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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Summer Rewards

We have been putting up with days and days of hot and humid weather but today it is raining, a nice respite. The greatest joy of the summer is our gardens. We think that the yard out front looks exceptionally nice this year. It is planted with a mix of annuals and perennials.

Front of our 1821 home that has a variety of garden flowers


We have had good luck with plants re-seeding themselves. The Chrysanthemum plants came back and are doing well, promising fall blooms. The portulaca (moss rose) has gone crazy, spreading everywhere.

Portulaca that has spread with wild abandon, growing among Argeratum


The Gloriosa Daisies are blooming once again. The Geranium we over-wintered is spectacular. The other day I counted 30 blossoms on that lone plant with many more buds!

A perfect orange Zinnia


Of course, we love Zinnias and do not know why we do not plant them more often.

The vegetable garden is going great guns, too. The Pollinator mix which consists of Cosmos, Dill Weed, California Poppies, Bachelor Buttons and other flowers is doing its task of attracting beneficial insects to the garden. I learned this week not to disturb eggs that are laid in a triangular shape under squash leaves. Those are the eggs of a beneficial killer wasp.

Our vegetable garden


Jim has been busy grating Zucchini for use in recipes this winter (chocolate zucchini cake is my favorite). He made pickles. He is freezing Blackberries galore and we have our winter supply of Rhubarb all cut up and stored. The other night Jim made an enchilada casserole with Zucchini and Summer Squash. It was delicious!

Wasp enjoying a Blue Globe Thistle blossom


Some plants we add just for fun. The Blue Globe Thistle is one of those. Our yard is a haven for bees and butterflies. If we were courageous, we would be bee-keepers. Bees are so industrious during the summer. I guess, like us, they earn a long winter's nap.



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ice Cream and Hot Summer Days

This has been an exceptionally hot summer with temperatures in the 90s and high 80s for several months now. When it is hot, I think of ice cream! There is an ice cream map available that tells the favorite places throughout the state of New Hampshire to get the "best" ice cream. Some of the places make their own. Others sell Gifford's ice cream. The stand closest to our home (and very handy) went out of business altogether before the start of the season. The two places in Concord that we like are Arnie's (on the Heights), or else, following the country roads, Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Stand in Contoocook. We also love Blake's in Manchester and The Goldenrod in the same city.

When my mother was still living (and she died in 2005), she bought an electric ice cream maker. She brought it to our home and one year we made strawberry ice cream. The maker is still in the box it came in and we decided to drag it upstairs from the cellar where it is stored to see if instructions for ice cream making are still intact. They were! Since I seem to have developed an allergy to strawberries and since we will soon have a large crop of raspberries to process, we have decided to make raspberry ice cream!

The next step was in finding sodium chloride (called "rock salt" or "ice cream salt") that is necessary for the process. We are also filling up our big freezer with frozen ice cubes we are making. The recipe calls for 17 lbs. of ice. The only rock salt we could find to purchase came in a 50 lb. sack! We should be able to make more than one batch of ice cream with that much!

I can't wait to make ice cream! Jim is already scouting out other recipes. The one for Maple Walnut ice cream requires too many steps and too much handling to suit us. With foods, we always enjoy experimenting. I don't always want to try to the results of the experiment but Jim is game for trying many new foods...like fried radishes! Of the two experiments, I shall opt for raspberry ice cream in lieu of fried radishes any day!

Someone suggested frozen popsicles. Those may be fine but I try to limit the amount of pure sugar and/or juices. At least with ice cream, there is the benefit of calcium. I am happy not to be lactose intolerant. In the colder months, my craving for ice cream may slow down a little but it is a wonderful food, especially on a hot summer's day "when the living is easy"! Wish us good luck in our experiment. Now we just have to watch for the berries to ripen!


Saturday, July 29, 2017

31st Annual Quilt Exhibition at Billings Farm and Museum

From July 29 (today) until September 17, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., visitors at the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock, Vermont will be able to view the 31st Annual Quilt Exhibition featuring quilts from Windsor County, Vermont.

We were invited to preview the show at the grand opening on July 28. James Cummings took a few photos of quilts that struck our fancy for various reasons. We will share those photos with you but urge you to visit the show itself to see many other quilts worthy of your attention!

"Spring Tulips" by Adelaide Johnson uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics.


"Ella's Garden" by Carla Good presents a cheerful garden of Iris 

"Bits & Pieces" by Charlotte Croft is a comfort quilt made for
the Covenant House in NY and is a tied quilt.

"Ferris Wheels" by Dona McKenzie was professionally-machine-quilted.

"My Sudoku" by Dru McKinley was made using Cathedral Window blocks.

"Lost Socks" by Emily Schank lends a comical element to the show

"Elizabeth" by Sarah Canterbury is a multi-color Log Cabin quilt named for
her mother who loved color.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kalocsa Embroidery

Round doily in Kalocsa work. Collection of Patricia Cummings


Hungary is known for its Cross Stitch, Outline Stitch Embroidery with sayings, Lacemaking, and Folk Embroidery. One of the most beautiful of the types of embroidery done is Kalocsa. Its name is derived from the city in the Great Plain region where it originated. It is said that the bright colors of the buds and flowers symbolize the life and growth of a woman. I have collected a few pieces of Kalocsa and find it to be a very inspiring type of needlework. Here are some more examples.

Typical doily though some are even more elaborate. Collection of Patricia Cummings

Child's Apron. Notice the fine details of the edges! Collection of Patricia Cummings



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Musings on a Summer's Day

One of my favorite songs is "Summertime." It is from the musical "Porgy and Bess." I just know that I like the words:  "Summer time and the livin' is easy/ Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high/ Your Papa's rich and your Ma is good lookin'/ So hush little baby, don't you cry." See the Wikipedia file about the history of the musical here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porgy_and_Bess

Summer is here with its heat waves and threats of thunderstorms. Today, Jim picked the first Blackberry of the season and we are currently making plans for having an ice cream making party when the Raspberries are ready to pick. It looks as though we shall have an abundant Peach crop this year so perhaps we will be busy making Peach jam when those are ripe.

Yesterday I announced on Facebook that my main website will be going away forever...today! So far, it has not been removed by the host company.

I'll continue to share information on this blog re:  quilts, embroidery, and musings. At one time, our website was one of the largest on the Internet and unfortunately, we were hacked. We had to take the computer to be completely cleaned out and rid of malware, spyware, and a Trojan virus. It was a very trying time.

Colorized version of a design from the Cunnings catalog


Today I am thinking of a cartoon-like scenario that appeared in Cunnings catalog, circa 1886. I enlarged the design and colorized it and then printed it on fabric. The scene very much reminds me of "The Gossips," a 19th century (1800s) appliqu├ęd picture in silk that was documented in Florida in the 1930s and never seen again. The theme is the same (two ladies with bonnets, sitting in chairs, visiting). I love whimsical motifs and this one tickles my fancy!

The work of the past is always fun to re-visit. I even enjoy re-reading my own published articles. They contain so much information, I could never possibly commit all that to memory! I find myself referencing my own books at times. It's all fun!

Enjoy the summer! As much as we complain about the heat, it is much better than having to shovel snow! So long for now. I promise to stay in touch!

Patricia Cummings