Sunday, November 29, 2020

Weekly update: hikes, Grassy Creek and pinwheels, and cheese

 The parking lot was nearly full when we arrived at Ryerson Woods Conservation Area on Saturday afternoon.   It was another gorgeous day with abundant sunshine and mild temperatures.  

(Note: one more dandelion!)

Brushwood was the Ryersons' house, built in the aerly 1940's.  It's used for courses and exhibits. There's also a modern welcome center (adjacent to the parking lot). None of the buildings is open now because of Covid.  

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Alford Park is at the far northern edge of Kenosha. We've driven past it many times but until today we'd never stopped.  The lake was placid.   

Photo:  a perfect piece of beach glass, an interesting plant, looking south, and a gingko leaf. 
(I will spare you the photo of the coho salmon washed ashore.  I've rarely seen fish washed up on the Illinois beaches.)

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In the studio:

Grassy Creek, part 1:  X sets of Y HSTs.  (Bonnie Hunter has asked that the dimensions and the quantities not be re-posted.)  I was able to make each set out of a different gray and a different gold.

(They look rather like the gingko leaf on the rocks, don't they?)

This pinwheel variation is featured in a couple of the Civil War Repro books and at least one pattern torn from a magazine. Those are 6" and 4" blocks. I'm choosing to make 8" blocks [finished size]. I have it in mind to make 30.

Confession:  I bought fabric on Saturday!  The LQS had a sale -- and I have a project coming up that requires 1-3/4 to 4-3/4 yards of four fabrics. I can't make it scrappy.   I'll have to keep you in suspense.

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The book report:  American Cheese, by Joe Berkowitz.

Artisanal cheese is a global gustatory subculture.  Berkowitz reports on cheesemakers, cheesemongers, and competitions in the U.S. and Europe.  His approach is adventurous and his account is lively -- but I admit I felt cheese-logged by the end.    I'm going to seek out specialty cheese shops to sample some of the exotic varieties. 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!    Monday Making  Design Wall Monday

P.S.  Full moon and sunset as we returned from Ryerson. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Friday check in: Thanksgiving hiking and feasting, and Kaleidoscopes II

 Thanksgiving Day here in northeasternmost Illinois was sunny and mild.   We went over the river and through the woods at Sedge Meadow, a relatively new forest preserve that's about six miles from home.  The preserve and trail are relatively small but they connect to the extensive Des Plaines River Trail.  A decades-long project restored farmlands and gravel pits to floodplain and forest. (The name Des Plaines -- pronounced "dess plains" -- is a corruption of Eau Pleine meaning "full of water."  The river is shallow and when it floods it spreads far.  The reclamation/forest preserve mitigates flooding in more settled areas downstream.)

(Note: more dandelions!)

Earlier in the week I boiled our Halloween pumpkins (I don't carve them) which yielded four quart bags of puree, one of which was our Thanksgiving pie. 

By waiting until Monday to buy a turkey I got a bargain -- I paid $10.14 for a 21-1/2-pounder.  The bird was too big for the roaster oven so I had to bake it in the regular oven.  That meant I had to improvise for the side dishes -- I braised the Brussels sprouts and I kept the sweet potatoes warm in the roaster.  [I adapted this recipe for the sweet potatoes.]    I make Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish every year.   

# # # # # #  In the studio:  we watched the documentary Oliver Sacks: His Own Life about the celebrated neurologist and essayist. My husband has read all of his books. (I've read one or two.)  

The Civil War Reproduction Stash Reduction Project has resulted in a box of scraps and a box of leftover units.  I tackled the scraps -- specifically, the leftover kaleidoscope wedges.  The challenge was that the blocks varied from 6.5" to 7".  I framed them with 2" strips and trimmed those blocks to 9.5" and (hooray) used up nearly all of the dull gold/brown print. The sashing used up the last of a red-on-red that was a gift from Vic in New Hampshire.

The flimsy is 67 x 67 and used 4-3/4 yards. 

I'll put the CW repros to the side for the weekend because Bonnie Hunter has published the first clue for Grassy Creek.   HSTs, here I come!

Linking up with 

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? 

Finished or Not Friday

P.S.  The last of the garden tomatoes made it into the salad for our Thanksgiving dinner. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Midweek: OMG finish and CW spices

 My November One Monthly Goal was to make a set of placemats.  Done! I'm reposting the photo for this week's OMG Finish link up.  

Last evening I finished piecing the sixth installment in the Civil War Reproduction Stash Reduction Project.  The pattern is Spice Pantry by Kim Diehl. This is spicy indeed compared to so many CW palettes of butternut, blue, and softened reds and greens.  (56 x 62, 4 yards).  

I can imagine this design as a Rainbow Scrap Challenge -- one row of each of the monthly colors. 

Linking up with OMG at Elm Street Quilts

and Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Have a SAFE Thanksgiving, everyone!


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Weekly update: forest preserves, nine patch stars, and the book review

 We visited Prairie Wolf Forest Preserve Friday afternoon.   It's bordered by a shopping center and suburban office buildings -- a century ago that was farmland but a century before that it was a slough, which is what the forest preserve is now.  

When we left Prairie Wolf we saw a sign for the  Heller Nature Center We're glad we took a detour to check it out!  It's part of the Highland Park Park District.  (Not shown: the good-sized education building. I can imagine that in normal years there would be field trips and after-school activities.)  The cabin was designed by noted landscape architect Jens Jensen. 

Diorama boxes were hung on trees along the trail.

These are the ones I liked best.

Saturday's trek was was at the far southwestern corner of the county, 40 miles from where we live. Grassy Lake is on the Fox River. (There is a Grassy Lake a couple of miles away. It's connected to the river by Flint Creek.)  There's a kame (glacial remnant) and the hill is the highest point I've been to in many months. 

Until we began our forest preserve exploration I didn't know that ground cherries grew around here. Now I see them again and again. (I'll need to be on the lookout in the spring to see them in bloom.)  The silver plant on the right has sprouted new green growth.  And that's not the only dandelion I saw along the trail. 

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The Civil War Repro Stash Reduction Project continues. On Friday I wrote that I was contemplating how I'd border the nine-patch.  Simple slab borders didn't do it.   

How about flying geese?  Yes!  56 x 64, 4-1.2 yards.  

........ and I'm nearly finished with the units for the next CWRSRP project.

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I remember watching "Connections" on PBS. The way James Burke related science to technology to    society fascinated me.  That same kind of connection is what The Domestic Revolution is all about.   The subtitle isn't accurate because it's not just Victorian England.  Ruth Goodman's account begins centuries before that.  She writes about how peat and wood were replaced by coal. The change in fuel changed hearths to stoves to ranges [where the oven is separated from the firebox].  It changed how food was cooked (long boiling over peat or wood; baking/roasting with coal). It changed housecleaning and clothes cleaning, led to the creation of house paint and wallpaper.  It affected foreign trade. "Coal enforced new regimes, a new modern way of life. It encouraged and supported a different range of products and practices, pushing out age-old goods, styles, and methods. As London became a cultural and commercial centre of global  , the ways of doing things in this first coal city....had repercussions around the world." (p. 262).   

There were so many "ah-ha, so that's why" moments in this book.  I highly recommend it. 

Linking up with Oh Scrap!   Monday Making   Design Wall Monday  

Friday, November 20, 2020

WIP on Friday

64 degrees on Thursday!  We discovered Sun Lake Forest Preserve  
 As the website explains, the trail is distant from the lake because the shoreline is ecologically fragile.  (The lake is the center right image in the collage photo. That was as close as I could get. The upper left image is a trailside pond.) 

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I have so many ideas for the CWRSRP (Civil War Reproduction Stash Reduction Project). There are books by Jo Morton, Carol Hopkins, Julie Hendrickson, and Kim Diehl. There's a stack of patterns from magazines.  

Will I continue to reduce or will I replenish?  Confession:  I replenished. But just a little.  I had to add some sparkle, right?

A Jo Morton design for 6.5" nine-patch stars (brown, gold, and red) was the starting point for this week's project.  Hers was a 16-block wall hanging. I kept making blocks! 

 I was sure I was going to use simple slab borders with the red stripe (left). Then I added nine-patch corners. Then I auditioned two other borders (top and right).  And now I'm contemplating something more elaborate.  

Linking up with other quiltmakers: Finished or Not

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Weekly update: wildlife, RBG, kaleidoscopes, and JAB

 It was still unseasonably warm on Monday when we went to Middlefork Savanna on the far west side of Lake Forest.  The property was formerly J. Ogden Armour's farm. (I have yet to find out the location of the other tallgrass savanna in North America.)   

The front came through on Tuesday. It was 30 degrees colder when I walked at Illinois Beach State Park.  The frog blinked when I nudged it with my toe but it did not move. The buck watched me for a couple of minutes. His mind was more likely on the does -- I got a photo of one nearby.  

Saturday was blustery and cool for our exploration of   Pine Dunes Forest Preserve .  I didn't see very many pines and the soil wasn't sandy (unlike the dunes at Illinois beach).  But, wow!  There were twelve trumpeter swans a-swimming in this pond. They were vastly outnumbered by Canada geese who were a-honking (not a-laying).  I have never seen so many swans in one place. What a treat! 

On Wednesday Waukegan Area Branch-AAUW hosted a virtual happy hour (4 p.m.) tour of the Ruth Bader Ginsberg exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Memorial Museum.  You can take a mini-tour here

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In the studio: I continued with the Civil War Reproduction Stash Reduction Project (CWRSRP).   I was inspired by a pattern by Julie Hendrickson published in the April, 2004, issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  I used the same fabric genre but a very different setting.  

I had made kaleidoscopes once before (here).  Those were paper pieced. These were strip-cut. Advantage: no paper to pick out.  

I taped two templates to a ruler, one to cut one side and the other to cut the other. 

I wanted 35 blocks for my design.  I discovered that ten were too-undersized so I had to make ten more.   I thought I'd use cheddar for sashing, but the only cheddar I had enough of was too dark. After auditioning several possibilities I tried a brown leaf print that unexpectedly worked fine.  The flimsy is 49 x 76 and used 4-1/8 yards. 

The blocks are 8" unfinished / 7.5" finished.

I'm making little kaleidoscopes out of the cut-away triangles. 
They're 7" unfinished. 

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This week's book review: 

James Beard lived large -- literally (13 pounds at birth; high 200's as an adult) -- and figuratively: epitomizing the gastronomic good life for nearly 60 years. His exuberance, broad smile, and twinkling eyes belied an essentially unfulfilled, unhappy life as a closeted gay man in an anti-gay era (though he had plenty of company in the New York food-and-publishing world). As Birdsdall writes, "...a restless search for what he wanted from life. Perhaps he'd find [a job] that stuck, something that would bring him happiness." (p. 244) and "Sooner or later, James distanced himself from all of his closest relationships, as if he were doing his friends a favor, cutting them out before they could see just what an unworthy thing he was." (p. 282). "James had built his public life around concealment....Would he still be lovable if everyone glimpsed the truth of who he was?"

I was surprised to learn how many of Beard's cookbooks were spectacular flops and that he freely plagiarized published recipes by other cooks/writers and failed to give attribution to contributors.
It would be interesting to look up Beard's 1964 memoir, "Delights and Prejudices" and Robert Clark's 1993 "James Beard: A Biography" to see how adroitly the homosexuality was covered up. I don't have time to read either, however, so I will content myself by re-reading the text of "James Beard's American Cookery," the 1972 bestseller that is one of my tried-and-true cookbooks. (Eggplant Parmigiana, p. 518, Raw Apple Cake, p. 673, and Snickerdoodles, p. 705.)

Linking up with Oh Scrap!    Monday Making     
P.S.  Yes, it's colder, but no hard frost yet.  An oak seedling, a persistent thistle, and a green-leafed something at Pine Dunes. 


Monday, November 9, 2020

Weekly update: more sunshine, OMG finished, and CW birds


Four forest preserves in four days -- because the weather has been absolutely stunning (70-degree temps, lots of sunshine).  

Raven Glen was a gem.  It's made up of a former campground around a glacial lake plus a former dairy farm.  In 1962 and 1963 I went to summer camp on land that is now Rollins Savanna. I've known that for years but this was the first time we've been to the preserve. (I wasn't able to walk far enough to get to where the campgrounds were. I'll need to do more research.)  We discovered Lyons Woods during the pandemic shutdown last spring, when Illinois Beach State Park (where I usually walk) was closed. Lyons Woods is just six miles from our house and we've been there a couple of times since. Independence Grove is a big complex with a lake, fishing pier, meeting facility, nature center -- and, today, several *hundred* people out picnicking, bicycling, roller-blading, strolling. I want to return when it's not so busy.

I did not poke the wasp nest to see if anyone was home.  The photo of the flower on the lower left looks as though it's been put through a filter, but that's just what it looked like.

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Quilters talk about irons a lot.  I buy them at Wal-Mart and when one burns out I buy another. But this time I (a) made a note of the model and (b) bought THREE.  Now I am prepared.  

My One Monthly Goal for November was to make a set of placemats.  I used blocks remaining from this quilt.   

The CWRSRP (Civil War Repro Stash Reduction Project) continued this week.   
I posted the photo of the 80 Birds in the Air blocks
and how I thought I was going to set them. 

Here's what happened.  I ran out of bright gold so the outer sashing is a different, darker gold than the inner.  I consider that a tip o' the hat to the "make do" that a 19th century quilter might have done. 

73 x 88, 4-1/2 yards.

I'm working on a new block for the next CWRSRP project.  It's a bit trickier and so far I like the results.

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Just one book report.   Outsider is the 12th in the Katie Burkholder series by Linda Castillo.  It's a police procedural set in small-town Ohio Amish country.  A fast read, which was what I needed this week.      

Linking up with Monday Making            Design Wall Monday   Oh, Scrap!   

P.S.  He surveys the parking lots at each forest preserve while I hike.