Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mardi Gras

Jeanne got me to thinking about Mardi Gras today. Not the Mardi Gras that you see on TV, not New Orleans. But small town Louisiana Mardi Gras celebrations. I had a weekend condo on the river in New Roads, about 30 minutes west of Baton Rouge. Mardi Gras Day in New Roads was a blast! There was a morning parade, and then an afternoon parade. Tens of thousands of people would crowd into this small town, bands, food booths, lots of activities for the kids, lots of kegs for the adults. One minute you'd be walking around and enjoying the people, and the next minute you'd find yourself dancing in the street with a perfect stranger!

Lafayette, in the heart of Acadiana, is famous for its Cajun heritage festivals, and Mardi Gras is just another day to celebrate! More Cajun music than jazz, more college kids, louder, more rambunctious, fabulous food. Mamou, Abbeville, Houma, Plaquemine, Crowley, all small towns with wonderful Mardi Gras parades and celebrations. "Throw me something, mister!" The kids all eagerly lined up at the parade route to catch a cheap chain of plastic beads and some "gold" dabloons. Those prizes would be treasured for years and years, and almost always ended up hanging off of their bedroom doorknobs or off their dresser mirrors! Getting big enough to catch Mardi Gras beads was a rite of passage in South Louisiana!!

Living in Southwest Louisiana, we didn't have a Mardi Gras parade handy, but other traditions took its place. Mom and my aunt, DeeDee, would start cooking about a week beforehand, and Mardi Gras Day was open house at the Fontenots. The dining room table was spread with steaming bowls of crawfish bisque, etoufee, huge pots of gumbo, jambalaya, turtle sauce piquante. DeeDee was known far and wide for her baked goods and candy. There would be three or four layer cakes, pecan pies, lemon bars, and trays of pralines. Oh, and the fried chicken! That woman could make a grown man cry for her fried chicken! Daddy would make cornbread and homemade biscuits - and on the sidebar would be jars of fig preserves, homemade blackberry jam, mayhaw jelly, and tubs of homemade butter!

I remember one Mardi Gras when I was about seven or eight years old, very late in the afternoon Daddy saw me sitting away from the other kids in the back yard. He walked over and sat down next to me. "What's the matter, bebe? You okay?" I remember turning to him and saying, "Daddy, this is almost the best Mardi Gras ever!" He smiled and said, "Bebe, what could have made it any better?" He chuckled to the day he died over my reply. "Watermelon, Daddy. If we'd have just had some watermelon!" I honest to goodness don't know how he did it, but the next year we had watermelon at Mardi Gras!

And his famous (or infamous) line came from one of those Mardi Gras celebrations. Some visitors stayed very late - and everyone knew that Mardi Gras celebrations ended at midnight sharp! Midnight marked the beginning of Lent. Well, those folks just sat and talked and sat and talked ....... Dad totally mortified my Mom by standing up at 12:05 a.m. and announcing to the guests, "Come on, Minnie, let's go to bed. These people want to go home."

I'm so homesick, and I miss life in a small town. But I smiled a bunch today thinking about my family, almost all gone now, and my roots! I can't imagine a better way to grow up. I truly can't.

Laissez les bontemps rouller.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Christmas projects

I love Christmas quilts. I'd rather make those than almost anything else. I've made one or two a year so far, and this is the first year I've put them all out at Christmastime. Sure did make the joint festive! One of my all-time favorites is Christmas Tiles, made from Judy's Vienna Tiles pattern. It's very special to me for a lot of reasons!

"White Christmas" by Verna Mosquera is the one currently in the works. The first four blocks are just needing to be squared and pressed. I always work on Christmas projects on 1st Weekends, so next weekend I think I'll spend the time prepping the other eight blocks. It'll be nice to have them all ready to go when I get a few minutes to stitch. And I can also move those two huge baskets of neutrals out of my sewing room and back up to the stash room when the prepping's done!

The rain is really coming down now. The traffic was horrible tonight. These folks just do not know how to drive in rain! But there's something peaceful and cleansing about rain - and I've missed it so much since I've been in LaLaLand!

I took a page from Judy's book today and started making lists. Tons of things to do around the condo. I've been living here a year and it still looks like I just moved in. Time to make it home. And I made a list of housework items to do every day. I've been spoiled for many years by having a maid, but I decided to let her go when I started a new household. She was so wonderful to have during my lengthy illnesses, but I'm healthy now and there's no reason I can't do this myself. But instead of massive cleaning on one of my precious weekend days, I think it'll be easier to do a little every night. So bathrooms are Monday's chore. I think I bought every chemical known to mankind last weekend! I hope I don't blow the place up! LOL!

Daisy dog is all snuggled up in my inspiration quilt, and I've got to get that away from her. I purchased some cute fabric a month or so ago to make her a quilt, daisy border fabric and all! I might get that cut out next weekend, too. It's just a panel that I'm going to cut apart and sash, but I think it'll look nice when it's done. She's totally spoiled rotten, so it's not surprising I'm going to take the time to make her a quilt! I wonder if she knows how much I love her?

I had some wonderful and a couple of hilarious emails awaiting me tonight. Judy has corresponded with someone who went to my high school. It's funny how I keep running into people from Sulphur, LA. In 2003 I think it was, I took a four-day workshop with Robyn Pandolph here at Road to California quilt show. She finally asked me where I was from, you know, the accent and all! When I told her, she about fell over. Her husband is from Sulphur and I went to high school with his sister. I even met an older gentleman from Sulphur on top of the Eiffel Tower! Seriously! It turned out he knew my parents, and brought Mom some pictures he took of me up there! I don't know why I'm writing all this except it constantly amazes me when I run into someone from back home, whether in person or online! Right, Judy?

And taking a page from Jeanne -- happiness is a cup of hot apple and cinnamon tea! That scent and taste makes me miss my parents. Our house always smelled of cinnamon! Dad's been gone 33 years and Mom 23, and I still miss them so much. Guess I always will.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I fix things. No, not the wobbly end table that just needs a screw tightened, nor the ironing board that just needs a new cover, nor the picture that could be back on the wall save for a new hanger, nor anything else in my little world. But problems of others, things at work, a young family member's indecision, problems big and small. Mom and Dad were both "fixers," professionally and emotionally. I guess I inherited that gene. My brother did, too.

Now I've reached a point in my life that I need to start fixing things for myself. Tying up the loose ends, so to speak. The broken things have bothered me for years. But I've allowed them to remain broken. I've allowed myself to be pushed around to save the peace, have avoided facing the fact that 'friendships' were over, forcing myself to feel okay about situations when I knew full well that I was just being used over and over again.

I'm a strong person, always have been, someone to reckon with. Except where it matters - and then I just keep quiet, draw in to myself. My dad always said, "If you don't know what to do, then do nothing." I don't think he meant for me to take that quite so much to heart.

So lately I've begun standing up for myself a bit. It doesn't necessarily always feel good, but I know it's right. No longer can you be my friend because you just want something. You've got to take me, warts and all, through good times and bad. No longer will I allow myself to be talked down to, sometimes by complete strangers, just because some movie they saw portrayed Southerners with an accent as being stupid. No longer will I be forced into situations I don't want to be in. Jane would say, "No, that doesn't work for me." I need to practice saying that over and over again. And then say it. And mean it.

I can't change my personality - I know that. But I can change the people and things that bombard my life daily and make me unhappy. And you know what? That change will leave a whole bunch of more time for me, quality time, quilty time. And that, as she says, is a good thing!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What's Next?

My online group has an Elimination Club. Before the 1st of the year we had to list 11 projects that we wanted to eliminate or make significant headway on in '06. The host pulls a number on the 1st and that's our project for the month. One of my listed projects was to make 25 more Dutch Treat blocks, and she pulled that number for January. I knew I wouldn't get 25 done, but I have finished 23 of them! That makes 85 or so completed DT blocks. Here's a picture of the first 50. They're not sashed yet, but you'll get the drift. There are a total of 196 in the quilt. These blocks are 4.5" unfinished, all reverse appliqued.

Since the Polka Dot quilt top was my February elimination project -- check! -- I'm kind of at loose ends until she pulls the March number. So I pulled out all projects on my list and thought I'd work on something - seeing as the early bird gets the worm! The other picture is my very first applique project. It's "Botanika," a Robyn Pandolph BOM. I was such a newbie! In fact, such a newbie that I had not yet taken Rotary Cutting 101, the prerequisite for all other beginner classes at The Fabric Patch. But this quilt sung to me and I knew I wanted to learn how to applique. So why not start collecting that BOM? (I don't think I've mentioned that I learned to swim by diving in the deep end head first!!)

I'm just going to machine quilt Botanika myself. It's not the best applique in the world, but it's my learning quilt and is real special to me. I have a new Aurora 440 with the stitch regulator, so I thought I'd take that puppy out for a spin and see what she can do! I'm just going to stitch around all the applique, and then maybe grid the rest. I don't know. It doesn't really matter to me how I quilt it. The mere fact that I persevered and actually finished the thing astounds me! LOL!

I know it looks like all I do is applique .... not the case at all! I just wish I were better at it. I started off great, and then my shoulder deteriorated to the point that I couldn't pull the thread through after I took a stitch. So for two years I compensated for that by taking a stitch with my right hand and dropping the applique piece with my left hand to pull the stitch taut. After I traded in my old shoulder for a new one a year ago, I've been trying to break bad habits - and I think I'm getting there!

Today's thought: Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth. Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

Or in this case .... the battery's dead and I'm not going anywhere. It was bad enough to have to work today, but having to pay for someone to come out and jump start me this morning is the pits! See, I should have gone to the quilt store again yesterday!

I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever get all the little things sorted out so I can truly be a household of one. It's been almost a year, and it seems that every time I turn around it's something else. I called AAA first thing, and it turns out I don't "own" that account any more. Amazing since it was always my account. Guess they don't bother checking when a spouse calls to change it to their name. Just something else I have to deal with.

I grabbed the camera this morning to get pictures of the snow on the mountaintops on the way to work. I had a breathtaking view until they built a subdivision between me and the mountains. Now I have to go a couple of hundred feet before I can see them. But I know they're there, with beautiful snow covering the ugly ash that's been sitting on them for a couple of years.

But on a good note, I crossed the eighty mark with Dutch Treats this weekend - actually finished number eighty-one. My goal is to hit 100 before I put them aside for a couple of months to work on other things. There are 196 blocks, plus an appliqued border, so there's still a ways to go, but I know this is one that I definitely will finish. I started it on the 4th of July 2004 but didn't work on it for several months before and after my shoulder replacement surgery. With the new bionics, there's no stopping me now! LOL!

Better go stand outside and keep an eye out for the tow truck. This is going to be expensive!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Polka Dot top is finished

I'll try to post a picture - cross your fingers! These colors are way out of my comfort box, but they were a ton of fun to applique down. It's now in the to-be-quilted pile!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Thank you, Judy

I was totally *blogged* down in the gobbly-gook of getting this set up, and Judy rode in to the rescue! What a sweetie!

I finished appliqueing 63 polka dot circles to background squares last night, and hope to assemble the top this weekend. The background I already know will create a design quandry when they're sewn together, so I think I'm going to have to applique more circles over the intersecting seams. We'll see. Sounds confusing -- heck, I'm confused -- but I'll post a picture when it's all done. The quilt is from Teri Christopherson's book Summertime and named "Polka Dots"! The polka dot charms were from a swap with my online friends. I did stash bust a bit as I pulled 15 or so more polka dot fabrics, but I sheepishly admit to buying a few last weekend, too. It's a sickness. I can't help it. My QuiltMobile is on auto pilot right to The Fabric Patch every Saturday morning!

Rain, glorious rain today! It's pouring right now, and has certainly cooled things off. I actually turned on the heat tonight. I hope our mountaintops are white tomorrow. I haven't seen any snow on them yet this winter.

Time for a cup of hot tea. TGIF!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Whodathunkit? I can barely turn on a computer, and now a blog? ROFLOL! Wait 'til my brother hears about this!

I've been quilting for just over four years, and it has been the most satisfying time for me. The few creative brain cells remaining found a place to call home.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm really a quilter or just a fabric collector. Well, my friend, Judy, has pushed me to reduce the stash and make room for new stuff! Of course, Judy is always pushing me in one way or another! But thanks to her, about 15 or 20 yards of fabric came off my shelves recently - and there are a few new quilts to show for it.

And then there's my friend, Jane..... a whole nuther story! You see, Jane works in a quilt shop, and when she's not constantly introducing me to new stuff, she's messing with my head by giving me the most intriquing things. For example, one of my Christmas presents was a checkbook box filled with a couple of hundred 2" squares and a 1" Come Quilt With Me thimble template. You should have seen her laughing when I opened that box! But we'll see who gets the last laugh because I'm actually going to make it!!

My favorite quilts are traditional blocks in Civil War or folk art colors, and applique. Dark blue, burgundy, tan, gold. But Jane and Judy have sort of poked me with the "brights" needle, and I find a lot of lime green and hot pink sneaking into my quilts these days. I'm also a Robyn Pandolph fan, and went on a quest three years ago to "collect" a piece of every fabric she's designed from Day One. I think I have them all now, but I don't want to use them! (I did emphasize the word "collect" above!)

I have 75 or so Dutch Treat blocks made, about 40 Jane Stickle blocks, and a bunch of other applique projects started. My problem is finding the time to finish things - working full time sure does cut into my quilty time. I've made around 75 quilts to date, and there are about 10 or so more languishing in the UFO pile needing a last border and quilting.

I'm a Louisiana native, and was "transferred" to Southern California 12 years ago. I came kicking and screaming, but, amazingly, am pretty content here now. Probably my new-found singleness is the reason for that contentment. My little black & tan mini doxie, Daisy, is my constant companion, and doesn't seem to mind the threads that are always on her.

I hope to keep this strictly related to quilting, but I won't be surprised if this ole Southern gal drifts from the subject!