Thursday, October 27, 2016

Magic Salt

When you travel, it's easy to fall into some bad habits. Tempting cookies in the hotel lobby, not-so-healty easy-to-grab snacks in between meals. But at the end of a long day, it's so nice to be able to treat yourself to a good dinner. Whenever I'm in the Northlake area of Atlanta, I try to visit Northlake Thai, for some yummy Asian fare. This coconut shrimp dish tasted every bit as good as it looks!

At lunch time, my friend Shelly Stokes and I enjoyed lunch with two women from Indiana, Holly Kile and her Aunt Gin. We all ordered lunch, and the drinks arrived first. Nothing unusual about that. When Aunt Gin received her cold drink, she picked it up off the napkin, reached for the salt shaker and 'salted' the napkin and returned the glass to the napkin, without skipping a beat in the conversation.

Wait, what? Neither Shelly nor I had ever seen this trick before. Shelly simultaneously vocalized the question that was going through my head: What are you doing?

Aunt Gin's reply: If you salt the napkin then put a glass full of a cold drink on the salt, the napkin won't stick to the bottom of the glass when you pick up the icy/sweating glass. I didn't know that! Did you?

I just had to share. I bet now you'll sent me a note saying that you knew this little trick all along. . . . I'm not sure how I have managed to survive without this tidbit of critical information!

Anyway, back on the home front . . .

On my return home, I found this single coneflower in bloom in the garden. I guess I'm not the only one trying to hang on to every last bit of the summer season. With a trace of snow accumulated on the cars yesterday morning, it's getting harder and harder to live in my little world of denial. I guess you could say this is a late bloomer in the truest sense of the word.

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Game Day at Michie Stadium

Here in the US, October is football season, and there's no better place to see a college football game (in my mind) than Michie Stadium at the US Military Academy at West Point. So off Dave and I (along with a few friends) went for a short drive to our destination on the Hudson River last Friday afternoon.

First of all, the Autumn colors along the drive south from Syracuse are nearly full color. These few photos were snapped at a rest stop along scenic route 17.

It didn't hurt that the weather offered a picture-perfect drive day.

On Saturday, game day, if you arrive on the base early enough you can watch the festivities on "The Plain." The ceremonies for Homecoming Day start in front of the Commandant's residence about 3 hours prior to game time.

. . . Shortly after, followed the Parade of Cadets in full dress uniform.

Then it was on to the stadium. The Army Black Knights' opponents for Saturday's game was the Lafayette (PA) Leopards. Across the field from our seats, the mass of white is the Cadet's cheering section. The white of their uniform hats and shirts stand out on this clear, sunny October day. The gold helmets of the Army Black Knights football team are in the foreground.

The Black Knights were victorious with a 62-7 final score. Each time Army scored, the cheerleading squad did push-ups in the home end-zone--one for each point. It's cumulative. So at the first score, it's 7 push-ups, at the next score, it's 14 push-ups! By the end of the day, the workout totaled over 300 push-ups for the whole game. (Thank goodness the crowd wasn't required to participate in those!)

The entire day was steeped in tradition and ceremony and a lot of fun. Really an awesome experience!

Happy Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A 'Forever' Pumpkin

Last Friday, Janet Lutz and I played hookie. Janet is the owner of Calico Gals, and you might also be familiar with her name if you collected Row by Row Experience™ patterns this summer.

A few weeks ago Pat Sloan posted a comment on Facebook as she drove past Corning, New York in her travels. Both Janet and I commented on Pat's post. The Corning Museum of Glass has a studio where visitors can 'make' blown glass objects like ornaments and beads. During certain times of the year, a special blown glass item is featured that you can't make any other time of year. And in October, it's pumpkin season!

With Corning only a 2-hour drive away, we decided to take a day to go play. So off we headed on a beautiful sunny fall day.

Here we are sporting safety glasses for our pumpkin-making experience.

Since it was such nice weather outside, Janet was wearing sandals, perhaps for the last time this season. She had to cover up her feet with fashionable foot coverings resembling duck feet.

Our objective was a glass pumpkin like this one.

And our first task was to select colors - we could choose up to three. . . . orange and clear glass for the pumpkin, and lime green for the stem were my choices. Janet choose spooky black on black.

Jackie, our hostess, and the one that really did most of the work, explained the process. Glass is heated in furnaces in the wall, then she grabs a gob of glass (the bright red blob) on the end of the tube. (there are official names for all these things, but I was so excited to make my pumpkin, I can't remember all the technicalities)

While the glass is still hot and pliable, we were invited to blow into the tube while Jackie rolled the pipe to keep the pumpkin nice and round. Think of a marshmallow at a campfire. If you don't turn it, it becomes a saggy mess. While I blow, Jackie shapes the pumpkin.

Once the pumpkin is formed, Jackie reaches in for some more glass, adds colored glass, then sticks it on top of the pumpkin and twists it to make the curled stem. My pumpkin waits for its stem.

And there you have it. The colors look nothing like the finished product. . . yet. The glass has to cool overnight in a hot kiln which gradually brings the glass to room temperature. Only enough time for a quick photo before the glass breaks from cooling too fast.

Next, it was Janet's turn. Notice that she's just sitting on an old wooden carton! A typical working studio! Nothing fancy. (Kinda goes with Janet's footwear)

Her turn to blow into the tube while Jackie does the real work. Fortunately, both Janet and I had enough hot air to fill out our pumpkins. Hot air is never in short supply for either of us! *Wink!*

And there's Janet's spooky black pumpkin.

And here are the finished pumpkins, delivered yesterday. Aren't they cool?


It would have been a shame to go all that way and have nothing to bring home to show for it. Not to worry, we stopped in the museum gift shop for a little shopping therapy. We did not come home empty-handed!

And we had to drive home through wine country. We *might* have stopped at a winery for a taste or two.

Happy Glass-blowing and Stitching!
Joan Ford

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mail Call!

Larry the Mail Guy (his name really is Larry), along with Fred the FedEx Guy (I don't know if Fred is really his name, but it might be!) have been delivering some sweet treats to my door.

No, not sweet as in edible, but 'sweet' as in super cool!

Just before I left for Ottawa on Saturday, I received a package from my friends at Free Spirit Fabrics. I'm going to be doing some demonstrations in The Taunton Press booth at Quilt Market (Stop by Booth 655 if you will be attending the trade show in Houston). The new book is all about the 9-patch, scrappy 9-patches, of course, and you just know there are going to be some pretty slick techniques involved, right?

Aren't these luscious?

Then, I received this sample kit from Stitchin Heaven Travel. These are the kits for our January sail to the Eastern Caribbean. If you're coming on the cruise (lucky you!) and if you order the Sail and Sew Kits, this is what will be waiting for you on board. Love, love, LOVE the cut-and-ready-to-sew fabrics in this kit! - the colors and the sweet tulips on the focus print are yummy beyond words! Order early and often because kit quantities are limited. . . .And if you haven't made your cruise reservation yet. . . well, what exactly are you waiting for??

And the best for last . . . my good friends at The Taunton Press sent me the first draft of the complete manuscript for the next book! Yay-yay-yay! Lots of number crunching and cross-checking for me in the days ahead, but it finally feels like there is really a book out there on the horizon. Don't get too excited yet (okay, you can get excited), but we're still a long way off from having a book in your hands (Spring 2017 is the target shelf date). No sneaky peeks . . . yet. Stay tuned, though because you never know when those sneaky peeks will slip out! (That's what makes them sneaky!)

Okay, enough drooling. I've got some work to do!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford