Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dee Stark

What...you hadn't met this fascinating person?

Dee's Ebay store description is still up...I don't know how long. It's your chance.

Rest in peace, friend.

http://cgi3.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewUserPage&userid=dee_stark

Remembering A Friend - Dee Stark

One of Crazy quilting's more interesting characters is gone: Dee Stark died suddenly Feb. 18. She was only 43.

I first met Dee while teaching at Nancy Kirk's CRAZY QUILT SOCIETY conference: http://www.crazyquilt.com . She was flamboyant and colorful, full of opinions -- and the first and only person to speak up and lecture ME...while I was lecturing!

Dee's research skills were amazing, and she was always willing to share. She was the first one to find strong evidence of the Japanese presence in Crazy quilting centuries before the Centennial Exhibition ever happened. And she found Russian ties, too... my CRAZY QUILTS book benefitted from her comments and insights.

She was bossy. And thoughtful. Generous. Silly. Warm. Excellent Taste. Beautifully dressed. Outstanding techniques in embellishments and quiltmaking.

She kept me thinking, and I will always remember our long talks in her hotel room while practically everyone else in the place was sleeping. Her book on symbolism in Crazies sits on my bookshelf, and the package of King George souvenir buttons I bought from her is in my workbox. Dee loved buttons --in fact, she collected anything unusual, especially if it was connected with the Victorian age.

In short, she was one of those intelligent, exciting people you rarely come across in life. A fine Crazy quilter, she taught all over the country, as well as in England and France.

She had moved out of a bad marriage in recent months, and was living in a small apartment in New York, closer to her parents. She was gradually cutting her possessions down to the essentials, while continuing to write and teach. (You may recognize her from her company, Victorian Handicrafts.) Her health had not been good for years, and she recently lost a beloved pet.

She loved her privacy, and would disappear a month or two off the radar while working on something. I'd last spoken to her around Christmas, and was planning to be back in touch "when I caught up with paperwork." And now she's gone. A good reminder to me about what was really important -- I would have given up hours of paperwork to be able to e-mail Dee one last time.

I will miss her dearly.

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February 25, 2008

Stark, Dee - Delia Elaine 'Dee' Stark, 43, of Clifton Springs died unexpectedly on February 18, 2008. A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday (March 9) at Woodlane Community Church in Newark. Delia was an accomplished pianist and had played at several area churches. She was a member of Finger Lakes chorale. Delia was a self-taught seamstress and taught quilting in Rochester, Nebraska, California, England, and France. Her specialty was 'crazy quilting.' She is survived by her mother and stepfather, Janet and Dick Norsen of Newark; her father, Richard VanHousen of Clifton Springs Nursing Home; stepmother, Gladys VanHousen of Phelps; brother Daniel (Donna) VanHousen of Webster; nephew and niece, David and Deena VanHousen; husband, David Stark of Albany; stepdaughter, Kristen (Scott) Bater of Holley; aunts, uncles, cousins, and co-workers at Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic. Memorials in Delia's name many be sent to the Humane Society.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Blewwwwwwws

It is blowing great guns out there. One little-known reality about Colorado: we have these insane winds that take no prisoners. They howl around the house, and even the boys (our Weimaraners) look alarmed. Normally I don't mind the extra wind, unless there are quilts on the line or we're headed somewhere. The combination of trying to drive alongside the mountains, and getting your car buffeted back and forth with every turn, is not a pretty one.

I grew up in Michigan, where high winds usually signaled 'tornado.' And that's what I think, nearly every single time. I haven't headed for the basement yet...but I think about it!

An extremely good site for your Favorites list:

http://www.moneysavingmom.com

She has coupons, specials and freebies that get added to nearly every day. And they're good ones, too! Head there now, and you'll learn about getting a box of pasta FREE on Feb. 29, Leap Year Day.

Now I think I'll go out and look for the sheets that were on the line. Last I checked, they were headed west to Kansas.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More from yesterday...

Did you get a chance to read Sharon Jasper's sad, sad story? Even at this very moment, she is probably bemoaning her rundown apartment somewhere. Maybe we should take her up on her offer in the article -- and get her a tent, instead! I'll donate the first buck.

Would it be better if every state instituted a set amount of time for welfare benefits...and during that time, the recipients would be required to train for jobs, further their education (a GED is not that hard), as well as work doing SOMETHING? Sometimes you need help to get back on your feet -- I understand that. It's not easy. But our national and state budgets would benefit greatly if that help was TEMPORARY. 2-3 years, tops.

I just finished a remarkable book by Adam Shepard called SCRATCH BEGINNINGS. (Take a look at his website, http://www.scratchbeginnings.com .) Adam set himself an interesting task: taking the clothes on his back, a sleeping bag and tarp, $25, and a one-way ticket to Charleston, Adam pledged to have a job, an apartment, a vehicle, and $2500 in his bank account within a year. He didn't accomplish it -- he had all that, plus an additional $2500 in savings, by 10 months, when his mother's cancer forced him to give up the experiment and return home.

How did he do it? Making good use of a community shelter, using public and free programs, and SAVING. Dollar by dollar by dollar. Along the way, he meets people who are succeeding...and those who aren't. It's a quick, exciting read with lots of good ideas for saving money, even when your income is cut to the scraped bone. (Sometimes Adam only made $25 for 8 hours of work in a day.)

SCRATCH BEGINNINGS is not expensive. I plan to get a copy for my college-age nephew, who is just starting to find his way, and my girlies.

You can also read an interview with Adam at the http://www.getrichslowly.org site. It will be fascinating to see what this kid is doing in a decade or two!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Care to Be Outraged?

Take a look at the horrible, awful, no-good, very bad situation of Ms. Jasper in this article:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/jasper.asp

Don't let the 'satire' subtitle fool you -- a substantial part of this 'welfare queen' profile is TRUE.

I've got more to say on the subject, including a fascinating new book by Adam Shepard...but it's after midnight. And I'm pooped. (Too many books...I see books stacked here. Everywhere. And they're heavy!)

tomorrow...

Crazy Quilts -- books and reviews!

Well. A staffer and I spent nearly all day autographing, wrapping and packing CRAZY QUILTS books for shipment ... yes, the pre-pub special is going that well. But I feel exhausted...it's been a pretty day, but guess who stayed inside...

Reviews are starting to crop up! Here are some:

Betty Pillsbury (a fine Crazy quilter in her own right):
http://www.greenspiralherbs.blogspot.com/

Mark Lipinski (who I will be a guest blogger for sometime soon):
http://www.marklipinski.com

Violette Severin:
http://www.handquilting.blogspot.com/

All in all, extremely encouraging.

If you'd like a copy of CRAZY QUILTS for your own, come visit the Brickworks site:
http://www.cindybrick.com

We'd be happy to send a copy your way for only $23.95, including shipping! (And yes, we accept Paypal, Visa or Mastercard, and checks or money orders. Your choice.) I'd love to finish off that stack of rapidly diminishing packages!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Birthdays...and Leftovers

Dave's birthday was yesterday. For a guy who's generally amazingly patient, tolerant of all sorts of shenanigans and chaos around him, and surprisingly sweet for such a big 'tough guy' -- well, I just had to do SOMETHING for him. The girlies both agreed to meet us for a birthday supper at the local steak restaurant...a feat in itself. (They both have different jobs -- Jess is in school full-time -- and their schedules rarely coincide.)

So...we get there. Supper was great. (At Black Angus - don't miss the "2for" specials, which are a terrific deal if you order the most expensive appetizer and dessert. By the time you're done, you've paid less than $22 for steak and all the fixings, plus appetizer and dessert. Almost unheard of nowadays.)

And, after waddling through the appetizer and part of the meal, knowing dessert was coming, I put half of the entree and fixings away. (So did Dave. The girlies, being thinner and younger -- 19 and 21 -- shoveled in nearly everything, but took doggie boxes home, too.)

Dave wanted a Sachertorte (a chocolate Austrian cake) for his birthday. But the girlies couldn't drive back home with us to light the candles and have some cake there. So I packed up the cake in the back of the Jeep. There we all were, the girls & me trying to light the candles on the cake in the parking lot -- a brisk wind fighting us all the way. And Dave laughing at his silly women!

We finally got it -- and Dave blew the candles out a few seconds later. (And then we promptly packed the cake BACK in the Jeep, and took off for home!) And it was one of the few moments in my life when I knew that an action that made me look both eccentric & silly also told my husband how deeply I loved him...and he knew it. Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

This morning showed that the combined contents of our doggie boxes could make two extra meals! First, the baked potatoes, leftover veggies and the lesser quality steak were cubed, some onion added, and the whole shebang fried in a few tablespoons of olive oil. The result: Steak Hash. (And delicious.)

I have one more half-steak left -- enough to slice thinly and flavor a pot of potato soup. With cheese and sour cream added, it becomes Steak and Baked Potato soup...yum. It could also be sliced thin and layered on a whole-grain roll, with a slather of mustard, for a steak sandwich. (Ooh, I shouldn't have written that...)

One thing I've learned: never leave ANYTHING on your plate at a restaurant. (Even kale garnish makes a terrific soup when combined with chicken broth, chopped onion & potato, and slices of bratwurst.) Even if it's only a cupful of something, that food can often be added to or expanded into another meal. And because you've already paid for it, it's a free one!

Are these leftovers great at lunch, as well as supper? You bet. I found this discussion of 'lunch at the office' full of leftover ideas...
http://www.cleverdude.com/content/frugal-lunch-by-clever-dudette/

Now that the fun's over, I'm back to work. Did some appraising this morning -- now on to finishing up some reports (sigh) and doing some promo work for CRAZY QUILTS. (Which is still doing amazingly well.) At least it's gray skies again, so I don't feel like going out and wandering around...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Want to Learn More About Frugality?

Try this blog...and the various sources it lists -- great.

http://jwards.blogspot.com/2008/02/works-for-me-frugal-websites.html

A wonderful President's Day, sleeping in, curled up against the darling husband. Peace. Quiet. Even calm! It's not often we get a chance to just lay around and TALK to each other. Bliss.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lazy Sunday...

Yesterday was warm, sunny -- a hint of what's coming -- the S----- word! (I hesitate to say it, for fear that Those Who Know will promptly sentence us to months more of ice and cold.)

True to form, we've got snow pouring out of the heavens, followed by a glimpse of sun, followed by snow...

Sigh.

Anyhow, it's a great time to snuggle with Dave and Think About Things. Like being thrilled about CRAZY QUILTS on the Amazon bestseller list. It's gone as high as #4, so far, on the Hobbies/Reference and Hobbies/Quilting list. But every time I get all pumped up about it, the numbers go down. Kind of God's way of slapping you upside the head and pasting the humility label on.

It's still doing great...still in the top 20!

Next is watching movies. Try "Premonition." This amazing Sandra Bullock movie suffered from bad reviews -- but it didn't deserve them. If you have ever sensed something before it actually happened, though, it is going to be an uncomfortable ride.

Homemade pizza is on the docket -- way better than purchased. And it's easy:

1 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
shake of salt
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (these are optional, but delicious)
2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups flour (use a spare handful of whole wheat, then white flour for the rest)

1 small can tomato sauce (or approx. 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons pizza spices (or sprinkle over oregano, basil, garlic and/or pepper flakes)
2 cups mozzarella cheese

possible toppings:
3 mushrooms, sliced thin (or 1 small can)
1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
3 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup chopped ham
2 bratwurst or 4 breakfast sausages (I use leftovers from breakfast)
1/2 cup pepperoni slices
1 cup peeled/de-tailed shrimp
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Making the pizza dough:

mix the water, sugar, yeast and sesame seeds and let "proof" for 10 min. until bubbly.

Mix in enough flour to make a bread dough, then punch/mix it ("kneading") for a few minutes. (You may need a little more to keep the dough from being sticky while you knead it.) Wash your hands, wipe them dry, then drape the damp towel over the bowl with the dough.

Let rise for at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. At this point, you can use the pizza dough, or punch down and let it rise all day.

Making the pizza:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Punch down the dough, knead it for a little bit, then divide in half. Using your palms to stretch the dough out, shape one dough ball into a circle on a greased pizza pan or a 9 x 13 pan. Bake this pan while you start stretching out the second ball of dough.

**This is the important difference between a crisp, chewy crust and a soggy one. Check the baking pizza crust after 5-7 min., when the crust is set and will stay in one piece when you slide it off the pan. While the crust is still hot, spread half of the tomato sauce, then put on whatever toppings your little heart desires. Sprinkle on the spices, top with half the cheese, then sprinkle more spices on.

Quick -- slide the pizza back onto one of your oven racks, and close the door. (Yes, you bake it directly on the oven rack.) Finish shaping the remaining dough on the hot pizza pan, and put it in the oven, as well. Repeat from ** for Pizza crust #2; by this time, Pizza #1 should be crisp and bubbly. Serve it up!

Makes 2 wonderfully crackly-crusted pizzas -- 16 slices -- enough for 4, with leftovers. (The Breakfast of Champions)

This recipe is great for using up leftover meats and raw veggies. For another great version, substitute cream cheese, sour cream or ranch dressing for the tomato sauce...substitute swiss, cheddar or pepperjack cheese...and use ham, green pepper, or even celery chunks. Parmesan cheese sprinkled over is also great.

Pizza dough also makes a terrific calzone -- you'll get about four from this batch. Separate into 4 balls, make circles and add pizza ingredients -- then fold each circle in half and press the edges with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees on a greased pan for 20-30 min. Serve with a side of pizza or tomato sauce -- Yum!

Time for a fire in the fireplace, a snuggle next to ma man, and a terrific movie. "Sneakers," maybe. Hope your Sunday is a peaceful one, too.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Snowing!

A few inches on the ground...more expected. The first storm we've had for more than a week. Strange, compared to last winter, where we had snowstorms every few days. And really strange, compared to Michigan, which has had huge storms for the past month.

Our Denver forecasters, bless their li'l hearts, predicted a dry winter with little white stuff. We've had a little more than the norm -- and our neighbors to the south have been INUNDATED. So much for predictions! Actually, I believe more in the 5-7/7 theory, which Colorado weather seems to follow... we often have 5-7 snowy/wet years (well, wet for us out here in the 'high desert' plains and mountains) that are followed by 5-7 dry ones. Last year was Blizzard City. And some years before that, we had big storms and lots of bare ground in between.

So hopefully this is the start of lots of moisture to come. Maybe I can grow some decent tomatoes this year!

CRAZY QUILTS keeps on chugging. The day before its 'official' publication (Feb. 15), my editor said it has sold just a few dozen short of 2,000 copies -- whoo hoo!

I am so grateful.

Want your own copy? We're still offering these as a nice pre-pub special: $23.95, and that includes free shipping. (The book normally retails for $29.95.) Hard cover, 160 pages, dozens & dozens of color and b&w illustrations. Plus not only a good long look at Crazy history and related styles (the first since the 1984 book, sadly long out of print) -- but a big section on how to make a Crazy, several different ways!

Take a look at the Brickworks website: http://www.cindybrick.com

Now on to finish up some appraisal reports, do some ironing...and dinner for Dave. Baked potato, a steak (now marinating in balsamic vinegar, best olive oil and garlic). Stir fry vegetables -- and for dessert, a huge heart-shaped sugar cookie for my favorite Valentine. Who gave me a lovely flowering peach/yellow streaked rosebush. What a guy.

Happy Valentine's Day to YOU, friend.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter, winter, winter

Ok, it's Monday.

And the sun is shining...sort of. It's actually dreary by Colorado standards. But compared to week before last in Michigan, when I briefly saw blue sky on Tuesday -- and that was about it for the week -- it's wonderful here.

I am tired. The nasty cold I brought home from Michigan is still hanging around. Piles of stuff are still everywhere (though diminishing). And it's still winter. Chunky gray ice in the driveway, great for tripping over and dropping things.

On the plus side, I am finally beginning to make progress...and we have sold a ton of CRAZY QUILTS books.

Musn't grumble, as the Brits say.

Here's an interesting comparison look at the candidates' finances:

http://www.bankrate.com/nltrack/news/pf/20080128_candidates_issues_choices_a1.asp

Although if things are starting to sound over-rehearsed this early in the game, what's Life in Politics going to be like, come September?

And two frugal sites that are interesting -- and wonderful at times, too.

http://www.likemerchantships.blogspot.com
(The best for frugal decorating ideas that look like a million bucks)

http://www.lentilsandrice.blogspot.com
(Sometimes a bit too ascetic, but considering the piles of STUFF I clamber over, it would be refreshing to be dealing with bare floors sometimes)

And back to work for me.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Still Alive and Kicking...

Yes, I'm still here.

Spent last week in Michigan with the folks -- my dad, sick with bone cancer, started a new round of chemo. Michigan had blizzard after blizzard last week...and considering the folks had an appointment somewhere every day of the week, it was was interesting, to say the least.

Got home just in time to see the last few minutes of the Superbowl...and brought home a cold as a souvenir. Oh goody.

I'll be in touch in the next day or so.

Happy Weekend

      Making progress...finally! Still behind -- but not as much. As usual, life at Chez Brick is anything but simple:      *Son #1 is ban...