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

Friday, February 28, 2014

February Finishes


Hi! Here's what I did this month! It's fun to keep track of progress, isn't it?

I don't care for the quilting world's word ''flimsy'' which means a finished quilt top. To me flimsy means shoddy, and though my skills are not perfect, I hate to think of what I've made as ''shoddy'' or junky. [Yes I know that is not what quilters mean by the word, but it's how it makes me feel.]
So here goes, finished tops and blocks of February '14.

Tah Dah! Look at cutie Lost Quilt!

I was worried that the central portion was too bright, but with the borders and cheddar  baskets, I think it is adorable.

I made up the fancy name Cordelia's Crib Quilt, but I bet in my mind it's always be the Lost Quilt. This is the eBay quilt, below, you can read my post about it here

                                                 (Yes. My chevrons are wrong. I'm over it.)

Here is the backing that inspired me to attempt to copy the quilt I didn't win on eBay a few months ago.
Love this colorful toile.

Perhaps it will have double pink binding, though more likely turkey red.

Not sure about the quilting. I know what I want to have, but am not sure if I or my machine quilter should do it. Not going to hand quilt, probably will sell it?

This is another crib quilt. I began it a year or so ago then never got back to sewing on  the last border til now.

The star blocks are early, pre-Civil War. From Maine. They are so pristine I didn't have to wash them.

Love the fabrics and how each block has a red or pink diamond, so one's eye is drawn all over the surface of the quilt.

I used two of my treasured vintage, but not old, sepia documentary print cottons. One is roses, the other tiny pansies. I have hoarded them both for many years.

Backing will be double pink. Binding may be a different double pink. It is off to the quilter on Monday! Yay!

And here are my first two Noah and Matilda blocks. Remember we are being given FOUR blocks per month, so as of now, I have done 2 of 12. Looks like if I do one per month, I 'll be fine. Four years...plus a border (so 5 years). Hmmm.

                                   Original Noah and Matilda Quilt,
                                    link at the end of post here

My idea is to reproduce the c. 1845 quilt somewhat as it looks now, not as we surmise it looked when new. This means utilizing antique fabrics from my collection, either yardage or simple worn-out blocks.



This is my February block. I''ll add a photo in a a day or so when I get it entirely done.

Originally I had prepped these diamonds for the tulips.

I even bought myself a tiny iron so I can sit comfortably to prepare these blocks. Pretty great little tool. I know we're supposed to STAND not sit, or so medical science now tells us, but my back screams in agony if I stand over the ironing board too long. Best to sit awhile.

Anyway, those diamonds were too bright, I realised. I redid them in one of my go-to fabrics, an old [ripped] mid 1800s quilt back. Softer colors like the original, though not as pretty.

I also decided I couldn't bear to do 4 years of applique onto plain white cotton muslin. The original quilt was apparently a gift quilt with blocks contributed by many friends of the [?] bride and groom, Noah and Matilda. So I thought maybe in my world the ladies had to use whatever cream or white fabrics they had; I plan to use  variety of neutrals then tie them together visually with setting blocks of just one fabric. (I hope I don't regret this plan,lol.)

Wouldn't it be wonderful if years from now I showed you all the final top! And we could see that by doing/ learning/ trying---with practice!--- my stitches got tinier, my leaf curves got smooth and rounded, my points became pointy with no frays? Maybe. Someday?



gone to the beach

photos of original Noah and Matilda Wedding quilt used with permission of Dawn, from Collector with a Needle.




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pasta Puttanesca: Using Up Your Pantry Supplies

Hi! Some mornings we wake up and see THIS:
Especially this record breaking snowy-coldy-long grey winter of 2014. Another ''polar vortex'' is up on us, and some days I just don't want to go out to the store. This is when  my emergency pantry stock comes in handy. Every summer I get a flyer reminding me to stock up on hurricane supplies. And every winter I get another flyer, for blizzard preparedness and ''stuck in your car'' crises.
Fine. But I've lived here a long time and I for one do not someday want to have to eat 15 year old Spam. This means the pantry has to get rotated, and used and restocked every few months.
Those of you who knew me well know I am not one for prepared or canned foods. I don't get all crazy and buy 100 cans of chicken noodle soup when they're on sale 10 for a dollar. If we want soup here, I make homemade. Yeesh. But there are some veggie items---tomato paste? consomme? that I use a lot of and don't make from scratch. This is a favorite easy pasta sauce for those Use Up the Pantry days.
Pasta Puttanesca.

The story goes that that the prostitutes of Sicily would throw this sauce together, in a rush, when they'd see the  fishing fleet return with the day's catch. I suppose only mythical Italian 'ho's feel compelled to feed their clients,lol. History, here.
Get out your best heavy le Creuset pot , or something similar.
In olive oil saute a minced Vidalia/ sweet white onion, 6 -8 finely minced cloves of garlic.
 (I had an eggplant in the bin, so I diced it and sauteed it too. Adds yumminess but not crucial.)
Now get out those cans and your [Not-Electric] can opener!
Open all, drain well:

-1can of plain artichoke hearts.
-1 small can of black ''pearl'' olives
-1 can of diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes chopped up. Whatever. I had this jar of marinara sauce, horrors! Used it up instead of using tomatoes.
-1 jar of capers.
-1 can of mushrooms.
Other than the mushrooms, you can see these are not ''from the farmers market'' kinds of veggies. But they hopefully have lots of wintery vitamins. And we love veggies here. (What is a caper, anyway? My mom always said they are nasturtium seeds! )
Cut the artichoke hearts in half.
Add everything to the le Creuset pot.
even the eggplant.

stir until everything gets nice and hot. 2, 3 minutes.
Add whatever wine you have in your fridge, red or white. Or---beer? About a Cup. Stir. Add some water if you like, but only a little.
Seasonings: salt, pepper, 2T of sugar or Splenda. [this is important, adds depth and caramelizes the sauce. ]
Basil, oregano, lemon pepper, a few fennel seeds? Lots of parsley.
Stir well, cover partially, simmer for about an hour. Less time is fine if you're hungry.
If someone doesn't want a quasi-vegetarian meal, you can add diced cooked bacon or pancetta near the end. 

I like this on hearty whole wheat spaghetti or linguine. Al dente. Please. It is also good as a sauce on pan-grilled rib eye steaks. Lots of freshly grated Parmesan on top.

By the way, if it is very cold outside, and maybe inside too---it is worth the effort to heat your plates or pasta bowls. Just run hot water over them then dry well, or turn the sauce pot lid upside down, so it is flat, and set the plates on top while the sauce simmers.This dish is best served steaming hot and fragrant.
I often freeze half of the sauce. It can also be eaten cold, like a ratatouille, in the event of a power failure. No Spam for us! Though I will admit a secret love for canned corned beef hash.
Tonight I am using the second half from this weekend's batch to make baked ''ziti'', using up all my leftover bits of pasta.  With ricotta and provolone. The baking casserole smells so delicious! Using the oven makes my cottage so cozy and warm. Perfect for  Polar Vortex Three.
***Don't forget to restock your supplies next trip to the store.
gone to the beach

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mud, Fog, Thaw


Is this what ''they'' mean by cabin fever? We are having a thaw of sorts [hello, potholes! hello, floods!]  but I still cannot get onto my beach for my daily walk. I feel a little claustrophobic when I can't get out  to the beach.
My own access is still massively drifted.

I got out my ski poles and boots, clambered halfway up, see the glimpse of the ocean?



and chickened out every time.
I have tried my other alternatives: the bird sanctuary's parking lot is not even plowed! And has deep drifts. The parks have parking but no access to the beach.

Before H. Sandy we could use their higher raised wooden boardwalk bridges to get to a snowy beach but those are gone, not replaced. This is an 8 foot high seawall!

So I have been taking my walks around my small neighborhood, now that most of the sidewalks and roads are cleared.
A secret little alley, path to the beach...

Today I was looking for signs of spring. Are those buds on the forsythias?

 How about on that twisty willow?

 I don't dare take photos--- can't you just hear the neighbors: WHO is that nosy woman! And why is she taking pictures of our house? "You! Hey! Lady!?" LOL. No.

As the snow recedes I am watching for tiny shoots of crocus or daffodils. So far, only my indoor plants are showing signs of life. The paperwhites are so rewarding! Well worth making a note to self to always stock up each October.

One of my weather alert things says snow next week! Should I buy new snow boots? Are there any to even buy!? here
And note that LL Bean's boots are almost all out of stock! here

Is this what we have to look forward to  this summer? Gonna need a wetsuit!

                                                              (photo by Gray Malin, via OKL)

But for now...a dense fog advisory (LOVE fog!). This is not a joke, this is what I could see from my deck earlier.

Followed by the first thunderstorm of the ''spring''!

And much longer days, did you notice that it's still [sort of] light at 6 PM, hooray! Just a few weeks til Daylight Savings begins, too. Tonight the sunset was lavender and shell pink, a spring sunset! An omen...a promise?

 I'm off to check my pantry---and sew on my newest batch of lavender hearts. Have a great weekend!



gone to the beach...