Seven little looks into my life

Here are seven things I’ve been doing over the last week and a bit:

1. Organising

A couple of friends and I spent a delightful day sorting my pattern stash and sorting  it into 6 big boxes.  I still need two more boxes, one for menswear and one for my printed-out patterns, but it certainly feels tidier!

Organising the pattern stash thedreamstress.com

Of course, as soon as we did this I realised I’d missed an entire box of 1940s patterns!  That’s OK, I can sort them and add in these two latest additions to the stash while I do so.

2. Sewing  

Yes!  Lots of it!  I’ve been demolishing the UFO pile, but I have also been working on a historical project:

18th century sewing thedreamstress.com

I know.  It is not exactly exciting at the moment.  It will get there.

3. Celebrating spring

Iris flowers thedreamstress.com

My bluebells and rock irises are well up, and the full irises are just starting.  I can just tell that my first two tulips are going to be yellow and coral, respectively, but the freesias are still just masses of green buds.  So exciting!

Mr D & I named the first two irises Beth & Cecily, because they are lovely and delicate and won’t be with us for very long, and I have a macabre sense of humour (although I had to tell Mr D we couldn’t name them Rose and Daisy, because that was just weird).

4. Spending time with friends

1880s pound cake thedreamstress.com

A friend made this fabulous  pound cake from her great-grandmother’s 1880s cookbook.  The cake had no leavening agents at all, depending on the  eight eggs in it to rise and be light.

My friend said “The cookbook said I could omit some of the butter and sugar for a lighter cake, but I figure go hard or go home.”

Oh my god.  I love my friends so much!

(the cake, btw, was delicious, especially with lemon curd filling and lemon icing)

5. Doing some reading

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com

I’m currently working my way through ‘Last Curtsey’, Fiona MacCarthey’s account/memoir of the last season of debutantes to make their curtsey to the Queen in 1958.  It’s fascinating, if a little anaemic – I’d hoped for something meatier  from someone who is both a former deb and a respected historical author.

6. Buying fabric and having new experiences

Vintage bird linen thedreamstress.com

I went to an auction this week for only the third time in my life, and bought something at one for the first time!  My other two auctions were a fine art auction  at Southeby’s in New York (they were selling 18th & early 19thc. horse paintings – a genre which I was, and still am, both ignorant and indifferent to, but it’s not often you get the opportunity to go to an auction as Southeby’s, so if you do, you should!), and a car auction.

At this week’s auction I bought a lot of vintage upholstery fabric, specifically for this piece of vintage linen, which makes my heart go pitter-patter, and may get turned into a blind for our lounge.  Sadly I had to leave the auction before the whole bolt of vintage Liberty chintz came up.  Boo.

7. Cuddling Felicity

Felicity the cat thedreamstress.com



  1. Ohhhh–spring bulbs are my favorite! I just ordered a bunch in blue (I have a blue/yellow house) to plant over the next few weeks that will bloom next year. Enjoy your spring!

    • Spring bulbs are my favourite too! They almost make winter worthwhile. Almost… 😉

      You have excellent bulb taste – my spring bulb scheme at the front of the house is all blue and white (with small touches of yellow): bluebells and irises and blue pansies. At the back of the house I’ve gone a bit mad with colour, and my summer flower bulbs are bright, because I really like bright gladioli!

      I’m also planning to add blue hydrangeas and yellow kowhai trees to the plantings at the front of the house, so it will be all well on theme 😀

      • Winter must be disorienting when you are used to northern hemisphere rhythms–even more so if you grew up in a place with no snow!

        If I had an appropriate backyard (and infinite money), I would make a riotous garden, too! Please enjoy it double for me. Pansies have adorable faces on them, and they’re so sweet. I would love a garden in green: hostas, ferns, green hydrangeas…that would be neat. Blue (with bits of white and blue) are nice, too. Where do bulbs in NZ come from? The best ones come from Holland, but wonder how it works when you’re on the southern half of the world…

  2. I picked up Last Curtsey several years ago, and I still read it once a year or so because I think it’s a fascinating view into a life that’s not so far away, and yet so distant.

    • It’s a fascinating moment in time, but I feel the book really skims it. Her big ‘Ah Hah!’ moment is realising that she’s in a world where women are decorative and men make the decisions, and my reaction was ‘Duh’. Mostly it just feels like a loose set of anecdotes and name dropping hurled at the pages. Not terrible, but with a lot of room for improvement!

  3. I have a 19th century cake recipe that has four whole eggs and four yolks in it. But also yeast. (It’s a poppy seed cake I first made for the Historical Food Fortnightly. It’s a lot of work, a lot of eggs and a lot of butter, so I’ve only made it twice so far, but goodness, yes. Totally worth it.)
    Hmm, do I see some fabric dyeing with your sewing project? And it definitely looks brown. 🙂
    (Ouch, I still haven’t finished my Heritage challenge…)

    • I’ve got that blog post bookmarked, and keep meaning to try it – whenever I happen to make something with four egg whites so I have four extra yolks. Which is looking increasingly unlikely now that I have discovered the delicious wonder of aquafaba, which is all the best parts of egg whites without the hassle and the icky egg bit 😀

      No dyeing actually – I am a better dyer than that! That fabric has a secret. But it is brown! 😉

      • If you do try it – the second time around, I did bake it a slightly shorter time, around 45 minutes – I think you mentioned somewhere that you also have a hot air oven? And I think I went the whole starter way with the yeast, used slightly less poppies, added the lemon juice, and it came out perfect.

      • And I tend to use up the whites slowly by ways such as adding them to scrambled eggs. There’s also a super-simple soup recipe my mother taught me that uses eggs where you can just as easily use only the whites… I’ve been meaning to write about that one for ages, maybe I should do it soon.
        This time around, I just cooked them and gave them to our cats, though. 😀

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful week!

    I’ve been…mostly job interviewing and car shopping. The replacement car was purchased; that went well, and the interview went well also (fingers crossed).

  5. Deanna says

    Oh dear! I’m terrible, because I love that you named your irises Beth & Cecily!

    Also, please show more of your pattern stash when you have time! Just one glimpse is too tantalizing. 🙂

  6. Our freesias (apricot and pink) have been out for a week or two now, but they’re in pots and sheltered from the southerly, which may have something to do with it. Tulips sound lovely!
    Also, who is Cecily? I feel I am not getting my full measure of black humour here 🙂

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