rocket tracking


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fear, Quilting "green" and introducing a new Art Quilter

Since it is Halloween night...well, theoretically it is Halloween night, but since it's after midnight, it's really All Saint's Day.... but I thought it might be fun to talk a little about fear and quilting.

Not too long ago, someone on the Artquilt message board posted about fear and quilting...thinking that you and what you produce just isn't good enough. This creates blocks and also in most cases prevents others from enjoying your work.

I was surprised at the number of really well recognized quilters who acknowledged this feeling of insecurity. I think that we all have moments, but we need to take that blind leap and just try.

These pieces are by Joan Sterr. Joan has been a member of the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network for just over a year, if I remember correctly. When speaking to her a little while ago, she said that she felt that she wasn't as experienced or "as good" as some of the other quilters in the group.

Now mind you, I quilt with some very good art quilters. Sometimes the work is so breath taking you really do feel that there is never anyway you could live up the their work. But...why should you? You're you. You should be quilting in your style and finding your own path.

The other aspect is that we will never be as good today as we will be tomorrow. I have always felt that the day that I didn't learn something new or better my ability in some area was the day that I would be six feet under pushing up daisies.

These two charming pieces are what I call Joan's "green quilts." Joan made these using raspberries to dye (or rather stain) the fabric. In addition, she used some black dyes and some more of the stain with commercially available stamps of Queen Anne's Lace.

She was quite clever in using fancy paper clips with beads for the little flowers ont he bottom....or maybe they are from the scrapbooking section of JoAnn Fabric's, but I swear I've seen similar ones to these at Staples.

In addition to using the natural berry stain, Joan worked on these while at a camp. She used her Singer Featherweight hooked up to a solar panel to provide the electricity, so she was green in the sewing of the piece as well...although I recognize that she could have been just as green by stitching by hand or using a treadle sewing machine.

I find Joan's work here charming. Tomorrow, I'll show you another piece which is just exquisite.

Please share what you think about Joan's pieces in the comment section and I'll pass them on to her. She needs to know that others think her pieces are wonderful...not just the crazy old goose.

I like the simplicity of this piece and I wish you could see the quilting better. She used a tight echo quilting but didn't do the whole piece, just the areas right around the flowers.

Here's a close up showing the stain and the bead and thread work she used on it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beggars' Night and Halloween

Last night (Thursday) was Beggars' Night in Troy. Beggars' Night is what they call Trick or Treating around here. For some reason, a number of municipalities in southwest Ohio don't do it on Halloween night. To me, it's not Halloween.

When we lived in Meriden, Connecticut, we lived on Parker Avenue, a boulevard in a community built in the 1940s and 1950s with houses sitting close together on 1/4 acre lots. It was a safe street and our end was filled with fun loving folks. Decorating for Halloween was a HUGE thing. Our former neighbors down the street would go all out with home-made coffins, scary music, enormous spider webs complete with spiders.....smoke machines.....and it was great fun.

Usually, the trick-or-treaters would start coming at about 4:30....and we couldn't eat because the doorbell was constantly ringing. We usually would hand out 25 bags worth of candy and give candy to about 300 kids. I usually took my daughter out with a group of other parents and her friends . My husband would stay home to hand out candy. Quite often, I would dress up, as did other parents. In later years, Luna, our Siberian husky would come along with us, leashed of course and with her ghost neckerchief.

Here, we live on a cul de sac. Last night we had 9 trick or treaters. I just about smacked my husband as I heard him saying to a child "Ring the door bell. If you're going to play, you have to ring the doorbell." I told him he was terrorizing the poor child. Later, I found out that our neighbor two houses down had adopted an 11 year old Colombian boy. This was his first Halloween and he had no idea. Guess who was the child being asked to ring the doorbell.

Which brings me to this picture. Scary isn't it? It's my husband in 1967 when he was 8 years old. I think this was taken in November, just after they fled Cuba and ended up in one of the suburbs of Boston. I can't imagine that he would have known much about Halloween. At the time, he couldn't speak English. They could understand the Portuguese kids down the street and those kids did a lot of translating for him. I wonder what he did that first year.

When I was in elementary school, I lived in Bronson, Michigan. In some ways, it was much like Troy, only much smaller. Troy and Bronson closed off a portion of Main street and there was a Halloween Parade. All of the kids would march and there were prizes given for best costume. Mom did lots of wonderful costumes and it wasn't unusual for us to win. The one I remember the best was when my brother, who is 9 years older than I am, was dressed as a scare crow. Mom made crow costumes, complete with great big beaks (which I remember hanging down over my eyes) and floppy feet which fit over our shoes for my sister (7 years older than I am) and me to wear.

Then, we went trick-or-treating. I didn't go to many houses, but went to my "Aunt" and "Uncle" Hoopingarner's house. They were older neighbors next door to where we lived on Walker Street before we moved to the country. All the while we lived there, I would go and hand out candy at Uncle George and Aunt Ethel's. I loved it as I got to see all my friends and everyone else and since I controlled the candy dish, I got to eat all that I wanted. We kept track of how many came there too.

Halloween was terribly exciting and while I lived in Connecticut, I still felt that way. However, having it on Beggars' Night rather than regular Halloween seems a little lacking in spirit.

I can't imagine what it would have been like when my mom was growing up. She has told me that when she was a child in Great Falls, Montana in the 1930s and 1940s, her father would answer the door and have the kids do a trick or tell a joke before they got their treat.

Hmm. I think I'd rather just dress up.....Maybe my husband with his insistence on saying "Trick or Treat" and ringing the doorbell is a throwback to my grandfather. Who knows?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you do Hoodoos? I do! Jerusalem Rocks, Montana

I have been going to Cut Bank, Montana for years, at least since about 2000. However, this time I went to an area I didn't know existed even though it is only about 45 minutes from my brother's place....closer if I could fly!

Jerusalem Rocks are located in Toole County in northwest Montana and they are breathtaking! I couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of them before. My mom grew up in the Great Falls area and she and her father did a lot of traveling across Montana....but she never mentioned these.

Hoodoos are pinnacles of sedimentary rock which are topped by a harder layer. The area erodes, leaving these great spires topped by rock much like a stone totem pole. They can be man-sized to over 100 feet tall and are often found in high plateaus which is what this country is.

I simply couldn't stop taking pictures....and I still wish I had more!

One of the things which intrigued me was that there are dates and names scratched into the rock, but I couldn't find any more recent than in the 1980s. My niece Beth suggested that perhaps that's only about how long they last because of the incessant wind eroding them away.

Yes, I was bobbing around here with a broken pelvis....I tried to stay on the flat, even ground, but I really wanted to do some hiking. Fortunately, it is a very easy place to get to and you can stay pretty much on the level and not have to be a mountain goat.

The hills in the background are the Sweetgrass hills.

Can you get a sense of how high we are up? The gold is a combined grain field with a river running to the upper right side.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Harvest for the World: Thumbs up for the American Farmer

Here in Ohio, the corn and bean crops are being harvested. It's pretty much the beginning of the harvest for corn and the farmers are waiting for the fields and crop to dry out from recent rains.

In Montana, harvest is winding up. Winter wheat crops have been in for a while and the barley and camelina (a member of the mustard family grown for oil, potentially for fuel) and other lesser crops are probably pretty much in.

In normal years, my brother would still be struggling to get his crop in . While this year was a bumper crop, the first after 10 years of drought and sub-normal crops, he managed to hire a cutting crew and finished much earlier than usual.

This is one of his older combines with Mark Benjamin, my brother's right hand hired man, at the wheel giving the thumbs up.
Harvest with the custom cutting crew, a group of men and machinery who go from farm to farm hiring out with their machinery to harvest is a wonder to watch. In the fields of gold, great green machinery perform a ballet as the grain cart goes to the combine which offloads from their hopper directly into the grain cart without stopping or going back to where the truck is waiting. A good grain cart driver is hard to find. They have to be extremely attentive and remember what pattern they have done. The grain cart can take three combine loads before going back to the shipping truck. The driver here was Irish and was very good. Whenever the combine operator needed him, he was there and driving in perfect tandem. He then wheeled off and went to the next combine.

Here, one of my brother's combines is at the grain truck which has another wagon called a "pup" behind it filling the pup, while John the Irishman is offloading the grain cart into the main load of the grain truck.

The grain trucks when full lumber off the hill and go to the granary. Most farms have some bins scattered out through the farm. In this year, the harvest was so large that bin space was being rented as quickly as people could contract it.

This is one of the granaries. In most cases, the bins have great stirring mechanisms to keep the grain moved around so that spoilage is kept to a minimum. Many have dryers in them as well, but that wasn't (and isn't) always the case.

Farmers take the grain to the broker or bin operator and a sample is taken. They look for moisture content (neither to high or too low) and for foreign matter (weed seeds, name it). The grain is docked (discounted) based on the findings. Sometimes it is a real pain. I remember one year my dad took two loads in from the same bin on the same day. One load was docked for too high a moisture content, and one was too low....impossible since it came from the same bin, but the farmer has to accept what the grain operator says it is....

Work continues into the night. The combines and trucks look like fire belching dragons accompanied by fat beetles.

Here is a grain ring. This is a temporary "bin" made of curved sections of corrugated galvanized steel bolted together at the base. The grain is dumped (hopefully) dead center and when the pile is full, a tarp is spread across the top.

Some spoilage occurs as there is nothing to keep the grain mixed and drying, but they are relatively inexpensive (I think my brother said they cost about $8,000 per ring) and can be moved from year to year and from field to field. He said the cost of buying a ring was about the same as renting a bin. The black spot in front of the ring is my 6' 2" brother in law, so that should give you a little idea of size. I think of these rings as grain yurts....

America's farmers literally feed the world. The yield that the American farmer is able to get is amazing. In some areas on my brother's farm, he was getting 70 bushels of barley per acre. The high protein barley he raises is used as rice extenders in Asia as well as being used in various high fiber products in the U.S. and Europe. If you have eaten one of FiberOne's products, then you have eaten grain from my brother's farm.

My brother does his best to farm using the best conservation methods available. Unfortunately, he can't afford to grow organic, although he did do a small amount for a while. It simply didn't pay. While he has well over 10,000 acres in cultivation (some are left fallow with a cover crop), some of the acreage isn't useful. Very little in this part of the world is out of production for wetlands or woods. Some areas are alkali beds which doesn't grow anything. The Alkaline salts from deep beneath the soil were brought up to the surface and won't allow anything to grow in these areas. I have seen some which leave a white substance on the surface which looks for all the world like snow.

Hard work. A great amount of risk for their investment. Dangerous work. Bravo for the American Farmer!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why the Goose went up the Hill: Rust dying

So, perhaps some of you have been wondering why I struggled up the hill to get old rusty bits. Lately, the quilting world has been doing a lot with rust dyeing.

Basically, you take rusty pieces of iron and wrap it in fabric which has been dampened then either sprayed or dumped into common vinegar. The fabric wrapped item is then placed inside a bag or wrapped in plastic wrap and left to oxidize for at least 24 hours.

Like any other chemical reaction, heat accelerates the process. After leaving it for a bit, the package is opened and the fabric unwrapped. The iron oxides have dyed the fabric with a transfer print of whatever it was that you wrapped. You can also use steel wool.

You must neutralize the acid in the vinegar. You can do this by using a baking soda solution, soda ash, or in my case, I used ammonia (ammonia is a harsher solution).

Then, the fabric is rinsed and it is best if you use a solution of Synthrapol (a surfactant) .

Let the fabric dry, iron it and voila...neat surface patterns. I just used common muslin here, but you can use prepared for dyeing fabric or over dye commercial printed fabric.

You can also use a tea solution or teabags which has a reaction with the iron oxide and makes it sort of a grayish with lavender overtones.

Here are some pieces I did when I was in Connecticut. The circles are from the base of an early 20th century cast-iron stove grate. The star like pattern is from an old cultivator disk.

I need to do some more work with the pieces from Montana. I used sections of an electric train set and some horseshoes along with a mixture of chain and other items. I brought the train tracks home so I could do it again.

Several of us in the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network were doing this at the same time. Lori Gravley did it as a presentation for a sub-group who get together to learn new techniques once a month. She did a fantastic PowerPoint presentation. She blogs as Laughing Girl and you can find her rust-dyeing blogs here, here, here and here

Here's one good website on rust-dyeing by Kimberly Baxter Packwood

One thing you have to remember about rust-dyeing is that over time, it will cause the fabric to decompose. If you have ever seen 19th. century cotton fabrics which have elements of the print eaten out of them....almost like a bug has been after just one part of the print, then chances are that particular portion of the print was done with an iron oxide based dye.....

As long as you are aware of the impermanence of the piece, it's fine to work with. In fact, I have two ideas I want to do using rust dyed fabric just for this very reason. Hopefully, in the near future I'll be able to show some completed pieces using this fabric....

Oh yes, and if you decide to do this, please wear rubber or latex gloves. If you do too much of it, you can get iron poisoning as your skin absorbs some of the iron. In addition, your hands get stained with me...I looked pretty awful for a while and I just handled it a little bit without gloves.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fractured Pelvises and bombing around Montana

Ok...So I dropped a little bomb in my previous post. I'm really sorry I didn't explain this further...I did on my breast cancer blog, so I'll fill you in.

I also have to apologize for the length of time in between blogs....I just got Photoshop and I'm trying to learn it....I am one of those people who jump in and expect to be able to get it right away and am dumbfounded when I can't. Of course, my computer is bewitched, so that doesn't help either.

Just before I went to Montana, I has having horrific pain in my pelvis, in the same area as where I had the breast cancer metastasis in 1997. I have been having trouble with that hip for the last year, but this was really different. I am, however, a person with a strong will.

I thought about this a good, long time, and decided that I would ask my oncologist to schedule my P.E.T. scan (due in January) early. I rationalized that even though if it were cancer (and there isn't anything they can do for me if it new treatments have been developed and I have had two separate courses of very strong chemo--C.A.F, (cytoxin/adriamycin/5FU or flourilacil) and Taxol as well as radiation to the spot on the pelvis). The only thing they could do is to aleviate the pain if it were cancer again), I wanted to know about it so I could start making arrangements (read: get rid of some of my fabric and other stuff so my family didn't have to deal with it). So, I had my P.E.T. scan on a Tuesday and flew out to Seattle (I hitched a ride with my sister from Seattle to Cut Bank, Montana) on a Thursday morning.

After being there for a week, I got a call from my oncologist. Getting cell phone calls out there can experience. When I finally got to talk to him he told me that I had a fracture in the same spot as where I had had the cancer and the radiation. I'm not sure what I did, but I think it was doing some sort of contortionist trick to get out of the passenger side of the car and my ligaments must have popped the weakened bone. The question is how well it will heal, or if it will heal because of the trauma that area has been through.

I'm happy to say it is a lot better than it was.

Behind my mom and dad's house is a small hill with an oil man's shack and the farm's junk pile. You have to understand, all over Montana, the method of dealing with out-dated or worn out farm equipment, cars, trucks and household goods, and just general run of the trash, was to sequester a little spot of land, usually in the deep coolies which you couldn't farm and just abandon it. To most people's minds, this is less than desirable. However, you can understand the problem. In addition, these pile provided parts and bits and pieces which could be made into something else. Parts could be ransacked off the machinery and made into other things.

Now, there are landfills and transfer stations. In addition, there's a scrap metal place in Cut Bank that when the price of scrap goes up, people start working on their junk piles. My sister-in-law has taken literally tons of stuff in.

The population of Montana is 6.2 people per square mile. There's 145,552.43 square miles in the state. 14% of the population lives below the poverty level. The median household income is $43,000 (for the U.S. as a whole it is $50,740).

The opening picture is the hill with the shack. Inside the barbed wire fencing is one of the junk piles. It was my destination. I knew how much rusty stuff was up there and I lusted after it to do some rust dyeing (that will be in another blog post yet to come).

So....I went up the hill. I was whining to myself as I lugged my carcass up the hill. I go up there every year. I've been up there in January. It is a steep little hike, but in the past it was nothing. This time I was going slowly and carefully like an ancient being...You have to watch the ground. Here is an old badger hole which could easily break a leg if you stepped in it.

The land here is quite arid. They get very little rain, but this year they have gotten more than in the past...and it has pocked the soil.

Tussocks of granna grass and other prairie grasses also make the going a little rough. I was wondering about how much difference a year can make in my ability to get around. . . and I'm far too young and active to be acting and feeling like this!

I made it to the top and gathered a bucket of bits and pieces. I would have liked to have hauled the old stove back down so that I could put flower pots on it for my mom. In the past, I've built garden angels for her....but the wind blew it down and my sister-in-law hauled the pieces away.

Imagine how happy I was to find that it wasn't cancer after all....and that next year, I'll be able to skip right up that hill....maybe I'll even be able to start running again. Who knows!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Catch up . . . sort of

Ever since I got back from Montana, things have been just a little bit crazy. I wasn't able to do much because of my fractured pelvis. I had some medical tests done on Friday, and on Thursday night (fortunately as they had to take me to the tests) some dear friends from Connecticut came for an all too brief visit.

Now, I'm in over drive as my pelvis doesn't hurt as bad as it has, and I have to get the tulip and daffodil bulbs in, some iris replanted, dahlias and other tenders dug, rhubarb moved, pots emptied...and the general fall clean up stuff. So, I haven't been as faithful as I might.

I did want to post something tonight, however, so here's what I'm going to share. This sunset shows Big Chief (I think....I keep on getting him confused with Little Chief) at St. Mary's Pass in the Rockies. This is the view my mom has out her kitchen window....only neither she nor I have ever seen the rays going upwards from the rock. I think this may be some sort of phenomina caused by snow crystals in the air.

Anyway....enjoy. More to come as soon as I can!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fast Friday Fabric Challenge: Ursa Major

Not too long ago, there was a notice on the Quiltart message board that the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge group on Yahoo was accepting new members. The FFFC is a group of art quilters. On the last Friday of the month, a guest "host" issues a challenge using a theme and/or design challenge.

Since I sometimes have a problem finishing things and I wanted to explore some of the wonderful items I have purchased but never used, I signed up.

The first challenge was issued while I was traveling to Montana. When I got there, I pulled up the challenge and started thinking about what I was going to do. I was at a little bit of a disadvantage because I didn't know what the challenge was going to be before I left and I had to pack a box of materials and items with which to make the piece as the areas for art quilters to purchase items in Cut Bank, Montana are a little limited.

Cut Bank has a wonderful quilt shop which is small and caters to a traditional crowd. They also have a small Ben Franklin's store which has some flat fold fabrics and some craft items.

The challenge was "Outer Space" and was hosted by Cherie Brown. The topic was great! But....I didn't bring any Angelina....and I didn't want to do what everyone else might be doing. So, even though people almost immediately started posting items, I refused to look at them. I was afraid that the work of other's might influence what I was doing.

When we were driving home to my mom's house at 10:00 pm, I looked up and saw the Big Dipper. I tried to think about when the last time I looked at the Big Dipper was. I also thought about how I have a hard time understanding how the ancients decided what the constellations would be. How did you decide which star went where? Why is it so many cultures have similar names and stories about the same stars?

I looked among the things I brought and I had a length of shiny clear ribbon which I purchased at my local nursery's florist shop. It was the end of the spool and whatever was on the spool was sold for a total of twenty-five cents. But, I didn't know what it was made out of and I didn't know exactly how I was going to use it. I had a hunk of blue print which sort of looked like a hand-dyed piece of fabric. I also had a 1/4 yard piece of black organza which had holographic sparkles and crystals on it.

I decided to make a drawing of the Great Bear (Ursa major) and fuse it onto the background fabric...if I could. I quilted the background around the bear, then put the sparkle organza over the top. I then went to the Ben Franklin store and bought the aurora borealis crystal beads. I would have liked to have used hot-fix crystals, but they didn't have them and I didn't have a tool to adhere them anyway.

I trimmed it in black gimp as I wanted to put a narrow frame on it. I don't know as if I really like it. It's more of a concept piece than anything else. It measures a 15" wide by 9 1/2" high. It's OK...the color is more blue than this shot came out (I don't really know where the yellow tones came from unless it was the afternoon sun through the window).

I look at it and I still can't figure out how in heaven's name anyone could have seen a bear in this group of stars... I guess I'll have to wait until the auroras will gather themselves around the star clusters in the shape of what they are supposed to be.

In the meantime, I'm working on two other concepts I have in response to this challenge. So many ideas, so little time! The best part? I finished this ON TIME! Yahoo!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Harvest Meals, Delectable Orange Rolls

Harvest in Montana is a big deal. Harvest anywhere is a big deal, but when you've got about 10,000 acres in cultivation and it can take more than an hour to reach one of your fields, it's a very big deal.

I grew up on a farm in Michigan of about 180 acres, of which 170 were tillable. We had other farms, which I think were larger, but this was the one in Athens.

We raised sheep and various crops until about 1970 when the market for market lambs and wool dropped out with the importation of Australian and New Zealand products. Then, we raised mostly corn. My dad had a combine and he'd combine other people's fields as well as our own.

I was quite surprised when my brother left the Bureau of Indian Affairs where he had been a forester, and took up farming in Montana. My mother, who grew up in Great Falls was doubly surprised and couldn't figure out why he wanted to farm in Cut Bank as it was one of the driest parts of Montana.

Farming is difficult. Farming in the area my brother is in Montana is even more difficult. The land is absolutely gorgeous, but the land and the weather also takes a toll. For the last 10 years, my brother's farm has been in a drought. The worst was in 2007 when he averaged about 10 bushels to the acre.

Dave raises predominantly barley as this is one crop, along with winter wheat, which can take the dry and the short growing season. Usually, harvest begins in mid- late August, and he can still be harvesting into November. Farming is a gamble. In fact, I laughed when I saw the casinos in Cut Bank. You'd think that the people in the area would have enough uncertainty that they wouldn't need to gamble that way. Maybe it's the people who raise cattle or are oilmen who frequent those establishments.....

Often Dave has to go longer because he uses older machinery. Combines, grain trucks and smaller trucks to haul the grain from the fields; augurs to load the grain into bins or onto other trucks. You name it. It all breaks down. A lot. Dave's ground is rocky and sometimes the grain doesn't stand up....he says combines don't make very good bulldozers.

This year was different. He could tell it was going to be a whopping harvest. He hired a harvesting crew, custom cutters who go from field to field harvesting then go on to another field. This crew was out of Kansas, and they were good. It was a joy to watch them work. In addition, he rented a newer John Deere combine.

The crop was good. Instead of the 10 bushels to the acre, he was getting an average of approximately 39 bushels to the acre (at least that was the reckoning when I left a week ago).

Harvesting is hard work, and it means all hands on deck. My sister and brother-in-law usually come out from Washington state to help for a week when they can. For the last several years, my brother has hired my youngest niece. Beth, now dubbed "Cookie", usually does a lot (this year most) of the cooking and helps string fence, sometimes taking a turn on the combine. My sister-in-law Barb drives truck. Mark Benjamin is hired to drive a combine and is a cracker-jack mechanic as well; and another neighbor is also hired to drive truck. Frequently, one or two other people are hired on as well.

Food is brought out into the fields. We do the best we can to keep the food hot on the trek out to the fields. Hopefully, everyone is near. Usually someone has just left to go to the elevators and then it will be 2 hours before they return. You hope to leave the house at 4:30 or 5:00 to get to the field. Sometimes, you can even make it.

We bring a towel and a jug of warm water with soap in it, and they wash as best they can....but there is usually ground in dirt and machinery grease to season the meal. Hot coffee as well as various pops (or sodas if you prefer) are brought out as well as water to drink.

My mom helps as she can. She used to do a lot of the cooking, although this year she was to make the pies....I thought I was going to explode when I was out there---huckleberry, apple, pumpkin, blueberry and lemon meringue were all part of her offerings.

I do whatever I can. This year, it was covering for Beth while she and my sister Mary and my brother-in-law Den went out to cover some grain, and to make orange rolls.

Orange rolls are a Broberg specialty. When I was little, mom would make them on Christmas Eve, setting them to rise slowly on the enclosed porch of our old farm house, where milk pans had originally been left to separate. On Christmas morning, she would pop them into the oven and they would come out all glistening and sweet.

I dreaded it if some of them got left in a tad longer....light golden, not brown, was the hoped for color. She said it was one of the few things that she could get us to stop from our presents.

I think she got the recipe from some ladies' magazine, but it has been around in our family so long that we don't remember.

Even my copy of the recipe is grease stained and splattered.

So, when Beth asked me to make them, my response was "But it's not Christmas!" Beth said nothing was too good for her "boys." She was making egg casserole (aka cheese strata), fruit, orange rolls, and I can't remember what else for dinner to be taken to the field and the orange rolls were to be the dessert. I thought this was particularly funny because my husband and daughter dislike breakfast being served for dinner.

Orange Rolls take quite a bit of preparation. It really isn't bad, but they have to raise in the bowl twice, then again on the sheet before baking. This gives them really good texture. It doesn't need a lot of attention, but you do have to be there for it. I love them because they are tangy and not as sweet as cinnamon rolls or caramel sticky buns (pecans or not).

Here's the recipe. It makes 15 - 18 depending on the size you make the rolls. I usually at least double the recipe, and usually at Christmas I quadruple it to share with neighbors. The recipe easily multiplies, you just have the have enough pans or cookie sheets in order to bake them. They also freeze very well, but they are best when the first come out of the oven. When I was a child, I'd slather them with butter as well, but now I don't, or if I am feeling very indulgent, I'll spray it with a spritz of spray butter.

Orange Rolls

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees.

1 pkg. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cup flour
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup - 2 cups flour.

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in 3/4 cup warm milk, salt, sugar, egg and 1 3/4 cup flour. Mix with spoon (or blender) until smooth. Add an additional 1 3/4 cup to 2 cups flour by hand or with a bread hook on a stand mixer (it gets tougher at this point). Turn onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and blistered, about 5 minutes. Round up in a greased bowl; bring the greased side up. Cover with a damp cloth (plastic wrap is OK). Let rise in a warm place (85 degrees) until it has doubled in bulk--about 1 1/2 hours (if the kitchen is cool, place the dough on a rack over a bowl of hot water and cover completely with a towel. I usually warm the oven, turn it off and put it over a bowl of hot water in the oven).

While the dough is rising, mix creamy orange filling: Mix 3 tablespoons soft butter or margarine, 1 tablespoon grated orange rind, 2 tablespoons orange juice, and 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar.

Punch down, round up. Let rise again until almost double, about 30 minutes. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick into an oblong, 18" x 9"

Spread with 1/2 the amount of creamy orange filling. Roll up tightly in a long roll; seal edge well (I usually say as best as you can as I'm always having it pop a bit on me). Cut into 1" slices. Place cut side up on a well-greased oblong pan (I usually use jelly roll pans, my sister uses several 9" x 13" pans) Cover and again let rise until double in bulk, 35 - 40 minutes. Bake at 350 for about 25 -30 minutes. Remove from pan onto a rack and spread the top with the remaining filling. Serve immediately......or freeze if you can stop eating them long enough to.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back and latest work

I'm back from Montana and things have settled down to a dull roar. Unfortunately, while I was in Montana, I was unable to upload photographs. I thought about posting without photographs, and decided to ditch it until I got back. So, I'll probably be posting more than one post for the next while in order to catch up.

While I was out there, I helped with harvest, visited with my family, saw a little bit of Montana I had never seen before, got caught in a dust storm, made four aprons, a table runner, a small wall hanging and finished this wall hanging which I am entering in a show in Gainesville, Florida. All of this in a mere 12 days, 4 of which were spent in travel.

This piece I call Great Blue Heron at Sunset. I raw-edge appliqued the background with pieces cut from various pink prints. I used a decorative stitch over the tops of the curves.

The heron is machine appliqued. I cut each individual wing feather and turned the edges using freezer paper. These were then stitched down on the base fabric. I chose to do it this way so that the feathers would be distinct and have texture.

You an see here on the head, I did some thread painting on the eye and first part of the face, and painted the back ground for the neck with acrylic paints.

I must admit, my original vision for this piece was going to be all BLUE and not realistic in color at all. However, I think I'm just too much of a realist at heart. I couldn't do the neck without painting it. Of course, I love to paint, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

The feathers on the birds back are little bits of individually cut organza and crepe sheers in white and pale blue. I had thought about this and talked to Melani Kane Brewer about her pieces via email. I decided to do it my original method rather than how Melani does hers...but I think the effect is very similar although I'm no where near as good as she is.

The piece measures 36 1/2" wide x 26 1/2" high. You can sort of see the random quilting lines I did with a variegated Valdani thread in pink.

Hopefully, this will make it into the show. For once, I just have to block it and then put the sleeve in! Yay!

I didn't take the original photograph from which I drew this piece. The kudos for that one is to Alan D. Wilson who took it at Rockport beach park, Rockport, Texas. The Wilson's graciously allow their photos to be used in adaptations or for educational purposes as long as you give the proper credit. You can see the original photo here. Elaine and Alan Wilson's galleries are well worth the visit because they are really luscious photographs.

Your thoughts on this piece would be greatly appreciated....I think if I had it to do over again, I would piece the background rather than applique it....and while it was fun..I think it is a little more traditional than I had in mind.