Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The past few weeks I've been stitching away on the The Primitive Needle's Salem Remembered. I have friends that say, "what's up with you and the whole witch thing". Well what happened in Salem back in 1692 represents the worst in human nature, all of our deepest, darkest weaknesses.

As far as the witch thing, well I grew up with Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. I want to believe that there is magic in everyday life, whatever form it takes. It's more often than not the smile of a new baby, the first bloom of a flower. There is magic all around you and you just have to take a minute, open your eyes and see it. Sunrise, sunset, a miracle every single day.

I want you to look at the year at the top of this sampler. 1692.

Now check out these news stories:

Child Witches: Accused in the Name of Jesus - ABC News

BBC News Africa Child witches in the Congo

As a world we've come a long way haven't we? I was sick last week when I caught the story on ABC News. Here I am stitching away on Salem Remembered and half a world away, hundreds of years later, people's problems are being blamed on witchcraft and the people being blamed are too young to have a freakin' clue about what is going on. You know, life is hard, life is pain, bad things happen. Your grinder is going to break and it's not because your five year old is a witch.

Here is a link to information on the Salem Witchcraft Trials:

An account of the Salem witchcraft investigations, trials, and aftermath.

What is going on in Africa today is no different than what happened here a few hundred years ago.

Here's a link to National Geographic's Salem site:

National Geographic: Salem Witch-Hunt-- and here's a link to the kid's site:

The Salem Witch Trials -- National Geographic Kids

As much as we like to believe the world has come along way since the days of Way Back When, we haven't. It's much easier to blame your troubles on everyone else and toss in a good mix of greed from these so-called ministers and everyone loses except the ministers charging for their exorcism services.

So when someone tells you cross stitch is obsolete, out of date, has no relevance today, well Salem Remembered is more current than I ever imagined.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bad Food

Do you get homesick and start missing those "tastes of home"? But then when you make that oh so familiar whatever it's not quite as tasty as you remember it, it's actually pretty awful? I did that this week.
I've been kind of homesick for several reasons, some more important than others but I was browsing a blog, ran across this recipe:
My mother made these all the time. Her mother made them all the time. They were never my favorite thing to eat but I read the blog, saw the recipe and decided that all my problems would be resolved if I'd just make a batch of these cookies.
No--that didn't happen, they were just as awful as I remembered them being. The first two satisfied the need for "home" any after that made me want to hurl. I remembered my mom making them as the last resort sweet treat(we always had oatmeal, cocoa and peanut butter in the pantry) and being thankful when I was a kid but I could never eat more than two. That's my limit. I remembered her mother making them for my uncle and how much he loved to eat them hot before they set up. I also remembered that I hated going to visit this grandmother because they were in the boondocks, had one tv channel and the reception was poor on a good day and this set of grandparents were more often grumpy than happy. There were other things going on but do I really want to air that family business here, no, I'll leave you to your imaginations.
But after this taste of home experiment I was reminded not of the good food I had growing up but some of the really bad meals my brother and I were forced to choke down when we were kids and why it's so important to me that food be good.
People tend to write about their happy food memories and those are the best kind. But what about the nastiest meal your mother or father ever prepared? Come on spill it?
My dad was a firefighter. That means 24 hours on, 24 hours off, for three shifts and then four days off. My mom worked your regular 8-5 which was really 6:30a.m. to 6:30p.m. when you added in drive time.
My parents had an understanding that when my dad was home he cooked dinner. My brother and I had an understanding with my mother---based on her sharp kicks to our shins under the table--that we would not complain about any meal my dad made or dinner prep would be our problem. My dad unfortunately would get tired of cooking and instead of just saying, "Ok I don't want to cook we'll have bologna sandwiches for supper" he would try very hard to make us utter one complaint about his meal by making the grossest possible meal imaginable.
His go to recipe, sure to make one of us wrinkle our nose or actually gag at the table--and let me stress under normal circumstances my dad was a great cook--but whenever he said he was making gumbo we knew that it was going to be a long, long supper.
His gumbo recipe was something like this:
Canned shrimp
Canned crab
canned mixed vegetables
a jar of pickled okra
a can of tomato juice
a can of tomatoes
and whatever other offensive items he might think of.
You're probably thinking oh that's not too bad, except for maybe the pickled okra. I don't know how many of you are familar with canned shrimp and crab but it's supposed to rinsed and picked over and back in the day they might have even been packed in oil. My dad would just dump them into the soup pot. I am not kidding.
His gumbo smelled like gumbo but when you looked down into that pot all you would see was a lake of grease on top of a light pink soupy mess.
My brother and I had to eat a whole bowl and my mother tried to force us to ask for seconds but we always refused. I had bruises on my shins for two weeks from that meal.
Another of his famous meals was an interesting vegetable soup he came up with. He took every can of whatever was in the cabinet, dumped them all in the same pot, we're talking canned vegetables, canned soups, maybe even cubed up SPAM, threw in some browned ground beef and called that homemade soup. I can't remember who, me or my brother, made a comment about it just being nasty. My dad got up from the table, threw his bowl in the sink and said, "That's it, I'm not cooking one more meal." My mother grounded both of us and we had to cook supper for a couple of weeks until my dad got over his PMS.
My mom's quick meal solution was to open a can of sauerkraut dump it in a pot and start cutting up hot dogs and tossing them in. She'd heat it through and viola working woman gourmet. My brother and I would pick out hot dogs and brush the sauerkraut off with our fingers.
Also in my house a serving of fruit was fruit cocktail.
My dad passed away in May of last year and as horrible as it sounds I've smiled remembering his fits because he would never ever say "I don't want to cook" he would just very quietly make the most unedible meal imaginable and let us dig our own grave and then feel justified in his declaration of "I will never cook for you again". The saddest part was that my dad was a better cook than my mom 98% of the time. Momma has her specialities but my dad had a feel for cooking. He could make anything, but when he got tired of cooking we learned to really appreciate those extra tasty meals and make sure that we told him all the time what a great cook he was so that he would not be tempted to cook up one of his, "No one appreciates me meals."
So did this happen in anyone else's house or am I the only kid in America that has a few inedible family suppers to write about?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Odds & Ends

How's it going gang? I uploaded my pics all out of order and Blogger isn't letting me move them around but that's ok. I'll make it work. This weekend I ventured out in the world at large. My how things have changed. Gas has gone up like 40¢ a gallon, it's like waking up in another world, ok not that bad but still. Saturday I went out with my big blue boot on, it was hot and annoying so Sunday I shoved a sneaker on my foot and called it good. The spousal unit and I went for a drive out the beach road between Pensacola and my hick town and we saw this:

So much nicer than the TV or my neighbor's house across the road. You know you think when you're laid up it might get all exciting like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window but it doesn't(at least I do because I have a pretty good imagination) but I know my neighbors and the one who might be nuts, well I can't see that house from mine.

My kids are right, we do live on the most boring street in the world, which we tell them, is why we moved here in the first place. So they could be wild and free and safe and also because the beach is like five minutes away and that's really why we moved here. The whole safety thing is just an added perk.

The picture above was taken at about 50 miles an hour flying by the beach. I love this stretch of road so much. It's Gulf Islands National Seashore I believe that's the official title, but there's no development accept for a few parking lots and one or two parks with picnic pavillions and bathrooms and I do not begrudge beachgoers parking or bathroom facilities. My heart sings that there are no condos or houses here. I'm a firm believer that the beach belongs to everyone and it's wrong for it to be privatized(is that a word) in any way.

In Topsy Turvy Gardening news up there you can see the beginnings of some Roma tomatoes. How cute are they? Can't wait for them redden right up and become tasty bruschetta or a tomato/basil/mozzarella sandwich.

We moved the Topsy Turveys to the back yard. We have a wooden swingset, this side used to be a single swing and it broke a few years ago. This area of the backyard gets lots of sun so we moved these bad boys back here. Yes, that's picket fencing laying there on the ground. My friend gave us their old fence and when the spousal unit was trying to dig postholes he kept running into pesky tree roots so we have to rent an auger to do the job. So right now the fencing is just laying in it's possible future home. The Brandwine tomato plant there on the right, I was watering it yesterday and noticed that the stem on one of the blossoms is broken. I don't know how it happened and wonder if maybe birds might have gotten at it or squirrels.
We are going to plant a Topsy Turvy zucchini plant and also a cucumber plant and I want to do a cantalope plant but the spousal unit has this bizzare plan of doing a Topsy Turvy corn plant. Yeah, he's a little bit crazy.
On the Craft Front:
One day last week I was assessing my WIP pile and what I still loved and what I no longer felt the love for and why and I pulled out my HAED Sampler Large. I had started it on a big ol' hunk of bland, vanilla, 25ct cream lugana. I have been checking different hand-dyed fabrics and decided that a new piece of fabric was just not in the budget. So I took a deep breath, pulled my unsweet tea out of the fridge, dumped out a little, took my morning's coffee and poured it in the tea pitcher and just crammed my ginormous cut of lugana, with a tiny bit of stitching on it in the pitcher. I let it soak for about two hours. Then I pulled it out, rinsed it off and decided that the tea/coffee bath was a vast improvement over the bland cream color but it needed a little something else, a finishing touch, so I hobbled over to the dye cabinet, ok it's a Fiesta Orange hutch in the kitchen and it's where I store my bottle or two of RIT dye but "Dye Cabinet" makes it sound like I have a clue what I'm doing. Anyway I pull out the handy dandy bottle of Tan RIT Dye and start splattering up my fabric and smooshing the fabric together. I let it sit out on a cookie sheet in the sink for an hour or so and then rinse it off, and move it to the patio table and let the afternoon sun bake it a bit. Below you can see a bit of my antiquing and I'm pretty stoked about the result. Sorry the picture isn't any better, I took one of the whole piece of fabric and it was blurred. I think my poor camera is on it's last leg.

As you can see I hadn't stitched too much and since I wasn't loving the fabric I was either going to dye it and love it or start over anyway. I'm pretty sure now I can keep on stitching and be happy with the piece. Unlike most HAED this piece has a lot of fabric showing and it was screaming for a handdyed fabric which I knew from the very beginning but I'm hardheaded and cheap and wanted to use what I had already in the stash. This is what the finished piece will look like:
A lot of my stitching friends ask why I like stitching HAED when I could just buy the artwork and stitch something else and well, I have to say, I have always enjoyed stitching art. I tend to want to stitch things I like to think I would have the imagination to paint if I were an artist. I also find stitching these huge pieces comforting. I am not pressured to finish them like some other projects. You know when you sit down with needle and thread and think to yourself, "I'll finish this during this stitching session" and then you don't? That is such a frustrating feeling, especially since my finishes are few and far between. The HAED projects take that pressure out of the stitching. I am just stitching for the sake of stitching, no urgency to finish, no possibility of finishing, just little Xs on fabric and hopefully with each stitching session the picture comes a little more to life.
My stitching time lately has been devoted to The Primitive Needle's Salem Remembered. I think I might just finish it this week. See there I go, setting a goal I might not be able to keep. I'm in the process of kitting up Cape Cod Girl's and ABC Hornbook and if you check Lisa's blog, Witch Stitches The Primitive Needle , you can see her Mystic Sampler which will also get bumped up to the top of my "To Be Stitched Immediately" pile. I have Ichabod Seabury to start when I finish Salem Remembered. He's stitched on PTP(http://www.picturethisplus.com/) Swamp linen. I love that color.
The fascination with tombstones, well I've always had one. When I was a kid, every Sunday before Mother's Day the whole family would make a trip to Woodville cemetery for Decoration. That's when you clean all the dead flowers and weeds off the graves so that it's all pretty for Mother's Day when people come to put fresh flowers out. We would spend all day there and people would bring folding tables, card tables and food and we'd picnic right there among the tombstones talking about those that had gone on to the great unknown and hear their stories and where they fit in the family tree. It was never a time of sadness for me, I only personally knew one person buried in that cemetary and he passed away when I was four or five, my great grandfather, Papa Sparks. I remember him vividly. My Mamaw and Great Aunt Lila would take care of him and I would run up to him and kiss his hand and Mamaw would make us tea cakes that we would eat hot from the oven with butter and cold glasses of milk. Yes, technically a tea cake was a sugar cookie, not quite as sweet but sweeter and more cookie like than a biscuit but big and softer than a true cookie. Papa liked his hot, dripping in butter and to this day I like them that way too. We would play and hide and seek among the tombstones, because this is one of those great old country cemetaries with real tombstones, above ground, not hidden away flush with the grass. I think about these weekends this time every year and how my mamaw was so worried that after she and her sisters were gone no one would go up there and tend her mother and father's graves. If I get home sometime this summer I plan to make a trip up there and make sure the graves are taken care of, I owe Mamaw that much.
The tombstone love, well I found it in novel form, thanks to a tip from my friend Siobhan. I've read two of Sarah Stewart Taylor's novels over the last week and enjoyed them both.
I've been trying to listen to Cormac McCarthy's The Road on CD and OMFG it's the most depressing book in the world. Of course I want to know if the Man and the Boy make it down the road to warmer temperatures but this post nuclear bomb world is a horrible place and I'm not finding much to love about it and the Man happens to be a man of few words and I keep worrying something really bad is going to happen to the Boy. I've stopped at the third CD and am not sure I can go on. I think I'm going to go with The Historian this week. I've read the book and enjoy the story, it remains one of my all time favorite books.
OK while doing our long drive this Sunday morning, I had to take a picture of the cheesy beach ball water tower on Pensacola Beach. I love Pensacola Beach. It is a constant reminder of happy family vacations, sunburns, seafood, staying in little beach cottages, called "motor inns" back in the day. I miss those. High rise Comfort Inns are just not as homey as those sweet cinderblock beach cottages, and yes, even back in the day they were dumps but I loved them and was broken hearted when they bulldozed them in the name of progress. Another thing I love about Pensacola Beach is the neon Swordfish sign that directs people to the beaches:
There was a time not too long ago when some uppity folks bought their million dollar homes on Penscacola Beach and wanted the swordfish gone, it was tacky they said. What they didn't understand was that locals have a very warm place in their hearts for that tacky swordfish. It represents Pensacola Beach, that it's not an uptight place to vacation, but a nice, comfortable, fun place to spend your time. I'm so glad the swordfish still stands and was repaired after the last hurricane. When I see that ginormous swordfish, my heart swells with love for this beach town. I remember driving across Three Mile bridge with my uncle's feet hanging out the back window while he slept and I slept across dashboard above the backseat and would occaisionally roll off on top of him. I remember almost drowning not once but twice in one day. Once in the Gulf when I was on a raft floating out to sea, my Mamaw swore I was a dot on the horizon, and my uncle who had just had an appendectomy had to swim out to save me, and then going down the slide in the pool in the deep end and not having a clue how to swim. I remember being sunburned and eating fried oysters in the coldest oyster bar in the world. Good times.

Forgot to mention for all you crocheters or those needing inspiration, I always need inspiration where my color choices are concerned, check out this blog:
I'm already planning my football knitting and crocheting. Can't really cross stitch at the football field so I'm going to save my crochet projects for practices. I can't stop looking at her pictures. I want to make tons of things using her palette.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On My Mind

Because I'm not on my feet. Actually that's a lie, I managed to make it out the front door, oooohhhh scary front porch step, and sit on the porch yesterday afternoon and it was pretty much Heaven. Then this morning I made it out the back door(ooohhhh, scary patio step) and watched the Spousal Unit rake the yard.

I'm currently obsessed with this blog:

These Days in French Life

Her flickr photostream:

Flickr: These Days in French Life's Photostream

and her cooking blog:

Garlic Breath

Maybe I need to try to get out of the house more, but I'm enjoying reading about the school year committment to not buying anything, even groceries, although they did use Christmas money to restock their freezer with meat. I've been trying hard to keep my pantry somewhat stocked but if something major happened in our world and we couldn't leave our house for say a month, we'd probably starve because I'm not that prepared. We might make it two weeks before we started looking at each other and seeing hamburgers and hot dogs, LOL. But I do want to do better, I'm trying to grow more of our own food although my attempts this spring are late, but fortunately Florida has a fairly long growing season.

I'm kind of freaked out at her mention of nettle soup and nettle tea. Those things grown in my yard and hurt like the dickens when I step on them the thought of using them for food, well I'd have to be pretty darn hungry to resort to that but maybe they are quite tasty and I'm really missing out.

Another thing I'm fixated on at the moment is making my own:

Recipe for Kombucha Tea & Learn How to Make Kombucha

This is supposed to be some kind of healthy alternative for people who like Coca~cola but I've read mixed reviews about the taste, like it tastes like urine or dirty socks but then when you read about it on Garlic Breath or maybe her other blog she makes it sound quite tasty. It's also supposed to be some kind of miracle drink, even to the point that it could cure cancer. Google it see what all you can find. Interesting but the taste reviews have me wanting to try it just out of curiousity.

I've been doing a little stitching and thinking about making some skirts but I missed the Simplicity pattern sale at JoAnns and I need some summery fabrics for a few skirts and also have to figure out how to make a skirt that doesn't ride up my butt. My back is always shorter than my front and I need to figure out how to tailor it. I want a dress form but that is not in the budget.

I do have all the squares cut out for my red & white quilt and may try piecing them together tonight, maybe.

If I can find my camera cord I'll take some updated pics.

Thank you all for all the get well wishes and sharing your most embarassing moment stories! They made me feel like I'm not the only one who has had an epic public fall.

Hope all you mother readers out there have a very Happy Mother's Day.