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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Raw Stairs

The last step, if you will, in our toy-room-to-library transformation has been the reclamation of the stairs that go up from the sewing room to the new library. They've always been carpeted, until now.

This summer Clara and I ripped the carpet up, painstakingly removed every staple and nail, then turned them over to the Composer who had the supremely messy job of sanding them with a major sander.

Then we cleaned all that up. They're not quite finished, as I will be painting the risers (not the steps) the Pure White floor paint of the library floor, and the Composer will be cutting out trim to finish off the sides of the stairs. These are probably way too rough-looking for most people, but I love them. They are smooth and soft to the touch, and the staircase itself came from an abandoned hotel across the river. So I'm going to love it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Daisy's Floral Shorts

Ignore, if you can, the sight of Sister gathered up like an armful of laundry, and instead see that Daisy made herself the cutest pair of floral shorts yesterday! She did everything herself, from cutting, to finishing her seams, to putting the elastic in her waistband.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Carol Throws a Party

Carol threw a beautiful party to celebrate her daughter's wedding. 

Given the hideous heat, it was good to be up high outside of town.

Carol has known me for thirty-two years, and she still can't believe how many tablecloths I own.

Some of the finished flowers. Home stuff with grocery store discounts thrown in. Always wisteria tendrils. You can't buy that kind of awesomeness.

The groom, and David (the bride's little brother).

Beautiful Carol. She made the cakes (chocolate, and tres leches), and most of the food. Although like a good Southerner, she got her barbecue at the oldest place in town.

"Do you want me to throw some hydrangeas on that cake?"


 Bella (or Angelina Jolie?)


Friday, July 22, 2016

Flower Duty

Clara and I had flower duty today--fifteen bouquets for a party tonight. Carol's daughter up and got married earlier this summer, with no fanfare--but tonight was going to be the celebration.

Just after the crack of dawn we put on rubber boots and hauled out the mop bucket. It's not the best time of year for flowers, but our standards are low. The last few hydrangea blossoms, the phlox, zinnias, butterfly bush, lanatan, naked ladies, gooseneck, some crepe myrtle, lots of basil and rosemary.

We lined the jars up and started dropping flowers in.

And kept on and on, and then added in the bundles of flowers I got at Kroger for $2.99 each. By the end, we had some really full bouquets. Finished pictures tomorrow, after we've recovered from the party.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ladder Girl

I'm getting too old for this. 

Clara and I have been painting the sewing room this week. Twelve-foot ceilings. Endless walls. Endless windows. She's the ladder girl, and cut in all the high edges perched on a terrifyingly tall stepladder.

We are so close, but won't be able to finish until Sunday afternoon. Oh, to have it behind me!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Soft Babies

 In my very very few spare moments recently I've been sewing these Soft Babies. Their faces and limbs are made from cotton jersey, and their dresses are cashmere (from thrift store sweaters). The one on the right is the prototype, and her sister on the left has her head trimmed into a more human shape.

The creative impulse is mysterious and unpredictable--for now it has me stitching up these very soft dolls. Clara and I are also painting the sewing room (ouch!!), but when I have a few more made I'll be putting them in my shop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


These two in the sunshine.

Monday, July 18, 2016

I Always Wear a Hat When I Am Buying a House

We fell in love a month ago and have bought this little hundred-year old stone cottage.

It needs a lot of work, and a big can of Nandina-Be-Gone spray,

but it is loaded with charming details and has a very sound structure.

A porch with three stone arches, and a free-standing garage with a full apartment above. That will be the Composer's new office and studio space.

In this back view, the garage is on the left. The main house is just one story (that's the kitchen you see there). We'll rent the main house out, and use it as extra family housing when necessary. 

So much work to do! Dead trees came down today, new roof goes on later this week, and the painters are already hard at work on the wooden window trim. 

Inside pictures to come, and lots and lots of before and afters, so stay tuned.

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