9/21/2016

Butter, flour, sour cream and memories...


Here I am once again spending about 4 hours declaring my undying love and devotion by baking sour cream rolls for my DH.  I realized today that I've had that rolling pin for 60 years.  I can't even remember why I cut the handles off but I did.  I've had many other fancy wood and marble ones over the years but this old maple one is by far my favorite.


When DH comes home I'll get a huge hug with one arm while he is grabbing for a roll with the other.  I've blog often about this recipe of his mother's.  I've often been tempted to alter it a bit with cinnamon, cardamom, icing or nuts but that seems sacrilegious.  The only change I've made is that I use butter instead of shortening.

I had the kindest, sweetest, most loving mother-in-law in the world. I adored her and so did everyone who knew her..   Every single time I make sour cream rolls I feel her presence at my side.

She often took a bus from Glendive Montana to Spokane to visit us....a long grueling trip.  She came in the door, took off her coat, put on her apron and started the dough for sour cream rolls for her "Ronnie."  She was not known for being a particularly good cook but the sour cream rolls were her claim to fame and she learned to bake them from her mother... The next time my granddaughter is here we're going to bake them together....  I did this watercolor and recipe for her descendants. My own sour cream rolls never quite measured up in my husband's eyes, but once that Mary was gone, my sour cream rolls were looking better every year.....
My favorite story about Mary is: While taking communion one Sunday, Mary found the host dry and impossible to swallow. She wrapped it in a tissue, took it home and agonized what to do with the holy bread. Finally she put it in a tree for the birds. A shocked friend scolded her for being sacrilegious. This weighed heavily on Mary so she went to confess her sin. To her relief the priest's response was "Mary, you did good!"  Sometimes I like to remember the people who have so special in my life and she was definitely one.

9/19/2016

CQI Retreat in Kansas City



Arrived home yesterday from the CQI retreat and had a fabulous time.  It has been several years since I had attended a retreat and it was fun to meet new people and even more fun to connect with friends from past retreats... But the biggest treat was to have Lisa Boni as my roommate.  We have been online friends for years and years but somehow have missed being at the same events at the same time... I admire her work so much and she is definitely a sister in spirit.. We had 4 days to talk nonstop and work side by side.




Another friend who goes back to the very first retreat I attended was Connie Kalina.... She has taught herself to make bobbin lace and I couldn't wait to see it in progress.  Here she is giving a lesson to Carol Kramer..   It is an incredibly complex process and the end result is so delicate.

Since I had last seen Connie, she and her husband have taken up mountain climbing and have hiked several over
14,000 feet.












She gave me this small lace frame which I shall treasure and use in a most special project.

The thread is gossamer thin and the pattern is achieved by manipulating  the bobbins again and again in a very specific order.  Much too complex for me but I immensely admire that she was willing to learn.











Another treat was meeting Nancy Taber and giving the button I painted of her dog Brandy.. who is now deceased....  Most of the time special projects just go out in the mail so is was joyful for me to actually hand it to her and see her face light up.







I presented a slide program on making fabric books and had the cottage, corset, Morris and other books with me.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it. 

And an extra bit of serendipity was finding the perfect fabric to use as a base for the anniversary project.  I had a terrible time finding a moire taffeta that would coordinate even when I went to the garment district in LA with Susie a couple years ago.  I finally found a blue online but I was never happy with it... But when the stash dash was going on I saw Cathy Kizarian carrying this pastel green piece of moire that was perfect match and the right size. Being such a sweet person she gave it to me.  The blue was just too intense.   I had pretty much stalled on the project but excited now to finish.  We are leaving for Seaside Oregon on Monday and it is going with me...  Now I have to catch up at home before we leave..


9/01/2016

Post from following and gorgeous sequins...



I learn a lot from my followers and have discovered many products I have never used before... After I lamented about my problems with getting a ribbon needle  through the beads, Lacysuzette  commented:

 "As to stringing beads on ribbon, have you tried a Big Eye needle? They are quite long, maybe 4", & split longitudinally. It's sort of like two wires stuck together at each end & when you press the ends together, the center opens wide. Release the ends, & the needle closes over the ribbon or thick thread. Available in bead stores, they are great for loading beads onto ribbon, boucle, yarn & chenille."

Well I was on Amazon in a flash and a package is on its way.  Anxious to try it...  Thanks so much...

My GP doctor's office is only a few blocks from my favorite thrift store and of course when I was there Monday I had to drop in at the thrift store for a few moments.  There was a knit top that had the most gorgeous antique gold sequins but I didn't feel I could justify buying it just to cut off the sequins...  But today I am going to my oral surgeon and his office is only about 6 blocks from that store.  And if the top is still there I'm buying it... It's the oddest coincident that my hair dresser, GP doctor, my regular dentist and now my oral surgeon are all within 1/2 mile of my favorite thrift store... only my retina specialist is miles away so I must ask him to move his office.

Last eye session did not go well at all... First one eye was not completely numb and when he stuck the needle in that eye, the pain took me about a foot off the chair.  Then I had a reaction and had to go back the next day because of the bloodshot eye and swelling.  I seem to be allergic to either the numbing medications, the dilating solutions, the antibiotics with the shots or the Avastin.  Now I'm dragging out all my precious Arch  quilts and will use them on my bed on injection day... super mojo

8/30/2016

Cottages Finally Finished.... CQJP 2014

 When I started this cottage theme in 2014 I originally intended to finish it as one book..

But after the thrill of the suffrage quilt being accepted in Houston I began thinking I may finish it as one piece (See possibility at left) so the project sat on the shelf until last winter.  But after waffling back and forth I knew I book/books would be best as I wanted to leave them to granddaughters.  It was pure vanity wanting to enter them in a competition and I knew I would be sorry down the road. 




The Morris book was 16 blocks counting the covers  and I did them back to back so there were 8 pages.  All the pages were facing each other and they were so heavily embellished that it didn't work  well.  I knew that this time I wanted each page to be backed so the embellishments on the cottage blocks would have some protection.



So that meant that there would be 14 pages including covers...which would be too thick and unwieldy.   The Morris book is over 2 inches thick with just 8 pages.

This meant 2 books instead of 1 which is fine as there will be one for each of the oldest granddaughters.  I had already finished the CQJP 2015 into 2 books for the youngest granddaughters.
So right away I had to start another lace cottage for the second cover.  It was much less complex than the first one but I liked it just as well.















Once that was done I started the blocks that would back each cottage page.  I did different adages about home on each page and kept them quite simple.

I was really happy with the way they turned out.  They not only protected the embellished pages, they added to the whole cottage theme.



Then began the long process of binding each page and edging each page.  In one book each page was edged differently with lace and trims and in the other they were edged with all lace.  The adage pages and the finishing of the cottage pages took months.

I knew for absolute  certainty  that when assembled I wanted the pages to open flat and began looking at alternative ways to assemble them.  I have done several books finished with buttons holding the pages together but they do not open flat.

The Morris book is assembled in "signatures" with a spine and it opens fairly flat but I wanted to explore other methods.


To the left the top example is called a "French-Stitch" method based on a traditional book-binding technique.  The reference showed doing it with cording but I chose to use multiple ribbons. 

The second technique was using beads and ribbons.  I will add some more rows when I find more beads the right size that a ribbon needle will pass through. If you look closely at the photo above you can see the ribbons and beads when the books are flat...  I am really happy with the results of both methods.

The "French-Stitch" method was a bit complicated and I learned too late that it is important to hold the piece facing the same direction when you start the next row..  My error is not that noticeable but I will know better next time.  This method has a lot of possibilities combining  various cordings with beads.


And I finished each book with some pictures of myself and a little bio about the importance of needlework throughout my life.  I bought a good-sized lot of knitted lace on e-bay last winter for this project and used most of it... I love the look of it.


This is the  book I used for information and inspiration and I never found anything better.  I can highly recommend it.

 This was my last really large project and could quit now and rest on my laurels (whatever my laurels are....) but I'm going to really try to complete as many of the CQJP 2016 as I can  and assemble the anniversary hanky piece which is 90% done.


8/24/2016

I believe in my walls.....

Several things came together to inspire this post.  The most recent was a comment by Rengin Yazitas  asking if I had my own paintings on my walls.  Actually I only have ONE painting and not a single piece of crazy quilting hanging on my walls.  Every single bit of available wall space is covered with samplers.

Of this particular grouping my  favorite  is "Yard by yard life is hard, inch by inch it's a cinch" and "Character like embroidery is made stitch by stitch." as a close second.  Although "Time wounds all heels"  has certainly been relevant more than a few times over the years.

And it all came about because of this serenity prayer that I embraced very early in life.  I had it on my wall as a very young woman and it was the very first sampler I stitched in 1963....over a half century ago.  It has hung in a prominent position every single place I have lived since.  All my life I have had no problem with charging ahead changing things which often ends disastrously.... the hardest thing has always, always, always been accepting the things I cannot change. 

During my daughter-in-law's last visit she asked about what has been the guiding forces in my life and there has been just one..... this prayer.  It has become a mantra. This sampler will go to my second oldest granddaughter Leigha.

But this first sampler also led to my doing many other samplers but I was very selective.  It had to be an adage or proverb that I could really embrace. 

Gradually my collection grew until I had several dozen.  A few years ago I downsized and gave many away to family and friends and even still I have about 20 hanging in my living room...


The traditional sayings on samplers usually  express a common experience such as a short well-known saying containing a wise thought.

The dictionary defines adages/proverbs as brief statements which reflect commonly-held philosophical beliefs in a society. Because an adage has been passed down over time, it serves as a symbol  of collected and accepted wisdom. Adages provide us with simple guidelines with which to live.

A good example is a "Stitch in time, save nine" and one on this wall which is "It's nice to be important but more important to be nice." 








I just can't imagine not being surrounded by this collection but I'm going to give more away to grandchildren this winter... This one is going to my oldest granddaughter, Madison.  I stitched it in 1965 for her great-great grandmother... a strong Danish woman whom I adored.  When she passed her daughter gave it back to me to pass down in our family.  They are really hard to photograph because the glass reflects everything.


Some time back I stopped stitching new ones but I still occasionally pin one on a wall that speaks to me


and I have even painted them right on the wall..

 I have always been more focused on the message rather than the stitching but Sharon Boggon just recently posts a fascination history of embroidery samplers...

And even though I find it hard to believe a month has passed and it is time for eye injections again tomorrow... My bedroom is ready and I have books downloaded.  These injections  definitely fall in the category of things I cannot change and must accept.

 

8/18/2016

Breaking from your comfort zone!

Somehow I started on a series of block composition and am ending with my usual lecture on color....but since I feel strongly about the subject I will proceed.  The majority of people in the US struggle with color....we are not comfortable with color on our bodies, in our homes and in our surroundings. And I am a prime example.  My comfort zone is neutrals and pastels....in fact EVERY room in my house is a shade of beige.    I   make a conscious effort to break out of this comfort zone and if I didn't everything I stitched would be neutral or pastel.
 

I would love to live in a culture that celebrated color in their clothing...

 
or in their surroundings.
 
But I don't and thank to a challenge years ago by Laurie Bergesser I regularly make a concerted effort to emerge from my comfort zone.....and I am ALWAYS   glad when I do as those works are among my favorite.
 
 
So whether you are a person who likes brights OR a neutral and pastel person... the real trick is to pick the colors  are harmonious.  Here are some of the techniques to  use... First look for inspiration... Find a colorful fabric that sings to you and use it as a guide. 

Also look to the color wheel and pick touching colors. This will ensure you that your piece will be harmonious. 
 
I wrote a whole post on "Color Seeds" which I love, love, love and has taken me on some interesting color journeys.  This post and that site should not be missed.  There are options there for  every taste...
 
I often use a color pile before I make my final choices... Put possible choices in a pile.. toss it about several times accessing what doesn't fit..  It's easier to pick them out of a pile then to deal with them later in a block..  If you look at your fabrics in a pile and like them, toss them around a few times  and still like them, they are going to look good on a block no matter what you do... This is the "pile test",

I do mine on a table but   I just noticed on Facebook that Allie posted her pile of fabrics  on the floor.  I think that is a great idea because you get a better perspective.. 
 
Remember I started this posts for stitchers who were unsure about choosing colors to use together... I said there were two "NO FAIL" approaches...  The first was limit your color choices.  

Well the second  "NO FAIL"  approach is just the opposite.... USE EVERY COLOR!!
This block is an excellent example and was stitched by Cathy LaBath... She adores color but had written me repeatedly that she is horrible at picking out colors that harmonize...

Yet to appease her thirst for bright colors she uses them with abandon  making dozens of these scrappy quilts..  They work because of the multitude of colors at random... You cannot fail making one of these quilts and the same approach is true applied to crazy quilting...

She's not comfortable choosing and controlling color but she doesn't let that stop her.. Cathy has her colorful scrappy quilts on her blog.


 
 
And there are those who are masters of color and I always think of them as the girl in this painting.
 
There are lots of them and do look for their work on line and gather samples for inspiration.
 
This delightful painting is by Maria Pace Wynters and I tried in vain to find a print for sale.
 
 
My personal favorite colorist is Allie Aller who not only thinks, dreams and plans in  color with abandon, she also is a master manipulator of color which is a whole another level of skill. She has written a wonderful crazy quilting book. 


 
But  a last  important point ....do not let fear of color harmony keep you from forging ahead.  It certainly doesn't mean that you can't be among the best by NOT leaving your comfort zone.  As a prime example I give you New Zealand's legendary crazy quilter, Jo Newsham.   I must share that Jo is color blind. To compensate she most often stuck to a very limited color palette or a monochromatic selection of threads and fabrics.  These techniques defined her style and should be a great inspiration to anyone struggling with color theory. . You can see here she chose only lavender and soft green.. This limited palette gave her work a  simplicity that ensured all the parts of the needlework would complement each other.

This next six weeks is crazy busy and I may get personal posts up but not block talks which take a lot of time... this one especially because I lost all the photos I gathered for it when there was a power outage.  I will try to pick up a few block talks from the archives and rerun them.  Thanks for dropping by.











8/13/2016

Pet portrait and life on the farm...


Spent time last night finishing up this pet portrait on a button.  Just a few tweaks and it will be done..  lovely dog.

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed when we left for Alaska and came home refreshed.  The first thing I wanted to do was walk in the woods but it turned out the first thing I had to do was clean the refrigerator.  In our hasty departure I neglected to tell the house sitter that the bag of spinach in the refrigerator was for the chickens.  It was close to "sell-by" so it spoiled and made a god-awful mess.  The new pullets had grown and are used to sleeping in the roost loft.  Will soon let them wander out of the pen an hour or so before dark and gradually lengthen the time.

Then I could walk in the woods and it was breathtaking and I love it when I can find the perfect adjective....dappled... the light and a breeze made everything shimmer.  And Morris startled some turkeys and to his delight they flew into a tree over his head and he could bark at them.  But when he barked the ravens appeared and scolded him...

The elderberry trees are absolutely loaded and will provide lots of feed for all types of birds.  We have had way more rain this summer than normal and all the trees and bushes are loaded with fruit.












And the mama quail are continually encouraging this year's crop of babies out of the safety of juniper shrubs. They finally emerge a few inches and then at the slightest  movement they scurry back.




And my young buck is hanging about scarfing up the apples falling to the ground... Didn't have a fawn this year so I hope he stays safe until breeding season... There are enough apples that he could be busy until then.

8/11/2016

Our Alaskan Adventure


Well we're back and had a grand time... The weather was sunny and bright the day we arrived and we spent time on one of the decks with wine and cheese... Then it started to rain and poured until the day before we left.  It certainly didn't  dampen our spirits though.  It was so pleasant to sit there and enjoy the view.

Just across the inlet are two active volcanoes... Mt. Illiamna which last erupted in 1876 and is still constantly spewing steam and fumes and  Mt. Redoubt which last erupted in 2009 and wreaked havoc with air travel for some time.  Both volcanoes are visible from the lodge on a clear day.

My son's  lodge is magnificent and it is like a natural history museum as it is  filled with every Alaskan animal imaginable... and my son does not even hunt.  But hunters do kill these animals and have them mounted.  When they arrive in an ordinary house some wife says "No way in my house!" and they end up giving them to the lodge.  It is hard to imagine the size and power of these animals until you stand next to one.

One afternoon we drove to Homer and another we went eagle watching.












There is a large staff including a chef and a masseuse.  We ate a LOT of food.  This 3-foot-tall seafood tower had the appetizers for one evening.  There was every seafood imaginable... salmon, cod, shrimp, oysters, clams, scallops, etc. and even sea urchin. There were containers of dry ice billowing ice fog...very dramatic.  I especially loved the large prawns.

Each night had a fabulous menu and the last night was prime rib and lobster.








One night there were huge tubs of king crab and we enjoyed every bite.  I meant to save DH's bib as there are days when he is grouchy I could hang it on him.. He's looking pretty happy here though.








Each night had a theme and one was cowboy night.  When they have that dinner it always ends with Mom's Apple Pie made from my recipe.  My son always complains that it never really tastes as good as mom's.  So when I am visiting I bake the apple pies.... real Mom's Apple Pie baked by the real mom...




And then there is my son... who if had lived  in 1900 would have been in vaudeville..... he is always "on" and there was no way I could make him look normal for a proper mother/son picture.  This was pirate night which starts out with a whole roasted suckling pig as one of the appetizers... The entire staff dress as pirates and wenches and put on a quite a show.

He is now approaching 60 but was just as funny and wacky when he was 6.





I did get to spend time stitching when everyone was busy and also on the plane.  I did almost finish basting all the laces I took.  When there was any quiet time I spent it with my lovely daughter-in-law... who keeps the entire operation running smoothly.  And she is as beautiful inside as outside and made a very fetching wench.  I wish I had taken a picture of her costume..  My oldest granddaughter did get down from Anchorage for a couple days and I loved that.




DH did get to go out one day and caught enough halibut that we brought it home frozen and will enjoy it this winter.

This particular week there was a lot of fly outs as the water was really too rough for the boats.  On the last day there were four helicopters ready to take the fisherman across the inlet to remote rivers full of fish.  At the end of the last day we were treated to a long flight across the inlet...right up the side of Mt. Illiamna






video
 
 
 
 We saw bears fishing in the river, moose grazing, lots of seals and incredible scenery.... and was I having fun...I think so!!!!
 
And for more pictures and more information about the lodge go to http://alaskafishinglodge.com/
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