Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pink and Pretty

I spent a pretty good day in the studio.  I somehow managed to escape the construction zone and spent a couple of minutes on Facebook with my sister who turned 49 today.  I'd sent her a message yesterday that I'd had a mass said for mom for her birthday and asked her favorite color.  Can you guess that her answer was pink?  I'm trying to make each of my seven sisters a table runner using some of the fabrics from mom's stash.  

Of course, I had that moment of inspiration after two birthday's had already passed.  I made a white linen runner for Angie, the oldest, in March and since Laura is the next on the calendar, she gets this one.  Perhaps I can catch up with Courtney and Lee's table runners during the summer.   I do feel a bit guilty about missing their birthday and plan to give them runners for their next birthdays if necessary, but I'll feel much better if I can take care of it sooner.

Sid's birthday is next in August so I have lots of time to get hers made.

Laura's quilt was fairly easy since I had the idea in my head for a day or so.  I hope to make a few more in different colorways for my Etsy shop, so before mailing it off on Monday, I'll have to take a few measurements, but it's not such a difficult quilt to make.  So recreating it will be easy enough.  The fleur de lis is my own design.  I had a die made for my Accuquilt Studio cutter.  There are three different body parts and three different arm parts and a crosspiece.  For La's quilt, I used the same body but the arms are different.  Can you see the difference?

The label reads, "La's Quilt  Mary Marcotte  Tablerunner 2011  Made especially for Laura Kliethermes from Mom's stash  April 30, 2011"  

What do you think?  Will using some of mom's fabrics add to the sentimentality?  I hope so.  Leave a note or birthday wish for La.  I plan to tell her about the quilt story on my blog, and I'm pretty sure she'll check it out.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Delay of Game

On Wednesday I had a doctor's appointment in Alexandria.  Dusti, our grand daughter, was visiting for a few days while out of school for the week, so we decided to enjoy our day.  After the appointment we did a little shopping and came home with fabrics and a pattern that she picked out.

She absolutely loves these bold prints, especially the polka dots.  Once we decided on a pattern, she had no problem imagining the little skirt in black and white animal prints, so we added three bolts to the stack already on the cutting table.  The cute little prints on the right are for the little grands.  They will get almost matching capris or dresses depending on what their moms want.  I won't even mention the final cost, but let's just say I could have purchased enough for a nice, large quilt!

So, instead of working on any quilt project, I came home instead to make a few garments for a 12 year old.  She was quite helpful, cutting apart the pattern pieces and separating them into stacks.  The dress sewed up in no time. We had to make a few adjustments so it would fit her cute little figure, but it's rather nice to buy the fabrics and have a finished garment in the same day.

On Thursday I sewed up the shorts.  The pattern didn't include shorts, so I had to put together something on my own, but that wasn't a big problem.  The bigger problem was finding a way to sneak away from Richard and Adam.  They are in the middle of a construction project and needed extra hands.  I still wonder what they do on "real jobs" since it's just the two to them on those occasions.  Anyway, I managed to sneak away a few times--once because I'd gotten so hot they were worried about me.  I just walked my flushed body into the studio and cooled off while working on Dusti's shorts.

Today I tackled the skirt.  The pattern claims to be easy, but that little skirt is a doozie--three tiers of gathered flounce does not make for a fun sewing day.  But in the end I got it tamed down enough to put stitches in.  The flounces are gathered just enough to make them, well, flouncy and in the way.  I pinned each one to another part of the skirt just to keep it out of the way while I sewed.  But didn't it end up looking really cute?  Dusti hasn't seen it yet since she went home yesterday (it's Jolie's turn) but she'll get it this afternoon.  I'm anxious to see it on her.  Richard says it's too big, but he's in denial about how much she's growing.  The dress fit quite well and needed only a few little adjustments.  Here are photos of the dress and shorts.  What do you think?  Do you sew garments?  Leave a comment and thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Blue, uhm, Busy Monday

I spent most of my day in the studio but did come in for a quick lunch and to do some blog reading.  I wasn't stuck, exactly, but I was tired and needed a little inspiration.  I generally begin my blog reading with some of the blogs I try to keep current with and then move on to some of their recommendations.  Today I found my way to 
So Scrappy  and am thrilled that I did.  You'll understand why in a bit, but first let's take a look at what was happening in the studio when I got almost stuck.

I started out with a plan to work on a small quilt for my sister's grandson.  She had an idea to have me make small quilts for each of her grandchildren using some of mom's stash fabrics.  Basically, I know two things: the kid whose quilt I'm working on and the kid's favorite color.  Today, I was working on Seth's quilt and his color is green.  So, I decided to make him a scrappy quilt in green.  

I played a bit last night with paper and pencil, so I sort of had an idea in my head that incorporated five inch squares and one inch squares all in green and separated with an off-white border.  Since I don't know exactly how large (or small) Maw (all of her grandkids call her Maw) wants for Seth, we're now at a standstill.  But, all in all, I think we have a great little quilt going.  I will add borders and have decided to bind it in a hunter green, which I've cut already.  The borders will begin with some of the same off-white and then, if necessary, I'll add one of the greens.

Since I'm supposed to use one of mom's fabrics, I made certain to do so.  In this case, I solved two problems--I incorporated a green from mom's stash AND I managed to use most of some of the ugliest fabric ever!  Because I know how overwhelming this fabric is, I chose to use it for the one inch squares.    It's a mostly green 70's type feathery print.  I don't know exactly how to describe it, so here are a couple of the blocks from the quilt.  

It's really appropriate because I am pretty sure Seth will remember mom as the older lady who was "confused" since he isn't old enough to have known her before Alzheimer's made life very difficult for her.

I used this fabric to make chair/bed pads for her.  They were intended to make it easier for us to move her and also to absorb liquids.  We kept one of these on her seat at all times and they were very useful.  Seth, I feel sure, will remember the pads.   In small bits, the fabric really isn't so hideous, don't you agree?

This is Seth's quilt top almost finished.  Just waiting for his Maw to decide how much more needs to be added.

Of course, while I was playing on paper, I didn't bother to do the math. I'm much better at the doodling part and, although I could have done this simple math, instead I doodled another quilt.  So while I was cutting, I cut enough to make a second green quilt.  Actually, I just cut too many of the five inch squares, but there was another goal, so as soon as I got to a stopping point with Seth's quilt, I set to work on the second one.  

It took a little longer to work out the difficult parts because in my doodling last night I doodled without worry and didn't bother with any math.  It's a simple enough little quilt, though, and didn't take that much time.  After all, I managed to get two small quilts well past the half-way mark.  In fact, both quilts need only borders before loading on the long-arm.  

The second quilt is definitely a worry-free little item.  I didn't make myself crazy about any of it, including making the hunter green lines line up with each other.  It's just a fun little baby quilt.  I've had a few other ideas now that I threw this one together.  

And that brings us back to So Scrappy, who had a really nice green and purple quilt on her blog.  It's part of a Rainbow Challenge that she's participating in and the blog entry was from a few days ago, I think.  But it just appeals to me.  So, tomorrow I'm going to play with green and purples.  In fact, I've already pulled out some purples to get me started.  I'm fairly certain that I would not have mixed the two together, but take a look at Amy's darling quilt on the right below.  The two colors work so well together.

Thanks to Amy and to the many other blog writers who inspire us when we're almost stuck.

And now what about you?  Do you blog hop every now and then, or do you follow loyally only a few blogs.  Why do you read any of the blogs?  Is it for inspiration, entertainment, or information?  Please leave your comments, I so enjoy reading your thoughts!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Green Groceries and Fried Salad

Our garden is really starting to come up.  The corn is getting as tall as I am and today we noticed a few tassels.  That means it's just a matter of a few weeks before there will be small ears ready for picking.  We like the baby ears raw right off the stalk--cob included.  My father-in-law used to call us the possums because we ate the ears before they're ready.  Then a few years later a company started pickling the baby ears and selling them.  I enjoy telling my father-in-law that I was (and still am) on to something.
Richard planted some pole snap beans in the hopes that he wouldn't have to bend down to pick the beans. His back and neck give him trouble, so he figures standing to pick the beans will be easier.  Either way, these beans are really growing.  They haven't put on any buds yet, but I imagine that they will soon.  There are a few hills in this small raised bed and another row in another garden.  The hills in the raised bed look much prettier than the others, but they are about two weeks ahead.
Our tomatoes are doing well, also.  They have lots of blooms and a few tomatoes.  It will be a few weeks before they're big enough to consider picking.  I can't wait to have enough green tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, and bell peppers for picking.  We make something called Fried Salad that is just awesome and is part of our summer treat.  We don't have it too often because, well, it is fried which sort of negates the value of eating veggies.  I use whatever is in season or I happen to have available at the time. I've included the recipe below in case you're interested in eating some not-so-healthy vegetables that are really the best tasting veggies ever!
Fried Salad
1 med onion sliced into thick rings
2 med bell peppers, sliced into thick slivers
1 lg zucchini, sliced into thick slices
3-4 yellow squash, sliced into thick slices
8-10 okra, cut into large pieces
2 med green tomatoes, sliced into thick slices
1 lg egg
1/4 cup milk
Tony's seasoning
1 cup flour
1 cup fish fry
4-6 cups cooking oil

Mix cut up vegetables in a large bowl.  Scramble egg and milk in small bowl and pour over veggies.  Sprinkle Tony's on veggies, mix well and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

In heavy skillet or deep pan, heat cooking oil until hot.  Mix flour and fish fry in a large bowl, and dredge vegetables in flour mixture, then drop into hot oil.  Fry for a few minutes, and turn over.  Remove to platter covered with several paper towels.   Serve while hot and crispy.

Variations: mix and match vegetables to serve the ones you prefer.  Other vegetables that can be used include Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, scallions, califlower, carrots, and mushrooms.

Enjoy and let us know how your dish turns out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another poem from me.

I Celebrate this Place

If you would find yourself, look to the land
you come from and to which you go.
            -Walt Whitman

Water moves slowly,
human eyes and the duck weed cannot sense its rhythm.
An alligator moves, making duck weed tracks,
brown water curving around stumps and cypress trees.

An gros bec, a great beaked-bird, swoops down on a dragonfly
feasting on mosquitoes,
its grayish brown feathers move silently through the heavy, hot air.

Cypress trees tower overhead,
a safe haven for birds, squirrels, and opossums,
their greenness turning
brown like slow cooked roux melting into the heat.

I celebrate this place,
the quiet peacefulness,
nature's respite from all things
modern or moving.

I celebrate this place,
the soft bird song,
the drab muted tones of nature,
the soft sticky smell of summer.

(From sometime in the early 90's)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Little Peepers

I have no idea why, but I decided some time ago that I wanted a few chickens.  We live on a farm, right?  What kind of family farm doesn't have a few chickens?  Right, so there I was picking up a bunch of kids at the LSU Ag Center and 4-H Museum just a few miles down the road from our school and a lady there was selling baby chicks that were just so cute and fuzzy.  
Okay, I managed to resist the temptation, besides I didn't have any cash on me AND I didn't really have a place for outside babies.  Afterall, we do have cats.  Lots of outside cats who eat anything on legs--mice, bugs, lizards, small snakes, birds--they have a varied palate.  How long could a couple of baby chicks last?  So I put the cute fuzzy away, gathered up the kids, and loaded the bus.  About halfway back to school one of the kids tells me he got my favorite chick for me!  I almost ran the whole bus off the road.  One chick?  I was now saddled with one chick?  And he was so sweet about it.  I couldn't hurt his feelings.  

So one chick was coming home.  But then the 4-H sponsor noted that one chick probably wouldn't survive alone and so maybe he should just keep the chick.  Yeah, sure, that worked for two seconds, then our sweet boy decided that he'd give up one of his chicks so my chick would have company.  The one chick dilemma solved.  Well, what the heck!  Chickens were wanted and now we'd have some.  Of course, two chickens weren't what I was thinking, but our sweet boy solved that as well.  

The "ag boys" returned the next day and although I wasn't at school, I got another five chicks.  So, now we have seven.  But wait, there's more!  A couple of teachers also got baby chicks--it is Easter, after all.  Once they found out that I have some chicks and a now a place to house them, they asked if I'd adopt their chicks after Easter, you know, when their kids get tired of caring for the chicks.  

So, there are now seven and possibly more on the way.  Of course, if you have a family farm with a few chickens, it makes sense to have a few ducks and rabbits, too.  Why not?  We have a too big garden, a large pasture with horses no one rides, an occasional cow or two, and lots of room for small fuzzy darlings.  

What we don't have is a protected space for them.  The chicks are quite happy in their borrowed hutch, but that's because they are quite small.  In a few weeks they'll be much too big for the little cage they're in now.  That gives Richard only a couple of weeks to build a bigger birdcage!  We've decided on a large (cat-proof) pen with a hen house near the shed.  I'd like about 15 or so chickens, enough to give us eggs but not so many that they overwhelm us.  Of course, that's my plan.  Richard does everything just a little overwhelming, so we'll see how the plan goes.  In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on both the plan and the fuzzy peepers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sweetheart Roses

When she was young and able-bodied, mom had such a pretty yard.  She worked in the field with daddy all day, growing and selling fresh vegetables, then came in to tend to supper, the house and clothes, and her yard.  One of her favorite plants was roses.  She tried her hand at some of the hybrid roses, but was most successful with the older roses.....those that she could snip a cutting from and stick in the ground.

Of the roses that she grew, she especially loved the little pink roses she called sweetheart roses.  She gave cuttings to most of us as we grew up and moved into our own homes.  I had several plants in front of the porch at our first home.  The boys tried with all they had to trample the little plants, but each spring a new bunch of pink sweeties opened up and laughed at them.

When we moved to our current home, I got new cuttings--some from mom and some from the plants at the old house.  I planted three cuttings on each side of our front porch and they've done very well for about 15 years now.  

However, a week or so ago, I noticed that the winter weather killed off two of my bushes.  Luckily, I had dropped a brick on a wayward limb last fall.  As a result, I had a new little cutting rooted in place.  Richard dug it up and moved it to the spot where the other two were, so there's no longer a huge gap on one side of the porch.  I'm hopeful that the new plant will spread and fill in the space. 

What plants are special to you?  Leave a note and tell us why.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strawberry Fields

Quick! Pick it before the mocking bird gets it!
For the second year in a row, we've planted and raised strawberries for our family.  This year's crop is not as heavy as last year's, but we're starting to fill up!  I put a few in the freezer after we got tired of eating fresh berries, strawberry/banana salad, strawberry shortcake, strawberry everything!

If the weather stays cool, we'll be eating berries
for a few more days.
Our older grandchildren have learned to simply grab the berry basket and race to the garden.  Our younger granddaughters were too little to enjoy the berries last year, but this year we can't seem to pick enough for them.  Marley lives next door, so she's a regular picker.  She and her dad come by, eat a few berries while standing in the garden, then go home again.  He's discovered that picking them while she's there is less stressful.  When she's had enough, he just can't seem to find some red ones.

She wasn't too particular at first, she'd eat the red ones and the pink ones.  Then one day she picked her own.....a white-pink one.  It was a bit more tangy than she could handle.  Her little squinty faces were cute for a while anyway.  Since then she's more particular about the ones she picks now.

What's left after one picking by the big kids.
Caki, on the other hand, lives an hour away, so she gets goodies from Grammy and Poppa only once in a while.  They are a busy little family and gas has reached untouchable prices, so our visits don't happen anywhere as often as we'd like.

When they come for a visit, though, Caki loves to play in the yard and finding her way to the strawberry patch is part of that.

What about you?  Do you have small children in your life?  If so, what do you do to bring nature into their lives?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Frolicking Friday

Pink or brown?

Friday was such a fun day.  I raced home to play in the studio and let nothing get in my way.  Going straight to the stash, I pulled out some pinky-brown fabrics.  There was no rhyme or reason, I just started pulling some really pretty fabrics that I felt like playing with.....a solid, a light small plaid, a floral.  Just a pretty variety of matching fabrics.

Since I made "Butterfly Kisses," I've wanted to make another in the same modern style but with a twist.  The fabrics felt perfect for another butterfly quilt, so I set to playing with the butterflies.  I didn't get very far Friday night (the grandkids interrupted the play time) but I did get most of the piecing for the background done.

This morning I woke up later than I wanted to, but eventually I found my way into the studio to complete the background.  I used the butterfly patterns I'd made for "Butterfly Kisses" so it didn't take long to see the finished top. 
Close up of quilting motif--stippling with butterflies

 It was a perfect spring project for such a beautiful spring day.  At some point I threw the curtains open and at some later point, I was forced to turn on the A/C.  The weather was gorgeous--cool, brisk, clean and bright.  Although the indoors got a little too warm, it was surprisingly chilly outdoors.

After lunch I dug around in the stash again for something just a little different for a focus fabric.  I'd had an idea that included many of the same pinkish-browns.  Just where this idea came from I could not say.  I thought of making a family tree quilt with enough leaves for each family member.  Once I found the bird fabric, I knew it would come together.  And here are the results!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writing and Poetry

As a writer, I've had wonderful opportunities to meet and work with colleagues and teachers through the Acadiana Writing Project.  The AWP is a supportive group of writers at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette who were instrumental in my growth from a classroom English teacher to a  writing instructor at Louisiana State University at Alexandria.  

I've given presentations throughout the southern part of Louisiana, at several state conferences and at the National Association of English Teachers.  In these presentations I not only model writing for other teachers and give them lessons and ideas for their classrooms, I model my own writing.  Sitting down with pen and paper or computer when they do and composing something, anything that I would be willing to share with my peers.  

The following poem is one of those somethings.  I'll share a few more of my poems in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this one.  Please leave a message either way, I'd love to hear from you.

Categorical Aftermath

Camille, Andrew, Charley, Ivan, Frances, Hugo, Jeanne, Katrina
Lettered. Numbered. Categorized. Alphabetized.
Twist their way into human memory.
Turn their wrath on human lives.
Entwine the human psyche.

Devastation of
Shattered lives
Drowning in mementos,
Coffered in attics.

Hunger thirst death
Take their toll,
Count their rations.

Wind, water, heat
Spin into
Mother Earth’s Darwinist theory
Elders, illness, infants into weaklings,
Survival reliant on instinct and ability.

Faith, hope, dreams
Become ruins
Build into communities of desperation,
Buttress the losses,
Befit that restoration.
Cities rising like Phoenix burned.


Human spirit.
Human lives.
Human survival.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blue Monday continues

For today's Blue Monday post, I'm introducing the Blue Bonnet Club.  A quilt I made a few years ago, I finally quilted it after getting the long arm.  Rather than talk a whole lot about what it is and has, I'll just let the photos explain.  Hope you enjoy and give me your honest opinion.....the girls and I can take it.
The Blue Bonnet Club

Close up of stippling and trapunto hearts.  Note the girls are all wearing blue but their accessories are different.

The border with a narrow ruched border to add some texture.
Hope you enjoyed.  Leave a note.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Palmetto Island State Park

We spent the weekend with our children and grandchildren who live in Rayne, La.  Enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a nearby restaurant, played with the grandkids, attended mass and then spent a couple hours in our favorite state.  Palmetto Island State Park hasn't been over for very long, and Rory has mentioned it several times.  So we decided to drive down and check it out.

Nature trailThe park is very nice and has many amenities, although the gravel and shell roads are not one.  The dust was pretty bad and Richard and I wondered how much worse it will be come summertime.  I'm not one to "rough it" too much.  I've done my share of camping in sand, sun and grit while raising the boys.  These days I'm more of a clean, quiet cabin type when it comes to camping and such.  I don't have to have the luxuries of  five-star hotels, but they definitely get my high scores.

One of the amenities of the park is the water pad.  Imagine taking the kids out for a picnic, a long hike, fishing or boating and then top it off with a romp in the cool, clean water streaming from every angle.  Doesn't that sound like the perfect way to close out the day?  Clean them off and cool them down, then settle in the car for the drive home, everyone's irritations and weariness washed away on the large colorful water pad.

The photos on this page and the following description are all from the Louisiana State Office of State Parks website.

Palmetto plants, for which the site is namedPalmetto Island State Park
Located on the Vermilion River, Palmetto Island State Park offers a real south Louisiana outdoors experience. A boat launch provides access to the river for fishing and boating, while the interior lagoons allow canoers and kayakers an up-close look at the native plant and animal life.
Layout map of Palmetto Island SPOvernight guests can stay in one of six vacation cabins, each sleeping up to 8 people comfortably. The cabins, nestled among the trees and foliage, are outfitted with a full kitchen and bathroom, fireplaces for those chilly winter evenings and a screened-in porch for listening to the crickets and frogs sing out their evening melodies.96 campsites are available for RV camping (20 sites include an extra tent camping pad), for those who like to get a little closer to nature.
The visitor center complex will defintely be a "must do" for the day-use visitor, with a water playground and bathhouse. A multi-purpose room can be rented for meetings, family gatherings, weddings and many other events.The ever-present palmetto plants, for which the park is named, are echoed in many of the architectural elements around the park; so pack a picnic and have a scavenger hunt for them all!