Practice, Practice, Practice

When I teach my “Beginning Machine Quilting” workshop, the best piece of advice that I give to new Free Motion Quilters is to Practice…..PRACTICE….. PRACTICE!!!!

Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to “up my game” in the FMQ department so finally realized that I needed to follow my own advice!!!

I started this project back in May and first blogged about it HERE. As I had some free time on the week prior to the IQF show, I determined to get this project finished!!!!

I was pleased as I started using the rulers again and have found that this is my favorite one….

It has a straight line on one edge and a slight curve on the other and it is so versatile!!!

I enjoyed using one of the “petal” rulers to add some interest to this block….

And, for this block, I just played around with several rulers to see what type of design I could come up with…..

One of my favorite (and fastest) designs was this block…..

I started by marking alternating dots at specific intervals…..

….and then used the ruler to quilt back and forth between them (and this is a better photo of my favorite ruler)…..

Back in the summer, I purchased a set of circle rulers and this was my first try at using them. They were interesting and I think that they will be helpful, but I will definitely have to get used to how they feel!!! They are pie shapes with a small hole at the top of each one.

You place a thumbtack in the hole and then quilt around the circle…..

It worked well, but I had to really concentrate on how to hold the ruler and to remind myself that I didn’t have to press down on the thumbtack as that caused the quilt sandwich to stay in one place and not slide!!!

This is how the circle block ended up…..

….certainly not perfect, but something that I think I could learn to do!!!

Here is finished quilt…..

I truly enjoyed my practice sessions and hope that this quilt will find a good home thru our Guild’s charity work.

Now it is time to push myself and try something new (that I am scared of)!!!! Will I do that or will I go into displacement activity…..only time will tell.

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What I brought home…..

This post is in the same vein as “what I did this summer”, but instead it is about what came home with me…..either as “stuff” or as ideas. Here goes…..

Ruth Ann Berry talked about making those amazing 3-D quilts….you know, the ones where it looks like things are floating in space!! I always imagined the designing of those to be horrific, but she uses 60 degree triangles which means NO inset seams!!

Karen Kay Buckley not only reminded me to use a medium heat when working with Templar templates, but she also emphasized the importance of cutting the template plastic so that there are super smooth edges. To this end, I bought three pair of her scissors…..two for templates and one (serrated edge) pair for fabric…..

She said that if there is a slight bump on the template edge, you can use an emery board to smooth it out, and she also urged using a piece of fine sandpaper under the fabric when you are drawing the shape on.

Finally, she gave great instructions for preparing a leaf shape for applique. The first hint was to put a small loop of painter’s tape on the back of the template so that it doesn’t slide around when you are pressing the edges in place. Then, after you have used Magic Sizing and ironed all of the fabric in place, slightly wet the tips and pull the fold back so that it doesn’t overlap the leaf edge.

Deborah Gale Trico talked about Wool applique and thus encouraged me to buy a kit to make a small wool applique hanging…..

She was also giving out free needles and a skein of wool thread….gotta love freebies. The most interesting thing that she talked about was how to thread a Chenille needle. Here is her video…..

She also talked about using a thread to baste the pieces in place and hold them while the applique was being done. I came home and decided to baste my circles in place as I applique them and it has made the positioning a lot easier…..

I listened to Lois Hallock talk about how to organize your fabric and although I liked her suggestions, I finally decided that I have mine organized as well as I can. WHEW….nothing to change!!!

Jean Impey talked about using Fabrico markers to paint and reminded me AGAIN not to draw lines but to shade.

I had mentioned in the previous post that the vivacious Susan Cleveland talked about using piping and random prairie points to spice up your designs. This was probably my only “impulse” purchase, but I bought her book and templates for both the piping and the prairie points…..

Let’s hope that you see it in use in the near future!!

Reeze Hanson was talking about Machine Applique and said to use a super fine thread (80 or 100 wt) to do the stitching around the appliques…..what a good idea

One of my most memorable talks was from TSC designs. They are the ones who sell lots of inks, markers and stencils. As I walked up to the talk, I was just standing to one side rather than sitting down. The woman who was supposed to be the presenter (Joyce Teng) had lost her voice so another woman was doing the talking. Joyce walked up to me and invited me to sit. I declined and stood there for another minute or so. Finally, she walked back up to me again, pointed at the chair and explicitly told me to sit…..I sat!!! But, the tip that came from my sitting time was that you can use 404 spray adhesive to hold the stencil in place so that it doesn’t shift!

In the Color seminar that I have already talked about, she encouraged us to add white or light tones to “open up” the quilt. She also suggested taking a photo in Black & White so that you can look for value and better determine if your quilt needs different values to keep it exciting.

I have been interested in trying some heavier threads in my machine quilting and bought three spools to start with. Two spools of 28 wt thread from Aurifil and one spool of 12 wt from Superior…..

Let the practice begin!!!

I purchase this book by Lea McComas (the award winning quilter who made “The Long Goodbye” from my first post)…..

I am not sure that I will ever try anything this detailed but it is interesting to read her process.

The final purchases were some facial toned fabrics that I MAY use in an upcoming piece……

….and a cute applique quilt that I am looking forward to playing with (in my spare time)!!!…

Finally, I leave you with two things that caught my fancy as funny…..

First of all, as we walked past the “Lost and Found” table, there was a HUGE stack of reading glasses. Does that tell you anything about the clientele for the show.

Lastly, as you can imagine, the Ladies bathrooms were always busy and often there was a line out the door. In the bathroom on the show floor, there was an attendant who was hilarious. When you were waiting, she pointed out that there was an open stall for you to use and when a line started forming, she called out “Alright ladies….there is a line starting out here so get going. I need to hear some flushing!!!” I felt bad for anyone with a shy bladder!!!

To recap….the show was wonderful as always and I came away with so much inspiration and excitement about my favorite pastime.

Enough talking…..let’s get up to the studio!!!

And just like that….it’s over

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I wondered if there was any more to see at the show…..boy was I wrong!!!!

We started the day with the “Saturday Sampler” with 24 quilter’s talking about their specialties. Our first stop was to Karen Miller again as she was talking about Quilter’s Doodles.

She said that this next quilt was supposed to be at her display since it was the perfect example of her techniques, but, alas, it had been accepted into the show so wasn’t available for the sampler…..

A Quilter’s Doodles Quilt” by Karen Miller

Next, I spent time with Nancy Roelfsema who talked about “Coping Strips”. No, they don’t help you cope with your life, but they do help to put different sizes of blocks together perfectly!!

The comment that struck me most was that when you have a block with points, don’t “square” it up, but instead “trim” each edge so that points aren’t lost and then add the “coping” strips!!

Next, I spent some time with Susan Cleveland who was talking about using piping to add pizzazz to your quilts. Her technique is interesting and I admit that I bought her supplies to give it a try sometime.

I also spent some time with Karen Kay Buckley on both mornings as she talked about preparing applique pieces. Last year, she taught me to use templar plastic to prepare my fabric pieces and her templates are the ones that I have used for my circles. I did learn that a few of my templates had warped because I was using too hot of any iron!!! On the second day, I watched as she prepared pieces with internal and external points and I certainly feel more confident about trying them at home.

One of my favorite exhibits in the show was the “Up and Coming Quilter’s”. Terri Grant was one of the people featured and I have been following her blog for many years and have loved her work. She was scheduled to do a talk about her quilts but wasn’t able to be there. I would have loved to meet her in person!!

One of the reasons that I wanted to meet her is because she owns a piece of my work. MANY years ago, I created a small quilt and offered it as a gift on my blog to celebrate my first blogging anniversary, and she won it!! When she posted photos of her new studio I was excited to see a corner of it in the sitting room of her new building….

She hasn’t been posting much in the last year so I am a bit worried that she might not be well.

When we hit the main show floor again, we realized that we had missed a very important aisle…..the portrait quilts. These always amaze me and the following were my favorites…..

“Pensive Pause” by Linda Anderson

The quilter made this next quilt by turning a photo into a mosaic pattern and then laser cutting 4,000 pieces!!! It is so cute…..

“Are You Smiling at Me?” by Heidi Proffetty

The excitement on this little boy’s face is palpable…..

“Mi Nieto Ismael” by Immaculada Gabaldon

This was one of my favorites…..based on a photo where the dog was being introduced to the newest member of the family……

“Hello Momo” by Hiroko Miyama

Needless to say, this landscape/portrait struck my fancy…..

“Artistic License” by Kathy McNeil

I loved this architectural piece…..

“Rails, Ducts and Stairs” by Judi Bastion

….probably because it reminded me of a photo that I took in a palace in India…..

This next quilt was interesting in that it used only two colors and that the designs were made with strips of striped fabric…..

“two Friends” by Gabrielle Paquin

The colors in this cathedral were amazing, but the hexagon background is what really caught my attention…..

“Church of the Bread of Life” by Amy Munson

This landscape from Taiwan was also a crowd pleaser…

“My Hometown – Seeing Beautiful Taiwan” by Hsiu-Chih Wu

The geometrics and color in this piece were eye-popping….

“Blau de Colors – El Turbo” by Montserrat Forcadell Blasco

And before we knew it, we were back at Pappasitos for our final Tex-Mex dinner, although we did make one last, quick foray to the Vendor’s!!

I am thankful for my friend, Linda, and that she is such a wonderful companion on these IQF trips…..

Here’s to many more!!!

Friday Fun Day…..

Friday morning started with the “Friday Sampler”, a two hour session where 29 quilters presented their specialties and we were allowed to move between them and glean what we could.

One of my favorites was Karen Miller who specialized in Free-motion quilting. On this day, she was talking about using rulers in your designs. After telling us about threads and needles, she then displayed a number of examples of simple quilting done with rulers…..

The “bead-board” border on this quilt is fantastic….and simple too.

I also spent some time with Gail Garber, watching her draft the amazing designs that she specializes in…..

I was reminded to go home and pull out my “flexible” ruler and GET TO WORK!!! This was one of her fascinating pieces…..

This landscape quilt caught both of our eyes, but Linda was the one to really see the vines on the fence post. Some of them were tiny bias binding and some were couched threads. It was super effective…..

“Missouri Barn” by LeAnn Hileman

This sweet quilt was one of the first that we saw when we arrived on the show floor. It was a magnificent mixture of thread painting for the bird and applique for everything else. I cant remember, but the windshield wipers may have been a photograph…..

“Curious Australian Bird” by Barbara McKie

These “dampened” colors made for a very effective quilt…..

“Midnight Rayes” by Mary Brown

……as did the colors in this quilt…..

“Season of Sadness” by Mary Molettiere

Just the opposite colorwise, this quilt was full of happy, bright colors and WAY TOO MANY perfectly matched stripes. This person must have been seriously OCD. But, the result was a fun quilt!!

“Piece of Cake” by Ann Feitelson

I spent a lot of time in the “Landscape” division and was drawn to this quilt……

“Beautiful Taiwan” by Hsu Hsi-Chen

….and was not surprised when I saw that the artist was one of my favorites from last year!!

I did love that she used a tulle over the fused applique pieces and then quilted over the tulle…….

This seems to be a current trend and certainly makes quilt with lots of little pieces easier to create!

I loved these gentlemen sharing their bench with a dog…..

“Still Life” by Pauline Salzman

As we wandered into the SAQA retrospective exhibit again it was fun to see an older quilt by Elizabeth Barton….one of our Athens, GA quilters!!!

“Warm Light” by Elizabeth Barton

This was the 45th anniversary of the International Quilt Festival. Since the Sapphire is the stone for the 45th year, they had presented a “Sapphire Challenge” and the results were amazing. There were old quilts, new quilts, big quilts, miniature quilts and everything in between. The medium size quilts were all displayed from the ceiling of the ballroom and the display was striking…..

After several hours of looking at quilts and several more in the vendor mall, we were both tired and headed back to the hotel.

The Holiday Inn Express is a special place to stay during Quilt Show week!! They do so many things to make us feel at home, including providing dinner for us on one of the nights.

It was fun to sit and listen to the voices of so many women united in conversations about color, fat quarters, rotary cutters, piecing and applique…..seemed a bit like heaven to me!!!

More IQF Fun….

Thursday was our first full day a the International Quilt Festival and, believe me, it was a FULL day.

As you know, I am truly enamored with thread work and quilting and these are a few of my favorites for the day……

This amazing quilt was another creation of Hollis Chatelain and there are no words…..

“Equality” by Hollis Chatelain

I loved this whole cloth quilt that was done entirely in free-motion quilting. It reminds me of a type of Zentangle design.

“Albert Hoffman’s Orbit” by Maria Shell

This was another whole cloth design and the quilting was exquisite. I especially enjoyed the dimension that she was able to get in the top sky checkering…..

I didn’t get the creator’s name…..sorry

I thought that this was an applique piece with some amazing machine quilting, but when we got to look at the back, I realized that the ENTIRE scene is done with thread…..

“My Lone Star Quilt” by Marissa Marquez

This is an older quilt (2014) that was part of the SAQA exhibit but the thread work is astounding…..

“Tibetan Treasure” by Jennifer Day

And this guy…..you just want to walk up and ruffle his fur….and then run of course!!!

“On Thin Ice” by Debra Crine

I didn’t include the entire quilt in this post but these bricks were quilted to great effect…..

This quilt was a group project and we loved how the ladies overlapped between the panels and also the way that each person added interest in the bottom border of the quilt. I wonder which one gets to keep the finished project??

“Maasai Women of Kenya” by Ann Brakob and others

This quilt was part of a “Seasons” exhibit and although the focus should have been the trees and mountains, everyone was oohing and aahing over the raccoons!!!

“Faces of Four Season” by Joanne Baeth

These two quilters certainly captured the soul of their subjects…..

….and these “Step Sisters” were so lifelike……

“Step Sisters” by Sonya Prchal

In the landscape division, I was drawn to this simple picture and amazed by the light that she added with fabrics…..

“Protecting the Flame” by Sandi Snow

When I glanced at this quilt, my first thought was that it reminded me of a photo of the Great Wall….and then got close enough to find out that it was the Great Wall!!!

“Great Wall Trek” by Karen Lambdin

This is a smaller version of my train quilt that was started many years. I REALLY need to get it out and finished!!!

“Diversity” by Maria Angela Lopez Sole

It seems that circle applique is super popular today. I guess everyone has learned how easy they are to applique…..

“Serendipity” by Kyra Reps

This quilt is a simple design, but I love the color movement…..

“the Ugly Duckling” by Mikhung Jang

We met this woman in the entry line this morning and were excited to see her with her quilt……

“Promised Season” by Sachiko Chiba

I attended two lectures during the day. “Playing with color” was presented by Cindy Grisdela and was another good reminder of how much color comes into play when designing a quilt. She encouraged us to think about where our color comfort zone was….what colors do we wear or decorate with. Then, she challenged us to step out of that zone and try different colors.

She did veer off topic for a minute and talked about machine quilting. Her admonition was to stop worrying about the individual stitches that you are doing but instead to think about the texture that you are creating. I think that is good advice.

The second lecture, “Kicking up your creativity” was supposed to by by Jane Dunnewald but she was unable to attend, so Susie Monday filled in for her. One of her first statements was the most poignant as she reminded us that, thru history, people have made things more beautiful than they had to be. That is a good reminder that it is okay for us to be creative and look to beautify our mundane lives.

The day ended with dinner at “The Rustic”, a new restaurant close to the convention center….

The grilled Jalapeno was the PERFECT accompaniment!!

It’s International Quilt Festival Time!!!

For the last two years, I have been able to attend the Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas with my friend Linda and this year brought more of the same fun!!

We arrived in Houston and immediately went to sign in and pick up our registration packets. It was so much fun to look at the show thru the portal windows on the second floor…..

The “party” got started…..

….in the usual way, with Mexican food from Pappasito’s…..YUM…..

I started finding quilt designs before we ever hit the show floor!! This tile was in the restaurant…..

….and the carpet in the hotel has inspired me for all three years that we have been here!!!

As we entered the show, the top award winners were display along the front of the hall and, in my estimation, THIS quilt should have been the top winner!!!!

“The Long Goodbye” by Lea McComas

Lea was there to talk about the quilt and her process. I was interested to learn that she first fused the fabrics to a background and then covered it with a Bridal tulle in a Champagne color. She then thread paints over the tulle. Whatever her process, it was a poignant and amazing quilt!!

One of the first special exhibits that we saw was the “Cherrywood Fabric – Bob Ross” challenge. Each year Cherrywood selects a topic and puts together a bundle of fabrics that must be used in the making of the quilt. When I heard about this challenge last year, I figured that it wouldn’t be all that great, but I…..Was…..WRONG!!!

There were a large number of quilts displayed ( I am guessing 150 to 200) and the designs were absolutely amazing.

I particularly enjoyed the “70’s” furnishings in “Painting with Bob” and the tree leaves on “Sunset Among the Trees” were done with ribbon embroidery……

We moved into the “Comics and Sci-Fi” exhibit and stood in front of this quilt for a long time, trying to figure out what it was……

“The Image of an Angel” by Erin Amos

Only when I looked thru my camera could you really see it…..NOTE….squint when you look at the above photo for best effect!! It was cool and terrifying at the same time!!

Not so terrifying was this comic sci-fi character quilt……

“the Eyes Have It” by Carolyn Skei

Moving into the “Modern Quilt” exhibit, we found this amazing radial quilt……

“Offset Radial” by Audrey Esarey

….and this lovely quilt by our very own Sylvia Schaefer!!!! I absolutely LOVE Sylvia’s quilting!!

In the “Extinct Animal” exhibit, I found a fun peacock……

“Green Peafowl” by Sherri Cyra

This quilt is a great example of using “Fussy Cutting” in an applique format. Personally, I think that this looks a lot easier than piecing…..

by Janet Steele

In the “Celebration of Color” exhibit I loved this fish quilt although I can’t imagine cutting out all of those fish outlines!!!

“Swim Team” by Betty Busby

….and this quilt reminded me that I need to get back home and get to work on my “color” quilt!!!

“Rainbow Blender” by Stephanie Skardal

We wandered into the “Tactile Architecture” exhibit and I quickly forgave them for turning down my “Tiles of San Giovani” quilt!!! I LOVE this archway quilt…..

“Passages” by Nancy Woods

….and this Eiffel Tower quilt was magnificent and was HUGE….probably 8 feet across….

“La Tour: by Damss Arnoldi Sarzi-Sartori

There were a number of other quilts that caught my eye, but this one was probably my favorite…..

“Iconoclastic Reflection” by Barbara Forrester and Jill Vickery

I was very interested in the way that the bricks were rendered…..

It appears that the blue was first quilted and then the splotches of color were added with paints!! What a great idea!! As I looked at the above photo, I realized that they outlined most of the quilt with black thread quilting. It really made the quilt “pop”!!

I took this photo to remind myself of an easy border pattern that I could use a straight ruler to create…..

Finally, I found two sunflower quilts to enjoy…….

I hadn’t even noticed the bee on the left one until I read the quilt title!! And, have a look at the center of the quilt on the right. This is only a portion of the quilt but I was amazed with how the flower center was created.

We spent most of the evening in the quilt area but did manage to wander a bit in the Vendor hall, and amazingly, four hours passed before we knew it.

I would say that it was a great “preview” for the days to come!!!

Back in the studio….

Thanks to several rainy days in Naples, and some fairly good time management (if I do say so myself), I am heading into November with NO outstanding accounting work to be done. The only things are my usual monthly clients. This is SUCH good new!!!

On last Friday, I ventured into the studio to start working on one of my three outstanding projects (they aren’t called UFO’s until I have been working on them for a year or more)…….

So, in line with what any red-blooded Quilter would do, I started…..

It actually started with my trying to find a place for the two new coats that we had purchased in Italy, which lead to cleaning out the coat closet, which lead to pulling out my old blue jean jacket that I haven’t worn for years!!

As I was about to pitch it into the “Goodwill” bag, I remembered seeing a jacket that had the back panel decorated and I decided that I NEEDED to do it!!

As I looked at the back panel…..

….I kept going back to flowers but wasn’t sure how to do the design. I looked thru my closet for a book that I thought might help and happened upon one of the stencils that I bought at Houston last year…..

This is definitely me!!!

I first drew out an approximate design on paper (minus the stem)…..

I started to just copy this exact design but instead started doing one flower at a time, using one of the Crayola Washable markers….

I am glad that I did this because, in the end, I decided that I didn’t need so many flowers, particularly small ones. It made the design much easier to do.

I started cutting out the first flower but realized that I was going to greatly reduce the stability of the jacket so decided to add Wonder Under and another piece of fabric to the back. BAD idea. Now it was way too stiff!! So, I carefully peeled off the fabric …..

and started cutting again…..

Then I realized that I still needed a layer of wonder under on the back to fuse it to the accent fabric that I was going to use.

I REALLY wished that I had thought it thru better, but it all worked in the end!!

I also learned that it was easier to cut with the fabric flat on my cutting table rather than holding it in my hands…..

Once I had it cut out, it was time to figure out what to put behind the cutouts. I considered adding lots of different fabrics but then this fabric caught my eye…..

After a few minutes of placement practice, I was ready to fuse the jean fabric in place. I did add one more fabric, replacing each of the flower centers…..

The final step before sewing was to add a heavier fabric to the inside of the jacket. This time my eye fell upon a fabric piece that Michael had bought for me MANY years ago on a trip to the Netherlands…..

With that in place, it was time to quilt. I chose a variegated thread and quilted around each opening at least two times. Then I went back in a added another outside quilting line.

I thought about adding more quilting lines, but decided that I liked the simplicity of it.

I am very happy with the finished product….

….and have already worn the jacket once!!!

Now let’s fast forward a few days….. As I was working on my next project, I was looking thru quilting books for some ideas and ended up with the Jenny Lyon book that I bought earlier in the year, and guess what I found……

….picture and instructions for how to make a “Lace Work Jacket”!!! She did it a bit different by doing the sewing first and then cutting out the denim. I am actually happier with my method since it meant that I could better place the accent fabric.

I am looking forward to wearing this next week when I am at the International Quilt Festival in Houston….

Let’s get back home again!!!

And now to finish out our month in Europe……

On Saturday we spent most of the day in the flat, working and getting everything packed and ready to travel home.

We did stop at lunchtime and visited Brandi Pizza one last time. Since we arrived a few minutes before opening time we were able to watch as they prepped the pizza oven…..

As previously, the meal was a wonderful success…..

Since Brandi is the place that invented the Margareta, I figured that there was no reason to order anything different!!!

On the way back to the flat, we stopped at the church located just down our street. We had passed it often and thought that it looked sweet. We were right…..

We ended the evening with a final trip for Gelatto….it was magnificent!!!

On Sunday morning, we were picked up by a taxi at 4:00am and driven to the Naples Airport. After a short flight to Rome, we had a 1.5 hour layover before boarding Alitalia, Delta’s partner for our flight into Washington Dulles.

Our first clue that this trip might not be wonderful was that we had been given different seats….NOT the Exit Row seats that we had booked!!! Then, the flight was almost 2 hours late getting into the air, which meant that we missed our connection from Dulles to Atlanta!!

Fortunately, there were two more flights that evening so we arrived home about 2 hours later than planned.

As I always say, it was sweet to wake up in the night and realize that I was in my own bed, in my own bedroom and in my own house!!!

Overall, we had a wonderful trip filled with times of working, times of sightseeing, and times of visiting with friends.

Where will the next trip be……wait and see!!!!!

It’s Greek to Me…..

I always do this…..get to the end of the trip and not get around to posting about the last few days until well after we are home again!! I guess that it is natural since you have to pack one day, travel the next and then there is washing clothes, buying groceries and generally getting settled back in at home. However, I vowed that it wouldn’t happen this time…..oh well, maybe on the next trip.

Anyway….. on Friday we were picked up by Michael’s colleague, Giovanni and driven east, following the coast to the city of Paestum where, surprisingly, there is an area of Greek ruins!!! The area is know for it’s three Greek temples that date back to 600 BC!!

The area is gorgeous, with rolling hills in the background and lush trees mixed in with the ruins……

You could see the outlines of the town, nestled between the town walls, and could walk among the setting stones for the houses…..

We spent some time chasing these interesting lizards…..

They were obviously used to people and were quite happy to run around our feet as we explored.

But, the highlight were the three temples…..to Hera, Athena & Poseidon. The magnitude of the columns was amazing…..

Michael and I kept seeing different angles that we wanted to photograph and kept passing the camera back and forth…..

There was a group of High School students working to remove the grass and weeds that were threatening to cover some of the ruins……

There was another school group ……

….and I have to say that these teachers were awfully brave to bring that many toddlers on such a field trip!!! We were interested that the teachers were talking to the students in English which might explain why everyone speaks so many different languages!!

There were some areas where you can see small portions of frescoes…..

and I’m always on the lookout for geometric designs…..

We had to take a few “people” photos….

We left the ruins and headed for our next destination…..a Mozzarella Buffala production facility. This Italian cheese is made from Water Buffalo milk and this farm carries the process from beginning to end, starting with the Buffalo pens…..

….and ending with the sale of the magnificent cheeses…..

The cheese on the left is fresh Mozzarella, the middle is smoked and the cups on the right contain Ricotta. When Giovanni placed his order, they packed the Mozzarella in a bag and added liquid to it. I assumed that the liquid was salt water but Giovanni said that it was the liquid that had been squeezed out of the cheese during processing.

Then his order was packed up in a small sytrafoam box…..

….and quickly (and I do mean quickly) taped up and presented ready to carry away….

Next we were off on a scavenger hunt to find a plant that Giovanni wanted to start researching. Fortunately, this hunt took us to some beautiful coastal areas. We started in one small village…..

….but the plants were no where to be found. We did however enjoy looking at the boats in this very comfortable bay…..

….and I loved this bit of street art, although maybe I should call it Pier Art…..

As luck would have it, some of Giovonni’s friends were also collecting in the area and knew exactly where to send him. We followed Google Maps until we came to a very small inlet, complete with a fence barrier that, fortunately, had already been cut open!!!

One of the first plants that Giovanni saw was on the side of cliff and, helpfully, Michael climbed up to get it for him…..

The area was gorgeous, complete with a natural archway…..

…..craggy cliffs…..

…and lots of interesting flora…..

We relaxed on the 2.5 hour drive back to Naples and were excited to see Vesuvius approaching meaning that we were back “home” again!!!

One more day to come……

Pasta Thursday….

On Thursday Michael didn’t have to go into the university, but did have some work that he needed to do, so we both decided that it would be a good day to stay at the flat and get things accomplished!! However, we did take a break around 2:00 and walked down for our favorite gelato!!

The evening ended with a dinner with Sal, Michael’s host for this trip and Giovanni, who has really taken care of Michael over the past two weeks.

Sal knew that we often ate earlier in the evening so made the reservation quite a bit early for Naples…..8:00PM!!!

Giovanni has grown up in the area that we are living in and had childhood memories of a small trattoria that he thought we would enjoy. As we arrived the owner waved off another family who apparently didn’t have a reservation, and then showed us to our table…..one of only 6 in the dining room!!! There is another dining area downstairs but, even with it, the restaurant wouldn’t hold many people!!

The room was covered in porcelain tile and the shelves contained bottles and bottles of wine…..

The building was originally used as a wine shop, dating from the 1700’s but was opened as a restaurant in 1978. I loved the dishes…..

….each proudly displaying the name of the restaurant.

The menu was typical Neapolitan cuisine and we began the meal with appetizers (Primi Course) including Fried Mozzarella, Fried potato and an Eggplant roll. Sal insisted that we have the Fried fish that we had seen in the fish market…..

It was all delicious!!!

As a main course, Michael chose a Tomato based sauce with Capers and Olives….

….and I enjoyed Pasta alla Genovese, which had beef and onions cooked in a wine sauce….

After we had finished these courses, Sal decided that we needed to eat some more so he ordered Fried Calamari, Sauteed Zucchini and Broccoli Rabe (the leaves at the top of the Broccoli plant).

We continued to eat and enjoy the conversation, the wine and the amazing bread!!! We were ready to leave around 10:00 and, amazingly, people were still coming in for dinner. They DEFINITELY run on a different schedule from the Arnold family!!!

It was a wonderful evening with these sweet friends….one old and one new!!!