To Amuse and Delight

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Berry Knits

Why am I knitting during the hottest most humid week of the summer? I don't know! With all the other summer activities I thought I would put knitting off until September, but I just couldn't do it. I found a bag full of ends of some of my favorite yarns. Little red balls like berries, waiting to be turned into something tasty. So, I started knitting a tank top...yeah a wool tank top. Strange but true.
My other fixation these days is berry picking. These things are popping up everywhere and so abundantly. Even though it has been 100 degrees we are out there picking away. It gets to be a compulsion, once you start something primal kicks in and you are possessed to grab every red jewel you see. And that's a lot. 
Every time we decide we've had enough and start walking away we spy another cluster that just begs picking.
Of course we were eating berries the entire time we were picking, but as soon as we got our bounty home we ate more. This time with whipped cream. They lasted a few days for fresh eating and then I made jam tarts from what was left. Looking at these pictures is giving me that urge to go picking again very soon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mad Tea Party!

 Today I join Vanessa from A Fanciful Twist blog for a
Mad Tea Party! 
 All text is from from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
I was inspired by the court scene from the"Who Stole The Tarts"chapter. With it's tea, tarts, guinea pigs, little sisters and general madness it was a perfect fit for us!
 I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did.
"The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, All on a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, And took them quite away!"
"Call the first witness, "said the King; and The White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and called out," First witness!"

The first witness was The Hatter. He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other. "I beg pardon, your Majesty," he began, "for bringing these in: but I hadn't quite finished my tea when I was sent for."
"Give your evidence," said the King; "and don't be nervous, or I'll have you executed on the spot."

This did not seem to encourage the witness at all: he kept shifting from one foot to the other, looking uneasily at the Queen, and in his confusion he bit a large piece out of his teacup instead of the bread and butter.
(You may observe a bread and butterfly. It's wings are thin slices of bread and butter, it's body is a crust, and it's head is a sugar cube)
"I wish you wouldn't squeeze so." said the Dormouse, who was sitting next to her. "I can hardly breath."

"I can't help it", said Alice very meekly: "I'm growing."

"You've no right to grow here," said the Dormouse.

"Don't talk nonsense," said Alice more boldly: "you know you're growing too."

"Yes, but I grow at a reasonable pace," said the Dormouse: "not in that ridiculous fashion."
"Collar that Dormouse," the Queen shrieked out. "Behead that Dormouse! Turn that Dormouse out of the court! Suppress him! Pinch him! Off with his whiskers!"
Here one of the guinea pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court.
Here the other guinea pig cheered, and was suppressed.
"Come, that finished off the guinea pigs! thought Alice. "Now we shall get on better."
All this time the Queen had never left off staring at the Hatter. "You may go," said the King, and he hurriedly left the court, without even waiting to put on his shoes.

"--and just take his head off outside," the Queen added to one of the officers: but the Hatter was out of sight before the officer could get to the door.
"Why, here they are!" said the King triumphantly, pointing to the tarts on the table. "Nothing can be clearer than that.

'Wake up, Alice dear!' said her sister; 'Why, what a long sleep you've had!'
'Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and she told her sister, all these strange Adventures of hers; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said,

 'It was a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's getting late.' 

But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice and all her wonderful Adventures, till she too began dreaming...

She pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July dresses

 I finished my dress just in time to wear it for the 4th of July. My french vibe picnic was complete. We strolled through an amazing sunken garden, had our picnic (pan bagnat, pickled crudite, and dark chocolate truffles), saw a Duke Ellington tribute concert with fireworks to finish it off.
 The dress is so light and comfortable, it's like wearing your coziest cotton nighty. I wore it again today to church because it was so hot out. We don't have air conditioning yet so we had the service outside. The property is edged with woods and thickets of wild blackberries grow there. After church my little one and I picked berries to make Vitamix ice cream, a real treat after such a hot day.
This time last year I was on a gingham kick. I bought yards of gingham in all colors. My family and I went to the same place for the 4th that we went to this year. It has become a tradition. With gardens, concert and fireworks it's the perfect place to celebrate. Last year I made and wore this brown gingham dress and we had a classic Americana picnic. Who knows what will strike my fancy for the next Fourth of July. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

French picnic vibe

 Maybe it's because I'm reading 'Alice Waters and Chez Panisse' or maybe it's just because it is summer that I am in a french picnic mood these days. The Chez Panisse book is extremely inspiring. Alice has an infectious way about her that makes you excited for the things that she is excited about. Yesterday I served a bunch of friends baked cheese and fruit poached in spiced wine. Not something I would have come up with on my own. Today I pulled out one of my all time favorite books for food and garden inspiration, 'Monet's Table' and another little gem, 'Picnics of Provence'. It's small but packed with Van Gogh paintings and delicious recipes, food for the eyes as well as the stomach. I usually pull both of these books off the shelf right about this time every year, but reading the Alice Waters book pushed me a bit farther over the french edge.
Not only am I planning a series of french summer picnics, but I am fixating on the perfect summer dresses for them.  I picked up 20 yards of nice rose patterned fabrics to play around with in not so typical floral color combinations. This one is cream with dusty rose flowers and grey foliage. The one above is grey with brown, purple and blue, unusual and lovely. So, today I am working on a pattern from my last summer beach dress because it is the most comfortable dress there ever was. I'll keep you posted on the progress of my french picnic dream.