Monday, April 28, 2014

Just Some New Things

I have not meant to be so silent here on the blog!  I write posts in my head, but I run out of energy before I get to my computer.  

I've been sewing a fair amount recently, and here are the new things for sale.  The batch of clothespin bags is for the museum store.  On three of them, I did a lot of piecing.

I loved how the rick rack accented this vintage Laura Ashley fabric. A little graphic jab.

I put the monogram upside down so it would show up in the opening, but also because I thought it looked like a cool flower shape.  Now I'm not so sure.  I did mention my thinking on the hang tag, so hopefully the customers won't think I'm illiterate.

And these hotpads are in my etsy shop.  I really love looking at all these colors.  Might have to do some more patchwork with solids.  It's so classic and modern at the same time, undated the way printed fabric seems to be.
 I did most of the hand sewing on these on the bus ride for Ben's field trip.  How soothing to have a bit of handwork in a day of wildly excited kindergartners.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Genevieve's Easter Dress

I suddenly decided to make an Easter dress for my girl.  An "Easter dress" is not a requirement in my mind, although I often had new Easter dresses when I was a girl.

bubbles in the carrot from one of their Easter baskets - they got several baskets, none from us

But I had everything in my stash (hooray for a pantry-style stash!), and I picked an easy pattern, so I thought I could pull it off in one week.

The fabric is heavy cotton with a little bit of polyester in it from its scent during ironing - I bought the yardage from the creative reuse store at least 2 years ago, and Rebecca says it looks like 1970s.  The bodice is lined with pale pink cotton, a lovely way to encase the lace at the neck and sleeves (I suggested rick rack, Genevieve wanted lace).

I also finished the hem with hem lace for no other reason than that I have vintage notions and the desire to sit out in the spring sunshine next to the tulips and whipstitch the hem.

Her hair is tied back with the same pale pink satin ribbon that I used on the back ties. I think a ballerina bun would look great next time.

the ducklings in the farm kitchen

I'm hoping Genevieve can wear it several years due to its length and her propensity to grow up, not out, like a slender stalk.  She was very pleased with the dress, and Easter day itself was mild and sunny, a perfect day for a spring dress and white ballerina flats.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter on the Farm

We were invited to the farm for Easter.  What joy for the city mice to spend a sunny day playing in the country!

My uncle slips out to the sign in pre-dawn and puts up the Easter message.  The other side says "hay for sale."

My sis takes a turn at flying a kite (to heckling from the rest of us); the farmers discuss tractors.

 And a good picture of my honey and me - thanks, Mel!

My cousins had ducklings in the corner of the kitchen and now that they've named them, the ducklings won't grow up to be dinner, much to my uncle's helpless amusement.

The cousins are serious, sweet playmates at any picnic they are invited to.  I tried to join, but I was told to come to the next one.  The children had free access to the corncrib, and finally my uncle had to tell them to stop feeding the goats.

My aunt made a 4-layer cake for Easter and Ben's birthday.  See the masses of bluebells on the table?  We picked those at a sweet little spot in the woods, a little glade next to a stream where geese were nesting.

And each cake layer was a different color.  Fabulous!  And I'm not done talking about Easter yet. . . stay tuned.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Patching a Tee Shirt

Somehow, there was a snip in Genevieve's pink tee shirt.  I didn't even bother to ask why.  I cut three yellow hearts out of a scrap of yellow knit (used in this clothespin dress, also), and covered the hole in style.  I put a jersey needle in my sewing machine and used a zigzag to top stitch them down.  Easy.  Done. Cute!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A New Way with Pesto

I like to freeze homemade pesto in cubes. It becomes a super-fast supper in the winter when I put a frozen cube in a bowl and pour hot pasta over it.

Then I made an easy stew recipe from Martha Stewart, via Pinterest (and moved over to my Recipe Verdicts board with high praise). It was almost as fast as cooking up a pot of pasta, and very tasty and cheap.  I served it with a green salad on the side and yes, more bread.  What's soup without bread?

My basil seeds are coming up adorable.  Can't wait for a new batch of pesto!

Chickpea Stew with Pesto

Saute in olive oil in soup pot:
1 onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
salt & pepper

Stir in:
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 c. cooked chickpeas
6 c. stock or broth

Cook for 10-15 minutes, covered.

3 slices toasted (or stale) bread, diced (about 1 cup)

Cook 10 more minutes.  Serve with a spoonful of pesto on top of each bowl of stew.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How I Coupon

I go by my father-in-law's guiding coupon principle:  it's only a good coupon bargain if you were going to buy that item anyway.
Ergo, I clip coupons for things I am likely to buy.  I am not brand-loyal to mass-produced things because there's rarely a locally-produced alternative, so I just try to get the best bargain.  We try to eat local food, and there aren't usually coupons for that.

The only sorting I do is keeping food and non-food coupons separate.  I keep my time on coupons to a minimum.  Most of the coupons I clip actually expire before I use them, but sometimes I hit a big deal with coupons, so I don't mind clipping and keeping them just in case.

Every day on the school walk, we pass a national chain drugstore on the way.  It's very convenient, although I do use a small local pharmacy (also 2 blocks away) when we have prescriptions.   So I watch the store circular and match up coupons to its store sales for toiletries.

For example, recently there was a sale on Tom's items at 2 for $8 and then you got a $2 store gift certificate. I had a $2 coupon for Tom's. I bought a deodorant and two bars of soap for $6, minus the store gift certificate, which brings it to a $2 deodorant and two $1 bars of soap.

I also bought Tresemme 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and hairspray, a brand I have never used.  I bought it because there was a sale, a coupon, and a store gift certificate, bringing my total cost to $1.

To put it simply, I paid $4.54 for a Tom's deodorant, 2 bars of Tom's soap, Tresemme shampoo/conditioner, and Tresemme hairspray. I think that's a great deal!

The store gift certificates, totaling $5 from both purchases, will be used to buy things that don't go on sale very often.

Most stores have their weekly sale flyer/circular online.  However, I also get the "guts" (as my dad says) of the Sunday newspaper from my parents.  They aren't interested in the coupons and circulars, and I'm not interested in the so-called "news."  We've had this arrangement for several years now.

Talk to me about how you coupon, please.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Ben has developed serious opinions (sometimes involving tears) about his Sunday attire, specifically his neck wear.

For a while now, he's insisted on wearing a bow tie every Sunday.  Then he started asking for a necktie. I found a handsome J. Crew silk tie at a consignment shop for $5 - it's not easy to find nice children's ties.  I had already cut apart one of his daddy's ties to sew down for him, but I keep bypassing it for other projects.

All these ties were taking up valuable sock-and-underwear-drawer space.  I actually started shopping for one of those little tie hangers, but suddenly got cold feet about spending the money. I confess that my thrift goes by spells, and that is okay with me.  We live pretty frugally, but it's not rigidly enclosed by a budget.

In this case, I decided to see if I could mimic the features of a tie hanger:  soft surface to grip the ties and let them dangle without wrinkles.

I used a cheap-o wire hanger and made a little rectangle from old flannel and scraps of batting.  I enclosed the hanger in it, sewed down the seam and then covered the raw edge with a scrap of bias tape.  Done!  It does exactly what I want it to, and I used what I had on hand.

And here is Genevieve on Sunday afternoon.  A rare treat:  she told me I could do whatever I wanted to with her hair that morning.  So I made rainbow braids and enjoyed looking at her all day long.

This follows on the heels of a mysterious flu that she had for almost two weeks, one of the reasons my blogging slowed down. I was so worried.  Two doctor's visits and a round of blood work later, she is finally perking up and gaining back her lost weight.  Thank God!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Pretty Party

I planned my own birthday party modeled on one I had attended a few years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I invited a diverse group of girlfriends for a late afternoon party and told them to bring a $15-20 gift along, something that they liked to do to relax or treat themselves.  Not a present for me, but a present to trade.

And I had prepared early spring treats to eat - thinking of light, pretty food that also had zest and (because it's me) a touch of the unexpected. I also did not want to be stressed out by the food or have high-maintenance recipes.  In the end, my menu met my goals!

I made the biscuits, ham, dill cream, curried chickpeas, and cake several days ahead of time.  I used this recipe for the ambrosia, and toasted the coconut and pecans a few days prior to the party. I also cut out the little bread rounds for the cucumber sandwiches and put them in the freezer. Not much left to do on the party day!

For the gifts, we put our place cards in a bag, pulled out a name, and received her gift. I loved how there were gifts at the birthday party without undue attention put on the birthday girl.  Of course we all had to explain our gifts, and that was so interesting to hear what each of us was currently relaxing with.

A word about the cake:  I made the Italian Cream Cake from Vintage Cakes.  It was fabulous and enormous and I did not reduce the sugar (good choice) nor did I sub in some whole grain flour (probably also a good choice).  It was a lot of work.  I will most definitely check this book out of the library again, which means I am flirting with marrying (buying) this book.

A word about the pretty factor:  I was terribly excited to pull out all my pretty linens, dishes, and baubles to decorate with.  I even turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. Well, that was a mistake.

My best inspiration came from Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse.  She sticks to a theme of some sort and uses pretty objects from around her house with some fresh flowers.  That's what I did.

My theme was "spring pretty", although I basically just made it up on the day of the party. I borrowed the snack sets from Rebecca's mother, a fancy-dancy punch bowl from Rebecca, and the cake stand and cover from my friend Sue.

The daffodils I bought did not open and, in fact, withered before they opened.  There were gallons of punch left over, should have hosted a baby shower or something.  My birthday was perfectly wonderful and this party was one of the reasons.