Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Eating, Canning, Freezing

My previous garden post was of the fabulous harvest in our Virginia garden. Now to share how we ate it and how we plan to eat it! Sadly I did not photograph every meal, but I hit upon some real winners.

The peas, beans and onions were quite basic, where I simply parboiled them, sauteed them with herbs or stir fried them. Yum!

The eggplant and green tomatoes that fell off the vine while I was pulling up unproductive plants, were done tempura style. I found a tempura recipe so they would be light and airy and delicious!

The abundance of peppers seemed to forgive the rare indulgence of stuffing them! Our favorite was chili relleno! The marconi peppers were often added to omelettes!

I made a  fig pizza.

The grapes were eaten raw until I feared the supply would outlast the demand, so I made a scrumptious galette which brought them to their immediate end.

The massive yield of tomatoes allowed for the greatest variety of experimentation.

Tomatoes and Green Beans from the Garden

My greatest goal with the tomatoes was to can them. I poured through many recipes before making my final decision. I ended up only freezing the yellow pears due to time. The larger tomatoes I canned into salsa. 
I've canned many salsas over the years, but I have since been taken with the incredible depth of flavor of roasted salsas that I get at some restaurants. I couldn't find a specific recipe for it so I decided to grill the key ingredients before pureeing them with the smaller ingredients. My thought was to try that to keep the house cooler. 
The back jar didn't quite fill up so we had to eat that one up immediately! It lasted all of 2 days.
I did 3 different sets of canning through the summer. The last two batches were roasted instead of grilled, because that was less time consuming.
128h 8-28-15
This was our favorite way to enjoy the colorful tomatoes, with country style dijon mustard vinaigrette.
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As of today I have all these jars of salsa to keep us in good supply.
I also have 4 gallon sized bags of the yellow pear tomatoes.

At the end of the season I had harvested lots of green tomatoes that I cooked into a green tomato soup with crab.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Shakespearan Clothing, a Video, and Books

I stumbled upon this great video of Jenny Tiramani showing how a Shakespearan actress is dressed to perform at the Globe Theater. Although many theaters and production companies take shortcuts in costumes due to expense and the need to expedite costume changes, this video showcases the historical accuracy of the clothing the actress wears as she puts everything on, layer by exquisite layer.

Tiramani's expertise in Elizabethan and Jacobean clothing has led to her work not only Shakespearan theater but also her work on numerous books, including Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accesssories for men and women, c.1540-1660. These may sound like humble garments and for the most part many of them are. However there are wonderful period renderings as well as numerous photographs of actual pieces with incredible blackwork and lace. As always, patterns are available for drafting, the detail of which is stunning.


Another book that Tiramani has edited is Seventeenth Century Women's Dress Patterns, that has been reviewed  by the Colonial Williamsburg tailor.


Currently working for The School of Historical Dress, Tiramani is working on Janet Arnold's Patterns of Fashion 5: The cut and construction of women's bodies, stays, hoops and rumps, c. 1600-1795

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Finding My Row by Row Quilt in a Shop Window, Pumpkins, and Moo Thru

Row by Row free pattern collecting had come to an end, which meant that I could return to Rachel's Quilt Patch in Staunton, Virginia to collect my quilt! It was a beautiful day to enjoy a lovely day in the Blue Ridge. When I arrived, I found it on display in the window! How neat is that?

On the way home we stopped at a farmer's stand to enjoy autumn overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.




We also stopped at the Moo-Thru to try their ice cream. I am quite picky about ice cream, but this was delicious! This is a coconut mounds type flavor!


They are on winter hours now, but these were their summer hours...

Saturday, September 12, 2015


We got new chandeliers to replace the old builder grade fixtures in the kitchen and dining/sewing room!

For the kitchen...



And the dining room...



Monday, September 7, 2015

A Sock Hop, Sewing Vintage, and a Photo Shoot

When I  came home from winning the Row by Row quilt challenge, I started planning my next sewing project. The next step in my sewing journey definitely had to include sewing daily wear for me and my daughter since our old clothes were wearing out. However I had to first get a handle on the sewing clutter, especially after a project as  massive as the Row by Row. Nevertheless on this night, I was tired. I had slept little the night before, because I was furiously sewing the final stitches into the Row by Row quilt.

Shortly after I got home my kids came home from work at Chick-fil-A with news that there was going to be a Sock Hop! In two weeks! And there was going to be a costume contest!

Wow! That sounded too fun! However I had less than 2 weeks to pull it all together. Well, time to put the contemporary sewing on hold, once again, to make time for vintage sewing.

I knew exactly which patterns I wanted to use. For the circle skirt I wanted to use a vintage pattern that I had bought in Vermont at an antique shop a couple of years ago.


For the blouse I wanted to use a Gertie pattern! I'd have to lengthen the top so that we could actually tuck it in to the skirt, but that couldn't be so difficult. Right?

I was at a loss though for fabrics. Nothing in the stash would work. I read through the vintage circle skirt pattern directions and was entirely fascinated with the idea of duplicating a felt skirt. In fact I did quite a bit of research on felt circle skirts and found a lot of fascinating information. My daughter adores birds and liked the pattern on the envelope, so we went to JoAnn's looking for great felt, but it's all icky synthetic stuff. Not quite vintage. I decided to put this idea on hold. I'd still like to recreate it according to this pattern, and share my research, so stay tuned for that!

We perused the fabric selections over and over but  kept coming back to the Gertie line of fabrics. I had already bought two fabrics last spring and now I bought two more for our circle skirts.

Thus the first week was spent deeply organizing my sewing stash and space, driving my kids from here to there, and making 2 long 30 minute drives in traffic to the particular JoAnn's that carried the Gertie fabric. The first store we went to, which is closest to us at a 20 minute drive in the opposite direction wasn't selling Gertie fabric. In fact the manager had no idea who Gertie was. (gasp) Finally I settled into sewing. I had less than a week to sew 2 entire outfits for me and my daughter.
First I started with my daughter's circle skirt...


Then I sewed her blouse...


The collar was a bit complicated to put together, but it came out correctly! Yea! The buttonholes were a huge difficulty though since my machine was acting persnickety. We used buttons from my button stash. I had popped these off an old blouse when she was little. I'm always recycling buttons for future use. Buttons can be an expensive item to add to any sewing project. These buttons seem to have a bit of a mid-modern feel.


I adore that back collar detail. So cute! I was elated that it came out so well considering how difficult it was to figure out.


Then it was time to sew my circle skirt. I love this fabric. The circles are three dimensional and a tad crinkly which is fun! The inside of the fabric is quite comfortable against the skin and has a nice drape.



The skirt came out like a charm. Then it was time to start the blouse. Don't those collar pieces look scary?


Unfortunately the collar pieces were scary. This time I could not figure them out. They caused so much grief. I forget the details now, but I did find some lace to edge the collar in order to hide things, but that wasn't helping I then grabbed more fabric to lay over and sew on top to hide the mess.


Finally everything was sewn together and it was time to get dressed! Never mind that I had wanted to sew new crinolines that would pouf more than our other crinolines. I never had time to even shop. I had also run out of time to hunt down saddle shoes which I thought/hoped might be for sale in the area.


We got all dressed up then climbed into the van and went to Chick-fil-A...where nothing was happening, except rain. Oh yes, rain. We had our eyes on the sky all day. My son had been working there earlier so I had the usual drive back and forth to drop him off and pick him up. Nothing had been settled until after I picked him up and I never caught it on fb. I gave up on my blouse, fell asleep on the couch about an hour before we needed to leave, because I had stayed up quite late the night before trying to conquer the uncooperative collar. The sewing machine had caused me grief with my buttonholes too. Turns out I had missed the announcement on fb that the Sock Hop had been canceled due to the rain. The dance was going to be outdoors with professional dance instructors and expensive music equipment. The event was postponed until September, with the date soon to be announced.

We came home quite dismayed. Even so, I asked for the guys to do the photoshoot with us so that I could at least show off what I sewed, or tried to sew. It would have been so much more fun to have had photos done at the Sock Hop but oh well, this just seems to be the saga of our costume attempts these days.








We changed clothes then returned to CFA for dinner to support them and try to chirk ourselves up.  We had been the only ones in 1950's attire and that felt so odd. We certainly weren't in Williamsburg where the modern town warmly accepts any era of clothing due to all the events there. The boss was glad to see us return. He was really disappointed, as well, at canceling the event.

Meanwhile I made mental plans on what to do to finesse our look.
  • Scarves-which I ran out of time to order
  • Saddle shoes-though I haven't seen any anywhere now that I'm looking for winter boots
  • Better crinolines
  • Shorten my daughter's skirt
Alas, there was never a September Sock Hop. Instead there was a very expensive Sock Hop, heavily advertised at CFA, at the nearby airport among the vintage planes. (sigh) I'd have loved to go but about $70 per person is too steep for us. We have two kids in college!

My daughter did wear her outfit to church the next Sunday, with her pretty red flat shoes. However the pink blouse keeps pulling up in back. I had noticed that when I sewed hers, so I made mine longer. Even so this blouse pattern is difficult to lengthen. Because of the darts, a taper at the waist is created (because originally it was a mid-drift blouse) so that however I amended it, the longer waist  sat uncomfortably tight in the waist and hips. Not sure how to fix that to wear with this skirt.
My daughter's pink blouse is too short to wear with the skirt, so I thought I'd add a peplum to it to wear with blue jeans to college. However I'm out of pink fabric (I think). I've considered using a wide matching cotton eyelet for the peplum but I haven't found that.It's in my sewing pile...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Crabby Day at St. Michaels, Maryland

The trip to Lilies of the Field required driving over the Chesepeake Bay that was another reason why I wanted to go. It was a rare journey to an entirely different ecosystem! I live so close to large bodies of water, yet I rarely get to see any of them. I used to ask about eating on the water front but no one had any ideas. My family had been disappointed because we used to eat at the San Antonio Riverwalk all the time. Eating along some of this deep water near Virginia and Maryland could be especially grand, but all our attempts to do so yielded little scope for the imagination.

Until...this day!   

We arrived in Easton, Maryland to a cute little quilt shop (no view of water from the shop but I knew it had to be yonder somewhere...) 

Here is their row display. What great creativity! All the options for how to use the row pattern from pillows to bell pulls. I especially was taken by the stuffed crabs hanging from the cages.

But the wall quilt...oh the wall quilt is what brought me in...hook, line and sinker! I saw this quilt on their website and knew I had to come here. I was willing to pay for extra fabric to put this together. They were wonderful showing me sample pieces and going over the instructions with me step by step to show me how this is put together. I hope I remember when I actually start to work on this!
Then in the course of conversation I was asked if we were staying in the area for a bit...which led to her telling me where we could get great crabs to eat locally (something we've wanted to do and have done once in Chincoteague...but not on the water, sadly). I asked, perchance, if this crab restaurant might be on the water and indeed, she could point us to a couple in particular!

Elated we drove a bit further south to St. Michael's, Maryland! Water, water everywhere! My kind of place!   All of the following pictures are of our view while eating!!!





I later learned there is a lot of British history here so we'll be coming back to explore that!




Our first course was hush puppies!!! Hardly anyone serves hush puppies anymore! I love hush puppies. Even fewer people know how to cook them well. These were excellent! They were a perfect accompaniment to our main course. Can you guess what we ordered??? The photo below holds a clue! 
Proof that we were at The Crab Claw of St. Michaels, Maryland! The agony of waiting for our food was intense! At least we had a great view while waiting!
And a few hush puppies to munch on...
Finally...there they were! Yikes...we bought all that? I thought we minimized these blue crabs as much as possible. We might be here a while...and we were. We were quite slow at cracking these, after a great demonstration and lesson from our server. The Old Bay Seasoning and melted butter were the only condiments we really needed.
Well, it was getting late so we asked for a "to go" bag. The kids were glad to see us bring these home for dinner that night!
Then we walked around to see what there was to see...


















There is also a little town of shops to walk through a couple of blocks away. We'll have to do that  next time.
The return home across the Chesepeake Bay Bridge...

Bringing home blue crabs to eat and a blue crab quilt to!