Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Neiman Marcus Bars

When two or three of my sisters get together, there's bound to be some talk about food.  We can't seem to help ourselves.  I think it's in the water, but if we consumed just water we would all be just a tad over in poundage.  But what the heck? right?  We love life and each other.  No complaining about having lots to love.

Want to know the reason there's lots to love? Neiman Marcus Bars are one.  I'm not posting a photo of the pan of bars we made. (Sid is the one who made them, but we are sharing credit since she used my stove).  The reason is that there is no photo.  They were so good, they didn't last long enough for a photo.

Sid's plan is to use the same recipe but to substitute chocolate cake mix for yellow.  I'll let you know how that turns out.  Don't expect anything negative, however, since we like chocolate.

I do have a recipe.  And since you were about to ask, I'll just post it here.  Enjoy!

Neiman Marcus Bars
1 box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick butter or margarine

1 block cream cheese
2 eggs
pound of powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla
handful of chopped pecans 

Mix in a bowl and spread in a 9 X 13 pan.  It's really thick, like play doh consistency, so plan to use your hands.

Mix the topping ingredients together and pour on top of the cake mix.  Spread to edges of pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.  Cool and cut into bars.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Moby Dick

I spent the evening watching the Encore Channel's version of Moby Dick.  I read the entire book while a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette several years ago.  In fact, I took a class on Melville and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the fact that Melville is a difficult author to read, quite long-winded and writes about stuff I normally am not interested in--the sea, survival, isolation.

I'd love to recommend his works but the truth is it's not light reading.  Moby Dick would be a great read for anyone who enjoys reading (lots of reading) and also enjoys the outdoors.  I admit readily that had it not been for the class I was taking at the time, I would never have chosen this epic novel for myself.  In the end I am quite glad I did push myself through the book.

On that note, I'll leave you with my favorite quote from the book and some art that I found online.  If this quote is spoken in the movie, I can't say as it was difficult to understand the sailor speech at times.
painting, White Whale with Harpoons, Richard Ellis, 1984
Product Details

"How is it I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends.  Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

English Grader

Wonder what English teachers do when they're not in school?  Grade essays.  It becomes a burden, believe me, trying to decipher what students say in their papers.  Sometimes our job is to decipher what they wanted to say, or meant to say, or should have said.

I have three classes and their papers were due Friday.  That's about 38 essays to read and decipher, which really isn't much, but getting through them quickly is impossible.  To reward myself for getting through a few, I did a little window shopping on Etsy.  I find that I'm often inspired by the wall art I find on Etsy, so I decided to enjoy some of my favorite pieces and find a few more that I can heart.
BINARY Rusted Steel 20 X 30 Wall Art
Vintage Summer, 5x5 fine art photography print
Cottage Light Studio

Metal Wall Art Abstract Decor Contemporary Modern Sculpture Hanging

Three Layer Star Burst Contemporary Metal Wall Art by L Devall W-804
Wall Art Peacock feather blue purple lilac 18 x 16  inches  wall decor wall hanging  retro contemporary modern print design  wall hanging canvases fabric wall decor
Don't they inspire you?  I love to look at and take in other artists' work.  
I find so many elements that I just want to replicate in fabric.  
Can't you see a quilt in each one?
Where do you go to get inspired?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Saturday Shopping Spree

My sister Sid is staying with us until the closing of her house in Natchitoches.  In the meantime she's bored and needs some furniture since her furniture is in storage in another state while her husband is overseas.  For the last few weekends we've been going to antique shops, a flea market, and few other places.  There are still a few to go if we're to hit most of the places in the state, and I have a feeling that's her goal!

The funny thing is that she looks and I buy.  I know, it's backwards!  We go shopping for her house, and I buy stuff for mine.  She's very particular and wants things that will fit into her 1950's style artsy house, and I'm anything but particular so if I like it, it gets to come home and join my eclectic combination of odds and ends.

Getting any sewing done is almost impossible, however.  Between work and play, I've had to stick to small projects.  One small project I have worked on is a new purse for myself.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased this lovely yellow  Mill Creek drapery fabric with a coordinating plaid silk for just this purpose.  I've been using the same red purse for about two years now, so it really was time to find something.  My problem is that I'm as particular about purses as Sid is about furniture.

I based the bag on one I've had for a while and another that I just bought for carrying my lunches to work.  Since I used the purse on today's excursion, I can report that it's a good design.  If there's one thing I would have done differently it's that I'd have added a closure.  I meant to do that and have a magnetic snap somewhere in the studio, but I simply forgot to put it in.  Now that it's all closed up, adding the snap would be difficult, so I'm thinking about putting in a different closure.  We'll see.
Tonight after our excursion, I stole a few minutes and ran into the studio to add two little accessories to the bag.  A small bag shaped like a coin purse but a bit larger to put all those little things that I like in my purse but do not like them flopping around in the bottom: lens cleaner, lipstick, hand cleaner, nail clippers, etc.
I have to keep a calendar in my purse so that it is where I am when I need it.  I decided to make it match the bag by slipping it into a neat little book cover made to fit.
I added a ribbon bookmark so that finding the correct month is easy.  To help keep the paper clean and dry, I've made the cover large enough to slip the plastic cover into it with the calendar inside.  Turns out it works very well.

I have plans to make three more items: a bag for my rosary, a wallet for holding business cards,  and another to hold all the items in my regular wallet, except the coins.  I haven't decided what to do about coin money.  I really don't like to carry coins because they add weight so quickly.  I guess I'll figure it as I go along.  If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  Tell me what you do to carry coins?  Do you find them heavy as I do?  How do you manage or organize all the things in your bag?  Please do share!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blue Bird on my shoulder makes me happy

About a week or so ago, a package arrived at our back door.  Yes, Accuquilt came through!  I'd been waiting on this particular package for a while because the dies were on back order.

Three little birds and a pair of flower petals--how appropriate is that?  So, this afternoon I finally opened the plastic cover on the birdies.  I found a pretty little piece of teal blue and a soft yellow plaid.  A few minutes of pressing on some heavy Heat and Bond and we were ready for the Studio Cutter to do it magic.

And magic it was!  Check out these cute little birds.

None of these are pressed down because I haven't decided what I'm going to do with them.  I'm thinking of making a small quilt for AAQI using either these three or

a pair of love birds.  Because I love the idea of love birds, I decided to make another pair using the small birds.
What do you think?  Aren't they darling?  What would you do with either pair of love birds?  Do they need a nest or what?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thank You and New Items

First, I'd like to give a very special thank you to Dana at Lambs and Ivy Designs for the sweet feature on her blog last week.  She really made me look professional....yes, she achieved that huge accomplishment.  And here I thought it impossible!  If you missed her article, you can find it on her blog here.

Next, although he'd have a fit if he knew, I'm going to tell you what a darling my husband is.  He has been painting the floor of the studio.  This, after adding on over the summer before his neck surgery.  In addition, he finished the painting the walls after his surgery, then raced to get the floors done before having another surgery on his hand for carpel tunnel.  His surgery was yesterday and he's doing very well.

Now that the painting's done, I've been able to get back in and start putting things away.  One of the problems I have is that there's just too much stuff!  Yes, I admit it.  So in an effort to get rid of some of the stuff, I'm listing many of the vintage patterns that I've collected on Etsy.  

It would be difficult to try to get rid of some of the other things I have, but these are patterns that I really can't use and keeping them is doing no good.
I'm hoping that someone will purchase them and use them so that they won't continue to just sit around collecting dust.  And finally, I really am tired of going through all the patterns I have when I need a particular one.  I've been pretty good at keeping them organized, but well, an organizing system is only as good as the person using it, and I'm only pretty good.  

So when I want ONE particular pattern and it can't be found.  I have to rummage through ALL of them.  There are a few.  Not that I'm the one who purchased them all.  People give me sewing stuff.  Sometimes it's useful stuff, sometimes not.  But I am such a dutiful, kind daughter and in my dutiful, polite way, I accept it all.  Then I have to figure out what to do with it.    

What have you been doing with patterns you really don't need to keep?  Goodwill, yard sales, recycling?  Those are all good options, but I'm hoping that Etsy is the answer for me.  Of course when I searched Etsy for "sewing patterns," it responded with  "77,916 items for sewing patterns."  The problem might be an overload, but I'll try anyway!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Antiquing Treasures

I haven't written much about the dishes that I collect, but I acquired a few more for that collection, so I thought it time to tell you a little about them.  Years ago, when my grandmother passed away, my mom gave me a few dishes and platters that had spent their lives in Ma-ma's small kitchen cabinet.  Most Louisiana kitchens of the time had few cabinets for storing dishes.  As a result, there were free-standing cabinets or pie safes with screen or glass front doors on top, a drawer or two in the center and wooden doors on the bottom.  My grandmother stored canned goods on the bottom, all manner of things in the small drawers, and her "pretty" dishes behind the glass doors.  
I have no idea what became of the cabinet, but her "Blue Willow" dishes went to my sister Angie and the dishes with roses came to me.  Because there was not one specific pattern, and I liked them all, I decided to add to her collection by simply collecting dishes with roses, mostly pink or red, but I do have a few yellow roses mixed in.  The majority of these dishes are older, vintage dishes from the years of my childhood, but there are a few that I purchased simply because I like them despite that they are very modern.

Since we had the opportunity to go antiquing in Washington (Louisiana) with Angie and Sid over the weekend, Richard and I decided that we would purchase one or two dishes to add to my collection.  We've done this before and it's proven a great way to add to my small collection without breaking the bank while also giving us something to shop for.
We found a few pieces at the first store and I seriously considered them, but we still had a few stores to visit.  I put off making my decision until I had the chance to see what the other stores offered and to see the price range of a few dishes.  

But at the second store I found this plate, and "it was on!' as my children say.  Sid tried to convince me that we still had lots more shopping to do and reminded me that I had not been to the largest place, but I would hear none of it.  

First, it fit exactly what I had been thinking of with the beautiful pink and red roses.  Most of my plates have one color although some have the same rose in different stages or sizes.  Secondly, and more importantly to me, this plate has ribbon holes.  I'm sure that there's a better term for the slots that are meant for ribbon to be woven through but I don't know the term.  I have been looking for a reasonably priced vintage ribbon plate for years.  The few I have found have been extremely high in price and I've had to pass each time.  Although the plate is a little steep for my wallet at $48, I could not put it down.  

Richard agreed that I should get the plate, even though he had no idea why I wanted it so badly and he had already decided to purchase the antique sewing machine we found at the first store.  The poor guy really didn't have much choice since he wanted to surprise me with the machine.

We ate a delicious lunch at Cafe Opera right in downtown Washington and were off to the Schoolhouse Antique Market, which is set up flea market style with many vendors in one building.  This building is the old Washington High School, which is a two story building with every little nook and hallway filled to the brim with antiques.  Don't stop though, there's still the gym, including the stage areas, also filled.  

Well, guess what, this bowl was at one of the vendor booths in the main building and a perfect match to the plate I'd purchased earlier.  The difference between the two?  The ribbon slots.  The bowl has two rows of slots, one exactly like those in the plate and another for a much smaller ribbon on the edge.  But take a close look and you'll see that the edges are different as well.  The bowl has a very curvy edge while the plate edge is divided into ten straight lines.  The roses, however, are exactly the same and both have the gold edging.  

I got one other surprise while on our little outing, but you'll have to wait till tomorrow to meet that and hear it's story. 

Isn't this a great story?  Won't my grandchildren want to know why or how I acquired these beautiful items?  I surely hope so.

 I love to hear stories that tell about both the items in the story and the person who collects those items.  And that brings us to you--tell us what you collect and what inspired you to begin your collection.  How do you add to your collection?   How do you display your collection?  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Old Baby!

Today we decided to go antiquing with two of my sisters.  What a great way to spend a Saturday!  We really enjoyed each others' company, the beautiful furniture and the dishes.  I actually said I had seen enough dishes with roses on them for the day.  That was before my last find!  I'll show post pictures of those finds on a later post.  This post is about my new little baby.  Check this out:
I know exactly nothing about this precious little machine, except that I now own it!  I'm so excited to find out more about it.  It's a hand crank but has the necessary hardware to put it on a treadle table.
It came with this cover.  Well, here I show the top of the box. It's basically a wooden box with no bottom.  It fits over the machine and locks onto the wooden frame, which is really just a board larger than the machine.  There are inlaid designs in both the top and the frame.
Check out the pretty little scroll designs that are all over the cast iron frame.  Many of the parts are rusty, but the machine does turn and all the moving parts do move.
 This is the underneath of the machine with a little of the wooden bottom showing.

The center part of the machine, showing a bit of the detailing.  There are so many little details that it would take several more pictures to do it justice.  I'm not that great a photographer so I'm thrilled to have these photos somewhat in focus.

The little plate gives the possible stitches per inch.  No where on the machine or on the wooden parts is there a name of any kind.  In fact this plate is the only thing with writing and really there's none.

I'm hopeful that this little bird will be a clue to the brand and mfg. date.  I'm planning to post these pics on the Quilting Board in the hopes that someone who deals with or collects antique machines can give me some info on this one.  I'll keep you posted as I discover information.  What do you think?  Isn't it just darling?  Richard and I looked at it but, when the shop owner gave us a price, I walked away.  Richard kept going back to the machine and talking to the guy, but the price was pretty firm.  Eventually Rich purchased the machine but didn't say anything until we got home.  I was so surprised and thrilled!  Isn't he just the sweetest?  Of course, had I known that he bought the machine, I might have kept my hands off the other items!

I've been interested in antique machines for a long time now.  Share your antique machine story.  Are you lucky enough to have one?  What's the brand and date?  Do you use it?  Leave a comment.  You know I love to hear from you!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Etsy Shop Profile: Mary C. Nasser

Blue Ridge Parkway 12, mixed-media/encaustic on canvas
As a member of the Etsy Blog Team, I recently had the opportunity to meet Mary C. Nasser, who is the brilliant mind behind some gorgeous paintings.  You can go straight to her Etsy shop by clicking here.

1. Where/when did you learn to create such stunning art? I earned my Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art: Painting from Michigan State University. During my graduate studies, I also studied Medieval Art History abroad in London, England, and attended a monotype workshop in Mexico City. 

2. What are some of your favorite pieces? Which are the most popular?  I am really enjoying my new goal of creating one painting a week until the end of the year! All of these paintings are inspired by my experience on the Big Island of Hawaii and the dramatic volcanic landscapes which compose the island.

3. How would you describe your creative process?  All of my art is inspired by nature: specifically, landscapes and geology. My love of landscape is revealed in mixed media paintings layered with maps and scientific illustrations. I study physical geology and the interconnectedness between surface and subterranean landscapes: exploring the relationships between developments underground and the evolution of the landscape that takes place on the surface – borrowing images from geological diagrams of land formations to incorporate into my paintings. I am captivated by the idea that geological shifts and transformations seem to parallel both individuals and their relationships: continually changing, varying, shifting and developing, too. 

4. Where are some of the places your artwork gets to call home?  My art is at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, and in private collections in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon, Texas, Germany!

5. I"ve read that you've had wonderful opportunities to study abroad and to study unusual subjects that most artists don't have. How has this influenced your art and the way you see your art?  In 2007, I spent time living and painting in the southwest, examining desert landscapes, where the combination of aridity and erosion exposed the earth’s composition, structure, and layers, the relationships between them, and the deep time they represent. After visiting extinct volcanoes in New Mexico, I longed to see active volcanoes. As a result, I embarked on a residency at Red Cinder Creativity Center in 2008, located between the active and accessible volcanoes Kilauea and Mauna Loa, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Immersed in twelve of the world’s thirteen climate zones, I experienced and studied the various landscapes and dynamic geology of the island. I had the unique opportunities of watching landscape being created and standing on the newest land on earth: landscape created by lava hardening into rock, which, in time, will transform into soil where plants will sprout and grow. Consequently, the dramatic volcanic landscapes continue to inform and influence my work.

6. Is there anything else you'd like others to know about yourself or your shop?  Besides painting, I love traveling, hiking, biking, dancing, studying geology, gardening, writing, posting to my art blog, and spending time with my husband and our 2 senior citizen dogs.  Check out my blog at www.marycnasser.com/blog.html to learn more about my work and me!

Can you see why I'm enamored with her art?  Having visited many of the places that her art depicts, I feel a strong attachment to the pieces, as though they speak to me, sort of the way fabric speaks to me.  I see the places we've visited when I look at her paintings, and many of the memories of our family vacations come flooding back.  What more could art hope to do?  Do you also see these places?  If you've not had the opportunity to visit them, doesn't her work draw you in and make you want to visit?  Add to this, she has begun creating works that have a modern, fun feel to them.  Just take a look at the one below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Latest Read

Kathleen Benner Duble's novel, The Sacrifice, about a young girl living in 1692 Andover, Massachusetts, is a gripping read told from the point of view of ten year old Abigail Faulkner.  Witches have been accused in Salem Village and the fear finds its way to Abigail's town and family.  After Abigail and her sister are accused of witchcraft by the maid, she endures the hardships of life in prison where inhumane conditions take the lives of several prisoners including Abby's beloved Aunt Elizabeth.
Photo from Books A Million website

Duble's question throughout the novel is what is one willing to sacrifice for those we love?  When Duble's father discovered that their ancestors lived in Andover during the Salem Witch Trials, she became enthralled with learning more about their story.  What she discovered through research became the story of The Sacrifice.

Descriptions of the family, their life and their tribulations are vivid and accurate.  Duble describes the young accusers in great detail leaving no doubt where the family stands in the chaos.  Their stance, however, makes life even more dangerous as they try to survive through the months of terror, adversity, and ignorance.

What's your current or most recent read?  Share with us what you think of the book.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Quilt Anarchy

Sometimes things just work out to my advantage.  Yesterday was my day.  Although there were other successes, the one I'm happiest with is the instant gratification stop my sister, Sid, had to make next door to Hancock Fabrics.  Now she knows me well enough to know that I wasn't going to have that business of sitting in the car while she ducked into Office Depot.  The idea is unzipped insanity!
Needless to say, my last words to her were, "I'll be in Hancocks when you're done.  Come meet me."  
Now, honestly, doesn't this make way more sense than sitting in a hot car waiting for someone wondering what kind of goodies were being missed?  I mean, really, the girl is not a quilter, but she was raised with some sense, I thought at least.
And then, in case you think that I am judging too harshly, she waltzed into the store and told me I had to choose between the fat quarters above and these below.
I'm her elder by three years, and since one is supposed to respect her elders, I thought I'd teach her a sound lesson by picking up these:
In the end, Sid's insanity was waylaid, I made my purchases, and we were on our way.  Rest assured that there will be no more of this flaky sensibility.  The girl may be loved, but she's not safeguarded from the comeuppance of such blasphemy. 
Who in her right mind would leave such luscious cotton?  I'm seeing beautiful scarves from the little packet--the ones I really like to make with beading on the edges.
Is it supposed to be MY fault that the prettiest color happens to come with friends attached, all tied up in a little ribbon?  How could that be?  And since one silly girl needed a lesson on quilting methodology and respect, I was forced to make a much-needed statement.  
I do believe my rant is done.  I'll close with this final visual of the beauty of hand-dyes and these questions:

Did I not make the correct choice? Was it not in defense of quilters everywhere?  Were you forced to choose, would you not make the same choice?