Friday, September 10, 2010

I've fallen off the blog wagon, and I'm trying to pull myself back up!

Hello my friends!  I was telling someone today that "I have a blog...well, I used to have a blog...well, I still have a blog but I haven't written anything in months".  I have really let so many other things take over my time, and have not done much felting or wooly-making to speak of!  But this past weekend, I got back in the studio and crafted a beautiful flower pin.  It was a commissioned piece for my friend who is giving a party for a new bride and groom this weekend.  The only white wool I had was a boiled wool jacket, and I just wasn't happy with the rosette I was trying to wrangle out of that stiff wool.  So I created a new design and BOY DO I LOVE IT! (Sorry that my only picture of it is a tad fuzzy.)  Sitting up there cutting and sewing and attaching little tiny pearl beads put me back in that "zen" place where I love to go.  I realized how much I have missed creating something new!  Here it is September and my big season for wool is fast upon me....oh no!  So I need to get BUSY.  I am hoping to do enough new items to sell again at the Arts Council and at Holly Days. I am SO ready for Fall after this long and ridiculously hot summer!  I think the weather really has kept me from working with wool. Now that there are hints of chilly mornings and the leaves are beginning to turn and football season has begun IT IS TIME TO GET EXCITED about EXCEPTIONAL WOOLIES...rah, rah, rah!  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My My Time Does Fly

Oh my goodness.  Where did the past 2 months go?  February and March were a blur and it is now April and I've been SO delinquent.  Life is busy..too busy.  I guess I've opted to take those opportunities when I had time to sit and do nothing to do just that...instead of blogging!  So here are some updates...and I promise to do a little better!

1)  Heidi the dog is still FABULOUS.  I.  love.  her.  She and I have had great walks, great times at the dog park and she is the best couch potato EVER!  Everyone is totally jealous of me having the PERFECT dog.  She is sweet, she obeys well, she is quiet (except for talking to the squirrels or the doorbell) and she is a compact little bundle of beauty!  I love to watch her leap out the door, bounding over to the trees to try her best to catch some busy squirrel eating his lunch.  I love to watch her shake her toys ferociously, and run like the dickens (and always win) the race to the toy chicken. (Sorry all doggies at the dog park...Heidi is going to get there FIRST.)

2)  Crafting has been at a standstill.  I have tried to knit a little...started scarves for my daughter and my sister and let them know that they will be wearing them NEXT winter.  I started a wrap for myself and haven't gotten past casting on yet.  Woolies haven't been made since the IPOD cases around Valentine's Day.  I'm in my "dormant" period with the felt, but need to get cranked up again.  Last year I was SO thankful that I started making my holiday inventory early (July) and this year I have vowed to start even earlier.  So I need to start thinking Christmas again soon.  One thing about my is pretty season specific.  Today is is almost 90 degrees (yes, unseasonably hot) and no one wants to think about a product made of wool.  But winter will come again...and "woolies" will be all the rage I'm sure!!!

3)  A highlight of February was a weekend spent in Happy Valley with my sister...going to see Doc Watson and the Kruger Brothers in North Wilkesboro at their benefit for Haitian Relief....and the bonus of seeing a baby goat shortly after it was born (my niece being one of the humans helping Mama Goat through her labor and delivery).  Kidding season at Ripshin Goat Dairy is a glorious time.  Baby goats are one of God's gifts to the world...they are sweet and fresh and being around them just makes you feel good.  March blew in and it was the middle of March before I even got used to the fact that it was a new month...time really did fly in March.  I hosted an annual party that I give each year for friends..."the hen party"...all women who have been a great support to me in times of sadness and in joy.  I love planning and preparing for the party each year, and do everything "chicken"!  Next year I promise to share some of my best hen-related decor and food ideas.

4) Many fun things await me this Spring.  I'll be celebrating with my daughter her 21st birthday the end of this month!  I'll be going to Merlefest again....SO much fun!  I'll be finishing up another semester of teaching at the community college.  I'm hopefully going to have my house painted....a much needed but EXPENSIVE project.  So I see myself spending lots of time at home, trying to save a dime.  I hope that my creative urges will send me back to the sewing machine to create more woolies.....this house painting thing might jolt me into it sooner than later!

Ta-ta for now.....and I promise to post before the next 2 months fly by!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snowing and Sewing!

Hi everyone! Being snowed in isn't a bad thing at all...lots of time to catch up on many projects that were unfinished, and begin some new ones.

I've been working on Woolies...with hearts.  My good friend Camille gave me the idea to make iPod cases, and I finally got started.  I finished up three of them, along with a drawstring bag that I started a couple of weeks ago.  Heidi and I have been taking breaks to go out in the snow, and I realized that the white backdrop with the natural light might make great pictures for my new items!  So call me crazy (my neighbors probably did), but I put my new items on the snow and shot away!

I really love them.  I'm naming them things like:  Hearts on Fire; Music in my Heart,  There's a Spot in My Heart for You

....hoping to make several more tomorrow...because it looks like I won't be going anywhere..Schools have already been canceled for tomorrow!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Privileged Place

Man with Red Ear - Paul Hartley

Yesterday I had the honor of attending an amazing gallery exhibit of which my sister was one of the artists.  This exhibit was put together after the death of Paul Hartley, a greatly esteemed art professor from East Carolina University.  Paul died on Thanksgiving Day.  His legacy lives on in unbelievable art being produced by his former students, many of which were featured in this show.  Prior to the opening reception, my sister Jane and I went to meet three of her best ECU Art School friends for lunch.  We had an extra seat at our table for six, which was quickly assigned to Paul and his memory.  As I sat and listened to all of these artists talk of their mentor, their teacher and most importantly their cherished friend, I realized that I was the observer of another memorial celebration for Paul.  Tears and laughter interspersed our time together and I felt truly privileged to peek into this space of time in which all of these friends comforted each other through their grief. The show is huge...over 100 former students' work displayed in two galleries which are only a block apart on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh.  I'm so thankful that I was a part of this beautiful day of remembering Paul Hartley.

If you're interested in this exhibit, please go back to the calendar section of this website and look at paintings from Paul's "Looking Back" Show posted there under past exhibits.  If you can go to Raleigh before February 27 and see this Legacy show, you will be so glad that you did.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dog Days of Winter

Not much is happening around my house these days but enjoying the new dog!  Not felting, not sewing, not cooking, not cleaning...especially not cleaning. Christmas decorations are slllllooooowly but surely getting put away in between all the walks with the dog, playing out in the 20 something degrees with the squeak toys and of course, snuggling on the couch all the other times.

You should see my girl RUN..she looks like a gazelle...she prances and jumps in the happy to be outside expending all that energy.  She runs like the wind..grabs her toy, runs back at lightning speed...and along the way shakes the living daylights out of the toy and even flips around in mid-air some!  It's the cutest thing I've ever witnessed!  (Well...besides everything my daughter ever did when she was a baby, a toddler, an elementary school student, a middle school student...well..maybe not the middle school student....)

Heidi is just plain CUTE. This morning I moved her crate to my bedroom.  I have a door off my bedroom that leads onto this balcony on the upper level of the house.  I decided that since Heidi LOVES to watch squirrels, that she might enjoy seeing the squirrels outside in the trees while in her crate.  I'm pretty sure she loved it.  Looking outside has got to be better than looking at a wall.

I just need this honeymoon period with her.  Hope noone expects a whole bunch of crafty ideas, recipes, or  cool travel postings.  I'm just home with my dog.  And LOVING IT.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Soup's On! is COLD.  We're talkin' 32, 33, 34 degrees for a HIGH for days on end.  I could easily eat soup for lunch and dinner on days like this. (And today I did.)  For the past 2 weeks, while on vacation, I made several pots of soup.  I had friends over for lunch one day and we had soup and grilled pimento cheese sandwiches.  Then I went to my sister's for the weekend and made soup while there.  Tonight I came home from the first day back to work after two wonderful weeks off...and what did I do?  Made soup.  So I thought sharing some soup recipes might be blog-worthy...especially if there are folks like me out there wanting to make something hot and comforting...
I haven't even written down the potato soup I'll try to reconstruct in as orderly a fashion as possible:

 Exceptional Tater Soup

2 cans chicken stock
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup mix
About 10 baby carrots sliced in 1/2 inch chunks
Center stalks of celery with leaves chopped
Salt and Pepper

Bring to boil and cook until carrots are slightly tender.

Add one package of Simply Potatoes Diced Potatoes with Onion.  Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Add about 1/3 teaspoon of coriander, about 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 small can evaporated milk.  Add about 1/3 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

  I wanted it to be thicker like potato soup is supposed to be...and some of the recipes that I scanned in my "Fix It and Forget It " cookbook used flour as a thickener for the potato soups.  So I used about 2 Tablespoons of flour and whisked it well with a small amount of water to avoid any lumps and added it to the mixture.  It thickened perfectly.  After adding the milk, it's important to only heat the soup through and then eat, and not let it cook or it will curdle.

I think that I've not forgotten anything that I turned out really really yummy.

My other favorite soup recipe that I've made several times lately is from my All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (2006 Oxmoor House).  It's easy and delicious and I usually have most of the ingredients handy.

Tomato-Basil Bisque

2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans tomato soup
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cook first 5 ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 6-8 minutes, or until thoroughly  heated.  Yield: 7 cups

If you are like me and never buy buttermilk unless you need it for a recipe, you can make a substitution with regular milk with either white vinegar or lemon juice added...1 tablespoon per cup of milk...let stand 5 minutes.  I've made this recipe both ways - with real buttermilk and with my "homemade" buttermilk.  It tasted great both times.

So..there you have it...two of my best soups from the past few weeks....enjoy and stay warm!