fly away

There's a scene at the end of the pilot episode of the new ABC show Pan Am with a little girl watching the stewardesses walking down the runway and boarding the plane. One turns back and catches the little girl's eye and makes her smile. I was that little girl. The thought of being an airline stewardess (and no, they were not called flight attendants back then) seemed exciting and romantic, a way to travel the world, have adventures, do and see exciting things.

My stylish grandmother flew on Pan Am from Tulsa to visit us in New York. Dressed to the nines, of course, because this was the early 1960s and people dressed up to go just about anywhere including airplanes. We would drive to the airport, JFK or La Guardia, to pick her up, and had plenty of time for people-watching while we waited. That exact scene probably happened to me at least once.

I even remember reading Coffee, Tea or Me?: The Uninhibited Adventures of Two Airline Stewardesses by Trudy Baker and Rachel Jones, borrowed from my mother's bookshelf and read in secret because it was pretty racy for a 12-year-old—they weren't kidding when they used uninhibited in the title :)

By the time I was old enough to seriously be thinking about careers, airline stewardess was pretty far down on the list. I realized that the job was basically a waitress in an airplane and the restrictions (weight, proper attire, etc.) were brutal. I didn't have the body or the personality.

Watching the show the other night brought back some of these memories. Any show that models itself on the Mad Men formula will be compared to it and come up short; it may take place in the same era but it doesn't quite have the sly humor that Mad Men does. I liked it anyway and will give it a chance while I'm waiting for Mad Men's return in January.

Pan Am, ABC, Sundays at 10pm


this could be dangerous

You might ask where I've been all this time, but I've just discovered treasuries on Etsy. I mean, I knew what they were and I've looked at some and even been featured on a few. But I never made one myself. It's incredibly addicting!

etsy treasury

In case you don't know how it works, you curate a collection of Etsy items based on a theme of your choosing (the one shown above was the color apple green), arrange the photos nicely, publish it, and wait for comments—most of which will be from the artists you featured thanking you for featuring them. I've done four in the last two days. It's the kind of thing that once you start it's hard to stop.

You really get a feel for what's out there in the craft community after spending an hour weeding the gorgeous handmade things from the um, not-so-gorgeous, assembled-rather-than-crafted stuff. Let me just say that there's an incredible amount of the gorgeous. And a great photo goes a long way, too.

You can see my treasuries here. And I have about twenty ideas for more. I'm never going to get any work done :)


soup's on

You know it's fall when your thoughts turn to soup when planning dinner. It's been very cold here—38 degrees yesterday morning—so soup sounded like the perfect thing to warm us up.

One of my favorite go-to soups is this white bean one from The Silver Palate Cookbook. It involves some chopping of ingredients but isn't too time-consuming if you substitute canned beans for the dried. I'm usually not a big fan of canned veggies, but beans (and tomatoes, for that matter) are nearly as good as fresh. And, around here, all you're going to find in the winter.

White Bean and Sausage Soup with Red Peppers

4 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
6 parsley sprigs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
1-1⁄4 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight (or 2 cans white beans)
2 sweet red peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1⁄2 pound hot Italian sausage, precooked
salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a pot. Add onions, carrots, and garlic and cook, covered, over low heat until vegetables are tender and lightly colored, about 25 minutes.

Add parsley, thyme, and bay leaf and pour in the stock. Drain the beans and stir them into the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until beans are very tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (If you're using canned beans, you just need to heat them up for about 15 minutes. And I usually add the liquid from the can, too.)

Pour the soup through a strainer, reserving the stock. Discard the bay leaf and transfer the solids to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, or use a food mill fitted with a medium disk. Add 1 cup of the cooking stock if using the processor and process until smooth.
Return pureed soup to the pot and stir in additional cooking liquid, 2 to 3 cups, until the soup is of desired consistency. (I'm not as fussy as this. I blend it all together in the food processor—in batches—the consistency is fine.)

Cut away stems and ribs of the peppers and dice them. Heat olive oil in a small skillet, add peppers and saute over low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender but still crunchy, about 15 minutes. Transfer peppers to the soup with a slotted spoon.

Dice the cooked sausage, and add it to the soup. Set over medium heat and cook, partially covered, until heated through, about 15 minutes. Season to taste and serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Serve it with a crusty baguette. Leftovers, if you have any, reheat really well for lunch the next day. I think you could easily make this a vegetarian dish by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken, and leaving out the sausage. The sausage adds a nice bit of spiciness but it's plenty flavorful without it.

For dessert I tried Ina Garten's Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp recipe with a combination of apples—a few leftovers from a recent trip to the farmer's market and a few from our trees. I agree with some of the commenters that it turned out a bit too wet so, next time, I may add a bit of flour to the filling or cut down on the juice. The flavor was wonderful so the recipe is definitely a keeper.

Now it's time to dig out some of my winter sweaters. If it doesn't warm up today I'm going to need them :)


local find

Although I haven't had very good luck this summer with flea markets, I am still finding great stuff on Ebay and in local shops. Like this cute little table/shelf—not sure what to call it—that I found for $28 at an antique store in Milford, Pennsylvania.

vintage painted shelf

It has shelves but it also has handles on top like a bed tray. It came with a simple coat of white and I'm using the leftover paint from my armoire repainting project earlier this year—a light green, a little yellowish but definitely not minty—what's called celery green, I think. It was the perfect color for the armoire as it picked up one of the secondary colors in the vintage fabric I used in the room. But, it also happens to pick up one of the stripe colors in the upstairs hallway runner. So, I'm going to use the piece right outside the bathroom to hold towels. The bathroom itself is too small to hold anything; it barely holds one person at a time :)

vintage painted shelf

The color thing is a little interior design trick. Bring a secondary color from one room into the next room, even if the primary colors are very different, and everything flows together. Not in a formal decorated way but in a casual, unstudied way. For example, one of our bedrooms is mostly turquoise and lavender with the green armoire. That same green, picked up again in the hallway rug (and now in my new table), ties together the two spaces, even though the hallway is painted yellow. The room next door is painted a deep red called henna and it all works because of the striped rug that contains all those colors. I just bought a new shower curtain for the bathroom that also opens into this hallway and it has some yellow among the other colors. So, even though the walls are painted a light blue (called sea glass), the yellow picks up the yellow from the hallway. Easy peasy. And you thought you couldn't decorate without professional help!


and they called it puppy love...

Little Rascal
Who doesn't love puppies, or any small animals for that matter? I especially love the cute embroidered kind that you find on vintage linens. Actually, all of these began as stamped-for-embroidery projects. I'm happy to create pillows from already embroidered linens but it's so much easier to be able to chose thread colors to coordinate with fabrics you love!

button closeup
I've used primary colors for the first pillow and strategically-placed a few tiny buttons within the embroidery—one on his beanie, and two on his overalls. It's really hard to find very tiny buttons—I got these at Joann Fabrics.

Give the Dog a Bone
The second pillow uses a dog bone and paw print fabric and two bright orange vintage buttons. Both of these pillows are just listed for sale on my website.
embroidery closeup
I have tons more stamped embroidery blocks to work up and will probably make finishing them a winter project. Some are truly funny—think pigs with footballs, basketball-playing chipmunks, bowling dogs. Those are going to make fun pillows!