Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"We Need the Rain"

"We need the rain."

It was a phrase I heard a lot yesterday and one I truly tried to embrace–because I know it's true. But after getter soaked three times, it became a little bit harder: first I got caught in a downpour when I was just a few blocks from the office in the morning on my walk to work. Later, during an informal tour, it was still coming down and I got really drenched again, when I was walking between buildings and crossing the street in a downpour . . . and it was still raining when I went out to get some lunch.

I had a big umbrella and it helped . . . a lot. But my nicely starched and pressed linen pants were soaked from the thighs down before I got to the office (and again and again) and so I wasn't anything close to neatly pressed. And, even though I had taken special care in the morning and even pulled out the flat iron to ward off the humidity-inspired frizz, at the end of the day, when I met a an old friend for dinner who happened to be in town–someone I hadn't seen for almost 10 years–I felt like my hair looked a lot like Alice's, from Dilbert.

Except in my case, there were no curls, just frizz that created my pyramid-shaped do.

Dinner was great, though, and my friend was so distracted by my "blonde" hair so much that I don't think that my crazy frizzy Alice like hair made that much of an impression. (She said I looked great as a "blonde"–aren't old friends the best?)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cattle Drive on my Walk to Work

Yes, I did say cattle drive.

Cattle Drive in Pioneer Plaza

Cattle Drive in Pioneer Plaza

And like many interesting things, it's beautiful when you drive by, but when you walk past, you have the opportunity to notice more, like just HOW MANY of those big, life-size bronze longhorns there are.

Cattle Drive in Pioneer PlazaI didn't have a lot of time–did I mention I was on my way to work, an idea which truly makes me happy–and I realized after doing a search about this Monument to the West at Pioneer Plaza, created by Robert Summers of Glen Rose, Texas, that I may not have even seen it all, because I only saw two of the three cowboys. Here's one of them.

Detail of Cowboy

And a closeup of one of his longhorn steers:

Detail of Longhorn

After a few quick photos, I left the plaza, just as the first few of them were emerging onto the sidewalk ;-)

Cattle Drive in Pioneer Plaza

Famous Failures

Have you failed lately?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In a Gallery Far, Far, Away . . .

In Lauderhill, Florida, the Bear and Bird Boutique and Gallery has an exhibit opening on Saturday, called Stitch Wars of more than a hundred hand-stitched Star Wars figures. Doesn't it sound like fun? Follow the link for the slide show on the Miami New Times website–here are a few of my favorites:

Hans Solo by Dennis Rodriguez

Jawas by Cutesypoo

"Jabba: The Early Years" by Kit Lane

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet

Translation: Happy July 14 (Bastille day)

Today seemed a fine day to make Clafoutis from the beautiful dark sweet bing cherries I bought last week. As soon as I bought them on impulse, I knew I wanted to make Cherry Clafoutis. It didn't occur to me until I came home with my cherries that I had almost none of the other ingredients I needed: no flour, no sugar, no half-and-half, no vanilla extract . . . it was really rather pathetic and a true testament to what a baker I am not.

But ingredients were purchased and Clafoutis was made using this recipe from the Simply Recipes website. I also borrowed their image, since my Bastille Day treat was not nearly so photogenic.

Cherry Clafoutis Recipe

Traditional clafoutis recipes call for using cherries with their pits still in, which are supposed to lend some almond flavor to the dish. In this recipe the pits are removed, making the clafoutis easier to eat, but you can do it either way.


  • 2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons of Amaretto -or- 3/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


1 Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour a 9X9 or 10X7 baking dish. Toss in the cherries and slivered almonds.

2 Whisk the eggs, sugars, salt, and flour together until smooth.

3 Add the milk, Amaretto (or almond extract, if using), and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.

cherry-clafouti-a.jpg cherry-clafouti-b.jpg

4 Bake for 40-50 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. When you pull it put of the oven it will wiggle a bit which is normal. Place on a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will have puffed up quite a bit and will deflate while cooling. When cool dust the clafoutis with powdered sugar. Serve.

Serves 6.

I had another reason to celebrate today . . . I was offered and accepted a job. Yes, I will soon be joining the working class again. Did you hear a sigh of relief coming from the general direction of Dallas, Texas?

I figured it was reason enough to add a scoop of Blue Bell Home Made Vanilla ice cream to the top of my warm Cherry Clafoutis, in lieu of the powdered sugar–not traditionally French, but quite YUMMY ;-)

Monday, July 13, 2009

I am the Star (What Tarot Card are You?)

You know I can't resist these silly-but-fun tests . . . here is my result from this one:

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

TAQG Rally Day

The Texas Association of Quilt Guilds' Rally Day was held yesterday in Mesquite. It's a one day event (with classes held in the days leading up to Rally Day).
Arrival desk

Thirty-two guilds belong to TAQG. If you are a member of any of the member guilds, you can attend Rally Day for free. As you arrive, you receive a goody bag little gifties from all the guilds.

Setting up a Raffle quilt for Display

I arrived as the event was beginning and the guilds were setting up their raffle quilts. Two long halls had raffle quilts displaced on both sides. It was the next best thing to a quilt show.

I really liked this sampler quilt from the Allen Quilter's Guild.

Allen Quilter's Guild Donation Quilt

And this one, called Home Tweet Home, from the Cotton Patch Guild.

Home Tweet Home

Detail from Home Tweet Home

Here's a detail photo from Home Tweet Home. Yes, there was definitely no shortage of eye candy , nor opportunities to buy chances to win beautiful quilts of every style and colorway.

Sharon Schamber, the speaker of the day, also brought patterns and instructional DVDs to sell, so there was also ample opportunity to shop.

Another part of the event was a miniature quilt silent auction. There were some great miniature quilts.

Miniature Quilt Silent Auction Miniature Quilt Silent Auction
Miniature Quilt Silent Auction Miniature Quilt Silent Auction
Miniature Quilt Silent Auction Miniature Quilt Silent Auction
(click any of the photos for larger versions)

The main event were the presentations by Sharon Schamber before and after lunch and the hundreds of door prizes–I came home with a couple of books and some Halloween-themed FQs.

Sharon Schamber Quilt
Despite some forgotten cables and some technical difficulties, Sharon and her husband, Gene, did a great job of sharing quilts and stories and information about color and quilting. My photos were taken quite far from the stage and mostly serve to trigger my memories of the event–there certainly are better photos to be found elsewhere of most of these well known quilts.

The quiltholders in yellow shirts were from the Irving Guild. The quilters from Fort Worth were in red T-shirts. Another guild had great turquoise embroidered shirts. It was fun to see everyone wearing their colors. The Dallas Guild doesn't have shirts. "It's too big," I was told. I think we need to fix that, or make yoyo pins or wear bandanas or *something* for next year.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Signs of Progress at the Urban Café

A couple months ago, the cafe on the ground floor of my building abruptly closed. Before long, signs went up saying that it would be opening "soon," under new management. Tonight, the bar was open . . . it was a definite sign of progress.

Alan and the ladies behind the Bar

It was all smiles behind the bar at the Urban Cafe . . . and all the residents and others from the neighborhood that stopped by for a drink were pretty happy about it, too.

I'm looking forward to breakfasts in the building soon.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Texas Weather


Earlier tonight, in a matter of moments, the sky went dark, then light, this rainbow appeared, and then we were pelted with hail and when I looked out window to see what all the racket was about–Gracie the scaredy cat had already run for cover–it looked like nothing to me as much as a SNOW STORM.


You would have thought it would have cooled off our 100-plus temperatures but . . . no such luck.

You definitely need to add new and interesting weather patterns to the list of things you learn when you move to a new part of the world.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Popsicle Quilt Blocks

Last week at their meeting, the Quilter's Guild of Dallas had a "make it but don't take it" event. Instead of the usual speaker, after the business part of the meeting, we worked on blocks for Covers for Kids charity quilts.

Work table
There were large tables set up around the room, each with a designated project. I had been having a frazzled day and showed up without my machine and no tools in hand. I came planning to volunteer to cut fabric or iron or sew bindings.

My loaner featherweightBut while chatting with people before the meeting, someone mentioned they had brought along a spare featherweight and offered to let me use it. They were sitting at the table that would be making a paper-pieced block. I could do that, I thought, and took them up on the offer.

Worker bees

Marie (on the left) organized an adorable quilt for us, based on an easy block to learn paper foundation piecing. After a quick how-to-do it demonstration, we were off and running. Marie was also juggling her duties as an organizer for the upcoming TAQG Rally Day and selling lunches and pins–she's an organizational wonder.

Some of the Popsicle blocks

Here are some of our first blocks–aren't they charming? At the end of the evening, we'd made about a dozen.

If you'd like the pattern for the blocks (and the quilt), it's called Lotsa Pops and is available on the Quiltmaker site, here: Lotsa Pops

I knew Marie wanted to make a larger quilt than the pattern, so at the end of the night, I offered to take some of the double pop foundations home and make more and bring them to her on Rally Day. Here are my blocks.

Double Popsicle Block #6 Double Popsicle Block #5 Double Popsicle Block #1
Double Popsicle Block #3 Double Popsicle Block #2 Double Popsicle Block #4

I can't wait to see the finished quilt.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fanfare for the Fourth of July

Gathering in the LobbyI love a parade . . . but the opportunity to check out the Dallas Wind Symphony's Star Spangled Spectacular at the Myerson Symphony Center on a very hot Fourth of July seemed like a great alternative to being outside on a very, very hot day.

I confess that I walked across downtown at noon–about a mile–to the concert. I arrived wondering . . . what was I thinking ? ? ?

I found my seat early and a nice gentlemen sitting nearby told me about a Dallas Wind Symphony tradition, an original fanfare played in the lobby . . . so I headed back out to enjoy.

Gathering in the stairwells

The first musician arrives

I could see people gathering in the open spaces in the lobby and on the stairwell, even behind the music stands. Before long musicians began to appear. I would learn later that each Fanfare is an original composed by one of the Symphony musicians.

I wasn't the only one taking photos

I wasn't the only one taking photos. This drummer was taking photos of the crowd with his cellphone. He's one of the Hellcats from the US Military Academy at West Point. Before long all the musicians arrived and were in place.

The Fanfare begins

And the Fanfare began. It was a very cool way to begin a concert experience. The Dallas Wind Symphony has a fun energy–they even have an official tamale. And they put together a wonderful program.

DSCN3311.JPG During the Fanfare

After the fanfare, the crowd went inside and the "spectacular" officially began with the National Anthem. Imagine a large symphony hall filled with people singing the national anthem: it was incredibly moving. The rest of the program was chock full of military tributes, summer references and a dash of Texas. There was audience participation and the closest thing to fireworks you can imagine inside a concert hall.

Hellcats performing on stage

The Hellcats marched onto the stage and provided the next best thing to a parade. Later, they returned and performed with the Wind Symphony.
Hellcats join the Dallas Wind Symphony

Walking home after the performanceAfterward the concert, yes , I walked the mile across downtown back home again. I confess that I took my time, staying in the shade as much as possible and I stopped on the way and bought ice cream.

Most of the people attending the concert were dressed like these patrons. The sea of red, white and blue in the audience just added to that 4th of July feeling, like the hot dogs they were serving in the lobby. I think this event could easily become a Dallas Independence Day tradition for me.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


And for fun ... here's a Blogthings test to find out if you're Red, White or Blue. My result:

You Are Blue

You are a highly tolerant and peaceful person. You have a lot of compassion and respect for people.

You love that the USA is a country with many different people. You may not agree with what everyone believes, but you agree with their right to believe it.

You look for the common bonds that Americans share. You rather unite than divide people.

You'd like to see more understanding and less fighting. You find it hard to stomach politics.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...