Showing posts from 2010

New Sweater!

I had the pleasure of test-knitting a sweater pattern for Becky, a very talented knitter and designer whose blog I've followed for the last couple years.  A couple months ago she said she was looking for test knitters for a new design and I thought, hey, I've been wanting to knit another full-sized sweater!  So I volunteered.
This is the fastest, easiest sweater pattern I've ever made!  It took less than 5 days knitting to make up - I never thought I'd make an adult sweater in under a week.  The pattern knit up with no difficulty; it was very easy to follow.

I used KnitPicks' natural, undyed Wool of the Andes worsted weight yarn, dyed to two different shades of blue using Rit dyes, with the contrast left undyed.  It was my first foray into dyes other than Kool-Aid, and went pretty well!  The yarn is slightly thinner than the heavy worsted suggested in the pattern; I went up a size to #10 needles, which produced a slightly looser, more drapey fabric than the heavy wo…


Happy Christmas, everyone!  May you all have a blessed day with family and friends, full of peace and joy!  I'll post about our Christmas later, but for today, here is the text of one of my favourite hymns of the season.

Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendour
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour, All for love's sake becamest poor; Thrones for a manger didst surrender, Sapphire paved courts for stable floor. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour, All for love's sake becamest poor.
Thou who art God beyond all praising, All for love's sake becamest man; Stooping so low, but sinners raising Heav'nward by thine eternal plan. Thou who art God beyond all praising, All for love's sake becamest man.
Thou who art love beyond all telling, Saviour and King, we worship thee. Emmanuel, within us dwelling, Make us what thou wouldst have us be. Thou who art love beyond all telling, Saviour and King, we worship thee. (Frank Houghton)

Sunset on the Lake

Sometimes I'm convinced I live in the most beautiful spot on earth.

The Perfect Tree

Most winters my family travels at Christmas, so we rarely have the chance to decorate a "real" tree.  Our artificial one is nice but certainly nothing like a living, scented pine tree!  This year though we're only going out of town for a few days, after Christmas itself, so we were able to have a live tree.
I haven't hunted Christmas trees since I was, oh, about twelve?  This was so much fun.  Snow covered the tree farm, probably six inches deep on the ground, and more drifted down as we hunted.  This being our family, of course, we had to look at every kind of pine and fir they had - very nearly at every tree.  All five of us had a mental image of the "perfect" tree, and while we agree on some things - it must be as tall as possible, straight, and fairly symmetrical - there were differences of opinion on colour, needle length, fat vs. skinny, and endless other things.  We wandered for at least an hour, while my poor dad got more and more frozen (poor circul…


I know it's not technically winter yet - not by the calender anyway - but the weather certainly has been wintery in the last week or so!  Even in Tennessee at school we've had wind chills in the single digits, and on Sunday even snow flurries.  This was perfect - my church had our Christmas cantata this week and it was so delightful to be singing the Christmas message as snow swirled outside the windows.
But it was COLD, so my roommate and I went home and made a fire.  It wasn't terribly successful and it didn't last long, but it was beautiful while it lasted. I am endlessly fascinated by fire.  The colours in it - not only orange and yellow, but the blues and reds, even purple, which appear in the hottest parts of the fire.  The way the flames jump and flicker.  The incredible heat which just a few logs put out. Finals ended this past Wednesday for me, but I didn't get a break; I had a ball gown to make!  A friend of mine from college is dating a boy who does Civil W…

Grad school and a Question Meme

Does it ever happen to some of you that you're working on a major project, and you're convinced you are completely organized and on schedule, and completely on top of things?  And then it comes down to the deadline and you realise you've missed something major?

Yeah.  That happened to me with grad school applications.  I started the online application part back in October, over fall break.  I asked professors if they'd be willing to write recommendation letters.  I put together my repertoire for audition CDs.  I even got my recordings done.

And then it got to Monday and I realised that, while I had asked all my professors, I hadn't actually given them the forms and instructions for the recommendations.  And oh, by the way, the deadline is NEXT Wednesday, not the one after that.  And oh yeah, Thanksgiving is this weekend and no one will be working.

I sort of panicked.  No, I completely panicked.  I also had my first major emotional meltdown of the semester (which is…


I've been away again for a little while, and here's why:

All the choirs here have a uniform: the men in tuxedos, the women in black dresses and pearls.  I've always done a few alterations or hems, here and there, but this year apparently the music secretary started recommending me to the freshmen, so I had several requests for dress alterations.  I'm always happy to do it; it doesn't take me a lot of time, I can charge a modest fee which provides pocket money or (this year) spending money for choir tour to Italy, and it's so much less than a "professional" alterations shop would charge that the girls are always happy.

I also make the pearl necklaces.  This started back in my sophomore year when I had a jewelry business with two friends.  They have since moved on and we no longer have the business, but I still make the pearls.  This year, we needed 35... and my supplies didn't come in until last Friday afternoon, with the concert last night, and a …

Apple Butter

It's a beautiful afternoon!  And by beautiful I mean mid-seventies, still, grey, and rainy.  Thunder rumbles far off in the distance and I've seen the occasional faint flash of lightning.  I'm holding out hope for an honest-to-goodness thunderstorm; autumn storms are a delight to my heart.  I love how even when the sky is clouded over, the trees stand out bright and cheerful in their changing colours.  Some people may deplore the rain, but I love it!
I've spent the afternoon studying for a psychology test.  I think I might find this class interesting if I had a better teacher: as it is, the class is boring, and most of the material seems to be either just giving names to common-sense ideas, or complete nonsense.  Needless to say I don't find it very inspiring.  So I took a study break and hung some posters in my bedroom!  It's always been homey but now it looks... settled.  I'm happy with it :)
In honour of the autumnal weather, I thought I'd post my reci…

Fried Chicken

My roommate and I tried a new dish for both of us tonight - fried chicken!  It was actually surprisingly easy, and it turned out SO well.  We used the recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, although we used chicken tenders instead of a cut-up fryer.  We also sort of missed the step about soaking the chicken in buttermilk overnight, but it worked just fine with only a half-hour soak.  The breading is delightful and it really wasn't a very greasy finished product.  Yum!

This is the rest of our meal.  We made oven fries (new potatoes, quartered, sprinkled with Italian seasoning and parmesan cheese, drizzled with olive oil, and baked brown), asparagus, and fruit salad.  It was utterly delicious.  And quick - less than an hour and a half from the beginning of cooking till the time we sat down.  I love how we've been able to eat so well this year, but at such a low cost - much less expensive than eating in the school cafeteria or dining out all the time!  And we get the benefit of fres…


I went to Hobby Lobby today for some jewelry supplies (I make the "pearl" necklaces for all the girls in the choirs here at school, and it's coming up on time for a new batch.)  But of course, since this is me, I had to go and look at the yarn and fabric before I left.  I wasn't going to buy... just to look.


I should know by now that if I don't intend to buy, I should. Not. Look.  I came away from Hobby Lobby with my jewelry hardware... and eleven balls of yarn.  Eeep.

I justify this purchase to myself by saying, well it was wool.  It was $1.90 a skein.  How often are you going to find a nice, soft, dove-grey wool in that quantity for that price?  It really is a fabulous price.  I'm going to make myself a sweater, I think - and I promised the friend who was with me that I'd make her mittens with red accents.

Still, though.  I've been trying to stay away from impulse buys, since my budget is tight and I'm trying to learn to even have a budge…

Odds and Ends

I've been quiet for a long time again - almost a month.  Mainly I've been trying to keep up with school and performances, but I've also been working on graduate school applications.  It's hard to believe it's time to do that already!  Sometimes it feels like I just started college, and here I am almost ready to graduate.  It's weird.
I also took three CLEP tests this month - English Literature, Western Civilization II, and Biology.  Since I added my English minor so late I had to clep some core classes to fit everything in on time, but I'm actually really glad I did this.  It took very little time and much less money than taking the courses at Union would have.  I got 10 hours of credit with probably only about 10 hours of study time, and the cost was a fraction of what I would have paid.  And now I can tell people that I'm getting 28 hours of credit in one semester! ;-P
I've also been cooking, and slogging away (slowly) on my quilt, and I made a pair…

Happiness, and God in the Details

Happiness is having a safe, secure, affordable place to live.
Happiness is fresh baked bread... delicious soup... experimental (and misshapen!) bagels.
Happiness is a roommate who puts up with you, even when you're making disgusting sounds because you have a sinus infection.
Happiness is the glorious weather that comes after a break in the summer heat.
Happiness is sitting in a comfortable armchair, surrounded by books and music, with a cool breeze from the window that occasionally blows your papers all over the room.
Happiness is meeting new people with whom, after spending only three hours in their company, you feel comfortable, relaxed, and welcomed, and with whom you have laughed inordinately for the entire time.
Happiness is waking up early to go to the farmers' market.
Happiness is the straw hat full of new potatoes, yellow squash, and green tomatoes that's sitting on your counter because you didn't have a basket to put them in!
It's already been a long semester and …


There are two events in the music department that I've been looking forward to all semester.  One is the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singer) vocal competition.  The other is the performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony, for which we're collaborating with the local symphony orchestra and several university choirs.

These events take place on the same day.

This wasn't supposed to be a conflict; NATS has two rounds, the initial and then the finals, which take place in the morning and throughout the afternoon; the concert is not until 8 PM.  No problem, right?

Well.  Apparently the dress rehearsal for this concert is Saturday afternoon at 4.  Which is the approximate time of the final round of NATS.  Which I certainly hope to be performing in, since it's from the contestants in the finals round that they choose the winners.  The problem is, the director of the symphony orchestra has decided that any singers who miss the dress rehearsal - for whatever reason…

I'm Terrible at Titles

Um.  Did I mention I'm not very good at blogging during the school year?  Well... yeah.  It's a definite failing in my character.  Or something.

At any rate, I've been keeping exceedingly busy already.  It's full steam ahead on my senior recital music (which doubles as grad school audition music, and competition repertoire...)  I've got 18 credit hours again this semester, which is probably crazy - but I'm always crazy.  I don't know how to attempt a *reasonable* amount of work, I think!

Most of all, I'm up to my ears in grad school research.  I started out with a list of about 12 schools - which expanded to 15 - and I'm trying to whittle it down to about 3 or 4 at which I'll actually apply and audition.  I've spent countless hours already going through their websites, jotting down notes on their course of study, price of tuition, cost of living, availability of scholarships, etc.  It's a lot of information even about one school, and whe…

Settling In

I've been living in my new apartment two weeks now, and it's beginning to feel like home.  Aubrey and I finally got our living room furniture arranged - the first week, it was just all dumped anyhow, as we were still waiting on a few items from her parents' house - but now we have chairs and television placed, decorations hung, blankets draped on chairs.  I love how the apartment has come together; it is what my roommate's family likes to call "Early American Attic" - that is to say, mismatched, in a variety of styles and periods - but it all works together well enough.  And more importantly, it's comfortable.  We have big squashy armchairs, useful tables, lamps.  Nothing too fussy; nothing difficult to clean; nothing really unnecessary.

I took all these photos in the evening, so you don't see the incredible sunlight we get from that huge window in the mornings; I'll have to take a morning photo someday.  It's wonderful.
The kitchen is small, bu…

A "God Thing"

Well, here I am in Tennessee again, all moved into my new apartment!  I love it; the location could hardly be more ideal - as close to campus as you can get without being on campus; fairly secluded; east-facing, so we get all the gorgeous morning sunlight and none of the heat of the afternoon.  I'm still revelling in the space; we have a living room!  A dining area!  A kitchen with enough cabinets!  My room holds my extra-long twin bed, a bookshelf, and a recliner with no trouble at all and has room for a desk when I find one.  I have my own bathroom, for that matter!  And a walk-in closet!

More than that, I have a delightful roommate who shares my love of vegetables, Jane Austen, and good tea; who cooks and organizes and decorates and thinks much the same way I do.  Our mothers like each other, too :)  I think this is going to be a good year!

We loaded up the car last Wednesday and drove down Thursday (and I was convinced that I had forgotten something major, because even with my…

Be Careful How You Walk

...or rather, where you trip...

We ate Sunday dinner out on the deck today, as usual on lovely days, and we'd gotten to the dessert stage - peach-blueberry cobbler, fresh out of the oven.  I realised we'd left the whipped cream inside and jumped up to get it.  Going a little more quickly than usual up the stairs and through the door, I caught my foot on the sill - the runner of the screen door.

Caught it a little harder than I'd realised, because when I stopped hopping up and down and gasping in pain long enough to look at my foot, I found I had a gash in my second toe and was bleeding freely on the tile floor of the hall.  I'll spare you the gory details, but I'm fairly sure my toenail is at least partially detached - the end with the quick, not the "dead" end.  Lovely.

So I have spent the afternoon in a considerable amount of pain, with my toe first being iced and then bandaged, and elevated as much as possible.  I'm already tired of sitting in one…

Traveling by Train

This past weekend I went to Memphis for the wedding of two sweet friends from college.  Jordan has been my saviour in music theory, tutoring me through a couple of tough semesters when he really was the only thing between me and failing.  Shelby has been a dear friend for a couple of years, especially last year when she and her sister - and her roommate! - transfered to Union after their school hit financial difficulties.  I was able to be "behind the scenes" when Jordan finally proposed, and the piece I was part of a quartet to sing at the wedding was one that he wrote and I helped sing for the proposal last fall.  (I made cheesecake for the proposal dinner, too.)  It was an honour to be asked to sing at the wedding as well!
I took the train because it was cheaper than flying, and that way no one had to drive to Nashville to pick me up.  It was fun!  Plus, I didn't have to deal with strict baggage restrictions, security checks, or getting to the station two hours early.

The Birthday Frock

The weather finally cooperated with my schedule and we had a lovely sunny, breezy afternoon just perfect for taking photographs of new frocks!  Usually my dad does my "photo shoots" but my little sister volunteered today and we had a lovely time.  We went down by the lake across the street, plowing through the underbrush which has grown over the path - with a bicycle, which was no mean feat! - waded in the water, tried not to step on thistles in our bare feet, and had a lovely time.  I came back a bit scratched and mosquito-bitten, but no serious damage was done.  And many thanks to Katie for the photos!  Plus the sister-bonding time - that's always good too :-)

Anyway, the dress!  I'm calling this the "birthday frock" because I did the majority of the sewing on my birthday this past Wednesday.  I cut it out the day before and finished it up the day after, so it was a pretty quick project for me.

The pattern is Butterick 5033, a reprint (I believe) of a 1952 …

Postponed on Account of the Weather

I did finish my new dress on Thursday, but I am unable to give you any photos yet.  Why?  Well, it has rained more or less non-stop since I finished it.  And not just any rain - we've had whiz-bang thunderstorms and deluges of epic proportions, as well as the more moderate drenching rains which are so good for my garden, but so very bad for photo shoots.

My garden is loving it, though.  I brought in my first zucchini this week - it weighed in at 2 lbs 14 oz!  And there's another nearly as big waiting to be picked.  I've no idea what to do with zucchini though, apart from bread, so if anyone has favourite recipes I'd be more than grateful!

The tomatoes are setting up fast, too.  A few days of sun and I'll be inundated, I suspect.  I just hope they decide to ripen before I go back to college in three weeks!

I have a lot of sewing to do this week.  Thursday afternoon I leave for the wedding of two dear friends, taking place in Memphis.  I'm taking the train, which…

Little Things

Sometimes it's the little, everyday things in life that make an impact... that stick with you and define a period of time.  This summer, I've been photographing them when I can - I'm a "visual learner" and I like picture memories!  Today I thought I'd share some of these with you... the little things of this summer that have made me happy :-)

My very dearest friend from college and her boyfriend (also a close friend of mine) came to see me!  I haven't seen either of them since May so this was a lovely day.  They're also the first of my friends from college to actually make it out to my house - living 700 miles from school has its drawbacks.  I loved spending the afternoon with them :-)
I made bread last week.  At least I tried.  I did something wrong, or the weather affected the yeast somehow; and then it fell before I could get it in the oven.  So it came out looking more like bricks.

But Daddy took my photo shoot as an opportunity to be silly - so I go…


After this week, I have a whole new respect for housekeepers.  Not people hired to keep other folks' houses - no, the women who cook, clean, wash, and care for everyone and everything in their own houses.
My mother's been gone this week -- at a teaching conference which she attends almost every year and which is her relaxation and vacation for the year.  She went by train, this year, and since the conference is in Dallas this time around it's a two-day trip, each way.  She left Tuesday, early, and won't be back until Sunday evening.
This leaves me, as the eldest girl, in charge of the household.  I figured it would be pretty easy.  Cook dinner a couple nights a week - the kids each have a cooking night, so that would be easy.  Breakfast is a piece of cake - scrambled eggs and toast aren't exactly difficult to prepare.  The laundry needs keeping up with, but what's a load or two of laundry every day?
I am disillusioned.  It has been only three days, and already I a…

The Currant Price

One of my favourite passages in Little Women is the chapter when Meg tries to make currant jelly.

          In the kitchen reigned confusion and despair; one edition of jelly was trickled from pot to pot, another lay upon the floor, and a third was burning gaily on the stove.  Lotty, with Teutonic phlegm, was calmly eating bread and currant wine, for the jelly was still in a hopelessly liquid state, while Mrs. Brooke, with her apron over her head, sat sobbing dismally.             "My dearest girl, what is the matter?" cried John, rushing in, with awful visions of scalded hands, sudden news of affliction, and secret consternation at the thought of the guest in the garden.... "What worries you, dear?  Has anything dreadful happened?" asked the anxious John, tenderly kissing the crown of the little cap, which was all askew.           "Yes," sobbed Meg despairingly.           "Tell me quick, then.  Don't cry, I can bear anything better than that.  Out …