Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prepping for "Sandy"

The WCAX-TV weatherman says he has never seen such an odd pattern of isobars over New York City, and he is not one to get really excited.  When all the other weathermen are yelling away over just a few inches of snow, this broadcaster is usually calm and reassuring.  So it sounds like we're in for a wild time inthe next few days.  I went grocery shopping early today, as I usually do on Sunday mornings.  Today the usually quiet store was teeming with shoppers at 7:30 am.  The high wind warnings don't start until 2 pm tomorrow!  Still, everyone was stocking up.

When I got home, we took in the nearly dead mums in pots (which needed to be disposed of anyway) and then got everything off the back porch.  That includes the big wooden rockers which are now crowding the living room.  If they got blown around, they would certainly go through the glass doors.  We also laid down a large slab of granite Chris brought over for next year's new grill.  I think everything in our yard is now buttoned down.  On the news they suggested that people bring in political lawn signs which might add to the general debris expected.  So much for our esteemed candidates!

Then I settled in to finish some borders for Karen's quilt which are quite "fiddly" lines of 3" Friendship Stars.  I have the top and bottom ones on, but the ones on the side will be added after I quilt the three sections and put them together.  This afternoon I sandwiched the sections and started to quilt.  It's going to be mostly stitched in the ditch, but I want to quilt some thoughts into the borders - her name, our town, 2012, and "with love, respect and thanks."  I'll use Golden Threads quilting paper for that part.  I've been worried that I won't have enough backing fabric left over for the binding, but it looks like I figured it out just right.  What a relief!

If the power goes out tomorrow, I will switch to handwork or read with my clip on LED light, depending on the time of day.  It's going to be in the 60's so we won't freeze, thank goodness.   And besides, we have plenty of quilts.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A plethora of Swiss Chard

Yesterday was a lovely day - in the 60's and sunny.  What an unusual occurence!  Tuesday I heard that out of the last 12 days, 11 were rainy.  I was up early to plant some daffodils and rake up pine needles to mulch the blueberries.  Then I went down to the community gardens and picked two huge bags of Swiss Chard.  I pulled everything out, spaded the bed, and raked it smooth.  Then I called Pat to see if she wanted some chard and delivered that later in the day.  I was still left with a bag and a half.  It's rainy again today, just right for a nice, thick soup made in our stove to table earthenware pot.  And here's the recipe:

Rainy Day Chard Soup  (serves 3)
    Chop one onion and saute in about 1 T. olive oil
    Peel and dice two medium-sized potatoes and add to the pot with 2 cups of broth.  I used vegetable, but chicken would be fine.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft.
    Add as much chopped Swiss Chard as the pot will hold, cover and cook until wilted.  Add more broth if needed (I used about 3 c. all together).  Season with some chopped parsley, pepper, and marjoram (maybe 1 t.).  Cook 15-20 minutes to blend flavors.
    Use an immersion blender to make it smooth, and add about 1/2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese.  Stir until cheese melts, and serve.

Now I still have another bag of chard - quiche tomorrow or Sunday?

Monday, October 15, 2012

My English Garden

It's another sunny day, perfect for taking pictures.  Here's the "one block wonder" I just finished.
At first, I thought it looked like end papers, but as it came together it began to have a garden quality to it.  The fabric I used for the back has landmarks of England - Stonehenge, Parliament, Shakespeare's cottage.  Hence, the name.  I'll be putting it up on my etsy site, Cobble Hill Quilts, shortly.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Raspberry Sherbet

I have been collecting selvages for ages.  One year, I sent a batch to Karen, but the next year, I used them for the backs of mug rugs I made for my family and friends for Christmas.  I just cut 1.5" from the printed side of the selvage of everything I cut and throw it into a bag that hangs on the doorknob of my sewing room. 
 Last week, the bag was overflowing, so I started putting them together.  I add a thin strip at one end and topstitch them lengthwise, ending up with 6" blocks.  A few of the blocks were a little smaller, so when I made the sashing (which I had in my stash) I adjusted it to fit so I ended up with 10" blocks.  I purposely didn't arrange the writing all in the same direction so that there's no real top or bottom to the quilt.  After adding a little border, it ended up about 57" square.  I quilted it in an up and down grid, simply, and even sewed the binding down by machine.   Easy - and it really feels good to use stash!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cornucopia of Thanks

This month's block in the quilt along is Cornucopia.  It wasn't too hard but did have a lot of "y" seams.  I think I have nine blocks finished and most, if not all, of the sashing and cornerstones.  There are three more blocks to go and then I'll be putting it together.  I'm really liking the slower pace but also can't wait to see the finished product.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fall foliage

Yes, even the "natives" and "adoptees" become leaf peepers at this time of year.  After days and days of drizzle, we finally had a break in the clouds yesterday afternoon.  So we hopped in the car and spent a little time on the road.  As you can see, fall foliage has already peaked, but it's pretty anyway.  Today it's raining again, so I'm glad we got out when we did!

When we owned the B&B, we rarely had time to do any leaf peeping because we were so busy taking care of guests.  This weekend in particular, Norwich University's Parents' Weekend, was really busy.  But for about a month, every room was full every night, and there were times when each room turned over every night.  Sometimes we were lucky enough to get a breather and go out for lunch.  Other times we just kept our noses to the grindstone until mid-October when there was a slight let up.

We did have some very nice guests who came for fall foliage, though.  We'll never forget the couple from Tasmania, the California magician and his wife (was she transgendered?), and several sets of NU parents who came year after year.  But it is nice to be "civilians," especially at this lovely time of year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

An autograph quilt

I've been working on a quilt for Karen, our beloved librarian, all summer long.  Every Wednesday night in the summer, our library has an author program, right after the Farmer's Market and right before concerts in the park.  Over the years, we've had a mix of big names, including Captain Richard Phillips, and locals..  About 50 people come each Wed. night, which is quite a good audience for our town.  S/he talks about a book or about writing in general and also sometimes reads.  

This year, I asked each author to sign a 3.5" muslin square, and I managed to get nine autographs, including political cartoonist Jeff Danziger, Clive Cussler's co-author Jack DuBrul, and James Patterson's co-author Chris Tebbets.  Each was happy to autograph a square and said how nice it was that I was making the quilt.  I have also gotten members of the Friends of the Library, the staff, and the board of trustees to sign blocks.  I have a few more to collect before I can put the quilt together.

I chose this block, Ribbon Star, because it would make a scrappy quilt.  Above is the block without an autograph in the center of the star.   Active in our local historical society and with a degree in folklore, Karen always admires the quilts we've raffled off in support of the library.  A quilt with an old fashioned look seems good for her.  Some of the scraps are Civil War and '30's repros, but others are Asian or batik.   The blocks aren't hard to make but do take some time.  I have made blocks in spurts throughout the summer, and now I'm auditioning fabrics for the sashing.  I have a beige print and a blue print spread out on the bed in my sewing room.  I laid some blocks on each and added cornerstones.   I will leave them there for a few days and see which looks best to me.  Today it's gloomy so the blue looks dull.   I'm hoping for some sun tomorrow for a different look.

I plan to do the quilting myself, in sections, and to present the quilt to Karen for her birthday.  And here comes another decision - what sort of event?  When I told the Friends early this summer that I wanted to do this and needed a deadline, someone said Karen's birthday is in late November.  That seemed really far off at the time, but now it's not.  A special birthday party is in order, so I'll be conferring with them and the staff to figure out just when. 

My favorite autograph came from Cary, a man who used the library as an "office" while he started up his business:  Thank you for being you!  That's just how I feel, too.