Thursday, November 29, 2007

last minute potluck ideas

This time of year has potlucks several times a week. I enjoy cooking and baking, but the timing isn’t always right.
Here is a short list of how to survive the potluck season with class when you don’t have time to cook.

Presentation is everything—now is the time to haul out all those pretty glass serving pieces that sit in your cupboard. If you don’t have any, or worry you may have to leave the dish behind, head to a thrift store and buy something for very little money.

Blackberry Salad

Toss one large container of pre washed salad greens with some bottled poppy seed dressing. I use T Marzetti’s. Put into a beautiful glass bowl. Scatter 1-2 boxes of blackberries on top. They will look like jewels on top of the white/green salad.

Mustard and pretzels

Buy a pretty jar of German mustard. There are some really cute little ones in a variety of flavors. Buy a package of matchstick pretzels. Arrange on a tray with the jar of mustard.

Buy a jar of either the cream or wine herring or both if I am going to be there. Put in a beautiful glass bowl, top with some chopped parsley. The people who love herring will love you. The people who don’t won’t touch it, leaving more for those who do love it, who will love you even more.

Iced Tea

There are never enough good non-alcoholic beverage choices. Make a pot of good tea, whatever variety or flavor you like, and bring it as a pitcher of really good iced tea.

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad

If you can find decent tomatoes, buy a few along with some fresh mozzarella and large fresh basil leaves. Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into ¼ inch slices, alternate them along with a basil leaf, drizzle with olive oil and a bit of rice wine vinegar and top with fresh ground black pepper. This is really pretty and Christmas colors! Hold the vinegar if you have to make this ahead as it will darken the basil. It is still good with just the olive oil.

Bread and butter and jam
Buy a good loaf of bread, some artisanal butter and a good jam. Something so simple and good. Here in Chicago, I like D’Amato’s on Grand or Palermo on Harlem, Amish Roll Butter, and blackberry jam.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

my irritating family

Something that is important to me is to take a family snapshot each year to include in our Christmas cards.
I have them together in a book where I can watch us all age like Dorian Gray. I don't like it when friends send pictures of just their children, I want to see my friends themselves.
In our annual photo shoot, I always tell them they have to look good on all of them, because I am picking the one where I look best. They laugh, start pinching, and so forth. You can put the photos together into a flip book and see me getting more and more irritated, with them looking better and better.
It used to be funny.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

another advent quilt--in time for advent!

This advent quilt is for Eve's confirmation sponsor. Eve chose the buttons--some from my grandmother's button box.
Eve was confirmed in May, so this gift is a bit late, but it is finished before advent, so in my twisted sense of time, it's just in time.
I quilted this one in channels, with a variegated rayon thread.
(Seth didn't want me to get his face--he didn't say anything about his foot)

Thursday, November 15, 2007


The Christmas stamps this year were designed to warm a fiber lover's heart. The knitting details just make me smile--the stamps are on an aged white background. And the draping of the Madonna and Child's clothing on the Luini painting is lovely.

I give books of Christmas stamps to my children's teachers--something consumable and something they may not have time to get to the post office to purchase.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

classes and ethics

I have been pondering Bonnie's and Judy's frustrations and heartaches with use of their designs without attribution.

I have been teaching for about 10 years now, and have tried to do so ethically. Most of my students are new to quilting and are there not so much to learn a pattern as to have their hands held as they try new things. My weekly classes are with 3-8 students who work on individual projects with my assistance. Many of them are using commercial patterns, or something they have gotten from a magazine, book or the internet. I don’t believe this interferes with copyright as my class in not to teach that pattern, but to assist the student’s interpretation of it.

I try to use traditional blocks in my workshops, drafting my own patterns and instructions, and including a list of websites and books where students can look up related/similar patterns for future use. I encourage people to purchase the patterns or books themselves, to not copy another’s.

On occasion, I have an out of print magazine pattern I do copy, and I am afraid, this does infringe on copyright law. I don’t know if teaching for a non-profit educational site gives me any coverage for this or not. I’ve taken a workshop on creative use by a quilter/lawyer. It answered many questions, and brought up many more.