Monday, December 31, 2012

Wonderful Christmas Present

I love unexpected Christmas presents! 

This year my daughter and her family really did it. 

She noticed this little table at the curb in her neighborhood.   It was upside down and covered with junk.  Later she passed by that house again and the table was standing up.  Clearly someone had checked it out and found it wanting.

My daughter had her son hop out and put it into the car.  They took it home and cleaned it up.  My son-in-law sanded it down and painted it a wonderful blue color.

I love the table as it.  And especially love the story behind it.

Mud People Nativity Set

  I bought my first Mud People nativity set in Spain in 1967. It included a washer woman. (The dealer said "someone had to do the diapers!) Later, the niece of one of my friends was stationed at that same Navy Base and I was able to get a second set.  But alas, no washer woman.

The wise men have really wonderful mounts - no boring horses for them!

And the shepherds have great gifts - rabbits and oil and water and chickens.  I'm looking on Ebay for more shepherds.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

No Christmas Tree

Instead of putting up the tree this year, I hung a red and green quilt that I rescued from an antique store many years ago.  I repaired it and love the vibrant colors and unusual pattern.

So that I could pile up presents, I pulled in the white bench that I helped my Daddy make when I was a little girl.  I added the apple wreath after finding it for sale at the Assistance League thrift store.

Presents on the bench include the vintage cookie jar (bought at an estate auction) shaped like a Christmas tree that will go to my daughter.  Also a table runner that I scored in a White Elephant gift exchange with some of my quilting friends.  The other presents will have to wait until next week, when my grandchildren are in town.

Merry Christmas, ya'll.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Crewelwork unearthed

When did I do this?  The early seventies maybe?

My daughter saw it this weekend at her aunt's house and has been promised it at some point in the future.

I must have made it for my mother-in-law.  So long ago.
But the sentiment still holds.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sweet Potato Vine

The colors on these leaves are really nice.  They're in a planter box on my front porch.  I also have some of the lime green ones, but they don't do as well.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas is coming

Yes, Christmas is coming.  The lights are strung (well, it's only one strand, but at least it's one strand!).

Presents are wrapped.

An evergreen based centerpiece is on the table. (Thank you Flower Child in Pflugerville!)

Cards were not sent.  Just can't get interested in that this year.

The weather is mild.
This is sunset at the edge of suburbia.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pick-up Sticks

Today I finished putting together a top for the Baby Bundle project that the Austin guild sponsors. I had seen the pattern in a magazine and just had to try it.
Then I got bored.
So I made a total of 20 blocks, put them together, and have donated them to be made into a baby quilt for one of the local health department programs.
Our guild does almost 400 quilts a year and I'm one of the coordinators.  Come July, I'll get my guest room back and can spend more time on making quilts and less time on organizing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

This is the house of my sister and brother-in-law.   They've lived here, out in the country near Austin for maybe twenty years.

Most years, they invite all of the extended family over for Thanksgiving.  They do the turkey, brisket, sausage, pies, and some sides.  Many people bring even more.  My specialty is pumpkin cake and brocolli/rice/cheese cassarole. 

This year, only 40 or so came.  Twenty one of their kids, grandkids, and great-grands.  Six from my family.  Four of my BIL's family.  And their son brought five neighbors. 

The barbeque pit is HUGE!

Dinner is held in the garage, which has been decorated in old-time tools, kitchen tools, games, toys, whatever.

First a circle is formed on the driveway and thanks are given.

Before dinner, I helped my BIL finish weeding the carrots in his garden.

Afterward, I held a giveaway from the trunk of my car.  I'm trying very hard to downsize my stuff, and my great nieces and nieces still have room for some of it.  This time it was mostly picture frames and the Tupperware that I won as a door prize at my last class reunion.

Thanksgiving is definitely my favorite holiday.

Hope you had a good time, too.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shells from Rockport

I gathered some shells on my trip to Rockport.

(Actually, I gathered them from a store on the main street, but we won't mention that!)

I think they add just the right touch of peach color and height to my bedside table.
The Park in downtown Rockport has a nice trail through it, My friend and I enjoyed a walk there in the early morning, before it heated up.

Then back to The Retreat House for some uninterrupted sewing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Iris - almost there!

It's getting closer.  May even be done.  Got to see how it looks when it dries.  Seems a little too contrasty to me.  Looks more bi-color than highlighted.

Here is an updated version - I've lightened the background to get better contrast and brightened its beard.  Framing really helps, too.



Sunday, November 4, 2012


I'm having camera problems, so this will be a text only post.
Several of my great nieces have been listing the objects of their gratitude on Facebook.
They've inspired me to think about that, too.
So here goes:
1.  I am grateful that I have a sweet and loving daughter with whom I have a good relationship. I cannot imagine better.
2.  I am grateful that I have a safe, comfortable home.  I love to play with its decoration and I love the ability to express myself with color, art, and shimsey.
3.  I am grateful for my sister and her husband.  It is amazing to find someone who really understands me and loves me.  These two people are always there for me when I need them.  Their home is relaxing and warm and welcoming.
4.  I am grateful for my 13 yo car that is still reliable, efficient, and PAID FOR.
5.  I am grateful for numerous quilting friends who invite me over for conversation and mutually enjoyed activity.  Friends who will come over and provide wonderful company.
6.  I am grateful for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and for their love.
7.  I am grateful for the many wonderful memories of my parents.
8.  I am grateful for my pension and my monthly Social Security check.
9.  I am grateful for my collection of fabric and sewing equipment.
10.  I am grateful that I will be able to spend Thanksgiving with my extended family.
11.  I am grateful that I had two good marriages.  (even if they didn't last as long as I wanted.)
12.  I am grateful that I have found an art teacher who is local, competent, and affordable.
13.  I am grateful that my health insurance pays for my gym membership and has led me to regular excercise.
14.  I am grateful tha my daughter has gotten past her brain surgery with flying colors.
15.  I am grateful that my son-in-law cares so deeply about my daughter and is there for her to lean on.
16.  I am grateful for fresh fruit and veggies from the local HEB.
17.  I am grateful for neighbors who maintain decent lawns without expecting me to be working on mine all the time.
18.  I am grateful that my favorite TV show is now on and I can watch it.......

Friday, October 12, 2012

Iris - week 3

So it still needs some shading, but I think the buds are looking good. 

I keep adding lighter colors, but then mange to blend them right in.

So I shall keep on trying.  Elaine is very patient.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Iris - week two

OK.  Why did I forget that you've got to have a difference in the VALUE between background and subject?

The Iris itself doesn't look too bad at this point, but it just fades right into the background. 

I'm not feeling this one yet.

But interestingly, now is the right time to transplant iris and I just got a bucketful of corms from my sister.  I planted them all the way up and down my west fence.  And envision a big blooming line of iris in a few years.  Mother's iris were so prolific that they were mentioned in the local paper.  Some of the ones I got from my sister are from those plants.

She says that she doesn't know what colors these will be as she sampled from all over her yard.  Mother had lots of the standard purples and whites and yellows, but she also had some peach ones that I bought for her in the early 80s from Schreiner's.   It will be fun to find out what colors come out in my yard.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Pillowcases

I bought two pieces of fabric at QuiltFest for new pillowcases to liven up my bed.  When I got them home and washed, they told me that they wanted to stay together.  So I listened to them and used one for the hem.  The green piping was supposed to have been a hem but it looks much better as a small accent.

The HotDog pillowcase method is sooooo easy.
Here's a video of how to do it (even if she does call the selvage "salvage")

I've started a pineapple pattern quilt in white, cream, ecru, ivory, etc.   A good sized quilt for my queen size bed will take 156 blocks and I have about a third done.  I'm thinking that it will be a good foil for bed runners that can be changed easily and frequently.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

2012 Quilt Show

 Last weekend, the Austin Area Quilt Guild held its biennial show.  I entered my quilt Beaujolais, which is a portrait of my late cat.  It hung directly below another cat picture done by Katleen Clendennen.

I didn't receive any award, but I am quite happy with its showing.  It was judged and critiqued; the only negative comment was that additional quilting might help it to lay perfectly flat.  I'll take that!  The judge approved of the binding and corners.  She noted the 3D thread whiskers that I added at the last minute.  And liked the asymmetrical layout.

The show was very colorful and full of many gorgeous quilts.  The competition was pretty stiff.  There were around 60 full size quilts which had been pieced and quilted by a single member.

The sign read: "Beaujolais was our cat for eighteen years.  She came to us as a foundling kitten.  The vet noted on her card that she was 'fractious'; she didn't care to be petted by strangers.  She was sweet, she was mean, she was indifferent; in short, she was a typical cat.  After she died, I kind of missed having her around, so I did this portrait to remember her by.  It doesn't shed, it doesn't 'merow', and it doesn't strew kibble around.  Neither does it purr or snuggle.  But I'm not ready for a replacement cat. 

24 x 18 inches.

Machine Pieced, Machine Appliqued, Machine Embroidered, Machine Quilted"

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oil Painting Class Session Two

Elaine started another painting and I rejoined the class.
It's really nice to be able to go to class with a good teacher right in the neighborhood.  All the other students travel a good way to get here; I'm very lucky.

This subject is an Iris.  I'm reminded of my mother's irises; she mostly had the standard purple ones and white ones, but she also had some yellow ones.  Then in the early 80's, I bought her some bulbs that flower peach and pink and other soft colors.  My sister has some at her house from divisions of Mamas, and I plan to go dig some up later this month.  I plant to put them along the fenceline to the west in my back yard.  I hate edging and am hoping that this will cut down on the need for it.

Colors started with olive green and ultramarine violet.  The background was first washed with acrylic tan.

Lovely Rain

  1. It's been raining gently off and on since yesterday.  A welcome relief to the hot sun and dry conditions of the summer.
  2. Last year I planted an Esperanza and it bloomed today (or maybe yesterday0 for the first time.  Hurray, hurray!
Lovely raindrops.

Lovely flower.

Lovely rain.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baby Bundles Sew-In

Our guild, the Austin Area Quilt Guild, sponsors the creation and donation of baby quilts to three area charities Last week, about a dozen of us gathered to finish up some that had been donated as tops.

The Quilt Store, on Anderson Lane,
generously allows us to use their classroom for these "mini-sew-in"s.    Gracie, the Baby Bundles coordinator,  brought 26 quilts that were almost ready - they had been sandwiched, turned right side out, and edge stitched.  The members either quilted them or tied them, sewed on labels, and then added them to the stack to be delivered.

The next week, I took 20 quilts to Mom's Place, a breastfeeding clinic which is a part of  the Health Departments Women, Infants and Children's program.  The staff were excited to see me come in, happy to be able to give these quilts to newborns - tummy time in a bright quilt is a good thing.
Quilts are made by members using fabric from their own collection or from kits provided by the guild.  A small budget allows the coordinators to buy rolls of batting so that those who prefer to turn in tops can be assured that their quilt will be finished and donated.

Every quilt is different.  the one on the right uses Cars fabric.  Others are pink and sweet.  Others are a riot of multicolored fabrics.

It's a good feeling to contribute.  I urge you to consider joining in this project.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Where did the summer go?

 Martha threw out the first pitch at one of the Dell Diamond baseball games in June.  I went along and we had a great time. 

Then in July, my daughter had a tumor removed from her brain.  So my energies were all spent in worrying and hovering and being a mama.  She's better now and plans to return to work next week.  I've kind of enjoyed most of the time I spent with her.  We ferried her son back and forth to his dad's house several times.  We watched some chick flicks.  We played some games.  Love is a beautiful thing, and she gives me plenty.  I am so happy that this is behind us now.  The tumor was benign, but pressed on a nerve and caused her terrible pain.

I did manage to see some fireworks from the Walmart parking lot on the fourth of July.   Not a bad viewing point.  And no traffic to speak of.
As I was leaving the parking lot, I saw the finale from the display in Round Rock.  Then as I turned onto the Parkway, I saw the ones in Wells Branch.  Wow.  Three for the price of one.  Which was free.

And of course I managed to go to a quilt retreat with my friends.
I made a baby quilt top with a new pattern, three cross-body purses for my daughter, her mother-in-law and her sister-in-law.
I helped my friend Rita hem some receiving blankets, and made some more mindless Pineapple blocks.

Went swimming with the great-grandkids, played Candyland, kept the bills paid and the laundry done.

I'm ready for fall!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Watercolor Lily

I needed a little something to go into a thank-you note so I got out the watercolors.  The fist one was a nice flower, but the stem didn't look like it was placed right.  If there had been enough paper, I could have added some more flowers and it would have been ok, but as it sits, I didn't care for it.

So I tried again.  This time it was just ugly.  I started too small and enlarging it just made the proportions awkward.  Oh well.

Finally, on the third try, I did one that I'm pleased with.  I put it on Facebook and got lots of "likes" and comments.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Art and Wine at the Griffin School

Linda and I had a fun evening at the Griffin School.  Although my painting doesn't look too much like the Georgia O'keefe one that it was modeled after, I probably had more fun doing mine than she did hers.

There were 10 of us in the class and every canvass looked pretty different when we left.  It was a good evening.  Thoughts of day to day problems went away.  Just me and the bottles of acrylic and the bottle of wine and wondering how a mauve background became burnt orange.  Thank goodness.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sweet Little Landscape

I bought this sweet little landscape at a "living estate sale" last weekend.  It's about 4"x5", oil on masonite.  It's signed "Olva".

It reminds me of my grandfather's farm, near San Antonio.  I can remember his barn full of corn, his chickens, the pond, and the smokehouse.  I loved his homemade sausage.  And my grandmother's cookies and bread pudding, and everything else she cooked.   Those were sweet days.

I'm hoping that I am creating some memories for my grandchildren too, which is why we play Candyland and go to the wading pool and play Jenga and do the Hokie Pokie. 

Today is a good day to build memories.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Last night Martha and the children came over for dinner.  I bought KFC chicken and kept it warm in the electric skillet.  I assembled some brocolli, rice and cheese.  I heated some brown beans.  And had mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer.  We had a nice dinner, the tried to compromise on a game to play.  Jack wanted to play poker.  Natalie likes SORRY.  I wanted to play Solar Quest.  Martha suggested dominoes.  Brady opted for Monopoly.                                         
So I broke the tie by choosing the least common denominator - Candyland.    It started slow but after a while it got to be quite fun.  Sometimes the most simple things can be the best.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Red-Orange Flower

This is the rat-tail cactus in my front flower bed.  It is a prolific bloomer and requires very little attention.  To reproduce it, just break off a (very prickly) arm and throw it on top of some dirt.

Below is one of my little quilts that I've sent in to the Art for Alzheimer's Initiative (  It will be sold to raise money for research.  It's tiny, only about 8 x 10 inches.   But sweet.

Texas Spring Oil Painting - Week Five

 It's just temporarily in the frame, as it isn't quite finished.  The flowers need work, I want more rocks beside the stream, and the white frothy ripples need to be added.  But I'm pretty pleased, overall.  This photo is not too good.  When I finish, I'll do better.

I got the frame with a Groupon at Jerry's Artarama.  Their prices are good to begin with, and with a Groupon, they're terrific.  They've had two this spring already, so I'm going to keep my eye out for additional ones.

 I bought a picture at an estate sale last Sunday, by Olva Hollowell, a local artist and teacher who is apparently moving.  The scene is from Padre Island, a place I love to visit.  It was a real steal, $45 for frame and all!

I also bought this tiny little landscape, about 4x5, painted on some kind of board.  I thought it was real sweet and have it on a stand by my TV.

I love estate sales!