Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Art Squared

FANE (Fiber Artists of the Northeast), a group of which I am a member will be putting on our third show this spring in the Mahopac Library. As in previous shows, our works will be mounted on white artist canvases, this time 18" square and our works have to be 12" square, thus the title. For our previous shows we have published books and will again this year, but Jane Davila, our fearless leader, decided that it would be fun if we also had tutorials in the book to explain a technique in our quilt.

I chose to do Skinny Wiggly piecing, a favorite of mine and this is my quilt, Summer Storm, which uses some of my snow dyed fabric, commercial batiks and Dupioni silk. More about the tutorial in another post someday. And it really is perfectly square, just bad photography. Sorry!

I thought that the quilt needed a little something extra and decided to do some beading. Here's a detail of one section, that is the vertical strip on the left side of the quilt, in which I did spaced beading, using beads of different sizes and shapes.

In the center of the quit I scattered seed beads and sewed them down. I wanted them to look very random. These are tiny seed beads, but this camera takes great macro shots.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ethiopian Cuisine

Yesterday my friend, Paula, and I had a unique art filled dining experience. We had lunch at Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant in Mt. Kisco, NY. Paula's good friend, Ken Kurzweill, is a serious photographer who recently returned from a photo shooting expedition in Ethiopia. He stayed mostly in remote villages and got the most incredible pictures that are on display and for sale at this restaurant.

Be sure to click on the picture for a bigger view. Paula has purchased the photo on the lower left corner of the postcard and it was right over our table where we ate. There is a young boy with the most beautiful face under all that paint .

I had never eaten Ethiopian food before and wasn't sure what to expect, but it was quite delicious. I thought of having Paula take the picture after we had already started eating, so it's a little messed up. The food is served on a pizza tin lined with injera, the staple bread of Ethiopia, made from Teff seeds grown in that country. It is a thin crepe like bread with a spongy appearance that is used to scoop up the food. You can use the injera on the platter or use the smaller rolled up pieces that that bring you on a smaller plate.
I don't care for food that is too spicy, so we stayed away from those. In the center of the platter is a beef dish, small pieces of tender stewed beef in a delectable sauce. On either side of the platter was a fabulous avocado salad, very similar to the Guacamole salad that I make, but minus the black beans. On the side closest to you is a beet and carrot salad, also delicious, and on the far side is a lentil dish that was too spicy for me. The meal is meant to be shared. I only used a little of the bread, not wanting that many carbs, and mostly used my fork. At the end of the meal there was nothing left on the injera but the lentils.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Great Day!!

Peter Brady, a member of my church, St. Joseph's in Brookfield, CT, runs a wonderful ministry. He started it 12 years ago when he retired and decided to rake a couple of lawns for elderly or sick neighbors who were unable to do it for themselves. That part of his ministry grew and grew so that now he has about 1,000 volunteers each fall to do about 80 homes. He was featured on NBC news last year and you can read about it here.

Peter's ministry has gone far beyond raking leaves and now does many things to help out those who are less fortunate, the homeless, the down trodden, the down on their luck. He has done complete home makeovers, put in handicapped ramps, fixed electrical problems, painted houses, and much, much more with his core of volunteers. Last week he heard of a single mother who had been homeless until a few weeks ago. Hers was a sad story. She was a cancer surviver twice with a double mastectomy; her 5 year old daughter's father was killed in a car crash when she was pregnant, so the little girl had never known him; her ex-husband was abusive and was responsible for the death of her 9 year old son in a DUI; she lost her elderly parents after caring for them, and was left homeless for various reasons. Through one charitable organization, she was able to find an apartment and get a part time job. She does have a college degree and is also a LPN. All she had was a single bed that she was sharing with her daughter and some odds and ends of kitchen things picked up at Good Will. She was able to pay the rent and buy groceries, but there was no money for anything else.

Peter sent out a call to his over 2,000 email recipients and within 2 days got enough new or very good used things to furnish the apartment. Yesterday morning was a bitterly cold day with temps in the teens and wind chills in the single numbers, but thankfully no snow on the ground or in the air. With a rented van, eight strong men and three women (including my friend Claire and me and now a new friend, Mary) spent the day yesterday putting it all together. Everything had to be carried up the outside staircase into the second floor apartment. Getting some of the furniture in was very tricky, especially the couch and big triple dresser. Of course we let the big strong men do all the heavy lifting and carrying and we three gals did the sprucing up, making beds, hanging pictures and giving it a woman's touch.

The kitchen before. Fortunately the apartment was very clean and freshly painted, so we didn't have to do any of that.

Kitchen after with new microwave, toaster oven, dishes, pots and pans and silver that match and a new green color scheme. The sink and refrigerator are behind me in the picture.

Living room before, devoid of any furniture, but cluttered with black trash bags full of her clothes and other belongings. She had cleared that all out before we got there.

Living room after with new rug, like-new leather couch and chair, coffee table, end tables, matching floor lamps and the wall behind me has a triple dresser for storage and a new small TV on top.

Child's room before where they both had been sharing a bed. This all went to go in the trash.

Child's room after with gently used trundle bed, pretty gently used rug, and all new bedding. What little girl would not love this color scheme?

Child's room again with a desk with pink bean bag chair beneath. The pink TV is only good for watching DVD's, but how cute is that? How about that lamp? There is a matching bed-side table.

Master bedroom before with only an empty bed-frame.

Master bedroom after. The bedding was my contribution. I had such fun shopping and found everything at Home Goods. Someone else donated the pretty headboard and new carpet.

Master bedroom again with double dresser and mirror. There was also a matching bed-side chest.

The apartment was very bright with plenty of window and mini-blinds on the windows. Too bad we couldn't do some sort of window treatments, but the blinds looked quite nice. We also wished that one of us had thought to take fresh flowers for the kitchen table.

Here's the group loading up the van with our bright red Handy Dandy Handyman (the name of Pete's ministry) T-shirts on.

Busy bee workers in the kitchen cleaning out and relining drawers.

Enjoying a pizza feast after the work was done. We got it all done in about three hours and then the women and Pete went back after lunch for the finishing touches, like hanging pictures and getting rid of all our empty bags.

It was such a fun and rewarding day. The client was out all day working and wouldn't be home until later. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when she saw our results.

Friday, January 13, 2012


The Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway version of Phantom of the Opera has been running for 25 years, yet I had never seen it. My late husband was not a lover of the theater and for some reason I never thought of going without him. After he passed away and I started going to the theater quite a bit, it seemed like everyone I knew had already seen it. But Wednesday I went into NYC with two friends, one who had never seen it, like me, and another friend who was seeing it for her fourth time! The stranger sitting next to me in the theater was also seeing it for the fourth time. The music was beautiful and it's hard to get some of the songs out of your head. The young woman who played Christine was lovely and had a magnificent voice. I'm always amazed at how the actors make it seem fresh and new each time they perform, even though they've done it countless times. So now I can cross one more thing off my bucket list.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The big cleanup continues

The recycling pick-up men must have thought that I had received a ludicrous amount of Christmas gifts when they saw this huge pile of broken down boxes and blue or white recycling bags full of stuff. Little did they know that it was a ten year accumulation of packing boxes and other detritus from my basement. I wrote about it a couple of posts back. My trash gets picked up once a week. First the garbage men come and then much later in the day comes the recycling truck. It is quite full when it gets to us. I watched from an upstairs window as the man threw the bundles and bags into the truck. About every third one would fall back out (sometimes twice) before he got them to stay. I found it quite humorous, but I'll bet he was cursing up a storm. Wait until he sees what I have for him next week. It won't be as bad, but the cleanup goes on.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I woke up this morning with this song in my head. I'm not sure why since I don't think I heard it on the radio or TV, but it keeps going round and round in my brain. So I thought that it would be a good New Year's wish for you. Happy New Year!

May the good Lord bless and keep you
Whether near or far away
May you find that long awaited
Golden day today.
May your troubles all be small ones
And your fortunes ten times ten
May the good Lord bless and keep you
Till we meet again.
May you walk with sunlight shining
And a bluebird in every tree
May there be a silver lining
Back of every cloud you see.
Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows
Never mind what might have been
May the good Lord bless and keep you
Till we meet again.