Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vintage quilting

This print is listed as “vintage” (circa 1950) on several art print sites. I remember the 1950s, so it seems funny to call it vintage unless you are talking about wine.

1. Of or relating to a vintage.
2. Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.
3. Old or outmoded.

I found the framed print at a junk store 15 years ago. It is called “Quilting Party” by Pauline Jackson (copyright Donald Art Co., N.Y., No 1667). It hangs on my wall in the little hall to the bathroom and I walk by it frequently. Every so often I study it for a few minutes. I sometimes see things I hadn’t noticed before.

It must be early winter, judging by the bare trees seen out the windows. The quilting is being done in a church hall because you can see the pews through the doorway on the right. The children on the floor are playing with wooden spools on a string, perhaps they are trying to get the cat’s attention. I love the man on the left threading a needle for a waiting quilter. (You can click on the picture at the top of this post if you want to see more details.)
I googled Pauline Jackson and learned that her paintings were used for puzzles. I don’t have the puzzle, just a print. If you click on the box below you can see more of her puzzle art.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010


My son and grandson paid me a visit today. They brought some heirloom tomatoes, picked up at a local produce stand -- Smith Family Farm on Sellers Avenue.

They let me know they were coming so I rushed around to make some bread. I didn’t have much flour and decided to make a very small loaf. Kneading it was very hard because it was so sticky and I didn’t have enough extra flour to smooth it out. I created a real mess on the butcher block counter. I scrubbed everything down and washed the bowl and utensils while I waited for the dough to rise in a small pan.

Just before their car pulled into the driveway, I noticed that my engagement ring and wedding band were missing from my finger. I searched everywhere. The kitchen sink drain openings were too small for the ring set to slip down. I looked through the kitchen garbage. I checked the upstairs sink. I tried to review all my morning’s movements. No luck.

I told Davis I had misplaced my ring. He and Victor helped me search around the house. He took the towel off the bread pan and asked if I had taken the ring off when I was kneading the dough. “No, I never take it off,” I said. The dough had doubled in bulk and was ready to go in the oven.

The tomatoes were beautiful. He prepared plates of slices and topped them with balsamic vinegar and a few grains of sea salt. What a delicious treat.

Guess where the ring was? Yes, in the bread. You may be able to see it in the top picture, but here is a close-up:

The wedding set isn’t an heirloom (yet), but the stone came down from my grandmother. There is a story about its design. As a child I loved the book So Dear to my Heart by Sterling North. A famous racehorse named Dan Patch figures in the tale. Dan Patch’s blacksmith bent a horseshoe nail into a circle and gave it to the little boy in the story as a good luck ring.

A horseshoe nail bent into a circle was a dream of mine. When Robert and I were engaged, we found a custom jeweler at a street fair in San Francisco and she designed the engagement ring and a matching wedding ring for us. (After we were married I had the two rings soldered together so they would not slip around each other.)
I’ll put the ring set away in my safe deposit box at my bank.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My cats are lapping it up

I could not resist showing off this fun Cat Mat. It makes me smile and the water bowl area in the kitchen is protected from spills.

You can click on the picture to see the source.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gathering around the hearth

“The typical bourgeois townhouse of the fourteenth century combined living and work…The main floor of the house, or at least the part that faced the street, was a shop or – if the owner was an artisan – a work area. The living quarters were not, as we would expect, a series of rooms; instead, they consisted of a single large chamber – the hall… People cooked, ate, entertained, and slept in this space… Medieval homes were sparsely furnished. What furniture there was was uncomplicated. Chests served as both storage and seats… Benches, stools and demountable trestle tables were common. The beds were also collapsible…”

Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybczynski

This fireplace is in the Kennexstone Farmhouse (circa 1610), Llangennith, Gower, Swansea, UK

Fireplaces used to be the central spot in houses. Everything revolved around them – cooking and heating. The fireplace was never very efficient for heating dwellings. Nowadays fireplaces are regarded as mere accessories in a house. They are not necessities.

Photo by Francisco Belard used under wikimedia commons permission

The blackened stones and bricks are part of the charm of old fireplaces.

Burning actual wood in a fireplace is banned in many communities. People have fake fireplaces with “gas logs” or “electric logs” that look quite real. I suppose families still gather around the hearth and watch the flames, but I don’t think you could toast a marshmallow on a stick over them.

Cooking has moved to the kitchen stove or range. We used to have a wonderful old cooking stove when we lived in Santa Rosa. I drew a picture of it for a book cover.
The cast iron top and burners were easy to scrape clean. The oven didn’t have a window.

Now that I’ve taken up cooking, I was horrified to notice that the window on my range was really grungy. I could not look through it and see how things were doing inside the oven. Blackened spots on the window are not part of the charm of a new oven. We bought the stove when we remodeled the kitchen in 1993. I have never paid any attention to it. I don’t think anyone has cleaned the oven since it was installed. (It wasn’t my job.)

Yesterday, I got to work. It took many hours, but I can see through the window now.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Test results

I paced back and forth in the waiting room for 20 minutes. I couldn’t see through the window very well because it was blocked by strange looking equipment. I heard loud noises. I worried. This was important. What would the results be?

The noise stopped and Jeff came through the waiting room door with a smile on his face. “That will be $68 please,” he said. “I’ve sent the report to the state.”

“Did it pass?” I asked.

“Sure,” Jeff said, handing me the paperwork.

The car is good for another year. It’s pretty amazing for such an old one with 158,000 miles. I think I’ll give it a treat by getting it waxed and polished. I always like getting my hair washed and cut and having a pedicure after a stressful day, so the car might enjoy a little pampering, too.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today I bought a Qur'an

With all the controversy in the air, today seemed a good day to buy a Qur’an. I’ve never read it. I’ll try now, and then I’ll put it on my shelf here:

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The sewing lamp is lit

I finally turned on my machine and stitched for a while. It’s been a long time. For months I’ve peeked in the sewing room, shrugged and turned away. I just didn’t feel inspired.

My church is having a fund raiser in October called Fall on the Farm. I’ve never attended the annual event. I heard that donations were needed for auctions and sales. I thought I could possibly make a quilted “something” to contribute. I didn’t want to make potholders or a wall hanging or a baby quilt. I’ve been mulling this over. Yesterday, I finally had an idea. I whipped up a pattern on the computer.

I pulled some fabric and turned on the iron.

I am planning to make a Christmas house decoration. I’ll post pictures if it turns out.
If you never see the project that will mean I gave up. I hope not. I loved hearing my machine again.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Four hours to make one sandwich

I was planning to have a delicious roast beef sandwich for lunch -- I had a generous slab of prime rib leftover from Wednesday night’s dinner at Vic Stewart’s.

I mixed up the ingredients for a loaf of bread in the morning, feeling smug about my new-found skill as an artisan. I put the loaf in the pan to double in bulk. It didn’t. It just sat there. Hummmm. I popped it in the oven anyway. It looked pathetic when I pulled it out 35 minutes later. I tried one bite. It was terrible and very salty.

I checked online and learned that too much salt in bread kills the yeast.
I started again. If all else fails, follow the directions. This time I measured the salt – ½ tablespoon. That is 1 ½ teaspoons. My measuring spoon set does not have a ½ tablespoon spoon. The batch doubled in bulk and I had a fine loaf by late afternoon.

I enjoyed a nice late afternoon sandwich.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Let's meet for dinner

Many of us have met people we like and said, “We should get together sometime.” But we rarely follow up on our good impulse. My brother-in-law Butch really means it when he says he’d like to meet again. He met Father Aris at my church, St. Alban's, a few times (both happy and sad) and really liked him.

Last month I received an e-mail from my sister-in-law with the subject line, “Dinner with Father Aris.” She set out possible dates and times for a get together. The e-mail went to my son Davis and my daughter-in-law, too. E-mails went back and forth until four possible dates were picked. Then, Aris and his wife, Roselle, were asked to pick the best day for them.

Butch and Virginia live up in the Sierra foothills and Davis and Toni live in Santa Clara County so dinner couldn’t be a casual, “let’s meet tonight” call because they had long drives to meet in the middle where I live.

Last night we all met at Vic Stewart’s in Brentwood.

The place is a steakhouse.

We all indulged ourselves and had a marvelous time. Davis brought some of his special wine (he is a collector) and paid corkage so it could be served in the restaurant. I had prime rib and took some home for a sandwich today.

I am singing the praises of my brother-in-law because he was the instigator, but in reality it wouldn’t have happened without Virginia’s coordination by e-mail. Butch doesn’t check his e-mail for days and days.
It is Virginia’s birthday today – Happy Birthday and thank you.

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