Sunday, January 31, 2010

Granny, Granny Fo Fanny

Oh, so many reasons to feel giddy today.  A thrifting excursion resulting in the most glorious acquisition imaginable, the completion of a downright whimsical little garland which even now adorns a wall in my kitchen causing me no end of satisfaction, and my continued foray into the yarny world of crochetery.  More to follow in the days ahead concerning the thrifty acquisition and the garland.  Today I want to talk grannies. Of the square kind.
Whilst avoiding a mop and kitchen floor that needed introducing to one another, I came across this sign. I followed it to this bloggity blog which I feel certain many of you canny, blog surfing, yarny, crafty types are familiar with.
Besides being a blog chock full of gorgeousness as well as ever so helpful tips and tricks of the crafty sort, it seems there is a bit of a craft challenge.  In fact that is exactly what it is.  A challenge to make a granny square a day throughout the year 2010.  As usual, Our Lady is late to the party. Too much time spent touching up her lipstick and adjusting her wimple most likely.  Unlike a vow of chastity however, the rules of this craft challenge are a bit more...shall we say...loose.  You can read all about it here. 

I decided this might be a fun way to practice my newest addiction.  Joined by other addicts who can enthuse, emote and otherwise appreciate a year's worth of yarny, square delights.  Here is what I have so far.  A few little unassuming contributions to the granny challenge.  You best bounce on over and join in the granny frenzy.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Absent by Crochet

I suppose I should make an apology.  Really, it would only be fitting. To just suddenly be absent from my bloggity blog, could easily be construed as rude.  Wait.  I can explain.  

You may remember this.  My innermost desire to learn the yarny craft of crochet.  Well, the yarn did fly. And the trusty book describing in word and diagram the common stitches necessary to mastering the art of crochetery has become dog-eared and worn.  My patience has been worn quite thin and despair has lurked around every treble crochet.  This story does, in fact, have a satisfactory, even happy ending.

An epiphany did occur. I can assure you Our Lady is adept at recognizing epiphanies. A dear reader was the instigator of said epiphany.  She related a similar experience with a nasty hook.  She reportedly took control and determined to hold her yarn as SHE desired.  Loosely.  "Hmmmm", said I.  And as I loosened my grip on my own yarn and the loop was easily pulled up and thence through the loops on said hook, I swear I did hear the angels sing.  

And so the crochet floodgates were opened.  I am as a woman possessed. Humble dishcloths, coasters, and yes, even a slightly irregular granny square have materialized as if by magic.  Oh the wonders the interwebs have provided in the way of any manner of patterns.  All provided free for the taking by kind souls I can only suppose have walked my path.  

Now the yarn lust spoken of by so many others does grip me.  I covet the different weights and textures and colors.  Oh, the colors.  I have confined myself to the purest of whites.  A color recommended for learning.  Now, this could get quite boring. And quickly.  However, white is also the perfect color for a few whimsical, quirky, spirit-lifting, wintery garlands.  I yarn over and slip stitch with this in mind.  I have only a few pieces so far.  A humble few soon to be joined by others and strung on a piece of lace to adorn a wall or a soffit.  To ward off the winter doldrums.   

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Vintage Cooking

I like to combine things I already like to make an activity or thing I just might love.  "An example!", some of you may demand.  Yes, indeed. Here is just such a thing.  And now another.   
I really, really like vintage cookbooks.  Really now, what's not to love?  For many of us just the covers of these cookbooks bring back fond memories. Of Grandmother, Mother or Auntie's kitchen.  Before food processors, microwaves and blenders.  A warm kitchen filled with delicious scents.  You, standing on a step-stool to reach a flour-covered counter to learn to roll a pie crust. Aprons were de rigueur. Even the kitchen tables wore tablecloths. And they were ironed. Home-making was an art.  

And so, I collect these volumes filled with nostalgia. I like to look at them, read them.  I also like to cook.  And so, I vintage cook. Armed with our present day knowledge of what is "bad" for us, these recipes can cause a shiver to run down the spine of any nutritionist.  Happily enough, I am not plagued with butter-guilt.  I am tickled pink by a recipe that contains lard in the ingredients.  The new-fangled item of that era, Miracle Whip, delights me. And so I delve into these recipes with gusto. We are talking serious  comfort food.  I cook from these gems a few times a week. Not every night.  The members of the Priory do not wish to be comforted to the point they must live at the gym.  Goodness, no.

I will close with a favorite of mine. A recipe that is stunning in its simplicity.  It is from The Way To A Man's Heart.  So perfect.  This cookbook was put out by The Gas Service Co. and was first published in 1938.   

Cheese Souffle
1 C thick white sauce (recipe below)
1 C grated cheese
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Add cheese to white sauce and stir until melted.  Cool slightly.  Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon colored, and add slowly to white sauce mixture. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.  Pour into oiled 1 quart baking dish filling not more than 2/3 full.  Bake.  Temperature---350 degrees F.  Time----45 to 60 minutes (or until a sharp-pointed knife comes out clean).  Serve at once from baking dish. Amount-----4 servings

White Sauce
Type            Butter or Fat          Flour          Milk
Thin             1 Tbsp                  1 Tbsp        1 cup
Medium        2 Tbsps                 2 Tbsps       1 cup
Thick           3 Tbsps                 3 Tbsps       1 cup
Melt  butter over simmer burner; add flour and blend.  Add milk and cook over simmer burner until thick, stirring constantly.  Add 1/4 tsp salt.
Use:   Thin; cream soups.  Medium;  creamed or scalloped dishes or gravy.  Thick;  croquettes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Family That Thrifts Together...

Our Lady is so lucky. Yes, indeed. I know many of you crafty, artsy, thrifty types reside in a household in which the other members may not wholeheartedly share your love for the thrift hunt. This is not my circumstance. Oh, no. To the contrary. Every member of The Priory does, in fact, enjoy a good thrifting trip. And so we set forth the past weekend in high spirits.
Each individual in the family, individual has their own thrifting agenda. Our interests and talents differ from one another and so we each have our eyes peeled for differing items. In other words, we rarely come to fisticuffs. On this particular trip we each returned happy, giddy even, with our plunder.
My man is a woodworker, a maker of pens. He is a focused, "man with a plan" thrifter. He has one weakness. Vintage ties. On this trip his tie addiction was satisfied.

Steampunk Boy has one mission. To make stuff. To make new stuff old again. And do it with gears and brass and machinery and, whenever possible, steam should be involved. On this trip an ancient clarinet caused the gears in his head to turn and churn with wild abandon.

As for me, vintage linens are my drug of choice. On this trip I did find some fetching hankies that may at some point see my embroidery needle. And this spread that, when I saw it, I knew I must have it around me always. Don't shake your head. You know exactly what I mean.

I also heard this little chest calling to me, asking to be taken to The Priory, to be freshened up, made different, made-over. Made WHITE. With royal blue drawer knobs. And the lonely, empty 
drawers full of beautiful linens again. We shall see.  
But I think we can all agree that it is the unexpected that thrills. This unexpected piece and I had an instant karma. An immediate understanding of one another. This piece and I are, as they say, simpatico. Clean, simple lines. Beautiful wood that asks for only a bit of attention. Oh so mod unblemished black leather seat. Brass legs begging to be polished. Our love was sealed when I spied the original delivery tag dated March,1966 stapled to the bottom of the seat.

And so The Priory is abuzz most evenings with a most industrious buzz as we all are happily at work on our most recent treasures. Rejuvenating, refurbishing, remaking.  

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wicked Taskmaster

And so have I entered into a difficult, somewhat adversarial relationship.  Admittedly, I did this willingly. There was no arm twisting or blackmail involved.  

However, there was a distinct desire.  A desire to learn a yarny craft. Our Lady has found herself envious of the yarn lust experienced by so many.  Soft, cushy, beautiful balls of untouched yarn seem to make otherwise sane women lose their heads, swoon and forget their responsibilities.  Half-forgotten, fond memories of knitting plague me recently.  
However, projects of the two needle variety are not the stuff of my desire now.  Not at all.  I have felt drawn to wrap my yarn around a single.....hook.  

Oh yes. Our Lady has caught crochet fever.  Even as I suffer the chills and sniffles of a wretched cold, I MUST attempt to learn to count chains, identify a back ridge, make a slip stitch. Oh,the tortures are endless. 

Alas, I am not experiencing the fond, fruitful relationship so many of you crafty crafters seem to share with your crochet hook. For the present, my foe shall be known as Wicked Taskmaster. Although he appears quite unassuming, I assure you this is not the case. You see him here....the lovely  blue one.  

Ah well. We shall come to terms he and I.  The yarn will most assuredly fly.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Vintage Stitchiness

I love fun little tea towels. I love to embroider.  I love dancing crockery. Put all those elements together and I am sure you can understand why I am excited to have this little sweetie finished and in my kitchen.

I found the vintage pattern here courtesy of a swell gal with a great blog by the name of doe-c-doe .  She has oodles of these fab vintage patterns/transfers that she shares with all of us less fortunate stitchers. Just out of the kindness of her little heart. Her blog is full of all kinds of goodness.  

And because I always think if one something is good, two must be better, here is another little peek.

"What?", you may ask. "Surely that is not all you have for us today."  Indeed it is.  One very nice little bit of stitchiness.  There is a very good reason for this.  A very reasonable reason.  You see, it is "thrifting day" in the household of Our Lady. And it is time to be off. "Ahhhhh," you say.  Yes. I knew you would understand.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year, New Blog

Well, well, well. What better way to begin the new year than with a bright, shiny, new blog? Yes, I did wallow in self-doubt for a few days. But really. It is only seven days into the new year after all.

And so, I begin with a confession. I can just hear the ears of the interwebs perking. I am a blog lurker. Yes, indeed. I am. And a thought lurker, too. Because even as I have checked my favorite blogs, marveling at the writers' wit, charm, typing skills, beautiful photos of knicks n knacks n things....a thought has lurked in the back of my little mind. "Hmmm, Our Lady, you just might like to have a blog of your very own."

And even though it will most likely be a very shallow blog, a very superficial blog, a blog viewed by very few, it will be a place for Our Lady to....well, we shall see what it will be a place for.

I know. A photo. Now this photo did not go exactly where Our Lady envisioned it would. No matter. Just look what Our Lady has made. A pretty jar of homemade vanilla extract. Embarrassingly easy to accomplish. I imposed upon my good friend Professor J. to design a becoming label for my jar. He did not fail. He has a canny little blog of his own here. I know the vanilla is not a stitchy thing. But it is a yummy, fun thing.