Sunday, March 15, 2015

a day or two late and a dollar or two short:-)

In lieu of sewing, I am sorting my scraps and strips and putting them into bags to take home with me, in the hope that I will get back into my studio and do something with them. Hope springs eternal. Not sure whether it is the sunny, warm climate or the fact that I just need a rest, but I have not been in the mood.  Instead, I have continued to binge-read mindless mysteries: this time around, Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series (preferably in order). 

And I have been making soup.  Last week, I took one look at the crisper drawer and knew it was time to use up the past-their-eat-by veggies.  I do miss my pressure cooker, which allows me to make soup in 20 minutes or so -- but in desperation, I did it the old fashioned way: a couple of hours in a pot.
Cabbage, onions, green beans, a half of a turnip, three sad carrots, and an onion or two. And maybe a pathetic half tomato, about to go soft.
Always reminds me of the book, Stone Soup, which I used to read to my kids.  To the veggies I added some dried lentils, a couple of bay leaves, and what looks like oregano, thyme, basil, and who knows what.
Thought some tomato flavor would be good, so threw in some tomato paste.
About an hour into the cooking, it was starting to look like soup.  Threw in the rest of the can of  tomato paste, a potato turning green, and some dried mushrooms.
 Aha!  Cooked down for another hour, it looked ready to eat.  And it was delicious. I ate it all week.

Of course, eating soup did not take up my entire week; I took my sewing machine in to be fixed and the fixer called me to tell me he couldn't figure out how to attach the foot so he could sew with it. Hmmm...very odd, since I had no trouble sewing with it last week. I just didn't like the way the stitches looked and thought it needed a bit of tuning up.  Needless to say, I am going to bring the machine home tomorrow to see what is going on. Time for a new (used) machine for my Florida digs.

I have also continued to audition backsplash tile. Maybe I should just paint it ((next winter) and then see.  The holes in the wall left by the electrician will not be fixed till 2016, since I am going back to NJ in less than two weeks.  Mixed feelings about that. Sigh...

Went to the movies to see The Second Best Marigold Hotel, which, while not as fabulous as the first one (sequels never are), it was nevertheless a pleasant and charming way to spend a couple of hours.  I mean, what could be bad with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench? The only quibble I had was that you had to have seen the First Best Marigold Hotel to keep the relationships straight.  It should have been a series on public television. 

Ok - back to the next Maisie Dobbs book.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

back from wherever I was

Don't ask me where the last few weeks have gone.  I have been pretending to be on vacation by binge-reading British detective books.  Between reading sessions, have had a few more kitchen renovaton issues and done some teachng, which has been my biggest pleasure.

The Teaching Part
Taught a one-day class in Jupiter, where I had the pleasure of seeing my old friend from NJ, Debbie Krajkowski.  Debbie and I took a class a few years ago with Jan Myers-Newbury at the Newark Museum and while my fabrics are still languishing, Debbie has recently made two quilts with hers.  Here is one of them.  I'm not posting the other one because I think she should submit it to a national show.
One of the class members turned out to live in the same condo development as I do, so that was a bonus.  And she invited me to the Palm Beach County guild meeting, which has a number of art quilters, so that was another nice outcome.  My Florida sewing machine is not making me happy, so I have not done much piecing while I am here.  Anyway, I haven't been in the mood to work.

Last weekend I drove to Ft. Myers to teach at Art Quilters Unlimited, where I had taught a number of years ago.  This was a two-day improv piecing class and it was a very talented (and fun) group!

This is Nancy's piece, which is fairly large for a quilt made in a two-day class.  We persuaded her to skip the border and the binding and just face it and hang it as the art that it is.

Jim's engineering background translates into precise, symmetrical work in a variety of mediums.  This time, he challenged himself to do something with the leftover pieces of a very traditional quilt. These are just a few of them.

Success in working outside of his comfort zone and coming up with a really interesting result!

Carol's piece began this way and I can't wait to see the finished work!
Betty has cut her larger units into small ones and is rearranging them.  See all those black and white fabrics on the wall?  She added some of them later to break up the design on the wall and what a difference it made!  I hope Betty will send me a photo so I can post it when it is done.

Rena came in with a few already-made units and this is how her quilt top looked after she had made some others and sewed them all together.

Carolyn came in with an idea for what she wanted to do with the strips: a landscape.  What a great idea!

These were the photos that weren't fuzzy or too dark - but it gives you the idea of the variety.

The Other Part

The drive between Florida coast is mostly fields and palm tree farms,with an occasional stopping place.  The stop at this Shell station in the middle of nowhere provided me with something to photograph en route.

Being geographically challenged kept me ignorant of the fact that the west coast of Florida is full of islands.  I stayed on Pine Island, which is about ½ hour fro Ft. Myers, and over several bridges.
Driving over all those bridges was the bad news.  The good news was that this part of the state is fish-lovers' heaven.  I had fried oysters almost every night: something we don't get in Northern NJ.
And one night, oysters romanoff (with creme fraiche and cavier) 
followed by soft shell crabs, which are not even in season in New Jersey until sometime in May, if you are lucky.  And then, many restaurants don't even have them on the  menu and if they do, the crabs are small.  Heaven, indeed!

Enough for now.  The sun is out and I might just go for a walk or sit by the pool and read.
More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Dinnertime blog

Finally up for air.  All the houseguests: family and near-family, have gone back to the frigid northern temps (oh, dear). And while I am sorry to be alone for the next four weeks, I will survive, with the help of food, drink, and my sewing room. And a walk every day (or almost every day).  

Since the nearest Whole Foods is a half-hour drive, I am not there very often. Publix is around the corner but the less said about that particular store, the better.  Today, I found a sort-of farmer's market and wondered why I ever bought produce elsewhere.  They had tomatillos for .99/lb (which I did not buy, but will, because I make my own salsa verde and it is wonderful), cabbage 3/$1 (if you don't mind
trimming a few questionable leaves), and ridiculously low prices  (all those sweet peppers for $1 and practically free eggplants) on other things. I bought fresh turmeric root, too.  Part of today's loot:
  I will not buy meat or fish except at Whole Foods; one is due to open at the end of this month in West Palm Beach.  But until then, I will eat the WF salmon in my freezer and otherwise, be a veg of some sort.  This is not least until I think I will die unless I have a rare steak.  But I had one a few nights ago, so I am fine for a while.

Yesterday, I bought brown rice, dried lentils, and a few cans of chick peas.  This morning I made a fabulous lentil stew (improvised from a NYT recipe: I used Indian spices instead of Italian ones), and tonight, brown rice and kale sauteed in garlic and olive oil. Healthy and I have to say, the best meal I have had at home in weeks.
Still stalled on the kitchen - it's complicated.  The IKEA dishwasher door is too high and caused a problem with the dw not working. It works just fine, pulled out a couple of inches from the counter.
 Suffice it to say I ordered a regular Bosch stainless front to replace the IKEA door, which is too tall and wide, and hope that will help.  I won't go into the details - but argh. I have been waking up at 4:30 a.m worrying about this every morning.

Hopefully, that will be resolved and then the soapstone counter will be where it needs to be and then I can put the toekick in and call the floor people to finish the edges....  Then there is the ceiling and the a/c vent, which prevents the upper cabinet doors from opening in one spot....
Never mind.  All will be sorted out and I am assured it will be fine.  (If I live long enough).

Still haven't found a backsplash I love/can afford, so am sending for samples from a variety of sources.
We shall see.

Saturday, I am driving to Jupiter to teach a one-day class at the South Florida MQG. I'm really happy to be teaching improv piecing to a Modern Quilt Guild - it seems ironic, since "modern" had improv piecing in its original definition, but gee, there are all these patterns for modern quilters. Patterns. Just like we had, more decades ago than we care to admit. Well, I'll admit to 4+ decades since I discovered Quilter's Newsletter (in black and white, mind you) and was hooked.  (also another conversation).

Dinner is over and it is time to clean up the kitchen so I can sit down and read for the rest of the evening. Also need to find some recipes for the cabbage/eggplant/peppers (not necessarily together).

Sorry this was not exactly quilt related (except for the one paragraph), but I am sure you will forgive me.
I did spend all afternoon putzing around in the sewing room, but not ready to post anything.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

slow design

There are no shortcuts when you're desigining as you go.  There's ad hoc design - which is throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks (i.e. - yesterday's version). And then there's slow design, which is the thoughtful, "what if?" that keeps you from being wedded to the first version and allows you to try different ways of putting it together (with camera at hand, of course).  Eventually, it will look right.  

Here is what I threw at the wall yesterday.

and here is what I did after I took down all the bits and started again.

More restrul, less clutttered, but still not there.  The difficulty is that I had only three of the original ugly 4-patches.  Two have already been used and I really need to save one for the "before" when I teach my class.  Well, I'll let it percolate.

Today was one of those days. (I seem to have one of those days every day, lately).
1) The saga of Sears and the switching of the refrigerator doors continues.   I won't bore you.  

2)  My wifi extender stopped working - it's no good. So I have to return it.  In the meantime, I went to buy a new one and as I was pullling into a parking spot at the mall, the ditz in the SUV parked next to me opened her driver's side door without looking -- into my right fender.  I had a scratch where the door hit me, but left her with a door that would not close.  OH, well - her fault.  I'm not sure how she drove home while holding her door closed with one hand.

3) Did you ever hear of a supermarket being out of salt?  I don't mean rock salt, I mean table salt. Couldn't find any and when I asked the managers where they hide the salt, they walked me over to aisle 14.  Sure enough, an empty shelf.  What? A salt heist? A run on salt? Hijacked by the Salt Police trying to prevent high blood pressure among all the elderly in Florida?  Life is full of mysteries.

4) A trip to Home Depot to look for battery-operated under ccabinet LED lights.  Cool!!  Got a couple that are velcroed to the cabinet bottoms. One keeps falling so I guess I'll have toscrew it in. They did provide screws, but that can wait till somebody else comes along to do it.  Love the way they look! 

5)  The drop-dead gorgeous tile that I wanted added up to be major sticker shock. So today, i revisited the ugly Home Depot tile and purchased a 12" square that I really don't love but I knew would work. And it is a tiny fraction of the price of the one I love. Sigh...I put a hold on the order and guess I'll keep looking.
This is good for a mtachy-matchy person, but it is so ordinary and boring. OTOH, I will only be here for 3-4 months a year. ANd I have two bathrooms in sad shape that need to be redone. This calls for lottery tickets!

With that, I will put my feet up and read. I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy Blogiversary to me

Celebrating a decade of blogging today, with a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar. Not even the flavor I like, but beggars can't be choosers.  I need dark chocolate but don't have any.  Back to the point: I wrote my first post on January 31, 2005 as a thinking-out-loud-while looking at a shot of something I was working on.  TEN years - where has it gone? (rhetorical). It doesn't matter where it has gone, it has vanished. Evaporated. Disappeared - never to be gotten back. 

I should do a giveaway in honor of my blog's longevity, but since I don't have anything in Fla to give away, that idea seems a bit lame.

Tonight, just for the heck of it, I'm posting what has been sitting on my Florida design wall.  It started as a couple of nine patches and I've been playing with it.  I should probably just stick a fork in it but I won't because it doesn't quite come together.  Too much chaos - like the couple of weeks i've just had.
Still no Internet on my mac and intermittently on my ipad.  Between that frustration and the Sears service tech I threw out of my apartment because he was a screaming, raving, nasty lunatic and a few other aggravations, I am DONE. 

Tomorrow, as I start my 11th year of blogging, I will pay bills, go for a walk, and maybe do some therapy sewing.  Monday, someone is coming to fix my brand new Bosch non-working dishwasher, and the electrician will be here again to move ceiling lights he put in the wrong place.  I am expecting a few more things to go wrong before the week is out.  Stay tuned:-))  And thanks for being there for so long.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

week in a blur

It has been mostly a blur of kitchen renovation angst and spending every spare minute with my two cousins, running around for backsplash tile samples (finally selected!!) and with no set plans, waiting to see how every day evolves.  For some reason, I am waking up before the crack of dawn here: I don't know why.

 I will not go into the aggravating details of the kitchen, which is now stalled because my electrician has the flu and my plumber can't come till next Tuesday.  Fortunately, the fridge has power, my beautiful soapstone is in, and the details will sort themselves out eventually.

In the meantime, here is how the kitchen looks this morning.  I haven't removed all the blue plastic yet.
I love the caramel vein in the soapstone on the peninsula that divides the kitchen from the dining area.
Weather has been spring-like with no humidity -- great walking weather.  And the early evening sky is always dramatic.

I've been reading: finished Cutting for Stone and am now en train de lire The Hare with Amber Eyes.  I have also been sewing a bit, seeing what I can do with a few of these ugly blocks.
Clearly, a work in progress - also stalled.  But at least better than it started.  Now, off to start the day.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thursday - cloudy, but who cares?

After the plumber, the electrician, and the soapstone fabricator left today, so did I.  Got in the car and felt as though I'd been let out  of jail.  Went to Boynton Beach to a tile warehouse, which had nothing I wanted for a backsplash -- and called my friend Elinor who moved down here from next door to me.
It was great to catch up with her! 

The guest room in this apartment has been turned into my Florida sewing room and it is uncluttered and serene.  I have good  memories of this room, which is where I slept every time I came to visit my parents.  I have a couple of small design walls - a 4X8 piece of foam from Home Despot that I cut in half so it would fit into my rental car last year. I read in here, listen to Classical South Florida on the radio, and I feel at peace.

The porch is on the other side of the sliding doors; right now, a repository of stuff that needs to be taken to Good Will.  And carpet that needs to be replaced with something else.  But that is far from an emergency.
You can see my design wall leaning against the closet doors, with the string quilt blocks I am working on in an effort to decrease the bag of strips.  It will probably not be news to you that this reduction strategy does not work. The bag is just as full as it was when i started.  The best strategy is to toss the whole bag, but I can't bring myself (yet) to do this.  

In the meantime, picture me in this oasis of calm, reading Cutting for Stone until the wee hours.
Tomorrow, a few appliance things to take care of and then over the weekend, my cousin Nancy from Los Angeles arrives and it will be the three musketeers (Nancy, me, and our cousin Mimi who lives in Boca Raton).  I expect that our main activities will be laughing, eating, and shopping at the outlet mall.
Works for me!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I think it's Wednesday

Hard to tell, since I have had workmen traipsing in here every day and have lost track.  Will not bore you with the bumps in the road to my new Florida kitchen: suffice it to say that I have finally gotten to the point of shrugging my shoulders and saying "whatever.  Let the electrician and the cabinet guy work it out between them. They are both at fault and I don't care who fixes it, as long as it gets fixed."  But, it is moving along, despite the glitches.

Today, after everyone left, I put my feet up and  started to read "Cutting for Stone. After dinner, I finally sat down and got out paper and gouauche and charcoal and brushes and started to play.  This is something new for me: I have only ever worked with paints on fabric, but have wanted to try this for a long time.  "Play" is the operative word, since I don't have anything in mind when I start (surprise, surprise) and don't care how i turns out.  However, I am feeling a bit tentative and it is taking me time to relax and let my hand move without thinking about it.  Yes, I can do this with fabric.  But in another medium, another story.

I took pictures of what I had done to see what these really looked like from a distance, when I posted them.  This was what started me blogging 10 years ago (at the end of this month) and it still works to help me see what I have done.

This first piece has been turned 180 degrees from the way I originally did it.
          It is tells a totally different story in the original orientation.
And the surprise is that there was no intent and no story in mind as I worked.  

This was done as a vertical.

And I honestly don't remember which of these orientations came first. i think this one works better.

but then, again...

If I have time to play with paint and paper and other art supplies for a bit every night, I think I may remain sane for the next few weeks.  This is fun!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

afternoon at the quilt show

The Palm Beach Convention Center has been home to a Mancuso show for the last 3 days and I finally got there this afternoon, while the men were putting down my beautiful new wood floor in the kitchen.

Had lunch with Robbi Eklow, who was teaching here, then spent a couple of hours waltzing through the lovely, wide aisles full of vendors and then quilts.  I thought the quilts were, for the most part, better than usual.  The Gold Coast Quilt Guild had a special exhibit called (what else?) 50 Shades of Gray, and it was fun to see the variety and use of black/white/gray.  Amazing what you can do when you have limits.  This is Judy Shelton's quilt.  I heard someone calling my name and it was Judy, who had taken a class with me some years ago and then we met again at Art Quilt Tahoe.  I'm teaching next month at the South Florida MQG and she has signed up for my class -- so we will see each other again.  I love when that happens.

There was a lovely exhibit of Israeli quilts, which included pieces by Maya Chaimovich, Bella Kaplan, and Shoshi Reimer. I am lucky enough to know all of these delightful women.  Maybe some of you saw Maya's quilts at the Art Quilt Gallery in New York last year. I didn't take pix of those.

I thought the quilts, in general, were of higher quality than I have seen in the NJ show and they were much  better lit.  Of course, there were the usual ordinary quilts and a bunch that had no names; no attributions, so you had no idea who had made them.

 Here are the few pieces that caught my eye. Makers from the U.K. and Australia.  The photos are bad, but it was a relief to see some pieces that were spare and graphic.

So that's it.  Tomorrow brings the electrician and who knows what else.  Dinner with my friend Bev Snow will be the highlight of the weekend, I am sure.  And Monday, the ceiling, the lower cabinets, I hope; the appliances delivered, and I forget what else will be happening.  Never a dull moment.
Here is how the kitchen looks at the moment. 
Red oak.  delicous to walk on.

Friday, January 09, 2015

I won't gloat

About the weather in West Palm Beach. Have been too busy running like a crazy person with kitchen stuff ( see facebook)  to take advantage of the sun here.  Even yesterday, very cool meant the high 50's/low 60's and it still felt like heaven.  Lots of Canadians live in this village, or are snowbirds at the very least.  

My sewing room is full of IKEA cabinet boxes, so that even if i had had time, there is no room.  But today, I am finally out of patience and checked the closet where I had left some fabrics last year. All I found were boxes and bags of strips, along with this block:
I guess I know what I was doing last time I was at my sewing machine here.  Time to make a bunch more of these no-brainers.  Unfortunately, we have no newspapers except for last Sunday's NYTimes book review - so I copied down all the books I want to look for and now am going to cut the paper up.
Maybe I can clear some space somewhere.

The floor guy is here scraping off the 1970's linoleum (I will spare you) and preparing the floor so by tomorrow I will have a new wood floor.  But in the meantime, my strings await me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Arrived safely

 Given the state of the traffic on I-95 , it is amazing that we arrived in only three days. Parking lot. Don't ask. 

The hotel we stayed in last night had carpet i thought could be a design inspiration. 

In West Palm, air conditioning on. Oh, joy. After three days of sitting in the car it was a pleasure to go for an hour walk the minute we arrived. 

We ate all too well in Savannah and had some of the best barbecue on the road in northern Fla. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

ancient history

Earlier today, I sent a photo of my first quilt (1974) to a friend. Yep, it's sort of ugly.  But this spiderweb scrap quilt bears an eerie resemblance to some of the spiderweb quilts being made in the Modern resurgence of quilt making. In those days, I loved using muslin in my quilts - so yes, there is a lot of (almost) white.  While you can't see it from the photo above, you can see from the detail that I really did use other fabrics when I ran out.  Needless to say, the fabric choices in 1974 left something to be desired.

 Of course, we made cardboard templates, added ¼" before we cut them out with scissors, and made a different size template for each strip.  Today, the spiderweb is a string quilt, pieced on newspaper -- much less labor intensive,more random, and more fun.  Nonetheless, Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.    Here's one I swiped from Pinterest; you can find lots more examples there.
Then I remembered that I used to make a log of baby quilts. In the day before digital cameras, I shot them (poorly), had them developed, and put the photos in a little album.  I had come across the album when I was cleaning up this room and tonight sent me scampering to find it and scan in the photos from 1997-1999. I thought I'd share a few of them with you as I look at them for the first time since those early days. These blocks were experiments: I would make random blocks just to see whether I liked them, and I would play with different color combinations.  Even then, I was throwing them into a box and when I needed to make a baby quilt, I pulled some out and went to work.  

I love this one the best: it was the first, and I was going to give it to my first grandchild.
But I didn't -- and I'm not sure where it is now.  Most of these fabrics were from my grandmother's blanket covers made with scraps from the dress factory whee she worked in the 1940's.
  I have absolutely no memory of this one: I wonder whose baby I made it for. This and the one above could easily have been made today. All that negative space - LOL.
 Oh, yes - I loved making this one: what a challenge!  The fabrics, again, were all my grandmother's leftovers.  The top left white fabric with the blue & red circles was from an apron she had made.  don't know who got this one, either.  The photo says 1997. I would not have used the blue sashing today, but it was probably for a boy.  

 There were some other interesting pieces, but I'll share them with you in the next post. Meantime, it is 2:am and if I am going to make my 11:am appointment in the morning, I had better turn out the lights and scamper.