Gathering inspiration, ideas, materials, tools, information; Gathering together with friends, new and old; and Making things beautiful, delicious, healthy, sustainable, and useful ~ Gather & Make.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tomato Recipes~

For a time as a child I lived with my Aunt Babe and Uncle George. He was a tomato farmer and owned a tomato canning factory. So you could say I grew up around tomatoes.  I remember fields of them, sometimes picking them, watching them being prepared, and eating them.... though never with as much delight and relish as my Mom! Her favorite was a thick cut tomato sandwich with salt, pepper, and mayonnaise. I liked a bacon and tomato sandwich, but other than that, I could give or take them, back then at least.

We eventually moved away from the farm and those delicious fresh-picked juicy globes. We were reduced to buying the imitation, plastic-like, tasteless, pale things in the grocery store, wiping out my appreciation for tomatoes completely.

It wasn't until recently, when I began frequenting the farmer's markets or roadside farm stands that my taste for tomatoes was piqued. The odd shaped, convoluted forms hold a summers' worth of sunshine and sweetness, just awaiting that first bite of goodness. For the past few years I wait, ever so patiently, 'til summer's end for our Central Oregon tomatoes to ripen, then pick up my flats from Rainshadow Organics.

Just what do I do with my flats of tomatoes you might ask? I eat them plain; make tomato salads with Armenian cucumber and avocado or a Caprese salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella; bake them with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and parmesan; roast them off with elephant garlic and onions, freezing some as-is or cooking up huge batches of marinara sauce to freeze or gift; and this morning I baked a crustless tomato quiche for brunch. I wish you could smell it ~*~

If you are so inclined, now is the time to scoop up those organic heirlooms and have yourself a delicious feast today and put up some of summer's bounty to be enjoyed in the winter months to come. You'll be so glad you did!

When you bring home your flats, pick out any unripened or perfect tomatoes. Save those for your salads. Don't throw away the bruised or not so perfect fruits. Clean them and cut off anything too bad. These will be used for baking and saucing.

Roasted tomatoes ~ individual and for Marinara Sauce

I use aluminum jelly roll pans ~ Do I hear a gasp? I've heard that aluminum and the acid from tomatoes don't mix. Well, I've never had a problem with my pans and baking them off. I've asked my culinary friends, and they agree with me. I coat a little olive oil on the pan, then place the cored and cleaned tomatoes, cut side down for more juice, cut side up for a drier finish. Quarter one onion and rough cut a half head of elephant garlic (or regular garlic if you want), scatter these on top of the tomatoes with a hand full of basil, salt and pepper, and an ample drizzling of olive oil. I bake two of these jelly roll pans at once, which is about half a flat of tomatoes. Cook for four hours at 300. If you want a batch of dry roasted tomatoes, you could bake those over night at 200. I freeze the drier tomatoes individually and throw a handful into a saute or stir fry. They're sort of like big, squishy sun dried tomatoes, just bursting with flavor.

If I'm going to make sauce, I'll cool the batches of tomatoes for about half an hour and slip off as many skins as I can. Then put everything - tomatoes, onions, garlic and juice - into a stock pot. Add a few bay leaves and some red wine, about a cup or two, depends on what you like. Sometimes at this point I'll add sage or whatever herbs I have around. Simmer for about an hour; take out the bay leaves; cool a bit if you want...or not....then use a hand-held blender to blend all the ingredients into a chunky or fine sauce.

I then fill pint or quart jars to about an inch from the top. You want some headroom so your jars won't break in the freezer. I'll put the jars in the refrigerator for a day, then into the freezer. Why? I'm not sure, but I haven't had any broken jars so far. When you're ready to use the sauce in the winter, either thaw in the refrigerator a day or two before you're ready to use it; or take off the lid and defrost on 50% power in the microwave for about a minute or so.

Crustless Quiche -

1 pound cooked, squeezed, and chopped spinach
1 hatch chili, roasted, seeded, chopped
1 handful chives
1 handful basil
6 tomatoes
1/4 C farmers cheese
1/4 C grated cheese
4 eggs
salt & pepper

Cook and squeeze any water out of the spinach, chop. Put this in the bottom of a lightly oiled shallow dish. Add half of the cheeses. Chop chili, chives and half of basil. Sprinkle this onto the spinach and cheese, season with salt and pepper. Slice tomatoes and add to dish. Add remaining cheese and remaining basil. Whisk eggs with salt and pepper and add to the dish. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes; 400 for 20 minutes; turn off the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.

I hope you enjoy your summer's bounty of tomatoes now while they're fresh and into the winter months to come.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Photo by Lara

Art-filled August ~

Where to begin? It has been a whirlwind month, filled with Art, travel, teaching, and friends (new and dear).

Ignite the Heart (even more arty goodness if you follow the link) with Lara and Elida and a jolly group of lovely ladies in Sunriver was a wonderful, fantastic, super fun intro to photography, collage, and my first attempt at plein air painting (well, really, painting in general) at Smith Rock! These two women make a powerhouse team, filled with good-vibe energy, serious teaching ability, and they're just too adorable for words! I'm very happy I was able to join in on this amazing retreat.

Among other being tutored in Photoshop by the amazing Allison and creating artwork for my new Poppy stencil (yes! I was able to successfully use an electronic device..... more on this later); meeting with the members of the Women's Artist Group of Bend to discuss web design (you'll see improvements right here on Gather & Make from the tips I received in this meeting in the coming months); meeting up with fellow stitchers for our monthly sit-n-sew.......I was very excited to teach a two-day hand stitching class in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Kathie, Holiday, and myself at Gig Harbor.

If you are looking for a warm, welcoming, fun, energetic art tribe that travels; is taught to create in all sorts of art mediums; and is lead by a wonderful, caring, knowledgeable, easygoing leader who takes care of ALL the details seamlessly, look no further than Kathie Vezzani with Bellissima Art Escapes.

Oh, my goodness does she make you feel well cared for, even pampered! Her food is fresh, healthy, and delicious. She thinks of everything and has it at the ready, even before the thought starts to form in your mind. Feeling a little thirsty? She already has the lemon water ready: Need extra supplies? They're at hand on the work bench. Have a question? She has her Ipad out and is Googling for the answer. A little peckish? Gorgeous lunch is being served.

A whole new world has opened up for me. Have a look at her website, and it will certainly whet your appetite for art, travel, food, and camaraderie.

I had the most delightful time teaching my two-day hand stitching class at Kathie's home in Gig Harbor. All the ladies eagerly jumped right in with cutting, painting, and stitching their projects. Some are already more than half way through to completion! I hope to see all these splendid women again someday, either with more stitching endeavors or possibly even an art adventure of a totally different kind.

Last, but not least....because the month of August is not yet complete....was a very relaxing and most enjoyable trip to Hawaii. What better way to be retrieved from the airport than by a dear friend, in a vintage VW Vanagon, bestowing a fragrant Hawaiian lei? There is none!

We did a lot of beaching......

hunting seaglass........

chasing rainbows.........


but mostly, just r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Long necklaces ~

Many years ago I purchased a stunning strand of gorgeous turquoise. I saved it, waiting for the perfect project to present itself. While putting together my outfit for my 50th birthday, I knew exactly what I needed ~ a necklace and pair of earrings made with this most beautiful turquoise.

You may also wear the necklace like this.

That was three years ago. I can't believe how time flies! I really do love this set, but most of the time I opt for something a little more subtle and less chunky. So today I decided to put together just that.

It's a long necklace, about 70" with a 2 1/2" pendant, and hits just above my belly button. It's simple leather. I used spacer beads, and threaded brass chain (about 3 1/2" per side or 14 links) onto the leather, another spacer bead, then finished with a fold over cord end. The luscious turquoise is the focal point, and a tiny PMC charm dangles below.

Here's a detailed shot.

While I had my supplies out, I made a second long necklace with really pretty chrysoprase. Don't you love that color?

For this necklace I used copper wire to attach the chrysoprase onto links I had made eons ago in Stephanie Lee's class at Art & Soul. They're brass wire and solder! I've used these links over the years in many jewelry designs, and I still love them today.

The links bunch together like this while you're wearing it. You could knot the leather around the links if you wanted them to stay separate, but I like the way they cluster.

These necklaces came together in less than a couple hours with supplies I had on hand. You could make your own version of a leather long necklace with supplies from your local craft store and perhaps a few special pieces you might have from old broken necklaces or keepsakes. I hope you give it a go.

Happy making!

Friday, July 8, 2016


My Little Grandma always wore a sunhat, gloves, and long sleeves when she was out gardening ~ the original sun protection before sunscreen was the norm. Her lightweight, red plaid, peter pan collared blouse hung in her alcove closet. This unusual closet had a large picture window. I vividly remember her standing there, backlit in the sunlight, slipping her gardening shirt over her day clothes. This was the signal for me we were going out to the garden to gather some roses, or do some pruning, or mowing, or just putter around. Her hat and gloves were on the porch next to the pruners, on the way out the back door.

Lillian Beatrice Overmyer (my Little Grandma) had the most beautiful skin. People would often comment about it. She took care of it, washing it every night and religiously applying cold cream or some other "magic potion", and of course always, always insisting on her sun protection by donning her hat, gloves and shirt. Smart lady.

I find myself these days in need of a sunhat or two, and so I decided to try out some patterns and embellish in the Alabama Chanin mode. The brim needs extra stability by adding interfacing, thus the normal reverse applique or negative reverse applique won't do. You would see the interfacing when you cut the layers, so I decided to go with the inked and quilted method or just leaving the fabric unembellished. You can find the inked and quilted method in Alabama Studio Style, by Natalie Chanin. 

I downloaded the reversible sunhat pattern from the Martha Stewart website. It was not the easiest pattern download to figure out, but I finally puzzled it together. Since I wasn't doing a reversible sunhat, I didn't follow their directions exactly. I tried a few different modifications to the pattern, and decided that cutting the brim down by 1" suited the cotton jersey fabric weight best for me. I also cut the pattern down for a 1/4" seam allowance instead of their 1/2" seam allowance.

I made a few different versions using scrap fabric and old t-shirts.  I found that some type of interfacing is absolutely necessary, unless you want the brim to fall onto the face, thus making the wearer resemble Cousin It. I sampled four different interfacings. At first I tried pennant felt. It was way too heavy and stiff. The second was a double-sided, fusible, midweight interfacing by fast 2 fuse. It was very convenient, would work in a pinch, but a little too stiff for what I wanted. I may eventually try the lightweight version. Then I tried two single-sided fusible interfacings by pellon, Craft-Fuse style #808 and 809 Decor Bond. I liked them both, with a slight preference for the first, #808. It has the body I want, but is a smidge less stiff. Follow the directions on whichever interfacing you choose. I suggest ironing the interfacing onto a non-painted layer (the under layer) of the brim, or else protecting your iron and/or ironing board as some paints may come off during the ironing/fusing process.

The hat pattern is large and generous. It's very flattering on, but if there's any wind, it may sail off your head and bound on down the road. I stitched a casing around the crown, and made a pull to create a drawstring. It can be cinched down on a breezy day or left loose for more airflow and comfort on a still day. It's a functional feature, and it looks pretty cute! The casing is 1 1/4" wide, cut across the grain.

I wanted to leave the edges raw, but noticed that the interfacing is visible between the two layers of the brim, even if the interfacing is cut a little smaller (about 1/4") than the actual brim. I whipstitched the edges on the blue embellished hat, and that worked just fine. I'm going to experiment a little more and try cutting the interfacing even smaller (about 1/3") and see if that helps, as I like the look of the raw edges.

Once you get a working pattern, the hat works up very quickly. I hope you can stitch up a new summer sunhat for yourself or a friend this summer. If she were still with us, I know my Little Grandma would approve.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summery Tee ~

I've been saving a yard of this gorgeous, hand-dyed madder fabric for just the right project. When I put together this combination, I knew I had found it. This is also a great example of something you can make at my two-day hand stitching workshop in Gig Harbor, Washington with Bellissima Art Escapes in August. We'll be going over everything ~ cutting, stenciling, and stitching ~ step by step, so really, you REALLY can make it!

This is the fitted t-shirt pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book, by Natalie Chanin. I like to make this shirt a size larger than normal, because I don't like things too clingy. The top layer of fabric is natural and the bottom layer is a hand-dyed madder. Coral or persimmon might be good substitutes if the madder isn't available.

I used DMC variegated floss #4130, Chilean sunset, to backstitch around the new leaves stenciled areas; and Coats & Clarks button craft thread in dogwood for the construction. If this project is one of your first projects, I might suggest using the running stitch instead of the backstitch. The backstitch takes three times as long as the running stitch. This shirt is worked in the negative reverse applique technique, so most of the top layer is cut away.

This is a panel before I cut away most of the top layer.

Here are a couple before and after shots of cutting the top layer away.

I wanted a little more cream in the overall design, so I stitched some Alabama eyelets and French knots into the madder background. I snipped around the added embroidered "flowers".

I experimented and appliqued a few small cut circles of natural colored fabric. I knew the cut edges would curl up when I washed it. I'm on the fence about the results. What do you think? Here's a close up after washing.

Here's a few ways I'll wear my new tee in summer and into autumn. 

Here I've paired the shirt with a single layered, unembellished fitted tank dress.

The dress is among the first garments I had made and is one of my go-to pieces. It's so comfortable and cool in the summertime.

What will you be doing to keep cool this summer?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Makers' Mercantile~

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always sent up little "prayers" of gratitude, every night as I would go to bed and randomly throughout the day. Here is my rather lengthy, not-so-little prayer of gratitude. I do apologize for its rambling nature, as I had a six hour drive home, and plenty of time to reflect with gratitude!

"Hello, thank you for the most amazing weekend.* Rhonda and I have been emailing, texting, and chatting on the phone, planning for our Alabama Chanin class up in Kent, Washington at Makers' Mercantile. She has been a breeze and a delight to work with,* so I should have known everything would go well, but all was beyond what I had even hoped for.*
From the moment I stepped into Makers' Mercantile, I could feel the warm, welcoming, artistic vibe.* Big open spaces, cozy nooks and crannies filled with inviting clusters of sofas and chairs, long and short tables for larger and more intimate gatherings of creatives. My eyes wandered around, resting on gorgeous yarns, fine samples swatched-up.* Immediately I was drawn to touch them.

I was greeted by Kim. What an engaging smile!* She went off to find Rhonda as I wandered the store.* Clean, thoughtfully arranged, uncluttered, yet an abundance of beautiful materials*. Just as I was about to fall down the rabbit hole of yarny goodness, color and texture, Rhonda rounded the corner with open arms and the most gracious welcome.* We immediately clicked.* She and all the crew are energetic, enthusiastic, authentic.*

Rhonda beamed as she showed me around the store; her passion for her products bubbling over.* From the most scrumptious yarns, lovely fabrics, including Alabama Chanin 100% organic cotton jersey, to the tiny, wooden, hand-carved woodland creature buttons, every item in the store is carefully curated, chosen for its high quality, beauty, uniqueness, usefulness.* Yes, this is my kind of store.*

We swiftly unpacked my car and set up the class rooms.* We had a sold out crowd, and I wanted everything to be perfect. Rhonda seemed to know what I needed even before I knew I needed it ~ Extra hands unloading?* Refreshing Italian pomegranate soda without the cream after a long drive?* More tables?* Name tags?* Garment rack?* She thought of everything, ironing out a myriad of details, smoothing the way for me*.

Meeting the witty Rachael and Katie was a hoot. Rachael works at Skacel Headquarters, and Katie is their web guru. She designed a sweater that could be worn on every "woman" for their Magalog, a magazine-catalog. Its fresh format, beautiful photography, and assortment of projects make it a must read.*

I'm always rather nervous the night before a class, but Rhonda's calm demeanor and capable manner was so reassuring, I even slept some that night!*

Rhonda mentioned she had the best customers in the world. As the students arrived, fellow Alabama Chanin enthusiasts, fiber artists, botanical dying artist, corporate smarty pants, knitters, sewers, true beginners, I could see she was correct.* All were overflowing with excitement, eager to learn, beaming with smiles.* There was convivial chatter, a peppering of pertinent questions, quiet processing, an abundance of "ah-ha" moments, and thoughtful sharing throughout the day.*

The class was flying by, yet we needed to stop for lunch. I quickly organized for the second half of the day, and went to get a bite to eat. Rylie Cakes shares a bright and gleaming corner space in Makers' Mercantile, part French bistro, part friendly neighborhood hang-out cafe.* Her wonderfully artistic wedding cakes are on display, as well as daily delights, such as macaroons, cookies, short breads, tiny cakes, pastries, salads, savories, galettes and quiches. I chose the quiche, and I can say it is the best quiche I have ever eaten in my life, so tasty, filled with fresh veggies, and the crust.... oh, that crust was divine!* Rylie has a gift indeed.* You wouldn't know it for tasting it, but every single item is gluten free...Yes, gluten free.*

The second half of the day was speeding by even faster than the first. I would have liked to have stayed all evening, but we needed to finish up. Tired but satisfied eyes looked back at me, as there were hand shakes and hugs, cards and emails exchanged as new friendships were formed around the room.* I feel confident everyone went away with a deeper understanding and all the tools necessary to successfully begin their own journeys in hand stitching in the Alabama Chanin Way.*

Rhonda, operations manager Betsey, and I went out to a very yummy Indian dinner.* Our visions, suggestions from students, requests from customers, ideas were bouncing around like ping pong balls. I feel we are kindred spirits, having been brought together.* We have plans to make, and I know I'll soon be returning to their lovely establishment.*

Sunday was a drop-in sewing meet-up, where those who liked could bring any questions, a sewing project, or just browse the many samples and hand stitched items I had on display. It was a great way to tie up any loose ends and spend a little one-on-one time with those who wanted more information.* I was so pleased to see one of my previous students walk through the door!* She was wearing her own wonderful hand embellished t-shirt.*

All too soon it was time to pack up. Again, Rhonda was there to assist.* I had to visit Rylie for one last sampling ~ savory cherry tomato and goat cheese gallette, sea salt butterscotch cookie, and a hand-sized fruit pie for later (um...I confess, it didn't make it home). All was beyond delicious.*

Long, yet easy drive home; lots of time to reflect and be thankful. Each *asterisks represents a heartfelt thank you.

Until next time....*"