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A Sampler

During the past few months I have been diligently working on completing UFO’s (all those quilt tops awaiting quilting and binding). I was able to finish the quilting on all of them, still working on the binding–that takes a bit longer and many sessions of evening Netflix. And then I started in on the projects that needed just a little bit or maybe a fair amount of construction to complete. Now those are piling up with four in the pile and one I just put on the frame. I like to load the backing and leave it under tension over-night before quilting.

But starting something new is always enticing.

Alex Anderson from the QuiltShow has been doing live facetime presentations using a pattern called Sequoia Sampler. She demonstrated the construction of several blocks in the Sampler using a particular bundle of fabric from the QuiltShow Store.

Blessed/cursed/endowed with a large quantity of fabric and a strip of fabric I was supposed to use as the starting point for a Blooming Quilt for one of the quilting bees I am in—I pulled out the first quilt I made in this style and decided just not doing it. So I pulled some more fabric to coordinate with it.

I must say I have never worked on a pattern quite like this before. I made blocks after each of her sessions demonstrating the construction and placed them on the design wall. I selected fabric for each block depending upon where I thought the next block should go. It was a very different way to work and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The flowers and vase in the center were my design, some embroidery was added to the leaves and the vase and I used straight line quilting. Binding will have to wait until the current binding project is complete.

I don’t have the best setup for taking photos of pieces hanging off the Gammill–too much back light from the window overlooking the huge field behind my building but I think you can see the quilting–easy with channel locks and the border I designed using flying geese. The dark blue floral is the original fabric and I have a three inch square leftover.sequoa20sampler-m

Time to Boast

Nearly everyone I knew had a garden when I grew up; tomatoes, carrots, radishes, sweet corn, and a row of zinnias and marigolds.

It has been a struggle for me to learn the proper season to plant things here as we can plant and grow things year round—a bizarre thought for those of us living through snowbound December through April and frosts starting in August and ending in late May.

So it is with pride that I can show a zucchini about five inches long, a Roma tomato (we have already eaten four from the garden—there is just something about a freshly picked vine ripened tomato—-and cucumbers–again so sweet and so different from those waxed green things from the supermarket.

We had fresh lettuce for three months–so much nicer than from the store where many fingers have touched and tossed and otherwise manipulated.

My peach tree disappointedly turned out to be an apricot tree and the fig tree had ornamental thumb sized green figs instead of the large purple ones we wanted—these were from the Master Gardener local sale—but the lemon tree we bought from a friend’s nursery has produced annually in great abundance as has the satsuma.

I present to you a cucumber blossom followed by photos of produce—truly an accomplishment for me but fairly low on the entertainment and interesting plot for all of you devoted readers.


Spider lilies

When we first moved to this part of the world, I was impressed by the length of the spring wildflower display. Bluebonnets and primrose and paintbrush and sunflowers and cone flowers were in abundance. Then there were the crepe myrtles and the fruit trees and the wisteria and gardenias and camelias.

But there was one that I coveted—-the wild lilies that grew along the banks of swampy areas. One time I stopped and attempted to dig one up to transplant to my yard—but I would have needed hip boots, some sort of snake repellent and a shovel–not a little hand trowel.

A friend gave me some bulbs or rhizomes (not horticulturally sure which is correct term) and we planted them on the side of my shed—during downpours this area will flood. The first few years were challenging but now I have several healthy clumps and here are some of those lovely blooms.


and a closer look.


Pita and Falafel

Our first date ended at Steve’s Pizza in Platteville Wisconsin. Steve was Greek and there was nearly always a tray of baklava on the counter—made by his mother. His pizza was always great and we decided that Greeks made the best pizza.

In medical school, there were two competing Greek restaurants on State Street. The owners would stand outside offering enticements to eat in their restaurant instead of the one across the street. Frequently this involved a ‘free’ glass of some pretty awful wine but we were students and couldn’t afford to be too choosy. No matter how i tried I could never say ‘gyro’ correctly…now that I remember it, I think it was a game the staff played with us. We all agreed everyone had to eat the same thing as ample amounts of garlic were used in the cooking. No peppermint could counter the dose we got.

Somehow I think we learned that the two restaurants were owned by two brothers or maybe cousins who had originally owned just one restaurant but then something happened and there were the two. They would shout out that the other’s food was no good and tasted like swill. They waved their arms and shook their fists—really quite fun in retrospect—and maybe it was all an act.

Here in Beaumont, the Greek Orthodox church has sponsored a Greek festival each year which grew out of their annual plate dinner fund-raiser. The street in front of the church is closed off and there is dancing, music, clothing, jewelry, and a variety of Greek food—it is always a fun event.

Of course, this year there was no festival.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to try kibbeh or rolled grape leaves. But falafel seemed a doable project—but I would also have to make pita.

Grinding up those soaked raw chickpeas was not an easy project—husband did that; while I worked on the pita—it didn’t seem right to bake something for just 4 minutes—with my oven I needed to add 30 seconds.

But we had falafel with pita and sides of home grown cucumbers, store tomatoes–mine are still ripening–and enough left over for the next night.

Sometimes you have to make your own festival.


Another Day at Cat Tail Marsh

img_3853-mLocated on the south side of Beaumont is a wonderful wild life sanctuary that serves as the tertiary sewage treatment area for the city. This always sounds rather off-putting but it is quite wonderful. there are three large watery areas filled with marsh plants of various kinds, and an abundance of water birds. There is a wide gravel road around the area with plenty of room for bicycles and pedestrians. A boardwalk extends into one of the ponds allowing for a closer look at spoonbills, egrets, herons, coots, ibis, and an assortment of other birds along with the occasional alligator, raccoon, and snake.

img_3845-mAs members of the local orchid society that met in the garden center building once a month, we would usually arrive sufficiently early to take in a walk around a portion of the cat-tail marsh. Last year, the city convention center proffered an early morning view of the park along with coffee.

img_3850-mSince quarantine, we had not been out to the marsh; but late last week with beautiful weather and a lovely breeze, it was the perfect small excursion. I’ve posted a few pictures fo the flowers and the scenery there. A raccoon wandered along the side of the marsh deliberately weaving between the reeds so we could not get a good photo. Birds flew overhead and a bull frog sounded like a warning buoy.

It was a good day.img_3856-m


Trying Something New

About a decade or more ago, I tried making some hand-made books. I bought some of the tools, metal ruler, awl, bone folder and some pads of water-color paper. I attended a few classes at the Houston Quilt Festival but then put everything aside as I moved on to other things.

Digging through boxes of stuff accumulated in my work-room, I came across these supplies and thought I might give it another try. With social media availability, I found a site offering directions and support.

My first successful projects were these two accordion books with sewn in signatures. I don’t have book board but did have some small pieces of mat-board. These books are not quite playing card size so warping that might be a problem in larger books should not be a problem.

One cover is cut from a local map–for a friend who is moving back home to France and the other is a paper towel used to clean brushes for a friend—just because.

There are a lot of steps to making them including folding and letting things rest under weight—hard for my impatient nature–but definitely improved the finished product.


Here is what they look like opened up.


They are meant to be displayed standing up.


And then there was my first attempt. I pieced the fabric for the cover, applied fusible to the back to make it into book-cloth, tried unsuccessfully to figure out how to print the lyrics–ended up glue sticking printed out lyrics to folded pages. It won’t stand up but there is plenty of room for its recipient to add photos.


Here is the inside cover–from a brochure I picked up at Loretta Lynn’s Kitchen in Tennessee…a great place to stop for a nice meal..they will let you substitute fried okra for French fries and probably would have let me have just Fried Okra as my meal.



tomatoes-mEveryone I knew when I was growing up had a garden; some larger than others but all of them featured vegetables and a row or two of flowers.

My grandfather always planted potatoes on Good Friday with the first harvest in late August. I remember my parents (and later I helped) cutting up the old wrinkled potatoes that lived in a bin in the basement to plant in late May/early June. Harvest time was in September and Dad would hitch up the plow and plow the entire garden including the potato patch. It was our job to pick up all those potatoes.

Radishes were usually the first vegetable, followed by black seeded Simpson lettuce which was always served swimming in mayonnaise.  A row of marigolds to discourage rabbits and deer and a row of zinnias for color were always planted nearest the house.  Tomato and cabbage sets were bought from the greenhouse and required daily watering for two weeks or more until their roots were firmly set. Sweet corn and popcorn and cucumbers and pumpkins were planted; and sometimes the timing was right for the piglets to wander under the electric fence and sample the growing garden.

It has taken me a few years to understand the gardening cycle in this part of Texas that is so very different from southwestern Wisconsin. Planting peas and lettuce in late May does not work but nearly anything you put in the ground in Wisconsin this time of year will grow abundantly.

However this year we had snow peas from January to last night; lettuce in form of Bibb and Simpson for several months–it has now bolted; and at long last I now have the promise of tomatoes and cucumbers. The okra has sprouted and I hope to have enough to pickle and freeze for the winter months ahead.

lemon20blossom-mEach year we wonder if we will have lemons and each year I am tasked with finding things to do with all the lemons. There are still lemons in my refrigerator and the promise of at least that many more plus blooms suggesting even more


That tree is to the far behind the white metal gate. It has never grown much taller, just rounder and fuller, making picking all of those lemons an easy task except for the ones requiring us to get on our hands and knees to pick the bottom most group hidden near the trunk of the tree.


Most of us have been depending upon mail order/UPS/Fedex for supplies and to be blunt about it—presents for ourselves. Shopping on-line is a diversion and then there is the anticipation (like Christmas) of packages arriving on the doorstep–and was it something my husband ordered for himself (or sometimes for me!) or something I thought I needed.

Some of us have taken up new hobbies or discovered the tools of hobbies put aside in the busyness of life.

I had dabbled in making hand-made books, taken a few classes, made some fabric books, but thought that I might give making books another try.

Art supply/craft stores may or may not be essential businesses but mail order was possible.

I tried waxing the binding thread with beeswax ( I have plenty of that) but it isn’t easy and I did not have linen thread unless I unraveled some linen cloth and that didn’t seem too practical.

So I ordered some along with some paper. The paper arrived a couple of weeks later.

Still later, another box arrived. I expected waxed linen thread.

I discovered this!


And it is oil, not acrylic or water color.

When I called the company, the clerk was so apologetic. I suspect they are as frazzled as grocery store clerks trying to stock the toilet paper aisle.

My waxed linen thread is on the way once again. I can only wonder at their stocking system which puts oil paint next to linen thread—-but then maybe the picker was roaming the aisles with more than one open box in the cart to fill.

That tube of paint is happily on its way to a friend who has started cold wax painting.

Small things

Like a lot of people, I have been cleaning or rather tidying or sorting or to be honest just re-arranging things. Opening up boxes and bags, looking at them, and putting them in a different place, maybe putting some in the give-away pile.

I haven’t made masks in huge quantities  but I have made a few; some for grand-children, sons who must venture into the outside world as their jobs are deemed essential and packed up a small box with some of my mother’s quilting fabric to send to a niece who has taken on a Girl Scout project making masks.

And I have been sewing. Finishing up projects. Quilting all the tops that awaited finishing—they are all done! But now they all need bindings. While I have plenty of decorative threads and machine quilting threads in a variety of colors and black, I was down to my last spool of ivory colored thread.

I ordered thread and awaited its arrival.

I wondered if I had really ordered it.

I checked my emails and found the confirmation of the order.

I called the company to inquire.

Thread is now back-ordered for weeks.

who Knew thread would be in short supply?

Imagine my joy when I discovered this in a box I had used for a workshop a couple years ago!


Yes, that is Coats and Clark in a 500 yard spool size. It is poly and so there is very little lint collecting in my sewing machine. I have tried other brands but always return to this one as my go-to construction and bobbin thread.


Uncle Walter

I don’t think I had an Uncle Walter. I did have a lot of great-uncles on my Dad’s side–his father came from a family of 17. My mother had a second cousin named Walter I think.

But none of that really matters.

Like a lot of other people, I have been looking through stacks of ‘stuff’. Two shelves contain a collection of cookbooks, most of them bought as fund-raisers from various organizations, some as mementos of a place I’ve been. Reading these cookbooks–and hunting for something new to cook—one of the few things to add variety to this current bizarre time has been entertaining.

The older cookbooks seem to be meticulously edited with clear directions and good formatting–i.e. the ingredients do not continue onto the back of the page. There are no references to convenient items such as boxes of cake mix or cornbread or cans of pie filling or Cool Whip. Breads use cake yeast not instant yeast in packets.

One of the newer ones listed as 2 lemons as ingredients for a spinach pie along with three bags of spinach, salt, an egg and some cornstarch and a dough recipe. The spinach was to be washed and cooked; then all the other ingredients including the lemons (no directions regarding what to do with them—juice them? cut into wedges? zest them?). Other recipes in the book were equally lacking in directions. Did the writers assume I would know what to do or were directions deliberately excluded as to retain personal pride in cooking skills?

I did find this very simple recipe for Uncle Walter’s Fried eggs in a Swiss cookbook.

Start with melted butter in a fry pan, break two eggs into the butter, break the yolks and spread over the whites, cover with a slice of Swiss cheese and cook until the cheese melts.

This breakfast stayed with us for the best part of the day.

And I figured I needed to squeeze those lemons and zest them for the spinach dish.uncle20walters20fried20eggs-m