Friday, July 21, 2017

Dog Days with a Cat

We're in the dog days of summer now, and the cats are spending much of their time indoors in the air conditioning. We do our gardening very early or very late, and we swim at least once a day. A month of summer life left before school things kick in.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Vintage Inspiration for a Mature Woman's Wardrobe

(Let's hope she likes neutrals!)

* a silver-gray silk--"she had white hair, and the effect was beautiful"

* a black silk dress

* white dresses--"that's what my chum's grandmother used to wear when I went visiting in the summer"

* real lace collars, to go with the gray silk

* half a dozen plain collars for everyday wear

* a gray voile dress, very simple and elegant, lined with gray silk and trimmed with lace dyed to match (reduced from sixty dollars to thirty)
(hopefully she likes neutrals!)

* a coat and skirt suit of fine soft black taffeta, for traveling

* a handsome black cloth coat for cool days

* a black and white dotted swiss dress

* a white linen suit

* a handsome black crepe de chine dress

* a black chiffon waist (blouse)

* filmy, dreamy, white shirtwaists, simple and plain in design, and exquisite lace simply applied, fine handmade tucks and finer material

* white linen and white lawn for morning wear at the seashore

* two white linen skirts

* several pairs of silk gloves, black and white, undergarments dainty enough for a bride, a dozen pairs of stockings

* a black lace bonnet on a foundation of white roses, with a drapery of fine black lace which swept around the roses and tied loosely on the breast

* a lace wrap from the cloak department

* a plain black bonnet

* a sweet little gray bonnet

*  a fine silk umbrella

* a lot of pretty belts and handkerchiefs

* some shoes and rubbers

* a handbag of cut steel

Grace Livingston Hill wrote Aunt Crete's Emancipation in 1911. It contains an exhaustive description (this list is verbatim) for a dream wardrobe for a woman of mature years.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Cobbler of Deep Summer

Cobbler for our Sunday dinner crowd this week was peaches and blackberries. Biscuit topping was added moments after this photo was taken.

Always remember: heat your fruit on the stovetop (with a little sugar and a little flour) until it starts to release its juices and the juice starts to thicken. *Then* you can put it in the baking pan and put the biscuits on top, ready to go in the oven.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Not Everything Has Changed

Daisy's got some sophisticated taste in birthday cakes now--this is Nigella Lawson's Christmas-Spiced Flourless Chocolate Cake with a glazed almond and fresh orange juice topping. I sent pieces home with Elliot and Emma to the Stone House. "Eat it when you can concentrate."

But not everything has changed. She still loves fried okra,

just like when she was littler.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July Is a Domestic Month

I typically find myself feeling quite domestic in July. The summer heat starts to keep us more indoors, the rush of school and early-summer travel is over, and somehow I just want to clean and rearrange.

This week I mixed it up in the living room, moving furniture that hadn't been shifted in years! Well, we move it out for special events, but then we put it back in the same place. This time, I decided that during the summer, our seating should be focused around the front windows, rather than the woodstove. This has never happened at the Schoolhouse before.

But we all love it, and I'm especially loving my new view as I come down the hallway (see above). The whole room seems larger and more full of greenery.

I've also been deep-cleaning my room--washing quilts, curtains, rugs, windows, flowerpots, polishing silver, rearranging the dresser, and all that . . . . also Daisy is at band camp AND turning thirteen, so I need some distraction.

Monday, July 10, 2017

I Finished Another Embroidery Project!

This dresser scarf was an awesome project--because it was 80% done when I pulled it out of the bag. I fished some almost-matching floss out of my stash of embroidery thread, and dove right in.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Modernizing a Dated Embroidery Project

My step-mother passed a big bag of sewing goodies to me which had belonged to her late mother.  I found quite a few new-in-the-package sewing kits--embroidery and crewel work. 

The crewel work--it is what it is: harvest gold mushrooms and olive green flowers. Clara may work them up for fun some day.

I appreciate the nice quality of some of the printed projects--these guest towels are on 100% linen, fun and mindless to cross-stitch. And they fit in my purse. I brought them into this decade by throwing out the bright color choices, and doing them in a monochromatic pale seafoam green.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Study Shelves Seemingly Everywhere

You know how the last 10% of any project can be the hardest to get done? We're still working to finish out the Stone House study and a couple of projects in the Stone House kitchen. 

I have an enchanting vision of built-in white bookshelves and a desk surface for the gorgeous dark green study. And the bookshelves are finally getting done! But there's nowhere in the Stone House to paint them, so they're taking up my sitting room for part of the week. 

Monday, July 03, 2017

A Shawl of My Own Devising

I've made a handful of the Alabama Chanin ponchos--they're the simplest thing you could ever sew, and they are nice! Useful!

 But I'm not a huge fan of asymmetry and I don't want to have to be constantly monitoring accessory placement. So I tweaked the design and put the seam in a new spot (and stenciled it with a little bit of the Magdalena stencil):

Just right for the symmetrical shawl-wearer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Rabbit Barn Looking Nice

Daisy's new rabbit barn sits nicely tucked into an unused corner of the yard behind the fig tree, and right beside the vegetable garden.

The Composer did a great design job, using inexpensive hardware store materials in a way that's actually quite elegant--see the "skylight" panel inset into the metal roof. Next up, the rows of cages for the rabbits.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Log Cabin Quilt: Dakota Sandstone

Clara and I made this quilt as a wedding gift for her geologist friend who was getting married . . . to another geologist.

He's from the Black Hills of South Dakota, so we drew our color inspiration from images of the layers of sandstone there.

Tans, faded purples, rusty pinks.

"And that house did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It's Hydrangeas and Hospitality

We are in between houseguests for a few days--I don't think I mentioned we just finished hosting a friend from Taiwan who stayed with us twenty years ago and was brave enough to come back :)

We had a great time showing her the ins and outs of our daily life--from organ practice to Sunday dinner to tattooing the rabbits' ears to picking blueberries.

Tonight we celebrated Felix's birthday, a joy. The Composer suggested gifts inspired by things Felix had borrowed recently, so he got a cat carrier and an ice chest. I guess he's a grown-up now.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Landscape and a Still Life

Two recent pieces.

Monday, June 19, 2017


Mid-afternoon in mid-June. A day full of work, laundry, errands, and hospitality. 

I've moved my work computer upstairs into the Composer's studio and can't tell if I love or hate being out of the thick of things. 

I can concentrate, and there are no parrot squawks to apologize for when I'm on the phone, but on the other hand, what's going on downstairs without me? Is the laundry ready to turn over? I'm so far from the coffee! Does a cat need in?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June Looks Like This

June looks like this.

 It also looks like cars to buy, insurance policies to deal with, paperwork to complete, tree trunks to cut up and remove, gardens to tend, grass to mow, and trainings to attend . . . .

Friday, June 09, 2017

A Year for Giles and Tia

In honor of their one-year anniversary, Giles and Tia!

And these two . . .

 . . . met a year ago.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Daisy at the Organ

Daisy's piano teacher is also a church organist, so she was able to begin organ with her today!

Little sandals, big sound.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Zinnias at The Meadows

After dinner the Composer and I drove over to The Meadows (Felix's house) to deliver that lucky boy a load of goat manure. 

Marriage certainly changes people. Felix has become a super-gardener, and Molly, who grew up in New York and its surroundings, has started carrying a pocketknife so she can cut flowers whenever necessary.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Some Pinks Hanging Out in the Blue Room

Intense pink hydrangeas hanging out with some butterfly bush and some feathery pink spirea.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

My Duck Egg Filofax, Pretty and Blue

I continue to love my Filofaxes. I have a Original Nude Patent for work, this Original Duck Egg Patent for personal projects, and a raspberry Finsbury I use for my Bible reading plans and prayer lists. I LOVE having separate gorgeous notebooks for different parts of my life.

This binder is divided into a General Notes section (where I keep a running list of things I need to do, remember, schedule, etc.),  Festive Plans (where I work on whatever big do is coming up next--guests, menus, sleeping arrangements), Menu Tracker (where I note general dinner plans), Sewing (all kinds of notes about current, past, and future projects), Correspondence (I actually keep notecards, stamps, and addresses here so I can write a letter when I have a few minutes. I also keep a record of who and when I've written), and Weekly Goals (I write these across the appropriate week but without scheduling them. I generally pick 5-7 things outside my usual daily routine that I want to complete or make progress on).

For some reason, being able to hold all these in my hands makes me feel very connected to my projects and constantly inspired. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tic Tac Toe

Saturday night a raging thunderstorm rolled in. At 1:00 a.m. I heard the loudest crack of lightning I ever remember. A few minutes later the Composer (who always gets up if there's weather) came back to tell me that our huge red oak tree had been struck by lightning. . .

and had fallen on all three of our cars. Only two are even visible in the picture because Bella's is so thoroughly covered by tree trunk.

Yes, we've got three cars out in the driveway smashed under a tree. Hoping that when the tree guys get them uncovered, there will be one that isn't totaled.

But seriously: we can hardly believe that this monster didn't hit the house. Parts of it were *under* the overhang of the porch roof. Thank you, Lord!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Dresden Plate Crib Quilt

 There were five of these Dresden plate quilt blocks in my stash--not six. So I just embroidered the outline of the last one. I like it!

Available in my etsy shop.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Little Bit of Barn, Lots of People

Our barn-raising weekend started the night before with plenty of hot tea and love from Sister.

Then it was up early to build a barn for these Dutch rabbits! Jonathan is halfway through vet school but will never know enough about rabbits to satisfy Daisy . . . .

The guys broke ground behind the fig tree. 

Measure twice, strip the sod once.

Meanwhile, Jonathan and Arthur and Daisy dealt with a little backlog of manure in the barns. Goats and chickens needed some housecleaning.

Molly and Tia were assigned to the Universal Assistants crew. Apparently no one needed any help.

Until they did. Bella ran the kitchen. Girls, there's pimento cheese to make.

Emma ran back to the stone house for forgotten tools.

I have no idea what is happening here. 

It took almost all day to get the frame in, cement poured, and everything square. When they quit for dinner, the rafters were also in place. There was so much trigonometry going on in the yard.

By late afternoon some people needed a break . . .

  . . . and some had actually earned one :)

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