Pearl Shift, Reading and Books, Sewing

Fall 2016: Checks and Plaid, Muffins and Soup

Fall has come to Connecticut in all its glory. The view from my front porch last week:img_3922With the cooler weather, I am turning to the Pearl Shift which I previously made, and lived in basically all last winter, in heavy cotton flannel plaids from Jo-Ann. You can see those versions here. When I saw the new Checkers fabric from Cotton and Steel, I thought it would be perfect for a Pearl. I was inspired by a similar dress, an Esme tunic which can be found in this book.¬†img_3685-1When I make changes to patterns, I write notes to myself on the pattern pieces. Ironically, sometimes I forget to read the notes until after cutting out the pattern as I did here. I did not actually add enough to the seam allowance to allow for french seams. Note to self: read notes to self. img_3686-1This is a very straight-forward pattern and if I didn’t insist on adding a zipper, it would be even quicker but I think the zipper adds a lot so I used one here. I sewed it using a techinique I modified from Dana by watching this video of how to sew a lined zipper pouch. It was this video that inspired me to use wonder clips which work well. The picture below shows where I lined up the top of the zipper but I think I will move it up a bit on my next version because there is a bit of a gap at the top in the finished version. img_3879Sewing the first side:img_3882After sewing one side, I do the reverse and then top-stitch. I find it works best to sew the zipper initially going from top to bottom but I have better success with the top-stitching when I start at the bottom of the zipper and sew to the top maintaining some tension on the fabric to prevent puckers.img_3885Lining up the second side.img_3881Ready for top-stitching.img_3888After top-stitching. It took three tries to get this. Sewing from the bottom of the zipper to the top was the key in the end.img_3891I used my usual hem facing technique. I cut up an old muslin into 3 inch strips. I have described this technique in my prior Pearl posts here and here. It is very straightforward.img_3943I am able to use the metal plate edge as the perfect guide to sew the hem when I use the 3 inch strips.img_3958Since I had extra of the 3 inch strips, I finished the sleeves the same way. I bound the neck using 1.5 inch bias binding leftover from my Checkers Gemma Tank. The hem and sleeve facing is not cut on the bias since there is very little curve to the hem and the sleeves are cut straight across. It worked well and was very quick to finish,.¬†img_3956Finished dress on the front door.img_3985Back of dress.img_3990And as worn. Although I thought I cut it the same length as my previous versions, this one is a little longer. I am not sure how I feel about it. I really like the way the linen one fits but I also find that when there is less heft to the fabric as in my Alison Glass version, the tunic rides up. I will have to wear this for a while and see what I think about the length. I think on me, the shorter version is a little more flattering but time will tell.img_3972Side view.img_3975Back view.img_3965Linen version for comparison.img_3705One more picture with fall foliage.img_3969Other things we have been enjoying here in Connecticut: a tour of a new craft brewery in our town which is expanding. It was fun to go on the tour and great to see a new successful local business. img_3939A beautiful sunrise. I love watching the sun come up and I miss the sunrises when I have to leave for work in the dark. (I am not a fan of shorter winter days.)img_3876My nasturtiums finally bloomed (in October). Note to self: plant earlier next year. They were cheap and maintenance free and pretty. img_3712Fall is soup and muffin weather chez Nursebean. My usual modus operandi is to make what I call refrigerator soup. It is when you open the refrigerator and see what you have and make soup. It is a great way to take those leftovers and make a meal. This post from one of my favorite bloggers is a great description of how to do this. I also made this Broccoli and Dill soup which was enjoyed by all (from one of my other favorite bloggers).img_3660 I have had this pot and this bowl for over 25 years.img_3691 I get nostalgic cooking on Sunday afternoons thinking about how many pots of chili, soup and even lasagnas have been made in this blue Le Creuset pot which was a wedding gift over 30 years ago. I remember buying the bowl as a young broke new mom. It was a big splurge at the time. I don’t think it was actually very expensive but all purchases felt like big purchases at that point in my life (and in many ways still do). I still love it. Many muffins and cookies have started in this bowl. Mr. Nursebean has found that he feels better when he avoids gluten so I made some adjustments to the cornmeal muffin recipe from this book which is one of my go to cookbooks and which has excellent muffin recipes (they all start with a stick of butter so it would be hard to go wrong). Here is my version. I ¬†actually think they are better this way, sort of nutty and you can convince yourself that they are healthy because of the nut flour and the yogurt. They are great right out of the oven with butter and raspberry jam but I also freeze them and then zap them in the microwave for a minute and they are perfect for breakfast.

Cornmeal Muffins:

Pre-heat oven to 375-I use convection setting.

Melt a stick of butter in a big bowl. I usually microwave for 2 minutes. Let cool a bit

In a separate bowl combine: 1.5 cups each of cornmeal flour and almond flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and a dash of salt

Beat two eggs into melted butter and combine dry and wet ingredients. Don’t over-mix.

Add one 6 oz lemon, plain or vanilla yogurt to the mixture. Add approx 4 oz milk (or as much as you need to make the mixture mixable and about the texture of wet scrambled eggs.

Bake for approx 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

Serve hot out of the oven with butter and rasberry jam or next day-I find they reheat perfectly with 30 seconds in the microwave or 1 minute if frozen (I often freeze them so they don’t disappear too fast. They make a great breakfast.)

My daughter and I have been trying to walk most days. The trees along our walk have been beautiful.img_3818I have been doing a lot of reading. I inhaled this novel and this mystery. I highly recommend both. This fall is the 10th anniversary of the fall that this sweet puppy joined our family. She still greets me with love every time I come home. A gift to us all.img_3914Next up are two more Pearl shifts in plain flannel purchased last year at Jo-Ann’s. img_3689This time I remembered to add the extra seam allowance for french seams. This is why I often make more than one of a pattern in a row. It takes a couple times to work out the bugs! One of these will be for me and one for my daughter who I will see (yay!) for Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for. Wishing everyone a beautiful fall!

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unplugged

Nursebean Unplugged: Beauty in Your Own Backyard

This year, I made a New Year’s resolution to honor Sunday as a day of rest, free of work, plans, screens. Each week I have posted one photo on Instagram that I take on that Sunday to remind me of what was special about that day. Unplugged Sunday #20, May 22nd, ¬†was mostly about listening…to birdsong, to hymns in church, to the quiet hum of neighbors having barbecues, to the little boy across the street who is learning to play the saxophone. Since it isn’t in my house and the music is muted, the sounds of a new player wafting across the street, even the squeaky wrong notes, are not irritating but on the contrary, make me nostalgic for the time when my elementary school aged kids practiced their various instruments: trumpet, violin, piano, bass, drums and yes, for a time, a saxophone. I tried to get a picture of a bird to represent my unplugged Sunday but they eluded me.¬†This tree is full of birds but I couldn’t catch one on camera. I loved hearing their songs all day long.imageIt was a beautiful sunny day and in the afternoon, Sadie wandered in the back yard and I wandered with her. My husband has made a beautiful meadow in our backyard. What started as a project to reduce the amount of mowing has made our yard more beautiful. This picture makes me think of other meadows in my past.¬†imageMany of our flowers were just on the verge of blooming. Peonies are ubiquitous on Instagram this time of year. Ours were still tightly wound up buds. This one looks like a little wooden headed doll from my children’s youth.image I previously blogged about a little walk I took with Sadie in my neighborhood¬†and beauty I found by taking the time to pay attention. On this Sunday, I focused in on my backyard and once again, I found beauty everywhere. imageThis was a particularly wonderful gift because none of the flowers or plants were planted by me; they are all things that were planted by previous owners. I love the surprise in the spring when things emerge from the ground and you find you have flowers you didn’t even know you had. In the course of just a few minutes, this is what I found in my backyard: spring springing everywhere!imagehereimageand¬†hereimagethis rhododendrun looks positively prehistoricimagetiny wildflowers (weeds?) look like flower fairies from my children’s picture booksimageI love the shadows on the bricksimageOur garden is sort of a mish-mosh of plantings by the former owners and weeds that are trying to take over. One of these days, I will spend some time putting things to rights but I kind of enjoy the chaotic jumble for now.imagecolor everywhereimage

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imageI finally got one picture with a bird in it imageSadie the explorerimageSunlight at the end of the dayimage Thought for the week: Listen to the Music of your Life.

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Uncategorized

Nursebean Unplugged: Beauty everywhere you look, May Day 2016

imageToday, May Day, is the seventeenth Sunday in my Unplugged Sundays project. It was one of my favorite kind of days: totally unplanned with no need to go anywhere, do anything or even talk to anyone because my husband was away. The weather even cooperated. I wasn’t totally alone in my house. ¬†Sadie, our golden retriever kept me company. Sadie is the perfect companion on an unplugged Sunday: ¬†totally undemanding, great at hanging out, not expecting me to make conversation and with no problems for me to solve. Sadie the zenmaster below. imageI am generally a people person and I love all of the people in my life. I have no interest in living alone, ¬†but I do find that I need alone time from time to time in order to recharge and reset my perspective. I tend to be a caretaker, a problem solver and a listener and I love being all of those things both in my relationships and my work (nurse, teacher) but I sometimes pay so much attention to others that I forget to pay attention to myself. When my children were little and I would have little snippets of time to myself, I often couldn’t even figure out what to do with it, I was so used to spending my days focused on tasks and attuned to the needs of little people. ¬†So today, I tried to not do too much planning. I read, I did some prep for some sewing projects: ¬†ironing and cutting out several future dresses and I took a walk. First I walked by myself on a quick 2 mile loop in our neighborhood. This was mostly a walk for exercise although as I walked, I really enjoyed the fresh green smell of the air just after a rain. It was cool and still a little misty but not actively raining. The world looked and smelled so fresh and green. I used to run a lot and this was my favorite running weather.¬†When I got home, I decided to take Sadie out for a little walk. She will be ten this July and my 2 mile walk is a little long for her so I just took her around the corner and down to the end of the next street. Since I was walking more slowly with her, I noticed many things I hadn’t seen on my first walk and stopped to take pictures here and there. Soon I was noticing beauty everywhere. I couldn’t help it.¬†imageI love the way the rain makes everything even more beautiful. Little green worlds everywhere.imageFlower glamour shot below.imageMy daughters used to love to make fairy houses. You could just imagine flower fairies here.imageI love all of the shades of green. The tree below evokes the feeling of a person rooted to the earth with arms up-stretched. I love that without even trying, you see beauty and patterns and stories everywhere you look in nature.¬†imageThe sap coming out of this tree recently pruned looks like tears. ¬†#treeshavesoulsimageI saw a couple of flowers hidden in the overgrowth on the borders between two houses. World’s tiniest white tulip below. All by itself in a little forest.imageA solitary daffodil nearby. Were these bulbs planted long ago? They aren’t part of any planned garden. Just hidden in these little areas of overgrowth. Magic.imageThe overgrown, unruly spontaneous gardens are sometimes more beautiful than the those you plan.imageA lone violet amid the clover. Look at how much is going on-so many¬†teeny¬†tiny buds!imageStill life with tiny tree.imageEverything in the natural world is more beautiful up close.¬†image¬†A vine growing up our front step. imageI don’t even know what this is growing up out of the moss. Look at the raindrops, the texture of the stem and the colors. Wild! It looks a little prehistoric. A baby dinosaur plant!imageThe beauty of lush, green new leaves.imageAnd these. Poison ivy? Pretty no matter what it is.imageI love all of the textures . I just looked down along the driveway and this is what I saw.imageMore green at the base of a tree.¬†imageI looked up and the¬†texture and colors of the tree trunk were amazing. I have lived in this house for two years but never noticed this even though is right next to my driveway.imageMore texture in the feathery moss.imageWalking up the driveway I noticed this old fence post. Slowing down today helped me see things in a new way.imageThanks Sadie!image

 

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About Me, unplugged

Anniversary Flowers

April 11, 2016

Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers
Plucked in the garden, all the summer through¬†~Elizabeth Barrett BrowningimageOn April 11th, my husband and I celebrated 7 years of marriage and he brought me these beautiful flowers. I especially loved these two peonies which were so lush and beautiful.imageEach day over the last week, I noticed that the flowers were slowly changing color. They were just as beautiful but each day they took on new dimensions. Day 3 below. These pictures are untouched and this is what the flowers really looked like. I have never experienced this before, a flower slowly changing color.imageFrom deep red-pink to pink to peach.imageAs the days and went by, the colors faded and the petals took on a range of shades that gave even more depth to their beauty. Day 4 above and below.imageAs they became more pale and fragile, they became even more beautiful because the light was now able to shine through the petals. Day 6 below:imageAs the end of the week neared, the petals became a bit more ruffled giving the flower the¬† appearance of turning inward.¬†Day 7:imageJust before it started to lose its petals, the second more full peony appeared to reach upward.imageEven after its petals began to fall it was still beautiful, looking like one of the flower fairy illustrations from one of my children’s picture books.imageI so enjoyed watching their evolution this week and will miss them. I think they taught me something about aging and beauty because they were no less beautiful at the end of the week than the beginning. Time revealed so many different aspects of their beauty that wasn’t apparent on day 1.imageI perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers. ~Claude Monet

May we all embrace how beautiful we are becoming. Happy Anniversary Sweetie!

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