Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blue and green stuff! Surprised?

OK, I finally got a pic of the drapes to show you all, and it totally sucks, but alas, it's hard to get a natural light photo of drapes on brightly lit windows with a point and shoot camera...  These drapes are not pressed properly, nor were the pleats set properly, and it will bug me later.  When it does, I'll fix it, but for now... I'm glad to have them up and not have the curtain rods glaring at me accusingly!  I like the rods a lot, as they're pretty, and kind of formal, and just good.

But hark, what light through yonder breaks onto a pretty teal tableaux!
And look at the pretty hand sewn canvas container I made from a pattern in pretty little presents.  I got the lamp 50% off at Target, and one to match it on the other side of the room, too!

And, oooohhhhh, what's in that hand sewn canvas container?  It seems to be a hand knit sock!

Yeah, a hand knit sock in Madeline Tosh Sock, super yummy, in the Gentleman's Fancy Sock pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks.  I like this pattern for it's elastic fit and calf shaping, and also, it's good for a variegated sock yarn to minimize pooling.  I really love this pattern book.  I've knitted several (read three) patterns from this book, and have yarn set aside for a few more... I've actually thought about knitting all the patterns, and I'm so glad the library has this book so I don't have to buy it!  THIS sock is for the Hubster, who says that it fits perfectly.  However, I'm nervous that the ribbing will take too much yarn and I'll not have enough for two and if that happens it may be years before these socks get finished because it would just be demoralizing...

Must not borrow trouble, tomorrow will worry about itself.  Aren't the plants pretty?  Plants like the new house, probably because it has so much light.  I got those from my Cheri.  I've decided that's her title... "My Cheri"  She gives me plants and those plants always do beautifully.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Purpley Stripes and a Green Mitten

I've been kind of a machine lately, just turning out project after project for Christmas... having my new sewing table right in the center of all the commotion helps motivate me to get projects done.  Also, it motivates me to clean up after myself before the guests get here!  I have so many projects to post, I've got to divide and conquer!  I'm rather proud of these socks, they're pretty and the pattern is perfect for a stripe, while the continuous ripping down the back keeps the sock nice and elastic... This is a Drops pattern, meant for Delight yarn, which I've never seen in real life, and I can't remember what the yarn is, I bought a bunch on sale at JoAnne's and Michael's this past year, and, of course, have lost all the labels!

The toe is a flat toe, decreased quickly at the end and then pulled tight instead of grafted... the left leaning decreases are worked knit 2 through the back loops, which is super fast and functional, if not quite as pretty as slip one, knit one, psso. 

I especially like the ribbed heel and the gussets look so nice in this yarn!

Here is a mitten I'm knitting, but am running out of yarn fast... is is kosher to knit the color in reverse for the second mitten?  Oh, well, I guess I don't really have a choice... but this ArtYarns Supermerino was soft, soft, soft, springy, and splitty, too, not to mention that it was damaged in a few places, boo!  still, it's knitting up nicely, and I think it'll block out beautifully.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Things

Well, I've found the camera! Whoo hoo! Thought I'd add some photos of Christmas Decor... I've been on this "Less is more" thing lately, putting the breakables up high because of the little destroyer.  I found these teal and red balls at JoAnne's half off and thought that'd be perfect for my chandeliers... I like it, well, I like the little bird.  I also bought a Christmas papercrafting kit from K&G at JoAnne's and made some pretty little things from paper die-cuts, like the wreath on the mirror, below.

I thought last year, when I bought those candles on sale, I'd love them on the mantle.... but I'm ambivalent... I think I'd rather have a white illuminated paper village or something... white candles.  Something that does not include a fake greenery garland would be ideal.  The children wrapped the loooooong banister in red and green tinsel garland, which I hate, but they love!!!  And we bought a tree at a local farm, but have not bothered yet to put up lights... though we've made cookies and watched more than one Nutcracker performance!  Mostly I guess I want to feel the holiday magic again, the romance of twinkle lights, the flicker of fire.  I want read alouds and board games and lots of hot drinks.  I don't think the problem is really the decorations.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ohhhhhhh, I have sooooo been a busy bee!

Well!!!  Here I am again, your faithful, if sporadic, crafty friend!  I have lost my camera, today, so no pics from me.... but I have been making things... I have been very inspired by the Sew Mama Sew Blog, they are so good about coming up with lovely ideas for making handmade things for gifts for people you really, really love, and who really, really love you!  So far I've printed gift tags and stationary, little Christmas Houses, and sewn a meal planner to put on the fridge and a calling card case for some calling cards I printed out..... so sweet.

Sooooo, I've drafted a pattern for a skirt for my Prairie Princess, and I've made her a wool coat for Christmas.  I'm making a doll and clothes for the Barefoot Contessa from this Dover Book on Dollmaking at left.  It has patterns for the doll herself, underthings, petticoats, a cape, a suit, lots of dresses, skirts, nightgown, etc... really everything a lady could need, including a wedding gown!  There are several books from Dover I like for dollmaking.  There's one for making Godey Dolls that I find particularly fetching, it's more detailed than the dolls I have made, but I've got some experience now, so perhaps I'll take it on later! 

I'm making really good progress making socks.  I only have one more to start, one for Mini Me, but everyone else has a pair waiting for Christmas morning, Halelujah!  I've done most of the Christmas shopping for the children, but as for the rest of the family.... not so much.  This Sunday is the first of Advent and then is St. Nicholas Day, so it's more feasting for us, soon!  The plan is to make foods that have something good hidden within... cranberry jelly filled buns, omelets, a stuffed pork roast, etc... to remind us of St. Nicholas doing good works in secret.  Also, brandied mini tartlets and peanut brittle for dessert from my Everyday Food subscription.  I get tired of our standard fare and love to receive new inspiration often!

Speaking of food, I made and delivered Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls to the neighbors.  Some were surprised... like one neighbor I terrified (it seems she didn't hear the loud "Hello!" I called as her son ushered me in)!  One was belligerent (What do you want!?) till she finally figured out that I brought her a gift with no strings attached!  Another couple of neighbors invited us in for short visits, which was nice!  I think it was a hit!  I have some pretty ribbon candy already wrapped and set aside for Christmas gifts for all of them.  They're getting some Christmas cheer whether they like it or not!!! 

Don't tell my daughters, but I plan to make us all matching skirts to wear for Christmas the rest of the winter in a non typical pink... I got some really nice suiting for $3 a yard.  I think they'll be sweet. What else???  Well, after I find my camera I'll post pics and tell you all about the rest of my housewifely endeavors!  Happy St. Nicholas Day!!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dude, Where's My Time!

I've spent it schooling and cooking, doing laundry and sewing... and knitting... this stuff:

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a Teacher

I have sung the praises of my planning book, and it continues to make life easier for all of us.  I've been really digging this super organized Melissa chick.  So new and unexpected and effective!  I was out on my own the other day and someone asked me, "Are you a teacher?"  I was a little unsure how to answer.  I asked why and she said I just look like a teacher.  I am a teacher, since I home school.  I do lesson plans, grade papers, calculate scores, and encourage.  I also have discipline problems in my school, disruptive students, and my janitor leaves much to be desired, to say the least!

And I put off grading papers on Saturday to sew!  I made some skirts for my girls out of embroidered pinwale corduroy which are just too cute, if I do say so myself!  A longer one for Mini Me:

And this (For Baby Jane), of the remnant, to which I added violet gingham to make it long enough and ruffly!

This one only took me about an hour from start to finish, but I have to put in elastic still.  They were both just rectangles and ruffles, super easy to cut and just throw together.  No rice paper to pin, no markings to make, no zippers to wrestle with, and super cute!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fall is the season for making clothes...

When it starts to get cooler, I come out of a summer hibernation... OK, I'm not really hibernating, but summer always makes me feel as though I'm going to die of exhaustion very, very soon. I think this is a thing... otherwise, why would there be a song called, "There Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues," or something.  Aaaanyway, moving rooms around to make a study for my older students to keep their schoolwork and sewing toddler free, I have been evaluating my fabric stash... which grows even faster than my yarn stash, because I'm always knitting, but sewing often takes a back seat, hence, giant, humongous fabric stash.  Actually I inherited some fabric from my husband's grandmother, who owned a fabric store at one time, was a home economics teacher, and was also a force of nature.  She made my wedding dress of beautiful shantung and Venetian lace and, I totally could have worn it inside out and it was perfectly fitted to me.  So, I've been sewing today, and last week, and I've been taking pictures, so here we go!

I think it's rather fetching!  My favorite blue, and a plaid skirt... I didn't match up the plaid at the side seams all that well, but I forgot to buy extra fabric so that I could do that, and I was cutting it awfully close to make my minimum skirt length.  Do you have an ideal skirt length?  Mine is at the narrowest part of my leg under my knee...  Anyway, I spent some extra time making this skirt nice inside, too.  I bound every exposed seam in bias tape and used a hem tape to maximize the length, though the pattern called for a narrow hem, this works beautifully, I think.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Books! So exciting!

I've been getting lots and lots of boxes of books in the mail lately.  I love books, especially in the fall, when the crisp scent of decaying leaves and apples and smoke remind you that it's time to wear wool, and snuggle in, and learn some new stuff!  I'm especially excited about the Dauphin's new books this year.  He's starting the Veritas Press Omnibus I curriculum.  I'm excited for several reasons.  First, it's academically rigorous, interesting, and engaging.  Second, it comes with a cd containing lesson plans, reading lists, grading recommendations, and a full text with sample answers inserted.  Third, I'm excited to read and discuss all these great books and ideas with my son and my husband.  Fourth, it's got a solid Biblical worldview, but it doesn't hesitate to deal with real issues.  Fifth, all the books look really impressive on the shelf, like we're super educated, hyper-literate and sophisticated people... fun to pretend, isn't it!?

My husband also ordered a bunch of books for our own benefit, and the one I've been reading, and kind of blown away by is Already Gone, by Ken Ham.  It's largely an ad for his Answers in Genesis curriculum (which by all accounts is pretty awesome), however, it raises some compelling questions about the young people in our churches and why so many leave after high school.

Finally, I ordered some really cool books on Newton, Marco Polo, and Leonardo DaVinci that have really interesting text, and fun, engaging projects for kids as they're reading along.  Great for reading over a Term and letting kids pick projects as they're interested.

School planning is going on swimmingly this year.  I took every spare minute for like two weeks and got the year scheduled by week number for all the kids in school this year, and that is: wait for it..... 5 kids schooling actively this year.  The Dauphin is in 7, Prairie Princess is in 5, Mini Me is in 3, Little Engineer is in 1, and my little Baby Jane (I'm giving her that nickname because she looks so much like my Grandma Jane), is starting to learn to read and write... yay!  I love my planner.... I am not infrequently found holding and petting it and looking through it's tabbed and color coded pages with a vague smile on my face.  I've never pulled off planning an entire year before, I usually just plan the first six weeks and hold onto an insane hope that I'll plan as the year goes on... which I do not do well, and certainly not for all the children!!!  This feat of super home school mom organization didn't come without a cost... the kids were so neglected (benignly, of course!) that they began to turn feral... it was a little like Lord of the Flies around here!  And the house looked, literally, like it had gone through a tornado, and the baby, no, toddler, has taken to becoming a muralist, and decorated every possible surface with crayon, pencil, and occasionally a pen or marker...

It didn't take long for him to trash the new, perfect house.... did it?

Aaaaaand, I only did like 2 loads of laundry in the time I did the planning, so the children were fishing through their dirty laundry hampers for clothing to wear.  Under no circumstances are any of you to think that I have it all together.  I do not!!!  But I do have The Book: a beautiful, organized, color coded, and Microsoft Excelled book to pet and hold and try to live up to.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yum! Bacteria!

So, guess what!  I made the jalapenos and they're very yummy, approved by my pickled jalapeno loving husband.  Also, my friend Joy gave me some kefir to use so I'll start making that for soaking grains a la Nourishing Traditions.  It incubates at room temperature, so no more accidentally killing my yogurt in the oven while I prep for dinner!

Also, I'm going to try to do the sew along at Gertie's Sewing Blog for the Lady Jane Grey coat, which is on it's way to me as we speak... I have a cotton jaquard in grey and yellow that should be smashing with my grey skirt... but as to lining, a silk charmeuse in ??? turquoise? green? grey?  I'd prefer a surprising lining, of course, but haven't decided yet what color... maybe in orange???  Erg...

I also bought fabric for curtains in the living room, finally!  It's very pretty, but I seem to be unable to find time to sew!!!  Now that school planning is done I may have a few days next week to get them put together.  I bought curtain rods already and I can't wait to see it all done and in my living room!

Speaking of fabric, I have a new favorite online fabric store: Hawthorne Threads
They have beautiful, modern fabrics which you can search by color!  So cool... and there are discounts for volume orders, as well.  Go check them out!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lactofermentation Update...

So, my pickles are crunchy and tasty, very salty, though... trying again with whey and jalapenos...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My new experiment: Lactofermentation

Ok, so anyone who eats yogurt enjoys the benefits of lactofermentation, it's basically growing good bacteria, the kind that your tummy likes, in a milk medium.  I've found out that it can be used for preserving foods, too, and still with all the benefits to your tummy!  Not to mention, there's no cooking involved, so the food remains nutritionally dense during preservation, unlike canning or to a lesser extent, freezing.  So, because so many of us like to eat pickles on a regular basis, I've begun with those.  Here is a recipe from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, which I highly recommend (and it costs a lot less now than it did when I first bought it).

Pickled Cucumbers

Makes 1 Quart

4-5 pickling cucumbers or 15-20 gherkins
1 T mustard seeds
2 T Fresh dill, snipped
1 T sea salt
4 T whey (or substitute another T of sea salt)
1 cup filtered water
Also, I added 1 clove of garlic

Wash well and place in a quart sized, wide mouth mason jar.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cucumbers, adding more water if necessary to cover the cucumbers.  The top of the liquid should be at least 1 in below the top of the jar.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage (read refrigerator).

Dude, that's like so many times easier than normal pickles I can't even describe it... I mean, liming, sanitizing, heating vinegar and spices, salt, processing, and all in a hot kitchen is the normal modus operandus.  So, here are mine!


I used the extra salt because we've been using yogurt for soaking grains for eating and I'm running short of whey...  also, mine seem to be slightly foamy, which I fear may be detergent residue from washing them out?!  I'm trying sliced jalapenos next!

Anyway, with all this yogurt consumption, I'm thinking I need the big yogurt maker, so I can make like  a quart at a time, without having to wrap my jar in a towel and put it in a warm oven and hope for the best!  One like this:

Or, I could make kefir, which incubates at room temperature and can be used for soaking grains, too.

Or, I could make both, some yogurt for yogurt cheese, whey, and sauces, and the kefir for when I need the bacteria to predigest and counteract enzyme inhibitors in grains.... hmmmmmm....  so many little microbes to farm, so little time!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Garden Progress

I planted the herbs in April, like a week after we moved in.  This is what they looked like immediately after planting.  Kind of bare and scraggly... I know.  There's rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley, plus marigolds.

In June I took pics of the gardens as we planted and prepared them, it was late for planting, but we took awhile to get the gardens ready.  Between unpacking and Jeremy's crazy work schedule, it took till early June to get things started.

Here's the herb garden again, just getting established... it took awhile!

The green beans, and some empty, but seeded dirt...

The tomatoes, some mesclun seedlings, and pink petunias...

And here's the planted garden and unplanted bed along the fence.

These were all taken today, in very hot, bright sunshine!

Herb Garden


Beans, Okra, lettuce, radishes, broccoli, zucchini under the dwarf apple tree...

And the crunchy, dry grass and sfg's growing in the heat.... along the fence, there are yellow squash, more okra, and more green beans, planted later even than the ones in the sfg... I'm gonna put cabbages and carrots in this bed, too, for fall, and then plant some spinach and kale and chard for fall... we also planted melons and pumpkins on a slope beside the driveway, too, though I forget to water those...  I'm praying for rain!!!  Also, the buckets and rack for our killing cones for butchering chickens are in the background... we put 24 in the freezer last Wednesday!  Yay!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hempathy Buttercup Top

Buttercup in Elisabeth Lavold Hempathy...
Size 4 circular needle
Cool and comfy, except for the plunging neckline, which requires a tank, which sort of ruins the sublime coolness... I'll make it again, and make the neck line a bit more discreet!  And this color, really any shade of blue green makes me feel happy... looks good with my hair, too!

Pork with Rosemary, Always

My mother's recipe, in her own handwriting:

The first time we made this together, I had a boy-man coming to dinner, and she wrote it in a book that she'd been preparing for me with other recipes... I don't remember that boy's name at all, but making dinner with my mom is a very fond memory.  I made it one night last week and thought I'd record it pictorially.  I used fresh rosemary and my enameled cast iron dutch oven... I highly recommend this to new brides to register for... let someone else buy you a treasure you can hand down to your own grandchild.

I have been putting a pitcher of water in the fridge with a few herb sprigs in it for a little mama treat:  It's amazing how potent herbs from one's own garden are compared to those you buy at the store.

And, the finished product, complete with rosemary sprigs from my garden:

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I am now the age my mother was when I graduated from high school.  This could possibly be depressing, but really, I'm happy to have lived all this life of mine.  My birthday was a wonderfully fun day, thanks to my darling husband and my dear children.  I slept in, had brunch in bed, rose to a family cleaning the house for me, finished a knitted t-shirt, and then took an hour and a half to get ready for a big date with my manly man.  He took me to DC to see an adaptation of "The Liar" by the Shakespeare Theater Company, and to dinner, and generally tried to show me a good time with flattery and humor and tenderness.  It was a great day... and I am a very blessed woman.

Also, he bought me a mug which features Shakespearian insults which makes me laugh... and since we recently bought a stovetop espresso maker, I had to christen it with a delicious, perfectly foamy cappuccino.  Et Voila!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hello, People!  I've been thoroughly enjoying the country life this past week!  We've had lots of rain, and I finally got my garden planted.  The baby hoed it over after I planted it, so the seeds are probably all in the wrong places now, but I think I'll just wait for them to germinate and then put them where I want them.  Evenings here are magical this time of year.  The humidity holds scent so wonderfully and since the fences around here are covered in honeysuckle, as you mosey along the dirt roads you inhale the perfume of clover and grass and honeysuckle... think the perfume Bluegrass, only more subtle and less flowery!  We've been contemplating housing for our 25 laying hens, as the above houses 12 comfortably.  My husband got a big mower to maintain the grass around here... it's fun to see the "meadow" growing up in feathery grasses, red clover, and daisies, but pastures need to be mowed to keep the good grasses growing, if no animals are doing it for you!  I've been reconsidering goats, as there are portions of our land that are particularly suited to goats, but will need some good fencing first!

My window box on the back of the house is looking really good, I think!  It's supposed to attract hummingbirds, but no luck yet.  We have spotted lots of other birds, though.  We've seen bluebirds, cardinals, and orioles, for example.  Also, we've got a healthy population of fireflies!  Sometimes it looks like you're in the middle of a stadium and it's full of cameras flashing.  I've never see so many at one time in my life!  I know this land hasn't been farmed in at least 10 years, and before that it was a cattle farm, so I don't think pesticides have been used around here for a good long time!  

There are lots of walnut trees on the property, which promises lots of good eating come fall, if only we can get the shells cracked... ever tried to shell a black walnut?  It's super hard, and dyes your hands dark brown in the process!  I saw a special tool that looks like something that belongs in a machine shop in a catalog once, maybe I should try to get that?  I've got a hemp t-shirt finished to show you soon, it's almost finished, and the chicks should be moved to pasture soon, now that it's warmed up around here, so more pics of chickens, too, hopefully on grass, soon!