Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild & precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Please meet my dear friend Tierney. She is making a brave leap into uncharted territory, and is forging her own creative path full-time! I’ve known Tierney for many years, and have always believed she would do something wonderful with her creativity. Wanting in at the very beginning, I felt that this was the perfect time to interview Tierney: the Designer, the Maker and the Fiber Artist!

To begin her exciting new chapter, Tierney has a sweet project featured in Quilting Arts GIFTS Magazine, 2013-14 (on store shelves now through November)!

“A sweet appliqued motif and hand embroidery make a practical gift set extra special.”  - Quilting Arts GIFTS ™  / Holiday 2013-14

My Retiring Life: How did you come up with this project for the magazine?

Tierney: A long-time fan and hoarder collector of Q.A. GIFTS Magazine, I knew that my project needed to be useful, fairly quick to make, inexpensive and simple enough that a wide audience could make it with great results. I adore folk art for its cheeriness, so coming up with my “Friendship” design was easy and fun, plus I can’t resist cute handmade ways to store electronic devices and cords.

MRL: Now that the magazine is out, what other projects do you have lined up?

T: Designing “Friendship” was so enjoyable that I’m designing more wool felt applique projects and will soon have kits for sale in my Etsy shop. What a blast! I’ll also be part of an upcoming demo-day at a favorite local quilt shop where I’ll be meeting more kindred spirits and sharing some embroidery tips and tricks. 

                                          Soon-to-be released: “May Day” wool felt mug mat kit. 

MRL: Knowing you’re a dyer, would you tell us about your art quilts?

T: In 2005, I took a shibori dying workshop at Arrowmont. I’ve been dabbling with dye and silk ever since. Wanting to move away from commercial dyes, I’ve spent the past three years experimenting and scouring India Flint’s book, Eco-Dying. Now that I have a mountain of scribbled notes and naturally dyed silks, I’m anxious to put them to use in my art quilts. I’ve been quilting since 2005, and am always experimenting with materials and processes. Having an art quilt accepted in the 2007 juried show Quilts=Art=Quilts was a big confidence builder, and now I’m thrilled to have more time to explore and develop my own voice through my quilts. 

MRL: Will your art quilts be offered through your company, Silver Trumpet?

T: For now, Silver Trumpet is the outlet for my upcoming sewing patterns and kits, along with occasional small ready-made items. I’ll wait and see how my art quilts progress, but my hope is to see them primarily displayed in various quilt shows.

MRL: What is currently influencing and informing your work?

T: Classic children’s stories, Art Deco, paper cutting, early American quilts, flora and fauna outside my door, Nordic and Russian folk art, modern folk music like Mumford & Sons and the Wailin’ Jennys.

MRL: Any other goals you can tell us about?

T: I’d really love to get out and teach art workshops for kids and adults. I believe there’s a serious need to make art more available to the youth in our community. I’ve benefitted from many amazing workshops taught by renowned teachers, and want to share so much of what I’ve learned with folks here in my hometown. Workshops are a fun, relaxed way to connect with one another and to create - both of which are very important to me. Funny, I remember my mom telling me I should be a teacher when I grow up.

MRL: What do you like to do when you’re not in the Studio?

T: I’m anxiously awaiting Season 3 of Downton Abby and Call the Midwife, knitting, baking and avoiding weeding the garden. I love being outdoors and am always game for a campfire.

 I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how Tierney’s new chapter unfolds, and I hope you’ll join me in wishing her all the best! Knowing her as I do, I can promise that whatever she does, her heart will be at the center of it. Feel free to drop her a note on her blog, she’d love to hear from you:
            You can find Tierney’s Etsy shop here:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

“ I will continue to freak out my children by knitting in public. It's good for them.” ~ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Photo Credit:  Annette Sandburg
Photo Credit:  Christina Saucedo
I recently ran across the picture of a phenomenal yarn-bomb in Pittsburg.  The Andy Warhol Bridge has been the subject of a months-long project, inspired by the yarn-bombing (or “guerrilla-knitting” in some circles) of many different kinds of structures in an effort to bring art to another level.  For more information about the bridge go to this articleThe videos are fascinating, and one seems to come through via e-mail and on i-pads, and other seems to need a regular old laptop.  In any case, go directly to my blog if you seem to have trouble viewing them. 

If you happen to be in Pittsburg tomorrow (9/25/13) there will be the official dedication ceremony – wish I could be there -I just love this kind of thing!

"Join us in celebrating the many folks and communities that made Knit the bridge possible. KtB Community Celebration and Big Art Party Sunday August 25th from 3-7pm on the Warhol/7th Street Bridge. Knit the Bridge is up. The artists are home."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

“The flames of the luau bonfire burned brightly. Sparks flew into the sky and disappeared before they reached the stars above. Near the horizon, the moon was large and round and flawless as porcelain.” ~ Victoria Kahler, Capturing the Sunset

Aloha by Hawaiin Music on Grooveshark

Not wanting to venture too far from a summer theme, I chose to host a Luau for August's BITE get-together. A number of years ago, Bruce's daughter Erin lived and taught on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  We had the good fortune to visit her twice during those years.  Fresh and exotic foods, along with traditional American dishes were enjoyed both times.  I like to think we will make it back to Hawaii one day, perhaps to one of the other islands - it is a magical trip.  I tried to locate some of our pictures from those trips, but couldn't seem to lay my hands on them.  Below however are some photos of a quilt that I made using pictures from our last trip, many years ago. It hangs in our bedroom.

I had fun setting up our little luau scene, complete with a playlist of vintage luau music playing in the background.  I was doubly delighted that the weather permitted us to eat outside - it was the perfect evening for it.

The pillow cover was discovered in my mother-in-law's trunk.
I finally got to use the place mats that I got on Cape Cod last fall - the colorful fish were perfect for the occasion!

On to our meal! Tierney was our appetizer chef this go-round.  She chose to make Lomi Lomi Salmon, though she substituted smoked salmon for the raw salmon in the recipe. Delicious!!

Chris offered up our side-dishes of Kahuku Corn Smashed Potatoes and Tomato, Cucumber and Papaya Salad.  Chris did some of the potatoes using purple ones - so pretty, and the addition of corn was wonderful.

Responsible for our main dish, I prepared Hawaiian Chicken and/or Pork Kabobs. I admit to being frustrated with this - I don't know if I marinated them for too long, but both the pork and the chicken fell apart on the grill.  I ended up taking them off the grill - and off the kabobs and finishing things up on the stove top.  I then kept things warm in crock-pots.  The dishes tasted ok, but I would have preferred to have served the kabobs straight from the grill.  For our beverage. I was originally going to do Blue Hawaiians, but decided against it given number of ingredients needed.  Instead I opted for the pre-made Parrot Bay Blended Orange and Pineapple Drink. - kind of like a creamsicle with a kick!

For dessert, Ellen prepared Macadamia Coconut Cake. She said that this was a challenge for her because it required several steps and used equipment that she didn't use often.  The effort was well worth it - it was sweet deliciousness!

I am reminded yet again of just how lucky I am to have the wonderful women in my life that I do.

Cheers T.!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Far left: Great-Grandpa Arthur Anderson; Third from left: Great-Grandma Fanny Anderson
Far right: Grandma Lunkin (Adelma) with my mother, Norma, holding the basket

Long before Famers' Markets became popular, the backyard garden was the surest way to fresh produce.  My great-grandparents, who emigrated from Norway with my grandmother, had a large and lush backyard garden. Always well-tended, it was a source of pride and produce.  One story is that my great-grandmother lost her wedding ring while working in it, not to be found.  Some 17 years later, while their daughter, my Aunt Betty, was moving some soil from the garden to a flower bed, she unearthed something that she initially thought was a bottle cap.  She took her finding into my great-grandmother and said, "Mother, guess what I found?", to which Fanny replied, "My wedding ring!"  Love that story!

For many of us, myself included, our vegetable gardens have gone by the wayside, though I do seem to think that they are finding their way back into popular culture.  In any case, how nice that we now seem to have an abundance of farmers' markets to choose from.

Saveur Magazine, one of my favorites, has recently shared a farm-fresh menu using the vegetables that are currently available at most markets.

Photo Credit: Todd Coleman for Saveur

Corn Chowder
Photo credit: James Roper for Saveur

Photo credit: James Roper for Saveur

Photo Credit: Todd Coleman for Saveur

And lastly, Plum Tart

Photo Credit: Todd Coleman for Saveur

I would have to say that I am inclined to try the corn chowder first.  How about you?  As an aside, a couple of years ago I ran across the video clip below on just how do you pronounce "Saveur"? It seems that even the magazine's employees are not sure!  As a reminder, if a video clip does not come through via e-mail, please go directly to my blog site.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." ~ Madeleine Albright

Now, I'm sure that Madeleine Albright's quote does not necessarily apply to this post - but I think that you'll get the point.

I guess that I have always thought that there is an unwritten rule between women. If you see someone coming out of a restroom with their skirt tucked into the back of their pantyhose, you say something like, "Excuse me, but I thought you'd want to know that your skirt is tucked into your pantyhose." Or, if they have spinach in between their teeth, you gently let them know. Or, if you see them walking around with toilet paper stuck to their shoes, or flowing out of their waistband, you do the sisterly thing and kindly tell them.  This was even briefly touched upon on The View yesterday. Timely, as I put this "sisterhood" into practice last night.

First though, a funny story that most of my friends already know.  Up until a few years ago, my mother-in-law lived about a hour and a half away from us. We would often meet a little ways in-between to celebrate things like Mother's Day or Easter, at the Turningstone Casino. They have wonderful brunches, and this meant that no one needed to cook, or drive very far; plus she enjoyed playing the slot machines. On one such ocassion, when we had finished our meal, Bruce and his mom headed to the slot machines, my son headed to the arcade, and I started my "people watching" circuit.  But first - the restroom.

We had agreed to meet up about an hour later, and yes, I wandered, wandered, wandered all over that casino for an hour. When we finally met up and began to make our exit, Bruce said, "Turn around for a minute." Yes, you guessed it, I had a three-foot tail of toilet paper trailing from the waistband of my pants. No one, not a single soul, had attempted to save me! And, if you have ever been in a casino, you know that there are security cameras EVERYWHERE! Well, what was there for me to do but laugh hysterically, which is what I did, with my family joining in.

Now, I imagine that those security cameras have caught a lot more interesting things over the years than my hour- long traipse through the casino, but I have to believe that on the ocassional slow day, they are saying "Hey, pull up that footage of the woman walking all over the place with the toilet-paper trailng from her pants!"

So, on to my act of sisterhood last night. Bruce and I were at a production by our local Cortland Reperatroy Theatre.  Following the intermission, as we were returning to our seats, I noticed an older woman and her husband just ahead of ahead of me. She was sporting the dreaded toilet-paper tail. I sidled up to her and said, "Pardon me, but you seem to have something tucked into the back waistband of your pants. Perhaps you husband can help you with that." I then hustled to my seat. Despite the fact that the woman made deliberate efforts to not glance my way, I had done my duty.

So please, if you ever see me with my skirt tucked in my pantyhose ( though I don't think I even own a pair of them anymore), or spinach between my teeth, or trailing toiletpaper behind me - you will be my new best friend if you let me know!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"A light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine." ~ Anne Bronte

In my neck of the woods, summer means sweet corn from Dieshers' Farm.  A local farm, with a stand right around the corner from me, their sweet corn is the most amazing summer delight.  With a little bit of butter and salt, I'd take it over any ice cream on a summer's day.

Just the other day I ran across a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Charred Sweet Corn Crepes.  I love crepes; I love sweet corn - OK!

I followed the recipe exactly, with wonderful results.  I made a triple batch in order to account for errors (one pretty big one).  Things that I learned:  

  1. You do not need to put nearly as much butter in the pan as you initially think.
  2. I started out with three small ladles full of batter per crepe. Two was really all that was needed.
  3. Do not attempt a triple batch in a standard sized food-processor. Comic overflows will ensue!

First one! It gave me the chance to try one before I went any further.  It was delectable!

In choosing my filling, I decided to go with a combination of shrimp, spinach and a sauce made from plain Greek yogurt with lime juice and zest. I ate it all cold - what a wonderful warm weather meal!  I can also imagine it hot, with shredded chicken, sauteed peppers and onions, and a light cheese.  

They really, really are delicious!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"You'll come home soon," my father said, over coffee and creme brulee, "after all this mess is settled," I wanted him to tell me that things would be fine. But my father was not a liar. Things would not be fine; they couldn't ever be that way again. ~ From The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, by Anton DiSclafani
While in Atlantic City last week, I mentioned that I did a lot of reading by the pool.  The book that I read was The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, by Anton DiSclafani.  This is the second that I've read from my recommended summer book list (there - I've doubled the number that I read last summer).  I loved it.
"A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls’-school rituals, set in the 1930s South"
"It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.
Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer."

I don't want to reveal too much, but will say that Thea's fall from grace within her own family comes more from having lived a life that taught her nothing of how to navigate the world outside of her isolated Florida home than it does from the sexual tensions and questions that come with being a teenager.  And in the end - is she the one who should have been exiled? 

As I read reviews of the book, it seems as though readers loved it or did not care for it at all.  I loved it.

(if video does not come through via e-mail, please go to my blog)