Sunday, June 3, 2018

Summer Asparagus & Potato Soup

It's Summer in New England. Yesterday was a sticky hot and humid day. Today is a dappled breezy cool Sunday perfect for reading and quilting. I don't want to spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning on my newly designated leisurely day. Here is my quick and satisfying summer soup to enjoy as a simple lunch or dinner.

Summer Asparagus & Potato Soup

¼ c. butter
1 medium onion finely chopped
1 bunch of Asparagus cut into 1” pieces
8 tiny red potatoes
4 c. chicken stock
2 c. whole milk
1 c. sour cream at room temperature
1 t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1t. thyme

1. Boil potatoes for 15 minutes or until fork tender.
2. In a stock pot on medium low heat, melt butter; add onions and sauté 5 minutes until soft.
3. Add asparagus pieces to onions and sauté for 5 more minutes.
4. Add chicken stock and milk. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
5. Drain potatoes, cool 1 minute until you can handle them. Cut into quarters. Add to the soup.
6. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme.
7. Remove soup from from heat. Whisk in the sour cream stirring well to incorporate into the soup.
8. Ladle into soup bowls and season to taste with additional salt & pepper

Serves 4 generously or 6 with a side salad.


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Giving Proper Directions After a Fire

I rent a small studio space in my hometown. It's a rare find in a mixed use neighborhood flanking west main street and a redneck towing company. I'm a holdout making my artists space work despite the poor maintenance and parking lot sinkholes. Today I suddenly lost all power while sewing mid seam and mid mystery book on CD. Naturally today being a great summer Saturday I was the only person in the building. All my fears leap to mind as I swear off the scary stories and find the flashlight feature on my cell phone. I hope I've unplugged everything and scram out into a pitch black hallway. No emergency lights or lighted exit signs. I make it outside to my car and text my landlord. No reply. 
Driving it's eerily quiet. I meet a woman in her driveway towing her oxygen tank. I ask if she's OK. She replies yes for now with her three hour supply. I call the police to report her situation and ask about the power. A four alarm fire they cut all the power. Traffic is detoured as we snake through a tiny adjacent neighborhood. I get the low down from a junior firefighter manning the road block " there's a white building  downtown on fire"  R & T Furniture is on Fire!


I loved this old building. I loved what it was and what it stood for in our town. A family run furniture store where everyone purchased their furniture. Furniture still serving a useful life in hundreds of homes long after the business closed. I dread what will replace it. Our unique Mom & Pop businesses have been overrun by progress and replaced with the bland franchised Jiffy Lubes or Dunkin Donuts. Hardly the places 
to sit around and reminisce about what was lost.  After tomorrow when the dust settles and someone asks I will include this landmark in my directions long after the people asking have no idea it existed. I will remind them of this business and maybe add a few more places from even longer ago just for good measure. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mary's On the Road Exhibit Reviews In Worcester, MA


 April 21- August 25, 2018

Worcester Historical Museum 30 Elm Street, Worcester MA


“The Story of New England quilts- from the province of colonial elites to common household items to treasured museum pieces – is tied to international trade, industrial development, shifting cultural values and changing tastes. New England quilters today replicate designs from the past or use the traditional form as a starting point for their own artistic expression. The exhibit highlights quilts from the collection as well as loaned pieces that show a new direction for quilting in the age of technology”

                                                                       -Holly Izard, Lynne Bassett

Recently a small group of us along with members of the American Quilt Study Group’s New England Chapter, were treated to an engaging tour by collections manager Holly Izard about the QUILTS: PRACTICAL PIECES exhibit followed by an insightful peek into the museums archives with textile consultant Lynne Bassett.

The quilts and clothing in this exhibit were donated, borrowed or collected from a relatively small geographical area surrounding Worcester. Many pieces came from prominent Worcester families. It was interesting to see an Ohio Star quilt made from scraps of the period dress displayed in front of the quilt.

Fabric scraps from this dress are found in this Star quilt

Moving around the gallery you see the progression of quilts hung in chronological order from the oldest to the newest which hang together as a beginning and end to the exhibit. Additionally in display cases around the room there are wooden quilting templates, quilts and pieces of quilts with generations of family history intact.

Wooden Quilt Templates

Documented Local Family Heirloom from the Museum Collection

There is also a wonderful signature quilt with pieced signature blocks that are set with diagonal double pink sashing, then surrounded with chocolate brown triangles forming  the outer border and finished in the traditional New England “T” style to fit a four poster bed. This quilt would be a treasure trove of information for genealogical  research.

Signature Quilt Documents Local History and Genealogy Clues
Surprisingly it’s the first time the Worcester Historical Museum has researched and displayed this many examples of quilts and clothing from their collection. I would recommend visiting this exhibit not only for its remarkable local history bur also in support of finally seeing the quilts having being tucked away for so long. Kudos and thanks to Holly Izard for cataloging and preserving the collection, and to Lynne Bassett for providing historical content for the museum’s textile collection. Their combined work and expertise is evident throughout this engaging exhibit.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mary's on the Road Reviews- Natures Landscape

Natures Landscape
 at the Lincoln Library, Lincoln, MA  April 2-28, 2018,

Spring in New England is fickle. We are weary of being housebound and relish a hint of sunshine or brave crocus poking through an unexpected snow squall. Last Sunday was just one of those days. I dragged my feet toward making it to an exhibit I really wanted to see. Luckily the Fiber Art Exhibit won. 
Friends Karen Pulaski and Tricia Deck expertly blend their "Natures Landscape" exhibit resulting a small but engaging show. They call their pieces fiber art rather than quilts as most of the textile pieces use raw edge applique and layering and quilting techniques to create a three dimensional quality to the finished pieces. I would call them "Folk Art/Art Quilts" rather than fiber art.

Rose by Karen Pulaski   

Like some folk art Karen's quilts have been influenced by the natural world around her. They possess an exceptionally well made three dimensional quality that incorporate her many years of sewing bridal and couture clothing. Karen has been known to effortlessly use some very difficult fabrics like silk, wool, and leather She has transferred and transformed her sewing skills in a very unique and inviting way that immediately involves every viewer. Close up you want to smell and touch that bright pink rose surrounded deep dense green leaves. And who too doesn't secretly want to find themselves waiting in that textured nest surrounded by some very elegant foliage, feathers, and lacy fringed flowers. 

Waiting by Karen Pulaski 
Stony Brook Birches by Tricia Deck
Tricia Deck's "Folk Art/Art Quilts" seem more elemental with trees, landscapes, and sheep which also have  a three dimensional quality achieved by using raw edged machine applique. This technique and raw fabric choices highlight her chosen imagery. Tricia's Stony Brook Birches successfully use contrasting fabrics for depth and reflection as seen at the edge of the water and in the dense woods behind lighter colored birches. 
Ellen's Sheep by Tricia Deck
Tricia's landscapes have some subtly unexpected fabrics and design elements incorporated into her quilts. For example the use of a
striped Kaffee Fassett fabric adds a whimsical boundary to the diagonal path the sheep are following. Ellen's sheep seem to be happily herding themselves out of their pasture.  Real fluffy wool on the sheep further define the foreground while the "cropped" trees, vertical fence posts, and horizontal checked and layered fabrics define the rest of the scene.
Kudos to the Lexington Library for hosting this "Folk Art/Art Quilts" exhibit and hopefully spring is just around the corner. 

Happy Quilting,