Thursday, September 30, 2010

Churn Dash, revisited

Churn Dash
[A smattering of finished quilt blocks.]

When I was pregnant last year, I publicly expressed my intentions of making a baby quilt on this very blog. Fast forward a year (or more) and the quilt is not done, but I have an excuse! The fact is Edmund received a lot of baby blankets as gifts, all of them very beautiful and useful, but I figured I really don't need to go to all that work when he's got plenty of blankets already. So, I decided to turn my blanket into a toddler-sized quilt instead. I recently pulled out the fabrics again and starting piecing some more blocks. I need to do the math to figure out how many I will need for the larger quilt, but so far I have twenty done. Things are chugging along!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Classic Christie

Murder in Mesopotamia, 1936

While at a garage sale this weekend, I snapped up this wonderful 1936 edition of Agatha Christie's Murder in Mesopotamia. It's a little musty but entirely readable, and I could not resist the Art Deco font on the cover. Plus, it's a title we didn't have in our library!

Murder in Mesopotamia

I've been collecting Agatha Christie books since my teens. My husband also owns quite a few, so when we combined our libraries, we ended up with over two shelves full. Just the thing when one needs a quick Christie fix!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1938 bib

vintage-style baby bib

Since Edmund is now having some supplementary food other than milk, we finally get to put to use his cute baby bibs. My mom made this one before Edmund was born, from a reprint of a 1938 pattern available from Pattern Bee. It goes especially well with mashed carrots.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Excerpt from my current reading

[From chapter six, "Various Conquests," on post-war flying...]

"The most remarkable flight of all, but one that strangely enough was almost uncelebrated in the Press, was that of M'Intosh and Parer from England to Melbourne. These were two Australian lieutenants who determined, when the war ended, to go home by air in a condemned D.H.9, bought for a few pounds. Almost every part of the machine was defective, including the petrol-pump and magneto, bolts kept working loose from the engine and propeller, the struts were unsound, the instruments faulty. They started on the 8th January 1920, had vexatious delays in France, climbed up to 14,000 feet to avoid a storm over the Apennines and then as they were about to cross the Adriatic went on fire at 3,000 feet, but extinguished the flames with a steep dive. They reached Cairo, by way of Athens and Crete, after forty-four days; the usual flying time for this distance was forty hours. Everyone there thought the two men crazy to persist in their journey, but they patched up the machine and few on east. They had to come down in the central Arabian desert because of engine trouble, M'Intosh keeping Arab marauders off with Mills bombs and a revolver, while Parer tinkered with the plane. He got her off just in time. They reached Baghdad -- the first time that the flight from Egypt had been made -- changed a broken propeller, and flew on over Baluchistan to India. Parer remarked, 'We'll fly this b----- crate till it falls to bits at our feet.' He did so, and more. When the engine failed over the Irrawaddy jungle they made a lucky forced landing; but soon afterwards a crash at Moulmein wrecked the undercarriage, smashed the radiator, and damaged the compass. For six weeks they worked in the jungle at fitting together the bits and pieces and then took off again. They crashed twice more, but somehow managed to cross the most dangerous obstacle of all, the Timor Sea, where they lost their bearings and flew blind, reaching Australia with only a single pint of petrol left in the tank. Their last crash was at Culcairn, close to their goal: there was practically nothing left unbroken of the D.H.9, but the two airmen escaped unharmed. The fragments of the machine were reassembled for exhibition in the Sydney Museum; Parer and M'Intosh were decorated by the Australian Prime Minister and given a purse of £1,000 to defray their expenses. They had already paid part of these by trick-flying and scattering hand-bills over the cities passed in their flight. M'Intosh died soon afterwards in a plane accident; Parer later operated a self-supporting unsubsidized air-line in New Guinea between the coast and the goldfields in the interior."

--from The Long Weekend: A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939 by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, first published 1940

Monday, September 6, 2010

McCall's 5721: 3-in-1 shopping cart cover

shopping cart/high chair cover

My baby has a propensity for gnawing on any germ-covered surface within reach, so I made this shopping cart/high chair cover so he can chew on fabric instead of the latest virus to be going around. ;-) (You can't see the fabric very well in this photo, but it's covered with old-fashioned toys of all kinds.)

What looks like an easy project actually took me some time. There are two pockets with loops for toys on the inside of the cover, plus a larger bag on the backside which the entire cover can be folded into when not in use. I have found that the two pockets are probably overkill and you could get away with one or none at all, although the loops to attach toys are handy. The pattern calls for self-made bias tape, but I skipped that step and used pre-packaged. The instructions aren't always the greatest, but if you use your common sense you'll come out on top!

Friday, September 3, 2010


Earlier in the week, I decided to try my hand at bread-baking. I've made hand-kneaded yeast breads only once or twice before in my life, so I pulled up The Bread by Hand eBook by Kimberly Eddy (available at her website, Adventures in Mothering). It's a very readable instructional booklet on making homemade, hand-made breads. She recommends starting out basic, so I halved her white bread recipe and set to work. I started the sponge as soon as I got up on Monday and then tended to the bread throughout the morning in between a two-mile walk, an errand to the city, and lunchtime. The timer on the oven dinged just as we were finishing up lunch.

Bread loaves

Kimberly explains why breadmaking is not an exact science and warns against following any recipe to the letter without accounting for variables (such as the humidity of your kitchen). When you're baking on your own, a little trial and error is in order. I added a little less flour than called for and yet my dough seemed quite substantial. Douglas punched down the dough for me after the first rising, and his comment was that it didn't completely collapse like his mom's bread doughs did. What that means I'm not quite sure -- too much flour? Not enough yeast? The baked bread's taste and texture seem fine to me -- actually, more than fine. When slathered with butter and drizzled with honey, it's an absolute treat.

So, chalk up the first attempt as a success. Next time I'll try adding some nutrition to the bread. ;-)