Sunday, December 07, 2014


Stayed in all weekend, still cleaning my sewing room in the frigid weather.  No photos till I am finished, which had better be relatively soon!

This is not to say that I haven't been in the kitchen.  I've made pots and pots of soup this past week.  First, what to do with the poached chicken breasts I was going to make into a Mexican dish but didn't?  Aha -- Thai coconut chicken soup!!  I just happened to have a stalk of lemongrass in my fridge, a couple of cans of coconut milk, some mushrooms, and the staples in my house: cilantro,lime, red and green curry pastes,and nam pla or nuoc nam (Thai fish sauce). It was so fabulous I wished I had made a gallon of it.  I used green curry paste.  

Later in the week I decided I had better do something with the somewhat over-the-hill cauliflower I hadn't gotten around to using. This one was a no-brainer I found on my NY Times cooking app: Melissa Clark's lemony carrot cauliflower soup.  I just finished the last of it. Delicious and low calorie.

Friday and Saturday I made two pots of vegetable bean soup. I just threw in everything else in the fridge and it was divine.  Soups make easy meals when you have no time to cook because you are sorting and ironing you-know-what.

Thanks for your comments for the giveaway.  The random number generator picked #2, so Sandy Ellison is the lucky winner.  Will get the books out to her this week. I do have to say, however, that if you leave a comment and want to be included in the drawing for whatever it is, you must leave an email address. Otherwise, i can't get in touch with you. No email address, no goodies.  I will have more books to part with next week.

Meantime, I have finished burning the midnight oil. Enough sorting/ironing for tonight!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

where have I been?

Mostly at home.  Thanksgiving was particularly lovely this year. I spent most of the day organizing the cabinet above my desk in the kitchen. This was a result of my starting to reorganize and clear out my sewing room.  Some things simply needed to be moved to the kitchen cabinet but I had to clear those out first.  Ya know what i mean?  One thing leads to another and my shredder got a good workout.

Thanksgiving night, my daughter Hilary and I went out for drinks and dinner.  A relaxing holiday, I must admit. No cooking, no cleanup, no dishes. Ahhh....

I have spent the rest of the week (including the weekend) clearing the clutter (have a long way to go), filling trash bags galore, and getting rid of STUFF.  This includes books I no longer need/want/have room for.  And I have uncovered a stash of small (i.e. journal) quilts I have to put aside and decide what to do with. 

The difficult part is making the small decisions - but that's an old story.  And I still have all those family photos to go through.  Here's one for you: I not only have my own wedding album from my first marriage, but now, my mother's duplicate plus all the proofs, and my grandmother's version. ARGH. These have to go downstairs in the lower level, but not till I clear THAT out. And on and on.  This is what I have been doing for a week - and I still have not touched the fabric in this room.  No pictures till I am done.

Today I went into NY and met Usha for lunch.  I bundled up - hoodie, coat, scarf, and furry clogs, and was amused to see that one of the commuters in George Segal's iconic sculpture in the Port Authority Terminal had decided she needed a head-warmer.

The Port Authority has already started getting dressed for the holidays.

Usha and I had a wonderful South Indian lunch at Madras Mahal on Lexington Avenue and had a chance to catch up -- but it was much too short a visit. She headed to Chinatown to stock up on ginger and I headed to the bus, hoping to avoid rush hour. Nope. Rain and traffic doubled the trip from ½ hour to an hour to the mall where I had parked my car.
I was happy to get home and have decided to leave the continued clearing till tomorrow.

In the meantime:
I have packed up the Quilt National catalogs from 1993, 95,97, and 99, a Visions '98 catalog, and another book and am ready to send them off, book rate, to a good home. If you want them, leave a comment and I'll let the random number generator pick the new owner by Friday morning, Dec. 6.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I can't remember having spent a whole weekend doing NOTHING. I mean nothing! Saturday evaporated in a minute, after I had slept the morning away.  And Sunday, I spent huddled over the computer doing geneaology research which may ultimately lead to a big question mark. Ah, well.

Probably the exhaustion was due to a hectic week, crowned by spending a cold Friday in New York, visiting a bunch of galleries on the Lower East Side and getting an education in some art I might never had given a first glance, let alone a second one.  Stimulating, educational, exciting.  And exhausting -- climbing all those flights of stairs to art galleries in lofts.   Worth the effort.

Our curator and passionate, knowledgeable guide, Justin Polera, gave us the backgroun and the intent of the artists we saw -- but to me, art evokes a visceral response and while knowing the artist's intent helps me understand it, it does not make me like it.  Here, a couple of pieces by Klaus Merkel at the Joe Sheftel Gallery on Orchard St.

Across the street, Andres Carranza. He was cutting up canvas on his hands and knees and took time to speak to us about his work and his process.  Although he is right-handed, he worked with his left hand on these canvases, which were site-specific installations on the gallery's walls.  It was these that he was cutting into smaller sections, to sell.  Andres is here from Costa Rica on a residency and is heading to Art Basel Miami next week.
Sam Lewitt works with plastic-clad copper (or is it copper-clad plastic?) - the material many computer components are made from.  His work was in two galleries, and it was the work in the second gallery that captivated me. Drop-dead gorgeous; it could have been cloth, but it wasn't.
I don't normally cook on weekends, but Friday night I was too tired (and cold) to even venture out to eat.  Takeout from the Greek restaurant that delivers was the perfect answer.  So tired that we did not go out till Sunday night.  Saturday night must have been leftovers.  A blur.

I've been reading, staring into space, and taking a few days off to nurture myself a little -- without guilt.
Feels good.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

end of the week

Packed and ready to leave for home, with a stop on the way.  This has been a delightful
week -- nonstop Mexican food, great company, and a class of SAQA members that didn't even know how talented they were.

A key part of this workshop was the  voluntary critique of works in process; what I call 'groupthink."  Looking at someone else's work-in-progress is the best way to develop an eye for design you can take back to your own work, and the class members came up with some alternative solutions to some design problems others were stuck on.made were insightful and helpful.ifyou...?"

Julie is putting together her quilt, which captures the essence of a field of wildflowers.  
Following the group's suggestion that she try it without the blue and white sky, she removed that section and decided the piece was better without it. She set it aside and the blue and white units can be the starting point for another piece of work.  A design solution!

Kathy made this art quilt, which started as pieced strips she couldn't imagine would turn into anything cohesive.  But here it is, partially put together and ready to be completed at home.  I look forward to seeing the photo of the finished piece! It is both energetic and serene.

Elise's piece ended up to be a dynamic piece that made her feel really good.  Admittedly, it was a challenge to put together all those different sized pieces -- but it was worth it.  And the group's suggestions as she worked on it really helped with her color choices and placement.  She's happy, as she should be.

 I'm at the Tucson airport and have a long day ahead of me.  As always, I envy the class participants for having days to just play.  I have a break from teaching now for several months and am eager to get back to my own design wall and sewing machine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

class, class, class

Sigh...I am so lucky.

Teaching in Tucson for a wonderful group of SAQA members. Day 3 of 4, some people are ready to stitch their pieces, others are still working on the wall, and still others have started a second piece.
I tell them it is not a contest.  Anita and Kathy are hard at work.
Kathy's pieces are below and she'll probably start quilting one of them on Saturday.

Saralee came in with a specific idea for a triptych and finished the first of the three pieces.

Julie is contemplating the piece on her wall, which will look different by the time she has finished it.

Dureen's piece began as a monochromatic horizontal and ended as a vertical with more color.

Barbara is auditioning backgrounds for her piece.  It's great that the classroom is in a fabric store and we can go shopping for just the right fabrics to add to our pieces!
I can't wait to see how Kathy K's piece will end up.  It is still a work in progress, as are several other pieces in the class. Here, I've taken a picture in black and whilte so we could see the variation in value as she worked.

I am getting my fill of Mexican food while I am here!  Tonight's dinner at El Charro was especially delicious and the company of several class members added to the pleasure.  We had fun!
More tomorrow, after we wrap up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

the joys of travel

This was the scene from the Denver airport as I waited to catch a flight to Tucson. It was not snowing when I arrived. The last time I came through the Mile High City, there was a blizzard that caused me to stay at a hotel overnight.  This was not so bad: only a 3 hour delay -- two of them spent sitting on the tarmac waiting till the de-icing operations opened up.  We had to go outside and walk to the plane, then walk up such a slippery ramp that one woman on our flight slipped, fell,and hit her head.  
It was great to finally get to Tucson, where the night temps were in the 70's.  Happily, I am staying with Janet and Dave Windsor, who are absolutely delightful people.  Lucky me!  Tomorrow is a gap day.

Spent most of the weekend packing, but took time off to go to the opening of  a wonderful exhibit of art chairs on Sunday afternoon.  This was a fundraiser for the WAE Center, which is a place where developmentally disabled artists can take classes, create, and work in a variety of mediums.  My friend Yvette directs the art program and commissioned a number of artists to conceive a chair project as art and have the students participating in creating the chairs.  Here are just a few of them.

The student artists painted these Ikea chairs, whch can remain a sculpture or be taken apart and used.
My friend Susanna directed this project and it was the first art to sell!
The student artists built this chair from Legos!

This was the most creative exhibit I have seen in years.  Now, time to catch up on my sleep. I've been up since 5 this morning and it is now 1:30 am Eastern time, but Iam supposed to pretend it is only 11:30 p.m.  'Night.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Friday makeover

Here I am, looking like I have an overgrown tree on my head.  I am not complaining about the thickness of my hair; I am merely stating a fact. My hair grows longer but for the most part, it grows out like the top of a mushroom.  In a while, I hope there will be an improvement because my bangs are covering my eyes.
In the meantime, I was in the studio printing scarves on Tuesday and by now they are all steamed/washed/ironed/tagged/folded and are ready to go into my suitcase.
Here is one on my print table.
Here is a bit of another one, hanging to dry.  Both of these look much better now, having been washed.  These are not great photos, but oh well.

Post-haircut, at least you can see my eyes.  
Yes, that is part of my vintage coffee/tea/other foodstuff (marshmallows, anyone? borax? bread curmbs?  A stash of vintage tin signs downstairs -- no repros!  Camel cigarettes, Winstons, a Tums thermometer, soft drinks that no longer exist, blah blah blah. Maybe I'll put them back up when/if I ever get the kitchen repainted. A 2015 project.

In the meantime, I have been putzing around in my sewing room, working on something I started a year ago and habe taken apart and sewn together too many times to count.  I think it needs to be something else.

The spaghetti sauce is bubbling away and I'm trying to decide what else it needs. Probably some red wine but that means I'll have to open a bottle. Well, maybe I'll skip that ingredient.  Fresh basil would be good but that means I have to go upstairs to the greenhouse/aka master bath, which has a skylight.  And I'm too lazy.  Garlic, artichoke hearts, beef, capers, anchovies, and I forget what else.
There you have it.  Cocktail hour looms and I am done with all this idle chit-chat for the time being. If there is any breaking news between now and Monday, when I am in transit (unlikely), I will post it.
Enjoy your weekend; I will be scrambling to try and cram everything into one suitcase. Ha!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

another fun mystery hits the shelves!

Mary Marks new mystery, Knot in My Backyard, made good escape reading for me when I was ready to put my feet up.  Her main character, Martha Rose, is at it again -- playing detective because she simply can't not! Her mission? To prove her neighbor innocent of murder: not an easy task.

This adventure was inspired by a real life incident involving government corruption, but there are plenty of light moments along the way. As you might expect, when her quilting friends get involved they discover that things are not what they seem and you'll want to keep reading as the plot thickens. 

It's a fun read and when Mary's next book comes out I'll be waiting!  But for now, this makes a good winter read when you're ready to curl up on the sofa and relax.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Sunday post

Spent the weekend in the City. Saturday was rainy, windy and cold.  But I managed to find some beauty in a couple of the vest-pocket parks along 54th st.

We went to see the Matisse at MOMA, along with 5 billion other people. (google images - Matisse cut outs MOMA to see the exhibit).  I have to admit that I was not eager to see the show but so many people told me how fab it was that off four of us went, with the hordes.  It was, indeed, fab.  Seeing the work in person is totally different from having seen a few of the iconic pieces that have become so common they seem mundane.  LIke this one.

But the simplicity of form, the positive/negative, and his use of color blew me away and made me think entirely differently about his late work.  
Indeed, there is much more than meets the eye -- and it is a huge exhibit that includes films of Matisse cutting out the work freehand, just like THAT!  If you are near New York or if the exhibit travels to where you are, try to get there to see it in all its glorious color and form.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday review

It's been a pleasure to be home again the second day in a row.  Recently, I attached this whole cloth composition to a piece of felt and am trying to decide whether to stitch it or not.  My fiber group says yes; my other art group says not necessary.  I tend to agree.
Several people asked "how'd you do that?" and my answer, as always,was "I have no idea."
But this afternoon, as I was going through the zillions of photos in iPhoto, deleting many of them, I discovered photos I took as I was working on this piece in 2011.  Just in case you are interested in seeing the progress, here are the pictures.  Freezer paper, masking tape, and thermofax with thickened dyes.  
 here is a detail.
An example of why you should keep going if you aren't happy.  Layers are your friends.
Clearly, this was nothing to write home about.
Then, omg - what did I do?  This is a little obscured.  At this point, I figured it couldn't get worse.  I guess I put some more freezer paper on and covered the whole thing with various colors of dye. Bleh.
After it dried, here is what I had. The freezer paper is still on the fabric.
I just can't figure out how I got here because it's obvious that I discharged the piece where the freezer paper is.   Actually, maybe I took the freezer paper off and put Thiox through my thermofax screen over the whole piece.  This was before I steamed/washed it.
And here is the end result (that you saw at the top of the blog)

It's probably a good idea to take notes while I work, but that's just not my style. Do you take notes while you work?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

halfway there

Wednesday.  One more day and it's the end of the week. Wishing the week away the way we wish our lives away. Tsk tsk.

Today was a cleaning day.  I am embarrassed to say that I spent most of the day cleaning off the desk in the kitchen (well, not a desk you sit at, but I don't know what else to call it.)  Dumping ground. Tip.
It took me all day to decide what to throw and how to organize what to keep. 

There are still some things that don't belong there: a 1979 withdrawal slip from a bank that no longer exists, signed by my mother and father; a small box that says "my toy dishes" written on top in my mother's handwriting.  She was born in 1917 and the dishes are china, wrapped in tissue paper.  The box is falling apart, held together by rubber bands.  A match safe that I should nail to the wall, but since I plan to paint the kitchen it doesn't make sense.  The file drawers below are full, so I have a dozen manila envelopes with things I need to tend to.  Photos of the grandchildren.  Pens, pencils, a pencil sharpener; the phone.

The bulletin board is another story: tax bills that remind me our real estate taxes have nearly doubled in the past 18 years.(do I really need these?)  Prescriptions I need to remember I have. more photos. Cartoons that make me smile. (I saved it from 1983 because my father never failed to fall asleep in a concert).
 And this one.  We all know somebody like this woman.
Miscellany.  BUT - I can see the horizontal surface (at least for now).  There is still some stuff on my kitchen table, out of your sight -- but I'll deal with it tomorrow.  Tonight, I will go into my sewing room.
And I will ignore the fact that I can't see those horizontal surfaces, either:-).  The sewing machine is clear.