Friday, August 31, 2007

A Xerox Retirees Picnic

Well, another one of those wretched perfect summer days where all you want to do is be outside.

Luckily, I was scheduled to attend a picnic with a number of my old Xerox friends from Information Management. Some of them are even still working!! Of course, I didn't make my cookies until this morning so had to get up a bit early so that I would be done in time to get there and also take my shower.

The cookies were a success and the picnic even a bigger success. It is nice to be able to get together with many of these old work friends several times a year. Just enough to hear about their grandchildren and travels and hobbies and catch up on others who we all know in common.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Quilts and Zucchini Nut Bread Recipe

The meeting was great and involves raising funds for the Women's Health Partnership which is a non-profit affiliated with U of R which gets grants to pay for mammograms and Pap smears for women who do not have the wherewithall to do it on their own. The grants pay for a very minimal staff as well. The problem is that there are no funds for the "in between" times when a woman gets a positive test and has to have a retest or when she needs to get immediate medical attention. Medicaid just doesn't work that fast so they need funds for the interim. They literally are the most frugal operation I have seen.

Their idea is to have a number of fundraisers including quilt challenge with a specific fabric with the theme of Tree of Life. The people on this committee didn't know anything about quilting so they asked my friend Peg and she got me involved as well to help them implement their idea. They would then ask the quilters to contribute their pieces to be auctioned off to the doctors and other providers who support this worthwhile cause. Wouldn't it be nice to have a quilt hanging in an office somewhere? Would give you some visibility for your art! They will have the show of these quilts as part of the Webster Village Days next year as Scarlet Threads has offered up part of their space to support this project and show the results. There will be other projects they are working on as well as part of their fund raising attempts.

Today is downright dreary -- a welcome relief from all the glorious weather we have been having! (Just joking, folks!) In going over to pick some zucchinis from my neighbor's garden, I stopped to take a picture of my perfect hibiscus and Joe's new fountain.
For those of you who know, Joe lives next door and has wonderful gardens 8 months a year. I did yet another batch of zucchini nut bread and provide the recipe here for your perusal (it is from my neighbor Terry Seweryniack in Batavia and is always a favorite).

Zucchini Nut Bread (4 loaves in 4 1/2, 8 1/2 x 2 5/8 loaf pans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Spray coat or grease the loaf pans

Mix together in a bowl and set aside:

6 cups flour
4 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Beat together:

6 eggs
4 cups sugar


2 cups cooking oil
2 tbsps vanilla extract

4 cups shredded zucchini with skin
1 cup chopped walnuts

Shred approximately two fairly large zucchini whole (don't remove the skin) into nice grated zucchini. You will need 4 cups (or a little more if you want) of the grated zucchini.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the zucchini and just mix til moistened (don't beat). After all is in (it takes a large bowl -- fills my Kitchenaid bowl to the top), mix 1 cup of chopped walnuts coated with about a tbsp of flour into the mixture. Pour 1/4 of the mixture into each pan. Will fill it up about 3/4 of the way.

Bake for approximately 1 hour and five minutes. I use aluminum pans so if yours aren't you might want to add a little time. If you use smaller pans, less time; larger pans, more time. Just check. This is a nice very moist cakey bread.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Senioritis - is there a cure?

Well, I wanted to put my two new lovely pendants in my jewelry box so that I would know where they were. And there was the problem..... I put away my jewelry box before the trip in a very safe place. The question was -- where is that safe place?

It turns out it was very safe as it took me most of the afternoon to find it!! How bad is it when you don't even notice that you don't have a jewelry box out for almost two months anyway -- just shows the frequency that I wear my jewelry in the summer these days!! I did find it finally. Whew...

The morning of this bright summer day was spent doing another double batch of zucchini nut bread -- yum. I will give one away to my friend Peg this afternoon when I see her. I am heading off to a meeting with her about a project to raise money for women's health issues. They want to involve the quilting community here in Rochester and asked for my input. Hope I won't be too much of a pessimist.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Most Unusual Baby Quilt

Well, I started the baby quilt for the second grandchild of my next door neighbors Saturday night and finished it at 4:30 this afternoon. Of course, housework suffered and my sewing room looks like a major tornado has hit it! It started as a simple pattern - a nine inch square that has 6 pieces in it -- a long skinny piece (2" x 9 1/2"), three equal sized squares (3 1/2") and then two equal sized squares (5"). The trick is to repeat the fabrics and twist the blocks around so you get odd mixtures of pattern and it looks something like a puzzle. Of course that is the trick and my first time through, it just looked plain busy so Sunday I spent my time undoing about half the squares and replacing prints with black or yellow. It looked more together to me after that.

Also, I finished all the quilting on the Yellowstone piece and scrunched up the sides a bit so it is more even.

Today, I used my two new wonderful folding tables outside and basted the quilt and then quilted and bound it this afternoon. It was some pretty non-stop sewing as I do like the step of hand sewing down the binding. I finally settled on a green/yellow binding although black would have probably looked the best. This IS a baby quilt after all!! The grandparents seemed to really like it and I got my second hug in two days. The first set of parents really loved their quilt and of course wanted to put it up on the wall. I tell all recipients that the quilts are to be used and the grandparents passed on the message, saying I really wanted the quilt to be used!

I also have posted a picture of my two new dichroic glass pendants. The lady's website who makes these is and she lives right here in Webster!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Lots of Quilting and Visit to Sonnenberg Gardens

Having lived in Rochester for almost 30 years, I am embarrassed to say that I have never before visited Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua even though it is only 45 minutes from my house! They were having a combination juried vendors art show and of course the gardens so Warren suggested we go down on this beautiful summer Sunday.

The weather was a little iffy at first but became downright beautiful by mid afternoon. We first visited the vendors and I succumbed to a couple of dichroic glass pendants from a vendor who just happened to be from Webster and even knew Zanne from marching band. We then headed off to the greenhouses which were not very good at this time of year -- I must come sometime when the orchids are out more as there were quite a few of them.
We then headed up to the mansion on the hill. I was prepared for another dreary Victorian mansion but was very surprised by the beautiful layout of this house with lots of huge windows, porches and lightness even with the heavy Victorian furniture. I enjoyed walking around this grand old house.

We then headed out to the gardens. The rose garden was the most spectacular this time of year. Warren and I are spoiled after having had many visits to Longwood Gardens (the Dupont estate in Delaware) where the gardens are pristine no matter what time of year you visit. I hope that the takeover of the park by the State will improve some of the deteriorated conditions. I know that money was a real problem in the past. The Japanese gardens and the rose gardens were very nice with a lot of different colors.
I was taken by the multicolor roses that they had. One of my favorites was a deep red rose that was red on top and pure white on the underside -- very unusual.

I have been quilting like crazy and have been trying to piece another quilt for another baby. The parents are a couple of artists so I am making a very non-traditional color palette and having some fun. I was trying to get it done for the grandparents to take on Tuesday but think I will be failing at this goal!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Getting down to Quilting

Well, one guest has left and a new set arrives next Saturday for the Labor Day weekend. I am really looking forward to showing my sister and her husband around our area and am hoping that the wineries are open at that time as she has quite the wine collection.

But in the meantime, I have been madly quilting several of the pieces that I did at Quilting by the Lake. My only serious piece is the Yellowstone one and I have been spending a lot of time on carefully quilting the heck out of it! It's a bit wobbly but I am pleased so far..

I also quilted one of the smaller pieces to try some different fillin type patterns. I don't think I will even finish this one but may.

Then I finally did quilt the piece that took me eight years to finally put together after slicing and dicing any number of time!! I am very pleased with the quilting on this one and did finish it. I am hoping I will have two pieces for show and tell at GVQC for the September meeting.

Although the official notification hasn't arrived, Hoffman Challenge finally announced the winners and who made it into this year's traveling shows and my Ode to my 60's piece did make the cut! It is in the D traveling collection. I was pleased as it was a lot of work although not my favorite piece. I really liked the one I got in the first time around in 2004. This is a picture of that one. I still love looking at it although the workmanship is not as good as what I do now. Amazing how doing those little blocks improves your piecing skills.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Visit to the Ukrainian Festival

Friday afternoon, my youngest daughter's mother in law Ann came to visit for the weekend. She and I have become "family" for sure and this was her second visit this year. Strangely enough, although our children met each other in Wash DC, Ann was originally from Irondequoit although her family was Ukrainian. She had very much wanted to come to the Rochester Ukrainian Festival to see if she could run into some old friends. She last lived in this area 35 years ago but moved back to the Albany area late last year.

Saturday, we headed off to the Ukrainian Festival which is held each year at St. Josephat's in Irondequoit (that is the big mosque like looking church on Ridge Road). We went around to all the vendors and surveyed the food for later. I bought a book on making pysanky eggs as with my dyeing I have always wanted to do this and this was a wonderful book!!

The high point of the afternoon was almost 2 hours of folk dancing by several troupes of dancers, both locally and from a huge Ukrainian community in Toronto (Ann has relatives up there as well). The music and dancing and costumes were absolutely spell binding and we are now planning to go back this afternoon to see more as they are supposed to do different dances this afternoon.

The dance with the baskets symbolized the traditions of bread (Ukraine is the breadbasket of former Soviet Republic), the pysanky eggs and then fruitfulness.

We grabbed a dinner of Ukranian food to bring home and were treated to pierrogi and kielbasa and sauer kraut as well as stuffed cabbage. It was excellent!! The names are all different in Ukrainian though. The most amazing part for Ann was watching the dancers and realizing where her oldest son (my son in law) got his coloring. They all looked like him!! He definitely has the Ukranian genes. The Ukrainians from her generation were generally dark and from the part of the Ukraine that bordered Poland whereas the new influx from Ukrainia are from the Russian sector and are very blonde. It was quite the cultural experience.

Ann shared her memories of coming to Rochester from a displaced person camp in Germany near Stuttgart where she was born and spent the first several years of her life. Her uncle sponsored her family coming to the United States after the war and she first lived in Shortsville before making Irondequoit her home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Well, This Wasn't Supposed to be a Travel Blog!

Since Saturday of last week (August 11), I have been camping on beautiful Seneca Lake in the New York Finger Lakes region. We had wonderful weather and good company, my friends Debi and Bill. Besides being good company, Bill is an EXCELLENT cook so we had many wonderful meals while we were there as well!

A highlight of the trip was the ride Debi and I made to Watkins Glen State Park which is in Watkins Glen NY, right at the foot of Seneca Lake. It was about a half hour drive from our campground. Many of the Finger Lakes have
streams that feed into the south end and some rather spectacular waterfalls/gorges. I had seen the falls that fed into Cayuga Lake several times (Taughannock Falls) but had never been through the gorge at Watkins Glen. You enter the park at the bottom of the gorge and for $3 take a bus to the top end of the gorge. There is a one and one half mile walk down 800 steps through the gorge.

The gorge was "gorge-ous" as the local bumper stickers point out! There were hanging gardens all along the left hand side.

We had seen a small hanging garden at Zion National Park but nothing as long as this one at Watkins Glen.
There was a small mist of dripping water and all sorts of lichens, ferns, moss and wild flowers (wild columbine, lobelia) on the hanging garden side.
There were wild sunflowers and other wild flowers on the other side. You walk down a narrow pathway with lots and lots of stairs along the gorge which features small pools of waters, fast and slow moving streams and waterfalls. There are fantastic rock formations carved out of the stone which was laid down by glaciers millenia ago. It was very moist although the water level was low because of the dry summer we have had here. Even with that, I will definitely visit again.

The down side of the above walk is what walking down 800 steps does to your thighs and calves which have yet to recover!! I can barely walk down my slanted driveway and dread going up stairs as I know I will have to walk down them!!

We also took a quick trip over to Taughannock Falls at the foot of Cayuga Lake.
It hardly had any water but at least I didn't have to walk too far down!! Debi and I treated ourselves to the top down on her blue Mustang convertible on the way back!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Top is Finished!

Well, I got sewing today and finally finished the top I started as my "final project" at QBL. I am relatively pleased although I will certainly do things differently the next time! It is comprised of four separate pieces and getting that last 1/4 to fit and look right took a bit of time. I didn't want it to look like four pieces put together!! After I had completed the piece and evened it out, I put it up on the board and it just didn't look right. It just felt too wide so I folded under about 6 inches on the left hand side and am much happier with the final product now. I took much artistic license from the original photograph which I have also included.

Things I like -- the color and the overall composition.
Things I would do differently -- the structure from a sewing standpoint and smaller pieces in the background of the light grays. I might also do more piecing in the bottom of the piece but might not.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Finally Getting Some Pieces Done!

Well, it may not look like much, but this first piece has been sliced and diced at least three times in the past 10 years and then placed back in its baggie. I have contemplated throwing it out a number of times over the years as I could never get anything out of it.

Well, this is the first positive thing I have experienced since the class!! I put it up and ten minutes later, I had it together. It may not be perfect or even too interesting, but it was interesting enough for me and now onto quilting at some point. Probably some straight line quilting. There was a lot of that at QBL this year.

The second picture is my first "series" in the class with Cynthia. She said it reminded her of the seasons but it reminded me more of the images of the many, many different kinds of canyons we saw. We were constantly amazed at the different colors, shapes, sharpness or softness of the rocks. I think we saw every color of the rainbow except blue! With mostly constant blue skies though, we were dazzled by the colors on our trips -- canyons, flowers, birds.