Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ode to Orange

I've been a little in love with orange for a bit. It makes me happy, it looks really fetching with my favorite blue color, and it's a natural foil for my greens. Plus I happen to be one of those people who actually looks good in orange... so ha! I found this fabulous tea set at a garage sale for five dollars along with my harvest basket and a cute pair of froggy salt and pepper shakers. This is shot against the fabric I made my apron in. My orange, my blue, and oh, so beautiful to me.

And this is an after shot of my bathroom from grungy blog fame. My orange, my blue, and oh, so beautiful to me, too! I think it's an amazing shade, warm, wakeful, energizing, and perfect for my house and my family and my life. I still need to do the trim, I've been waiting till I could get the wall color up before I did the trim, which needs to be done really badly, as the previous painter did a not so thorough job of it.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Some fun Stuff

I just heard about the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I so want for Christmas. It sounds amazing. I mean, I want to make all our bread, and have been toying with the idea of making my own sourdough starter, which I still plan to do, but the idea that you just mix a few ingredients, let it rise for two hours without kneading, stick it in the fridge and just get bread dough when you want it and form a loaf and bake it. I'm sorry, but that's just amazingly easy for homemade bread. I mean you never knead this stuff, you soak the flour which is good for digestion, and I imagine that I could eventually use this same idea with my sourdough starter.

Also, I spotted this today. Little knitted moccasins in super warm alpaca. All my kids want them for slippers, so now I have to figure out how to make them in multiple sizes, but look how cute they are! They're super easy, too. I could probably use them to teach my big girls to do shaping and knitting in the round, since they're motivated to have them for themselves. Fun! Like I need more projects, though. I have way too many, seriously, waaaay too many projects going.

Finally, for fun, one of my fun chicken pictures..... guess what???????

Chicken Butt

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Job Title?

Wow. I really love this statement:

"Get Perspective:~Hold a sleeping babe in your arms, mouth agape and warm breath drifting, and stand before a map of this world. Which would you rather have? Paris, New York, Tokyo, London------or this flesh lying against yours, this one made in the image and likeness of the very Divine? This world is going to burn up, cinders for the universe….but your child is a soul without end, forever and ever existence. The world has pitifully, laughably little to offer in comparison to this holy opportunity to raise up a child." (Holy Experience)

Well, then. I have to change my job title. Not Stay at Home Mom, but what? Soul Tender, Life Giver, Teacher, Discipler, Missionary, Keeper of Hearts. Talk about some inspiration for not growing weary in doing good, talk about a redefinition of job description. How can I view myself as unemployed or merely a stay at home mom after reading that article? I can love my children passionately, cultivate them carefully, teach them diligently. My job has eternal significance. Go hug your kids, I'm going to hug mine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Golden Gifts

Well, it's gotten cold here again after having a beautiful Indian Summer. Last night the water froze in the chicken coop, and, though you'd think we could have seen this coming and planned for it, we didn't and haven't. The house has managed to stay relatively warm, though I can see dollars flying out the windows every time the radiators start to warm up. I have taken pictures of a couple more projects that I thought you'd like to see. Or not, not that I care, I blog to brag, after all. I do it completely for my own gratification, and not as some service to society or belief that what I have to say is important. Which, by the way, raises the question of whether it's "redeeming the time" sufficiently to blog at all. I'll not address that question right now, though.

On to the show:

Linen Sweater in Reynolds Soft Linen, gift from Honorary Mom, on the occasion of my birthday, as well as these socks, pretty self striping yarn and Jaywalker sock pattern:

Toddler dress and blouse, improvised from leftover fabrics, so essentially free, except for the time required to sew. I'm planning a skirt to go with the blouse, as well. Or perhaps some blousy knickers, instead, that would be cute, in navy wool.

As for home life, the four year old boy fell on his face and bit through his lip today, it looks kind of scary, but, as I'm also nursing Dad, we're gonna keep it clean and keep an eye on the lip and leave it be. The house is kind of a disaster, SHOCKER! OK, it's so much of a disaster that I'm actually feeling like I WANT to clean it... so that's pretty bad. It's Veteran's Day, and though I wasn't planning a school holiday, with two invalids, I've declared a school holiday and we'll clean and play and read and snuggle and get better. I'm feeling thankful to all the men who laid their lives on the line in service to Liberty and our Constitution. Thank you Hubby, and Grandad, and PawPaw, and David, and Stuart and our myriad of cousins who have served or are serving this country now. What a debt of gratitude we owe you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Busy, Busy Me

My projects at the moment:

I've been knitting socks in the Embossed Leaves pattern from Favorite Socks, in this beautiful mauvy berry smoothie Panda Silk. I don't know how durable they will be, but as they are meant to be rather dressy, perhaps that doesn't matter so much. It's really pretty shimmery, sproingy yarn... merino, bamboo, and silk, but slippery, I'd suggest bamboo or wood or something instead of slippery needles. I'm knitting a sweater for one of my girls in a mulberry hue, with a round Fair Isle Yoke, a la Elizabeth Zimmerman's Percentage System using various DK weight superwash wools. I'm also knitting wool vest/undershirts for my girls to keep them warm in our chilly, old house inspired by a pattern called a Child's Shetland Vest in Weldon's Practical Needlework Volume One. Stripes for the smaller girls out of a merino fingering weight wool, some alpaca, and some sock leftovers. For my oldest daughter I've chosen a pale grey fingering wool, with sky blue accents (Knit Picks Palette). These seem to be knitting up really fast on size 5 needles.

As for sewing, I'm making costumes for the Nutcracker my girls will be in. I initially volunteered to sew some and somehow became in charge of five or six dresses. Yeowch. Fortunately, the goal is durability, and not beautiful details, so I can put them together rather quickly. I'm using this pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns by Jennie Chancey. I love these because they are printed on nice thick paper and include all the sizes one could wish for and she even provides supplements for busty gals and online tutorials for altering the patterns. I would like to get more basic patterns in this sort of format, too, in the future. I love the Nutcracker. I just never get tired of the music or the magic or the yummy treats it is inspired by.....

In the kitchen, I used the book Fix, Freeze, Feast to make a very large batch of red sauce this morning, and used 12 cups of it to make the Classic Chili recipe, I cooked one quarter of the recipe for lunch today and froze the other three portions in gallon freezer bags for future meals. My husband really liked it, though I decided to add some cumin to the recipe for next time. I really have liked this book so far (unlike recipes from other Freezer Cooking books I've used) and find it a real time saver at the end of very tiring and productive days to have the main dish all put together, marinated, and ready to cook. Plus, it's inspiring me to make up my own recipes in larger amounts for freezing for later. Like my cornbread recipe, put into single recipe bags, like Melissa's Corn Bread Mix, or something... I wonder if I could locate sealable paper bags instead of plastic??? I'm so over plastic.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Handmade Holidays

Do any of you get this sick feeling when seeing all the Christmas advertising for gifts? I have wonderful visions of magical moments celebrating the birth of my Savior as an ideal, of family moments of joy, of storytelling, crafts, making cookies, and snuggling under little twinkle lights, and not many that involve oceans of wrapping paper. So, keeping in mind the ideals I envision, which have much more to do with relationships than stuff, I've been for many years making gifts for my family, usually useful gifts, but sometimes just stuff I've made. Have you all seen this? I think that the idea of not being such a consumer is great, and anyone who knows me at all is quite aware that I'd rather make it than buy it. But the idea of gifting something one of a kind and lovingly handmade makes me really happy. Even if I can't make everyone a present, I think that to buy handmade things and give them for gifts instead of spending my money on mass produced stuff would make the holidays really fun for me, and hopefully more personal and useful gifts.
My gift ideas are top secret, since people who receive them may look at my blog, but Sew Mama Sew will have a great many projects indexed throughout November for all the people you love. I've already found some perfect and unique gift ideas.

Another thing that really hit me the other day was the idea of bartering. An email from Sarah Brown inspired me and now I'm wondering if I could organize something like a co-op to trade things people have made, clothes the children have outgrown, toys and books and food and eggs and vegetables I've grown, all for bartering. I love the way the Browns are fostering community with the people around them, and I love their idea for modern village living with an emphasis on walking paths instead of roads (Simpler Times Village). And I love how they love kids! Me too, me too!

P.S. On our walk yesterday, I took this picture of this lovely little tree with these gorgeous scarlet oblong berries, but what kind of tree is it?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Grey November

Well, it's been very autumnal here. Beautiful changing leaves, crisp air, overcast skies, with a few balmy days thrown in there that are perfect for working to clean up the yard and put it to bed for winter. This time of year, I always have the urge to make woolie warm things for my babies. I usually have way too many projects going and only the small ones get finished. In January last year, I started a grey Aran sweater intended for my oldest son. It's an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern that lends itself to modification, but requires lots of math, counting, gauge swatches, and luck. Once I got through a few inches I realized that it was too narrow for a boy, so, instead of frogging the project and starting over, I decided to make it for my oldest daughter. I had done a lot of work on it and my daughter wasn't very excited about the idea because of the color. Against all these knitting obstacles, one can't help but lose some ground in morale. So I just put it away. Since then, I've been campaigning for more grey in my daughter's wardrobe. She has lovely grey eyes and grey brings out the pink in her little cheeks beautifully. Well, it worked! She now thinks grey is just perfect for her. Sooo, I finished the sweater. It involved steeking which was a new and scary thing for me, but it turned out fine. I was going to use teal buttons, which would have been smashing, but the pearl ones would go with more, or so says the Princess, and she is turning into quite the little stylista.

She pretty much adores this skirt. It's swirly and twirly and made of soft, warm, fuzzy flannel. No pattern for this skirt, I just cut and sewed and added a couple of ruffles and elastic waistband. She has a couple pairs of warm bloomers to wear underneath. One is a pair I made of dollar a yard flannel I bought at Walmart. The other are made from a grey wool sweater that shrunk in the wash. I cut and sewed and turned the sleeves into a pair of knitted bloomers that are soft and warm. I bought more fabric, too, for garments for the princess. A grey damask, a white cotton with silver and yellow print, and an oyster with blue and grey geometric floral for blouses.