Sunday, July 30, 2023

Positively 2023

Collection of light and dark leaf fabrics and a background fabric
Goal number six on my June list was to participate in Preeti's Positively 2023 quilt along (QAL). For the last two years, I've watched from the sidelines; but, this year, I hopped in to play too. You can check out the introduction to the QAL here

Background batik and "extra" blocks
I had a batik background fabric in my stash that has been hanging around for years. It was enough for the background of the leaves. I pulled another neutral batik fabric to become sashing and borders. Then, I raided my strip precuts for green strips. I pulled chunks and fat quarters.

A batik fabric in the process of becoming "leaves"

I cut the background pieces. I cut green strips for my leaves as well as a dark purple for my stems. Preeti used brown for her stems.

I selected a couple fabrics for the flowers. At that point, I hadn't decided if I wanted to make the version with only leaves or if I wanted to make the version with leaves and flowers. In the end, I decided a leaf quilt was more masculine than a quilt with flowers. I decided I could always stitch the second version of the pattern later. 

I stitched strips together. Then, I cut "wedges" from the strip sets. Some wedges are bonus blocks which will become another project at a later date! Preeti's bonus blocks worked into a 48 inch square quilt.

Some of the leaf wedges

Piecing leaf blocks didn't take long. However, since I used fat quarters and scraps instead of a jelly roll or strips for the leaves, I needed to piece the fat quarter strips to get the strips long enough. It took some extra time; but, it was worth the effort to use what I had!

Some of the leaf blocks
Goal number four on my July list was to make progress on the sew along. I finished piecing the strip sets and cutting wedges. I began making the leaf block units which were two spacer fabrics and two leaf blocks with a stem sewn between the each leaf/spacer.

Blocks taking shape on the design wall

Watching the rows grow on the design wall was fun. Eventually, I had pieced four rows of leaves. If I were to make this pattern again, I might cut the 16 background strips a quarter inch wider or 4 3/4 inches because my blocks were a little shy of six inches.

Rows of pieced blocks
I cut the sashing and borders from my second batik background fabric. I needed to do a little easing of the borders. My finished top measured 56 inches by 88 inches. I'm only a couple weeks behind Preeti's time table! However, this is the closest to it that I will come to being on schedule! I do like the top! The various leaf fabrics create great interest for my eye. 

Next month, I'll figure out the backing and binding for the project. Last Friday evening, I pulled a couple options for the backing. Of course, neither piece is large enough so I'll need to piece the backing. 

Completed top
This project is on hold until I free up my basting pins. I need to finish quilting my Lone Star quilt and quilt my granddaughter's churn dash block top that I pin basted last month. Maybe I'll get back to quilting these leaves during the winter. I do plan to support Merciful quilts I'm linking to Cynthia and Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Tomorrow is the last day of July. . .I suppose I had better be thinking about what my goal are for August! 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Greece--Day 3 part 2

Headed up the steps to the restaurant
After our morning adventures, we chilled a bit because our evening entertainment was to eat at Soil, a one star Michelin restaurant. To arrive, we took three different taxis. While we left from the same location and arrived at the same location. two of us paid five euros for the ride and one of us was charged fifteen euros!!! Sometimes, tourists get ripped off! 

Napkin and welcome tag
Once we arrived, we were greeted by the staff who showed us the kitchen and garden. The staff was proud to show us all the edible flowers and herbs planted in the garden. The chef's mother, on her acreage, grows the majority of edible items used in the recipes which was fun to learn. 

Table accents
After we were seated, we learned about their no waste philosophy. Our taste buds enjoyed 13 courses of fancy, tiny, and delicious food. Amanda, James, and Nicole opted for the wine parings that accompanied 11 of the courses. It was an interesting experience.

Listening to the description of the wine
Watching the courses arrive, watching as each dish was carefully served, listening to the description of each and watching the empty dishes being removed was an art form in itself. As you look at the photos, many of the decorative finishes came from flowers grown especially for the restaurant. We noted how the plating complimented each dish.

The dance of placing our course
It took us three and and a half hours to eat our meal. We were fortunate to be seated in the private dining room. Although, I imagine staff were aware that a 15 month old's antics could cause other diner's to have a less than stellar experience. It is doubtful they get many young children dining there as there were no high chairs. I also imagine that staff were dubious of a nine and an eleven year old eating each course!

An initial taste test
All of us sampled each dish. Sometimes, someone else finished the dish. Miss A and Miss J ate a lot of the offerings. Miss K was the least impressed with the menu. We all thought that she would be the one to name all the flowers and spices used because she has a sensitive pallet. 

Our menu complete with the chef's signature
The menu:consisted of seven courses of fish/seafood, two courses of meat, one course of bread, two courses of fruit. and three courses of dessert. Note the chef signed the menu!

Shrimp pate with orange and marigold
Shrimp with orange pecan and marigold
First course: the shrimp came two ways--in a spoon as a pate pate accented with marigold flowers. The second way was with a segment of orange on a pecan slice accented with marigold petals. These and the other flowers and herbs were grown specifically for the restaurant.The decorative sauce was sweet. 

Oyster: ossettra caviar, fermented cucumber, unripe fig
Second course: The dish was a take on an oyster. Note the serving dish. It reminded me of an oyster; but instead of containing an oyster, it contained ossettra caviar, fermented cucumber and unripe fig. This was my favorite looking dish. The taste of the unripe fig was delicious.

Amberjack: pickled lemon, clams, kohlrabi
Third course: This dish was clam with pickled lemon and kohlrabi. The dish it arrived in was interesting. The red marigold flower petals brought out the pink in the dish! The artistry in each dish was amazing. We each hated to disturb the surface to eat it! I liked the lemon broth that accompanied the clam.

Tomato: strawberries, basil, pistachio
Fourth course: This was my favorite tasting dish. In addition to the beauty of the dish, the flavor was amazing. Who knew basil, strawberries and pistachio would work so well together.

Eel Mini Burger: guanciale, vadouvan, burnet
The two dishes served together
Fifth course: Amanda liked this eel in teriyaki and miso. Miss J thought the mini burger was the best dish of the night. Guanciale is cured meat from pork jowls. Vadouvan is an Indian curry spice that is mixed with aromatics like onion and garlic. Burnet is a salad green.

Beef: cherry plum, horseradish, ramson caper
Sixth course: Cherry plum, horseradish and ramson capers with beef accented with marigold petals. The Ramson capers are wild garlic seeds although, this dish was decorated with the garlic flowers. Again it was a beautiful dish and the meat was fork tender.

Scallop: lime, grapefruit, kumquat
Seventh course: This scallop was delicious. 

Cod: kombu beurre blanc (photo by N. Knott)
Eighth course: Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the beurre blanc (white butter sauce) that we poured over the dish. The butter sure enhanced the flavor. This is what Miss K and my husband Bob are eating in photo above the menu.

Miss A loved the cod
Miss A thought it was tasty. Although, she thought most of the dishes were good.

Goat: Aspromitko bean from Limnos, wild garlic
Ninth course: Nicole's partner looked forward to his course. The goat was mild and a little tough; but, it was cooked so it contained a tiny bit of pink. The Aspromitiko bean is from Limnos and it isn't easy to produce. Wild garlic was added to the bean mash. 

Lemon: Apple, lemon verbena, citrus leaves
Tenth course: Two dishes were served. A custard like dish featured apple, lemon verbena and citrus leaves. It was mild with some of the flavor coming from the flower garnish.

Bread: caramelized yeast, pumpkin seeds praline, buttermilk
The bread was Miss A's favorite dish. She ate at least a roll herself. . .her mom, her dad and her papa all contributed "bites." Caramelized yeast, pumpkin seeds praline and buttermilk were the ingredients. 

Bread and "custard"
The bread was hot. The crust was chewy. I was surprised to get it at this stage of the dinner as I think of bread coming at the beginning of the meal. I did look up caramelized yeast and how it was made. I found a link describing the process.

Pate de Fruit: chamomile, lime
The eleventh course: This was served before the macaroon. It was fruit with chamomile and lime. Miss K thought this was the best dish of the night. It was light and flavorful.

Macron: cocoa, mint
The twelfth course: This was a macaroon filled with cocoa and mint on a bed of bachelor button dried flowers. I tried the flowers. While edible, they served better as a garnish. The wooden spoon had a bite of gelatin made with Greek honey. There was also a small piece of chocolate. Each offering was good.

Note the setting. In the upper left of the photo is a copy of menu for us to take home. It was tied with a piece of string with a small piece of lavender inserted under the string.

The chocolate box
The thirteenth course: I thought the last course was it. A number of us ordered a cup of coffee. We were surprised when the head waiter brought out a chocolate box! Each person was invited to take a piece. The top row was pepper infused chocolate. I don't remember what the green row was. The third row was different types of chocolate and the bottom row was chocolate infused with fruit. I ate the variety of chocolate piece. While good, it was so rich!

Front cover of the Soil booklet
Before the group left. . .part of us took a taxi and the other part of the group walked, the staff shared a booklet about the philosophy of the restaurant. While I didn't hear the discourse as I was the group that left in the taxi, the report was how important each staff member felt about the sustainability, no waste, farm to table practices the restaurant employs. Nicole's partner actually scored the copy of the booklet telling the staff person that I would be writing a blog about our dining experience!!

What a night. What an experience! I thank Nicole for finding the place and making the reservation.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Sleeves and "Stained" Glass

Daughter's first quilt
In 2020 when Oregon was on fire and we were under a warning to be ready to evacuate, I had packed up all my finished quilts. When I unpacked and inventoried the quilts, I had two that didn't have hanging sleeves. I placed them where I could see them and thought that I would get to that project "soon."

Three years later, the quilts hadn't moved. It was time to ask myself what was holding me back from the task. Q: Why hadn't I done it already? A: I dislike putting sleeves on the quilt. A: I didn't have enough of the backing fabric to make a "proper" sized sleeve. A: I would have to locate a fabric for the second quilt. A: I had other projects that I would rather stitch.

Sigh. . . . .

The Road Home
The first quilt is one my youngest daughter stitched in 1996.  The fabrics were scraps from her quilt that I had made her and from a vest that her sister had stitched for herself. Nicole did all the cutting, piecing and quilting on the project. While I hoped it would be the project that hooked her into quilting, it wasn't. Although, I still hope that the "quilt pox" is latent and will appear later in her life!

This little quilt had hung on her door from the time she had finished it until we readied for the evacuation. She had thumb tacked it to her door. It is an Eleanor Burns Quilt In A Day pattern. I had to locate a fabric for the sleeve. In my blue chunks of scraps, was a piece that was a little larger in width and the perfect length so I stitched the sleeve and pinned it into place on the quilt back.

Scrap for the sleeve

The second quilt is one that I started in a "Quilt Til You Wilt" workshop that was held at a local quilt shop. Once a month, the shop would hold a class that started at 6PM and went until midnight or until you wilted! The shop closed many years ago; but, that was such a fun activity to attend. Rarely, did I last until midnight! I finished it in 1996. 

My husband's favorite aunt had a cabin at the coast. She would travel from her home to the cabin often. She regularly spent about half her time at the coast. We spent some time there with her as well each year. We played a lot of pinochle and took walks on the beach. It was a great place to visit. I used to tease her that she had driven that road so many times that her car knew the route! 

Width of sleeve
I named this quilt, "The Road Home" and thought that she would use it as a lap quilt. Instead, she pinned it to her wall so all who came to visit would see it. When she died, her son-in-law asked if I wanted it back. He let me know that it really wasn't a quilt because it was machine pieced and quilted. Additionally the design was an abomination. 

He was going to make a traditional nine patch. . .hand piecing and hand quilting because that would be a "real" quilt. I know he made his nine patches; but, I don't know if he ever finished his quilt. I was happy to have "The Road Home" back!

I had enough of the backing fabric to make a two and three quarter inch sleeve. I decided that this size sleeve would work because I use a dowel to insert in the sleeve when I hang quilts in my home. I made the sleeve and pinned it to the quilt back.

Nicole's quilt
Last week, I spent some time hand stitching the sleeves to the quilt backs. It didn't take forever and as I finished, I chided myself for the length of time it took to complete the task! Putting it on my monthly list definitely was the key to finishing the task!

This was goal number eight on my June list. I used about a quarter yard of fabric so I've now used seven yards of fabric from my stash. When I went to hang "The Road Home" quilt, I laughed at myself. I don't have a dowel/rod in my house wide enough to accommodate the width of the quilt!

Since both of these projects were made from scraps, I'm linking to Cynthia and Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Goal number nine on my June list was to document an activity my friend Theresa invited me to attend. It was a lot of fun. We went to the Red Chair Farm in Estacada, Oregon. We made a stained glass window in a two and a half hour class.

First, we placed glass on our window. Then, we picked up each piece of glass and added a little bit of glue to hold the place in place so we could grout our piece with sand.

Beginning the process
The instructor had made up the grout ahead of time so when we were ready, we placed the grout between and over the glass pieces.  Then, we spent time gently wiping away the group from the glass. When we were finished, the instructor screwed hooks into the frame and gave us some chain to be able to hang the piece at home. 

Allowing the grout to cure
Before we hung it, we were to leave it upside down for a day to allow the grout to cure and dry. I've "auditioned" my piece in a number of windows. Rather than hang it, I'm planning to leave it propped against the kitchen window. 

It was a fun activity to do with my friend! It makes me smile every time I see it!

Finished window

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Greece--Day 3 part one

So much happened on day three that I decided to split the day into two posts! Bob and Nicole's partner ventured out for the coffee run. They not only returned with coffee but six free small waters as well. 

Room at Museum of Illusions--photo B Knott
On this day, our group went to two locations. . .the majority went to visit the Museum of Illusions

How can she be so small--photo N Knott
It was a smaller place; but full of exhibits that tricked your eye into seeing a variety of illusions.
Who's taller now--photo N Knott
The Infinity Room was the group's favorited exhibit. Even Miss Ada thought it was a great room.

Amanda and James at the pie shop
Amanda, James and I went on a food tour. We rode the underground train. James did a great job of navigating the platforms to ensure we were headed in the right direction.

The information about the tour warned us not to eat at least three hours before the tour began. It was my first time to take a food tour; but, it won't be the last. We had one other person with us, Freddie. Freddie was from Cambridge in the UK. He was a journalist who while working for a mercy organization produced a short film about refugees living in asylum on the Greek island, Samos. 

Samos On Fire film

The title of the 29 minute film is Samos--On Fire. I found a review on line. On another site, I was able to listen to one song. 

Our guide ordering our samples
We had savory and sweet pastry at our first stop. I thought that the spinach pie would be my favorite until I tasted the cheese pie. This cheese was so delicious that Amanda decided she would look for it at the market. 

Savory pie samples
We also had a sweet version of the pie. It was good; but, I liked the savory version better. 

Sweet pie
As we left the shop, a man was rolling the dough for more sweet pie! It was interesting to watch him work.

Folding the dough for more pies
We walked through narrow streets as we passed through the meat and the poultry markets on our way to the next stop. 

Narrow streets
Regarding the narrow streets, when motorcyclists pass cars, they often drive on the lane line of the street. It isn't unusual to see them clip the mirrors of other vehicles when they pass!

Rabbits and poultry for sale
At the meat market, each vendor artfully displayed their goods. Rabbits with their furry feet and plucked chickens hung in one stall. 

Head, tongues, livers and lungs
Lungs, livers and hung in another stall. Of course, there were the usual cuts of beef, lamb, pork and chicken on display.

Fish market display 
One vendor at the fish market posed the fish so a number of them appeared as if they were swimming in the ice. We saw a lot of octopus and squid displayed. The area where these vendors was large. With so much variety, I imagined  navigating dinner options every day had I lived there!

Brewing coffee in a table of sand
We left the fish market behind and headed toward our next stop which was to experience a cup of Greek coffee that was made on a sand table. This was my favorite stop of the day.

Coffee ready to be served
Under the metal table are a couple of burners which heat the sand. The coffee which is ground to a dust as fine as flour is placed in a copper pot with a long handle. In the cup is also sugar, if you want it, and water.

Then the barista moves the little pot around in the sand until the coffee comes to a boil. This is the point that the pot comes to your table. You pour the liquid into your cup and wait two minutes for the sediment to settle. We learned this was how the Turks and Greeks in the dessert made their coffee!

Honey and gelatin treats
We also received a honey gelatin treat which was delicious and a Greek delight which reminded me of Aplets and Cotlets but what our tour guide said was heavily influenced by Turkey. The Greek Delight was good. The sweet items were a good accompaniment to the coffee.

Greek Delights
After coffee, we tasted Greek donuts. These are fried in oil and contain three ingredients: flour, yeast and sugar. The name of the shop we went to was Kpivos. Open the link, the video describes what we thought about the donuts.

Donuts with a Greek honey and cinnamon glaze
The business has two locations. You can purchase take away at the kiosk. You can also walk a couple blocks more and eat your donuts at a table. The company has been at this location and been in business for over 100 years. Before serving donuts, the building was a pharmacy. These taste a lot like beignets except they are a little crunchier than the beignets.

Walk up kiosk
As we left the bakery, our guide pointed out graffiti that was painted with a permit. 

Permitted graffiti
We also saw graffiti that wasn't permitted. Greek people have a lot to say, hence all the spray paint!              

Non permitted graffiti
At the next stop, we learned about olives. This small shop contained so many different olives. There were stuffed olives, as well as a variety of marinades as well as a variety of olives! There were olive oils too.

Olive shop

I found that I liked the flavor of the smallest olive best. All the olives were delicious.

Olive assortment

Next door to the olive shop was a deli. We were able to sample a variety of dishes. Our guide selected a variety of options which were placed on plates which we shared. 

Deli options

I enjoyed the orzo salad. It had sun-dried tomatoes and mint in it. 

Clockwise from center, orzo salad, bread, olives and chicken

The fried calamari was a hit as was the eggplant. 

Clockwise from lemon: deep fried calamari; mussels in a mustard sauce; grilled sardines; marinated chickpea salad

I also was pleasantly surprised that the mussels were mild. 

Clockwise starting a spoon: butter beans and yams in a tomato sauce; chicken; 
steamed potatoes and carrots drizzled with olive oil; roasted eggplant salad; cheese spread
The cheese spread was delicious. The butter bean and yam dish was good too. All the items we tasted were good!

Display of herbs available for sale
Next we walked by some herb vendors on our way to taste some vinegars at a hotel. Amanda and I liked the purple version best. It is different to taste vinegars. These vinegars were made to sip which is an unusual concept for me. Although, after tasting each, I could see how one could sip each!

Vinegar tasting
Our last stop of the day was to purchase a gyro sandwich. This establishment deep fried the pita and then stuffed it with meat and a special tomato ace. It was delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't snap a photo of the sandwich.

It was a great tour. I'll post about our evening activity next Wednesday.