This and that…

I've been on the road teaching at the Virginia Quilt Consortium Celebration 2012. It is a weekend retreat held at the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Center. Lovely ladies in a very nice facility! 

I was too busy to take many photos but I remembered to take this photo of Peggy with her special applique/lap pillow:

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She said that she and her stitch group made these from 5 1/2" squares. Maybe you can figure it out from this photo or, better yet, if you know of the pattern add it to the comments section. It's a nice size, it's cute, and it stays in place.

UPDATE: Claire at Matching Pegs has a tutorial for for her Star Fruit cushion here. It's very good and I appreciate her sharing it with both me and you.

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A new friend and fellow teacher, Lyric Kinard, took the photo below of me with my students at show & tell. Hand applique classes are always good for a chuckle at show and tell because there isn't enough time in a day to sew much to a block. It may not look like it but my students learned a lot!

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You saw Mom's birthday cake from before I left home. Here's Mom blowing out the candles last week. Jack was very interested.

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FYI – Mom's arm is healing well and she and Taz are going to sign up for dog obedience school. Mom is going to learn how to take charge and hopefully the little snert will learn some manners. (Taz being the snert, not Mom!)

I realized I still had some photos on my camera from the week before when I was in San Francisco. I have never seen hen and chicks this size before! Are they still called hen and chicks when they are 12" across?

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And these looked like they had the nose of an elephant!

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I think that's all I've got for today. Jeff and Celia may have found an apartment in NYC. Imagine seeing that view every day!

Last but not least, the extension agent who saw my plants is stumped. And it's worse out there, not better. I am really afraid that I'm going to lose most of my yard full of plants. I have a call in to a landscaper recommended by the nursery I go to. I hate to spray it and find out I treated the wrong thing. It's always something, isn't it?




AAQI 2012 sampler quilt, update…

I'm making progress! Or at least I was before I left home for Virginia. Did you know that I can write posts and schedule them for later posting? It's a handy feature if I have time to work write ahead, which I usually don't. Anyway… I posted the beginning of this quilt on 4/17. Now it looks like this on the wall:

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I've broken my own rule and have started stitching because I'm both out of stitching and on deadline. The house, sky, ground and fence are working. The tree trunks are way too dark. I'm glad I took the photo because it's even more obvious here than on the wall.

The bits off to the right are the windows and doors that I'll be reverse appliqueing and then sewing to the block. The off-white/brown print at the bottom may be the dress on the figure of my grandmother. There are still quite a few pieces to cut but I'm happy with the way it's going!


A question for the gardeners…

UPDATE: After several comments and advice I consulted the county extension agent. He said it was herbicide damage. I didn't think it was but later Steve looked more closely at our yard and our neighbor's yard and he said the same thing. No bugs, no disease – Ms. Neighbor's pre-emergent. The plants are not happy, but I think most of them are going to make it. I'm going to have to replant the zinnia seeds though…

My yard has lots of salvias. All sorts of varieties. From a distance they are looking good…

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…but if you get close you can see that something is bad wrong. Click on the photos and they should open at a larger size.

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The Russian sages aren't blooming yet, but the leaves that were green are curling up and dying.

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Do any of you have a thoughts about what's doing this? I haven't seen any insects. If they are there, they are tiny. I have so many salvias that even if I need to spray them I doubt that I could get to all the leaves. 

I hope that this is something that will go away on its own. If the plants die to the ground but then grow back that would be OK. If this is something that is going to stick around in or on the soil I'm not sure what I'll do. We try to be organic and I'd hate to have to spray a bunch of poison on the yard.


Birthdays are for cake!

Mom is 80 today! I think she's not exactly thrilled at the 80 part but she's very happy to be alive, well, and still able to get out and about on her own. 

I baked the traditional birthday cake for tonight… yellow cake, chocolate frosting.

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This frosting recipe is amazingly tasty and pretty. I got the recipe from an episode of America's Test Kitchen. I'll copy it below in case you, too, need to make a cake! (I will weigh more tomorrow…)

Mom's arm is beginning to heal. She'll have 4 weeks of wound care and hyperbaric treatments. She has to be in a tube for 90 minutes a session, five times a week. The tube is like one you might see in a sci fi movie when a character is in a deep sleep for many years…

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Mom is claustrophobic but she says that this is OK since it's clear and she can see out. There's TV and a it's comfortable. 

Now for a cake-related photo. Remember 'glitter pants Martha'? She's back in a new ad. I call this one 'Cake Stand Martha.'

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I wonder if she was photoshopped onto the cake stand because it's subtly wrong. If she's really sitting on it, shouldn't she be a little bit higher? It's as if her bottom is part of the cake stand. From the waist up it looks like she is standing, holding the small cake and cake stand. The skirt and legs look a bit like they are from a different photo.

Maybe it's just me, but this photo makes me focus not on the cake stands that they are trying to sell, but rather on trying to figure out where her bottom and thighs are. 

That's the news from my house. I'm leaving tomorrow to teach in Virginia the Virginia Quilt Consortium Celebration 2012. I hope there's enough cake left to take one piece with me :-).

 

Foolproof Chocolate Frosting

from the Episode: Everyone's Favorite Cake 

This frosting may be made with milk, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate. For our Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake (see related recipe), we prefer a frosting made with milk chocolate. Cool the chocolate to between 85 and 100 degrees before adding it to the butter mixture. The frosting can be made 3 hours in advance. For longer storage, refrigerate the frosting, covered, and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Makes 3 cups to frost one 9-inch 2-layer cake

20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened (60 to 65 degrees)

1 cup confectioners' sugar (4 ounces)

3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa 

Pinch table salt 

3/4 cup light corn syrup 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

8 ounces milk chocolate , melted and cooled slightly (see note)

 (about 29 Dove Bites)

In food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Frosting can be used immediately or held (see note).


CA flowers…

You know, the iPhone 4G takes a mighty fine photo. These were taken on my morning walk. I love the water drops on the petals.

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The evergreen below was in Mereleen's yard and I took the photo with my Cannon point and shoot camera. I love the way these pine cones break apart – sort of like leaves breaking away from the main cone. The spikes in the lower left corner of the photo used to be full cones. The seeds have broken away, scattered by the wind.

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Passion Flowers…

I worked with a room full of quilters yesterday and today on a block from Passion Flowers. In a 2-day class, we get to spend one day on color and one day on applique stitching techniques. At the end of the second day, most were wishing we had a 3rd day! I know how hard it is for people to find 2 days to spend in a class but I can attest to the fact that more is better.

I love seeing the different color combintations in this sort of class. No one block is like another. the blocks I'm showing below are far enough along for you to get an idea of how the final block will look:

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This is interesting. Merrie has two different colorways going. One works better on the gold background. The other will look good on a different background.

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Pretty cool!

Morning walk along the coast…

I really should check the map before I leave home. As it turns out, the San Francisco quilt guild meets in San Francisco! As Carol drove me past Golden Gate park I realized that I was in the city, not out in the suburbs – if the cities around San Francisco are even called suburbs. I am teaching for two different guilds on this trip so right now am in San Mateo, but this morning I walked on the Coastal Walk and saw the Golden Gate bridge.

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I stayed at the Seal Rock Inn and I think this is the 'seal rock' of the same name…

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I walked up and down stairs…

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I took pictures of some cool plants. Many I recognized, but can't grow at home. This looked like a dandelion on serious steroids and I don't think I'd want to see it in my yard – but it was eye-catching.

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I hope to post again tomorrow. Now it's off to dinner and then to the Penninsula Quilters guild meeting.