Loose Ends

It was a lovely sunrise two days after Christmas. Our company still here, still helping out where needed. Even the western sky was beautiful that morning.

They have all gone home now. Amy and Marla helped me exchange beds between the apartment and downstairs guest room. Now the twin beds are in the apartment and all the better to house private students. And honestly no one wanted to share the bedroom down stairs with anyone else so now just the double bed is there. I need to rearrange the pictures and add some decent lighting but other than that, a big improvement.

Patrick stayed with his dad in the workshop and the two of them made things.

I had the gift of time in the studio to work on the piece I started earlier and here it is so far on a panel measuring 25.5″ x 28.5″. Lots more stitching to go and those beautiful little stones I covered with cane toad and kangaroo hide were so very helpful in holding the sticks in place while the glue dried. Moving things around on the “canvas” is the best part. And then suddenly it says, “Enough. Leave me here.”

I will show a picture when it is finished and behind the frame. Here are some details of sections that might just be finished.


I will finish it this week and then look for other frames that have not been used and do a few more of these. It is relief printing on cloth, various papers that have their own history that seems to fit the narrative. This one is called “The Roads” simply because those words appear somewhere in all that is happening and the image makes me feel like I am or have traveled somewhere into this space.

Collecting loose threads and holding things together is where I imagine myself to be right now. And no wonder. Just this past week when this thought occurred to me I went around the house and photographed things with loose threads. I have always been collecting them it seems.

In baskets.

In textiles from other places.

In my favorite gauzy, thready scarves bought in Australia from Mahdi.


In my hand stitched pieces.

And as illustration in my books. Even Proust is reminding me again that “we have to try afresh to settle down to work which has ceased to have any meaning.” So easy to say and so hard to do, that picking up and starting over to get it right, make it matter.

It is hard to just give up on something that demanded all your passion at one time and then without even noticing, it has become something less, something asking to be left behind…or just left alone for now.

But I think I had success this morning with the ginger marmalade! Last week it refused to set up, so with new lids and more pectin and a bit more boiling I think I have it. Six jars of chunky ginger bits and eight jars of ginger jelly.

My suggestion on this marmalade is just buy it if you can. An awful lot of work for something that needs starting over half way through the process. But the flavor and the aroma might just be worth it.

And one more thing….earlier this month I saw how easily it is to thread a needle by rubbing the eye of the needle across the thread. It is supposed to just loop up into the eye. Well, it doesn’t! And even the you tube video showed the fellow demonstrating it with a rather raw palm where he had rubbed it silly trying to make the video.

Don’t bother trying it. Just get your glasses on, lick the thread and spend the next minute or so trying to find the hole…..make sure you have a good length of thread to avoid doing it all over again a minute to two later.

That’s enough advice for now.

Til later.

New Starts in the Studio and Kitchen

I did a bit of printing on cloth and tea bags today while a friend is in the studio working on small dry point etchings. As soon as there were a few prints hanging up to dry my daughter asked what I was planning to do with them. I told her I was just collecting materials to start something new.

Here is the beginning. Lots of bits arranged on a sheet of rusted paper to be looked at and rearranged….and then later glued and stitched and tied down. It felt good to just “play” with the papers, cloth and sticks and prints.

Here is a very special gift my friend, Marla made for me.

It only stands about five inches high and on the glass she etched a story about how much like a rock I am in keeping it together here as Lee slowly slips further away. Note the small book of my hands and the kantha stitched cloth like my dementia shawl. There is a tiny wooden wine glass to represent Lee’s bowl turning that he used to do and the need to relax and have a drink. This is just such a little treasure.

Our daughter, Amy, helped me make ginger marmalade yesterday. What a process! The fumes watered our eyes and made us cough. The exhaust fan on the range got an extra workout during the almost two hours it took to cook the chunks of ginger to the soft stage.

Here is the process in pictures.

About four cups of chopped ginger cooking up in water.

Two hours later being turned into marmalade.

The ugly greenish water poured off needed food coloring to look edible because this slime green just was not what would make an attractive jelly with the gingery water.

I forgot how much sugar it takes to make jelly!

And here is the color adjusted jelly cooking down.

And here it is in jars. One small problem is that it is slow to set up. We know we used the right amount of pectin but the ginger seems a bit stubborn. The jelly is setting up better and I may not redo it, but that marmalade needs to go back in and get cooked with additional pectin.

And the taste of it might just take the top of your head off. Maybe longer cooking on the front end with more water changes would be the answer.

All I know is that if you make a nice seedy french toast, butter it, add a large dollop of plain yogurt and top off with this gingery marmalade, you have one lovely breakfast.

We are waiting until after Christmas to decide how much needs to be cooked again.

Have a lovely Christmas.

Til later.

Second Best Malted Cookie I Ever Ate

Finally! Here it is….the last word on malted cookies.

Recipe for The Second Best Malted Cookie I Ever Ate

Set oven to 350 F


2 ½ C. all purpose flour

1 ½ t. baking soda

1 ½ t. ground ginger

½ t. salt

Sift all of the above together on a parchment sheet of paper that has been cut to fit cookie sheet.


¾ C. softened butter

1 C. packed brown sugar

1/3 C.  each golden syrup and malt extract

1 egg

Cream above together and then add dry ingredients until all is moistened.


Shape into walnut size balls and roll in white granulated sugar to coat.

Place on parchment lined cookies sheets about 2-3 inches apart.

Bake 9 minutes, remove from oven and slam down on stove to increase cracks.

Return to oven for 6 more minutes,  cool slightly on sheet and then remove to cooling racks.

Wishing you well-spent Holidays!

Good Grief How Dumb!

Lovely sunrise this week…..and more about those malted cookies.

I really can not believe how dumb I was on all the previous attempts to make the perfect malted cookie. I could not understand why they all were so hard to bite into. So I googled “what makes cookies hard to bite into?” And the answer was too much flour….not enough wet ingredients. And of course I knew I was doing everything right, in fact doing it “right” over and over again.

So after my malt extract arrived I tried it again. This time no Carnation Malted Milk Powder.


That extract is sooo good, very thick and very sticky.

So I following my recipe AGAIN and when it comes to the softened butter part I realize that for some unknown reason I was thinking one stick was a full cup….so was very careful to use only 3/4 of it when the recipe called for 3/4 cup of softened butter. It must have been forever since I actually baked something calling for butter! So I corrected my mistake but still kept the lesser amount of flour that I thought was a good idea.

Here they are slammed:

And here the next sheet is “unslammed.”

And forget “crispy”. These are very gooey and soft. BUT flavor is close to what I wanted. No molasses added this time and a healthy mix of both the golden syrup and malt extract.

Now to try it again with the increased flour and a good slam. I swear when I get it right it will be the last time you have to look at cookies on this blog.

In the meantime I finished the latest Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith, aka J. K. Rowling. It was very hard to follow as there were so many characters and I thought a lot of them could have been killed off earlier.

Then I went on to Louise Penny’s latest Inspector Gamache novel and devoured it. I have admired how she could write while caring for a husband with dementia and now that he is gone, she can continue when she thought the stories would end with his passing.

And now to try to keep myself entertained because for some reason I am not doing anything in the studio but stitching, I have started Dianne Setterfield’s new book, Once Upon a River. I really loved her twists and turns of The Thirteenth Tale a few years ago and am enjoying this one as well.

Lee is absorbed in a football game and I have Lyle Lovett channel on Pandora in the studio. Now I will go back to stitching in there or better yet, go try to get the ingredients right for the malted cookies.

Enough. I am headed to the kitchen.

Til later.