Unique Hand-Crafted Gifts
Learning to finger knit was my entre` into the realm of using yarn to create . Knitting along with a variety of other creative pursuits was part of the cultural landscape I was born into … hands were always busy making interesting and beautiful things. With that level of industry and interest modeled before me, it was most natural I, too, would learn to thread the needle.
I well remember the project in which I was allowed to use knitting needles for the first time; it was a yellow pot holder with a little loop knitted in one corner used for hanging. From there I moved onto to slipper making; they had pompom embellished toes… in the same yellow yarn. To this day, I could make those slippers in my sleep; I was so proud slip-sliding around the house in them. I eventually moved on to knitting hats and mittens and sweaters, but that was long ago. My knitting work was eventually was set aside to make way for my primary focus on sewing and tailoring.
It was during this past Christmas season that I had a challenging gift selection to make for someone special. I gave it good thought, but nothing seemed particularly fitting. It was only after considering making a gift that I was knew I was on track as it is in the making of something that the true gift resides, the gift of time and thought and effort. And so it was that I reached into my bag of tricks, dusted off my number 9’s and knitted a beautiful, one of a kind, Christmas scarf.
Considering her smile, I think she likes.
I’m knitting again. Since making this scarf I knitted two more and have yarn for number three and four. I’ll keep you posted.
!!The Festive Table!!
Having turned the corner on Thanksgiving, my thoughts move toward preparing the house for the Advent of Christmas. There is nothing more charming to help set the stage for Christmas Day’s arrival than a welcoming wintery table replete with stars, snowmen, and candy cane stripes. As we await the arrival of the holy day, set a festive table, light the candles and watch the glow in your children’s eyes as golden memories are in the making. December is a season of joy, wonder, hope, love and remembrance… take the time to savor each and all the gifts of the this special time of year.
Thanksgiving – 2016
Maybe you’ve had that cranberry “stuff” than comes in a can and decided that cranberry sauce wasn’t for you. That was my experience, until some years ago I came across this absolute marvel of a recipe for cranberry chutney. I’ve been making it for Thanksgiving ever since as a “must have” on my menu. Try it, it’s easy, its delicious and it’s not only good with turkey, but with chicken and pork, as well. It is so good, in fact, that I can’t bear to keep it to myself and have decided to share the recipe with you. Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetite!
Begin by washing and sorting a bag of fresh cranberries, 4 cups.
Add a cup of golden raisins
Add 2 cups of sugar.
Add cinnamon and allspice to taste. I like things spicy, so I add extra but a 1/4 tsp of allspice and 1 tsp of cinnamon should be adequate to start… spice it up from there.
Drain pineapple, reserving juice, and chop to desired texture.
Chop fresh ginger using a pleasing amount.
Add water to pineapple juice measuring to one cup.
Add liquid and stir.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Cook a bit longer for thicker consistency.
The mixture will reduce down to a syrup that thickens as it cools.
Store in refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to two weeks. Serve cold or at room temperature as desired.
From Start to Finish
I recently went through a box in my sewing room marked “winter projects.” The box contained the best of the best projects I salvaged during our sizing down move three years ago. I have always found it difficult to start up work on old projects. It is usually a lack of interest as whatever it was that got my creative juices flowing has long since dissipated and the prospect of picking up in the middle of an uninteresting project seems like work more than fun. Fortunately, that was not the case with this piece. It had been long enough that I had forgotten I had ever started this jacket. The fact that I still loved the red quilted fabric was good and I still liked the striped douppioni… so far so good. After studying the pattern and the pieces that were already cut, I decided I definitely needed a third piece to create additional interest. So off to The Mill End Store I went with swatches in hand.
It’s really quite remarkable that I was able to find a douppioni print that complemented the stripes so perfectly, but not without considerable effort. I was in the store for at least two hours searching, searching, and searching again every piece of fabric at least five times. I was finding nothing suitable and finally decided it was time to surrender. Resigned to defeat, I headed for the exit pausing only to notice a silk display… and there it was. It was exactly what I’d been looking for; the colors were right, the scale was right, it was perfection and obviously meant to be. And so I begin the satisfying endeavor of resurrecting an old project to new life. More to come…
A Delightful Pair
I found an ensemble of six porcelain figures resting on the shelf at Goodwill amongst the clutter. These elegant figures looked so completely out of place in amongst the tat that only the coldest of hearts would not be moved by their reduced circumstances, for surely they had been members of a beloved collection of some dear lady who had crossed over to the great beyond. Once laying eyes upon them I knew it was my duty to perform a rescue and so it was that after meticulous inspection I chose two of the six to bring home. It was indeed a hard decision, but I think these two make a particularly delightful pair. I especially like the little bird on the lady’s dress and the gentleman kicking up his heel. So lovely!
Dressing A Table
I went to the beach yesterday to cool off from the heatwave we’ve been experiencing. It was a lovely day with 70 degree weather and a gentle breeze. On the way home I stopped into the local thrift store in Lincoln City and found this lovely vase with a bird motif, the perfect container for green gladiolus which are currently in season. They make quite a statement!
Also on the table you will see a set of candlesticks which look possibly Scandinavian in design and a large platter which were also “finds” along the way. They are atop a paisley print table runner I made to compliment my Blue Italian Spode dinnerware.
I have started a new section of my blog that is for sharing my penchant for things blue and white. I hope you will enjoy the treasures I find as I comb various thrift stores looking for interesting and unique items to add to my growing collection.
Calla Lilies in Blue and White Vase
An Urban Jewel
I recently returned from a visit to San Francisco where I was treated to a wonderful walking tour provided by two of my sons who live and work in the city. In advance of my visit, I requested that we walk as much as possible so as to see the city at street level and also to get exercise which would allow me to sample the many fine culinary offerings of the city without regret.
Never have I climbed so many stairs and navigated such steep inclines for hours at a time, but it was worth every step. Thankfully, the weather cooperated and I able to the traverse 25 to 30 miles through many vibrant and varied neighborhoods that make up this urban jewel known as the City by the Bay.
The brief video below is of the killer-view my kids wake up to everyday… taken from the Bernal Heights neighborhood overlooking the Noe Valley with Sutro Tower on the horizon.
In a city where space is in scarce supply, front porches and entryways become gardens with a plethora of beautiful displays of cultivation of every kind, too numerous to count or photograph, each as lovely as the next, giving added dimension to the meaning of San Francisco Pride and a personal understanding to the sweet sentiments of the City’s signature song, I left My Heart in San Francisco.
Thanks guys for being so patient with all the stops for photos and for sharing your beautiful city with me!
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.”
I grew up on the Pacific shore bathed in a swirling mélange of earthy aromas, briny sea mist, beach kelp, weathered driftwood, live crab boiling in pots on creosote soaked docks, and the smell of prolonged dampness that permeated every living thing. Brightly colored nasturtiums, seemingly the only flower that survived in the sandy soil, sprung up ubiquitously in yards and planters. An ambitious gardener might have daffodils and calla lilies struggling in a border strip around a scrubby patch of grass, but that was the extent of coastal cultivation in a landscape where skunk cabbage, Scotch broom, salal and moss held sway over the land.
Our regular excursions to “the Valley” to visit relatives were like incredible journeys, visitations to an enchanting world replete with verdant fields and flowering trees and plants and flowers of every sort and variety that filled the air with a soul caressing redolence which gently lingered in the stillness of the valley air. The tidy patchwork of farm fields, symmetry of tree lined streets and ordered planning of nature expressed in the multitude of fastidiously tended gardens resonated deep within me giving way to a life-long appreciation of the capacity of nature, to influence and enhance human experience.
Bringing Beauty Into Your World
Table linens are a simple sewing project that are well worth the effort. These small pieces of fabric artfully arranged add pop, sizzle, glamour, elegance and just plain fun to an otherwise ho-hum table.
They are quick and easy to make and the choices are as endless as the selections at the fabric store. So have fun and be boldly creative!
Begin by cutting out a large square. Determine the width of the hem and miter the corners to suit. My favorite size is 21″ x 21″. To create the mitered corner remove 3 1/4″.
Turn under 1/4″ all around the perimeter of the square as shown below.
Bring folded edges together at mitered edge and stitch a 1/4″ seam.
Clip threads and trim corner to stitching line to ensure a crisp point.
Press open and complete on each of the four corners.
Turn each corner and carefully press hem into place.
Stitch hem into place. You may wish to decrease stitch length for added strength at the corner seam lines. Once stitched, your napkins is completed.