Sunday, May 30, 2010
Oh what a difference a week makes!
This is going to be our year for strawberries! We got nothing last year. The plants were new and what little they produced, the squirrels got first. They would nibble at them and leave the remains out on the grass as if to taunt us. (Same thing with the tomatoes).
This was a week ago. The raised bed was overflowing with healthy plants laden with tiny green fruits and one ripe one! I guess they liked the generous helping of compost they got. We never implemented the elaborate squirrel barrier we were scheming over in early spring, though. Looks like there will be plenty for all of us.
My great grandmother in Idaho was quite the strawberry farmer. She had a little business selling strawberries and eggs to the local grocery store. That was how they did it back then. None of this shipping fruit in from California. All the produce was local because it made sense. They canned the excess to eat during the winter and didn't try to make strawberry shortcake in December.
Mom and her sisters remember going to grandma's twice a week in the summer at the crack of dawn to pick berries before it got hot. That's the secret- pick them in the afternoon and they smoosh when you handle them. In the morning they are firm, but sever them at the stem so the top doesn't come off, just to be safe. They worked until 11:00 am or so, then called it a day for $1, a hot dog, and some pop.
I've got plans upon plans for these berries. I'm going to make strawberry shortcake (Martha's recipe) and a strawberry-rhubarb pie with local rhubarb from Highland Orchards (I'll share my own recipe when I do). But right now, I just have to have them, rinsed, hulled, cut in half, sprinkled with a teensy bit of sugar, and swimming in cream...
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Spring is in full swing here in Delaware. The windows are open at night and we wake up to the chirping of birds. We have a lot of birds on our property. I don't know if it's because of all the trees and shrubs we have or because the previous owner of our house was the founder of our local bird rescue. Maybe the birds remember. Rumor has it that at one point an injured eagle was kept in my daughter's bedroom. I found some evidence supporting that in the basement when I was cleaning out the paint cupboard. I found an old paint can marked "eagle room".
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I am a new convert to liquid starch. It was a product I'd never thought much about until I received some lovely pillowcases from a certain Ebay seller who takes pride in her laundering. Most of the textiles I buy on Ebay come unlaundered, in the exact condition they were acquired. But these pillowcases were different. They were so smooth and crisp that when I began making one of them into a little dress, the fabric handled so nicely, I had to find out her secret! So I emailed the lady and she uses Sta-Flo liquid starch in the rinse cycle, dries the cases part way, sprays on a little spray starch, and presses them in an electric mangle.
Thus began my search for liquid starch. I think I can afford liquid starch. I tried the drugstore, Target, Super G, and Superfresh with no luck. I was thinking of mail ordering some, and then I thought to go to the market that my elderly neighbor prefers (Acme) and violà! They had it, but not Sta-Flo. I got Linit instead.
Oxy Clean, I laundered my first batch of pillowcases normally and then put the liquid starch in the rinse cycle. Pillowcase Lady didn't say how much to put in, so I guessed and put about 1 to 1 1/4 cup into my small load thinking that was pretty generous. I did not get Pillowcase Lady's results. Then I read the bottle and it said don't rinse, only soak, then spin. And the ratio was higher than I thought: 1 part starch to 6 parts water for a light starching. So then I did it Tiggy-winkle-style in a small tub, did the spin cycle only, dried part way, and ironed with a touch of spray starch for good measure.
This batch came out rather nice. No puckers, no slubs, just smoothness. The liquid starch method definitely gets the starch more into the fibers than using only the spray kind. I am baffled why only elderly people know about this product. Young people like exceptional laundry too.shop.
PS- if you read an earlier version of this post, I revised the starch ratios I had originally stated. My mistake. Just did another batch to make sure I was right this time.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
I've had some studio visits lately and it's made me take another look at the studio from an aesthetic and functional point of view. It's functioning great as a sewing studio. But if people are going to visit, it really is necessary to have someplace for them to sit and it would be nice if the place was spiffier overall. If the space is going to represent me to customers, I think I need to step it up some.
Klippan loveseat by IKEAMy first idea for seating was this smaller scale couch from IKEA. I thought it would work for the basement because of the metal legs and vinyl upholstery. I liked the cheerful color and the price was doable at $399. Then I got to thinking... it's made largely of polyurethane and vinyl. That's gonna off-gas like crazy, and will a cheap sofa like that last? I try to be ecologically responsible whenever possible, so I came up with a new idea.
"Anne-me-down" chairs from my friend Anne last year and hadn't done anything with them yet. Judging from the avocado and gold upholstery, I think they are from the 1970's. They're not designer originals or anything, but I like their style. Not only were they free, but chairs probably make more sense than a sofa for my purposes because they can be easily rearranged. Plus, I like the idea of saving them from the landfill and giving them new life.
beforeThe wood is a bit scuffed and beat-up. To tell the truth, I've been procrastinating fixing up these chairs because I thought I'd have to strip and restain them. Then the lady at JPT caning recommended this refinishing stuff called Howard's Restore-A-Finish and the wheels started to turn in my mind. I bought it from them in "dark walnut" for about $8.
afterThe directions on the can say to wipe on with 0000 steel wool, following the grain, then quickly wipe off. And voilà! The wood looks amazing and it took less than 15 minutes to do the whole chair! Nasty fumes, though. Don't attempt this indoors.