Friday, January 7, 2022

Zoom again


Last weekend, New Year's Day for me, the next day for Australia, Chooky organized another zoom chat with like minded quilty bloggers.   It's a great selfless plan she has to send out word and a link approximately once a month - as her schedule  allows - to her blog followers turned friends to keep in touch.   This started as a way to alleviate some of the angst of being shut in for most of the world this past year.  We log in, stitch, chat, compare notes on our lives, laugh, and feel like we were at a stitch-in or even a retreat.  Some of us even arrive in pajamas and one, who will not be named here, just about rolls over in bed, switches on her computer and joins us. Early Saturday morning isn't for her.   Some come and stay for the whole duration, some go in and out as chores and other things dictate.  My longest stay is 5 hours and then the battery goes dead and I have to charge up.  Even at retreat I have a hard time sitting that long at once.  

Some who come get a LOT done, some like me, not so much.  This time I even had hand work prepped and I did stitch but I have a short attention span and find it's also nice to just sit and chat.   We come from all over the world, Germany, Austria, Norway, Canada, U.S., England, France, New Zealand and of course Australia.  We've discovered we are all different, we all have different taste in quilts, we all are all going through this pandemic thing in the same ways and we are all the same. 

Chooky talked about this link on her blog

I thought it was such a clever way to commemorate how we manage to stay sane. 
Also, I knew I would never go through what this  quilter did to remember this zoomy time but I did, in my dream state, think of this.

There was a fat quarter of this map fabric in the stash. I cut it in half.  There are a LOT of bits and pieces in the scrap box so I cut 2 inch squares, drew a grid on the map and am now hand applique stitching patches of fabric onto the map to commemorate the coming together of quilty people via Chooky's generosity.  Little patches of people covering the world.


Just a little way to remember how far away we are but how close we can be.  After putting all squares down I'll quilt it along the grid lines which you can see if you squint.  Each square is centered and measures 1.5 inches.

On my post about the clamps I mentioned that I had to leave the quilt group I was in here because of their non-vac and non-mask take on life.  Janet commented that it's a shame I don't have a group of like minded quilters with which to gather.  I emailed back, "oh, but I do!  Chooky's zooms!"

Thanks again, Chooky.  What you are doing IS appreciated.
 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Gadgets

 Generally I don't go in for quilting tool gadgets.  There isn't a studio for my stuff, the sewing machine is in the bathroom closet, the extra bedroom closet holds the stash, there are baskets here and there with projects in progress, a small chest of drawers in the entryway holds other stuffs.  It's all over the house and that can dictate what I'm going to work on, measured by the effort to pull it all together.

One of my problems has been ongoing and I thought I solved it when the local group I would stitch with moved to a place that had big tables I could use at my will, anytime I wanted. But then this covid thing changed that when I discovered none of them are vaccinated nor do they mask nor do they intend to do either of those.  So, I no longer go there.   My dining room table was a possible but it wasn't wide enough.  Who knew when we had it made and ordered something narrower than normal that I would someday wish for more standard width?  

To hold my backing down I taped with masking tape.  Run out of that so switch to painters tape.  Doesn't hold as well, as they advertise it doesn't, of course.  Then a couple of months ago I noticed on  Kiwikids blog Sue used binder clips to hold her backing in place.  A quick email asking the size she used.

But there was a problem yet again.  The biggest clip size I could find was 2 inches wide and that was fine to a point but they didn't open wide enough for the base of our dining room table.  I slept on it for a few nights

I came up with something like this in my dream state.  We found this at a local hardware store and they worked perfectly.  One of the issues was not only did they have to  open far enough to fit the table skirting but I had to be able to open them with my strength-less hands.  I bought the two they had and asked them to get ten more for me.

        They open wide enough for the table and my hands can squeeze them hard enough to open them. Now where to store them?? 

 

For the record as I was thinking my problem out loud PH went out to the garage and brought these back in thinking the word "clamp" mean something universal. He isn't fluent yet in quilt but he's learning.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas 2021

 Well, another one in the books.  We had a wonderful time, they were here overnight from the 22nd to 23rd. The kids are just as wiggly and reluctant to get a photo taken as they ever have been but at least now they know when we say, "if you just cooperate it will only take a second" that it really will only take a second if they cooperate.  This was first thing in the morning and they weren't yet on their toes so still maleable.  

                                                       Adelaide found the pickle

We love having them spread out all over the house in spare beds, couch, floor and cot and they are self sufficient enough to not require constant supervision. They even help!
Our son is a master at grilling our dinner steaks.  Somehow he does them perfectly and to everyone's specific desired done-ness.  Notice no snow and the weather while cold wasn't freezing so shirtsleeves were just enough.
                                             I had to show you one of the things in my stocking. 

                                  Notice the line - Keep Scent of Book Away from Kindle.
                                Don't you just marvel sometimes at peoples' imaginations? 
 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Toy Soldier

 Wow.

 Our Ceci is into dance. She loves it and when she isn't in her dance classes her dad said she dances around the house.  She auditioned for and got a part in her dance studio's Christmas extravaganza.  That's all I can call it, an extravaganza.  Now, we've been to her recitals over the years and I've always been stunned at the professional approach to the recital.  The sound and lights, scenes and settings, choreography and costumes.  It's QUITE the show.   So when she was accepted to be in the Christmas program we knew we had to go to not only support her but to see something spectacular.

We sure did, it was spectacular in every way!  This is her stay warm in between shows snuggly outfit
And this is her toy soldier costume.  She didn't wear her glasses because I think her brother told her toy soldiers don't wear glasses.   This was her main dance but she was also in four other choreographed crowd dances. 
We all had lunch after the show we saw but she, dressed in her snuggly warmth,  had two more to go on Saturday. 
Amazing!  What a beautiful event!  Congratulations Ceci! 
 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Pillow Talk

 Once upon a time so very long ago I learned to needlepoint.  I've been trying to remember when, if it was before or after I learned counted cross-stitch.  There are dates on the cross-stitch projects from the early 1980's so I'm thinking that needlepoint came first as I have one piece dated 1977.   Doing something creative with my hands has always been necessary and I clearly remember the needlepoint lessons.  I'm thinking they were at least 45 years ago.

 Well, recently while looking for something I unearthed these three unfinished pieces.  I remember thinking way back then that they would be framed and that's as far as they got.  Tucked away neatly they've been moved and moved and moved from one project box to another.  Until now.  I am seriously looking at a lot of things lately and thinking "WHAT are you waiting for???"  So I made pillows.

The blue in this one doesn't show as well as the green in the photo but the blue is the exact color of the fabric.  Please notice this person who is allergic to sewing machines put a fringe on this one.  There is a friend here in town who dabbles in antiques and often gives me pieces she pulls out of HER closets.  This fringe came off a bedspread but I didn't care.  I knew I'd use it. There's plenty more!
She also gave me the fabric I used for the school house pillow.  I've used it in SO many things and I think it works well here.  It's a chintz and I think the 1940's?
Remember the pineapple days of the 70's?  That's partly how I know how old these needlepoint pieces are.  I was into pineapple motifs in our first house.  Another local friend gave me a big piece of this yellow rose fabric and I thought it worked with this.  

The pillows are nothing fancy, no piping, etc., but they ARE  out of the box and into the light. Finally.
 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Panettone

 Panettone has always intrigued me.  This time of year you see stacks of boxed panettone in kitchen shops, grocery stores, gift shops, and it's always made me wonder what something that was packed and shipped weeks or even months ago might taste like.  And I've never been tempted to buy one of those mystery loaves.  I'm a bit of a snob about baked goods.  I want to eat baked goods the day they are made. I even ask at bakeries when something was made.  Sometimes you don't want to know the answer. But wanting fresh day eating sometimes can be a problem so I freeze everything.  Thawing cookies or breads brings them really close to day of flavor and texture. And I freeze in single serving sizes so they can be taken out little by little.  This was another problem I thought of as I would stand and stare at the mountain of large boxed panettone.

Then one day I was somewhere and had the opportunity to try one piece of panettone. It was one of the boxed things someone served up and I thought this was my chance to try it.  I was surprised at the texture of something that was probably months old.    

Lately I've been thinking of making some on my own.  I searched online for recipes, read them, compared the recipes and settled on trying three.   That was my task yesterday when I should have been taking the time to make some Christmas cookies - again for the freezer, which I did do during rising times: made three batches of cookie dough for baking today.  

So, this is what yesterday was like:

First I tried a panettone muffin from   http://pastrytales.com/panettone-muffins/.   I knew what muffin meant, it didn't have yeast so there was no rising involved and they would be cakey not bready.  I would make them in muffin cups and control how and when they were eaten.

In the freezer I had some sugared orange peel I made last year and about 8 dates leftover from an appetizer I made for company recently. I chopped those for the fruit.  I also added some finely chopped walnuts. That little purple dot is a black raspberry. You can find anything in our freezer, even a container holding 12 frozen black raspberries.  These turned out very nice.  The taste was citrusy, the nuts gave it a little texture.  Really good taste. I almost stopped here but told myself they were panettone TASTING but not really the panettone bread.


Then I tried the mini chocolate chip panettone from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/9668672324117028

 These were the texture of bread but absolutely tasteless.  I wouldn't make these again.  I knew when I did make them that all things panettone were not there, the candied fruits, the orange zest, etc. Nope.


This was the last recipe  I tried  https://www.ricardocuisine.com/en/recipes/7779-panettone-the-best

I loved these. I wanted to put the chopped walnuts in but didn't because I forgot.  This recipe soaks the candied orange peel and dates in rum and after the first rise all of that extra soaked goodness is added to the dough and worked in.  Oh, yum. It turned into a sticky, ooey, gooey mess and I baked it in the tall muffin wrappers like I did the others because I didn't want a huge loaf.  The gooeyness meant I had to use an ice cream scoop to put the batter in the papers but it worked.  

The only questionable thing about this experiment was the time it took.  The rising time was extra long with the third batch because of the liquid that was in the dough/batter and it meant no nap for me. Granted I was doing three different ones in one day, two needing to rise, but still, no nap.

  I change things all of the time with recipes.  I think if you are a good enough cook you can read a recipe and know if it will work out or taste good and what can be tweaked. The first and third, with the fruits, called for  a LOT of the chopped candied citrus peels and I put in a fraction of what was asked.   I also made the third one in tall muffin papers, not the tall loaf the recipe asks for.  If I were to want chocolate in a panettone I'll just add chocolate chips to the third recipe.  Chocolate and citrus works well so why not?  It was the dough itself in the chocolate chip recipe that was tasteless. 
I loved the third one day of but when I packed them into the freezer I kept one out for this morning and was astounded at how much better it tasted the next day.  Maybe that's why the ones in the stores are made so far ahead.  Like Sean Connery, they get better with age.

PH didn't like the third ones as much as the muffin ones but his comment was that the first one had more chew...he liked the walnuts.  When I make these third ones again some year I won't forget the walnuts and might add chocolate.  If I were to do these adjustments I'll divide the dough into thirds and add the extras that way. 

All in all I was glad I did this little experiment - after all I DID read all three recipes and I am a good enough cook to have chosen these three to try because I COULD taste them when I read the recipe.  But it all comes out in the end, doesn't it?  




Friday, December 10, 2021

Evening on the Riverfront

 I've always called this riverfront park Lowell's front porch.  It's where the city gathers for concerts, festival events, to walk the dog, and tonight, to sit on Santa's lap in his new spot on the new showboat.  

The line to see Santa was long but if you had a place holder in your party you could take part in everything else going on.

                There were free hot dogs, free cocoa and cookies, chestnuts, horse and carriage rides,


                                                            and reindeer to pet and pretend

 
The line to see Santa on the boat was long but everyone was having such a good time.  The weather was perfect, for once we weren't freezing in the snow.

This year daughter was training the girls in chestnut roasting and selling and they sold out in an hour. People were following their noses to the aroma of roasting chestnuts.

Adelaide put aside a cup for Mrs. Claus, who told Adelaide as she arrived tonight that she had never had a roasted chestnut.  We were given special permission to cut the line so she could deliver some chestnuts and I could take a photo. 

All in all, because the weather was so good we had a great time on the front porch.  And only one grandma fell in the river tonight!  No, it wasn't me.  It's a boat. It lives in the river and I know enough not to get so close to the edge I'd fall in.   So does a three year old - just sayin'.