Old projects

I had some of these on the blog, but at some point must have deleted them. I’m putting them here all together.

A couple small tote bags. These remind me I can sew more things now.

This cute fabric cord. I got the idea and instructions from another blog years ago which I may never find again, but if I do, I’ll update with a link. It’s good for gift wrapping and I string letters for a banner on it once, too, and I thought that looked good.

Examples of my ridiculous habit of what Rob calls ‘microdecorating’. It makes me laugh. These are made of silk dupioni. Oh! I just remembered something else I should have included here. That’ll be a different post I guess.

A small bunny brooch. Not really practical to wear, just kind of an amusing small thing. I gave one away and the recipient still seems to enjoy it. The pattern is free from Loop London.

This was when I thought it was hilarious to dress chocolate truffles in costumes. Okay, I still think that’s funny. It’s just so stupid! Anyway, the puddings were a gift and I don’t remember what I did with the flower ones. Probably gave them away.

That’s all for now, I think. I’m already realizing there will probably be an Old Projects Part Two, but I need to find the photos.

It’s graduation season. I came across these old photos over the pandemic winter.

Small me, graduating from kindergarten.

Here I am playing the zither. For graduation, I played Brahms’ Lullaby, because I went to a Montessori school, and that is the sort of thing one does there.

Graduation from eighth grade. This dress, it’s just too much.

Oddly, I can’t find a photo from my high school graduation, although I know they exist somewhere. This is my senior portrait. I was actually outside, which seems so Olden Times.

University graduation, with Confused Weasel face. I’m surprised I don’t have it in more of these photos.

Okay, here are three non-graduation photos I’m including because they make me laugh:

You might imagine I’m the adorable child on the right doing things like clapping, smiling, and noticing the photographer, but you would be wrong. I am the child on the left, seemingly having her soul sucked out of her body. It’s a trick of the camera, but I think it’s hilarious and fitting.

Me and my small brother, who managed to grow quite large in the end. This is the one (1) moment we weren’t bickering.

My childhood fashion icon image, right here. Ha!

Mushroom Soup

Yesterday, I had a headache all day, but managed to get dinner done . This soup comes together easily, and it somehow feels peaceful to eat.

I found the recipe on the back of a greeting card I bought but never mailed. I’m glad I kept it.

Rather than water, I’ll use broth if there’s any in the fridge I need to use up. I wait until I’m done boiling the soup to add the cream, and I leave out the truffle oil because the guys don’t like truffles. Also, I never have sherry in the house, so I use brandy instead, and I think it works fine. It’s one of those recipes that’s more than the sum of its parts.

We had it with extra roasted mushrooms to eat with a piece of baguette, because the only container of mushrooms at the supermarket was massive, and I didn’t want them languishing in the refrigerator. I added salad made of arugula topped with a mixture of fennel and supreme of orange.

It was a soothing meal, with a little music and the sound of rain falling on the window. A cool, gentle breeze. Soon the weather will be so different. I’ll wonder if I imagined ever having been chilly, or having considered whether I should get my sweater, or maybe just go to bed.

Still happy, still birthday

Birthday present show and tell!

This book, released just last week. It’s a treasure trove of patterns, plus it’s a beautiful object in itself.

A bottle of perfume, which I chose because it’s soft, and it tickles around the edges of my memory, in a good way. I’m choosing tell, not show, for that.

A necklace, from Midwinter. It’s a moonstone, and I love it.

Little lights

Continuing with older projects…

The year we got our cats, our first pets (!), I realized our previous Christmas decorating plan wasn’t going to work at all. I think this kind of realization happens or doesn’t happen depending on what sort of cat you get. We got this kind:

This is her, in the garbage, proving a point.
Vibrating. Somehow.

The other two cats are mellow, but she has a lot of points to prove, and I felt sure at least one would be about the Christmas tree. It was.

Even though I have a take it or leave it (mostly leave it) attitude toward Christmas trees as a concept, if I have the opportunity to cover something in delicate glass objects and the odd inappropriately placed, worrying, actual candle (because worryingly-placed candles make me laugh) I will rethink my position. So, I had a tree covered in glass: birds, pine cones, icicles, that kind of thing. Plus the odd candle.

Very chewable, very breakable.

Guess who has a tree covered in paper ornaments now?

I did some paper cranes, some small puffy origami stars, and these:

Based on others’ reactions to my tiny lanterns, you love them or hate them. I love them.

They’re great if you have a cat hell bent on eating only what will kill her, if you have a small child who behaves similarly, if you have an adult who clumsily knocks the tree over periodically, or if you just like them.

I made them by folding origami water bombs from plain, off-white paper. After they were folded, I drew pictures on them with a black pen. So simple.

Black with off-white/ecru/similar shades is my favorite color combination. I find it quiet and peaceful. I use it a lot, alone or with another color or two thrown in. For Christmas, I add dark green and brown, mostly from evergreens, and maybe a little gold leaf here and there. I like it to look natural.

Okay, here’s how to fold the water bombs:

The little hole at the top of the folded water bomb is where you stick it on the Christmas light, just poke the light right in there, and you’re done.

There’s so much potential here, and I know I saw a kit for sale with patterned paper to use for the water bombs. Alternatively, you could do silhouettes, either drawn with pen, or punched out of dark paper with one of those paper punches that does fancy shapes. You could use a pin to poke constellations into the paper, or maybe glitter the inside of the water bomb and punch tiny holes so the light would be extra bright and shiny. You could do letters to spell out names or words. I meant to try some of these ideas last Christmas, but I found myself not quite in the mood for a bunch of extra work. Some years are like that, what can you do? I think we all had enough going on; I know crafts were at the bottom of my list. Spring and summer are sometimes a better time to get stuff ready for the holidays, anyway.

So! That’s my tree now. It’s relaxing to look at, and I like it. I don’t even miss my old ornaments. Well, except for my collection of slightly off-putting ones, but that’s something for a different day.

Three pleasures

Tea I save for this time of year, because now is when it tastes best.

The first of my beloved fritillaria meleagris, looks particularly fetching after a storm.

A spot in the neighborhood which feels enchanted.

Something about the trunk.

the reasons we stay up too late

Reading:

Olive Editions (Harper Collins imprint) did this decorative bunch of titles, the price is $10 each, and I spied a Dorothy Sayers mystery which had been on my wish list for a while. It’s fun, but not my favorite Sayers so far. My favorite so far is The Nine Tailors.

Listening:

Oh, this album. It’s old and a bit strange, but it has been a favorite since my friend played it for me almost 25 years ago. It has a quality of feeling like home while feeling not at all like home. It’s great music for walking in cold darkness, there’s the smell of woodsmoke and decaying leaves, and a wind is kicking up. Yes.

Making:

More Ann Wood ships for the holidays. These are fun to make, and very pretty. You should look at her stuff. It’s inspiring. Here are links so you can find out more:

Ann Wood’s website

Template and instructions for boat

Template and instructions for another sort of boat

Link to all the free patterns and templates she has generously shared

A sincere thank you to Ann Wood!

and everything was sweeter

My older son finished high school! He’s been so busy this summer we just got around to celebrating. A few friends came over one Sunday evening and my son wanted pie, so we had pie. Well, also tarts, because I don’t know how to make that many kinds of pie.

Here’s a photo I snapped at the beginning:

We had:

Cherry pie, with the usual canned filling.

Apple pie from Costco, easy enough

A cherry tart with what is, I guess, a frangipane or at least frangipane-esque filling. I’ve been fiddling with the recipe, and I’m still not completely satisfied, but I love the concept so I have three more changes I want to try. It’s a Martha Stewart one from Long Ago:

Tarte composée, this one was cookie crust filled with pastry cream and topped with sliced strawberries. Again, ancient Martha, from the archives:

The cookie crust recipe makes two tart shells, so I needed to fill the second with something. Therefore,

Lemony tart, which was a cookie crust filled with lemon semolina pudding and topped with lemon curd. The pudding recipe is from Jacques Pépin. I think, as a stand-alone food, it’s possibly the best dessert in the world. It performed nicely in the tart, but, truth be told, I still prefer it on its own. Here’s the recipe for the pudding; it’s very rich, something to keep in mind when you’re serving it:

Blueberry galette, just a butter crust with blueberries, sugar, and a little cornstarch to thicken.

Chocolate pie, done in the lazy way with boxed filling, because that’s how the day went.

I’m glad my son had this idea! It was fun, and I’d do it again.

Also, I finished this small boat recently. It’s one of Ann Wood’s templates; you can see this one and others on her website. I copied the colors of her boat because I thought they were so pretty. For the paper mache, I used some recipes for potatoes and lines of Sappho’s, because potatoes are delicious, and who writes more perfectly about love and longing?