Archive | January 2013

Unexpected treasures….

1860's Civil War Quilt made in Hopkinton, MA

1860’s Civil War Quilt made in Hopkinton, MA

You just never know where you will find a treasure. I have a very friendly relationship with the Postmaster at the nearby Post Office. It is a little Post Office that thankfully is not going to close – it is only having its hours cut. It is amazing how much people in little towns depend upon their PO’s. It is sort of like the village center – especially when you live in areas that are full of people in the summer and little bit empty in winter. That is in no way a complaint! We have a wonderful little community here in Biddeford Pool, we have an active community club that has loads of activities all winter long to keep us all in touch. No Cabin Fever here.

But I digress….back to the topic of this post.  A Civil War quilt from the 1860’s!!!!!  Terry – the Postmaster – brought this amazing record of American History for me to see today.  It was made by someone in his family in the Boston area in commemoration of the soldiers in the war.  It seems to have been made by one person.  All of the names and towns appear to be written by the same person.

Boston, MA

Boston, MA

close up of signatures

close up of signatures

Stars in the corner

Stars in the corner

tells where the man was killed

tells where the man was killed

The quilt doesn’t have any batting in it.  It has been very lightly quilted and it clearly has been well taken care of because it is in remarkable condition.  It is stored properly in a archival box wrapped with acid free paper.

I am amazed by this quilt – I don’t know very much about it but I am thrilled that Terry shared it with me.  I of course, would love to have spent hours looking at it.  I would love to know about the maker of the quilter and her history, why she felt compelled to make this quilt.  Was it a quilt made by a group or just a single person?  So many unanswered questions.  It such a wonderful treat to see this quilt up close and comfortable.  Thank you Terry.

This is part of the reason that we quilters quilt.  To leave something behind, to be creative, to keep our families and friends warm with something substantial and creative, something from our hearts and hands.  Quilts remember when the maker is long gone.  They hold the memories of happiness and tragedy, of new beginnings and lost loves.  Quilters quilt when they are happy, when they are mourning, when they are expecting new things in their lives.  Most quilters these days quilt as a creative outlet – years ago many women quilted out of necessity.  They needed to keep their loved ones warm.  No matter the reason it is wonderful to see a quilt that has documented a very sad time in our nation’s history and is still here to remind us of it.

Be Kind…..

Faith

GRACIE…

 

Sweet Baby Sept 2008

Sweet Baby Sept 2008

 

 

Oh how we love our pets – some of us go over the top but my feeling is that our pets become part of the family.  Gracie had me at Hello, she fell asleep in my arms in the car after we picked her up at Puddleduck Retrievers and I was done.  Love at first sight puppy breathe and all.  Gracie is a Chocolate Lab and we have all heard horror stories about Chocolate Labs.  None of them are true of Gracie, she is smart, calm and above all sweet.  Gracie has not caused us one moment of stress since we brought her home.  Until Saturday.

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I was all packed up getting ready to spend the day making pillowcases for the Battered Woman’s Shelter in York County.  Sewing machine, scissors, iron, lunch and a snack all loaded in the car, time to take a shower and get moving. Gracie always comes upstairs when I am getting ready to go out, she is trying to figure out whether or not she is coming me, she seems to be able to judge by the clothes that I am wearing what her chances for a ride in the car are.IMG_0921

 

I heard a strange noise and turned to see her having what appeared to be a seizure.  It was very disturbing – I dropped to the floor and tried to still her.  The trembling did not lessen in fact it seemed to intensify.  Chuck was in the basement – in my biggest booming voice, I called him to come quickly.  I didn’t dare mention at this point that I was concerned for Gracie – that would have scared him too much.  We quickly came to the conclusion that we needed to get her to the Vet.  Gracie was unable to walk, Chuck had to carry her to the car.  We were very frightened!  First we brought her to our regular Vet who thankfully has Saturday hours and then unto the Emergency Vet.

 

 

Gracie had to spend the night in Hospital. They were monitoring her for more seizure activity.  There are still a lot of questions.  Did Gracie actually have a seizure?  What caused the seizure?  Was it something she ate?  Is it the onset of Idiopathic Epilepsy?  The Vet did blood work so that we know it was not caused by a metabolic disease.

Happy dog! Christmas 2012

Happy dog! Christmas 2012

Gracie did not have another seizure.  We were able to pick her up late Sunday morning.  We still do not have a confirmed explanation for the seizure.  If she continues to have seizures we will do more tests, to get confirmation of Epilepsy we need to have an MRI and a spinal fluid analysis.  These tests will cost almost $2000.  If the seizures continue we will have these tests done.  Thankfully Gracie has been seizure free since 10 am Saturday morning.

 

We love our dog in a way similar to the way we love our family.  We have committed to taking care of them and to giving them the best life we can.  They bring us endless joy, they make us laugh, they comfort us and they always seem to know when we need an extra bit of affection.  Gracie seems like the same wonderful dog, companion that she has been since the day we brought her into our family.  Hopefully the seizure was a fluke and she will be seizure free for the rest of her wonderful life.  We will watch her carefully and get her the medical attention that she needs, hopefully it will not be needed.IMG_0397

Gracie brings joy into our life she is a sweet, gentle, smart little dog.  We will continue to give her the same joy.

 

Be Kind….

Faith

Oh Baby it’s Cold Outside…..

Brrr – When I got up this morning it was 1 degree outside.  It is currently 4 degrees – wow what a warm up.  It hasn’t been this cold in Maine in years – I believe the weather man said this morning that the last time it was this cold was 2000.  Thirteen years is a really long time for mild weather.  Don’t panic this is not a post about Global Warming.  It is more a post about past memories of cold weather and snow.

When our children were born we lived in the Town of Westerlo.  It is a small town in upstate NY in the beautiful Helderberg Mountains.  It is the southwest corner of Albany county but it is a world away from most of the county.  It  is just high enough in elevation to make it snow when it is raining in Albany.  It is always a little bit colder “in the Hilltowns” than it is off the hill.  When our children were little we would guess how cold it would be when we pulled into the driveway.  You would have to have your guess in before we started up the hill.  Very often the change in temperature could be as much as 5 degrees.

First house - Westerlo, NY 1986

First house – Westerlo, NY 1986

This is the house that we lived in.  It was built about 1856.  It was a lovely home and I miss it.  We have many very happy memories of family times and parties in this house.

I used to love it when it snowed – I actually still do.  I like to make some comfort food – chicken pot pie, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, pot roast, just to name a few.  A pot of soup or chili are always good choices on snowy days.

Charles 20 months old

Charles 20 months old

This is picture of Charles when he was about 20 months old.

He loved being pulled around the yard in his sled.  He was one cool dude with his shades on.  I used to love kissing those cold rosy cheeks!  Memories are wonderful.

Elizabeth 2 years old

Elizabeth 2 years old

As you can see in these pictures my little darlings were all bundled up for the snow.

Charles 3 years old

Charles 3 years old

They were probably outside for about 30 minutes before complaining that they were cold.  I am sure that Daddy had something to do with the building of the snowman.

Snowman winter 1991

Snowman winter 1991

We don’t have snow like that any more.  Of course a big part of that is where we live.  Some years we have alot of snow and other years like 2012 we have no snow.  Right now we have cold but not alot of snow.

So if you go outside – bundle up and be sure you have a big cup of hot chocolate or tea waiting for you when you come inside.

Enjoy  – this too shall pass.  In July and August we will be complaining about how hot it is.

Be Kind…

Faith

Braised Beef Short Ribs…

 

 

It is a warm, windy day today…. but tomorrow it is supposed to be very cold.  Joe this recipe is for you.  Let me know how you like it.

Lots of playoff football on later today, and my dinner is simmering on the stove.  It is a wonderful pot of Braised Beef Short Ribs.  It is a variation of a Mario Batali recipe from his Molto Italiano cookbook.  I love his cookbooks and use his recipes or a variation of his recipes a lot.

This recipe starts with a Basic Tomato Sauce.  I use this sauce for a multitude of different meals.  I use it for Eggplant or Chicken Parmigiano; I use it as my go to marinara sauce.  It is easy quick and delicious and I always have the ingredients.

IMG_2348Basic Tomato Sauce:

¼ cup olive oil

1 Spanish onion, ¼” dice

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme

½ medium carrot, finely shredded

2 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes – I prefer San Marzano tomatoes

Salt

  1. In a 3 qt. saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, cook until soft and light golden.  And thyme and carrot and cook until tender
  2. Add tomatoes, with juices – (I crush them with my fingers prior to adding) Bring to boil and then simmer for 30 mins.
  3. Season with salt.IMG_2351

 

 

Be careful when you shred the carrots – watch out for your knuckles, I tend to shred mine.  Ouch!  Whenever I read to slice garlic thinly I think of the movie Good Fellows where they slice the garlic with a razor.  No need to slice it that thinly but the thinner the better because it will practically dissolve in the sauce.

 

The next step is the ribs… These are wonderful and easy to make.

Braised Beef Short Ribs:

6 tablespoons olive oil

4-5 lbs. beef short ribs bone inIMG_2353

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large Spanish onions ½” dice

1 medium carrot ½” slice

2 ribs celery ½” slice

4 oz. diced pancetta

2 cups dry red wine – I used a Malbec this time

2 cups of the Basic Tomato sauce above

 

  1. In a large Dutch oven heat oil over high heat until smoking. Season meat with salt and pepper.  Working in batches brown all the meat until dark golden brown – 10-12 mins. per batch.  Transfer to platter and set aside.
  2. Pour excess oil out of pan.  IMG_2354Add sliced and dice veggies and pancetta and cook until tender.
  3. And wine and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil.IMG_2357
  4. Add meat and bring back to boil. Cover and cook until meat is tender – 4-5 hours.  Transfer to platter.
  5. Bring cooking liquid to a boil and reduce to 2 ½ cups.  Season with salt and pepper and pour over meat.  Serve immediately.

 

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I am serving this with Roasted Garlic mashed potatoes, a salad and warm crusty bread, and of course the rest of the Malbec that I used to braise the meat.IMG_2356

 

Enjoy the football games and what ever delicious meal you are making.

Be Kind….

Faith

Chicken Barley Soup –

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What a beautiful morning it is here today!!  It is a bit chilly but the sun is shining so brightly and the snow is so pristine.  The perfect day for a big bowl of soup and piece of homemade bread.

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Chuck was out of town last night and I hate to have a driveway covered with snow – so I dragged the snowblower out and got the driveway and sidewalk cleaned up.  Thank goodness the snowblower is self propelled, it is so heavy that I never would be able to push it around with out that feature.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Barley Soup

Chicken Barley Soup

 

Chicken Barley Soup

4 bone in Chicken Breast

1 large onion – chopped

2-3 large carrots peeled and sliced

2 stalks of celery – diced

2 cups baby spinach rinsed and chopped

1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes crushed in your hands

2 quarts Swanson Chicken Broth

2 cloves garlic minced

2 cans Small white beans – optional

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 ½ cup pearl barley – rinsed

olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees –

Coat Chicken breast with olive oil – sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Place in roasting pan skin side up and roast for 45 mins or until done.

Heat oil in large stock pot – add onions, celery and garlic.  Cook until soft.  Be careful to not let the garlic burn – it will get very bitter.

Add carrots – sauté until they are softened

Add chicken broth, both cans of tomatoes, chopped spinach.

Once the chicken is cooked – let it cool a bit then cut it off the bone and dice into 1” pieces.  You can also shred it if you prefer shredded chicken in your soup.

Add barley – bring to boil.  You made need to add a bit more broth or water after barley is cooked – it absorbs a lot of the liquid.

Add rinsed beans and chopped parsley.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.

ENJOY!

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Winter is so beautiful!  I love the snow on the tree limbs.

 

Enjoy the view from your window if you are somewhere that is covered in snow.  The view from my window is sparkling.  Stay warm.

Be kind…..

Faith

 

EASY STREET almost done..

Gracie likes it!

Gracie likes it!

 

EASY STREET Almost done…..

I have to say that I have really enjoyed this Mystery Challenge and I will look forward to next November when we can start another one. I am truly amazed that I have almost completed a quilt top in less than 2 months during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Of course I have been a woman with a mission! I wanted to be able to link up to Bonnie’s Easy Street Page http://www.quiltville.blogspot.com/p/easy-street-mystery.html every week so that meant that I had to keep up. That is a pretty good motivator. Plus I couldn’t wait to see and start the next step. Bonnie did a fabulous job keeping us all guessing.

It will fit this bed perfectly!

It will fit this bed perfectly!

I went to a LQS yesterday – http://www.sanfordsewing.com/. There was a 25% off sale on ALL fabrics so I splurged and bought some for the borders, binding and backing. I didn’t really have any good choices in my stash for the backing – I am still deciding on the borders.  These are the fabrics that I bought for the borders.  I love them and they may work beautifully but I am still deciding.

border fabrics

border fabrics

I will use the fabrics that I bought one way or another because I love them. I have found that it is fun to take pictures of the edge of the quilt with different choices of borders. It makes the quilt look so different to see it through the lens of a camera.

border fabric audition

border fabric audition

Thank you Bonnie Hunter http://www.quiltville.blogspot.com/ for sharing all of your wonderful talents, for sharing this fabulous quilt with us all. I am definitely going to be making this quilt again with different colors. The stars in this quilt are just screaming at me to be made in Christmas colors, who knows, someone may get it as a present next year.

 

I will be putting the borders on this weekend and bringing it to my longarm quilter next week. I can’t wait to see it completed. This has been a wonderful learning experience for this quilter.

 

Keep pushing your imagination – keep trying new things.  I have been quilting for over 30 years and I have never made a quilt that is this “Funky” before.  It has stretched my use of colors and taught me several new, quicker techniques.  So you can teach this “oldish” dog new tricks.  Remember to have fun and sometimes just let it fly!

Be Kind….

Faith

The New Year…..

So it is January 2013. I don’t know about you but I am having a difficult time figuring out where 2012 went. Phew that was a fast year. For me it was a good year. I got alot of quilty things completed. I designed and made a wallhanging without using a pattern. It was great fun and it was very satisfying to look at a quilt and know that I had created it start to finish. No patterns, no one elses idea just changed to suit yourself, just a quilt made from your own imagination. I think that as artists and quilters we need to trust ourselves more often. Take a risk, go with your gut and let it fly.

This is a picture of the work in progress.

in the garden

in the garden

I assembled the background by paper piecing different log cabin blocks.  The blocks were 6 1/2″ with a 6″ finished size. My vision was to have it look like a landscape.  The top is the sky and the bottom is the ground.  I am very happy with the way it turned out.  The stems are biased cut  tubes that I first stitched down on the machine then flipped and hand appliqued down.  Some of the flowers are English Paper Pieced grandmothers flowers – they were hand pieced and the hand appliqued onto the top.  The rest of the flowers are yo-yo’s, which are then hand appliqued to the top.  The leaves are also hand appliqued to the top.  I really love doing hand work, so this was a lot of fun to work on.

I added the borders – I loved this blue for the border.  It just seems to tie the quilt together.

in the garden

in the garden

 

The back of the quilt was also pieced.  I had gotten all of the members of our quilt group to sign peices of fabric and then I peiced them all together to assemble the back.

 

This was a gift for the out going President of our Quilt Guild.  She is a gardener, she had just finished her quilt studio and I am proud to say that this hangs on the wall of her studio.

 

 

The recipient of the Quilt

The recipient of the Quilt

So go for it – start the new year with a project that you have created yourself.  If you are worried that you will not like it start with a small piece.  Make a pillow or a table runner.  Pull out the fabrics and go for it.  You will be amazed what you can do.

 

The most important thing is to enjoy yourself.  Don’t be your own worst critic – give yourself a break and get rid of the self doubt.

Have a wonderful January day.  The sun is shining here and it is really rather warm.  The perfect day to imagine your garden.

Be Kind…

Faith