Saturday, February 26, 2011

Adventures in Knitting

I'm teaching myself to knit. Well - knit again, that is. My Grandma taught me when I was 18 or 19 and I knit some baby sweaters then, but I hadn't picked up the needles since. Good thing there's tons of video " how to's " out there.  I needed a lot of help to get this vest finished. I had to look up how to cast on and off, how to knit a button hole and how does one " K2 in all sts " ??? 
 You can't tell from this pic, because  I've got it bunched up in the back but it's a little loose fitting.
I ignored the part where you test your tension. So, now I know how important that step is.
( some of us like to learn the hard way )

The yoke looks very complicated but was actually very simple. I finished it off with some vintage buttons that I've been hoarding saving for a rainy day.

You can find the pattern here.
This is a fantabulous site for free patterns. I also love Ravelry and Knitty.
I'm working on a similar sweater called the Shalom Cardigan that I found at Ravelry.

Although the pattern doesn't include them, I'm trying to add sleeves to it. Yep, that's right I'm making it up. ( some of us like to learn the hard way )
... I'll keep you posted.
Mean-time, how 'bout you tell me what you've taught yourself to do and how did it work out?


Sunday, February 20, 2011


I find myself fllled with nostalgia,  longing for a simpler time. I'm a crazy romantic and so I've designated myself to be the keeper of a Mothers Love.
I have a small collection of vintage baby clothes. They're very special to me even though I don't know who they belonged to or who made them. I imagine a young mother sitting up evenings, hand stiching. Creating little works of art from modest means.
This is a beautiful example. It's white cotton broadcloth with a little lace around the neck and sleeve edges and down the front placket.

Isn't this lace beautiful. And look at the buttons. They shine a gorgeous rosy pink.

This gown is a little more delicate. It's cotton batiste - very fine and sheer.

This is the hem...

...this is the yoke.

This is a little white batiste dress.

The hem...

...and the yoke

The next are probably circa 1930 or 1940. I love that it's pink, of course, but also the dotted swiss collar and sleeve trim is so pretty. And lots of pin tucks. Even in the back.

Quality was important, even in a little diaper shirt. You can't really see it in these pics but the edges are all hemmed in a scalloped shell pattern. And it's embroidered too.

Boy's clothes aren't as easy to find. I love this!

The value of these things lies not in the value of the materials it took to make them, but in the love and time it took to transform those materials into little works of art.

Why do you collect the things you do?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tickled Pink

I have a teeny-tiny-itty-bitty pink and white half bath.

It's just inside the back door. Very convenient in the summer.
Did I mention how little it is?

That's it!
The width of the door and this little sink. Just ba-a-a-rely enough space to step inside
and still have room to close the door. OK - I confess - I don't always close the door if there's no one home.
I love that it's quirky. The medicine cabinet/mirror aren't directly over the sink and the window swings open to the inside. The window has nine little panes of glass in it.

This little cherub hangs over the window. Isn't she adorable?

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's ( and Wash ) Day!
I hope you all have a happy day, filled with love and kisses!

I made my own laudry soap today... and it really works!
I love doing laundry. Everything from sorting to hanging to ironing. Isn't it the best thing in the world to bring sheets in off the line and put them directly back on the bed?
So clean and fresh. That's what I'm missing about spring today.

I'm storing it in an emamel pail that I found thrifting last summer.
It smells so sunny and citrus. Spring in a pail. I love that it's pink, too.
When was the last time you bought pink laundry soap?

You can find recipes here for both liquid and powder. I used # 9:

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap - I used pink ZOTE - (grated)

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.( that's two tablespoons! )

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Comfort in a Cup

You may find it hard to believe, but I've never made or eaten vanilla pudding before.  I can't say why, I just always made chocolate or caramel. It seems that a year ( well, maybe it's a lifetime ) supply of vanilla has inspired me to try something new. 
Now that I've made it and ate it - oh, and I I had to wrestle my Mike for the last cup - I ask myself  " How is it possible? "
& "How did I manage to survive with out this ?" Vanilla pudding is under rated. It delicious. It definitely rivals creme brulee.


I used a combo of a few different recipes and lucky for me, it turned out creamy and sweet and light.
This is it:

Creamy Vanilla Pudding

In a suacepan over medium heat stir together:

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup corm starch

Whisk in:

2 cups milk
1 cup light cream

Stir constantly till hot and steamy but don't let it boil - about 2 or 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to

2 large eggs, lightly stirred with a fork

Back on the heat, stir egg mixtue back into the milk mixture,
stirring constanly thill thick, about 5 minutes or so.
Remove from heat and add

1 tbsp vanilla

Pour into cups and chill. Garnish with fresh fruit if you like.
A skin forms on the top if you don't cover closely with plastic wrap.

Try it - you'll like it! Honest.
What's your favorite under rated comfort food?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hello February

It snowed again! It's so pretty and white and clean in the back yard.

It's the perfect kind of day to snuggle up indoors.
A great excuse to get cracking on that year supply of vanilla...

My skin has been dry and flaky from too much sun last week combinded with months of dry indoor heat.
I made up a brown sugar and vanilla body scrub and gave myself a little spa treatment in the shower.
Much better now!

With just a few pantry items, you can do it too.
I just mixed together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a tablespoon of vanilla. a tablespoon of glycerin and about 1/4 cup of light cooking oil. It smells yummy :-)
Just hop in the shower, scrub up and rinse off. It'll leave you a bit oily feeling at first but once towelled off, you be soft and smooth.
I think an olive oil and lavender scrub before bed would be super relaxing.
Do you have a favorite at home spa treatment?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Smalltown Girl makes it to Heaven...

and this is what it looks like from the room.

and this is it in the morning on the beach 

and this is heaven in the afternnoon.

OK - it's not really heaven, just Cancun. And I didn't have to stay forever, I just got to visit for 7 days.
I was lucky enough to have the most amazing hot stone massage while I was there. I haven't got the vocabulary to express how good it felt. I was worried I would fall asleep and drool on the floor beneath me.

It was hot, sunny and breezy. I read a book, ate too much, and just plain relaxed to the point of boredom.  You know what though? It's good to be home. ( Even if we came back to record low temps and a blizzard )

 I brought back a year supply of real vanilla and Zote laundry soap.

Wonder what I'm going to do with all that soap or how I'm going to use 1 ltr ( 32 oz ) of  vanilla? Stay tuned :-)