Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter Traditions

Our family celebrated Easter a bit early so that we could all be together.  We had such fun.  I put eight dozen eggs on to boil so that they'd be ready for the dye when the kids arrived.  

Will and Stacey came in with about six dozen, so in the end we boiled and dyed about 14 dozen eggs.  That sounds insane, but this is central Louisiana where egg knocking is a sport and real eggs are used for everything from egg hunts to other egg games.

If you haven't had the pleasure of egg knocking, you should give it a try.  Simply boil and dye tons of eggs, then on Easter Sunday pile the kids and eggs in the car and go visiting.  Each person gets an egg and pairs with someone else.  One person holds the egg pointed end up, the second person taps his egg's pointed end on it.  The one to break loses.  The ones that don't break go to round two.   Continue until there's only one unbroken egg left.  That's the winner. 

I have no idea where or how egg knocking began, but I can remember knocking eggs with my grandparents when I was very young.  Why the grandparents stand out in my memory so well when there were surely many more family members present?  That's because if Ma-ma's egg broke, she knocked it on the winners' forehead.   It was a huge joke and only she did it, probably because it's not part of the game.  It definitely helped to seal the memory for me, though. 

The little ones had an Easter egg hunt and although the older grandchildren are too cool to hunt the eggs, they are not so cool that they can't help the 2-3 year olds.  Since we spent much of Friday getting ready for the bombardment, the yard looks pretty good.  However, there are no grass clumps to hide eggs in, so the big kids had to get rather ingenious about it. 

One of the best ways to spend the holidays is to just sit around and visit, and the gorgeous weather was exactly perfect for that.  Fix a glass of soda or tea, or grab a piece of chocolate from an Easter basket, then wander out to the patio and pull up a seat.  You are guaranteed to be laughing or defending yourself in two minutes.  It helps if almost everyone went fishing in the last day or two, or if someone got a speeding ticket, or there's some big news that
needs to be told, but none of those are necessary in this family.

If things get dull--how could they?--have an egg toss or convince the big kids to roll eggs on the ground, or grab some spoons and the adults will laugh while trying to relay race (guys vs girls adds to the laughter, but competing by married couples can get interesting, too).  A playhouse, a houla-hoop, a new tea set are just part of the family fun factor.

My biggest hope is that our grandchildren will remember Easter gatherings at Grandmay and Poppa's house with fond memories and will want to continue the traditions that Richard and I fondly remember from our childhood with grandparents who are now gone. 

Happy Easter, everyone.  I hope to see you in Easter Sunday services this morning to give glory and praise for the many blessings we get to share with family and friends today.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

QuiltCon Results

"Reflections in Grey" photo by Stacy Burkhart Photography
taken at my house.  The quilt is hanging sideways here
because it's too long for the space.
I forgot that I'd promised to share the judges' responses from QuiltCon.  I guess it's time to do that.  They weren't so horrible, in fact, I knew some of the issues with the quilt before sending it and didn't really expect it to win any awards.  I wanted it submit it mostly to see whether I could get one into the show.  The nice part was talking to some of the attendees and getting feedback from them. 

So, what did the judges say?  The comments were not so difficult to read:
"Very ambitious quilt but doesn' feel "modern" to us."
"Thread tension across wole quilt is off which is unfortunate."
"The yellows are a nice touch, surprising and vibrant."
"Reflections in Grey" hanging (correctly) at QuiltCon.
Areas for Improvement includes checks in these areas.  The first sections are typed on the form, while the quoted phrases are written in.

  • Ineffective use of color  "gray-greens esp."
  • Fabric choices detract from the design  "the prints seem unrelated to one another"
  • Piecing is not accurate 

Goodness knows with whom I am talking.  Rich was able
to get one almost-decent photo of me in front of the quilt.
  • Quilting does not complement the piecing
  • Tension problems are evident
  • Stitch length needs to be more consistent
  • Thread choice is distracting "too dark"
There are two checks in Positive Attributes:
  • Quilt is straight and lies flat
  • Binding is well-executed.

So I'll leave it at this and let you mull it over. Respond if you feel that you can add something, positive or negative, it's okay now. 

Really, I've moved on and while I am a little disappointed that there were many, many more areas for improvement than positive attributes, I'll just accept that I'm not ready for serious competition.  I am, however, going to keep doing what I love--quilting for fun, for show, for family, for no reason at all!
Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sunday Quilt Inspiration


What are you doing this week?  I'm going to get a little sewing in!  I'm so excited about having the week off and having some time for sewing!  I can't wait to get started...wait, I have already gotten started.  I made a few stitches today and a few yesterday.   But my stitches are nothing compared to what I have to share with you tonight!  Prepare to be delighted!
mqx east 2011 by fourseasonsquiltswap on Flickr
Today's quilt inspiration comes from a couple of sources.  First a few quilts that I recently found on Pinterest and are absolutely stunning.  When possible, I'll include the 5w's: who, what, when, where, and why information directly under the photos. 
Detail, "Radiance" by Susan Stewart. This quilt was awarded the Pfaff Master Award for Machine Artistry at the 2011 Houston IQF and the Bernina of America Award for Machine Workmanship at the 2012 Paducah AQS show. It is now in the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.
Pinned from Barbara Nelson.

Quilt Inspiration: Fun in the Sun : Day 5 of the Arizona Quilters' Guild Show 

 In case you didn't catch it in the full photo above, notice the flower bouquet in the corners: they form butterflies!  Here's a detail of one corner.  I looked at the quilt several times before I caught it.

Check out the detailed quilting while you're looking.  It's absolutely amazing.  No wonder the quilt won two blue ribbons! 


This beautiful quilt is also from, although I found it on pinterest.
If you haven't been to the QI website, you're missing some beautiful quilts.
   This next quilt comes from Carla at Grace and Favour.  She is good enough to post photos of projects from her Moda Club's show and tell.  I'm not sure how often this happens--I assume monthly--but I must say, these ladies are definitely inspiring.  Please pay Carla a visit and take a look at the beautiful things (not just quilts) they made.  Before you do, though, check out how balanced the colors in this quilt are.  It has my mind spinning out ideas.....

It would be impossible to choose a favorite fabric, don't you think?Every time I look at it, the blue draws my eye, but then I look closer and love something else.....the deep purple, the stunning zinnias, the painted daisies and so on.  I don't know if I could cut the fabrics apart!

Okay, I could ramble for days about these beautiful quilts and fabrics.  Instead, I'll let you go visit Carla.  Don't forget about Pinterest or Quilt Inspiration.  Isn't it wonderful that there are so many talented quilters and awesome quilts to inspire us?  Isn't it just as great that there are so many good folks out there who make sure they are only a click away?
Happy Quilting,

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Book Review: Rediscover Catholicism

After our son Rory gave us a copy of Matthew Kelly's latest book, entitled Rediscover Catholicism: A spiritual guide to living with passion & purpose, as part of our Christmas gift, Richard and I decided to give it a read.  I began reading a couple of weeks ago and am taking much more time to get through the 300+ pages than is usual for me. 

This book takes more time to absorb since it's such a powerful read. Kelly's theory is that anyone who is Catholic has the potential to find happiness and to live an authentic life. 

By this he means we can become "the best version of ourselves" by living the lives we were meant to live according to God's plan for us.    

I especially appreciate Kelly's direct, simple explanations of why we display statues of the saints in our churches: simply put they are reminders of a life of holiness.  We do not worship the saints, but by reading about their lives and work, we learn how to live our lives. 

Kelly goes on to give five examples of saints whose histories teach us about discipline and holiness and that holiness is possible for ordinary, everyday people.  To me this last part is especially important.  I tend to be ordinary and as such I sometimes forget that many of the saints were common, ordinary people. 

An earlier book by the same author
I have not finished the entire book, but I will quite soon.  I just didn't want to wait any longer to write about it.  While reading earlier today I began to worry that I'd forget something important, such as this one line that, to me at least, is extremely powerful: "I promise you, it is better to spend time with dead people  who bring you to life than with live people who lead you to death" (126). 

Of course, Kelly is not speaking literally here, he means that reading or studying the lives of the saints is a much better use of time since we learn to become the best version of ourselves and grow closer to God as a result than spending time with those people or doing those things that drive us from God.

Kelly shares many other truly powerful ideas.  I hope you spend some time discovering them for yourself. 

Although intended for Catholics, the book is right for many others as well.  If you are curious about some the "oddities" of Catholicism, this book will answer many questions.  If you are a Catholic who has left the church for any of various reasons, Kelly addresses them in a straightforward manner and will help you to come to terms with your disappointment, anger or disenchantment. 

There are many ways to pick up a copy including visiting the Dynamic Catholic website or author Matthew Kelly's site. I also found it at Amazon and Books a Million. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ariel's visit

Since I agreed to babysit Marley for a few minutes and I needed to run to Walmart, I thought I'd do both at the same time.  I can't sew with grandchildren underfoot, and especially with this little rascal.  Besides, I figured a quick trip with a three year old wouldn't cost too much in the way of time or money.  Surprise, I was right! 

We walked out with string cheese, grapes, and a car booster seat...all for about, oh, $20.  Wait, I forgot our reason for going in.  I needed some muslin to match the color I'm almost out of.  So, we did drop by the sewing department, where we also saw some Ariel fabric. 

For those of you not privy to the world of princesses, Ariel is the underwater princess of Disney's Little Mermaid movie.  I thought I'd skip by quickly with the excuse of first finding what I needed, but she did not forget the almost-promise. 

Our conversation when something like this:
"You got what you needed?"
"Good, now Ariel."
"No, we have what we need.  Let's just finish so we can go."
"You promised." 
"I did not promise."
"You said a almost promise, so we havta go."

By the time we got home I'd decided that the half yard of Ariel fabric would make a cute, quick skirt for her.  I was right, except for the ripping and resizing I had to do to get the elastic tight enough for her skinny little rump and the amount of time I needed to settle her down or the time needed to hear the whole Disney story. 

Funny how a three year old doesn't get that if I'm the only one who remembers the name of Ursula the bad witch, I might know the story.  Her animated version is much more interesting than Disney could ever possibly achieve.  That is partly because she plays all the parts and jumps/dances around in the telling, including swimming on the floor.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to work on the current project which, it so happens, does not include a Disney character. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Citrus Surprise

A few days ago I mentioned that I'd had to move some trees out of the studio, remember?  Well, those two trees have multiplied.  It seems that my darling hubs decided to plant said trees but decided that two little citrus trees were, well, not enough.  By the time I returned home from school the two had become ten.
 Apparently I am at fault for this, having suggested that the two trees be planted on the driveway side of the house, because it's also the southeast side and the house would protect the trees (somewhat) from the north wind.  When hubs went to plant the two there, he imagined that they looked lonely....two little trees all by themselves with nothing to keep them company.
Never you mind that they are way out-sized and out-numbered by the Indian Hawthorne that borders the house and completely covers the entire bottom half of the house.  No, those hawthorne are nothing in the way of citrus tree accompaniers.  

So now there are ten trees also bordering the house.  TEN.  Yes, 10.  Ten citrus trees already planted and watered and in it for the duration, I guess.  Of course, the good news is that three of these little babies have citrus on them

The little kumquats are in various stages of ripeness and when yellow, delicious!  The original two are full of wonderful smelling blooms, so I'm hoping that we'll have oranges at some point.  Another two are lemon trees.  It's really great to think of the fruit we'll eventually have, but in the meantime, we're enjoying the sweet smells and pretty foliage.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pin it Wednesday #12

Happy hump day.....only two more days till spring break!  I'm so, so, SO happy!  I'm hoping that I get to do a little sewing and a lot of quilting during my little week of from school.

But more of that we pin!  And we're pinning on the new Pinterest design.  It's really nice.....larger pictures, easier to read fonts, faster pinning.  Great changes, so if you like pinning (as I do) you may find getting away even more difficult.



By all means, visit my Pinterest boards!
Happy Quilting (and pinning)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Busy, busy

I've been a little busy the last week or two.  After returning from the annual La Gear Up Spring Conference on Saturday, I managed to do a bit of sewing before returning to school yesterday. 

That was a blessing, since I've also been fighting a low-grade migraine.  It must have helped to get back into the studio yesterday, I woke up to a clear head this morning. 

20130316_203653.jpgThis afternoon I slipped back into the studio for a few minutes to finish the little project I started yesterday. 

Remember the little pouch that I'd read about on Carla's blog and then made using Debbie's directions? 

 Well, I got sucked into the madness, let me tell you!  I've completed pouch number two.  This one has a couple of accessories--a pen holder and a key fob.  I'd like to be able to carry both while at work.  Wearing the first one to work may have gotten me into trouble: students saw it and have been begging me to make pouches for them, "please, please." 

Of course they are batting eyelashes at the time!  (Sometimes those eyelashes work.)  Of course, I can't make enough for every student who wants one, but I'm thinking I might make a few and have a drawing.

In addition to all the testing and traveling and teaching, I've been writing a bit.  I like to write when my students write.  This last poem is one I wrote during a recent poetry writing session, but even more so I wrote this poem about the kids who were in my classroom writing their own poems.  Is that confusing?   I hope not.  Here's the poem: I hope you like it.

poet and poem

They sit, quiet
thoughts whirling, brains engaged, hands busy
Difficult, this work, messy, thought-provoking.

blank paper stares back for much too long
pen smudges, crumple, toss.

One kitten curls in tight on herself
but still the words come.
A zebra of lines, doodles, words sits
wanting more.

Ah, aha, awe! more and more
words come—
simile, symbol, synecdoche
connotation, consonance, conceit
archtype, alliteration, assonance

poet and poem emerge


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Quilt Inspiration: Final QuiltCon

I'm sensing that we're getting a bit tired of QuiltCon photos.  Perhaps a month of blogging about one event is enough.  At any rate, I'll post a few more photos tonight and call it enough...unless, of course, several of you request more.  Here we are, a final look?

I don't remember the title of this one, but I love it.  The bars and numbers represent a barcode on mass-produced merchandise.

This quilt is an eye.  Yes, an eye! It's difficult to see when the picture is large, but check it out when it's a bit smaller.  The same thing happens with the one below that is a pixelated version of a picture of Burt Reynolds.
 A close up of the quilt above.