Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I know, an English teacher should know that "bleaggghhhh" is not a word.  Too bad, sound it out.  Definitely it's the only word/sound that comes close to my current state of YUCK.  Don't you just love a disgusting stomach bug?  That's what I'm bound to have.  I left school in a state of misery to arrive home much worse and getting worse still.  Hours of sleep later and I feel human, but this bug probably won't let me go.  Sure hope I can make it to work tomorrow......Prom does not decorate itself, and we're building an Eiffel Tower in the after noon.  After all, how can we have "Midnight in Paris" if there's no ET?Midnight In Paris Kit, Paris City Lights Decorations Kit
This is what our setting should look like: check out that Eiffel Tower and the beautiful gates.  Yes, all that!  So far, we've built the little lights, the hedges, and the gates.  We'll finish the columns that hold up the gates tomorrow and work on the tower.  Friday is the final day of setup, so we'll be scrambling but I'm hopeful that we have enough already built that we won't be cleaning and decorating all night.  Saturday is the BIG DAY.  No decorating, no, dresses, tuxedos, limos, etc. but nothing at school until the music and photographer arrive.  Sunday is cleanup and Monday it's all d-o-n-e!  Of course, I get to do it all with my new friend, stomach bug.

Here's hoping that this is one bug that does not find you, and that our Eiffel Tower goes up without a hitch.  I'll post pictures of the final outcome this weekend.  Most likely, between my stomach bug and Prom, there won't be many posts in the next day or two.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Spring Pictures

Indian Hawthorne on one side of house
Really, it's as tall as I am, but I don't want to cut it.
 I love the messy, overgrown look!

Today's post is going to consist of mostly pictures, because, well, there's only so much to say about one's yard, or springtime, or how much of the work I didn't do.  So I'll spare you the verbage, or at least some of it.  The photos are pretty cool, though, so here's a look.
Lady Banks rose that someone ran over last year.  Still going strong, but I really
expected it to die after a son (who will remain nameless) squashed it to the ground
last summer.  It looks good and there are new shoots coming from the roots.
So, maybe.........
An oak in the front yard putting
on it's new green leaves
Ornamental pear--flowers are finished; greening up
This pyracantha bush is the one that had all the berries last fall.
The next photo is the one I took and posted in Nov., I think.  

Pyracantha berries last fall.  Note that they are all gone now.
The birds wait to eat these last , but I guess they finally decided to dig in,
because there is noting left of the berries on the pic from today.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cottontop Cutty

I spent much of my Sunday afternoon with my baby, and Cotton got a trim.  Two hours later and he's maybe a little worse for wear.  Definitely I was.  

First we had to set up a clipping center and, since he hates getting a haircut even more than I dread giving him one, it takes more than just a simple table to plop him down on.  A few years ago we purchased a serving cart for the patio.  Since we rarely use it for serving anything, I decided to try it out for other duties.  

I often put plants on it because the wheels make moving them around much easier.  Today I used it to contain Cotton while trimming his overly long winter coat.  After I hauled out the clippers, combs, scissors, and so on, I cornered him.  He can tell, I'm absolutely certain, when it's about to be 'bathtime' or grooming time or whatever time.  

Check out the hair piles!  After it's all done, I still have to clean up, so back to the utility go the clippers, combs, etc. To get rid of the hair, I sweep it up and toss it out in the yard.  

The birds will come along for the next few days and pick it up to add to their nests. I supposed their nests are warmer and softer,  so I'm sure the chicks appreciate that we are so earth-friendly.  Now if only Cotton could appreciate how much he helps the birdies by getting a good winters-end trim.
At least he appreciates that it feels much better.  When he was finally allowed to escape, he raced around the yard jumping and hopping and shaking off the weighty feeling of all that hair.  

He still needs a bath after the haircut, but that will have to wait till he slows down a bit.  In the meantime, I will walk around the yard checking out the new growth, the work we did over the weekend and the work left to be done in the next few weeks.  

Friday, March 25, 2011

Elizabeth Enright's books

Product Details
Elizabeth Enright's Melendy quartet 
The Saturdays
The Four-Story Mistake
Then There Were Five
Spiderweb for Two
Going through a box of old books that we hauled from the middle school, I discovered a particularly old one with a vaguely familiar-sounding title, Then There Were Five.  I have no idea what was familiar about it, but I decided to carry it home and find out.  

This book, it turns out, was one of my favorites when I was young.  I am fairly sure that I read the book, and its companion volumes, a least two or three times a year throughout my middle school years.  I loved the characters, their antics, and their decidedly old-fashioned ways and language.  

Written in the 1940's, the four book set is about a family of four siblings who live in an older home with a cupola on the roof, called the Four-Story Mistake.  While their father is away away working for the government during World War II, the Melendy children--Mona, Rush, Randy, and Oliver-- spend an eventful summer in their new home making friends with other children in the countryside, especially the orphaned Mark Heron.    

S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders  
another favorite novel from my childhood
I wanted very much to be just like Randy (Miranda) and Mona: artistic, graceful, and grownup, able to dance, draw and write.  I even practiced reading and listening to conversations simply because Mona was adept at doing both at the same time.  As one in a family of girls, I also wanted brothers, and Rush and Oliver were just polite enough and brotherly enough to do quite well.  

Reading the book again at 51 is surprisingly fun and entertaining.  I'm finding that while I don't remember the story very well, small details bring memories flooding back.  If you've not had the pleasure of rediscovering a favorite book from childhood, I strongly recommend that you give it a try.  

Although I've thought of the characters over the years, I could not remember the title or the author and so could not find it.  I assumed that it was simply one of the many novels lost in my mind.  There are so many that I've read, that occasionally I even forget the story.  I suppose this means I'll have to return to more of those oldies but goodies!

Works cited: all book cover photos from

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Butterfly Kisses

Remember the sweet kisses your child fluttered on your face as a child?  I loved those kissy-kisses from my boys.  Since they are all grown up and getting butterfly kisses from their own daughters, or will be soon anyway, I can say that's been a long time since I got butterfly kisses.  Of course, I miss those sweet moments.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to go back or anything, but I do think of them fondly, like any normal momma with three strapping men to call sons.
After my little Jolie gave me butterfly kisses last weekend, I decided to make a quilt with little butterflies fluttering around.  It was easy enough--although I do admit cutting out a decent butterfly without a drawing or pattern wasn't particularly easy.  I tried drawing a butterfly at first, but I'm not that kind of artist.  So I folded a piece of paper in half and cut out that might be a butterfly on another planet.  But I kept finagling it and trimming it till finally I had more pieces of paper on the floor than in my hands.  That's usually some sort of sign, so I started playing with the pieces that looked Martian and decided that if I turned the wings upside down, and made the head a little more round and maybe a little more proportional to the body, I might almost have something.

Surprise!  It is a butterfly!  And not half bad, at that.

In the end I had two goals--to make the quilt "modern" by using large blocks of fabrics, and to include a butterfly motif that I could change up if the mood struck me.  The mood always strikes when I'm very close to figuring something out.  So, instead of one or two large (as in huge) butterflies, I added several different colored butterflies and used three different butterfly patterns.

 Somehow I happened to have a decent little floral print with really nice butterfly pictures, so I started with that.  The piece was pretty small, although longish.  I added pinks, a yellow, a green, and a blue and glued the butterfly appliques on using fusible web.  Then I loaded the whole thing onto the long arm and played.  I barely started when I decide to quilting using a stipple and quilting in ghost butterflies along with some butterfly words.  I used the pattern from the appliques to draw the ghost butterflies with my quilting pencils, which washed out beautifully.

My plan was to sell "Butterfly Kisses" in my Etsy shop, but when my sister saw it, she decided to purchase it for her grand-daughter. Then I posted a photo on Facebook and a few more friends/family asked about it.  Apparently modern is in or lots of people like butterflies.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blue Monday continues

Here's a Blue Monday idea--share your blue quilts on Mondays right here on my blog.  Send me a photo of any quilt you've made with primarily blue colors.  You can send your photos to my regular email address (  I'll drop it on the blog on the first Monday that comes along after receiving the photos.

Paisley in Pictures
And because I'm liking the idea so much, I'm going to start with a Blue Monday quilt of my own.  This quilt is one I started a couple of years ago.  I got stuck while trying to quilt it on my Bernina.  I didn't have the long arm at the time and thought I could quilt and applique at the same time, which I did, but I also decided to use the only batt I had--a thick poly batting that made it almost impossible to do everything at once.  I worked on it till I just got sick of the struggle.  I pulled it out last week and loaded it on the long arm.  It wasn't easy and normally we don't even attempt something so backward, but what can I say, I wanted it done!

It's titled "Paisley in Pictures" and is a medallion quilt of paisley motifs that I appliqued on.  My idea was simply that I wanted to make my on paisley print.  I know, it's crazy in a way: I could just buy paisley printed fabric.  But, as you can see, I wanted BIG paisley motifs.  I also wanted to play with the idea of creating and having fun designing different paisley patterns.  To stretch the quilt and add to the patterns, I added a couple of strips of additional on one end and another on the opposite end.  I framed the small pictures and the central medallion....and that's where I got the name.  Hope you enjoy and have had a great Blue Monday!

Here are a few close ups of the individual patterns in the medallion:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Louisiana Nursery Festival

We enjoyed a couple of hours at the Nursery Festival in Forest Hill.  Well, mostly we enjoyed visiting a few nurseries since the traffic was so backed-up on the highway that we finally gave up trying to get to the festival proper.  A couple of stops yielded a couple of fig trees, some blueberry bushes and some bedding plants for the flower beds.

Today we took some time to go to Moreauville to get a load of soil to amend the beds, and Richard planted the trees and blueberry plants.  The blueberry bushes have blooms and berries on them already, so we're pretty sure that we'll have a least a few berries this summer.

2011 poster from the La. Nursery Festival website
While outside, I checked the peach tree and saw that there are quite a few peaches on the branches.  Since peaches are my favorite fruit, I am very happy to see that my little tree is loaded down.  So, spring is shaping up and promises to become a fabulous summer.  Here's hoping that your garden and yard are doing so well.

Of course, giving up on going to the festival means we also didn't get to the arts and crafts booths.  I wanted to check it out, although we've been before.

Here's the link to the Louisiana Nursery Festival in case you're interested in seeing a few photos from past festivals.  I've also dropped in a photo of the 2011 festival poster.  The festival is a large one for our state and attracts visitors from all over the U.S. and even a few visitors from other countries.  It definitely is worth the trip to our beautiful state.

Richard and I decided to have lunch at Lea's Lunchroom as we were driving through Lecompte.  We had the delicious ham with rice and gravy, white beans, coleslaw and cornbread.  A filling lunch, that's certain, but we managed to share a slice of peach pie.  My favorite!  Click here to visit their website: Lea's Lunchroom.  If you're ever in central Louisiana around noon, make the quick drive to Lecompte for lunch, but save room for pie!

Crawfish Etouffe

Picture of Crawfish Etouffee Recipe
Crawfish Etouffe photo from Emeril Lagasse website
In Louisiana many people eat crawfish and consider it a wonderful delicacy.  My family prefers them boiled with potatoes, onions, mushrooms and corn.  However, we also eat them fried, especially on French bread as  Po'boys piled high with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, mayo, ketchup and mustard.  And when we want crawfish when company is on the way, we mix up a pot of  etouffe.   On Friday I used four pounds of crawfish to feed about 12 people, but we're big eaters when crawfish is on the menu!  My sister and her girls came for a visit last week.  Since we're Catholics and this is the Lenten season, I had to find something other than meat to cook for supper.  Laura suggested crawfish because it's not a food they get very often in Tennessee.

To make the etouffe, I generally use a huge Dutch oven made of cast iron.  It holds what seems like a ton of gravy, browns my seasoning well, and heats evenly.  The following is my version of crawfish etouffe but uses only one pound of crawfish tails which serves four.  At the end of the recipe I have added other uses for crawfish etouffe.  Afterall, once you master the art of making etouffe, you'll love the dish so much you'll want to wow your friends with it often.

Crawfish Etouffe

1/4 cup oil or butter
one medium onion (1 cup chopped)
two stalks celery (1/2 cup chopped)
one medium bell pepper (1/2 cup chopped)
1/3 cup plain flour
one can Rotel tomatoes
2 cups water
one pound Louisiana crawfish tails (peeled and deveined)
salt and pepper to taste

In a heavy pot, heat the oil on medium heat and saute the onion, celery, and bell pepper until just wilted.  Add the flour and brown until the vegetables are well sauted.  Add tomaotes and cook down, stirring continuously so they do not burn.  Add the water, salt and pepper.  Allow to simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes to make a gravy.  Finally add the crawfish and simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve over rice.

boiled crawfish photo from
We generally eat crawfish etouffe over rice the way we eat rice and chicken gravy or beef gravy or whatever gravy.  However, in Louisiana we love our crawfish etouffe so much that we've experimented with other ways to eat it.  If you're not on a diet, you might fry up some catfish, place a few strips on the plate and smother it with etouffe.  Talk about delish!  

We also like crawfish dip, which is essentially etouffe cooked down.  I generally use smaller crawfish for dip or chop the larger ones so that the dip is more consistently thick.  We love buttery crackers with our dip, but chips and other crackers work also.  

Crawfish etouffe mixed in with cornbread is very good.  Simply crumble the cornbread and use it the way you would rice.  And of course, there are many ways to use crawfish etouffe with pasta, but if you simply boil the pasta and drain, then mix it in with the etouffe, you'll have a fast, easy pasta dish.  Simply keep the pasta and etouffe warm on the stove top for about 10 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb the juices from the crawfish.  

If you haven't tried eating crawfish in the past, you might want to consider purchasing peeled, deveined tails from the freezer section of the grocery store.  Boiled crawfish can be a bit intimidating.  They aren't the prettiest plate of food when compared to, say baked turkey or roast leg of lamb.  But they are just as delicious and once you develop a taste for them, you'll probably be thrilled to break a mudbug in half and peel the meat from the tail portion.  You can't imagine the wonderful aroma or the succulent's something you simply have to experience. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quilt Judging articles

A while back someone from the Quilting Board asked where she could find articles on how judges look at a work when judging quilts.  I did a little research and found these articles from several sites to send to her.  Naturally, my interest was piqued, so I wanted to save them to read later, but thought you might also enjoy them.  They are in no particular order, just pasted to the blog in much the same order as I found them.  I honestly don't even remember what I did to get to these and, though I haven't read them all, I've found good info in those I've looked at.  Some are general articles, others are pretty specific and still others are from people who are judges themselves.  If nothing else, they make for pretty good reads just for the tips and insider info that they provide.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is here

 Spring has arrived in Louisiana.  In fact, a short stroll through my yard yielded several photos of blooms and a heady scent of nature's bounty.  The bridal wreath in the first two pictures are in the back of the house near Richard's shed.  We also have a line of plants along the front line.  These shrubs are one of my favorites because they remind me so much of my grandmother.  She had several shrubs in her front yard.  My sisters and I loved to play with them as children.  We'd break branches off the plants to make bouquets for a long game of "Bride."  Ma-ma's yard had a walkway or alley of plants from the porch to the road.  No one ever used the walkway, but we strolled up and down carrying bouquets of bridal wreath.  There was never a groom waiting on the other end since we had no brothers or boy neighbors for recruiting as grooms.  Ah, the memories of being a child bride with a long walk for pretending.

 These two photos of the wisteria on our back arbor just can't possibly do justice to the color explosion.  The arbor is 10 feet wide, long, and high, and is completely covered with wisteria blooms for about two weeks each spring.  They will be fully opened by this weekend but the bees will be so plentiful that I don't dare to get close enough for this shot.  

I love the scent of wisteria.  It's so sweet that it can be sickening, so the trick is to get a whiff from a distance when the vines are covered in blooms.  Although the arbor is pretty far from the back of the house, we can sit on the patio and still smell the wisteria.

The yellow vining flower on the left is Carolina Jasmine, and it's about finished.  This flower also has a wonderful smell.  I have it growing on a small arbor near the drive, so getting out of the car is a sweet experience because there's just enough scent to notice but it's neither as strong or as sweet as the wisteria.  It's one of the first plants to bloom in our area and not many people have them, so this one gets noticed by almost everyone who visits us.  

 What is spring without clover?  Here's a patch from the garden.  I tried to catch a honey bee taking care of business, but he was too fast.  I did catch part of an ugly mosquito, but I photo-shop'ed his lanky body out of my picture.  I'm already tired of the big slow-flying mosquitoes that come in the house and die on the furniture and floor.  They may not bite, but that's the only good thing I can say about them.

These last two pictures are here to serve one purpose: to show that in the spring we're so happy to see greenery that anything will do.  The first picture is of some sort of herb that I planted in my yellow bed years ago that's taken over.  I really liked the variegated leaves  and decided to use the plant as ground cover.  Well, it's covered the ground alright. Now it's a invasive pest and getting rid of it seems pretty impossible.  Of course, I could attack with Round-up but I won't take the chance of killing the plants I want to keep. 
This last photo is of something most people wouldn't bother to capture on film.  I really like it though.  It's proof that if you leave broccoli long enough, it will bloom and eventually seed.  The yellow flowers are tiny but with what must be hundreds on a stem, they make an impact.

Hope you enjoyed a stroll through my yard and that spring is finding it's way to your home (assuming you're in my hemisphere) so that Ole Man Winter will soon be leaving.  
If you're like me, you enjoy all of the seasons, but it's nice to change into different clothes and to get out for some fresh air.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sophie's Quilt

For most quilters a new grandbaby means an opportunity to make a new baby quilt.  I am no different than most, which means that when my youngest son, Rory, and his wife Meggan had a new baby girl, I jumped on the chance to make a little quilt just for her.  Well, I say "jumped" but the truth is that I waited until she came to finally ask Meggan what she wanted for the baby.  We decided on soft greens and pinks, but I couldn't help myself when I found this pink paisley in the was just screaming "ME! ME! Pick me!" so of course, I picked it. It was exactly the right color of pink and had the prettiest greens, golds and and beiges mixed in.  But I had to crank it up a notch, afterall, it's for a new grandbaby.  So, I tossed in a deeper solid pink and a dark green.  I knew I wanted something fast, not fussy, so I quickly settled on a nine-patch with my focus fabric forming a large block.  I recently found a quilter blog, which I can no longer find, on which the lady had been making cute fabric dolls.  The darlings reminded me of the stacking dolls shaped like eggs that fit one inside another gradually going from smallest to largest.  Turns out they are called matryoshka dolls, or babushka dolls. Originally Russian, the nesting dolls decrease in size and are placed one inside the other.  With three grand-daughters under the age of two, I had to try my hand at making a few of fabric scraps and polyfil.  It was fun and easy but then I had to go a step further: I added some dolls to the quilt I made for Sophie.  It was easy enough, just make a doll face and dress and  applique it on.  

For faces, I pulled out some embroidery thread and painted on lips, eyes, hair and a nose.  I found that loading my needle with one color of thread and sewing all the lips on, for example, before loading a second color of thread saved quite a bit of time.  And since I tossed on only five little dolls, it didn't take long at all.  If I were to do it again, I think I'd add hands or some other details,
but since the original dolls on the website don't have hands, I chose to leave them off.  I love the idea, and I think I'll probably consider doing something like this again.  I've been trying to think of a way to include the babushka dolls on a quilt that would fit in the nursery rhyme series, but that's been a little elusive.  So, until I can figure out how to make the two work together, I'll have to let the idea perk a little longer in my brain.  If you have an idea, please consider sharing with me.  I love the little babushkas, they are so cute, and fast and easy to boot!  They deserve a comfy nursery rhyme quilt to rest on!

Here are a few more pictures.  Hope you enjoy.  Have a great week and thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Quilt Names

Riley's Quilt
Go in Green
Sunbonnet's Garden
Bow Tie Affair
After reading the comments from my Blue Monday post, I started to post a reply to the quilt naming theories.  This is something that's come up in several conversations over the last few years.  Some quilters, like myself, think everything should have a name--kids, pets, quilts, poems, homes--the list is really quite long for me.

Afterall, if it's worth your time and requires something from your brain, such as creativity or maintenance skills, then it's worth putting in the effort to name it.  I wouldn't give birth to someone and just call him "you," although technically You could be a name.  (I once met a kid named Yes and goodness knows, we have some kids with equally strange names at just about any high school.)  My point, though, is that quilts deserve to have a name.  Sally or Bob or Mary's Quilt might work, but I like to get creative.

The more creative I get with the quilt piecework and quilting, more more creative I get with the naming.  In fact, I would venture to say I spend a good deal of my quilting time trying out names.  I'll have an idea, call the quilt that a few times and if doesn't respond, I figure that's not the name.  Sometimes it takes a little effort to figure it out, but it's  a surefire way of finding name.  Luckily, it doesn't take me much longer to discover the name than to make the quilt.....sort of like having nine months of pregnancy to find a name for a baby. When the baby comes, it should be called something other than Baby.
Le Boites de Fleurs

Now, if you subscribe to the notion that things don't need names, you might want to get into another line.  This is the quilt/baby naming line and it's moving slow.  In fact, it's just about standing still and not going anywhere at all.  That's because we know the results: get to the end of the line, think of good reasons to name something, wait to get to the front of the line and give the reason, then return to the end of the line to think and wait.  In other words, it's what we do in this line!

So, which line do you find yourself in: the naming line or the other line?  The other line may move faster or in another direction, but ours is Oh, so much Better!

Leave a comment, I'm curious as to which line you're standing in.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blue Monday

For my first ever Blue Monday post, I thought I'd introduce to you a concept that I've worked on for a few months--in an on again, off again, sort of way.  Mostly I have an idea in my head...that is that I would make a baby quilt every so often loosely based on childhood nursery rhymes.  Thus far I've completed two, both of them blue.  So, they're perfect for a Blue Mondaypost.  Of course this mean that I'll have to keep up two ideas:  Blue Monday and the nursery rhyme theme.  I certainly won't commit to a nursery rhyme quilt for every Blue Monday!  But, for today they work quite well together.  

Though it's difficult to see in this photo, I wrote the words to the nursery rhyme in the quilting.  "Little Boy Blue / Come blow your horn / The sheep's in the meadow / The cow's in the corn / Where's the little boy / who looks after the sheep? / He's under the haystack / Fast asleep.  The blue represent the boy's clothing while the yellow and yellow browns symbolize the haystacks.

The second quilt in the series, "Nimble and Quick" is  a quilt that I made after discovering Bargello.  I have tons of blue fabrics and chose to use some to make a quick and easy Bargello.  As it began to take shape I kept seeing a candle in there.  I know, it's hard to see, but in my mind it's there.
 I had been thinking of how it might fit into the nursery rhyme theme.  The only nursery rhyme I know that includes a candle is "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick."  Hence, the name, "Nimble and Quick."  To add to the nursery rhyme feel, I wrote the words to the nursery rhyme in the border quilting then added a few candles at either end of the line.  It turned out kind of cute, don't you think?

Here's hoping you had a productive Blue Monday!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tornado in Rayne

 My son and daughter-in-law live in the small town where a tornado touched down today.  Fortunately they were safely away in Lafayette when the tragedy occurred.  Meggan's family and many of her extended family also live in the area, but after a few phone calls we were able to determine that they are all safe.  Although they still have no electricity, they suffered little damage from the twister.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the town.  One lady was killed and 11 others injured.  If you're interested in reading more about the town and seeing additional photos, you can go to this article from The Advertiser:

The photo above is from The Advertiser website.  I'm sure that Meggan's sister, Elise, will have many more photos on her blog, so I'll try to get the web address and post it as well.  She's a wonderful photographer and seems to really enjoy taking pictures at family gatherings.  In fact, I'm pretty sure she always has her camera with her when we've been together.

The town is already beginning the cleanup process.  The National Guard drove in this afternoon to help keep peace and order because many of the businesses had damage.  I'm fairly certain that their arrival is just a precautionary measure to make certain that no looting or other unlawful activity occurs.  I haven't heard from Rory or Meggan what arrangements have been made for those whose homes were lost, but I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers tonight.  I'll also say a prayer of gratitude that our children and grandchildren were spared.  We plan to visit tomorrow after mass to check on everyone and to offer our help.