Sunday, November 17, 2013

Finished! Tropical Colors Baby Quilt

Click to see larger picture

This is a quick shot my son took last night of my fabulous Tropical Colors Baby quilt. Last night was the gift-giving moment (of course I had just finished it a mere two hours before show time, a new record for me.)
It's my very own design, backed with lime green Minkee and so soft and cuddly I didn't want to give it away.
The sherbet-y pastels are from the Fairy Frost collection, and the center squares are fussy cut 6 inches squares of various tropically themed fabrics. No two blocks are alike, because I get bored making blocks that are alike. I like how my design worked so much I might even make another one (not exactly alike, because that would be boring), but enough so I can write down the process, make a pattern and save it so I can remember what I did.
Now that my "Obligation Sewing" is finished, I can do something fun. Not that this wasn't fun., but I hate deadlines and I am a perfectionist, so the stress of trying to be perfect can be a little wearing.
Have you ever made something you hated to give away? Did you keep it? Or give it away?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Finkbeiner Test For Everything

I have a modest proposal. Let's apply the Finkbeiner test for everything. Not just Science. You may remember the The New York Times' obituary for Yvonne Brill, a pioneering woman scientist. In the first paragraph the Times discussed how she was a good cook and mother. They didn't even discuss her achievements until later in the piece. After public shaming, they later went back and removed the good cook part, but left the good mom part in the first paragraph. The obituary originally said:  "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children".[10]  (Please note that we know next to nothing about whether or not Werner von Braun was a good dad, or if he could make a good stroganoff..)

The important info came in the middle of the article
"Mrs. Brill — she preferred to be called Mrs., her son said — is believed to have been the only woman in the United States who was actually doing rocket science in the mid-1940s, when she worked on the first designs for an American satellite.
It was a distinction she earned in the face of obstacles, beginning when the University of Manitoba in Canada refused to let her major in engineering because there were no accommodations for women at an outdoor engineering camp, which students were required to attend.
You just have to be cheerful about it and not get upset when you get insulted,” she once said.
Mrs. Brill’s development of a more efficient rocket thruster to keep orbiting satellites in place allowed satellites to carry less fuel and more equipment and to stay in space longer. The thrusters have the delicate task of maneuvering a weightless satellite that can tip the scales at up to 5,000 pounds on Earth."
Myself, I'd like to hear more about her achievements and less about her mothering skills. The Times did not explain WHY the satellite achievement was important, but if they had thought about that for ten seconds and stopped thinking about her casseroles, they would have realized that our entire modern global communications systems and weather predictions depend on these satellites. Wow, you're saying, that's important stuff. Yes, it is, and the Times just says: "Mrs. Brill patented her propulsion system for satellites in 1972, and the first communications satellite using it was launched in 1983. It is still being used by satellites that handle worldwide phone service, long-range television broadcasts and other tasks." So why did this woman not have a Nobel Prize? 

In related sexism news, Janet Yellen gave masterful testimony this week in Congress, and all some yahoo at Roll Call can say is that he's seen her suit before. It doesn't matter that she is a well-respected scholar, Professor and Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful people in the world. No. What matters is that she wore the same suit twice. Now I myself think that shows good common sense. Why waste time and money on dumb boring suits when you have better things to do - say, saving the world economy? True confession time. I have worn the same suit to multiple interviews. 

So let's apply the Finkbeiner test. The test states:
To pass the test, an article about a female scientist must not mention:
  • The fact that she’s a woman
  • Her husband’s job
  • Her child care arrangements
  • How she nurtures her underlings
  • How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
  • How she’s such a role model for other women
  • How she’s the "first woman to..."[1]

Wow, it looks like Roll Call, the New York Times and the Washington Post all flunked.

Here's a simple way to remember what not to do: if you would not say it about a man, don't say it about a woman.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

WANTED: Federal Reserve Barbie

Somebody Spot Janet Yellen Some New Threads

Sometimes I read something so sexist I have to hand it to someone else and verify, that YES, this is the most sexist thing said today.
This article made me go into volcanic flamethrower sexist misandry overdrive. (also Google dictionary says that Misandry is not a word. Nice try, Google boys.)
So the Roll Call Neanderthal thinks that the Vice Chairman's clothes need a refresh?

Somebody Spot Janet Yellen Some New Threads

Maybe it hasn't occurred to him that not all women are here to dress for his entertainment? Don't make me show you 23 pictures of Ben Bernanke, Fashion Icon in his gray three piece suit. Also when is he going to Do Something with that beard?
If you need a definition of misogyny, it's in the link above. Professor Yellen, stay just the way you are.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Scary Recipes III: The Big Chestnut Lie

Anyone who grew up reading English Children’s literature might be forgiven for holding the chestnut in high culinary esteem, even though said child might never have actually eaten a chestnut. They are spoken of with reverence; they are part of the cuisine of Little Women, Mrs. Appleyard, and ancien regime France. There are recipes in Escoffier. They are in Dickens. They are the European nut of fairy tales. Imagine Mont Blanc puddings, and the elegant marron glaces. M.F.K. Fisher ate them . French courtesans ate them. They have gravitas, culinarily speaking.
Imagine a newish bride. This literary bride likes to cook fun stuff for her husband, who is equally glad to eat her experiments. She grew up reading all about the romantic chestnuts while living in the sunny beach towns of Southern California. There are no chestnuts in Southern California. California is the land of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios (all of which are delicious in stuffings). Chestnuts are Romantic!  This new bride finds a jar of shelled chestnuts at Wiliams-Sonoma. Imagine her innocent excitement. Notwithstanding the fact that they look like little dried shriveled brains, she buys them and decides that she will make Turkey with Chestnut Dressing. Just like Dickens! It’s Historical! Everyone will LOVE it!  
There are times, Patrick O’Brian once wrote, that hopes are raised only to be dashed.
The dressing is made, the turkey is roasted. The table is set, the eaters are ready to plunge into their fancy gourmet dressing. One after another, after a few bites, they politely start picking around the lumps of chestnut to eat the otherwise delicious dressing. Chestnuts, it turns out, are evil. They have an unfortunate texture and an unappealing flavor.  They taste like earthy moldy soggy lumps of yuckiness. It is decided by all that Europeans used to eat them because they had no other alternatives, (like pecans, for example.) They must have been desperate! They had no other choices! Ever afterward, the chestnut debacle  (they were both expensive and disgusting) is referred to in hushed tones whenever one of us wants to try something iffy - remember how those chestnuts turned out, we warn. It’s been thirty years and all of us who were at that dinner are still in agreement: the chestnut will never darken our kitchen door again.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Freestyle Fishing

We interrupt our Holiday Food Trolling to show you a pretty fish quilt I made, inspired by the fish in Susan Carlson's book, Freestyle Quilts.

Every single person who came in my office walked over to this piece and flipped it over to look at the back so here are some shots of the back, where you can see the quilting:

And some close ups:
See the daisy? See the artichoke?

Make sure you look at the quilts on Susan's website; they are amazing.
My kids love this fish quilt, because it's made out of flowers and vegetables.
They show it off, saying,: "Look, there's corn! There is an artichoke!"
Susan's method reminds me of Matisse, but with fabric scraps. Of course, doing these encourages my tendency of saving scraps too small to be saved.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Scary Recipes II: The Dreaded Sweet Potato Marshmallow Conspiracy

Sweet Potato Casserole II Recipe

Every Thanksgiving, I used to dread this dessert masquerading as a vegetable. I suspect the corporate chefs at Kraft Marshmallow World Domination Headquarters  dreamed this up as part of their plot to put marshmallows into every part of the meal. My parents, having grown up in Buffalo during the 40s and 50s thought this was a traditional dish. They always used canned sweet potatoes, lots of brown sugar and those teeny marshmallows. I never knew that sweet potatoes existed outside of the canned form until I went away to college. I thought I didn't like them, until I met some done in a Thai curry. It turns out what I didn't like was all that brown sugar syrup and marshmallows all over the sweet potatoes.
My parents were of the school that children had to eat some of everything and clean their plates. One was not allowed to decline certain dishes; that was considered "fussy". How happy I was when I was older and could strategically avoid them!
Are you a sweet potato and marshmallow fan? Is Thanksgiving not complete for you without a side of these? Or are you part of the Sweet Potato Liberation Army?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scary Recipes: Vol I Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole Pie

While poking around on Pinterest, this horrifying vision appeared. Not just the horrible,no-good, very bad, awful, disgusting Green Bean Casserole that so many people inflict upon the innocent during the month of November. Oh NO.
That's not awful ENOUGH. Instead there has been invented: Green Bean Casserole Pie.

I still remember the awful day when I first sampled this atrocity. It was after we had moved to the the East Coast from California, (land of Fresh Vegetables.). It was at a work Potluck. I swore then that I would never eat it again, and I have kept my vow.
What Thanksgiving side dish do you hate the most?