First and foremost, Happy New Year to one and all … may it be a gentle year.

And oh, I have so many stories to tell, some dating back to October! Which is to say, I have no excuse for not blogging more regularly.

For now, here are some of the ornaments I made for family and friends this Christmas, first teased in this photo which only showed the backs …

They were inspired by a free Ann Wood pattern, but made using English paper piecing rather than patchwork …

The cloth came from Parker’s 2018 Christmas dress, long since outgrown …

and I’ve already got my eye on this year’s dress for future projects …

So that’s it for now … but I do hope to be back more regularly in the days to come. Happy days!

Lest I forget

I’ve been stitching napkins. Mostly because the linen/cotton napkins that I bought ten years ago have gotten unpleasantly stiff and non-absorbent. So I bought some linen thread and two yards of checked linen from Burnley and Trowbridge

in order to have enough to make 8 napkins (with thanks to Mo for the idea to to use red thread, and to Hazel for the cross stitches and to Dana, whose table settings are aspirational) …

They washed up and air-dried beautifully. Which is important as I’m not a fan of dryers and definitely not one for taking the time to iron napkins since we use them at every meal.

And speaking of meals, here are two that I wanted to document for future reference.

Pork Meatballs (4 servings)

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Minced ginger (bottled)
  • Garlic (just a touch)
  • Wasabi (buy at sushi counter)
  • Sesame oil
  • Panko
  • 1 egg

Combine all ingredients. Form into 24 small meatballs and place on parchment paper. Brush with a mixture of hoisin and peanut oil. Bake in an air fryer or hot convection oven for 10 minutes or so.

Serve on stir fried vegetables (mushrooms, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, celery, and scallions sauced with ginger, hoisin, sesame oil, garlic, and mirin) or Asian-style slaw (shredded cabbage, carrots and scallions dressed with peanut oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, and agave).

Pork meatballs on stir fried veggies with peanuts

Bahn Mi

  • Leftover pork meatballs
  • Bolillo rolls
  • Mayo
  • Chili sauce
  • Shredded carrots
  • Mini-cucumbers cut into matchsticks
  • Lots of cilantro leaves
  • Finely sliced poblano

Heat leftover meatballs just enough to warm them. Split rolls, remove some of the bread in the middle to form a hollow, spread lightly with mayo and toast on griddle until edges are light brown (putting a plate on top to weigh them down works well). Combine chili sauce and mayo to spread on toasted rolls. Top with meatballs, carrots, cukes, poblano and cilantro. Delicious with Heineken 0.0 non-alcoholic beer (a recent and much appreciated find).

Sorry, no picture … we dug in too quickly to get a good shot. Maybe next time 😉

Etched in stone

Back in 2018, Don and I ventured out to the La Cieneguilla petroglyph site outside Santa Fe. It was (and likely still is), easy to miss. A scrabbled parking lot with a BLM sign (Bureau of Land Management) and a questionable path up to a jumble of rocks.

It wasn’t at all clear that we were in the right place, until it was. The markings on the rocks were at once both easy and hard to see. The figures chipped into rock varnish untold years ago … themselves overlaid by more rock varnish. There was no signage or explanatory text that I recall. It was silent under the intense sun and blue sky.

This cloth is a memento of that experience …

Stitched in good faith, the intended meanings of the motifs I found online were sometimes puzzling, others seemingly clear as day …

After the brief trial posted here, I pieced together the rest of the pillow top with Malka’s hand-dyed cloth and Deb’s hand-dyed thread during the harrowing week after the Uvalde shooting …

The simple repetition of Kantha stitches in the green border and mock herringbone along the raw edges of the rocky patches accompanied the endless news pouring out of the television.

In my mind, I revisited the two years from 1999-2001 that I spent as a high school librarian following the Columbine massacre. Two years feeling like I had a target painted on my chest.

Then the eight years following 9/11, spent in an elementary school library where we held annual intruder drills.

And finally the three years spent in a vast university library contemplating how to apply the active shooter drills to my corner of the endless maze of shelving, each of the seven floors the size of a football field. Not to mention the colleague who so disturbed me that I actually went to my boss, who sent me to the administration, who said there was nothing they could do for my foreboding sense that he could be a shooter.

Stitched the memory of unrealized fear into the cloth. Surely this is a form of trauma … one inflicted on every teacher, student and staff member every single time a drill is called. A trauma that underlies the lives of millions, hidden but no less real …

As the immediacy of Uvalde began to wane, I returned to the online petroglyph images and sketched them onto the cloth rock patches with water eraseable ink. Then chose to use the thread Deb calls “the devil’s whiskers” … a silk/cotton blend with a mind of its own that turns out to work much better as a single strand than it does doubled …

And so it went, in Jude’s split backstitch and thread beads, not letting myself undo any stitches, imagining how an errant mark on stone could not have been undone, wondering if some of the more inscrutable marks might have been figures in the making that were abandoned for want of an “eraser” …

adjusting to the ever-shifting lengths of thread, until all the motifs were wrought and the ink washed away …

It will be a while until I make a pillow back … it is enough as it is for now.