Saturday, September 18, 2010

soiree, southern style

Here I am at the wine festival Soiree held in Vernon Hill, Virginia on the scenic, rolling hills of Greenwood Vineyards.  We were fortunate enough to have a booth and be able to drink their robust wines (yes, right here in Southern Virginia) and taste the over the top appetizers from Halifax's own Molasses Grill.

We hauled some of the things I have been working on. It was hot as hell so I forgot to take photos once we set up and the  corks were o' poppin'.  ( They gave us our own lovely little wine glass which were well used!)  The space actually came together nicely for our first festival! Southern Plenty means plenty of clothes line and clothes pins! We had a fun, successful night and met many wonderful folks from Halifax County Virginia. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

honey, honey

 This Spring we harvested just one of our two bee hives. (its a long story that involves a few bee stings) So if your interested, this is about how much honey we got from one level of 9 frames of comb. What I'm wondering is : How many flights does this pile represent?  Can the bees taste the quality of their honey? Do the bees get sticky and if so do they groom each other? What is the wax created from and what do the queens do when they get a break from laying eggs? We havent harvested any of the Fall flow. This Spring was considered excellent as far as nectar available to the bees. Im wondering if the Fall honey will be darker in color and how different it will taste. Its all really quite wonderful.

a new old bag

Here is one of a new series of bags I've been working on. Woops! This  interior shot was suppose to post second! I guess the term repurpose might be what I am doing. I purchased remnants from an upholstery manufacture that were headed for the rag picker and am having a great old time making it into things. My friend Darren has pointed out that I bought about 1/4 of a ton of fabric. Can you ever have to much fabric? What I love about it all is the color combinations, textures, design possibilities and problem solving. 

As you can see, I tend to use the circle and oval in my work and I like the idea of mirror  imaging .... well, sort of.  I'm now trying to think of a name for this series. Since its a big bag, my husband Robert thought maybe Oval Haul (like overall ) would be a good name. After all, we are trying to keep things Southern!

Monday, September 13, 2010

map of the south

This is a map.
Its not the kind of map that takes you to any destination.  Its a map of  a family tree and it is the maps treasure.  The red is vibrant, the browns are a rich chocolate.  Its made up of family members shirts, dresses and probably old printed flour sacks. The squares are about 1/2 inch small.  This is just a section of a twin sized quilt. It's patterns seem  to dance on the wall in our living room. Each zig zag edged square is an amazing design in itself.  Unfortunately some of the fabrics are deteriorating but in a way its kind of interesting to see what the internal workings are. The construction of the seams are  all hand stitched with care and its lined with cotton. The fabrics are from everyday clothing. Nothing fancy. I'm guessing the person who made this didn't have much in the way of material goods. The energy and thoughtfulness tells of love , care, consideration and beauty. The makers name? Its on the tip of your tongue.

Friday, September 10, 2010

love, southern style

  One of my all time favorite things to do is read cookbooks. My favorites are Southern cookbooks and if they come with short stories woven in..... even better.  In the South, love is often a practical thing and showing love is definitely in the form of preparing and presenting food. Food is everyones familiar. Food is what you bring when there is a birth or a death in a family and words just won't do justice. I've learned to love the foods discovered and shared while living here and I am always trying to figure out how they  came about or what migrant group might have settled here and created such wonderful things. I remember the first time I tried a fried pie. Its like a turnover, but fried, not baked.  They are wonderful. Apple or sweet potato  are my personal favorites.  I started asking questions of various people and what there take was on a fried pie. My favorite memory was when I told someone I was experimenting with recipes and her eyes lit up. In that instant, I saw her childlike delight. She said "Do you seal the edge using a fork?" And I knew right then that someone from her childhood showed her their love when they would make her fried pies. I figure they were sealed by pressing a fork around the edge, very carefully,  so that the love wouldn't ooze  out.

collecting cookbooks

One of the things I am looking forward to when we open the new shop is the cookbook section. I have been collecting cookbooks since we moved here and am ready to load and organize them at the shop. While going through the selection, I came across the very first cookbooks I ever owned. I think they were both Christmas presents from my parents. To this day I believe my favorite things to make are jumbo muffins and quiche. If you like my muffins and quiches then you can thank my parents, Marge and Herb. When we had our first restaurant (called Mariposa) there was many an early morning when I was baking that I could almost feel my Dad standing behind me, looking over my shoulder  to see what good thing I was making ; ).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

baklava and beehives

                                                           berries+ bees = baklava
This is a photo of the holly berry trees in our front yard. This Spring when the trees were flowering the bees from our beehives went crazy for them. Now we get to enjoy two trees full of berries.... and of course the honey.
Some friends had us over for a lovely dinner the other night so I decided to make baklava. In the rural south there are no unsalted shelled pistachios to be found so I ended up making it using macadamia nuts instead. Even Bella and Fanny (the friends dogs) wanted to check out our baklava breath after dessert.
Here is the recipe:
1 pound filo frozen dough (defrosted)
mix together:
1 pound macadamia nuts chopped finely
1 Tablespoon orange blossom water (you can find this in middle eastern grocery stores)
honey (enough to just barely hold the nuts together

1/2 pound melted butter unsalted
Layer 1/2 of the pound of filo dough by drizzling butter on one sheet you have placed in the bottom of a baking pan. Place another sheet of filo dough, then drizzle butter, then another sheet of dough. Continue until 1/2 pound of filo dough has been used.
Spread the nut mixture over the layered filo and then layer the remaining filo on top, finishing with butter drizzled all over the top. Cut into finger food size pieces.
Bake at 350 till browned on the top and bottom.

For the sugar syrup:
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon orange blossom water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
heat the above items in a microwave until the sugar dissolves. Let it cool. When the baklava comes out of the oven, cool it for 15 minutes and then pour the syrup over it

Friday, September 3, 2010

in the studio

I have this urge to photo my feet in different locations.
 Kind of like the Gnome in the movie "Amelie"! Here they are clean.... well sort of
The profile photo, to the right,  is me after spray painting an old fridge red for the shop.
 I wanted the look of an old timey coke machine (I know... spray cans
are bad for enviornment! Its the only spray
 I've used in years besides spray whipped cream! :  0 )

art 21

Have you ever come across something that has been out there for a while and you say to yourself "where have I been?" or " How did I miss this?" There is a great series Robert and I have just devoured called "Art 21" on PBS. It goes into artists studios and they talk about their ideas, work habits, past works etc. etc. This was so inspiring.... I cant begin to tell you about it all. So many things are now computerized and the work is right on spot. Check it out if you can. We saw it on Netflix direct feed but am sure you can find it on the web somewhere. Also on the PBS site they have discussion and help for the classroom when viewing this series. How good is that?

bears, bunnies and cats

Here are some great little friends I have been working on. Their faces are made from discarded woolen sweaters and the bodies are made from scraps of a upholstery manufacture. I gave one to a friend in the hospital. She is a tiny, elderly lady. She called it her little hug because it fit closely under her chin and gave her comfort. She is all better and her bear sits on her day couch, happy as can be for the occasional hug. They each have a different expression. If I sew one ear in a bit shorter than the other they look inquisitive.  If their eyes are sewn a bit to close, they look concerned. They make me laugh. I make 3-5 at one time and when finished, I have them peek around the corner and talk to my husband, Robert. Their arms are sewn in after stuffing, so they become animated with just a hint of movement. I haven't named any because you know.... once you name them they are yours forever!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Studio

For many months we have been working on what will be a new shop for us in Southern Virginia. Some of the items to sell I have been making in my studio. As it fills with wonderful colors and textures, it makes me happy just to be in it surrounded by all the creations.  My sister in law Hallie gave us the rack I have all my aprons on. I never thought I was well organized but the rack has helped a lot. Thanks Hallie!
  I've been making collage type cards in the two racks on the table. Another find from Hallie! My old trusty Featherweight vintage singer has done well for me over the years. And a bit of the fabric haul to the right and remnants of the old bead shop (excuse my boring writing and type that seems to change mid stream. Blog posting is new to me!)
I have tried to do an around the room view of the studio. Hopefully you get the idea.