Thursday, January 30, 2014

Scrubbing the kitchen

UPDATE: I started writing this yesterday but couldn't post because we lost our Internet connection.
It is now Saturday night, Feb 1.  More in next post.

Scrubbing the kintchen (or anyting else) --not my idea of fun, I admit.  But here we are in my late mother's apartment in Florida and I am detoxifying the kitchen, where nobody has lived in more years than I care to tell you.  Picture harvest gold appliances, new when the place was built and you will get a sense of this kitchen. (well, here is a photo so you don't have to imagine it).  The appliances still work but the refrigerator will never be clean enough for me, even after hours of scrubbing. 

I just finished throwing out all the food in the tiny pantry, most of which expired in 2006.  So, time to think about renovating this kitchen, pulling up the SHAG carpeting in the rest of the apartment, including the screened porch, which has turned from beige to icky pale greenish, and replacing the bathtub in the master bath with a walk-in shower.  All I see are $$$$$$$$, but has to be done.  I just have to decide which comes first.  This, however, is a project for a year from now.  I have decided I will spend a few of the winter months in West Palm Beach in 2015 and hopefully, teach in Florida while I am here.  I am already booking for 2015 but am keeping Jan-March open.

The weather has been lovely and warm until yesterday, when it poured all day except for an hour in the morning when we did manage to get in our walk.  Today, back to the 80 degree and humid-but-nice weather that allowed us to eat lunch outside at a local French bistro. Ahhh.....

Yesterday, Home Despot.  Today, Lowes, which actually had the blue foam insulation board I could use as a design wall here in the spare bedroom. 

I've been taping batting to the wall, which never fails to fall down during the night.  We rented a dinky, cheapo car for 2 weeks, so need I tell you that the 4x8' board, even cut to two 4x4's, did not fit into the car.  Back we traipsed into the store and found someone to cut a foot off the panels so I now have two 36" x 48" pieces to use.  Works fine.  I just have to go to Joann's tomorrow to buy batting and hope that the 50% off coupon I printed out the other day when I was home is still in my bag and is not outdated.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


One of the things I did this past week was to make a block for my MQG's group quilt.  I don't get to man;y of the meetings these days but did want to participate in this quilt since I was one of the founders of the group.

We each got a random packet of 3 of the MQG official colors and had to add white (or not) to make a 12.5" block signifying what "modern" means to me.  I have to bring it to next month's meeting and I am happy to say I got it done in pretty short order. Pretty minimal and still has my signature slice/dice strips in it. Done!
Speaking of "modern," I am really honored to have been included in a wonderful new book, Quilting with a Modern Slant, that is coming out on Tuesday, Jan 28.  I haven't seen it yet, but I understand it is beautiful and the advance reviews are excellent.

 While I don't identify myself specifically as a "modern" quilter, the author credits me (along with some other well-known artists) as one of the forerunners of the modern quilting movement.  Hmmm…interesting.  I'm flattered.

The Quilting with a Modern Slant blog is fun to read and I'm looking forward to getting my copy of the book.  You can find a list of all the contributors if you go to the blog and scroll back a bit.  Check it out!

In the meantime, I am packing a suitcase with a few clothes and plenty of fabrics so I can work a bit.  My Florida sewing machine is NOT in good running condition but it has been 4 years since I have used it and this time I'm taking sewing machine oil, a ¼" foot from my Viking at home, and stuff to clean out the machine with.  Maybe it will help.  I had a dream last night about all those strips on the wall I've been playing with, so I suppose that will be my focus, along with visiting friends and relatives and doing plenty of walking.

Internet is non-existent in the apartment but I've got 4G on my iPad so I'll blog if I can.
Email - yes, so if you want to contact me, please do.

Friday, January 24, 2014


I have not left the house since Monday, except to walk to the mailbox up the street to retrieve the pile that was held for me while I was away.   Next week promises another Polar Air attack but I will be elsewhere.

So what have I done all week? 

Over the weekend I picked up the 1880's mantle clock I took from my mother's and had fixed by the antique clock expert who also fixed the 200 year old grandfather clock that my son inherited.  Honestly, I was going to give the mantle clock away, since it didn't work - but when the clock guy spotted it and raved, I had to let him fix it.  It is here now, ticking away.  It dings on the half-hour and has a beautiful, mellow chime on the hour.  I find it very comforting.  

Monday I spent all day at IKEA looking for storage solutions for this sewing room/office.
I have made lots of progress; you just can't tell from this picture - LOL.

Took lots of measurements and notes and will go back in a few weeks to sit down with a design helper that can work on planning the space with me.  The wire basket (purchased on Monday) is now a repository for Helene's hand-dyes, which I seem to have been collecting since 1997.  Still working on ironing/cutting/sorting by color and am wondering why I have so many drawers and bins of other fabrics.  A few years ago I gave away a ton of fabrics to a friend, but you'd never know it now.
Found this old card while I was going through the family stuff (still cluttering up that end of the room in the picture.  

Yesterday, I finally got out the strips I had been auditioning in Paducah and put them on the bulletin board/mini-design wall.  Who knows what this will be, if anything??  But it is keeping me amused and I am working with color combinations I don't normally use.
I have been making gallons of soup. First, a divine wild mushroom soup (minus the garnish) inspired by the one we had in a restaurant last week.
 Next, a to-die-for butternut squash, white bean, kale soup that was the best thing I have ever tasted. (well, top of the list, anyway). It is a bit of work, but worth it. 
This recipe comes from a blog called For Love of the Table.

I was so cold yesterday (and out of soup) that I couldn't contemplate a cold dinner.  So I got out the head of cauliflower I had bought on the weekend and made Mark Bittman's Curried Cauliflower Soup.  There are a million recipes for this if you google it, but I like Mark's because it is quick and doesn't have any fat or potatoes.  I used light coconut milk and was out of cilantro, but I ate it twice today, it was so good.  Actually, this recipe looks excellent, too - and I might try it next time.  

Oh - and today I wrote my Winter 2014 newsletter and sent it out tonight.  If you want a copy and don't already subscribe, just add yourself to the link on the sidebar and I'll make sure you get one.

Well, my clock has chimed 12 and I should get a good night's sleep.  I must admit is is a luxury not to have to get up at the crack of dawn.  Tomorrow - boring old chicken soup.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The week that flew!

Goodness - I am leaving for home tomorrow (Thursday) and it feels as if I just arrived.  This has been a wonderful "retreat" week for me -- sewing in Helene's studio (below, some of the strips I brought with me, temporarily sorted<g>.  

I was not planning to buy any more fabric (I have a ton of Helene's bits and yards) but it was impossible to be here and not go home with a few (few???) yards.  I really NEED that orange and lime green and since this photo was taken, the pile has gotten bigger.  I suspect that tomorrow morning I will grab another couple of yards. Oh, my goodness.  I will never use it all.  But oh, well.

Monday night was the monthly meeting of the Paducah Fiber Artists and I was happy to see such old friends as Cathy Neri, Rosemary Claus-Gray, Rose Hughes, and other artists I had met when I was here a couple of times previously.  Caryl Bryer-Fallert was not here this week, but she comes back and forth and will probably continue to do so till her building is sold and she can be in Port Townsend, WA full time.  Anyway, show and tell at the meeting was interesting, as always, and here is a (bad) picture of Rosemary with one of her sheers.  She was showing the hanging device she had found that just works perfectly to display her pieces.  It was great to see her.  I first met Rosemary when we were both juried into a show at the Whistler Museum in Lowell, MA.  DOn't want to think about how long ago!

Helene and Bob's gallery space and shop is beyond gorgeous (eye candy abounds) and I was especially taken with this group of work on one of the walls.  I have my eye on one.

Every day this week I have been cutting and sewing strips and arranging/rearranging them on the wall. Right now I am pretty happy with the arrangement but we shall see how I feel when I get home and look at them in my own space.  They have a long way to go.  I brought the pink strips with me, but have put them aside to start something else.

So, off to pack all my stuff (or stuff my stuff) in my already stuffed (did I use this word enough??) suitcases.

I am going home inspired and encouraged and totally relaxed, which was the purpose of this interlude.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sewing break

So far, puttering around with no particular results in mind.  Just as well.  I brought all the fabrics I thought I needed for the oink (oops! that should have been PINK) piece I was going to work on.  No matter what I did, I did not love it.  Or even like it.  

Being in Paducah means two things if you love fabric: 1) Jefferson Street Studios and 2) Hancock's of Paducah.  Well, I am already living in #1 so yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to go to #2 and shop.  We got there at 2:55 and the sign said they closed at 3:00 on Saturdays.  What's up with that?
So I hit the sale table, grabbed without looking, and we checked out by 3:10 after they measured the remnants.  I hate making decisons under pressure, so I didn't even know what I had bought till we got home.  Huh?  What was I thinking?  I still haven't used the fabrics I bought 3 years ago, last time I was here.

Yesterday, Helene gave me a few random strips to play with and today I fell in love with one of them so much I wanted a yard of the same fabric.  Since Helene's fabrics are one of a kind (or these days, eight of a kind - sort of - because no two fabrics in the same batch are identical) it was with some difficulty that Helene finally located a yard of this fabric.  There are others just as gorgeous, but I needed this one for my soul:-).  
Tune in later to see what I am doing on Monday.  This post did not upload last night.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A cozy mystery

I admit it: I like a good mystery. Not the "oh $#*t where did the envelope with all that cash in it disappear to?? I know I put it somewhere, but where???" mystery; but a good whodunit. 

Mostly, I love British police procedurals -- but last night I was up late reading something a bit more lighthearted: what they call a "cozy" mystery.  You know, the kind that usually takes place in a small (charming) village with a cast of (mostly likable) village characters and is usually a series. Yes, somebody ends up dead but the victim was somebody you were not emotionally attached to anyway and the fun is in seeing the detective figure out who the culprit was.

Cozy Quilting Mysteries have been around for a while; you're probably familiar with the books by Earlene Fowler and Jennifer Chaverini.  Well, they need to move over and make room for Mary Marks, whose book, Forget Me Knot, is the first in a new series that just hit the shelves a couple of days ago.  I thought it was not only charming, but funny.  And when it comes to funny, I am a tough audience.

It's different from typical quilting mysteries because it takes place in Los Angeles (hardly a village) and the quilters who solve the mystery are not  necessarily charming and cutsey-pie.  The narrator, Martha Rose, is overweight and a bit acerbic (meow,meow)and I found myself chuckling frequently at her "tell it like it is" descriptions of her Quilty Tuesday cohorts, life, husbands, and other quilters. 

There are references we can relate to: Houston, Best of Show Awards we don't think were deserved, and other familiar things. Honestly, the characters are engaging, the dialogue can be hilarious. and it's just a fun read. I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series!

en route to Paducah:-))

As I sit in the airport waiting for flight time, I have the chance to post some of the pictures I took during the "Can this Fabric be Saved?" workshop during the last two days.  Not all my shots came out (what else is new?) but these are some examples that did.

We did a variety of surface design techniques: screening with the usual suspects we all have at home, plus a gelatin printing demo and the recipe so everyone who wants to do this can do it at home.  Two days was not enough time to do everything, but it was a flying start!

Since everybody brought ugly fabric,they were not intimidated about printing all over it because for the most part, they could not have made it worse!  This is the back side of really hideous pink palm tree fabric that Valerie covered up with a screen made with blue gel glue.  You can see the obverse, but below you can see the "after".
These two pieces were actually done on sewn-together strips that were left over from another workshop with another teacher.  The resist on th;e top one was torn paper, I think.  And the bottom one was a glue screen.  Neat, huh?

This was tape put directly on the fabric and painted into with a foam brush.
The result is here. 
Jeanette has covered her cloth with little strips of tape and is now removing them.  You can see how it looks after the tape comes off. 
The orange strips were done with tape resist and then stamps were used on the next layer.
Glue on a screen over hand-dyed fabric gives a really nice look.
And this was a gelatin print done with a Lego.  Look how the gelatin creates a 3-D effect!
Carol printed a whole big piece of white on white with tape and green paint, with some purple added in a few places.  She is not sure how to use it yet but I tore a strip of the below fabric and plunked it onto the purple-stripe area to show her the possibilities when you cut up your fabric and reconstruct the pieces.  I'm eager to see what she finally does.

In fact, I am looking forward to seeing what everybody ultimately does with their fabrics and hope they will send me pictures at some point.

In the meantime, I am off to catch my flight and will no doubt blog from Paducah

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

heat wave in Chicago

Wow - it's up from 18 below to +5 today.  Temps are going up and by the time I leave on Friday, it is supposed to be a balmy 36 degrees.  Will believe it when I see it (or feel it, as the case may be).

I must admit I was flattered that a group of hearty souls dragged themselves out in this cold to hear me speak this morning.  Not sure I would have done the same, had the shoe been on the other foot.  The North Suburban Needlearts Guild is a group of diversely talented women, all of whom do something with a needle -- beading, felting, sewing, knitting, weaving, book arts, etc.  Many of them do surface design or make jewelry - and almost all of them do more than one thing - and do it well.  

Some of the members belong to a group called Womens' Journeys in Fiber and their work is amazing!
I just spent an hour on their website, -- completely awed by their talent.  You really need to go there.

After taking me out to a lovely lunch, my host for the afternoon took me to a place in Chicago called American Science and Surplus.  Oh,mygoodness -- what fun to browse.  Here are just a few of the things I resisted buying.

It did make a rather amusing afternoon.  My favorite stop was at an independent bookstore, where I purchased at least three novels to keep me occupied. Yes, I have some books on myiPad but I am not in the mood for any of them.  And there is nothing like paper reading matter to make me happy.
Tomorrow - Can this Fabric be Saved?

Monday, January 06, 2014

First post of 2014

There was going to be a last post of 2013 but I spent Dec 31 and Jan 1 with friends in their NY City pied a terre, which has no Internet access.    

For those of you following my sewing room clean-up saga, I spent the past week in that room and it now looks relatively civilized, except for the cutting/ironing table.  Mostl of the drawers below that surface have been emptied and eithere pitched or sequestered somewhere else.  I just have to take out what is behind the cabinet doors (a Singer 99, which is a 3/4 size workhorse and comes in a nifty carrying case.

But how many sewing machines does a person need?  I have this one, which I suppose I should use once in a while because it sews a nice straight stitch; my Viking 210, which is only 14 lbs and if I ever need to drive somewhere to teach I can take it; my wonderful, quiet old Bernina 1020 which is so quiet.  I use it only for piecing and it is in my studio.  Finally, my Janome 6500 in my sewing room at home.  I quilt on this one.

Enough of this tangent.  I arranged all my threads in the beautiful antique Red Star thread cabinet my friend Audrey gave me a decade or more ago.  I am SO proud of myself. How long they will stay organized? Don't know, but for now they are a visual treat.
The threads in the bottom are so old they break if you pull them, but they are beautiful.  The next up are my brand name threads and now I can see what I have (as in too many of a coupleofcolors I never use).  The top are the small spools of brand name threads and the top drawer, which you don't see, is full of gorgeous old spools of silk threads, which I also don't use but love to look at.
My scissors, seam rippers, and other tools are in the middle drawer, which does not have a glass front.

Fast forward to Jan 6 and I am in Chicago, where it is -11F degrees, up from a low of 18 below zero when we landed a few hours ago.  In my nice warm hotel room at the moment, but will have to walk to the restaurant next door for dinner.  I was wearing five layers under my coat, including a hooded sweatshirt and in addition, two scarves. On my feet, a pair of furry clogs (no socks, of course) and my feet were so hot on the plane that I had to take them off.  Brought my Birks with me for indoor wear:-)).

Tomorrow morning, lecture at the guild and my body is in east coast time so I will read for a while and call it a day.

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 ...