lemons into lemonade, or new life for an old shirt

i had this shirt that i really liked. it wasn't the world's greatest shirt - it was an h&m shirt i got at a swap, actually - but the fit was pretty good, the collar was just right, and i loved the sleeves and cuffs.

then it went into the laundry with something red.

so, i tore it apart at the seams, and used it to make a pattern.

pretty straightforward, really. i just pinned it directly to the fabric and used it as a pattern. i also took the opportunity to drop the dart an inch or so, by slashing the "pattern" and spacing it out. i did the same to the back, for consistency.

it took some futzing, because one of the fabrics i was cutting was exceedlingly narrow - i think it shrank more than the others during the prewash phase. which, of course, makes me extra-glad i always prewash stuff that will go in the laundry, and dry it on the "hot as hell" setting, so if it wanted to do any shrinking, hopefully it will have gotten that out of its system before the cutting & sewing begins.

and can i say how much i love my scissors, which cut easily through 8 layers of fabric? after the misery of figuring out how to lay out the pattern pieces, it's nice to just cut once and have four shirts ready to sew, as opposed to going through the whole laying out and cutting process four times. it still took most of the afternoon.

go scissors.

i actually have more fabric somewhere that was bought with shirt-making in mind, but couldn't find it in the stash of doom! sigh.

plan is to make a proper pattern out of the pieces before i sew them all up. pretty sure i have enough "random" fabric (i.e. weird polyester broadcloth hand-me-down stuff from an older relative who down-sized) to make it out of fabric, which is so much nicer for laying out and cutting. then, i can make as many of "the perfect shirt" as i want.

here's a slightly better look at the fabrics: the stripe is one that's been in the stash for literally years, and the prints i bought on sale last month at len's mill.

the "glasses" is my favourite, but also the one that shrunk the most. and the one that required careful pattern-matching. hope i did ok.


sushi for dinner!

just because the kiddo asked for it. hadn't made it in years, and it may be a few more years before i try it again! used the instructions from make my sushi, which i found easy to follow. next time i will use a bit less rice for the cucumber rolls, and a bit more for the inside-out california rolls. they were mighty tricky.

and, i will make less rice. i started with 2 cups of rice, and it was way too much for our family of three! this is why i was wondering about freezing sticky rice earlier. turns out, you can.

school lunches

it's that time of the year again.

the last time i had to pack lunches every day (jk), i kept a spreadsheet so i could track lunchbox contents - what worked? what didn't? what was overdone, and what had we forgotten about that we might try again?

my childless friends laughed; my parent friends thought it was an excellent idea.

things will likely have changed since jk. things previously deemed too messy (yogurt, dip) might be manageable now. hummus would be great if he'll eat it.

but, will he?

anyway, here are my thoughts so far. some things (e.g. leftover bbq corn on the cob) are even ready to go in the freezer. i'm thinking i should have a designated basket for harry lunch stuff in the freezer, as sometimes i put things in there and can't find them again for months.

can you freeze rice balls?


  • wowbutter sushi
  • french toast (i always make an extra slice for the lunch box; i make it with more egg than milk so it's more healthy than it seems)
  • pizza (we have homemade pizza every monday)
  • cheesey macaroni (make with egg & bake in mini muffin tin or shallow dish to cut into squares)
  • boiled egg
  • cheese & crackers (e.g. vache qui rit, mini babybel)
  • ham sandwich
  • cheese sandwich
  • taco rolls (tortilla, ground beef, cheese, mild salsa)
  • zucchini tots


  • apple (sliced & sprinkled with cinnamon!)
  • banana
  • blueberries
  • grapes
  • pear (sliced with cinnamon)
  • orange (cut in pieces)
  • watermelon


  • cucumber
  • broccoli
  • peas
  • carrots
  • celery
  • avocado
  • cherry tomato
  • corn on the cob


  • cookie
  • popcorn
  • brownies (made with beets or black beans)
  • chips
  • cheddar bunnies
  • sesame snap
  • pumpkin pie (was thinking could make in a square tin so it would pack better?)


glace cherries!

my poor photography skills fail to do their jewel-like gorgousness justice. but boy do they look lovely.


my summer vacation day seven: the shortbread that nobody wanted but me

the day of reckoning: ribbons, rewards, and regrets.

i was most disappointed to see that my brownies got nothing - even though the kiddo took one bite and said "this is magnificent!" and nor did my shortbread. worse still, there were three entries for shortbread, and no one got third. the ribbons awarded were first, second, and nothing for me. boo hoo! that was my mother's recipe, and it is frankly the best shortbread ever (scroll down for recipe). ah well.

i did get a total of sixteen ribbons though - mostly firsts - so i ought not complain!

non-prize-winning shortbread

1/2 cup soft butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour

cream together butter and sugar. beat till light and fluffy.

fold in flour. work into a log about 1 1/2" in diameter, wrap in waxed paper, and chill until firm.

cut in 3/8" slices, place on lightly greased cookie tray. bake 10 or 12 minutes at 325 f.

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


my summer vacation day six: gin & f scott fitzgerald

our last full day on the lake! too soon, too soon. so, the goal was to spend as much time on the water as possible.

so, no sewing, no knitting, almost no cooking - just cucumber sandwiches, gin & lemonade, fresh peaches and cherries, and reading on the dock.

i re-read the great gatsby a few weeks ago, after realising (when the latest film version came out) how long it had been since i read the book, and how little i remembered. and i enjoyed it so much, that when i saw a copy of tender is the night while at a bookstore, i decided to read that, too. it's so much more personal than gatsby, much more looking inward than outward, much more broken.

all of which makes the sad tale of the introduction feel like a punch in the gut: that fitzgerald slaved and worried over this book for years and his response to the poor critical and commercial reception it received. it's like putting all your effort into making amends and trying to win back the heart of someone who know longer loves you with the greatest most dangerous act you can imagine, and receiving only the dull response of "huh, i don't get it."

i suppose that's just the way it goes, sometimes.

also, i got a sunburn.

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


my summer vacation day five: fair entry day!

well, i did not finish my embroidery. but i did manage to get some extra baking done, brownies and shortbread, and got everything dropped off. eighteen entries total! there was a moment of drama as my pillowcase with lace trim disappeared without being duly checked off the list - being white-on-white, it got mixed up with the sleep pants - but soon the mystery was sorted out.

this was my day of real relaxation - no cooking save breakfast! we ate our meals in town, and the fair kept us entertained so once we got ourselves out of the cottage, i didn't have to organize anything. yahoo!

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


my summer vacation day four: corn on the cob on the fire

back to gorgeous weather, hooray! another great day for outdoor cookery.

tonight's dinner featured farm-fresh corn on the cob, green beans, and sausages - just free-run pork seasoned with salt and pepper. to cook a thick sausage on an open fire can be a bit tricky, but they were just perfect due to constant tending and frequent turning. i set myself up with a little chair, the new york times sunday crossword, and a gin and tonic, and didn't take my eyes off them.

i felt very "60s housewife," cooking with a cocktail in lime-green checked pedal-pushers.

our basic recipe for corn on the cob is to simply take off the outer dry husks, but for the inner soft husks, peel back while leaving them attached. then, brush the kernels all over with olive oil, and smooth the husks back around the kernels, tying in place with a strip of the husk that was removed. this keeps the corn moist as it cooks, but when the husks start to unravel and burn away a bit during cooking, you get a few nice golden spots on the corn, too.

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


my summer vacation day three: not in kansas anymore?

excitement in the air today - a tornado warning! they even mentioned little fenelon falls by name on the radio, as a place likely to be hard hit by the storm. luckily all we had was rain, but i was still glad i'd planned roast chicken with mashed potatoes for dinner - definitely rainy-day food.

i even made stuffing, with the last of a loaf of Mennonite wood-fire-baked whole wheat bread, organic garlic, and sage from the kitchen garden. the potatoes and beets came from farm stalls, too. it is such a treat to have so much plentiful local food!

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


my summer vacation day two: fish on the fire

lots of driving today unfortunately - it was time for the kiddo's cousin to head out, which meant a drive to the train station over an hour away.

the good news about that was that it gave me my only alone time of the week - in highway traffic for the most part, but i did get a moment to myself to do some speed-shopping at the little antique shops on fenelon's main street. my find? an awesome drinks caddy, very dorothy thorpe (although i've no idea if it's authentic at all), straight out of mad men, and a perfect match to my punch bowl. four highballs, four coasters, only $25! i call that a steal.

then home for dinner, and since i knew i'd be home late, we had something quick: fish. lovely rainbow trout and corn on the cob - all cooked on an open fire - with a bit of green salad. yum.

i tried a little trick with the fish, and it worked out quite well. i was concerned about the fish sticking to the grill, but I also wanted the skin to be crispy. what i did was this: first brushed a sheet of aluminum foil with olive oil, and then placed the fish on it, skin side up. i cooked it over the fire that way for a few minutes, brushing the skin with a bit more olive oil. then, i lifted up the foil, flipping the fish skin side down directly on the grill, and continued cooking till done. it was delicious! cooked perfectly, nothing stuck to the grill, and lovely crispy skin.

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


my summer vacation day one: embroidery

fair entries are due in on friday, and i've got a few ready to go but a few last things i need to finish (mainly buttons) and a few i need to start (mainly baking).

one of the "to be started" items is embroidered tea towels. well, even just one.

i did start a bit before leaving the town. which is to say, i pre-shrunk the fabric, cut it to size, and hemmed the ends. but, no actual embroidery.

in fact, i hadn't even really decided what i wanted to do.

i was thinking dandilion clocks, but there's the issue of grey-on-white not being easy to see, and the leaves standing out more than anything.

then i thought of trillums, which also grow around the cottage, and which i could arrange so that green leaves serve as backdrop for white petals. but a truly pleasing arrangement didn't present itself.

then i thought, maybe something borrowed from the cottage curtains fabric, but that seemed a bit too desperately matchy-matchy.

but - looking at the fabric - maybe just oak leaves?

then i stumbled across a book called an introduction to nature: birds, wildflowers, trees and had a flip through, and found a nice illustration to start from.

now i'm thinking, the other three tea towels could maybe be other trees that grow around the cottage - maple, sumac, butternut!

n.b. these summer vacation posts are one week delayed as the cottage is delightfully free of electronics!


one more item ready for the fair!

well, almost - i still have to sew on the buttons. they're in the pocket with a spool of thread. i'll sew them on at the cottage.

added bonus: these are the kiddo's xmas pyjamas! yay for getting started on the xmas gifts!