Monday, December 31, 2007

Winter Wonderland

I’m imagining the Winter Queen made a journey through my neck of the woods last night. As her snow white swans silently pulled her silver chariot throughout the realm, a blanket of white descended to cover the earth. Can I be sure that what I see falling from the sky is snow? Perhaps the sparkles are fairies cascading through the still air to land gently upon the frozen ground. Are the little creatures looking for a winter residence within the spruce branches? Or under the rhododendron foliage? I espy a softly rounded shape in the snow. I don’t recall a rock or outcropping there before the snows fell. Surely, a fairy mound! The soft tinkling of bells compels me to look closer. I’m mindful of the stories of humans unable to return from the fairy realm. Am I ready for that experience?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

antique crazies

In addition to making modern crazy quilts, I collect antique crazy quilts. And not just crazy quilts, but needlework booklets, some needlework tools and other vintage linens. There had been discussion on a list about a book which talks about historical quilting news. Mention was made of a catalog which listed items in a crazy work exhibit. I have a catalog similar in my collection. The cover is shown above. Inside, there is a listing of 1808 items on exhibit. There are also ideas for crazy quilt stitches within the catalog.

Not everything listed is of a crazy nature. Examples:
7. Picture, "English Line of Battle Ship," worked by Capt. Thomas Wood, during his leisure hours at sea. For sale.
115. A painting on Velvet, exhibited by Mrs. H. C. Blake.
202. Pillow Shams, drawn thread, exhibited by Miss A. McDonald.
1443. Crocheted skirt, exhibited by Miss Mary Woods.

Some of the crazies:
2. Crazy Quilt, consists of 5,000 pieces, exhibited by Miss Ella McArthur.
19. Pin Cushion of Crazy Work, made forty years ago, exhibited by Mrs. Roach.
29. Sofa Pillow of Crazy Work, exhibited by Mrs. I. W. Derby, made by a gentleman, and contains 2,500 pieces.
42. Crazy Quilt, entered by Miss H.I. Ellis, made of pieces of the dresses of the leading society ladies in Washington.
123. Crazy Chair, upholstered by the exhibitor, Mrs. E. Dunne.
189. Crazy Quilt, made by a lady sixty-four years of age, exhibited by Mrs. Thos. Cahill.
273. Crazy Fan, exhibited by Mrs. H. Hart

Interesting to note that in this 1885 exhibit, #19 was a "Pin Cushion of Crazy Work", made forty years ago. That would make it 1845. I would like to see what the pin cushion looked like! Was it as I define crazy quilting now, i.e., random piecing and decorative embroidery? If so, that would date crazy quilting well before the 1876 centennial exhibition. I believe crazy quilting had been around for a number of years and simply acquired the name of crazy quilting (or crazy patch or crazy patchwork or crazy word) after the centennial exhibition of 1876. The mosaic-like patches in a crazy quilt reminded viewers of the crackled/crazed glazing on Japanese pottery of the time.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Solstice!

Saturday is Solstice, the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere where the days start getting longer once again. After the longest night, the sun starts to make its northward journey, bringing light into the land. Each day, a few more minutes of daylight accumulates. This year, Solstice also happens to be a full moon. Surely, a day of good omens! This is the day my husband, children (and now grandchildren) get together to celebrate the season. Apples trees are wassailed, bayberry candles are lit, greenery is placed about the house, presents are exchanged and much feasting is enjoyed. This year, I made bayberry candles from real bayberry wax and beeswax. In a few years, my bayberry bushes will be producing berries of their own and I will be able to make candles from wax I have processed myself. Until then, I have procured real bayberry wax, not the artificially fragranced stuff so prevalent in stores. The folk lore about bayberry candles is:

"Bayberry burned to the socket
Brings food to the table
And gold to the pocket."

Meaning, if you burn a bayberry candle down completely during a night at the holidays, you will get good luck. My mother always had us burn a bayberry candle and the scented smoke would drift across the miles, bringing thoughts of loved ones separated by miles.

Envision something you would like to accomplish as the light returns. Scratch that sentiment or wish into the side of your bayberry candle and light the candle. As the candle burns to the socket, know your wish has been carried to the heavens.

And, don't forget to catch your sweetheart under the mistletoe!

I made the fiber postcard above for my friend, NutMeg, last year for Solstice. May you all have a blessed Yule!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

tagged for meme

Allison Aller just tagged me for meme. So, here goes:

4 Jobs I have had:
1. Medical Transcriptionist and Instructor
2. Regional Secretary for European offices Embry-Riddle University
3. Admin for Family Advocacy
4. Owner, Green Spiral Herbs

4 Films I can watch over and over:
1. Practical Magic
2. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Don't watch many movies!

4 TV shows I watch:
1. Monday nights on CBS
2. CSI
Others, I can take or leave.

4 Places I have lived:
1. Philadelphia, New York up near the Canadian border
2. England
3. Mojave Desert
4. Nebraska

4 Favorite foods:
1. Dan's chili rellenos
2. chocolate cake
3. Dan's smoked pulled pork
4. fresh peaches

4 Places I would love to be right now:
1. Right here in my cozy home in the northern Catskills
2. Mountains of North Carolina
3. Shipwreck Beads
4. Margaret's studio

4 names that I love but would not use for my own children:
1. Ardelia - except I would use it

4 People I would love to tag with this meme
1. Leonie
2. Tina
3. NutMeg
4. Sarah

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Heart-warming soup

The snow is falling heavily here in the hills. It's a brisk 20 degrees. A perfect day for home made soup. Here's a recipe we have enjoyed for many years:

Potato Cheese Soup
1 Tbsp butter
Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 potatoes, cubed
1 large carrot, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup milk
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
1 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
chives for garnish

In large pan, saute garlic and onion in butter and olive oil until translucent. Add veggies, chicken broth and water. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in milk, cream cheese and spices.

Pour mixture into blender and puree. BE CAREFUL!!!! Hot mixture will really cause blender to bubble over. Do it in very small batches. Or use an immersion blender. Return pureed soup to pot, add cheddar cheese and stir until all is warmed and melty. Serve with chopped chives and a dollop of sour cream, if you desire.

Of course you can add other ingredients as you like. Broccoli is very good. A couple shitake mushrooms are also delicious. Enjoy!