December 2005

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
December 2005
Copyright by Ami Simms

AOL Users, please see end of newsletter for hyper-links.

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

It's safe to say that my Thanksgiving turkey was a success. Nobody got sick and most of the turkey was consumed, although there was quite a bit of action in the garbage disposal area during clean-up. I can't say the gravy was my best effort. It looked (and tasted) like school paste with mushrooms. But, when one only cooks a few times a year, I was after "memorable." Note to self: a quarter of a box of corn starch might be too much thickener.

The food processor I received several years ago finally came in handy, once I figured out how to use it. Naturally the directions were long gone, but I did find the owner's manual for the last two microwaves we've owned, both deceased. A little experimentation while wearing my safety goggles did the trick. (Apparently mushrooms just bob around frantically in the chute losing minute amounts of "shroom" from the tops of their bald little heads unless the "smasher-downer" gizmo is used. By the second package I had that figured out.)

The carrots were more difficult. (Those were for the vegetable soup that would be the recipient for the leftover turkey pieces, not the gravy. C'mon people, keep up!) As I was saying, the carrots were a real challenge. I purchased the pre-peeled mini carrots so they could do double duty with the dip. They insisted on meeting their demise in the food-processor by lying down cowardly in the chute. This resulted in elongated slices that looked like orange pennies peeled off a railroad track after the train rolled over them. Way too big to get in your mouth if other vegetables were also on your spoon. So, I spent a great deal of time with the cord unplugged lining them all straight up and down in the chute (no easy job) before guiding them down to the whirling blade with the "smasher-downer." It would have taken less time to just use the knife. Same with the celery stalks. I gave up with the green beans. While those lined up extremely well (their little ends popped right out of the chute and gave me plenty of "handles" to work with) who wanted bits of green beans the size of a scant seam allowance?

Anyway, while you were all out at the mall the day after Thanksgiving, I filled the big pasta pot with elevendy-seven different kinds of vegetables, turkey stock, and diced tomatoes. It simmered all day. A small step ladder improved my ladling speed until we were halfway down when the pot became light enough for me to lift it off the stove and pour. My freezer is now stocked.

Steve harvested a tree from the backyard and it is my favorite kind: scrawny, pathetic, and in need of love. (Everybody and his uncle can have a bushy, pear-shaped tree with branches and no holes. I like "distinctive.") This tree is particularly anorexic. It's so thin the ornament hooks and loops make a dominant vertical theme, sort of like a very tall, very thin woman wearing stripes. Thank goodness they make the wires on the lights green. It helps add visual girth to the tree.

Anyway, she is splendid. We have a lot of ornaments leftover, including the angel that goes on top. Somehow the Santa hat covering her bald pate was more appropriate. Now all we have to do is find the Chanukah candles.

In case you're looking for a tasty holiday snack, try "Japanese popcorn." Edamame are soybeans in the pod and we've been getting them as appetizers at our local Japanese restaurant for a while now. I've been looking for them during my quarterly jaunts to the grocery store, but never found them. This last time I was most happily surprised to see them in the frozen food case, twice! Once in the "organic" section, where they cost nearly twice as much, and once in the "regular" frozen food section where instructions for microwaving were included in the package. Evidently, nuking organic produce is politically incorrect.

Any way you cook them, edamame are delicious. Boil (or nuke) them according to package directions and pop open a pod. "Squirt" the three beautifully green soy beans into your mouth for a tender, almost buttery tasting treat. I would image they're also good for hot flashes, but probably only if consumed by the truckload. (They look nice in vegetable soup, too.)

All this talk of food makes me hungry. You too? How about some PIE? There's a new recipe for yummy pies that have NO CALORIES, but lots of fiber. OK, you got me……I have a new pie pattern called Oh MY! PIE. Nine slices machine appliquéd to fabric plates serve up a quilt that finishes off at 47" by 41". As a super special, if you order the kit before Christmas you get the pattern FREE and save more than 40% off the kit price. This is a deal you can't miss! The kit has all the fabric you need for the quilt top, plus fusible web, plus fabric for binding. Quick! Before I lose my mind: make pies.

A very observant shopper emailed wanting to know how to get a COUPON CODE for the order page. I bet she figured there was a discount to be had. Smart quilter! I mostly use the Coupon Code to offer 10% off and free shipping for anything I can hand deliver when I teach. Each guild is offered this discount. Some bother; some don't.

I was explaining this to Madison, who is very interested in anything I have to say, especially around dinner time. He suggested a special deal for newsletter readers who have dogs or other people-friends that might need presents—nice presents; not the kind he leaves in the yard. Here's Madison's special: TWO "Dog-Yeared" pattern CDs, a spool of dog-colored thread, and a dog biscuit for $29.98. You get the thread and dog biscuit FREE. To knock $5 off the price, type MADISON in the box given for Coupon Code. (It's item #2 after you click CHECKOUT, right above where it asks for your shipping address.) Try it out. It should work until the end of the year. Madison's special is down at the bottom of this page.

The free pattern given away with every order this month is Susan Fuquay's "Whirlybirds." I love the interlocking circles she suggests as a quilting design.

You can get this newsletter another way. I put a copy up on my web page right after (and sometimes right before) I deliver it to your email box. The web version, for the last couple of months at least, has had links imbedded in the text, so you can click as you read. Plain text emails, like this newsletter, only create links for some browsers. AOL subscribers have to scroll all the way down to the bottom to find clickable links. Now EVERYONE can read online and click to all the fun places I send you from the original text. Read this newsletter on the web.

Ever since quilts made the jump from bed to wall, quilters have been struggling with the best way to hang them. Not fond of cloth tabs and curtain rods, dowels, or mop handles (you wouldn't hang your Picasso that way) I've found numerous other hanging systems I think make my "fiber art" look much better. I really like Hal Zeller's Display Away system.

And, I must say my own personal system of using flat aluminum stock screwed to the wall has worked quite well. Until now. The Hang-Ups company has a new system which will soon hang every single quilt in my house, just as soon as I buy some spackle to patch the holes from my previous "system."

Their "No See Ums" are positively ingenious. It allows you to hang a quilt without a drill, and you can probably leave your tape measure in the sewing room. This is so slick. Watch me hang a quilt.

Here's a great product that supports a great cause: the 2nd Annual Art Bra Calendar! Ranging from elegant to whimsical to outrageously delicious ("Sweet Seduction") to soft sculpture ("The Girls) and so many more, this calendar will make a wonderful gift for any woman. Sales support "A Way to Women's Wellness," a not-for-profit organization. Thanks to Christine for sharing this project.

The Professional Quilter recognizes an outstanding teacher each year with the Teacher of the Year award. I am so very proud to say that I was awarded this honor for 2005. It's now time to select a new recipient. Nominations for the 20th Teacher of the Year award will close on December 3. If you know of a deserving teacher, please take a moment to nominate them.

Jennifer Overbey is watching her step in Miami and so is Maureen Holz in Houston: < a href=> Jan in Greenville shares her stash:

Jo Ann Sanderson made a beautiful Rag Fur Jacket.

Kay O'boyle finished her Twisted Sisters quilt.

Jackie Voorheis made a Hugs & Kisses quilt.

Dee Bradford made a Window on the World quilt.

Nancy Bekofske found a great sign, Edna Deppen now knows what to do with unattended children, Connie Ross knows a funny sign when she sees one, Hurricane Wilma gives a new twist to traffic flow, and some people just don't read! WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!

Becky Goldsmith & Linda Jenkins Teach You To Appliqué the Piece O' Cake Way is the title of their brand new DVD. It's like having these two expert teachers in your very own living room! Becky and Linda start at the beginning - showing you how to make templates and placement overlays the easy way. You'll learn the Piece O' Cake way to do great hand applique and a wide variety of techniques for doing inner and outer points, curves, circles, cutaway appliqué, and much more. Want to see a technique again? You can jump right to it. The DVD can be used alone or you can pair it with the companion book, The New Appliqué.

Here are a few websites you just can't miss. You'll be spellbound, courtesy of June M.

If you're into shape and color, texture and sound (none of us, right?) then you'll be mystified with this page. Click here.

Into games with eggs? Just try it.

Please do. Forward the ENTIRE thing to all your friends and even some of your enemies. Everybody enjoys a laugh or two. Please do NOT forward just part of it. Somehow my name gets dropped off when these things float through cyberspace and since I’m writing them for free, I should at least get credit for writing them. If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first. Here’s how.

Be good to each other!
Special hugs to Donna M.

Ami Simms

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