Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Southern Sampler Thing 

This being November 30 and the anniversary of The Battle of Franklin (141st Anniversary) I celebrated by visiting Carnton Plantation which was used as a hospital during the battle.

A lovingly restored home and outbuildings were a treat to visit and the visitor's center offered a tempting bookshop.

There I found Rick Warwick's book, Williamson County: More Than A Good Place To Live. Mr. Williamson offers a meticulous look at four aspects of Williamson County, Tennessee hand-crafted material culture. Of particular interest to me were the sections on samplers and woven coverlets. I've also improved my woeful ignorance of sugar chests and hand crafted chairs.

The sampler section includes excellent color plates of 31 samplers and detailed information about the samplers. The section also offers a look at female educational institutions active from 1822 to the Civil War.

Available from The Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 723, Franklin, TN 37065

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Floss To The Rescue 

Now living out of boxes can be a real adventure. I found the KITCHEN box that had the rotisserie in it so I looked forward to a nice broiled chicken. But broiling a chicken with drooping wings and drumsticks is just not on.

Hmmmm, no kitchen string. Well, I really don't have "kitchen" string - I have a cone of nice white cotton string I use to truss up birds and for dressing embroidery frames. It's in a box somewhere.

However, lots of white floss available!!! And it worked a treat folks.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

It's A Southern Thing - Part II 

Off to a big box store to get plastic bins for better sorting of needlework fibers. Does anyone ever get them completely sorted? Moving them disturbed them greatly as lots of stuff got loaded topsy-turvy into packing boxes.

Then on to the supermarket for groceries.

THEN to the local plain - non-franchise barbecue place for a treat. Plate of pulled barbecue pork with excellent coleslaw and beans as sides. But I ran into another Southern Thing. The cornbread came as a griddle cake. Very different from my mid-west upbring and my California experience. Can't say it won me over. I suspect it may go in the same department as sweet tea and grits. Some things I'll never eat willingly.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

End of a Needlework Era 

Recently Sabrina and Lynn commented on the Northern California CATS consumer show. Both found that the number of vendors and/or number of classes offered were greatly diminished.

I do think we are seeing the end of an era of large regional consumer needlework shows in the US. I know I no longer teach at these events because it is a money losing activity. We no longer sell our products there either as again we cannot turn a profit doing so.

The UK needlework shows are alive and thriving. I think mostly because they are mounted by a fulltime professional exhibition company who have dedicated marketing departments and are only in the business of mounting consumer shows.

In the US shows have been organized by folks already in the needlework biz (i.e. publishers, designers, manufacturers, etc.). I think this sort of event sponsor does better with small, local events that fit better with the time and staff they have available to promote the event. I think this has created the number of retreats, summer camps, etc. that have sprung up in the past few years.

I am wondering if people are getting tired of so many stands of similar products and quick light weight workshops on offer - perhaps this is just me (in OZ) but I know last big show I went to I came home with most of money as there was simply very little to buy and the only class I wanted to take was mid week when I was working
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Made To Last 

It's turned cold here - not as cold as Alaska where I once lived briefly, but colder than southern California where I've been living for the last 25 years.

The dropping temperatures sent me digging for my favorite Winter Quilt. It is a true testament to its maker, my great grandmother Susan Hefley. It is sturdy and warm and very useful after a good 100 years of use by family members. The fabrics are substantial wools (with only a few cotton bits) gleaned from family clothing which have been pieced in a few block patterns. The patterns aren't assembled in a strictly regimented way, but put together for a utilitarian purpose. The batting is wool and the back is good grey striped flannel. It is tied rather than quilted which in my family makes this a Comforter rather than a Quilt. None of your fluffy souffle duvets is this bedding. It is heavy and indeed comforts the user.

So Grandmother Susan, thanks for my comforter. I'm glad you made it to last.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Fall Colors 

It has been years since I've lived where leaves changed color with the seasons. It is definitely fall here in Tennessee. We had frost in Unionville the other morning and living in a ante-bellum farmhouse means we have trees planted by folks over a century ago. They are tall, full of leaves and varied arborifically so there are leaves nearly a foot deep in colors ranging from bright yellow to dark rich orange.

I thought I would do a little Surfing for Embroidery and found a site that talks about fall/winter colors for 2005/6, Fashion - ERA. They have a page of color predictions that could give inspiration. Their site has lots of other interesting looking links for future browsing as well.

Oh, and BTW our neighbor Bob stopped by the other day and said when all the leaves were down, he would bring his super duper ride around leaf picker upper round our way and tidy up our collection. Neighbors do that sort of thing in small towns. It's not just A Southern Thing. Actually, although we have a post office in Unionville, we're an unincorporated area in Bedford County - not even a small town.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

It's A Southern Thing 

When visiting a new region or country, I head right to a grocery store to learn about local culture. Nothing defines us so well as our food, our cooking gadgets, the layout of stores, even signage.

Today at my local supermarket I encountered a new, unfamiliar Southern Thing, boiled custard.

Now custard I know about and love it as a sauce, or standing alone in all its comforting glory. But, this custard was found in the dairy drinks department right alongside the seasonal eggnog.

Trust the internet to have an answer. Boiled custard - The Southern Thing -- according to my sources is composed of the usual custard ingredients. They include milk, egg, sugar, vanilla BUT with a larger volume of milk which would make it a pourable drink characterized as a drink to be enjoyed in the winter months.

Might have to give it a try. If it is not to my taste, I can add some spices and make it an eggnog suitable for this foreigner's uncultured tongue.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Enough Already!!! 

Wow - another month lost to the frailities of a creaky body.

Our London tour this year went by in a blur as I was flat on my back in a hotel room the entire time. Visited by tour participants who flooded me with flowers, cards and good wishes, visited by multiple UK physicians, dosed by various medicaments to allay two incredible infections and nursed by Libby and Su.

Managed to get on a plane and return to Dulles where I was whisked off to a local hospital by EMT sorts of folks and pumped full of IV antibiotics and other potions. Then home to Unionville where I'm working on getting back some vim and vigor and getting over some of the resultant medication reactions.

So Enough Already!!! I've had my third bout of person flattening injury/illness this year and that's quite enough.

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