Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gumbo Cookoff and Family Fun

Sid's Seafood Gumbo
Last night was our family gumbo cookoff that I mentioned in my last post.  It would be almost impossible to choose a winner, which of course we never do.  We've agreed to call these get-togethers "cook-offs" just to add a friendly competition to the cooking part.  

Lee's Gog Gumbo
Here in Louisiana we rarely get more than two people together and NOT have a meal.  It's just part of our culture.  And while it may be a mostly unhealthy part, we choose to hang on to that tradition.  After all, families have to eat, and getting together is way more fun when there's traditional (fattening) foods involved.

Angie's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
In the end, I have pictures but no clear winner.  We laughed about the first empty pot being declared the winner, but that would discourage making plenty, and when 30+ folks gather, there needs to be plenty of food!  Almost everyone chose to take a bit from each pot and mix it in the same bowl.  That's a way to bow out of the voting and not declare a favorite.
Lee's Pralines
I must admit that they were all delicious, but you know me and sweets, right?  The very best dish was the pile of pralines that Lee brought over.  Sweet, gooey goodness with pecans--it doesn't get much better!

Here's wishing you a Happy New Year of health and happiness.
Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas, puppies, and Grandpa

Here's hoping that you and your family had a wonderful Christmas.  At the Marcotte home, this Christmas was one of the best.  Although two of the grandchildren had a virus the week before, they were recovered enough to visit and spend the night.  All others are well and accounted for, and we counted our many, many blessings as we attended mass then sat down for Christmas dinner with our children and grandchildren beside us.  

Candy and her two pups

In case there wasn't enough chaos and merriment in our household on Christmas Eve, our Maltese, Candy, decided it would be a good time to birth her puppies.  She did very well for a first timer with a house full of guests and has proven herself an excellent little momma!

Five days old
Today the puppies are five days old and already we can see how much they've grown.  They whimper loudly for such tiny babies, move around and on top of each other and, apparently, are getting lots of milk because they sure are some round little babies.  Pink noses, ears, feet and tummies, they do resemble lab rats but with much cuter faces. Cotton and Candy are awfully proud, but then they did  manage to produce a cute little pair of pups! 

In the meantime, I managed to work up a terrific migraine and spent three days doing my own whimpering.  A Frova tablet combined with lots of sleep (well, sort of sleep) and it finally broke last night, so today I was able to visit my dad for his 82nd birthday!  Now there's a proud poppa!  

All of my sisters and many of our children and grandchildren were there to celebrate, so we had a grand time.  It was wonderful to visit with my sisters, and though they begin leaving tomorrow, there are a few more days of visiting before we all return to work, family and commitments.  

In fact, we're have a "gumbo cook-off" here on Friday.  I likely won't be blogging on Friday night as a result, but I'll give the results of the gumbo tasting and try to get a few pictures as well.  Keep in mind, however, that there will easily be 25 people in and around my house on Friday, so who knows what I may be able to pull off!

In the meantime, feel free to vote for my blog on Picket Fence--just click the button on the upper right.  

Have a Happy New Year!
Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.   24Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:   25And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.   Matthew 1:23-25  (

Wishing you and yours a wonderfully blessed Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meeting Christmas

I can't believe that I'm posting two days in a row.  It's getting more and more difficult to get to all the things I need to do.  

Today alone we went to mass, cooked lunch for the kids and grands and visited for a while.   Then I went into the studio to work on Josh's quilt, which is done, done and finished!  Yay!

Then I started on Audrey's quilt....the last one for my sister Angie.  And guess what I managed--the top is complete. 

I admit that I cheated a's almost a whole cloth quilt.  I say almost because I had to piece it.  

Audrey saw the fabric I had planned, which is this plaid from mom's stash and loved it.  "It's awesome, Aunt Mary!" were her exact words.  After we talked a bit--she told me to put her name on the quilt--I decided that I'd use the plaid and applique her name and some funky flowers.  This is one easy quilt.  The hardest part was creating the letters for her name.  

I decided to use the freezer paper method--drawing out the letters on the dull side of the paper.  After adhering fusible web to the fabric wrong side, press the waxy side of the freezer paper to the right side of the fabric.  

Cut out the letters on the lines and remove the papers.  Then place the letters onto the plaid fabric and press.

I used my Accuquilt Studio flower petals die and made as many petals as possible from one strip of fusible web.  Turns out that's 10 petals or two flowers.  

While I was placing and pressing the flowers on the quilt top, Richard was hanging new curtains in the studio.  We finally found some that I like last night while shopping.  

They are simple brown drapes that are rather thin, but I wanted them to be just heavy enough to block out the view from outside.  They have the extra large grommets across the top so that I can easily open and close them.  

The old curtains, which I kept, were hung on the two smaller windows which have the air conditioners.  They are Roman shade-type drapes that are insulated, so they can be pulled up to expose the AC or let down to cover it. 

I'll get back to Audrey's quilt tomorrow, but for tonight I needed to wrap a few gifts, and get ready for school in the morning.  All of the gifts that will go to the in-laws are wrapped and put aside for Friday.  Homework's done, and I'm down for the evening.  Here's wishing you a wonderful, safe Christmas.

Happy Quilting,

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas is so close and I'd really like to turn over the last of Angie's quilts to her before then.  That would mean she can give the quilts to her grandchildren as part of their Christmas gifts, and also it would free me up to do some of my own sewing during the almost two weeks of vacation that I'll have. 

Josh's quilt has been on the design wall for some time now, so I thought it might be good to get back on that one.  I had about a third of the blocks completed and almost all them rest cut out.  That meant I was able to finish the top during the week.  I loaded it on the long arm this morning and promptly decided that I wanted to repeat the sea turtle motif.

I started out by drawing the motif on my trusty little white board.  Once I figured out the basics I redrew the design with a different colored marker, trying to turn it into a continuous line drawing.  It worked....sort of, but I could see that I'd be able to use the motif.

I discovered a neat trick in the process.  I normally clip the board to the metal clad door in the studio, so the magnetic clips just always stay on the board.  Those same clips, moved to the side of the board helps to hold the board on the top bar of the long arm frame.  

I could easily see the design as I worked the first few onto the quilt.  This allows me to free hand "draw" the design without getting too mixed up.

I decided that the turtles would go on the large blocks and wanted to quilt some "X's" in the nine patches.  The "X's" simply did not work.  I can't seem to make a straight line and didn't want to pull out rulers.  Stippling seemed to be the answer.  

After dropping in one or two turtles, I realized that I needed to wait to quilt the nine patches because the turtles ran over onto the adjoining blocks.  In the end, I'm much happier with the stippling and like the individuality of the sea turtles. 

They show up on the back of the quilt since I used a soft grey thread.  This photo shows the backing fabric as white but it's really a light green fabric.  That and the darker green on the front both came from mom's stash.

All that's left is the binding and label.  Those will be added this week.

I'm hoping that Josh likes the sea turtles.  Since he asked for black and green fabrics, I'm not worried about those.  What do you think?  Will the sea turtles work for a 13 year old boy?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pictures worth a thousand.......ugly words!

I really shouldn't do this!  But I promised, so here they are.  Photos from the craft fair in Natchitoches.  It's amazing the issues with our booth that I can now see.  
Nope, I'm not doing that.  I'm just posting the pics and walking away.  Nuff said!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beautiful Birthday

Our little granddaughter, who weighed only two pounds four ounces at birth two years ago, is now a darling, smart, happy, little girl.  We celebrated her second birthday last week and had a party at her Mim's house.  (Mim is her maternal grandmother.)

 Here she is still in the NICU wearing one of the Christmas preemie gowns I made for her.  It seems so long ago that Meggan sent this photo to show me how cute she is wearing the gown.  She's almost two months in this photo and look at how tiny she is in her dad's hand.

 This one is from Saturday's party.  Very shy, our Caki.  She opened a couple of gifts, but it was taking quite a while, so mom put off opening the rest of the gifts till later when she could give Caki more attention.  She's such an amazing mom!

And because she has the most adorable smile--but wasn't feeling it at the party--I thought I'd snatch one of Meggan's recent FB photos.

And this is Sophie.  We can't leave out this little sister!  She's a steamroller who insists on keeping up with the older kiddos!  She absolutely enjoyed the cake, so Meggan asked me to snap a photo.

We thank God for giving our beautiful little girl the strength to survive and pray for all babies in NIC units.  We are also grateful to the nurses and doctors who must have the most difficult jobs in the world.  They know the struggles these babies face and know their chances of surviving, still they manage to face those struggles daily, giving love and comfort to the babies and supporting their families.  They are true heroes and I cannot say enough to express my gratitude for their dedication.  God blesses us by putting the most amazing people in our lives.  Please join me in praying for the men and women who care for the tiniest, frailest of babies and for the babies and families who need our prayers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Build a Basket.......on the cheap!

Tomorrow our church will have it's annual Christmas dinner and, since we generally bring a small gift for the priest, I needed to pull something together today.  Richard and I had talked about giving him a fruit basket since he doesn't eat meat.  While putting together his basket, I thought some of you might like a tutorial on how it's done, or at least my frugal version of building a basket.

While at Walmart during the week, I picked up a fun basket for $6 or so.   I really like it because it's made like an old-fashioned fruit basket but with a black Santa belt.  Today we found ourselves at Super Target in Lafayette after attending Catherine's 2nd birthday party, so we picked up a few fruits and a bag of Zapp's potato chips.

To begin, gather the items you'll need: a basket of any shape or size, the plastic bag for wrapping, several pieces of fruit of your choice, paper to use as filling, tape, twist tie, card or name tag, and one contrasting item (in this basket it's the Zapp's).  

The first step is to fill the bottom of the basket with paper, especially if it's rather deep.  Too much fruit in the basket will result in mashed fruit at the bottom, especially if it will travel quite a distance.  In that case, the paper will also cushion the fruit.  

For this basket I used recycled Christmas wrap.  Crush or shred the paper so that it fits in the bottom of the basket.  If the basket is really deep, put some used grocery bags or extra paper in first.  I put enough paper to fill the basket almost to the very top.

Now you're ready to begin putting the items in the basket.  I start with one large item, placed at the back of the basket.  Then I add fruit on either side of the large item.

I like to separate the fruit so that the colors are distributed around the basket.  Admittedly, I do lots of playing around while trying to place the items.  

In this basket I added the Zapp's potato chips but I always add in something that is not fruit or fruit based: chocolate, pretzels, a tin of old-fashioned hard candies, candles, cookies, etc.  Doing that adds to the textures, scents, flavors and so on.  

I especially like the sweet/salty mix of chips or pretzels with the fruit.  Just be careful when making your choice.  You don't want to give pretzels to someone who can't have salt!  Sugar-free cookies or candy with fruit make a great gift for a diabetic.  Fruit with caramel dip and peanut butter (or Nutella) make a good basket for a family with children.  How about fruit and cheese with a bottle of wine for newlyweds?

Once all of the fruit is arranged in the basket, spread the plastic bag on a large surface so that you can open and flatten the bottom of the bag.  Roll the top edges out so that they will be out of the way.

Gently put the basket in the center of the bag and unroll the sides until the bag is completely open.  Tuck the corners in and tape down if necessary.  

To add the card or name tag, punch a small hole in the top left corner and string the twist tie on.

Now gather the top of the bag well above the basket and fruit and gently push out most of the extra air.  Use the twist tie to hold in place.  Add a large ribbon for fun and you now have a beautiful gift basket ready for giving.
You can use the same basic technique for other baskets and save money.  Put together a basket of baking goods with measuring cups and spoons for someone who like to bake, bath products and candles for a young teen, gardening hand tools and packets of seeds for the gardener and so on.  

The final cost of this basket was about $12, including the basket, plastic wrap, fruit and chips.  I picked up the plastic wrap at the dollar store, carefully made my choices for fruit, and used recycled Christmas paper for my filler, all of which helped me to put together this basket for half the price of purchasing one ready-made.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Super Saturday bust!

While Richard and I worked my booth at the craft fair during the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, my sister Angie and her crew waited for the parade to begin.  They caught two parades, the lights, the fireworks, and the craft fair.  And we managed to attend four o'clock mass. What a day they had!
Photography by Stacy Burkhart Photography

Richard and I didn't have such a fun time.  We sat in the booth, which I named "The Cell" from 8 a.m. until well after dark around 6 p.m.  Then we had the joy of packing up almost every item we'd hauled there, breaking down the tables and tent, and hauling everything up a hill about a block and a half away with throngs of people in the way.  

What work!  I did enjoy meeting people and talking about my sewing, but truly, I get enough of that between my quilt guild meetings and you all.

And though I'd love to visit more, I have a final exam to prepare for tomorrow morning, so I must close.   We'll visit later when I'll tell you more of the craft fair.  Hopefully by then Stacy will have put up her photos so I can share them with you.

Thanks for checking in with me.
Happy Quilting,

Thursday, December 1, 2011


yep, just two, that's all.  Tomorrow I'll take a half day off and pack up everything, then load up the truck and off we go.  

We're planning to spend the night at my sister's house so that we don't have to face the two hour drive there from here.  That would mean leaving here at 4 a.m., not my favorite time of night!

The current question seems to be whether I'm ready for Saturday.  The answer....who knows?  Actually, I have lots of inventory, tables, a tent, some attractive ways to display the items, change, bags......I guess so.  

There are a few things I wish I could do, but for the most part, we're off as we are.  And I'm not unhappy or concerned.  Wish us luck!  

I doubt that there will time tomorrow to drop a line and I may be a little busy on Saturday, so I'll be back on Sunday.  (I hope with good news and photos.)  Till then,
Happy quilting,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nuts for Tips

Have you heard of  What a fun site.  It's exactly what it claims to be, which is the following:

This website began in the Fall of 2006 as a way for me to organize all the creative homemaking tips, crafts and projects I have collected over the years. It has grown to feature all the cool ideas and projects that I've discovered online (one of the most popular features of Tipnut).     I'm regularly adding goodies and there's always something new to check out on, you can subscribe here for free updates:

Have you heard of TQPM?  It's my newest quilting magazine and is completely web-based.  I love that I print only those articles and patterns that I really want in hard copy.  The rest I can download.  

It's from the same lady who started, so I can assure you that it's well written and includes articles and patterns by real quilters.  I'll do a profile of Cindy after the craft fair, I promise. (She's already agreed, yea!)  In the meantime, if you click on the link, you can see a few of the current issue's pages--just click on the magazine in the middle of the screen.

Finally, have you heard of It's another of my favorite sites. There's all sorts of stuff you'll love. I couldn't possibly tell you half. They're doing all manner of Christmas crafts right now. I just can't seem to keep up! Go check it out!
Okay, one last item--a request. We're starting over with the votes on  Yep, I'd appreciate it if you did, please, click on the blue/green picket fence button on the upper right.  It's just a fun thing for me to see the votes add up.  I know, it matters not one whit, except that I like it when the numbers climb.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Warm fuzzies

Today I decided it was finally time to tackle a project that two of my sisters, Angie and Sid, thought I would enjoy.  Can't imagine why they thought that.  After all, 
this is what I looked like after the project.  No, I'm not a lint roller, but it sure is hard to tell!

The cause you ask?  

This cuteness! 
Imagine your little tyke footin' around in these.
Not the cutest of boots? 

 Kinda want a pair for yourself?
Aww, sorry, they come in sweetness sizes only.

Not that you aren't sweet, you're just too big!
Doesn't matter how little you are.
If you're reading this, you'll just have to make your own!

Up next: tomorrow a pinkie pair!