Friday, October 28, 2011

To Every Season, There is a Soup

Turn, turn, turn. 
Here is my recipe for the most fabulous split pea soup ever eaten in our household. It is also very easy to throw together, and tastes even better after it has been around a day or two. I made a double batch last time, and thought we'd have some to freeze (wrong!). 

We eat a very limited amount of meat, but if meat-less split pea soup doesn't work for you and yours, you can throw some pork into the mix. Although I will tell you, my husband slurps it up, and the poor guy is really only mostly-vegetarian-by-proxy. 

This soup is, as my mother used to say, delicious and nutritious!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bakin' Cookies

The other day baby and I mixed up some sugar cookie dough, and we have been having fun rolling and cutting cookies- a few here, a few there.

 It's so much fun now that she's big enough to help.
Not fall themed, necessarily, but we like to make the Star Wars cookies because it's fun to say "I am your father," and then eat them. 
Nothing beats soy milk and warm cookies!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Delightful Objects- Vintage and Antique Glass Bottles

I am a hoarder/collector of many things on a smallish scale, and I thought it would be fun to share some of these things from time to time, along with a little back story if applicable.

Today, I begin with my bottle collection. Once, it was pretty large, but over the years I have culled it to be something manageable that doesn't require too much space or dusting.
I love the jewel colors when the light comes through them. I dug many of these pretties out of a bottle dump myself back when I was in high school. I was really, really cool. I used to spend hours out behind my neighbor's house raking through leaves and dirt with a stick. I'd bring home big boxes of bottles all covered in mud, wash a few, and leave half of them in the basement. My parents loved that.

Some of my favorites among these are a La Choy soy sauce bottle, the clear one toward the center of the pic which has a honeycomb texture, and the dark pinkish ones my sister got me more recently as a gift. And of course the blue Milk of Magnesia bottles are always a hit. And I have a white Ponds cold cream. And a Bayer with the lid. And I love the brown ones. Oh! That's all of them!

Here is a pic I took in the winter- only a few of the bottles are in it, but I love how they look against the frost on the window.
My husband knew I had a little collection when we met, and one day he showed up where I worked with a vintage Crystal Club Cream Soda bottle for me. Isn't that sweet?

Are there any fellow bottle dump diggers out there? Anyone else like or collect vintage bottles?

I Did Actually Sew Those Dresses....

You know. The ones I talked about sewing a gazillion years ago? Okay, well, in January. No one can say that I am not thinking ahead. Ahem. Anyway, I said something about cranberry dupioni silk. Yuk yuk yuk. I ended up sewing a Matron of Honor dress for myself and a cute little dumpling dress for the baby using, get this, acetate taffeta. So I plan ahead, but I have more money in my fantasy life than I do in real life. Actually, I decided it made good sense to use less expensive material, as I probably won't wear this dress over and over again- I'll want to sew another one!  Here is the low down on the hoe down:

Simplicity 5343 copyright 1963
Simplicity 5343- My Version for 2011
That's my big sissy Jessica and I walking together as Matron and Maid of Honor
Yeah, it was "snowing a little down south" as my MIL said they used to say back in the day. Or, in other words, my crinoline was showing. Whatev. I won't beat myself up over that, and it's good it didn't show any more than that, as it was a last minute Franken-petticoat I made from netting from an A-line wedding slip and an old half slip.

Speaking of last minute, did you know that once people know you can kind of sew, they will show up places and expect you to make dress repairs and alterations at the last minute?
Brat! Me 'n my little sis pre-ceremony. Ain't she cute?
Here we all are in our Ladies' in waiting glory....
All of these beautiful ladies are my sisters.
 I have 5! Aren't we lucky?
Yes, my dress looks like a different color. That is because I am the only one in  shiny, shiny taffeta

 And here is the pattern for the baby's dress- Simplicity 9191 copyright 1970. It is the same pattern I used for her Easter dress. I knew it fit.
And in the year 2011 it looked like this...

Her dad put her hair up, but she pulled out the ponytail in a nanosecond.  Later she decided she'd had enough of tights. 
And here is the Couple of honor, my other lovely sister and her husband.
Dashing, aren't they? 
I successfully sewed two formal dresses, one rather large, and one very small. Now for the dirt and details on the other words, if sewing isn't your bag, you are gonna wanna dip out now.

The fabric: I wouldn't say it was "from hell," but it certainly didn't come from that other place. It was a pain in the tush. It creased badly, marred easily, and it was difficult to press because of water spotting and changing color. And it was slippery. But on the upside, it cost me under $35 bucks for the fabric for these two dresses, and I still have some left. Tha's pretty sweet, right?

Adjustments: I made a size 16. I shortened the bodice by one inch and removed an inch at center front and center back at the neckline only, tapering to nothing at the waist. I have since made sense of the seam method for pattern alteration- the waist on this one was short because I removed the fabric at the waist instead of over the bust. I think I've got it now, doh.

Pattern Instructions: I have gotten pretty bad about reading these at all. I did refer to them many times to figure out those tucks. Those blasted tucks. Those tucking tucks. Shucks, those tucks were a pain.

So, I winged it. Wung it. Something like that. I underlined the bodice in a tricot interfacing. This worked very well. I used the glue method Gertie blogged about here to no ill effect. It was fast and the result was a less creased and wrinkly bodice. Actually, underlining made the fabric behave very nicely. I also lined the bodice with self fabric. I hand picked the zipper. I serged all seams, and I did a narrow hem. I wanted a deep hem, but I would have had to underline the entire skirt to hide the stitches. And I didn't do that. What I did do was mark my hemline, serge it, and turn and stitch it. Not the traditional method perhaps, but it worked out fine.

Problems: The blasted tucks. Did I mention the tucks? And the creasing. Wah wah wah! Actually, that was the biggest headache. I flew with hubby and baby to Maine for my sister's wedding, and I packed a separate, hard sided vintage suitcase for our dresses. I stuffed them with tons of tissue, and I wrote a sweet letter to TSA begging them not to wrinkle them all up.
What I love about it: I conquered that fabric and pattern. It was not easy, but I did it. I also practically applied my hobby to save us a good deal of money. Bridesmaids dresses are often expensive and ugly. Nuff said there. I got to make and wear something special and personal to a most special and personal occasion. You've got to admit- that does rock. And I learned a ton. I don't get sweaty palms thinking about slippery fabric. I made my own cording for the waist. And underlined. Oh, and I made those little flowers on the front from scraps and pearl beads.

What I would do differently next time: sew with a fabric I can press and steam like we're on a train to hell.

Me and my man on the dance floor
That's us at the end of the night, and this is the end of this post! That was fun, but I am tuckered (DOH!) out! Goodnight all!

Monday, October 24, 2011

At long last...a treadle!

I don't know why I have been wanting a treadle, but I have. Perhaps I
was afraid the power would go out in the middle of a seam. I will
worry no more-my red eye is belted up and ready for action. In fact,
last night I made a fried egg shaped pot holder with it. Why? Because
I couldn't think of any reason not to!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Un-Scary Cleaning

Halloween is almost upon us, and I like a good scare as much as the next gal.
I know the drill:
Don't look under the bed, or in the basement, closet, or that big wooden trunk.
Love me some Arsenic and Old Lace
But one place that hardly gets it's just deserves as a scary place in the home is under the kitchen sink.
AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (This is not my cabinet!
Now, I know for most people, a few chemical cleaners and detergents are often necessary. We have those child lock thingys on the cabinets in which we store our dishwasher detergent, hand laundering soap, bleach, etc. And I know that chemicals are not all bad. If we were immune-compromised, we'd be glad to have Lysol and the like to keep the germs down in the house. However, we are average healthy folks, and in light of recent studies that point to over-cleanliness as a cause of many types of illness (Google "hygiene hypothesis"), I like to keep it simple. For 90% of the cleaning in our home, I use Dr.Bronner's Sal Suds.
I simply put a tablespoon or so into a spray bottle, fill it with water, and keep it close by for wiping down counters, the table, baby's high chair tray (which I do rinse), etc. etc. Since we use it as our dish soap as well, I find the spray bottle handy for soaping up large pots and pans, and I think it saves us money as opposed to pouring gobs from the bottle. And saving money means more thrifting cash for sewing supplies. Yeah!
Patterns scored on our recent camping/road trip

If you wish, of course you can do the same thing with Dawn or any dish detergent you prefer, but don't think that because Sal Suds is a naturally derived cleanser it is not strong- I spray it in the tub and watch the soap scum run off of the sides. Gross, huh? Plus, it smells like pine needles, and I like pine needles.

Yeah, and you can still pour bleach in the toilet and spray a little in the extra icky parts of the shower.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Well Protected Ford Fairlane

Isn't this a beaut?

Greetings From the Road

We are taking the Shasta on a little road trip this week.

Brian and I worked our butts off and got a lot of work done in the
camper over the past weekend, so we could be extra comfy (think
campfires and fresh air, but with a queen size mattress and a down
feather bed for sleeping. Plus a three burner gas stove and oven for

Here is what we saw when we woke up this morning in Chimney Rock, NC.
By the way, Last of the Mohicans was filmed here, as was some of
Firestarter, and Dirty Dancing was filmed in nearby Lake Lure. As we
were driving by the lake I kept picturing Johnny and Baby practicing
in the water! Har har!

Well, we are on the road again. I'll post more pics as I take them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Encounters of the Bird Kind

I saw a huge Red Headed Woodpecker in the yard today through the window at breakfast, but of course no sooner did I grab my camera then he flitted away! He looked just like this-
Photo from
It was a real thrill to see one so close; he was probably only 20-30 feet away!

This was my second unusual bird encounter this week, as earlier in the week I scared away a hawk that was trying to attack one of my chickens. I have seen many hawks here, and I always just assumed that the chickens (which are well fed and fat) were too big for the hawks, which are smaller, to mess with. I guess I was wrong! The chicken was unharmed, thank goodness.
The hawk looked like this one.
Photo from
I was never really into bird watching before we moved here, but we have tons of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds which are fabulous to watch. And, the first year we were here, I saw through the kitchen window a Blue Jay of epic proportion. I now refer to him as "Chicken Jay," as in "he was big enough for us to dress and bake like a chicken. I saw him a few times after that initial sighting, but Brian never saw him and probably thinks I was exaggerating. I am not! He was really the biggest Jay ever! At least as big as a Cornish Hen! A little sage and butter rub on the skin, some salt and pepper......mmmmmmm........Oh! I am getting away from myself.

Are there other 30-something-kitchen-window-bird-watchers out there just like me? What have you spotted lately that made you just stop and watch?

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Wait, did I already say that about spring, summer, or even winter? Okay, I really love where I live. And I just love autumn in western NC. This is in no small part due to the amazing bounty available at our local farm stands.

If you ever find yourself in Rabun Gap, Georgia between May 1st and October 31st, you must go to Osage Farms. We did, today. We go a lot, especially in fall. Here is my post from around this time last year, and Osage is just as full of pumpkins, squash, apples, and tourists this year. And, yes, it is worth braving the crowd to get all of these goodies for such a sweet price.
Talk about Fall Palette!
 I went straight home and tossed apples and sweet potatoes in my apple baker. I just threw the squash whole into the oven over a piece of foil.

They may be ugly, but they taste soooo good!
By the time I got everything put away and cleaned up, I was starved, and so was everyone else. So, I acted on an impulse I had while driving home and made us veggie grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. I just skittled up ("skittled" is my husband's word, and it means to cook as one would in a skillet, with lots of hissing noises and sputtering) some garlic, onions, peppers, and kale, and put them inside the buttered bread with the cheese. You know, like so....

Make sure you use plenty of buttah 

And I threw some extra crispy skittle veggies on top of my soup. Can I get a "hell yes?" 
Baby approved, if this evidence of the destruction of her sandwich will hold up in court
I'm thinking squash risotto tomorrow. I am looking to bust out of my cooking rut with some wild recipes that incorporate these yummy fall foods without being too much work. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

One Woman's Cheese Keeper is Another Woman's Jewelry Holder

For my birthday in August, my mother in law bought me a lovely cheese keeper that I spotted at the flea market. I ooooh-ed and ahhhhh-ed over it, but didn't buy it, and she went back and got it for me on the sly. Ain't that sweet?

As pretty as it is though, I had no idea what to do with it. It dates to the 1800s, and I'm sure it was a very practical way of storing cheese in those days. In the year 2011, I just put it in a drawer in the fridge. I didn't want to tuck it away only to be brought out for special occasions, as it is really just too lovely. So, I left it on the kitchen counter and thought about it for about a month.

In that time, I came up with a new and practical use for this purty cheese keeper. Any of you who happen to have a cheese keeper around the homestead or spy one out on a thrifty scouting can be just like me and use it as a place to hold the jewelry you take off at night before bed. I don't like sleeping with my wedding rings on, or any other jewelry on for that matter. Except the toe ring. I have had this toe ring on since I was 16 and took a trip to Puerto Rico, and I don't really ever take it off. Anyway, who cares?That's not the point. Aside from the toe ring, while I slumber, my most lovely and prized jewelry will rest on my night the cheese keeper.

Does anyone else have any totally unpractical possessions that they apply to practical uses so they won't feel like they belong on the show Hoarders?