Tuesday, May 30, 2017

soup weather in June and a little more

DISCLAIMER: Blogger is giving me grief tonight, which you will see by the varying sizes of the type.

Yep, soup weather and it's almost June!  The weather has been so miserably cold and wet here that I have made soup for the last two days.  Yesterday, mussels, clams, and shrimp (not in the original recipe, which just called for mussels) in coconut milk/lemon grass, and other yummy flavorings. We didn't have bread, so I substituted linguine.
NY Times Cooking (recipe below). If you don't have the app on your iPad, you are missing out on some of the best recipes, ever.  I have donated and thrown 2/3 of my cookbooks.


  • 2 tablespoons coconut or safflower oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, trimmed (outer layers removed) and finely chopped
  •   ½ to 1 small hot chile (like Thai bird, Serrano, Scotch bonnet or jalapeño), seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 pounds fresh mussels, rinsed well
  •  Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon Asian fish sauce, or to taste
  • ½ cup whole cilantro leaves
  • 1 or 2 croissants, split in half.
  1. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large pot until hot. Add the shallot, garlic, lemon grass and chile. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and mussels. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook until the mussels have opened, 5 to 7 minutes (discard any mussels that remained closed). Remove from heat, and use a slotted spoon to transfer the mussels to a large bowl, leaving the liquid in the pot. Stir the lemon zest and juice, fish sauce and cilantro into the pot. Taste and add more fish sauce and/or lemon juice if needed (fish sauce provides the salt).
  2. Blogger just erased a whole paragraph. Cutting to the chase - the empty shelves on the left of the bookcase took half a day to empty, while I decided what to donate, what to throw, and what to keep.  It barely made a dent, and this does not count the bookcases in the rest of the house.


The art books are the most painful ones to part with, although I was able to donate a few.  And the 19th century books on the top left shelves, which were my father's. I am lucky enough to have grown up in a house of bibliophiles.We won't discuss the Thermofax that doesn't work, the slide projector and carousels or  the thousands of photos that have to be gone through.  Change is hard, even when it is something you want.Back to the sewing machine - this will be a late night.

Monday, May 29, 2017

a good day for sewing

Raining again, and 57 degrees F.  

I have spent most of the day thinking about sewing and a bit of it actually sitting at the machine.  I am making a quilt for a friend but you won't see it here.  However, I have a few trimmings and since they are small and odd-sized, I challenged myself to take a break and see what I could do with them.

Made one block with the scraps before dinner and here I am, feet up, laptop in lap, procrastinating.   It is late and I will leave the rest for tomorrow.

Here is what I did with the cuttings.

I cut a triangle (freehand, of course) fro the fabric on the upper left.  The rest of the bits were trimmings from the sewn-together strips, so I figured I could do something with them.

Here is a close-up of the triangle with some pieces sewn to the edges.  (Yes, I will trim the horns).

 Adding and trimming and adding and trimming.

This is how it ended up. If I have more scraps (or more energy) I might make another.  If not, this could end up on the back of the quilt.

That's all for tonight.  I am still recovering from a lively weekend of houseguests. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

sewing and drinking thé à la menthe

Not at the same time, as I am bound to spill whatever I am drinking on what I am stitching.

My cousin France got me started on mint tea last year, when she and Edmond were visiting us in Florida.  C'est un digestif, so she drinks it after dinner or later in the evening. No caffeine. It has grown on me and it's especially good when I throw in some fresh mint leaves (which I always have growing in a pot). I find these days that it's in the realm of comfort food.

Now why am I showing you this picture?  The cup. It was a giveaway in the 1950's-60's by Nescafé if you sent them a coupon or a label from the jar; I can't remember which. A map of the world is etched on each cup. 

Need I say that Molly W. Rosenberg, collector extrordinaire, had countless numbers of these cups?  This is very strange, since she brewed coffee every day and I can't imagine that we had enough instant coffee to acquire thousands (ok, a dozen or more) of these cups.  

We drank our tea out of them -- never coffee. We always had tea after dinner, with or without dessert; with lemon, never sugar. I took all of them when I cleaned out her apartment and brought them to Florida, where there were MORE.  Phil fell in love with them, so I gave him a few.  And I just discovered that I have two more in NJ.  They are selling them on ebay and Etsy for various prices - and yes, there is a sugar bowl with a cover.  

 Glass retains heat, so your tea (or coffee) stays hot longer. My grandparents used to drink their tea and coffee from a yartzheit (memorial candle) "gless."
It didn't take me long to digress from sewing and mint tea, did it?  Now that my break is almost over, I will have some salted caramel ice cream in my Elsie the Cow glass (as long as we are on the subject) and then I will go back to my sewing.  

OH - almost forgot.  The link to my tjap page is now working, so click on the Studio Sale link at the top of the sidebar and see what is there.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

a weekend quilt show

The Northern Star Quilt Guild of Somers, NY, has always had an excellent quilt show, but I every year I have managed to be away teaching the weekend of the show -- until now. Fortunately, I was available because the guild invited me to have an exhibit of a dozen pieces this past weekend. The show has moved to a new venue and the quilts were beautifully displayed.  Here are some of my favorites - and they were all ribbon-winners.

 by Maria Weinstein

Debbie Bein's vertical triptich

I'm sorry, I didn't get the artist's names for the last three quilts. The show was closing and they were starting to take down the work, so I clicked and ran to take down my own.
Cheryl Kosarek

quilt by Diana Sharkey

The day was a pleasure: I ran into some old friends and managed to come home with a only a fist full of - uh - fabric. This afternoon, I cut and sewed a little bit.  Oh, joy.

Thursday, May 04, 2017


But a brief one.  

Making it an early night.  Last night I was up until 2:am, actually sitting at the sewing machine and stitching on a piece that I have probably had for a year or two, partly done.
Getting there, finally.  Here it is, under the needle.  It is sideways.  

Will show it to you when it is done.  Maybe next week, if the stars line up.  The gray parts in the middle were once a quilt begun by a friend of mine and never finished because it was too ugly.  Such fun to rescue it!

Spent the morning shredding tax returns from the early part of this century, squirreled away in Marty's desk drawer.  There is an entire file cabinet on the lower level that I shudder to think about tackling.  Some years ago when I was cleaning out and shredding the kids' college bills, I was so enchanted with the colorful shreds that I made this postcard.  Still have it.  Gee, I could have made a whole series!

I think I said this would be a brief post. Mostly because I am too tired to write any more.
While it is still a relatively civilized hour, I shall take advantage of it.  Ta ta for now.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

true confessions

I am actually enjoying the throwing-out process.  Who'd 'a thunk it?

Can't take any more requests for strips and scraps right now - I'm up to my ears.  I haven't thrown out any fabrics, but there is a bag of butt-ugly brown prints from eons ago that I can't even imagine anyone wanting. I would photograph them but they would break the camera.  Maybe I should challenge myself.  On second thought...

Knowing a realtor was coming to look at the house yesterday, I at least got this sewing room in shape.  See?

This is my "office" part, where I am now sitting with my laptop - where else? on my lap.
 Horizontal space!!
These are only a few of the bins filled with fabric.  Others are next-to and under the cutting table.  Not to mention out in the garage. Gulp.  My granddaughter Kayla, who is going off to college and is learning to sew, is currently making tote bags. She wants to come and shop for fabric in my house. Good!
The other table has become a small ironing surface (can you tell?) and a resting place for my vintage DMC floss cabinet (filled with embroidery thread) and my vintage thread cabinet; a gift from my friend Audrey when she moved and didn't have room for it.  Ha - this will move with me. 

 Not sure about the embroidery cabinet, but I like the way it looks.  Decades ago, when J.J. Newberry 5 & 10 closed its store, it was selling fixtures.  My mother called me and told me I should come and look at it. She knew I wouldn't be able to resist. Not a big variety of colors, but you can't have everything.

My temporary bulletin board/design wall is perched over there on another bin of fabrics,
waiting in vain for me to have time to throw some fabric at it. 

I just unearthed the book, Dream Sewing Spaces from under a pile of STUFF. Maybe it's time to take a look at it for the next incarnation.   My dream is to organize a studio with things from The Container Store.  

What's the best thing about your studio space?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

fabric strip giveaway update

Congrats to Quiltdivajulie, whose number came up in the generator! Julie, I'll send your envelope out as soon as I come up for air.

For any of you who would like an envelope of strips(and a random scrap or two) I can pack a flat rate LEGAL SIZE USPS envelope for $7.00 and hope they don't reject it for being too thick😓. This is actually more than a pound of fabric (a lb supposedly supposedly equals 1 yd.)

Send me an email with your address (if you haven't already done so) and I will send you a Paypal invoice so you can go to my account and pay me.  Till I can get the button calculation straightened out with them (they add $5 shipping to my price, even though the $7 is shipping and I am not charging for the fabric,I am doing it this way.  

Yes, this is time-consuming and it will take a while.  But I am happy to do it.  Just don't expect your package immediately because I am blotto from moving everything out of my studio in the next town into my garage, and doing the same with my (3) extra sewing machines and fabric. 
I have filled an entire bag with brown repro and other brown fabrics and am trying to think who in the world I can donate it to. Another story.

If you live in NJ and want to buy an etching press, I am thinking about selling my Blick 999
18"x24" press with blankets. You have to pick it up because it weighs more than I can lift.  Blick is sellng the new one for some $1700 without extra blankets. I'm asking $900, including the blankets.

Also for NJ residents - I have a Thermofax that needs a bulb and a new belt.  However: full disclosure: the machine I have takes only a 15w bulb and they don't make them any more.  There is someone online who will convert the 15w machine to a 12w and then bulbs are no problem. It costs $225 or some such for the conversion.  I would send it to him but I can't lift the machine, but you have to pick it up (accompanied by a strong person).  If you are interested, at $650 it is a bargain, even with the conversion. This is what the machine cost me 10 years ago.  Working 3M Thermofaxes are selling for $1300-1900 today. Incredible.

Yawn.   The room is shaping up, but I am done for the day. It is already technically tomorrow.  I just want to get the place organized and the table cleared off so I can PLAY!!

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

buried in fabric

Not literally, of course.  But overwhelmed.  Boxes and drawers and bins!  I brought two shopping bags of fabric to my Modern Quilt Guild meeting tonight  and put the piles on the "free" table. A lot was gone in a flash; the rest can go into charity quilts. 

The hardest part are the boxes and boxes of strips and some scraps: wide, narrow, hand-dyed,hand-printed,commercial. Most have been cut free-hand; some are frayed.  All of them need to be ironed, I think. But my modern guild wouldn't know what to do with them. They make a lot of quilts using patterns.

There is no end, it seems. I have left a huge bag of strips (mostly Helene Davis' beautiful hand-dyes) in Florida, but I simply don't have room to cart these back and I know I will cut more, because that's what I do. Sigh... do I close my eyes and send them to the landfill? Or do I stuff a manila envelope and send them off to you for some therapy sewing?  

I am chafing at the bit to play with fabric but instead, I am trying (in vain, it seems) to declutter and at least make the place look neat.  In addition, I am getting sidetracked.  
This is not a big surprise.

I already have baggies of my grandmother's fabrics from the 1940's and 50's: scraps she brought home from the dress factory where she worked.  Then, this morning, I found a whole shopping bag containing the remnants of a blanket cover she had made from the woven plaids and some stripes.  It was so worn, she had patched it in layers. I had started to take it apart, probably decades ago and I took more of it apart today. I'm challenging myself to use it in a modern quilt.
And there were aprons in that bag that my Nanny had made.  I remember my mother wearing this one.  1940's fabric. Pocket. Ruffle. See how easy it is to get sidetracked?

And here I sit, blogging instead of straightening up. Procrastinating? Resting? Both, I guess.

I emptied my trunk of fabulous vintage blocks dating from the turn of (the 20th) century up through the 1930's.  And I haven't even attacked a drawer of my own orphan blocks.

My quilts are another story.  At some point I will be having a studio sale because I will not have room to store them all. 

In the meantime, I have been invited to have a show of 12 quilts at the Northern Star Quilt Guild show in Connecticut, May 5-6.  They are rolled up and ready to be picked up this weekend by the curator.  On Sunday, May 6 I will be giving an artist's walk/commentary at some point in the afternoon.  If you are in the area, here's where Northern Star's show, World of Quilts, will be located. Come say hello!  

O'Neill Center

Western Connecticut State University West Side Campus
43 Lake Ave. Extension Danbury, CT 06811 

If you want an envelope of therapy strips, raise your hand and I'll let the random number generator do its work.

In fact, even if you don't want them, leave me a comment. Comments always perk me up!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trash & Treasures

I opened the trunk and it was a Pandora's Box.  Out flew a pile of antique blocks and vintage fabrics I had forgotten were there.  They spent two days on the coffee table in the livingroom and today, I sorted, catalogued,researched, and organized. I have bags of antique blocks I will never have time to do anything with. Some date from the 1860's-80's, others from 1900-1910, and others from the 1930's.  

There was yardage, too. I found two yards and a little bit more, of bark cloth that I bought decades ago and never used.  It is gorgeous.  
At some point, when I  have cleared up the rest of the mess, I will have some of these wonderful fabrics, scraps, and blocks for sale.  I simply don't have the room for 40+ years of accumulated fabrics.

On that note, I am turning into a pumpkin.  Good night!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

haha - I have just inspired myself.

We got home Sunday night, and on Monday I started emptying out a storage closet in the basement.  I will tell you that I have been shredding papers for two straight days -- many of them dating back to the last century.  My garage is full of shredded and unshredded paper.

A little while ago I walked into my sewing room for the first time since I got home and was delighted to be greeted by this little unit on the design wall.  What a nice surprise!  I made it when I was teaching in Switzerland and wanted to illurstrate somehing (but what??). Now I am inspired to do more of these!

I happen to have a plastic baggie with more of the brown,black,and white units and I will have to take a creativity break and play a bit.  Enough with the shredding!  But right now,
 I am bleary-eyed.  It will take me a year to clean out this house - believe me! 

Tomorrow is bulk pickup, so the mouldy deck chairs are going, along with whatever else I can foist on the garbage men. In fact, I had better take them out tonight.  Off I go...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Color, Pattern, & Inspiration

There are infinite sources of visual inspiration for those of us who are artists; it's just a matter of seeing. Where do your inspirations come from?

Mine come from everywhere because I see pattern in almost everything.  Oddly enough, somewhere along the line I started collecting/taking photos of carpets and upholstery fabrics, thinking I might use them someday as inspiration for my own work.  In all this time, I have used only one as a jumping-off point.

Somehow, these images...

morphed into this idea, which never actually went anywhere.  

I'm particularly fascinated with hotel carpets, which run the gamut.  Since I frequently stay in hotels, I take pictures of the ones that interest me for one reason or another.  This past weekend, I hit the jackpot with these two inspirations for modern quilts.

this was in the hallway
 this was in our room.
Here is another hotel hallway carpet I have seen several times.

But remember - inspiration, not iimitation.  Put the images aside and forget about them for a while.  Somewhere along the line, they might surface in a different way.

soup weather in June and a little more

DISCLAIMER: Blogger is giving me grief tonight, which you will see by the varying sizes of the type. Ye p, soup weather and it's ...