Friday, January 27, 2012

the magic of caffeine

Those of us who love our coffee already know its benefits.  But humans are not the only ones whose lives can be enhanced by caffeine!

I have always complained about my black thumb with houseplants. Last year, my friend Jennifer looked at the rather pathetic specimens around here and advised me that her mother, who has the most fabulous plants, waters them with coffee. i thought that was interesting and then forgot about it til a couple of weeks ago.  My basil plant, which I had brought indoors when summer was over, is near my sink, under the fluorescent under-cabinet light. It was doing ok for a while but the leaves were getting smaller and smaller, as they do with insufficient light (or so I thought).  In a moment of desperation, I poured a cup of diluted leftover coffee into the plant and now I wish I had taken a "before" picture.  Within a few days, it started to grow new leaves and they were normal size!  Yesterday I snipped off the top leaves and used them in my pasta sauce.  You can't believe how amazing this is!

 I've been watering my asparagus fern with coffee, as well - and it is sprouting new growth and looking quite handsome. Have you ever tried this?
After I finished admiring my happy plants I decided to move some magazines from the cookbook shelves. And what was in with the magazines?  Two relics from the 1950's.   In junior high school we had to take sewing and cooking. I flunked sewing but fared much better in cooking class, where we learned to make such items as cinnamon toast and tomato aspic (not to be eaten together).  Public Service (the electric and gas company) had a test kitchen and we made field trips over there periodically.  I still have what apparently was our textbook.  Why there is a picture of a boy on the cover is beyond me, since boys were not permitted to take cooking and sewing: only shop.
The book is full of recipes for such delicacies as frankfurter stew, dinner-in-a-dish (don't ask) and salmon macaroni loaf.  Two particularly tempting recipes caught my eye tonight as I leafed through the booklet.
Snowball Salad
Thoroughly blend a 3 oz. pkg cream cheese, 3 tbsp mayonnaise and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts.
Fill cavities of (canned) peach halves with the mixture; put two halves together with toothpicks.  Roll each peach in cocoanut and arrange on salad greens.  If desired, serve with whipped cream.
Standard Cream of Vegetable Soup
2 cups vegetable pulp
2 cups thin white sauce
Cook vegetables till tender, drain and press through coarse sieve.  Combine pulp with white sauce.  Serve hot.

The second piece of ephemera was a menu from 1955. My parents had taken us to Washington D.C. and we had apparently eaten at this place. I wonder if it still exists.

And here are the specials of the day.  Read it and weep.

P.S. - If you're interested, I'm doing a UFO tutorial over at the blog And Then We Set it On Fire

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

and so forth

The Gillman Hotel is in business.  I picked up my cousin Nancy from California today at the airport; tomorrow, my cousin Mimi from Florida arrives. The last time we were together was in October when I was in Florida.  The week promises to be fun, culminating in my grandson Josh's bar mitzvah on Saturday.  In the meantime, the three of us will so our share of laughing.

I have just sent off a brand new quilt to be photographed and published in an article I wrote. and I am just starting to do a UFO tutorial here as I remake these uglies.  You can check my progress over there as the week goes on.

Earlier in the day I made miso soup and granola (not to be eaten together) and tonight, threw together a quiche for dinner.  That should take care of my cooking for a day or so - tomorrow, we eat o-u-t.

Back to the blocks...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday snow

Well, so much for going out this morning with Emma.  The snow is not as bad in Brooklyn as it is in New Jersey, but who needs it?  It is supposed to stop later this afternoon.  In the meantime, I am having fun.
And so is Emma. There is nothing like the laughter of a child.

Now that she is in bed I have no excuses. Back to doing my taxes - the most fun of all.

My workshop in Sunny Italy!

Art Quilt Italy!
1st August to 8th August 2012
I'll be teaching a week-long workshop this summer, August 1-8, 2012  at the Abruzzo School of Creative Art,  located about two hours from Rome.

The school is in the most gorgeous mountain setting, near the medieval village of Introdacqua and the ancient city of Sulmona.

Be an early bird save $255.00 Book your spot in
Rayna's class now.

Deadline for registration is 23rd May 2012.
I have designed this class especially for the workshop in Abruzzo.
Words, photos, color, and line will spark your creativity and inspire fresh work based on your adventure in Italy! Working spontaneously, asking "what if"? you will capture the essence of the landscape, an element that catches your eye, the color around you, or any aspect of your Italian experience.

For more information and to register, go to:

Friday, January 20, 2012

moving right along

Miracle of miracles - I finished a quilt that had been sitting on my wall.  It's stitched, faced, and ready to ship out to be photographed.  I am so good at finishing things under pressure:-). 

Tonight, I finally got around to slicing up some of the ugly fabric that Karen Musgrave is sending out to the lucky people who volunteered for the challenge. The only way to deal with something that hideous, IMO, is to cut it into such little bits that nobody will notice it. 

The problem with that is that it takes forever to use it up because it's in such bitty pieces.  On the bright side, it is hardly noticeable among all the other wonderful fabrics.

These are simply units that I am making with little or no thought as to exactly how I will use them. But they do have to be used in a quilt, so I'll keep going and figure it out.

Tommorrow morning I have to pack and after lunch I'll be driving to Brooklyn to spend the weekend babysitting for Miss Emma.  Will be home on Sunday and have an art opening to go to (not mine), so it will be a busy few days. No sewing; my lightweight machine is in the studio. Maybe I will read. I may have to dig out the Kindle and take it along.  We shall see. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

d'un autre oeil

 Sometimes it takes another eye; another sensibility to see the beauty in something ordinary.
 I was in my studio last Friday and over the weekend, as well.  The place was warm, the sun was out, and the energy was, as always, positive. 
While I was at work, a studio visitor was observing, eye peeled, camera in hand. Here is a glimpse of what I see (but don't really see) when I am there.  Fresh perspectives.

On the subjet of d'un autre oeil -- I'm taking it one step at a time with the ugly challenge fabric from Karen Musgrave.  I planned to dye it over the weekend, but was (horrors!) out of soda ash at home.
Tea dyeing didn't work very well (especially with green tea) so I retrieved a bit of soda ash from the studio yesterday (remind me to order more!) and this morning, mixed a little Sage with Pro Green and got exactly the color I wanted.  Truly amazing, since I did not measure and was only guessing at what I might get.  The hideous pink is still there but toned down.  Next step - stay tuned. Or check Karen Musgrave's blog to see what others in the challenge are doing. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Post Script

Well, it didn't take long for something to appear on my clean work table at home.  This lovely item arrived in the mail yesterday from Karen Musgrave: a challenge to do something with it and make a finished quilt. BLEH - this is a CHALLENGE!
I must be nuts to have signed up for this, but how could I resist?  Now that my table is so neat, I can work at night on this while I work during the day in my REAL studio on something else.  I figure if I can rescue butt-ugly blocks, I can do the same with this fabric.  I look forward to seeing what everybody else does with theirs. 

One of the challenge guidelines is to document the process with pictures and post them to this blog, so you will see my trials and errors (oops - I forgot, there are no errors) as I go along.
Stay tuned!

clearing the decks

After a busy day in NY, I was energized enough to tackle the cutting table in my sewing room. I have only now finished sorting strips by color and have put them into plastic bags. How long they will stay organized remains to be seen:-).  But in the meantime, I can see the horizontal surface for the first time in the better part of a year.  I have put strips and bits into one plastic box and UFO blocks into another and have even labeled them!  What has come over me?

 Now that I have cleared the decks, so to speak, I am going to my studio for the first time in a month.
I am taking a giant bag of fabric with me and am going to start working on something new. . Then, I need to get to work on the rest of this room and do my annual de-cluttering. This will allow me to start the cycle again. Oh, joy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

blablabla Wednesday

I had the best time today!  Mark Lipinski is hilarious and I now understand why so many people listen to his weekly broadcast.  He'll probably ban me from his studio after he sees this picture, but oh well.  He was talking with his mouth open -- a good thing to do.

 I simply had to take a picture of his bookcase, which is the only one I have seen which is color-coded.
Here's the link if you want to hear the podcast of today's Creative Mojo, which I co-hosted with Mark Lipinski. Click, then click on Creative Mojo when you get to the podcast page. I wasn't going to listen to myself, but truthfully, I'm glad I did because I laughed all over again. It was a delight!

Creative Mojo today!

I'm co-hosting with Mark Lipinski tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan 11) on his Creative Mojo Internet radio show from 3-5 pm EST.  Should be interesting, to say the least.  Is it a coincidence that two of the guests work with vintage textiles, recycling them in different ways? And of course, here I am, slicing up and recreating my own vintage collection.  

To listen, go to and click on the listen live button on the page and you'll be able to hear the show as it is happening.  If you can't listen, the show podcast will be available usually within
a few hours after the show on the Show Host page under "Our Shows" at The shows are alphabetical, so scroll to Creative Mojo and you will see the latest podcast on the right hand side of the page.

So I have a prop or two, I finished the piece on the wall, making it slightly larger. I stitched it tonight but as usual, haven't yet finished the edges.  Not that anybody will be able to see this on the radio...
I'm pretty pleased with it, although  I think I'm done destroying these particular blocks for a while.  Time to tackle something else. I am waiting for Karen Musgrave's ugly fabric to arrive so I can figure out what to do with it.  My serious work can wait!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

What a week!

My crazy/busy week got even busier, but most of it was good.  I had company for dinner one night and today I was out for lunch, catching up with an old friend. Spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the E.R. with my mother, who had fallen and been sent for x-rays. Nothing broken - she's an amazingly resilient 94 year old. But she banged up her knee and will not be walking much for the next week or so.

When I got home from the hospital, therapy sewing!!  I've feeling a bit deprived after reading the UFO fun that's going on at Karen Musgrave's blog and  at Kathie Briggs' blog. So while I didn't have time to start from scratch, I did find time to sandwich and stitch this small top I made from that horrible block on the left (or one like it, but all gingham).   Not quite finshed, but close enough to make me happy. Maybe the facing tomorrow...

I've also got something else on the wall that I put together pretty easily from all the leftovers in my box. It isn't finished and I think I will have to take it to my studio to decide what comes next.

It was a busy end of the week so excuse the brief post, but I am off to get my beauty sleep.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

post New Year's craziness

A vacation weekend has its downside: the aftermath of work not done! I'm in the midst of writing an article with a looming deadline.  I'm also a guest blogger on And Then We Set it On Fire, so I hope you'll go over to read my post there until I can get back to posting here.

And while you're blog-hopping, check out Karen Musgrave's blog.  She has challenged herself to create something new from a 15 year old UFO (good challenge, Karen! -- it needs major surgery). She's looking for comments and when I have a chance to get back there later, I'll look at the whole process and see what miracles she has wrought in this new year.  Scroll down to her Jan 1 post to see where she has started.

Next Wedenesday, January 11, I will be co-hosting Mark Lipinski's Internet radio show from 3-5 will be off to find my way to Pickle Road's Creative Mojo show and whatever surprises await me.  At least I don't have to prepare because it will be totally off-the-cuff. Knowing Mark, I dread to think...LOL.

Dinner break and then back to the task at hand:-). 

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 ...