Jul 29, 2011

Bringing the midwest to Brooklyn, again.

This summer I learned how to do something new.  It's something that I have done a lot of times before but not really paid attention to.  I have made strawberry jam with my mom probably no less than ten times, but I've certainly never paid attention, if you know what I mean.  Despite her best efforts to explain, and despite my best efforts to read the directions and follow along, she was driving the operation, so it never seemed crucial that I entirely know what was going on.  My mom also lived not so far from Chicago, so Katy and I could count on a box full of canned goods each fall.  There really was no incentive to can my own foods.  There really wasn't room in the cupboard.  As long as we returned our jars every spring, a case filled with canned peaches, plums, pears, tomatoes, pickles, jams and chutneys arrived like clockwork every year.  Not to brag, but my mom's canned peaches are the absolute best.  If she were the type to enter them in a fair, I am sure that they would be blue ribbon worthy.
Then we moved to New York.  My mom got me my own canning equipment for my birthday, and I dove right in, first making pickles and then earlier this week, a delicious batch of Vanilla Plum Jam, a recipe I adapted from this version.  I have spent hours reading and rereading recipes to figure out the step by step process of preserving, and for someone like me who does not really follow a recipe so much as use it as a jumping off point, this was no small endeavor.  Especially this first jam, since the recipe was not written for preserving, so there was lots of cross referencing of other plum jam recipes involved.  So far, it's worth the effort.  I'm having so much fun.

If you've never canned before or if you have a small kitchen and can't imagine buying a huge canning pot, here's a bit of adivce; I have the Ball Canning Discovery Kit, and it fits right into our regular sized stock pot.  Well, almost.  Ours is a little small, so I took the handle off, but with jar lifters it works great, and holds three pint sized jars (maybe even four) or five 8 oz jars just fine.   For small batch preserving I love it.  I've found lots of great recipes with yields that fit my pot in this book.
My friend Kate made this recipe last year and said it was her favorite, so I figured it couldn't be bad.  Oh. My. God.  The vanilla mellows out the sour plums and it is so good.  So good that it felt like the jam deserved a cake, so I made a vanilla nutmeg cake to pour it over.  Not too shabby. 

How about you?  What are you preserving this summer?  Do you know of any great canning/ pickling blogs that I should know about?

Jul 28, 2011

New Library, New Pictures, and More.....

If you've been reading for a while, you might remember my post about one of my favorite places in Chicago, the Image Files at the Harold Washington Library.  What a treasure!  I recently discovered a similar collection here in New York, right across the street from the main branch of the New York Public Library.  I've been there a lot lately, pouring over lots of different things, researching this that and the other thing for a new body of work (more on that later).
This week I discovered something new; the postcard collection!  A wall of tiny little drawers, like card catalogs but a little bigger, lined up with categorically organized postcards.  It's a real dream come true. Take this anchor for example.  Amazing!  Embossed and beautiful and entirely original, with its senders birthday inscription still there after all these years.  What a collection.  I'm always drawn to sorting through the postcards at antique shops, but I've never seen so many (tens of thousands!) in one place.  A whole separate collection of holiday themed cards is housed elsewhere.  I left that treasure (Hello, my Sweet Valentine!) for another rainy or miserably hot day.    Thanks New York, for continually knocking my socks off. Even in sandal season.

Jul 27, 2011

Pinning Patterns

I stumbled across the rabbit hole that is Pinterest a few months ago.  One lazy spring Sunday, when I was probably waiting for the soup to finish cooking I innocently put together a few categories.  Several hours later I had acquired more than a few boards, & tons of images.  I liken it to thrift shopping.  Pinterest is about collecting.  A free kind of collecting, but a kind of collecting that nevertheless does take a lot of time.  If you're already wondering where the time you used to have before you met Facebook went, don't click on Pinterest.  And don't say I didn't warn you.  I am purposely not linking to it.  HOWEVER- I have been spending a lot of time looking at patterns lately, and it is certainly a great resource.  I have my own pattern board, which includes lots of Marimekko prints, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this while I was walking up Broadway last week.....
There is already a tiny little Marimekko shop at the Crate and Barrel on Houston, but a free standing shop right next to Eataly, and right around the corner from New York Cake and Baking Supply?  It's too much- a trifecta of goodness!  Slow down New York!

Jul 26, 2011

Something coming down the pike.....

There are a few workshops brewing, many that are under my hat for now, but one that I can tell you about, albeit far off.  In April I'll be traveling to California to visit my best friends teach a workshop at Teahouse Studios in Berkeley
I can't wait!  Their studios look like a bright sunny breath of fresh air, and I look forward to a weekend spent drawing and embroidering.   Perhaps you'll join me?  Here's the link to my class.

Jul 21, 2011

It's getting hot in here

When I went outside to sign for a package earlier today one thing was clear.  That was going to be the last time I stepped outside for the day.  It's hot here.  Way too hot for a northern state.  That heat dome that was in the midwest a few days ago?  Why couldn't you midwesterners keep it to yourselves?  Anyway.  I'm staying in where it's cool.
That's fine, because the studio is feeling good, and for me, summer is all about drawing.  Berry picking (so to speak) and storing up big ideas for winter.  I'm loving painting with gouache in my sketchbook these days.  What are you doing to stay out of the sun?

Jul 20, 2011

Wooden spools seek good home.

I'm cleaning out the studio again this week, organizing things that are just surfacing after teaching at Squam.  May and June (and part of JULY) were a blur- so much travel and teaching and art exhibiting.  It feels good to be in the studio again, but it's been a dumping ground for awhile and I'm getting to the bottom of it this week.  Counterspace is emerging!  I unearthed a bunch of samplers from the past that had accidentally expired over in the shop- so those are back up again.  If you saw Mary Jane Meckleson's post about the pink cake sampler, I found 18 more and they are now back in stock.   The chain stitch sampler is back in stock too in a few colors.  It's amazing what a little tidying up will find!
In other tidying news, I unearthed a small box of empty wooden thread spools.  I used all the thread already and have no interest in what's left.  Do you?  If you would like them, I'll happily mail them to you.  Just send me a message (rebeccaringquist (at) gmail) with your address.  First come, first served. The spools are headed home to Louisiana!

Finally- You have until Friday to enter to win a sampler of your choice from the shop- just upload a photo to the flickr pool (see link at right) of a sampler in progress- even if you've only completed one or two stitches!  Good luck.

Jul 19, 2011

Carrots and Beets

One of the things that I can not get used to around here is the huge difference in growing seasons between New York and Chicago.  Maybe I should say New Jersey and Michigan.  I used to read food magazines in Chicago and think how stupid it seemed for there to be recipes for corn and peaches in July.  Didn't they know, I thought (eyes rolling), that it's cool to eat seasonally?  I mean, corn and peaches are a late August treat, a back to school phenomenon.  Well, I keep smacking my own forehead in amazement every time I head out to the farmer's market this summer.  Peaches and Corn in the middle of July?  It's pretty great, but I feel really disoriented.
This weekend I broke in my new canner with two batches of pickles.  Rosemary Carrots and Spicy Golden (and Chiogga) Beets.  Hard telling what they taste like, but I'll let you know in August.
I had so much fun making both batches.  It took the better part of Saturday, but I loved every single part of the process.   Pickling really appeals to the part of me that is a squireler.  I really like to tuck things away for a rainy day.  I'm not a hoarder, but I do love knowing that there are delicious treats waiting in the cupboard.  I love the possibility that I could eat them at any time, and I'm positive that most of the time this prevents me from eating them until it's just the right moment.  I was the kid who could make her Easter candy last until half way through the summer.

Jul 18, 2011

Now on Facebook!

July Studio View
I created a facebook page this weekend.  Nothing will change around here, but I thought facebook would be a good way to quickly answer questions, post more frequent updates and highlights, and get to know my readers  (you!) a little.  You can get right to the Dropcloth page by clicking over on the facebook icon on the right.  Stop by and leave me a message- I'd love to hear from you! 

Jul 16, 2011

Browsing....and Giving Away!

I am always so pleasantly surprised when, every so often, I take a minute to glace at the sampler flickr group.  You can too; over there on the right there's a button.  In progress or even finished embroidery in all different sorts of colors and combinations march across the page.  It's fun to look- some of those stitches are really incredible! To those of you who covered huge areas in satin stitch- yowza, I'm loving the thick colors.
All of this is to say that I love seeing all of your takes on my designs.  It sure does make me want to draw.  Another design is coming down the pike soon I do believe.  Stay tuned.  If you've got a picture of your own work, please do upload it to the group.  I can't wait to see it- leave a comment so I know it's coming over!
These little snippets of stitching are Bonnie's- started in the Stitch Dictionary class I taught at Squam last month.  I love the blanket stitched apple.  You can see more of Bonnie's work, including her beautiful knitwear patterns over at her blog, bluepenninsula.

After taking a good long look this morning, I realized that there really aren't that many examples of the newest samplers in the pictures.  So, if you've got one that you're willing to upload, leave me a message about it here, and I'll enter your name into a drawing for another sampler of your choice from the shop.  Comments will stay open until Friday at 9 am, when I'll announce the winner.   If you've got more than one sampler that you're working on, by all means, enter twice, enter three times!  Just leave a comment(s) so I know what's what (don't forget to include your e-mail so I can contact you if you WIN!)  Good luck, and thanks for posting!

Jul 15, 2011

What took me so long?

I'm not sure why I waited so long to head to Brighton Beach, but yesterday was the day.  I headed out for a walk and it felt like a real Michigan morning.  Cool, no humidity.  Could it be true?  In Brooklyn?   I raced through my to do list, shoved all the necessities into a beach bag, and ran to the Q train.  As it turns out, only 30 minutes from my house is a beautiful Atlantic beach, which I knew, but hadn't really figured out until yesterday. 
I mean, sure, there's a lot of broken glass in the sand, but still, a real beach, with sea shells, sunbathers, big waves and all!  And, after walking a long ways, suddenly there is something else; Coney Island!
I can't wait to go back and ride the swings.  They go up so high, I'm sure you can see almost all the way to England.
Just you try to go there and not take a million photographs.  Especially on a really sunny day like yesterday. 

Jul 13, 2011

So long, Cy Twombly.....

I am so sad to learn today that Cy Twombly died last week.  I love his paintings so much.
 A few years ago when I was a visiting artist at Southern Methodist University, my friend Rebecca drove the two of us down to Houston to check out the Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil; a whole museum full of his paintings.  It was amazing.
And it was a real thrill when the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing opened with a room full of Twomblys work.  I spent many lunch hours in that gallery, sitting with his huge paintings.  Rest In Peace, Cy Twombly.  Thank you so much for painting.

Jul 11, 2011

One Thing I'm Loving in NYC Right Now

Katy and I rode our bikes to Fairway yesterday, and even though it is a pretty amazing grocery store, I was even more excited about the views from their parking lots.  In a nearby park we found this....
I can't wait to go back on Thursday for the barge tour. 
Just when I was starting to feel the heat a little too much, a bike ride to the water really helped.  In the harbor we saw a cruise ship bigger than my hometown, sailboats, a huge tug, and lots and lots of taxis.  The breeze felt so good.
Here's to enjoying summer.

Jul 8, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Well, look at that.  I did it for a year!  The blog turns one year old today.  Check out this link to read about how it all started. 
I think I'll keep on writing and keeping you abreast of the goings on around the studio.  Thanks for reading!  Since sampler sales are what started this blog  in the first place, I thought that in honor of the big event I'd throw you all a coupon for *free shipping* over at the shop this weekend.  Just use the code HAPPYANNIVERSARY to activate your discount when you're checking out.  I'll leave it up until Monday at noon (EST).   Thank you so much for all your comments this year, and a big thank you for supporting my work!

*Special thanks to my sweet friend Kate for the cakes.  They were filled with her own Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, and they were so good!

Jul 6, 2011

Home again and back in business

I'm back in Brooklyn, baby.  And I'm happy to say that those Stitch Dictionary Samplers that so many of you have been asking about are back in stock.  Hooray!   Just in time for that trip to the beach you've been planning......
While cruising around reacquainting myself with the internet today, I stumbled across a finished version of the Knot Sampler by my friend Sarah.  We met at Squam last year, and she came back again this year to take the knots class.  Here she is working on it from the dock...

Her complete version is amazing, and far more finished than the one that I've got going.  Check out her post about it here.