Thursday, March 31, 2016

Roger's Afternoon

Roger had quite an afternoon. When I went out to garden I heard him calling from the barn, but he often calls to us when he hears us come outside. 

Half an hour later he still hadn't quieted down, so I walked down to find him trapped under a heavy metal bar he had somehow pulled down on himself. Fortunately he was resting on hay, and undamaged. 

A long cozy nap in my lap in the shade made everything well, and then a little extra attention from the ladies made things even better . . . .

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sister at the Foot of the Bed

From October (kitten days): Sister crouching at the foot of Bella's bed, which is tucked up under the white eaves. Possibly the best.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Clara Embroiders a Waistband

Clara is making herself a summer dress from sage green dotted Swiss. She used the wrong side of the fabric for the waistband and is embroidering it in vines and flowers.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

I know that my Redeemer lives,

and that in the end He will stand on the earth.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Infrastructure: A List of Smaller Blessings

The big blessings are easy to name.

Today I was thinking about the ones a step down, built into the infrastructure of my small-town life.

A safe and pleasant trail to run on.
A reliable grocery store that carries quality produce, meat, and dairy.
A decent library.
Good music teachers for my children.
Office supply, art supply, and sewing supply stores.
An active 4H Club system.
Really good-tasting municipal water.
Beautiful hikes a short drive away.
A lively three-season farmer's market.
Strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, peach, and apple farms.
Great hamburgers.
Excellent thrift stores--no need to ever pay full price for anything.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

No Soft Dinner for Sister

I've only ever purchased soft cat food for one cat--and only had one cat diagnosed as being slightly too plump. Same cat.

No more soft dinner for Sister.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Out of Hades' Clutches: A Springtime Feast

You know we gave the Composer's parents a Christmas gift of a dinner party--they invite their friends, we provide the venue, the food, and often a little after-dinner entertainment. This weekend they cashed in their gift certificate, and we threw a springtime feast.

My mother-in-law used to teach quite a bit of Greek literature (hence the Hades--remember that he kept Persephone underground for six months each year and only let her out in spring). She also got it when I set out the silver teaspoons engraved "Helen".

I was going with a Greek thing.

This was a really, really good dinner to eat--and one of the easiest to prepare. Much can be done ahead. See below for the full menu and recipes. 

Not-So-Hard Springtime Feast:

Homemade pitas*
Baba ganoush drizzled with olive oil and served with olives and parsley*
Homemade hummus*

Boneless leg of lamb marinated in yogurt, coffee, and cumin*
Steamed asparagus with lemon zest
New potatoes roasted a long time in olive oil
Sliced cucumbers in homemade yogurt*

Individual Pavlovas set in cream, topped with homemade lemon curd, cream, and berries*

*Can be made ahead--or in the case of the lamb, marinated the day before and roasted for two hours. And in the case of the dessert, the components can all be made ahead and assembled last minute.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Pretty Side

The other's side's not quite as done. But we are moving along! Four of sixteen cushions covered, too.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Re-Imagining the Compost

It was my friend Carol's idea to use a vintage ice bucket on her countertop as a compost container. Yes, please! I have several elegant ones from the thrift store, they have nice carrying handles, and the lids are easy one-hand off and on. I'm actually using this one for chicken scraps, and I don't even mind seeing it out on the counter.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Grace Livingston Hill Reading List: Home Makeover Edition

Oh Grace Livingston Hill, you make me think I can do anything! And that's why I'm upholstering two sofas at once, while simultaneously renovating the upstairs, sewing for a wedding, and planning a dinner party. For inspiration:

Not Under the Law. Joyce finds herself out on her own and buys herself a tiny land office! It's an empty shell, but she turns it into a one-room home complete with kitchen cupboards, curtains, and a hand-made mattress for the bed.

The Honor Girl. Elsie turns the wreck of her father's house upside down with her industry. From pot roast and pumpkin pies and new floral eiderdowns on the bed,  to a new fireplace and chrysanthemums in season, she cranks up the domestic goodness.

The White Lady. Constance has lost her money and position, and decides to go into the restaurant business. Finding a decrepit mansion at a great price, she gives it new life with artistic wallpaper, potted palms, and dreamy mirrors. And the table d'hote menu sounds delicious.

April Gold. Assets lost to a bank crash, the Reeds move to a spider-infested shack in the worst part of town. But they scrub and paint and paper and build shelves and even haul the old henhouse across the yard to add on new kitchen space. And their bare yard is transformed by forsythia and daffodils.

Re-Creations. Domestic transformation begins, ends, and informs this one: when Cornelia leaves college before she can complete her degree in interior design, she finds plenty of opportunity to put her theories into practice at home. Before she knows it she's painting the dining room a soft green, designing a fireplace to be build out of fieldstone, making a marble-topped work table for the kitchen, and stenciling birds onto curtains.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Oil Painting: Daffodils

Daffodils from tonight's painting session.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Song Without Words

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Rain

We're in the middle of a long, slow rain, and every time I step outside the frogs choruses are singing. The pansies are triumphant, the flowering trees are in full bloom, and indoors Clara and I are chipping away at upholstering a couch.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Another Kid for Daisy

Daisy had been wanting another kid to bottle-feed, for her 4H Record Book. Fortunately, her friend Lanie's goat gave birth to four at once--three big boys and one little girl. Lanie sent one of the boys over here to give mama goat a break, so Daisy's got Roger here at the house. 

The responsibility was overwhelming at first but he's been quick to catch on to the bottle. And even better, content to stay in the pasture with Daisy's three goats. Because he's so little, if he wanted to slip out and wander, he could.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Sister and the Forsythia

Monday, March 07, 2016

Romaine, Waiting

Daisy and I were at the feed store and I picked up a couple of boxes of romaine lettuce babies. I had planned to plant them today but my next-door neighbor happened to be in line beside me. He counseled me to let them sit outside on the porch for a week. And since I respect his garden, I take his advice.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Clara Tackles the Floss

Clara dumped out the plastic bin filled with wads of half-used embroidery floss skeins. That was yesterday. Today she's got almost everything on little cards. Who knew this was possible?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Little Stack of Fabric

I often go for months without buying any fabric at all, but lately I've been puttng the hit back in hit or miss at Hancock's, and even at Hobby Lobby. Sheer oval-medallion white lawn, sage green dotted Swiss, tiny leaf print on gray, and two beautiful cotton-linen blends in sapphire and emerald. Spring sewing, for sure.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

A Hooded Jersey Coat: McCalls M6442

The pattern makes a hooded coat with a full circle skirt: too much skirt. I cut it down to about a half-circle, and that's plenty. It has pockets in the side seams, a hood, and a self-belt. I added crocheted belt loops and also a snap at the top of the coat, for coziness.

I was out of fabric so I lined the hood with a little bit of lightweight jersey in the "same" color--but you know dye lots. It's not quite a match, and I like it that way.

All the edges are finished using jersey strips sewn down with a rosebud stitch. Yes, it took forever.

There are some good tips for converting a standard pattern to use with jersey in Natalie Chanin's fourth book Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Pansies and Colored Pencils and Odds and Ends

Daisy's keeping us supplied with pansies from the pots in the bistro. Every day the spirea is greener.

All our friends' goats are having babies--Daisy's friend Lani just got quadruplets! Three boys, unfortunately. Daisy hopes to foster one and bottle-feed it.

All three girls have been asked to be bridesmaids in Giles' wedding--and all have accepted with pleasure. We're starting to think about clothes . . . .

Clara is quilting our Ravens quilt every night. Pictures to come as it's finished. I've been doing a bunch of free-form spiral embroidery on wool panels, soon to be a tote. 

Bella's been memorizing All the Bones for her anatomy class. 

The Composer continues to train for the Boston Marathon, and eat a lot.

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