Friday, July 31, 2009


homemade ice cream. Three times this week. First night: vanilla with mini chocolate chips. Second night: chocolate with chocolate sprinkles. Third night: strawberry with fresh strawberries. Which leaves us with two more nights at the cabin and "birthday cake" flavor and something else left.

(So when I complain that I gained weight on vacation and I can't run, don't remind me of the ice cream. Let's pretend it never happened...)

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Here is the stack of summer reading books I brought with me. So far I've read the top three:

The Gatecrasher (bought at Target for $11)
Catherine, Called Birdy (from the thrift store)
The Midwife's Apprentice (library book)

I have professed my love of Sophie Kinsella's books, and The Gatecrasher is a book she wrote under the name Madeleine Wickham. It was a good one and I look forward to reading more.

Other books that I brought along are:

Kira-Kira (library book, currently reading)
Out of the Dust (library book, which I put down after several pages)
Sarah, Plain and Tall (library book to read to Spenser)
A Gathering of Days (library book)

Lately my criteria for a book is a juvenile book and a Newberry Honor book. I was quite pleased that our library has a section in the juvenile books for Newberry!

Also read this summer:

Caddie Woodlawn (which every time I think about the name I call it Caddie Woodshack by mistake, maybe because of Caddyshack)
Which brings me to this: What are you reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


my knees.

Last week I did two three dumb things. One, I tripped on our front porch steps carrying a sleeping Spenser. We both ended up on the front porch. On our bellies. I banged up my left knee pretty significantly. I was bloody and had a goose-egg. A week and a half later, I still have a nasty yellowing bruise and itchy scab.

And if I weren't dumb enough, the next night I went running with a friend. I have had lifelong knee problems and they pop quite often (which relieves pain and stiffness). My knee needed to pop and I couldn't get it to pop, but I ran anyway. It was a dumb thing to do. And what made it even more dumb is that I ran on it again Friday morning. My knee is not good.

(Last year we vacationed in this very spot and I had a sore running knee.)

Monday, July 27, 2009


(Boo to our new governor who is closing down the free, educational exhibit center.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blueberry Butter(s)

Last week I picked up my annual order of blueberries. Thirty wonderful pounds of blueberry goodness.

I can stand at the kitchen sink and eat handfuls of blueberries right from the colander. For many minutes. My fingernails (and underneath) are stained blue.

I had planned on making more blueberry jam, but I still have some from last summer. Then a thought occurred to me: Blueberry butter.

I wasn't sure if such a recipe existed. I had bought some cherry butter for Joe for Christmas last year (as he loves cherries). I've also made peach butter, pumpkin butter, and pumpkin-apple butter in the past. I just had the hope that there was a blueberry butter recipe out there somewhere awaiting my discovery.

Lucky for me, I not only found one recipe, but I found two.

The first one (above) was not the kind of blueberry butter I had intended to make, but it did sound yummy. And yummy it is. It's made from softened butter, confectioners sugar and blueberries. It's awesome on bagels.

And the best one of all is this real blueberry butter. Oh. My. Goodness. This is the absolute best. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

I doubled the batch, used 6 cups of apple juice to sweeten it (instead of sugar). When I tasted it, it tasted a little tart, so I added a total of 3 cups of sugar, as opposed to the 7 cups the recipe called for in one batch. And since I doubled it, it took twice as long to cook down. It took almost 24 hours.

However, good things come to those who wait. And it was so good that I immediately started a second double batch. Yeah. It's that good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ruffly Neck Inspiration

Twice last week and yesterday we went to the outlets. (Don't judge me.) Actually, Joe and I went with the children one day when he had an extended holiday weekend. And then I just happened to be close (okay, not really) when I bought my dishes last week, so I went again. And then I had something to return that didn't fit, so my friend and I took the kids and went back yesterday.

When I passed the J Crew store, I couldn't help but fall in love with the window display. I loved the ruffly neck on this shirt. I kept thinking about the shirt. (And thinking about it ... And thinking about it ...) Not that I wanted to buy it, but that I should make something like it.

So, a ruffly dress for Spenser it became.

I used a thrifted sheet from last week's productive thrifting and made a "practice" one. I love it. She loves it. And she looks adorable in it. I just didn't get her photo on Sunday when she wore it to church.

For the ruffle I cut a strip of fabric two inches wide and twice the length of the neck opening. Then I used the rolled hem feature on my serger and went along all sides. (I didn't want raw, fraying edges on the dress.) Then I sewed a basting stitch down the center of the strip (lengthwise), gathered it and attached it to the dress.

I added a sweet pink vintage button with some velvet ribbon. And she's very proud of herself that she can button it all by herself ... while she's wearing it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Rainbow Colors

Spenser loves rainbows. Actually she loves "rainbow colors." To her, any multi-color combinations are "rainbow colors." It doesn't matter if they are the actual colors of the rainbow or pastels. When we bought her new summer sandals, she (not to my surprise) picked rainbow colors (which are pastel pink, blue, green, and yellow).

When I saw these rainbow fat quarters, I knew she'd love them. Since skirts are so easy to whip up (and because she wears skirts all the time), I figured she "needed" a rainbow skirt. Of course she is pleased with her newest skirt.

After 4 1/2 years, I'm still trying to get used to a girl in the house. She is certainly new territory for me. She's quite different than the boys. Rainbow-this and rainbow-that and all those wonderful girly things that she loves have been a real treat in this house of boys. We all adore her. Even her five brothers.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Coveted Patterns

Some times I get a little obsessed. I see a fabric print I like, and I have to have it. And then I'm afraid to use it. (I'm sure you understand.)

A few years ago I found such a vintage sheet and was terrified to cut into it. Once I did, two years later, I almost regretted it. (I have since learned to love the tunic, but I don't wear it as much as I should.)

Anyway, I've been thrifting a lot lately. Some times I find stuff. Some times I do not. This past Monday I was rummaging through some rolled up sheets and found the coveted pattern. I nearly leapt of my skin. It's a flat sheet and much brighter and crisper than my previous one. I almost cried. Almost.

And on the same very trip, I spied this coveted pattern. Steubenville Fairlane, oh how I love thee.

This pattern was one I remember from Mom-Mom's house when I was a child. Every Saturday and Sunday evening we would all go to Mom-Mom's for dinner. Her four daughters and sons-in-law and all of her grandchildren. Every Saturday and Sunday night. For years. Until she got Shingles and then only did it on Sundays for many years until the family grew too large and she was getting older.

These are the dishes I remember. These are the dishes I have always loved.

After she died, we went through her things. I opened a box and the first thing I spied was this pattern. I screamed in delight and dropped a vintage drinking glass, shattering it everywhere (and then I screamed again, but in alarm). Unfortunately the box only had two salad bowls. But at least I had a pattern name for it.

On Monday I found four "berry" bowls and four bread plates in my pattern. For a mere 15 cents each. (Score!) And my renewed interest in Steubenville Fairlane had begun. I googled the pattern and found some locally in an online classified ad. I am now the proud owner of several dinner plates, salad bowls, bread plates, berry bowls, platters, salt and pepper shakers, creamer/sugar, gravy boat, and butter dish. I still have more pieces I need to find. Some had cracks or chips (so I'll have to replace them), but I'm happy to have my base now.

So, what are your coveted patterns? And leave links, if you can.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Red, White & Blue Skirts

These skirts were supposed to be made for Memorial Day, but I didn't remember until it was too late Sunday night. And so I decided I'd make them for the 4th of July. However, in Lera fashion, I forgot again until the evening before. Luckily they didn't take very long.

[Last week I attended a conference with the Maryland Municipal League for town council. While it was very informative, I realized just how much I need to learn. The convention was down at the beach and, from what I've heard, Joe and the kids had a great time. The closest I got to the beach was 1) when I went for a run one morning and thought the boardwalk started on 28th street. It didn't. It started on 27th street, so instead of running around the block, I ran on the sand for that block. And 2) from some little person who got sand in my bed. *This week Taylor is at boy scout camp, so we're down a man.* **Yesterday I went for a run and started to show signs of heat exhaustion as soon as I came home. My stomach instantly cramped up terribly, so I drank a bunch of water and some milk. I'm just happy it didn't happen while I was out running.**]