Monday, August 30, 2010

Name Banner

One of the birthday presents.
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Love This Bag

While I'm still working on photos of birthday presents, another bag I love, from my favorite funny knitting blog, Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chocolate Cake

Sweet P is two. This cake was amazing! I didn't use the chai spices (I do want to try it, but figured plain for the first time for the kids), and powdered sugar over a cut out "K" for the birthday girl.

Thank you Kirsti!

Two. Sweet P is TWO.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sweet Dress

For a Sweet P. If she will agree to wear it - at the moment she is heavily into a pajamas phase.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gardening Abundance

There has been some making and many WIPs for a birthday this week. Will show you after.

Our first corn, with our second or third million cherry tomatoes, in a new to us yard sale find - an old wooden tray that went for a buck.

Big tomatoes waiting to be put up.

Our first watermelon, evah. Very sweet but fairly pale inside. And seedy. Will try a seedless kind next summer.

I can not get over how much fun the garden is, and how much I'm learning, and how much I wish I had a bigger freezer. I feel I'm going to have to adjust our eating habits to include more preserves.. there's lots more space on the cellar shelves than in the kitchen.
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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Needed a Bag

For a project I started from Halima's vintage swap. Too too pretty to carry around in a plastic bag. So I dipped into the stash and made this early this morning - took about 1 hour. Turned out to be exactly the right size for one project, without tempting me to load it up with other things to carry too. It has two inside pockets for scissors and other stuff.

I started the crewel kit last night and so far so good. I LOVE this little embroidery hoop, it is exactly the right size. Now I have cross stitch for the TV room downstairs and crewel for bed time/play room moments upstairs when I can sneak it in. Ah, the lazy embroiderer, too comfortable to be bothered to run downstairs for the cross stitch.
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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vintage Cloths for Vintage Swap

So I've been waiting and waiting and waiting since Halima posted she sent her vintage swap package. Really, it's only been a few days but I was really looking forward to it after reading her blog about all the great thrift store finds she comes across, and today when the package arrived it did not disappoint. That lady really knows how to thrift. Look at all the lovelies!

An amazing crewel kit of flowers that I'm itching to try. I love crewel work, now I can make some! I should have shot the back of the kit to show the pretty wool yarns for it. Yay! I love the red embroidered piece. It is on super-thick linen toweling, like an old flour sack, I love it. I'm not sure where it is going to hang yet but there are several options. There is a pretty antique embroidery hoop of metal, with a cork lining and a wee little spring - I love it. And a bunch of floss, of course.

My absolute favorite is the book of Swedish cross-stitch, mostly flowers and borders, what a fantastic little book. And from the era before the internet - all the patterns instruct you to write to a PO box in Sweden if you have any questions at all on how to finish the work. Isn't that the coolest?! Perhaps the embroidery society that maintained the PO Box is still around, perhaps it isn't - in a weird coincidence I'm just finishing the third of the Larsson "Girl who ..." Swedish thrillers (my guilty summer pleasure this year) - as thrillers they are only so-so but the exotic locale is fascinating, and Stockholm cafe-culture seems so sophisticated. ... And their handcrafts are so awesome. I could read this little book all day.

While I'm reading, I may have to take a break to make my own clotted cream. Our area of Virginia is crazy about England, so you can find Flake bars and scones in all the tea-rooms around - all the little towns seem to have them. I had no idea clotted cream was make-able, although now that I think about it a little more, duh. And, yum. Halima sent me a tea-towel with four Cornish recipes on it, I aim to try them all.

And I can finally show you what I sent Halima!! I found all of these at antique stores in Amish country during our trip - it was a fun rainy day shopping and exploring with my sister and brother-in-law. The building at the first place was deceptively stepped back into a warehouse I thought was a whole 'nother shop. Seriously, it was one of those places where there are rooms and rooms and rooms of stuff, where I met my brother-in-law coming the other way when I could've sworn I was in a culdesac. A great day.

Now I will say, there was LOTS of pyrex. Not knowing anything about pyrex, I just looked and wondered but knew I didn't want to commit to something heavy to ship, especially when I would say I'm something less than an amateur in that area. But the fun thing about this swap is now I am interested in something I never even thought about before - of course there are websites devoted to the different patterns and styles, of course people like them - I mean, Halima is not alone. But she didn't get a pyrex from me. Just as well, look at this.

Love love love the red table cloth. It was so hard to let it go. Thick linen, and vibrant. When I saw the napkin rings Halima found thrifting the week before I found this, I knew it was only biding its time in PA waiting to be sent to WA. May it host many a feast. Thank you thank you thank you Halima!

Vintage Swaps was absolutely awesome to be a part of, I'm looking forward to the next round.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Consolation Prize

I couldn't resist after my sister reminded me she had made me the work skirt I no longer need.. when she didn't win the giveaway, I took the leftovers from the waist and made this little clutch. I used leftover liner but just faced it up to the facing from the original waistline. I wasn't sure I had the time or patience to do real buttonholes - my cheapo sewing machine pretty much makes you wing them, so for me, no two end up alike. But I thought the top needed something, so I put on some buttons on top of snaps. Ah ha.

Miss you, Sis!
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Monday, August 9, 2010


You know, you would think I wasn't making anything these days except food. And beverages. The heat outside has been bearable lately so we've been doing more running around - but this week we are sheltering inside more where it is cool, so more projects are coming along.

But for the moment - BEER.

Siphoning into the second tank

Cleaning the (recycled) bottles. Not pictured, because it was a bit involved - filling the bottles and capping them (so fun!)

Letting them rest in the cellar until they are ready. Are you ready yet, little beers? Sigh. The book says at least 10 days but longer is better. I need to get going on some really absorbing projects to make the time fly...
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Fix-it Friday - Hanging a Mirror At Last

Ok, I'm not sure this should actually count as something fixed, but at this point I'm just so happy to have the mirror up. We bought this dresser to use in the linen-closet-less bathroom a year ago. A year ago. The mirror has been sitting behind it on the floor this whole time. Hanging it has changed the whole bathroom - it's amazing! Yes, it only took about 20 minutes. Yes, I'd love to hang a plant in here. Yes, now I look around at the other bare walls and think about getting the rest of our pictures in frames out of their boxes...

In other news, this was our black-eyed-pea crop, entirely. Not because the bunny got them (he only liked the green beans) but because that was all I planted. I figured the first year, start small and see what we like and what we would eat. The black-eyed-pea pods are the prettiest color and the peas are tiny and perfect. I'm saving them for new years.

Luckily I only planted two cherry tomato plants because even so we eat them almost every meal.

Orange Cosmos seeds from along the fence by the front yard. Hopefully most will self-seed but if they don't hopefully these aren't the terminator kind and we can have more next year.

Happy Friday everyone!
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What Was Left

After our yummy mussels and leeks dinner last night. I can't even tell you how good this was. The recipe is a combo from several sources including a Norwegian cooking guy on a latenight show I watched sitting up with sweet P a while ago - he cooked these on a kind of bunsen burner right next to the fjord where they had been caught.

2 large leeks, chopped, plus onions/scallions if you have them
Tbls olive oil
1 bag mussels (for two adults)
1/2 c white wine
1/2 c stock (veg or chicken ok, water or all wine also fine)
handful fresh thyme, about 10 sprigs
1/4 c half and half or heavy cream (milk works but makes a weaker broth)
lots of bread for dipping

Saute the leeks and onions in the olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. When translucent add the wine, stock, and thyme. Once that boils, add the mussels and cook covered for 4-6 minutes until all the mussels open. Turn off the heat (if cooked too long they will get rubbery). Add the half and half and stir gently to distribute. Ladle up the mussels into individual bowls and top with the cooking broth/leeks. Discard any mussels that didn't open. Serve immediately with bread to sop up the broth.

While I'm on a sea theme, check these out.

I stumbled on this over at the Purl Bee, as

Monday, August 2, 2010


Well, after a long philosophical jag like the one below, what else is there to do but embrace the college-educated homesteader in you and try your hand at creating some economic, homebrewed pale ale? Unfortunately I can't share the results with you but in 6-8 weeks time I'll let you know how it tastes. Be well.
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New Homesteading Theory

I read a post about women who homestead - specifically, who are building coops for their first chickens - when I was first back from camping and have been thinking about it a lot since then. Aside from the horrible title - the "femivore" sounds like an alien that only eats women - I'm really interested in the story, and it has really got me thinking.

Let me start by saying I'm always suspicious of trendy trends... but this is not the first time I have been doing my own thing only to find that everyone else is doing the same thing too.

Let me also say that I suspect this is not a trend that comes upon a well-educated feminist out of the blue. I'd venture from my own history and from reading blog posts about cool 70s hippie parents who tried out a lot of this stuff back in the day - and grandparents going even farther back (and the "depression ethics" that are emerging now - reuse it, wear it out, do without) - that a lot of the "homestead" movement has its roots in those homemade 70s and also values the slow-food slow living movement that's been building in the last few decades. I know in my case it is both an opportunity to explore what you can do when you are rooted in a big old house after decades of moving around between small apartments and disparate cities; and a reaction to the exponential growth in marketing/consumerism I feel pressing in on me and especially on my kids. Consuming is always about making choices - what I'm trying to find is a balance between choosing what I care to consume, and not throwing away everything as soon as the next shiny new thing presents itself. And after a dual-income city-living period where we pretty much ate out whenever we wanted and bought whatever we wanted, having kids and downsizing one income has forced adjustments to our mental process around consuming.

I suppose I'm also reacting to the kind of busy-ness that you feel when you work in a modern career multi-tasking for 50+ hour workweeks. When my kids were born, I really wanted a break. And I needed a break. And I was doing all this multi-tasking at home suddenly, just to get the laundry done and the dishes done and the meals on the table and the toys picked up, I didn't want a management job on top of that to worry about, and I really didn't want a job that just paid for daycare - when I really wanted to be with my kids. Last week in Pennsylvania Dutch county, how I longed for a simple plain house on a simple plain farm with no tv, no computer - knowing, of course, it takes a simple plain family of 8-10 kids and a whole community around you to keep it going. And I did come home and give the washing machine a gentle pat, because I could not live with just a mangle, no matter how simple it seems.

I remember a post from a while back about whether or not it is "honest" to present your life on your blog as if there are no bad days - well, at least no bad days that you document. She never posted about her kids eating fast food, for example - which made the poster wonder if she is just greenwashing her life on her blog - presenting it the way she would like it to be. I responded that I don't want to see posts about bad days - online, in homesteading and crafting blogs, in my friends and their farms, I'm looking for possibilities. I like thinking about life the way I would like it to be - and inching closer and closer. Which doesn't mean I don't also enjoy an evening on the porch with a glass of wine and fireflies, or listening to my son chatter on and on about giants, or any of the other million present moments that fill up our days. Or even a lunch at a fast food place with a playground on a million-degree day where my daughter unexpectedly decides that today is the day she does the slide (I'm looking at you, Chik-fil-A).

So those are my thoughts on finding myself labeled. I agree, but isn't it more complicated - and I'd like to check out that book - from the library :)

Here's the full link:

What do you think? Are you a femivore?

Giveaway Tote - Winner

Plain and Joyful Living is the winner! Thank you to all who left comments and looked at the blog, this was really fun! Goodbye little bag, have fun in Vermont.

Auntie G, there is a teeny bit of the skirt left over, look out for a consolation prize :)
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