Saturday, December 24, 2011

d.i.y. anthro: quite a spectacle necklace

"Good poets borrow... great poets steal." -T.S. Eliot

"Quite a Spectacle," indeed: $498!
It might be librarian chic at its finest, but there's something about Anthropologie's "Quite a Spectacle" necklace this English teacher just can't resist. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

mending wednesday: the orla

Out thrifting a few weeks ago, I spotted a $3 wool dress remarkably similar to this one from Orla Kiely's AW 11 collection.

              The Wool Jersey Collar Dress                                       Olive.

My dress started out somewhat large (vtg size 10), so had to be nipped in here and there and shortened several inches. Sadly, those deep pleats were out of the question --not nearly enough fabric. But the dress was beautifully hemmed inside with a wide band of lace, which I salvaged for my new "invisible" hem.
I reattached the lace inside the skirt, a couple of inches above the original hemline. As this seam won't show, it doesn't matter that all I had on hand was contrasting thread...

Next, I cut the extra fabric from the hem, just below the new seam. The lace edge I tucked under, repinned, and stitched by hand, which took forever. So here's a little something fun while we wait...

 Fin!  A little winged liner and party ready.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a poem

Goodnight, gradebook, deep and vast;
Goodnight, finals week, at last;

Goodnight, deadline (coup de grâce)
and glitchy Blackboard interface,

And sleeping students, laissez-faire:
Goodnight, my darlings everywhere.

KM, 12.14.11

Thursday, December 8, 2011

winter birdwatching

After weeks of searching for just the right bird feeder to hang outside our dining room, I gave in and made one myself. (Be the change you wish to see in the bird feeder selection, right?) I made over a thrifted birdcage with the help of my trusty Dremel and some Rustoleum. We hung it on Thanksgiving, but the neighborhood birds didn't discover it until yesterday morning when the season's first snowfall brought them out en masse.
Pictured: sparrows, starling
Also sighted: northern mockingbird, turtledove

Sunday, December 4, 2011

d.i.y. anthro: name that knockoff

"Good poets borrow, great poets steal..." -T.S. Eliot
What's behind Door No. 1?
Christmastime guarantees a few things around here: A Charlie Brown Christmas on the turntable, a pot of orange peels and cinnamon sticks on the stovetop, and this girl neck-deep in craft projects. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

little loves: skillet pie

Happy holidays, friends! No Black Friday madness happening here. Just late morning coffee, bike rides, and skillet cherry pie.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

d.i.y. anthro: mason jar sewing kit

"Good poets borrow, great poets steal..." -T.S. Eliot

Anthropologie's Mason Jar Sewing Kit: $48

It's no secret that I love Anthropologie. Granted, their pretty wares are often beyond my means, but isn't that part of the Anthro appeal?  Like a hard-won skill or a high-maintenance friend: we love them for what they demand from us. We give and give; they take and take. Everyone's happy. Symbiosis.
It's the hand-picked-ness too, isn't it? We're charmed by the collection of odds and ends Anthro has curated for our perusal. And we pay the price --until one sunny September day, whilst considering a $50 jar of basic craft supplies, when we think: wait, I have hands too! 
Hence this post.
Each Christmas, I attend a crazy gift exchange with about 300 d.i.y. ladies, all offering beautiful handmade crafts. This year, I set my heart on gifting these sweet sewing kits, so a couple of months ago I began curating a collection of my own...

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Last year, all year, M and I collected children's books. We picked them up on the cheap at garage sales, combed through thrift shop selections on discount days. We hoarded classics: Milne, Potter, Dahl, White, L'Engle, Twain...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

mending wednesday: a cozy collar

Mending Wednesday is back! 
My recent projects have been kind of heavy-duty, so for a change I've been working on something quiet and ladylike and not requiring an air compressor. My original intent was to make a scallop-edged tea towel, but somewhere along the line this cozy little collar took shape instead.
Loving my GIANT cone of Sugar'n Cream cotton yarn.

Pretty button from the button jar.

Secures with a hidden snap.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

still life with m and pumpkin patch

Fall break destination: Starlight, IN.  

With piles of grading and sundry home projects underway, M and I still managed a little time out of town.  We took an evening drive across the river to Huber's farm for a caramel apple, a stroll through the pumpkin patch and a sunset picnic with a bottle of Huber's blush. Who's a country girl? This girl.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

ficus braiding, pt. 2

Remember Mr. Moony?  He's faring pretty well these days under his new regimen of prune, braid, tie, repeat. With four trunks instead of three, this little guy is not so much braided as square-woven like one of those nylon lanyards from elementary school.  Friendship bracelet ficus.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

{1st floor restore, pt. 5}

Day 31: All three rooms stained. Commence 72-hour wait... some really great gear.

 Day 35: Four days and four gallons of poly later... last coat applied!

Before-and-afters coming soon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

{little loves: mid-project picnic}

Day 31: Nearly there. Celebrate!

Thanks to our little renovation project, all the dining furniture spent five weeks locked in the library with our major kitchen appliances and cat, so we took most meals outside or ate picnic style on the half-done floor.  I didn't really mind the change. Remember elementary school, in the last few days before summer, how the regular schedule went out the window and every day felt like a party? Well, manual labor aside, it's been five weeks of that. :)
This particular picnic celebrated a visit from my brother and the last few days of floor-refinishing with coffee and donuts from our favorite shops down the street. Getting excited to "move in" again, use my stove, and redecorate with all the pretty things I've found in the meantime...

Thrifted teacups. 40¢ find!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

{1st floor restore, pt. 3}

Day 22: Having by this time discovered a 15-foot crack in my kitchen floor (and repaired it) and a hole in my sunroom subfloor (and repaired it), I was filled with the sort of unholy fury that can only be assuaged by individually stapling 300 pieces of 3/4-inch oak to the floor. Fortunately for me...

Floor all cut to size and numbered.

...all neat and tidy.

Power stapler! (With amazing, two-inch-staple stapling action!)

Day 23: Kitty celebrates oak floors where once there were none.

More power tools in our future...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

{1st floor restore: an interlude}

Previous owners. Loved. Staples.
Days 19-22: All I can say is, thank goodness for Mad Men on Netflix. (And, after those four seasons, for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.)

{1st floor restore, pt. 2}

When last we left our kitchen floor restoration, the project had expanded somewhat...

...into the sunroom! (Day 13)

Though, at the time, it seemed a good idea to divest the entire first floor of linoleum, the sunroom presented several unique problems of its own: splintery plywood, myriad staples, hard tiles tarred directly to the subfloor, and (not least) The Pit of Despair.

Pit of Despair!

Day 15: I was removing baseboard in the northeast corner when my mallet fell through the floor.  Thanks to a secret leak (now repaired), the once solid, 3/4 inch subfloor was reduced to a soft, crumbly mulch inhabited by a family (read: dynasty) of pillbugs.  

Progress halted while I cut out a chunk of subfloor, patched it and realized that, for the past three years, a flimsy layer of linoleum was all that really kept us from plunging through to the chicken coop below. True story.

More (mis?)adventures to come.

Friday, September 2, 2011

birthday sweets

Had the sweetest day (8/30) thanks to my dear M, who surprised me with a birthday picnic, all arranged and documented by friend and neighbor, Aubrey (of Aubrey Renee Photography), and filled with my favorite things: pink and pennants, Sofia Blanc, mason jars, farmhouses, countryside. Lovely.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

{august garden}

Roots and beans were the theme this month. And, of course, tomatoes. Always tomatoes.

Cherokee Purple and Abraham Lincoln.

Weekly canning necessitated.  Garden Box 3 kept us busy in August!

Five to six quarts a week, now stashed for winter in the cupbord under the stairs.

Butter beans were a welcome addition to our favorite soup recipe. Our bean crop is thriving thanks to the resident Guardian of Garden Box 1, appearing by day in the form of a six-inch mantis...

Shelling beans on a summer evening. Doing my ancestors proud.

September's star crop will almost certainly bjalapeño peppers. Tell me your favorite hot pepper recipes and I'll give them a go. Faves to be posted with photos and due credit!

Monday, July 25, 2011

{still life with cat, detective story, denial}

Thanks to the slight drop in temperature, I'm spending this morning on the front porch with my kitty, my latest Sayers and an iced coffee, trying to forget that my house looks like this:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

witchy-woman echinacea tincture

Last summer I was delighted to learn that the lovely purple coneflowers in my front garden also answer to echinacea purpura, a prairie wildflower long used medicinally by Native American Plains nations. And for good reason: echinacea properties seem to range from antibacterial (cold), to antiviral (flu), to anti-inflammatory (cancer...?).

So today I found my inner herb-witch and concocted a little brew.  Just a few drops in a cup of chamomile tea do the trick, so they say.




echinacea tincture: the steps
1. Snip: Cut entire blossom* (not much stem, which is the least potent part).
2. Stash: Loosely fill a 32oz glass container (here, an old milk bottle) with blossoms.
3. Souse: Cover blossoms with 750 mL 80-proof vodka.
4. Store: Lid and set in a cool, dark space for two weeks. Finally, filter through a cheesecloth into dark-tinted glass containers and keep, refrigerated, up to two years.

*Herbalists suggest echinacea root for a slightly stronger brew (but one not nearly as pretty; besides, I was loath to uproot my flower garden).

What are your favorite handed-down home remedies?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{july garden}

Our garden gave us a wonderful welcome home upon our return to Louisville.  Although our kitchen is a construction zone, the moment our stove is plugged back into the wall we're making our favorite soup with all the good stuff our garden is growing.  However, anyone who's not currently covered in sawdust should make this soup immediately. Recipe below (my mama's, with a couple of tweaks).

{summer garden soup}
In a large stock pot, combine the following:
            * 6 cups veggie stock
            * 1 cup dry lentils
            * 1 large red onion, diced
            * 5 Tbs. garlic, minced
            * 8 Tbs. soy sauce
            * 4 Tbs. olive oil

Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.  In the meantime, begin cooking 1 cup of dry brown rice separately.

After 10 minutes, add the following to the soup:
            * 6 more cups veggie stock
            * 2 cups red wine
            * 2 carrots (approx 4 oz.), sliced
            * 2 celery stalks, sliced
            * 3 tomatoes (approx 16 oz.), diced
            * 1 beet, pref. julienned
            * 4 Tbs. fresh basil (I chop it with kitchen scissors)
            * 2 tsp. thyme
            * 2 tsp. marjoram
            * 4 tsp paprika
            * 3 bay leaves
            * salt to taste

Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Then remove from heat and add the cooked brown rice.  The soup can be served immediately, but it gets more flavorful being refrigerated for a day or so (which is good, because this recipe makes a lot of soup).  We love it with cornbread or honey-wheat bread and the remaining bottle of wine.

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