Day 2 of Roots Tech (with link to sessions!)

Just a little summary of what we did at Roots Tech on the second day, Friday, February 13…
This day’s sponsor: Findmypast.com
Keynote speakers: D. Joshua Taylor (who is Family History Director at Findmypast) and his two co-hosts on Genealogy Roadshow, Kenyatta Berry and Mary Tedesco.
Laura Bush, former First Lady of the United States.

Laura Bush #rootstech

Laura Bush #rootstech 2015


And her daughter, Jenna Bush Hager, who is currently a presenter on NBC’s Today Show and an at-large editor for Southern Living magazine. Fascinating commentary from each of these popular stars in American culture and entertainment had the audience enthralled. Honestly, I came away feeling that Laura Bush, someone who is the closest thing to royalty in the US, and who has been right at the heart of some of the most shock-and-awe historical events of the past few decades, was everyone’s personal friend, neighbor, and down-home confidant. What a fantastic morning; I didn’t want it to end.

But I had to get to class and see what Roots Tech had in store to teach me.

My first class was called Impossible Immigrant, taught by Warren Bittner. It was my favorite class of the entire conference, because it spoke deep down into my heart and soul that Bittner found his seemingly untraceable ancestor from Germany, and therefore, I can hope to find some of mine, too! He presented the class as a case history, which format he tended to like as far as genealogy classes go. I liked it immensely.

Next, we had lunch with some great friends and co-workers from the mission.

We messed around in the Expo Hall, and [my fault entirely] missed the class we wanted to go to next. So we went to another class about Your Digital Afterlife, by John Wylie. By the time it was over, the crowd was growing into a crush outside, and it was a hassle getting anywhere. I heard people muttering “s’like salmon swimming upstream” en route to class more than once! So we skipped the last class of the day and went back to the room, where I hoisted my swollen ankles upward and caught up on some jet-lag induced sleep deprivation. Next on the agenda was the Cultural Event, which was supposedly an hour but we suspected it would be longer, and we were correct! We were treated to performances on the Expo Hall stage from a cowboy band, a Scottish pipe and drum troupe with adorable Highland dancers, and Chinese, Asian, and Polynesian dancers.

Peaches Bill Band at #rootstech

Back in the Saddle Again, with the Pecos Bill Band

Then we walked to the City Creek Mall and had dinner at the Blue Lemon, where we had fresh black bean ravioli, artichoke and tomato chicken, slow-braised short ribs with house-made demi-glace, and our meals were delicious–and so must have been the eventual meals of the hundreds of other diners, who were lined up waiting to get in.

BTW, if you want to view some of the sessions of Roots Tech 2105 that were recorded, you have only to go to the Rootstech.org link and click on the link “Previous Sessions” and then choose from many.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow

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Getting ready for a Feliz Navidad celebration; looks like the predominant color of packaging for Mexican food items is yellow!

For more Weekly Photo Challenge: Yellow click here.

Things that make you go “MMMMMM…made in America…mmmmm”

I got an email from the Gainesville Handweavers Guild to be on the lookout for a new, made-in-America quilting cotton fabric. AMB’s web site said that the fabric could be found at a couple of shops in the NC – SC area where I happened to be for a few days, visiting while a family member attended Evolution2014 in Raleigh. IMG_1841

Cary NC Quilt Shop

Quilt Shop in Cary, NC

I stopped by here and snagged some fat quarters of the American Made Brand fabric, which my email said is from cotton grown in Arkansas, milled in SC…and then apparently marketed out of Seattle.

While in the vicinity of Raleigh, I was by no means subject to any sort of sensory deprivation. The beautiful sights, flavors, and atmosphere had me swooning with summer joy!

Raleigh Convention Center

View of our hotel from inside the Raleigh Convention Center

Convention Center artwork

Convention Center artwork

For more art on display at the center, click here.
Raleigh Convention Center

Raleigh Convention Center

One regret: the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo is coming to Raleigh, right here at the Convention Center, this weekend, and I will be long gone by then! If only…woulda, coulda, shoulda….sniffle…

We got take-out from The Pit, a famous North Carolina Barbecue place that has been featured on Man V. Food and Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. My favorite: the mashed potatoes with spicy gravy. Another: Soul Rolls, a deep-fried egg roll stuffed with smooth, piquant, mellow-seasoned chopped pork and collard greens and tender-crisp shredded carrots. We sampled a lot of delicious food in this town.

So what do you think about AMB: American-Made Brand fabric? Everyone I’ve spoken to about it is excited that there’s an American-made cotton quilting fabric on the market now. Is anyone up to their Farm-to-Fabric challenge? Hurry, there’s a deadline to register.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadowing a Tex-Mex Lunch

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At La Margarita in El Mercado, San Antonio TX Saturday

My Tarte-y, Heart-y Birthday & Remnant Project

My less-than satisfactory blog photos of the past few months are partly the result of the Canon EOS20D having bitten the dust. DH took the 20D to the local camera shop to get it fixed. After the repair shop mailed it off to Canon, they sent it back with regrets: they don’t make the parts for these any more and so it can’t be fixed. Our only option is to take it to a dealer in a big city, like Orlando, and maybe an old-timer in the back room of a camera shop can fix it. They couldn’t even tell us what was wrong with it. The 20D was made from 2005 to 2006. It is now 2013 and no one can repair it? Aaargh.

So DH got me for a birthday present—as consolation for the functional obsolescence I feel from being older AND having a defunct camera, 2 new cameras to play with. One is a Canon Rebel which can use the same lens as the 20D. The other is the pocket-size Nikon Coolpix.

I snuck the Coolpix out of my purse to photograph our very romantic birthday dinner in the flickering oil-lamp light at Embers.

blackened filet mignon and colossal crab appetizer

blackened filet mignon and collossol crab appetizer

bronzed cobia with lobster mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with Bearnaise sauce

bronzed cobia with lobster mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with Bearnaise sauce

DH's braised short ribs with fire-roasted beefsteak tomatoes and caramelized onion blue cheese, and sauteed spinach

DH’s braised short ribs with fire-roasted beefsteak tomatoes and caramelized onion blue cheese, and sauteed spinach

this is the remains of our dessert, apple tarte tatin

this is the remains of our dessert, apple tarte tatin

The tiny Coolpix fits perfectly in a purse pocket, but I wanted it to have a bit more protection from bumps, so I made a little felted case for it, out of remnants.

felted wool remnants from a couple of old sweaters

felted wool remnants from a couple of old sweaters

I heart my new camera

I heart my new camera

Coolpix fits in case very snugly

Coolpix fits in case very snugly

The cost for this case was $0 because I had these scraps kicking around. I used hand-quilting thread to hand-sew the felted wool pieces together. I try to pick up old wool sweaters when I see them at yard sales and thrift shops. If they are not already felted from some laundry mishap, you can prepare woolens for felting (or “fulling” as it is more correctly called) by washing them in the machine in warm or hot water and making sure they agitate quite a bit. Drying in the dryer also accelerates the process, making stretchy knitted fabric turn into tight, shrunken, thick woolen material.

On the way home from the restaurant, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up an item we couldn’t do without. The plan was for me to run in and get it, while DH circled the parking lot and came around to pick me up. I made the purchase, went out the door and saw what appeared to be our car pulling up with a strange woman at the wheel. Then I realized that wasn’t our car after all, ours was parked out front but DH wasn’t in it. So I went out and climbed in. DH had gone in to use the restroom, and when he came out he saw what he thought was some strange hoodlum breaking into our car! Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten such a shorty-short haircut! I tell you, it’s heck to get old!

back view of my short haircut

back view of my short haircut

Sewing with Hemp

I recently took advantage of an opportunity to sew for a non-profit organization that gives workshops on sustainable living practices such as organic gardening, building, vegetarian cooking. Plenitud Iniciativas is located in the mountains of Puerto Rico. Part of their organic farming/vegetarian cooking workshop includes growing sprouts inside bags made of hemp cloth. When you are thinking of fast food–that is, real food–how does 3 to 5 days from seed to harvest sound to you? You have fresh, organic salad food loaded with nutrients, and you grew it yourself by doing nothing other than soaking and rinsing your seeds-in-the-bag a few times, and letting them hang in the bag to drain. I’ve been growing the seed mix they sent me, anticipating a salad with fresh sprouts for our Thanksgiving feast on Saturday.

I found a great site with loads of details, showing how this blogger BeStrixed accomplished such an amazing healthy harvest. She made a large sprout bag; the ones I made are smaller. You can buy sprout bags from lots of internet sources, usually for 8 or 10 dollars, not including shipping costs. Hemp cloth can be a bit pricey but more economical if you can get it in larger quantities. Hemp Traders says the fabric is “shipped directly from our overseas factories.”

Can it be that hemp fiber is shipped from overseas because it’s against the law to grow hemp here in the US? Maybe that will change, given the results of the recent election that legalized marijuana in two states. Who knows, maybe hemp will be America’s crop of the future, a big boost for our economy? Hemp has been grown in Canada as a commercial crop since lobbyists were able to convince the government that it’s possible to distinguish it from marijuana. At one time, the US government knew there was a difference, too, according to David P. West’s Hemp Myths and Realities. See this article by Small and Marcus for more info about hemp. Hemp is an amazing fiber. It is strong, durable, grows very quickly, and can be used to make some of the same things we now cut down trees to make, like paper. And here’s a unique source for buying anything from hemp sprout bags ($1 off the $9.95 price if you order 12 or more) to hemp-fabric wedding attire for bride and groom: Rawganique.com.

sprout bag

A particularly good property of hemp cloth, ideal for sprout bags, is that it is resistant to rot and mold. Plenitud’s staff chose Hemp Trader’s Summercloth, a variety of 100% hemp linen, for the sprout bags. It has a wonderful heavy linen-like feel to it. Hemp Traders also sells light-weight 100% hemp linen (CT-L3) that’s soft and sheer like cotton or linen lawn. Hemp Traders will gladly send you samples along with a price list. Besides hemp linen, they sell hemp jersey knits, cotton and hemp blends, spandex stretch blends, and hemp/flax blends.

98% hemp, 2% lycra rib knit

Here’s a pic of a 2.5 yard piece of Stretch Hemp Rayon I bought from fabric.com. For a hint of how rayon was first made by DuPont, after its scientists studied the cellulose in hemp, scroll almost to the end of this informative rant by the Hemp Historian.

If you’ve been distracted by all the info given in the links herein, you probably now know a lot more than you planned to know about hemp! It’s easy to sew and to iron; in fact I made sprout bags with my serger since my sewing machine was in the shop. I am thankful for nice fabric and a project such as this to keep me realizing what a beautiful and amazing earth we live on. Don’t we owe it to ourselves, our posterity, and Mother Earth to find more sustainable, rather than destructive, living practices?

[Added 11/25/12]
Here we have a picture of our sprouts. Only 4 days ago they were just a tablespoon or less of tiny seeds.

Sprouts and other salad ingredients

Sewing and Spinning Wood

This year it seems hotter and muggier earlier, here in Central Florida. While it’s hot and muggy outside, sewing in the air-conditioned sewing room is a much more preferable activity than woodworking in the sweltering shop, even though a fan is blowing the sawdust and wood chips around. In the shop, I have to wear a plastic mask.

working on lathe, with mask

As you can imagine, this activity is very sweaty….so….

I made myself a sweat band, similar to the one I made for DH a few posts back.

sweat band materials & lunch

assorted lost-cause odd sizes of elastic

I found some old towel remnants that were left over from hooded towel and purse projects, a scrap of collegiate fabric, and I picked a soft, blue knitted elastic, sewed and trimmed and turned, and came up with this.

Gator Sweat Band

I like the added terry towel mini-band in the back, because the nape of my neck is where the sweat action is.

The other annoying dividend of woodworking in the sweaty dead heat of summer is getting sawdust and woodchips down your bra. But we’ll address that issue on another day!

I used a little block of cherry wood for my woodturning project.

wood remnants

Cherry wood spurtle

A spurtle (or spirtle) is a Scottish kitchen implement for stirring porridge. Or so they say. I think it looks like a rather thick wand. I mean, I not only need a spurtle, I need a wand, as well. If you’ve ever been to The Wizarding world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, you know darn well that you can go to Ollivander’s shop there and a wand will choose YOU. (They don’t tell you that you get the same wand as others who have a birthday near the time of yours, or that it’s going to cost you about 30 bucks. If you have a lot of youngsters who want a wand, wow! is it going to cost you! You will find out! You might as well buy a lathe and start turning.) Now, some of these fancy blocks of wood can be expensive. Would you go for a wand made of birch, holly, hawthorne, or maybe elder? And then the tricky part is how to manage putting in the core—dragon heartstring? Phoenix tail feather? Hmmm—wonder how invincible I could be with an elder wand…J/K.

I used a regular roughing gouge to get the square edges off, then I switched to the Easy Tools to work on the bead, the tulip sort-of handle, and the tapered end of the spurtle. Easy Tools are very different because rather than just being a shaft of metal with a sharp angled blade, they have carbide bladed thing-a-ma-jigs on the ends of them. They are truly easy to use, so much that DH thinks you are cheating when you use one of them rather than a skew chisel. My DH was so proud of my spurtle, he wanted to oil it for me so he could really admire my workmanship. He bought some mineral oil, but you can use any food-grade oil to finish it, like peanut oil or sweet almond oil.

Spurtle waiting to be put to use

Do you see my copy of the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook? It’s got a recipe for thick treacle porridge…

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