Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect

On Christmas Eve Day, my husband and I went downtown to see this exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

Even if you don’t know who Andrew Wyeth is, you probably have seen an image of “Christina’s World,” commonly seen in college dorm rooms, including mine back in 1977.


This was not included in the exhibit, except as a small photo on one of the explanatory placards for another painting.

The exhibit did, however, include another iconic painting, “Braids.”


Many, if not most, of the pieces in the exhibit were meticulously rendered in egg tempera, and featured muted palettes of earth tones. Even when Wyeth did incorporate some color outside this range, they tended to be pale, as in the pink of Christina’s dress in “Christina’s World.”

Two paintings that employed more vibrant colors were “Snow Hill” and “Garret Room,” with the bright ribbons on the former and the patchwork quilt in the latter.

One aspect of the paintings that is difficult, if not impossible, to capture in a photograph is how Wyeth paints fine details such as grass and hair.

When I peered closely at “Trodden Weed,” the blades of grass are communicated not so much by individual strokes of color, but rather the texture created by the individual hairs in the artist’s brush stroking through the paint on the hardboard panel.


Like I said, hard to capture in a photograph. You really need to be able to get up close and see the small shadows cast by the brushstrokes.

A couple Wyeth’s early watercolors were included, sharply contrasting with the painting style for which he is most well known.

wyeth watercolor

“Coming Storm”

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My New Obsession

I first tried my hand at English paper piecing a little more than a year ago, and discovered that I really enjoyed it.

After completing this sampler quilt, for which I did a fair bit of hand piecing, I decided it would be fun to make some Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks to use up some of the floral prints from my stash.


I’m using purchased hexagon templates, which measure just over 2-1/2″ from side to side. The resulting unit measures about 13″ across — a pretty respectable size.

I have figured out that my stitches can be — should be — very tiny — just one or two threads from each hexagon.


Any more than that, and the stitches are too obvious from the front.


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No Spark of Joy

Yesterday, we cleared out the little closet in our kitchen that we call the pantry, disposed of some items that were well past their “best-used-by” date, and put the rest back in a more organized manner.

It was kind of amazing how much space we freed up by getting rid of some foodstuffs that we were obviously never going to use or eat, such as a box of Softasilk cake flour and a half-full tin of McCann’s steel cut oats.

Among other things that we pulled out was a tray with three (of an original four) plastic containers that had belonged to my mother.

3 containers 2

I remember these from my childhood, and she probably continued to use them until she moved out of the retirement cottage she and my dad had lived in after they sold their house, and she no longer kept her own kitchen.

Her refrigerator was always so organized. She always knew exactly where everything was — a place for everything and everything in its place.

I am like her in some ways, but definitely not this. There is some consistency to where things are placed in my refrigerator; for instance, the milk is always on the middle shelf on the right, the eggs are always just below them on the bottom shelf, the lettuce is always in the right-hand crisper drawer, and the cheese lives in the cheese drawer (mostly).

Other than that, anything else could be anywhere, and where it was yesterday may not be where it is today.

I just put things wherever there is room.

I can’t say now why I acquired these containers. I suppose it was with the idea that I might use them.

Which I never did.

Now, I don’t think I want to. The plastic has, with age, developed a kind of unpleasant stickiness.

On the bottom are stamped the words:

Reliance Ware

Freezer-Refrigerator Container

Reliance Molded Plastics Inc.

Pawtucket, R.I.


A Google search turned up no such company still existing.

However, I did find this patent application for a safety pin design.

I’m a long way from being a convert to the KonMari method of decluttering, but I think I can bid farewell to these well-used containers and send them on their way.





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Mending a Doll

I don’t recall how I happened to come into the possession of this old doll of my mom’s.

I don’t know why she still happened to have it, to be able to pass it on to me.

It is very old. Considering that my mom was born in 1918, I’m guessing it dates to the 1920s or ’30s.


It comes with a rocking cradle, that I believe my mom made in a manual arts class in junior high.

Considering its age, it is in pretty good shape — except for the hands.

Several weeks ago, when I retrieved it at my daughter’s request from the box it had been stored in for the past several years, I saw how badly the hands had deteriorated.

I emailed pictures to two or three doll restorers that I found on the web. What I learned was that the doll body was most likely made of “Magic Skin,” which doesn’t age well and is really not repairable or restorable.

A doll restorer in Idaho told me that the only option for repair or restoration was to replace the whole body with a “replacement vintage vinyl body” which would cost  $100 to $125.

I passed this information on to my daughter, who expressed the opinion that, if we did that, it wouldn’t be the same doll.

Can’t say as I disagreed.

But I just couldn’t leave her in her sad condition. I had to do something.

I tried to think of what I could apply to her hands to keep them from falling apart worse than they already had. And I settled on Mod Podge.

The right hand was in much worse shape. It was so fragile that any handling just made it crumble more. I tried as best I could to arrange it so what edges were left more or less aligned, but I can’t say I did a great job.

I gently brushed on a layer of Mod Podge, and left it to dry overnight.

It worked about as well as I hoped. It won’t stand up to anything more than the most gentle handling, but at least the hand is what I would call “stabilized.”

Then I did the left hand.




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Making Progress

Sometimes, it takes me a really long time to finish something.

In this case, the project in question has been set aside for nearly a year.

I purchased the kit for a sweater about two-and-a-half years ago. I’m not sure when I finally started knitting it, but I know it wasn’t right away.

Last November, I had finished knitting the two halves.

I’ve not seamed many knitted things, so I wanted a day when I could really devote time and mental energy to the next step of sewing the front and back together. Several months ago, it looked like I would be having such a day, but then I got sick.

By the time I recovered, the regular busy routine of life had resumed and the opportunity had passed.

Until today.

Ana sweater


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Two Quilts

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you may know that I am always working on multiple projects.

Currently, I am stitching a hand pillow, there’s a kitty ready to stuff, I just turned the heel on a sock, I have a Storm at Sea quilt top on my design wall, I just began quilting the big-ass Maple Leaf quilt, and a few days ago, I made the last of a set of 90 blocks, (here’s one, a couple more, and another). Here is the whole stack.

batik blocks

Each block is supposed to be 8-1/2″ square, including the seam allowance. They’re all pretty close to that, but there is some variability. So I will need to address this issue when I piece them into a top. I have an idea for sashing that I think may solve this small problem. Check back later, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

I had trouble deciding how I wanted to quilt the Maple Leaf quilt. I quilt one of the big, 12-inch blocks with a leaf motif.

leaf quilting

It’s okay, but I found it a little dull.

For the second block, I freehanded a feather-y pattern.

maple leaf

I think I like that better, although it will work only for the bigger blocks.

I’m also outline quilting the background spaces, and filling in some of the larger square and triangles with little floral designs.

maple leaf 2

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Things I Now Cook in the Oven

I’m not sure what prompted me initially to Google “Cooking bacon in the oven,” or something close to that.

But I did, and in a small way, it has changed my life.

I used to fry bacon on the stovetop in a skillet, which is a somewhat time-consuming, labor-intensive method. The way I do it, I am constantly monitoring the progress, turning the bacon strips over and over, making sure it gets just crispy enough, but not too crispy.

But cooking it in the oven is So. Much. Easier.

Various recipes on the interwebs will vary slightly, but here’s one that’s pretty straightforward and is pretty much how I do it.  It works for both strip bacon and cottage bacon. (Cottage bacon is leaner and, where we buy at at the Fred Meyer meat counter, is more or less round in shape, which makes it perfect for bacon cheeseburgers.)


(Every so often, though, I will still buy strip bacon and fry it on the stovetop. I do this, because it is a better way to render the fat and pour it into a glass jar to save in the refrigerator for when I make corn muffins, using my grandmother’s recipe. I’ve tried other types of shortening in the past, but they’re just better when I use bacon drippings.)

Then, earlier this year, it occurred to me, Can I make hamburgers in the oven? Why, yes, yes I can.

And they’re So. Much. Better. Juicy, not dry and carbonized. Twenty minutes at 350 to 375 degrees (our oven runs a little cool), turned once at 10 minutes. Then finished off under the broiler to melt the cheese. (Plus, you can cook up all the patties and save the extras for later.)

Then today, I asked myself, well, how about corn on the cob? Well, yes!

Roasting them with the husks on probably works better if you have time to soak them for a few hours. Otherwise, you can wrap them in foil.

Let’s just say that tonight’s dinner was perfect-o!






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