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Turkey Tracks: “Nora’s Friends: Peter and Benjamin Rabbit” Quilt

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Turkey Tracks:  May 16, 2012

Nora’s Friends:  Peter and Benjamin Rabbit Quilt

My dear friend Rosie Pilkerton gave me this fabric panel about two years ago.  The kit was meant as a wall hanging–or an infant quilt–and came with backing and batting.  Rosie made it as a wall hanging and did a lot of wonderful free-motion quilting around the scene of the two rabbits.

Nora is Julia’s little sister–and I wanted a quilt she could love to death for her.  So, I added borders and made the quilt larger for a growing almost-toddler.

Here’s the finished quilt:

And another view:

You can see that I put in a wide outer border so that I could practice with the Constantine Quilts swag ruler–which is easy once you get the hang of it and which is so much fun and which makes a really nice border.  Constantine Quilts is an Australian company, but they now have an American distributor, Quilted Memories, LLC.  There are great videos on Utube to show you how to use these “no-nonsense” long-arm rulers.  I started with the 5-inch swag ruler and just ordered the 8-inch.  The number denotes the WIDTH of the swag.

Here’s a close-up of this adorable panel:

Here’s a view of the borders.  I like the red brick fabric I found–it spoke to me of English garden brick walls and bunnies who find ways around them.  I used it for the binding as well.

I was able to take this quilt back to the domestic machine and sew all the “stitch-in-the-ditch” borders down–that worked really well actually–with a walking foot, of course.

The backing is a soft cream polka-dot fabric, which blended beautifully with the front.  And you can see how pretty that swag border is from the back.  And, the nice lines made when I stitched down the borders from the front.

Thanks you again, Rosie.  Nora thanks you as well!

Written by louisaenright

May 16, 2012 at 11:51 am

Turkey Tracks: “Julia’s Jungle” quilts

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Turkey Tracks:  May 16, 2012

Julia’s Jungle Quilt

Steve, Ann, and their daughter Joann (one of my favorite people in this world) visited last week–driving up from Boston for the day.  Joann has two little girls, so I got myself organized, pulled down two quilting kits I had collected along my quilting way, and made them each a quilt.  These quilts are loosely quilted so as to be soft and cuddly and are meant to be dragged around, washed, and loved to death.

Here’s “Julia’s Jungle”–made from a kit assembled by Debbie at Quilt Diva’s in Rockland.  Debbie and Doris of Quilt Divas have a terrific selection of kid-friendly fabrics.

I especially like the orange-stripe binding on this quilt–which Debbie included in the kit packet.

Here’s a close-up of one of the panel’s animals:

Here’s  a picture of the borders–the black and white animal print works really well, don’t you think?

One of the fun things Debbie did when putting this kit together was to include some big, orange rickrack, which she used to separate what is really two panels.  Both the rick-rack and the orange-striped binding really drew me to this kit.

I like the backing I found for this quilt:

Joann reports that Julia loves her quilt.  I am so glad.  I had fun making it.

Written by louisaenright

May 16, 2012 at 11:32 am

Interesting Information: “Work Till You Drop”

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Interesting Information:  May 11, 2012

“Work Till You Drop”

The government wants to increase line speed at poultry plants.

Gabriel Thompson, writing in “The Nation” (14 May 2012), describes what it was like to work on a chicken processing line in rural Alabama.

Thompson processed 7,000 chicken breasts each night.  The pace of the line was “as relentless as such numbers suggest.  We often didn’t even have time to wipe bits of chicken flesh from our faces, and I took to popping ibuprofen during breaks to quell the swelling of my hands.”  One wall of the break room was lined with dispensers filled with painkillers–for sale.

The repetitive nature of the work causes lineworkers to get musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis.  Thompson met one worker who couldn’t hold a glass of water.  Another had had three surgeries on her wrists.  Another’s thumb joint had “almost disappeared after twelve years of line work.”

Current government-approved line speed is 91 birds a minute–which, Thompson writes, fails to “take worker safety into consideration.”  In January, the USDA proposed allowing plants to run the line speed at 175 birds a minute–nearly double the present limit.  On-line inspectors would be cut, creating a cost-savings for the USDA.  Poultry workers would now be responsible for inspecting birds.

This new plan will make foods safer, argues the USDA, since inspectors can now focus their attention on pathogens, like salmonella and campylobacter.  “BIG MEAT,” writes Thompson, will save about $257 million a year by operating at higher speeds.

Workers’ safety has, of course, gotten lost among the dollars saved.  But, workers have never been important to capitalism.  Workers are totally and completely expendable when industry pushes for classic speed up.  And don’t for one minute think that what’s behind this move is any government concern for its citizens’ safety or safer food.  This story is a perfect example of how industry can manipulate government into being a willing handmaiden to its purposes when good citizens do not realize what is happening to their fellow Americans.

What can you do?

Write USDA, of course.  And your congressmen.

You could, also, stop buying chicken parts.  Buy the whole chicken and cut it up yourself and tell your local store why you’re doing it.  You’ll reap a reward if you do your own cutting:  bones for chicken stock which we now know you can easily, effortlessly cook in your crock pot.

Most of all, you can realize that cheap chicken comes to you with enormous costs for way too many people:

the chickens themselves, which are miserably treated and fed very poorly on corn and soy;

the growers, who are caught in a terrible system created by and run for industry profit;

the workers who are injured processing the chickens;

the people who live on land near poultry processing plants, whose water is ruined and whose land is saturated with chicken waste;

the waste stream which has to handle all those plastic trays that hold the chicken parts;

and you, the consumer, who are being fed an inferior industrial product that’s, yes, cheap, but which is tasteless and has no texture.

My own chickens have personalities.  They have a sense of humor.  They are affectionate and social.  They can tell you they want a treat and can and do lead you to where the treats are located.  Just today, they spent the morning in the now-deep needs-to-be-cut grass in the front yard, sunbathing.  Their sense of joy was a pleasure to see.  The rooster watched over them, never lying down himself.

Mainely Tipping Points 42: What’s Wrong With Grains?

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Mainely Tipping Points 42:  May 9, 2012

Part II:  The Paleo Diet 

What’s Wrong With Grains?


Paleo Diet advocates argue that humans are genetically wired to eat meat, foraged vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  Paleo peoples, they argue, did not eat grains, legumes, or dairy and were, as described in Part I of this series, superbly healthy.

What is it about grains that makes so many, varied researchers (see Part I) forbid us to consume grains or caution us to prepare them properly if we do?

First, we’re eating too many grains on a daily basis.  Luise Light, M.S., Ed.D, wrote WHAT TO EAT, in part, to make the case that Americans are eating way too many grains.  As detailed in Tipping Points 12, Light was hired by the USDA to produce the 1980 food guide.  Light’s team of scientists concurred that two (women/children) to three (men) daily servings of whole grains were optimal.  A serving is usually one piece of bread or one-half cup of grains.  When Light sent the new food guide to the office of the Secretary of Agriculture (a political appointee), it came back changed:   grain servings now numbered six to eleven.  Light was horrified, furious, and feared, especially, that the alteration would increase national risks of obesity and diabetes.    

William David, M.D., a preventive cardiologist who recently published WHEAT BELLY, a “New York Times” bestseller, describes how many feet grain products occupy in the average grocery store (pg. 13).  How much of your grocery store does the bread aisle, the cereal aisle, the pasta aisle, the cracker aisle, the cookie aisle, the chip aisle, the baking aisle, the wheat products in the fresh and frozen food cases, and the store bakery occupy?  How many servings of grains are you eating daily?

Secondly, grains are mostly carbohydrate.  Wheat, David writes, is “70 percent carbohydrate by weight, with protein and indigestible fiber each comprising 10 to 15 percent” and with a tiny bit of fat rounding out the package (32).  Today, a host of American nutritional “experts” promote eating whole-grain products as they are complex carbohydrates, unlike simple sugars. 

But, David writes that the carbohydrate in wheat is split between amylopectin A (75 percent) and amylose (25 percent).  Amylopectin A is “efficiently digested by amylase to glucose, while amylose is much less efficiently digested, some of it making its way to the colon undigested.”  Amylopectin A is the most digestible of the amylopectin forms found in plants, which means that wheat increases blood sugar more than other complex carbohydrates.  In effect, “eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.” (32).  Indeed, the glycemic index of whole grain bread (72) is higher than sucrose (59) or of a Mars bar (68) (pg. 32). 

Third, grains, like all plants, have developed powerful—and mostly underestimated– chemical properties in order to carry out their life agendas.  Rob Wolf, in THE PALEO SOLUTION, notes that if you eat a grain, “that’s it for the grain.”  But, grains don’t go down “without a fight” and  grains are “remarkably well equipped for chemical warfare” (88).

Wolf does a really good job of explaining the adverse impact on humans of the chemicals in grains—information that is both widely available and, for the most part, ignored.  This subject is complicated:  I can only try to summarize the highlights.  Hopefully, you will investigate more deeply, especially if you are having digestive problems, arthritis, diabetes, neurological problems, or infertility.     

All grains, writes Wolf, contain a variety of proteins, called lectins.  These proteins cause more damage when derived from the gluten-containing grains—wheat, rye, barley, and oats.  Lectins are “not broken down in the normal digestive process,” which leaves “large, intact proteins in the gut.”  Grains also contain protease inhibitors, which “further block the digestion of dangerous lectins “ (85-99).

Serious problems occur when undigested proteins “are transported intact through the intestinal lining.”  For one thing “these large, intact protein molecules are easily mistaken by the body as foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, or parasites,” so the body begins to create antibodies to attack them.  In addition, the undigested lectins damage the intestinal lining during passage, which allows “other proteins to enter the system,” and the body creates antibodies for them.  These antibodies can attach themselves to organs and, even, your brain.  Attachment causes a “wholesale immune response” that destroys the tissue of that organ (85-99).

When the intestinal wall is damaged, writes Wolf, the “chemical messenger, cholecystokinin (CCK) is not released—so the gall bladder and the pancreas malfunction, which results in nondigestion of the fats and proteins we have eaten.  Removing the gall bladder is the mainstream solution, but this procedure is akin to “killing the `canary in the coal mine.’ “  Wolf believes removing grains from the diet and allowing the gut to heal is a better solution.

Grains, notes Wolf, also contain antinutrients, like the phytates, which help prevent premature germination of the grain.  Phytic acid, in humans, binds to calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, which means your body can’t absorb these minerals.  Malabsorption is one reason ancient peoples who started settled agricultural lives “lost an average of six inches in height” (93-94). To partially mitigate the impact of phytic acid, the Weston A Price Foundation advocates grains be soaked, sprouted, or fermented.

Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT, in “Grains:  Are They Really a Health Food?:  Adverse Effects of Gluten Grains” (May/June 2012, “Well Being Journal”), notes that grains contain goitrogens, which are substances that inhibit the thyroid.  She also notes that “chronic carbohydrate consumption, in general, depletes serotonin stores and greatly depletes the B Vitamins required to convert amino acids into many needed neurotransmitters”—which may be a cause of today’s “rampant serotonin deficiencies, clinical depression, anxiety, and some forms of ADD/ADHD in our populations” (3). 

Fourth, grains are addictive.  Wolf says grains “contain molecules that fit into the opiate receptors in our brain….the same receptors that work with heroine, morphine, and Vicodin” (96).  Gedgaudas says the morphine-like compounds in gluten-containing grains, called exorphins, are “quite addictive” and leave “many in frank denial of the havoc that gluten can wreak” (5).  She calls gluten a “cereal killer” (4).  Davis agrees and writes that grains can produce the same vicious circle of addiction and withdrawal that crack cocaine does (44-45).   

Fifth, and maybe the most important reason of all, as Davis explains in WHEAT BELLY, is how since the 1950s the wheat that humans have eaten for the past several centuries has been radically changed by industry to increase yield and to allow patents.  These changes have introduced gene changes that “are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of genes apart” from the pre-1950s wheat (22).  Wheat now contains a new “protein/enzyme smorgasbord” that has never been tested on humans (22). 

Davis warns that if you eliminate wheat for several weeks and try to eat it again, you will likely have extreme reactions.  In his clinical practice, however, eliminating wheat has consistently produced weight loss, the loss of the dangerous “wheat belly,” and the cessation of many chronic conditions. 

In Tipping Points 32, I discussed Konstantin Monastyrsky’s 2008 book, FIBER MENACE:  THE TRUTH ABOUT FIBER’S ROLE IN DIET FAILURE, CONSTIPATION, HEMORRHOIDS, IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME, ULCERATIVE COLITIS, CHROHN’S DISEASE, AND COLON CANCER.  Monastyrsky believes one should eliminate grains gradually as the body has to adjust, which is what I am doing—though I am having severe reactions when I eat wheat these days.  Swedish Bitters, a tonic made from greens, helps with any constipation that ensues with the cessation of eating a lot of grain fiber.       


Turkey Tracks: Bar None Quilt

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Turkey Tracks:  May 7, 2012

Bar None Quilt

“Bar None” is all finished.  I LOVE this quilt–from the way it came together to the quilting in it and the binding of it.

Here’s how it started on the design wall–after I took a strip of the rectangles to Marge’s Mainely Sewing and, in passing, waved it over this purple/lime green fabric–which just made everything sing.  It’s going to be a bar quilt–with a strip of what is called “Chinese Coins”–or rectangles stacked into a bar.

Next came the blue and green borders, which I found on a rainy day at Fiddlehead in Belfast–lovely contemporary fabrics there:

What’s fun about this quilt are the lively colors–I adore the purple and green and the clearer blue all together.

The girls like it, too.  Both wanted pictures taken on this quilt.

Here’s a close up–see the swag quilting on the green border and the really fun toothy leaves in the blue border–I’ll use those again in the future.  The green border is done with green thread, and the blue border with blue thread.

Here’a another view:

Here’s a close-up of the borders and the terrific polka dot magenta binding:

Here’s the backing–which is a kind of reversal of the purple on the front–blue with tiny magenta dots:

I don’t know if the next photo will do justice to the free-hand quilting–it’s some of my best and I felt really good doing it on the long-arm–it’s a three-leaf pattern combined with a kind of twining vine that works like a meander to help me travel around.  The thread is a variegated purple, green, magenta, blue blend from Signature.

It’s going to be hard to part with this one!

Written by louisaenright

May 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Turkey Tracks: Making A Hen Saddle

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Turkey Tracks:  May 5, 2012

Making A Hen Saddle

I had to do something.

Two of my hens are in terrible shape.  Our new rooster, Cowboy, is about a year old now, and he’s a real “whipper snapper.”  We named him Cowboy because he does not miss a thing that happens on this piece of property.  Not a leaf falls that he isn’t right there.  Of course he’s that earnest with the hens as well.

Poor Annie Chickie’s back is entirely bare of feathers.

And my beautiful Pearl, the youngest and the lowest on the chicken totem pole, is a wreck of broken feathers and bare spots.  I’m really worried about her.  As the lowest in the flock, she hangs with the rooster for protection, so she’s “available” all the time.

The answer is a hen saddle, that protects a hen’s back from the rooster’s claws.  (But not, I’m finding, the upper wing joints.)

Buying a hen saddle costs about $20 each, and that’s without paying postage.

So, here’s the most wonderful web site for how to make a hen saddle–complete with lots of pictures.  The result is sturdy and really works.  I had to cut down the pattern a bit for Pearl, as she’s tiny.


And, here’s a picture of the first saddle I made–which only took about 20 minutes once I got the hang of it and had all the parts assembled.  I used an elastic that was too wide, so for the next two I’ve made, I cut down the sides of the elastic, leaving each end thicker to insert into the saddle and to sew on the larger, sturdier snap.  You can see the pattern I printed out and what nice pictures it has.  Also, the saddle is lined with iron-on fusible webbing, which gives it a little water protection and makes it really sturdy.  It’s two-sided, with fabric on both sides.

Here’s Annie in the first saddle–putting it on her was hard as she struggled and screamed at me.  These chickens are slowly going quite wild with all their freedom these days.  I need to get hold of her and cut out some of the elastic width on her saddle, which is best done at night after they’ve roosted.  Only she was right next to the rooster on the roost, and I wasn’t going to reach in the coop and get her without gloves on.  That would be certain folly and would just upset everyone.

It isn’t a great picture of the saddle, but when you point the camera at her, it makes her nervous.

I’ve now made a smaller one for Pearl, and I put a big one on Valentine, the Freedom Ranger.  The other girls are looking ok.  I think they are smarter about running from Cowboy.

THANK YOU “Back To Basic Living” web site!

Written by louisaenright

May 5, 2012 at 11:50 am

Interesting Information: Modern Wheat Raises Blood Sugar

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Interesting Information:  May 2, 2012

Modern Wheat Raises Blood Sugar

I’m researching grains for Part II of the three-part series of the Mainely Tipping Points essays on the Paleo Diet.  Part III will be on legumes.  Part I is on the blog, TP 41.  Click on Mainely Tipping Points essays on the right sidebar of the blog.

“Well Being Journal” (May/June 2012) published a letter from Mark Pasley, who heard an on-line interview with William Davis, M.D., who just published WHEAT BELLY.  (I’ve ordered this book.)  Pasley writes that “what got my attention was Davis’s assertion that modern wheat (which differs greatly from our wheat of just 50 years ago) raises blood sugar as much as table sugar.  So every time we eat wheat, our blood sugar spikes and then drops a couple hours later, when we (no surprise) crave more wheat.  This creates a cycle of constant hunger and snacking, as well as a potential predisposition for type 2 diabetes.  In addition, the way the wheat is metabolized tends to create visceral fat around the organs in the belly.”

Pasley writes, also, the following–which I find really interesting:  “Apparently, the changes made to wheat by agribusiness and the food industry over the years have created a grain–never tested on humans–that causes health problems for many people.”

Pasley decided to go wheat-free for one month after hearing the interview.  Here’s what he wrote:  “Since then, I have experienced dramatic improvements in mood, energy, and digestion by simply eliminating wheat, and my belly has indeed gotten smaller.  I don’t own a scale, but the last time I went to the gym, their scale said I was 7 pounds lighter.”

I have no idea what kind of research William Davis is using, and I’m looking forward to reading his book.  But I will say that I am increasingly finding good information (in that it is well researched by people with good credentials and being published in major mainstream journals) that wheat, and especially wheat gluten,  is a big problem for many more people than anyone previously thought.  Also, wheat is being put into all kinds of body-care products–where it can be easily absorbed by the skin–especially if it’s in a shampoo or conditioner being used in a hot shower.

Written by louisaenright

May 2, 2012 at 11:26 am

Interesting Information: Dog Guards Bike

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Interesting Information:  May 2, 2012

Dog Guards Bike

Here’s a precious video!  Watch it all the way to the end because the dog barks to tell his “owner” he’s ready to go.




Written by louisaenright

May 2, 2012 at 11:12 am