From great-great- grandmother to.....

I started this piece in 2010 when I ran across this picture of my grandmother  and my granddaughter at the same age and realized how much the world had changed for a young woman.  My granddaughter had college, travel and a chance to make decisions about the future.  At the same age her great-great-grandmother Margaret had to quit school as her father had arranged a marriage for her to a farmer 20 years her senior. Her mother had died when she was very young and her father thought he was providing a secure future for her. She had 4 children in rapid succession found farm life with a stern German immigrant unbearable.

In her day one of the few ways young women had to communicate was with a fan… The  difference between their lives was as great as the difference between the fan language and the cell phone.  Thus the inspiration of this piece of needlework.
I waited until my granddaughter had finally settled and has her own home to give her this for Christmas.

I actually disassembled a cell phone to put the numbers on this piece so you can  see how even cell phones have changed since 2010.  The text message on the phone roughly translates   

Dear great-great granddaughter Madi,
Your life is so awesome.  Between you
and me, you are so lucky.  You go girl. 
But “TGAL”think globally, act locally
as even the smallest things you do affect everyone.
From the bottom of my heart I love you.
Great great grandmother Margaret…
I wanted the colors to make a transition from somber and dark to vibrant and light. I stitched the  opposing corners first and the hand pieced the transition colors.

If you didn't notice, take a second look and check out the variety of fans I created and I   had some great seams on this piece.. You can see at this point of construction that I put down ribbons and trim over seams and then embellish them.


What to do with tips and tutorials

This tiny fan ornament is only about 3" across at its widest point... impossible to cut and sew such tiny pieces so I devised a easy was to do it...
This was for the Needlework Guild Christmas ornament exchange about 7-8 years ago... I ran across this tutorial while looking for something else and realized that these instructions REALLY needed editing and clarification. It wasn't even labeled as a tutorial....  

Lisa Boni said I should gather up all my tips and tutorials and put them in a book and I find I have over 100 posts that would fall into these categories..  No book but I will start going back through the blog and organize and update these and make an index....

These are the old instructions and   really need  more pictures and explanation and maybe someone could use it for 2017...  So sometime soon I will redo it and add a pattern.  This would make a great mini workshop for CQ beginners.

Rather than cut out tiny fan pieces I drew the fan on muslin and did it "flip & stitch" working from the back and trimming as I went.... much easier... I  embellished with beads, added SRE and lace...
I also ended up with a nice pile of "crumbs" of these fabrics


Gnocchi triumph and dismal Downton Abbey

For years and years I've tried various gnocchi (little potato dumplings) recipes and they have always turned out gummy, dense, and rubbery... practically inedible but I keep trying because good gnocchi is a culinary delight.  Fluffy, tender, and delicious.... they should be   cloud-like, holding their shape just long enough to dissolve on your tongue—

   I mentioned last post I was going to try beet gnocchi...  So last night I searched the internet for tips on gnocchi... First what potato ...definitely divided opinions between russets and Yukon gold.  Mute point since I only had Yukon Gold. Egg or no eggs.  Recipes varied...2 eggs, 1 egg, 1 egg yolk or no egg... But one site recommended the 1 yolk for beginners so decided to start there...  The most informative site covered everything.

Recipes were also divided on whether to bake or boil potatoes..  My recipe called for baking and then cooling to peel.  But I remembered Cristina said it was most important to work with them hot.  I roasted the beets, peeled and put them in the food processor.  All the beet gnocchi recipes called for a 2-1   ratio of potatoes put through a ricer and   beets.

Here I'm ready to roll out the long tubes to cut the little individual dumplings..  I really felt I needed more flour at this point but I was paranoid about adding too much.  Next time I will add a bit more flour at this point to have a firmer dough.. But the color is gorgeous.

I cut them, dropped them in boiling water until they rose to the top, and then sautéed them in brown butter... and they were definitely "cloud-like" and  delicious.  Also the color was so pretty with the fish.   The shape needs working on but next time with a little extra flour I can solve that problem...  No more gummy, dense, rubbery gnocchi.  The coleslaw was a happy accident... I only had half a small head of leftover cabbage so added  a leftover piece of celeriac and they were perfect together with some mandarin orange and baby kale added.

Everyone has always urged me to watch Downton Abbey, telling me that I would just love it... So last month I started and managed to get through the first 8 episodes but the cast went from one disaster and crisis to another and I found it terribly depressing.. Just when I thought their lives couldn't get worse, the war started.. That was it!!!I knew I could never get through all the seasons... so I skipped to the last 3 episodes in the last season and got to the happy stuff...requited love, marriages and babies.. But I do admit that Maggie Smith was a treasure... I will continue the recipe site though.
This cartoon really summed it up...and I'm back to the food channel.


Culinary tidbits and a squash bomb!!!!

I hate trying to peel or cut up a squash so for the last 60 years I have prepared squash the same way... baking it whole.  I stick the whole squash in the oven on a low temperature and when I can pierce the skin with a fork, I remove it, easily cut it in half and scoop out seeds and pulp... works like a charm... But yesterday I was roasting a squash in this manner and heard a big KABOOM and found this mess in my oven... I just shut the oven door and hoping the next time I open it the mess will have disappeared.
Obviously from now on I will wrap the squash in foil first. I had laundry baskets full of squash from the garden this year and I bake one every few days as a treat for the chickens...they just love it...

 The only TV I have is in my workroom and I have it on when I paint buttons so I really only listen to it....and it is mostly on the food channel and invariably I'm inspired to cook something different.  Just recently it was seedless red grapes which I love.  But a chef roasted them and served them with salmon and a cream sauce..... I had never thought to roast them but they were absolutely delicious. It made me think of other ways to use them and with roast pork came to mind first. But  Epicurious magazine has a whole web page on ways to use roasted grapes.  I will definitely try them on crostini with ricotta or goat cheese but what sounded the best was warm roasted red grapes on ice cream... I can almost taste the warm sweet grapes on cold ice cream......

In my freezer I have a lot of rockfish  from my son ...  It is a white fish and I usually serve it with roasted sweet potatoes but am always looking for an alternate side dish that is colorful and I want to try one I saw on TV yesterday.  It's a dish from northern Italy .... beet gnocchi with brown butter and sage.

I have to admit two things.... first I absolutely love gnocchi and second I fail miserably every time I make it.  My dear friend Cristina makes gnocchi that is light and fluffy and melts in your mouth.  Mine is more like gummy lumps of dough..  but I keep trying.  Cristina even gave me a lesson on gnocchi one Sunday and shared all her tips.  I blogged about it several years ago.

I love it when she sends me home with a bag of frozen gnocchi but she is wintering in California so I'm on my own.  This recipe calls for an egg and Cristina would laugh as she says only Americans put an egg in gnocchi..  I roasted the beets yesterday and think I will give it a try tomorrow.  Wish me luck....


Merry Christmas

If you are doing a Christmas CQ project and need a friendly Santa, I just finished a very few one-of-a-kind that might be just what you need.  They are large...almost 2" and could even be made into an ornament.  Check them out https://www.etsy.com/shop/olderrose

With my peripheral vision and my super magnifying lamp I can still paint buttons for which I am so grateful.  I haven't had any luck trying to stitch under it.... I think the difference is just having to try to focus on such a tiny area and minimal movement.

In case you are interested I have added a coupon code for free shipping on orders of $24 or more in the US.
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