Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Meet My New Apron

In looking for an apron pattern, I came across this link for 56 apron patterns that you can make. In my mind's eye, I knew exactly what I wanted. But, as my mother can testify to, I've always had a vision which then has to be sought out. (Growing up, this "vision" usually applied to formal dresses, which in turn gave my mother a headache.) But, I'm pretty sure that I do it with almost everything. I know what I want, I just have to find it. Exactly it. This tunic apron top was swirling in my head, then bingo! I found the "pattern" here. Only, it turned out not to be a pattern. If cut as shown, it doesn't quite add up. Inspired and not deterred, I enlisted the help of some crinkly pattern-type paper, scissors, pins, tape, a pencil and said mother-with-a-headache-who-testified earlier. A new pattern was born. Using a vintage pillowcase just thrifted, I set to work. (I may have been too late for the Pillowcase Challenge, but kudos to Katie Jean who kindles the fire for future pillowcase creations.)

Poor lighting here, but it shows the contrast of pattern to pillowcase. A little snip here and a little bias tape there....button hole and voila! Happy little pillowcase apron. It's not your typical apron because standing at my kitchen counter, I rarely spill anything below the waist. Us shorter type folks spill above the waist. Come to think of it, I should probably call this a bib apron and wear it when I eat cereal too.Here's the easy, one-button, backside view. I see more pillowcase aprons in my future. And pockets, definitely contrasting pockets. For all the little crumbs and sticks and such that my little brings to me. She's a giver.

Oh, and it matches my sunny yellow kitchen!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Miranda

These monogrammed ponytail holders were a birthday gift for my sister-in-law. They measure 1 and 1/4" wide and were hand embroidered on linen by moi. She almost didn't get a matching set as I freehand embroidered both of them and those tiny stitches had me intensely... well, tense! But she is worth it. Miranda is a wonderful person, trusted friend, dedicated teacher, talented artist, devoted wife, beloved daughter, loving sister and cherished auntie.

The best gift is that she likes them. Happy (belated) birthday dear Miranda.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Plain and Simple

(Photo by Bill Coleman. See his amish photo gallery here.)

For Mother's Day (I know, I'm a little behind in posting...) my husband gave me a book titled, "Traces Of Wisdom, Amish Women and the Pursuit of Life's Simple Pleasures." He knows me well. It's an enjoyable read. Warning: it may cause you to reflect on your life and passions. It has certainly reminded me of a few of my own life passions that had become foggy in this steam room I call motherhood. I'm currently living in Chapter 47, "Chasing Around A 16-Month Old Until Your Own Legs May Fall Off." Trust me, it's better than Chapter 22, "'I'm so tired.. Who Am I? Where Am I?"

On the surface, I may seem a little bit, um, absorbed by amish things. It's more of a keen interest. Yes, I watched "Amish In The City" a few years back... more than half of a dozen easy-reading Beverly Lewis books have graced my bookshelves... I've been to amish country because my family is from the great state of Pennsylvania... and I've read this book to learn more about their history and beliefs. But, I'm not planning to become amish.

I have a healthy respect for various aspects of their culture. Examples include: simplicity, looking after one another, slower pacing in life and... (I'll just throw in here a bonus point for the amish) they do not observe Daylight Savings Time. God bless 'em. They are a no fuss, no muss kind of folk. Certainly, there are drawbacks within the amish community, but what sub-culture of people are perfect? My focus shall remain on the positive facets as I further tell you about my little gift book.

The author, Loiuse Stoltzfus, is formerly amish. She grew up amish, remains close with the community, but now lives "in the world". She talks about our (us non-amish folks) need for escape on weekends and vacations. To the amish, "pleasure is not about escape," she writes, "it's about pleasantness and togetherness." In essence, they take time to "vacation" each day by enjoying each day for what it is. Less frazzle.

I'm reminded to increase my awareness of those around me. What do others need? Ms. Stoltzfus asks, "Do we know when the person sitting next to us suffers? Do we take the opportunity to reach out? We can still give... even when we receive few thank yous and no reward." If we're giving to get, is that really giving? Have you experienced the great joy in anonymous giving?

And one final little gem: laughter. Too much time passes between hearty chuckles. (And my daughter is very entertaining!) But, the author reminds us to laugh at ourselves. Gloss over your shortcomings with a snicker. (Not the candy bar because then you'll have TWO problems.) She writes that laughter, "moves us from an obsession with the absence of perfection to higher levels of personal acceptance." -- This perfectionist needs a t-shirt emblazoned with those words.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Useful Beauty

Here's my newest little cross stitch creation. There are plans to make more. It was a gift for my mom on Mother's Day. (Done on a 4" hoop, for those inquiring minds.) I've always enjoyed the beauty of a peacock. The feathers... the extraordinary combination of colors... the "help" holler. What a strange bird! My little bird was inspired by the following pic located below and here.

I'm not the only one who's pondered peacocks. "Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies, for example."--John Ruskin. (The Stones of Venice, I)

Having never heard of peacock soup or having seen a peacock rug, I'm not sure what sort of real purpose they serve, other than beauty. But, isn't that enough? One of God's creations for us to enjoy.

The Bible (Proverbs 31:30) says that "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain..." but darned if I don't just love those peacock colors! And this isn't a woman, it's a bird. You can read the whole verse here. And mom deserves something pretty to look at, right?

Another mother's day gift given:

a simple handtowel, stitched with love.

Simple, useful and nice to look at... I've totally redeemed myself!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Breakfast For Dinner

It's time for another recipe that we've been enjoying for longer than I realized. Breakfast Bruschetta. It's from the March 2005 issue of Cottage Living magazine. We frequently enjoy a good breakfast for dinner. This recipe gets modified occasionally, but never fails to satisfy. And it involved me poaching an egg for the first time. Not difficult, just sounded intimidating. And I've never met an egg that I didn't like.

2 slices sourdough bread, cut in half

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of rosemary

s & p to taste

2 teaspoons of white distilled vinegar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

4 large eggs

4 thin slices prosciutto

warm mustard vinaigrette

- Lightly brush each piece of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, s & p, then toast lightly - about 2 minutes in the toaster oven. Keep warm.

- Fill a large skillet with water to within 2 inches; bring to a boil. Add vinegar and salt, and reduce heat to low.

- Break 1 egg into a small bowl taking care not to break the yolk. Turn egg out of the bowl into skillet quickly so the egg retains its shape in the water. Repeat with remaining eggs. Cook 5 minutes. Use slotted spoon to gently lift eggs from water. Set on paper towel to absorb excess water.

-Place bread on a plate, top with a slice of prosciutto and a poached egg. Drizzle with mustard vinaigrette. (2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard, 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Garlic, thyme and parsley can also be added.)

H will skip proscuitto and vinegarette for salsa sometimes. While I swap things out for an avocado. Can't go wrong with breakfast for dinner. It's the most important meal of the day - twice!

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