Saturday, May 30, 2015

Yesterday's Lebanese breakfast

Labneh (yogurt drained overnight).  The Lebanese pita is thinner than the Greek pita.  I mixed za'atar with a little olive oil, spread it on the bit of pita, and heated it in the oven.  Breakfast to die for.

Tonight, out with friends to their favorite thin, thin, thin crust pizza joint.  Will let you know whether it is the gold standard they claim it is.  Meantime, back to trimming my string squares...

Friday, May 29, 2015

a day full of sunshine

Literally and figuratively--a joyful day in NY.  No rain!! I met my friend Carolyn at City Quilter; Carolyn and her husband Bruce are here from England, spending  a few weeks in and around Manhattan, visiting friends.  Luckily for me, the friends had other plans today, so Carolyn and I had a chance to browse around the shop and then go for lunch till Bruce met up with us. 

Ahem. After declaring that I never buy fabric, I managed to make a liar of myself with these two fabrics I couldn't resist.  (Especially since they were on sale).  They don't look like me, do they? 

 Love those cocktail glasses with the striped stems (the fabric designer seemed to think they were posies - but what does she know?) and the color combination makes me smile.  Ditto those big circles.  They are so whimsical that they are inspiring me (to do what?). Washed and ironed, they are smiling at me while I finish making those string blocks.  Four more to go and then the real work begins.

I just made a small pot of coffee so I could stay up and sew. There is something lovely
about being able to make coffee at 10:pm and stay up as late as I want to because I don't have to be anywhere else tomorrow. I love my little French Press that theoretically makes 3 cups, but it really makes only one.

On the counter is a strainer with yogurt that will be labneh (Lebanese yogurt cheese) by morning. I have been reading cookbooks for recreation, which is not such a great idea when I am trying to lose weight.  But I walked 4.5 mi. today so I figure it evens out.  Before leaving the city, I stopped at the International Foods shop on 9th Ave and 40th St. to stock up on feta, spanikopita, kalamata olives, halvah, taziki, and taramasalata (their taziki and tarama are the best anywhere, hands down). Oh, and Lebanese pita which is thinner than Greek pita.  Tomorrow, I will have a Lebanese breakfast.  But tonight, back to the sewing room for a little while, at least.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

rain, rain, go away...

I shouldn't complain, based on what is going on in the rest of the country.  Hope all of you in Texas and Oklahoma are safe.  But I'm going into the City tomorrow and would prefer not to use my umbrella. 

Today, I did not put one toe out of the house  aifter I retrieved the newspapers from the driveway.  I sewed.  

String squares: the original paper piecing.
A friend of my mother's showed me how to sew strings to newspaper squares a full decade before I made my first quilt. She was not a quilter - just had a lot of sraps and was making summer coverlets. I thought it was fun, but I was newly married and forgot about string quilts  for about 40 years.  Then I discovered that they made fun baby quilts -- and made some for gifts. Then, forgot about them again when my kids' friends took a break from having babies.

 A week or two ago, too tired to think, but needing to sew, I cut a bunch of squares from a junk mail prospectus (phone books or newspapers are good, too), threw a pile of strips into a trash basket, and went to work. These were single strips of all lengths and widths.
But I also have a ton of already-sewn-together leftover free-form therapy strips.
I set my machine stitch at 1.5 because it's easier to rip the paper off when you have small stitches.  I assume that every quilter on the planet has made a string quilt at some point because they are so basic.  But just in case you haven't, here's my process.

1.  Lay two strips down and sew them to the paper.

 2. Flip the top one so it's face-up.  Then flip down the rest of the triangle so it is out of the way.
 3.  This is what it looks like on the back with the corner flipped out of the way.  Now just ignore it and keep adding strips to the strips.

4. Add a few more and flipped the triangle back up for a minute, just to see what length the next strip needs to be. They get shorter as you go along -- no need to waste long ones as you get closer to the top of the triangle!
 5. Almost there - then do the same on the other side. The center strip is anchored, so you can flip back the paper and just add strips.  Saves a lot of grief when its time to take the paper off.
6.  This is what it looks like when the whole square is covered.
 7.Now turn it over and trim off the overhanging pieces, using the paper as your template.
 See? This has only one or two seam lines going through the paper, so it's easy to remove.
 Because the stitches are so small, it rips away easily.
Done!  Now, on to the next one.
I have four more string squares to make and then I can cut them all to the same (more or less) size, put 'em together and go from there.  But I'm done for tonight, so these four will have to wait till I get back from the city tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

a lazy week

I just haven't felt like myself or been in the mood to do anything but work on the string baby quilt I'm making.  Yesterday, I finally went to my studio and puttered around -- but after a couple of hours, came home. I have been reading.

Finally, today, I was forced into doing something creative.  I've been working on this little piece all afternoon, and amazingly, it has come together.  All done but the edges.  Hooray!  I have had these units sitting around for four or five years and have had them on-and-off the wall a dozen times.  I was trying to make a bigger piece that did not want to be bigger than 8-½" x 11". Ha!  Done.  The orientation will be up to the future owner.

Has this encouraged me or motivated me to do more small pieces? Hmmm...maybe.  It's a start, anyway.

The NJ weather has been depressing. If this were February, it would be a heat wave; if it were October, it would be lovely and mild.  But it's damn near June and it has been windy, in the low 60's, and cloudy/drizzly. BLEH!  Memorial day is forecast to be more of same, which is a bummer because our condo's pool opens this weekend. (Not that I EVER go in the water, but it would be nice to sit in the nice weather and read or schmooze). Sigh...I won't even begin to tell you about the pollen "tsunami" that the papers are writing about.  I have not stopped sneezing and I wish I could blame it on fabric dust.

So now you know my whole story. Now, I have to go clean up the mess I made while I worked on the above piece. Aren't you glad you tuned in?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

home again

It is Thursday, May 14.  I got home last Saturday from a three-states-in ten days- whirlwind of teaching and am just about recovered.  Mother's Day was pretty restful: I told my kids that if they wanted to see me, they had to come here.  So my daughters came, brought tulips, and put out a lovely spread for Sunday brunch,chez moi.

All week I have alternated between crashing on the sofa and walking a couple of miles a day in this New Jersey windy, October-like weather, to get rid of the extra lbs. I gained while I was away.  This happens every time: I am well-fed and there is no time or place for exercise.

Mostly, my brain has been on the back burner (without a pilot light) for the past several days.  It's a luxury, I must admit, to do nothing.  But it is time to start doing something.


Finally, after four hours of therapy sewing tonight, the beginnings of a string quilt on the wall, for a nw baby. I throw them up as I finish them and will worry about placement when I have enough to play with. Trying to get rid of all he strips but of course, haven't made a dent.  Nonetheless, this mindless sewing has been just what I needed. It is a start.



This is the latest I have been up all week, and I think it is time to end my day. 

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