Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I am filled with gratitude because I have so much. I hope that you all have a restful holiday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Western North Carolina Blizzard.... Southern Style

It snowed a few flakes, so of course, school was cancelled on Friday. We live in the south eastern U.S. There were times on Friday when I thought it was a beautiful blessing, and there were other times when I was cursing my fate. It was wonderful to be home with the kids. The day slowed down entirely, and we have soooo needed that. We crafted, we cooked, we played outside, and we even made it to our local tail gate market. It was wonderful, and somehow incredibly challenging by the end of the day. I don't know why, exactly, but there was rough housing, squabbles, and out and out tantrums. The noise level and neediness just sent sent me sailing. I was reduced to tears by dinner time, and thinking that maybe I need a bumper sticker for my mini van ( can't believe I shared that I actually own one.) The bumper sticker should definitely say "I used to be zen."

The next day, my hubby went out of town for the weekend. I have to admit that I felt desperate. And then, just the help I needed arrived in the form of a phone call. My wonderful friend called and asked if my daughter could spend the night. Yes. Yes. Yes! It was so nice to focus on just my little guy. We went for two really nice walks, and the picture above is him fishing with the stick that he dragged with him on half the walk. I really struggle to find time to give each child undivided attention. Being completely present with him that evening and the next morning was good for both of us. I felt my mind still and my heart fill with joy. It is just so amazing to watch him navigate his world and listen to all of his revelations. The world is such a magical place to him.

This is the soup we ate all weekend. I just had to take a picture of it because it contains the lone butternut squash that grew in our garden. We were thrilled to roast it, but even more thrilling was how it tasted. This is the recipe and the bread that we ate with it is below. I've made the soup twice, the first time with a friend's gift of a Lumina pumpkin from her garden. This is a white pumpkin and it makes the silkiest most amazing soup I've ever had. I decided to try the same recipe for butternut squash since we had it. It was still superb. I used vegetable stock instead of chicken. Magnificent. The bread is from a recipe that my sister gave me and is kind of like popovers, but even yummier. Plus, it's idiot proof, and doesn't flop like my popovers have a habit of doing.

Gougere With Mustard, originating in the French Countryside. Gougere are cheese-filled pastries,which are served as an appetizer or salad accompaniment.

1-cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
1-cup water
4 medium eggs
½ cup finely diced Chantal or Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and the inside of the outer rim of a spring form pain. Sift together the flour and salt. In a large saucepan combine the butter and water and bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the saucepan. Cool 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition with an electric beater until smooth. Stir in the Chantal cheese and Dijon mustard. Place the prepared rim of the spring form pan (base removed) onto the baking sheet.Spoon the mixture around the inner edge of the rim, making about 8 piles.Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake until well-risen and golden, 40-50minutes. To serve, cut into chunky pieces. Serve hot.

Serves 4

A.J. Rhodes 2006

Friday, November 21, 2008

Busy little bag bee

Wow. The show last weekend was a huge success... for everyone! It's so cool to have an event that supports handmade crafters AND women at our local homeless shelter. Thanks again, Rebecca and Liz for all your hard work!
These are 5 of the quilted women's bags that I made out of a total of 10. I'm so glad that I took pictures that morning because they're all gone now. I sold 8 of these bags and only have 2 left. I'm saving those other two for a show in a couple of weeks.
The show coming up is the reason I have not been posting lately. And it's not because I'm so busy making stuff for it! I'm co-organizing it with another lovely women. Holy cow. I had no idea how much time organizing a fundraiser for a non-profit could eat out of every day. It's exciting, though. I'm knocking out two of my passions at one time. The show is to benefit our Montessori school which is very dear to my heart. Plus, I get to help provide a high quality venue for local handmade artists! Now, how awesome is that? Oh... except that I am exhausted and overwhelmed because I'm still doing all I did before, plus this. Any women out there who can relate? So... not much blogging going on these days, but it's all for some good causes. The etsy shop is a bit quiet too. Big sigh.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sewing like a mad woman

I am sewing every second that I can squeeze in, including evenings. I've even put my mom to work and thank goodness because an extra hand is much needed. I'm participating in a craft show this weekend with a bunch of amazing women. Part of the proceeds will go to the women's shelter. Two wonderful friends organized the whole thing! Let me tell you, I know this is no easy task as I'm in the midst of organizing a craft sale fundraiser for our Montessori school. Busy, busy right now. My students were lucky to get a lecture from me yesterday. It was shameless how last minute my class prep was. I felt like more of a student than an instructor. Don't tell, O.K? I'm sticking to acting like I've got it together in public. You should see the state of our house right now.

So... back to sewing for me while my little guy is at Montessori and my big girl at school. Maybe I'll have time for a picture or two of some completed work before Sunday. We'll see.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A new bag

This one's a little bigger than the small "tot" size bag. Folks have asked for a bag that's one size up. I made one last weekend for my niece for her birthday, but of course, forgot to take a picture of it before I gave it away. I can't tell you how many bags and quilts I've given away that were never photographed. Oh, well. This one is made for our sweet friend who is having her 4th birthday party this afternoon. My five and half year old graciously modeled for me, and you can see that it's a roomy bag. I hope it fits our little friend's lunch box for school. We'll see.

I didn't win that quilt contest, but you need to see who did! Go here. The three that were chosen are the sweetest, most inspiring works. It made me want to get busy on some embroidery again. My quilt did make it in the group of samples shown for work that didn't win. It was fun to look at the comments made about it here.

Hope every one's having a great weekend. The weather here is amazing and the oaks are reddening in perfect contrast to the golds of the poplar and hickory trees. We're headed out the door for a little walk in our woods. Tomorrow's my day and I'm thinking a short run combined with lots of sewing sounds perfect!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

He won, he won!!!

No, not the snail, silly! Barak Obama!!! What a landmark election for our country. I was probably the only person I know that went to bed at 9 last night. I had to. I was just exhausted. A part of me really wanted to stay up, but I knew I wasn't up for the heightened state of anxiety that I would feel until the electoral vote became clear. So I made the decision to go to bed, and take care of myself. This morning I snuck to the computer in the dark of the morning after brewing my coffee. I was so nervous, and then I clicked on the server and up it popped. I started crying with a huge grin on my face. I watched the clips and I read our state results. I just kept crying and grinning. Never in my lifetime have I felt the sense of hope politically that I feel today. Our state voted "blue" for the first time in 3 decades. We elected our first female governor, Bev Perdue. The people in our state ignored it's incumbent Senator's negative campaign tactics, and chose Kay Hagan. Heath Schuler defeated his opponent with 62% of the vote without a single ad on T.V. or radio.

I am so energized by the collective decision of our country and state. Yes, the winners are people I voted for, but there is more to it. I feel energized by the voter turnout. Since I became of voting age, I have noticed an apathy among voters of my generation and younger. It has bothered me for years, and I've spent some time thinking on it. I've talked with my students who are a diverse group seeking Associates degrees. It is a sense that politicians are so crooked, that why should anyone bother to vote? It has been reinforced by the sense that one person can not make enough of a difference. This election showed that trend turning, and hopefully reinforced the idea for all citizens that "yes, you can!"

Hope and faith are elusive. Lately, I have been clinging to hope because it feels as if our country is in shambles. This energy that I call "hope" begins for me, quietly within, and radiates outward. I see that energy with our president elect and it is spiraling ever outward.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Democracy does not work unless we participate.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A busy weekend

It was the usual craziness at Halloween this year, and so much fun after all is said and done. Yep. That's my kooky husband. Even though he grumbles every year about trick or treating, he clearly has a ball... the goof.

On Saturday, we spent a lazy morning putzing around the house and then got out for a walk with good friends. Would you believe our incredible fortune? A mint condition 1942 Farmall tractor came driving up out of nowhere. I'm not kidding. Each of the kids got to go for a ride. Do you know how much my kids love tractors?! We talked about it for days.

Then on Sunday, was a little trip that my friend and I have talked about doing for a while. My daughter is 5 and a half now, and we deemed her ready for a special hike, just the girls. This spot is a secret, but it's spectacular, as you can see. It also involves some clambering up rocks, and careful footing. It is not for the faint of heart mama or five year old. She was all over it.
This little adventure meant a tremendous amount to all three of us. It was symbolic in many ways... a benchmark of sorts. My friend and I have been walking (and mtn. biking) for 12 years together. My little girl knew that it was special to come with her mama on a walk that I usually reserve as my get away time. I also think she secretly savored the fact that she was invited and her brother was left behind. I could tell even during the times when she was momentarily bored that there was no way she was going to do anything to make us reconsider having brought her. It was pretty sweet and it made me realize how much she has grown up. She is already so accomplished and wise, even though she is totally and exuberantly still five.