Monday, August 21, 2017

Maggie Monday - A Special Visit

We were up in Maine last week--okay we came home last Monday--and that return was followed by back-to-back work retreats. (And there's another one this week!) So I'm just now getting around to reporting that I visited with Maggie*. She's still living la vida loca heading out to her local haunt two nights a week for her martini, although her legs are slowing down and her vision is worsening. 

Maggie: Come here and show me your face.
Me: [puts my face three inches from her good eye]
Maggie: Oh, that's you! So tell me, are you fat or skinny?
Me: [glances over to my mother]
Mother: [gives me the "tell the truth" look] (because she believes in The Truth over all else.)
Me: I'm fat. [Puts her hand on my leg.]
Maggie: Now that's a LEG.

Maggie forever!
Last month I had hoped to complete the dude's annual anniversary piece, but I didn't start it until the end of the month. Still, it's begun. This is 47 Hearts by Silver Creek. I'm using the called-for colors on a fabric of some sort. Sorry about the fold.

I've been working on Christian's Stocking as I prescribed for August. Stay tuned!

*If you haven't met my 95 year old grandmother, you can read about some of her antics:
An Introduction (last para)

Thursday, August 10, 2017


This year at Cookbook Club, I decided I would try new things that I have thought were too difficult in the past. In part, I was motivated by this post at Chocolate and Zucchini, "A Bucket List for Cooks."

Here, you can see I conquered, No. 33 "Make your own crust for a tart, quiche, or pie." I made a crust for this tart (Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners) and a quiche (Mastering the Art of French Cooking). This is "Joanne's New and Improved Blueberry Tart," about 1/4 of the blueberries are cooked down to goo and fresh berries are stirred into it. I love it so much more than regular fruit pie. (I hate the goo for some reason.) Oh wait, I also did an onion tart (even more tart-y than this one, which I find very pie-ish) for Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food.

I did the quiche twice because the dude and I got confused about which week it was. We ate a lot of very rich quiche those two weeks. So I feel pretty confident about my pie crust.

I also decided I should try working with filo dough. Everyone says it is so difficult that I just never have. I decided to make tiropita when we did Greek Revival: Cooking for Life. If you know spanikopita, tiropita is spanikopita without the spinach. (Yes, plain cheese!) I made little triangles. Of pure cheesy deliciousness! And also, working with filo isn't on the cook's bucket list because it's not that hard.

I have also checked off "Make caramel." I made it for Caramelized Banana Rum Ice Cream (from The Everything Ice Cream, Gelato, and Frozen Desserts Cookbook). Yes you caramelize the bananas, and you stick toffee chunks in it, but the ice cream is caramel flavored.

I think "Make a laminated dough" may be next. The dude and I were awfully fond of Danish danishes.

Monday, August 07, 2017


I finished something! Woohoo!

I thought this was going to be my last finish of 2016. Instead it is my first finish of 2017...Yes, I realize it's August. Yet, here we are.

This is Wabbit's Wonder by Sheepish Designs. Stitched with the called-for fibers on some kind of cranberry fabric (not the called for fabric). Fun little bunny.

I'm back y'all.

Friday, August 04, 2017


Our big trip this year was to Denmark. I would have moved there if my Danish were better. (I can say hej.) Although I will say everyone's English was fabulous. Even the guy working the register at the grocery store spoke English well enough to make a joke about the dude being British and me being American ("That's one way to keep an eye on the colonies.") (Seriously he could not have been any cuter.) Also, if they needed stewardship in higher education which they do not because they don't rely on the largesse of the super-rich to fund education. But I digress...

 So our fiber tour starts right in Philadelphia! At our gate were three incredible felted wool projects. They were in glass cubes, so I did my best to avoid glare in the photos. These are by Heidi Bleacher, and you can read more about her work in the airport here. (She will also replicate your wedding cake in felt!)

When we first arrived, we headed to Christiansborg Palace to see the public rooms. Then we made our way around to the back, recognizable to the Borgen fans, and I pretended I was the fake prime minister by posing with a bike that was parked there. (I'm a dork.)

(The Danes are dedicated to bicycling. There were at least five rows of bike racks out of that photo. There were cykelkælder at all the metros.)
Inside the public rooms, you can see the weavings that were done for Queen Margrethe's 50th birthday. (And I thought a trip to Tanzania was an amazing gift!)  The 17 tapestries illustrate Danish history from the Viking Age to "the future." They were designed by a Danish artist, but woven in France over 10 years by 60 weavers. (And I thought my stitching took a long time!) Anyway, they weren't mounted until her 60th birthday. (Phew. I thought I was bad giving people late gifts.)

I put the dude in to give you a sense of the scale.
Close up. I have so many pictures of these tapestries but I don't want you to end up like these two.
 We visited Frederiksborg Castle, which is amazing, filled with treasures. (Including a 400 year old organ that they play once a week, which coincided with our visit!) They had an exhibition of clothes that were knitted based on a design found somewhere in the castle. It was fascinating! I couldn't take pictures with my camera (stupid flash) so I used my phone and the pictures aren't great, but you can see how stunning this pieces are.

We also visited Kronborg Castle. This is the castle in which Shakespeare set Hamlet. I was so psyched to go here because during the summer they have actors staging Hamlet in the place where it was set! Oh, I was in heaven. But then it turned out they only did some of the famous speeches, on a timed schedule. It seemed somehow cheesy. And then during the "To Be" speech, Hamlet said an extra word. DUDE, IT IS IAMBIC PENTAMETER, YOU CANNOT THROW IN EXTRA WORDS. NOT ONE SYLLABLE.

But then I looked around. The castle is nearly empty. There are only a handful of rooms with period furniture and some paintings. (So, the opposite of Frederiksborg.)

And my mindset changed a bit. This was a set. And the cheesiness was part of the experience. It is totally camp. And then I decided it was pretty awesome. Our tour ended in two rooms displaying photos of actors who had played Hamlet at Kronborg, and all seemed right with the world. 

In a little bower off Queen Gertrude's room, they had this frame set up with crewel work. I think you could try it out. Nice touch. 

Our Airbnb in Copenhagen had this piece in the bathroom. I'm guessing the Google translation is missing some nuances, perhaps idioms.

"Here I have been sitting so many days/
And dreamed the happiness of the world/
Here I have deceived my mind behind/
And dump it all a piece."

I am going out on a limb to say that "dump" has the same double entendre as it would in English.
From Copenhagen we went to Ribe, Denmark's oldest city, but I didn't take any fiber-related photos there. From Ribe, we went up to Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city. The ARoS Art Museum  was fantastic! We liked it even better than Louisiana. As you can see from this photo, there is a giant fabric sculpture, er excuse me, textile installation, hanging right in the middle of the museum, Valkyrie Rán by Joana Vasconcelos. You can watch a video about it here. She has 50 people working in her studio. (No wonder I get so few projects done! Where are my minions?)
Anyway, I was quite taken with it.

So was the dude.
From Aarhus, we went up to Skagen where you can go to the very end of Denmark. There I am standing between the North Sea and the Straits of Denmark.
We went to the Skagen Museum. Skagen (pronounced like you are trying to say both vowels in skein,as in yarn) produced some amazing artists, known as the Skagen School. They say there is a quality to the light, particularly at dusk, but since we took a picture of the sunset at 10:10 pm, we weren't seeing the beach at dusk. However, we did see this felt installation.  (There was another one at the Denmark Design Museum, but I am finding no information about who did it. Both were in places where sound would be a problem, and I would not put it past the Danes to do something like this for acoustics.

On our train journey back to Copenhagen, I got a text from Delta that they were offering a weather waiver if we wanted to change our flight. The weather on the east coast of the US was supposed to be super bad last Friday, the day we were set to fly. My aunt works for Delta, so I texted her. She said, "Do it NOW." So we had an extra day in Copenhagen. We went to the aforementioned Danish Design Museum. There was a ton of Danish modern stuff, which the dude duly photographed. (Me looking at chairs, mostly.) But they had a room that included needlework.
And below the display, drawers and drawers of needlework. I only photographed the cross stitch, but there was lace and whitework as well.

(This piece from 1733.)

That fabric is dyed black!
There was also a wonderful exhibit of  Erik Mortensen a Danish designer for the French fashion houses Balmain and Scherrer. The exhibit was called "I am Black Velvet," but you know how well black velvet photographs.

The absolute highlight of our trip was the Dine with Danes program. For a fee, the organization matches you up with some Danes. You go to their house and eat dinner and chat. We're pretty introverted, so we need this kind of extra help. The couple we were matched with were a little older (recently retired) but we had much in common otherwise. I can't say enough about this experience! We should do this everywhere!

And good news, people, I stitched!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Even Quicker Trip

When I planned the Pittsburgh trip, I took a longer view of our summer and decided we had to take a quick trip a couple weeks later. It made sense at the time. Still does.

We went to Jim Thorpe, PA. Jim Thorpe, you may have heard, was a Native American athlete who competed in the Olympics (but had made like $5 playing baseball so they took away his medals, but then reinstated them after he died). He also played football. Oklahoma wasn't going to make a big enough deal of him in death for his wife, so she basically sold the body to the highest bidder. Mauch Chunk, PA made a monument to him and changed the name of the town to honor him. Pretty big deal.

They were a down-on-their-luck coal mining town looking for an attraction so they could make money. So now they have Jim, Asa Packer's mansion*, and some little shops. If you go further afield there's some hiking too.

The highlight of our trip was The Parsonage, the B&B where we stayed. The food was fantastic! The couple who runs it met in culinary school. The breakfast
s were so unusual--and had courses! On Saturday morning we had baked yogurt with candied ginger and fruit (pitted cherries, nectarines, plums) followed by a frittata with a spicy sauce, little scoops of guacamole and salsa, a rosettes of home cured maple and bourbon bacon. We didn't even think about lunch until three o'clock after we had done a hike! On Sunday, three courses: an apricot rugelach; regular old yogurt with homemade granola and another spectacular fruit salad; and cauliflower bread pudding made with eggs from heritage breed chickens that were freshly delivered by one of the other guests, and a side of ham. There was also a blueberry mimosa. And for dessert, or something, we got a glass of chocolate milk from a local dairy. People, I don't even like bread pudding.

There are four rooms, and if you rent the whole joint they will do dinner for you.

You do not know how much I want to rent the whole joint!

And that description leaves out the art! I think there were 31 paintings in our room alone. And pottery. They are collectors of the highest order.

* Another thing about being really poor? When they were given the mansion, they couldn't afford to do anything with it, so they closed it down for like 40 years, and when they finally found someone to help them run it, it was in pristine old-timey condition.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday

When I was in graduate school, and friends got married, I made this little piece. I think I've stitched it six times. I'm not entirely sure because I let the little darlings--all mounted in boxes--go out in the wild without photographs.

One of my friends just celebrated his anniversary and posted this on Facebook to me as a reminder. They still have it 21 years later. There's a little joy knowing.

A Free Heart, Kandace Thomas

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Birthday Cake Cards

Hello, sweetums! It's a brave new world. I put on makeup today. Let's see if I can make myself pick up a needle, right?

In the meantime, I have been doing stuff. I made these cards (four of each) with my stamping friends.

All products Stampin' Up!
I'll be back on Thursday!