Whew, I fell seriously behind in blogging again. Let’s just say I’ve been distracted by curious things going on in the country I live in (and somedays I am thinking of moving to a different country, I might be over the United States…).
I know you might be tired of reading about this quilt, but I have this one more post on it before I send it off to the longarm quilter for professional quilting.
This is a follow up to the post – And then there were 100 (yay)!– I’ve sewing together all 100 blocks for the Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks quilt:
I had looked at those blocks on my design wall so much my eyes were crossing, so I asked my partner John to come out with an initial design/layout. He likes symmetry and order and he created an initial layout and then I refined it a little.
He did it in “color rings”, where the outer ring (well square ring, ha!) is teals/blue-greens and greens with gray blocks as corner anchors. Then the next set of rings are yellows, browns and reds. The inner ring is purple with then blues in the center.
I know to some it looks like a “hot mess” but I love it!
Sewing together 100 blocks can be daunting so I sewed it together by breaking it into 4 – 25 block sections. I sewed 5 rows of 5 blocks together to make each section twice and sewed those two sections together. I repeated the process for the other side and then sewed the two halves together.
As there is so much piecing of small pieces to make each block, I stitched the entire edge of the quilt with a 1/8 inch seam to prevent unraveling during travel:
In case you are curious – the actual measurement of the quilt top came out to be 60.5 inches x 60.5 inches.
Currently I am piecing together the backing with a collection of teal/blue-green yardages I have:
And then off to the longarm quilter. You won’t see another post about this quilt (whew) until it returns to me quilted and I have put the binding on. Then I will show you the finished quilt!
We are continuing to experiment with meal prep and making meals out of the cookbook Damn Delicious Meal Prep by Chungah Rhee.
Recently I made Skinny Gumbo (a lower fat version of Louisiana Creole gumbo) and I was able to have enough for dinner that night and 3 additional servings. John’s father is in his 80s and lives alone since his wife passed in late December 2021, so we bring him meals (he lives less than a mile away) and this new meal prep process is great to make up meals for him also!
Also, strawberries were on sale, and I made homemade vanilla sugar scones and we had strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream for dessert!
My partner John and I love potstickers, we have them anytime we go to a restaurant with any sort of Asian cuisine. Recently we discovered a recipe for a vegetarian version of them in a new cookbook we are experimenting with (to try and make healthier food choices): Damn Delicious Meal Prep by Chungah Rhee:
So during John’s lunch break (he works remotely) we took a stab at making the potstickers in the cookbook, which made enough to be able to also freeze a large batch for future use.
Neither of us have made potstickers from scratch before, and it was a fun adventure to work through the recipe together.
I didn’t take any photos of assembling the filling for the potstickers but here are a couple photos of John filling the wonton wrappers and then pan frying the potstickers (you pan fry, then steam, then cook off the liquid):
The cookbook did not include a dipping sauce but we found one on the web:
And finally we could sit down to a nice potsticker snack!
We froze the rest (though we wished we had cooked up more after tasting them – YUMMY!):
They will freeze on parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet for 24 hours and then I can place them in a freezer bag to store them up to 3 months in the freezer. It will be nice to have homemade potstickers handy when we are in the mood for them!
I cannot for copyright reasons share the recipe published in the cookbook but the author did have a version of her potstickers made with pork (what is commonly used) that I found online:
And here is a garlic ginger chicken version by the same author I found on YouTube:
I think we will try this version next time we need to restock our potstickers stash!
In case you are wondering, I have tried another recipe from this cookbook before we made the potstickers. The reason why we got this cookbook was to find a way to better prep for our lunches and dinner when we are not really in the mood to cook.
John and I love to cook but sometimes we are tired and sometimes we made “bad food” decisions when we do not feel like cooking. This cookbook has recipes to prepare meals that you put in individual containers that are ready to eat – breakfasts, lunches and dinners. You can cook on Sunday and have a week’s lunches all planned.
You can also make dishes to freeze for dinners. Or you can have things like potstickers on hand when you want some tasty like you would have at a restaurant but not spend restaurant money!
I’ve planned out two more dishes to make with the cookbook next – a shrimp gumbo and a dish that mirrors a tuna roll we have a favorite sushi place (but used canned tuna not fresh).
The author did publish some of her meal prep recipes on her website and here is a link to some of them if you want to experiment with meal prep:
I’ve decided to sew the blocks together without any lattice or other design to separate the blocks; and to not add a border. As a result this will only be a lap size quilt (100 – 6.5 inch x 6.5 inch blocks, minus 1/4 inch seams to join the blocks…no sorry I do not want to do that math* but will let you know the final measurements when I sew the blocks together!).
Next time I post about this quilt, I will share the quilt blocks sewn together in their final layout – I still need to decide how I want to organize the 100 blocks…
Oh if you are just joining us and want to see the evolution of this quilt, I put all the posts on this quilt under a new category I created for my blog:Sampler Quilts. I am hoping to do more sampler quilts in the future to go under this category. Note if you click on the link for Sampler Quilts you will see this current post again also.
*Okay I did sort of do the math and I am guessing around 60 inches x 60 inches will be the final quilt size. But let me know if you disagree (I took 10 x 6.5 inches = 65 inches, minus 20 x .25 seam allowances which = 5 inches – for 65 inches – 5 inches = 60 inches…)
I haven’t posted any new pieces by my partner John, a self-taught hobbyist woodworker, as he has been super busy with his job.
Recently he found time to work on a new woodworking piece, and has recently finished a pine floating top table. The table was originally to be used as sofa table in our basement but it came out so cool, we decided to put it in the entryway.
Here is the piece in progress in his woodshop in our basement:
Here he is staining it in the garage after he finished building it:
And finally the finished piece, now in our entryway!
I put a bowl I found last year at a second hand store with a little pillow I made on the top of the table. There are bird illustrations on the wall behind the table, so I also placed a little bird dish my friend Kathy got me and two little birds that were a favorite of John’s late wife.
With this table complete, John is now planning his next project.
Well after sharing my visit to the Austin Central Library in the post Peaceful Oasis at the Austin Central Library; and a weekend spent in Fort Collins, CO with a visit to an incredible kitchen store with a wonderful collection of home decor books, I was in the mood for a library stack that I can have at my home!
And that stack would be filled with books from the 700s section!
So on the way back from Fort Collins on Monday, I reserved a couple books (and I use the word “couple” lightly…) that I saw at the kitchen store while we wandered around College Avenue in Fort Collins.
But I couldn’t wait and on Tuesday, I headed to my library to browse their new releases in the 700s and anything else I might find. Little did I know, and I only checked on a whim, a bunch of books that I had reserved were waiting in the “Holds” section for me.
So here was the stack I brought home on Tuesday (a combo of my Holds and my browsings):
And then on Wednesday I received an e-mail from the library that MORE books I had on hold had come in. I already needed to run errands in that area (with the crazy price of gas I’ve been grouping all my errands) so I stopped at the library and increased my stack!
Here is the stack with the additional books, minus one book I finished on Tuesday:
I set up a system to place books I am done with under a chair in my home library so I know what needs to be returned for whenever I am running errands near the library again:
I know, I know, it’s a very fancy system.
I am working my way through the stack with my tea each morning:
One of the books I’ve really enjoyed so far is British Designers at Home by Jenny Rose-Innes (2020):
I’ve read/browsed a lot of interior design/home decorating books, and many that feature the homes of interior designers, but this one was different. I am not sure if it is the British approach to decorating but the interiors actually looked like real people lived in them!
Yes there were some expensive antiques and I am sure some pricey paintings, etc. but many of the interiors looked like you just wanted to curl up in a corner with a good book and some tea. This is my kind of decorating!
Although I love all the Farmhouse, Scandinavian, Minimalistic, Arts and Crafts, Midcentury Modern, Rustic, Industrial, etc. interior design styles I see in a lot of home decor books I borrow, they do not always seem particularly cozy or real – like how do you get comfortable in those homes? I am just looking for somewhere to curl up with some books and my tea!
The best compliment/feedback I ever got on my personal random eclectic style of decorating was from my neighbor in Bend, Oregon’s 3 year oldson who plopped onto some pillows on my floor and declared: “Tierney, your house is cozy!”
Another thing I really liked in the British Designers at Home was that nearly ever house had a library, or some room dedicated to their book collections (or just books everywhere)!
Besides the “people actually live here” vibe of many of the homes in the books, the thing I most enjoyed about the book was the brief interviews with the designers at their homes at the end of each section using standard questions.
The best question was:
If there was a fire, what would you grab?
I think that question can reveal a lot about a person and what they truly value.
(Another question I loved was “Fiction or non-fiction?” – it was an appropriate question as clearly these designers loved to read!)
The Women of Color Quilting Network (WCQN) show at the The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art does not open until September 2022 but the museum had a recent fundraising event for the exhibition and Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi the head of the WCQN attended and took photos.
Included in the photos she shared on her Facebook page was an image of my quilt Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet.
Since the quilt has officially been shown to the public, plus it is the featured quilt on the museum’s website advertisement for the show (see thejamesmuseum.org/special-exhibitions/, and scroll down to “Upcoming”), I figure I can share a full image of the quilt and my Artist Statement:
LANGSTON HUGHES, PIONEER POET
This quilt is part of the Women of Color Quilting Network’s Traveling Show – “Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West”
52″ W x 52″ L cotton, cotton flannel, image transfer fabric
THE STORY OF THIS PIECE:
Decades before the political rhetoric of “Make America Great Again”, American poet, novelist, activist and playwright Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) challenged us to “Let America Be America Again” in his poem named the same .
Langston Hughes was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s (Smithsonian.com) and his writings focused on the African American experience. He wrote the poem that inspired this quilt, Let America Be America Again, in 1935. It was first published by Esquire magazine in 1936 (classicesquire.com). Langston Hughes has a special significance to my family: he is the namesake of the first grandchild born into our family, Langston, named after his late grandmother Gina’s favorite poet.
This quilt shares the opening four lines of the poem’s first stanza which challenges “let America be the dream it used to be (for)…the pioneer”. These four lines are followed by a powerful statement in parenthesis: “(America was never America to me)”, summarizing the plight of African Americans historically not having access to the “American American . The entire poem is powerful and worth a full reading (poem resource: Poets.org).
Using a B&W public archive image from the Smithsonian taken by photographer Carl Van Vechten in 1939, I recreated in cotton fabrics and image transfer fabric, a section of the scene from that photo, creatively reimagining his shirt to contain words representing he was a writer. In the backdrop of the image of Langston Hughes is the American Flag merged with African fabric to represent his African American heritage. The quilt is also bound with African fabric. Across the top of his hat I placed the word from the poem “pioneer” as I see Langston Hughes as a “Pioneer Poet”. He was the “pioneer on the plain” of writing relevant to the African American experience.
“Let America Be America Again” was written in 1935, however it remains quite relevant in 2021.
In addition to sharing on this blog post, I’ve also added the image of the quilt and the Artist Statement to my Portfolio page on my website, under the “Special Stories” section; as well as update to my News page (updates on my “textile art adventures”).
After the show Black Pioneers: Legacy in the American West opens at The James Museum (show runs September 3, 2022 – January 8, 2023), it will begin a national tour through 2025.
According to Collections Manager at The James Museum, my piece Langston Hughes, Pioneer Poet will travel with the show to the following locations:
My friend the quilt artist, quilt book author, and quilting teacher, Wendy Hill (@wendyquilter) was generous enough to send me a package of good mail the other week.
Inside the package were fabric scraps (small and large to very large) and completed blocks from when she was fascinated with making “Taupe” quilts.
She had an article in the July/August 2007 publication Quilters Newsletter Magazine which discussed Taupe quilts and featured her amazing Taupe quilt – Isotaupe.
Here is an image of it from her website (she now uses Instagram as her primary social media) Wendy Hill Quilt Artist:
This image does not do it justice, it is amazing in person; and I first saw either this quilt or another Taupe quilt of Wendy’s at an art quilting show when I lived in Central Oregon. It was before I knew Wendy as a friend, she was an amazing local artist and quilt book author.
I got to know Wendy through running in to her at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon. I believe it was at the annual Pajama Sale (see this old post of mine for information about the annual Stitchin’ Post Pajama Sale where you would get huge discounts on fabric if you showed up in the PJs before 8:00 am – Pajama Sale and Finished Pieces, a lot of great memories of attending that each year…), when I was working on my first Taupe quilt and Wendy consulted on fabrics and admired my blocks in progress (I cannot find a picture of that quilt which I gave as a gift to someone long time ago…)
So Wendy knew of my love for Taupe quilts and how much I was blown away with her Taupe quilts; and recently she was Spring Cleaning and sent me the lovely package of Taupe fabrics and blocks from quilts in progress that she decided not to complete.
Example of some of the blocks she sent:
Included in the package was also this pile of blocks:
I wasn’t sure of what pattern these blocks were supposed to be until I laid them out on my design wall:
Wow! The picture I took does not do these blocks justice as they are in a collection of amazing Taupe fabrics.
I knew I wanted to finish this quilt and I thought I could disassemble one of the blocks to create a pattern. Then I discovered from Wendy that this was a quilt she designed called SuperSymmetry and it was published in the October 2010 edition of The Quilt Life.
Here is a picture of the quilt SuperSymmetry from Wendy’s gallery page on her website wendyhill.net:
Isn’t it breathtaking?
I think I have enough Taupe scraps to finish the quilt as well as some Taupe in my collection such as these Japanese Taupe fabrics in my stash:
HOWEVER I am supposed to be focusing on working on my Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks quilt (see post And then there were 88), but I’ve become very distracted by the contents of the package Wendy sent me!
I also came across this pattern recently, which would look wonderful with Taupe fabrics, in the January/February 2003 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine I picked up at a thrift store for 50 cents:
But I made myself put the contents of the package Wendy sent me away, so I can get back to finishing the quilt I am working on.
You know us creative types, we can be subject to easily distractible “squirrel’ moments like the dog Dug in the movie Up:
“I have just met you, and I love you” – one of my all-time favorite movies lines, as well as one of my all-time favorite animated movie!
I must focus on my current project.
I must focus on my current project.
I must focus on my current project.
If you would like to learn more about “Taupe” as a color/concept, here overview of Taupe, from Colorpsychology.org:
Taupe is considered to be intermediate shade between dark brown and gray, which shares similar attributes of both colors. However, taupe does not describe a single color, rather, it is used to describe a vast range of colors from dark tan to brownish gray. Taupe is a neutral hue — neutrals are created by combining complementary colors (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel) which results in desaturated brownish colors or mutes — likewise, taupe hues are achieved by mixing together umber and white pigment.
The word, taupe, originates from the French word, taupe, and the Latin word, Talpa, which translates to “mole,” as it was primarily used to describe moleskin. Notably, variations of taupe have appeared on the Pantone Color Trend Reports over the years. Recently, ‘Warm Taupe’ was featured on the Fall 2016 color palette. Taupe provides the perfect backdrop to complement and offset brighter colors.
My friend Chela let me know that the quilt group in Uvalde, Texas, called Quilts of Grace is looking for “comfort quilts“.
Here is the scrappy “postage stamp quilt” (but with 3.5 inch scrap squares used instead of the traditional 1.5 to 2 inch squares) that I packaged up this morning to send to the group:
I was ambitious on trying to save money to postage and tried to fit it into a smaller flat rate padded envelope…
Many different quilting folder strategies did not work, alas, and I had to put it in the larger flat rate envelope (which I should have done from the start):
I hope this quilt will comfort someone impacted by the devastating school shooting massacre.
Besides donating money to the victims fund and trying to make wise choices of who I vote for in elections, I’ve felt helpless in the face of so much devastation. This feels like something I can do to perhaps ease a tiny bit of suffering for those impacted. Hey even if someone give this quilt to their dog as a dog bed quilt, it will be something useful!
If you are a quilter interested in participating, here is the information that Chela sent me:
I was in Austin, Texas the week of 05/23/2022, the same week of the School Shooting Massacre In Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday 05/24/2022. I was staying in downtown Austin, where my partner John was attending a multiple day work meeting with his leadership team.
Tuesday 05/24/2022 I was coming out of the hotel gym after a great workout, about to go back to my hotel room, shower and then spend the day exploring downtown Austin, when I passed by the hotel bar area where news of the shooting was being broadcast.
I stood there dumbfounded and in shock, surround by other hotel guests who were equally in shock. The school shooting occurred 10 days after another horrible mass shooting that shook me to my core – the Buffalo, NY Grocery Store Shooting.
John was in a work meeting and could not be disturbed so I was left to spend the rest of the day in distress, flipping from news channel to news channel to find out more and more disturbing details while sobbing.
That evening I went to dinner an evening boat tour to see the bats that live under one of the bridges on the river that runs through downtown Austin, with John and his colleagues. At dinner we kept the conversation as light as we could and several of his Austin based colleagues talked about the amazing Central Library in downtown Austin.
Library? An awesome library?!?! Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I am obsessed with public libraries. I’ve loved libraries since I was young (9 or 10?) and spent a summer at the public library nearly every day, riding my bike to the library every day and befriending the kind librarians who worked at the library and took me under their wing.
John’s colleagues mentioned that the Austin Central Library had a rooftop garden and amazing architecture.
Libraries to me are nearly sacred peaceful oases. I knew that Wednesday I needed to visit the Austin Central Library.
And I did. And it was a peaceful oasis and my spirit was centered and calmed for a couple blissful hours.
Here is the photo essay about that visit.
I walked a mile through the beautiful park (River Metro park?) along the Colorado River running through downtown Austin to the Central Library. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and in another post I will share photos from that walk as well as other photos of downtown Austin.
I entered the library on a lower level and I tingled with anticipation. Here are the stairs that greeted me that I could not wait to climb:
Before ascending the stairs, I noticed the library had an amazing high tech book return station:
After ascending the stairs, and being the library geek I am, I stopped at the information booth, informed the library team member who greeted me that it was my first visit to the library (and how excited I was to be there) and got a map to guide me through the library.
The library’s interior was amazing. The library has 6 levels, connecting with lofty ascending staircases. I explored all 6 levels!
The library has a huge clock that it can be viewed from any level and is as tall as a level or more:
This window, viewable from many levels, is just breathtaking:
I already heard about the rooftop deck and was planning on making that my last stop after exploring the other levels but then I discovered the library had a READING PORCH and I started on a mission to put together a “library stack” to take out to the reading porch.
I headed to my favorite section – Non Fiction – 700s to put together my stack!
I took my lovely “library stack” to the reading porch and spent a couple hours reading books as well as having a little picnic lunch I put together on the enclosed porch with views of downtown Austin:
It was so amazingly peaceful on the reading porch and I could only hear the bird song (there were trees filled with birds near the porch) and the sounds of traffic below. It was such a wonderful place to read my “library stack”(which I could only read/look through at the library since I was not a local resident).
After a couple hours in the reading porch and some reading of/flipping through the books in my stack, I returned them for re-shelving inside, and then wandered additional levels until I got to the rooftop deck.
A couple fun standouts on my way to the rooftop deck include the “Technology Petting Zoo” and the Board Game area – where you could grab a board game and play games with friends/family at the library!
I was not sure what to expect of a library’s rooftop deck but I was pleasantly surprised! It was huge, filled with people reading, visiting and lounging about. It had a garden area and amazing views of downtown Austin!
Here are some of the photos I took while on the rooftop deck:
I was craving something sweet and after the rooftop deck, I headed back to the ground floor of the library and had a cupcake at the library’s cafe called the Cookbook Bar & Cafe.
And guess what – the cafe was filled with used cookbooks! You could browse/flip through cookbooks while you ate (and I did) – it was glorious (and the cupcake I had was glorious!):
With my belly full of delicious cupcake and my spirit soothed by the energy of a public library, I headed back to my hotel, enjoying the scenery immediately outside of the library on my route back to my hotel.
I took a ridiculous amount of photos but I tried to select the photos that would give you a general idea of how awesome the Austin Central Library was to visit. Here is a little video tour if you are wanting more:
Oh and I thought this was pretty cool – I’ve never seen a library do this!
The Rancho Bernardo Inn is one of the prettiest hotels I’ve ever stayed and their property is amazing. As their website proclaims, they have 265 acres to explore and I think I explored at least a quarter of those acres during the 4 days I was there, while John was attending conference sessions, etc.
In the previous post about this trip (Rancho Bernardo in Black and White) I shared some of the photos I took in B&W. Now I will share the photos in color so you can see the true beauty of this place.
Here is the photo I consider the “money shot” from the stairway down to the spa and pool area – it was just breathtaking:
We stayed in one of the rooms off the golf course (and John did get to play golf one afternoon) and here was the view when you stepped outside our room:
I spent several days wandering about the grounds of the resort and here are color photos from that wander:
The food at the resort was amazing, very “farm-to-table” style of cuisine. During my wandering I discovered they have a “Chef’s Garden” on site and I guess that is why the meals tasted so fantastic!
In addition to wandering/exploring the grounds while John was at his conference, I also found a cozy nook off the main lobby, in front of the fireplace (it was October and got a little nippy at times) to sit and work on the English Paper Piecing project I brought (I always bring hand work when I travel):
I’ve been working on this project for years, and I should do a blog post update some time.
Although I wish I’d had more time with John to do some sightseeing while in San Diego, as he was so busy with the conference, I did manage to keep myself entertained for a couple of days.
One thing John and I did do together was go to Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day one afternoon. I’ll show you photos from that visit on the next post.
Recently I’ve been hiding away in my sewing room to escape the world. I’ve been productive during my escape, and I’ve now completed 88 of the 100 blocks for Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks quilt I’ve been working on.
This is not the final layout for the quilt, I’ll decide that after I finish the 12 remaining blocks. It seems a little overwhelming to decide the perfect layout for 100 blocks, but I am going to just try to make them look as random as possible (and try not to let the same color touch…we’ll see…).
If you are just joining us and are interested in the progression of this quilt, check out the previous post about it which also has links to the other blog posts on it – And then there were 70….
For the remaining 12 blocks, I decided to stop trying to find pieces long enough to make each block (a lot of the remaining blocks need fabrics of at least 6.5 inches) from this pile:
Instead I cleaned up my cutting table, putting fabric scraps away by color in my fabric scrap storage system:
And I am going to be very deliberate about color choices (based on what I have too much or too little of in my quilt so far) and shop for fabric scraps from my collection of fabric scraps organized by color in my wine crate storage unit:
I am going to try and use these remaining fabrics, from the initial pile, that I did not put away with the rest:
I want to try and repeat those fabrics.
I’ve decided on how to finish the quilt – I am going to sew the blocks all together in a 10 by 10 row with no lattice, and no borders. Just plain and simple, allowing the blocks to just shine through without any clutter.
I realize this will make it only a lap size quilt instead of a Queen or King size which you could get by using some of the layouts in the back of the book Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. Lap size works for me as I might actually just hang it on a wall and display it. I’ll decide after I get it back from the long-arm quilter.
Well back to hiding out in my sewing room and finishing up the 12 remaining blocks to get to 100 blocks, which at one point seemed so far away!
I developed a sort of production system to sew so many blocks.
I would pre-cut a large amount (15 or more) of blocks; and then sit down and sew them, trying to use chain piecing as much as possible, even working on two or more blocks at the same time.
Well my partner John took an old folding table and put a wooden table top on it for me to add to my existing work table to act as a “return” and give me space for ironing while piecing and any trimming needed.
This really added to my efficiency in block making!
And here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer hanging out under my sewing table while I am at work:
I will return to blogging soon, I’ve been struggling with all that is (continually) going on in the world.
For now here is a photo of Mike the Miniature Schnauzer “pillow nap stacking” (a term we developed, patent pending, ha!) with my partner John on top of a granny square blanket while John is nestled under a quilt.
Some days you just need a break from the news and a nap is a good strategy to refresh (at least John and Mike think so)!