Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Saturday Blog

I have a feeling that my little blog might be appropriately re-named the Saturday Blog (though I'm not actually going to do that). My first day back at work was Thursday so I suspect that now I'll be doing most of my blog reading and writing on Saturdays now.

Thought I'd share few recent vintage-y finds. I had a block of time to kill before I could go home yesterday (long story) and the only thing that I knew would sustain me for that time was rummaging through the downtown antique store.

I love this pattern. It's Taylor Smith's Shasta Daisy. I bought two of the plates and I've since searched for the coordinating cups and found a set of two that I'll likely purchase. I tend to buy things in twos as I'm not fond of having entire sets of dishes - too much storage and I get bored with patterns easily so I like to switch out and mix and match.

This little bowl is of the Marcrest Swiss Alpine pattern. I've since searched for coordinates for this little beauty as well. I love the internet!

I'm not sure of the pattern for this little set. I, of course, only bought two settings, but I see this everywhere and in fact there were several more available for purchase at the booth where I found these.

I have no information for this piece other than to say that I love it! It goes so well with the juice canister and creamer that are pictured several posts below - from my last antique binge.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Crochet, Crochet

Ahh, another dishcloth. I've been on a roll with these lately. I love creating them. It sort of makes me feel very 19th century-like. :) I'm surprised at myself that I've stuck with crochet for this long. But I even find myself pouring over blogs and free patterns, books in the bookstore, magazines and the like. I've had "Crocheting School" for some time and I'm starting to experiment with some new stitches, not really creating anything but just practicing.
The cloth above has a picot edging. I've never done it before so it's less than perfect but I think it has a nice effect. I'm giving this to a friend as part of a very very late birthday present.

Here are some of my current purchases under consideration:

The Happy Hooker

Total Crochet for the Home

Cozy Crochet

Hip to Crochet

I haven't decided because, well, there are just SO many choices and I want to make a good one. I'm only going to invest in one or two books right now so they must be marvelous!

On another note my sweet little Daisy has been such a good sport in tolerating my new found crochet addiction. She just cuddles up next to me, sniffing and pawing at my yarn now and then.

When she starts to look like this I know it's time to take a break and play with her for a while!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lazy Day Banana Bread and a few other things...


I really shouldn't buy bananas. I can never manage to eat them all before they start to go bad. Yet, for some reason they are the one thing that I can't seem to leave the grocery store without. I don't like to eat them after they get the least little brown spot on them (hence, not being able to eat them fast enough) and I'm not really sure what else there is to be done with over-ripe bananas. So needless to say, I make a lot of banana bread.
Here's the product of my little banana obsession. I usually end up making a loaf towards the end of each week.

Crochet has really captured my attention lately. I dabble in so many things that I tend to not stay focused on any one thing for more than a day or two but lately it's been crochet, crochet, crochet. This week I made a few dishcloths. The patterns are from a little Sugar 'n Cream book that was displayed near the Sugar 'n Cream brand yarn.

Doily Dish Cloth:

Lacy Scallops:

Granny Square Cloth:

In other news...

My husband and I finally finished the first Lost puzzle in the series of four. I really don't think that we'll be putting together the other three. I gave the first one to him for Christmas last year and we are just now finishing it. It was a more challenging puzzle due to the fact that they don't show you what the finished product is supposed to look like, however, what really made it take so long is our lack of motivation to work on it. Over the past week and a half we've made a concerted effort to sit down and work it out, mostly because we were getting tired of it taking up table room in our office. One really cool little feature is that there is a secret message of sorts on the back of the puzzle which can be seen when you shine a black light on it. The down side is that to get the full message you have to put all four puzzles together and turn them over then fit the four of them together to reveal the message. It's supposed to unravel the secrets of the show and all the mysteries behind the island. But, needless to say, we'll just have to keep watching and obsessing over all the little details because we are really no more enlightened for having put in the long puzzling hours. We did preserve our efforts though with modge podge, to be displayed in our office.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Antique Store Finds

I hate shopping. There, I said it. I hate it. I hate shopping for clothes that never fit me because of my unevenly proportioned body. I hate shopping at superstores where everything is the same and you can't get anything unique or individual. BUT, I LOVE antique shopping! I can spend hours browsing at an antique store. I don't pay attention to collector value or anything like that. I just buy what draws my eye.

Luckily, the town that I live in has no shortage of antique malls. I space my visits out so that each time I go the merchandise has changed and it's like a whole new experience. That's what I love about it. You can go to the same store over and over and it'll be completely different each time. Pictured are some of the lovelies that I found. I adore the little ducky cups. I'm enjoying drinking my coffee out of them at this very moment. :)

My other finds were these lovely cottage sheets and a floral print linen tablecloth. There's nothing like old sheets. No matter what I do, I can't get new sheets to feel like the old ones. No matter how many times I wash them, they just aren't the same.

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Inheritance

My grandmother was not a woman of means. She worked for decades in a sewing mill that produced bathroom rugs. She spent long hours in front of an industrial sewing machine, her merit measured by how many rugs she could produce in an hour. My grandfather was a groundskeeper. So needless to say, they weren't exactly rich. They were even known to live in places without indoor plumbing or with holes in the floor where you could peer down into the basement.

When my grandmother retired though, she could relax a bit. Having spent her life at the machine, you wouldn't think that she'd relish in making things for herself or for anyone else. But this she did. Relax? Sure, she may have relaxed her body but her hands were always busy. She was always tinkering with something, always had some kind of project going, whether it be embroidering a pillowcase or making a full size quilt.

When she died nearly two years ago, my family and I couldn't bear to go through through all of her things. So we hastily packed everything up and stored it away, until we were ready to deal with it. That day has been a long time coming. But several weeks ago my mother and I loaded up some boxes and started to make our way through. Naturally, the sewing items went to me. And boy did she have some stuff! My grandmother was physically unable to go to the store and not pick up some rick rack or some lace or some embroidery thread or a yard of fabric
that caught her eye. And this is just about 1/10 of what I actually have. She saved everything so I have pieces of her collection that date back at least several decades. It took a solid week to wash and fold all the fabric from her collection.

I found the patterns for doll clothes that she made for me when I was little.

I even found a few remnants that I, no doubt, left at her house when I was
there for the summer.

She taught me to embroider when I was about 7 years old. This little kitten is the very first thing that I ever made. I remember that I embroidered this onto one of her pillowcases.

I came home with about 75-80 packages of iron-on transfers. I sorted through them, many of which
were duplicates or tattered or very obviously used up. There were a few vintage patterns that I recognize as pillowcases that she made.

I now have four of her unfinished quilt tops. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with them just yet, seeing as how I don't quilt.
This one is most intriguing as it was completely done by hand. And the fabric has that near papery feel to it that tells me that it's very old. It's also the only one that my mother could not identify. So it's a mystery.

This little needle book is one of my favorite finds.

But my most favorite discovery of all was this little collection of quilt squares. They were stacked together amongst a myriad of other things. And a small slip of paper was pinned to the top one...with my name on it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pink Paisley

After days of feeling like I just couldn't seem to finish anything, I finally completed my pink paisley handbag. The funny thing is that I'm not really much of a handbag person. I carry around the same little green purse, just big enough to hold my wallet and sunglasses, with me everywhere I go. So I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with my little handbag creations. But they are awfully fun to make!

Here's a closeup of the button detail.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Simple Supper

I love simple meals. Especially, when like tonight, they are accompanied by simple pleasures. Tonight was a simply delectable evening. First, we enjoyed a dinner of herb roasted chicken atop egg noodles seasoned simply with sauteed mushrooms and chopped fresh parsley and basil from my patio herb garden. That was accompanied by a simple tomato and cucumber salad seasoned with salt. It was oh so simply satisfying.

My aerolatte milk frother arrived today so for dessert we sipped on french vanilla cappucinos
while we read the new Harry Potter book out on the patio. Quite nice. It's been a rare late July evening. The usual sticky, muggy air has been replaced by a fresh crispness that I usually associate with early Spring or Fall.

I lingered outside long after it was too dark to read. I have not spent nearly enough time
outside since we moved to our apartment in "the city." At our last country apartment I spent long morning and evening hours pacing the acres that stretched out behind our little house. I have long realized what I now deeply feel - that my connection to the outdoors is essential to my sense of balance and peace. So tonight I relished in it and I feel great for it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I recently finished reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I was so pulled in and moved by this book. It's the story of a friendship between two Chinese women in the mid-19th century. Though it's a fiction story, many of the details of their way of life and traditions are based in fact. I think this tale was so stirring for me, in part, because in a small way it is reflective of my own personal experiences with a friendship, and the things that can bind as well as divide us.

I was also particularly struck by the tradition of footbinding. Lisa See presents a compelling portrayal of both the physical and emotional effects as well as the actual process of forcing the feet to take on such an unnatural form.

I love to do extra research on things that I am reading about so I researched this and found that footbinding began during the rule of Li Yu at around 970 A.D. A woman performed a dance for him with her feet wrapped much like a ballerina would today. He was impressed with her and thought her dance was quite beautiful so many other dancers began to do the same. Gradually the practice was adopted by the upper class then eventually spread to the middle and lower classes.

As the characters express in See's novel, with unbound feet it was impossible for a woman to expect to marry. Women with unbound feet would only be servant women, working in the fields, or would be concubines. It's hard not to also consider how this practice could and did, in effect, control women. Not only because of the above-mentioned factors (in addition to other factors as well) but also because having bound feet prevented women from physically moving around in a normal way. The main character in the novel, Snow Flower, tells of her last days of playing outside as a child of 5 or 6 years because after the binding process began she was no longer permitted to play outside or to run around. Instead she was confined to an upstairs room of their home and had to limit the amount of time that she spent walking around each day.

The perfectly bound foot would be no more than about 3 inches long, as you can see from this picture where a typical sized shoe is placed next to, I believe, a cigarette package.

This picture is hard to look at but shows what the end result would typically look like.

For more information about the book you can go to which is where these photos were taken from as well. For more information about footbinding and it's history, see

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Satisfyingly Slow Week

This week has been of the best variety for someone like myself who has the summer off. It has been satisfyingly slow, with time passing ever so gently as I am able to savor each sweet moment.
This is a rare occurrence for me. Typically, Monday elapses into Friday at an incalculable speed. And I get frantic, wondering, did I do enough? Did I accomplish enough? Have I been as productive as I wanted to be? Am I making good use of this gift of time?

But not this week. This week I chose to relax and chill out and just do what comes naturally, acting as I feel inspired to do, even if that means doing absolutely nothing. And what an amazing difference it has made!

A few completed projects:

I'm fairly new to sewing handbags so mine tend to be on the simple side. I love this fabric though. I've been using the bag to carry around my crochet materials.

This is a coil basket made with cotton yarn that I hand-dyed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

One thing I LOVE to talk about...FOOD!

You'll find that I post about food a lot. I love to cook. I'm also a big nutrition buff. Not a health nut really, there's a difference. I'm not a stickler for fat and calories but I love researching and knowing the nutritional value of the food that I eat and why it's good for me. Tonight I enjoyed a savory polenta with sauted red peppers and tomatoes and fresh herbs and a slice of hearty sundried tomato bread on the side.

I enjoy knowing that my yummy red peppers are high in vitamins C and A, which are both high in antioxidant value. And antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals which can cause cell damage. They also contain lycopene which is beneficial to protect against some cancers. They are also high in B6 and folic acid which keeps those blood vessels nice and strong.

I like to think of myself as an enthusiast when it comes to food. I can promote a food's good qualities without getting too fanatical.

Polenta has to be one of my most favorite foods on earth. Last year I discovered the secret to lump free polenta! Instead of boiling three cups of water and then adding one cup of polenta, instead boil 2 cups of water and combine the polenta with the remaining one cup of water. When the water starts to boil, add the polenta/water mixture. For me, it's been fool proof. Comes out smooth and creamy every time! I like to add 1 tbs. or so of olive oil and a 1/4 c. of Parmesean along with salt and pepper. DELISH!