Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Victorian Era

Don't miss this enlightening article on page 2.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bookcase of the....

Intrigued by an idea from a decorating magazine, I contemplated color-coordinating all the family books in the bookshelves. However, I was loathe to give up my by-subject organization for something silly like that.
Another idea came from a catalog, where I noticed that many of the books had been slip-covered in white paper. It looked really crisp and clean. That is a lot of work for the amount of books we own, though.
Then the thought struck: get out a color-theme of books every so often to put on the coffee table. This serves two purposes: fun for me to decorate with, and it may pull out a long-forgotten book for the family to enjoy. As it turned out, I ended up with an empty corner shelf to use to carry out the plan:

Cheery Summer Yellow is the theme for a while. Will it be changed every week? Or every month? I am not sure yet. I'll wait and see how often it is used.
There are children's books here, "how to" books here, music books, music CD's, magazines, cookbooks, storybooks, photo albums, cards sent in the mail pulled from the letter box, and children's artwork from the "to scrapbook" pile. Anything yellow was a candidate for display!
I'm already looking forward to the next color scheme! Aqua blue, pink, green, red....
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Pick a Parallel

On hot summer days, we try to stay indoors in the long afternoons. Toys, books, and the "usual" activities can become boring for children on these days. And summer or winter, the days can become quite repetitive for me with laundry and dishes, laundry and dishes, more laundry, ever more laundry, and never-ending laundry.

Sometimes it is fun to spontaneously take off on a trip. In the summertime, it is tempting to run off to the mountains or the beach, or to try somewhere we have never been before. To point the car in a direction and go a thousand miles to places that we'll just "end up" would be quite an adventure. An expensive one!

What we really need is something to spice up the everyday routines. To have something "going on" that makes the ordinary days not so ordinary.

So, yesterday we decided to take a trip, and follow the 44th parallel. We are going in a large, custom R.V. that has plenty of room, a full kitchen, and even a washer and dryer so I will not fall behind on the laundry. The children can take everything they own with them. The ride is so smooth we hardly notice that we are going.

While I am doing laundry, and the children are busy with their usual activities, we are actually covering many miles.  The younger children can pretend "trip" until they are tired of driving the couch, and the older ones can every so often count mileage and time, and pick out places on the map that are interesting. We decided that we will not drive all night, but stop wherever we ended up. We are following the 44th parallel as closely as we can, but taking major roads, which sometimes deviate from it a ways.

The Internet provides some realism to the journey, as we can check the weather wherever we are at the moment (when we stopped in Twin Falls last night, it was 71 degrees with a chance of thunderstorms). Photos of the area are readily available too, if anyone is curious as to the scenery. If anyone has a question about the place, we can look it up.

We departed from the Pacific Coast yesterday, and ended up in Twin Falls, Idaho. We figure that we will cover 500 miles a day, and end up in Maine. From there, we can decide where we want to go next. We can pick another parallel and go back across the U.S. another way, or continue on the 44th parallel across the Atlantic (we can put our R.V. on a ship) and then drive through the south of France. Maybe the trip will become even more educational then, but we are keeping it non-schoolwork now so as not to scare anyone off ;)

Mealtimes have a little extra excitement that they did not have last week. When we stop for meals, the children ask, "Where are we now?"

Here is a favorite "Special day" deli sandwich recipe, which can be adapted for a travel lunch:

  • Hoagie Rolls or Kaiser Rolls from the Bakery
  • Hot chicken strips from the deli, sliced into 1/4 slices (It is cheaper to buy a bag of frozen chicken strips at Wal-mart, and they taste just as good, but when you are on a trip, you may not be able to bake them, unless you have an R.V.)
  • Sliced veggies (you can slice these ahead of time and keep them in a cooler), such as cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, tomato, avocado, bell peppers, and if you are a broccoli fan try thin sliced broccoli or cauliflower for a nice crunch
  • Mayonnaise 

If you are traveling by car (one of those spontaneous trips, perhaps), and did not bring a cooler, and have no way of slicing veggies or storing mayonnaise, try this: buy an everything-included bag of salad in the produce section, that includes a packet of salad dressing in it. You have some veggies already chopped up (mostly lettuce, though some throw in a few carrot shreds. One I found had sun-dried tomatoes), and the dressing can be a deliciously different substitute for mayonnaise.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Petticoat Tutorial

 For the last day of the Anne of Green Gables Fashion Week, I hope you can use a tutorial on making your own petticoat to make any outfit instantly "Victorian" and feminine and romantic. This is a modern petticoat, quick and easy, and it will require you to spend some money and buy a specific fabric, unless you find some soft eyelet curtains with a pretty border to "upcycle."

I did this petticoat in about an hour; that counts in many interruptions, having to wind a new bobbin (make sure you have a full bobbin before you start!) and take care of dinner. This project can be done in close to  a half an hour though.

 First, you will need to go to the fabric store and buy some eyelet material that has a fancy border on it. These embroidered fabrics with decorative borders may or may not have places to weave ribbon. You will need about 2 yards.

Wash and dry the fabric. Even up the edges of your fabric if it was cut crookedly. You are going to use the entire 2 yards and simply fold it in half, selvage at the top and border at the bottom, and sew one side seam. I did a french seam on mine.
 To do the French Seam (my way), fold the fabric right side out (you can tell the right side of eyelet from the wrong side this way: the right side embroidery is smooth and shiny, and you can see a rougher stitching on the wrong side). Sew 1/4 inch away from raw edge all the way from selvage to border. Then turn fabric around wrong side out and press the edge of that seam.
 You can see the pressed edge of the seam on the right. Now sew down that edge again, wrong side out, and take up a 3/8" seam. Press. Usually when you do a French seam, you trim the edge after the first step. I am in too much of a hurry to do stuff like that, and most likely would cut right through the seam trying to trim it. This way, I take up a total of 5/8" for the seam.

Hold the fabric up to yourself, and fold down the top for the waistband casing. You may want a narrow drawstring, or an elastic waistband. Right now fold down an estimate of how much you will need. Then check the length. You may like it ankle length, or tea length. However you like it, you will need to take enough tucks to get the border up off of the floor to the length you prefer.
  In the above photo you see my petticoat on the ironing board. If your embroidered design is straight (mine was a bit crooked, so I had to fudge a bit on some of the tucks), you can fold the material along one of the designs and keep your tucks in the same place. If you need to, use a ruler and mark them. I decided to make a fold along one of the rose rows. I have the wrong side up here.

 Above, I have folded the material along those roses, wrong sides together, and pressed the edge.

 Sew the tuck, keeping the folded edge at the 5/8" seam line. You can take a deeper tuck if you would like. I am needed 3 tucks on my petticoat, each took in 1-1/4 inches.

 Ta-da! One tuck is completed. You can decide to take your tucks close together, or far apart; make them fat or thin, do whatever you like. Make as many as you need to get the petticoat the right length.

My tucks are close together as you see in the photo, and are above the ribbon trim. I added green ribbon, because it was Anne's color. It isn't my color, but it is a petticoat so it does not much matter!

 When you have the tucks done, you can do the waistband. I use waistband elastic, but one could do a drawstring waist just as easily. In the above photo I have folded and pressed the selvage edge along the embroidered design; if your design is strait, you can do that, but if it is crooked like mine was, use a ruler to help get it even.

Fold down the selvage edge, press, and sew, leaving an opening for inserting the waistband or drawstring. If you want to wear this with a skirt, all the gathers can be a bit bulky; I wear mostly dresses so it does not bother me, but one could make it looser so it sits on the hips instead of the waist.

 I added a bow and rosebud. It may not be seen, but life is short so why not sew ribbon roses to your slip?
Here the petticoat is under a regency drawstring gown made by Rebecca of Baker Lane. I'll bet Anne would have worn a dress like this, if it had been in style at the time!
Anne probably would not have shown her petticoat on purpose, but I think it is very pretty nowadays to have a lacy edge to the hem of a dress.

By the way, if anyone is interested in a timeline of Anne, you can see one here. The link has a lot of ads, I'll warn you. However, it explains Anne's life and times plainly and I will offer it to my readers and spare everyone my lecture about how upsetting it was to see Sullivan Entertainment take Anne out of her time context in the third Anne movie, which story and time ought to have been Rilla's. It makes my blood pressure go up just thinking about the subject!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Anne of Green Gables Fashion Week: Raspberry Cordial
It is a good thing that this event is a week long; I spent most of the past week looking for the gadget that connects my camera to the computer, and after enlisting help from a friend (who opened up the computer desk drawer this morning and find the gadget straightaway... why wasn't it there when I looked?), I am finally able to participate again. I do not know what category a recipe falls into, though!
Here you see farm-fresh raspberries being washed to make Anne's Raspberry Cordial (from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook, and there is one on this page. Please click on the links for the recipe). I made some raspberry juice and canned it, somewhat like making a juice concentrate, to use in the recipe later.
Mash the berries and simmer with sugar, then run through cheesecloth or a strainer.
For clear juice, don't squeeze too much of the pulp in. Personally, I like all of the raspberry goodness I can get so I placed the pulp in clean cotton flannel and twisted and squeezed every bit of the juice out I could. (I am told that the pulp can be used to make a face mask, beneficial for dry skin.)
Out of a flat of raspberries, I was able to can 3 jars of juice. A bit disappointing for all the work, I'll admit. I need to go pick more raspberries! One jar will do for one recipe. No need for labeling this time, as there is no "demon liquor" in my pantry to get mixed up by:)
When you want to make the Cordial, use a jar of the juice, and add the water and lemon as called for. I have also used ginger ale (try Canada Dry) with it to make it even more special. I think Anne would have served it in a pitcher like this one.

Anytime I am canning it looks as if it could be an early "Anne" culinary experience. In this case, for the three little jars of juice I used two large saucepans, 3 large mixing bowls, several utensils and measuring cups, scattered all over the sink and counters. Raspberry juice was dripped all over the kitchen, and splattered all over my dress. I think Marilla would have scolded quite a bit could she have seen me.

As I was writing this post, a delightful package came in the mail from Rebecca of Baker Lane. What a perfect addition to an "Anne" themed recipe post! Though they would have to be "broken in" to many years of kitchen work before I'd wear them to can raspberry juice, they look just like an apron Anne would wear in her Victorian Kitchen to make Cordial!
So old-fashioned and charming!

The next task for the day: Blueberry preservation! Above you see a portion of the 20+ pounds of blueberries picked yesterday. I am flash-freezing them on a baking pan, putting a single layer in the freezer, and then putting the frozen berries into freezer bags so that they will not stick together.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Anne Of Green Gables Fashion Week

As a submission for Anne of Green Gables Fashion Week, I hope my readers do not mind a second look at a dress I posted for Mother's day. It has become my new Favorite Dress!
Though I consider it a Sunday or tea-party type dress, I'm sure it would have been just a casual cotton dress in Anne's era! And I am sure there would have been more detail even on a casual dress in that era: tucks in the bodice & hem, more yardage in the skirt, lace or ribbon somewhere, and a high collar.
I like the puffed sleeves:)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just a Trifle

I couldn't let these delicious little pictures go to waste! They are from a magazine subscription cards that fall out of Southern Lady and Tea-Time magazines. If you already have a subscription, and all your friends do, those little showers of cards can be, well, a wee bit annoying. This is a way to "recycle" part of those cards!
I cut the picture out, and placed it over a rubber-stamped strawberry border on a card. The border was colored with crayons (tip: Scarlet is more of a "strawberry-ish" red than just plain red). Something was lacking though...
...the glitter! A glitter border around each picture made them just right.
I made this trifle from the Tea Time magazine a couple years ago- I can tell you it was good. And just looking at these cards makes my mouth water!
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