Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sweet Corn

You've met her before -- one of my VIP's -- my friend Sue -- who spent years remodeling her childhood farmhouse. One of these days, I will post pictures of ALL THE WORK THEY DID...

Her retired brother, Norm, lives next door and cannot quit farming. He has a truck garden -- and this is how he collects the money. Yes, it's an honor system...

They also have a big cooler with fresh produce -- here's Norm and his wife Melody
Every year, John & I treat ourselves to ONE FABULOUS MEAL OF SWEET CORN. I wait for Norm to start picking his "Triple Sweet" variety. It is absolutely the most delicious corn in the world...I look forward to it every summer...and I try to be there when a fresh batch is coming out of the field...


After precisely 7 minutes in boiling water...everybody at the table gets their very own PERSONAL STICK OF REAL BUTTER...

Yes, it is true. This is heaven....
***************

Hey -- for those of you who wrote to ASK FOR MY POPOVER RECIPE -- I'm posting it on the front page of this blog! Do you see it? It's on the right hand side of this page -- RIGHT AT THE TOP. Yes, I am so full of myself -- I've decided to be the LAST WORD in Popover recipes. lol. Hey -- It's waaaay more technique than recipe. And I wish I'd known about popovers 30 years ago. I'VE MISSED A LOT OF TIME.

SEND ME YOUR PICTURES if your popovers POP. I am having a lot of fun with these little treasures...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Kim!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to my cousin KIM!! We usually do something together on her birthday, but since I am babysitting for Lillian today -- I can't even get a simple lunch on the table without burning something.

So -- we'll do something NEXT week -- before she goes back to school. (Kim manages a school kitchen). Here's one of my favorite pictures of me & Kim -- in front of my Christmas tree...


In this picture, we're working together to put on a lunch someplace...

Here's Kim with her oldest grandchild -- Dylan. I may be spelling his name wrong -- but here's what I know for sure. He has the best grandmother in the world -- and Lillian is lucky I'm trying to follow Kim's good example of extraordinary grandmothering...

My sister Deena and Kim -- again -- serving another lunch someplace...

SO HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIM..!! I am looking forward to our special day next week!! Lunch? Pedicures? Treasure hunting??
And, of course -- Kim is my MOST FREQUENT New York City traveling buddy. She was on the virgin voyage -- in 1997 -- when "the Little Girls Did The Big Apple". Then -- she took her daughter Carrie -- and we also went again with -- well, you get the idea. Any little excuse and WE GO THERE...

DO WE HAVE TIME??

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Iowa Writing Summer Camp

My LAST CLASS of the summer. I attended a one-week Column writing workshop in Iowa City. On the last day of the weeklong session, there's a lovely dinner at the "Boathouse"

Our class had their own table -- with a GREAT view of the lake...Debbi, Kathy, Ginna, Rita, Peggy, Linda and Libby.

The next picture is of our classroom -- where we're working on the last day of the class. Debbi is taking this pic. There were so many interesting women at this workshop... A CPA from Arizona, an editor from Virginia, an attorney from Philadelphia...they write about things like sustainable agriculture, their love of pets, dealing with abusive relationships...their writing can be moving...it's a spectacular learning experience...
On Day Two, I spilled a large cup of scalding hot coffee on my laptop -- so here I am, going back to basics...writing with a notebook and a pen...

Linda Bendorf, our teacher, having a conference with Debbi -- at the coffee shop, of course!! It is SOOO Iowa City...
It was a great class...and we worked really hard. I drove back and forth every day...and by the time it was over -- I coulda slept for a week....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Popover Success!!

First of all -- thanks so much for all the recipes and tips. My favorite was the woman from Tennessee who emailed, "just buy the damn pan, Rita"...lol...

Yesterday, my friend Carrie said, "with your RitaLuck -- you'll be getting gas at Casey's and they'll be selling popover pans." (Casey's is our local convenience store)...
No such luck -- I had to pay full price (at Bed, Bath & Beyond) -- BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY CENT!!

Now -- THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT, PEOPLE..!!

Light as a feather -- crispy on the outside -- and nothing but air on the inside...wouldn't this be a great way to serve summer tuna or chicken salad?

WHAT A TRIUMPH!! John had to take a picture before I ate a THIRD popover!!

AWESOME...

hey -- I wrote TWO posts again today...because the next one is timely -- especially if you LIVE IN WISCONSIN!!

Kick It Up A Stitch

Hey -- Mary Mulari sent me the link to this little promo about the "Kick It Up A Stitch" show she did with Nancy Zieman. Remember, ladies -- YOU SAW THEM IN PERSON at the 2009 Sewing & Stitchery EXPO. The exciting news is that Wisconsin Public Television taped their show -- and it is being used as a fundraiser this Saturday in the State of Wiscconsin. So -- if you live in WISCONSIN -- you can watch the whole show. Apparently, it will be used in other parts of the country later on...


AND -- don't forget -- Nancy Zieman is coming back to Expo for 2011...so I'll keep you posted about her all-new-just-for-the-2011-Sewing-and-Stitchery-Expo..!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Popovers

OKAY -- here's my BRAND NEW MISSION. During my visit to Chicago with my friend Marion -- we stayed at the luxurious James hotel. OH MY GOD. What a great location -- the very best part was the fabulous restaurant where we ate breakfast every morning. AND during our last night in the city -- we had an amazing steak dinner there. The waiter brought "POPOVERS" to our table. Yep. I died and went to heaven. I have never eaten a popover. It came to the table steaming hot, in it's own little metal pot...it was the most delicious thing I ever ate...And the minute I got back to Iowa -- learning how to make the perfect popover became my NEW MISSION...

Of course, I emailed Pat Leslie, the best cook I know -- and she promptly sent me two different recipes. Then, I watched some videos on YouTube...Yep. This will be easy...
Then, I searched for the perfect pan...hummm...


I made the thin batter...mostly, flour, milk, eggs...noooo problem...



Into a 450 degree oven for the first 20 minutes....I AM SO EXCITED...


NOPE. As you can see -- my popovers DID NOT POP. The ones in the muffin tin didn't rise at all. And the four in the mugs, although I filled them 2/3 full, only came to the top of the mug itself. Definitely no pop "OVER"....

The inside of the popovers are supposed to be ONE BIG AIRY BUBBLE...hummm...as you an see, my popover looks more like a dense muffin...

So -- I'm going to try again. Maybe I really DO need that specialty pan...and I'm going to make sure all my ingredients are at room temperature next time...I'll keep you posted.

ANY SUGGESTIONS??

P.S. -- please read on -- I wrote TWO posts today -- and the next one I'm asking a favor...

Monday, July 26, 2010

NYC Challenge Part TWO

Okay, bloggers -- for the SECOND leg of their New York City Sewing Challenge -- I sent both Jan and Bonne a Statue of Liberty shawl!! Hummm...I know this is going to be the really hard part...

Jan writes:

So here we go on our "Statue of Liberty" challenge - so what will we come up with this time?!! I don't see any zebra stripes yet........hmmmm, how would they fit in with this gorgeous lady anyway?!! Maybe a little checkerboard trim, lace? How're ya doin' bonne?!!


Bonne writes:

Hey There Rita!
Son in Law couldn't get home from CA for our daughter's corp. retreat so at the last minute I got to go. (note from Rita -- I love your life!)

So much for me having extra days and getting a leg up on Jan :-) I have the base of the jacket under control, and although I know what I want to do I have been hesitant about touching the beautiful Statue of Liberty scarf. So here is my plan - hope it works for you. I took the scarf with me and will take a picture of me with it by the Spruce Goose, how's that for a hint for Jan? LOL!!! Guess we are having dinner under the wings of the plane tonight.

So -- here are the two mysterious pictures Bonne sent. Whadaya think, Jan??




WOW!! This is turning into an amazing challenge...and sort of a geography lesson as well!! From New York to Iowa -- then to Oregon, Washington -- and now -- California??

I LOVE IT!!

P.S. -- today is the last time you can see Bonne & Jan's finished projects which I posted last week (using the gorgeous MOOD floral knit fabric). After today -- those pictures go BACK IN THE VAULT...and you'll have to wait until the 2011 Expo to see the NYC Challenge Projects again. Up Close & Personal...at the Friday Inspired 2 Sew Event!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ditch Lillies

When John first came to Iowa -- waaaay back in 1970 -- he was amazed by the abundant orange ditch lillies. Growing up, I never gave them much thought...but there were so many of them, John thought they should be the official State Flower...



Iowa has DITCHES. Every road in this state is built with DITCHES -- gravel, blacktop, highway, interstate -- ALL ROADS have DITCHES. And almost every ditch has orange lillies. Maybe there's a fancy "official" name for these flowers -- but I've never heard them called anything but "ditch lillies". Growing up, I just figured they were everywhere in the country...

Of course, now I realize many roads in America don't even have ditches -- much less ditch lillies..

For the last 20 years or so -- the county and state crews were tasked with mowing the ditches. Which, of course, meant we lost those colorful ribbons of orange running parallel to the road...

However -- in this "new economy" -- nobody wants to waste gas money on mowing ditches -- so NO MORE MOWING...which means...that's right...this year we have massive stands of orange ditch lillies...THEY'RE EVERYWHERE, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE...

My pictures do NOT do justice to the beauty of the lillies. They are beautiful and I had no idea how much I missed them!!
Maybe life is like that...flowers, friends, family...it all comes and goes...and sometimes you don't realize how much you miss something until it comes back to you...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tuck Method to shorten things...

When it comes to utility sewing -- I am the master. I like to call it "common sense sewing". Y'know -- things like making the pockets in John's golf shorts DEEPER, adding a sheet extender to a vintage cotton sheet, making arm covers for my Lazy-boy...

These little knit pants were so adorable -- except they were an inch TOO LONG and she kept tripping on them. The bottom of the pants had a cute little ruffle...



THIS IS A FIVE MINUTE SEWING JOB. First -- just turn the bottom of the pants up -- right sides together...They needed to be one inch shorter -- using a basting stitch -- I just sewed a 1/2" seam all around.

BOOM. DONE. The best part about making a TUCK to bring up the pants (or shirt) length is that later on -- you can remove the basting stitch if the baby has a growth spurt...

You're probably saying DUH right about now -- but not everybody is as accomplished as you are...

I've been hemming my own pants with this "tuck method" for YEARS...it is especially effective if there is an embroidered trim on the bottom of the pants leg. The tuck actually creates a nice detail.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New York City SUBWAY Musicians

My friend Jeff is on this little video introducing an underground band. There is a LOT of music in the subways. Singers, musicians, bands -- they are AMAZING. This group was even selling their own CD's.

I'm sure you're tired of my New York reports...but I took SO MANY GOOD PICTURES AND VIDEOS...it's hard for me to stop posting them!!

video

During this quick trip to New York City -- I went to a "Learning Annex" class about BLOGGING. (I simply cannot make up this stuff)...and one of the other students is writing a book about the musicians who perform in New York City subways.

I had NOOOOO idea that they actually have to "audition" to be a sanctioned performer. Really!! I love hearing the music when I'm down in the subway. For me, it's what New York City is all about. People doing the thing they are DRIVEN to do. Artists, dancers, singers, musicians...

Oh, yeah. I LOVE NEW YORK CITY...

Next time you go there -- use the subways. And be sure to generously tip the musicians...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cash & Lillian

Recently I spent an entire day babysitting TWO toddlers -- Lillian (16 mo) and Cash (3). Fun, eh?

When he comes to Aunt Rita's house, Cash always eats on the same dinosaur plate...usually scrambled eggs he broke himself...


I'd love to post a few adorable pictures of my two favorite toddlers...but, of course, I DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO TAKE ANY ADORABLE PICTURES...

Oh My God. There is a REASON YOU MUST BE YOUNG to have babies!! I had almost forgot how much work little kids are. These two were non-stop action all day long...

Lillian was DELIGHTED to have a person in the room who was close to her height...her face just lit up when she saw Cash!

However, it was a one-sided romance...

Lillian did whatever she could to win his heart. But Cash was not moved.

Judging from his questions, he viewed her as unwanted competition. He kept asking questions like, "is she going to take a nap in my room?" Then, in a very condescending tone, "she can't play Dominos, can she?"

My favorite question of the day was when we were out on the porch, Lilly sat on the little stuffed zebra....she was soo adorable...I smiled...

Cash frowned...then asked, "does she know that's my horse, Aunt Rita?"...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LeClaire, Iowa

LeClaire, Iowa -- proud home of the American Pickers -- is a sweet little town that sits RIGHT ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER -- full of antique shops and interesting things to see and do. On this bright summer day -- my cousin Kim and I started at my favorite store, "Art Works"...even the welcome mat is full of promise...

You've got to love any shop that has a resident cat-greeter...

The jewelry in this store is always STUNNING and sooo original! I loved this neck piece...

Everywhere you look, there is original art -- jewelry, clothes, accessories, home dec, stuff for your walls, PURSES....

For lunch, our cousin Linda came to meet us...Linda and Kim were on one side of the booth --

Me and Aunt Ada on the other side...

And this is the stunning river view, as seen from the deck of our restaurant...the Bierstube...

Hey -- even if I do say so myself -- that's a GREAT PICTURE of my Aunt Ada!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bonne's NYC Challenge Update

(Rita in Red) Here's the latest update from Bonne...I WAS SURPRISED AND FLATTERED BY WHAT SHE MADE...Now I'm eagerly waiting for Jan's pics...

Hey There!!!

I used the YA YA Sisters NY City Circle Wrap for my pattern. (On behalf of the Midwest Ya Ya Sisters -- I'd like to say THANKS!) I was concerned about distortion so I did all my embellishing before cutting it out....so by the time I was able to cut it I got in a bit of hurry - just couldn't wait to see what it would like...remember the saying "measure twice and cut once"? LOL!!! Need I say more :-) But then I'm sure you've never done that :-) I ended up with arm slits instead of the elongated arm hole shape shone in the directions...wasn't terribly comfortable!

photo B1: I wanted to add a few flowers to the solid black that I used for the reverse. I did some bobbin work by echo stitching some of the simpler flowers found on the printed side. I used YLI Candlelight in the bobbin and played with my settings to get flowers with different effects.



photo B2: Of course I had to use a few hot fix crystals on both sides of the wrap to add a pop when the light hits it. In my stash I found the perfect trim to add some fun at the hem line.

photo B3: It doesn't show well in the pics, but I used glitter spray to create a few more flowers on the black. I traced one of the flowers on the printed fabric to create my own stencil.




I may have gotten the pictures mixed up -- hey -- MY JOB AIN'T THAT EASY..!

Jan's NYC Challenge

I received this update, along with photos, from Jan:

Hey Rita,

Here they are, pics of the NYC Mood Challenge "Jan's Hoodie"!! ! I combined the lovely flower knit with a hot pink sand washed rayon fabric. Then I did raw edge applique and hot fix crystals on the sleeve areas, overlapping the seams. The hood is lined with the hot pink. The knit has a lovely drape to it, so it can be belted too, for a softer look. I'm very happy with my creation!! It's even something I will wear!! Can hardly wait to see what my pal Bonne has done.........oh and Rita!....sorry, the mention of zebra stripes last week was just a diversion!! Ha ha ha!!!



The pictures of their finished garments will be posted tomorrow -- TOGETHER...!! YOU TWO ARE SOOO MUCH FUN!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sandy's Tommy Train Quilt

WOW. Sewing is just like everything else in life -- everybody works at their own pace. My friend Sandy, as it turns out, is quite an over achiever...

It was in June -- after one of our Tuesday Breakfast clubs -- that we went on the day trip to the Quilt Shop in Fulton, Illinois...


A few weeks later -- Sandy brought her Thomas Train quilt top for show-n-tell -- she was making excellent progress...it was impressive...


BUT -- WHO WOULDA THUNK SHE'D FINISH IT ALREADY!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

AND -- like that's not enough performance for any quilt-minded Grandma out there -- she actually made A COMPANION QUILT...REALLY, SANDY?? REALLY??

You are NEVER...and I mean this seriously....NEVER going to be a card-carrying member of the Rita Farro Procrastinator's Club...