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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"B" Is For Buds - Alphabe-Thursday

This week's letter is "B" - 
For Buds...

What do you think of when you hear the word "Buds?"
The definition of "buds" is 1. A small protuberance on a plant; 2. Small rounded part; 3. Begin to grow.

For most of  us the first image that comes to mind is this...


Our rhododendron, which is one of the first shrubs to bloom for us in the Spring.
 How about those silly ear buds that come with iPods, etc. -
I much prefer a comfortable pair of ear phones that cover the ear, not get stuck into them.

"This Bud's For You..." oops only have Leinenkugels and Alaskan Amber in the frig. Better leave that one alone...

In quilting - we often make appliqued flower buds...

We can find a delicately painted rosebud on my china demitasse cup...
Even more delicate - precious baby ears - just little buds when so young...
My Mother-in-law at a very young age - Sydney, Australia
 My favorite Buds? These ladies...

We are officially called "The Garden Buds," Quilters all...friends through thick and thin...we never go dormant on each other. We enjoy one another's company - to share ideas, whether we agree with each other or not. Joys and sorrows, can I vent today?, We need a road trip or let's meet for lunch at our favorite tea shop. With these ladies, I can be myself and at the same time grow and continue to learn and be a part of friendships that have truly blossomed.

Visit all the other "B" postings over at Jenny Matlock's. 



Monday, April 25, 2011

Dear Little Treasures...

Often it is the smallest in size that bring us pleasure...when we were young children, probably the bigger the better...a piece of cake, a double dip of our favorite ice cream, the huge present under the Christmas tree or a big chocolate bunny in the Easter basket. Do you remember those large sugar eggs with the little window you could peak through? There was always a miniature scene inside. I got to wondering if someone still makes those. Check out this link to D. Blumchen - a favorite place to shop for all those hard-to-find vintage/reproduction papers and trims. While their sugar eggs are more modernized (the law says no paper scenes anymore - everything has to be edible!) they still evoke an Easter from my childhood...such dear little treasures. Our Sunday dinner this year was extra nice with a full dining room table of family. I was in the kitchen for two days before hand and really enjoyed the preparations. Baking, mixing, whipping...each time we make a dish to share with loved ones, it becomes another dear little treasure. 

Little packages that arrive in the mail...treasures! Now I am officially a member of Sharon Lovejoy's Grimy Hands Girls Club.
We are to test the packet of basil seeds and report back our results. Love the cards Sharon included - her artwork is such a delight!
And a sweet little packet of fabrics and a thank you note from the folks over at Moda Fabrics - a thoughtful gesture on their part to those of us who participated in the Just One Star project. 
Both dear little treasures...
Enjoying a cup of tea (Peets Teas - Winter Solstice) from a friend who gave me a box of this delicious tea....perfect to sip while reading the gift of a book from another friend...Garden With Jane Austen. More dear little treasures.
Cutting the first daffodils of the season - A treasure from the garden.
 I can't go without including at least one picture about quilting...
Got caught up on Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt blocks.
Just one more little treasure - being up to date on a project!


And the most simple of treasures - being able to step off the deck onto flagstone and then onto green grass - and no snow!

Wishing each of you a week filled with your own dear little treasures. 


Pat


My Grandmother's tiny mustard pot - it was always on the table at Easter - just a touch of mustard on the ham.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"A" is For Artichoke

And we are off - a new start to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday!
At the beginning - this week's letter is "A" - For Artichokes...
Do you like them? Avoid them? Don't know what to do with them?  Animal, vegetable or mineral??


My own experience with artichokes began in 1964 - you ask how can she remember something so mundane? I was 20 years old and led a somewhat sheltered life - the kitchen was a room that was not particularly familiar to me. Mom was in charge of meal preparations and like most Americans during the '60's we ate quite well, never thinking about carbs or calories...everything was very good as Mom enjoyed cooking and trying new recipes. 
The long holiday weekend of Easter (Monday being a holiday in Washington, D.C. - after all it was the day of the traditional Egg Roll on the White House lawn) I met my future husband...aka Mr. Outback. It wasn't long before he introduced me to his own family...his sister, Susan, and their Mom & Dad, Colonel and Mrs. Taylor. Jean, who would become my Mother-in-law was a gourmet cook and her copy of Julia Child's cookbook was her favorite. I have always thought Jean and Julia looked like twins anyway (with maybe a touch of Angela Lansbury.) One of the first dinners I attended at their home featured prepared artichokes - set off to the side of my dinner plate in a separate serving dish. What is that I quietly wondered? Peering discreetly around the table at the others, I carefully watched to see what would happen to this unknown food item. Okay, it looked like you needed to pull a leaf off and dip it in something...oh a little dish of mayonnaise next to the artichoke...I can handle that. Then you must ...hmmm...eat the leaf...and thus began a new journey. There was a little sharp tip on the edge of each leaf which baffled me but down the leaf went. It didn't hurt too much and I sure wanted to make a good impression on everyone by not asking any odd questions. I don't remember what we actually had for dinner that night. The glass of wine helped with the throat. It wasn't until later that I noticed everyone else had a neatly piled set of partially eaten leaves stacked on the edge of their little serving plates. There was nothing to show for all my hard work except for a strange looking bottom part. At that point, I threw caution to the wind and must have asked for assistance...

Fast forward to 2011...Mr. Outback still likes this interesting vegetable. They don't grow well in Northern Wisconsin, to say the least. What we find in the local stores is mostly quite sad looking...very brown and dried out. There must be limited interest in them and the produce buyers are not very knowledgeable as to quality. They often are priced at $2.69 or above for each one. When we do purchase a half-way decent looking artichoke, the young cashiers at the check out line always ask what it is...and bring out their sku code books to find a listing.
What to do?? This being the age of ordering everything you can dream up online...Mr. Outback located an artichoke farm in Moss Landing, California and they ship!!! What size would you like, Sir? JUMBO, of course! We will get them right out to you...FedEX overnight...

Mr. Outback won't reveal what he paid for these babies...

But he is one happy artichoke fan!
The box held 9 of the biggest artichokes I have ever seen...complete with that thorny little edge. You California readers are no doubt shaking your heads in dismay...after all you can grow them in your backyards!
So that's my story, and I am sticking to it! (Gotcha 'ya! bet you thought I would choose "A" for applique! Maybe next time...)

"A" is for artichoke - and be sure to visit all the other brand new "A" postings over at Jenny's.



This tiny bunny is the only size I welcome in my yard...but he sends you an Abundance of Easter Blessings...


Pat in snowy Northern Wisconsin




Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Party's Over...'till NextTime

The coffee cups are washed and ready to be stored away 'til next time...

Plates which held an amazing variety of offerings are stacked backed in the cupboard...'til next time.
Wine glasses returned to their shelf and a little bit of Sauvignon Blanc left...will need to restock...for next time!
And the last Lemon Cheesecake Cupcake is all that remains of the potluck contributed by everyone...
An impromptu informal gathering of our Liberty Ladies group - all arranged over coffee at Barnes & Noble about a week ago...we  talked about Natalie Portman in Black Swan. I volunteered that it was now showing on our DirecTV and would they like to come up to the house for the day? During the night, late on Friday, we were hit with strong winds and a mix of sleet, rain and ice. Upon waking up, I anxiously looked out at an ice covered deck and sidewalk. Hoping, somehow this would work out nevertheless...I sprinkled Ice Melt on the treacherous surfaces and returned to assembling a tomato tart and a quiche. This is a brave group of ladies...right on time at 11:00 a.m., cars pulled into the driveway...they made it! Laden with food to share and tote bags filled with stitching projects, everyone settled in. What kind of blogger/hostess am I? No pictures of the dining room table covered with food, no pictures of wine glasses raised in friendship with each other? No pictures of busy hands stitching while visiting with each other...I was enjoying the day so much, the camera was far from my mind!
We ate and returned for seconds, cleaned up most of the dishes and waited for Black Swan to start - set on Autotune so we wouldn't miss the opening...11 women (sadly 2 of our ladies could not make it & they were missed), who had just been chatting and discussing family, quilt projects or recipes, fell into a hushed audience as the movie started. For the next two hours, most of the time, you could have heard a pin drop. Forgotten were the 3 bowls of buttered popcorn Sandy had brought...Such a dark and often uncomfortably graphic film to see...lovely ballet sequences gave way to watching someone descend into their personal hell. Superb acting by Portman, but I will never view Swan Lake with the same feeling again...
Later, some of the ladies had to head home and the only photo captured was of the six who remained for awhile to visit more...
While I wish there would have been more pictures to share, the fun and enjoyment of the entire day will stay with me. It alternated between snow and winds throughout the day, but with the fire going and good friendships we kept ourselves warm and we did eventually pass the popcorn...
This party is over, but it won't be the last! ...Though we might choose a Harry Potter movie or Hop next time!


Wishing you a week filled with warmth and friendships.


Pat


Gosh, it is really snowing outside, I hope everyone makes it home okay!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Winter to Spring Revealed...

"April prepares her green traffic light & the world thinks...Go!"
   ( Christopher Morley)

What a difference a week can make...last weekend the house was closed up tight, a fire warmed us continually and our world was still covered in white. Today, look at our temperature - 

Like someone pushing back the heavy covers on a bed, the snow line has receded and in many places all but disappeared. Deep in our woods, there are still sizeable patches to wade through, but the snow has turned to "corn snow." Nights of below freezing temperatures and warming days have broken down the surface - and with those same lows and highs, maple syrup season has come and gone. We spy dozens of clean sap buckets lining our neighbor's driveway and the promise of syrup lingers on our tongues. 


This is a mixed time of transition...sad at the sight of exposed ditches along the highways and back roads - filled with winter debris...cast off tires, unknown parts from something that broke and countless aluminum cans and plastic bottles, carelessly tossed from a passing vehicle. Our property line parallels a County road and an unpaved farm road - Mr. Outback must make his seasonal run on the 4 wheeler collecting the castoffs of thoughtless individuals.  The discovery is made of a broken pane of glass in one of the potting shed windows and a new crack in my 15 gallon crock that has shared its long history with me.
But our spirits are revived when the first pussy willows appear and try to figure out a pathway over the water filled ditches, armed with a pair of cutting shears. 
 The sound of cheery birds has returned as they stroll over the exposed grass and nestle in nearby evergreens. Our geese have returned - Fred and Ethel. How do they know where to find us? Is there some sort of built in Garmin they have programmed to return to Taylorsoutback? What is the lifespan of a pair of geese, who mate for life? Are these two a third or fourth generation that were just golden goslings a while ago? 
They have returned to an ice covered pond so there is still time to do a little ice skating before breakup...and before they get down to the business of guarding the nest and raising their young.

Clumps of daffodils have reached 5" to 6" and the first tightly closed buds are visible...the timing this year looks to be perfect...bright yellow blossoms on our Easter table. Anticipation!!
This can't get away without something from the sewing room, of course...in keeping with the "growing season" I have completed Block #16 from Beyond the Cherry Tree...about 112 cherries (or red grapes, if you prefer) have been appliqued. Whew!
And this block is on its way to the United Kingdom and will become part of the Commemorative Quilt that Pippa over at Welsh Quilts has organized. 
It is in recognition of the reconstruction of the Cathedral Tower in Christchurch which collapsed during the New Zealand earthquake. The pattern is based on a Monument quilt block with the bottom row added to represent the clapper of the bell. Our bell blocks are to be made in "bell-like" colors - bronze, brass, gold, etc.


And so it goes...

Everywhere we listen to the sounds of a world reawakening from a very long winter. Birds calling, snow melt spilling into the ponds, streams and rivers, even motorcycles brought out of storage for the first time...windows and doors are opened, stuck or creaking from winter's tightness.

It is good to stretch the limbs, walk about and open our arms to the coming season.That traffic light has changed from the standstill red of winter to Spring Green for Go!!! Let the season begin...


Pat

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Z" Is For Zippers......Not!

There used to be a popular saying years ago - at least amongst the quilting world  - "Asking a quilter to mend is like asking Van Gogh to paint the garage..." When the word "mend" looms - "Z"ippers immediately come to mind and the head is filled with dread and loathing...replacing a zipper is a task not for the faint of heart and around our house, the rule is...two times only on a single jacket - the 3rd time and it's out! Lately, the 2nd time is stretching things somewhat...


The zipper is a 19th century invention...Elias Howe applied for a patent in 1851 with his invention the "automatic, continuous clothing closure." He did not pursue this for whatever reasons - maybe he was too busy with something called a sewing machine...


In 1893, Whitcomb Judson came out with a "Clasp locker" and he is officially credited with being the "Inventor of the Zipper." This image is rather gruesome, don't you think? Reminds me of the edges along a circular saw blade and not something I would want attached to clothing...


941979558aaa6c2ec9c3332076daecceee190e37_large
http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa082497.html

Today's zippers have a far different look to them - smooth, easily opened and closed in a fluid motion (most of the time if they don't get hung up on a lining!) and in an array of colors that numbers in the 100's+ Now you can buy a zipper and cut off what you don't need for installation - 

...that is what I did when assembling these 4 sewing notion boxes that were given as gifts.




Zippers will never be my favorite thing to "mend", replace or install...but when they work well, they sure make life a little easier...


And that is the very last letter in Alphabe-Thursday over at Jenny Matlock's.  Visit all the other "Z" postings this week! This has been such fun. It has been a nice opportunity to "meet" other bloggers and see what they are up to. It has also provided a challenge to tackle different subjects each week - things I might be familiar with but perhaps taking a different approach and best of all, learning something I didn't know about before. I joined in midway through so if Miss Jenny starts this up again I will be ready to jump in with the letter "A" - pretty sure I all ready have a word picked out!


Wishing each of you days of smoothly operating zippers..........
:o)



Sunday, April 3, 2011

There is something to be said....

...about creature comforts on a cold, windy, snow-filled Spring day in early April...


When the little bluebird "cottages" that line our walking path are still shuttered for the winter and the drifts are knee high...

We can take hope in discovering the first "true" leaves on the tomato seedlings as they reach for light by the south windows.
 And with the sound of icy needles hitting the glass, a hot cup of coffee and the anticipation of newly checked out library books or deciding to watch my new DVD gives a sense of well being...
This weekend in the kitchen, a new bread recipe is in the works...
The dough is filled with dried cranberries, raisins, walnuts and even a few dried cherries for extra sweetness...there is no sugar or honey in the recipe...

No-knead Harvest Bread
(King Arthur Flour recipe)

After rising in a bowl overnight, the dough was placed in my almost-forgotten-about clay baker...it has not seen use in quite a while! 


Baking in a clay container creates a crisp crust and the rustic loaf made for very tasty panini's at dinner last night. 

An easily pieced block for #14 at Barbara Brackman's Civil War Quilt
Fox and Geese
And another bunch of cherries are harvested...

The rest of this day stretches lazily before me...Mr. Outback decided to drive to his skeet shoot competition after all (he is like the Post Office - neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night....) and it's just "us girls" keeping the home fires warm and cozy..we know where our creature comforts can be found. 


Wishing each of you a good day filled with your own comforts and blessings.

Pat