Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Green Idea--Garlic Slush!

How great is this. The Tone Bros., makers of Adams Spices, donated 18,000 lbs. of garlic salt that was destined for the landfill, to the City of Ankeny, a Des Moines suburb, to use for de-icing their roads this winter. Garlic-flavored slush is making the road crews hungry but that seems to be the only adverse effect. Here is the story.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Introducing Casey, my blog dog!

I don't have any grandchildren. I don't have a puppy.

I am seriously lacking in cuteness to post about.

I decided to ask my friend Bev, who just became a dog mother, again, if I could adopt Casey, her Puli puppy, as my blog dog. It would be a sort of cheating because she had to get up with him this morning at 4:45 (and it was raining) and I would get to do all of the fun things, as I practice for such time as I may be blessed with grandchildren to spoil.

Puli's are seriously
cute puppies but they are amazingly cool dogs. I am hoping that my cats might become jealous of Casey and start doing cute things again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So Cool!

We subscribe to The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle. Too much data! Today I discovered a great design column by Zahid Sardar in the Chron that I've been missing out on.

My friend Linda has been doing fabulous things with recycled sweaters from the thrift stores, including felted cashmere baby blankets, and I immediately thought of her when I saw these terrific handbags. They are by Berkeleyan Josh Jakus, a former architect, who makes purses and handbags from recycled felt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's All About Color!

Luscious pictures! Color, color, color!

I had no intention of buying another book on dyeing but Lynn Koolish's Fast, Fun and Easy Fabric Dyeing is a great new addition to my bookshelf. I've done some dyeing but I don't dye regularly and I'm always thinking I should dye some more fabric. I would call myself a novice dyer. I really believe in serendipity but the more I dye, the more I want to achieve good results.

Lynn's book is very inspiring. It reminded me that a dye project can take as little as 30 minutes to set up. It can take even less time if you have your dye solution and your soda ash prepared.

I like to keep records. Lynn has some great tips on keeping track of your results. That's really important if you want to reproduce your work.

I've done some solids and mottled, almost-sold fabrics, but I am looking forward to trying rolling as a method of creating texture. Lynn's sections on creating patterns using shibori and thickened dyes are exciting. The fabrics she created with a rag roller are very cool.

I'm thinking about slicing off the binding of this tasty book and inserting it into my Dyeing 3-ring binder.

As we've come to expect with C&T books, Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Dyeing is clearly laid out with lots of scrumptious color. And that's really what it's all about, isn't it? COLOR.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bark with Lichen

I've been thinking about lichen for over a year and haven't done a thing about it except to collect specimens. I can't resist the sticks and clumps that fall from the trees. And bark!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's our first Thanksgiving without the boys. Andrew is in New York and Steven is in Boston. Rick and I are going to Linda (of G4 fame) and Richard's. I guess maybe I'm over compensating but it has been great fun making a bunch of stuff, none of which is necessary.

I've been watching Spain On the Road Again so I decided to try to find some Cava that Mario was going on and on about. With bubbly, one needs nibbles and I've been addicted to David Lebovitz's Spicy Glazed Nuts recipe so I had to make some of those. I had all of the ingredients in my pantry except the small pretzel twists (someone must have gotten into them...) and I was too lazy to make a trip to the market. Oh well, a new variation.

I always like to make and eat cranberry chutney, in addition to the more traditional cranberry sauce. One can never have too much cranberry garnish on the great day. I found a terrific recipe for Cranberry Chutney with Chrystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries on Orangette's blog. I made it on Tuesday and I was worried that the ginger was overpowering. I brought some to my Wednesday Quilt Group and Susan and Suze reassured me that it was okay. On a whim, I added some cayenne to a small portion. I tasted both today and the harsh ginger overtones have evened out. I really like the heat from the cayenne.

Originally, Linda had been thinking about making Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie and I was going to contribute a pumpkin cheesecake. When I saw the picture of the pie (from Fine Cooking, Thanksgiving 2007), I begged her to let me make that instead. She made it last year. I made the pastry last night and baked it blind. I got up this morning and made the filling. The recipe seems really good. I am looking forward to tasting it.

Last month, I discovered Clothilde's recipe for Chocolate Frozen Yogurt at Chocolate and Zucchini, another of my favorite food blogs. It is fabulous. I raved about it when our book club met and Robin said, "That's what you should bring for Thanksgiving." It seems a bit like gilding the lily but maybe it will be a comfort to someone. Who said Thankgsiving dinner is the superbowl of meals?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sprouting 101

I can no longer buy sprouts in bulk at my local market. They come pre-packaged. So the drill is, search around for the package with the best sell-by date, (were they really $1.50?); take them home; put them in a sandwich or a salad. In a couple of days they seem funky.

New Victory Garden activity: grow your own sprouts in your kitchen! Before kids, Rick was a sprouts grower, hobbyist variety. I found some tops from that era that never got tossed. They work great with a mason jar.

You can get a whole sprouting setup at Pinetree Seeds or you can buy just the seeds and the Sprout-Ease tops.

Sprouting is really fun. Measure out about 1 T. of seeds for starters. Place them in a wide-mouth jar (use a jar that holds at least 20 oz.). Cover with about 3 inches of water. Use the appropriate jar top, depending on the size of the seed. Soak overnight. The next morning, drain off the soaking water, rinse, drain, and place the jar at a 45 degree angle in a bowl (so that the water can drain out), in a dark cupboard. Morning and night, for the next 2-5 days (depending on the seeds), rinse and drain, and then return to the dark cupboard. During the last two days of their growth, the sprouts can be grown in the light and they will green up. You can change the jar top as the sprouts grow, using a top with larger holes so that you can flush out seed hulls while rinsing.

After ordering seed from Pinetree, I discovered a wonderful new-to-me health food store, Harvest House, in Concord, CA. They have seeds in bulk as well as all of the sprouting paraphernalia, and a seed mix, Zesty Sprouting Mix, 16 oz. for $4.99. The mix contains radish, crimson clover, fenugreek, and alfalfa seeds.

As soon as I started eating/harvesting the first batch of sprouts, I started growing a second batch. If you wanted to grow the individual seeds to see the differences in taste and germination times, you could have three batches going at once. It's a simple pleasure...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ah, the '50s!

Rock N' Roll Is Here to Stay

Monday, November 17, 2008

Northern California Seasons

I know everyone says that California only has two seasons: rainy and not rainy. It's just not true. We have been having a glorious autumn. I can't remember such a perfect October. November has been more of the same. We are all worried about the dreaded D-word. We have had two storms, the last of which (Halloween weekend) dumped 3-1/2 " of rain on our garden. It barely moistened the soil. We do need lots more rain but our rainy season is really just starting. The hills are starting to green-up. Many trees are shedding their leaves but the foliage has been spectacular this year. I try not to feel guilty relishing these perfect days. This is a picture of our street. Semi-rural. These are Japanese Maples, Acer palmatum. I am putting them on my garden wish list.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day 2008


I voted, did you?

I'm not sure how this relates to anything but it made me laugh. It could be fabric relate because it came from Tanya Brown, Fabric Illustrator. I found it at her blog.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I finished this 12 x 12 Water piece that I made for the G4. I’ve been indecisive about posting a picture because it has issues. I used Melody Johnson’s facing technique instead of her pillow case finish or a binding because it was very heavily quilted and that method of finish permits “quilting off the edge.” The instructions are excellent and the technique is great. I’ve done facings before but it’s been some time and I certainly learned something: be gentle when turning. I also think I might have squared from the back (is that possible?) instead of the front. I have my next 12 x 12 ready to be faced so I will have more data soon.

I have been cleaning up old email files and I found something I’d saved from Marilyn Belford about work that might not feel “worthy.” She said words to the effect that it is done, and “you can’t win them all.” She does not discard, nor does she redo. I've taken that to heart.

I loved the “fabric” that I made for this piece (gelatin printing from Rayna Gillman's book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth) but I am not happy with the finished work, but I learned so much and I really should immediately start Water II.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Rick!

Yes, I still do. Yes I will...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Safe, Prosperous, and Free

I saw this video on Gerrie's blog on politics.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Elizabeth Peyton and Creativity

I'm always behind in reading the New Yorker so I just discovered the profile of the painter Elizabeth Peyton by Calvin Tomkins in the October 9 issue. Unfortunately, the entire article is not available online but there is an abstract and a slide show with 9 pictures of her paintings.

There is a lot of interest in her at the moment because of a mid-career survey of her work at the New Museum on the Lower East Side. The New York Times published a review of the show by Roberta Smith. There is also an audio slide show.

Both articles articulate similar themes. Peyton seems to need to almost fall in love with her subjects. If the attraction is ther, she returns for further explorations. She works from both art/photographs and life. I love that she acknowledged in an interview with Tomkins that she makes lots of bad art.

I would love to see this show especially because the pieces are small. Smith's words are that "few are larger than your face."

Additional images can be found at the artnet page for Elizabeth Peyton.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I Did It!

It’s not really such a big thing. I can say that now. I didn’t swim yesterday because of an ear issue. I was sure it was related to swimming. So, despite glorious weather, I skipped a day. But today was even more glorious and I knew it would be so much easier to swim in warm sunshine.

The pool at the Soda Center today was fabulous. I had a lane all to myself. I was worried because it is deeper than Park Pool: something about getting in. I discovered that there is a deeper end (10’) and a not-so-deep-end (7’). It’s funny: I told Andrew that it felt as if the pool was slower than Park Pool. Everyone says it is a FAST pool because it is so deep and so big. And even though I know it is 25 yards across, it felt longer. He says I’ll get used to it.

I met Betty, who swims 3-4 times a week at Soda, and she was very encouraging. I also saw Dorothy from Park Pool! Del was right! Everyone was very friendly!

I brought my camera to take some pictures for the blog but ran out of time. I found the following link for a photo taken during a big meet at the Soda Center. I tried to get permission to use it but to no avail. I found the following link for images of the Soda Center. There is one really interesting picture that shows the pool half-filled with water.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Swim Journal

Sunday was my last swim of the season at Park Pool. This was my best season ever. I started swimming in April and swam every day for the last nine days of the season. Kind of obsessive but here is what I wrote in my journal: April, 3 swims; May, 9 swims; June, 10 swims; July, 16 swims; August, 18 swims; September, 15 swims; and October, 5 swims. (As I look at it, there is ample room for improvement next year!)

Steven taught me how to do turns in August. My workouts for August, September and October were about 45 min. and 2000 yards. Steven suggested that I think in terms of hundreds and 500s. I couldn't imagine doing that before I learned to turn.

My next goal is to try out the beautiful pool at the Soda Aquatic Center. I have been trying to psych myself up to keep swimming during the winter months. I've never done that before. With the earlier pool closing this year at Park Pool, it seems as if this is the time to try it. October can have brilliant, beautiful, warm days. I thought about it last year but never made it. I'm a little anxious about this because it will probably mean sharing a lane with a stranger and I'm not feeling very confident about my abilities.

Friday, October 03, 2008

12 x 12

I've been trying to finish some of the 12 x 12 pieces I've been working on. This is from March when the G4 was working on the vernal equinox theme. It is one of my trillium pieces. After showing it to the group, I decided that it needed more hand-stitching so it was never photographed until today. This whole-cloth piece was an acrylic plate monoprint, made before I discovered gelatin plate printing. I used Setacolor paints. Later, I went back in with some stamping, including string and rice stamps that I had made.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Last days of summer 2008: Park Pool

Today it really feels as if summer is over. Yesterday started out quite warm but by 3:30 PM it was cooler and overcast. I swam at 1:30 and sat in the sun to dry off. Today feels like real change. It is noon, as I write this, and it has been overcast all morning but the fog is beginning to burn off. It is 66°.

I live tucked up against the eastern side of the Berkeley Hills. The pool is farther up the hill from my house.

When I want to know what the weather is like “on the other side” of the hills, I go to The View . At this moment, at the Lawrence Hall of Science, it is socked in: 58°, 98% humidity. Rain is forecast for tomorrow.

The pool is only open for 4 more days.

Here is how it looked today. I briefly had the pool to myself.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Back from the beach

Here is the view from the red chairs. I had the most wonderful, productive time at the beach. I can't think of a time when all I had to do was make stuff. It doesn't seem possible that summer is really over but what a magical way to end the summer.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

EBHQ Workshop with Susan Shie

It’s really hot here again. The pool has been marvelous in the morning. All of the kids are back in school. This might be the first September that no one in our family has returned to school or teaching.

I did a wonderful two-day EBHQ workshop with Susan Shie last weekend. We used brushes, fabric paint, and markers to create a personal response to a theme. We attempted to find that artist from our childhood who expressed herself with abandon, never judging whether the marks were right or wrong.

One of my favorite ideas was what Susan calls Library Time. For awhile I had tried to do morning writing a la Julia Cameron. My understanding of what Susan proposes is that Library Time is a kind of warm-up for the real work. It is a time to “settle in” by writing or drawing in your sketch book. For about 10 minutes, I tried to record ideas and colors as they flowed from my thoughts about the theme. I did not try to make writings that were “good” nor did I feel a need to go back and re-read what I wrote. For me, it was a sort of positive quieting of the inner critic and a sort of personal cheerleading session all in one.

Susan’s diary paintings contain extensive writings, filling up her paintings with texture. Initially, I had no interest in doing work like this but making a personal diary painting was a very joyous experience. What I was unable or unwilling to draw could be filled out with words.

Of course one of the most fabulous things about EBHQ workshops is the up-close and in-person time with the artist and her art. Susan’s art, in particular, is meant to be experienced not as a photo, but in the cloth.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Gelatin Plate Printing

I can’t seem to make the time to get this sandwiched and quilted. This is my water piece for July for the G4: Not finished but better than nothing. The fabrics are all from my print sessions using a gelatin print plate I made from Rayna Gillman's new book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth.

I used her recipe but didn’t have a foil baking pan. Instead I used a plastic cover that I found in my supplies and lined it with foil. I used 4 packets of gelatin as that was all I had. This was not a case of good planning but the procedure is quite forgiving. My plate is about 8"x 12" and next time I will double the amount of gelatin and use a larger pan, perhaps a jelly roll pan lined with foil, to make a larger plate. The foil permitted easy lifting in and out of the container. With the larger pan, I thought I would use heavy duty foil as that is wider.

The plate is holding up nicely (and also breaking down nicely, gaining some character) in my refrig and I hope to do some additional printing this weekend.

I used a variety of fabric paints from ProChem (blue and golden yellow), and Jacquard (Olive, Sky Blue, Brown). I used what I had on my shelf.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Water and printing fabric

I read somewhere that Frank Gehry remarked that if you know where you are going with your art, there’s probably no point in doing it (or words to that effect). I have no idea where I’m going with my Water piece for the G4. I did lots of watery thinking on our recent tour of So. Cal beaches but I’m sure not there yet.

I recently bought a copy of Rayna Gillman’s wonderful new book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth. I got mine from my local quilt shop but it is available from Rayna’s blog. Maybe it’s a procrastination ploy but I keep fantasizing about going through the book, chapter by chapter and working through each section, trying out all the tips. Instead, this weekend I skipped ahead to Chapter 4, Gelatin Plate Printing and had so much fun. The recipes are very clear and it feels as if Rayna is just right there, offering helpful hints. The book is loaded with ideas and inspiration. I am on Day 3 and my plate is holding up (or breaking down!) nicely. Just a few more pieces and I’m off to find something to do with all of the new fabric.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Laguna 2

We stayed in Dana Point but my BIL and SIL and their two kids stayed at the Laguna Beach Motor Inn in north Laguna. They had an ocean view and a walk to a beach (Shaw’s Cove at Fairview St. and Cliff Drive and a little longer walk to Crescent Bay Beach, my fav). Did I mention that there’s a latte source across Pacific Coast Highway and a short walk to a pasta/pizza place and a grocery store? The LBMI has a lovely terraced garden and a sparkling pool. The room was very cramped but in addition to the view, provided a small microwave and refrig. I would have been quite happy there – lodgings are for showering and sleeping. Proximity to the beach was key for me – no driving nor parking-spot hunting. There was ample room for a preprandial glass of wine in the garden or poolside. I need to check out Laguna Riviera Beach Resort, Shanny’s pick.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Blogging from Laguna Beach

I tried blogging from Peet’s in Dana Point but Blogger wouldn't let me. This was our first internet connection since leaving home on Saturday. We’re on vacation in beautiful Laguna Beach! The air is clear--no smoky sunrises! I’ll be back at the end of the week. This is a totally stolen image from the web of “our” beach. Weather 75° and perfect.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hot, hot, hot!

I don’t remember it ever being this hot. My thermometer on the shady north side of our house registered a high of 101° yesterday. Today is supposed to be even hotter. I have my Featherweight set up in the new space. It’s much cooler there so I made a few more blocks yesterday when it was too hot to even think about doing anything else. I’ve been getting my swim in at 6:30 AM. It’s quite delightful but the smoky haze has returned and with it the red sunrise. I hope to remember to take some sunrise pictures at Orinda Park Pool

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Zeus II

I’m still working on the studio re-do. I’ve made good progress but still haven’t installed my Featherweight. I’ve been drawing instead of piecing. This is the second try of the Zeus photo. I had an idea that it would be fun to make a drawing and perhaps print it on fabric and do some stitching. I’m working on Zeus III. The first two were supposed to be drawings just to draw, using copy paper and a UniBall Vision micro, a new pen for me. I added color by getting out my Pitt pens. Zeus III is on print paper and I hope to play with some watercolor.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Steven’s roommate Hassan is the “parent” of Zeus, a pit bull puppy. I was very anxious about pit bulls in particular and college seniors having enough time to properly “adopt” this puppy but I must admit that he is a very lovable pup.

I was amazed that this dog became such a big part of the boys’ senior year of college. During our visits this year we were able to spend some quality time with him, including a digging party at the beach. And of course he was at the graduation party. This sketch is from a picture—photographer unknown but surely one of the dear boys on Del Playa.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

This and That

I’m playing mom (we had a wonderful time in Santa Barbara for Steven’s graduation but he came home and promptly popped a strep infection) but I am also doing some piecing. It’s my reward for a beginning a massive clean-up that is long overdue. My plan is to move Steven into Andrew’s room and take over Steven’s room as my studio. I’m giving up the fabulous upstairs while Steven is home. It was originally a “family room” which I had taken over as my studio. Actually, I have taken over the entire house and it’s time to organize and consolidate.

Rebecca Rohrkaste, colorist extraordinaire, showed a Postage Stamp quilt at the EBHQ “Show and Tell” (the November meeting each year) a couple of years ago. We were all agog and inspired. She cut 1-1/2” squares and started putting together 2s and then 4 patches, etc. It was very inspiring, especially for all of us who save scraps. I thought that if I put a pile of squares near my Featherweight, I could piece when I felt like it and eventually, I’d have something. I decided that I would take some 16-patches (4 x 4) and use some of my Kaffee Fassett fabric that I’ve been hoarding. Here is a sneak preview.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Roses and Quilts and Summer

A friend of mine once remarked that anyone can make a spring garden because Mother Nature does all of the work. Well, spring is over. I've been planting seeds and deadheading and weeding and I'm about to do some ripping out. I need to be feeding if I expect to have very many more roses before next spring. The lemon basil is up and I am beginning to see some bean green. I have beet and cilantro seedlings and the Thai basil is poking up.

We had both boys home for the last weekend in May and that was so great. We will all be together again for Steven's graduation on June 14 in Santa Barbara.

This small quilt was what I came up with for February 2008 and the G4 challenge of Crazy, Crazy in Love, Crazy Love, or whatever the challenge was. I found these “crazy” log cabin blocks in my WIP file. They were inspired by a quilt by Jean Wells.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cilantro and other stuff

I do love singles. Alas, this is another unknown, also a "gift."

Lots of weed pulling and fertilizing and mulching. There's lots more of that to do. I planted more basil. This time I’m trying Mrs. Brown’s lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum citriodora, an heirloom variety from Renee’s Garden Seeds). I also am trying a new method of growing cilantro that I read about on the Sunset Magazine site. I still hope to plant beans and peppers and beets.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm In the Garden

It doesn’t seem possible but it is raining. We haven’t had rain for months. This has been the driest spring since forever. Our rainy season is just about over and we won’t get any real rain until next autumn. Our regional water people have declared that our reservoirs are low and we are officially in a drought situation. We will be penalized for not cutting back on our water consumption. Ratting on your neighbor is encouraged. I am savoring the moisture and I am enjoying spring while I can.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

One more tall-bearded iris

Elusive blues!
This one looks much more blue in the garden.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The garden in May: Tall-bearded Iris

I really am making art but I can’t resist posting these. A new one opened up today and I will take her picture tomorrow morning.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers' Day

My friend Linda gave me the seeds for these sweet peas. I think they are April in Paris and that they came from Enchanting Sweet Peas of Sebastopol, CA. At first, it seemed that very few germinated so I threw in all of the old seed that was collecting in bins and baskets in the garage. There are still spaces in the rows but I've been picking a handful every morning.

Sweet peas are wonderful to contemplate but it's all about the fragrance: intoxicating. I will definitely grow these again.

One of these years, I'll get to Sebastopol for the open garden in June.
Thank you, Linda. Happy Mothers' Day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Air 1
12" x 12 "

Somewhere in the not too distant past I resolved to try to achieve some. If I honestly consider what I have accomplished in the last 5 months I would have to be happy. It's just that my “to do” list is always very optimistic. Of late, I have been having just too much fun. There was the trip to New York. Last weekend was Twain Harte. This week was “get something done in time for the G4 meeting on May 8.”

I was very inspired by large wall paintings by Sol LeWitt at MOMA. One in particular was a grid and what I remembered were red, blue, and yellow crayon lines that reminded me that I am a quilter of fabrics. I got out my hand-dyed fabrics. I had been thinking about greens following some posts by June Underwood about green.

Our theme for for the G4 for April was air.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Work in Progress

Maybe I was inspired by Del’s skinny strips. I like skinny strips, too. These are pieced. After doing all of that fusing for the chickens it is really fun to be piecing. These are all my hand-dyed fabrics. The G4 theme for April is Air. We met today. More later.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pool's Open

First swim of the year at Orinda Park Pool.
And that's just about how it looked. There were two other swimmers. The water was fine. I did about 30 minutes (500 free, 250 breast, 250 kickboard).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Got Firewood!

I should have taken a "before" picture so you could have seen how dramatically different this looks. We had a ginormous cedar tree removed on Wednesday. About 2 months ago, a very large limb from this tree fell onto the neighbor's property. We were afraid that the tree, which was leaning thataway, would go and take out the whole neighborhood. This woodpile looks bigger in real life. Can you believe how ugly that shed is on the neighbor’s property? So much for borrowed landscapes. I am interested in any suggestions for quick solutions for ameliorating this situation. Long term I have it covered: I will plant something wonderful in the autumn. This area is subject to depradation by deer and did I say that there is full sun now?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

New York, Day 1

We are in New York!

This was the first time Robin, Linda, and I had traveled together. We have been talking about this trip for a long time but none of us had been to New York recently. We agreed about museums, shopping, the theater, walking, eating, and we are very compatible, but Monday was the day that we had to actually do it. We had a plan: Coffee! Walking! Museums!

We knew Starbuck’s could be our fall back coffee position, but we really wanted to go local. Monday was experimental. We needed coffee and we picked the first coffee place that seemed local – I think it was PAX. Research would continue.

MOMA is open on Mondays! The Met, the Whitney, the American Folk Art Museum are not open on Monday! We walked to MOMA at 53rd and Fifth, stopping into St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the way. We got to MOMA just as it was opening, actually, just as Café 2 was opening. We made a quick decision to combine breakfast and lunch while there were no crowds.

Café 2 is really just a museum cafeteria but as they say, "taken to sophisticated new heights." It features "rustic Italian cooking of the Roman cantinetta or rosticceria style of seasonal Italian foods with handmade pastas, cured salumi, artisanal cheeses, panini, salads, soups, and simple desserts." It was perfect! I think we could all recommend it, especially if all you've had is bad coffee on your first full day in New York.

We all had the bruschetta plate with a choice of three from a selection including mozzarella with olive tapenade, tomato jam, cured tuna with black olives and lemon, broccoli rabe, prosciutto with roasted butternut squash) and we shared a salad of cannellini and fava beans.

We saw the show, “Color Chart: Reinventing Color 1950 to Today.” It explores the the “lush beauty that results when contemporary artists assign color decisions to chance…” and was hugely inspirational. More than forty artists were represented, including Ellsworth Kelly, Gerhard Richter, Frank Stella (“Straight out of the can; it can’t get better than that.”), Andy Warhol, Sherrie Levine, and Damien Hirst.

Then it was on to see our favorites from MOMA’s amazing collection including Cezanne’s The Bather, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the Fauves, the Impressionists, the surrealists, until we were exhausted. I should have Robin prepare a post about how she discovered that she could use her iPhone to access the museum’s audio tour. We shopped at the museum stores and then I think we began our cupcake research (it is all beginning to blur). Could we have done that much in one day? Was Cupcake Café (9th Avenue between 38th and 39thStreet) on Monday or Tuesday? It was not worth remembering, anyway – okay coffee and pretty cupcakes but forgettable in the taste department.

Andrew met us after work for dinner at Mesa Grill. This southwestern-style restaurant by celebrity chef Bobby Flay sparkles on Fifth Avenue between 15th and 16th.

We started with goat cheese “Queso Fundido” with rajas and blue corn chips, barbecue pork and Oaxaca cheese quesadilla with hot sweet cabbage relish, and grapefruit, Peach, and Flay’s prize-winning margaritas.

Robin had ancho chili-rubbed chicken with roasted tomatillo sauce with queso fresco, which was yummy! Andrew had the grilled lamb chops with cilantro-mint chimichurri and potato celeriac Anaheim chile gratin. Linda and I had the New Mexico-spice rubbed pork tenderloin with bourbon ancho chile sauce which was served with a sweet potato tamale with crushed pecan butter. We ended our meal with the delicious chocolate, brown-sugar souffle pudding with pecan flatbread crunch, but I don't know how we ever ate another bite. We walked back to the hotel. Weather: a little warmer than Sunday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quilt Content

Les Poules Jolies
33" x 45"

These chickens have been in the works for almost two years. Memorial Day weekend of 2006, my friends Alice, Pat, Janine, and I had a girls’ art adventure in Mendocino. We stayed at the Mar Vista Cottages, at Anchor Bay, near Gualala. It is a very special place: the cottages were built in the thirties; they have kitchens, woodstoves, and porches with deck chairs; there is a large garden and guests are encouraged to pick herbs and flowers; and best of all, there are hens and fresh eggs every morning. I took many photos of the Mar Vista hens and made a small study but couldn’t seem to get going on a larger piece that would be more appropriate for Voices in Cloth, the biennial show of my guild, the East Bay Heritage Quilters (EBHQ) . I was still putting stitches in it on the morning it was to be delivered to the show, the first weekend in April.

The show was fabulous. I helped with set-up on the day before the show opened and had a wonderful time working with a great group of volunteers. As the show went up I was very inspired by the marvelous quilts from guild members. I went to the show on Saturday, April 12, where I finally met Del Thomas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

It seemed that a picture from the garden would be appropriate.

Here We Are!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Girls’ Trip to New York, Chapter 1

On Sunday we flew from Oakland to JFK on JetBlue and arrived in New York on time at about 5 PM. Is every airport in the country in a constant state of construction? We had to take a shuttle from our gate to get into the terminal. But NY is very organized. We went to Ground Transportation and a line of travelers were efficiently ushered into waiting cabs. It was overcast and threatening rain, but none appeared. The drive from Kennedy to Manhattan was remarkable for the traffic in Queens which our cabby dodged and the many flowering trees. April is a wonderful time to go to New York!

By the time we reached the New York Helmsley Hotel on east 42nd Street, we barely had time to change out of our travel clothes and dash to meet my son for dinner. He was waiting for us at craftbar, Broadway and East 20th . This is the more casual Tom Colicchio restaurant my travelling companion Linda and I had learned about as avid Top Chef viewers. My handsome son, Andrew, was waiting at the bar and we were shown to a spacious banquette. We were sustained by wonderful breadsticks while we perused the menu. We loved the pecorino fondue with hazelnuts and honey appetizer.

Robin had the escarole soup and the orecchiette with fennel sausage, roasted tomatoes, and ricotta salata (which was delicious!). Linda and I had the baby beets with blue cheese and walnuts, and the daurade with potato gnocchi, morels, and ramps. Andrew had the sirloin with smoked mushrooms, jalapeno, and lime; and the crispy potatoes.

Since it was our first night, we had to have dessert. We shared the butterscotch pudding with gingersnaps and the hot fudge sundae with coffee crunch ice cream. Ah, excess!

So we walked 24 blocks up Park Avenue, back to the hotel, with a slight detour at Grand Central Station and called it a day. Overcast, chance of rain, high of 53°F, low of 40°F.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Homemade Power Bars version 1.2 MOCHA

I'm just back from a whirlwind visit to New York. Before I left, I made a batch of power bars so I could bring some to Andrew. I finally made the recipe with mini chocolate chips. I added ½ cup to the dry ingredients. When I poured the hot syrup on, as you would expect, the chocolate chips melted. There was no visible evidence of the chips when all of the syrup was incorporated. The interesting thing was that the coffee flavor was enhanced. Two tasters asked whether I had increased the amount of ground espresso. I had not. I would not say that the flavor was chocolate-y with this amount and this kind of chocolate (I used Nestle’s minis because I felt the scale would be right.)

I will try it again with other kinds of chocolate, like Ghirardelli dark chocolate (baking bar) because I love that chocolate. I will roughly chop it but I suspect it, too, will melt. There is no advantage to using chips except ease of mixing and I’d rather go for great flavor.

Version 1.2 adds 400 calories to the recipe or 25 calories per bar if you cut it into 16 bars.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Homemade Power Bars -- Update

Well, I did the calculation and it's not as bad as I feared: I made 16 portions from the recipe and I calculated that this would amount to (drumroll, please!)

230 calories per bar.

I haven't done a real nutritional analysis but I feel better about them now that I know this.

I found this link about snack bars that provides some perspective. This was written by a nutritionist.

So in summary, these bars have whole grains, protein, fat, simple and complex carbohydrates, and are simple to make.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Homemade Power Bars

I’m always looking for something that I can make and send to my guys. Steven is in Santa Barbara and Andrew is in New York City. I discovered Big Sur Power Bars at 101 Cookbooks and I think it is a winner. In addition to the recipe, there is a video that shows how easy this recipe is. I’ve made it several times as written and I am about to make some modifications for all of the chocoholics I know. I can’t decide between mini-chocolate chips and cacao nibs. I guess I’ll just have to try the recipe both ways. The bars would be great as “emergency” food – to have in the car; for a quick “breakfast” bar; or as a pick-me-up late-afternoon snack.

Don’t be put off by the coconut if you are not a fan. I had doubts and I would ordinarily omit it in a new recipe. Maybe my tastes are evolving. It doesn’t really taste coconutty – the coffee flavor is what predominates.

The most economical source that I have found for brown rice syrup has been Whole Foods. My Trader Joe’s does not carry it. I haven’t checked at the Berkeley Bowl yet but all of the ingredients are on my Bowl list. All of the items are readily available at my nearest health food store. I think the theory of this recipe is to use more natural, whole foods. Instead of using all sucrose, or high fructose corn syrup, raw sugar and this rice-derived sweetener with more complex sugars, is used. Here is another link for brown rice syrup written by a self-identified consumer advocate.

The only problem with these bars is that it’s hard to stop eating them! And I’m afraid to do the nutritional analysis – they are so yummy!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm Back!

I’ve been very productive but have nothing to show for it. I’m working on another monoprint in my tree series for the Gang of Four Vernal Equinox challenge. I’m quilting my entry for Voices in Cloth, 2008 EBHQ show. I had jury duty for two days last week. I’ve started some basil seeds and I’ve been weeding the garden. Ah Spring!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mole poblano

The reveal for the current 12 x 12 group Chocolate Challenge is today, February 1. I was so inspired by the work this group was doing that I decided to set a goal for myself to do a journal quilt every week. Most of my journal quilt work has been 12 inches square. It was so fun to read about the groups' research that I started thinking I might take the chocolate challenge. I started this last week, when I was stuck for a journal quilt idea. I had been thinking about skinny strips and decided to do some piecing. The first thing that came to mind was mole poblano. We honeymooned in Mexico and I had a personal goal of tasting as many preparations of this wonderful sauce as was possible. A quick check of Wikipedia has this:

Mole poblano
is prepared with dried chile peppers (commonly ancho, pasilla, mulato, and chipotle), ground nuts, spices, Mexican chocolate (cacao ground with sugar and cinnamon) and a variety of other ingredients. Mole de guajolate (turkey) is widely regarded as the country’s national dish.

My version has chocolate, dried chile peppers, and fresh red and green jalapeños.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blue Vase

Well, so much for staying focused. I spent Saturday with Yvonne Porcella ! Well, not exactly. I shared her with 20 of my closest EBHQ friends. Yvonne was the guest speaker for the January 28 meeting of the East Bay Heritage Quilters. She taught a class on Saturday on her methods of making quilts using fusible web and machine applique. This is the still life I did. On Monday she taught a wearable art class. I would have loved to make the jacket that she is taught on Monday but I am staying focused on quilts.

I didn’t get a lot done in Saturday's class. I find it hard to work with all of the distractions. I had been feeling bad that I was taking a class and starting another project instead of working on my big-ish piece. But instead, I decided that the class was a kind of warm-up exercise. I had been a little stuck for whatever reason. I am now putting "take a class" in my bag of tricks for getting over bumps. Of course I totally didn't plan it that way.

I really wanted to meet Yvonne and spend time in her class. For me, she is one of the founding mothers of the studio art quilt phenomenon. Her vibrant colors are not unusual today but they were when she began in the 70s. And how about those amazing kimonos!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Early Spring

This is still journal 3 of 2008 but I added hand stitching to the trees in an attempt to draw focus to them and away from the "background." I had been looking for a way to create what I "saw" in my walks in the woods, putting the emerging green of spring into softer focus. Coming upon this piece of fabric which had been screen printed was exciting. Quilting the line of the trees was interesting but didn't seem to be enough.

I'm not so sure about my "no rules" approach to my goal of weekly journaling but I am satisfied that I am making work.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Journal Quilt Week 3 of 2008

I thought about not making something last week because I am trying to get something done for my guild show. The East Bay Heritage Quilters have a show every two years. Every member may exhibit one quilt and one piece of wearable art. It’s an amazing guild. It’s a wonderful show. I’m not even at the point of having some pictures of the work in progress.

On Friday, while cleaning up my work space, I found a piece of fabric that I made in an EBHQ workshop with Kerr Grabowski. I cut it up and started quilting my tree shapes. This fabric was screen printed with thickened dyes, using Kerr’s deconstructed screen printing techniques. I had intended to do more hand stitching on this piece but I decided to take a look at it first. I mis-positioned it on the scanner bed and got this image. I’m going to leave it for now and get back to my EBHQ project.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Trying to stay focused

I always think I should have a photo to go with a blog post, so I haven’t been blogging much. I am trying to stay focused on my weekly journal project and I am working on a large-ish piece (about 36 x 48) for the 2008 EBHQ show, Voices in Cloth. The show is a little later this year, April 12 and 13, but it is still at the Oakland Convention Center. Here’s a picture of one of the Opportunity Quilts for 2009. This one is by Judy Jensen. Read more about it here

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Resolution : Focus

The Gang of Four had our January meeting. We had selected Resolution or Resolve as our prompt. I have been much more interested in the tree thing I’ve got going than the concept of resolution. In the course of this project, I did spend some quality time thinking about the end of 2007 and what I accomplished. I have been subscribing to the EDM listserv (check out EDM Superblog) where there has been a huge discussion of goal setting for 2008. Somewhere I found a link to Christine Kane’s blog and I loved her idea in her December 28, 2007 post about choosing a word for the year, rather than resolutions.

I haven’t been drawing every day but I have been drawing and more importantly, I have been working in my sketchbook. When I am overwhelmed with a blank page in my sketchbook I will break the page down into boxes and doodle in the boxes. I took that approach in designing this piece. It was actually the only idea I had. I decided that the important thing was to make something that was 12 x 12, rather than getting caught up in the “making a masterpiece.” I enjoyed just getting it done. I knew what would go in some of the boxes. I finally settled on the irregular grid and filled in the boxes that I was sure of. I treated this quilt as a sketchbook page.

In my initial research, I had come up with ideas like fireworks, streamers, and confetti which I thought might be ideas for quilting motifs. As the piece turned out to be a kind of whole-cloth quilt, I didn’t really have space for extra quilting. But I did have that spool of metallic thread which I had never used. I was afraid of the issues that might develop but I experimented anyway. That was good. Our next meeting is in February and the prompt is crazy or love or crazy and love or crazy in love.