I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 18, 2014

Back in the Day: An Ohio Easter

 Hi guys! Happy Holidays, Happy Easter, Happy Passover.
Welcome, Spring!

 [You can just enjoy the pictures of my house's decorations, if my childhood rambling is a ZZzzzz, ;-) ]

I suppose almost all cultures that experience seasons have a springtime ritual, a time to celebrate winter's end and the coming warm days ahead.
My friend L and I were out and busy yesterdayday, shopping for the weekend. BJ's [like Costco?] and Target yielded wonderful spring produce and fun bright scarves and shorts. Target was especially fun,because there were a number of happy, excited, younger than us moms and daddies with shopping carts brimful of Easter Basket makings.

My Easter menu is easy.... Crock pot pulled pork, requested by my kids instead of the traditional roast pork I love. The kids bring home Vermont maple syrup pulled pork sauce every winter for this dish they love. And a crisp sweet slaw made with broccoli straws, shaved brussel sprouts, and matchstick julienned apple. A raspberry vinaigrette dressing, maybe  a bit of pancetta, for a salty touch . BJ's had very nice pancetta, in bulk of course. I see a lot of pasta carbonara in our futures....

And of course we will have devilled eggs. A tradition in our household. This year my daughter chose a recipe from the Easter issue of Martha Stewart Living which calls for watercress and horseradish in the eggs' filling. Hmmm. Martha, c'mon, how likely am I to find watercress here? I'll let you know if it turns up at the fancy supermarket. (so far No, but they did have, uh, dandelion greens. Huh. no.]

I like having food traditions. Lasagna for Christmas Eve, eggplant parm only for special birthdays...and my Easter specialty is the devilled eggs.

The other day when we were talking here about childhood Easters, I was remembering  Easter when I was a very little girl, back in Ohio. Looking back I can't imagine how my young parents did all this in one day!

First of all: a new dress and maybe new shoes or hat, not just for me but for the entire family. My poor brother always got a close crew cut and had to wear a sport coat and bow tie. I think we found our Easter Baskets and had our Egg Hunt when we woke up in the morning. Eggs were always dyed on Good Friday, a holiday from school. And then we'd dig out our real straw, reused, recycled Easter baskets and refurbish them with new bows and fresh ''grass''. Ready for the Easter Bunny to arrive.

We always got a big chocolate bunny, foil eggs, jelly beans. As we got older, maybe toys or crayons and coloring books. My mom and I both wore real flower corsages---mine always a pink carnation! Hers were gardenias--- that my dad would order when he got the flowers for the cemetery visits.

Next we'd go out for brunch at the big city hotel that had a beautiful lavish Easter Brunch with a real white Easter Bunny and wonderful food. Our choice was always eggs Benedict! And Shirley Temple cocktails, how retro is that!? Grenadine in Sprite, I think? My parents would have mimosas or Bellinis. After brunch we'd go to the city's amazing Botanic Garden where the greenhouse would be filled with spring flowers and Easter decorations. The big space always smelled of hyacinths and whenever I smell hyacinths I am transported back to that time.

Next on the day's agenda was a trip to the park-like historic cemetery here where my dad's family are buried. We kids would would play  by the duckpond and we'd all admire the many flowering trees and shrubs, the flowers and chartreuse green spring grass. It never seemed like a sad visit, though it must have been so for my dad who lost both his parents and his oldest brotherwhen he was a very young boy. If Easter was late there'd be baby ducklings in the pond. Oooh. Heaven.

Home. Nap? Off to my aunt's for Easter dinner. The day just went on and on. This aunt was an older woman who raised my dad after he was orphaned. She was actually his sister in law, widowed very young, and perhaps saw herself as a grandmother figure of sorts. Too bad she and my mom didn't get along. I liked going to her house. She had German shepherd dogs, collected Hummels, had gorgeous vintage dishes and glasses and silverware for the holiday table. And she made quilts! Appliqued quilts with the finest tiny stitches. (I have two: Magnolias and Dogwood, from local Ohio company  Mountain Mist's patterns.) Lots to fascinate a shy little girl.

She always made roast lamb. Eeew. She always put garlic on it and bickered about that with my dad.  Maybe... roasted potatoes and carrots? No dessert!---the ladies were both frugal and slim. But we had our chocolate bunnies for later.

LOL I am exhausted just thinking of those days.

Later, as a young mom in NYC I didn't go to such extravagant lengths---there was a famous Ocean Edge Resort Cape Cod Easter Egg Hunt one year. Famous because there was a blizzard and my kids cried because they couldn't find the eggs in the snow. And there were a few years of brunch at the Plaza in the city, a stroll along Fifth Avenue with all the crazy NY Easter Parade people. We'd end up at the Central Park Children's Zoo. I wonder if my kids even recall those holidays, they were very tiny, stroller aged. I recall every second though, with such joy.

Below, my real assorted fowl eggs from Naked Eggs. The colors are natural! Look at that blue....


 I used shredder paper for grass because I didn't like the plastic grass from Target....

Happy Easter---make joyful memories, my friends!



gone to the beach.

piping plover footprints trail

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Migraine Weather

 the wind bends the grasses almost horizontal!
waves are huge

Hi! Oh yes, stormy weather here today! And I know some of you had heavy rain and even snow! Here at the beach we're experiencing gale winds of perhaps 45+ mph, full moon flooding, eclipse gloom and doom. And yesterday was so pretty!

My friend and I ran out to the flower store. Brilliant sunshine, high pressure but so windy my house was shaking and her SUV was swaying. A headache threatened. Having migraines is like having a built in barometer [but more painful.]. When air pressure is high but a very low storm pressure is looming on the horizon, the pain can be intense. I'd had a migraine since Friday! Yeesh. A storm is coming!


By midnight yesterday, the wind had died and dense fog rolled in. The eclipse was not visible. I was very sad. The good news was my headache left along with the clear skies.
Today...oh the wind! It was back. The vibration of wind kept waking me up.
I dressed in waterproof clothes and headed to the beach, of course.

The new dunes are blowing away.

Maybe the treasures in the dredged sand will be exposed?

The very high tide plus gale winds from the south had caused waves to wash all the way to the highest old dunes, sweeping aside and through...over? ---the newly re-created outer dunes of the past two winters.

[not the man-made trucker dunes, they're just kinda blowing away.]

 I tried to capture the wind with my camera during my abbreviated beach walk.



I gt about this far and the wind was blowing me backwards. It got a little scary!

Back home I made my Easter ''basket'' with my flowers from the flower market. I used a crock instead of a thrift shop basket because I didn't want it to sail away in the wind.
I had to photograph it  inside because of the wind. Then I put it outside by my front door because it wouldn't survive  on my deck in the storm.

I figured if I had extra pansies I'd plant them in my deck planters, but I can't even open the deck door, the wind is forcing it shut.

So I stuck them into a little old yellow McCoy planter for a few days til things calm down outside,lol.

Last weather note: I ll have to bring the flowers inside later! Freeze warnings now...can you imagine. What a winter this has been....

my Easter Basket
inspiration basket from last month's flower show.
 But the stores here have no bulb plants available, Easter is so late.
so I tried for the general look.
I also didn't have any moss so I used Easter grass instead.
I'll remove it after Easter then transplant the flowers in a week or so.

 My kids say they're too old for Easter baskets, so I make my own. And I always fill a big Mason jar with pastel sugar coated Cadbury chocolate eggs.  My mom always set out her brilliant yellow silk forsythia wreath, on her Cape Cod blue door;  my dad made Easter baskets very similar to mine, in found baskets from the [freebie] swap shop at the Dump...and they always sent me a bag of foil wrapped little chocoltae eggs. [I am NEVER too old!] How about you? Do you enjoy making Easter Baskets? Or putting out some spring decor? What's on the menu for this week's holidays, anything special? I'll tell you about Easter dinner plans in my next post.



gone to the beach

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Collecting and Using Antique Fabrics


Hello! First, for those of us who were worried about the birds on the beach, the trucks are GONE! [job unfinished?] And the protective fencing of the nesting areas went up last week, actually the day after my concerned post here. It has been too windy for the birds to be out on the beach, but I am hoping they're here and will go on with their nesting routine.

It has been a busy week for me---I have been working on custom orders for lavender hearts, plus making doll quilts for Lori of Humble Quilts doll quilt swap. [I can't decide! Which is good enough, will the swappee like it? etc etc?]. Both projects utilize my antique fabrics. which I've collected for many years. (I do NOT cut up any linens or quilt pieces unless they are damaged. I treat the stains and cut around the flaws.)

When I began the Noah and Matilda wedding quilt repro, I wrote to my longtime friend and quilt dealer asking him to send me fabrics. Wow. He sent me over 350 quilt blocks, all but a few dating between 1845 and 1895. Fabulous collection, once belonging to his mother, I believe.

He also asked me if I was interested in vintage c. 1920-30 milliners' velvets, and of course I said Yes! [some may be of later vintage]

With the velvets came yardages of vintage/ antique solid cotton: turkey reds and cheddars.

The velvets:
You may recall I like to make sewing strawberries / emeries for my etsy shop. With this large collection I can now make what I call theorem fruit. My Theorem Fruit pins on Pinterest  and  More antique velvet fruit on Pinterest

Tomatoes, Pears, Pumpkins. Carrots? ( a project scheduled for late summer/ early fall, but if anyone wants something, maybe sooner is possible. And/ or I can email you when they go into my shop in the fall.)

Pears again.
Here's a theorem painting. A common motif found in the stencilled paintings on velvet was bowls of fruit.

c. 1800s.

And here's a few pictures of fruits, a popular fad of the late Victorian era. Many were sewing whimsies, pin keeps. Or simply decorative items made by ladies with time on their hands.

I picked up a small papier mache box, too...to make a birdie on a tuffet topped sewing box.

 Maybe mine will be velvet?


 Some silk velvet patchwork squares, perhaps for Santa suits?

And here are [ some of] the cotton Civil War era through turn of the 20th century quilt blocks:
 click for full screen closeups/ details.


miniature 9-Patch  


Four Patch, very old fabrics mixed in here...

 I love working with these treasures. The fabrics are so interesting and so beautiful. I enjoy imagining the women who sewed the blocks a hundred--a hundred-fifty!---years ago. And I feel it is okay to use them as they were once intended. If sewed into a quilt and finished they are far more likely to be preserved for the future. Random loose blocks can be lost or discarded.

This is a "T" block, sometimes called the Temperance block, in reference to the ladies who were gainst the use of alcoholic beverages and drunkenness: The Women's Christian Temperance Society. [apparently this is an urban myth; no contemporary references or items have been found.]

Yes, one square is turned the wrong way. I love that. Aren't the fabrics great! The black vermicelli with blue roses! The pale aqua with coral roses, the tiny black and white sprigged calico. sigh. I wish I could buy these fabrics right now.

I like to examine how the blocks were made. Sometimes I find the tiniest even stitches, other times big and messy, almost basted. Many are so well made that it is very hard to take them apart for repair or reuse. A common practice was to do a needle's worth of running stitches, 4-6, then a backstitch. This makes very strong seams.
And also of course even the oldest blocks are sometimes machine stitched.

I put the last stitch in America Hurrah a few weeks ago. I appliqued the date then  washed and dried and fluffed it.

Label on the back , using an antique block.

 My kids are cringing about the bright cheddar color, but I am pleased to have completed this project, begun many years ago, when I first came to NYC after college, and bought my first quilt blocks in a folk art gallery on Madison Avenue. (the Tulips.) There's no rhyme or reason to this group, or not much: ships and stars, red and blue and cheddar. Makes me smile....

Perhaps my next ''collection'' quilt will feature blue and white blocks? Something to look for on eBay? These are the blue blocks from my friend HP.



gone to the beach

velvet fruits and theorem painting images are from Pinterest. All other photos are mine.