Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Let's Roast Okra!

Never saw this one coming, but I am now roasting rather than frying okra. It's easy and cleaner and (of course) better for you (I guess?) than frying. And we all love it--it's still crunchy and chewy and all that. In any case, being grain-free, I had to ditch the cornmeal.

So, cut the cap off the okra, then slice it into two or three pieces using a long diagonal cut. You want long skinny pieces with a slanty side. Toss with a lot of olive oil (any kind) and kosher salt. Roast on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 for about 30 minutes, turning once before the end. Go for dark edges.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For My Mother Going to Bed in Pain

"It is difficult to find anyone in our culture who will respect us when we suffer. We live in a time when everyone's goal is to be perpetually healthy and constantly happy, and if any one of us fails to live up to the standards that are advertised as normative, we are labeled as a problem to be solved.
 But these Psalms give dignity to our suffering. They do not look on suffering as something slightly embarrassing which must be hushed up and locked in a closet . . . because this sort of thing shouldn't happen to a real person of faith. And they don't treat it as a puzzle that must be explained . . . Suffering is set squarely, openly, passionately before God. It is acknowledged and expressed. It is described and lived."

Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction  (extracted thoughts on the Psalms)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Her Non-Classical Debut

While Bella was boating with a bunch of physical therapists and Daisy was at a birthday party, Clara was making her Non-Classical Debut. 

She played with a folk-rock band on a the first part of the set. It was awesome.

She says when Josh Garrels asks her to sit in, she's getting some skinny jeans and slouch hat to wear.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Felix and Molly: The Couch Photo

Molly had been in Europe for ten days, and Felix has been in South America for weeks (he lives there) but he surprised her at the airport when she flew in yesterday. Now it's a happy hang-out weekend with Giles and Tia--and squeezing in two premarital counseling sessions Sunday. Wedding is at the end of the year!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

"It Was Officially the First Day of School"

"It was officially the first day of school so Anna made muffins for breakfast . . . the entire family was gathered . . . Mrs. Ray tall and slim in a starched yellow morning dress, Julia and Betsy in new shirt waists and skirts, Margaret in a new striped gingham with a big striped bow atop her head ."
--Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy in Spite of Herself 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I'll Just Cook Everything This Way

Vegetable roasting season is fast approaching and I have two words for you, my friends: chicken grease. I save it from the pan of chicken thighs I roast at least once a week and use it to turn winter squash into candy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Clara, Teacher

The retro-style grade book makes it official--this week, Clara starts teaching Freshman Comp. The Fundamentals Of, I believe. It's getting students up to speed for regular Comp.

She's also starting back to class herself, learning to teach English to speakers of other languages. She'll carry on with her cello and piano students too, and manage several of the law firm projects. And continue to knit socks.

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Life Is Fragile"

Still in its thrift store frame, but will someday be a pillow.

Just a reminder, 100% of my etsy shop proceeds are donated to charity, and this week I am supporting flood victims in Louisian.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Before It Gets Better

Everyone knows it gets worse before it gets better. Above, the stone house kitchen with all the fixtures and junk and subfloor plywood pulled out.

Then we went the next step and pulled up the pine (it was just too rough to keep, bummer) and exposed all the joists. Several will need replacing. My workers are my heroes.

We're really glad we didn't try to lay subfloor and then a tile floor on top of that pine, because it was a mess under there. I'd rather shore up the floor now, when it's slightly easier.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Embroidered Pieces in the Shop

 New tote bags and a quilt in the shop tonight. The bags each sport loads of hand-embroidery--very different from each other. And there's a quilt!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oil Painting: Yellow Mums

Painting class tonight: I put a wash of white over a months-old painting and like it much better.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A New and Massive Ottoman

I've been on the lookout for furniture for the little stone house, and the girls and I went to a very inexpensive antiques place (the smaller the town, the better the prices) and found a mighty and massive ottoman for $30.

The perfect piece to use for a coffee table and/or extra seating (and of course, if it's a magazine picture, a tray with a coffee press on it). However, this ottoman was covered in foul cranberry floral, and the top cushion was ripped all the way across.

I forgot to take a before picture, but I just cut all the fabric off the top cushion, then laid down a layer of cotton batting. Then Clara and I stapled some fabric (cut from a hardware store drop cloth) over the top cushion, not caring how the staples showed--because next, I made the world's simplest slipcover that just drops over the whole thing. That seam you see is inherent in the drop cloth. It's only on one side of the ottoman and I don't care!! I like it that way :)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Two Sisters

I've started bringing home furnishings that will eventually go in the stone house. I found a very old, heavy mirror I'll use--in the meantime I have to store it here, but I haven't gotten very far with that, and it's currently on the dining table.

where it's being put to good use, all the time, by Sister.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

All the Animals of North America, for My Walls

This morning I was thinking about what I want to hang on the walls of my little stone house, and I remembered an amazing thrift store find from several years back.

Everyone's favorite animals of North America, as presented by Mr. Audubon. I think I will be taking this former library book apart and framing these most excellent illustrations.


Monday, August 08, 2016

Favorite Knit Top, for Now

This Simplicity 1716 is currently my favorite knit top, made up in the cowl neck with 3/4 sleeves. I've made it up in cotton jersey (don't do this) and also a much more drapey fabric (do this). The cowl is just the right magnitude, and the shirt has that handy center back seam to accommodate those of us who need to make a swayback adjustment. And it's super easy.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Vintage Butterfly Quilt

This is not a new project, at all. You can tell by the tiny quilting stitches. I found this beautiful vintage quilt top years ago and put it together and quilted it by hand--oh, twenty years ago or so.

 The butterflies are all hand-appliqued and embroidered, many of them in silk fabric. Some in cotton shirtings. Sweet.

This will go in the shop this weekend, so keep an eye out, if you're interested.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

A Little More House History

Our new little stone house has yielded up more of its history. In the county library I found (locked in the archives! It was so exciting and it took a key!) a voluminous hand-made scrapbook of all the old houses around town, with their histories researched.

Our realtor had told us that our house dated from 1910 or so, but apparently it was actually built in 1890--a frame structure, not stone. And it was two stories, with a "fancy porch!" Sadly, the second floor and the porch burned up. 

We had already suspected that the rock was added later, by the stonemason who bought the house in the 1940s, and the scrapbook confirmed that. And now we've seen the "original" siding under the stone, when we replaced a door! It's painted soft gray. I'm not sure that this should even count as original, because I suspect the kitchen was added some time after the house was first built. Maybe when indoor plumbing came to town?

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Summer Chores

The Composer wears his country hat.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Piecing a Log Cabin Quilt: Herb Garden

This one is inspired by the silvers and greens of my summer herb garden. Also, I'm sneaking it in while Clara spends two weeks walking around England! I'm supposed to be finishing this other project, but I'm not.

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