Monday, September 27, 2010

Cooking: First Applesauce

 

We have a beautiful (Gravenstein I believe) apple tree in our back yard and it suddenly started bearing fruit about four years ago after years and years with no apples. Now we have more than we can handle. The tree thinks it's harvest all summer, dropping apples to the ground, and sadly we rarely seem to get to them before the bugs or lawnmower do. This year we've tried to do better and have started early with a couple family apple harvests.

Audrey has really enjoyed being lifted into the tree to snap an apple from the branch and always wants to relay the apples we pick from our hands to the red bucket we used to collect them.




I made a batch of apple sauce (my first of the season) the way I really love it: chunky with the skins on and with lemon juice a bit of sugar and some cinnamon. I honestly tastes like Christmas or apple pie.



I didn't use a recipe, but in a big, deep pot, I put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan, added a generous amount of lemon juice (I don't know--a bunch of tablespoons probably), added maybe a cup of white sugar and then cooked on medium high until it bubbled. Then I turned the heat to medium low to avoid burning, and stirring occasionally, waited until the apples became tender and fell apart, incorporating the liquid. Yum!

 
I'm going to try and freeze this and then thaw to serve at upcoming birthday brunch. We'll see if that works--haven't tried it before, but I will have too many other things to do at the last minute for her party and would like to have some applesauce to go along with our farm/apple harvest theme.

 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sewing: Modern Farm Birthday Dress


Phew! One more thing finished. I have to laugh at my rollercoaster evaluation of projects as they progress. I go from thinking something will be quick and finished in no time at all to feeling like I'll never find the time to work on it again.  So I try to prioritize. After getting the invitations out for Scarlett's second birthday party I started on her birthday dress. Every party needs a new dress! And the effort just happened to coincide nicely with KCWC, so I felt I was in good company trying to find an hour or two to move this project forward.


I had a few ideas for Scarlett's second birthday dress, including designing my own fabric, but I decided on applique farm animals as something more achievable in the time frame. I love the result! I don't do a lot of applique but once I started thinking about it I came up with more ideas than I'll have time to execute for the party, so I may be in the Modern Farm mode for a bit afterwards.


I have wanted to make this dress for some time. It would be cute in so many fabrics--I chose this natural linen which has the most gorgeous hand. I love linen and think it is just fine for it to be wrinkled! I also went with fabric covered buttons, which I prefer for most things.

I almost made this for Scarlett for her first birthday, but opted for something simpler last year. It's always nice to use one of the vintage patterns I've purchased--I am such a sucker for them. This one didn't even have the envelope, which is too bad because the pattern illustration would be darling in color. I love this artist smock look! Too cute!


It would have been fun to put Scarlett in this dress and get some photos but she has been under the weather so those photos will have to wait...


It was fun designing these appliques. Cutting them wasn't as fun, but I used HeatN'Bond, which made it much easier to cut the fabric.  I think these would be darling in a small calico print too.


I wasn't quite sure how to stitch the appliques--zig zag, blanket stitch, stitch by hand.... Not surprisingly I decided to machine stitch (a time saver I thought) and used a straight stitch so as not to muck up the detail in the silhouettes. Though it may have been faster, it was a bit tricky to see through the sewing foot but it improved as I went and didn't take as long as I feared.

 

Now the question: with bow or without the bow? The bow makes it look more like a vintage artist's smock, which I like. But the dress certainly doesn't need the bow and the bishop's yoke with peter pan collar is so sweet on its own. I'll have to take some votes... 

 

 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Painting: Three Little Birds in a Nest


It's funny, because when I started this painting, a little over a month ago, I wasn't even thinking about the oh-so-obvious: three little birds in a nest. Maybe because my third little bird wasn't yet in the nest. Now that I realize what I've done I like it even more!

Some paintings are just for fun, and this is one of those. After working in such a focused, and at times anxious, way on Scarlett's portrait I wanted to do something I didn't care about so much.


I'd thought for some time that I'd like a painting of a bird in a nest for Scarlett's room and hoped to be able to just knock it out. That doesn't always work out (case in point) but this time it went pretty quickly. I found a few pictures of robins in nests online and used them as a reference. I always paint from observation, even if I take significant liberties.

In addition to this turning out to be as quick as I'd hoped, I finished working on it this afternoon (after finally getting little Tess down for a solid nap) with my oldest, Audrey, painting on her easel next to me. So much fun! We'll have to do that some more. It's good time with her and it allows me some rare painting time.

Can't wait to get this framed and hanging in Scarlett's room.






Thursday, September 16, 2010

Invites: Modern Farm Invite for Scarlett's 2nd Birthday


I guess I should feel pretty good about what I've managed to accomplish since having little Tess, but I am amazed at how I've been forced to slow down while my mental to-do list has expanded. I guess it's not a different challenge than before I was armed (literally) with a newborn, but it seems the delta between my creative ambitions and reality is growing wider all the time! Not that I'm complaining, it's more amusing than anything.



So I am happy that amidst baby spit up, diaper changes, one-armed bouncing, the start of pre-school, and toddler swimming lessons (not to mention sleep deprivation) I actually managed to finish the invitations for Scarlett's 2nd birthday party. Hooray!!



The idea for this 2nd birthday was "farm animals" as darling Scarlett loves animals and has been making animal sounds for about a year now though their actual names have come much more slowly. Seems like more of a spring thing to do (wish I could do a baby animal petting farm!) so I'm thinking of animal farm plus apple harvest. There. That's Fall certainly.



It has been so much fun thinking about this party, even if thinking is about the only thing I've done so far. It's such a creative rush, especially at odd times of night while baby-caring. I was thinking of a more country look initially but ended up going a bit more modern. So "Modern Farm" it is.



If I hadn't already been down the path of a multi-colored party I would have gone with the black and red version of these invites. I LOVE IT! But, multi-colored it is. Had to print these anyway, just for fun.

Now that I'm getting the invitations in the mail I'm hoping my other ideas will start falling in place. All I need is a few hours with two hands!

I've made both the multi-color and the black/red version of these invites available as a free download on Scribd:

Modern Farm_2nd Birthday Invite_FREE PRINTABLE_AestheticNest_2 Up



This is an Adobe Acrobat file you can print on card stock, cut in half and fold.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Creative Guest on Ucreate Today: Luxe Lovey Tutorial



I'm a Creative Guest on Ucreate today, and so happy about it! Link over and see my tutorial for a Luxe Lovey!


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Knitting: One Skein Baby Bolero for Tess

This was my overdue--early labor--hospital post-partum project. Since Tess arrived later than expected I found myself with a clean mental slate and the freedom to pick any project next. So I picked this baby bolero pattern from the book, One Skein.

 

This seemed like the kind of thing I could do quickly, but not anxiously, and it was. I used a skein of yarn from my stash--Reynolds Cabana in yellow (907). This was a yarn my mother had picked out to knit a sweater for her first granddaughter, my niece, and I've had the leftover skein for six years now. It was nice to use it for another of my mother's granddaughters.


I love the sunny yellow color!  But I had exactly one skein and ran out so I used a contrast color for the ribbed border in this great Tangerine yarn (Lily SugarN' Cream). I also added a single crochet edging to the sleeves, which I think is a nice finish with the two colors. I love these two colors together. And I'm laughing because I seem to be repeating a similar color palette for Tess!

 

Well, two color palettes, actually. I've got this one going: tangerine, coral, white and yellow, as in the Heirloom Cut Chenille Baby Blanket I made her. I just purchased fabric for a car seat cover unintentionally in the same colors. And then I have the palette from her crib bedding: linen and lavender. I would actually like to combine these two in her eventual nursery because I love them together!


This color palette thing must be a bit contagious as my good friend, Sue, just gave Tess a darling little one piece Zutano outfit in similar colors. Perfect to coordinate with the sweater!

I realized that I haven't knit anything since making this sweater for Audrey for Christmas! Crazy. I guess I have just been really into crochet. It was nice to get back to knitting and I was glad I didn't seem to have lost too much (phew!).

My favorite thing about this little bolero is the eyelet detail on the back. Difficult to see in these photos but so so cute on the baby--the book shows a picture of a baby all curled up on someone's chest with this little eyelet showing.

 

The pattern has a great method for adding the ribbing to the bottom, by using waste yarn to cast on in the beginning and then removing it. Loved that! Don't love picking up stitches all along the front and neck. That process is always so slow for me. Also don't love the seams, which in this worsted weight yarn, end up pretty bulky. I'm a huge fan of seamless sweaters and can't wait to get to a few on my list!

I thought even though this sweater is sized for a newborn it would be way too large for my little Tess, but it turns out it's not too far off. Lucky thing as Fall weather seems on the horizon. She could even wear it right now as my little preview demonstrates. Here is sunny Tess in her yellow bolero lying on her Heirloom Blanket. What fun we're going to have!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Crochet: Tess in the 0-3 Month Best Baby Cloche

 

So amazing to have little Tess here safely. So fun to finally be able to hold this little person we've been anticipating. I can't resist pulling out the things I've made for her and seeing how they look. Taking pictures of her in her crib, laying her on her blanket, trying on her layette...  I was so happy to see her little cloche fits perfectly! Not that a new baby needs any embellishment, but what a cutie with that flower on her head! 


Thursday, September 2, 2010

She's Here: Tess Augusta


She finally arrived! Little Tess is here.


She kept us waiting longer than her older sisters, going overdue by a few days. But she was certainly worth it. To us she is perfect. Healthy and beautiful and a sweet mix of her sisters.


Nice to finally give this little girl a name too. Her father and I were able to agree on "Tess" and "Augusta" is a family name (both Augusts and Augustas) on my side. Nice that she also happened to be born in August. We liked the idea of continuing our pattern of a first name we both loved (more difficult than it sounds) and a family name for the middle name.


Tess is doing her jobs well so far: eating and sleeping and keeping me busy diapering. She has received perfect check-ups, thank goodness. We are so blessed to have another baby. It's a miracle we went from zero to three children in a little over four years!

 

Her older sisters loved her immediately. Audrey is especially taken with her saying over and over: isn't she beautiful? Oh...look at Tess...


Tess is a good sized baby--weighing 8 lbs 1 oz and 20.5 inches long--but still seems so tiny. It's difficult to quit taking pictures. So many precious things to document. This little foot, the long fingers, the sleeping expressions, the eyes opened, the eyes closed....

 

And of course with the awe comes the humilty too. How to do her justice? How to raise Tess and her older sisters in the way they deserve?


So much responsibility with such a small bundle.

We love her.

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