Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Last week my Martha Stewart Living arrived - love the cover - and as usual for an October issue, Halloween was celebrated in style - that Martha is just Halloween crazed. There was an excellent article on "Old Haunts" featuring the historic homes of Deerfield, Massachusetts - specifically the Flint home, highlighting the collections of Henry and Helen Flint. Helen Flint was an avid collector of textiles.
The article featured this amazing quilted corset from the 1830's - this photo does not do justice to the intricacy of this stunning garment - pick up the magazine for yourself, or better yet, head to Deerfield to see it first hand. Isn't this corset just beautiful!?! Now I'm not saying I'm ready to wear a corset - I like breathing - but I would reconsider my aversion to quilted attire if it looked as awesome as this corset. The skill of our ancestors was simply amazing. Why did women abandon these beautiful quilted corsets in exchange for wearing the giant elastic abdominal vise known as a girdle???

Monday, September 27, 2010

Finding My Groove

It all started with these fabrics from Michael Miller - from his grey / citron collection. This is the core of my upcoming baby quilt for my nephew and his wife, Jordan and Meg. Meg is a designer so I really wanted to include her in the fabric selection process - her nursery color selections are green, gray, white and fuchsia. My first reaction was sheer delight - no pink or blue! Then the fright set in - what color green, what shade of fuchsia??? I was delighted when they selected this line.

Then they threw this one at me - I'll admit initially I was fairly certain this Optic Blossom fabric from Amy Butler was never going to work - I thought the lack of white would fight with the other "white defined" fabrics.
Then I found this one from Quilting Treasures - I'm liking this. This will definitely be a contemporary quilt - but it needs something a little jazzier........
It needs some groove - Groovy Guitars from Michael Miller - many thanks to Fabric Baby on Esty for still stocking this great fabric.
So here is the current collection - yup - I'm missing something - I'm missing fuchsia - it's in the mail - should get it any day!!! Hey - the Optic Blossom fabric plays nicely with all of the other fabrics - cool!
Does the color wheel tell me I can do this color mixing - nope - this citron green color is supposedly happier with a purple or violet. I don't always believe what the wheel tells me. This weekend I was out and about and noticed a gorgeous gray planter - draped with a chartreuse sweet potato vine and filled with lovely fuchsia and white begonias - that was my fabric collection - it worked perfectly together. You'll see - as soon as my fuchsia arrives in the mail (the local quilt shops didn't handle it so I had to mail order).

FYI to all MS Publisher users - take a look at their color schemes - this is called "floral" and has a light turquoise added as well!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sewing Extravaganza

I took a field trip yesterday - all by myself - back in time in the world of sewing. I wanted to roam the fields of the Antique Extravaganza in Kutztown, PA - in search of sewing artifacts - implements and examples of our ancestors' sewing prowess. Want to join me?
The fields of the extravaganza were peppered with ephemera of the earlier days of the world of sewing - you could find evidence of our craft in the booth of nearly every vendor - of which there are hundreds. Old sewing machines were plentiful - could my Bernina 200 end up in the field of antiquities some day?

Buttons were everywhere, many displayed very creatively - I love this collection of buttons in old dairy bottles.
Many buttons were displayed on their original marketing cards.
I love this collection of white buttons - I would frame this and hang it on my wall - I just love the visual impact.
This thread "carousel" was so clever - this was my regret of the day - I really wanted it, but decided to shop around a bit before I made a firm decision. Drat! By the time I wandered back to the vendor it had been sold. I hope the new owner enjoys it as much, or more, than I would have - it was a beauty.
I'll admit I was saddened to see all of the quilts - just look at these lovely examples of our craft. I imagined the time, effort and emotion dedicated to making each and every one - and, I'm sure the maker never envisioned this would be their fate. Why were these beauties cast aside by families to end up for sale in a field in the middle of no where? Are my quilts destined for this end? I'm hoping their future keepers will appreciate the craft of their quilter.
Yo-yo's galore - they were everywhere - some sewn together and some jammed into bags awaiting their future.
Wow! I simply love this zinnia - and for $15 it could have been yours! OMG - $15 - don't let the maker see the price. This was about 20 inches round - stunning!
Look what I found - this was the fabric I used for my very first sewing project at 4-H Club - an apron!!! I spied it on the back of a quilt and just had to snap a photo - memories!I had a wonderful day finding sewing treasures - many thanks to our predecessors for their love of the craft! I think this next piece says it all - have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Nothing to do with quilting or cooking - sorry - I just had to celebrate my mother-in-law's jump. Here she is celebrating her 85th birthday - sky-diving!!! Happy Birthday Mom!!!

She did her first jump for her 80th birthday - this is her second jump. For her 90th we're thinking she might be ready for a solo jump! FYI - she is the Mom of 11 and the grandmother and great-grandmother of way too many to count.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Paarti" Time

An Aarti Paarti!!! I'll admit I have never been a big fan of the Next Food Network Star, but there was something, or rather someone, about their latest competition that made me change my mind - Aarti - the new Next Food Network Star!!! She has such an upbeat presentation style and her food looks amazing - she's infectious!!! Just look at that smile - I challenge anyone not to smile back - these are the people you want to surround yourself with!!!

Next question - can the girl cook? Well let's try one of her recipes, many of which feature an Indian flavor profile. I know exactly which recipe to try - her take on the falafel - the Pea-Lafel!!! What's a falafel - it is a Middle Eastern menu standard - a fritter of sorts made from either chick peas or fava beans - served in pita bread with a yogurt sauce. I love them and have been in pursuit of the best falafel recipe for years - most fail in my opinion because they are too dense.

Aarti takes a unique spin on the standard - in place of the chick peas she uses frozen green peas and edamame - I'm interested. Here are the ingredients: the peas and beans, a trio of spices including fennel, fenugreek, and coriander seeds, lots of mint, garlic and shallots, with yogurt for the sauce.

Here are the Pea-lafel ingredients after a whirl in the food processor.
The recipe calls for frying, as do most falafel recipes, and for my first attempt I decided to abide with the frying instructions - next time I will try oven-frying them. Here they are out of the pan - beautiful - I just love the color of the sweet pea / edamame puree.Here's dinner - Pea-lafels on whole wheat pita (Wegman's Pita - delicious), served with the yogurt sauce included in the recipe. As sides I added a tossed salad with yummy local tomatoes and salad greens, and sauteed zucchini and carrots.
Verdict - the Pea-lafels are the best falafel recipe I have ever tried and I've tried a lot!!! I can't wait to try more of Aarti's recipes!

When you visit Aarti's link take note of her blog banner - wouldn't that design make a fantastic juvenile fabric???

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sew Creative

Last week I came across this fantastic little blog - Amber's Ambry - Amber is a sewer, knitter, soap maker, gardener and cook. I saw that Amber posted an entry on a chili fest - the same one I posted on last week - intriguing. When I started reading back through her blog I found it - the apron - the circus apron - and Amber is the creator!!! I had seen this apron on another blog and didn't know who created it. Isn't this just the happiest little apron you ever saw???She created the apron as part of a circus themed challenge for Tie One On. Visit her blog to see her creative process.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birthdays in Boston

Just got back from a beautiful weekend in Boston - we were there the celebrate my oldest daughter's 21st birthday - here she is with her first ever beer! Well, that's a stretch! She was carded before being served - it's all legal now!
We spent some time roaming around the South End of Boston - home to many of Boston's art galleries - here's a shot of a row of galleries off Harrison Avenue. We wandered into many of the galleries and saw some amazing collections.
One artist in particular piqued my curiosity, Ann Toebbe, showing at the Steven Zevitas Gallery. Ann is a paper artist and her collage work has many quilterly aspects. This is called "The Ex-Wife's Plants and Things", and was included in the exhibit as well as a number of other works from her Housekeeping series. Please take a look at her website to see the rest of her work.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza

Field Trip! Yesterday was the first day of the Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza held in Oaks, PA and run by Mancuso Show Management. I had a busy day yesterday and wasn't able to get to the show until the late afternoon - perfect - the morning crowds were gone and I felt like I had the show to myself. Here are my favorite quilts from the show - some won awards, most did not - but they all win the "A Thread From The Edge Award for Inspiration".

When ever possible I have linked the artist to their website / blog so that you can explore their quilting further.

This is the first quilt that greets you when you enter the show - Hybrid, by Rachel Wetzler of St. Charles, IL - and won first place for best use of color, I agree! Rachel created it for the Miami Orchid Show. There are eleven separate sections to this quilt where Rachel played with color transitions - simply stunning! It is machine pieced, appliqued and quilted.
This quilt was awarded a show prize as well, I just forget which one - woops. Created by Amy Bright of Tucson, AZ, "Parcheesi" is done entirely by hand and took over 3 years to complete - well worth the effort! Why this obtuse view - agghhh! - it was displayed on an angle with no way to get a front on shot.
I love the color play of "Jacob's Coat" by Marcia DeCamp of Palmyra, NY. The four square partitioning of the design really moves your eye around the quilt. The use of gray is so restful to the eye. In researching Marcia I discovered she runs DeCamp Studios as well - be certain to visit this link.
Woops! I simply love this quilt - and it is the only quilt that I did not get the information on - darn - I do not know who made it - so sorry! It has such a dramatic visual impact and movement.
And it also has a touch of surprise - beading - lovely seed beads punctuating the hand quilting in sections. I have never been a big fan of embellishments, but this is an excellent example of a very effective use of beading.
This quilt, "Poem in Cloth" was created by Caroline Wilkinson of the UK. Caroline is an active participant in Fine Cell Work - an enterprise that teaches needlework to prison inmates. There is so much going on in this quilt - it takes a few minutes of close inspection to take it all in.
Ahhhh, mellow my mind! This quilt by Sheena Norquay of the UK, "Pearls Are Not Always White" is just lovely. It was inspired by strands of pearls. Sheena purposely created the "s" curving design to keep the eye moving through the quilt. The circle detail is stenciled, and all of the quilting is free motion.
Have a look at this detail shot - lovely!
POW! This explosion of a quilt, "Green Fire" by Chris Kenna of New Zealand, attacks you.
Here's a detail view of the machine appliqued pieces - WOW!
A photograph does not do this quilt justice - I hesitated including it in my review, but decided you needed to see it so that if you ever have the opportunity to see it in person you can do so. Why is it difficult to photograph - sheers! "Impressions", made by Ruth Marchese of Brooklyn, NY incorporates multiple blocks created entirely by sheers - "windows" inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West in Scootsdale, AZ.
The show included an exhibit of Kaffe Fassett quilts - I really like this one, "Backgammon" by Kaffe Fassat and Liza Prior Lucy, quilted by Judy Irish. There was lots of Kaffe Fassat fabric in the merchandise mall, including Liza's Glorious Color.
This amazing quilt, "Ladies of the Sea" was created by Ruth Flood and quilted by Kelley Cunningham of Severna Place, MD, and is entirely machine made - pieced, appliqued and quilted. It features historical ships from around the world - this is a shot of the Mayflower. There is just way too much detail to take a full shot.
I found this piece very moving - "Leaving" by Tanya Brown of Sunnyvale, CA - part of the SAQA exhibit titled No Place to Call Home. It depicts a homeless man, Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, who was fatally stabbed when he came to the rescue of a woman who had been assaulted. Passers-by ignored his lifeless body as he lay dying. Take a close look at the quilting - it is EKG patterns, becoming flat lines - chilling. Such a big message for such a small quilt (19 x 30 inches).
This quilt, "Unsprung", by Helen Giddens of Norman, OK won first place for most innovative. What do you think? The more I examine it, the more it grows on me.
The detail view.
This was the second place winner for most innovative, "The Moment of Inspiration" by Sandy Curran of Newport News, VA. I love this salute to Alfred Hitchcock - her imagery was very successful. It was hand painted and dyed. My family is addicted to all things Hitchcock!
I love this quilt - "Structured Freedom" by Kathy Bachofer of Allentown, PA - love the flow of color and the linear development of the design. I especially love Kathy's statement on quilting - "quilting calms my soul while driving my passion" - I love it!
Hope you enjoyed the show! As with most quilt shows, the lighting was spotty at best, making accurate photos difficult. Did I shop a lot - no, not really. I did do damage at the ProChem booth - needed to restock my paints.

If you have the opportunity to visit the show do so! Enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I am an avid reader of Smitten Kitchen's blog- every recipe Deb posts is always amazing. Last week she posted a recipe for Grape Foccacia with Rosemary - made with concord grapes. I love concord grapes - one of my favorite childhood memories was sitting under the cool canopy of the concord grape arbor on my brother's farm, gorging myself on these sweet / tart beauties. If you've never had a concord grape you simply don't know what you're missing. I had to try this recipe!

The yeast dough recipe for the foccacia is simple - you can do everything in your mixer bowl. The challenging part of the recipe is seeding the grapes - sorry - concord grapes have seeds - and they are about as willing to give up their seeds as you and I are willing to give up a kidney! There's no special, magical kitchen equipment to help you out here - you need patience, a sharp knife and a good half hour sit-com to get you through the de-seeding process.
It seemed daunting at first - fill that bowl with de-seeded grapes - but honestly - it took only one episode of Friends to get 1 1/2 cups of de-seeded grapes - it was a great episode too - the one where Chandler peed on Monica to stop the jellyfish sting - LOL!
The Reward! I cannot begin to tell you how amazingly delicious this foccacia is - the intense flavors of the concord grape laced with rosemary, sprinkled liberally with sea salt and coarse sugar on a delicate foccacia bread - heavenly! We paired it up with a beautiful ice wine from Germany. Ice wine is made from grapes that have been allowed to freeze on the vine - super-concentrating the sugars. We love the ice wine from a Pennsylvania vintner - Pinnacle Ridge Winery - local too - but we finished that bottle over the weekend! Pinnacle Ridge is a lovely stop after a hike on Hawk Mountain.