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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Medjool Dates

Good Morning.

"They arrived yesterday!"

"What arrived?"

"The Medjool Dates from California."


For years we spent the winter in Yuma Arizona. Just across the Colorado River is Winterhaven and Bard California with acres and acres of date gardens. We would go over to Winterhaven/Bard every few weeks and get some yummy dates. Then, when it was time to go home to Wisconsin, we'd take anywhere from 11 to 22 pounds with us for family and friends. Alas, this spring we didn't have room to take any dates home. Now it is fall, and we really miss those dates.

A quick phone call to Joy Mueller, one of our favorite growers, and presto there are the dates via UPS! Contact Joy at Ranchero De Lux, 1452 Parkman Road, Winterhaven, CA 92283 (760)572-0168 FAX (760)572-5075 for prompt service. Ranchero De Lux dates are Organic and beautiful as well as delicious. Several grades are available. Organic dates are about $9.00 per pound in a health food store. You can order new crop direct from the grower for about half that price. Give her a call and tell her Carol Connors sent you.
Folks in the Midwest aren't used to buying beautiful dates that you can just eat as a piece of fruit. They are used to buying squished together dates that use use for baking. So, if you are from that area, try eating one before you start baking. However, if you must bake, here is an old family recipe from my Aunt Ruth who lived just shy of her 99th birthday! Enjoy your dates both ways.

Brown Date Bread
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
2 cups boiling water
1 cup dates
1/2 cup nutmeats
1 teaspoon vanilla
Method: cut up dates, add soda and pour boiling H2O* over and let cool while creaming sugar, shortening and eggs.
Then add flour, dates, nuts and vanilla
Fill 8 beer cans*-greased-1/2 full. Bake 50 to 60 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
--Ruth Mildred Hein
*That's water and use any cans you like as these days beer cans and soup cans are not conducive for baking. Cans make nice, round loaves!

Enjoy another beautiful fall day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Grandma Time

Today I have to take time to be the proud Grandma!                                

As a senior, Ian Connors, our oldest grandson, took a pottery class at Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and found his calling. Now he is a senior at UW-Milwaukee and is the Ceramics Lead at the Studio arts and Craft Centre. He is also teaching a Beginning Pottery Wheel class. This is especially important to this grandma as he is the fourth generation teacher in the family!

Ian is also featured as the September 3D Artist of the Month.
The following link shows some of his work.

Site of the wood fired kiln
Some of his pieces were wood fired this spring. The school uses a wood fired kiln near Waukesha, Wisconsin. The students had to fire the kiln 24/7 to bring it to temperature and let it cool for about a week.

Unloading the kiln

Not a flattering photo, but gives an idea of the kiln size

Some finished pieces
Ian invited his Grandfather and myself to attend the opening of the kiln and the removal of the ceramics.  It was very interesting to watch the students view their finished pieces and to meet the instructor. Later in the summer he spent three weeks in Peru studying ceramics and textiles. He plans to establish an Etsy store in the future

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9, 2012

October 9, 2012
Home Again with Stories

July 14 through August 18 found the Connors aboard the MS Maasdam of the Holland America Line. The cruise was called the Voyage of the Vikings and we following the route of the Vikings complete with wind and high seas. We were thankful to be on a luxury liner instead of an open ship like the original Vikings.

Along with the Viking experience this was also a knitting cruise. I took several classes onboard and  made several new and wonderful friends. Thanks to the telephone, e-mail, and Ravelry we are keeping in contact.

To some of the knitters this was a 35-day shopping trip. However, Ed and I were there to see the countries and to visit with local fiber folk. If we saw a yarn shop and had time, we went in. Even with such good intentions I came home with a few (too many??) skeins! I plan to get this Blog updated and will tell stories and show pictures here. Since this piece was originally written for the Yuma (Arizona) Weavers and Spinners, this article will be limited to weaving.

Right now I have to stop and BRAG. I’ve been to Greenland. I actually stepped foot on that land, and I bought, well, some yarn with the label Greenland, and of course at least one book. So that vast chunk of ice that I’ve looked at on maps since childhood is now real. Oh yes, I picked up a couple of small rocks so a bit of Greenland is right here in Wisconsin.

Autographed copy of apparently a bio of
a well known weaver. Also contains
beautiful pictures of the area and her
weaving drafts. I should be able to
figure out the drafts.

I visited a handcraft shop in Molde,Norway and saw the most beautiful Finn weave I have ever seen. This is something I must learn! I also bought a couple of weaving books in Norway and several magazines. Beautiful pictures, but unless I learn Norwegian or fiddle with Google Translator the text will remain a mystery.

The current issue of a
handcraft magazine which
features various artists including
a group of weavers. Surely wish
I could read this one.

Festband is devoted to card weaving.
It includes one technique which
looks just like knitting, but is
in fact card weaving. The book
has good diagrams so a card
weaver should be able to figure
it out. My friends, Erika or Elaine would
be just the ones to do that!

These magazines seems to emphasize
regional historic costumes. Photography
is beautiful and there are a couple
of knitting patterns which I should be able
to follow.

This is the Finn Weave shown in Molde, Norway

The reverse side of the weaving on the left.
To learn more about Finn weave go to the following links:
Another beautiful piece of
Finn Weave in Molde.

Leaf Bread
We also visited a most interesting shop in Akureyri, Iceland. In the old days flour was very precious because the climate was not conducive to growing the type of wheat necessary for bread. Thus flour was used sparingly, however, at Christmas a special cookie called "leaf bread" was made. Actually it was somewhat limited to Northern Iceland.

Tool used for cutting the bread.
The dough was rolled flat and cut into a circle with a special cutter. Designs were formed by slitting and folding the dough. As a note, this same type of design is made with paper and has now entered quilt designs in the US.

Door to the shop.
The young woman who ran this shop was executing this design and some traditional Norwegian  designs in brass, glass and textiles.  She designed towels and had them woven in Finland because she said there was not a good weaving tradition in Iceland and she could not get good quality textiles. They were woven with cotton and linen. The two combined for color changes in the item. Naturally I bought a couple of towels and a brass ornament.

Textile end of the shop.
Towel with leaf bread design
Also shows the wrong side.
The combination of linen and cotton
form the color changes.

Towel with Norwegian design
Towel with leaf bread design
Also shows the wrong side.
The combination of linen and cotton
form the color changes.
Can you feel the Icelandic sunshine in these windows? This was a very sunny day, but also very windy.  I really liked Iceland, and I think I would enjoy living there.  We also saw it in the rain, in fact, we got very wet!!
 Learn more about Leaf Bread here:
Making Leaf Bread

leaf bread iceland

That's all for today. Next we shall visit Newfoundland with knitting, knitting, knitting!