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Tuesday, February 23, 2010


She is my latest creation at work. Quite an easy pattern to follow. However I have made many dolls over the years, smaller, more antiqued. So naturally I changed the methods a little. I did use a napkin for her apron. I have been out searching for an embroidered table cloth, or napkins, or cloth tissues. Today my wonderful friend Karen and I went to lunch and then went to four thrift stores and found nothing. I remember a time when they were easy to find. Not today.

Also in the original pattern, Molly is holding a tiny bucket. I knew I would not find one. So I designed this set of roses made from ric rac and felt. Of course, I had to make up a pattern that the store could give out as a free handout.

Molly will become part of a display that focuses on 1930's and 40's fabrics and a book called "A Stitch In Time". You will see more of this soon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

All in it together

When we feel the painful difference we yearn for oneness. Some of us, in trying to make the oneness happen, just make more difference. It is so discouraging to try to make difference turn into oneness. You can't do it. Difference is difference and oneness is oneness. But in the mountains and rivers of the immediate present, difference and oneness are merged...

There is some comfort in this.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pot Roast

Is this not a beauty? I just never thought one single chedron would become such a big part of my life. It is a Lodge of course. Denise gave it to me as a gift and I use it for so much. I should just leave it out on the stove.

Did I tell you that this is what I bake my bread in? My Oregon bread? I have dough rising now which I will bake off sometime time around midnight tomorrow night after having risen over 20 hours total. The rising dome over the dough isn't as high as it should be tonight, but that it because I was talking to D~ just before she left today and I nicked the plastic wrap and I could feel the air coming out. So I had to re-wrap the bowl. But it had no effect on the dough. Still high, still beautiful, like most of us were when we were hippies in the early seventies.

Pot Roast. My first. D~ encouraged me to seek the expert advice of the butchers at our local grocer. I hadn't thought of that because the store is part of a huge chain and I guess I mistakenly thought they would not have a real butcher behind the counter, expecially on a Sunday, and Valentine's day to boot! But when I asked for advice, three showed up and pointed to the expert with such humor and sweetness, I felt well taken care of. So this is what I bought. A Beef Chuck Blade Roast Select. As you can see, it is thin, not some big thick cut. In all the reading I did before cooking this thing, I realized I had some adjusting to do to the recipe.

Actually, I looked for a Pot Roast recipe for a couple of hours. I was not finding anything that had the ingredients I was familiar with from my childhood. Potatoes, carrots, onions. Everything I was finding had wine and weird spices, were cooked in crock pots, microwaves. Green peppers. GREEN PEPPERS!!! I'm sorry. Total mush.

So I finally found a working recipe on I spiced the meat with coarse salt, pepper, paprika and turmeric and browned it on medium high heat in the dutch oven. I was supposed to make a beef broth but I ran out. I always have beef broth. So,I made a broth with tomato paste and soy sauce. 2 cups with bay leaves and I reduced the heat to a slow simmer and put the cover on.

I peeled the carrots and cut them into a good big bite-sized pieces. I used small red potatoes which I washed and just cut those up. I took a large onion and cut that in half lengthwise and wedged it into large pieces. I cooked the meat for an hour. Then I turned it and put in the vegetables for the second hour. The vegetables were cooked but the meat was tough. Very tough. I cut off a small piece and I couldn't chew it. It was like leather.

I removed the vegetables. I had more raw vegetables, so I cut those up like the first batch, and, seeing there was plenty of broth, I simply added them to the pot and cooked the meat for a third hour, hoping that it would be more tender.

Now you have to understand that I am not a meat cooker. I have heard that the longer you cook tough meat the more flaky and sweet it will get. I was really banking on this. Well, when the vegetables were done, my hopes were founded. The meat just fell apart. It was wonderful. I ate a serving immediately. I suppose I could have salted this a little more, but I have a tendency to over salt when I think something needs salt.

This isn't a clear picture, but it certainly was a success. I can do this again. I can honestly say that I was successful with my first pot roast. Even though it was not as salty as I remember pot roast being when I was a child.

I have put some in a container for D~. I will make her bread and hope that she gets here for it all soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Some say I should take the batteries out of my camera when I am not using it. Some say why - if the camera is turned off.


I have to have the worst battery karma in the universe.
I can't keep a battery alive for the life of me. I have had this brand new beautiful camera for how long now? Two months? TWO MONTHS!!! And the batteries are already dead. I have taken what - maybe a hundred pictures? What do people do when they go on trips? Carry around a dozen batteries? Am I crazy here? What the hell am I doing wrong? I never leave it on for longer than I am using it. I take a few pictures and turn it off. I take care of this beautiful thing. So I look around the house and find eight batteries. I don't have a single working battery in this place. There is a date on these batteries that came with the camera. At least it looks like a date. 09-2014. Looks like a date to me. Ach.

Can anyone tell me if there is a battery out there that I can buy that will last me more than a month or two? Anyone? Please?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

THEE Dress

And I did not mis-spell "THEE". This dress which should have taken me perhaps three and a half hours to make, ended up taking over six hours. It began on Monday. I cut the dress from sample fabrics sent to us from Logantex who often send us fabrics as I make them all of their model garments. Logantex is a pretty large fabric provider in the garment business. For the past couple of years or so, when they have a show, I make their exhibit pieces. It's an honor. I love it. I don't get a personal recognition. I just get to brag a little to family and friends.

So I am given a cream crepe and a black crepe. There is a bit of spandex, mostly Polyester and Rayon. It's a nice fabric and is easy to wear for any figure. We have been carrying it for quite some time. I cut the dress and begin the stitching. I begin the back and get the zipper in first. Zippers always go in first. It's just how I make a dress.

Then I put the front of the dress together and go to press it and there it is. The beginning. Right down the front is fold dirt from the fabric having sat around for a long time gathering dirt and dust. So the work stops and I bring the piece home to wash by hand. The label on the bolts on the floor of the store state that the "Crepe Couture", which is the name of the fabric, can be dry cleaned or hand washed.

I used a little Woolite in tepid water. Dried it over night and brought it in today to continue working on the dress. Well, as you can see from the first picture above, The fabric to the left is terribly grey. It appears that the black bleeds onto the cream, turning it quite ugly. So I unstitched the three pieces, re-cut the center, and made a new front. OK.

Then the shoulder pieces go on, and the facings are made and stitched in. I am careful to stitch the facings in a manner that, when the dress is turned, I will have no facings showing on the outside. Nice and smooth. Right? No.

In order to turn the dress through the shoulder facings, the back pieces have to be free. And remember? I already installed the zipper. Merde!!! merde!!! merde!!! So I had to remove the zipper and back seam, press it all, pull it all through, and re-install the zipper and seam. OK. I loathe undoing seams. I am very careful when I am stitching to avoid this. Now I have just about undone every seam I have put in so far. And it doesn't end here!

Alright, it is ready for the side seams and hem. I stitch the first side seam only to realize I have stitched the two front seams together!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~ Is there no end to this?

The dress is done. It looks good. I don't ever want to see it again. As soon as it was done, I turned in the paperwork noting that it should be dry cleaned and why, and that it should be highlighted when the description card is attached to the mannequin on display.

Then I returned to my sewing room and immediately began working on a vintage doll. Yes. There is balance. " For some moments in life, there are no words."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recipe: Brussel Sprouts

This recipe is for shaved brussel sprouts cooked with pancetta. Well, I couldn't find pancetta so I bought a good bacon. The recipe called for 8 oz of pancetta and I had 12 oz of bacon. It called for 2 pounds of brussel sprouts and I bout 2 & 1/2 pounds. I thought it might even out the extra. These are, aside from oil, salt and pepper, the only ingredients. I love sprouts.

It tells you to use a mandoline to shave the broccoli. Well, I have a $300 one, but it is in storage in NH. I bought this little gizmo somewhere here but it slices too small and is just too inadequate. Just.... just awful. What can I say.

So I took out a knife and began to slice away. It took about 1o minutes to get them all sliced.

You want to remove the unruly outer leaves and begin the slice with the smoothest leaf on top facing you. It makes slicing completely neat and quick.

Of course, you can't really see it here, but you don't want to cut too deep into the stem. You want the slices to be about 1/8th inch to 3/16th in thick and loose.

A good knife really helps. This is Chinese and relatively heavy so the knife does all the work. If I had used the mandoline, I would probably still be shaving. But it didn't take long.
This is how the brussel sprouts should look when properly sliced. The bacon should be sliced into 1/4 inch pieces. I took out my dutch oven and heated it on high heat. I threw in a little oil and then the bacon. Not much oil as the bacon makes it's own oil. I cooked the bacon until the pieces became somewhat crisp. Then I lowered the heat added in the sprouts and tossed these completely.

It doesn't take long for them to cook. The slicing makes them delicate and quick to cook. Throw in a little salt and fresh pepper. Next time, I think I will also toss in some tomato paste. I think that might be a wonderful addition.

This is the final dish. You see that the brussel sprouts stay a nice color of green. The bacon adds a nice taste. If you are a fan of sprouts, I think you could substitute pulled pork, or chicken and add tomato paste, or oyster sauce. Hoisin sauce. The sprouts will take on any taste. It is a great vegetable to complement a simple meat. It is not complicated. You could even add corn to this. So versatile. I can see that I will make this often.

Art Event

Trudy, the daughter of Tony who founded our store, Fabric Depot, gave me this pattern and asked if I might make her a bag, something artistic, to wear to an art event that was held last night. She had with her a dark blue silk blouse, a Chinese design, which she planned to wear with a simple black skirt. This tells you right off, that she is not a flamboyant woman. So she was really depending on this piece being quite wonderful but not in a goopy outrageous way with beads dripping off, fuzzy stuff hanging around it, etc, you know what I mean.

So I took her for a little journey to the Bridal department to look at silks. I watched her energy level wax and wane as I pulled out bolt after bolt of silk, trying to see what her fancy was.

This strap is very far fetched from the original pattern design which is actually a covered heavy cording. I had a very tiny piece of China brocade left to work with. Dragon flies on gold satin. The strips ended up being a little less than an inch wide which I stitched to silk taffeta to create the 72" long, 1 & 1/2 inch wide continuous strap. Her blouse is just about the same color as the taffeta.

Often times, working with silk is difficult because it frays so much and when you are using 1/4 inch seams, you have to work fast, precise, and with little handling as possible. And with the dupioni, you often have to topstitch afterwards because it is the worst for raveling. Once all the strips were put together, I ironed on a relatively soft batting to give it some depth. Then I stitched in the ditch as accurately as possible so the stitches didn't show but the indentations were there. The biggest problem with this bag came to be the grommets. In Home Dec, the grommets were way too big, maybe 1 & 1/2 and none of the metals really worked. In our Notions Dept, grommets are small, being maybe 1/2 the large. I'm talking in the hole. But Home Dec did have a 1" grommet, but in plastic. So I asked the Craft Department if they had a paint that might work with the plastic, not just fabric. And, they did called indigo. What a relief. So I painted and hoped that on Friday I could put these on properly. I was very nervous about this part as I was working with two layers of Chirimen silk and a batting. And I have never used plastic grommets. Would they hold? And this piece will go on display afterwords.

Then I began to cover buttons. I did remove the shank of the button so each one would lay flat on the fabric when I attached it. I first glued on bamboo batting onto each half-ball button and cut it 1/16th of an inch larger than the button. Then I covered the buttons which I then stitched onto the purse and surrounded each with beads.

Remember, I could not see Trudy in anything dripping or fly-away. So I was thinking that this was catching, and not too understated. Hoping so. She would come in to the sewing room every day to see the progress. Trudy loved everything about it. She was totally excited and kept hugging me every time we saw each other.

So you see both sides of the bag, one here, one above. Pictures of course don't do it justice. Oh, and I found a dense piece of cardboard which I covered and inserted for the base. I really loathe
slouchy bags. I love a good firm bottom. One of the surprising things I discovered during this project is that we have in the store what is know as "chirimen rayon" It is an exact knowck off of "chirimen silk" which is highly coveted. I own 350 kimono, old, some in great condition, some not, most of them are made of chirimen silk. I occasionally go to ebay and bid on a small piece of this silk. I refuse to pay much. So I never bid high. But there are people out there who bid lots of money for this silk.

This week I am going to pull some patterns and make something for display in the store. I know that it is a secret. Once I make a display, that fabric is going to fly off the shelf. And they are beautiful. Oh my god. I would love to own a piece of each one. I can buy a quarter yard for $3 with my discount~~~

At the very last minute, Trudy called from somewhere in Oregon saying she was on her way and would I make her a shawl. oh my god!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Test

You know something is wrong when, after putting on your shoes, you fall off your heels and your are wearing flats!

I have been bringing my big heavy but gorgeous umbrella to and from work all week and haven't had to use it. Today, I leave it home and it rains.

I have been making bread for my sister for weeks. I finally decide to make a loaf for myself? I have run out of flour.

Oh well, tomorrow will be a better day~~~~

Thursday, February 4, 2010


While looking for the bead reamer, as I had mentioned, I did a little spring cleaning, a little -- weeding out. One of the things I threw out was a card of little hair clips. Brand new, never worn because my hair was too long. My hair was too long. But my hair isn't too long anymore. My hair is short. Right now, I am thinking how wonderful it would be to cover some little buttons with kimono silk and glue them onto little hair clips and wear them in my hair as little ornaments. BUT I CAN'T BECAUSE I THREW THEM OUT WHILE LOOKING FOR THE DAMN BEAD REAMER THAT I FINALLY FOUND AFTER I REPLACED IT WITH A NEW ONE!~~~~~~~~~

Why. Why.