Friday, October 8, 2010

SCQ Fall Retreat 2010

A group of quilting buddies and my bested quilting buddy Donnamo and I attended South Carolina Quilting Guild Fall Retreat. We all shared quilting, friendship and fellowship.

Our new program chairwoman 2011 Carolyn was one of the stars of the quilting retreat evening festivities. She had the dubious honor of turning a bag of truly ugly fabrics into something. She received a standing ovation for her incredible beautiful quilt honoring the ravaging of the Gulf Coast . The beautiful art quilt had a mask decorated with beautiful cowrie shell and beads from Africa and this country as well.

Carolyn is explaining how it was difficult it was to come up with what she was going to do and her son encouraged her and said "Do what you always do, Mom" The result was a masterpiece honoring the suffering of the people and land in the ecological tragedy of the Gulf States this past year.

The dark area behind the Mask is the gulf oil spill.
Carolyn Received a Standing Ovation.

Each year a person is chosen to receive a bag of Ugly Fabric and create something with in. It is really a dubious honor bestowed on one chagrined quilter by the Self-Proclaimed Queen of SC Quilting Pricilla Harris -  an amazing teacher who encourages quilters of all ages and teaches the most beautiful techniques. She is quite hilarious as well.

This year Queen Pricilla retired her lady- in - waiting seen her dressed in her shower curtain royal robes of state.  Apparently she had enough of the monthly weekend visits to the country, the toting of the royal bags and the coffee and obligatory scones.  Carolyn did make a pocket book for the Queen's Costume, her cape and spectre is also made from past un-fortunates. However Carolyn overdyed all the other fabric for her art quilt.

I took the Dancing Cat Doll class from Karen Preston who is also in our guild. She was a fabulous teacher and I really loved the class and am hoping to take a Jacket Class from her when she offers it next time.

These are a small sample of Karen's Fabulous Art Dolls. An Art Doll is a soft-sculpture doll that is not meant to be played with.  I love the art dolls and I think they are so beautiful.

This is Karen in her Teaching Mode  -  very kind, very encouraging and very sharing.
Francis and Harry Sue were in the class. Here Francis is painting her granddaughters Peace Cat Dancing Doll. Francis got such a kick out of her granddaughter thinking that the peace sign was something new and original to her generation and had never had heard of the Sixties. ( Did you know that if John Lennon has lived - he would have celebrated his 70th birthday on October 8th).  Mea Culpa, I did not take a picture of her doll, I will do better next time, Francis, I promise.
The inspiration for my doll came from the Avatar Movie that I saw with my oldest granddaughter Gabba. Here is the inspiration from my art doll: 



I would love for you to share pictures of your art dolls with me if you are an art doll maker.

On The Big River at the Little Theatre

I sold pictures one night at the new Florence Little Theatre in Florence SC. We were selling raffle tickets for the beautiful quilt that our guild made which you can see behind us. The newly built theatre replaces the old one and is quite spectacular. 

This theatre was built in a part of Florence that is undergoing a renovation. Adjacent to the Florence Little Theatre is a spectacular Library a la Greek Revival that would fit into any street in Washington DC and Francis Marion University is building a huge theatre complex within a block as well. 

A lifetime ago my children went to the children's theatre and took classes and performed in a play with Eva Hoff a pottery buddy of mine from way back when. Eva gave me children a scholarship to the Little Theatre Children's Program and I made all the costumes for the play. I don't remember the play, but I remember the cloud costumes which had lots of cotton balls --lots and lots of cotton balls. I am sure generations of women have thought of creative use of cotton balls. Since the packages never had any instructions or warning labels, the sky was the limit. My children loved being in the play and now my daughter has her daughter in a Children Theatre group in West Virginia.

Quilts made by our guild members, Swamp Fox Quilters hung in the modern theatre lobby. These quilts were "Old Timey" patterns handed down by generations to match the Play "Big River" , the story of Huck Finn and his adventures on the Mississippi by Mark Twain and it was a musical.  I not sure what Mark Twain would have thought about turning his commentary on American Life into a musical, but one thing I am sure of, Mark Twain would not have been surprised at anything. 

We got to talk to many interesting people and charming gentlemen who were absolutely delighted to purchase the 6 for 5 ticket deal.

My Favorite personality of the night was "Kimberly" or "Mattie Jarrett" depending on what time of the day it was. Kimberly or Mattie actually made her living have multiple personalities even though her boss only paid her for one brain. Actually Kimberly is a radio personality for Quantum of Florence and you can hear her voice on Eagle 92.9 Morning Drive. She also is Kimberly at 103 X Middays.  She gave me her card and I really had a wonderful time talking to many different people and I never embarrassed my children once.
The  New Little Theatre is has exactly the same amount of seats the old theatre did. It is purposely smaller hence its name of Little. This is because Theatres are pro rated on the amount of royalties based on the amount of seats they have to pay for the use of the play rights. I also was gifted with a ticket by the Director of the Theatre - for any Swamp Fox Quilter that came to sell tickets which was his way of thanking us for taking the time and the trouble to hang the quilts for the show. The play "Big River" an adaptation of Broadway Musical was really really good, as good as any Broadway musical I ever saw in New York. The props and antique furniture came from the Thieves Gallery in Florence and the costumes were lent by the Re-enactment Civil War Women - remember I had an interest in costumes and props from way back when. Huck Finn was really incredible. The singers were beautiful including a lovely black woman classically trained who played a slave. Mark Twain loved his river, his cigar and his scoundrels. There was a pair of scoundrels so scoundrelly that they made me cringe and want to shout out, Huck watch out for those two scoundrels.
So along with a look in Middle America along the Mississippi, there was a poignant look at the realities of slavery and rendering apart of family life. I hope to go back again to the theatre.

Japanese Fairy Tale Quilt

What is in the gift box?  What lurks in the shadows? Whose soul will be captured?
I grew up reading Fairy Tales. When I discovered Andrew Lang's Coloured Fairy Tale Books. I was hooked. I spent many happy hours hidden away in my room reading the tales.

This is my Japanese Fairy Tale Quilt.

The quilt tells the following story beginning with the center panel which in seen from far away. You are peering through a privacy screen of an Oriental Court and into gardens where members of the court are seen sitting near a stream or walking the beautiful paths filled with cherry blossoms, dogwoods and chrysamums. The cross hatched quilting hides your prying eyes from the women.

You can see the deep blue streams with rocks along the banks.

The surrounding panels show what we could not have imagined. The stream not peaceful at all is a torrent of waterfalls and rushing waters. The quilting echos the rounded torrents and the shape of the fans which seen to create the wind which causes even more waves.

The blue flowered panels give you a botany lesson in which you can identify the beautiful flowers that grace the gardens. Sprays of water are now adorning the sprays of cherry blossoms, dogwoods and chrysamums.


The flowers again repeat the motifs in the fans and the delicate quilting in gold rayon satin thread create the delicate hand holds of the fans and flowers on the deep blue fabric.

Now we get a closeup of the women adorning the garden. One is identifying a quilted flower she holds in her hand. Another is reading a scroll, perhaps of poety or letter from a lover.

This is panel that holds my heart. We see three generations of women, Mother, Daughter and Granddaugher. The little is being discussed. Grandmother listens while her daughter relates the tale.

 Flowers, fans, ribbons, and the questions of contemplations are everywhere.  So here is the Fairy Tale. Fairy Tales are teaching stories for children and the parents that read them as well. Even today we watch Fairy Tale movies of all kinds, its not the happy ending we remember in the end, but the journey through life the characters are faced with. Here we are looking at the Fairy Tale of Family. It may not have a happy ending but the journey has been enlightening.

The corner panels are the trees filled with cranes. Cranes have a special place in Japanese Culture carrying the banner of honor and loyalty. The treetops echo quilted in the mirroring images of the fans and waterfalls throughout the quilt.
What more would you use to describe the women who have held this to be true for the men they loved? Is this not the Fairy Tale of the women you have known?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Palstchinken or Palacinka

Here is the Palstschinken recipe I promised to write for my Grandies . Both my son and daughter know how to make Palstschinken or Palacinka and have added their own distinctive touches to the Austrian Crepes. My daughter has the Palstschinken pan that my parents brought over  from Europe and we used growing up to make our Palstschinken.  The pan shows the wear and tear of being used for over 80 years.

Palacinka or Palstschinken are the Austrian style of crepes  that my mother and I would make together every Sunday during the Winter months. During the summer months Sunday breakfast was Sunday Special served on Thomas's English Muffins. Palstschinken was a two persons operation. My main job was to twirl the wooden spoon between by hands since we didn't have an electric mixer. We only used a wooden spoon for the entire cooking procedure.
 From start to finish the twirling sometimes would take over 60 minutes and I got tired. I didn't complain because these Austrian Palstchinken were the most delicious food I had all week. After we cooked the Palstchinken,   my parents would eat their pancakes in their bedroom reading the Sunday paper and I would read Brenda Starr my favorite comic strip and other books in my bedroom.  It was the most peaceful time in our household usually punctuated by problems of one sort or another.
 Raspberry Jam was carefully spread on each Palstschinken and then sugar was sprinkled on top of the Jam. Finally the thin pancakes were rolled up like a Swiss Roll and cut into 1" slices. I am getting hungry right now.
 This is the basic recipe and directions on how to make the pancakes. You can make them quicker using an electric mixer which I do nowadays and you can substitute margarine for butter but each thing you do different makes the Palachinka taste different.
4 Eggs
1 cup of milk (You can substitute margarine in an emergency.)
1 cup of sugar
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup of sifted flour ( I have been known to use pre-sifted flour)
(We didn't use salt in the house because of my father's high blood pressure, so I grew up not putting salt in my recipe.
 Raspberry Jam (Jelly if the seeds bother you) and sugar
                            Crepe Pan or skillet, various bowls and measuring equipment, wooden spoons ( you can use a mixer ) and the perfect Flipper, ( Thin but capable of supporting a Palachinka - I have been searching for the perfect Flipper all my life.), Paper Napkin

1. Separate the eggs and put the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in another small bowl.
The egg whites will be beaten later.                  I have placed the egg yolks temporarily in the measuring cup.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar using a wooden spoon or fork. This is really the hardest part to get. If the butter gets too warm, the sugar will not mix well and you will see sugar granules.  If this happens, use it anyway,   You can use an electric mixer and there are instructions on the web.
This is the traditional way to cream butter and sugar together. It is also amazingly tiring.
Basically you use room temperature butter. Cut the butter into small pieces. Then you beat it with a wooden spoon until it becomes soft. Next you add the sugar. Keep beating them together (creaming), until it becomes fluffy, similar in texture to whipped cream, but a bit denser.
3. Mix in the egg yolks.

4. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Make sure you get all the liquidity egg whites on the bottom of the bowl and Set Aside. You will put the beaten egg whites in the last step. (Can you imagine doing this using a wooden spoon, I made famous the words: "Are I done yet?")
5. Slowly pour in 1 cup of milk and mix well.
6. After the milk is added, Very Slowly add the flour mixing the entire time. (Can you imagine doing this by twirling the wooden spoon between your hands, - it seemed to take hours. 
6a.  At this point I begin to warm up pan on the stove, eventually you are going to want it at Medium High.
7. Slowly and gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
8. You want your Palstschinken batter to be more liquidity then yogurt and pour easily. Most times you have to add small amount of milk to get the matter thinner and more pourable. You want the Palstschinken to be thin. If your batter is too thin , then the pancakes will not hold together when you try and flip them. Monitor and Adjust your batter pourability.
9.Your pan should be medium high to even higher. Spread the butter on the pan using a napkin. The butter should sizzle but not burn and there should be enough so that the butter leaks out of the edges of the Palstschinken.

10. Pour the batter into the pan and lift up and tilt the pan so the batter spreads almost to the edges of the pan.

11. The Palstschinken will cook very quickly. Bubbles Form. Flip the Palstschinken.
12. When the temperature of the pan is correct, this beautiful irregular lacy pattern forms. Often there is still liquid batter on the top of the Palstschinken when you are flipping it over which you can see in the picture above.

13. Lift the pan off the stove, gently turn the pan over and the Palstschinken will fall on to a waiting plate.

14. When I was little I would spread a thin layer of raspberry jam and sprinkle on some sugar. We would roll them up and cut them in slices or I would sneak and eat the whole pancake like a pressed fruit roll. Over the years we have added blueberries, strawberries, peaches, maple syrup, chocolate pieces, even peanut butter at my Sweet Sixteen Party.

I wonder if Gabba will try them with olives?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nanaparents Day

This is Grandparent's Day at Parkersburg Catholic School which started off with a Mass. The entire side of the gymnasium bleachers were fillled with  grandparents and excited students.

The Handbell Choir played beautifully 3 Hymns: Kyrie, Let There Be Peace on Earth"  - can never say that without finishing up with and "Let it begin with me" and Onward Christian Soldiers
After the Mass several hundred grandparents lined up for the Lunch Brunch from Tim Horton's in the cafeteria. This is nana, gabba and sillie face. 
We missed having our picture taken with the Crusader, their mascot, so we took this picture with the"BF's".

Mrs. McBrayer - Language Arts 

I was also introduced to Ms. Vincent the science teacher and I was proud and impressed with the projects that Gabba shared with me;  I loved the stamens and pistils on the flower model and the Solar System model was excellent.
We went and looked at the lockers. Gabba's was very neat and organized. She showed me her beautiful binder that she had decorated with sequins and sparkly decorations.

This is Michael C. When Gabba was little she had an imaginary brother named Michael.
Guess who showed up at Catholic School.
The teachers assume they are brother and sister but they are not, just very good friends.
I was glad to hear that Michael looks after his "little sister"

We were challenged to take on the Academic Challlenge Team. The lovely lady sitting next to me turned out to be Michael's Grandmother. She told me that 3 generations of her family have attended this Catholic School.  She did, Michael's mother and now Michael.  She knew an incredible amount about the early settlers to Mid Ohio Valley and answered many questions that no one else knew the answer to.
Now I want to address some of the questions that I knew the answers to. Because I had listened to my children practicing music, I knew about Steven Foster - even my grandies recognized his name when they practiced their instruments and saw his name on their music. I knew the two sequels - acutally more of them to Star Wars, because our family has been watching Star Wars for over 20 years.  For many years it was a Christmas Tradition to watch all the movies when the kids came home from college. My favorite hard question was about equi hippos,  I remember seeing that at the York County Museum where my daughter went to college.  I freely admit to being a dork and love to go to places and learn about new things.

My grandie and adopted grandie said goodbye and I hope to get an invitation next year. I was really impressed with the school and the professionalism and graciousness that the teachers and staff exhibited during Granparents' Day Celebrations.

The special events did not stop happening. My son in law made me a special breakfast, Banana Split waffles which I really loved and thanked him for.

And finally the Piece de Resistance. Still yet another surprise and this was the biggest one of all.

My very own  shocking pink Chuck Taylors which I have worn since Grandparent's day and am thinking about wearing to Gabba's wedding.

Thank you all so much for all the caring and sharing you did with me on this special weekend.