A Fun Friday Diversion: Fiesta Red?

>> Friday, September 26, 2008

For all I said about my love of
blue, the online color astrologers tell me that, based on my birthday, my color is "Fiesta" which is a fancy way of saying bright red. What does this mean? Apparently fiesta equates to "Adoring, Loving, Forceful." Hmmm. I guess that's good, though I'm not sure anyone has ever described me as "adorable."

Moreover, "You have a strong and loving nature and learning is very important to you. You are not afraid to work long and hard to become an expert in your field of choice. You have an innate love of life and people find you endearing. Individuals born on this day have a great combination of creativity, compassion and organizational ability..." [
Editorial observation: apparently colorstrology does not believe in serial commas, or really, grammatically correct commas of any sort.]

I leave it you to judge the accuracy of this color reading and test it out for yourself.

Coming soon: a new handmade book, a new challah cover, and kitchen pictures.


Fresh From Israel: A Quilt in Use

>> Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rebecca just sent me pictures from Nuriel's quilt in use (at his brit). I always enjoy seeing evidence of my quilts in use, and this is no exception. Thanks Reb!

Nir & Rebecca with Nuriel (Nir's parents are in the background)

Context clues tell me that the guy on the right is the mohel...

Close-up of Rebecca, Nuriel, and the quilt, with David Horowitz looking on.


A Detour: Whole-Wheat Challah

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just in time for Rosh Hashanah preparation, a few people have asked me for my whole-wheat challah recipe. I figured posting it here would be the easiest way to disseminate it. If you have questions, ask them in the comments section and I will do my best to answer them. Enjoy!

Picture Added 10/10/08: Challot post-rise, pre-baking


Yeast Mixture: 1 packet yeast (2.25 tsp from jar); ½ tsp sugar; ¼ cup water
1 cup warm water
½ cup sugar
½ cup oil
1 tsp salt
½ tbsp vanilla
¼ tsp baking powder
2 eggs (beaten well)
3 tbsp vital wheat gluten
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2-3 cups white flour
1 egg (for painting the dough)
sesame seeds/zatar/topping of your choice

1. Make yeast mixture by combining yeast, 1/2 tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Set aside. The mixture is ready when it is thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

2. In separate BIG bowl, whisk together the following ingredients, one ingredient at a time: 1 cup warm water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 2 eggs, yeast mixture.

3. Add wheat gluten and mix well.

4. Add flour one cup at a time, mix with a whisk/wooden spoon for as long as possible, then mix with your hands [I start with whole wheat flour and then add the white flour; I usually use a little more than 2 cups of white flour but you may need more or less depending on the consistency of the mix.] The dough is ready when it’s not too sticky.

5. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and set aside in a warm place covered with a damp towel for one hour. [I often turn on the oven to 200 degrees, let it get warm, turn it off, and then put the dough into rise.]

6. Allow the dough to rise for at least 1 hour. Punch it down a couple times and then allow it to rise in a warm place for another hour.

7. After the second rise, remove dough from bowl, punch it a few times, and start to knead it.

8. Divide the dough equally based on the number of challot you want to make—a single recipe makes 2 big challot or many smaller ones. Divide each chunk of dough into 3 (or 4 or 5…), roll out the segments, and braid (or roll out the undivided chunk and make into a spiral for a round challah).

9. Once braided/spiraled, transfer challot to an oiled baking sheet (a couple of oiled 9x13 pans work as well). Cover with a towel and let rise for about 1 hour (or until it is the size you want it to be).

10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

11. Beat 1 egg. Paint the top of the challah and either leave it as is or sprinkle sesame seeds or zatar (yum!) or the topping of your choice.

12. Beat at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Challah should be golden brown on the outside when done. Or, as Molly Katzen says, tap the bottom and listen for a hollow sound.

*The vital wheat gluten is what makes this whole-wheat challah work. Don’t skip it. [I buy Bob’s Red Mill vital wheat gluten, available at most grocery stores these days.]

*You can let the braided dough rise overnight by placing the loaves on an oiled cookie sheet/baking pan, covering them with saran wrap, and placing them in the refrigerator to rise.

*Top challah with anything you want. The Bernstein kids introduced me to rainbow-sprinkle topped challah this summer. Personally, I prefer zatar, but go with anything you like (except raisins; I don’t like raisins in or on challah. But I guess if you do, you should go right ahead).

*Challah can be made ahead and frozen. When the loaf cools, wrap it in foil and place it in a plastic bag before freezing. [I find the foil + bag keeps better and, bonus, lets you move it straight from the freezer into the oven – well, take it out of the bag first and put the foil-wrapped loaf into the oven.]

Picture added 10/10/08: The challah on the right has zaatar on top, while the challah on the left is plain (just brushed with egg). If there is any leftover, I'll turn the plain one into challah-french toast.



>> Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apparently it's already time to buy your 2009 wall calendars.

I'm a devoted Nikki McClure fan, so her calendar is on the "to buy" list. You can find it here. If you live in Madison, WI, A Room of One's Own has stocked them in the past. I imagine other independent bookstores carry them as well. To see more of McClure's work, check out her website or go to BuyOlympia.

Perusing etsy today, I saw this sweet calendar:

You can admire its colorful and crisp design here.

I know this post is a little different than usual, but I can only blame/credit friends who introduced me to Nikki McClure and have made me want to share the love. In fact, last year when I moved into my former (awesome) apartment, I brought 6 framed McClure prints with me. They had previously hung in the dining room, and I liked them in public spaces. My new roommate was out of town Labor Day weekend and I decided to hang them anyways. I left a note for Joel, indicating that I had hung these prints I really like but, if he hated them, I would take them down and make my bedroom a gallery. As it turned out, Joel had just seen a Nikki McClure exhibit that weekend and had wanted to buy some prints but couldn't figure out how to take them back on the plane without harming them. Some would call it luck or karma that 2 people who barely knew one another were in full agreement about the merits of the prints; I would suggest that it's a testament to how awesome the prints are.


Rectangles & Squares

>> Monday, September 22, 2008

The nice thing about quilting is that it allows you to play with geometry. For me this is ideal since I wasn't such a fan of geometry, proofs and all that demanding much more linear thought than I prefer to give (algebra and trig problems made more sense to me than geometry proofs; I'm sure math educators and cognitive scientists can explain why). In any event, quilting allows me to get creative with squares and rectangles. In the end, this quilt is a simple 9-patch pattern, but each block starts with a rectangle to which I added borders and then cut to make it uncentered.

Inspired in part by Denise Schmidt's "Pretty Squares" pattern and seeking to use some of my fun scrap rectangles from here, I started making this quilt top last spring. Then I interrupted it to make my mom's retirement quilt and toted it around in various boxes this summer. But when Yona and Tzvi's daughter was born, I pulled it out to finish it (lesson: always have a few works-in-progress that can be finished pretty quickly).

It was fun to experiment with shapes and there are endless variations to try in the future -- I know I want to make one with fewer colors to see how that could work (for example, Tallgrass Prairie Studio's "square motion" version of this idea which she calls a "wonky log pattern pattern" quilt). The tutorial she gives pretty accurately describes the process I used to make this quilt.

I used a fun stripy (and soft!) piece of flannel to back the quilt, and quilted using free motion diagonal lines to create an off-center, wavy diagonal grid. You can see what I mean if you click on the picture above and then look at the quilting lines on the deep turquoise square (featured above the text on the left). Finally, I bound the quilt with pieced binding, primarily consisting of orange and yellows that match the oranges and yellows from the quilt top and go well with the oranges and yellows in the flannel.


Correction from My Mom

In reference to the story below, "Blue," my mom notes that my exact quote was "I not wike that. I wear bwue dress today." Aside from the fact that I could not pronounce the letter "L," not only did I prefer blue, I registered my disapproval of other colors. If I had to guess, the unacceptable outfit was pink.



>> Sunday, September 21, 2008

I love blue. According to family lore, which I'm happy to spread as Truth, I expressed my preference for blue at a young age. Around the time I figured out how to speak, I announced and, in fact, insisted "me wear blue today," except that I couldn't say the "bl" sound and it came out something like "me wear bwue today." In any event, my parents then spent a lot of time pointing out the blue in the existing elements of my wardrobe (dots, buttons, trim, etc) since they weren't exactly going to replace the existing clothes with all new blue ones. My mom once wondered if my love of blue emerged from an antipathy to the pink clothes in which she had dressed me until I demanded blue options. As a result, she noted, she never gives all-pink baby gifts which I think is wise on many levels, from the practical to the philosophical. In any event, whether for biological or cultural reasons, I am consistently drawn to blue (that I was quite opinionated from the get-go is a topic for another time).

It thus came as no surprise to my parents that I recently painted my bedroom blue (much to my mother's chagrin, as the room was originally yellow (her favorite color)). The original yellow, a sort of goldenrod, was fine...

...but yellow is definitely not blue, wacky logic problems and existential crises notwithstanding. I then spent a lot of time debating exactly what shade and hue of blue with which I wanted to surround myself. My bedroom if on the small side (about 9 3/4' x 9 3/4') which, if house color theorists are right, would make a dark blue room feel confining. Alas, I tend to like darker colors more than lighter ones. On the upside, however, there is a lot of white in the room-- the trim of the one window (seen above) as well as three white doors (to the hallway, to the closet, and to the porch) so I felt I could lean toward darker shades without worrying about creating a cave for myself. After collecting lots of chips, I decided on "Sapphire" by Sherwin-Williams. It's a middle blue, with white and purple undertones, perhaps something akin to "cornflower" or "French" blue. Whatever its name and qualities, I'm a fan:

The photo makes the blue look a little brighter than I think it does in real-life, but so it goes. The paint job has, however, added another crafty project to my list: a new duvet cover (unless someone would like to give me a nice white one). As luck would have it, I dyed my previously off-white duvet cover brown earlier in the summer because I used to live in an all-white-walled room and found the white duvet cover very boring (and, also, it was technically ecru with some green undertones that I really disliked).

The quilt lying on the bed, the second quilt I ever made, actually looks quite nice in the room, but doesn't fully cover the brown comforter, so it's not a real solution for the brown impinging on the blue goodness of the walls. When I laid out Jen and Claire's chuppah on my bed, it looked great with the walls, so that's one design option. I'm thinking a mostly white quilted top with some blue around the borders, but I'm open to other suggestions as well. When the weather turns really cold (which I hope is not too soon), I'll bring out my winter flannel duvet cover which is white and therefore not a problem. In the meantime, I'll be living with the brown.

And speaking of brown, this is the front of my house:

I live in the apartment on the second floor, which is the same as the apartment on the first floor. I recently learned that the duplex was designed by and built for by two "spinster women" (it wasn't clear if they were sisters, cousins, or friends) in 1924. They stacked two identical units atop one another and then lived together but separately for the rest of their lives.

And thus ends my first "this is what my apartment looks like" post, much requested by several readers.


Color Changes

>> Thursday, September 18, 2008

As you may have noticed, I've altered the background and text colors of the blog. I think I outlived the other colors, and needed to change things up. Actually, what I really need to do is make myself a fancy and fun header, but I'm waiting for the inspiration to strike or, um, to find the time. Which is to say that if you find yourself inspired on my behalf, I'm happy to accept your offers of cool headers.

In other update news, I will post pictures of the apartment in all its semi-painted glory soon. I'm also midway through a baby quilt that needs to be finished in time to give it to my parents who will serve as my awesome couriers.


Full Frontal

>> Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Into what gutter has your mind fallen? A couple more pictures of the lego chuppah for Jen and Claire, including the full frontal one.

photo credit: Todd Manchester; photo supplier: Torie Gorges


joy, happiness, love, companionship, peace, and friendship

>> Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sunday brought forth the beautiful wedding of Jen and Claire, which means that I can offer pictures of the full "lego chuppah" to those of you who have been waiting patiently at home.

Before I left for the wedding, I folded and wrapped the chuppah as best one can when the chuppah may be examined by TSA officials curious about anything and everything in carry-on luggage.

All ribboned-up and double-wrapped in plastic bags, I was off for the land of sunshine (California).

A few more teaser shots:

As you can (sort-of) see, each of the 4 curves was created with an assortment of rectangles and squares in green, blue, and purple fabrics. In binding the edges of the chuppah, I sewed strips of different fabrics together so that the final edge consists of multiple fabrics and colors (best seen in the right-hand picture above).
For more pictures of the chuppah up-close and in-process, see below.

So what does the chuppah look like?

From the top (above) and from underneath (below)

Although the chuppah is predominantly white, you can still get a sense of the pattern from below: a white-on-white "snails trails" pattern spirals outward from the center in an intertwined fashion and the lego pieces curve along the borders (best seen along the top and left in the picture above). A friend took pictures of the chuppah when as several people held it up, and I'll add those images as soon as I get them.

Most importantly, here is the chuppah in use during the ceremony.

In the background, as Claire and Jen circle one another before entering the home that the chuppah represents.

Claire and Jen under the chuppah.

As part of their Brit Ahuvim v'Shutafut (Lovers' Covenant and Partnership), Jen and Claire exchanged items of value -- in their case, necklaces made from each of their great-grandmothers' engagement rings -- that symbolize the partnership they enter together, on equal ground. One of the reasons their ceremony was so lovely was because they attended to all details of the ritual; they studied and interrogated tradition in order to design and enact a ceremony that reflected their deep ties to Judaism as well as their insistence that Jewish tradition is inclusive of everyone.

[Sidenote: The tradition of
Brit Ahuvim stems from the desire to move the wedding ceremony from a ritual of acquisition (the kinyan, or purchase, that occurs in a ketubah, Jewish marriage contract) to a ritual of mutual partnership. Initially created by Rachel Adler, the ceremony and language of the covenant derive from Talmudic partnership law. For more information, see Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics (1998).]

Sweet comment from a wedding guest: "Where do you sell your work?" For now, the answer is (courtesy a wise friend), I take commissions. But, like anything else, that too could change.


New Baby, New Quilt

>> Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's a busy week, what with Labor Day, school starting, weddings to attend (though they come at the end of the week), and Rebecca and Nir having a boy this morning (nothing like an American going into labor in Israel on American Labor Day). One of the tasks on my summer to-do list was making a baby quilt in time to give it to my parents in early August so they could give it to Rebecca's mom who could serve as the courier when she goes to Israel (in a couple days, a flight scheduled for Rebecca's due date).

I made the quilt to correspond to the blues and purples of Rebecca and Nir's chuppah. As you may be able to tell from following this blog, I like bold and bright colors more than light and pastel ones, and consider all the colors I like appropriate for children of either gender!

In choosing this pattern, I was challenging myself to find a pattern that used three fabrics. I've had the purple Michael Miller fabric for a while and I really wanted to use it with this quilt but had a hard time settling on fabrics that worked well with it. (As an aside, I'll note that the fabric found its way into my stash much earlier than I knew anything about the provenance of fabrics and well-known designers; I just liked it and I'm not even sure where I found it). I like the purple with the dark blue (that has some silver specks) and the cream with navy print. The interlocking squares suggest some Celtic patterns -- perfect for the son of a woman mildly obsessed with all things Irish in high school. Finally, I backed the quilt with a soft jersey cotton fabric (top right image) full of purple, blue, and gray triangles.


  © Blogger template Autumn Leaves by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP