Saturday, October 27, 2018

Simple Pleasures

My dearly departed husband has been gone for eighteen years. When he was alive he could do most anything, but had the patience of a three year old, so if something needed doing around the house I would do it, if I possibly could. I hung shelves and window treatments and traverse curtain rods, but I was afraid of using power tools, especially a drill. I'm not sure why. So if a hole needed to be started to hang that plant hanger from the ceiling or shelf bracket I would get out my trusty ice pick. Actually it came to our marriage with my husband and it was old then. It had originally been painted and although most of the paint had worn off, it worked just fine.

When I moved to this house after he died I took a nice Makita drill with boxes of bits, a little saber saw and of course the trusty ice pick. I made window treatments on boards, screwed them to a board and put up the shelf brackets with a drill to start the hole. Magic!! What I had been missing.

Fast forward to today. Now I mostly use them to make hanging rods for my quilts. I am getting ready for a solo show (more about that in another post), so the tools came out again.

On the left is a terrific little portable vise, so handy for holding my rods as I cut them to size and drill a very small hole in each end to start the screw eyes. You will notice the aforementioned ice pick in the foreground. I still use it to turn the screw eyes to their desired tightness. You may also notice that my temporary workshop is the top of the washer and dryer in my laundry room, a perfect place with electrical outlets and easy clean up with the newspapers on top. What more could I ask for?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Sunday Morning Suns

I finally got my Sunday Morning suns together into a quilt. You may remember how I made these suns as part of a challenge to do 8" square blocks, following prompts from my fiber group. There were prompts such as using a grid, using metallic, use something you've never used before, make something abstract, etc.

I had a lot of fun making my suns and sent photos of eight of them to the CBS Sunday Morning show. The person in charge said that she loved them, but so far they have only used one, the grid one on the lower left corner of the quilt. I am going to send the picture of the whole quilt to them. We'll see how that goes.

Quilting it was a challenge. First I just stitched in the ditch on all the seams holding it together. I did that on my Bernina. It needed much more to keep the suns from sagging. I then used my Sweet Sixteen which allowed me to keep the quilt mostly flat, important because of that metal one in the upper right hand corner. I quilted around each sun, echoing the shapes. Then it was back to my Bernina to do some more with the walking foot, again to keep the faces from sagging (we certainly don't want sagging faces!)

Here you can see how I did the free-motion echo quilting. The concentric circles were done with the walking foot

This one done the same way.

This one was my big problem. With all the maneuvering I had to do to with the walking-foot stitching on the Bernina, the metal rays kept bending up and down. I didn't know how much bending they would allow before breaking. Maybe I'm a slow learner, but 90% of the way through I decided to tape those rays down with making tape. Much better!

A good quilting friend showed me how to do this piped binding. It really is magical and calls for no hand sewing. I also like that little extra pop of color. Thank you, Barbara! And here you can see how I quilted the border with free-motion suns and stars. That was fun to do on my Sweet Sixteen.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday. Go see what some talented artists are up to.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Simple Pleasures

Glass pumpkins on the mantel.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Inspired by Words

Every year my FiberWorks group puts on a themed show at the Newtown Library. This year the theme was Inspired by Words. I blogged about my entry here. The show was hung while I was in Italy and I finally got over to see it last weekend and am finally getting around to posting the pictures.
Everyone's piece was mounted on a  30" x 30" black canvas to give show cohesiveness. They are all perfectly square, of course. It's just my bad photos that make them look wonky.

I took a shot of everyone's artist statement and they will follow each quilt. Enjoy!

I was so busy taking a picture of Ruthie next to her quilt that I neglected to take a picture of her artist statement. Her quilt is call Trees, inspired by Joyce Kilmer's famous poem.

The show is at the Cyrenius Booth Library on Main Street in Newtown, CT. and will be up until October 28.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Simple Pleasures

I had a regional SAQA meeting here yesterday and one of the members brought me this charming bouquet of zinnias. I used to grow zinnias in the cutting garden in my former home, but I don' have the right spot in this house. I just love their brilliant sunny colors.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Villa

We rented the villa through Perillo Tours. They found the villa and arranged for someone to pick us up and all of our luggage at the airport. We followed the van with our rented van. The villa was comfortable and clean, but not luxurious. The building was built in the 1200's. Amazing! Two guys Stefano and Sergio, bought it in the late 90's with nothing in it. It took them several years to refurbish it, furnish it and make it livable. Quite a task! They broke the building up into several apartments on many levels. There were steps everywhere, getting from one section to the next. All old and many crumbly steps with no railings. There was a beautiful pool with great lounge chairs down on the lowest level. 

I had been worried that there was no AC, but it was not necessary. Being so high up, the nights were delightfully cool and I just slept with the window open and a floor fan. It got cooler the second week and I no longer needed the fan and I even closed the window.

One side of the villa, our apartment was  down the road to the left.

 Our apartment with five bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Each apartment had its own patio and with table and chairs and grill. Our neighbors below us used the grill a lot. We did not.

We had a well appointed kitchen with gas stove, dishwasher, microwave, and washing machine. The marble top table could have sat 10. Notice the beautiful piece that held plenty of dishes and wine glasses and pots and pans below. 

Adjoining the kitchen was the sitting area with a not-so-comfortable couch. All of the floors were marble the same in all the rooms. Each bedroom was unique and two were on a different level. We would have liked to see the other apartments and how they were set up.

 There was a lot of interesting furniture. Stefano said he had friends in the antique business.

Stefano, our amazing landlord. He lost his partner, Sergio to cancer a few years ago and now runs the whole thing himself. There was a restaurant in what was the original wine cellar with a curved brick ceiling. He cooked dinner three nights a week, a set menu and you ate what he cooked that night. We feasted there one night for a fabulous three course dinner for only 20 Euros. He had a huge vegetable garden, which was evident in the meal. He was getting ready for a wedding the next week with 57 guests filling up the whole villa and Stefano doing the cooking. He also gave cooking classes. Quite a guy!

Did I mention that the villa was way up on the top of a hill with a very steep, switch back bumpy dirt road? It was not a ride for the faint of heart. Our car was filthy by the time we left with the dust being kicked up as we rode.

I don't think that this kind of trip would be for everyone, but we had a great time. So I'm home now for a long stretch until we go to Florida in January.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Under the Tuscan Sun

I just got back last Sunday from a fabulous two week trip to Italy. This was a very different trip for us, since we usually do tours when out of the country, but this time we rented a villa in Tuscany, rented a mini-van and toured the wonderful hill towns of central Italy.

There were five of us, Claire, Mickie, Maxine, Ruthie (my sister) and me. Claire was our intrepid driver and she was amazing, traveling those twisty, narrow roads with many a hair-pin curve. She is a great driver with a wonderful sense of direction. I know that I never could have done it.

We took a train from Florence to Venice, where we spent two nights and three days, quite an adventure. But mostly we rode around and found some terrific wineries and restaurants and great little shops.

We visited Florence, one whole day. We had a driver take us there and pick us up. The hill towns that we saw were San Gimignano (try saying that after two glasses of wine), Volterra, Pienza, Sienna, Radda and Montepilciano (another tongue twister).

Of course I took a lot of pictures and I will share some of them here:
PonteVechio in Florence


I thought the sign in this store window was quite amusing. The sign is telling us that these masks are made in Venice and not China. We saw similar signs in other shops. We went in anther store that was lovely and had an amazing array of masks. I had purchased mine the last time I was in Venice, but Claire and Ruthie each picked up a small one.

Beautiful Burano, know for its very colorful buildings. The story goes that the fishermen painted their homes in bright colors so that they could identify them from afar. No glass stores here, but they specialized in beautiful linens and lace. We also went to Murano, famous for their glass. I ordered a light fixture for my new home in Florida. 

St. Mark's square in Venice.

More of the square, a very busy place with many restaurants surrounding it, but very touristy. We did not eat there.

Breathtaking views everywhere when we were on the road. My photos don't begin to do them justice.
This was wine country and those perfectly parallel rows of grape vines were spectacular. If it wasn't grapes then it was olive groves.

We visited a few wineries, so charming.

They happened to be picking that day and Claire couldn't resist  tasting one. Me, too, and they were very sweet.

We were in the Chianti region and this black rooster was their symbol and was seen all over in many variations.

We tried to eat at small out of the way places and were rewarded with many a good meal. I think it's hard to get a bad meal in Italy. We drank a lot of good red wine, usually just a carafe of house red and it was delicious. They add very little sulfates to their wines so you never got a headache or a buzz. 

Cappuccino was part of our daily diet, as was gelato. There seemed to be a Gelateria on every corner of the towns.

Enjoying a cup of our favorite beverage.
Check out the view at this restaurant.

Wild boar was a specialty of the region and I had it twice, both as part of a pasta dish. It was delish. We tried to eat the local food and I had black squid ink pasta with cuttle fish, grilled Bronzini fish, pasta with pumpkin and ricotta. We did eat a fair amount of pasta, but it wasn't what we get here in the states. The sauces were usually very light and not always with tomatoes. Amazingly none of us gained weight. We would have a good breakfast and then about 2:30 we had "linner" (our word for lunch and dinner combo) then back at the villa around 7PM we would have another glass of wine and some crackers and cheese. Did I mention that the cheese was marvelous!

Another reason why we didn't put on the pounds was the WALKING that we did. Those charming hill towns involved a lot of walking and very often up and down very steep hills. First we parked the car at the bottom of the town in big parking lots. No cars allowed in town except for residents. Then we would hike up to the town and within the town there was more walking and more hills. Made for good calorie burning.

Oh how I lusted over the Italian pottery! So many pretty designs, shapes and colors. I wanted it all, but I demonstrated great restraint and only bought one coffee mug from this collection. It is hand painted and signed by the artist and should play very happily with my other blue and white mugs.

I will come back tomorrow or the next day and show you some pix of the villa.