Sunday, October 31, 2010

the story of Zaccheus

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zaccheus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zaccheus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."


And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." But Zaccheus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."


("The Conversion of Zaccheus" by Bernardo Strozzi)

Friday, October 29, 2010

sick day comforts

A cozy spot on the couch, with cheerful afghans and pillows.

Warm light on a grey day.

An encouraging book to read.

A nice view out the window.

A good story to listen to.

And a faithful friend for company.

(last photo by my brother)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

another quote from Edith

"Interior decoration, as I intimated before, is not just one's artistic efforts, but is that which is your home (even if it is just a room) is. If you are 'decorating' with clothes draped on every chair, with scratched or broken furniture - it is still your interior decoration! Your home expresses you to other people, and they cannot see or feel your daydreams of what you expect to make in that misty future, when all the circumstances are what you think they must be before you will find it worthwhile to start. You have started, whether you recognize that fact or not. We foolish mortals sometime live through years of not realizing how short life is, and that TODAY is our life."

      The Hidden Art of Homemaking   by Edith Schaeffer

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Yesterday was one of those balmy, over-warm autumn days which we always get at the end of October, so, even though I've been sick I was happy to stand outside with some citrusy-scented, soapy water and wash the front storm door.

When the oppressive heat of the summer goes, I really enjoy the housecleaning again.

It looks better.  

 We also have a new tree in the front yard - a Japanese maple.

It's in the ground now.       

Slowly, slowly, things are getting done.                         

Monday, October 25, 2010

"trying out all the ideas that come to you"

"It seems to me that, whether it is recognized or not, there is a terrific frustration which increases in intensity and harmfulness as time goes on, when people are always daydreaming of the kind of place in which they would like to live, yet never making the place where they do live into anything artistically satisfying to them. Always to dream of a cottage by a brook, while never doing anything original to the stuffy boarding-house room in a dream of what you could do with a hut in the jungle yet never to think of your inherited family mansion as anything but a place to mark time, is to waste creativity in this very basic area, and to hinder future creativity by not allowing it to grow and develop through use. Trying out all the ideas that come to you, within the limits of your present place, money, talents, materials, and so forth, will not use up everything you want to save for the future, but will rather generate and develop more ideas.

Express yourself not only in selecting things displayed in a store, but also in what you can produce yourself, with some degree of originality, craftsmanship or artistic creativity. There is great satisfaction in making something out of nothing...and turning it into an object that has purpose and charm in your home. Among other things, this would also help to limit the ghastly filling up of dumps..."

       from   The Hidden Art of Homemaking, by Edith Schaeffer  c1971

By the word homemaking, Edith Schaeffer is not referring to housework, but how artistically we try to live our lives at home, and with those nearest to us; finding time or making time to pursue whatever is within us which seeks to express itself in any artistic way. Which, she says, is a reflection of our being made in the image and likeness of God, the creator of everything.

As for the reference to the "filling up of dumps" - thank God that some peope are/were ahead of their time!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

pillow talk

I was excited last week to see a pretty pillow cover on sale on the Garnet Hill website.  I've never made a pillow, but I have several sewing books, and didn't think it would be a problem, except that it needed to be a box pillow, which was a bit intimidating! 

I had the muslin and a 20 ounce bag of polyfill. I wondered at first if it would be better to cut squares of batting the size of the pillow and fill it with that, to give it a more "boxed" appearance. But I didn't think I had enough - oh, did I mention the pillow cover is 20 inches square?  So, I cut out the pieces for the form. Before I got too far sewing it, however, I had the good sense to look for a similar design in a sewing book, to try and find out which order the attach the pieces in. I found something in One Yard Wonders, by Rebecca Yoker and Patricia Hoskins - a cushion for small pets - and I'm glad I bothered; it made the process much easier!

I stuffed the form (I'm not sure how much I like polyfill - so squishy!), and used all I had, but it didn't seem enough; the pillow wasn't firm, the way I think a square box pillow should be.  I turned to a thrifted pillow which I was going to "refurbish", and I ripped it open expecting to see something I could add to my pillow, but this is what I found:

Someone had made this, and stuffed it with layers of fabric and batting, and wrapped the whole in another layer of batting.  I'm new to the pillow world, so this was interesting to me.  And, I had a *ta-da!* sort of moment when I realized that, just as in the quilting world, they were originally made of cut-up fabrics from around the house and put into something warm and beautiful, so, too pillows - stuffed with whatever is at hand!  Of course!  In fact, I have seen pillows in home magazines and books with pillows which were obviously under-stuffed and floppy-looking, but I guess people do what they can at the time! I'd never thought about it before.

So, I looked at my under-stuffed pillow and pondered the situation. I could leave it as is, and finish it when I got more polyfill. But it is very large, and I finally decided that the softer looseness of it is a better thing. If it were filled up firmly, the huge size of it might be too much - it really is kind of big for the room. But the colors were right, and I liked the plaid.

So, I learned something about pillows. And I'm satisfied with my result.  

If you like the pillow cover, Garnet Hill may have some left - I thought $18 was pretty good for them! 
(originally $48!)                                                                    

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

to knit, or not to knit?

I've been get quite an urge lately to do a bit of knitting, now that we're into cooler weather. I have so many things to do which seem more pressing, so I'll probably resist - knitting is nice, but sewing gives a quicker satisfaction. Even though we have a long cold season ahead with plenty of time for knitting, I think I should stick to my resolve to not let myself get sidetracked. Having an urge doesn't necessarily mean I should give in to it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

the memory of scones

Tomorrow we're going to have brunch at work. I said I would make scones. I made brownie scones, and these - apple, oat and raisin.

I'd forgotten how much I like scones, since I wasn't using the oven much all summer.  But now I remember.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

the importance of balance

"It's the balance that counts all through life. It's the balance that matters in the Christian life. It's the balance that matters in human relationships. It's the balance that matters in family life. There is a delicate balance, like the equal weight of two people seesawing, or like someone walking a tightrope. Too much on one side, too much on the other, and there comes the thud of one person on the seesaw or the fall of the person on the rope - the continuity of what was going on comes to a sudden stop. Balance is the very important ingredient in every area of life."  
           Edith Schaeffer,   What is a Family?                                            

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Amy Butler-style apron

Amy Butler designed an apron, a bit gathered at the waist - wide lengths of fabric down the sides. It caught my eye, so I copied the style with a cotton/linen jumper I don't wear anymore. I liked this check with it, and used it for the sash, too.

It  seemed like something was lacking, until I got the idea to sew some red buttons on the pockets, which, by the way, are two different styles. So, one button on one pocket, and three on the other.

A good use for an old favorite!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Teresa of Jesus

This woman is my patron - my middle name is Teresa.

 Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.

- St. Teresa of Avila,  
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, trans.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

a funny thing happened on my way to make dinner

This plate was my mother's - I don't know where she got it; from a thrift store maybe? On sale, definitely. Unless it was a gift. 
My mother used to sometimes make salmon patties, and serve them with a sauce made of thinned-out cream of celery soup.   
Today I had some canned salmon, and was planning to make a loaf with a nice recipe of Marion Cunningham's, except the amount of butter in it has been bothering me.  So, I thought I'd look for something else. 

I was poking around Anna's blog as is my habit, and came upon this - an old recipe for salmon patties! And it recommends a celery sauce to go with it! You can use either mashed potato or bread crumbs. I had two cans of salmon, and had bought some sweet potatoes at the store without a plan for them, so decided to boil them early and use them instead.

So here is my recipe -   Sweet Potato and Salmon Patties with Rosemary

Mix together 4 lightly beaten eggs, 2 large cans salmon without bones, skin or liquid,  2 mashed, cooled sweet potatoes, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, a shake of pepper, a bit of savory and a small shake of nutmeg. It seemed too wet, so I refrained from adding the fish juices, and I also put in some plain bread crumbs - maybe 1/3 cup? Not sure.

Fry them up in oil till browned on both sides.  I used extra virgin olive oil, which was an extravagance! - they absorbed quite a bit. We had them with soup - I didn't make a sauce.
Really good, and filling.

(I have since reduced the eggs to 2 - that's plenty!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

a charming cup

from Anthropologie, from a friend.


This morning before going to work I heard it

The mockingbird singing his "recital".  I guess they're back.

I am happy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

pillow covers, part two

I finished this one today - plain, but looks good in the room, and it covers a large Christmas pillow which has needed covering for too long.

It gave me a lot of trouble, mostly caused by my own impatience!  But this time I made 2 buttonholes in the back, with some nice old buttons to fit them. (It's not as reddish as appears in the photo, and doesn't look bad with the gold striped chair cover.) Overall, I'm pleased with it!

Friday, October 8, 2010

fire-roasted tomato bisque - fast and easy

I made this soup after work today; I felt like a little more than just sandwiches, and I wasn't too tired to do it.  It's one of those invaluable recipes which can be done fairly quickly, and are well worth the extra effort.

I do change it a bit, though. I don't tend to chop the veg very small - as a result, the carrots especially do not cook in 15 minutes. I simmer it for a half hour. I do not drain the canned tomatoes. There is so little extra juice in them, what for?  Also, I don't usually have heavy cream in the house; I use whatever dairy I have, e.g., Lactaid 2% milk, fat-free sour cream - whatever!  It's only 1/4 cup, after all. And I don't add the butter at the end - it isn't necessary.

It's very tasty - I was going to take a photo, but we ate it all up!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

invasion of the furry snatcher

Somebody couldn't make their bed this morning, because somebody else was burrowed into the bedclothes, with only legs and tail sticking out; and the first somebody took pity on the tired second somebody and decided to let her sleep a while.

Now, the bed is made and everything is as it should be.                                                                 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

more favorite mysteries

While we're on the subject of mysteries, I also want to mention the Jane Austen mysteries by Stephanie Barron.

Over the past several years, there have appeared some mystery series with the "sleuth" as a real person from the past, who was never a crime solver in real life. I think Elliott Roosevelt may have started this with his mother, in the Eleanor Roosevelt mysteries.  Anyway, Ms. Barron wrote several of them, and then stopped for a couple of years. It seemed she'd given them up, but another one just came out!  Only in paperback, but I don't care.

If you're a real purist, you won't like them. But if you're up for some fun, a good mystery and a darn good imitation of Jane Austen's writing style, then give these a try. The first one is "Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor". They must be read in order!

There are many so-called "sequels" to Jane Austen's works - in my opinion, they're almost all terrible! There are two by Jane Dawkins - "Letters from Pemberley" and "More Letters from Pemberley", which are the best of the lot - they give a credible continuance to the story of Lizzie and Darcy. They have a quiet feeling about them which seems a bit too mild to me, but they're nice.  Everything else is just awful!  I always felt that it was impossible for anyone to imitate Jane's style, until I came upon these by Stephanie Barron. She has the good sense to not try and guess how Jane would have continued any of her stories. She makes up stories about Jane and gives her adventures she *may* have had, in places she really did go to at the times she actually traveled to them. I like to think that dear Jane could have had these adventures given the chance, and that with her sharp mind, she could have solved these mysteries.

"When a young lady of more fashion than means has the good sense to win the affection of an older gentleman, a widower of high estate and easy circumstances, it is generally observed that the match is an intelligent one on both sides. The lady attains that position in life which her friends may envy and congratulate her, while the gentleman wins for his advancing years all that youth, high spirits, and beauty can offer. He is declared the best, and most generous, of men; she is generally acknowledged to be an angel fully deserving of her good fortune. His maturity and worldly experience may steady her lighter impulses; her wit and gentle charms should ease the cares attendant upon his station. With patience, good humour, and delicacy on both sides, a tolerable level of happiness may be achieved.

                              Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor,   
                                                                                   by Stephanie Barron

See what I mean? 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the Brother Cadfael mysteries

The beautiful photos on Rachel's blog gave me the idea for this post.

Ellis Peters's medieval mystery novels are among my absolute favorite books, and I have read them all - 20 - more than twice. They take place in Shrewsbury, England in the Benedictine Monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul in the 12th century.  Human nature being what it is, murders happen, or other mysterious doings, and the one who ends up figuring things out is one Brother Cadfael, a Welsh monk and member of that faith community.  Cadfael has an open nature, and a great interest in and respect for his fellow man/woman which is why he's the one who's inclined to try and get to the bottom of things. Also, his "job" at the monastery is to grow medicinal herbs and make medicines for not only his fellows within, but the people in the nearby town. (I guess there weren't doctors in those days!)  So, Cadfael is afforded more opportunities to get out of the enclosure than the others, and he's friendly. And he learns a lot in the process.

When I read these books, I marvel at the way Ellis Peters says things. After all, aren't we all speaking the same language?  But some people have a gift for using the words we all know with such a beauty - such wisdom - it's a revelation.   She wrote 20 of them, plus a prequel of sorts, with 2 shorter stories in it.

I re-read these books when I feel the need to become "human" again. In Cadfael's company, there's hope.

Monday, October 4, 2010

a good day

Today, with these instructions, I finally made a pillow cover; something I've never done, but wanted to for too long. I've been "collecting" pillows, and saving pictures of ones I like in magazines. Something must have snapped in me last night, because I decided to just go ahead and make one!

Of course, it wasn't difficult. I used fabric I have, and found some ball fringe in the house, from my late mother's stash - I've noticed the popularity of bobbled pillows of late.

Shown here with an afghan I bought from Anna's shop a while ago.

This was a very easy way of making a big difference in the living room - now I'm having all sorts of pillow plans.

time to get snug


There is definitely that feel in the air -  farewell seersucker bedspread - happy hibernating.

(I love this - it was the first thing I ever got on ebay. I was searching high and low for a summery spread, but only could come up with fancy things - not what I wanted.  I went to ebay and this was the fourth item on the page - $10.49! - I took the plunge, and won it.) 

Goodnight, summer curtains!  It's time to start cozying up the house.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I was in the living room earlier today when I thought I heard a mockingbird scolding. I thought, oh, will I never hear them sing again in this neighborhood? when, there it was - that dear litany of "tunes". And I saw 2 or 3 of them flying around. I hope they stay a while.

                                      To the Mocking-bird

                           Winged mimic of the woods! Thou motley fool,
                           Who shall thy gay buffoonery describe?
                           Thine ever-ready notes of ridicule
                           Pursue thy fellows still with jest and gibe;
                           Wit, sophist, songster, Yorick of thy tribe,
                           Thou sportive satirist of Nature's school,
                           To thee the palm of scoffing we ascribe,
                           Arch mocker, and mad abbott of misrule!
                           For such thou art by day; but all night long
                           Thou pour'st a soft, sweet, solemn, pensive strain,
                           As if thou didst, in this thy moonlight song,
                           Like to the melancholy Jaques complain,
                           Musing on falsehood, violence, and wrong,
                           And sighing for thy motley coat again!

                                                                           Richard Henry Wilde

(photo by Ryan Hagerty)