Wednesday, July 31, 2013

the dress I made for the wedding

Well, I've been asked about the dress I'm making for the second wedding.

Like I said, I didn't have anything in my closet suitable, so I went through my clippings - and decided on this -

It's beautiful, isn't it?  But don't get excited. I knew I wasn't going to find that wonderful, embroidered fabric; and I don't have her slim, long waist or broader shoulders either.. What appealed to me was the gracefulness of it, the long, sleeveless coolness for the dog days of early August.

So my first task was to find a pattern. I didn't think I could just come across a dress pattern like this one, but was pretty sure there must be a blouse pattern which I could combine with an a-line skirt design I already have. And I was right - I got Butterick 5890 on sale - almost exactly what I was looking for. My idea was to buy some cheap but pretty fabric to try it out on and get it perfected, then buy some nicer fabric and make another one for the wedding. A suggested fabric on the pattern envelope was eyelet - everybody loves that! I found some on which was only four dollars and something per yard and I bought plenty. I think this is about when I found the Chinese seamstress on Etsy and ordered my other dress - which took much stress off me; but I still wanted to continue with my creation. The fabric was a poly/cotton, which I really don't like, but since this was to be an experiment, I wanted to spend as little as possible, so I put up with the fabric content I didn't want. Here it is waiting to be hemmed - pretty, at least.

Like I've said, I make lots of mistakes when sewing, so I went very slowly, in between household chores; it took far longer than anticipated. I realized I didn't need to combine it with my skirt pattern - I just extended the line of the blouse, which is rather long and full - much easier! I cut out my size on the pattern piece but it was huge and I had to take in the sides more than once. The armholes were quite big and needed adjusting. It also took me a couple of tries to get the bias binding on the neck edge to lay flat. (much spraying and pressing!) Oh, and the invisible zipper - after sewing it in twice with a method from Threads, I ended up stitching it in by hand. After three rows of stitching, now it's perfect.

Since the fabric quality is cheap, it's kind of thin and I realized early on I'd need an underdress for it. I used some bleached muslin I bought for quilt backing and just made another dress (which went quite fast, by the way). I left out the zipper, feeling I should just tack it inside somehow.

So I decided to hand-stitch it to the zipper tape all the way down, and also a little on the shoulder seams.

I got it to fit in nicely (praise God and all the saints!) As there's no time to make another version, I think it'll do well enough with my white sandals, silver hoops, and my mother's white beads. I also trecently bought a green cardigan which just happens to look very good with this dress - I always have to be sure I won't freeze in air conditioning.

So, there it is - not as flowing as the inspiration - I will have to try it again with a wider fabric than the usual 44" to get that effect, I think. Yes, I definitely plan to make it again.

Monday, July 29, 2013

the half-made home

"Nobody has a right to be bored in a half-made home. A home which is not a fair expression of us at our best, a home which lacks what it might have, a home which is in any part more ugly or in any part more uncomfortable than it absolutely need be...a home which cannot be run without waste, a home which by any detail gets on the nerves of its inhabitants and so impairs the harmony of their existence - something ought to be done about such a home."

                                         -  Arnold Bennett,  quoted by Sarah Ban Breathnach in Simple Abundance

Sunday, July 28, 2013

a prayer

God our Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, grant us in accord with the riches of your glory to be strengthened with power through your Spirit in the inner self. Grant that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith, and that rooted and grounded in love, we may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God. Through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.

                                               -  Magnificat,  July 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

thinking again about canning jars

A year ago I was telling Debra that if she wanted any canning jars she could have some, because I had so many and knew I'd never have any use for them.  Now suddenly I'm using them - not for canning, but for my refrigerator pickles and my iced tea, which I don't have a nice pitcher for. (Actually, there was a pretty one at Salvation Army the other day, but two quarts of tea in a glass pitcher?  It would be so heavy - I didn't buy it.)

I'm not so inclined to be rid of them anymore.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

a jam swap

When we were rolling in wild berries, I had so many in the fridge but not enough time to bake with them. So, one night around nine thirty I decided to make freezer jam, like last year. I altered the flavorings, but the berry to sugar to pectin ratios were the same. It took less than a half hour. 

Meanwhile, my co-worker Linda had made some raspberry freezer jam - did I want some? Yes, and would you like a jar of mine? And that's how I ended up with a nice dilemma for my morning toast. 

When in doubt,  have some of each.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Debra to the rescue

I've been in need of a white bag to go with the dress I'm making, and the thrift store didn't have one, either. But Debra does.

Thanks, Deb.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the everlasting support

"...I personally reach out to a bigger concept which I cannot define. I feel when I pray that my prayers do not vaporize in thin air. I feel a strengthening of my spirit.

Twilight diminished the rain this Sunday and the drought-sered grass was already greening. Mill Pond was pewter and one pale candle of light shone in the sky. And all at once I felt a presence, an everlasting support overwhelming death as I prayed."

                                      -  Gladys Taber,  My Own Cape Cod 
                                                   (after attending a memorial service earlier in the day)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"the word we long for"

Let us welcome Christ, the stranger,
As he knocks upon the door.
Open to him, bid him enter,
Gather round his feet once more,

For he brings a gift unopened
To the one who will receive
Love in unfamiliar wrappings,
And with open heart believe.

Let us listen now with Mary,
Let good Martha's grumbling lie,
See the guest and not the labor,
Lest he Savior pass us by.

For he speaks the word we long for
To the one who will receive
Love in unfamiliar language,
And with list'ning heart believe.

             -  Magnificat,  July 2013

Saturday, July 20, 2013

a better arrangement

After thinking about it for too long, I've started re-arranging the kitchen cabinets as I clean them. What I was thinking about too long was how I should change things around, but I couldn't figure it out in my head. I find that as I clean one shelf at a time, washing everything in it and removing all items I don't want anymore, I can see pretty clearly where things should go. Spaces open up and make just enough room for a gentle shifting, with it all falling into place as I go along.

Friday, July 19, 2013

two weddings, and then another one

Three of my young cousins are getting married this year. Two of them are almost together, with one day in between!  But since they don't know each other - well, it's not like anybody can be blamed for bad planning.

Of course I don't own anything suitable for a wedding and I didn't come across a thing I liked in my shopping travels. So, with two months to plan, I told myself I had to sew something. I chose a design, found a suitable pattern and ordered some inexpensive fabric to sort of practice on. And then, guess what?  Just like folks start an adoption rolling, only to finally get pregnant after trying for years until they're sure it'll just never happen, I came across a dress I liked well enough to wear to a wedding.

I've discovered on Etsy a few Chinese seamstresses - or maybe I should say designers - who actually make clothing which appeals to me, or at least some of it does. So, I ordered a dress with great relief -  I still planned to sew something but the pressure was off me to have to produce something; I don't sew that great and working with a deadline isn't a very peaceful way to do things. (I've been known to sew a left sleeve on the right armhole, etc., even in the best of times.) So, I've been plodding along with that and it's almost done, except I've gone so slowly that the practice one will have to be "the one". But it fits, and now I have to make an underdress out of muslin to wear with it.

Meanwhile, the dress from China came, and I found nice shoes and earrings to wear with it. That's set! It's not pale like the photo, but more of an apricot, which suits me even better. So, that will be for the first of the two weddings which is an evening one. The other is on a Sunday morning with a brunch afterward, so if I can get the other dress done in time, I think it'll be more suitable for that.
But if I don't, I have a dress. And when those two weddings are done, it'll be time to figure out what to wear to the third, a fall wedding in Vermont.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the third thing

"Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing, that makes it water, and nobody knows what it is."

                                              -    D.H. Lawrence
                                                              quoted from Cooked, by Michael Pollan

Saturday, July 13, 2013

a reliable watch

My Eco watch fell down somewhere in my room, and was missing almost two weeks.

Because it's powered by light, at home I keep it on a windowsill, or under a lamp after dark. Sometimes it falls down behind something and I have to dig down and get it; this time it was nowhere. So when I was cleaning, I had to empty out everything it could have fallen into but I wasn't finding it, and I was afraid it had gone into the waste basket and been thrown out.

It turned up, in a small tote with a pillow project inside. And when I got ready to adjust the time on a solar-powered watch which had been in the dark two weeks, I got a pleasant surprise - it was perfect!  Is this an ad for a Citizen eco-drive watch?  I guess so.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

back to the island

Yesterday I was back at the island where we'd picnicked two years ago. This time it was a small group from church going there for a day of recollection.

It was foggy at first.

I looked forward to seeing the mimosa tree again, but it wasn't blooming and had several dead branches - the work of Hurricane Sandy.

So, after a gracious welcome we had an hour-long conference with a bathroom break before Mass. Then lunch.  We'd been expecting sandwiches. Nope - Chicken Parmesan

with a small salad before, and jello and whipped cream after, served by a most cheerful staff.

A walk around the grounds before the afternoon conference

I can't imagine a more idyllic place - everyone kept saying it was like being in Heaven! 

In my wanderings I came upon a little herb and vegetable garden, and then noticed grape vines.

When I saw a woman tending a potted flower I asked her about it. She was a gardener, and yes, they have some fruit trees and a larger garden area across the street - they'd just picked a big batch of currants the other day.

They sell their own preserves and wildflower honey in the gift shop.

We ran into stormy weather on the way back, but as we neared home there was a rainbow to welcome us (which was too low to get with the camera).

We really could have stayed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

the color of summer

A different brand of olive oil poured out this wonderful liquid in my favorite color.

Monday, July 8, 2013

make your own eye drops

I wear contact lenses - the rigid kind - and sometimes my eyes feel a little dry, but instead of buying wetting solution I just mix up some table salt in a glass of warm water and put it in an eye drop bottle.

Did you ever notice that your eye drop bottle is refillable? What I mean is, the piece in the top is removeable, and you can fill it up yourself. I suppose you could use it for anything that you wanted to measure by the drop.

I buy the cheapest eye drops I can find, open it up and dump all the contents down the sink. Then fill it up with salty water. When my eyes are feeling dry, I squirt some in. It's also helpful in the morning for rinsing out any gunky stuff.

I'm not sure soft lens wearers could do this. And if you have an eye condition, you should use whatever your doctor suggests. But for everyday dryness this works pretty well. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

in green pastures

My shepherd will supply my need;
The Lord God is his name.
In pastures green he makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.

He brings my wand'ring spirit back,
When I forsake his ways;
And leads me for his mercy's sake,
In paths of truth and grace.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise.

                     in Magnificat, July 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

cooking outdoors

"It is a fine thing that America has moved outdoors. I can remember when a barbecue was an uncommon sight. Now every back yard has a cooking setup. They may tower like fortresses and have dozens of subsidiary gadgets as well as chopping blocks, serving shelves and rotary spits. Or they may be a few bricks with a broiler unit from an old stove set on top. "

                                                   Gladys Taber,  Stillmeadow Sampler

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

box top Dolly

I was in my recipe box looking for berry ideas, and Dolly came along.

I can't believe she actually fits in there!

She made herself very comfortable. The radio was playing jazz. Of course.

Here she is totally enjoying Blue Moon.

 She stayed in there quite a while. I was kind of worried about my box.

It's fine.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Monday, July 1, 2013

berry abundance

Our wild berries are ready - when I went out to pick, I filled up my bowl plus more! What do you do with so many but make a pie?

there were more berries than this!

Except that pie crusts tend to get soggy around here - I always make them juicy.

Then, something made me think of Margo's shortbread crust pies. A crust like that would hold up longer. 

Here it is before going in the oven with powdered sugar on top. It came out very well, if a little too sweet.  It didn't last long. But there were lots of berries left.

I made another one today.