Monday, November 30, 2009

post-holiday quiet

After a full and happy week of cleaning, cooking, eating, playing, and photographing with three generations of guests, I am taking today to nurse my cold, nibble on leftovers, and enjoy a quiet day. Above is a view of our Thanksgiving table, covered in a tablecloth I sewed up the day before (and still need to hem), with some dishes brought out and some still in the kitchen, with the littlest eaters seated and the bigger ones still lending a hand. Our fabulous menu:
Roasted turkey and gravy
Herb Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Butternut Squash
Madhur Jaffrey Green Beans
Spicy Sweet Potatoes with Lime
Maple glazed Brussels sprouts with Pecan
Cranberry Ginger Sauce
Regular cranberry sauce
Corn Tomato Chutney
Dinner Rolls with Herb Butter made by Sam at school
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Dutch Apple Pie
Fresh Whipped Cream

Hope your holiday was as nice and yummy as ours!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

rainy day sewing

Sam's other birthday gift from us was this beautiful handmade wooden toy sewing machine. He loves to play with my fabric scraps, rulers, and cutting mats while I am sewing, and he can spend an hour working with buttons: lining them up, piling them on the floor, sorting them into tins, and picking out special ones. He likes to stand by my machine while I am working, and play with the bobbin winder in front, or shove a fabric scrap under the needle, and tell me to sew it. So I thought it was time for a sewing machine of his own.

It doesn't really sew, but he can turn the crank and the needle goes up and down. I requested that extra spool dowel in the front because it matches the bobbin winder on my machine that Sam likes to play with. The craftsman was happy to oblige, not even charging me extra. I also love that he made this particular one with reclaimed wood. His etsy shop is called WoodClinic, and I just couldn't be happier with this cute toy. Sam was very excited when he opened it, and loves to sew alongside me.

It's a good thing because I have a lot of projects to complete in the next few weeks! I am endeavoring to make almost all of our holiday gifts this year. Here is a peek at just a few of my projects.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

why I love living here

Our cherry tomato vines are withered and brown and on their way to becoming compost now, but I was able to pick a nice bowl full of still-delicious fruit before yanking them out of the ground yesterday. November 17 people! And the other tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini are all still green and fruit-laden! The cherry tomatoes added incredible flavor to a polenta casserole with peppers (fresh-picked), zucchini (also fresh-picked), and plum tomatoes (yup), corn, onions, refried beans, cheese, cumin, and chipotle powder. A bit summer garden, a bit fall casserole. Scrumtious!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

birthday boy

Many thanks to everyone who made Sam's third birthday so sweet. From his tiny classmates singing happy birthday to his grandparents' and uncle's phonecalls to online birthday wishes to the big party at Grandma's, all of it made Sam feel loved on his special day and through the weekend. He received many wonderful cards and gifts, including, but not limited to, a yellow duck bike helmet (which he picked out himself), a huge box of rubber stamps, a preschooler magazine subscription, a solar car, a couple of games, and a generous college fund contribution. We parents got him a new bicycle, which Denis is converting to a balance bike. Welcome to 3 Sam!

Friday, November 13, 2009

birthday breakfast

Today Sam turns 3! We made these banana cupcakes for him to bring to school today. After eating oatmeal this morning, we lit candles on one of the extra cupcakes and sang Happy Birthday, Sam singing right along. He noticed something outside the front door, and sure enough we found a birthday balloon attached to a card and gift from our sweet neighbor. We also opened a few cards from family that had come in the mail. At 11 this morning, I will go back to school to take part in his birthday celebration there. Sam will hold a globe and walk around a candle three times, once for each year of his life. He will share photos of himself from babyhood to the present. Then they will eat yummy banana cupcakes! After that, more celebrating! Happy Birthday Sam!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

sewing round-up part 3

Behold my beloved sewing machine! It is a Singer model 401a from the late 1950s, which I've been told is the best machine Singer ever made. I purchased it in perfect condition for $25 at a retirement community yard sale about 10 years ago. I didn't realize what I was getting; I only picked this sewing machine out of dozens at the yard sale because the drawers were completely full of scissors, thread, and various attachments. The machine itself has all kinds of special functions, although not computerized like today's models. Just when I think I've found the limits of this machine and desire a new one, I find a way to overcome the problem. I recently found a used walking foot (a special attachment), and it's opened up a whole new world of sewing possibilities.

My "sewing corner" exists in our bedroom and pretty much takes over the whole room whenever I've got a work in progress. Poor Denis has to wrestle with the ironing board just to reach his dresser, and even walking into the room is an obstacle course of cutting mats, rulers, and piles of scraps. Someday I will have a bigger space, but for now I'm just grateful I don't have to sew in the living room like in our last house. Anyway, over the summer I made a little dust cover for the sewing machine, much prettier than the vinyl thing it came with.

And finally, bringing us up to date on my completed projects (except the 2 headscarves I just couldn't photograph well), I made this camo bucket last weekend as a (late) birthday present for my brother.

The pattern is from the etsy shop of the blogger maya*made. She envisioned the bucket made out of upcycled burlap coffee sacks, which I would also like to try making. Actually I have plans to make a whole bunch of these in different heavyweight fabrics. I just love things that are beautiful as well as utilitarian.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

candy? what candy?

Wrapping up Halloween coverage 2009, I bring you the awesome jack-o-lanterns carved by Denis, with creative input from Sam Giraffe.

Also an action shot of Sam ringing our neighbor's doorbell. We went to about a dozen houses in our neighborhood for tricks-or-treats.

There were also a few houses where nobody answered the door (our neighborhood is not big on Halloween apparently--we only got 3 groups at our door), and Sam generously suggested that the inhabitants were "sleeping." Sam's favorite neighbor presented him with a glowing ghost and goldfish crackers.

His costume was a hit, and despite the many sewing flaws, I'm pretty happy with it (another view here). I couldn't find a giraffe sewing pattern, so I had to adapt a lion pattern and improvise those giraffe antlers (or whatever they're called) as well as the tail. I know, I know, where's the long neck, right? Whatever... I'm not that good and everyone knew what he was just fine.

All in all, it was a great Halloween. Sam loved trick-or-treating! In fact, though he's asked a couple times if we could go trick-or-treating again, he hasn't once asked for more candy! We let him pick out one piece to eat on Halloween night before bed (he chose M&Ms, which he recognized as an early potty-training reward [we now use yogurt raisins]), but he seemed to forget all about candy after that. Today I took pity on him and showed him what he was missing. The glowing ghost just observed.