Monday, July 30, 2012

Down Memory Lane...

I was at a thrift store several weeks ago and spotted that fabric, and instantly it took me down "memory lane" of shortly after we moved here from the west coast.

I knew how to sew, but the only thing I sewed was doll dresses for 18" dolls. That's how I taught myself how to sew. Sewing for people was not on my charts, until a girl, not much older than I, from church said making real dresses would be so much easier to make. She came over for a few afternoons to show me what to do. After making one or two simple dresses, I made a dress on my very own using the most beautiful blue calico I ever saw. It was worn only for church and special outings. It eventually wore out as did that favorite style of  dress. (Please, oh please tell me you have no idea what a cape dress is!)

Trying to find a picture of me wearing the favored dress was fruitless but in the meantime, I am appalled to see my choice of styles back then and to imagine that I went out in public in them! I hereby think that those pictures should be burned!! ;P

Dear me.

Anyway, I stood there looking at this fabric that was only a yard in length while trying to decide if whether I should get it. The print remains to be lovely and in a favorite shade of blue, I bought it. :) It would be made into a more up to date style in the form of an apron.

Using a favorite pattern, I used Sew Liberated's Emmeline style. I chose a striking black for the straps and ties, and then some left over Moda fabric from my stash for the other side.

The delicate blue flowers are the same shade as the blue calico.

Finished over the weekend, I am now ready to start making new memories!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Feminine Dressing

Not long ago two family members told me at two different times in one day, "Oh!" (can you hear the surprise in the word?) You look nice today!"

It made me think how easy it is to throw some clothes on with little or no thought as to my appearance. Sure it may be clean, but sometimes wearing a tank and the denim skirt that has been in the closet for years may not be the most presentable thing to wear. It serves well when cleaning bathrooms and wiping down kitchen floors, but I think all to often I've succumbed to wearing what is easy and comfortable instead of freshly pleasant and feminine.

Talking about family history recently and talking of our European ancestors, English Esquires among them, my youngest brother pipes up excitedly, "We could be be royalty!" Of course we all laughed it his ignorance, but his comment made me think in a much grander way of a very real truth.

As a Christian, I AM royalty.

God is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and as His daughter I am made a Princess. Thankfully, God is more concerned about who I am on the inside than if I'm wearing a yellow ball gown or pink ribbons and delicate lace though at the same time, we are always representing someone or something whether we like it or are aware of it. Sometimes it's easy to forget that. This is something I want to be a little more conscientious of, though I may not always be wearing my choicest clothing or sport Kate Middleton styles. :)

Fishing for compliments is not wise, but you're probably on the right track when your brother sees you walk down the stairs and says, "You look pretty!" (I think they like it when women look like women.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today's Gifts

The first of the tomatoes and peppers, the 3rd picking of purple bush beans, and a few peas from what is left. Love this season!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lazy July Days

It has been another warm week with many more warm days to follow. On days such as these, it's best to wake early to water the gardens, get a long walk in before it's to hot, and then watch the outside world from an air conditioned house. (Thankyou Lord for AC!)

[Mint shades have been my favorite to wear this year. What has been your favorite(s)?]

["Cute As A Button" nail polish by Essie]

[Sadie, my sister's Golden Retriever, enjoying cool shade]
The end of July reminds me of a poem I came across this morning:

"Yellow with birdfoot-trefoil are the glass glades;
Yellow with cinquefoil of the dew-gray leaf;
Yellow with stonecrop; the moss-mounds are yellow;
Blue-necked the wheat sways, yellowing to the sheaf.
Green-yellow, bursts from the copse the laughing yaffle;
Sharp as a sickle is the edge of shade and shine.
Earth in her heart laughs, looking at the heavens,
Thinking of the harvest, I look and think of mine."
 'Love in the Vally,' G. Meredith

[Gala apples growing in great abundance]

[Homegrown peaches from a friend]

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gooseberry Abundance!

After she let me try some homemade Lemon Blackberry ice cream: "Cheri, would you like some gooseberries?" my violin student's mother asked me last week. She proceeded to tell me that her bush (or was it bushes?) of gooseberries was producing its fruit on a clock of overtime, plus some.

"I'd love some!" was my reply at the end of the lesson. She hands me two gallon-sized bags where one was half full after being stemmed & tailed, and the other half-filled bag needing the tedious hand stemming & tailing. She also put in hand her very own recipe of gooseberry pie, to which I was amazed and grateful since I don't readily pass out my recipes. (This lady is a picture of selflessness!)

In the early spring when I was over at her home for another occasion, she served me a slice of her pie but warned, "If you don't like it, you won't upset me. It's either you love it or you don't; in the similar fashion of a rhubarb pie." I took my first bite, not prepared for the round "pop" of gooseberries in my mouth, but the flavor had that of a sweet tang to it that won me. I could get used to the texture in no time.  

Slipping a vintage apron over my clothes, I anxiously "went to town" in preparing the berries for pie. Somehow fixing a gooseberry pie felt oldfashioned and endearing. Following her recipe to a T, I noticed that it didn't come with a crust recipe, but that was easily amended with using my Grandma's recipe that always works; not to mention is the most delicious and perfectly flaky compared to any other pie crust I've ever tasted.

My family thought it was peculiar. Mother-dear said she liked the juice but thought the gooseberries were weird, one of my brothers couldn't decide if it was sweet or tart, some refused to try it, and one of my sisters said it was, "interesting, but in a good way." Thanks, sis.

(Shhh, don't tell anyone that I'm saving a half dozen seeds to plant next year in a new berry patch.)

So, do you like or dislike gooseberries?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This one is for me...

"Oh, you get to sew for yourself today!" Mom said to me as she was ironing the boy's shirts while watching me sew. Between sewing for the shops, ladies at church, friends, and Mother-dear herself, it's not very often I sew for me. :)

For months I've eyed the 100% linen found in a perfect shade of grey at JoAnn's, but a $16.99 per yard price tag has kept me away. Last weekend I decided to bit my lip, use some violin lesson money (I teach violin to the cutest little girls you could imagine!) and buy enough yardage for a skirt since I learned that it was 50% off that week and I had a 15% off your-entire-purchase coupon.

Well wouldn't you know a friend of mine from church was there and she said "Cheri, come to the checkout with me and I'll let you use my Teacher-Discount card!" Mrs. L. volunteers/teaches at our private Christian school that is in connection with our church, and JoAnn's offers a 20% discount to all teachers. So glad God orchestrated me seeing her there to make it a few dollars less!

As you can see, I'm making it into my favorite skirt pattern. Hoping to have enough time today to finish it for Sunday services tomorrow. :) What has YOUR sewing machine been busy with this week?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sew Liberated's Emmeline Apron

Not so much anymore but I used to get so many requests to make patterns off of the aprons I sell on etsy (maybe they aren't interesting like they used to be?) and sadly I'd have to tell them I don't know the first thing to pattern making. I have a few blogging friends who have made PDF patterns to sell and being a customer who have bought them, I can say I'd MUCH RATHER spend a few dollars more to buy a pattern printed on a sheet than printing out scores of pages to organize, tape, and cut out.

[Where was I going with that???]

Back on track: I'd often refer pleading customers to my favorite apron pattern that Sew Liberated puts out. The Emmeline Apron is modern, functional, cute, and my favorite of all: it's like having two aprons since it's completely reversible.

My latest work of this apron is a combination of out of print fabrics. The one side is a simple chevron-like print in blue.

The other side is a vintage feedsack cotton calico of favorite primary colors. I used navy symphony broadcloth for the ties, binding, and neck straps. (Both pictures are not very clear, I apologize!)

Shortly after making it, I contemplated if whether I should keep it or not (since I currently don't own one in this style) but then I remembered that I needed a gift for a dear lady whose family hosted me during a semester of college. She loves the color blue, and I think this will fit the bill perfectly since she is often in the kitchen making delicious meals for her family.

I'm still waiting on her Blueberry Muffin recipe and her Vegetable Soup recipe that she told me she'd send. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fresh From the Garden

"I'll trade you for some of my purple bush bean seeds." a sweet friend from church told me this spring when mentioned that I'd be bringing some PGTips tea for her to try the following Sunday.

Purple bush beans? I never heard of those.

My friend Shannon told me how well they do in her garden and since I like gardening so much, I'd probably enjoy trying them. Unlike green beans they don't need poling, staking, or fencing in order to climb, these purple ones grow about a foot or so tall and stay put. That was already a plus because I have no supplies in which to pole, stake, or fence (though I use tomato cages for my tomatoes). My friend also said that the purple beans tend to be a little bit sweeter than the green ones, and this is the plus side if one is still apprehensive about eating a purple bean: when cooked, they turn green.

She gave me an envelope of seeds, and I used half of the space that I would normally use for my peas (I had very few dried peas to plant since a member of the family threw my seeds out last year, not knowing that they were. I'm the only one that gardens in the family, you see) so it worked out anyway.

The plants grew a foot tall with beautiful foliage and it was nearing the first of June with no signs of flowering. I began wondering if I'd get anything at all. Finally some pretty little purple flowers appeared and all of a sudden, I have beans growing!

This morning I did my first picking, and there are many more little ones growing, and many more flowers on the bushes, so I know it won't be the last. I have a feeling that next year I'll be planting more of these. :)

What's yielding the fruits of your labor in your garden this week? Have any of my readers grown purple bush beans?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Pinterest-Inspired Skirt

I've been contemplating starting a new series to the blog, kinda of along the lines of my Dress It Up series that I had this past spring, but different in the way of putting together an outfit drawing inspiration from a picture from Pinterest and utilizing items from my closet without focusing on one item or piece of clothing like before.

Until (or if...) I get that going, I saw this picture the other day while browsing maxi skirts and while I'm not a personal fan of orange or burnt orange no less, I found myself liking this simple outfit: a basic white tee and long skirt with minimum accessories.

It reminded me of some burnt orange (used) tablecloths that was given to me several months ago. Obviously I knew from the beginning that I'd never use them as tablecloths, curtains, or anything that would pertain to home decor!! So yesterday I cut into it and today I finished it into my favorite biased-tiered skirt pattern.

I think there will be just enough extra fabric to make one for myself, but until I need another skirt, this one is available to you here! :)

Monday, July 09, 2012

Touch of Glam

Today I picked up a pretty vintage piece of fabric that measured a good 4 yards, and I thought it would look perfect in a Gracie apron. But then realized the fabric was only 35" (a sure sign it's vintage!) so a 1930s Depression style would have to do.

Now that I've finished it, I'm certain it wouldn't have looked as good in the other style. Of course, showing off a touch of rhinestone sparkle helps too, not to mention being bound in a striking black bias.

See for yourself, and I'm certain, you'll be inclined to agree.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Breaking News (in the world of sewing)

It rarely ever happens.

Over the course of several months I've had several projects on my tables, dozens of fabrics (literally), and patterns belonging to said fabrics falling over and yet all piling together in one big massive mess that would only make sense to the seamstress. (Please tell me that you can understand or visually get that picture because you have one yourself.)

As of this afternoon I now have two little neatly arranged piles that contain no pressing projects. I repeat: nothing that needs to be sewn except that which will be for leisurely fun such as a white Edwardian dress or blouse.

This happens every year or two and when it does, I relish in the delight of nothing to sew. It gives me room to breathe, step back and evaluate goals for sewing, future projects and ideas, as well as the time to go through notion drawers, fabric stashes, and pattern boxes to see what I will actually use or if I'm just keeping it "because I like it" or "because it's cute."

::happy dance::

As a totally random note, the raspberry season is just coming on here at the cottage and if you've never tasted homegrown raspberries, you don't know what you're missing out on! I'm hoping there will be enough to make a small batch of jam.