5.28.2010

Teaser

Just a little teaser today. We're going on a big camping trip this weekend, so there are tons of preparations needing my attention. While I'm busy cooking and checking gear and getting everything organized, here are a couple preview pictures of a recently completed sewing project and an in-progress knitting project.


I'll be back next week with tales and pictures of camping and all of the food I'm making to take along, as well as more info on the projects pictured above. In the meantime, have a lovely long weekend. If you get a chance, leave a note in the comments & tell me about your plans for the holiday. Ok, off to don the apron & get busy!

5.27.2010

Goodness from the Kitchen


We had some leftover creme fraiche in the fridge, so couple of nights ago I started a batch of my own. Have you had creme fraiche before? It's very much like sour cream, but WAY better. Like yogurt and kefir and buttermilk, creme fraiche is a cultured dairy product. To make your own, simply combine equal parts store-bought creme fraiche and heavy cream. Leave it partially covered on the counter for 4-24 hours. Once it has thickened, it's ready. Cover and refrigerate. If you can resist finishing it all, reserve some to start your next batch.

We also had some rhubarb lurking in the veggie drawer. I had lots of plans for it, but hadn't yet made anything and it was in it's last days of usefulness. So, I used this quick and easy recipe for Rhubarb Poached in Jasmine Tea with Ginger. Instead of the fresh ginger called for in the recipe, I substituted chopped crystallized ginger. Also, I had less rhubarb than the recipe required, so I cut the whole thing back and somewhat approximated the quantities. It was delicious, but I think I used a bit too much ginger as it completely overshadowed the jasmine.

The recipe recommends chilling the cooked rhubarb for 3 hours before eating, and then serving it over vanilla ice cream or with mascarpone or sour cream. We couldn't wait three hours, so I scooped out a couple small bowls full and served them warm with little dollops of mascarpone. Quite lovely. The rest of the poached rhubarb went into the fridge and we ate it last night with my creme fraiche. Delicious! Either way, the rhubarb is fantastic.

5.21.2010

TTFN


Tah Tah For Now... We're off to the Great Midwest for a few days to visit with my family. I'll see you back here next week. Until then, here are a few photos from last Saturday's Timbers' game for your enjoyment.

Ryan got his hands on one of the flags supplied by the Timbers' Army. I tried waving it, but am not quite tall enough to manage it effectively. The flag kept bonking the heads of those around me. Oops. So, it all came down to Ryan, who waved it so enthusiastically that he ended up with a blister - Ouch!

My beautiful sisters. Sanna (left), Ryan's sister, was down from Seattle for the weekend. We may have turned her into a soccer fan with this little outing. Y'all have met Lex already...


Aww, aren't we cute?


Umm, I have no excuse for this... Just couldn't help myself... See you next week!

5.20.2010

Magical

This beautiful yard is just a couple of blocks away. I love to walk by and watch it change throughout the year. It is full of plants which take care of themselves and looks to be just the kind of place where you'd find fairies playing house.


Right now, fading bluebells and new purple flowers whose name I don't know are standing tall amongst lush greenery. They grow under several hydrangea bushes, which are filling in with leaves and will soon be blooming.


It's a very Anne kind of place. Perhaps it needs a name? All of the romantic sounding geographical names I can think of are wrong. Vale (wide river valley), dale(valley), glen (valley), glade (woodland clearing), close (cul-de-sac or lawn next to a cathedral) - none of them are correct. But perhaps that wouldn't deter Anne... Any suggestions?

5.19.2010

Lovely In Lilac


My latest FO (that's Finished Obect, yo!): Sublime Yarn's Garbo, from this book, knit with four skeins of this yarn. The pattern was simple, the yarn is like a cloud, the finished effect is lovely. I did have some issues, about which you can read at my project page on Ravelry.


Here's a close-up of the buttons. They were among those I purchased at last weekend's yard sale. They are clear plastic with white paint around the the outsides. The moment I shook them out of the bag, I knew they were just the thing for this sweater, which I had only just finished seaming the previous night. They really are lovely when they catch the light and reflect the color of the yarn.


Even though the plastic buttons are very light, I felt the knitted fabric wasn't quite sturdy enough on it's own to properly support them. Luckily, I found some hem tape at Josephine's Dry Goods that matched exactly. It only took a few minutes to hand stitch the hem tape to the sweater before attaching the buttons. Well worth the extra bit of effort.

Just had to share this last photo. I usually take tons, in order to get at least a couple of good shots. This was done near the end, when I was feeling a bit goofy - obviously.

5.18.2010

More Treasures


Saturday morning, after our customary trip to Farmer's Market, we hustled over to Little Byrd's yard sale. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF!!!! AND, I got to meet the delightful Little Byrd (aka Rebekah) in person. She is every bit as charming as you might think after reading her blog. I didn't recognize her at first 'cause she was wearing large, dark sunglasses. But, she recognized me and we soon fell into conversation. Fortunately, she's quite outgoing and was able to keep things going when my attention would inevitably be caught by one after another of the treasures on display!

Ryan spotted this vintage shoe case. It's so cool. The lable says "Multnomah, Paul Bunyan Air Luggage, Portland, Ore." and it's monogrammed with the initials M.E.G. It's well used and needs a bit of cleaning, but I quite like to imagine all of the faraway places it must have traveled to over the years...


The jewelry box screamed "Alexis", so I snapped it up and gave it to her later that evening. I couldn't stand to save it for an occasion. It's black lacquer with Mother of Pearl of Abalone inlay and a red interior.


Here's the rest of what I toted home: a blue slip, a 1960's sheet, three doilies, a couple yards of blue wool tweed (to become a new skirt for fall), some striped linen (which I'll make into something this summer), a paper mache tray, two bags of vintage buttons, and a travel tissue pouch and fabric pencil case (both made by Little Byrd herself).


The sheet is SO soft. It feels like 100% cotton, which I believe is somewhat rare for the period due to the recent introduction of oh-so-practical polyester. I can't decide how I want to use it. As a sheet? To back a quilt? To make something to wear, like PJ pants or a sundress?


This is the interior of the box, which is lined in burgundy silk. All of those little pockets around the edges are to hold shoes. I can't help but envision them filled with yarn...


Here's a better view of the doilies. I love the sherbet colors.


Can you believe all of the buttons? I didn't look through the contents of each bag, so it was great fun to open them at home. Not pictured are 3 which I immediately sewed onto a newly finished cardigan.


These blue and green buttons are probably my very favorite of the bunch. There are quite enough of each for a blouse, dress, or cardigan. I think I even have fabric in my stash to go with the green buttons. Just have to decide on a pattern...


I also am really taken with these sparkly buttons.


Even these empty button cards are charming. Why aren't buttons cards still this cute?

We also came home with a couple of white diner-style mugs and a large glass stein, which had Ryan very excited. It was difficult confining our purchases to this little stash. If you're interested in aquiring your own vintage treasures, check out Rebekah's etsy shop: Little Byrd Vintage.

5.17.2010

Scrub a Dub Dub


My skin isn't enjoying the transitional weather of spring. To combat its complaining, I'm using a few homemade remedies. I used to be a sucker for beauty products. I must've tried everything in the aisle to keep my skin happy. The prettier the packaging, the more likely I was to bring it home. After a while, as no one thing worked better than another, and after I began worrying about the ingredients of some of these products, I decided to make my own. It's quite satisfying and I've been pleased with the results.

At the top right is my body scrub, which I apply with exfoliating gloves while I wait for the shower water to get warm. The recipe is from last December's issue of Sunset. (You can find the recipe here.) While the salt and sugar gently scrub, the oils penetrate very thoroughly and leave my skin feeling quite moisturized. For good measure, I follow my shower with this body oil by Mountain Ocean.

We keep a container of baking soda in the shower, bottom left. Ryan uses it in combination with a cider vinegar rinse in lieu of shampoo. (read more here) I use it to scrub my face two or three times each week. It's extremely fine and very gentle, but leaves my skin feeling incredibly smooth, better than anything else I've tried.

After my face has been thoroughly scrubbed, I follow it with a mask of my own recipe. It's equal parts egg white and buttermilk and a good sized dollop of raw honey. The ingredients are briskly stirred, then applied with a cotton ball. The leftover mask goes into the fridge and is good for several applications. I usually leave it on for about 10 minutes. My skin feels nourished and a bit tighter after the mask.

Finally, in the cobalt blue bottle is Rosemary Acne Serum. The recipe is from Pure Skin by Barbara Close. This blend of hazelnut, apricot kernel, tea tree, and essential oils is my regular moisturizer. I highly recommend Pure Skin. It's stuffed with recipes for natural beauty remedies as well as gorgeous photographs. (Also good is Well Being, by the same author.)

5.14.2010

Purple Flowers and Green Things

Some pictures from our garden and around the neighborhood:

Spanish Lavender


Fledgling California Poppies.


Bluebells


Sage, at Dusk


Pea Shoots


Rose, Outside the Kitchen Window

5.13.2010

Found


On Sunday morning, Ryan and I stopped at Abby's moving sale. We were there early, but Abby said there had been a rush of shoppers ahead of us and that things were well picked over. That may be, but we still managed to find plenty of treasures to take home:


A pink feather tree, a sweet embroidery sampler, two vintage metal trays,


several folds of fabric,


two framed photographs, a package of paper doilies, a milk glass pitcher, a blue hankie covered in polka dotted tea cups, a blue and white Japanese tea cup, and a Pronto! Polaroid Land Camera. We also brought home a glass carafe, which didn't make it into the pictures. All for $10!

We were both delighted in our finds, but I must say that I'm particularly excited about the camera. I always wanted a Polaroid camera. I'm now hunting about the web to find a copy of the manual, and then will search for some film. Goody!

5.12.2010

May Day Recap


I promised to Show & Tell a bit about our May Day festivities, didn't I? Six of us participated in the swap. We had one month to put together a basket of delights before delivering them in secret on May First. It was quite funny how we all tried to get information about the likes & dislikes and comings & goings of one another as we planned our baskets and their delivery.

I made a basket for the lovely Megan. A recent article in GreenCraft Magazine inspired me to repurpose an ordinary paper bag to serve as the basket. I folded the top down two or three times, then punched holes in the sides and threaded pink organza ribbon through to serve as the basket handle. To dress things up a bit more, I layered a square of floral paper over a square of yellow paper, then fastened them to the front of the basket with the same ribbon I used for the handle.


To hold the flowers, I kept with the repurposing theme and made a vase of a tin can covered in some of the same papers I used to dress up the basket. I filled the vase with pink and yellow ranunculus and sweet peas, wax flower, and bupleurum, chosen to complement the flowers on the decorative paper. (Yes, really, I am that crazy.)

In addition to the flowers I included a couple of skeins of Crystal Palace Mikado Ribbon in Jewel Mix, a bottle of bubbles, a small trinket box shaped like a cupcake, a bar of dark chocolate studded with orange peel and wrapped in a poem, a retro paper doll named Pat, a notecard with an Art Nouveau image on the front, and an engraved silver cup (not pictured).

In addition to Megan's basket, I made a few smaller jars of flowers to hang on doorknobs. To make these, I used twine to fashion a handle below the rim of the jars. Then, after filling the jars with water and flowers, I gathered tissue paper around the outside and secured it with the same pink organza ribbon I used for Megan's basket.

When all was ready, Lex and I went out together to deliver all of our baskets. We spent an afternoon driving all over town, hanging baskets from doorknobs and leaving them on doorsteps, ringing doorbells, and then running away while trying to contain our giggles and not trip over our own feet. It was very good fun!

Here is the very extravagant basket Megan left for me. We were at home when she stopped by. I was sitting at the kitchen table assembling baskets when I spied a figure with a black hood walk by the living room windows. This isn't an unusual sight, and so my suspicions were only very slightly aroused. However, Ryan was sitting near the open screen door and reported that he clearly heard giggling as Megan set down the basket, knocked & ran. I just caught sight of her ponytail as she ran back down the walk and across the street.

You can see that I was well & thoroughly spoiled. In my basket I found a knitting book and yarn, a knitting bag/purse, two camisoles, a novel, a trinket box, marmalade, honey, two boxes of tea, two fat quarters, several notecards, a handmade loofah, and a pair of beautiful fingerless gloves.

Here's a closer look at the gloves. Not only are they lovely, but they're luxuriously soft. I think I'll wear these often when the weather cools again.


This is the spread for the May Day Reveal party, held on Wednesday. Quite without thinking, I held a May Day party on Cinco de Mayo. Go figure.


I had been eying a recipe for rhubarb upside-down cake found in a back-issue of Victoria Magazine. It was a hearty teacake, made with cornmeal and molasses and served with whipped cream. Quite tasty. To accompany the cake, I made up some lemonade with sparkling water and strawberry puree. (Because rhubarb just begs for strawberry, doesn't it?) Lex contributed blood orange vodka, for anyone who preferred a more adult lemonade. Yum.

Since I emptied the contents of my basket, it has become Holly's favorite place to curl up.

5.11.2010

Show & Tell

My finished Denim & Lace Cardi, from this post. I am ridiculously pleased with myself over this project. The variegated blues of the yarn remind me of a comfy pair of blue jeans and the crisp white against the blue is very satisfying. Here, I've paired it with a very feminine eyelet skirt, but it would work just as well with jeans or linen pants.

I crocheted 13 little buttons and 4 motifs from yarn leftover from some previous project. The motif appliqued to the front is a more permanent take on the brooch or flower I often wear pinned to my blouse/dress/jacket.

The back, with the remaining 3 motifs. I was a bit concerned that the appliques might add an uncomfortable stiffness to the back, but thankfully that isn't the case at all. It moves quite well, and the main yarn, Araucania Patagonia Nature Cotton, is delightfully light and soft.


A closer look. The pattern I used, Buttony, was really just a loose formula, which encouraged quite a bit of freedom in the knitting. Before knitting mine, I looked at all of the other versions on Ravelry. It's so amazing to see the creativity of the many different interpretations. Hopefully, mine will stand out among the rest. Lex told me that it is uniquely Melissa.


My other recent achievement, the Little Engineer Dress made with the Schoolhouse Tunic pattern, first mentioned here. I'm calling it Little Engineer Dress because the fabric strongly resembles that of the caps worn by train engineers.

It's shorter than I normally would wear. Much shorter. (I've never liked my knees overmuch.) But, it's sweet and breezy and comfortable and it was incredibly easy to sew. It also received several compliments when I wore it on Saturday, which thrilled me to no end. I'm thinking that I'll have to make a few versions.

See you soon!