Lunch This Time

 
Don't you love watching someone cook a meal for you? At Chef's Haven in Hockessin, the anticipation started with a delicious scent wafting from the grill as I walked in. I had no idea what Chef Mark might serve. What is Shaker food, anyway?
 
 
I enjoyed the Eat Drink Read dinner event last month. Hockessin Book Shelf also does a lunch version. We read “The Visionist” by Rachel Urquhart. The story takes place in Massachusets in a Shaker community. A mother leaves her two children in the care of the Shakers after 15 year old Polly sets fire to their farm, killing her abusive father. The plot unfolds around Polly and her friend, Sister Charity, and the valuable farm land, where the ownership is in question since the mother has disappeared.
 
 
Discussion was lively and reactions were quite mixed. Some did not care for the book, feeling it was slow reading. I did like “The Visionist” and rated it 3.5 out of 5. The Shaker philosophy interests me and I felt engaged with the characters and the plot.
 
 
But what about the food? Half the fun is trying to sleuth out the menu! I was ever vigilant, marking anything edible with my red pen and tasty passages were pretty sparse. But lunch was wonderful, smoked chicken thighs, mashed potatoes, fresh tomato pudding and three berry pie with vanilla creme for desert. Apparently, Shakers ate well.
 
 
After our book discussion, cooking demo and delicious meal, Rebecca gives one lucky participant an advance copy of a new book. My friend Ginger won “Sleeping With God.” Sounds interesting…

 
That beautiful loaf of bread was baking in the oven while we were eating. Of course it had to come home with me. The Eat Drink Read events are fun and delicious. Looking forward to next time!


 
 
 
 
 

 

River Riding

 
This looks like a road in central Illinois where I grew up. No, I'm not there visiting my Mom and family, but I wish I was.
 
 
The weather on Sunday was so perfect, Gary and I biked the Lancaster County River Trail from Columbia to Bainbridge.
 
 
This multi-use trail technically isn't a Rail Trail but it parallels an active rail rode corridor and the Susquehanna River. The area is steeped in history and interpretive signs with facts and explanations are available. You know, I have to stop and read each and every one of these. Gary doesn't stop for anything.
 
 
He was so far ahead of me I couldn't yell loud enough to point out the bald eagle I spotted soaring above. We caught up at this observation post. The viewer is pointed at the eagles nest across the river. Gosh they're huge! Nobody home, I guess they're all off fishing and mousing.
 
 
The trail is so diverse. We rode through shady wooded areas and banks of these yellow flowers. We call these “Caity Birthday Flowers” and told our daughter they were planted every August for her. Happy Birthday, Cait!

 

 
These big limestone deposits were quarried and moved out by rail. Not quite the White Cliffs of Dover, but still impressive.

 

 
The little village of Marietta has gorgeous old homes with beautiful gardens. In the late 1700's it must have been a prosperous and bustling River town with a ferry and iron forge. We passed several nice looking restaurants with folks enjoying lunch on patios and decks.
 
 
How cute and civic minded!
 
 
I couldn't resist taking a peak.

 

 
Most of the trail is wide and paved. Even the unimproved sections are easy to ride on though.
 
 
Did I say Gary stops for nothing? Well. Almost nothing! We had lunch at this biker bar, although we were the only ones not riding Harleys and might have received a snigger or two as we pulled up. Can't beat country music, great comraderie and a cheese steak sandwich and two beers for $7.
 
 
Rested and refueled we turned around to ride back. I love the sections that come down to river level.
 
 
“When flooded, turn around” Sounds like good advice.
 
 
At the Columbia end of the trail, you can park your bike and climb up several hundred feet to the top of the bluffs. Note to self– do this before riding 16 miles– and one beer.
 
 
Even on tired, wobbley legs, the view at the top was worth the considerable effort.
 
 
A perfect end to a day spent cycling along the Susquehana River.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

It’s the Little Things

 
Can I just say how delighted I am with this thread rack!
I did have to withstand a fair amount of aggravation to get it tho. I've been looking for a good way to store my longarm threads and saw variations of these wire shelves on Pinterest. Someone pinned this unit and said they got it at Target. I went online and found it in stock at a nearby store. Drove to the store and had to engage multiple sales associates in the search, finely determining that, not only do they not have it, they don't even sell ClosetMaid brand, even if my phone shows the web page saying that they do. Aaarrrghhh.
Out in the parking lot, plotting revenge, I googled ClosetMaid and found Home Depot sells it. They have my shelves and even tell me what isle to find them in! Woohoo, my bad mood dissapaits. Only to return double-fold an hour later at Home Depot when, standing in isle 33, throwing wire shelves all over the place, I cannot find my unit. You would think all this commotion and loud swearing would attract a sales person, but no, I have to spend 20 minutes tracking one down. Yes, they sell ClosetMaid but they don't carry the unit I want, even tho my phone clearly shows the web page of the specific store I'm standing in, saying that they do, in isle 33. Aaarrrghhh.
I have to order the shelves and wait for them to come in at the store 4 days later. There are lessons to be learned here.
1. Never, ever trust the Internet and drive off in gleeful euphoria expecting immediate gratification.
2. All's well that ends well.
 
 

 

 

Quilting and Swimming

 

I had a vision while swimming across Lake Ontario. I was struggling on how to quilt a tree trunk, on my friend Joan's appliqué quilt. A solution came to me, just like that! Gary used to say mowing the lawn was cathartic and he could solve all the problems of the world, driving back and forth across the acreage. He doesn't mow anymore, so that might explain the sorry state of global affairs, but I digress.

Swimming lets my mind work on all kinds of quilting ideas. You know, I'm not really swimming across Lake Ontario. I'm logging laps in the YMCA pool in the “Swim Across the Great Lakes” challenge. Lake Ontario is 53 miles across, so 12 miles done, 41 to go. And 4 more lakes after that. I can't even think about how many miles, but that's a lot of quilt inspiration!

 
Joan's appliqué is absolutely perfect and my number one challenge was to keep my quilting stitches close to the shapes to make them pop but not quilt over the edges. Look at how smooth and beautiful she stitched the branches.
 
 
The twiggy quilting around the leaves is a little different. I wanted something special for Joan's quilt that would be unique. My delima was, do I quilt on the appliqué or just outline it? The leaves are small and we had a serious discussion about quilting a vein down the center. An expert consultant said, leave the leaves alone! I think he was right. The tree trunk was too large to leave unquilted and would have puckered a bit, so two lines near the edge was the solution.
 
 
I wanted to quilt this little bird so badly to surprise Joan, but I was scared she wouldn't approve. Whew! She spotted him right away and laughed. She liked him and her quilt.
 
 

 

 

Tomato Time

 
I used to say there are only three good things about August. Corn, tomatoes and September comes next. I love Fall so much that I can't wait for colors changing and cooler days, but the older I get, the less anxious I am to rush through anything!
I was telling my friend Lynne, I planned on stopping at Petes Produce to pick up some Arkansas Travelers. Lynne is a fantastic cook. Yup, I know a finalist in the Pillsbury Bakeoff. We're talking, really fantastic cook! I told her I use these lovely, heirloom tomatoes for roasting because they taste amazing, size is perfect, very tiny core and minimum seedy stuff. If I had a salt shaker in my car, some of them wouldn't make it all the way home.
 
 
I know I've blogged about this recipe before, but it's so good, I just have to repeat because Lynne needs this. I did warn her, be prepared when you pull these out of the oven. You need a crusty loaf of bread in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. Kidding about the bat, but seriously, they're that good. Another thought is, forget the bread, if you need anything from the grocery store, like, say, shampoo or whatever, you will have volunteers panting to make a trip for you, just to get the bread.
 
 
Here is the recipe for Slow Roasted Tomatoes. You really can use any kind of tomatoes, they're all fantastic.
 
 
If you can keep yourself and others from gobbling all the tomatoes straight from the pan, here are some suggestions for using them in recipes. I freeze them to use all year long. Just chop frozen to add to a pizza you are going to cook. Or I thaw a couple and make a killer open faced grilled cheese sandwich with bacon. That's what summer tastes like in February!
 
 
The roasted tomato oil is wonderful also. I reuse the reserved oil, adding more as needed to top it up to a cup, for about three batches of tomatoes. It just gets more concentrated and delicious. After the last batch, I pour off the remaining oil and bake focaccia in the pan. Delicious! Hope you like it, Lynne.
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Call for Entry

 
Do you think they have someone at Longwood Gardens with the title of Texture Specialist? Is there a degree program at a university that teaches visual texture? If there is, Longwood's got PHD's on staff.
 
 
Color always gets my attention but I can get lost in amazing texture.
 
 
Especially if it's green.
 
 
Green has always been my favorite color. In my studio, I have 33 baskets of fabric sorted by color. Eight baskets are for my greens.
 
 
I have so little purple and pink fabric, they actually share a basket. This needs to be rectified.
 
 
The huge leaves of these lotus plants feel as smooth as they look. I've been thinking about texture and green because I have been working on a quilt to enter into the Jenkin's Arboretum exhibit “Nature's Prisims.” You can find the prospectus and entry form here.
 
 
I've never made a large quilt with red trilliums. I don't want any feel of Christmas so I've been very selective with the green colors and I've tried to concentrate on variety in the visual texture of the fabrics.
 
 
There are so many lessons to be learned at Longwood Gardens. Now if I could just get some creative ideas about prisims.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

I’m a Guest

 

I will be on Pat Sloan's American Patchwork & Quilting radio show on Monday, August 3 at 4:00 PM EST. You can listen to the interview live at http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/radio/index.html I'm a little nervous so I've been trying to anticipate some of the questions she might ask me.

 
This is what it looks like when I start a new project. I can just hear Pat saying, “Terry, could you tell us a little about your creative process?” Well, Pat, first I create a big ol' mess…
I really hope I don't bumble and stumble around. Pat says we should sound like we're chatting over a coffee or ice cream. Just to keep it real, I plan to be ready with a grande latte and a bowl of Ben and Jerry's Heath Bar Crunch. Just to keep it real.
 

The podcast will also be available after the show: http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/magazines-more/quilting-podcast
 
 

 

Eat Drink Read

 
I did something really fun last week. I participated in the Hockessin Book Shelf's event called Eat Drink Read. First, read the selected book, Neverhome by Laird Hunt. Second, grab a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage. Third, participate in group discussion while enjoying dinner, with menu inspired by the book, at Chef's Haven restaurant.
 
 
Chef Mark Eastman started us off with a delicious chilled corn soup. I got a nice seat right in front and learned what brunoise means–a mixture of vegetables that have been finely diced, then slowly cooked in butter. I think the word is French for “dang yummy.”
 
 
I was nervous about the menu. Neverhome is about a woman, disguising herself as a boy, to go off and fight in the Civil War. Although the story is fiction, history has documented somewhere around 400 women who actually fought as soldiers, not nurses or attendants on the battlefield. Ash/Constance, our heroine, is a crack shot and is recruited to shoot squirrels for stew. I've never eaten squirrel… I noted several times pork was mentioned and was happy to be served pork barbecue on sour dough bread.
 
 
Rebecca Dowling, Hockessin Book Shelf owner, leads the talk for our group of ten. I have gotten away from focused book discussion and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing others insights and opinions. We all rate the book at the end, on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “fantastic, loved it.” There were 5 ratings, and a 1, I think. I gave Neverhome a 3.5. I loved the voice of Ash, the author wrote her personality and time period into her words so beautifully. I liked the layering of the action with introspection into Ash's character. I felt the story was dark and thought the ending was appropriate but as horrible as the war scenes.
 
 
At the conclusion of the evening, Rebecca pulls a name from the hat and gives away an Advance Readers Copy of a book, waiting publication. I won! I am so excited to read The Muralist. I read the author's first book, The Art Forger, in about one sitting–it was that good.
I had a wonderful evening, meeting new people, learning things, exercising my brain, good food and wine. Oh, and desert was awesome– strawberries with and whipped cream and dolce de leche. Is that Spanish for dang yummy?
 
 

 

 

From Grrrrr to Wah Hoo!

 
It wasn't such a great start to Thursday morning. I was driving to Hershey to meet my friend Christine at the Quilt Odyssey Show. Stuck in traffic on the Pennsylvania turnpike, I actually had an extra hour to eat a leasurely lunch in my car, staring at the blank expanse of the rear of the semi truck in front of me. Then, it took 30 minutes to get a parking space and walk from the hinterlands into the convention center. Grrrrrr.
 
 
But my day abruptly changed for the better when I saw the red ribbon hanging next to my quilt, Sweetwater Gap Bloodroot. Christine arrived before I did and tho we texted back and forth several times while I was fuming enroute, she never gave me a hint. I was so surprised! I hadn't even thought to ask if she had seen the quilt. Wah hoo! Way to change my attitude!
 
 
It was so fun to see quilters taking a close look. I know they're asking each other, how did she do those squares?
 
 
Everyone these days seems to think they have way too much fabric and quilting “stuff.” I have lots…but I plan to sew up all that fabric! I don't let it burden me into not getting new stuff, like this cute appliqué organizer.
 
 
These fabric bundles called to me at Webfabrics.
 
 
And Fat Quarters are as hard to resist as Snickers.
 
 
This packet from Quilt Basket contains 16 Fat Eighths. It might be perfect for a new Quilt in Layers. I don't know how any of my new fabrics will be used. For now, they're just lolling around the sewing room, making me happy.
That alone is worth a Wah Hoo!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

Air Conditioning

Well, it's “pay the man” time for the lovely crisp, cool air last week. The temperature is supposed to hit 97 today and stay in the 90's the rest of the week. I am cowering in the air conditioning. And I'm not the only one. Gary did not play golf or tennis yesterday. Gasp! He just left to go to Dicks Sporting Goods. To fondle the clubs? To ward off some kind of withdrawal fit? I guess I should have inquired about this trip since he isn't much of a shopper. I'm interested to see if something expensive comes home with him.

While it's a heat wave outside, it's great Longarming weather inside. I've been working on this gorgous log cabin quilt for a new customer. The size is right at the limits of my frame and machine.

 
The quilt is intended for a wedding gift and the client did not want a large build up of thread, making the quilt stiff. She thought an open, meandering design would work. My first thought was a basic leaf but when I drew it out, the leaves gave me a “green” feeling. I liked the second attempt, oak leaves and acorns much better.
 
 
I recently quilted this quilt. Similar to a T shirt, a new trend is to cherish memories using a child's baby clothes. My friend Susie pieced the quilt, carefully selecting the beautiful and fun parts of the little dresses and rompers. It was a bit of a challenge to hold up the collars and loose motifs to quilt around, but it adds so much interest it was well worth the effort.
 
 
What I enjoyed most was selecting quilting patterns. With so many different design ideas to choose from, I just let myself have fun filling the spaces.
 
 
The back showed off like a whole cloth sampler. Quilting this quilt made me wish I had saved my own children's little outfits. I can't imagine how I would have preserved anything to piece after cutting away all the stains tho!
 
 

 

 

Quilt Exhibit

 
 
On the way home from MAQ, my friend Jane and I detoured through Harrisburg to see the 20/20 Quilt Exhibit at the Susquehanna Art Museum. Twenty contempory quilts and twenty traditional quilts were selected. In the curator's notes, Pat Pauly says the exhibit is “an open discussion on both the stylistic changes in the quilt genre, and the new work that has transformed the term quilt.”
 
I thought that the quilts would all be hung in pairs, and some were. Like this quilt by Sue Benner in front of an Amish quilt.
 
 
Another paired set of old and new quilts. Most of the traditional quilts were sewn by “Unknown Maker” and many were from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection. The art quilt is by Paula Kovarik.
 
 
Sometimes the quilts were side by side. This Amish style quilt kept company with this contemporary quilt.
 
 
Jane Sassaman is a well known quilt artist and has influenced many quilters.
 
 
I love the detail in her quilting stitch. It's difficult to photograph, but the black borders are also quilted with the patterned stitching. The traditional quilts hanging near this quilt were not so obviously paired, giving the viewer a chance to explore her own connections and comparisons.
 
 
I always try to appreciate the sight lines in an art exhibit. So much thought goes into the longer views. Just beyond my camera range, is an enormous pieced quilt by Eleanor McCain, unfortunately my photo was out of focus. I think it would be interesting to collect and compile the photos taken. I hardly snapped any pictures of the traditional quilts but I bet Jane's camera has every one, with 5 detail shots of each.
 
 
This was my favorite quilt, made by Ginny Smith. I think it represents the old and new in quilt making. Some of the fabrics chosen are new, like the Asian themed quilt fabric in the vases. The block backgrounds have the look of old shirtings and may actually be from repurposed clothing.
 
She also used both machine stitching and hand stitching on her quilt.
 
I enjoyed seeing all the quilts, both old and new. I'm thinking about my own work and how the traditions of the past influence what I do. I've often thought my quilts are not “quilty” enough for traditional rules and not “artsy” enough for the art world. It isn't important to me to “fit into” either genre, but it is interesting to hear the dialog going on in my head. I think this is what Pat Pauly ment by “open discussion.” The quilts are glorious, beautifully displayed and thoughtfully selected. I appreciated the timeless language of design and felt inspired creatively.
 
Quilts 20/20 Traditional Works Contemporary Art is on view until August 30.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Wrap!

 
I was filled with anticipation to finely be driving to Emmitsburg, Maryland to teach Quilting in Layers at MidAppalachian Quilters Conference. I thought I would just take my time to enjoy traveling through beautiful Lancaster County– and watch out for Amish buggies sharing the road.
 
 
The instructions on my supply list said to bring beautiful fabrics and the students did not disappoint me. Susan's project is to illustrate a color challenge. She showed the class a beautiful “sketch book” of photos and magazine page inspirations. Oh my gosh, I wanted to slyly slide that book into my bag and take it home! Umm…her quilt, too.
 
 
This quilter does not fear color. Looking at this composition now, I am trying to analyze why these very different fabrics, colors and textures go together so well. Have I mentioned before that I learn so much from my students?
 
 
Ellie chose a softly quiet palette. She fussy cut the flowers and has some green blocks to create a woodland feel for her quilt. It reminds me of the elegance of tiny wild flowers.
 
 
Another color scheme, with plans to mix in some shiny fabrics for center squares, to bring in a touch of sparkle.
 
 
I loved every single thing about this quilt. This quilter auditioned center squares set straight, then off centered and randomly angled. She placed some strips on top to see if she wanted to inset strips. I hope she sends me a photo of the finished quilt.
 
I had a great time at the conference, both teaching and learning from my students and the other instructors. I only regret two things. I wish I had taken pictures of the beautiful campus at Mount St. Mary's and I was just too busy to take more photos during my class.
Also, I ate waaaay too much ice cream…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Almost Time

 

 
I bought lots of colors of shot cottons at the big vender mall at the quilt show in Houston last October. I had a project in mind for my new class at MidAppalachian Quilters Conference.
 
 
With so many color choices available, I decided to just make blocks, enjoy the combinations and decide how they will all go together later. Pure color play! I do like the solid color blocks above better than these two tone–err, three tone squares. I want that curve to be prominent.
 
 
Notice the smaller curve, just to mix it up. Playing with the layout is fun. I think I should call this quilt, Skittles. Actually, I hate Skittles…they're not chocolate, why eat the calories?
 
 
Going up.
 
 
Going down.
 
 
Going sideways.
 
I think there is some complicated Math formula for figuring out how many combinations you can get from a collection of things… Which escapes me at the moment– hah. I am taking a cell phone photo so I can review these block settings on my ipad.
 
 
Enough playing and drifting into Math nightmares, I've committed to sewing the blocks together. Last decision is, traditional binding or knife-edge facing?
 
 
Facing it is and my last sample is finished.
 
MAQ here I come!
 
 
 
 

 

4th of July

 
Happy 4 th of July! I made this quilt a few years ago to contribute to the Quilts of Valor Foundation. The mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting quilts.
 
Today I made 3 blocks to contribute to Calico Cutters Quilt Guild’s goal of 50 blocks this month. All of the blocks the members make will be given to the Tel Hai quilters to make into soldier quilts.
I’ve never actually used this method of sewing a large square to make half square triangles before.
 
It was easy and fast. I like it better than sewing the squares individually. Especially when you need 8 HST’s of the same two fabrics.
 
A trim of the “dog ears” and you have nice, accurate triangles.
 
 
Three cheers for the red, white and blue!
 
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Nightscape

 
I've been to Longwood Gardens many times in the evening for fireworks and other events. This summer, there are no fireworks or fountain shows because the large fountains and grounds in front of the conservatory are being renovated.
 
 
There are other enticements to visit, such as the outdoor Beer Garden with live music on Thursday nights.
 
 
But the main attraction this summer is the new installation of a “light and sound experience.” Last night Gary and I attended the members only opening, and the gardens were packed with people.
 
 
I tried taking photos and even attempted a video but I could not begin to capture the effects. Different colors and patterns of light are projected onto a textured landscape of plantings. The locations vary from the topiary garden to the banana tree house and the texture of the living canvas transforms the light into a dimensional art experience.
In the conservatory, the lights are projected onto a sort of suspended, huge disco ball made out of big vines and plant materials. As mesmerizing and interesting as this was, I was starting to think, this kinda feels like the acid trip I never took, back in college in the 70's. If the music had been selections from “Hair” I would have sworn I was tripping!
And then we walked down to the lake across from the tree house. Longwood has set up low chairs to view the lights projected on the water, and against the backdrop of trees in Pierce Woods.
This is where the magic unfolds. Before my eyes, the glimmer of white lights start to depict mist arising from the water surface. Leaves tremble and it seems as if a gust of wind blows across the trees. The mist dissolves into clouds and rain. Then dragon flies dance above the lake, their wings trailing helix drifts of light that turn into waterfalls on the huge backdrop. It is so dimensional I can hardly believe the fish jumping and the splash into the water are not real. How incredible! With just a subtle touch of color, the seasons change and leaves drift down in autumn, snow falls, new buds glimmer in spring.
I was so enchanted I watched three times and I can't wait to go back again. Disney could not have done better! If you are in this area, or can arrange a trip, don't miss this experience.

Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience by Klip Collective

Wednesdays through Saturdays,
Now–October 31, 2015