Saturday, July 31, 2010


My children left for the Cape this morning.  Someone had to stay behind to tend the four dogs in two separate households.  Children in Chatham.  Scott in Staniel Cay.  What's wrong with this picture?
Patty came over and brought her lovely new dog, Zella.  Zella is VERY smart and Harley has a little crush on her, but only if she stays outdoors.  Everything changes when she comes inside.
Patty is working really hard with this dog and it shows.  I wish that her good behavior and intelligence would rub off on the golden one!  He remains willful, but honestly, I would not change a thing about him.  I sent the little dress that I made for Patty's granddaughter home with her.  It's so sweet -
It was good to have some time with my friend.  I'd been feeling a bit anxious all afternoon and could not quite put a finger on it until we sat together and talked.  That's how it is with best friends - we talk and talk and talk some more.  And before you know it, we've solved all kinds of problems, even the ones that we could not name.  Patty's generosity  - her gift for friendship, for survival, for redemption, is like manna to me.  She listens to me drone on about the bad hand of cards that I've been dealt, and never cuts me off.  She reminds me that I have value.  She brings me yarn ...
Sometimes I remember to send her home with flowers, but tonight I forgot.  So sorry, Patty! (the hummus will have to be your consolation prize!)
Time for me to go and feed that other set of hungry dogs.  Dinner, a walk and maybe a little company - they don't need all that much.  I missed the Cape trip this time, but I'll find a way to make up for it in September!

Friday, July 30, 2010

GLUTEN-FREE, you can't undo me!

 We have new eating issues around here.  Carson is lactose-intolerant and Hilary cannot eat anything that contains gluten.  It's been quite a challenge to come up with tasty attractive food for these two while the rest of the carnivores munch away on just about anything that captures their taste buds!  Oh - and Hilary is a vegan.  Geez.
Anyway - I found this in the wildly over-priced are-you-kidding-me gluten-free aisle:
Here's a promise - if you follow the instructions you can create a delicious pizza-pie-crust with this stuff!  I prepared barbecued chicken for Carson's pie and added grape tomatoes, red onion, green pepper and broccoli flowerets fresh from my garden.  Hilary had the same, minus the chicken and heavy on the cheeses!  These pies were uncommonly good.  Bob's Red Mill is the way to go!
I'm having a good tomato season, so far.
And I need it, I need this little success as my pretty "Lady Garden" as Patty has dubbed it, is beginning to show signs of distress.  Even with mulch up to their knees, the broccoli and cauliflower have given up the ghost and I'll be ripping out the cucumber vines at first light.  Judicial picking has not eliminated the appearance of baseball bat-like zucchini and what the hell is up with my celery?  Perhaps my garden has not forgiven me my many absences during those 98 degree days in July.  I watered faithfully, I swear it, and I even weeded before the sun came up on a few sultry mornings.  The truth is, it's always something.  Last year the locals tore out their hair over the tomato blight.  The year before, no one could remember getting a decent corn crop.  
I did manage to get to the LFS yesterday and they had new bolts of fabric, bless their fibery hearts!
This panel was so whimsical that I knew it would have to follow me home, and bring a few of its friends with it.
I've started to set the rows on my Twisted Log Cabin and I could use some help!  I can't decide between the pink cherry block and the blue/red polka dot.  What do you think?

Monday, July 26, 2010


Everyone is talking about it - a coooool front moved in last night, releasing this part of the northeast from the fangs of inferno!  Seriously.  I turned the A/C off and slept under the window where the curtains lifted and parted - softly, all night long.  Bliss.
This morning, a little time spent in the sewing room and then - BIG plans for the vegetable garden.
This wonderful fabric arrived last week - I haven't gotten my 'Scotty' trailer yet, so this may have to do, for now.  Have you been to lately?  If they don't carry it, I swear, it doesn't exist!  I actually have to impose limits on both the equilter site AND Amazon for myself!  Who knew?  Remember life before Google?  
Someone was feeling especially photogenic this morning.  Check out that window sill - it comes to you courtesy of Miss Bella's claws.  I give up.  One day, when we refurbish this portion of the house, she'll be banned.  Do you hear me, Bella?  BANNED.  I had some sad news this morning - the unsinkable Max passed away at the ripe old age of 20. I don't have any photos of him as he went to live with Hilary's father years ago.  He was a GORGEOUS thing - suspected of having Balinese blood.  Twenty years - a good run, Max.  You were loved.  And you too were a 'cool breeze' - all attitude, feline aloofness, and quite grand.  
Some nice lightweight linen in white and denim - I also have a shell-pink piece - all waiting to be transformed.  Next week I am taking mom on a road trip to Norwalk, Ct to shop Banksville Fabrics.  When I tell you that this place is fabric mecca, I am not exaggerating.  The Shapiros buy from the NYC garment district and offer bolt after bolt of the most current designer fabrics - all discounted.  This is not a place for the faint of heart - this is SERIOUS sewing country!  Maybe I'll be able to sneak my camera in.

Friday, July 23, 2010


 My kitchen is positively chock full of healthy food.
If you open the refrigerator, this kind of stuff falls out -
(I'm about zucchini'ed out!)  Not to mention this GIANT head of cabbage, which I find kind of scary (and flawless)  I mean, WHO can eat that much cole slaw by themselves?  Does anyone have a recipe for sauerkraut?  Dear God.
One would think that I would be impossibly thin and healthy.  One would be wrong.  I went to the convenience store last night and bought (voice drops to a whisper) potato chips and dip. I did.  I really did.  All of this healthy food is getting on my last nerve!  It's one thing to have heads of cauliflower and broccoli growing beautifully out there on the vine - it's altogether another to have them languishing in the refrigerator, growing limper by the minute.  I hate wasting food and it's even more repugnant to me when the food that I'm wasting is the food I've been growing.  It's hard to prepare food for one.  For me, food = love.  Preparing food for my family is a great joy and a creative endeavor - one that I always look forward to.  But, leave me alone for a few weeks with no one to cook for and you'll find emptied tins of sardines and cracker crumbs about!  (and potato chip sacks)
I'm knitting.  This is the beginning of an original pattern that I've been designing.  It's exciting and HARD.  Hours pass by like minutes when one is out on one's native knitting limb.  Anne Hanson, I have a whole new appreciation for you!  How do you do it?  Those lace charts, those row-by-row instructions which are PERFECTION?  Amazing.  I love lace knitting, but my roots are in cables.  Textural knitting really appeals to me, but I've put it aside for quite some time now.  I'm back!  Cables put me in mind of autumn and crisp air and Sheep & Wool festival!  I'm not ready for summer to end, but a little relief from the humidity would be nice.
I think I'll go plant a new row of beets and perhaps some swiss chard.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Did I mention that Scott left for the Bahamas yesterday?  The project that he was counting on in Westchester won't be ready for a few weeks, so he skipped off - I heard him mention something about a 'Blackhawk' project - I'm assuming that the team owner must be building.  What's a Blackhawk?  I thought that I'd post some images from Staniel Cay.  We can all have a vicarious thrill!
I could live with this view from my front window - how about you?
I'm told that the temps can reach to 106 on any given July day.  No thank you - island breezes or not, 106 degrees is NOT knitting weather!!!  
Still, it's a pretty view. wouldn't you say?  There's lots more, but I want to talk about sewing.  I am making a little dress for my BFF's granddaughter.  I found a beautiful embroidered seersucker at JoAnn's, which was surprising!  I never have high expectations when I go there, and sometimes serendipity occurs!!! 
When my children were small, my mother made rompers for them out of seersucker - there was always a fresh one on hand when I reached for it.  So I have a close connection to this fabric and whenever I see the 100% cotton variety, well, I'M a sucker for it!!!  This piece is no exception - it's soft, yet crisp and feels wonderful against the skin.  It also wears like iron - a nice feature for something that is laundered regularly!
I am loving these disjointed log cabin blocks!  I try to make two each day.
I've started a new banner in decidedly 'Hilary' fabrics!
And I have a helper this morning who is very vocal and refuses to move.  She misses Scott already and is making her displeasure known.  Although I rarely compliment this one, she IS very attached to us in her aloof manner.  A little head butting, followed by a quick nip is her way of showing her love.  Ouch.

I'm hoping to send these two pillows off to Pauline for finishing.  Ssssshhh - she isn't aware of this, yet!  No one can do piping like Pauline.  She makes impossibly tiny piping from slinky slippery silk and never misses a beat!  Now that I've buttered her up, perhaps she will consent to this work!
It's so frustrating having to deal with this camera of mine which REFUSES to document details.  Maybe it's the user. Maybe I need to go back to the owner's manual and study.  Anyway, there are some wonderful cube beads dangling from Sunbonnet Sue's hat, which you cannot see.  You'll have to take my word for it - me, the occasional photographer!
I leave you with another Staniel image -

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Most of Monday was spent in my mother's gardens.  She needs help maintaining now, and since I am a free agent for a few months I can give her some much needed assistance.   Her property backs up to a large wooded area, free of houses.  When you walk into the woods to empty your weed bucket, it's almost silent - in an eerie way.  All around huge maples have fallen, untouched.  They seem like prehistoric mammoths, moldering without disturbance or care.  The treehouse that my father built for Andrew lies on the ground in pieces, it's round 'window' staring up unblinking, as if to ask this question - where has everyone gone to?  When it is time to leave I feel grateful, and anxious to push this sadness away and return to my life where reminders of what was do not haunt me.  Of course, it's never THAT easy to run away from one's ghosts.

Out on the highway I receive calls from both Hilary and Scott - there is a tractor trailer overturned on the bridge.  This means that I will sit, without air conditioning, for what could be hours, waiting to pass over the river.  I take my chances and head south to the Newburgh-Beacon bridge, not realizing that there is a potent summer storm ripping through that area.  Nearly an hour later I am crossing this bridge to discover that all of the traffic lights are out and cars are engaged in a dangerous game of Who-Goes-First (it's a variation on 'Chicken'!) It is pouring (a good thing since we are parched) 20 minutes south of us, but our road is perfectly dry when I pull into our driveway.  My gardens were looking pretty crisp despite the shortage of water.
The radishes and zinnias that I planted last week were poking through - but they seemed pretty thirsty.
As I was watering, the pressure started to fail and I realized that we were running out of water.  We have an old cistern that was originally used to spray the orchards.  Scott has refurbished and recapped it, making the system more efficient and safer.  It holds A LOT of water!  The system catches the rain and it is pumped out to the various gardens, etc.  But sometimes, when Mother Nature decides to hold out, we have to call for water.  It isn't cheap.
The cistern can hold all and more that this vehicle brings.  I know that the Stargazers were happy ...
In a little while, when the sun dips to the west, I'll go back outdoors and water the long borders.  And I guess that I can cancel that little rain dance that I'd planned!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


It is too hot and humid to garden.  The air quality is dubious.  And you all know what THIS means - fun, fun, FUN divided between the sewing room and the kitchen!  I have been making refrigerator pickles because Mother Nature forced my hand.  She decided that it was time to accelerate the growth of everything in my garden and I am up to my ears in baby cukes.  So, when MN hands you mature cucumbers, make refrigerator pickles!
The dill and nasturtium came straight from the garden too.  I'm so proud of these NY Beauties - they'll be ready to consume in about a week.  Of course, I have summer squash and zucchini up the wazoo!!!  I made zucchini breads and a really gorgeous soup -
Please don't judge me because of the state of my oven.  I've been promised new appliances so I've held out and kind of gone on strike waiting for their arrival.  Still waiting ...  and not complaining, because I despise oven cleaning.  I'm convinced that it is a toxic enterprise - all the way around!  Back to the breads - they are especially yummy because I grate a large sweet potato into the mix. YUM!  And there is a secret ingredient, but I cannot reveal it.  Sounds like ... c-a-r-d-o-m-o-m.
I love this summer squash soup.  Whenever I get to use all of my own home-grown ingredients I feel so COMPETENT! As if I could have been a pioneer woman in another life -  you know, raising a parcel of children and growing a garden and feeding the livestock and making the clothing, etc.  (no jumping into the SUV to run to market for extra ingredients)  Oh yeah, and dying at 35 - an old woman!!!!  Sometimes I think that I was born too soon.  But then I remember what happens to my psyche when the power fails.  I'm exactly where I am supposed to be.
2 lbs summer squash, cut into 1/4" rounds
2 ears of corn, removed from cob, save cobs
3-4 large shallots, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped, seeds removed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
2-3 TBS olive oil
 Combine all of the above and saute for a few minutes.
Add 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken broth) and simmer until squash is tender, remove corn husks and discard them.
Process all ingredients, in small batches, in food processor.
Depending on what you like - you could add light cream at this point and gently simmer, add salt and white pepper to taste.

I am adding leftover crab and sour cream and chopped scallions.  A loaf of extraordinary bread ...

Patty, my BFF, came over and attempted to teach me how to crochet.  This was a disappointing event, to say the very least.  I. Didn't. Get. IT.  Patty promised to try again.  In the meantime, she crocheted a beautiful little edge on a sweater that I just finished.  How pretty is this?  Patty, you are the BEST.
Must find some special buttons for this, and the Elizabeth Zimmerman piece that I have completed ... the buttons are too small for this piece.
Patty brought a Debbie Bliss sweater to show me, that she had finished for her new granddaughter.  It's really beautiful.  She used an old Green Mountain yarn - remember them?  I should have insisted upon details, but I was too busy ooohing and aaahhing over this -
Not a great image, but the sweater IS, believe me!  Patty is an excellent knitter.  She does so many things so very well -
I am constantly in awe of her talent, her energy, her magnificent heart.  Such a good friend - a treasure.  And she's gorgeous, to boot!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Friday was one of those wonderful 'home' days.  As in, neither Scott nor I had to work.  When this happy and rare occurrence falls on a weekday, it feels like winning the lottery.  I have to be careful not to stay in that mode - it's intoxicating.  Imagine having the luxury and freedom of NOT having to report for work?  Ever again?  (sigh)
Scott was up before the birds (literally) digging a hole.
It was time to retire this poor thing - battered and weathered and faithful through eight long seasons at Cloudwalk.
It really started when the neighbor installed his new mailbox on OUR property.  We don't know why he does this kind of stuff, but we're getting used to his quirky behavior.  Like burning his garbage on sweltering days or using a chain saw every Friday night (are there any trees LEFT on his property???)  The list goes on, but suffice to say, the fence that Scott built last year has made for "better neighbors", (as in, now we don't have to SEE his insane behavior any longer) even though it couldn't hide his shiny new plastic molded mailbox.  If any of you possesses such a mailbox, PLEASE do not take offense.  It's just that we are partial to handmade ANYTHING, and the mailbox set-up is no exception to the rule.   Oh - btw, this neighbor that I write of is NOT my good neighbor Andy with whom I share the bluebirds and the gardens.  It's the Other One.  The Anti-Neighbor.  This is his mailbox.  On our property.
So, I asked Scott to build a new mailbox holder.  If you remember, Scott doesn't do 'small'.  I wasn't surprised when the 2X6 appeared and the toolbox was opened and the sound of saws filled the air.  
Did I mention that it was 86 degrees before 9:00am?  I was out in the herb garden while Scott was creating his magic, but we were both suffering with the heat and high humidity.  I don't know why I feel compelled to report this weather pattern - somehow sharing it makes it less intolerable!  It's supposed to reach into the 90's over the weekend.  Sewing weather.
The next images were taken a few moments ago - it's surprising how quickly this project came together.

Scott painted the flower box the color of his barn and I planted the go-to geraniums with some mystery seeds which will cascade in time - hopefully before the snow flies!  There is still more to do - brass numbers, filigree bracket, mailbox painting, etc. . . but I think that this is good progress! 

 Meanwhile, I wandered out to the gardens and picked our first broccoli offerings -
I am having my BFF for dinner - cream of broccoli soup with good french bread, endive and beet salad with walnuts and goat cheese and steamed CRAB LEGS ... mmmmm

Sunday, July 11, 2010


We had blessed rain yesterday.  When I heard the magical sound of the drops hitting the roof, all I could do was grin. To celebrate, I made a mexican frittata for breakfast and then spent most of the morning holed up in my sewing room.  I am having a love affair with blue and red.  What can I say?
I've ordered some wonderful fabric from  But I cannot show it yet ... it's a big surprise!  I'm so excited about it that I probably won't be able to keep it under wraps for long.
I've been trying to avoid those stars - auditioning different prints and such.  What do you think of this?  Too cheesy?  Big cop out?  I NEED to finish this piece!  I really would welcome any and all suggestions.
Found this great basket at TJ Maxx - a home/fashion discount store.  It reminds me of the selvage pieces I see on the internet.  The material seems to be some kind of plastic - it's perfect for this -
A storage place for current patterns - ones in use and ones about to be used.  I have issues when it comes to great baskets and vessels of any kind.  Needful stuff - must have them all!
Some of my vintage watering cans came out today - it's beginning to really feel like summer around here!