Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our Princess....Cupcake!

Cupcake turned 5! Has it really been 5 years since I looked deep into her brown eyes for the first time? Since I first held her? Hard to believe, she is such a big girl now. Big enough to have a 5 Year Old Trip with her Noni & Boppa. Where else to take a princess-in-training than to visit the REAL Princesses at Disneyland! And..what fun for Noni & Boppa to be the ones to introduce her to Disneyland. We could not have her looking like a commoner so I made her a pink princess dress.

I used Simplicity 2563 and found the scoop of the neckline too deep and wide. I was able to adjust it in the shoulders so that it was o.k. but will make better adjustments when cutting out next time. The best part was when she tried it on for the first time (along with her sparkling pink princess shoes). She twirled in front of the full length mirror in our motel room and sweetly said "I feel special".....just how we had hoped she would feel!
On the table now.....I am actually making something for Huck Finn! Should go get to it now-

Thursday, August 5, 2010

French Macarons!

I am THRILLED! I can hardly believe that these little beauties came from MY kitchen! Any of my friends in my town can attest to the fact that I have been trying to re-create the macarons I first tasted in Paris in 2004. I have tried many recipes, following them to the T to have the result be a yummy but ugly cookie. Obviously I have some work to do on the fillings. My ganache is a little runny and my buttercream, while lovely, does not taste great....learn from my mistake and do not substitute salted butter for unsalted. Still, I am one happy baker.
I was able to acheive this feat through the help of a wonderful little cookbook called "I Love Macarons" by Hisako Ogita. Let me back up a bit....notice the picture from Ashland, Oregon and my recent Oregon Shakespeare Festival adventure. I take this trip every other year with my dear friend Jacque (far right). Jacque and I often try to find a unique cookbook to buy. This year my usual haunt did not turn up any great cookbook. While shopping the town we wondered into another favorite spot "Prize". This sweet little emporium is a french themed general store. I like to go slow and take in all the delights from french penny candies to lovely diamond necklaces and everything in between. Tucked just under a batch of Laduree shopping bags was this book.....I Love Macarons. How could I not pick it up? Making perfect macarons is on my list of things to master before I die. I was enthralled but what I did not know is that Jodi (2nd from the left, just left of me) already had it in hand for a late birthday gift to me. Jodi....thank you! I love it and I hope you will love it, too!
Our Cupcake is turning 5! Hard to believe that we are grandparents, let alone grandparents to a 5 year old. Many years ago a friend of mine told me about what her in-laws did for their grandchildren....a 5 year old trip. We have been looking forward to this since she was born and in late August Cupcake gets 2 days alone with her Noni & Boppa doing Disneyland. Not sure who is more excited...Cupcake or Noni & Boppa. I did get her birthday dress done and shipped but not photographed. Up next is a princess dress for her to wear to the princess breakfast....oh how we love being grandparents!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

OSF Here We Come!!!!

with my daughter in law Kristine, my daughters mother in law Robyn and my daughter, Robyn

It's here, finally here and less than 1 week away. My daughter is flying home on Thursday with her mother in law and almost as soon as the sun is up we will head north on Friday morning. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has become an every other year event for myself and my dear friend Jacque. Ashland, Oregon is nestled against the Siskiyous and is enchanting in every way. The theater productions are first class events. On my first visit it rained during one of the shows. The theater is an outdoor theater and many seasoned event goers were prepared with rain ponchos. We were situated just under the eves of the roof, on the first row of the balcony and so we were protected. The stage was quite wet but the show went on and the rain was even worked into the play (she weeps.....and so do the heavens). We were hooked from that point on and the next year, when Jacque came with us, she too was hooked. If you read Shakespeare word for word you might get lost but taking it in as a whole I find it very easy to track with and so have enjoyed each and every show we have seen. Every trip has had a different vibe since we invite different guests to join us, one year with our husbands and another with the 2 of us. Mainly it is a girlfriends event and this year is a full crowd. I expect it to be just as magical as every other time and yet, unique in it's own way. Shakespeare.....I recommend it!
We eat (roadside picnic with Jacque, her daughter in law Ashley and my Robyn)

We shop ....Prize, with it's Parisienne flair is our favorite store

We take photos in Lithia Park, we peruse The Tudor Guild gift shop, we buy bread at Ashland Bakery, we eat dinner over looking Lithia Creek, we stay up late and talk.....can you see why we love it so?

Monday, July 5, 2010

A June Bride..

My how time flies. I kept thinking I would get to this...and now it has been 6 weeks since I last wrote! I went to visit Snickerdoodle and her big sister and baby brother but did not get a better picture so the trampoline shot will have to do. Besides....we have so moved on!

Here is a beauty. I have known this lovely creature all her life. She has been one of my youngest sons best friends and we have shared so many experiences. She is a hair sytlist and I like to tell people that she got her start at my house, cutting hair off  of my daughters Barbies, before turning the scissors on her own hair. She wore my smocked clothes as a little girl and I was honored when she asked me to create her veil. What fun I had trying to figure this out and when the actual sewing came along it went together like a breeze. For her veil she chose a "mantilla" style and it worked perfectly with her classic dress. Thank you Gracie, for allowing me to share in your special day...actual all of your special days. You are dear to me.

Wedding clothes are some of my favorite sewing projects. In 2009 I created a silk confection in red & white for my friends daughter to wear in her aunts wedding. We copied a dress she already had, using the wedding colors and adding some more formal details like a lovely, puffy bow and a sparkly button (not shown, dress still has pins in it at the time of the photo).

The summer prior to that I made a "little girl" dress for a 2 year old to prance down the aisle in. It was made of batiste so it quickly got that old fashioned, wrinkled look. I  made a self-fabric ruffled trim to outline the neck, armholes & hem, and attached ribbon bows under the arms.  So sweet, so pretty and so festive!
The wedding season is winding down around here, we have attended the majority of those we have been invited to this year. I always love attending weddings and seeing the personalities of the couple and families come through. Hope you enjoy a summer of celebrating!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Favorite 3 year old

Here she is. When I asked Boppa to get a good picture of her in her dress this is the best he could do. Happily, it is charming. I will try to get something a little better for my records when I hug her in person next week.

On a more personal note, I have been slowly working my way through 2 certifications. One is the SAGA Artisan program- Smocking. After 10-15 years (I've lost count) I am getting ever closer to turning in my first submission. I decided to wait until 2011 so I could hopefully, receive recognition at the SAGA conference in Anaheim. The other is the EGA Master Craftsman program. I am happy to report I have only been working on this for about 4 years and just completed level 2- picture smocking. I found this to be a particular challenge because of the stipulations of the program. However, it is done and judged and I was thrilled with an "exhibition quality" rating. Can you tell what the design is? Both of these programs are a lot more work than they appear to be and I have great admiration for anyone who has completed all I wonder if I will ever be at the end. Of course, others may be more committed to the process than I have been!

Spring is slowly showing its face here in northern California. With a cooler than average season everything has been slower to bloom. Just last week the spanish lavender opened up and is giving us quite a show. The bees have been very active and we found ourselves mesmerized for quite some time on Saturday enjoying the show. More overcast and rain today...we'll enjoy the sunshine when we see it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Snickerdoodle is turning 3!

One of life's great joys is being a grandmother. For me it is bittersweet since my granchildren live so far away. I am sad that I won't be able to see her twirl in her dress for the first time but with her Boppa will. He arrives late in the evening on her 3rd birthday. I will make sure the camera batteries are charged and ready so he can snap the moment for me! I mentioned this little sweetie in an earlier post. This dress completely fits her personality.

I used Summer Blooms from Australian Smocking & Embroidery issue #87 as my basis. The sleeves on the original dress did not fit my vision so I just added a puff sleeve. I also made the cuff about 1/2 the size of the original. This lovely cotton print is as light as a spring breeze. All smocking was done using DMC stranded cotton and the bullion petals on the flowers as well.

 Recently, I acquired this vintage rick rack and the color was perfect!. Happy birthday little one.....Noni loves you!

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Adoption Story

No pictures with this one, as of yet, but I wanted to share a blog with you. My dear friend Brenda is becoming a grandmother again thanks to the generosity of an Ethiopian mother. Brenda's daughter Anna, whom I have known all her life and I smocked something for her as a baby, is in Ethiopia right now meeting her new daughter. Anna & Kelly already have a charming 4 year old boy who is at home, anxiously awaiting his new baby sister. I invite you to read their sweet story and to follow as it unfolds- and, as you read, to be praying for this family. Thanks- blessings- Karen

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Thought I would get to this post quicker than I have. Life was extra busy for a couple of weeks. My daughter came home and we had a wonderful couple of days just hanging out. We made cookies for the twins shower. We stripped wallpaper and painted our kitchen. We hung out with dad. It was wonderful.

For the twins I made my favorite design for 1 year olds. I love the way a diapered bottom makes a bishop dress pouf...chubby little legs extended. The girls are fraternal twins so I made each size 1 shoulder button bishop using the same smocking design but smocking one in pink and one in white. Alternately, they had white and pink flowers. The sweet and very simple smocking design was Isabella from Robin Piccone (see previous post for close up) in an older Creative Needle magazine. I have been wanting to use it and I was very pleased with the results. Looks like I needed to hit them a little better with the iron!
Up next......Snickerdoodle turns 3!  My second granddaughter is sugar and spice and everything nice with a hint of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. She loves her pretty dresses, and she loves to play and explore in them. She looks so charming riding her bike or tromping through the bushes in her smocked dresses with her wellies on. What a cutie! I am grateful thier mother allows the girls to wear their dresses from Noni for everyday play, childhood passes all too quickly and I want them to use what I make. So, smocking is done and hopefully a good deal of the construction will be completed today. My little Snickerdoodle will be visiting next week, I'll snap a photo for you!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Did I mention Twins?

I have had to rethink my idea of introducing the garments for the twin girls. The shower is weeks away and momma may look on here. I'd like for her to be surprised. Still...I wanted to give you a "sneak peak".

These twins are a complete surprise as twins do not run in the family. Momma has been my daughters friend since they were born.  She was born on my 4th anniversary and I distinctly remember holding my 2 month old girl while I talked on the phone with the new mom (soon to be grandma). Can it really be that 26 years have passed already? I'll post a photo of the completed garments after the shower.

Here is a fun project......for almost 2 years I have been priveleged to have a "Young Homemakers" sewing group with young women from my church. We meet at a wonderful home that has donated a space for us to work and store materials. Last week I was not sure how many were coming so I moved our time to my house as we were going to be focusing on a project that was mostly handwork. It is a pair of fleece fingerless gloves. Only 2 seams and you are done! My idea was that we would draw the shape onto the fleece and hand decorate them before sewing so I told the girls to leave sewing machines at home. The little gal above was a guest of one of my regulars and she had never sat at a sewing machine before. It was so fun to see her delight with her finished gloves! The rest of my girls sat around my dining room table drinking tea, talking and stitching. Much like the quilting bees of the past these girls share parenting tips, recipes and love. I know they pray for one another and share life in so many ways. I am blessed to be among them.

That's Princess #3's momma

Home deco gimp made an elegant trim

Red dingle ball trim with feather stitched rick rack on black!

And this is one of mine. I hand stitched on wool felt polka dots and then centered on top of them some vintage sequins in hot colors....from my grandmothers collection.

We meet once a month....join us!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Princess #3

Princess #3 is how my friend describes the little girl she is expecting in just a few weeks. Welcoming a 3rd girl seems only natural for this family. The first 2 princesses are adorable, sweet, feminine little things and so adding another just goes along with what they have already started. In anticipation of this little one I have been sewing. I may have mentioned before that my town has a lovely little fabric shop and that is where I found this sweet Alexander Henry print. The pink is soft enough for a toddlers coloring.

I made my Renaissance using the same trim as on my original pink dress ( As with all my garments it is exquisitely crafted with french seams, 4" deep handworked hem and button back closure. I altered the handsmocking from the original to include a variety of colors for the flowers. I was pleased with the affect. In addition I have long been on a quest for an old fashioned, European style where it pulls up slightly..and I think it has been acheived with the sleeve variation.

I can hardly wait to see the Princess in her gown, though it will be a while since I made it in size 2! My challenge to mom....let her wear her dress to do ordinary things like grocery shopping or play dates. Is there anything sweeter than a well dressed child at play? Congratulations-
Next post...Twins!