Tuesday, December 27, 2016

moving right along...

Christmas has passed, the New Year hasn't arrived yet, and Chanukah is on night #4 -- New Year's Eve will be the last night.  I can't remember when there has been such a perfect confluence of holiday dates.


I'm in Florida and I spotted a menorah in the kitchen cabinet.  But it appears to be child-sized-- which mystifies me, since no children ever lived here. I wasn't even sure the candles would fit, but they do -- and the wax drips all over the counter in little blobs.   
 
I thought the $6.99 candles would burn much longer than the $1.99 candles, but I was wrong. Oh well.

In the meantime, lest you think I have been idle, my guest room has turned into my sewing room. It is just as messy as the one at home, but it didn't take as long to get this way.  I will show you the neat parts:



And no, I haven't cut into that African fabric yet. Maybe in January.

Ok, the candles have burned out, so I can go to bed.  Last night I was so tired I went to bed at 8:30 and woke up well rested -- three hours later.  Good grief! I had to stay up for a few hours so I could go back to sleep. (what is wrong with this picture?)

Hope you are having some sort of vacation this week. I am off to bed - it is now a civilized enough hour for that. xo

Friday, December 23, 2016

Where did the time go??

Ha - it went away.  Have spent most of the last few weeks in my guest room - now temporary sewing room - playing around with some ideas.   Some worked out; others, not at all.  And the one that I should have cut up before I quilted it is sitting on my wall, looking sad.    I can't even show it to you -- it is too embarrassing.

When I left my sewing room, it was for the supermarket or to Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy a vacuum.  My mother's old one from the 1970's is great -- except that the retractable cord retracts every time I take a step, so I can only vacuum in one spot.    So, after having read every vacuum review on the Internet, I decided on this one.  It has been lying on the floor for 3 days because I haven't got time to put it together.  I got as far as following the first instruction.

  •   Lay the machine on its back.
The next step requires me to get down on the floor, from which I will never get up.  Phil, my partner and engineer, will not be back until the end of January. So here I am, back in the sewing room, which has a floor that looks like this (and this is not even the worst part).
It is raining.  I have beenup since 4:am.  It is now 6:45 and my NY Times has not
yet arrived - grrrrrr).   There is only one cure for this before I get on with my day.
Happy Holidays, everyone!

 

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Help! I am a prisoner in my sewing room!


This is not exactly a complaint, you understand.  I have lost no time in making my Florida guest room into a mess.  There wasn't enough horizontal space, and there is barely any storage space. The bookcases are now almost devoid of books and have been replaced by piles of - ha - fabric.  I had to buy a folding table, 24" x 48" - and I bought one that lowers so I can actually sew on it without getting a crick in my neck.

I am using up leftover bits from another quilt and was trying to make something modern and restrained - but it wants to be something playful, so I guess I have to go with it.

Honestly, it never pays to have an idea of what you want because you are only disappointed when the piece sticks out its tongue and says "nyah nyah, you can't do that. You are doing it MY way!"  

I've been waking up at pre-dawn hours, so I'm trying to stay up a little later tonight. Maybe I can sleep till a civilized hour and work on that silly piece tomorrow.

On another note, my African batik arrived a day or two ago and I hope to live long enough to use it. Here are two sections of it.  I think the turquoise is a mistake, but it is at intervals so it might be intentional.  In any case, I love the effect.



So that's my story for today. Stay tuned. If I don't have anything interesting to say I will try to invent something for the next blog post.

 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Apologies - or explanations.

Thank you, dear readers, for having checked to see if I was ok.  True, I have not posted since I came back from Switzerland.  Short of time, I have been doing quickies on FaceBook and Instagram but there is really no content with those posts. I was home for a week between Switzerland and Paris; time to unpack, do laundry, and repack.

I have tried several times to post from my iPad, but since Blogger discontinued its app, it is impossible to post and edit properly.  So - since I have my computer with me, I have finally made some time (mid afternoon??) for a blogging break.

In the meantime, a bit of backtracking.  My class in Geneva was terrific - and I taught and lectured in French, which was very cool.  One  of the exercises I gave them was to use black, white, and one color to make a piece.  Here are some of the results.





My life has been hectic and my week in Paris was book-ended by funerals.  My visit to Paris was a belated condolence call to my cousin. I enjoyed spending the week with her and seeing the rest of my extended family.  Paris was chilly and gray for the most part, but we did go fabric shopping. Since I was in Africa last year, I have been collecting a variety of African fabrics -- and there are plenty in Paris. Have I used them yet? Of course not.

We also spent one day in the Marais - my most beloved neighborhood in the whole city.  It, too, was filled with color and pattern.
Le Marais is filled with wonderful shops, but this one stopped me cold.

I could have bought everything in the store.
 




 
But because I had only one little suitcase and one little budget, I came home with this one. 


Since I got home, I have been juggling and I have now juggled my way to West Palm Beach for the winter.  I have brought my entire stash and my old Bernina, in case I want to quilt something while I am here.  Today, I received a yummy piece of African batik from Judy Gula at www.artisticartifacts.com.  I have washed it and it is out on the porch, dripping onto the carpet as it dries. 

SO - that's the short version.  I am deliriously happy to be staying in one place -- although will be driving up to Savannah to attend QuiltCon for a couple of days at the end of February.  But I promise, you will hear from me before that!
xo 







Friday, October 21, 2016

in the Alps

So here I am, almost at the weekend in this gorgeous area of Switzerland, about 1-1/2 hours outside of Zurich.  The mountain changes according to the time of day and the weather.  I have been here since last Monday and will be leaving on after the weekend.
  I have had a wonderful week staying with my friend Barbara and her husband, sewing with Barbara's friends, and being too well fed and pampered.  Today I got the $50 tour of the area and over the weekend, more.  But it was hard to take photos on those curvy mountain roads, so I don't have any to show right now. 

We had raclette for dinner tonight and it was yummy.  The first time I have had it!  Here are just a couple of pictures of tonight's meal.

Cheeses, bacon, hot peppers, tomatoes, cornichons, potatoes, and roasted peppers.  The cheese was melted, poured over the potatoes, and eaten with all of the other items. 


Delicious!  More, tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

And the winner is...


Thanks to all of you for posting comments on my blog.  Hilda Bakke is the lucky winner of Cindy's new book; I wish you could all have won a copy!

I'm in Switzerland this week and next.  Next Monday I am teaching near Geneva, but this week I am playing and relaxing with my friend Barbara and some of her friends -- looking at the gorgeous scenery, and doing a lot of eating, drinking, sewing, and laughing.  The laughing is the most important part!

Here was the mountain early this morning.

 And here it is, from a different vantage point, later.   Snow up there.


Bedtime in the Alps at this moment.  Night.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I just read a delicious new book!!


Nope - it's not a cookbook-- it's a gorgeous book on improv quilting that I've already read twice. Cindy Grisdela's new book is hitting the shelves any day now, and if you want a yummy new read with loads of information on how to work improvisationally -- here it is.
(and you can WIN a copy if you leave a comment on my blog!) 
  
After I read the book, I told Cindy that we must have been separated at birth.  We both work improvisationally, both stockpile leftover units and building blocks to pick up and create with when the mood strikes. We both use color intuitively, and there are lots of other commonalities.

BUT our work is so different  -- having started in a similar place, we've each taken a different road. That's that's the beauty of working improvisationally.  If you are new to working without a pattern, Artful Improv is a great way to get started. Even though I've always worked this way, I have already learned some new things from this book! I don't work with curves, but Cindy has tempted me.

And I especially liked her Five Techniques to add to your Improv Toolbox and her clear, beautifully illustrated section on design principles. 

I've loved Cindy's work for a long time. I always looked forward to seeing her (and her  artwork) at the elegant Palm Beach craft show -- her pieces are so gorgeously quilted,so coloful, and so beautifully presented.  Yum.  
But you'll have to see the book for yourself.  The blog hop continues elsewhere, so check out these blogs, leave a comment, and you'll have extra chances to win this book.  Here is the rest of the schedule.  Enjoy yourselves.  And oh,if you don't win, you can find Cindy's book on the C&T website or on Cindy's own website.  

October 13: Yvonne Fuchs http://quiltingjetgirl.com/

October 14: Sujata Shah http://therootconnection.blogspot.com/

October 17: Heather Kojan http://www.heatherkojan.com/

October 18: Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com/

October 19: Cindy Grisdela https://cindygrisdela.com/blog/

Good luck!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Update and some exciting workshop news!


Update on the ice cream:  I forgot to tell you that the fast way to cool the mix is to fill a bowl with ice, pour the mix into a food storage bag, seal it, and submerge as much as you can in the bowl of ice.  Stick it in the fridge and it should be cold enough in an hour or so to put in the ice cream machine.

News: I'm very excited that I'm going to be teaching in France in August 2017, at Clos de Lande Vallée, a fantastic Inn in Brittany!  They have been having painting workshops there for a long time - and I will be the first fiber artist to teach there!  Hooray! 

Just take a look at their website  - it is a fabulous place on the sea, lovely accomodations, and gourmet meals.  I'm teaching in French (and English, if necessary) and after my upcoming workshops in Geneva next month, I should be on my game:-)).


I have deliberately left lots of time in 2017 to be in the studio and do my own work --  the last two years have been nonstop and I'm ready for a break.  Booking now for 2018 with a raft of new workshops.

The rest of this evening I plan to move ahead with the quilt on my wall and maybe sit down at the sewing machine.  Tomorrow and Saturday, cooking for Rosh Hashanah, which begins Sunday night.

If you celebrate the Jewish New Year, I wish you a Happy, Healthy year ahead.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We all scream...


Ok, Ok.  Salted Caramel ice cream recipe(s).  I promised it, so here we go..

The first time I had this ice cream was at Jeni's in Columbus, OH, probably in 2008.  It was the best thing I had ever tasted...at least in the ice cream category.  

In 2011, I bought an ice cream maker. It's a Cuisinart basic one - you have to freeze the container (I just keep it in the freezer all the time).  If you are making more than one flavor, you'll want to have an extra container frozen, as well.  But I digress...

When Melissa Clark's recipe came out in the NY Times, I decided to make it. And it's about the only flavor I make, these days.

Here is Melissa's ingredient list as she wrote it, plus a link to the NYT cooking page where the whole recipe is, with step-by-step instructions.  There's also a link to download the NYTimes Cooking App, which I can't live without (and they don't pay me to say that).
BELOW this ingredient list is my adaptation, which uses less sugar, fewer eggs, and reverses the proportion of cream and milk.  Trust me, it is rich enough the way I make it. 

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
by Melissa Clark

Yield: About 1 1/2 pints
http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016626-salted-caramel-ice-cream

INGREDIENTS
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Download The New York Times Cooking App on the App Store. 
Rayna's Salted Caramel Ice Cream (makes 2 pints)
NOTE: The process is the same as in Melissa's recipe. The ingredient proportions are slightly different.
2/3 cup granulated sugar (+ 2 T to add later)
2 cups  whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp kosher salt (or sea salt)
2 large egg yolks (you can use 3, but 2 work just fine for me)
1/4 tsp sea salt or kosher salt


I took these pictures and put the ice cream back into the freezer.  I am going to have a snack and go to bed.  Bad idea, but there it is!

Have fun with the recipe and let me know how you make out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

therapy sewing

Yes, I've been traveling.  Got home last week and it took me three days of feeling bleh to recover.

While I was recovering, I reorganized a small part of my fabric collection, which is now neatly stored in drawers under my cutting/ironing table.   Heh heh - this is what passes for neat in my life.  The labels on the plastic drawers have nothing to do with what they contain, but that's ok.  I have a lot more to do, but I'm too busy sewing. It's a start.


While I was sorting my ethnic fabrics - Indian, African, Maylasian, and Aboriginal -- I thought it might be a good idea to slice some of them up and sew strips. I needed to relax before I leave again in less than 3 weeks to teach in Switzerland.

So here is what is on my wall.   In my last class, I gave my students the assignment to work in neutrals and one color. So I challenged myself to work in prints that are primarily black/white/red, with a little off-white thrown in here and there. I think it is boring.
The units are not sewn together and I am resisting the temptation (for the moment) to slice one up and see what happens.


Then I thought of adding some bright yellow strips, but when I auditioned them I thought they looked too harsh.  

So here I sit, thinking I should leave them on the wall till tomorrow.  In the meantime, I will go make salted caramel ice cream.


Friday, August 19, 2016

I can tell it is late

  There is stil I am sitting with my laptop on my - yep - lap, trolling around Facebook and erasing a few of the 968 emails clogging up my inbox.  Yes, I am a hoarder - and this includes emails.

Today I pretty much finished a small piece that I have been working on for weeks. Made a cup of coffee and decided I wasn't going to bed until I had put it together.

I decided, after moving pieces around and taking a million photos, that I needed to call it DONE.  It's the one I posted in process a few posts ago, where I used a bunch of stripes from my grandmother's scraps.   It will do. Maybe I'll be happier with it when I have stitched it.  But that's not on for tonight.  Good enough for government work.


I did some work on it this morning and then went to visit my grandson Jake, who broke his arm, pitching in Cooperstown. He put on his sad face for the camera. 
 David came home from football practice, looking pretty happy.
I was delighted that my son Jeremy was home and that I got to visit with him -- as well as with Anne Marie. He had taken the week off and was working at home.  I needed to leave around 5:00 to get to my MQG meeting at 7:00, and I was glad that David got home before I left.  Between their schedules and mine, it has been months!

That was pretty much my day - the high point was seeing my kids and grands.  Off to bed now, so I can be awake enough to quilt tomorrow.  I have several sitting and waiting -- my least favorite part of the process.




Thursday, August 18, 2016

a random day


Another day when I was going to get work done and instead, went from one random task to another - none related to sewing. Oh, dear.

It's not that I didn't accomplish anything:
  1) I spent the morning paying bills and moving papers around. 

2)  Called Belkin, to let them know that half the keys on their wonderful iPad Air 2 keyboard stopped working. I sent pictures, documentation, credit card bill, blah blah blah.  And I sent them the keyboard and they will send me a new one, since it is still under warrranty.

Of course, I leave on Saturday to teach at Hudson River Valley Workshops and will be gone for more than a week, so the keyboard will arrive while I am gone.. Fortunately, I have an old Zagg keyboard that only has one key missing (@2) but it works, even without the piece on top. 

3) I asked my housekeeper please not to vacuum my sewing room, since all the little bits of fabric clogged the hose of my central vacuum system. She can't stand not cleaning in here, so she has agreed to use the carpet sweeper instead. Victory! 

I just replaced the system to the tune of more than you want to know.  They built all these condos with central vacs, which are wonderful until they die of old age, as mine just did.  This new one will outlast me, I am sorry to say.

4) Went to the nail salon to have the deadly crack in my thumbnail patched.  I have never had nails until now (all those years of hands in soda ash and dyes). And now that I do have them, they need TLC. 

5)  Made a supermarket stop to buy mussels and yellow &red hot peppers so I could make this dish, which my housekeeper told me is delicious and sent me the recipe. I already had corn and cilantro and lime and onions and tomatoes, so I was almost there.

 Our local Peruvian restaurant, which I just discovered, serves this as an appetizer and the recipe calls for 12 large mussels.  But I made it as my main course and have enough mussels left over for another round tomorrow night.  Serve cool: quick, easy, and  just right for this hot weather.

I varied the proportions a bit - less onion, more tomato, cilantro instead of parsley, and regular limes. And if you don't have yellow and red hot peppers, I am sure that jalapenos will do.

On this note, I leave you with the recipe and I am going to bed.
CHOROS A LA CHALACA / Mussels Peruvian Style      
 
   Ingredients :

12 mussels tightly closed
2 medium size onions, finely chopped
Juice of 3 key limes
1 tablespoon ají amarillo fresco / fresh yellow aji (chili), blended
½ rocoto / red hot pepper, rinsed, seeded and deveined, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
 1 ear of corn kernels, cooked
½ tomato, peeled, seeded and cut in small cubes
1 tablespoon oil
Salt
Pepper
1 key lime, cut in wedges to serve
   Preparation: 

Rinse mussels thoroughly and scrub under running water. Discard any mussels that are not tightly closed.

Sauté garlic in a bit of olive oil.  Add mussels and a little water or white wine and remove from pan as soon as they open, to prevent overcooking them. Discard mussels that do not open. Cool.

Open mussels with a knife and place half on a serving dish.

Combine in a medium size bowl, onion, red hot pepper, tomato, parsley, corn, ají, oil, key lime juice, salt and pepper. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes.

Place approximately 1 ½ tablespoon of this mixture over each mussel.

Serve with lime wedges.

3 – 4 servings as an appetizer