rocket tracking


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thoughts on Pilgrims

Tomorrow, we like so many other Americans are going "Over the River and Through the Woods" to share Thanksgiving with friends. As much as I'm going to enjoy this, I'm going to regret not having leftover pumpkin pie, turkey and dressing. I'll probably make a pumpkin pie, and perhaps a turkey sometime later, but my husband always rolls his eyes when I do because I always boil the carcass for broth and he hates watching me do it.

My contribution this year, as it was the previous years we've visited these particular friends, is home made brown and serve rolls. I usually make them with about 30% whole wheat flour...sometimes I feel they taste like dog biscuits, but if you slather enough butter on it, anything will taste good.

While shooting these two photos, I kept on thinking about russet...obviously because of the wonderful reds in both of them... The little dots in the center of the euphorbia at left are water droplets.

When I think of the word russet...I almost always think of the Pilgrims. Ask any school child what colors the Pilgrims wore and they are likely to answer "black, brown and grey." In reality, the Pilgrims wore colors which were described as "sad colors." Sad colors didn't mean black, brown and grey, but were often used to refer to colors dyed with woad, most often shades of blue, often quite brilliant. just stepped into a history lesson. Because of my interest in textiles, one of my very short papers I did for Professor James Axtell of William and Mary was on Puritan clothing. Professor Axtell assigns his graduate students short research papers. We had to research the topic fully, but the papers could be no longer than three pages I think when finished, including references.

Research indicated that at the time, the Puritans (and therefore the Pilgrims) described themselves as wearing sad colors, which included russet, red, browns, blues and other colors. I can't remember at the moment if any of the descriptions referred to them wearing green and I can't remember at the moment where I placed this 28 year old paper.

Since most of these people were not from the upper echelons of English society, it is unlikely that they would wear clothing which would show dirt or wear readily. Textiles were expensive and clothing changes were few and far between. Aprons or smocks, were necessary to protect garments while doing dirty work (men generally wore smocks while working in the fields).

Most importantly, people were to "dress according to their station." Only the wealthy were allowed to wear lace, and only the upper ends of society (i.e. nobility) were to wear lace of gold. If a servant was found wearing lace, they could be whipped or fined...or both.

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I really like because it doesn't matter what religion or country you come from. You can always find something to be thankful for, even it at times you really have to think about it. My neighbor recites things she is thankful for everyday before falling asleep. She says it relaxes her and puts her to sleep.

Great idea and one we all should practice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Fire

Today and yesterday have been whirlwinds. I'm approaching one of those times when I feel I'm almost out of control...kind of like this fire. My neighbor was burning the tomato vines and other dried, woody material from his garden, and I just had to snap this picture.

Yesterday, I made some yo-yo's and worked on some other small quilty projects. The yo-yos are for the stack and whack for my mom to use.

I had hoped to get into the sewing room today...and I did go in, but it was to pack up my Bernina to take to the shop as it isn't working right. Then it was a mad dash to take my daughter to meet with a photographer. She's trying to decide between two photographers to take her senior pictures. Both are very artistic and both have asked her to be "ambasadors" (read: sales rep in her school). If you could help, she and I would both appreciate it. Please leave a comment telling us which of these two photographers you like best. Ty or Jon. I'm not kidding...the more feedback the better as we both are on the fence...

Here are two more of the textured pieces Liz Schneiders did for our MVAQN texture workshop. These two pieces were made by poking the fabric through some hardware cloth, dampening it and drying it to maintain the shape. Pretty cool!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Texture

As I reported on an earlier blog (here), our little sub-group of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network has been meeting and exploring different elements of design and techniques in art quilting.

Liz Schneiders led this workshop on texture. All of these pieces are hers and I think they are pretty cool. She did some experimentation with three dimensional pieces, this chartreuse pyramid I think is my favorite.

But this is pretty neat too.

This piece should probably be oriented in the opposite direction, but I thought it was pretty neat too. She used fleece and sewed it together, then cut it apart and resewed it.

Even the back of it has really neat texture.

Of course, whimsy is quite evident here in the frog with the yo-yo eyes. This inspired Lori Gravely to do a quite elegant piece which she posted on her blog here

In this piece, Liz simply wove strips of raw edged check through a piece of fabric she had cut slits into. Also quite effective.

So, where's my art for the day? Well, my creative tallent was spent working in the garden, planting the last (thank goodness) of the tulips, daffodils and Camas lilies as well as going through some of my fabric and quilting arts magazines. I also thought I was pretty creative in the patterns in which I vacuumed my rug.

Tomorrow will be a more productive day I hope. At least it will be part of the day when I'm meeting with the MVAQN group of stitchers at Appalachian Quilts.

While I was working in the garden and thinking about the Art Every Day, I was thinking about a conversation I heard when I was 16. I was working on a piece of pottery at the Battle Creek Art Center and the two instructors, who were young women probably about 25 at most, we talking about a third woman. The third woman was somewhat older and she set aside a portion of her day every day to paint. She structured it so it was the same time every day. The two instructors I was hearing as I worked decried this and said that she wasn't REALLY and artist because she worked at the same time every day, not when the muse moved her or for as long as the muse moved her.

I have remember this all these years. At the time, I thought that they were wrong. Today, I know that they were horribly wrong. As other responsibilities come our way, whether children, a job, or whatever, sometimes we have to set aside a certain time and hold it sacrosanct...this is our time for creativity. Sometimes we can sneak it in other times as well, but at least we have this one sacred time. I suppose that the two instructors thought that it became too much like work...but I think that the third woman was very wise. While I usually shoot photos every day, and am creative (or at least try to be ) in the food I prepare and certainly my gardening is very creative (if you ever want to talk color and texture in gardens, then I'm your gal). However, sometimes the time I am able to spend in my sewing room or with my paints is short indeed.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The BIG GAME: OSU vs. U of M

When I first moved to Ohio, I couldn't figure out what the inflatable figure I saw in front of so many houses in the fall. After asking around, someone said "OH! That's Brutus Buckeye!"

Who? Brutus Buckeye is the mascot for the Ohio State Football program. Ohio's state tree is the Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) and there's a lot of history and legend about the Buckeye. You can read all about the tree and the stories and how that came to be here. Of course, it sort of amuses me that someone who moved here from Connecticut (the Nutmeg State) wound up being in the Buckeye State...but I digress (no surprise here, I know!).

To say that Ohio is heavily into football is a major understatement. Everywhere you see people wearing Ohio State University clothes. Houses have OSU emblems on their mailboxes, flags and even driveways.

However, I was a bit amazed when I went to the local grocery store and saw this.

A silver Volkswagon bug decked out as a helmet of an OSU player. The white stickers are a method for rewarding players on game day, ONLY if they win. The number of stickers indicates how valuable the player is. This program started in 1968 and has continued every year. For more on this phenomina, check out this. Riddell is the manufacturer of the helmets.

The side emblem on the car is Ohio State University's "block O", a highly controlled licensed emblem.

I thought that the owner must be REALLY into OSU....when I walked into the grocery store, I had no problem identifying its owner from among all the shoppers. Here he is. OSU visor, sweatshirt, and OSU lounge pants..... I have to note, this wasn't even a game day, but a Tuesday!

Ohio State has a long standing rivalry with the University of Michigan. As you can tell from my moniker, I'm originally from Michigan, but football doesn't stand for much in my family. I still have to quickly respond that I turned down a scholarship to U of M lest I be considered an enemy of the state...

Today is THE BIG GAME. It's one of the longest standing rivalries in college football. People are all decked out in their Buckeye paraphanalia. Even to wearing necklaces made out of drilled horse chestnuts and plastic pony beads in grey, red and white.

When we first moved here, my daughter and I were amazed. We were the local Meijer's store (something like a Target) and you could hear people shout "O-H" on one side of the store, and it was answered through out the store with "I-O". If you shout this anywhere in the world, and have it completed by someone else, you know you've found a Buckeye. In addition, you can do the arm movements....something like the Village People doing "Y.M.C.A", only a heck of a lot easier....

For this Michigander...errr Michigoose, it is an oddity as growing up in Michigan, I never saw this much furor over the team. In fact, it's not a good time to have a car with Michigan plates anywhere near Columbus..... Go figure.

Now, I have to sign off so I can call my friends Martha and Bob who both graduated from U of M...just to say "Go Bucks!" and....beware the nut...which one, I'm not sure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Quilt , another two day art post!

Yesterday I finally finished (except for the binding) my Entry for the Fast Friday Fabric can look on that blog to see my struggles with making it....The topic for this challenge was animals....I had several ideas, which I'm also going to pursue, but I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out which of my many ideas I was going to do. I ended up trying to do a picture of moonlight reflecting on a goldfish pond. I was inspired by a Chinese watercolor painting I saw a while ago.

I used layers of tulle, Angelina fibers and the sheet form of Angelina, along with the hairy yarn...I can't remember what it is called as I don't knit! I have a couple of other small projects to finish. While quilting it, I discovered that my machine is acting up. I'm going to have to take it in to be cleaned and gone over...I'm not looking forward to it as I know that the shop is going to have it for at least a month and I am not thrilled with the going price for cleaning around here.

The goldfish were my post for yesterday. Here's my post for today...hens and chickens.....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday and Monday...still playing catch-up!

Sometimes I swear that my computer has gremlins in it....Yesterday, Photoshop was refusing to open...telling me that I needed to un-install and re-install as there was a licensing bugaboo....right. So...yesterday didn't get posted.

Yesterday and today was very busy. I had the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network, a meeting with a potential photographer for my daughter's senior pictures (and I'm still struggling with that one), and getting ready for the Vietnam Vet's pick up of things I wanted to donate (read: clear out).

I needed more voltage than what was going through these boxes I fear.

Or maybe I'm just a cracked pot.

Today, I was bopping around in Tipp City, Ohio, a cute town just south of me. Tipp City is really Tippecanoe, of the Battle of Tippecanoe and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too!" campaign slogan. The battle didn't take place here, it was named for it though.

It was one of Ohio's Canal towns, and is home to Spring Hill Gardens, and Tipp of the Town tomato canning...Trophy Nut and a number of other small, light industry.

The best part of it is downtown's filled with small antique and specialty shops. The Hotel Gallery is in an early 19th century hotel and is home to a variety of artist studios and arts and crafts. This is actually a little enclosure between a florist shop and the back side of the Hotel Gallery.

A willow tree hanging on to it's last leaves.

These two will definitely find their way into a quilt somehow...Gem City Ice Cream...yum! The Gem City is Dayton.

This is another oddity which will find its way into a quilt... It is the fruit of the Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) also known as the "hedge apple."

They are sort of attractive, but not least no one eats them. The poor lady who lives around the corner from me fights her Osage oranges every year. Her large tree dumps lots of them on her yard...They are about the size of a grapefruit.

While I'm not about to plant one, I am fascinated by their color and texture.....definitely the mark of a quilter I suppose!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Art Thursday, Friday and Saturday, OH MY!

While I practiced the discipline of art for Thursday, Friday and Saturday....I didn't have a chance to post it until today, so you're going to get a lot in one fell swoop.

Thursdays are one of my quilting days. I meet with friends, we bring in lunch pieces to share and quilt and talk for about four hours. So, I spent the day working on my Fast Friday Fabric Challenge which isn't being too fast as I'm over thinking it and trying to get it right. NOT what it is supposed to be, but oh well...

When I came home, I planted 30 more tulips and 10 more daffodils. After I finished that, I started taking some photographs in the garden. Since we changed over to daylight savings time, sundown is about 5:30. Since it was about 5:00, it was dusk. Here are two shots of a miniature spirea I have. One is with flash, the other is with available light. I think it is interesting how the flash made the bronzes and yellows come out more, while the natural light gave us more blue and purple tones.

Friday was also a hurry up day....I had lots of errands to run and I also had an evening meeting. So, here are my garden shots for Friday. Photography isn't the only thing I did, however, as I also painted some Tyvek so I could melt it to make some "rocks" for a small quilt I'm working on.

At left is an Icelandic poppy which is still putting out blossoms.

This is a geranium, I can't remember right off the top of my head which it is, as I have several.

I'm not sure which shot I like better. Votes will be happily taken.

Today, I spent the day at Hartzell Propeller in Piqua, Ohio. Hartzell graciously allows us to meet there when I sign up the room for the day. The local Troy Quilt Guild has two of these sponsored "stitch ins" per year, one in the fall and one in the spring.

One of the things I did was look at this piece and try to figure out whether I should finish it or not. This is in answer to the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network's challenge "Triangles." It was an idea I had to do a series on crop circles, this being number one.

The only problem is, every time I look at this, I think nuclear hazard.... I was going to use pearle cotton on this and stitch around and in the triangles. Originally I thought I'd do it in golds and greens to represent the flattened and standing crops. Then, when I kept on looking at my nuclear issues, I thought perhaps I would stitch over the tops in purple, turquoise and red-orange. However, I'm not convinced that this would look good. In addition, I haven't been able to get the pearle cotton in purple locally.

So...this is where I could use your help...should I ditch it or try to do something with it? Or am I just being too critical?

I was also trying to do another thing with triangles I had an idea for, but I wasn't achieving what I was thinking about. I began to wonder if the problem is that I am just too much a representational sort of person and when I tried to do something else, it doesn't work. I don't know.

I also came to the conclusion that perhaps not all things should be finished.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Art Every Day: First on the 11th I actually took this shot on October 23.....however, it does represent something I've been thinking about doing for a while...a series of art quilts based on details. I love the green and gold of the Siberian Iris as it is going dormant, along with the interesting shaped seed pods. While I was running errands and creating art, what I should have been doing is cutting down the iris and planting bulbs...

What did I do art-wise today? Well, I tried to do some sketches of my cat a la Franz Marc. I love his work. I love the brilliant colors which tend to be on the warm side. I love how he breaks the shapes of the animals down to their most basic and gives a voluptuous curve on most. I, however, am not yet able to get the elements broken down like he does.....I'm trying, but perhaps I am too much the realist.

After doing those sketches, I went back to work on my Fast Friday Fabric Challenge....I'm really struggling with this one as I am having difficulty getting it to do what I want it to do. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish that tomorrow and then start on chocolate.... and plant at least 10 more tulip bulbs and 10 more daffodils.

Purple hearts and 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Veteran's day....formerly known as Armistice Day for World War I, the war which supposedly was to end all wars....Today as I went through my day, I noticed all of the veterans on the street. A Vietnam War Vet, a World War II vet who survived Pearl Harbor and people presently serving here. I know I probably saw a lot more who were veterans from the Korean Conflict and Gulf War I.

I am grateful to all those who serve, although I was stunned to hear an officer at Fort Hood say that the folks who were going to Afghanistan were going to protect the American Constitution......I don't believe that, especially since the original reason to go to Afghanistan was to rout the Taliban and to go after Osama bin Ladin. Nevertheless, I support the troops who are presently serving in the near east. You can support the troops even if you can't support the war.

My own family has a pretty strong military presence. My grandfather served in both World War I and in World War II. My father and his twin served in World War II. My nephew served in Germany in the 1980s, and my husband's cousin, even though he was Cuban, served in the Air force in Gulf I and is still in the service.

The purple heart you see in the top photograph is the one awarded to my uncle David, my father's mirror twin, posthumously. He was killed by a sharpshooter after taking an area in Okinawa. He was killed June 4, 1945. His death is one from which I don't think my father ever really recovered. War is hell.

Sometimes the living afterwards is hell too. I think about how after the Civil War soldiers missing jaws and limbs struggled along. I think of the wounded today who not too long ago would have perished, but because of our technology today, they have survived horrific wounds but now have to struggle with severe head injuries and loss of multiple limbs.

Yesterday, I listened to a program on prosthesis and how that the hook, which basically hasn't changed much since WWII is still the best option for being able to function (rather than for aesthetics) is what most people who survive the loss of a hand end up having. I was horrified to learn that often insurance companies don't cover prosthesis as they are considered "cosmetic."

I hope that our service people who are losing limbs are being provided with what they need. It would seem pretty awful if these men and women who serve wouldn't be provided with proper prosthesis after losing their appendages while on active duty. However, I also know that sometimes what is right, isn't what is given.

I think of the psychological effects that our service people are suffering or are going to be suffering from. I think of the trauma that their families go through. I think of the loss of valuable memories because mom or dad wasn't there for momentous occasions.

I also think of all the women who served and are serving. Today, while we often think of "servicemen" at least women are beginning to be recognized for their contribution. We have a long way to go on that score, but it is still better than what Eleanor Chapman Broberg, my father's first wife, and countless other women in service and who served as nurses received in earlier wars. Eleanor was a W.A.C. She is the person in this photograph which I think was taken in La Jolla or at one of the bases right after the war.

For most women who served in WWII, they were not recognized after the war. I had a friend who did some research on nurses who served on the fronts in WWII, and it was pretty sad as far as what little recognition they received.

Eleanor died perhaps four years after this picture was taken. She had had polio as a child and suffered heart attacks during a pregnancy. I'm sure that the cigarette she has in her hand didn't help, but she passed away in the 8Th month of her pregnancy dying in my father's arms.

I think of the pain and loss my father suffered from the loss of his wife and his twin. I think of the loss that families suffer today. I think of the good things that our service people are accomplishing, and I recognize the hard work of the Coast Guard which sometimes gets forgotten in the minds of the average American. For you all, I just say thank you. For us all, I hope that someday we can get over our human propensity to engage in war. Maybe just a little compassion and understanding would go a long way.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Art Every Day: Is it too late?

November is Art Every Day month. I found out about it at the Quilting arts message board....but I didn't jump right in.

I thought I have enough to do...and probably couldn't do it anyway. I'm over thinking my Fast Friday Fabric Challenge quilt and having difficulty doing what I want to do with it... Over thinking is one of my major problems.

In addition, when someone suggests something like this, my head explodes with ideas....then I get caught in a tailspin in trying to figure out which one to do, and how to cram it in with the other things I'm up to.

So, here's the skinny on Art Every Day. Now mind you, she says that the rules are meant to be broken....and that you can join at any time. Shall I, or shan't I? What do you think?

New Dimensions: Great Fun with Texture!

Once a month a sub-group of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network gets together to study elements of design. Last year, Mindy Marik led our group using Jane D'Avila and Elin Waterston's Art Quilt Workbook.

We've continued this year, but we're using Masters: Art Quilts: Major Works by Leading Artists (The Masters) by Martha Sielman (Paperback - May 6, 2008). As I mentioned before, one of the group leads the session basing her (all of the 10 or so of us who meet are women) presentation on an element of art quilting as represented in the book. September, Lori Gravely led us in a rust dyeing discussion. In October, Debra Bentley did a great job on collographic printing. This month, Liz Schneiders led a discussion on dimension and texture.

I tend to use a lot of three-dimensional elements in my quilting, although I have scaled it back in pieces which travel because I've found that they get smashed in shipping.

Here are some of the "mini" examples Liz did up for us. I love the above piece because it reminds me of an 18th century stomacher with a handkerchief stuff in the bodice.

This piece she did with felt, wired ribbon, and torn pieces of cotton

Here's a detail, although my little point and shoot was being was my computer last night when I was trying to upload and resize for the web.

This piece is pin tucks running in two directions. The yellow ochre fabric is printed with lines which makes it look like it has been further manipulated, but it's only the print.

Tomorrow, I'll share some more pieces..including my favorites of the pieces Liz did for us to think about.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall: The season of Hope

I have to admit that when fall comes I feel a little saddened. While I love the fall colors, I am apprehensive about the cold, dark days of winter. I didn't always feel that way, but I think that my 20 years in Connecticut which had few bright winter days (Connecticut got substantially more precipitation than southwest/south central Ohio) sort of influenced me to dread the darkness. In addition, we lived in a house built in 1941 which could have stood better insulation and I'm married to a polar bear who thinks that 65 degrees is warm enough for the daytime.

Here we have bright, sunny days in the winter. That's do-able. But I don't like being cold. I wear long-johns and silk or wool camisoles in the house to stay warm and I'm always layering clothing and wearing blazers or decorative jackets inside.

Every fall is a flurry of activity for me. I'm cutting back stuff in the garden and planting. I suppose most non-gardeners are dumbfounded at fall planting, but that's when I put in spring bulbs, some summer bulbs, trees and shrubs. I'm also often seduced by the discounted rates at nurseries and garden centers trying to get rid of their stock before winter.

Each year I swear I won't go absolutely nuts and order too many bulbs. Each year, I fail. I have purchased bulbs from a lot of different places, but I have found John Scheepers in Bantam, Connecticut (and Van England their wholesale end) to be the best that I have ever used. Their prices are good, the size of the bulbs excellent and their customer service is wonderful.

I always order daffodils. When we lived in Meriden, Connecticut, I was accused of trying to compete with the city's Daffodil festival. I admit, I love them. They are cheery and come at a time when I am longing for bloom in my garden. In many cases, they are also fragrant. As a bonus, they multiply and deer and other critters don't eat them. This year, I am planting 200 that I purchased in addition to the ones I dug up in re-planting my shade garden which is now a sun garden.

I usually plant daffodils around hosta and daylilies as well as other perennials which will droop over the dying daffodil foliage. I don't tie them up or cut them off as letting them die back naturally will preserve the strength of the plant and ensure me good blooms for the next year.

Also, I am a fan of two tulips, Hit Parade and Big Chief. Since I had only about 50 that I had planted in 2005 when we moved here and they were petering out as tulips tend to, especially in my heavy clay soil, I ordered 100. I also ordered 50 Apricot impressions....Then, I ran into a 70% off bulb sale and bought an additional 50 mixed tulips.

And don't forget the small bulbs. Since my sister loves Camas lillies, I ordered two types of them to see what they were like. I also purchased a total of 40 crocus--mostly snow crocus but also some orange Dutch crocus. I also purchased 400 grape hyacinths. Since they throw foliage in the fall to provide for spring's flowers I use them to mark where I have daffodils, tulips and my other bulbs.

Oh yes....and the allium. I purchased 20 more globemaster and gladiator...those big purple flower heads and the starlike seed heads are a must have in my book.

And I am, late in getting started planting them because of my fractured pelvis. I'm getting it done...slowly...and I snarl at myself for being too much of the cockeyed optimist--optimistic that I can get them in before my hands drop off because of the cold...and optimistic that I'll be here next spring to enjoy them....and next fall to start the process all over again.

A Simplified Recipe for Green Pozole with Chicken

Although I love to cook (in the winter), I often have a problem figuring out what to cook. On Tuesday, I was taking inventory of our freezer, figuring out what I could put together and what needed to be eaten. Smart people keep a list on their freezer to know the contents, but I admit, I'm not that disciplined.

I had some chicken breasts and I went to my fairly large, by todays' standards, cookbook collection. Since I recently purchased The Best of Gourmet 2004: featuring the flavors of Rome (Conde Nast, 2004) and Maggie's husband swears by recipies from Gourmet magazine, I went to see what recipes they had for chicken.

I looked at green Pozole with Chicken on page 177, and realized that not only could I do this, but I could streamline it with what was in my freezer. While my freezer holds the bounty of my garden and isn't normal contents for most American freezers, all of these ingredients are available at your grocery store. At least my rationale is that if I can find it at Kroger's in Troy, Ohio, you'll be able to find it almost anywhere in the U.S.A.

I made it, and daughter and husband were VERY happy. In fact, my husband was so happy with it, he took it to work and shared a bowl with one of his co-workers. The co-worker asked for the recipe, so I think this is certifiably good.

Green Pozole is a Mexican dish which is basically a stew based on tomatillos. I love tomatillos for their acidic, lemony sweet taste and got one of my quilty friends to grow some in her garden this year too. They are a member of the nightshade family and have a papery husk on the outside. I'm always looking for new ways to use them, and this is definitely a winner.

Here's Gourmet's version, in case you want to do the longer version which is a tad more time consuming, total time for their version is about 2 hours.

Lisa's Streamlined Green Pozole with Chicken

3 pounds boneless skinnless chicken breast (or whatever chicken you might have) or 3 pounds of
cooked chicken removed from the bone. Using left-overs is great, and you can fudge a little
with the amount of chicken, using a little less if you desire.

1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, chopped.

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup Mole Verde (available in the Mexican food section or gourmet section of your grocery store. The brand I used was Dona Maria. It's a Mexican condiment based on pumpkin seeds. You can add 1/2 cup or to taste, but I used 1/4 cup.)

2 cups Salsa verde (again, you can buy this at the grocery store in the Mexican food section, or it is easily made from scratch. I'll include a recipe at the end of this, or you can just follow Gourmet's section on this from the original article. Tomatillos are now commonly found in my grocery store, so you might find them fresh as well). I used a container that I had frozen from my garden's bounty.

3 cups chicken broth (home made, or purchased....this came from my freezer where I always reserve the chicken broth I get from making other dishes or from cooking down skin and bones).

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno chilies. You can use 2 fresh if you have them, I just always have pickled on hand in the fridge. Any hot chili will work, however.

2 1/2 tsp. salt (adjust to less if you desire or if you're using regular (not low sodium) chicken broth, just leave out and salt to taste at the table).

1 1/2 tablespoon dried cilantro

1 teaspoon oregano

2 cups frozen corn (or you can use canned corn, about 2 cans).

Accompaniments: diced radish; cubed avocado tossed with lime juice; shredded romaine; chopped white onion; lime wedges; dried oregano. (Note: the lime is a must use and will allow you to use less salt if you are watching your sodium intake. The shredded romaine was FANTASTIC! I wouldn't have thought of this, but the slightly sweet and crunchy aspect were perfect accompaniments! Don't skip the romaine.)

1. In a dutch oven or a large pot with cover, saute the chicken breasts in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you're using pre-cooked chicken, skip this step and just go to the next. Remove and allow to cool while doing step #2.

2. Saute the onion and the garlic in the pot, adding a little more oil if necessary.

3. Add salsa verde to the pot, it will steam up and complain, but that's ok. Stir and the acid should deglaze the bottom of the pot.

4. Add chicken broth, green mole, salt, bay leaf, cilantro, oregano, and corn.

5. Shred or dice the chicken. Add to pot.

6. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Roughly.

Bring to the table in bowls and serve with the accompaniments.

This would be a great dish to do in the crock pot as well.

Salsa Verde

OK, so I cheated and just gave you the link. It is, however, pretty much how I make Salsa Verde. Sometimes, if I have a lot of time or am so inclined, I will take my tomatillos and oven roast them or grill them on a large sheet of aluminum foil in my grill. This brings out the flavor of the tomatillos. It is, however, not imperative that you do this.

I think that if you did this and substituted 3 cans (or the equivalent of soaked dry....say, 8 ounces) of white, cannellini, great northern or white kidney beans for the chicken, and vegetarian broth or maybe some white wine and water, it would make a fantastic vegetarian entree as well. I'm going to have to try that next!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election Day

Ever since I was old enough to vote, I have tried to vote in every election. I guess I feel that since some people in this world can't vote and women and blacks in the United States fought so hard to obtain the right to vote, that I owe it to them to make sure that I do some research and cast a ballot in every election.
I do this, however, with somewhat a jaundiced eye. When I was in High School, I was on the debating team. Our freshman year the topic was "Resolved: that the United States should significantly change the method of selecting the presidential and vice presidential candidates. I took the position of first affirmative and my team mate, Karen Bole, was an amazing second affirmative.
Basically, the issue boiled down to a couple of items: should the U.S. employ a direct vote, doing away with the electoral college; and secondly, should there be a single national primary (all primaries being run the same day).
Karen was the mastermind for our platform, I was merely the deliverer, but we worked incredibly well as a team. Usually, the opposition took the position that the U.S. populace wasn't informed enough to make direct decisions. I remember being incensed at this and insulted that this was being put forth. Of course Americans were informed enough! Of course Americans were intelligent enough. As an adult, especially after working with the neighborhood association in Connecticut, I am not so sure and I definitely cringe at my naivete when I was younger.
Take, for instance, two items which were on the ballot today. One was an Ohio constitutional amendment to allow casinos in the state (known as Issue 3). The amendment was very specific detailing where the casinos would be located, who would run them , and how much these casinos would be taxed. The second was another constitutional amendment which set up an Ohio Livestock Commission to supposedly to oversee the health and well being of Ohio's livestock (issue 2).
My biggest problem with both of these issues was not the allowing of casinos (which I'm not particularly thrilled with but acknowledge that all the states surrounding us have casinos largely populated by Ohioans), or that a livestock commission should be set up, but that they were CONSTITUIONAL amendments. Constitutional amendments should be for significant items and should not handle the amendment in minute detail. Once something goes into the constitution, it is hard to change. It seems to me that both of these items should have been done through legislation, not an constitutional amendment. Certainly, the livestock commission shouldn't be written into the constitution.
I don't think that people in general realize this. I know that I should have written my state congressmen and express my outrage at the fact that these were even on the ballot...but I didn't.
The Livestock Commission is interesting....on the surface, why wouldn't you want to have one? Granted, my biggest beef (no pun intended) is that it shouldn't be an amendment. However, in talking about this with small farmers, they were saying that the amendment favors large Agri-business and puts the small, family farms at a disadvantage. They also feel that it will drive up the cost of production which will be passed on to the consumer and that it is unnecessary. In looking at the results, I was interested to see that the counties with the highest percentage of No votes were the ones which had the most livestock farms.
I just wonder....who looked at this in detail and really tried to understand both sides of the question before they cast their ballot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Joan Sterr's Damselfly and Copyright issues

I promised you that I would show you another terrific piece by Joan Sterr. This wonderful piece was done in response to our Art Quilt Guild's challenge for August. Guild members write words on pieces of paper indicating themes, inspirations, and techniques and put them in a container. We pull individual slips out of the container for the group to do. You don't have to participate in any or all of the challenges. They can be as large or as small as you want.

In August, the challenge word was "frost." Joan had a photograph she had clipped from a Sierra Club Calendar from the 1980s. She interpreted the photo into this absolutely wonderful piece. If I had had half a brain I would have done a close up, but I was working with my little point and shoot and was trying not to hold up the production during "show and tell."

When she showed us the piece and the photograph, that illicited yet another discussion about copyright issues. All pieces which are derived from images which are not the artists should be credited with the name of the photographer as inspiration. Indeed, that should be said for other elements as well. With copyright-free items of course you don't have to contact the artist or the owner. However, for all other items, you should try to contact the artist or owner of the image.

Joan's face fell when we talked about this. How was she ever going to find the photographer after all these years? Thanks to the internet, she was able to find a website for the photographer, Bill Ivy, and emailed him. Mr. Ivy was very happy to give her permission. Here you can see the original photograph.

Joan did well to do this. We, as quilters, should always cite the inspiration when it comes from something else. Quilters in traditional shows should indicate whose pattern they used, or from what book they took the design. While lots of quilters do their own designs and patterns, it is only right to recognize the thoughts of others....and it does make it much more easy for historians ; ) .

I hope you enjoy this great little piece from someone new to the art quilt world.