Friday, September 29, 2006
Have you enjoyed looking at my postcards? Well, they're for a good cause, one that touches too many lives.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
POSTCARDS BATTLE CANCER - FIBERART FOR A CAUSE AT INTERNATIONAL QUILT FESTIVAL, HOUSTON
Fiber artists from around the world have donated more than 2000 fiberart postcards to raise funds for the American Cancer Society at International Quilt Festival-Houston.
Choose a wonderful fiberart postcard for each $30 donation to the American Cancer Society. Payment is BY CHECK to the ACS with 100% of funds raised donated to the ACS.
The Fiberart For A Cause booth will be on the Main Aisle in Special Exhibits.
Fiberart For A Cause has already raised $53,000 and our goal for IQF-Houston is to raise the total to $100,000 donated to the ACS in only eighteen months.
Visit the FFAC website for a preview of the fiberart postcards and more information.
Questions? Send an e-mail to: Virginia@VirginiaSpiegel.com
Fortune makes fabulous 32" rolling pins to foster her pasta urges... Do I get points for making four new couches for bringing along loaves of rising bread? Oh yeah - yard and a half of nice basic duck aka canvas, a little bit of pressing, a little ripping, some very simple edge finishing and voila - let the little loaves lounge comfortably.
By ripping the fabric hunk into quarters, I got four nice fat rectangles that are a little bigger than my original "pastry cloth" come couche which turns out to be the same size as my bigger tea towels. Now I'm ready to make more than one batch of bread at a time, no prob.
Monday, September 25, 2006
OK, check out the last postcards!
And if you're in Houston at the big show, I hope you'll support FiberArt for a Cause which put together this great fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society. How? By buying one (or more!)of the over 2000 postcards that were donated by quilters all over the world!
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Why having a teacher is a good thing...
I can learn a lot of things from books and pictures. I can learn some things by comparing internet sites. Every once in awhile though I wish for a human being style teacher.
As luck would have it, I turned on the little kitchen TV just as Julia Child was introducing Lauren Groveman to make pumpernickel bread (segment one of that show). OK, there were all the normal players -- molasses, instant coffee, chocolate and an unusual addition - prune filling! I enjoyed watching Ms. Groveman mix the dough by hand and knead it vigorously. I was amazed to see her really bang the heck out of it at the end of the first rise. After a little more working the dough, she rolled the dough into a flat rectangular-ish shape and started to shape the dough. She was quite forceful in tamping the roll onto itself as it became a loaf shape. Rather baguette-shaping-like as Julia pointed out. But then, the surprise!
Ms. Groveman pushed her hand deep into the end of the loaf. Think that you have formed a tube by rolling up the dough, there's actually room to put your fingers inside the center of that roll. She then elongated the ends of the tube. Folding the "ears" she formed, she crimped and tamped them into the under surface of the loaf.
Holy cow! Now THAT was a useful thing to see. She explained that the dough really needs to be told what to do, and you want to prevent those big air pockets from forming where the dough ends come together. AH HA!
I've often wished I could take a bread baking class, say at King Arthur... ok, I'd probably flip out if I could take a class with St. H, but what I really want to learn is how to shape loaves and deal with that part of it. And that probably is best learned by watching an experienced set of hands do their thing.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Here you go, faithful viewers, the latest postcards plus the hands that are going to the houston show, by Mom and yours truly.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Math is our Friend
And now for something completely different. My brain is a little fried due to a bunch of different reasons but I wanted to use up the last of my yeast so I could put the whole new package of yeast in its container. Ummm does that sound like a weird reason to make bread? Not really.
Anyway, for some reason I decided I'd make Pinewoods camp dark bread. Years ago I'd begged the recipe from the camp cook, but it made 25-30 loaves. I tinkered with it, noted that it was way sticky, but as I recall it made decent bread. As I see now, strangely the recipe is in cups and measures rather than weight. Hmmmmm, well I should be able to fix that if I weigh things as I make it this time. And, I thought, I could also deal with sticky dough now as I couldn't back then.
So it began. I took my cut-down version and put it together, measuring out the volume and weighing it. That went along ok. The dough is white, rye and whole wheat flours so it's pretty heavy compared to the weekly ciabatta. I let "pearl" the kitchenaid do her thing and the dough came together. It wasn't as sticky as I recalled, but predictably it was pretty dense.
I tucked it into the microwave with the door ajar to let the light warm it. It rose amply in 90 minutes, so I shaped it and put it back to rise again. Not bad in another hour so I fired up the oven, hotter than I had noted in the past. The original recipe didn't come with much baking instructions so I know I was winging that part.
While it was baking (this time with a properly steamed oven and with one loaf being slashed pre-bake) I sat down with St. H to figure out how the baker's percentages worked out. Fascinating. First off, in typing up the cut back version I had left out one ingredient all-together. I made up for it today by adding just a splash more water for hydration! But other than that, the percentages were just about spot on. By this I mean that the cut back version was very close to what I estimated the total recipe to be using the numbers I had. Cool.
Now I have to wait for it to cool a bit so I can see what the inside looks like. Understandably, the slashed loaf is more relaxed and folky looking. The un-slashed loaf is round and tidy.
St. H comments that when you do the numbers you can see at a glance if the proportions of the recipe are reasonable. Totally, and with the molasses that I deleted accidentally, the total hydration was great for a nice dough. So until next time...
Update: No big stretch to imagine that without the molasses the bread was, um...., not the best tasting! Not horrific and not as bad as I thought it would be but certainly not the yummy bread of my memory. Try try again.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
OK, I didn't really pray to the photo-gods, but I was very excited to pick up the two rolls of slides today and see - yes! images of quilt! First one too light. Second one, quite nice. Detail, very nice. Next roll, darker - fabulous! Details, even better. All good.
Packaged them all up, went back to work, finished the paperwork and put it all in the shipping envelope. Called to double make sure that pickup was arranged - ooops, no pickup on record but now it's all set! And voila - picked up and out of my hands. I can do no more.
So I'm finishing my last few postcards. Just sewing is actually fun!
All this stressing and pushing to get this quilt done and entry done and out - certainly not part of the fun. But lately I've missed a lot of show opportunities and I just decided I wasn't going to miss this one, pipe-dream as it might be. The best part of it all is - I really like this quilt a lot. It's different from my past work but an easy off shoot of what went before. It taught me a few things about lines and what non-precision gets you. And now....
On to the next!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The Joy of Living in the Country
You just never know who'll be coming up your walk when you look out in the morning... These are my neighbor's new acquisition some japanese variety, but aka food for neighborhood foxes. It was nice to see them sunning themselves on my marble walkway.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
OK chilluns - pray to the camera deities that my slides come out tomorrow! That was tonight's project, photog to film and digital. Now to spend a bit of time with the entry form. Guess that means that title MUST be chosen.
Sometimes I have a working title but somewhere towards the end the real title is - I can only say it - revealed to me. Unfortunately, sometimes not. This is the latter time.
Go with the working title? Sleep one more night on it. Actually, I have at most another couple days. Eeeks!
This quote was just in my sidebar - love it:
Always lines, never forms! But where do they find these lines in Nature! For my part I see only forms that are lit up and forms that are not. There is only light and shadow. -- Francisco de Goya
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
May I say a few words about my new quilt that's almost done (hurry! hurry!)
First off - I really like the colors - earthy, warm greens and browns balanced with deep cool blues. I like the subtle glittery silk strips. I like the faintly window-like design.
I gave up worrying about making things perfectly straight. It's impossible (at least for me) to sew pieces that are so small and make them perfectly straight, especially after all the quilting. Get over it if it bothers you.
But what I really like about it is that when it was just laid out, it looked not so concrete - not SO defined. A little sketchy. And when I decided on the quilting, I gave up on making beautiful straight or curvy lines and just went whereever I had to in order to get around. This means I have many places with more than one line of stitching. Took some getting over everything I've ever done, but it went right along.
And you know, I think it increases the sort of drawn look of it all. It's looking to me like a quilt I'd draw. The stitches shine with their own outlining light.
I have to hurry up and come up with a title for this baby.
This 'n' That
I did sew down the first side of facing, so I can get the sleeve sewn on enough to make it usable. Next up - finishing the dangling threads. Then - slides! All good. Thank goodness for fast developing! Now, sew faster!
New ipods announced today... 'nuff said about that.
I had delicious bruschetta for dinner tonight - my own ciabatta, cheese, sliced fresh tomatoes... mmmmmmm.
Another chilly night tonight - at this rate I'll be forced to make green tomato mincemeat! Interesting, but the tomato munching slugs only seem to like red tomatoes. What's up with that? And in other interesting stuff, as I was doing major blackberry pruning, I had a nice handful of berries as my thank you from the berry patch. Thank you thorny things! I found a dog rose bush that, no kidding, has a 4 or 5 inch trunk. Yes trunk! I actually used the chain saw to do a bit of pruning there although the trunk is still intact.
I have one nice little butternut squash coming along...
I need to either make cookies or get some. Serious cookie jonesing going on here. I settled for a .... um... sample of nutella. Had to make sure it was still good now didn't I? It was still good.
Monday, September 11, 2006
I've always thought that setting a day aside to do ordinary things is a good way to mark September 11 since 2001. I take the day off from work, although working is a pretty ordinary thing. In the first couple years I went to an event, but to me it wasn't a necessary part of my observance. I like having a quiet day to remember what happened. I can read emails from the days after the event. I thought about waking up in the middle of the night between the 11th and 12th, 2001 because a plane was flying overhead. What a bizarre thing.
Today I woke up before all the observances began and saw just a few televised moments of names being read, crowds of people gathered together. Then I went off to my day. I thought I would mow but instead managed to saw down quite a number of small weedy trees. I discovered that dog roses can have 4 inch trunks. I had no idea! I realized that not only does next year's garden have to have better fencing, but it must have tomato cages to raise up the plants from the ground.
When I couldn't do any more of that work, under that pure blue sky so reminiscent of 2001, I went in, enjoyed a bit of lunch, chatted up the cats and headed off to work on my quilt. I got the facing on last night so it was ready to go today. I pressed. I sewed the facing to the seam (remembrances of dressmaking). I trimmed, I turned and I pressed some more, this time with a pressing cloth.
Well it looks pretty darn good, even with its dangling thread so I hung it up and took a few photos.
At seven pm I went out and lit 5 candles to honor all the memories of the day. I thought of all of the vigils that were held in 2001 and ones I'd been part of. When I went out much later, two of the candles had gone out, so I renewed all of them so they could keep the moon company and perhaps make a passerby think about the day.
Well, I guess I've got miles of hand sewing to do now, so it's off to bed with me.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
I spent today doing stuff like cutting down a lot of brush. Like Fortune, I made pizza. I also made bread. I felt the tears just below the surface. Just now I went back and read my blog entries about a year ago and the days following Sept 11, 2001. There was this which did a good job describing what many of us felt that day. Where are we now?
There was a period after September 11 when many commented about how kind people were being to each other. I can't say that this is on-going. Perhaps for some. I work in a mall, and there's a lot of anger and entitledness and rudeness going on.
I began my current job in the week after September 11. I got a cheery congratulatory email about my work anniversary. All the emotion came back to me then of that September - knowing the job was ahead of me. Knowing that I was ready to take on a new challenge, that I was ready to let go of parts of my life. I took a few days to think over the future and while I was gone, the world changed. I postponed some of the changes. but eventually they came to be as well. I'm still in the job against all odds.
I'm still left wondering about how people can bring on such destruction in the world. I've often thought that we all shar so much, no matter our culture or religion: sun overhead, air on our face, the faces of children, the love of others, our love for them. What can bring a person who has the assortment of small pleasures of every day life to cause such great destruction and grief in the world?
More importantly, what can I do to help people see those small every day treasures, to remember all the little things that make up life?
In other less-ranty news, I finished the quilting on my quilt last night. I'm pleased with it. I hope to get the facings and sleeve on today so I can photo it in the next couple days. Nothing like a deadline.
Yesterday was quite stormy with an inch of rain and a lot of thunder. Not sure how my ride-on-mower-kinda-guy neighbor (ok, the guy who keeps nipping at my squash plant! grrr) is managing to mow, but my lawn is too wet today. Actually I do know how he's able to mow - his lawn is VERY short. Mine is a few inches longer and yet not untidy looking.
So, instead of mowing today, I went out and did battle with brush and blackberry bushes. No big blood loss for me so I guess I won this round. I need to get back out there, maybe tomorrow and take out some larger things.
Of little interest to anyone else:
Thursday, September 07, 2006
As I get less and less interested in a large email list I'm on, I was uncertain about what I'd miss if I unsubscribed. It's useful for hearing about some exhibits, questions about materials etc. I've met some very nice people there and have met some in person and had off-list email conversations with others.
For a long time I've had quite a number of filters that deal with various topics and, um, people, that I have no interest in reading whatsoever. That sounds so crass - sending people's emails to trash based on who sent them rather than content, but there you go. Not that I never read them. Just that I read them from the convenience of them already being in trash.
Anyway, I got the idea one day to re-route all the list straight-to-trash mail to a new mailbox called listname_trash. There I could get a better look see at how much of the mail I wasn't reading, for whatever reason. I vowed that when the percentage unread hit 50 I could unsubscribe without a glimmer of loss.
After doing the filter changes I got everything into one folder and it was sitting around 20 per cent. That was less than I expected. Another few weeks and many off-topic posts later, that number hit 43.26 per cent today. Guess I'll be getting a lot of time back someday soon. Guess bean-counting pays off, eh?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Seems the past few days I've heard so many people say they had a hard night with elusive sleep. This one is for you all.
JOHN OF DREAMS Jean Redpath version Best version found on iTunes
When midnight comes, good people homeward tread;
Seek now your blankets and your feather bed.
Home is the rover, his journey's over.
Yield up the nighttime to old John of Dreams,
Yield up the nighttime to old John of Dreams.
Across the hills the sun has gone astray;
Tomorrow's cares are many dreams away
Home is the rover, her journey's over.
Yield up the darkness to old John of Dreams,
Yield up the darkness to old John of Dreams.
Both man and master in the night are one;
All things are equal when the day is done.
The Prince and the plowman, the slave and the freeman.
All find their comfort in old John of Dreams,
All find their comfort in old John of Dreams.
Now as you sleep the dreams come winging clear;
The hawks of morning cannot harm you here.
Sleep is a river, flows on forever,
And for your boatman choose old John of Dreams,
And for your boatman choose old John of Dreams.
Words copyright by Bill Caddick, Music by Tchaikovsky (tune borrowed from a southern Italian lullabye entitled Piva Piva).
Or for the best of all, get this version instead! Bok, Muir & Trickett.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Last Postcards for FFAC
Maybe that should be "latest" rather than last - I remember when this all started how they kept coming and coming, but since Virginia is well on her way to meeting her goal of 1800 for the Houston show...
Go here to see all of the latest batch.
Back from a bit of time with the folks, very nice, very relaxing, very everything I needed. Not very different from the trip I made up there five years ago, although my purpose for that trip was quite different, although for all intents and purposes it appeared the same: to see my folks. I was thinking about changing my life for the better then. I was about to start a new job and things looked like they were changing for the better and could be even better. My folks asked me to stay an extra day to spend it with mutual friends. That next day was Sept. 11.
This time around nothing so life-changing as any of that, but we had a good time: fishing, spending time on the lake, time around the fire, time (ok a lot of time!) around the dinner table and in the kitchen. The fishing was pretty darn good and always a mix of meditation and excitement. Mom and Dad have had a good year fishing this year, which Dad carefully journals - strictly research there!
The photo above was taken by my Mom of a quiet, subtle sunset at their summer place.
The fifth anniversary of Sept 11, 2001 will soon be here - how will you spend the day?Find your own way to remember.