Archive for the ‘uncategorized’ Category

Bright Colors for an Endless Winter

March 6, 2015

I used to have a shopping problem.  I haunted thrift stores with 50% off coupons and brought home clothes with pretty prints and fabrics to take apart and reconstruct.  All this hunting and gathering got a little out of hand.  While many of my purchases ended up in various projects, the rest accumulated until my sewing room looked (and still looks)  like an episode of Hoarding, Buried Alive.

Last night I finished off a bag a scraps that had been used and reused for quite a few years. Here is the original stack of reds, oranges and pinks. Great colors to work with in this interminable winter that is mostly brown/gray.  and a little white even this far south.


Their first use was for a quilt made as part of a block swap. I cut them up into large pieces and sent them to four other people with instructions for making improv log cabins. The participants also sent me fabrics and patterns and I made their blocks while they were making mine. Then we all met up for the hand-off.  I was thrilled with what I got, but am embarrassed to admit that these blocks are still in my closet waiting for me to do something with them.


There was still plenty of fabric left and in the meantime I added a few pieces.  (Did I mention I had a problem?)  The only thing to do was to make another quilt, this one as a gift for one of my favorite people.  The design was based on a parking garage and the back was made from a thrifted sheet.



The favorite person has destructive cats so she hung the quilt on the wall and has let me know that it recently ate a whole bag of Cheetos she had bought for our latest snow and ice storm.


Yesterday I was scavenging the sewing room for something to use up and found a bag of the scraps left from these splashy prints.  The scraps were much smaller now, so I chopped them up and sewed them back together into 12 strips that will become vibrant headbands to sell at a spring show.   I think people will be ready for some bold colors like these!

16105671714_ce85b14470 Pictured on our 4″ snowfall

Now this pile of tropical fabrics that nobody wanted has come to the end of it’s journey.  The remaining pieces are too small for even me to save.  Time to find something else to use up!



A Quick Spring Getaway

May 2, 2013

On a rare sunny weekend in an unusually cold March, my mom and I zipped over to Arkansas to visit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Hollow Farm. Dubbed “The Martha Stewart of the South” by the New York Times, Allen runs a home and garden lifestyle business which includes a PBS show, several books, and his beautiful farm west of Little Rock.   He was at home that day and led the tour himself.

P. Allen Smith

My mother is crazy for daffodils, so we planned our trip during “Daffodil Days” when the pastures were awash in shades of yellow and gold. The flowers just went on and on! There were all sizes, shapes and hues of sunny blooms waving in the breeze all around the house. It was a most welcome sight for the winter-weary!

daffodils at moss hollow farm

Although not much else was blooming, there was still plenty to see. The farmhouse, an environmentally-friendly wonder, was built less than a decade ago but made to look as if it has been there for years. An enormous post oak in the front driveway adds to the illusion of longevity.

Front of the house with Post Oak

The interior of the house was no less dazzling than the outdoor show. Allen likes the early American look and has managed to capture that aesthetic while also using modern touches and accents. The living room is akin to an art gallery.

living room at moss hollow farm

I loved this modern version of a Windsor chair.

modern take on early American chairs

This arrangement of serving pieces on the wall is gorgeous!

plate arrangement

Of course, I noticed this half square triangle quilt pattern.

Looks like a quilt..but it's a rug!

A closer look shows that is not a quilt, but a rug!

rug detail

My favorite room was the sleeping porch with three beds at one end..

Sleeping porch at Moss Hollow Farm

and a gleaming copper tub at the other.


This is what you see from the porch.

View from rear of house

And here is a view of the back of the house.

Back of the house

The gardens were pretty bare this early in the year, but we admired the espalier


And the variety of heritage livestock such as these Buff Orpingtons.

Buff Orpingtons at Moss Hollow Farm

For lunch, we feasted on recipes from Allen’s cookbook. It was so delicious that we went straight from the table to the gift shop to purchase copies of our own. For the rest of the afternoon we were free to walk around the property and see the rose garden, the vegetable garden and the rest of the livestock.

Moss Hollow Farm is open for tours most weekends and is only 2-1/2 hours door to door from my home in Memphis. Mom and I both highly recommend a visit and are planning to return later in the year to see the gardens in full bloom.

We went to Hawaii!

December 13, 2010

After our daughter Gwen passed away last year, Larry’s family got together and gave us a vacation. One of his cousins had a timeshare she did not want to use due to the impending birth of her first grandchild, and the others chipped in for airfare. We decided to visit Hawaii (the Big Island) and scheduled our trip for right after Thanksgiving.

Neither of us had been there before and we tried our best to take in as much as possible. We saw lots of black lava beaches.

Lava beach

And spotted this sea turtle in a tide pool. He was snacking on algae.

Sea turtle

We took an historical sunset dinner cruise and saw a whale! It was about a week early for whale season but we got lucky. The native Hawaiian historian on board was not only very well versed on his state’s past, but he played a mean blues harmonica.

Historical Sunset cruise

We saw these windmills on the northern peninsula. Don’t they look pretty against the ocean? Hawaii is humid as well as windy, so don’t spend much time on your hair if you go there.

Wind power

The natives were very friendly, although these guys were a little stiff.

We made some new friends

The most amazing thing we saw was Volcano National Park. There was no red hot flowing lava to be seen the day we were there, so we spent some time walking around on old lava flows.

At Volcano National Park

At volcano National Park

I could not get used to seeing holiday decorations going up when the weather was tropical and balmy. And it was totally surreal to watch these adorable ballerinas dancing scenes from the Nutcracker outside in December!

Hawaiian nutcracker scene

There is so much more to show and tell! We’ll cover it all in later posts. For now I will leave you with this beautiful sunset we snapped on our last night on the island.

Postcard fodder

Colorful Quilt Brightens a Sad Week

September 29, 2010

Last week was a tough one. Thursday, September 23 marked a year since Gwen passed away. The month leading up to it was pretty miserable, but I woke up that morning feeling grateful for Gwen’s life and most fortunate to have been a part of it. I led a discussion group at church, spent some time with my mom, went to my ballet class as usual, received many hugs and kind messages from friends and said extra prayers of gratitude for our time with our precious girl.

A bright spot in the week leading up to this dreaded anniversary was the receipt of a beautiful mini quilt from my partner in DSQ9.

DSQ9 received

Even in a dark time, this quilt managed to put a smile on my face. I love all the colors and have enjoyed looking at all the different fabrics Jen used. She said they were some of her best scraps and I’m lucky that she shared them with me! She even threw in a lot of extra scraps for me to use in future projects. As if that wasn’t enough, she also made me a zipper pouch featuring the batiks that I love so much and some yummy candy that is somehow unavailable for photography at this time.

Back of quilt and matching pouch

The back of the quilt is as pretty as the front and the quilting is different from anything I have seen before. It seems that Jen quilted the back to the batting and then added the front and bound the whole thing with no further quilting. This creates two unique looks in one quilt and I love it!

I must admit that seeing this quilt triggers some jealousy of it’s maker. Not only is Jen extremely cute and talented, but she works in a fabric store with an old school candy counter. Y’all, that is fabric and candy in the same place! With a job like that I might never go home.

This happy quilt is in my sewing room where I can see it as I work on my next project. It is a twin sized quilt based on a design found on a parking garage and it has to be finished in 16 days. Does anyone care to bet on whether I can pull it off?


June 11, 2010

The very next day we piled in our hosts’ car and drove up to Taos. “Drove up” meaning both heading north and ending up at an even higher elevation. The scenery on this trip was breathtaking.

Along the way we stopped to photograph this collection of vintage gas pumps along the Rio Grande River.

Vintage Gas Pumps

I thought of the Rio Grande as a mighty river like the Mississippi, but it is far smaller. You can always tell where the river is because it is lined with cottonwood trees and other greenery which is scarce in most of New Mexico. If you stand next to the river you can feel a little humidity, which is virtually non-existent in New Mexico! It is so dry there that sometimes rain evaporates before it even hits the ground.

The Rio Grande must have been a much larger river in the past. Here is the gorge it carved out of the land over many many years. This thing is deeper than it looks. I’m not afraid of heights, but looking down into this cavern made my stomach all fluttery.

Rio Grande Gorge

On the other side of the bridge is Earthship, a neighborhood of radically sustainable homes made of recycled materials such as rammed earth and glass bottles. We were very disappointed to find that the model home was closed and we would not get to take the tour. Hopefully we will all be living this way in the future.

New Construction at Earthship

Arch at Earthship

Pop Quiz: What is the difference between a Pueblo and a Reservation? A pueblo is land where Native Americans have always lived. A reservation is a place that was created for Native Americans who were moved there from other areas. I didn’t know that either.

Taos Pueblo Doors

Our next stop was the Taos Pueblo. This place is old. Really old- like 1000 years. It is a barren area with adobe buildings and a large stream running through it. Some folks still live there with no electricity or running water. Others live in town, but maintain small shops with handmade goods in their family homes. We liked the blue doors.

Taos Pueblo

There were two of these multi-family constructions on the pueblo. Probably one of the first apartment buildings in North America. The wooden racks in front were used for drying food and the mound in front on the left is an earthen oven. We visited a shop in this building where the owner played a drum and sang us a Pueblo song. He told us that he had studied music in New York City and that he and a relative have a music show on the local PBS affiliate station.

We headed back to Taos and visited the old town square. There was a wonderful artsy vibe with lots of place to shop. This city seemed much more authentic than Santa Fe. As usual, I was drawn to colorful fibers and textiles.

Hand woven items in Taos

Lots of yarn in Taos

At this point, I was a little dehydrated and walking around much farther above sea level than I was used to. I felt like passing out, but was able to revive myself with mass quantities of iced tea. Then we headed back to Albuquerque, once again enjoying the scenic drive.

We stayed one more day doing some last minute shopping and making our first visit ever to a Trader Joe’s. Here are a few more pictures from the trip.

The Sandia mountains where Larry went hiking with our host and his dogs.

Hiking in the Sandias

A restaurant wall I wanted to save for the color scheme.

Tile Wall at the Flying Star

While we were there, a handicapped girl about Gwen’s age rolled through the door in a wheelchair. I had a nice visit with her and her mother. They had driven all the way from Florida to pick up their son and brother from the Univ. of new Mexico. This may sound weird, but I miss being around differently abled people. They have so much to give if you know how to be receptive.

This trip was just what the doctor ordered for both of us. While we had Gwen, travel was difficult to impossible. But here we were – taking a long road trip to a place so different that it seemed almost foreign! We heartily recommend New Mexico as a vacation destination and plan to come back and stay longer.

Santa Fe

June 10, 2010

Our New Mexico adventure included two day trips out of Albuquerque. On Saturday, we boarded the NM Rail Runner Express for a northward jaunt to Santa Fe. The conventional wisdom is that you should shop around in Santa Fe and then come back and buy in Albuquerque where prices are lower.

From the train, a shuttle bus took us on a circuitous rout to the old town. It was a beautiful square with all adobe buildings. And there was a crafts fair going on that day too! Before sightseeing, we adjourned to the Blue Corn Cafe & Brewery for a delicious lunch and some local beer. I had to take this pic of the tile on the bathroom wall. This corn graphic would make a great quilt square.

Bathroom tiles at the Blue Corn Cafe

Next we visited the St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, a magnificent church. Here are some shots of the interior.

St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, Santa Fe

St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, Santa Fe

St. Francis Cathedral Basilica, Santa Fe

Then we headed for the craft fair, which was a big disappointment. Most of the merchandise was hand made, but not local. Unfortunately, this was the case in many of Santa Fe’s shops as well. To find real goods straight from the makers, you must go to a strip on one side of the square where Native Americans display their jewelry and crafts. The selection is large and the prices are very reasonable.

Santa Fe old town square

Here are some photos from a shop I could not pass by. These textiles are from India but are worth showing anyway. Just look at the applique, reverse applique, embroidery and color combinations in these pieces! If you have time, click through to my Flickr photostream and look at these in the largest size.

Shopping in Santa Fe

Hand stitched textiles

Reverse applique detail

Reverse applique design

striped blanket

Lots of hand stitching!

An employee in the shop told us that these are stitched by men. They work other jobs in the morning, and sew in the afternoons with someone playing live music while they work.

As we hurried back to the train, I spotted a Denyse Schmidt “What a Dish” quilt in a store window, but didn’t have time to investigate further. Our time in Santa Fe was short, but left us wanting to come back and stay longer.

On the Road to New Mexico

May 23, 2010

We love road trips and decided to drive to New Mexico even though it would mean a total of four days on the road. Our plans were almost derailed, however, when the rental car company did not have the car we ordered. After a three hour wait while the car folks called around town, we had a very nice Lincoln and were heading west across the Mississippi River bridge into Arkansas.

Larry was looking cool behind the wheel. He drove all the way there and most of the way back.


Our decision to avoid chain restaurants and take a chance on local eateries really paid off. Our first find was Frank’s Italian Restaurant & Grill off exit 5 in Van Buren Arkansas. The place is owned and operated by real Italians, who greeted us with a friendly “How youse doin’?” We enjoyed delicious salads topped with chicken hot off the grill while listening to Frank Sinatra croon over the sound system.


The trip across Oklahoma and Texas held several interesting sights. I failed to capture a photo of the house with 50 porta-potties in the front yard, but I get some shots of the amazing windmills.


And the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere.


We spent the night in OK City and got on the road again the next day. The terrain became flat, dry and rocky as we made our way across Texas. At lunch time we found another gem off exit 67 in Amarillo. Frank’s French Bakery and Tea Room- “The only French Bakery in Amarillo”.


The food was fantastic and each plate came with a homemade macaroon. Every dine-in customer receives a free baguette to take home. We picked up a cheese danish and and eclaire for the road. Highly recommended next time you are in the vicinity.

As we approached New Mexico, the scenery began to change into something I had never seen before. Pitiful scrubby plants dotted the dry brown earth. Instead of lush grass scattered with wildflowers, the roadsides held only sparse stands of yucca and prickly pear cactus. Rocks were everywhere, as if strewn about by an angry giant. Flat topped-mountains rose in the distance and the dry wind whipped at plastic bags snagged in barbed wire fences.

It was so different that it was almost scary. We were certainly not in Memphis any more!

Get out the seam rippers!

December 7, 2009

I’m starting a new blog.  Here’s why.

This time around we are going to get stitchy.  REALLY stitchy.  There will be knitting, sewing, refashioning of old clothes and whatever else comes up.  I will make attempts on new projects and new techniques that may or may not end in disaster.  I’ll show more detail of how I make things and find ways to fix what goes wrong.

The seam rippers will be smoking! Do you DARE to keep reading?

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