Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009


The Thursday Afternoon Craft Report

All of the normal folks use Wednesdays to post about their projects, but I’ve never been a very good conformist (or all that conscious of what day it is) so I’m going with Thursday.

In the interests of full disclosure, this first picture is terrible.  I’m envious of people who have rooms on the first floor of the building with windows.  Or maybe light fixtures that work?  At any point in time I’d say only 1/3 of the fluorescent lights work in my “studio.” I had 2/3 of them working a few months ago thanks to YouTube and new bulbs, but now I’m thinking it might be something more complicated like the ballast and I haven’t googled it just yet.

I hung up one of those flannel backed tablecloths over my sewing desk recently for a “design wall.”  Design side towards the wall (obviously) and the perfect use for a homebirth leftover.  On the left are my batik squares.  Since the last time I showed them I’ve only made one more.  I’m not feeling it right now so they sit there until I feel inspired.  On the right side is the beginning of a lap quilt for myself.  It seemed much larger when I first lay them out, but now that I look at it I’m thinking I’ll add in borders between each of the rows.  Either that or I’ll pick up another charm pack (or two).  On the plus side, my lines all pretty much line up and when they don’t they look like it from afar.  Now that’s progress!

This one’s just waiting on the binding.  I decided to do it the “right” way and not try to machine stitch it all at once.  This means I need to hand-stitch and I hate doing that so there it sits.  It’s a free paper piece pattern from monkey beans and the big paisley print in the middle is from a home decor thing (table runner?) that I got as the wrapping on a gift.  One of these days I’ll get around to finishing it.

Another free paper piece pattern.  I had envisioned a larger wall hanging, but got bored so it’s a mini-quilt.  I skipped the binding step and went with the fold the backing over to the front technique.  I appreciate not doing binding (and hand-stitching), but I need to find a better way of doing this.  I’d do it again for a wall hanging, but not for a lap quilt or anything that would get use.  I couldn’t stand the idea of quilting over the top of the square so I just did straight lines on the edge so that the piecing would shine.  Oh, and the schmutz on it?  No idea.  It annoys me, though and now it can you.

Another SewHooked free paper piece pattern.  This one I made from scraps from a quilted project I made last year.  I was going to take a picture of that to go with this one, but then it’s on the table under stuff and while I love all of you dear readers, I don’t know if I like you that much.  For the record, though, I don’t love anyone else enough to unpile it to show them.  Not even my Mom.  Nope, she got to see a small corner that wasn’t otherwise covered.  So.  There’s that.  I would have loved a wall hanging of this on a larger scale, but again, I used scraps so a mini-quilt it was!

The best thing about these sorts of quilts?  Super quick and easy to finish!

There was another paper piece quilt I made earlier this summer – well, two actually, but believe you me they’ll never see the light of day.

Title?  Umm, fabric? It’s famous fabric, though.  You should head on over to my Mom’s blog to read the story on this fabric.  Still have no idea how we did that.  I’ve got a charm pack of solids to go along with it so it’ll be something, but not until I finish something else.

A small corner of “Still Life with Crows” with the background fabric I finally settled on.  Maybe it’s too traditional?  I’m going to stick with it, though.  I’ve done the easy part and now it’s on hold until I figure out the quilting.  There’s quite a bit of negative space in this quilt and I want that to play a big role.  I like quilts that use the negative space in a powerful way.  I just need to get what I see in my mind (or maybe feel?) onto paper so that when I send it off to the quilter she’ll know what I want.  I had wanted to get this one done to hang on the wall this fall, but next fall is looking more likely.

Not a quilt, but still crafty.  Hand dipped leaves (in beeswax) and felt figures representing Persephone and Demeter.  See the pomegranate in the background?  They appeared on the table for the Equinox celebration and will stay there for another couple of weeks.  At that point I’ll change things up as we get ready for Samhain.  Samhain is fast becoming my favorite holiday, though the Winter Solstice still edges it out slightly and oh, Imbloc is in there too, but that has more to do with my love of the stories/lore surrounding Brigid.  For Samhain we start with the standard secular Halloween activities following a big to-do the next day with the five of us.  We used to take the day off homeschooling to do it, but the kid is in school so we’re going to do what other minority religions do and take him out of school.  Yay! to the First Amendment.  I’d like to put a bigger focus on remember our ancestors this year (we’ll see how that goes) and one day I’d like to be able to invite other people (maybe family?) along to celebrate with us.  I think it’d be nice to be able to share stories of those who’ve already passed on and keep family history alive.

One day.

I don’t typically get decorations on the table during the light half of the year, unfortunately, but I do have the dark half covered.  I’m not thrilled about the colder weather, but there’s just something about this time of year that makes me want to decorate things.

So…there you have it, the Thursday Afternoon Craft Report!


Harvest Table

I found this table in a dark corner of my Grandma’s basement.  It was covered in cobwebs and my Mom remarked that it was something we might buy at the flea market.  I didn’t give it much thought because it looked a bit rough and really, what use did I have for another table?  A few days later we had our first frost warning and I got to thinking about my houseplant.  I usually put them in the bay window and then promptly forget about them.  They wilt and yellow, lose leaves, and otherwise look very sad until Spring when I kick them out of the house and put them on the deck railing in the back.  They’ll grow like gangbusters and look all happy and green before the cycle starts all over again.  Try as I might with my mindless neglect of them I just can’t kill them.

Or, rather I couldn’t until this year when I lost one due to frost.  I kicked them out earlier than usual because of the warm spring which mean quite a bit of schlepping in and out of the house.  I think I gave up at some point with the schlepping and one of them was pretty hard hit so I dumped it, rather unceremoniously, in the compost bin. The remaining plant recovered slightly, but then the drought hit and while I did water several bushes outside I tended to forget about the plant on the deck railing and it, again looked pitiful.

At this point in my story I’m thinking I should be thankful that there is not a Humane Society for Houseplants because I suspect they’d come and liberate the plant from my care.  Promise you won’t turn me in, ok?

I did at one point remember that the plant needed water, although that was probably because my husband had to move it and found the pot was a bit on the light side.  Typically when this happens I put the pot in the tub and turn on the tap until the water pours out the bottom.  Hmmm, yeah, you won’t turn me in to the plant welfare people, right?

I put it back out on the deck railing and then we got rain.  Lots of rain and the plant bounced back better than ever.  Isn’t she pretty?

I couldn’t very well bring her back inside to the bay window.  Clearly, though the window gets the most sunlight in the house (and you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find sunlight in this house) it’s not a place that my plant is happy.  But where to put her?  My Mom has gently suggested that perhaps I bring the plant over to her house because she’s the plant whisperer and all plants thrive at her house, but I can’t do that.  I started this plant from trimmings from an office plant back before I had kids.  I have dutifully cut off other parts of the plant, rooted them, and then replanted them.  Sure, I might largely neglect it, but I’ve got time and effort into this plant.

Then I remembered the table in the neglected corner of my Grandma’s basement.  Neglected table?  Neglected plant?  It’s a match made in home decorator’s paradise.

…Or something like that.

Sure, it needs a coat of something to protect the wood, the bolts on the bottom connecting the table top need to be tightened, the legs need some glue, and the entire thing is splashed with paints of unknown origin, but it’s a table.  It would have probably been taken to St. Vinnny’s or thrown out so why not come to my house and hold my plant?  As for the plant splashes, my husband has been directed, repeatedly, that when he gets around to shoring up my table and applying the finish, he not touch those paint splatters.  My Dad will probably think I’m crazy for hiding what is really nice wood behind them, but I think they’re what makes the table what it is.  Rustic.

At first the table just held the plant and it seemed right to me.  Then, I was decorating for fall (and our Autumn Equinox family dinner) and I had all these things to use, but no room on the mantle.  I added in a few paper pieced mini-quilts and then it was perfect.  Neither the table, nor the plant, are neglected.  They’re the focal point of the harvest season and the reminder that nothing is beyond saving.



The Beginning of Fall

Fall has been a very busy so far (all four full days of it).

There were:

Tea parties with Nana.  Cranberry-Orange Bread with a simple orange juice and powdered sugar glaze (needed to bake longer) on pretty Depression Glass plates and small tea cups for the young ladies.  It was clear, based upon the rousing success of this party that there will be more in the future and that we’ll need a few more tea cups, a creamer, and a covered sugar dish.  Oh, and a three-tier stand, tiny silverware, and a few more cloth tea napkins.  I feel the flea market calling my name, but that will have to wait until next year.

Close on the heels of our morning tea party was our family Autumn Equinox dinner complete with stuffed acorn squash, bacon brussels sprouts, apple pie, and a Pinot Noir from Five Rivers for the adults.  We also read the story of Demeter and Persephone.

The girls and I were back at my Grandma’s house this week to pick up a few dishes and check out the toys to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind.  Aunt L was also there sorting through Grandma’s clothes and shoes.  She sent the girls home with some shoes and a few purses.  Little did I know that the sound of too big heels would be filling my every waking moment.  Clip, clop, clip, clop.  Across the floor upstairs and down the sidewalk on the way to somewhere big.  Clip, clop, clip, clop, clip.

Last, but certainly not least, or at least the last thing I have a picture of, are new-found treasures finding new homes.  This little rocking chair was caned by my Grandma many moons ago.  My Aunt L has the newspaper clipping to prove it.  This is one of many pieces of furniture that have made it to our house and the second of the small rocking chairs.  Miss L also picked up a cabinet suitable for her very own dresser and I picked up a rustic table that’s become another seasonal space in the house to hold all of our treasured pieces.  That doesn’t even include the card table and chair set that came home and will mean we can have guests over for dinner and provide them with a place to sit!

We had to find homes for some of the new glassware which meant a set of storage containers for my empty canning jars and getting rid of a few of the things I was holding on to for no particular reason.  Finding a new home for my Grandma’s pretty bowls seemed like a sufficient reason.

Oh, and the new Mumford & Sons album.  Did I mention that?

iTunes messed up and I paid for it twice (grumble, grumble, grumble), but shhh, let’s just enjoy the music.


About Dinner…

Yesterday, I asked what was for dinner and a couple of folks responded with some very tasty sounding dishes.

Judy was having pork loin on the grill.  I had kind of forgotten about pork or at least about the kind of pork that didn’t come in the ground or otherwise manipulated form.  I’ve been drooling over the King Arthur Flour catalog with their boiled cider and the accompanying apple pie recipe, but I’ve read where folks use the boiled cider on pork and ham and other tasty things.  If I ever do bite the bullet and buy some, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Emily probably has more allergies and sensitivities than you can shake a stick at, but doesn’t let that ruin her sense of food adventure nor her creativity.  She has an autumn dinner that sounds fantastic!  Vegan, gluten-free, and tasty.

As for us?  Last night we had pumpkin waffles (heavily modified, but generally based upon this recipe) with sausage links.  I don’t think the girls were big fans, but my son single-handedly ate most of them (this is what happens post-soccer game).  Tonight we’re having Mashed Potatoes with Chicken Noodles.

I know what you’re thinking, WTF?  Mashed potatoes and noodles?  Isn’t there enough starch in either one of those things alone?  The short answer is “Yes” and “Of course, you’re right.”  However, it’s the husband’s thing.  They apparently ate it every Thanksgiving when he was growing up and he made it a few times for my family, but let’s just say it never really caught on because, really, mashed potatoes and noodles?

We were going to have chicken and dumplings from “The Colonial Williamsburg Tavern Cookbook” (a very thoughtful gift from my parents), but then I saw egg noodles at Aldi that promise they are “Authentic German Swabian Egg Noodles” (no idea what that means) and so here we are.  Every once in a while I like to do something nice for the husband.  In this case, I think serving the dish once every ten years is sufficient, right?

After that it’s on to the weekday stuff, although Monday is technically a weekend for the husband.  We’re going to have our Autumn Equinox family dinner complete with a few stories from Greek mythology and time together as a family.  We missed on the Harvest Festival at Circle Sanctuary yesterday which is kind of a bummer being the second year in a row that this has happened.  I’m holding out hope for next year, but I’ll settle for a tasty dinner with my family members instead.  Monday morning is also the tea party we’re having with Nana at my daughter’s request which means I’ve got to get my act together if I’m going to get the kitchen cleaned, cranberry bread baked, and an apple pie made.  Probably not in that order.

I haven’t made a pie since, um, two years ago.  Is there a goddess of pie crust?  She and I might have to have a chat.

The rest of the week is pretty mundane with things like tacos, macaroni and cheese (for the kids and the husband since I’ll be gone), and spaghetti.  I’m filing away some of the inspiration I’ve gotten so far to help me plan next week’s menu, but I’m always open to more inspiration.  Please do share or I might have to start pulling up the church cookbooks I got from my Grandma and we know what happened last time I was flipping through things – Mormon Muffins.