Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Little Baking for the 4th. And 1st.

A newer tradition in our family is to have 4th of July breakfast at the Eggers'.  Dave made eggs, bacon and biscuits and gravy -- what more could you ask for?  Bloody Marys?  Mimosas?  Baked treats, you ask?  OK!
Jenny gave me some fresh raspberries from her mom's patch on Thursday, so I made scones.  The great recipe is here from Creme de la Crumb.  They were very good.    

I also made Clay's favorite, Blueberry Buckle.  The recipe is from our good friend, Joan, via her mom, Norrene.  Like Florence's Peach Cobbler, it's a great one preserved in the 1991 St. Ambrose PTO cookbook.  (You know -- before Pinterest.)  We made two cakes -- one for the morning, and one for Maggie's last evening, and I got several requests for the recipe, so here it is!

Blueberry Buckle

3/2 c. sugar                                              1/4 cup soft butter
1 egg                                                         1/2 c. milk
2 cups flour                                               2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt                                               2 cups well-drained blueberries

Cream first 3 ingredients; stir in milk.  (I use a hand mixer.)  Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture.  Carefully blend in blueberries;  spread batter in greased and floured 9" square pan.  Mix ingredients for crumb mixture:

1/2 cup sugar                                             1/3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon                                      1/4 cup soft butter

Sprinkle on top of batter.  Bake 45-50 minutes at 375 until toothpick stuck into center comes out clean.  Serve warm, fresh from the oven.

Just one more.  Since the 1st was Canada Day, and since Grandma Olive was from Canada, and since we were having a family supper, I made this:

It's just angel food cake, torn up in the bottom of a 9x13.  Then, I chopped up some strawberries, mixed them with a little sugar and spooned them over.  Cool Whip on top (yes, I do prefer whipped cream, but there are some Cool Whip lovers in this family, and it's really just easier, isn't it?).  More crushed berries on the sides and a raspberry maple leaf (can you tell that's what that is?) in the center.  O, Canada!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

David and Goliath Go to the Dominican

My friend, Linda, is going on a mission trip with her church to the Dominican Republic, where they will be teaching Bible School for lots of kids.  It sounds like great fun, and I know it will be a rewarding experience for her.

(I have the happiest memories of Bible School at Bethany Baptist Church in Crothersville.  I would get to spend the whole week at my grandma's, and every morning she would hold my hand as we walked into the sanctuary, where we'd say the pledges to the American and Christian flags and sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "The B-I-B-L-E".  Grandma would go down to the basement to make the grape Koolaid and set two cookies on a napkin for each kid to enjoy after our lesson, games and crafts.  CRAFTS!  It was the greatest.)

Anyway, Linda asked me if I knew of anyone who made puppets -- the mission team wanted David and Goliath puppets.  I didn't, but thought I could probably figure out how to make them for her.  My one big puppet-making adventure was many years ago, when I worked on the Bookmobile and made a Thanksgiving-dinner-swallowing puppet to go along with the book I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.  She was pretty adorable, and the kids loved stuffing the felt turkey, potatoes and pie into her big old mouth -- I wonder if they still use that little old lady?  

Anyway, I started at Pinterest, and found this blog that had great directions for puppets.  I also googled some images of David and Goliath, and ended up with these:  

David was made exactly from the pattern on the blog.  For Goliath, I used a compass and increased the head and body pattern by about an inch all around.  I just fooled around with his arms and legs until they looked big and fierce enough!  

The only purchases for this project were 3 beigey-tanny t-shirts from the Goodwill.  Everything else I had in my workroom.  David's tunic and sandals are felt; Goliath's tunic is old sweaters -- the skirt of his tunic is scraps from a Gap sweater I've already made into a purse.  His sword, shield and breastplate are cut from an old Cricut mat and covered with silver vinyl.  Their hair is yarn and David's slingshot and G's sandals are leather lacing (Yes, I do have a lot of crap in my workroom.)

Wine bottle make excellent puppet stands.  But maybe not at Bible School ....

G's feet.  I thought they were cute.
 David could easily be transformed into any number of Biblical people -- a young Jesus, Zacchaeus, Isaac.  Goliath?  Well, he looks a lot like that caveman on the insurance commercials ....


Monday, June 29, 2015

Another Beautiful Wedding

I was honored to play for my friend, Lauren's, wedding Saturday.  Her mom is one of my dearest friends and her brother is my godson (her dad is pretty groovy, too!)

Lauren and her new husband, Andrew, along with her family and friends, worked very hard toward making their wedding so sweet and special.  Lauren collected all sorts of wonderful things to decorate their reception, and I just thought I would share some of the tablescapes with you.

Like me, they are big Disney fans, and each centerpiece was a beautiful representation of some of the newlyweds' favorite Disney couples.  No mouse ears or yellow, black and  red here -- just soft pinks, greens and silver.  Each of the 28 arrangements was amazing.  (Although they left out my favorites -- Lady and Tramp and Duchess and Thomas O'Malley!)

I think this was my very favorite!

They also included Disney music in both their ceremony and reception -- the string quartet played The Sleeping Beauty Waltz, So This is Love and the Marriage Theme from Up.  Guests were welcomed to go to the buffet line when they heard the music from the movie that their table represented -- it was such fun!

I made 250 cupcakes for the reception -- the hydrangeas were pound cake with blackberry buttercream, the daisies were strawberry cake with lemonade buttercream and the pink roses were chocolate/chocolate.
Sorry for the messy picture -- my decorating bag sprung a purple squiggly leak.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Little Vintage Camper: A Dream Come True

I love a good story.  
This is a good one.

My friend, Susie, is soon to be the National President of Psi Iota Xi, the women's philanthropic organization of which I am a member.  (How you like that fancy grammar?)  Her goal has been to visit every Chapter (120+) during her tenure on the National Council, and since our membership stretches from Midland, Michgan to Lexington, Kentucky, over to St. Joe, Illinois and back to Mount Vernon, Ohio, that's a lot of miles and overnights.  Last spring, when she was staying with us in the middle of her travels, we spent the morning drinking tea and talking and somehow, the conversation fell upon how I have always dreamed of having a little vintage camper.  

"A WHAT?"  Susie asked, with a weird look on her face.
"A little camper.  You know, from the '60's."
"A WHAT?"  Susie asked again with a bit of a smile.
"A camper.  A trailer.  Just a little vintage camper."  I was starting to feel a bit silly, and headed to the magazine basket for a copy of Mary Jane's Farm (and an article on vintage campers) to help explain myself when she said,  

"I have one in my backyard."
It was my turn.

The camper belonged to Susie's husband, Jim's, family; when he was young they had traveled all over the country in their 1965 West Wind Custom.  Later, Susie and Jim's kids had used it for a clubhouse, and in recent years, Jim had  used it for storage.  I think they were ready for it to be extracted from their yard before the trees grew too much more, anchoring it at the back door forever!

I tried not to be too excited when I told Susie that I'd be interested in their camper, if Jim was ready to part with it, and after a few months, Susie said, yes, if we would come and get it, it was ours.  We did, and it is! 

We made one four-hour round trip to east central Indiana to have a look and a chat with Jim, then Clay, Nate and Will made the trip a few weeks later to pick it up.  

The outside needs some repair and spiffing up, but I think it's adorable:

It needs all sorts of things updated, like tires and wheel bearings.  We're currently planning work on all the joints, trying to make it a little more watertight.  New windows and a new door would be nice, too, but not necessary.  

What's necessary?  Color!  This gold is nice, but I think she would be so much cuter in turquoise, don't you?  Wait just a moment -- I'll show you the color I'm thinking of ...  

Another upcoming addition will be a large awning over the door and a smaller matching one over the front window, 

Here's the back:  
A little wire brushing, a little white paint and we're good to go!
I can't do the outside work by myself.  I tried while Clay was in Australia, but kept running into problems.  Turns out that the screws are all rusted in -- plus, the heads of the screws are in a stylized figure-8.  Fancy.  I only have flat and Philips in my toolbox.  Plus, I'm short. 

So, I turned my efforts inside.  Here is a collage of what the camper looked like inside, before and during renovation:

Certainly nothing wrong with the inside, just dated.  In fact, if we had new tires, we could have gone camping right away!  If I did that sort of thing.

The biggest job inside was pulling up the carpet, scraping and sweeping up all the black carpet backing, scrubbing the floor, painting the floor with latex paint (as recommended by the tile manufacturer, Armstrong) and putting down new tile.  The 12" tiles seemed a little big for the space, so Jenny came over to help and we ended up cutting each tile into quarters.  I had bought a new box cutter to cut the tiles, but for the trim work around corners, a pair of scissors did just fine.
I sewed new curtains out of vintage linens (tablecloths, pillow cases and handkerchiefs).  I was afraid the foam in the cushions would have to be replaced, but I took one to an upholstery shop, and they told me the foam was good for several more years.  So I just sewed new covers (after much trial and error!)  No zippers and no cording.

And, here is the big reveal!  I still have some things I'd like to do, but you get the idea!  

I had planned to paint the interior a nice clean white, but after hearing Jim talk about how the beautiful birch veneer reminded him of his family's trips to the forests and parks in the west, I didn't have the heart to paint over it.  A good cleaning with Murphy's Oil Soap, and the inside is shiny, warm and cozy.  I love it.  

See? Cozy!

Cushions in turquoise hounds tooth.  I sewed little elastic loops into the corners and fastened them onto cup hooks to keep the cushions upright.  

I had seriously thought about removing the stove top, refrigerator and sink, but friends have talked me out of it -- I think I'm going to build a little platform to cover the burners.  And the refrigerator will make a perfect cooler.  

Do you like this turquoise?  That's going to be the color of the accent stripe on the outside, replacing the gold.  

I like to call this end of the camper the sleeping alcove.  There are two long cushions under that chenille bedspread, and the platform will pull out to make a full bed.  As it is now, it's a perfect napping/reading spot for one, or a couch for several!  

 Just a little trial decoration.

What am I going to do with this when it's done?  Well, first I'm going to have to decide upon a name.  I'm thinking Susie Lou (after Susie and Jim, of course, Lou being a nod to their last name.  Plus, Sue and Lou are the middle names of my sisters!) or Jodi (my mom's nickname in nursing school) or Pixie, for Psi Iota Xi -- clever, right?  But I am also accepting suggestions ...

Her first big event will be our Hen and Chicks Barn Market in September, where she will probably serve as our ticket booth (or napping spot), and her next scheduled event will be the 2016 Psi Ote National Convention in Indianapolis!

Then?  I would like to outfit her as a mobile knitting studio, but I know Sarah and Maggie and their families might like to actually camp in her!

More updates soon.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Summer Reading

I haven't written a book post in forever -- sorry.  I need to sit down and compile all the books I've read since my last book report (March 20?  Yikes) because there are some great ones.  And a couple of meh ones.

Currently, I'm reading The Red Tent for book group, listening to A Spool of Blue Thread while sewing (how appropriate, but I'm not sure I like this one at all -- time will tell, I guess) and my current Jane Austen is Mansfield Park, because I watched the 1999 movie last week, and I didn't remember the novel being quite so sexual or political ...
And after reading a Facebook post by my college friend, Julie, which cited this article, I immediately ordered Make Me One With Everything.   Oh, and Benediction by Kent Haruf, which I bought at Indy Reads Books last month (after an amazing lunch with the Purdue Crew at Black Market, right across the parking lot -- thanks, J&J.)

Here, instead, is my reading list for the summer.  (Or fall.  Or winter.  Or next year.  You know how that goes.)

Furiously Happy.  Have you read Let's Pretend This Never Happened?  Same snappy author.  And I'm not ashamed to say that the first thing that caught my eye was this cover.  Raccoons make me furious, but they are so darn cute.  

Love, Fiercely.  The story of this couple portrayed in a painting by John Singer Sargent.  I love art-based novels.

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.  Amazon told me I would love this one, since I loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (which I gave to Clay, hoping he would love it and we could discuss it at length.  He didn't.  We didn't.)

Euphora.  A novel based on the life of Margaret Mead.  I expect this to be fascinating.  
Under the Wide and Starry Sky.  The story of Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny.  By the author of  Loving Frank 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Antique Finds

Today, Jenny and I went to the Tri-State Antique Market in Lawrenceburg -- a beautiful day, an amazing collection of dealers from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky and lots of fun.

  Look at what I found:

You know I love kitchy stuff -- my writing room is full of odd little Oriental figures.  

I don't know why.    
But these little kissing dolls ($5!) will feel right at home there.  

The yellow ashtray ($2) is destined to be a soap dish, the brooch ($3) is for Abby someday (her room is coral and gold -- kind of perfect for her) and the bowl ($2) is Hull Oven Proof just like grandma had.  The towels (both for $10) will be perfect for curtains for the small windows in the camper.  (Oh yes, the camper.  You probably want to know what's going on with her, don't you?  I promise a post this week.)

We also bought a couple of galvanized buckets, some plant hangers and this pair of shutters:

But this is the purchase I am most excited about:

And look!  Sheet music included!

What is it, you ask?  Why, it's a Violin Uke!  

I don't know how to play it, nor did I know something like this existed before today. 

I  just couldn't pass it up; I was channeling my inner Ron Wunder -- my dear friend, extraordinary music teacher, instrument collector and member of our little nursing home band.  He unexpectedly passed away last December, and every week I still expect him to come ambling it, bringing along a sax, clarinet, trumpet, accordion or squeeze box.  Really.  He had a squeeze box, and could play the heck out of it.  We would just tailor our play list to whatever instrument he brought along that day, and we had the most fun.  Oh, I still have fun playing at the home, but now it's down to just me and Jack, the harmonica player and all-around nice guy -- he loves bluegrass and folk music, but he's always happy to play Moon River, Unchained Melody or some Beatles songs.   

Anyway, I thought how fun it would be to learn to play the Violin Uke for the residents.  The sheet music makes absolutely no sense to me yet, but thank goodness for YouTube -- there are lots of Violin Uke videos.  

Who knew?  Off to try to tune it up and give it a spin.