her sick little face and she dabbled in it.  Tomorrow, finally, is the birthday party!


Monday, May 14, 2018

Back in March I Had a Birthday

I even had a celebration of my birthday!  My husband and I went to the new Trinidadian restaurant in town.  I also asked for, and got, a shelf for my cookbooks.  Thank you, dear husband!



They had been crammed in a nook above my cupboards (and some of the really tall ones are still there), but now they are easy to see and grab (if you're tall). I also see that I could add some more cookbooks to my deliberately slim collection.  I'm considering Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden or Smitten Kitchen Everyday by Deb Perelman. For now, a cookie tin and funky cookbook are holding the space. Feel free to recommend a cookbook you're loving.


I also had some time to play at my sewing machine on my birthday - that was fun.  You know how some purses these days have tassels hanging off them?  I wondered if I could make a little patchwork dangler for my purse.  I like it, although I think maybe I put too many textures on it, but oh, it was fun to take a break from pressing duties and just play.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Phoebe, Working in Her Anchor Shirt

Well, wow.  I did not mean to stop blogging 3 weeks ago.  I really did not.  It's just that someone always needs something around here and what I need takes a back seat.  Well, I need to blog.  I've got so much to tell you and show you!

Let's start with some happy photos of Phoebe in a new little shirt I made her from fabric from Laura's boxes.  It was not quite wide enough for this little shirt - I had to piece the sides.  I also used some piping from Laura's boxes on the neck and pocket and finished the hem with bias tape, although Phoebe was much too busy to stop and let me show you. 


I'm very pleased with this simple shirt.  Phoebe needs some summer clothes because my source of hand-me-downs up and moved to Canada (hi Mary Anne!).  I could buy clothes at the store, I know, but it's infinitely more fun to root through my fabric and patterns and sew for my little girl, especially since my big girl might be moving on from mom-made clothes.



Phoebe, by the way, was felled by a very nasty stomach flu after these photos were taken.  She's still not back to normal, although I think we're getting there (and let's pause and reflect on how much of my time went to that whole process - I say that by way of explanation for blog silence, not bitterness). 

It's sobering to see my sunny little bird lying in bed all day with a white face. So I'm really enjoying these photos of her working hard in her little anchor shirt.


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