It looks simple. It is simple. But it is all I need to accomplish the work I do at the store. Finally. I have been complaining for over two years about how horrible the machine is that I have been working with. Horrible button holes. Almost every time I would begin to sew the thread would pull up and I would have to re-thread the needle. How annoying and always worthy of a swear word in two languages. A startled beginning that would inevitably create a pull so heavy on the thread that it would turn violently around the stem and the thread would wind around the stem and if I didn't notice, eventually I would end up with a pulling mass on whatever I was working. Swear, swear swear. No matter what I did, never a perfect tension. Ad nauseum. I have been leaving hints to the powers that be for years. "Oh, Pauline, that is exquisite!" Thank you, I would reply, swearing in my spirit. Amazing being with the machine I have to work with~~~ But over and over again, nothing was done.
Then, on Tuesday, talking to my sewing student Shelley, who manages Montavilla Sewing Center who provided us with this machine, I was telling her how I have been trying to get my office to allow me to get a newer machine. She looked surprised and then declared that it had nothing really to do with them. All I had to do was to go into the store and pick out whatever I wanted and they would swap it out. My current machine was no longer even made !
I love Montavilla. They are so patient with me and so helpful. I have taken my frustrations to them over the years and they have always been able to come up with solutions to my dilemmas. Most of the time it has been something to do with the impossibilities and limitations of the machine. But I never asked if I could replace it. I should have long ago.
So, yesterday I went in and it took all of 15 minutes. I think this is good.
I could have picked something more expensive, but to what end. This is all I need.
I have quite a collection of feet from the years of working the old one. I made sure I got the same manufacturer so I could use these feet. Plus, I like Janome. I have been with that company since I started using 'New Home' what, over 20 years ago. I like them. Their machines have been good to me. Well made and complete. And their selection of feet is pretty good.
This face is also simple and gives me all the information I need without my having to read a novel. I haven't even read the manual completely yet and I was able to use it for the day to work on the red dress which I will blog within the next few days. I really am not very good with complicated instructions.
These are the basic stitches the machine offers. For dressmaking, what more do you need. Notice that it has 7 different buttonhole offerings at the bottom. 7!! And this machine will cut your thread for you when you are at the end of your stitch.
One of my students spent thousands of dollars on her machine. It is very large. And it does everything. It is a robot. You press a button and sit back practically. But I noticed one thing. It does not have the measure markings clearly visible. New Home is noted for great markings.
I decided that instead of putting all of my feet in the flip pocket of the machine, I went out into the store and got a small plastic box and put everything in that along with all the needles. I noticed that before, I had feet in several locations and it seemed that sometimes I had to search for the foot I needed. Now, they are all in one spot.
I didn't swear once yesterday. The Bad Word Gods are going to miss me.
Now let's talk garlic. I can mince garlic so that it is so tiny it is almost ground. It is lovely. I learned it under Chef Clayton Nash. He taught me so much. But I watch today's cooking shows and it is all about smashing garlic with your knife, scraping it on the board, giving it a final chop and voila! perfect garlic.
This is what happens when I smash my garlic with my knife. It ends up everywhere including on my shoulder and on the floor. WHAT?!
So I gather it up and try to scrape it on the board until it is mush? Does this look like mush to you? I give up. I chop chop chop until it is the right size per my ancient technique and I then have perfect garlic.
I light my kitchen Buddha incense.
Here are the vegetables for this dish. There are a lot of zucchini because they are pathetically small. The recipe is from Jaques Pepin's cooking series "Fast Food My Way" and he uses of course very specific vegetables which are accessible to him because he is rich. He uses Japanese eggplant as well which are the long thin ones. He uses a pepper that is a long Italian pepper which I have never seen before. So I substitute everything with vegetables which are available in my local supermarket.
I begin by chopping two white onions in large pieces. Then I chop the zucchini in 3/4 inch pieces. You put these in a large pan with about 1/4 cup olive oil and begin to cook on medium heat.
Remember to look for labels and remove them before cutting and cooking. They add nothing to the taste of the dish nor the digestion if eaten. Chop the eggplant also into 3/4 inch pieces and add to the pot.
I added a 2 pound can of crushed tomatoes as I doubled the recipe from Jaques. I also bought a beautiful piece of London Broil steak and I took half of it and very thinly sliced it on the bias and then cut those pieces into bite-sized pieces and added them to the pot at this point. I have to get more meat into my diet so I try when it is possible. It is not really ratatouille but do we not most of the time revise recipes to our own taste?
I put in a large orange and yellow pepper. Cut off the top and bottoms. Slice into the pepper and rotate removing the ribs. Cut into 3/4 inch pieces and cut these in half. Also, make sure you have removed labels. Cut the tops and bottoms into pieces. Add to pot. Add a generous amount of salt and a large pinch of pepper.
This is what it looks like. Stir it all up and cover. Cook for about 30 to 40 minutes. You will see when it is ready. The vegetables will be very tender but not mushy. You will be able to taste each vegetable individually. The aroma will be rich.
I cooked up some Gemelli pasta. It is a long corkscrew shape that is not too thick and will marry well with the ratatouille. Ratatouille is normally served at room temperature on it's own. Jaques said it is also acceptable to serve it with pasta. I love that option. I also love that there is practically no clean up. You chop vegetables and put them right in the pot. You clean the cutting board and the knife. It's so perfect.
So, here we have it. Another meal for a week. You can eat it as it is. Or over pasta. Or with scraped cheese. With pasta and cheese. Over toast.
It is quiet out this time of night. The distant sound of a street light in distress. A sound I have listened to for over two years, now no longer a bother. I sit on the porch smoking a cigarette. Silence. The the drops of rain begin. Just a few. Very light for a few moments. In time it mounts. Then it stops. Begins again. It gets thicker. Then turns into full rain. The rain falls in the silence like a symphony. So beautiful. And because I am not walking in it, I am on the porch, I am loving it. I love the rain especially when there is no wind. So soothing, the drops of rain in the night. I go in to sleep. Finally, the day is done.
This is one of those projects that I was too busy to do. It was referred to me by the Home Dec department. An Older woman who has this idea and needs help with the finer points. She has been designing clothing for many years but her hands are getting old and she was looking for someone to create the pin tucks and to do the "entre deux". I told her I was very busy and I really might not have the time, but she was insistent. So, I took it on. We met here at my home.
It took me weeks to begin this because she had no definitive layout for the front placket. How am I supposed to place the pin tucks if I don't know what she wants for the opening? Finally, I called her and she had in the bag with everything she gave me, a very rough sample of what she wanted to do. Very rough. So, I went by that. Her paper pattern was way off base. So I really had to guess and hope that this would suffice.
Each tuck is done by hand stitching with silk thread. The fabric is a cotton batiste from Switzerland. I think it is too thin for a little boy's baptismal gown. I think the fabric should have more substance. But, it is what she wants. I charged her $100 dollars for the work to start. This tucking took me five hours to do. There are sixteen tucks, each 8 and 1/2 inches long. 1/8th inch wide. I used silk thread to do this work as it is very smooth. I then used a DMC Perle Cotton floss #8 in a pale blue and pale blue batiste and made her over 2 yards of the thinnest piping about 1/16th inch which she wants to pipe around the collar and maybe around the cuff. If you look at a ruler, it amazes the imagination at how thin that is, but really, with the proper foot, it is really not difficult to create. Whether she can work with it or not will have to be seen.
She picked it up on Wednesday and hasn't called, so I am thinking she is pleased. I now have to wait for the next step which is applying the lace. I bought the lace myself as she had no idea what to look for. It was in her head but not something I was unfamiliar with.
My new student, Shelley, was here and I gave her a bowl of this soup. She loved it. I was struggling with what I should call it and she said it should have a "jazzy" name. So I am calling it my "Jazzy Soup". It works.
2 sticks of butter 1/4 cup of olive oil
add: 1 onion chopped 1 head of garlic chopped
saute until browned
2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped 2 potatoes potatoes peeled and chopped 6 cups chicken broth 1 knob ginger grated 4 tbs olive tapenade salt & pepper
bring to the boil, then simmer and cook till the vegetables are soft
1 bag baby spinach
Simmer 15 minutes
Take off the heat and cool down a bit.
Puree with an immersion blender or a Cuisinart. Add salt & pepper, but do not overwhelm. The taste should be in the ginger and garlic.
Serve with bread or rice.
This is a beautiful soup that can be eaten anytime. It is clean and is easily digestible. Good for the diet and the body. The tapenade can be bought just about anywhere nowadays. I got mine at my fabric store! What a surprise.
This is a pleather. It is not an easy fabric to work with. You have to layer it with tissue when working on the right sides. The inside of course has a liner and is simple to deal with. But this coat is totally top stitched. It is lost in the photography.
The pattern is beautiful. It was perfect for this fabric. Stitching in shoulder pads, the right buttons, making sure all the seams were perfect. Ironing was a challenge, but not that impossible. A good muslin press cloth is all it took. I never once melted the fabric.
The challenge was the buttonholes. I couldn't make them with tissue as the paper got caught in the zig zag and was impossible to remove. So I went to Montavilla Sewing Center and got a teflon foot and solved that problem. I should have done the entire project with that foot. I wouldn't have needed to use tissue at all. As much as I know, I have more to learn.
I was able to get perfect button holes. This is the lining. It is a textured charmeuse made to look like kimono silk. But it is polyester. It has some static cling. But it is stunning. I love linings that don't match perfectly but end up being the perfect lining.
I am pretty proud of this piece. Julie will be wearing it to a quilt show coming up. I think she loves it too.
I always contemplate Jody's pictures of her gardens. The flowers, the trees, the vegetables, everything. She has so much going on. Over two acres of land. To me, that is very big as I have been an apartment dweller all of my life.
But still, we are both gardeners. It is just a matter of scale. Above, this is my garden. I have quite a green thumb when it comes to the indoor pot. Often, I have had to find homes for my plants because they have outgrown my humble homes. It can be difficult when "You only have so much room!" I have two windows. And neither of these windows are abundant in sun. But you would never know that with what grows within them. I just love sitting here staring at these lovelies. On watering days I pick through them, touch them to let them know that they are loved. They give me energy. They live.
It doesn't look like tequila does it? It looks like maybe a very refined bottle of olive oil. Or truffle oil. But it is not.
This, my friends, is a small bottle of Zircon Azul Reposado 100% Agave organic Tequila from the volcanic highlands of Mexico. It is aged in white oak whiskey barrels in Arandas Jalisco, Mexico for a year and then poured in these lovely little hand blown blue bottles. From what I read, the tequila is sipped as it is or with orange wedges and cinnamon.
So, how did I come to have this? This afternoon at work, Julie stops me to say that Trudy, whose family owns Fabric Depot, will be bringing by a friend who needs a banner made and thought I might tackle this in the course of my work day. So, in he comes around five when I am supposed to be giving the cashiers their breaks on a day when I am not supposed to be doing this. I am listening to his ideas. It is a simple banner. It's just big. Very big. the questions is getting the image stitched into the the center. It's a huge "Om" symbol. I am delighted. Not a problem. I can do this. Thing is, how much time do I have? I am doubly pleased. I have two weeks. I can do this.
It comes to light that this man, and I forgot to bring his card home, is known as "The Tequila Man". Does this mean he is of the family who makes this tequila? As this is a family owned product. I am not sure. I will bring home the card on Wednesday and see what it says. I leave him and Trudy to go pick out fabric so I can begin my floor commitment and meet up with them when I am through. I will have some work to do on the symbol. He has drown it down on paper but it is not quite full enough. I take them to my sewing room to show him where the work will be done, and he takes this lovely little bottle out of his pocket for me. It is nice. It is also expensive.
I am going to give this to Denise, my incredible sister. She will sit on her boat with a book and sip away on a peaceful beautiful evening, the water lapping against the hull, maybe listening to the distant voices of other boaters. The weather is getting better and the boaters are coming in soon, setting up for the summer. Denise has done so much for me. Surely such a fine tequila would be a great gift for her. I just know she will love it. And I have a loaf of bread I made for her too. It will be nice.