Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the subject of treats

I was just re-reading Anna's blog (which I do regularly), and came across this post entitled "Treats".
She says the trick is to expand your definition of "treat". 

Like a mini-mini stay-cation.  You can always refresh yourself where you are. And you're a new person!
And the list of treats would never be exhausted - if you're able to stop and look around, willing and open to being recharged - something would present itself to you for sure.

Today when I came home from work, I enjoyed looking at the new Garnet Hill catalog. I tore out 2 or 3 things I'd like to copy, (if I can make the time). A tiered voile skirt, a big (suede, but it would look fine in corduroy) tote. 

These "treats" don't cost anything.  They don't take much time out of your work-day. Kind of like a power-nap. The shorter, almost the better, because if you linger too long, you might get lazy and drowsy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

almost gone

Summer's almost over - this picture was taken when I put up these breezy curtains - rummage sale treasures; they're just perfect for blowing in and out of a breezy window.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mother Teresa

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."

Mother Teresa of Calcutta
born 100 years ago today

Saturday, August 21, 2010

the case of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, the well-known atheist writer, has cancer, and it's serious.  Here is an opinion on the subject well worth reading. And pondering.

Friday, August 20, 2010

easy and delicious

Ratatouille is a good way to use up some extra zucchini and onions hanging around in the summer, and for something so tasty, it takes little effort. There is a lot of chopping, but all the vegetables are soft, so it's really rather quick to get it going.  I used to use a recipe, but I realized I could alter the amounts and it's still good.

You always need an eggplant, and tomatoes.

Chop up an onion or two and a bit of garlic, and saute in some olive oil about 5 minutes. Then add a small eggplant, peeled and diced, half a bell pepper - or one whole, if it's small (I've made it without peppers) - two or three zucchini, or yellow squash if that's what you've got, a can of diced, plain tomatoes.  Add a splash of water, and some oregano and basil.  Cover the skillet and simmer about 1/2 hour.  If it's getting too thick along the way, add some tomato sauce or whatever seems good to juice it up.  When finished cooking, add salt.  Especially good with rice!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

pretty maids all in a row

Finally done!  These are a set of eight grocery bags - one of four prizes for our adult summer reading game at the library, made from these instructions.

I hope the winner will be someone who'll appreciate them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

a nice idea

I've been reading a lovely book, recommended to me by a co-worker, New England Year: a Journal of Vermont Farm Life by Muriel Follett. She and her husband had two children, and apparently when one had a birthday, they would get a small present for the other, too. 

There's something nice about that idea, although I'm not sure I can say why.

I was going to link to a photo of the book, but I can't find an image of it online!  Not on Google, not on Amazon.  I found the book on Alibris for .99, but no picture of it.  But I recommend it.  I think she was ahead of her time in having this published; if she were writing today, (this is from 1938), I imagine she'd be blogging, wouldn't she?  There are also very lovely woodcut illustrations in it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

week of favorite blogs: Pleasantview Schoolhouse

My absolute favorite blog is, without doubt, Pleasantview Schoolhouse. It is (was, really) chronicled by Anna, a part-time lawyer, wife, and homeschooling mother. She has been attracted, since a very young person, to the whole idea of domestic contentment and how to achieve it.  And this is what motivates her. Well, this blog is the evidence of her success.

She blogged for a little more than four and a half years, then rather abruptly announced that she was going to discontinue it; she felt God was drawing her to other things. (and she was glad to go along with Him, by the way) A couple of hundred women were quite desolate about it, including myself. One commenter said  I feel like a fledgling being pushed out of the nest    -   I felt the same way. 

I think I followed Pleasantview Schoolhouse for about three years, and it was the first blog I ever bothered with.  She and I both belonged to a sewing forum run by Jennie Chancey, and one day Anna posted a photo of a dress she'd made. Jennie commented that she always drooled all over the keyboard at Anna's creations, and that's what got me.  I thought,  If Jennie Chancey is drooling over this woman's dresses, I have to see what this is about!   I went to her blog, and that was the end of my days of avoiding blogs

I really didn't want to fall into the trap of spending so much time in front of the computer, reading other people's postings. But this one was fascinating to me! Here was a woman who enjoyed doing her housework, ironing, making nutritious meals for her husband and five children, going on family trips, - well, a lot of women do this.  So, what is her secret?  

The whole thing with Anna, the whole domestic thing - everything she does for her family, taken as a whole - is like a religious experience with her.  No - that's not quite what I want to say.  But she knows that God gave her that job and she is going to study it, figure it out, hone it, refine it, and never give up on improving on her way of doing it, because that job is her duty before God, and she wants to find out what works, and what doesn't.  She's also not the type to  *get comfortable*, and coast along - she's constantly challenging herself.

But the blog isn't just a chronicle of the above-mentioned - most importantly, whatever she did - it worked! 
And that's the fascination of it.  Which is why, when she makes something to sell in her etsy shop - handmade stuff, which is nice, but she's not a professional seamstress -  women are buying (or wanting) a piece of Anna; her success; her energy.  Or so it seems to me. 

You have to read her blog for yourself if this subject is what occupies your mind, too - and this is where she began.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

week of favorite blogs: Tomato Soup Cake

Tomato Soup Cake is a definite favorite, blogged by a woman named Diane; a middle-aged, single mother.  She homeschools her children, sews lovely things, bakes yummy-looking delectables, and has a most irresistable sense of humor, aimed at herself most of the time.  She's a Christian. She's serious about it.

Diane has many faithful readers, and she graciously acknowledges almost each one's comments! Amazing!
Her blog is homey and very attractive - (I really wouldn't have thought one could do so much with Blogger!)
She seems nice, like someone who would gladly welcome you into her cozy kitchen and give you some goodies.

I know of her from a sewing forum we both belong to - but we have little in common, except age bracket. I have no children; I'm not homeschooling anybody. Well, we're both homemakers.  But she's so appealing, such a lovely person, I'm glad to hang around with her. Surely there's a lot to learn from a lady like that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

two done, six to go

week of favorite blogs: Anna Maria Horner & Posie Gets Cozy

Anna Maria Horner's is another blog I like to check often. It's very pretty, she seems like a nice person, she loves her family, and she designs lovely fabrics!  She also designs patterns, knits, sews, embroiders...

She's famous, but seems more like the girl-next-door.

And, I have to say that I equally like Posie Gets Cozy, Alicia Paulson's blog.  She sews extremely well, knits like a dream (and fast!), and has a couple of books out, one of which - the new one - is about embroidery.  And quilts; look at this quilt; it's perfect.

Both of these blogs give me a treat whenever I look in on them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

week of favorite blogs: Jane Brocket

Jane Brocket's blog, which used to be called Yarnstorm, but I don't think is anymore - at least it doesn't say yarnstorm anywhere on there - is almost my favorite blog; certainly the most visually beautiful I've ever seen. She has an eye for color, which is an understatement; in actuality, color is what keeps her going, it seems.  She's an Englishwoman; her home's interior is painted in exceptionally bright colors; she crochets and quilts (just look at this!) brightly colored things; she knits and bakes, although the treat in the previous photo was made and decorated by her daughter, who is very big on making beautiful-looking cakes.

Her photographs defy description. The color saturation in them is such a delight to look at - a trip to Jane's blog is a very cheering thing. She is interested in detail; a brightly colored door, a flower. And, look at that flower, it almost doesn't look real - in fact, the inner part looks more like a piece of pineapple to me than a real bloom.  She adores tulips and has many photos of them. Domestic pursuits are what seem to motivate her - she's attracted to art which portrays women in their housekeeping and needleworking activities.

I first heard of Jane Brocket at work - we have her book The Gentle Art of Domesticity at the library, and her blog is mentioned in it.  There are many women these days, Christians, who are very into the domestic scene - who see it as their God-given responsibility to stay at home and be there for their children and husbands, but for Jane this does not seem to be a reason.  Still, anything that helps in that department is welcome to me, and I refer to this book regularly for encouragement and inspiration. She recently came out with another lovely book, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking.

What beautiful projects!!  Needless to say, I own both books, and will continue to enjoy her inspirational blog.  When Sister Wendy did this program years ago, I remember something she said about Cezanne, I think her favorite painter.  He would leave a bowl of fruit out, ripening, waiting for the different fruits to develop some sort of relationship to each other before painting it.  Jane Brocket's photos seem to have some of that quality to me - there is something beyond what is in the picture; the relationship of the objects.  Not like your usual snapshots.  I will continue to enjoy her beautiful blog for as long as possible.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

week of favorite blogs: the Purl Bee

the purl bee is a very favorite blog of mine, but it isn't an individual who's blogging - it's the work of a group of employees of a shop called Purl Soho;  in New York, and online.  Their shop has anything a needleworker could possibly dream of, and arranged in such a way as to make everything almost impossible to resist.

The blog comes up every few days with a new - and free! - knitting, sewing, quilting, crocheting, etc. - project.  It's a great resource for making all kinds of things, and if you have an occasion coming up and have time to make your gift, here's the place for ideas! Everything is archived in an easy to reach fashion.

Friday, August 6, 2010

week of favorite blogs: Quietude

Quietude is a blog I found only yesterday!  But I know I'll be coming back to it.

The blogger's name is Laura, and I don't know her, but I am assuming she's as ladylike and gentle as this lovely blog - full of pictures of flowers, quotes from classic books she's reading, pretty things she's sewing, etc.  Just what I would wish my blog to be, except that if I tried that, it wouldn't be right.

She does it perfectly.  This blog is soothing to the spirit - a reminder of the beautiful and gracious.
Very important.

The Transfiguration

Today, in the Roman Catholic calendar, is remembered the Transfiguration of the Lord.

"When Christ is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

week of favorite blogs: Mairuru

There are very few blogs I follow - it takes time to be reading blogs, and I have no wish to be in front of the computer all day!  However, I've happened upon a few, by accident, which I don't wish to resist.

Mairuru is one I found only very recently. Mai is a young married Japanese woman, who is expecting her first child any moment now.  Her blog has a charm which results from her gentle personality and the way she refers to her relationship with her husband, and especially her in utero baby, whom she calls "Tomato".  There is something so sweet about the whole thing, that I have decided it's a good thing to spend a little of my time with Mai and her family.

She has an etsy shop, which is closed for the time being, but she sells hand sewn articles, in addition to hand sewing all sorts of things for her child, and even underwear for her husband!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture

We are in week seven of our participation in a cooperative with a local farm; we pick up our veg every Monday, not knowing what we'll get!  This week, our haul was:

  • 3 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 beets
  • 2 large radishes
  • a small head of lettuce
  • a nice bunch of basil
  • 2 yellow squash
  • 14 - !  pickling cukes
  • 5 tomatoes - 3 regular and 2 plum
  • a head of broccoli
  • 2 jalapenos and 2 little other hot-ish peppers
  • 3 green bell peppers and 1 Italian frying pepper
  • a sprig of dill

I think that's it!  So, we've already used the lettuce. The basil is in the freezer. I made broccoli soup the other day and also used the carrots and squash. I gave half the cucumbers to a neighbor who has 3 house guests.

We find ourselves eating things we don't normally buy.  Sugar snap peas, for example. Beets. I was getting weary of the way I was preparing beets, (steamed, with tarragon), so now I peel them, slice them thickly, steam them and cool them.  Then, serve with a honey dijon type dressing.  Much better!

We never eat hot peppers, but we're gonna try.  It's a challenge!