Monday, June 27, 2011

My Quest To Make A French Corded Cap

Recently I wrote about how I learned about the French art of corded quilting (boutis) and how I came to make an imitation of a cap I saw in Paris years ago.
After I made the first one, I saw a picture of an exquisite cap  in a book and of course, felt as if I had to try to make it.
I used the picture as a sort of inspiration and set to work.
This cap has more embroidery on it and I did that embroidery on the machine.
First the embroidery is done joining two layers of fabric together.
While the cap pieces are stretched in a quilting hoop, it is stuffed with cording.
 When it is stuffed s so that I think it looks good, I cut out the round the shapes and the lining. For the lining, I chose a white flannel with a tiny, pink flower. Though it is summer, the cording makes the cap a bit uneven inside.

I like to finish the edge with piping and since everything I make for babies has a bit of tiny gingham piping I decided to stay consistent.  (I did toy with the idea of using lace and finally abandoned that option in abject indecision).
The back of the cap is a circle and difficult to sew. I basted it first, and could my mother now read this, she'd be pleased that I finally listened to her sewing advice.

I put a little bit of elastic at the nape of the neck.

And best of all, I was able to get it done just in time for my granddaughter's birth.
But I like how it turned out, don't you?
I'd like to go on making baby caps for a very long time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Those Neighbors!

I have the rudest neighbors. They claim to love my garden but they really have no respect at all for the gardener. Now it turns out they have stooped to stealing my beautiful hydrangeas. 
Can you believe it?
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is look outside. 
What did I see this morning?
There they were, bold as could be  pulling the tops off my blooming hydrangeas. 
No more bouquets for me! 
I opened the window and shouted at them. 
By the time I got downstairs, I realized that they'd been there for a while. 
In fact, they were camping out in my back yard! I mean, come on! He's lying down like he's perfectly safe and comfortable. 

I went outside to confront them and they were completely shameless and a bit annoyed as if I were the one intruding and munching on their lovely hydrangeas.

What would you do with neighbors like this?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Muffaletta For Picnics

This family-sized sandwich can be made with cold cuts, meat salad or as a vegetarian meal.  For picnics choose the version without mayonnaise and bring a knife and a thin cutting surface so that you can slice the sandwich when the picnic begins! The recipe, with an entire picnic menu was recently published on The Annapolis Sound.

Bread: buy and uncut loaf: choose sourdough, marble rye, Russian pumpernickel, wheat, round or rectangle
¼ lb. cappocolo or other Italian cured ham sliced thin
¼ lb Italian hard salami
you may add other favorite cured meats
¼ lb provolone cheese, sliced
¼ lb mozzarella cheese, sliced
Roasted red bell peppers (you may buy these in a jar or roast them*)
¼ cup Greek or Ni├žoise olives, pitted and sliced
½ cup black olives, pitted and sliced
1/4  cup of capers
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 minced shallot
salt, pepper
olive oil

Make the olive salad by slicing all the olives and tossing them with the minced shallot, ¼ teaspoon olive oil, the capers, salt and pepper.

Prepare the bread by making a horizontal slice to take the top off the bread. Keep the top of the loaf. Don’t eat it or throw it out! Next hollow out the loaf, using your fingers or a spoon.  Set the bread pieces aside. 

Brush the inside of the loaf lightly with olive oil.
Layer, covering the entire surface of the bread in this order:
half the basil leaves,
Now add the following in layers, covering the previous layer and pressing down firmly.
half the olive salad,
mozzarella cheese slices
ham, then salami
provolone slices
roasted bell pepper slices
the final half of the basil
the last of the olive salad. The inside of the loaf should be full. If it isn’t, add more cheese or what ever you have left.

Brush the inside of the top of the loaf of bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Place the top of the loaf back on the bread. Using yards of plastic wrap, wrap the muffaletta well and refrigerate overnight or for a few hours by placing the entire thing in a bowl and putting a plate on top of it to sort of press it down.  You are trying to squish the filling down so it stays together when the sandwich is later cut.

Take it to the picnic as it is and slice it when you are ready to eat. 

1. Use chicken or tuna salad to replace the meat and cheese. Instead of basil, layer on marinated artichoke hearts. Olive salad is wonderful with chicken or tuna salad so don’t leave that out of this version!

2. To create a vegetarian version, omit the ham and salami.  Use a variety of sliced cheeses, alternating with pears pitted and sliced paper thin.

*to roast bell peppers: heat broiler to high while you are preparing the peppers. Cut each pepper in half. Remove and discard seed core and the stem. Press cut side of pepper down onto a baking sheet until it flattens a bit. Roast until the skin is blackened and your kitchen fills up with the warm, fragrant, exotic aroma of roasting peppers.

Don't discard the bread that you take from the center of the loaf! Instead make bread pudding or bread salad with it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surprise, surprise!

I began taking pictures at the family birthday party

when things were just getting started.

Then I got busy getting dinner on the table and as usual didn't have time to reach for my camera.

But everyone had a great time!

There were two funny comments:
Jack ate a good dinner and then dessert. I said, "Jack would you like something to drink?"
Before Jack could answer, Clare said, "Clarey, would you like something to drink?" Haha! What a lovely way to tell Grannie she was also thirsty.
Clare talking to Pop

Shortly after that we decided to retrieve some more toys from upstairs. Jack led the way, but Clare was following, narrating her progress.  "Good job climbing stairs, Clarey."
Jack turned around, looked at her as if he'd never seen her before, frowned and said, "You can talk?"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reflections about Cindy As She Sets Off On A New Adventure

Tonight I’d like to pay tribute to my dear friend and colleague, Cindy Bauchspies, who is leaving AACS after 24 years, to pursue graduate studies. I have been thinking about what it is that makes Cindy so lovely and admirable, what has made her such an important teacher, such a beautifully talented musician, such a dear person and friend and I have a few ideas that I think you will agree with. Cindy has an uncommon respect for our Lord, for life and for others. It’s more like a loving reverence for God and all that He has made.

A few quotes come to mind when trying to describe Cindy’s gift and impact. Elizabeth Goudge describes our Lord Jesus as carrying the splendor of His divinity in his human body in the way that “a lantern carries its gold.” Think of a mundane, lantern, it is useful; it may be rough or it may be beautiful, perhaps made with great care and craftsmanship… Though Cindy recognizes the lantern’s beauty and worth, her focus stays upon the gold within.

I think that this is one of the things that has distinguished Cindy’s time at AACS. In her teaching, her contributions to the school culture, the godly and lasting relationships she’s formed, the honor she has shown the Lord in her service, she has always valued the gold within. She has dedicated her time to shielding that sometimes flickering light, to holding the lantern up so that the bright light of God’s love can be best seen.

What I mean by this can perhaps be illustrated with a couple of anecdotes chosen from thousands that would also apply.

I had the opportunity to accompany AACS’ Madrigals twice on trips to the International Music Festival in Switzerland. I treasure the memories of those wonderful trips—hearing the choirs’ voices soar to fill up the grand, hallowed spaces of those ancient churches. I loved seeing the fruit of Cindy’s training and encouragement, the reflection of her stellar standards. But once or twice things went wrong on the trips. Students (I can’t remember exactly which students) made some poor choices… and then there was the awful time that one student was temporarily lost.

Though her reputation would certainly have been touched if we’d come home from Europe without a certain spunky Madrigal, Cindy was not concerned about herself. Instead I saw an absorbing concern for the students’ well being. She wished them to be safe, to be wise, to learn all that they could from the incident. She filled her role as their teacher and protector with humility, honesty and great love. This exemplifies Cindy’s approach to her students and also to her colleagues:

She thinks the best of others. And though she may be frustrated by a situation, she seeks how to best honor the people involved. I have never heard her say something faithless, or catty, or unkind about a colleague or a student. She looks for the gold within; that is what is important to her.

Another incident involved one of my own children. As many of you have also experienced, Cindy reached out to my children, the singers and non-singers both. When my daughter was in seventh grade, Cindy heard something wonderful one day when Val sang in choir. She kept Valerie after class. Cindy did not say, “you did great!” or “what a beautiful voice!” She was careful with Valerie because she lives in this respectful way, lives with a higher vision. Instead, she said, “Do you know what happened today?”

Valerie answered, “There was a jewel in my throat.” I don’t remember what Cindy said in response to Val’s description, but in her gentle, careful way she helped Valerie recognize what God had given her. In this way Cindy created an awareness in Valerie that her gift was first connected to God— a gift that was after that also skillfully and lovingly nurtured by Cindy. I am grateful to her for this and I know that her former students and parents of students have similar treasured memories of her service to God and to us.

Cindy has been a mentor to so many, many young people, loving them, bringing out the best in them, befriending them, cooking for them, drying their tears, telling them the truth, coaching them in their musical endeavors long after they had graduated. She has a way of appreciating their unique gifts—musical or not— with the most genuine enthusiasm, celebrating the bright light that God has put in each. And in this way of giving, I think Cindy has helped to create what has often been a beautiful community at AACS.

Abundant heartfelt giving of self is typical of Cindy’s relationships with her students, her colleagues and friends.  There is something within Cindy that treasures what the poet G. M. Hopkins defines as “the dearest freshness deep down things.” She approaches living with her arms wide open, relishing all that God is doing. I remember her happiness as we toured tiny French villages with the Madrigals—equally thrilled with the view of the mountain, a student’s latest joke, the robust taste of the coffee, or the color of the tiniest wildflower.

When others falter and perhaps cannot see this “dearest freshness” in things, Cindy tries to remind us. I remember that Cindy chose a song for the choirs to sing that was especially meaningful to our colleague, Georgia Shockley, when Georgia had suffered the loss of both her parents in just a few months… And I will never forget her coming to the hospital with me when my own mother lay dying; she sat with me and read scriptures with me; then at the funeral, she played the piano as beautifully as only Cindy can play.

How many of the school community can remember with me how she took us as her own sisters and brothers, laughing when we laughed, supporting our class programs, interested in what we were teaching, ready to pray for needs great and small, weeping when we wept, listening to our questions, answering with hope from that beautiful pure spirit within her, living as Christ to us?

When I heard that Cindy was leaving AACS I wanted to make sure that I attended her final concert there. Many times during the evening my eyes filled with tears. There were so many beautiful memories of years of teaching, of dear students and parents, of concerts… O Nata Lux, The 23rd Psalm, Homeward Bound, My Lord From a Garden Rose, Bogoroditse Devo, all the Moses Hogan songs, How Can I Keep From Singing, Ubi Caritas, Jingalyea, Apple Tree and so many more.  

You probably remember songs also, favorite ones where the music touched the sublime and the lyrics touched our hearts. I remember so many students’ faces, eyes shining brightly as they sang. I remember the choirs singing “The Gloria” at St. Anne’s on Church Circle. They were squeezed into the lovely space, shoulder to shoulder, shuffling from foot to foot, glancing up at the nave above them painted to look like a little, low heaven. They began to sing, suddenly wide-eyed with awe at beginning  what seemed like a difficult and important piece. They were transformed to more than themselves.  The heavens cooperated with our beloved choir conductor that night —flashing lightning, providing thunder for percussion. And we were thrilled, touched and inspired.

The concerts were always an inspiration to me, they gave me strength and vision to continue to try my best to teach and care for my students. I loved seeing the all the different students, so many different colors of hair and varying shades of skin tones. But most of all, I loved seeing the students who while in class behaved mischievously, or badly, who were lost and confused, or half asleep suddenly look earnest, even angelic. I loved hearing them sing with heart and skill. It was to me a picture of humanity. All of us are—in some way or another— lost, confused, or badly behaved, and yet He sees the gold in us and in faith that this wonderful thing is true, we come together to lift our hopeful and grateful hearts to God.  Cindy gave us a picture of heaven in her teaching and in her day-by-day example.

I know that you, as I do, treasure memories like this. Thank you Cindy, for seeing the gold in so many of us, for believing in the beautiful things in life despite the evidence to the contrary, for celebrating that and bringing it out in the way you walked with us, in the way you taught and befriended us, and in the way you represented the Lord to us. May the Lord bless your days and endeavors even more richly. I speak for all of us here when I say, “We love and admire you with all our hearts.”