Monday, March 31, 2014

Hudson River Valley

Internet has been spotty at best and after a power outage here yesterday, non-existent.  I'm at the beautiful Greenville Arms in upstate New York, teaching a three day Free-Form Design Spa workshop.

I drove up on Saturday and yesterday was the first day of class. It has been cold and rainy, but we are happy campers because we are sewing and designing. 

It is remarkable that in one day, there has been so much accomplished after starting completely from scratch.  I couldn't even pry them away from their machines for mid-afternoon cookie break!! Here are just a few of them on the design walls when class ended yesterday.  They need to be fine-tuned today and then, onward.

It is time for breakfast, so off to start day two.

Monday, March 24, 2014

posting before another day goes by...

Last Thursday I was in New York at lunch with some of my college classmates in the NY metro area.  Took the bus in and walked to the University Club on 54th and Fifth Avenue, taking pictures in my usual way.  I deleted one of them by mistake and when I followed the directions on how to retrieve deleted photos with iTunes - the next thing I knew, I was looking at this screen. Deadsville. No pictures, no anything else, and much aggravation.

Long story short --most was recovered after a session at the Genius Bar on Friday, except for Thursday's pix that had not made it to the cloud and about 8 million text messages still sitting there. Can't say enough about Apple's customer service -- at least at this particular store.

Sunday late afternoon --  airport to pick up Patricia and Stéphane - my two charming and adorable French cousins, who are here to make presentations at conferences in New Haven and New York.  They stayed the night and I took them to the train this morning, but it was a delight to spend a few hours with them.  My French family knows how much I love la moutarde française, and Patricia brought me a treat -- truffle mustard and mortared au piment because she knows how much I love spicy things.  
Today, worked on getting the tax records together to take to my accountant later this week.  I was excessively antsy after a few hours of working on that stuff and took a break to fritter away some time on Facebook.  Good grief!  Working on taxes clearly addled my brain.

If I can get off this computer, I may continue to do some stitching on a whole cloth piece. No straight lines this time: I'm kind of enjoying stitching those circles for a change.  
On the other hand, I am leaving on Saturday to run a three day Free-form Design Spa workshop at Hudson River Valley Workshops in Greenville, NY. and I really need to get my supplies together.  I am driving, so I will be able to bring my very own sewing machine.  I have a basic Viking 210 from sometime in the '90s and it only weighs 14 lbs, so it can travel by car.  It's the only machine I ever bought new.  Its cousin, the Viking 215 (equally basic) is at my Florida apartment.  That one I bought on ebay a few years ago for almost nothing and it seems to be working fine.

Tomorrow, dentist and more taxes. Oh joy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

rain, rain, go away

I've been working on two pieces that need to be stitched and I was happy that my art group met here on Monday night so I could get some feedback from artists who work in other mediums.   Three weeks ago when we met, I had nothing -- so that's progress. Neither of these is pieced - they are whole cloth - and I am not posting them.

Are you tired of soup yet?  I'm not!  Monday, I made a carrot and sweet potato soup because that was what I had the most of.  The soup was divine and I finally (reluctantly) finished the last bit of it today.

 On Saturday we made our pilgrimage to Brooklyn and before we headed home, we stopped at International Grocery across the street from the Port Authority bus terminal and stocked up on a feast of spanikopita, taramasalata, eggplant salad, hummus (not as good as mine, if I do say so), olives, feta, and tatziki.  This was the perfect thing to set out for my critique group on Monday -- and it was also my dinner tonight.

The sound of the rain is making me sleepy.  Tomorrow, I have to be up early to go into NY.
I am meeting a group of friends from college, some of whom I have not seen in ages. Lunch at the University Club and then maybe I'll duck into MOMA afterwards if I have time.
We'll see.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

a long day

It's always a long day when I haven't been out of the house.  Had planned to go to the studio today but when I went out to pick the newspapers up off the driveway and it was 20 degrees, I decided I was not going out agin.

Instead, I made soup: Ina Garten's Ribollita recipe was the starting point but I used dried chick peas with the beans and left out the kale and whatever other green stuff she mentioned because I didn't have any and wasn't about to go out and get some. Instead, I used cabbage, which was just fine. And I skipped the bean-soaking routine and used my trusty pressure cooker. The soup was done in 40 minutes. Anyway, it was delicious and I just had some (again) because it is late and I am cold. 

Then, for dinner, I made one of the rice and lentil dishes that was in yesterday's NY Times.    Would have made them all, but was out of masoor dal and had just used some chick peas in the ribolitta. Then, salmon cakes spiced with ginger, which might have been better had I added an egg to told them together.  My dal didn't come out this soupy, it was fluffy.  I think it will make a good breakfast -- I am getting tired of oatmeal.
Yes, I actually did a little stitching today.  I'm working on another graffiti piece and am not sewing straight lines.  I got out my free motion foot, dropped the feed dogs, and am doing some very simple stuff that you really can't see.  That is the point: to add texture and not see the stitching.  Works for me.

I had a little fun playing around with Benjamin Moore's paint color picker on-line.  I have to get the kitchen painted and have big samples of 3 yellows.  Narrowed it down to two and wanted to look at one more that I don't have - so I used the computer.  Did it help?
You tell me.  Here is the current color -- sort of a greyed-down blue/green.  followed by three yellows, all of which look the same to me.

Maybe they are the same and I just forgot to save all the different ones. Sigh...I'll have to go buy a couple of quarts and play around.  meantime, off to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

the hunt

Have you ever spent more time hunting for something than you spent making it in the first place? Ha - of course not, because you have a neat, organized sewing room. 

I think I am losing my mind - and not so slowly.  My husband used to say "it'll turn up." And I said "no it won't."  Sometimes he was right and other times, I was. I can't tell you how many times I pawed through the garbage looking for something critical I had thrown away by accident.

Tonight I looked for a small quilt that needs a facing, that I KNOW was in this house.  Nowhere to be found.  Then I drove myself crazy looking for a small before and after example of a rescued UFO.  Just after I sat down to whine on this blog, I moved some papers on my file bin and there it was. Sigh of relief.  

The gray thing on the left (it really is gray, not blue) turned into the piece on the right.  It almost didn't matter what I did with it - anything would have improved it. But I quite like the way it turned out, considering that I didn't have a plan when I started.

Finally got to the studio today and was happy to see my studio mate and two of the other artists. I had intended to do something creative but instead, cleaned out the fridge - wiped the dye off the walls and shelves and threw away the thickened dyes that had thinned out and frozen.

Then I got to work on the mountains of fabric I had printed over the years and needed to iron/sort/throw out, depending on how useful they were. Four hours and I didn't make a dent.  Tomorrow, more of same.  I can't think till it is neatly sorted and put into plastic bins.  Well, neatly is a relative term.

I was going to start stitching a piece tonight but got sidetracked doing the same thing at home that I did in the studio.  Well, no hurry on stitching: first things, first.

an art night

Newark NJ has developed quite a vibrant, often edgy, art scene.  Tonight, a friend and I went to an exhibit and artists' talk because we wanted to hear Willie Cole  He and two other exhibiting artists were on a moderated pane land it was certainly a lively evening.  

Here's Willie with Shoshanna Weinberger, one of the other artists, while they both listened to the third member of the panel talk about her work (backdrop).  These three artists are professionals and are extremely successful -- yet they have the same angst in the studio that any of us has -- and they admit to having more than their share of what Sandy Donabed calls the "crap quota."  They all agree that you have to make a lot of stuff - just keep turning it out and some of it will be good.  There is nothing new under the sun.

Time for bed!  Too tired to think or to write any more. Willie Cole is charming and down-to-earth, despite his high profile.  I had a chance to chat with him before the program started - a real highlight of the evening.  'Nuff said.

Monday, March 10, 2014

oh, no, not again!

Monday morning. See those little white lines?  See the top of the railing? Daylight savings and it is snowing.  AARRGGGGHHHHH.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

a day at the quilt show

Today I had volunteered to sit and mind the SAQA table at the NJ Mancuso show for the afternoon.  However, when I arrived, I was told that somewhere along the line there was a communication screw-up - uh- glitch and the Mancuso people knew nothing about a SAQA table. Oops!

For me, it was fine.  I headed straight for Usha's booth and spent the afternoon hanging out, covering her for breaks, talking to people, and generally enjoying myself.  Saw some people I hadn't seen in a long time and soaked up the beauty of Handloom Batiks.  I grabbed these two fat quarters because I had run out of them and I simply love both the colors and the wonderful pattern.    It took all my self control not to come home with more, but I managed to leave a few beauties there.  I mean, how much more do I need?
(yes, I know: NEED has nothing to do with it).
 If I change my mind, I will send Usha this photo and ask her to cut me 1/4 yd of each of the three I would have loved but didn't take.  Look at this beautiful display!  Hard to make a choice.
 Opposite, a table full of fat quarters -- always a treat for the eye.
See that quilt?  I made it for Usha back in 1996. I saw her fabrics for the first time at Lancaster and fell in love with them. I saw that people(aka traditional quilters) were walking into her booth, looking at the fabrics and because they couldn't figure out how to use them, they said "how nice" and then left without buying.  I told her that if she would give me fabric, I would make her a traditional quilt to hang in her booth.  She hung it and her business took off because people saw they could make trad quilts with Indian batiks and they'd be gorgeous. I liked it so much, I made one for myself and it hung in my livingroom for years.
 In 2004 I made her a funkier, free-form one and it was hanging in her booth today. I wish I had one like it but can't seem to make another one.
Looking at this jacket, I almost wished I could sew.  Usha made it and I think the combination of fabrics is wonderful.  How many people would think to put these three fabrics together?? Love it!

 I barely looked at the quilts but I did visit Iris at the MistyFuse booth and we caught up when she could get away from the hordes at her booth.   I managed to leave a few $$ at the Superior Threads booth on these Bottom Line bobbins and one spool of thread.

After the show closed, we headed to our favorite Indian restaurant with four other vendor friends and had a fabulous dinner of mostly South Indian dishes - my faves. They have a buffet and everything is always fresh and hot and different. See the vada in the back row? Delish with rasam.

Almost forgot the requisite photo of Usha and me. A selfie, taken a little too close, but oh well.  

It was a good day.

Monday, March 03, 2014

the weather gods are smiling

And so are those of us in Northern NJ.  The dire predictions of another foot of snow + ice and sleet did not materialize, although I think those to the south of us got slammed again.  My deep sympathies to those of you who are faced with digging out once again:-(.

While there are still mountains of dirty snow lining the streets, the large cake on my deck table has shrunk to this size.  Maybe by April...

Sunday (was it only yesterday??) was one of those days when I didn't feel like moving. Nonetheless, I made barley & mushroom soup and decided to tackle the NY Times' recipe for scones, which ran on Wednesday.  While the Times rarely lets me down on recipes, this one just wasn't fabulous.  It was ok, but my goal in life is to make a scone that is as delicious (or almost, anyway) as the scones at Joyce Bakeshop, in Brooklyn near the corner of Vanderbilt and Park Place.  I never visit my daughter without stopping for scones and taking them home with me (if there are any left by the time I grey there).  So, not satisfied with yesterday's batch, I searched for another recipe.  These look more like it, but I haven't had one yet.  Saving them till later.

I've been in a funk for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that nothing I throw at the wall pleases me.  I took the gray strips to my studio but can't get there till Wednesday to work on them.

That left me with another try at the pink piece I started last month and took off the wall.  It's back in process and much better since it has less pink (why do I bother with pink at all??) but it is still not speaking to me. 

This is where I left it when I took the pieces down and put them away.

Here's where it is now.  Looking at this picture reminds me why I started this blog in the first place, January 2005. (Can't be that long!)  Taking a photo of work in process and posting it allows me to see from a distance what works and what doesn't.  So, it's back to the drawing board for the rest of the afternoon and I feel better already.  
I also understand why so many people use patterns rather than starting from scratch. .Remember paint by numbers?  Just fill in the blanks: no angst.

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 ...