Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's UFO Resolutions

Feeling guilty here about having gotten sidetracked again from ongoing projects to make a couple of new quilts. And i can't help noticing how the list of UFOs keeps growing. Sooo, here is a list of UFOs i plan to finish this year:

grandmother's fan
Autumnal Tumbling Blocks
Indigo Star (3 versions)
Amish Dahlia
yellow and blue star for Franny
Sophie's bargello
blue Tumbling Blocks for Amelia
Hidden Ninepatch for Julian

Not-Yet Begun Projects that are tempting me:
a ragtime in muted pinks and browns
a bear's paw
contemporary, simple quilt in Autumnal batiks

UFOs i'm leaving on the backburner for 2011:
log cabin
Sister's Choice for moi me me

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can Quilting Prevent Memory Loss?

I just saw this article on the New Old Age blog.

"At the age of 78, Bob Branham, a retired computer software developer in Dallas, Tex., took up quilting. It wasn’t his idea, actually. He’d never dreamed of piecing together his own Amish diamond coverlet or rummaging around Jo-Ann Fabrics in search of calico prints. But then he enrolled in a trial sponsored by the National Institute on Aging to assess whether learning a new skill can help preserve cognitive function in old age. By random assignment, he landed in the quilting group.

... neuroscientists suspect that learning a challenging new skill — a new language, a new musical instrument — may be even more effective than mental games at keeping the brain sharp. And quilting is more complicated than it may seem..."

Maybe this explains why my grandmother (the galloping horse one) was still as sharp as ever when she died at 97. I wonder how helpful quilting is if you've already been doing it for years. Maybe if you continue to expand your repertoire of skills and keep experimenting, it has the same effect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Laura Ann's Quilt?

For years, I've been collecting purples and greens to make a quilt for my friend Laura Ann in her favorite colors. I was thinking more variety would be more interesting, but then when i showed her a couple of examples, she seemed to prefer a color scheme more like this--not at all scrappy and with orange points. Now i'm worried that what she really liked was a detail like the exact fabric in the border, and not this overall color scheme. It is rather in your face, isn't it? So i'm going to canvas her views, now that i've made a few blocks. The border will of course have various greens and purples and more of the saffron in it, if i have enough left. I'm thinking of doing a pieced border.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Another Autumn bouquet. It cost me about € 7 to make these two bouquets. I figure the larger one would cost about €15 at a discount florist. The most expensive part is actually the greenery. All of these roses only cost €2. So the great thing is i can replace the roses as needed and have fresh bouquets for roughly €2 per week! And with this cool weather, they actually last closer to two weeks.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Orchid Orphanage

The Orchid Orphanage
Originally uploaded by nhendricks
It started when I bought a couple of white phaelanopsis orchids at Ikea and mentioned this in passing to a friend.
Friend: "Ah, maybe you'd like to take my orchid! It never blooms." It turned out a number of friends were having bad luck with orchids.
Next thing I knew, i had a windowsill full of orphan orchids. I checked out a book from the library on how to take care of them. It took about a year, but they finally all bloomed.

Another Pincushion

I didn't manage to take pictures of my favorite pincushions before giving them away, but I can make more with the same fabrics. I like the fabrics in this one a lot, too. It still needs its button. I think it's also time to get cracking on hot water bottle covers again.

Baked Eggs

I've gotten into making Baked Eggs recently, after a recipe I found in Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express. She recommends drizzling cream over the tops. I prefer grated cheese.

Wild mushroom powder is good to add before the eggs. Also, tapenade. I found mushroom powder available here and here Wild mushroom powder

Put a bit of olive oil in the bottoms of the ramekins. Add freshly ground salt and pepper, plus wild mushroom powder, if you have it. Add chopped basil, an egg and dollops of Frischkäse or herbed cream cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and lay slices of cherry tomato on top. Drizzle a few drops of truffle oil over this and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Nigella suggests serving baked eggs for a simple family supper or as a starter at a dinner party. I like to have them on a lazy Sunday morning or as an easy Dinner for One. Since you can bake these in the toaster oven, you don't have to fire up the big oven for this. You can even put bread in to toast with them, if there's space.

P.S. The original recipe is much simpler: just eggs, cream and truffle oil. I added most of these ingredients by experimenting, as Nigella recommends.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Imelda and George

Aunt Imelda and Uncle George came to visit on their way to France. Here, we'd climbed a hill overlooking Boppard in the Rhine Valley. Can you believe they're 75? They've known each other since they were 18.

Finished Piecing Tumbling Blocks

A few weeks ago, just before my aunt and uncle came to visit, I finished piecing the Tumbling Blocks. Hurrah! I'm going to use this orange for the borders.

Just after i finished, i made 5 pincushions from this pattern at Carpe Quiltem, but have already given away 3 of them so don't have pics of the best ones, but plan to make some more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Primitives Giveaway

Pumpkin Patch Primitives is offering a giveaway here

Believe it or not, I actually have some quilty progress to report, just no time to upload the photos. I finally finished piecing Nancy's Tumbling Blocks quilt a couple of weeks ago, and now just need to piece the border, which will be time-consuming. I had visitors from the US recently, and I took them to Amsterdam and the Rhine Valley last week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blog Re-Design Service

I just entered a drawing for a blog re-design at Becky's Creative Blog Design

The drawing is open till October 31st. Looks like she does really good work.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leap of Faith

I've come a bit further since the above picture. Now I've got about 8 more of those treacherous seams (sewing rows together) to go, then the border pieced to fit the outline. Must wait for additional fabric for that, so finishing the top completely will have to wait, but I hate to stop for fear that i'll lose momentum. This is by far the most difficult quilt i've made. I know, it's nothing compared to applique or paper piecing these blocks, but for me, sewing this together has been a real challenge. I notice, though, that the longer i do it, the easier it gets. You sort of develop a feel for how to sew this accurately, altho i also went through a phase, after things went surprisingly smoothly in the beginning, of being insecure and screwing it up, having to rip out a lot. Like so many things in life, it requires a leap of faith.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Raffle Quilt made by Lisa

Ronnie and Ruthie, two of my elder siblings, taken by our Dad in the 50s. These were the two middle kids out of 8 and they continued to be close after we all grew up.

Below, another raffle quilt to benefit AIDS Services in Austin. My sister Lisa made it in memory of our brother Ron (in the photo above). Beautiful work, as always. Lisa is extremely prolific and very generous with her time. One of these days, she'll have a blog of her own and then, look out!


Friday, September 18, 2009

National Gallery and Pub in Dublin

Tthe National Gallery is my favorite place in Dublin. This was the one and only picture i took, because the man in the doorway was a guard, walking toward me to tell me you're not supposed to take pictures.

Where we had dinner our first night. A labyrinthine sort of pub, full of nooks and crannies and atmosphere. Touristy, but lots of locals go there too.


I just got back from 4 days with students in Dublin. It amused me that the first thing they thought of when we stumbled upon a spectacular view was to whip out their phones and text their girlfriends about it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

She's Baack

I just had to report: I've made tons of progress on the Tumbling Blocks project in the last few weeks. I think i finally have enough blocks for a lap quilt--over 200. I nailed a large piece of flannel to the wall, so that i can better lay them out--and leave them laid out. Important bcs they are so small and so varied in coloration. I'd like to experiment with different kinds of layouts.

I also finally got up the nerve to sew a couple of rows together. I'd been dreading this, assuming it wd be really hard, but it went surprisingly smoothly. All the corners and angles matched fine. I think it's been roughly two years since i started this. What's motivated me to finish it is I want to give it to my friend Nancy.

A lot has happened in my life in the last few months. I suddenly had way more work than before, and less sleep than usual, and then i landed in hospital in May, with a heart muscle infection (Mycocarditis). Spent 4 days in cardio intensive care and then another week on the cardio ward. I'd never spent much time in hospital before, so it was kind of interesting, especially the time in intensive care, once i got beyond fearing for my life (they have a way of checking your vital signs constantly and sending troops of doctors to visit you, and generally making you feel you're on death's door). When they sent me to another wing of the hospital for some tests, i snuck a peek at my files and it was kind of funny to read the nurses's observations of me, as if i were an animal in a lab: "Habits: reading." "Amerikannerin, aber spricht perfekt deutsch." American, but speaks perfect German. This is not true of course, but it made me happy to see this.

I'm all recovered now and work will be slowing down soon. The doctor yesterday told me the final results from the MRI are absolutely fine but i am under strict orders to stay home next time i get sick (apparently, Myocarditis is brought on by overdoing it when you're sick), and since i happen to be getting over a cold, guess who got a lot of sewing done today?