Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Spinning: It's a Wonderful Life

Meet Zuzu, my new spinning wheel.  When a friend of mine heard that I had just traded my beloved Louet S-10 for this Schacht Ladybug, she asked me if I had named my new wheel yet.  It hadn't occurred to me to do so.  I loved the idea!  Of course she should have a name.  After spinning on her for the first time, I quickly realized what a difference the double treadles make for me. It feels like I could spin forever without getting tired.  And now that I drive a manual car, using both feet at once is second nature.  As I was spinning away happily, this scene from It's a Wonderful Life popped into my head:
"Zuzu's petals! Zuzu's petals!"
 Well, her pedals, that is…
It feels like Christmas every time I sit down to spin.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wearing: Outlander

We both have been looking forward to watching the first episode of Outlander this past week.  The costumes are compelling so far, especially Claire's stunning coat from 1945 and the outfit she wears when she falls through time.  It got us digging through our fall staples in spite of the August humidity.

We started with the basics:  a skirt and sweater.  Classic pieces are timeless and are the perfect canvas for interesting accessories like a belt, shawl, handbag, and brogues.

The plaid shawl was a natural choice.  Claire abandoned her grey woolen one, much to our chagrin.  We predict that plaid will be very popular in autumn fashion guides...  though, honestly, is plaid ever out of style?  This particular shawl combines flattering colors with warmth and the large size lends itself to a multitude of different stylish ties.

Our great-grandmother's pocketbook fit in perfectly with our historical theme.  Though it is not terribly practical for a busy mother on a daily basis, it is a nice accessory for special occasions. 

 Emily bought these brogues at a deeply discounted price in the late spring and was excited to notice that Claire wore a similar pair on her tramps through the country looking for medicinal herbs. 

We can't wait to see what future episodes have in store. This show is sure to inspire us throughout the fall. 

Skirt:  Land's End
Sweater:  Eddie Bauer
Belt:  Target
Shawl:  Land's End
Handbag:  Vintage
Shoes:  Cole Haan

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Eating: Peach Crisp


We took the little ones peach picking after Liturgy on Sunday and had such a good time! Unlike the other U-Pick crops we have picked this summer (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries), the peaches didn't come off of the tree ready to eat.  We've found one or two that could be enjoyed on Sunday afternoon, but the majority sat in their cardboard box waiting to become peach perfection.  Today was the day!

As Kate spun the last little bit of roving into yarn, I peeled peaches.  I thinly sliced peaches, while she mixed oatmeal, sugar, coconut, flour, and cinnamon to make the delectable topping that we spread on top of the sliced peaches (and a handful of blueberries from the freezer).  Paired with a hot mug of coffee, this pan of peach crisp made the perfect summery breakfast. 


From Blossoms 
Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward   
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into   
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.


Peach Crisp 

This makes a scrumptious breakfast or dessert! It can easily be made Lenten or can be enjoyed with a dollop of whipped cream or a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

5 cups of peeled and sliced fruit - apples, peaches, pears, apricots, blueberries*, cherries*, rhubarb*, or a combination
2 to 4 T. granulated sugar
1 cup regular rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup coconut

For filling thaw fruit, if frozen. Place fruit in an ungreased baking dish. Stir in granulated sugar.

For topping, in a mixing bowl combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and coconut. With a pastry blender or clean hands, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over filling.

Bake in 375 degree F oven for 30 -35 minutes (40 for thawed fruit) ir until fruit is tender and topping is golden. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or non-dairy whipped topping, if desired.

*Blueberries, Cherries, and Rhubarb filling should be mixed with 3 T. of flour and have the granulated sugar increased to about 1/2 a cup (depending on taste).

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Eating: The Importance of Being Earnest

We've spent this week together, which doesn't happen nearly often enough.  Emily made these muffins on the first morning of our visit and this scene from The Importance of Being Earnest immediately came to mind:

Jack: How can you sit there, calmly eating muffins when we are in this horrible trouble, I can’t make out. You seem to me to be perfectly heartless.

Algernon: Well, I can’t eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them.

Jack: I say it’s perfectly heartless your eating muffins at all, under the circumstances.

Algernon:  When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that consoles me. Indeed, when I am in really great trouble, as any one who knows me intimately will tell you, I refuse everything except food and drink. At the present moment I am eating muffins because I am unhappy. Besides, I am particularly fond of muffins. [Rising.]

Jack: [Rising.] Well, that is no reason why you should eat them all in that greedy way. [Takes muffins from Algernon.]


Blueberry Muffins


2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries


Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine ingredients, but be sure not to over mix. Divide batter into prepared muffin cups (I like to use an ice cream scoop for scooping the batter). Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Yields about 12 muffins.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Reading: North and South

It appeared to Mr. Thornton that all these graceful cares were habitual to the family;  and especially of a piece with Margaret.  She stood by the tea-table in a light-colored muslin gown, which had a good deal of pink about it.  She looked as if she was not attending to the conversation, but solely busy with the tea-cups, among which her round ivory hands moved with pretty, noiseless, daintiness.  She had a bracelet on one taper arm, which would fall down over her round wrist.  Mr. Thornton watched the replacing of this troublesome ornament with far more attention than he listened to her father.  It seemed as if it fascinated him to see her push it up impatiently, until it tightened her soft flesh;  and then to mark the loosening - the fall.  He could almost have exclaimed - 'There it goes, again!'"

Elizabeth Gaskell