I am a long-time lover of quilts. To me, they say cozy, comfort, home, beauty, tradition, and….an inexpressible quality that conveys something of the good, simple, wholesome things I so dearly love.

I am no pro quilter, though. I dabble in it from time to time, creating quilts that aren’t entirely perfect (or even close!) just for the joy of making the fabric version of homemade chicken noodle soup. But there are those whose mad quilting skills and ability to gorgeously combine fabrics will forever leave me in awe.

One such person is Bernice.

She recently joined our family, and I am tickled to death that she is a part of the clan now! Talk about a kindred spirit. Goodness. My husband’s uncle recently made her his bride, much to all our joy. She is truly one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. Plus, she makes Uncle Lyle beam, which is awesome. 🙂 Bernice is also an amazing quilter.

On our recent road trip across the country to our new duty station in Arizona, we took the long way and went through Nebraska to visit family. We spent a couple of days out at the farm where the newlyweds live, and I got to ooh and aah and revel in Bernice’s gorgeous quilts. I want to share pictures of a bunch of them on here so you can drool over them too….though the pictures truly do not do these beauties justice. She has others, too, which you can go see on her Etsy shop page. Yep. Bernice recently opened up an Etsy shop. You have got to visit her site and check them out. The darlingest little baby quilts, and all of the ones I’m showing you here are also on her site.

Pass the word on to anyone you know interested in getting a quilt- I have seen ’em all up close and they are so so so well constructed and quilted! Not at all like mine, heh heh…

Ok, without further ado, here a few of Bernice’s beautiful creations. Oh….ahem….please disregard the tacky date stamp. Forgot to take it off. Oops!

Firstly, the yellow and blue quilt:

So pretty and feminine without being overly girly.






Each block is different, but blends together in a cohesive whole.

This one is entirely made of high quality batik- so in vogue these days (I’m told). Love the earth tones!

This is another one in earthier tones, but to me this one takes the class factor up a notch. It is so elegant!

I just love how she combines fabrics- the grey and tan, black, brown, with gold stitching. Lovely.

A 1930s reproduction quilt. Gorgeous, isn’t it?? Bernice showed me a stack of true, vintage 1930s feed sack squares and I can’t wait to see what she does with them.

Here’s one bursting with autumn colors- which the setting sun happened to catch just right to display the richness of the tones:

And a wee little baby girl’s quiltie:







I’ve saved my two favorites for last. They both are just….just beautiful!! Either of these would be welcome on my bed any day. Again, the pictures only give you a taste of their beauty. The hand of these fabrics… (how they feel)…it’s like buttah. Mmmhmm.

The first one: glorious black and white, super elegant with the subtle detail of golden stitching that warms it up perfectly. Behold!


And my most favorite of all time, with Civil War style reproduction cotton. Don’t let the apparent simplicity of the star pattern fool you. This is one complicated quilt- check out how the stars aren’t all in a straight row- the blocks intersect, giving it added elegance in my book. It’s so lovely!!

The colors! The craftsmanship!

I leave you with one final picture of this stunning quilt and the link to Bernice’s Etsy:

Bernice’s Quilt Shop

Head on over and check out her lovely quilts!

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Zucchini Fritters with Mint

After a good perusal of cookbooks last week- I’ve been feeling uninspired in my usual meal rotation- I found these little gems that totally rocked our socks off. They are from the Joy of Cooking Vegetarian cookbook.

They are the perfect summer treat. I know I’ll be making these a whole lot more once our zucchini plants start yielding. The plants are huge. I think I may have planted one or five too many…. Needless to say, if you live anywhere close to me, you may be receiving an abundant gift of zucchini very soon. Which you can use to make these!!

Here’s what we need to make these beauties:

2.5 lbs zucchini


2 large eggs

1/2 c crumbled feta

1/2 c dry unseasoned bread crumbs

1/4 c flour

1 bunch green onions (the white part and half of the green part)

2 cloves garlic

1/2 c fresh parsley or 3 Tbsp dry parsley

3-4 Tbsp fresh chopped mint

olive oil for cooking

Using a food processor makes this recipe quick and super easy. If you don’t have one, though, don’t let that keep you from making these!! All the chopping and grating will be entirely worth it. Plus, the egg, bread crumbs, and flour keep everything sticking together even if you mince it all by hand.

Numero uno: grate that zucchini. I used the grater plate attachment on the food processor and it was done in 30 seconds.

Bam! Done.

Next, put the zucchini shreds into a bowl and sprinkle with about 1/2 to 1 tsp salt, to get the excess liquid out. Stir together and let it sit while you work on getting the rest of the ingredients together.

Fit the food processor with the steel blade attachment, and throw in the herbs and such: green onions, garlic, parsley and mint. I had no fresh parsley and used dried. Actually, I think the parsley in fresh format would have taken over the flavor, so I’m glad that I used dried.

Chop it all up nice and fine with a few pulses:

Then add in the feta and pulse it a few times to incorporate it into the herb mixture till it looks like this:

The smell…!!!! It’s amazing. Fresh, summery, mouth watering already.

Ok, now we’re going to just add the rest of the batter ingredients and whip ’em together with the cheese and herbs.

Eggs, flour, bread crumbs. I ended up not adding any extra salt to the recipe. The feta is already salty, we’ve salted the zucchini to get the liquid out, and I didn’t want to over salt. If you like things a little more on the salty side, add a dash in. Otherwise, I think the recipe was great without any extra.

Pulse this till you get a nice homogenous blend, but don’t run the machine so long that the herbs become a nondescript paste. We want those good fresh flavors to hit our tongues in layers later on!

Squeeze out the excess juices from the zucchini over the sink. I just squished it in the bowl and held it at an angle to let the juices out, but you can also take handfuls and squeeze them, which is very satisfying. The point: get rid of extra liquid!

Scoop the batter mix into the bowl of drained zucchini  and give ‘er a good mixing.

Here comes the fun part! Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over med-high heat. You really don’t need much oil, especially if you use non-stick. Then, take about 1/4 c scoop of the mix and pat it onto the pan.

Keep the fritters nice and thick, though! This one in the picture got a bit thin. They are easier to turn and tastier in the end if they are on the thicker side. Let the fritters cook till golden brown and then flip to cook on the other side. I cooked mine for a couple of minutes each side, though the heat of your stove and density of your pan will make a difference.

These smell so good!! I kept a plate warm in the oven to transfer the cooked fritters to while I fried the rest.

Hello, beautiful fritter. And that’s it! Not too hard, eh?

Let’s try a bite and see how they are!


You guys, these are so good. Oh my.

The flavors of summer are in each crisp, delectable, tender bite. Add a dollop of the Greek yoghurt we made last week to take these to the next level. My goodness. These are fantastic. The mint adds a brightness and freshness that is unexpectedly good, while the golden mellow flavor of the zucchini embodies all the good warm things of summer. Truly a delightful treat! Make them soon!

These are great for appetizers at your next dinner party, or a side dish to a heavier meal. Or even better, serve these as the main course for a light summer supper, with cool Greek yoghurt and a fresh salad on the side! You won’t regret it.

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How to: Yoghurt and Greek Yoghurt

Let’s make yoghurt! And then, let’s make Greek yoghurt!

It’s so easy a cat could do it. Ok….maybe not our cats, but somebody else’s smarter and more opposably-thumbed cat could!

What you need:

1 gallon of milk

1 c. Dannon plain youghurt (not vanilla!!)

1 cooler


Fist things first: Scald the gallon of milk over medium heat. Basically, bring it up to boiling point, but don’t let it boil, and then turn it off and let it cool to the desired temperature.

Whilst the milk scaldeth, measure out your cup of yoghurt and set aside in a bowl.

You can, once you’ve made this batch, reserve a cup of your own yoghurt to use as a starter next time.  Dannon is the brand I’ve had the most consistent results from, so why reinvent the wheel? No point! I have tried other brands and they have failed occasionally. Also, make sure your starter yoghurt is fairly new.

My pot o’ milk generally takes a good 30 minutes to reach boiling temperatures, so I prepare my cooler while that is going on. Fill your cooler 1/4 to 1/3 of the way full of hot tap water. Take it’s temperature. Mine is 127 F! Good things happen at 127 F. Close up your cooler and keep that fancy-pants remote thermometer that your father in law gave you for grilling handy, since you dropped the other one in the milk last time you made bread.

The scoop on degrees: yoghurt culture develops best between 98 F and 130 F. Any higher and you kill it, any lower and nada. So! We want to make sure that the hot water bath is between those temperatures when we put our yoghurt jars in the cooler, and that the scalded milk reaches a temp within that parameter before we add in our yoghurt starter. Make sense? no? Perfect.

The milk has been scalded, so at this point you can plunge your pot o’ scalded milk into an ice bath in the sink to speed the cool-down process, or just make dinner like I did while it cooled.

Now that the milk is 123  degrees, mix a bit of it into the yoghurt bowl, get the mixture nice and smooth, and then add it into the big pot! Make sure that it’s well mixed in.

Next, pour the milk and yoghurt blend into your jars. I like to use large mason jars: the whole pot fits into 4 and a half, just about. Re-test the cooler-water temperature and if it’s good to go, put your jars into the cooler, zip or snap closed, and forget it’s there for a good 3 hours. The longer you let it sit after those 3 hours that it needs to set, the tangier it will be. I like my yoghurt on the less tangy side so I try to remember to remove it from it’s water bath pronto. This time, I forgot. In fact, I left it in the cooler overnight. But it’s still delicious!

Ok, now that we’ve come this far, who’s ready to make Greek yoghurt??

It’s beautifully simple. Greek yoghurt is merely strained normal yoghurt, as far as I understand it. I use this handy cheese-making bag to strain my yoghurt, but you can actually use a clean (and preferably sterilized) tea towel placed in a colander. Or about 5.2 zillion layers of cheesecloth.

Then, let it sit for a few hours (or overnight if you’re hard core and want suuuuper thick Greek yoghurt) over a bowl and all the extra whey will drip out, leaving you a gloriously creamy AND low fat yoghurt that is way cheaper than the buck-a-pop deal you can get at the groc. I let mine drain till the yoghurt was between the consistency of sour cream and cream cheese. A spoonful held upside-down doesn’t even budge, it’s so creamy and rich and thick and delicious.

Have it for breakfast with granola! Sweeten it with your fave jam or preserve. Use it as a substitute for sour cream! Make tzatziki! Have it with honey and blueberries!

Considering the amount of yoghurt you get and the price of the milk and starter compared with solely buying yoghurt from the groc, you will save a pretty penny. And! Have the satisfaction of making your own.

What to do if….??? What to do if your yoghurt mysteriously doesn’t set? I have had this happen a few times. Don’t despair! It’s still yoghurty and delicious. Use it for smoothies, or even just sweeten it with some fruit syrup and have a delish breakfast beverage! No sense crying over unset yoghurt!

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The Chair: A new beginning

This is the story of an old, sad chair that has been given a new lease on life.

A friend of mine here at Ft. Knox is moving away in a couple of weeks (welcome to the army!) and she passed this little beauty on to me since she never got the chance to finish working on it.

It’s hard to say how old it truly is. When Janna got it, it was actually a cushy upholstered chair! She told me that many older, sturdy chairs were updated and upholstered and changed throughout the generations of owners. So interesting! She started ripping off the upholstery, batting, and who knows what all to reveal more upholstery, more batting, and finally…… this:

And this:

Doesn’t it look like someone sawed off some kind of decorative knob/swoop on the end of the arm when they upholstered it? How sad. However, on a happy note, it is definitely solid wood, and is in excellent structural shape- not at all wobbly- though in deplorable aesthetic shape. Poor ole’ thing. Let’s take a closer look at what needs to happen to it.

Step 1. Fill all these holes!  Whoever upholstered it really went hog-wild with the nails. Jiminy! Just look at it! I’ll be using a LOT of wood filler. Since there are so many holes, I think it would look a little funky if I tried to sand it all down and stain it, even though I much, much prefer to let wood shine in all it’s luster and glory without a coat of paint. But you, my little chair, will need a layer or ten of paint.

Here are some more shots of what needs to be worked on. Umm…yeah. All of it. 🙂 How exciting!! One of my favorite things in life is to take ugly, disorganized things and make them beautiful and orderly once more. Ahhh. Note the layers of fabrics and pillow-ticking and what have you sticking out along the back edge of the seat. It’ll all have to get ripped out!

When selecting the paint for the chair, I took a chance. I decided to go with a gentle, soft, slightly ivory white. I usually tend towards darker woods and such, but absolutely love the fresh, modern-yet-classic look of white and off-white. It’s so fresh! I want more of it in my life. I love weathered wood, and I love white: two design aspects I’m trying to incorporate more into our home. I gravitate naturally towards dark, but really love light much more. Why?? Does this make sense? Probably not.

Here are the paint chips of white that I picked up.

Who knew that brown was actually white?  After much deliberation and pacing up and down the Wal-martz aisles in agony over which white to select, I went with Country Cloud over the Antique White.

Not too creamy, still fresh, and not too smack-your-mama bright. I hope I chose well! I much prefer oil based paint that you get from fancy-pants paint stores, but opted for a cheaper brand this go-around. We shall see if I regret it….

This weekend I’m planning on popping by our local Hancock fabrics to see what I can find for upholstering a new cushion (this one weighs about 5.32 tons- don’t let it’s compact size fool you!). I’m also considering getting rid of the wicker back deali-o. I don’t particularly like how it looks. Plus, I think that a very lightly padded back set into that space would both look nice and afford greater comfort. Wish me luck!

Here are the ingredients to take our sad chair to feeling suave, beautiful and classy once again: wood filler, spatula, sand paper, paint, paint-stirrers, some disposable gloves and a whole lotta love and elbow grease. I’ll keep you posted on the fabric and updates as I work on this little beauty-in-the-rough!

On a completely related note, I want to share two of my favorite design and DIY blogs with you all. I love seeing what people do, and these two families have glorious taste. I peruse their blogs for inspiration, tips, and just to feast my eyes on beautiful things. Enjoy these!!

Young House Love

The Lettered Cottage

Over and out.

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Farmhouse White: Loaves of Goodness

A couple of months ago I began making all of our sandwich bread. I have been loving having our own bread- it is such a different experience than store-bought loaves, no matter how fancy! Plus, not much can compare to the delicious smell of baking bread filling the house.

I love knowing what goes into our bread, and I love the process of making it too. It really isn’t as all-consuming as I used to think it was, and all you really need are a couple of hours (I’d say 2-3 total) in the evening to whip up a couple of loaves. Many people are afraid to bake bread, but to me it is one of the simple joys of life. Plus, it really isn’t that hard! Try this recipe, and you may never go back to the loaf-inna-bag from the grocery.

I came across this recipe on an awesome bread-blog called Farmgirl Fare. The original post has all kinds of great details to help de-mystify the art of breadmaking. It’s a fun post, and great to read if you are a beginner. The beauty of this recipe is that it stands up to plenty of altering, if you like to tailor recipes. Try it with white flour first, and then branch out!

Let’s jump in! Here are the ingredients:

10 c. white flour (or combo 9 c. flour, 1 c. oat bran, what bran, oatmeal, etc.)

1 ½ Tbsp Instant yeast (1/2 Tbsp = 1 ½ tsps)

4 c. lukewarm milk

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp butter

1 ½ Tbsp salt

flour for dusting

Numero uno, mix 4 c flour with the yeast in a big ole bowl. I used my kitchenaid bowl. You’ll note that I also used 1 c. oat bran instead of one of cups of flour.  Healthy! At the same time, warm up the milk on the stove or microwave. Add sugar and butter to the milk, and heat till it hits between 80 and 85 F.

Nope! Too warm! I let it cool for a while until….

Between these pictures, I dropped my beloved instant read thermometer into the milk and ruined it. Blast.  There we go! Right around 80. Perfect.

Pour the milk into your flour-yeast mix and give ‘er a good stir. Then add 3-4 more cups of flour AND the salt (which I always forget and beat in later…) and stir with vigor. It should look something like this:

A gloopy dough that sticks to everything. Now, grab a damp tea towel, cover the bowl and let it all just sit in a warm spot to rest for 20 min.

If you are using a kitchenaid or other mixer, throw 2 more cups of flour into the bowl and get your dough hook out. Mix together with the dough hook. I put mine on speed 2, but I also have a higher powered machine. If you are worried it will be too much for your machine, the regular knead speed is fine.  NOTE! We aren’t going for a knead time. We are testing for texture! After a while, stop your machine and lower the bowl, push your finger lightly into the surface of the dough and pull away fairly quickly. Like a one-second touch is long enough. If the dough sticks to your finger, it’s not done.






Add the remaining flour slowly as you keep kneading it. Pause again to test- the dough should feel smooth and like it is going to stick to your finger….but doesn’t! It should feel sticky-ish, but not stick. Elastic. Smooth. Really satisfying to touch, actually. You’ll know it when you feel it.






Form dough into ball in that same bow (no need to transfer it), cover again with the infamous tea towel, and set in a warm spot to rise for about an hour. I put mine on the sunny front rail of our house. See ya later!





While it rises, check on your stocks, your projects, or the household felines. Aha. A dead Gus on the front mat, killed by a rogue beam of sunshine.

Teddy, you look so comfy! Not.

Now that you have toodled away an hour, your dough will be tall and smooth and lovely! Test it by poking. If the spot you poke doesn’t spring back and the dough is at least doubled, you are good to go.





Smoosh it down with a spatula or your hand, and pour it onto a VERY LIGHTLY floured counter. It won’t stick much, and we need the dough to stick to itself, so don’t overflour.





Divide in half (just cut it with a knife), and form your loaves, after greasing your loaf pans. I use 9’ x 5’ pans.

I basically flatten the dough slightly into a rectangular shape with a rolling pin, fold it into thirds the long way, tuck the ends under and squish it slightly, then plop into pans and shove the sides down with my fingers. Farmgirl has some great instructions on her site about loaf-forming, but I like to just eye it.






Dust the top with flour, and then whip our that tea towel again to cover the loaves. Let rise for 35-40 min or until you poke lightly with your finger and the dough only bounces back about halfway. Let them get nice and high!

Meanwhile, this is the perfect time to heat the oven.  Put your baking stone in, middle to low rack, and heat to 375 F. The contact with that instant heat from the stone will give the loaves glorious spring!






Bake the loaves for about 35 min. To test for doneness, carefully dump the loaf on it’s side and tap-tap a corner. If it sounds hollow, it’s done!

WARNING!! Hot bread fresh from the oven is one of God’s great gifts, I think. BUT! Don’t cut into these loaves yet. Let them cool at least 20 to 30 min- the steam inside them will finish cooking them and if you cut into them too soon your loaf will exponentially decrease in goodness.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?? These guys freeze well too. I love this bread for sandwiches, toast, and it makes amaaaaazing grilled cheese, mouth-watering french toast…. and the list goes on!

Posted in Feasting | 12 Comments

Dress update!

Jenna’s ballgown is practically done!

The only things left are the hem, which will have to wait till she is here this weekend so I can measure it properly, and the sash. I’m also going to wait on the sash so she can decide what she likes best. In the meantime, based on the pictures, you all can give her your hearty opinion on which one you think she should wear.

Last night, I was working on putting the skirt together and attaching it all, having turned our dining room into a sewing shop temporarily.


I love for the garments I make to be as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside, and to hide fun little details that only the wearer know about, like this pretty casing for the waistline drawstring:

While this dress isn’t perfect inside on every seam, it’s little details like this that contribute to making sewing garments so fun and unique for me.

Well, folks, are you ready to see the final product? I brought Cordelia out to be our model until we can get Jenna down here to put the dress on. Mind you, Cordelia doesn’t have much of a shape, poor girl. Or arms, come to think of it. And her legs are also mysteriously not present. So the dress will look fuller on Jenna, who does have arms and legs, and a head. But for now, Cordelia must suffice.

Me: “Thanks Cordelia, you’re such a sport!”

Cordelia: “….”

Since the whole not having a head thing interferes with her ability to speak, much less the being an inanimate object problem, I will interpret. She is happy to oblige, but is pretty sure she has never been called a “sport” before and isn’t sure how she feels about it. Cordelia is the kind that drinks her tea with a pinkie sticking out, if you know what I mean. If she had pinkies, that is.

Which makes me think- why do we call them “pinkies”? Does that sound weird to anybody else? Just say it to yourself or type it a few times….pinkie…pinkie…pinkie….  Strange.

Here is the dress sans ribbons, a close-up of the bodice:

And here are some versions with ribbon, blue and a lovely champagne color. I can’t decide if the blue is too much of a contrast or not. Keep in mind, Cordelia is against a tan wall, so the champagne will look less…drab… on Jenna against other walls.



The blue is lovely, and I think it might be nice to pinch it a bit to give more visual interest.



Don’t mind the pin, I won’t be sticking it into Jenna’s back like I did with Cordelia. Cordelia is conveniently quiet about having pins shoved in her. Jenna, I suspect, would probably have something to say about it. Let’s look at a back view- I love how the gathers are condensed near the center back, it gives the dress something so….hmm. So feminine, I think.

It looks a little more dramatic in person that in this picture. And we know Jenna will look a gajillion times lovelier in it than good ole’ Cordelia. Poor chap, she gets pins shoved in her and no thanks for it.

Well, my friends and foes, I think we could all use a dose of James after this long line of inanimate models, what do you think?

What a cutie patootie. Can’t wait to snuggle him again soon!!!



Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Feasting: Cake in a Jar

This post marks the advent of a new section in my blog, all about food: Feasting!

While I do not aim to be one of the amazing foodbloggers like my sister and others, I do dearly love good food, and making good food for those I love ranks among my most favorite and most satisfying things to do. I mean, seriously, isn’t it wonderful to make a nutritious meal and know that you are contributing to the well-being of your family? or to make something delectable and irresistibly good that will cheer and warm your good friend? Yes, yes and yes I say.

As many of you might know, my husband is deployed right now, so it only seems natural to talk about cooking for him since he is my favorite person as well as my favorite person to cook for! Let’s dangle those participles and prepositions shamelessly, y’all! Seriously, I adore my husband. I also really, really like cooking for him. Having him a bazillion and a half miles away makes that a little tougher than usual, but I have recently discovered a new way of sending baked goods that stay really fresh and delicious. I am, needless to say, quite excited about this.

Now, we aren’t big cake people, to tell the truth. I love baking and decorating cakes, but not so much the eating of them. Excepting, of course, carrot cake and cheesecake. Mmm. We had cheesecake at our wedding. It was soooo good. My husband was having a hankering for carrot cake a little while ago, so I decided to try this method that I’d heard about through one of my army wife friends. He also loves my cinnamon rolls (recipe forthcoming), so I thought I’d give that a shot too and see what happened after they had traveled around the globe for a few weeks.

Are you ready? Strap on your apron, because here we go!

Adjust the number of jars according to how much you are making. This is what you will need:

-Large, wide-mouth glass canning jars and metal lids

-Small pot of boiling water

-Your choice of cake batter or bread-type dough

Follow the instructions for your cake or rolls or whatever. I would not advise this method for brownies or cookies. My friend tried this with brownies and it was…pretty disastrous. Heh heh. The thicker batter just doesn’t seem to cook through. Gross. Then you’ll be sending squooshy messy paste-innajar. Blech. I hate the word paste.

Wash the glass jars with soap and water, no need to sanitize them. The high temperatures of the oven will take care of that. Heat your oven to the right temperature that your cake instructions say, and spray the inside of the jars with baking spray. Fill the jars 2/3 of the way full with the batter, and pop them in the oven! You can also put your cinnamon roll in the jar at this point, just cut a longer roll than you usually would, leaving maybe 2 inches or a bit less to the lip of the jar, like this:

I sprinkled some brown sugar with melted butter on the bottom of these jars too. Mmm!

While your jars are baking, bring the little pot of water to a boil, and slide the lids into it. I waited till there were a few minutes left of the baking time to do this, so that those poor lids weren’t in there for half and hour. Do as you wish, though, especially if you want to sanitize the living daylights outta those lids.

Once the cake or rolls are looking done, carefully take them out of the oven, and set them on a thick towel on the counter. The jars are a little trickier to maneuver than the normal baking pan, so watch out! Oven mitts are real handy right about now. Have another couple thick kitchen towels nearby, and remove the lids from the boiling water. Pat them dry and immediately put them on the jars. This is very important. The lids need to be hot for a longer lasting seal. Using the thick towels, screw the lids on. This was the most difficult part, because the glass and the lids were both piping hot, and I really didn’t want to burn my hands off. I kinda like them. Make sure the lids are on tight, and just leave the jars there to cool.

The cake or rolls should keep for several weeks at least. The above image is of the carrot cake jars. As you can tell, I didn’t fill the jars quite enough and there was lots of space left. Oops! And here is how the cinnamon rolls looked:

The jar in the background filled all the way to the top while baking! And my husband told me that they were delicious. Success!!

I packed them carefully in the box and included a jar of some pre-made cream cheese frosting that didn’t need refrigeration. I wasn’t sure how the cinnamon rolls would hold up with frosting on them in the jars, so I decided to play it safe.

So there you go! Now you can send tasty baked things all over kingdom come to loved ones far and near. Plus, I think they look kinda cool.

Posted in Feasting | 13 Comments

Fancies: A white ballgown

As promised, here we are to talk about Jenna‘s Regency ballgown. Hurray! Dresses!

The dress has been really fun to work on. I finally zeroed in on a pattern from Sense and Sensibility Patterns, as per a friend’s recommendation. It can be tricky to find good period patterns that are actually close to being historically accurate. Jennie, the designer and founder of the company, has several fun patterns from other time periods, including a rather pretty dress from the 40s. I have been very pleased with the pattern I purchased. You can actually buy an e-pattern and download it in PDF format. Then you simply print and tape the sheets of paper together. It has a lot of advantages, like being able to make bajillions of dresses from the same pattern in each size without the pattern disintegrating or having to transfer it to something more durable. You can also print it in a different scale by changing the settings on your computer, and use it to make doll clothes! Plus it was cheaper than ordering the physical pattern, so I wasn’t complaining! It does mean taping it all together, but even that was not hard once you get the hang of it.The PDF includes great printing instructions, diagrams of what your patterns should look like once you’ve taped them all together, as well as the usual construction instructions (say that ten times fast!). I’m not sure that I would advise a totally new seamster/seamstress to try their hand at it, though. The pattern is really quite simple, but the instructions are a bit sparse and do presuppose a certain amount of sewing know-how.

All the sizes are included in the pattern each time you print it, so you don’t have to purchase additional patterns if you make dresses for really differently sized people. Sized people? Does that sound odd to anyone else?

So. After taping the patterns together, the cutting out began. That is my least favorite part of sewing. Blech. Takes forever, too. “I want to get to the sewiiiing!” I whined to myself. Eventually it was done, and the fun part began!

By the way, in case you are noticing the sizes and thinking “How could Jenna be a size 14??? She is so slender!” keep in mind that sewing pattern sizes are totally different from your store-bought dress size. Like about 4 sizes up at least.

Check out the lovely cotton I picked up for the dress:

It is sheer, as you can see, and has a lovely drape. Since it’s cotton, it will be really comfortable to dance in. I will be dressing it up with a silk under-bust sash and some darling lace. Can’t decide what color sash to do. White on white would be so elegant. Or blue. Or silver. Or or or….! So many options! Maybe ribbons too. You’ll see some of the neckline lace in pictures below. I have a thing for cotton lace. I picked out a few kinds:

The next pictures are of the construction process: putting the bodice together, then the sleeves, and attaching it all together.

Here is the front of the bodice. You’ll notice that it has no darts, really no fitting at all. That’s because it’s a drawstring dress. There is a casing and string on the inside of the neckline that Jenna will pull to fit her as she wishes:

The back is fitted, though:

I love love love regency princess seams. The are so delicate! Also, sleeves were fitted really far back toward the shoulder blade, and shoulder seams usually hit about 2 inches behind the actual shoulder. The only slight trouble I see so far is that the sleeves pull back some at the princess seam. I don’t think I set them in wrong, so I wonder if the pattern didn’t leave enough ease?

As you might have noticed, the sleeves are sheer and the side back panels are on the bias. The bias cut will help it hug the back nicely and (I think) add some visual interest. I am going to add some lace to the slim little bands on the sleeves, but I will wait till Jenna comes to visit to add more lace. That way she can see what she prefers.

I hope you like it Jenna! It think the white will be beautiful on you. Now for putting the skirts together!

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Life, among other things

Well, friends, after a rather drawn-out absence from this blogging business I am back.

In the past week, I have traveled back home from my sojourn up in Alaska, settled in (sort of), made kitchen curtains, bathroom curtains, rearranged the living room, completed the bodice for Jenna’s ballgown, retrieved my cats, made food for church… apart, of course, from the usual things of life like working and eating and such. It has been delightfully busy. Somehow when I am working on projects it is harder than I thought to blog about them, which is itself a sort of project.

I just hung a lovely curtain in our bathroom, and it looks so cheery! I made them from some sweet white eyelet that I’ve had in my fabric bins for a couple of years. Isn’t it satisfying to find out that you have just the thing you need, already on hand?

We live in a sweet little “Sears Roebuck” cottage from the 30s or 40s. It used to be that you could order a house from the same catalog where you ordered your knickers! It is adorable and full of character, so it has been a pleasure to settle in and make it home. There is something about putting up curtains that softens a place, that gentles the entrance of light and how the world outside gets framed. Decorating and settling in are among my top favorite things to do in the whole wide world. I love it!! When I was up in Alaska, I helped my lovely sister and new mama Heidi to redecorate and rearrange things in her house. It was a really fun time- soon there will be posts about that (don’t worry, Jenna!), as well as some decorating tips. Though I have to say, decorating is such a personal taste thing that I am a bit apprehensive to call them “tips”. Maybe just thoughts. 🙂

Among other random things going on in life, Heidi and I are challenging ourselves with eating dairy-free for a month. We both have dairy pretty much at every meal. And in between meals. And for dessert. Midnight snack? Elevensies? Second breakfast? Yes. Dairy pretty much runs in our blood. To tell the truth, it is easier to do than I thought. Granted, we’ve been dairy free for…lemme count…5 days. So it might get a little harder. I mean, I love cheese so much that if given the choice between cake and cheese, I choose cheese, hands down. I guess I could always pick cheesecake, now couldn’t I? Hmm. I’m having fun, though. Who said boundaries had to be unfortunate? I wonder if I’ll learn any monumental universal super-awesome truths during this challenge. I will keep you updated. It promises at least to be an interesting time.

You can expect a post about Jenna’s dress progress soon! It is advancing well so far. In the meantime, happy Sunday everyone, and enjoy this cute picture of James with his Auntie Erica! We were dancing in the kitchen to some Ella Fitzgerald, so please forgive the slight fuzziness.

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Fancies: Curious George Goes to Crochet Club

Today marks a milestone in my crafting life.

I learned how to crochet.

Actually, my sister Heidi taught me the basic stitches a couple of weeks ago, but today we went to her crochet group and I learned an actual pattern!! I have been wanting to learn for some time now, and yet I was a bit nervous that it would be too difficult and eventually lead to my demise in all things creative. I love to knit, so using one little hook-ey thing to make loop-de-doops was (I admit) a challenge for my fingers and brain. But at last, fingers and brain met, had coffee, talked about it, got refills, chatted some more, and teamed up. I now am the proud owner of a crochet hook, some beautiful heather gray yarn, and an actual pattern.

A Hand Working in Unison with the Brain

A Hand Working in Unison with the Brain

The pattern, at first glance, was…daunting. It is actually quite a simple pattern, I’m told, but all those abbreviations, special characters and lingo made me feel rather stupid. What in the world is an “FP” thingy? or “ch”? or “ch 6″??? Nothing like a crocheting or knitting pattern to make you feel like there is an awesome insider clique and you have not been invited. Grade school all over again!! Thankfully, Maria (a friend of Heidi’s and a master crocheter) was on hand to sop up my tears, calm my nervous twitching, and decipher the jibberty-jabber for me. With her help, I am on my way! Granted, I am about half way through the second row, and 5 of the baubles that were supposed to be on row one have mysteriously disappeared…I will let you all know how that goes. I rarely ever leave a pattern or a recipe as it is, so I suppose it is only in keeping with my *ahem*  style. I might end up with a strange, conical, weirdly twisted afghan. Only time will tell.

Baby James Has An Opinion

“You’re crazy, Auntie Erica. You can just rip the stitches out, you know.”

“Yes, yes, Little James. Or I can persevere and learn from my mistakes by having to look at a hideous pile of heathery gray yarn every day. It is important to have object lessons around. You will learn these things as you begin to have more motor control, I think.”

That little guy, so full of opinions already!

I have high hopes for crocheting projects. I mean, it is sooo much easier to make pretty patterns by crocheting than it is by knitting. I will, of course, never abandon my knitting needles. There is no match for the drape, the softness, the classy look of a knitted garment, blanket, scarf. Plus, crocheting does a poor job of imitating a cable knit. Nothing, my friends, nothing can take the place of some nice cable work. But with a crochet hook, and some inside knowledge on crochet patterns, I could be whipping out hats, lace, stuffed toys, cardigans, ornaments, AFGHANS, BABY BLANKETS…..!!!! The possibilities rise before me with such promise! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, George. There will be time enough for all that. In the meantime, and in closing, this is a blankie I made recently for Baby James, the one with all the opinions. It is a very simple pattern, and I love how it drapes, how snuggly it is…not to mention the perfect shade of soft green!! Chances are, if I know you and you are having a baby, you might be seeing one of these sometime soon….

NOTE: I apologize about the whole weird image thing that is happening (at least in my browser). How does one get the pictures to look normal and not all squidgy?? Help!

OTHER NOTE: Never mind. I think I had the images too large for the whole…deali-o. Carry on. As you were!

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