April 29, 2011

Martha, Martha, Martha!

Hey, check out this passage from Chapter 28 of Little Women:

Like most other young matrons, Meg began her married life
with the determination to be a model housekeeper. John should
find home a paradise, he should always see a smiling face,
should fare sumptuously every day, and never know the loss of
a button. She brought so much love, energy, and cheerfulness
to the work that she could not but succeed, in spite of some
obstacles. Her paradise was not a tranquil one, for the little
woman fussed, was over-anxious to please, and bustled about like
a true Martha, cumbered with many cares.

Okay, thank goodness Penguin was good enough to include a footnote reminding me of the Biblical story of Mary and Martha, because as I read this last night, my first thought was "WHAT? Martha Stewart is so powerful she could go way the eff BACK IN TIME and make Meg March Brooke feel inferior about her domestic abilities?"

We already, for reasons that still elude me, have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Why not Meg March Meets Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia?

April 27, 2011

Tea Towel Time

I'm trying to work throughout the year to get some holiday gifts made. I always have huge ambitions for Christmas gifts, since the hunting/gathering/making is my favorite part of the year-end festivities. But these ambitions get thwarted by the realities of trying to run a business during holiday times.

One of the things I never seem to have enough time for is embroidery, because it's tough to correctly set aside the hours to finish all the ambitious, detailed projects I dream up. So I decided to start a tea towel and measure the time it took to stitch up in units of good books and a combination of both quality and crap tv.

Photo 1 shows phase one of stitching, which I completed while listening to a chapter and a half of Edith Wharton via librivox, and while watching an episode of Treme. I would have loved to take a pic during the break between listing and watching, but it was nighttime, and this really does represent a continuous stitching session - bodies and faces.

Here's what I managed the following day while watching the William and Kate Lifetime movie: beet greens, arms, and legs, plus another arm and a femur/shin combo. This was a useful exercise, because these are the little details that I never think will take very long, but, in these case, they took a two-hour tv movie, minus commercials.

Since I was on a little bit of a roll, I finished up the tomatillo limbs and the knife handle while checking in with the Real Housewives.

This required a bit of brain cell replacement therapy, so I revisited Ms. Wharton while finishing the knife blade.

So there you have it - a gift finished in under five hours.

Now, to decide on the recipient.

April 21, 2011

Greetings from the couch.

Remember my cold from last week? It's still here. It's kindly gone through sever phases at this point, so I'm confident that, I'll, you know, live. But the crankypants? I have donned them.

I've been getting into Little Women though, and I am OBSESSED. One thing I had forgotten about was the fact that the Marches are, like, champion DIY-ers. Yes, yes, everyone was then, but not everyone WROTE about it. So I keep getting distracted from the prose while I fantasize about recreating important March artifacts. (Martifacts?) Embroidered handkerchiefs. Slippers for old Mr. Laurence. Pickled limes - omg, pickled limes! Confession time: all pickles haunt me with their deliciousness, but most varieties don't have such an august position in the literary canon as Amy's limes. I mean, the Pickled Lime Incident of 18__ caused Marmee to let Amy drop out of elementary school. CRAZY.

Sadly, I have not yet procured proper pickling limes - I've barely made it out of the apartment - so I've had to be content with plugging away at a project already in progress - my hex flowers.

At least I get to update my status box!

Quilt: Hex Flowers
Progress: 48/100 blocks (48%)

April 15, 2011

Jo Meets Apollyon

You know those days when your body just won't cooperate? Ever have a few in a row? Then suddenly feel better only to wake up with yet another, totally unrelated ailment?

I've had the sort of week that wants to knock me down as soon as I get up. Nothing major, but I'm about ready to admit defeat and curl up with some serious comfort reading. Which, sadly, is not something I can get from my current unread book, A Game of Thrones. And more's the pity, because it is, as promised, fabulous.

No, ever since the ladies at Forever Young Adult began their Little Women read-along, I've been itching to catch up with the March family. Which, as someone pointed out, would have probably been pronounced "Maahch" by the family in question. So it's a good thing I impulse-purchased this gorgeous Penguin hardcover (of a public domain book I can get for free online) a few months ago.

Because as much as I love downloading free public domain content, ever since I moved into a Grown Up Boston Apartment with, like, an actual paint job and nice chandeliers, I've been paying attention to my stuff. And thinking, "Ok, what will I want to keep around for a long time?"

Sadly, the chandelier comes with a rental, so it's not forever. Good thing I can always count on the Marches.

Er, Maahches.

April 11, 2011

Square. In a square. In a square.

This month for the bee there or bee squares quilting bee, Sandie requested square-in-a-square blocks made using her tutorial.

Square-in-a-square is a block I really love. Other than the fact that I think it should really be called "square-in-triangles," that is, but nobody asked me. It's super easy and I think it looks very sharp. Sandie's tutorial uses a 5" charm square for the center, so it's a great way to show off some designer fabrics, or even some embroidery. I think it would also be a gorgeous setting for a scrappy log cabin block.

But I think everything should involve small log cabin blocks, so don't mind me.

April 8, 2011

Better than it sounds: Onion Day!

You know what I like? Red onions. They not only have a nice, mild flavor, but something about the color strikes me as sort of sweet and vintage-looking.

Which is one of the reasons I was attracted to the idea of making zesty onion jelly, which I saw in the Ball Book, but is also featured here, with a brilliant tip for getting that gorgeous pink color.

So I bought a big red onion, and went to town. Mine is considerably more clear than Michelle's, but that's okay. It still looks cute and old-fashioned atop my vintage bow tie quilt.

The craziest part? Three jars of jelly only required, like, half of the onion. Red onions are BIG! So I put some of the leftover diced onion into a pasta salad of slightly oiled leftover acine de pepe, pickled asparagus, minced garlic, and roasted red peppers. I'll be serving it with greens alongside roast chicken tonight. Store-roast chicken. Because not every day can be onion day.

The rest of the onion got caramelized and went into a quiche of three eggs, cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, fresh asparagus, more roasted red peppers, and a couple of teaspoons of grainy French Dijon. To me, it's just not quiche without a little Dijon.

Here's some advice on asparagus tips: do something dorky with them.

I mean, it's a vegetable. You kind of have to make your own fun.

Oh, and check it out - I'm updating my quilt progress bar:

Quilt: Hex Flowers
Progress: 44/100 blocks (44%)

April 3, 2011

Sufficient Postage

Quilt: Kaffe Postage Stamps
Progress: 20/??? blocks

Ever try an "ends and beginnings project"? A stack of easy piecing near your machine so that all sewing can chain piecing?

Well, I started something like this two springs ago with a couple of Kaffe Fasset charm packs - I wanted little bursts of bright color, and Kaffe is always a good candidate for that.

Today I ran out of pieces to chain. So as of today, I have 20 "postage stamp" blocks that look like this:

Now what?