Tag Archives: autumn

a bit of a catch-up

Things are happening, so grab a cuppa  and let’s start!

my favourite baking book since the 90’s (or ’80’s??)

First, a dive into Muffin-land. After hurricane Flo visited, and slightly more normalcy appeared,  the grocers seemed to be almost giving away berries.

I do love berries – strawberries, raspberries (my fav), blackberries (second fav) and all the rest, but I was receiving more than my greediness could eat. What to do . .  .   .    .

I considered making jam, but lacking the accoutrement and experience, I demurred.  Enter muffins, with a recipe for basic berry muffins (below). Ah! I’d much rather be baking than stirring a boiling pot.

the basic recipe, which I haven’t tried varying yet!

We’re not talking  industrial-scale amounts, but for someone who hadn’t baked in four or five months, anything was major.  Then a few low temp and humidity days magically appeared.

I started baking.

if you’ve never made muffins American-style, do read this carefully.

For those who might not realise, American store-bought muffins are more like sweet cake than a true  muffin.

All muffin  batter is lumpy because the flour is not mixed until it is lump-less.

If you don’t believe there’s a reason why, just try mixing a batch of these one way, and then the other. I know which ones will get binned!

It’s the chemistry/alchemy of the baking process, which I shan’t explain because I don’t know what it is!

(I always use those little paper baking cups in my muffin pans because I hate scrubbing out the pan.)

 

Have I convinced anyone to take a quick break and mix up a batch? (Before we go on, special thanks to taste-testers at h-t #136 & others. You know who you are!)

A large leftover bit of rayon from Vogue Fabric, Chicago, purchased at least 8 years ago!

This fabric has been on my cutting table for weeks because it kept telling me IT DID NOT WANT TO BE A SKIRT.

Oh. I finally listened, and realised how much more I’d wear some shorts, so the shorts pattern is now out and will fit after judicious finagling.

Sometimes, procrastination thinking is a good idea. Tereza, over at Sew for Me, just wrote an interesting post on that, amongst other things (including a look at some Brazilian  fabrics).

Christmas crochet

Thanks to Sheila at Sewchet I spent last weekend, in-between batches of muffins, doing some more work towards Christmas.

Just yesterday I finished my latest adventure in the British Library’s Crime ClassicsThe Lake District Murder by John Bude kept me trying to solve the mystery and was definitely enjoyable!

The three books by Hay ( Death on the Cherwell & Murder Underground here, The Santa Klaus Murder here) were my intro to the series (known amongst aficionados as BLCC).  Since then, I’ve branched out a bit, but only into books written with some humour.

click to go to book on the British Library site

A bit of escape via an entertaining book is part of my regime for staying (somewhat 😉) balanced.

There are limits to what I need in my wardrobe, which is something more and more of us are realising.

Some form of creativity, be it cooking or crochet, is a basic necessity. But more about those another time .

❤       ❤      ❤  Thank you all for stopping by!  ❤       ❤      ❤

time for a change …

playing with heavier weight cotton batik fabric… how to use?

As you see, I’ve changed themes.

Hope nothing has been lost along the way.

If you spot anything gone walkabout, do let me know so I can fix it. Thank you!

Decided a couple of weeks ago to get out this cotton batik from Vogue Fabrics. (I got the end of the bolt last year.)

It has niggled me since last summer. Heavier than I had anticipated, I had put it aside to think about how to use it.

Finally decided there was nothing for it but to make it up as a duster for when (if?) the weather moderates to the sixties instead of the nineties. It would make a good duster to pull on over something else.

(My duster pattern is very vintage & consists of pieces copied  years ago. Unfortunately, I’ve no idea what company it was.)

But what about the “else” to go under prospective duster??  Not wanting to create an orphan, I took some time thinking about what else from stash might work with this busy batik.

maybe wearable with the batik?

Perhaps a combination of teals?

I have a bit of yardage in that solid-coloured rayon – am thinking maybe trousers.

Already have a top & cut-offs from the patterned fabric.

yesterday, almost at the ta-da! stage . . .

This was taken yesterday before front facings were sewn and wrists hemmed. Decided, as the fabric was distinctly not floaty, to leave long slits on either side to allow whatever floatiness might be possible. I cut the back with no centre seam and a slight flare.

To be completed today are the hems. As the sides  are slit 12″ each there are three sections to hem (back and the two fronts).

Then to decide how to tack down the (un-interfaced) facings. I am not a fan of hand sewing, but might have to do it anyway. We’ll see…

On past duster versions (last year’s) I didn’t use facings, in keeping with the very light weight of the fabric. However, I decided to use them this time. Why? Don’t exactly know. It was just a feeling. Know what I mean?

books

Finally finished my latest Durrell volume, Birds, Beasts and Relatives. Have deliberately tried to make it last as long as possible as am having trouble finding a good but inexpensive copy of the last of his Corfu Trilogy, Garden of the Gods.

(No false economy, as the reissued Trilogy over here has been more than the three separately.)

As always, I found Durrell’s writing highly entertaining, educational, nostalgic in the best sense, and humorous ~

“Now winter was upon us. Everything was redolent with the smoke of olive wood fires. The shutters creaked and slapped the sides of the house as the wind caught them, and the birds and leaves were tumbled across a dark lowering sky.” first sentence in chapter, “Owls and Aristocracy,” Birds, Beasts and Relatives.

❤     ❤     ❤

two more bold caftans

What can I say…

Once I got started and was encouraged by Sheila’s comments on the first caftan, I decided to go for it.

that first caftan, 45″ wide cotton flannel, is floor length

That first one (left), being  very special colours plus yummy flannel, got a little extra time because it has a nap. Said nap almost didn’t all go downward, as I almost forgot and sewed one piece upside down. Phew!  Black is not a good colour to have to unpick.

Then I finally got my other two caftans with bold designs made up as well.

The huge brown & salmon pattern (scroll down if you click the link) is from deep stash, whilst the other, possibly my oldest piece, is a buttery soft rayon bought in California sometime ‘twixt 1985 and ’95.

Both caftans were made with the self-drafted pattern I used for the flannel caftan.

An exception: For the rayon stripe’s neck facing I decided to use rayon bias tape. Although it took more sewing time, it’s a better match for the fabric’s weight, which is very light.

For some reason I’ve never thought of removing the fringe on that rayon. It’s always been part of “the overall concept” and once sewn on it’s stayed on.

The moral of this is if you’ve got some large-patterned fabric in your stash, drag it out and make it up.

Then have fun wearing it!

stash-busting

view d

Finally getting back into a routine here, with sewing definitely in the mix.

In June I’d pulled from stash (after at least 3 years), cut out and finished the edges on a lovely cotton lawn ( White Tree Fabrics, U.K.).  Got it completed this past week (below left).

Used view D from this inspiredly (is that a word?) gifted pattern (thanks again to you know who), which I love to wear for sleep or lounging because it’s so comfortable.

Also just completed a gorgeously autumnal patterned cotton flannel caftan. That fabric I’d ordered whilst living in Chicago and is from fairly deep stash.

Originally, I’d thought I’d wear it a lot, but worried about the so-large pattern. Finally decided no one will see it but me, so why worry?

Am using a “pattern” from my head. Something I sewed up quickly one day in Northern California in the 90’s when I didn’t have time/money/whatever to go hunt for a pattern.

There the evenings used to get very cool in summer, unless El Niño was blowing all the cool Pacific air away. Residents called it Nature’s air conditioning. Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Fog,” expresses that summertime phenomenon perfectly.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Coming back to current East Coast to say the 2011 photo on the right is that summer fog rolling in over the Santa Cruz Mountains and across Silicon Valley, round about 3 one afternoon.

No leaves turning pretty colours round this lower East Coast. They just die, are brown, and fall off. Sigh.

Meanwhile, hope you Lovely Readers are comfy & cosy whichever side of the equator you’re on.

 

octobre ennui

why have i left these in plain view all summer???

After four whole days of lower humidity 70’s (mid-20’s C), cool nights when I can actually sleep, and just as I’m beginning to think about sewing again… slap-bang and its back into heat & humidity again.

M-E-E-E-E-E-H-H-H ! ! !

Am not at all keen on sewing (or anything else) when it’s miserable, and this summer’s been no exception.

Except I also moved at the end of June, and that added another dimension.

However, I did manage to keep the beedies blog reading and salivating over fabric & patterns. Guess some part of my brain kept thinking, Cooler weather! Cooler weather!

None of which explains why I left those two fabric swatches (above) out on my desk. For weeks they just lay around. Occasionally I’d fondle them and wonder what on earth I’d ever pair with them.

The blues I liked immediately. The other sorta left me wishing for a lot more of the yellow-orange and a lot less of that background, occasionally castigating myself thinking no one else ever does this.

Then I woke up last week, looked at them, pulled out 3 fabrics maturing in stash, knew exactly what to do with everything, ordered the two batik cottons that day, just getting the last of the blue, and really hoping they’d arrive soon.

Maybe there was some angst-ridden subconscious struggle going on, as I’d decided months & months ago to sew only with stashed fabric. Or maybe it took a cool night’s solid sleep for me to see what had been staring at me. Whatever.

Meanwhile, Happy October to all you Lovelies!

borrowed cats

Yes, all my cats are borrowed. Less cat hair on the fabric, no shredded pattern pieces (why do they love that?), litter boxes or smelly fish tins.

But also no soft furry critter to welcome you home, curl up by your feet on stormy nights, or nestle in your lap when you need a cuddle.

Pluses and minuses.

ad hoc noodles: bits of jacob’s cream crackers

Ah, well. That bowl of chicken soup was all mine the other day, as were the grapes and

homemade bread.

Because fall’s nipping the air somewhere the bread machine got cranked up last weekend.

It makes a weird-looking loaf, so will try to remember to take a photo of some toast.

My big surprise has been sitting down to learn that granny squares aren’t too diffy after all. Not planning no blankets, mind you. But it made a change from all the cuppa mats I’m still churning out.

not too bad, but it got ripped anyway, for a smaller hook & more practice

Although officially Autumn since last week we’re still

feelin’ eighties but the last couple of days the sun’s started setting earlier. A comforting sign.

I got out one of my favourite table toppers, made a quick cuppa, and enjoyed a read through a Corinna Chapman book.

She’s (they’re?) cat people, too.

[long pause to make a cuppa & grab the book …]

“The Mouse Police slunk to my feet and gave me that look which cats reserve for moments when they are finding the human world unbelievably trying and are about to call their union.” Devil’s Food, Kerry Greenwood, p. 2.

“Horatio emerged … He sat down in the kitchen, paws folded, tail carefully disposed, the picture of a cat who has been far too deeply asleep to come to the aid of his human, even though no one expects cats to do that stuff anyway …” Ibid. p. 4.

Come to think of it, as Corinna’s a baker of bread extraordinaire, she might have had something to do with my loaf …

the final word is, of course, from His Good Self:
Here’s messin’ with you, kid…

The latest news on Hodge is he’s outta work and busy with a third book and probably booking appearances in … France? He’s guested in a book that’s gone global…

Keith decided to retire, and is soon to go up UP (pronounced “you-pe,” the upper peninsula of Michigan) to view what should be stunning foliage. Camera hopefully in tow!

musing on fashion & identity

cotton & silk awaiting a decision on which pattern to use

! ! ! FLASH ! ! !

Over the weekend the Washington Post had an interesting article about a couple of new on-line companies catering to everyone in the real world who isn’t size 000S to 12.

Which, as Tim Gunn pointed out in an editorial in the same newspaper is the majority of consumers. He further commented, “Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up… Done right, our clothing can create an optical illusion that helps us look taller and slimmer…”

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

When one isn’t sewing, one tends to think about sewing. At least this one does.

And thinking about sewing reminded me of several things I’ve been reading lately, all of which may influence what gets sewn next. The first is a book:  Fashion on the Ration by Julie Summers.

Before deciding whether to purchase or wait eternally for a library copy from out-of-state, I went on-line and read some reviews. Which is how I discovered, “Looking good was a metaphor for Not Giving In, Not Giving Up…”   The Telegraph.

“Keep up the morale of the Home Front by preserving a neat appearance.   The Board of Trade, 1940”

“… a determined effort to bring as much cheer and charm into our life as possible. This, we are convinced, is the best contribution we can make to national defence. This was the attitude, widely celebrated after the end of the war, that came to be known as the Blitz spirit…”   from Fashion on the Ration: Style in the Second World War, by Julie Summers, (pp. 1 and 18). Profile Books. Kindle Edition.

A-ha! So fashion was considered important enough for governments to get involved during World War 2.  Hmm. I downloaded a copy, which I hate doing as I’m a tactile book lover. However, its fascinating and I highly recommend it.

At some point I did my monthly look at Marcy Tilton’s blog and saw this about a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit she’d seen:

     “Clothes carry an energy of the maker and wearer… O’Keefe was always aware of current fashion, adapting it, simplifying and minimizing and paring it down to fit her own sensibilities and style. Her aesthetic remained constant and cultivated throughout her life with a dedication to simplicity, naturalness and sparseness in her art, her clothes and her home.”
“In later years O’Keefe had clothes made by dressmakers and purchased ready to wear. She was clearly aware of American fashion trends, was always of her time but in her own style. When she liked an outfit or garment she would have it replicated by a dressmaker, and in some cases would take it apart to make a pattern.”

This month Lizzie (The Vintage Traveler) did a double-post review of the same exhibit, now in North Carolina. Then I came across some interesting tidbits on ageism over at Style Crone.

This Autumn I’ve got a whole stew of ideas simmering slowly on the back burner. . .  However, one thing’s certain: Those cooler weather clothes I got out lately won’t be needed over the next couple weeks … high 80’s are forecast.   😮  Aw, rats!

long sleeves & long skirts will hang around until (if?) Autumn temps finally arrive

remembering esther

does your parchment paper begin to burn even below 400℉ as sides of mine do?

Every Labor Day I remember a neighbor named Esther. A dear and very talented woman, I once asked what she did on Labor Day.  I always labor on Labor Day, she said. And now, so do I, in her memory.

edible, but not too…

Had been telling myself all week that it’ll be September soon and time to bake scones again.

Yeah!

Labor Day weekend’s goal was peppery olive oil scones with Parmesan cheese (from this book).

NOTE added 5 Sept.: This recipe is made specifically for olive oil, not butter. It is not a simple substitution! Read remarks in Alston’s introduction, available here as she specifically discusses substitutions!

Remembering I’m not fond of whole wheat (wholemeal) flour in this recipe I used plain, and decided to try Greek yogurt instead of soured-with-lemon milk.

Big mistake because Greek yogurt isn’t nearly as runny as buttermilk or plain yogurt and the dough wouldn’t form into a ball.

I added milk several times, albeit in tiny amounts. That overworked the dough.

rather dense . . .

I used a different combination of herbs, and didn’t get enough to add much flavour.

The just out-dated flour and baking powder probably didn’t help.

At least they didn’t burn!   😳

Neither did the loaf of wheat bread I threw into the machine this afternoon. Mind you, I almost forgot the salt. And the paddle – an essential if you expect the machine to do any mixing or kneading.

Ah! Home-made bread to toast in the morning.

On the sewing front, am making progress with the winter fabric, washing and loading into large zip plastic bags. Now just need to do a bit of a sort and it should be done. Unless I find another pile in some deep, dark corner . . .

he-he-heee!

using up yarn.
still.

holiday hiatus

Temporarily losing the time to blog, Dear Readers, and not having much to impart as there’s not much selfish sewing going on over here. However, am keeping up with everyone else.

Meanwhile, here’s a few photos . . . but do remember that I’m across the sea about level with Gibraltar, so there’s not likely to be much snow. All these flowers were still around 10 days ago….

This year’s tree & leaf colour wasn’t much, but I did manage to get these few pictures, during a very red sunset. (Good lighting for added colour.)

at least half of these leaves are gone now, and the evergreens look bare
at least half of these leaves are gone now, and the evergreens look bare

 

can you tell how much is reflected & how much is real?
can you tell how much is reflected & how much is real?

And here’s a little puzzle for you: What’s this? A hint? I’ve been looking for it for some years, but found it after Stir Up Sunday.  😉

Stay comfy!

guess
might not look the same as what some of you are used to seeing

sunday sevens #42

Sunday Sevens was created by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins. Click to see the guidelines.

last-weeks-comfortable-read
my comfort read for the week, to catch up with my agatha reading… now i should re-read the sequel because i’ll understand all the references to “last year’s case”

The big news for America’s Agatha fans is the Agatha Raisin series, currently only available on Acorn TV, will be on PBS sometime in 2017.

the rest of last week's books. didn't cook a thing from the nigella books, but enjoyed looking through them again
the rest of last week’s library pile. didn’t cook a thing from the nigella books, but enjoyed looking through them again

 

it was one of those weeks when only a pot was enough..., thank goodness it's been cool enough to enjoy a full pot.
it was one of those weeks when only a pot was enough…, thank goodness it’s been cool enough to enjoy a full pot.
am i the only sewer who collects these for small things, like snaps & pins?
am i the only sewer who collects these for small things, like snaps & pins?

 

friday was leftovers night-beans & egg & a bit o'cut up apple... i think that's what this conglomeration was
friday was leftovers night-beans & egg & a bit o’cut up apple… i think that’s what this conglomeration was

click one of these 2 photos to see all the captions

 

My final photo isn’t mine – it’s from friend Scott’s blog, Furrowed Middlebrow. Let me explain…

my last picture isn't mine, but courtesy of Scott and Dean Street Press. you can click to go to all of dean street's furrowed middle brow books
my last picture isn’t mine, but courtesy of Scott and Dean Street Press. you can click to go to all of dean street’s furrowed middlebrow books

In honour of Remembrance Day and our equivalent, Veteran’s Day, I downloaded a new reprint of a wonderful British woman’s first-hand account of London during World War II: A Chelsea Concerto, by Frances Faviell.  It’s written with an artist’s eye to detail. It’s harrowing. And I can hardly stop reading it.

I should explain that my San Francisco acquaintance and publisher (oooh, that’s so nice to type!) Scott is the instigator. His blog, Furrowed Middlebrow, has been a continuing source of new authors for me to read.

Now, Scott’s dream of reprinting many of the wonderful out of print (OOP) books he’s found so difficult to locate has come true, and there are NINE in his first group. If this one is any indication of the quality of the rest, and I’m confident it is, I’ll be devouring them all. At which point, I hope another batch will be ready.

If you enjoy reading, and want to discover forgotten British women authors, click on over to Scott’s post of the initial nine here. He’s included both UK and US Amazon locations for all of them. He wrote, “… You can easily find all nine of the Furrowed Middlebrow books by simply searching “Furrowed Middlebrow” on Amazon.”

This is his 2013 review of the book I’m now reading, during which he wishes he could get it reprinted. And now he has.

🎉🎈HUGE Congratulations, Scott! 🎈🎉