Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dear Prudence

I know that you probably get emails like this all the time .......

This was the start of an email we received yesterday. Actually, no, we don't get emails like this all the time. Who does? But I'm sure glad we did. It was from Linda White from just outside of Simpson Australia (how sweet!). She had spent the last year working on a quilt using our Wiscasset fabric collection. It is a reproproduction of an antique Australian quilt. A hexagon quilt. Love hexagons! But... this was an ambitious project. Here are Linda's hexagons.This was the start of her project....Just over 12 months later, this is what she had.
Notice the Best Quilt ribbon and the Best of Show ribbon. Congratulations Linda! We are beaming that this masterpiece was made with our fabric. Thanks so much for letting us know. Oh, and go here and here to read about the quilt show and Linda's journey in making Dear Prudence.

Handwork - it's not a chore - it's a delight. Thanks for reminding me Linda.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Breaking News! Water is Still Wet!

Yeah, not much of a surprise is it? Neither was my salad recipe from the last post. A few hours after I posted it, I remembered that I blogged about that recipe last summer. Oy! Sorry for the repeat. To make up for it, here is the salad recipe we are going to be having today. I just got back from the market and it was an abundance of riches, people! Everything is coming into season. What a good problem to have.

Pumpernickel Salad

4 cups torn Boston lettuce
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 slices of red onion, sliced thin and separated into rings
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup diced cucumber
2 tbls. crumbled blue cheese
1/2 loaf pumpernickel bread, cut into 3/4" cubes

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 1/2 tbls. red wine vinegar
1 tbls. balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Assemble lettuce, tomato, and cucumber onto 4 plates. Toast pumpernickel croutons in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until crispy outside and still chewy inside. Toss warm croutons with vinaigrette and mound on top of lettuce. Add onion rings, almonds, and blue cheese. Enjoy!

This is a bread lovers salad! Kind of like a panzanella, but even heartier.

Look what else was at the market!
This is the result of a new app I found for my phone called ColorSnap. You take a picture of something and touch on 3 places on the picture and up comes the Sherwin Williams paint chip to match. Awesome!! It's a free app. Have fun with it.

Promise there will be some rug and quilt stuff soon.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cooling Down

It was refreshing just reading all your suggestions. Popsicles are popular here too, and now I have a craving for a root beer float! Yesterday we had watermelon salad for dinner, along with some corn on the cob. It was great. So great, that we had eaten almost all of it before I remembered I wanted to get a picture of it. So, the above picture is googled. It's very, very close to what we had.....

Watermelon Salad

3 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
1 large bunch watercress
1/2 red onion, sliced thin and separated into rings
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3 tbls. white wine vinegar
6 tbls. vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over tossed watermelon, watercress, red onion rings, and pine nuts. Serve immediately. Enough for 6 small salads or 3 large dinner salads.

Thanks everyone!

Oh, and the winner of the American Banner Rose woven bundle is....

Heather - who makes raspberry smoothies. Heather, email me here and your bundle will go out asap.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Normal "Hot"

We are back from DC with great memories. Congratulations to John and Sharon. There won't be pictures for a couple of reasons. One, I was always a bit late to get the camera in focus, and Two, no one at the Apple Store has a solution yet to my photo uploading problem. We'll keep working on it. The cool kids at the Apple store don't sync well with old, out-of-date PC's and an older out-of-date PC user. I expect that as all the gadgets die here at Chez Simpson - they will be replaced with Apple products that will talk and sync with my iPhone like magic. Until then, it's uncharted territory.

This was waiting for us when we got back. The wovens and tickings from American Banner Rose. These are really nice, people. Woven lovers will, well.... love them.

Wovens go well with Fall and Winter. I anticipate lots of homey, soft quilts made with them. We must use our imagination to think of cool Fall days right now. Thankfully, it is just normally hot right now here in Michigan. Not obscenely hot like it was last weekend. I hope you folks down in Texas and Arizona get some relief soon also. We all swapped "keeping cool" tips at the wedding. We were quite comfortable at our indoor noon reception, but we had sympathy for the folks setting up their afternoon ceremony OUTSIDE at the same country club. I hope that bride and groom were toasted with Gatorade.

What do you do to stay cool? What is your favorite hot weather treat? Just make a comment here about that before midnight, Wednesday the 27th and the American Banner Rose Woven Fat Quarter Bundle™ could be yours.

Speaking of HOT, hope you like this. Poor Tiger Don Kelly is HOT, but not because of weather, because of his teammates.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Let's think of cool water breezes and cold bathroom tile today, shall we?

Polly is in Nantucket and I am getting ready to drive to Washington DC for a family wedding. Uh, the computer tells me the DC will have a heat index of 110 today. And if the chance of running into elected officials wasn't a deterrent enough......Hey, it's not as if everywhere we will be won't be air conditioned. Enough with the heat whining. Our main concern is that here in Michigan - we'll get through the hottest day today - with power on. This little chunk of Ann Arbor is notorious for going without power during high energy demand days. Keep your fingers crossed for our house-sitter and Gibby and Roscoe. It looks like we'll get a little break on the weekend.

So, posts for the next few days will probably be non-existent. We still have kits for Polly's last Semper Fi kit and probably will until I get back on Monday. Until then, keep cool!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

4th and Final Semper Fi Kit

I know a lot of you have been patiently waiting.... so here it is - the 4th and final kit in Polly's Semper Fi kit collection. Like the 3 previous kits, this is 17" x 24" and has a patriotic theme. The sand pail and flags rug is available now. The kit includes the drawn linen, ticking tape to bind your rug, all the wool to hook it, all packaged in a Minick and Simpson sand pail. Go here to place your order.

Supplies are limited. We have the last of the Minick and Simpson sand pails and once they're gone - they're gone.

Keep cool, everyone!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Quilting Stencils

My stash of quilting stencils is one of my most valuable tools for making a quilt. I have several hundred that I have collected for over 35 years of quilting. My rule now is if I see it, I buy it. Sooner or later it will be just the thing I need to finish off the quilt I am working on. Here are a few.Notice that the fan stencil at the top has been used so much it is permanently stained from the carbon in pencils. Some of these stencils are hand made by me. No matter how big my stash, it seems in almost every quilt I have an area that needs some special attention and no stencil quite fits it. In this case, it means I have to get creative. Recently I had such an area. It was a wide, short triangle space(or - in this photo sequence - tall and skinny) that just cried out for some special feathers. I drew the triangle onto paper and after much erasing, got a feather design I liked to fill the space.(after an hour and a half..... I can't get these photos to rotate!!??. I can change them in my photo file and in Flickr - but when I upload they go back. Help! Please forgive all these pictures on their sides)

Now to transfer this feather design onto the quilt means I have to make a stencil for it. I make 2 stencils to transfer a feather design. First an outline of the entire shape, and then a stencil of half of the feathers (the bottom half) and the spine.
I then take these stencils and, pretending I'm drawing on fabric instead of paper, I make my feather design. First I mark the outline.
Next I mark the spine using the bottom stencil.
The next step is to mark the center plumes of the feather. Using the curve in the outline, I just continue these down to the spine.
Now using the outside curves as a guide, I fill in all the above plumes.....Finally I fill in the bottom plumes. Feathers are very forgiving. You think that each needs to be perfect, but they don't. Feathers just look good, no matter how much you try to screw them up. With very little practice you can make great feathers.Making 2 feather stencils (outline shape and half with spine shape) gets me away from the tedious technique of cutting slots into my template plastic to replicate the factory made templates. You've only had to cut one of those kind of templates, to try to figure out a better way.

If you think hand quilting is going to be a part of your life I strongly urge you to get a few reference books on the subject. I have 4 that I go back to again and again. I love these books. Sadly, they are now all out of print - but thanks to Amazon, Ebay and Alibris - you can own used copies for a fraction of the original price.They are clockwise.... Quilting With Style by Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham; Quilting by Diana Lodge; Encyclopedia of Designs for Quilting by Phyllis D. Miller; and Infinite Feathers by Anita Shackleford.

Oh, and if anyone knows why my Iphone pictures revert back to the original lay-out - no matter how much I edit them in my photo file and Flickr - then please email me here. This never happened with my Fuji camera or my Blackberry. Sigh.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Break In The Action

These pics are just a nod to the MLB All-Star game tonight - a theoretical "half-point" in the baseball season and 4 days off so the sports talking heads can blab non-stop. It's kind of a break in the action for us too. I am finishing up a hand quilting project this week (fingers crossed) and Polly is getting ready for her trip to Nantucket.
There is no cooking here today as it's just too darn hot. I picked up a salad at the local produce store and we'll have that and ice cream. It's a Maurice salad. Does anyone outside of the metro-Detroit area know what a Maurice salad is? The original Maurice was served in the restaurant of J. L. Hudson's department store, which is now sadly, gone. It is certainly a fond memory for us here in Michigan. The salad seemed so sophisticated and exotic at the time and now just seems like a dated mid-century meal. But, a delicious dated mid-century meal. Here is the recipe if you want to make it yourself. Sweet gherkins and sliced pimento olives......yum.

There were some good questions about quilt stencils and marking on the last post - and I'll cover some of that in the next post. Until then, keep cool.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Saturday

It's a beautiful day here in Ann Arbor. Early this morning I went to the Farmer's Market and then over to Zingerman's for an iced espresso and cream. Heaven. It was my lucky day as the bread special was Green Olive Paesano bread - a rustic Italian loaf studded with chunks of green olives. This is only available a couple days a year and today was one of them! We'll have that and salad for dinner.

Next we took our house guest Otto and his best pal Gibby to the dog park. They spent an hour or so exploring the place.Lucky dogs!

After all the dog and people chores I will settle down with my hand quilting. This is the Kansas City Star BOM for 2012, which will be revealed in January. For now - here is a tiny peek.
Thanks for all the iPhone app suggestions in the last post! I have already downloaded several of them. The photos today (and probably from now on) were taken with the iPhone. Not Ansel Adams, but I'm happy. Very user friendly moving from phone to blog, I must say. And.... I noticed on Google Reader this week that we lost two followers after the iPhone post - "Sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Blackberry. Please forgive me".

No worries, we picked up those and a few more since then. The more the merrier!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

idon't know what I'm idoing

Hope you all had a good holiday. I can't complain. Or, I shouldn't complain, but I will. It all started Saturday night when we went to the ballgame. That only lasted about an hour before the deluge rolled in. Long story - blackberry died when the skies opened up and the exits were blocked. We were in the upper deck of Comerica Park and we proceeded to get drenched. I wish I could think of a word that is more water logged than "drenched". My shoes didn't survive either.

How could I manage with a dead blackberry? I Can't. The next morning found me at the phone store. It seems my blackberry is now obsolete. I wandered over to the iphones. My, aren't they intoxicating? Sleek, sophisticated, with all the bells and whistles. I bought one.

It's sort of mind boggling how amazing it is. It can do EVERYTHING. Sort of. Assuming the owner is capable of grasping it's brilliance. That seems to be the sticking point. I mastered emails, messages, maps, even downloaded apps. Not a problem. What I have spent a day and a half on is trying to get my audio books onto the thing. It's not a problem with the phone - it's a problem with my sadly screwed up itunes account. It kind of has my audio books all over the darn place. They sort of got put into "music" and then all the chapters got "shuffled". Oy.
I think I'll just give it a rest and then enlist the next 8 year old I see to fix it.

I'm kind of afraid to ask.... but what's the one iphone app that you can't live without?

That's about all the news here. I'm quilting and working on the next fabric group. Polly is expecting kids and grand kids later this week and we are expecting a house guest too. Otto is coming for his annual vacation with Gibby.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

4th of July

Are you having a family filled, fun holiday weekend? We sure hope you are.Are you working on a red, white and blue project? Are you decorating with flags and things?
Here's a teaser.... this is one block from our newest quilt - which will be published in our new book in several weeks!

Polly is never at a loss for flags and such...
I wanted to post a video of James Cagney dancing to Yankee Doodle Dandy, but I couldn't find a video that wasn't all fuzzy. But I did find this and it made me smile, hope you like it too.

Happy 4th, Everyone!

Polly and Laurie

Friday, July 1, 2011

Oregon, Part II

After leaving the Best Quilt Shoppe In The World, we headed south. Polly had a little gig in Eagle Point Oregon with some rug hooking chums and I went along as driver and teaching assistant. While Portland Oregon might be named Rose City - this little town of Jacksonville Oregon had some lovely roses going on too. We stopped there for a coca-cola break and to do a little shopping. When at our destination in Eagle Point, we could see Mt. Hood from our hotel parking lot. (can you believe the photographic brilliance of this shot?)
After a little drive, we seemed to be on a mountain too! This was the view from the workshop window.We had a lovely day with charming and talented rug hookers. We also had a little visitor.This was taken through the screened window of a deer just hangin' out in the driveway.

What else can we say about the trip? It was grand! Oh, and as official driver of the Minick and Simpson team, I can say that Oregon drivers are the best. You fellow Michigan drivers who must traverse 275 and 696 on a regular basis will appreciate this...... Oregon drivers stay at 65 miles per hour or under and don't drive diagonally from lane to lane. Craziness!!


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