Sunday, April 29, 2007

Signs of Spring

The past few days the weather has been "brilliant" - one of my favorite colloquialisms!

The village next to us has a large asparagus farm so for the last week we have had asparagus for almost every meal. My favorite way of making it is to bake it at 450 degrees F covered tightly with aluminum foil. Before baking add some some real butter with pepper and Old bay seasoning. So easy and so good. We have also had it blanched with Garlic dipping sauce, Stir Fried with sesame oil, stuffed in Chicken with artichokes, and - of course - asparagus soup.

It inspired me to dig through the quilting books and uncover one of those "someday" projects. There is a great asparagus block in Ruth McDowell's book that I am going to try and tackle in the next few weeks.

Saturday I went to the Spring Garden Fair at Highnam Court Gardens. It was a really nice event. I bought a few Iris from a plant stall, a small butter press and a beaded purse. The picture below is one of the plant beds that I really liked the colors. Unusual colors for me...I took lots of photos of it for future quilting inspriation.

I think what I really love about it is I can differentiate the red and the that may not seem like a big deal but my last episode of MS/optic neuritis left me a bit color blind. I was having problems with shadows and for once lots of food looked very unappitizing. I also couldn't tell when meat was cooked...very odd. Anyway, took some tests (reminded me of going into the army...what do you see?) and didn't see the numbers when others could. Long story short - it really freaked me out to think I may not be able to see fabric the way others could or the way I used to see it. Anyway, it seems to be getting better! I'll just stay with the brights and the red, white and blues for awhile.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Silk to play with

Today was supposed to be a quiet day but instead I had a bit of an adventure.

One of my neighbors had planned to go on a hill walk with some friends. Unfortunately her car had to go into the shop this morning so she called me to see if I could drive her and come on the walk. She has helped me out so many times how could I say no? Besides I love learning new paths and walks in our area.

We went over to Leckhampton Hill which is about 45 minutes away. The view of the area from the top of the hill was beautiful. There is also a rock formation (?) pile called the Devil's Chimney that was very interesting. The photo of the chimney is on the top. I think we were able to see the towers of the Tewksbury Abby...I may need to make the climb again when the weather is better!
Since I was already out...I decided to drop by the Beckford Silk factory. This is only a few miles from my house but I keep putting off going was the day. It was great! The picture above is of the man screenprinting the silk. They mainly do pieces for museums...ties, scarves, and some clothing. The best part is the seconds area...they sell the scraps in small bags - a few of course had to come home with me!

Then again Brownie immediately claimed them as her own...gbv (wopps...Brownie typo...)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Village view

Only have a few minutes to post today. Yesterday we walked up the hill in back of our village and this time I remembered my camera. There were bluebells everywhere and Breedon hill across the way had so many fields of rafe in bloom it looked like someone had slashed it with a flouresant yellow high-lighter!

Every time I come close to starting a quilt inspired by the colors of the fields around me the fields totally change colors! Mother Nature is so much faster with the paint brush than I am.
I am also excited because I found a Quilting and needlework shop up in Evesham which is only 15-20 minutes away on a very easy road. I was able to get the linen I needed for the sampler and picked up a teacozy kit as well. DH was with me so I didn't have too much time to look around. I think I may head up there in the next week to check out the town.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Multi-generational quilts

Don't you just hate it when your memory fails you?! I was cruising through the blogs the other day and saw where a quilter was blending repro fabrics from the 1930's and 1900. A few hours later I rummaged through the quilt room and unpacked my quilt that has 4-patches from the turn-of-the -centruy and setting squares from the 1920's-30's. (I always pictured that a woman had extra blocks -leaders and enders? - that she found in her sewing basket and she put them together. I bought it as a top so she never did finish it...a woman after my own heart!)

Anyway, back to the story of this week. The next day I put the quilt out on the line and took some photos. (that is little brownie in the corner trying to figure out why I would be taking a photo of the quilt when I could be taking them of her?!) Today I finally moved the photos onto my computer, but can I remember who posted the quilt I wanted to respond to? Uhggggg.....

So after an hour rummaging through blogs I decide to just post the photos and whoever is working on the other quilt will see it and say - that reminds me of the little quilt I am working on....

This is one of my favorite quilts. I love the little fruit fabric she used in each corner and how well she distributed the yellow across the quilt. Who ever put it together had a good eye.

No more progress on the sampler (s.) Life is invading my quilting and fabric time. We have bees coming down the chimney and a backed up sewer system. So far no word from the rental management agency on when they will be fixed. I sort of feel the need to hang around a bit so I don't miss their call. At first the cats chased the bees they just ignore them. During the day it isn't as bad but at night there are a half a dozen zooming around and I am constantly opening the windows to let them out!

Finally I am finishing with my favortie lamb photo so far this season. It has been warm the past two days so they have been laying down in the shade near the fence. This little lamb is so tiny! At night we can hear them calling to one another...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Addicted to news

This week I've been glued to the television and I'm hating it! I find myself talking loudly to the commentators...the only effect being the cats raising their heads to see what the fuss is about and occasionally Macbeth with bark in sympathy. The generalization of America as a "gun culture," a phrase they keep repeating, is bit foreign to me. When I joined the army I had never touched a gun. I had never seen my Father or my brothers handle a gun (though my brothere later became a police officer and he did wear his gun into the house while in uniform but I also remember my Mother asking him to lock it in the book cabinet in the front made her nervous to have it in the kitchen.) My husband, who is retired from the Air Force, is vocally opposed to gun ownership. So where is this gun culture?

They had an american journalist on mid-morning yesterday. He was trying to explain how big the campus is and how gun laws differ from state to state. In the end the newsreader just gave him a blank look and said well, that doesn't make sense. I want to reach through the TV and shake him! Anyway, I am stopping now...this is a quilting blog after all....

So what have I worked on while playing the angery couch potato....I finished the next block for the Fairford quilt sampler. We did 4 six-inch maple leaves. The top photo is of a very, very old UFO. (think early 90's!) The photo on the left is how I will lay them out for the sampler quilt. The next blocks are a pine tree and a basket. Some of the quilters in the group are really coming along with some nice quilts.

I have also successfully removed the sampler from the frame...not an easy thing. The glass was touching the sampler so I decided not to wait getting the sampler out. First, there were dozens of tiny metal brads holding the back of the frame which took hours to carefully dig out. Then came a rather nasty surprise - when it was framed years and years ago they used one of those sticky mats that hold the needlework flat but in the long range are nasty for the piece. I was at a standstill. Fortunately one of my fellow dog walkers in the village knew a woman who had completed an embroidery guild apprenticeship. She came over for and helped me very carefully and very slowly remove the sampler from the backing. My fingernails may never recover since they were the only "tool" I got to use! We also removed some rather bad bad repairs. It was fun to see the colors on the back which are much brighter...there are some corals, several greens, and a darker blue that have all faded on the front of the piece. Here workmanship is very good, the back is almost as neat as the front! There was also a little family tree handwritten on paper that showed who she married and the next two generations.
I've ordered some acid free mounting board and today am going to the store and try and find some linen that matches the sampler. (The sampler is linen with silk threads.) My neighbor is going to come over next week and walk me though mounting the sampler and then I am going to drive her up to a fancy farm shop she has wanted to visit (she not longer drives.) Now I just have to figure out the frame part...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cash in the Attic

Yesterday I went up to the auction house to check out some quilts and a sampler they had listed in their website. Two of the quilters from the Fairford group were also there for their first UK auction. I was also surprised to see the the film crew from one of the BBC shows Cash In the Attic set up in he corner of the showroom! It was fun to watch them filming...brought back some memories of working with a TV station back in the states. (for those in the U.S. the show a commentator and an expert go to a person's house and helps them select items to go to the auction to raise money for a specific cause like a new garden shed, a charity, a holiday, a new violin, a quilting room -just kidding on the last one!)

Back to the auction....the quilts ended up being really in bad shape. The design on one was very Kaffe Fasset like - soft colors with blended blocks around a centeral plain blue woven square. It was in terriable shape though and still went for 80 pounds! There were some beutiful kimonoes that went for 100's of pounds and several lots of lace that were stunning - a collector was on hand and she bought most of it.

There had been a lot of folks looking at the needlework sampler during the viewing. Since the earlier textiles were going for what I though was a lot of money I was counting myself out of the race. I have wanted an antique sampler for a long time. Prices in the U.S. can get crazy for them so I've been hoping to find one here. The last few I've seen at auction were either in really poor shape or had very depressing sayings on it (don't want anything about the "wrath of God" - or pretty much anything from the old testament - hanging in my sewing room.) I've tried to sew one mayself but my eyes just aren't up to that type of work. Well the good news is I got the sampler for 10 pounds under my limit! I'm ont going to tell you how much I paid since after the bidding the camera crew did a quick interview on why I bought the sampler....I may be on TV!

I would like to reframe the sampler but am unsure if I should do that here or wait until I get back to the states. On the practical side I'm worried the matting isn't acid free. On the less practical - I hate the metal frame on this. Just anothere project to add to the pile! Anyone with suggestions?

Weather-wise it continues to be beautiful. (sorry to those of you one east coast...I don't mean to rub it in!) Last night I was able to get a bit closer to the field of lambs on the edge of our village and get some more photos. These are the sheep that belong to Mr. Gardener who is a professional gardener, lives in Rose Cottage, and has a black and white collie named Lady. What a children's book they would make! His sheep are more like pets than livestock. His daughter raised the first couple as a school project years ago and now they have about 20!
DH is off to play gold this afternoon so I am hoping to get some blocks done for the Fairford group and post the directions for them sometime today...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Fever

We could not have asked for better weather than we had this past Easter weekend. We did lots of driving around the local villages and took MacBeth on lots of walks. Knowing that it is cold and damp in lots of the U.S. I will stop there...

I have been slowly trimming Mac's hair for summer. He hates being groomed and has to be wrestled to the ground and then bribed with lots of treats to stop his sulking afterwards. Anyway he is slowing looking more like a scotty than a wild dog.

The eyes are still a bit wonky. I've spent a lot of time just making random blocks....lots of sewing scraps together and not amounting to much. I was going to post photos of the mess but DH plugged in the TomTom into my camera's port so I'll have to wait until he comes home to crawl under the desk and re-attach it!

Ever since I read Anne on Quilting Bebbs post about her daughters Lemon Curd I have had a craving for lemon...anything! This morning I broke down and made a pan of Lemon Bars to bring to class tonight (good excuse no!) A woman I worked with in Georgia gave me this recipie and I love it...unfortunately DH hates lemon so I have to find excuses to make a pan....

Forida Deluxe Lemon Bars....
2-1/4 cups, flour, divided
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh squeezed really makes a difference in this recipie)
powdered sugar

Combine 2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Cut in butter. Firmly press into a greased 9x13x2 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour and paking pwder -s tir well. Combine eggs, sugar and lemon juice then stir into the flour mixture. Pour over prepared curst. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until set.

Let cool in the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.

Now I am off the bake the spice cookies that I get a craving for whenever I think lemon curd...that posting could put a couple of pounds on me!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Playing with blocks

My eyes right now are wonky at best which makes me crazy. A few more days and I should be able to safely operate a rotary cutter and a computer screen but until then I will remain a bit scarce on the blog.
I did finish a few more blocks for Clare and her Leukemia Quilts. I took out a few fat red and white fat quarters and decided to try use them up making the 8-inch blocks for her project. These became the "loaves and fishes" of fat quarters! They just would not go away! Anyway, after 8 blocks there are only a few scraps left of my favorite fabric and I am calling it quilts for now. I did use the blocks with the group of new quilters to start the discussion on setting blocks. 8-1/2 is so much more fun to work with than the 12 inch blocks....

Spring is finally here for real. Yesterday we got to put the top down on my DH's little Mazda and drive through some of the villages in our area. It was a bit fragrant at times (this is a farming area!) but fun none the less! I am determines to get a good photo of a lamb while I am here. The little guys are everywhere and are just too cute. It is however difficult...they run. Also, when the sheep are near the fence it always seems to be on a road that is just to busy to pull over! So for now I only have some distant this one on the left. If you look carefully there are some lambs and sheep in the second field back. They are very loud for such little creatures!

I'm also going to slip in another few photo from Barcelona.
At the park tha Gaudi designed there were lot of mosaics that gave quilty inspirations. These were part of the wall just as you enter the park.

The next photo is of the dragon fountain. Obviously a major Kodak moment for thousands of tourists! There were some workmen doing repairs on the mosaics the day were there. It was interesting to see them work. (Set two pieces of mosaic, smoke a cigarette, break a tile, smoke a cigarette, mix some mortar, drink some coffee...)
The park is one of the best bargains in! We spent about three hours there and could have spent more. It looks like a lot of locals go there as well. The climb to the top was a lot of work but well worth it for the view of the city.

The next photo is one that I have printed in an 8x10 and am contemplating doing in fabric. I love the lines of this ceiling. This is the attic in the apartment building that Gaudi designed. (the one with the melting icecreams on the roof!) These arches are made from bricks of varying widths. It has a beautiful feeling.
Well, off to walk Macbeth.....