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
1 key lime, cut in wedges to serve

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Losses, and so on and so forth...

I have a piece in process on my wall and have walked away from it umpteen times.  I have been working with some of the pajama/apron/who-knows-what fabric scraps left over from my grandmother's 1940's and '50's stuff.  She worked in a dress factory during and after The War and made blanket covers for everyone in the family (aka duvets).  

Decades ago, after she died, I wanted to use some of those fabrics in my quilts. So I took apart the blanket covers and saved whatever fabrics were not worn through.  Seersuckers, plaids, stripes -- woven, not printed - so the patterns went through both sides.

You can see - on the left is the back of the fabric; on the right,the front.

Here, the front of the fabric is on the bottom - with the black stripe.

In my early quilting days, I used them in baby quilts.  And I made a wall quilt for my mother out of her mother's fabrics, which she loved.  It disappeared off her wall when she was in the PLACE.  Gone. Vanished.

 In any case, I have gotten out the bags of fabric straps and am playing.   This is what I had the other day - in its 300th "move-the-pieces-around till you are happy'' incarnation.  I am still working on this small piece and have already moved things around.  But at least, for the moment, I am working on something for myself.

On the subject of things disappearing, my beloved bracelet that I have worn every day for almost 35 years, is gone.  The catch must have come loose and it must have slipped off my wrist when I was shopping or walking or whatever on Tuesday.  It was my 40th birthday gift from my not-yet-husband.  I have never seen another exactly like it. But this is close enough for me to have sent a photo to the insurance co.

I keep telling myself that it is only a THING.  But it was a thing with emotional attachment.  Never mind - I can keep the emotional attachment without the THING.

On another subject: I posted an article on facebook a little while ago that a woman won her lawsuit against the state of NJ, who said she could not have a license plate that said "8thiest" She said she received a message stating her request was ineligible as it "may carry connotations offensive to good taste and decency." that if she wanted one that said "Baptist," no problem.  What happened to separation of church and state??  Censorship by some self-appointed decency police was knocked down by the court.  Hooray! Interesting article - and list of license plates that are now acceptable, since those decency police at the DMV lost their case. Big smile.

On another censorship note - there was a discussion on Quiltart about quilts being censored from exhibitions or not published in magazines because someone decided they were offensive.  Really?  This still goes on?  

In any case, if you haven't read Tanya Brown's brilliantly funny blog post on the subject, click on this link and don't miss it. An hilarious post on a serious subject.  The Decency Police live on in the Quilt World.

And on that sad note...

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

home again, home again, bloggity blog

For the last couple of weeks I've had my head down at the sewing machine, quilting several pieces. Takes forever - a relatively small piece took three days, just to quilt straight lines.  Drudgery, which I am not about to outsource unless it is an emergency.   But even when two of my pieces (one, a bed sized quilt) were outsourced, I still have to trim them and face them.  Not a pretty prospect...especially late at night.

On Monday I was recruited to babysit for Miss Emma, whose mother was in California and whose father was in Vermont - both working.  So, I hopped the bus and the subway and picked Emma up at ART camp at 4:00. We walked home (I got my 10,000 steps in on Monday) and Emma complained that she was running out of fabric. LOL - I guess I'll have to remedy that situation.

Then we went out for dinner.  Emma ordered her favorite cavatelli and broccoli (which turned out to be broccoli rab).  She loved it,thinking it was spinach.

and I, needing protein, was seduced by what was called pizza carbonara. Yep, pancetta and eggs. Sounds odd, but it was divine! And oh, if I could only make a crust lilke that...
This morning, I dropped Emma back at ART camp.  Led by a 6 year old tour guide, we took the subway one stop. We took the wrong exit out, but Emma knew how to approach where we were going from the opposite direction -- and led me by the hand. LOL. Then, I was on my way back - subway to 42nd st.  Before I got on the bus, I stopped at the international grocery and stocked up on spanikopita, taramasalata,Greek feta, tatziki, olives, and pita. I figured it would get me through Wednesday and Thursday.

Here is the view from the helix, coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel on the NJ side.

I was home by lunchtime and back to work.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday stuff

I mentioned that when I went to my MQG meeting on Thursday night, I took an almost-done quilt that needed to have stitches picked out so I could redo and add some more stitches.

Well, yesterday I discovered several red spots on the white fabric that appeared to be magic marker spots.  Can't imagine! I don't have any magic markers and it wasn't near any that I know of, but I  couldn't get them out, so I had to completely replace that section of the quilt.  Fortunately, it was the last 6-8" that needed to be redone, anyway. But what a waste of time!  Replaced fabric, batting, and backing of that section and hope to put the stitches back in tomorrow.

Maybe I can use my new needles and threads: basic black, white, and gray.  I can't believe I was out of white thread; it is a color I rarely use.

On the plus side, the other quilt I had given to Diane Fama to quilt, also looks great.  She did what I would never have thought to do.  Here is one smidgen at the edge of the piece.  She deliberately made the stitching wonky, like my work:-)).  Love it!
I have more quilts than I care to think about, sitting here in various stages - I have to put facings on the two I got back and there is one more small one that needs to be faced.  Then there is one I made a year ago that has still not been quilted.  I am going to do it myself.  Have my work cut out for me.

In the meantime, I have been cooking. Grocery shopping at Whole Foods is always an adventure.  I bought ribs to throw on the grill and then saw they had gulf shrimp, so I had to buy some for tonight's dinner.  Ribs tomorrow night.  It is in the 90's here and grilling on the deck is de rigeur.  I actually sauteed the shrimp in a pan on the grill. Not putting on the oven!

I have stopped buying that iodine-laced frozen shrimp from Thailand or wherever and will buy only gulf shrimp when they are available.  They are expensive but I would rather have them rarely and let them be a treat.   I was reminded that they tasted like shrimp used to taste when I was growing up.  I could never understand why my mother loved shrimp so much; to me, as an adult, they had no taste.  Now I know why she loved them - because these taste like the shrimp we used to get in the 1950's from the fish store.  

Tonight's dinner was sauteed shrimp with garlic and saffron. Took no time and was fabulous.  Served it with grilled corn and grilled asparagus. 
Dessert was freshly churned lemon ice cream.  In case you decide to make it, know that you can use only 2 or 3 egg yolks and it will be wonderful. 

Enough about food - back to the sewing machine...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

She's Ba-ack

I've actually been back for a couple of weeks, but been keeping my head down at the sewing machine and elsewhere.  Posting on Instagram (how can I not? My daughter works there) and on FB because it's relatively quick and I don't have to think too much.  But that's not necessarily a good thing.

I spent the day in my sewing room, working on files and (dare I say?) trying to clear some horizontal space.  I was organizing my solids, but this is as far as I got. I have about 5 zillion other colors.  I am cutting off 6" swaths and putting the rest away.  How's that for ambition?  More of this tomorrow, I suppose.

Tonight, I was at the North Jersey MQG meeting.  I've actually been around for the last two monthly meetings -- a record! I enjoyed myself immensely, catching up with my friend Rachel and others, and picking out stitches from an almost-done quilt (don't ask).  I have to add some more stitching, but ran out of white thread and machine needles. Will buy them tomorow and get on with it.

I also collected two quilts I had given to long arm quilter extraordinaire, Diane Fama.  This was the first time in my life I had ever had anyone else stitch my quilts, but one was bed-sized and the last time I made a bed-sized quilt, I hand-quilted it. 25 years ago?  The second one needed more time than I could give it. 

 I was a bit nervous, but they turned out beautifully!  My quilt are not easy because they are wonky (deliberately so) and because I require straight stitching, not fancy floral patterns or feathers or doodads.  I still have to face them and clean off the fuzzies, but that's minor. . I would never have thought to do what Diane did, and it looks great. Here is a smidgin of the big one.

I couldn't get a good photo of the other one, and I am too tired to try.  Lots more to catch up on - but I'm past my sell-by date, so I'm going to bed.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

On California time in New Jersey

Tuesday was a lost day, after arriving in Newark at 3:am West Coast time.  Still adjusting; going to bed late and sleeping till mid-morning. 

This has been on and off the wall for weeks and I have finally decided to bag it for a while.  I keep trying to make it larger but it's pretty clear that it wants to stay small.  Sometimes things have to rest -- and this is one of them.

In the meantime, I am going to try again to get back on eastern time and will see what tomorrow brings, other than 90+ degrees and 90% humidity.  The best thing about San Diego is the weather, but you can have the traffic on the 5. Took us 3 hours to make a 1/2 hour trip the other night.  I will never complain about NJ traffic again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I'm thinking, I'm thinking. I've been mostly working at home but spent a hot hour in the studio today before I had to leave.  I brought two quilt tops home with me; one of them has a back that has no relationship at all to the front, but it couldn't be helped -- and when it goes on the guest bed downstairs, nobody will care that the back is random (and ugly).

On the way home, Whole Foods. Went in for strawberries and yogurt and ended up treating myself to a shellfish dinner. Mussels and clams on the grill.  Since it is just me Tues, Wed, and Thurs, I have enough for tomorrow night's dinner as well.  
I cook for myself. I'm a firm believer in good meals and I deserve to be treated well - even if I'm the one doing the treating - LOL.  I wouldln't mind having somebody here to clean up after me, but that's in my next life.

For the first time in my life, I am giving two of my quilts to somebody else to quilt.  I hate the thought of it, but the last time I quilted a bed-sized quilt it was for my daughter, going off to college - and I did it by HAND.  No thanks.  So, I am outsourcing it. 

What have I been doing in the sewing room (besides cleaning up for a change?) I finished a black and white quilt that, until somebody mentioned how influenced it was by what I saw in Africa, I really hadn't been conscious of it.  But now I see it.  And I actually want to make a piece that is totally inspired by a South African textile I saw. But "inspired by" does not mean reproducing. I wouldn't want to do that, even if I could.

 Maybe tomorrow I will start.  I have another piece that is finished but not quilted, but this one I will do myself. It was inspired by ceramics I saw at the museum in Durban.

But for now, I need my Fitbit to keep track of my sleep:-)).

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

I've been sewing!

Monday I was in the studio and today I worked at home. Ha! I actually have something on the wall. Now I have to figure out what my next step is. But that will wait until tomorow, when I am back in the studio and have some breathing room.

I have a lot of ideas - inspirations from my trip to South Africa last summer; only one of which I have been able to use for actuallly making a piece.  I'm not sure what was the inspiration for the piece on my wall, today - but I suspect I will figure it out. (or not).

In the meantime, I have ordered a wonderful piece of fabric from Judy Gula's Artistic Artifacts.  Do I need fabric? hahahahahahaha. NO.  But Barb from my class in Wisconsin had a piece of Australian fabric that I went crazzy over.  She made a fab piece (I will have to get her to send me a photo) and gave me her scraps.  Three bitty pieces.  The other day, when Judy's newsletter arrived, there was the selfsame fabric.  So I ordered a yard.
Haven't a clue how I will use it, but it makes me smile.  Comes in two other colorways, which I did not buy.(one of them is mostly PINK). I'd advise you to go take a look at Judy's selection.  It's fun!

It is after midnight and I have to put in a full day tomorrow, so I am off to zzzzzzland.xoxo

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Adding layers

It's a process. If at first you don't like it, add more.  But knowing when to stop is the tricky part.  if you have to ask "does it need more?" the answer is usually "no.". Put it aside, wait until later or tomorrow and then you'll know.

On the other hand, sometimes you know right away.  

A day later...

Sometimes you just need to add a little bit to make it work.  And making marks with a syringe always adds pizazz.

We're done printing.  Now it's time to use the fabric to make quilts!  Tune in tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Fun in the print studio

 I am having such a good time at QSDS -- catching up with old friends and making new ones.  I am sharing a suite with Rosalie Dace and Terry Jarrard-Dimond, both of whom are delights to spend time with and whose work is beautiful.  Terry and I have been online friends for many years and are finally getting to spend time together!  That is truly a bonus.  Rosalie and I have taught in the same places at the same time many times and it is always a joy to see her.

Tonight I had a chance to catch up with Deborah Fell and Kevin Womack -- two very talented artists whom I have not seen in eons. It was an unexpected pleasure. 

Two days of printing; another half-day tomorrow, and then two days of making something with those printed fabrics.  Here are just a few of the beauties my students produced in the last two days.

As for me, I was perfectly happy to supervise and give advice (solicited and uncolicited), and to buy some African and Indian batiks from Becky at St. Theresa's Textile Trove.
Tomorrow, I will have more photos, but these are just a few of the wonderful pieces printed here.
This is what happens when there are no rules and people are shown a demo and are then left to their own devices! 

Would you ever believe that Judy K. had never printed before?
Here is one of Diane's pieces after she added her own touches with the syringe.
DeeDee specializes in images of landscapes and houses.  I can't wait to see what she does with this one!  It might be a whole cloth piece.  We'll see.

Louise and Donna, hard at work.  They came all the way from Texas to play in my workshop.

This is one of Carol's vibrant pieces.

More tomorrow.  I had better get some rest.  But in case you want to check out the work of some of the artists I mentioned at the beginning of the post...

Rosalie Dace

Terry Jarrard-Dimond

Deborah Fell

Kevin Womack

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

it's a dead giveaway

When I start posting recipes and picturs of food, you know there is nothing else creative going on in my life.  Yes, I have been in my sewing room pretty much all day. Yes, I have been asking myself "what if?", but all I have to show for it is a bunch of experiments not fit to post here.(or anywhere).

I just took down a piece I started one night while I was in Wisconsin.  I thought it was splendid, but I was wrong.

Meantime, by dinnertime it had cooled down sufficiently outside that I was not going to eat on the deck.  But I did put some fresh asparagus on the grill, along with a middle eastern version of a lamb burger.    Put some olive oil in a plastic bag, throw in the asparagus and some kosher salt and some fresh grated parmesean or pecorino romano.  Grill for about 5 minutes (first, take it out of the plastic bag).  To die for. Seriously.

Before i left last week, I had a pint of heavy cream in the fridge. When I got home, miracle of miracles -- it was still sweet.  So I thought I had better use it before it turned. This meant I was forced to make ice cream. Here it is, churning away.
 I used Melissa Clark's only ice cream recipe you'll ever need and made salted caramel.  It is so rich that I needed only a tiny bit to satisfy my ice cream craving.  That's good news!  Tomorrow, I will post the link because I am so tired that I can hardly keep my eyes open and my brain afloat. Or is it my eyes afloat and my brain open? 'nite.