Monday, May 30, 2005


I fixed my coffee machine! Now this might not seem like much but it feels to me like a triumph. I have a Krupps latte machine. I don’t really know which one it is: not the cheapest, not the most expensive. I wish I could find the documentation that came with it. I think they call it an espresso machine but it doesn’t make the greatest espresso. Certainly, not like the great espresso from Peet’s. It makes ok espresso but it makes good steamed milk. What I really love is coffee flavored steamed milk with foam, at home, in the morning, with my e-mail- and blog-reading.
I had tried cleaning it and that didn’t work. I could tell that it was building up pressure and it would steam milk but it wouldn’t make espresso. My friend Bev told me to "take the shower head" off and I tried that. It worked a little bit but not much and I was afraid it was going to explode. So I took the shower head off again and scrubbed around in there with a sharp object and now it works.
I was about ready to junk the thing and go for a Gaggia. Bev has a Gaggia. I talked to her and she said that hers has been in and out of the shop for the last seven months (mostly in the shop, awaiting elusive parts). She’s using her back-up Krupps. So now I’m thinking about the Rancilio Silvia. Doesn’t that just sound right, Miss Silvia in my kitchen. I think I will plan a trip to Sweet Maria’s in Emeryville,CA to talk to the experts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What I'm knitting

I have way too many projects started. I’ve made a few more "postcards" for the postcard quilt but haven’t decided how big to make it. At any rate, I haven’t found the time to sew it together, either. And I can’t figure out how to post more than one picture at a time to my blog. That’s taken up acres of time.

It’s Wednesday and my mini-group met in San Francisco at Sally’s incredible flat in the Marina. I brought along one of my "current" knitting projects (started last summer?). It’s Waikiki 70% rayon, 30% cotton. I’m using the Fiber Trends Landscape Scarf pattern and it’s not the kind of pattern that I can yak and knit at the same time. I spent at least an hour counting stitches and trying to figure out what row I was on. The yarn has thicks and thins, lots of slubs, and of course is variegated, and the pattern seems as if it’s wasted on this busy yarn. I’m close enough to casting off the middle section, and starting elongated tie ends, so that I think I should be able to finish it before NEXT summer (2006) but I am discouraged. I’m sure glad I’m doing the scarf and not the shawl. I have the same yarn in another color and I'd love suggestions for a cute scarf, same size/shape.

Landscape Scarf Posted by Hello

But it was warm and beautiful in San Francisco, we had a lovely lunch, and a good time was had by all.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Postcard quilt?

So, you know those commercial fabrics that call out to me, those batiks whose picture I posted? The ones that begged me to take them home with me from work? So I thought I would make some postcards. I wanted to do something creative. Melody Johnson says that as an artist, one should do something creative everyday. I should have done some creative cooking for my long-suffering husband. But I saw the postcards posted by Karoda and was inspired. I thought that would be a creative thing to do. I am really supposed to be working on the surprise quilt but I have an excuse for that. I decided to make a postcard, or two.

I had the idea that it would be fun to play with some of Sandi Cummings ideas. She had just taught a class at the store where I work and her students' work was very inspiring. I have never taken a class with her but I had seen her demonstrate her "cutting double" ideas at a demonstration at our guild show and I have experimented with it several times. And I bought her book, Thinking Outside the Block.
After I made one "postcard", I decided to cut it up. I’m thinking that maybe this should be a quilt and not some postcards.

postcards/quilt Posted by Hello

This is not sewn together and is very much a work in progress.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Mostly Mignonette

I’ve been taking a plant propagation class at my local community college. The school has two greenhouses and fabulous teachers. The rule is that each student must give back to the school at least 50% of what they grow. In the spring there is a sale each month. It was so exciting to arrive this morning for the last sale of the semester and see a line of 50 people waiting for at least a half an hour to be the first to get at the plants.

I’m really interested in fragrance and cottage-y garden plants. I successfully grew Reseda odorata (Mignonette ‘Machet’) but had to do a lot of marketing to sell it to both the teacher and the customers. I had never seen it in cultivation but had read about it and was seduced by the following description at Select Seeds:
The small spike of fringed, pale salmon flowers possess a wonderful sweet fragrance with overtones of raspberry. Napoleon brought this seed to his Josephine, who was entranced and named it 'mignonette' or 'little darling.' E.A. Bowles wrote in 1914, 'I like to place mignonette in a glass bowl, it is so cool and fresh in its green and gold and a spangling of silver and a ruby here and there that brightens it at close quarters.'

Well, guess what, I had 32-4 inch pots of the little darling and one had a blossom and the small description was right on. I sure hope the fragrance is better really early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, or early evening, or sometime, because we had a really hard time detecting anything. You’d think that with odorata in it’s name the wonderful fragrance would be discernible.

I also grew lots of basil, including ‘Genovese’ seeds brought back from Italy by my friend Janine, and lettuce leaf basil. Another student persuaded me that she loves to use leaves of this variety of basil in her sandwiches. Is your mouth watering with the thought of a slice of a crusty ciabatta, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh whole-milk mozzarella, and lettuce leaf basil glistening with extra virgin olive oil?

But the easiest thing to do in a plant propagation class is to buy other peoples’ plants, before, during, and after the plant sales. As a result, my porch is full of plants waiting to get into the garden. And my patio is full of plants waiting to get into the garden... Did I say that I’m really good at starting things and not so good at finishing?

Well, it’s exhausting. But I'm recovering. I’m off to cut up those lovely batiks, I promise.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Today's acquisitions Posted by Hello

Commercial fabric

I got home from work and left to my own devices, checked out Sonji’s blog. I work in a quilt shop two days a week. One of the reasons I decided to work there was the (probably vain) hope that maybe I would immunize myself against, or silence my obsession with, commercial fabric (really, the discount). You know, kinda like working in a donut shop–you’d get tired of donuts. (My friend Patricia says that it might be possible to deep-fat fry shoe leather and it would taste delicious.) Anyway, there on Sonji’s blog is the most delicious hand-dyed/painted fiber-stuff. Before I got home I was quite satisfied with four little pieces that I had permitted myself to purchase (after being on my feet for 8 hours, I deserved it). I can't wait to see what Sonji does with her stuff. But I do still love commercial fabric. I am truly avoiding the siren call of dyeing or painting.

Edited picture of my quilt Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A quilt, by me. Posted by Hello

It's gonna be a two yolk day

I wasn't going to post anything today because it's Wednesday and my mini-group (a very original name for 10 quilters who have been getting together for years) meets today. We all started out as traditional quilters, hand-quilters, even. We made community quilts as fundraisers for our elementary school. We still hand quilt and eat and support each other. It's mostly group therapy. Today we are meeting at the glorious home of the fabulous Kathy but that's not what I am blogging about today.

I wasn't going to post today because I was going to use any time I had to work on the surprise quilt (more on that later). But I have this e-mail/latte routine and there was a message from the talented and generous quilt artist Sonji. She so kindly sent me gobs of info on how to post pictures. And YIKES she posted a link to my blog and I can't figure out how to reply to the comment that she posted on my blog, etc. But I wanted to say Thank You, Sonji, and if I weren't such an idiot, I would be able to do that thingy where you can click on her name and get to see her art.

Now about the two yolks: I have this other routine. About a year ago I started a diet. I've lost 35 lbs. Most mornings I make a one egg omelet. I have this little 8" teflon pan. I scramble an egg, pour it in the hot pan, and sort of spread it as thin as it will get. I found these fabulous crottins of goat cheese at Trader Joe's--three to a package--individually wrapped, so they keep. And I put on a wee bit of cheese and crumbled applewood smoked bacon bits, etc. Anyway, this morning, one extra large egg, TWO YOLKS. I know that this happens and I know why this happens (I was a biologist in a former life) but it is a first for me!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I'm Back

Sonji says: I should blog. I have been avidly reading her blog and of course Melody’s blog and Gabrielle’s blog, etc. (art quilters, and knitters) and I have not published anything in my own for lo, these many months. Sonji says she blogs because:
It really helps me. I have so much stuff zipping around in my head and most of the people in my life aren't too interested or don't understand what I'm talking about...much as they all love and support me.
(I’m quoting her, from a lovely e-mail of encouragement, that she sent to me. I hope it’s okay.) That was my initial thought when I set up my blog. But it became another "should." I had hoped that it would be my conscience. I had hoped that it would be a place to show my work. I really want to be making art, not becoming a better writer. I want to live up the descriptor: ARTIST.
I know that Melody says that to be an artist, you just have to make art. I make stuff, I just don’t believe it is art. I would like it to be art. I would like to think that it is art. Make something everyday. Make lots of stuff.