Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On the Soapbox

From Maine's Republican Senator Olympia Snowe's remarks yesterday, citing why she will not seek re-election, although her public service has been "an indescribable honor and an immeasurable priviledge:

"I do find it frustrating, however, that an atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions."

"Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term," Snowe said. "So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate."

From the White House:
"From her unwavering support of our troups, to her efforts to reform Wall Street, to fighting for Maine's small businesses, Sen. Snowe's career demonstrates how much can be accomplished when leaders from both parties come together to do the right thing for the American people."

I have great admiration for this woman and a great sadness for the lack of political civility displayed in the past few years. How did we get to this point, where it is ok to not work together for the common good? The past few elections have been very close, clearly not a mandate for either side, and yet both sides act as if it were.

The rest of us go to work and learn to come to consensus or at least demonstrate civility day after day. Why do our politicians think they should do no less? Do they so cherish the power that they must think sets them apart from listening well, finding common ground, and coming to workable decisions?

It seems to me that in their jobs they represent all of us, yet they act as if they represent just half of us. I am so discouraged this morning.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


On Sunday I used a scone mix from the Fresh Market to make a bread/dessert for a potluck. Pretty good, everyone liked them. So, I figured that if that was good, scratch would be better. I found a recipe from and made a few adjustments. I REALLY like these.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, place
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cut in 1/4" cubes

Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks until most pieces are pretty small, then add
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts
zest from 3/4 of an orange

Pour in 1 cup whipping cream and stir just until dough moistens and forms a ball.

Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times. Pat dough into an 8" circle and cut into eight wedges. Place on lightly greased baking sheet with the scones about an inch apart.

Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Put baked scones on a rack and brush tops with butter. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar with just enough milk to make a glaze. Add zest from remainder of the orange and spoon over scones.

The end. Pretty easy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mammouth Cafe

This early morning I spent time at Mammouth Cafe with my laptop and a Diet Coke. There were lots of folks there, a very mellow crowd, and I loved my little table facing the window.

I never get past the breakfast bagel on their menu. A whole wheat bagel with scrambled egg, veggie sausage, and pepper jack cheese. (Sarah, I feel like I'm in West Asheville when I eat that.) I'd love to know where they get their veggie sausage, it's the best ever. Come to think of it, so is the cheese. And the egg and the bagel.

It makes my heart happy to see a thriving independent coffee shop like Mammouth Cafe. Every time I go, which may be half a dozen times a year, not often, there are more people there than the time before.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


A week ago today, as we drove the last bit from I-40 to Gatlinburg, the kids were tired of riding in the car and just wanted to "be there." Lots of asking "how much longer" and general restlessness. And yet, somehow, on the last little bit of the trip, as soon as we saw the sign welcoming us to the Smoky Mountains, decompression happened.

They became quiet, looking out the window. The familiarity of the place worked its magic and they relaxed, admiring the scenery and the river and the sunlight through the trees. It was as if the restlessness was suddenly gone, replaced with the sense of wonder and peace that the park brings.

Young as they are, they remember the place and love their time there. Just like their mom and aunts and their camping friends and their GranB. So wonderful.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winnie's Mom's Obituary

From Sarah's facebook post:

In celebration of Winnie's mom, Frances Evelyn Hough, a special lady and friend to me and many. She will be dearly missed.

Winnie's mom died early last Wednesday morning. Since it was Nora's winter break toward the end of last week, Steph and I had planned a visit to Asheville with a night in Gatlinburg at the end so the kids could do some winter swimming. We switched our plans and did kid things first, then went to Asheville for the family meal on Saturday.

Our plan was to go to the visitation and funeral on Sunday, but the weather looked bad and Sarah felt that we should leave in the morning instead of later in the day. We got through the gorge on I-40 just fine, but it started raining soon after and was raining hard by the time we got to Knoxville.

As we went north, the rain turned to freezing rain, slush, and snow. It was a slow trip over Jellico Mountain - probably it was fortunate that visibility was poor and we could only see what was immediately around us. We continued on in bad weather, then around Mt. Vernon, KY, the roads started to get better and north of Georgetown they were dry.

I know that Winnie's mom will be, as Sarah said, "dearly missed." Winnie's mom and dad lived fairly close to Asheville, and Winnie and Sarah have been spending lots of him with her dad.


Yesterday, originally scheduled as a traveling day, was a transitioning-back-home day. In the afternoon, I met Steph's family, Helen (in town for a christening,) Bridget, and Bridget's family at Steak 'n Shake in Florence, where I am forever getting lost getting from here to there. I know it's a psychological thing.

Nora, who can read just about anything, was proud to order from the adult menu. The three small cheeseburgers with fries caught her eye. She still had crayons, though.

I don't even remember what Aaron had, just remember that he was no where nearly as pensive as this photo suggests.

In the late afternoon, I ended up at Macy's shoe department, which I usually avoid, but it was President's Day and I've been wanting some boots. I got a great warm and stylist pair, 70% off. It's probably been a slow winter for boot sales.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Nice to Know

It's nice to know that at a time when both grandkids know more about my phone than I do (and the kids are only 4 and 7)

and they love to use the iPad and are impatient for their turn,

that they also love hiking in the Smokeys on a warm February day

and playing with Aunt Sarah's Lego's.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


On a day like yesterday, which ended up not at all as I'd expected, after plans evolved, I so enjoyed sitting down at the sewing machine last night and mending. I embroidered bicycles to make patches for the knees of Aaron's khaki's, put ribbons around the marks on Nora's little black pants where I'd let down the hems, appliqued hearts on the knee and bottom of her little pants. Making the garments look like they'd been purchased that way. Yes, I'm definitely putting "artful mending" on my new business cards.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Journal Quilt Seven

Our baby quilt group will be making quilts with pinwheels for our March quilts, and I wanted to try out a new technique researched by one of our members. It worked really well, so that's what I'll be using.

In my Monday morning madness, I just discovered my cell phone in the washer. I'm really pretty careful about such things and decided at the last minute to throw in the hoodie that I like to wear over pajamas. Made a special trip to the basement to add it to the wash. Usually I don't even have my phone in my pocket when I'm home, but I have a guest who was still sleeping and I didn't want the ring to wake her.

It's not like I have a jazzy phone, it's many years old, held together with scotch tape, probably one of the last phones that doesn't have a camera. It was so ready to be replaced, just not today. I find the whole phone-buying experience to be intimidating.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Friend of Twelve by Twelve - Metamorphosis

An online friend and I are being friends of Twelve by Twelve, which means that we are working with their theme and their timeline. Be sure to check out her blog and the Twelve by Twelve blog. The group chooses a theme every two months and reveals their quilts on the deadline, which is today.

The theme this time is "metamorphosis" and the dimensions are actually 12 x 20. In working with this theme I started out with a plain piece of muslin.

I did two sessions of shibori dyeing, sewing little pleats in the fabric, dyeing, removing the stitching, and repeating. It felt important to me to represent metamorphosis by beginning with the fabric. The fabric was larger than the finished piece and cut into two smaller pieces.

For the quilt, I started machine quilting organic lines at the bottom, with the lines getting closer as I got to the top. On the other piece, I free motioned some fairly tight stippling.

I cut circles from both pieces, replacing the circles on the quilt with the ones from the stippled piece to create another element of change. I learned the concept of cutting and replacing from an online class by Dena Crain and it's something I enjoy because I love to cut, at least once I get past that first cut. That first cut is a little heart-stopping in a quilt that already has hours in it.

And then, the beading, starting with small beads at the bottom and the beading getting getting bigger and more dense at the top to represent the metamorphosis. And, there you have it, my interpretation of the word.

By the way, the Twelve by Twelve group will have some of their work at the Cincinnati International Quilt Festival in April. I can't wait to see their work there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Journal Quilt Six

Above are bits of a project for a software/embroidery class I'm teaching at the end of the month, table topper and napkin with pretty embroidery. Thread velvet. The embroidery has embroidery on top on embroidery, then it's cut with a seam ripper.

I needed to make a resized sample for machines with smaller hoops, so I decided to make it in block size for this week's journal quilt.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Journal Quilt Five

Melody Johnson is doing her February Quilt Along With Melody, and like the other years, it's wonderful. This one is like taking a workshop with her, it's extremely generous of her to share her expertise in this way.

The first exercise was a small quilt with a pillowcase finish, so I did the journal size instead without the finish - I do know how to do that thanks to her earlier tutorial. It's pretty interesting that she recommends quilting closely to the narrow lines but not on them. She's figuring that the Wonder Under on hand dyes will do its sticking magic and the little lines won't pop back up.

What I learned: that when you use the scissors feature on the machine it pulls the needle thread to the back of the quilt. I had just never noticed that.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ice Cube Story

Seen outside Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church yesterday - Sunday morning - temperature 42 degrees - there's got to be a story here somewhere.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mennonite Arts Weekend

The following paragraphs are the words of Pastor Joel Miller of Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship about Mennonite Arts Weekend, which is this weekend in Cincinnati. It is such a special time, and I love his reference to "high holy events in the life of our congregation.".

“The artist is a sacrament maker, a creator of emphasized, clarified beauty designed to make us see." Andrew Greely

This quote was cited in the book on Thomas Merton I’ve been reading by XU prof Christopher Pramuk. It’s a nice prelude in these days of final preparation for Mennonite Arts Weekend. This is one of the high holy events in the life of our congregation. The ancient Israelites had their festivals, the Catholics have their feast days, and the Mennonites of Cincinnati have their Arts Weekend. Sustained by the work of a committed committee (there’s probably a reason those words sound alike), hosted and executed by an entire congregation, enriched by artists and art lovers from near and far, this is one of those extra-ordinary times when we experience the goodness of God at a heightened level.

One of the revelations of Arts Weekend is that it places in the center of our religious consciousness gifts that are too often marginalized. The artist is celebrated as “a sacrament maker,” one who not only designs and performs, but one who makes connections between heaven and earth.

The point of it all – “to make us see.” To make a reality more available to our senses than it was before the canvas was painted, before the pot was sculpted, before the movement was danced, before the song was sung.

“Clarified beauty.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Color Palette Challenge January Again

I know most of you have seen this before, but I wanted a current post to link to Judy's post for the challenge. January's colors, and February's look wonderful too.

Little Sneak Peak

Tuesday I went to my sewing group, which I so love. I planned to bead the Metamorphosis quilt and carefully packed everything. Only thing is, I forgot to pack the beads. I glanced in my bag one last time, saw a large white bag and thought, "yep, I've got them." Only my beads were in a purple bag.

There seemed to hope for it except to drive back home and get that purple bag, but the group was meeting near a shopping center and I decided to run into Charming Charlie in the hope of finding some necklaces that I could cut apart.

That's what happened. I found three necklaces, two on clearance, and somehow scored an in-store coupon as well. For $17, I got perfect beads for my quilt, plus lots more, avoided the time and gas for going back home, and got a pair of earrings that came with one of the necklaces. I really like those earrings. And one of the necklaces was made of gold-tone organic circles in three sizes, perfect for this quilt

Not to mention, the beads look better on my quilt than the ones I had at home. Maybe the moral of this story is, shop at Charming Charlie first. Goodness knows, they've got the colors.


Congratulations to Holly and Scott on their baby boy, born yesterday morning.

Got to love this little hat, crocheted by mom.