Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

This Christmas season was so filled with joy! Jemimah is now at an age where she can enjoy all the beauty and excitement of the season. Each morning she woke up delighted to rediscover the Christmas decorations about the house.
She did her best to help Adam put the lights on the tree! : )

Mom and I were quite busy sewing this past month, and we were very grateful to have been able to have all of our orders out in time. There were many mornings when I would have a stack of boxes ready to ship sitting on the kitchen table. But once the last of the orders were mailed....
I took some time to sew two new dresses for Jemimah. I like this simple pattern as it is easy to sew, and I hope will last her a while. She is growing sooo fast! Jemimah wore the cozy flannel dress on Christmas day.
In the evenings I have worked on my knitting. Jemimah was in need of a scarf now that it is growing cooler. But a regular scarf would have been too easy for her to pull off, so I was delighted with this pattern I found on Pinterest. I thought the pattern was very clever with its keyhole design. It was such a pleasure to knit that I decided to knit a similar scarf for my grandmother. For my grandmother I used the Miss Marple scarf pattern.
Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy tea and scones! To make my scones extra special I added chopped up fresh cranberries and orange zest. It was a festive combination that I would definitely make again.
      I hope you all enjoyed a beautiful Christmas season! And I pray that the New Year ahead will be filled with blessings and joy!
"The steps of the godly are directed by the LORD. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand."

                                        -Psalm 37:23-24

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Sale!

This week I am offering a special sale of 15% off everything in my Etsy shop. To take advantage of tise special offer use coupon code LILAC15 when checking out.
              Recently I began making felt Christmas ornaments. They are so old-fashioned and quaint!
 And shawls make wonderful Christmas gifts too. : ) The coupon is good through Saturday the 12th.

                                    I hope you are all enjoying a lovely start to December!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Last Month

Last month just flew by! Since October tends to be the last month of nice weather where I live, we spent the last month wrapping up outdoor projects, preparing for winter and taking day trips to enjoy the beautiful foliage.
 In the evenings I have been working on my knitting again. Currently I have another heartwarmer for Jemimah in my work basket, as well as two shawls I am knitting for my Etsy shop.
  October is always a very busy month for my mom and I. Many schools study pioneers in the fall and visit one room school houses. We were very busy this fall sewing pioneer outfits, and German outfits for Oktoberfests. I have many fond memories of studying pioneer history when my sisters and I were homeschooled. One fall my mother used the "Little House" study and we made homemade butter and bread to take with us to the one room school house. We had such fun shaking our mason jars of cream and a clothes pin to the "Little House" fiddle music cassette tape. : )
 October is also a great time to bake bread. During the summer months I tend not to bake bread very often, but with the arrival of cooler weather there is something extra cozy about the smell of baking bread. Plus it is great to have a fire in the wood stove for the bread to rise by. Here is a delicious bread recipe I baked last month.
  Lately I have enjoyed trying new recipes I have found on Pinterest, that do not call for white sugar or flour. This recipe has been popular with my family, as we all love bananas and peanut butter.
  In October I also finished up my canning for the year. I made applesauce and apple pie filling. What a lovely treat to enjoy the fragrance of simmering apples and cinnamon! I used this recipe to make my apple pie filling. I liked the fact that the author provided different options for sweetening the filling; I used brown sugar.
My "pantry" is now stocked with my home canned jams, tomatoes, peaches, apple sauce and apple pie filling. I am so grateful for the LORD's blessings on the fruit and vegetable harvests in our area this year!

                                     I hope you all enjoyed a blessed and beautiful October!

"Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield." Psalm 5:12

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Pleating and Smocking

Over the years I have always admired smocking. Some of my favorite dresses as a little girl were the Polly Flinders dresses my mom would find at thrift stores. The soft calicos accented with complex smocking were a pleasure for me to admire even as a five year old.

The idea of learning to smock never occurred to me until I was around 19. It was about that time that I was introduced to Sew Beautiful magazine, which is truly a wonderful resource to those who enjoy sewing, embroidering or smocking. Through Sew Beautiful I learned about the process of smocking, and found ads for companies that provided pleaters. At first I was a little reluctant to purchase a pleater, due to the price, and decided to hand pleat my first smocked creation. It was a christening gown with slip and bonnet. It was not perfect, but I was pleased with the results. The set actually won best of sewing that year at the fair. : )

After that I knew smocking was an art I wanted to pursue. At that time I sent away for a pleater. The pleater is handy tool, as it saves hours of work over hand pleating. Sometimes I have found my little pleater tricky to use, but over time I learned a few tips that have made my pleating more successful.
Here is my pleater threaded, and my fabric neatly and evenly rolled. It is important to make sure your fabric is well pressed and evenly rolled. That way it can more easily be fed through the pleater without bunching.
 The middle bar can be removed by pulling out the little knob, allowing you to replace the needles. It is vital to have perfect needles. Over time needles can become bent, and a bent needle can spoil your pleating. I discovered this the hard way, more than once.
In this picture I have begun pleating the fabric. I always find it remarkable how the needles and grooved bars, working together, can so quickly and neatly pleat the fabric! I stand over my work while pleating, and go very slowly. I always made mistakes when I tried to speed through this step; the fabric would stretch out unevenly or the fabric would bunch.
All done! You can now just slip your thread off the needles, ties it off and start smocking.
The fabric is perfectly pleated and I have "lines" of thread. As I move the pleats I can see the thread lines, and this is a guide for my stitching. It is kind of like lines on a paper, you want to keep your pattern within the lines.
My favorite part of the process is the actual smocking. It is relaxing work. To create the pattern you simply pick up part of the pleat with your threaded needle. Here is a terrific tutorial to make the wave stitch.
It is always fun to add some roses and leaves! You attach your smocked section in a manner similar to attaching gathers, only you want to make sure your pleats stay even and don't become crushed.
           Jemimah's first birthday dress! It was such a joy to be able to create this special little dress for my daughter.

          I hope that those interested in learning more about smocking found this post useful! It truly is an enjoyable handicraft that I would recommend. : )

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday!

Last Saturday we celebrated Jemimah's first birthday. It was a beautiful day, filled with sunshine, warmth and smiles!
It is hard to believe she is already a year old! Standing on her own, waving and saying "ba ba" when papa leaves for work, saying "mama" all the time! : ) Last night she took her first steps on her own! It is so sweet to see her smile with joy over this new achievement.
Before my family and Adam's family arrived for her party I took some pictures of the birthday girl. In the picture above she is wearing the dress I wore on my first birthday! Mom had tucked it away, and then gave it to me last year. My grandma had purchased the dress for my first birthday. I certainly do wish grandma could have met Jemimah. I know she would have so pleased to see her in this dress.
The day was so lovely; as you can see Jemimah was quite captivated by the flowers. In this picture she is wearing the birthday dress I made for her. I am hoping share more pictures of the dress in a future post.

I am so grateful for our little girl. She has been such a blessing to Adam and I! Each day Jemimah is like a ray of sunshine with her precious smile and love.
My sister Rachel is an artist in baking and cake decorating! She created the prettiest little cake for Jemimah, as well as a sheet cake for the rest of us. Rachel made the cakes in the same colors as Jemimah's birthday dress. Not only were the cakes beautiful, they were delicious!
Jemimah had never eaten cake before, and it took a couple seconds for her to realize that she could eat it on her own. Once she had a taste though I could tell she was thrilled. : )

"This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Little Heartwarmer

A while ago I discovered this charming heartwarmer pattern. I have always been a fan of shawls and heartwarmers. They are so cozy and old-fashioned. There is nothing quite like wearing a shawl while drinking a cup of tea on a cool autumnal morning!

 The idea of knitting a heartwarmer for my little darling was definitely appealing to me, as a shawl was not really practical. The little side button added extra charm to the piece, and heartwarmers always make me think of "Little Women". : )
My mom gave me these sweet little wooden button with etched flowers. I thought they were the perfect choice!
 The pattern was very easy to follow, and offers two sizes. However with the adjustable buttons you could probably adjust the sizing even further. Mostly the pattern is comprised of a garter stitch and easy increases, excepting some subtle patterning a few rows before finishing.
Jemimah is enjoying her little heartwarmer, and it certainly warms my heart to see her wearing it over her calico dress! In fact I enjoyed this pattern so much I have another on my needles right now in a soft white alpaca blend.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumnal Sale

 Mornings and evening are growing cooler where I live. Our thoughts are turned towards preparing for the winter ahead. Adam has finished stacking all of our wood, I have been busy canning tomatoes and hope to can apple sauce within the next week or two. Purple asters are growing along the edges of our property and the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees, much to the delight of our two cats.

With this season I find myself spending more time in the kitchen as I try new recipes. A couple of recipes I recently discovered are quite interesting. They call for chick peas in place of flour or butter. Both treats were surprisingly delicious! These cookies have become a favorite! The other evening I baked this brownie recipe, and it too was a success. Last night, for dinner, I made popovers to go with our soup. The popover recipe I used was simple and tasty.
Speaking of baking... I added two new aprons to my shop last week. : ) The pattern I used is a vintage pattern from the 1940's. This time I used gingham bias trim and embroidered the aprons to coordinate with the trim.

To celebrate this first day of autumn I am offering a special sale of 15% off everything in my Etsy shop this week. To take advantage of the special offer use coupon code LILAC15 when checking out.

Be sure to check out the variety of aprons, just perfect for your fall baking, canning and cleaning! Also, I am offering a lovely selection of dishtowels and potholders to add cozy charm to your kitchen this fall.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cheddar Pear Pie

This is a recipe my mom would sometimes bake on a chilly fall day. She discovered the recipe in a "Taste of Home" magazine when I was a child, and it was always a favorite with our family. It had been several years since I last had this pie, and when I saw pears for sale I just knew Adam would love it.

Cheddar Pear Pie:
  • 4 large ripe pears, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1  pie shell (9 inches)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  1. In a large bowl, combine the pears, sugar, cornstarch and salt; toss gently to coat. Pour into pie shell.
  2. For topping, combine the cheese, flour, sugar and salt; stir in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Cool on a wire rack for 15-20. Serve warm. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 6-8 servings. 
  4. I split the recipe between two smaller pie plates, so that I had one to share with my mom. It is a truly delicious recipe; the perfect combination of sweet and salty!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Calico Rompers

Earlier this summer I sewed two calico rompers for Jemimah using McCall's 7107. Is is an easy and adorable pattern. I love the added detail of little pockets, so sweet!
                      I found the perfect little flower buttons in my collection to coordinate with the fabrics.
McCall's 7107 did not include a peter pan collar, so I used a collar from another baby pattern. I embroidered a rose bullion and leaves on the collars in colors to match the flowers in the fabric. I do enjoy seeing little embroidered collars on baby clothes!
Snaps make for easy diaper changes. In the future I would like to invest in a proper snap setting tool, as I found my hand sewn snaps don't stay snapped as securely as would like, especially when my little one is crawling.
Here is my little darling wearing her romper in our garden last month. I think she has enjoyed wearing her rompers almost as much as I enjoyed sewing them, and seeing her wear them. : )