pens or pins? that is the question...

What's one to do when the heart and hands enjoy words and fabric, the pattern of paragraphs and quilts to an equal enthusiasm? To solve my dilemma I'm writing the print that stirs me and sharing the journey of blending fabrics into quilts and wearables, the discovery of old--be it quilts or friends, and the pleasures of today. Come...have a visit with me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


FRED, our beloved neighborhood cow--lookin' like autumn

Have you noticed? Everyday seems perfect--the air is cool but not too cool. The days are long but not too long--and the moon! Big, beautiful and orange. Wow! There is something about October--it is the perfect month of twix and tween.

After enduring the intense heat of this past summer, we Texans embrace October's lower temperatures and harvest moon amid the bonus of pumpkins and scarecrow decorations. In addition to the natural bounty is the month's saturation of quilt classes and shows, antique fairs--even gourd festivals--oh, and don't forget to add the writing workshops and contests. Everyone and every organization seems to thrive with energy. What a glorious season of the year.

                                           Kaffe Fassett and Day 1
                                                                      --it's all about diamonds

Embracing the first half of the month I worked to captured quilting and writing every possible way. First, Creations of Kerrville offered an exciting educational opportunity with famous guest teachers Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably hosting 2 1/2 days of class and lecture. They focused on their amazing fabrics, using simplistic traditional patchwork to show off their bold prints.  Discussion of borders to flush the complimentary accents helped each student strengthen her color choices. And of course, fat quarters flew around the room (via Creations store!) as we all tried to find the perfect accent.  We learned from each other and I, the rebel, worked in less brights, learning from my more traditional palette. Two days of uninterrupted sewing time--just perfect.

                                          Cut one more for the design wall....

And serendipity, Kim Buchmann of Quilting Adventures dropped by and we talked and laughed until driving home demanded deer lights. She and her partner/mom Debby Walters have ENDLESS great ideas for their spring 2012 seminars. Each year they host national teachers the first two weeks of March at the comfortable TBarM resort in New Braunfels. It is such fun to stitch and learn 'til you drop--especially while someone else prepares meals. It is saturation plus, learning while playing. Barbara and I hosted  QA in years past, so now it is SO-O exciting to see new energy pushing the venue of the unending potential of quilting. Wow--check out their faculty--12 stars--your choice. I'm going for Laura Wasiloswki   and Sue Spargo . Man, did I struggle to make that decision. ...and I can't wait to see you. Send me an email of your teacher choice.

UPTOWN BLANCO--Mary and Donna ready the show

Next my calendar provided the opportunity to engage in Blanco's first quilt show.  Blanco, TX is developing a fabulous new area on the square called Uptown Blanco  They decided to christen the beautiful new ballroom with a regional quilt show. Their entries were delightful, beautifully designed and sewn. I predict it is the perfect beginning of Blanco tradition. Thanks, Mary and Donna, for letting me get a first hand look.

In-between, new writing opportunities keep appearing. My friend, Sally Clark constantly updates the local WOW group  to writing contests, workshops, etc. She just told us of the San Antonio Writer's Group and their October contest. (deadline just passed-but watch for their future events)  Another is Abilene's contest with a November 30 deadline. Cash awards too!  The contests work for me. They help push my procrastination out the window and encourage a "get with it" attitude-- a perfect venue for growth in the writing arena.

In between hubby and I found time to attend the annual Texas Gourd festival in Fredericksburg this weekend and hit several antique shops so I could droul over endless "old stuff." I can never get enough of the old textiles, stoneware and handhewn wood pieces. Lucky for me, George likes old more than I, so he is perfectly content walking the aisles of old.

Well, the calendar says it is just the 16th, so we still have two more weeks of this glorious month.
Go play and let me know, WHAT YOU FIND!



a great read: ONE THOUSAND GIFTS by Ann Voskamp, Zondervan,2010.
--written by a 30-something talented young mom, essence, be thankful.
My sweet daughter gave it to me.

a great scripture: Luke 24:29-30 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as sat at meat with them, he took bread and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

a great blog:

Saturday, October 1, 2011


down the road--to BOUNTIFUL??

"You've driven down to Comfort, haven't you?" 
"Sure have. "
"What about Happy?"

Three of us met over a salad to plan a quilt show.  I mentioned I had driven through a little town named Sisterdale.  Laughter about our local village name ancestry engaged and the conversation flashed from one place to another. We talked our way across the map of Texas as we recalled not only Comfort and Happy, but also Utopia, Mt. Pleasant, New Hope and Smiley.  Later that day I went to the atlas and looked for more. How did we forget Friendswood, Prosper and Rising Star? But then my eye caught Sour Lake in the list, and did I really see Moody?  I laughed. Oh, but joy again, the S's brought Sweetwater, Sunset, Sunray--even Sugarland. 

Sentimental names. Sentimental journeys. My all time favorite is the trip backward to the village of Bountiful. The movie, The Trip to Bountiful was filmed in 1985 and Geraldine Page stole me (and many of us)  away in her role as Carrie Watts. Ironically, Bountiful is a fictitious 1940's Texas town, not far from Houston. Geraldine's character, Carrie, plays an elderly woman who wants to return home to her beloved Bountiful. She meets regular resistance from her daughter-in-law and protective son. Strongly determined, she eventually boards a bus and meets a young girl that willingly listens to her reminisce about her younger years and home. Meanwhile, her children become anxious and distraught about her disappearance. Finally, when the police help the children track her down, the sheriff offers to drive her out to Bountiful. The village is deserted and Carrie is moved to tears to realize the emptiness of her childhood home.

Her sentimental memory far outreaches the reality of what modern time has done to her childhood home. (Ms. Page won an academy award  (and many other awards) for her outstanding performance.)

Easily, Bountiful took me back to lost moments of time, as did these other communities across the Texas soil.  Think of the possible fun in a day at the library or on the google search engine researching the roots and memories of these popular town names. Yes, curiosity  began this sentimental journey.

Hopefully, smiles touch pride in our drives through these little communities --finding some of Carrie Watts nostalgia at every marker. Someone loved the little fork in the road. They settled and called it home. They built their mercantile stores, schools and churches.  They raised their families and for some, Bountiful still exists. We ached for Carrie Watts when she discovered her beloved Bountiful was merely a memory. Or was it?

Reality vs. memory? I like to think they mix a little and some of the old blends with the new.  We pass a nailed board across an old general store door, the sign is painted closed. And others, well, the store boasts a broad stroke of  paint and a bright, shiny open sign. The blended disparity (sometimes in the same village) might best be referred to as haze.
Comfort or Moody, Happy or Sour Lake...hmmm, one week later, my head is still dancing with those names built of tears and smiles. Built from memory, now in reality. Musing, I too feel like Mrs. Watts and her Bountiful.  I am convinced today's store front reality can never obliterate the sweetness of memory. What do you think? 

Happy Memories,


a favorite scripture: I Thess. 4:11  --Make it your business to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business,and to work with your own that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and you will not be dependent upon anybody.

a favorite read: Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott
Someday I'll buy this book. I check it out at least once a month. Candid, funny, real--Anne tells how she found her faith.

a favorite blog: PINTEREST--oh my, the 30 something's favorite pinning site (a web bulletin board). The BEST of the best. Fab ideas on everything from a to z. Enjoy and don't waste too much time!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ABOUT SIX or one--it's a birthday!

Kate's No. 1 birthday--What's it all about?

Maybe, like me, you have noticed. A new wrinkle on your face? Or the tiny blue lines running vertically up your ankle line? Or the sagging middle that won't obey the command to stay tucked in? Eek! What happened? Guess I forget to look.

To take charge and camouflage the obvious I purchased the slimline Spanx undergarment (I remember them as girdles--new is still miserable), I increased my sleep and I pushed dessert away. I looked again. The issues were, well, still issues. My mirror and thoughts critiqued each one, hoping to find no more.

For me the big issue was a birthday. The numbers I counted used to belong to my grandmother or even mom, but me?
Then I thought, if we are fortunate to live we have birthdays. Yes, we have birthdays...

I counted the years and yep!, birth to now--s-i-x-t-y s-e-v-e-n! I still can't believe it and to add complexity to the math, I congratulated my daughter on her 30+ b-day.  My mind KNOWS she is still 20ish? (her day is easy to remember--we share the same birthday!)

From morning to noon my denial of this infamous b-day year twirled around. Then the wisdom of my 4 year old grandson made the day.  When my daughter asked Michael "how old do you think I am?" He smiled, "about six, mom?"  

I like his answer. Six--it works. Because what is age anyway? In short, it is one day at a time, making life experiences. In the rear mirror I was perpetually middle-aged. It worked for years. I was an adult; the family and career in tow, each year much the same.

I guess the clock ticked by when I wasn't looking; now the physical evidence is in place.The daughter is grown. I am a grandmother. I live with a retired husband. And a few people introduce me as Mrs., not Alice. 

My naiveté about this year's b-day number sunk deeper when I found an old birthday card note written by mom. In the 1980's she had recorded one of our random conversations: "How old is she?" mom asked. I replied,"Oh, I don't know. About a normal age,"  Mom's age- early 60's and my age, early 40's. Mom's comment in sidebar: "What's normal? me or thee?" I can only guess her opinion!

Yeah, the years have gone by. With some advantages I might add. The alarm doesn't go off as daily as it did. I have happy memories and God has blessed me with some "forgotten" memories. Time permits a book to be read, long girlfriend lunches and the skills of lifelong learning to play at will. I get the senior discounts without asking and matinee movies are easy. I get grand hugs and remember when stories, even an occasional hand-written letter from a dear history friend.

I like the way this age fits. Someone described this season perfectly: "In the late stages of autumn the best of aging is simply old enough to manage ones affairs and young enough to work wildly and passionately." The daily still works. I am blessed. The birthday year is six, sixty or one. It is perspective--the inside telling the outside.

But I can't help but ponder in my first week of a new birthday. If it all ended tonight --Did I give more than I received? Did I laugh and cause laughter? Did I give happy memories to the lives I touched? And did I walk with my Lord?  ...for indeed, that is the essence of the years.

Best...and Happy Birthday,


a favorite read: I Feel Bad about My Neck by Nora Ephron (her funny approach to aging)

a favorite scripture: Job 12:12 "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"

a favorite blog: (if you like old)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

History FRIENDS...ah, the memories

I opened my email to a notice of the passing of a friend I've known for 30+ years. I immediately called his wife and renewed our friendship from years ago, putting the miles between us aside. Her husband's illness, her loss, was part of our conversation but equally valuable was the renewed laughter, memories of the good times in early marriage.

One of our favorite memories starts with a simple dinner invitation after meeting at church.  We were in our early thirties, she a mother of two little boys and I, not yet a mother. My husband and I decided to invite several families from our Sunday School class for dinner. I immediately reckoned with their children, as I knew little about young boys and girls. "Never mind," I thought. I'll make guest arrangement easy. I'll put six adults at the dining table and the little ones at my small kitchen table. All fit perfectly.The mom's were so pleased I had thought of a childhood table and I was pleased to manage an adult table in the style I loved to create. 

Next, came the menu plan. Back in the Texas 70's the menu was fairly predictable. My choices of brisket, potato salad, copper penny carrots, tossed salad and apple pie fit the mold. Cooking was easy--the brisket was an overnight slow cooker, the potato salad mixed little reds with onion, celery, hard-cooked eggs and real mayonnaise. And in case you have forgotten the copper penny carrots, they were steamed carrots marinated in spices and tomato soup. And Helen Corbitt's famous dutch apple pie. Yum! What memories and what fun. I laugh. We never thought of calories or nutrition; it was all about flavor. How good does it taste?

But back to the dinner party. I wanted everything to be just right. For me that meant place mats and cloth napkins that complimented my new Frankoma pottery. The table hosted a centerpiece of fresh flowers (from my flower garden) just the right height to talk over and maybe, small votive candles. I was happy; now friends were immersed in a happy evening. It couldn't get better.

After the first serving I had placed the food on the cabinet in the kitchen. As I noticed the guests plates near empty I went to the kitchen to get one dish at a time, to pass and replenish their plates. "Not a problem," I remember thinking. Each dish could pass as I went to get the next.

Veggies, salad and the brisket. The brisket? What did I do with it? I looked in the oven, on the range, across the cabinet.
"Don't worry," I heard a little voice say. "Your little schnauzer Oliver, sure did like the meat." The meat? "Yea, we thought he'd like it, so we set the plate on the floor. He ate it all!"

I looked at the dog's face--messy from edge to edge. Eek! What do I do? I put Oliver out to play (or recover) and walked back to the dining table. "Everyone ready for dessert?"

I never mentioned the failure for brisket to be passed. No one asked and apple pie was served! 

p.s. Years later, at one of the boy's wedding showers, I told "his" story. His mom had never known! What fun and memories!

Enjoy a memory,


a favorite scripture: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." Proverbs 4:23

a favorite book: BEST FOOD WRITING 2010 by Holly Hughes.
I downloaded this on my Nook. It is such fun reading--short articles from assorted food magazines. I love the shortness. Just right for a read while getting gas or driving through the car wash.

a favorite blog: --amazing creativity--enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Just Across Town

Think I'll spite of it all...

I painfully moved from one house to another. I was sure it was my last move. No more boxes, no more decisions to keep or throw. I was pleased to say "my moving days are finished."

BUT, my daughter missed my mover's vote. She and her family are getting ready for their biggest move yet. Since what feels like only a few years ago, the newly weds perfect Pottery Barn apartment has grown to three children, endless play cars and girl-y stuff, Lego's and you name it, --each change swelling the seams of their home. When the dining room became the babies bedroom they decided to house hunt. Twenty-plus house previews  and purchase, plus a lucky sale of their present home, caused demand for a busy August move. I decided to drive up and help. After all, what's a grandmother for? 

First, I observed, preschoolers don't readily change routine--move or no move. They need play, potty, food, naps or re-direction all the time. Multi-tasking, why not? The calendar post says the movers come Friday. Last time I checked, the china, the books, the closets and endless paraphernalia still have to be packed-- quickly. Not a problem--I came to help.

Since it has been more than a few years since I mothered
pre-schoolers and more than a few years since I moved, to say I'm overwhelmed is an understatement. To calm the nerves I decided to look up moving tips. All the movers offer tips for "no-stress moving." I read the fine print.

First, it suggests "Allow plenty of time for moving. Make the journey a pleasant experience." "...perhaps a packing party or dinner with favorite friends after a day's packing will make the transition from one neighborhood to another easier." Sure, that fits right in to the nap and chicken nugget schedule and the Friday date, for sure.

Second, "Reassure your children." "Allow time in your schedule to include park play, board games, and reading." As grandmother of the year, my parenting comments  fit this suggestion to a T.  "No swimming today--I'm packing." "Do you need to go to your room and play? I'm packing."  "Honey, let's read later--I'm packing."

Third, "Take care of yourself. Don't forget to rest, eat your veggies and make time for your hobbies." This one is easy.
"Yea, we have one slice of pizza left." "Cereal is in the pantry; I haven't packed it yet." Photo scrap booking? Sure, why not tonight?...oh, the photos?.."yea, I packed them in the brown box labeled photos."

Still, the task seemed simple. Pack three bedrooms, a kitchen and den and be on our way. I'm here to help. Then the four year old fell apart crying because I said "no swimming today.  We are packing boxes." And the two year old--well, I just found her in the middle of a tower of books (already packed and now unpacked). Oh, the three month old--time to feed again. And dad's schedule, "I'm working late tonight--the schedule demands I go to the test sight."

The boxes are still stacked. The movers come Friday. But hey, It's only Monday in the neighborhood. And the kids are fed.

Happy packing,


a favorite scripture: Matthew 7:12 So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets.

favorite read: Microstyle by Christopher Johnson--how cool, to learn to say "it" in less words.

and a great national writing group --The Story Circle Network

Friday, August 12, 2011


WHAT did you say?

We laughed until our jaws hurt and tears flowed from our eyes. My daughter and I reminisced over comments strangers have said to us as we encountered them in strange places. Comments that seem acceptable, but in reverse...well, you decide.
Oh, the word stranger -- someone we have never met that strikes up a conversation, be it where ever.

1. "your hands are so-o full"
Setting - Daughter with three kids, ages four and under in Target. Her smile and great comeback,
"Sure are, you want to help?"

2. "why, you're a lefty?"
Setting - Signing the charge box at Walmarts. "What did he think, I purposely used the wrong hand?" Never do I remember commenting "why, you are a righty. (Lefties get it all the time).

3. "you can wear anything, you are so-o skinny."
Built like a pencil, my sister does look great. But has she ever looked around and said,
"My, my, you sure are fat." --think she might be taken into custody for slander and the worst of taste?

4. "I've never seen anyone do it "that way."
Hmm. Must be the wrong way. Cutting the cantaloupe stem down or horizontal? What do the experts say?

5. "your hair is so red or curly or ...." "you are so short...tall." What's one to say? Words fail me. "Yep,did it on purpose."

6. "Do you do stairs?" asked the young  25 year old clerk as I (twice-plus-her age) started up two flights in the local department store.
Proof in the "puddin." I just stepped with more enthusiasm!

7. "you're not going to believe the crowd I have up here," said the young highway patrolman as he stood at our car writing out the warning.
Setting - Five of us were en route to the mountains for a stitcher's get-away. Speeding, how did it happen? Regardless, we were clocked and the patrolman pulled us over. "Where you ladies going?"
"We're quilters," one said.
And from the back came the rug hooker's golden voice "and we're hookers too." He left our car, went back to check his computer and returned laughing. "WHAT did you say?"

Case resolved. Stay tuned for the next strange conversation.

Find a laugh in your day,



a favorite scripture: "...he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

a funny book: I REMEMBER NOTHING, Nora Ephron.Knopf Publishing. 2010

a great blog:
  --great tips for writers and bloggers, multiple categories. book tours and interviews

Monday, August 1, 2011

It is the little things...

I chose red--a favorite color

She asked us to pick a new pencil and small chocolate kiss. Little things, carefully selected as good-bye gifts. We looked at our gifts as she said, "The pencil is to keep you writing and the candy, enjoy and believe in your abilities." Simple, small, sweet.

I've just spent a week at a delightful writer's retreat in Alpine, Texas. Karleen Koen, author of a new and best selling novel, Before Versailles, a novel of Louis XIV, shared her skill and instruction in novel writing--the basics. I needed every word. Karleen has talent and warmth in giving of herself, in  big and little things. Poetry started every day, prompts pushed us to newer heights and laughter and tears fell from our beings as we, her students, shared the stretch of words. 

I left her class with sadness that it had to end. I left with gladness that I had acquired some techniques to write to higher horizons. And, with pencil in hand, I began remembering the little things that have changed me-- a woman, a writer, a mom and spouse.  I reflected on the significance of  the pencil and candy, then began a list, with boundaries of "little." My list had to be "little" inspirations, "little bits" that change me. I could not choose big that happens only once; I must not choose outstanding awards or tragedies.

For two days I've listed "little." For two days I've reflected on simplistic, small, gratuitous "littles" that make a difference. Here's my short list:

1. a short writing prompt that pulled forward a thought I didn't know I had; i.e., a happy childhood memory
2. reading instructions in a manual and achieving the "how-to"; i.e. the camera self-timer
3. receiving a real old-fashioned letter or card from a long lost friend
4. overhearing a positive opinion about me or family--wow! that builds self-esteem
5. tasting a small piece of yummy dark chocolate--surprise, surprise
6. a good haircut--my mood lifter
7. hearing an old family story and laughing again
8. walking into home after being gone
9. a call from friend or family, to talk or visit
10. mail truck bringing unexpected package
11. a bite of food when hunger touches ribs
12. looking up to awesome cumulus white summer clouds
13. an unexpected smile, laugh or hug
14. old ND or Whiskers, wagging their tails "I love you"
15. a snugly nap--longer than planned
16. the first--the last page of a favorite book
17. God's books of Psalm, Philippians, and John
18. the geranium bloom that screams red; the rose that whispers beauty
19. a shared joke
20. and "I love you, mommom" from my dear grands.

Each is little. Each is small. Remember, the difference is in little things.I wish you hugs, great days and many little things.



a  favorite scripture: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 15:7

a great read: Historical fiction by Karleen Koen: BEFORE VERSAILLES, a novel of Louis XIV. Crown Publisher, 2011.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is It Perspective?



"The glass is half empty....or is it half full?" How many times have you heard that? And do you remember these
other classics "turn lemons into lemonade" or "see a flower, not a weed?" From childhood our moms and grandmoms passed these well known momilies from their generation to ours. Every repetition served to mold our personality and moods.  I suppose I learned the lessons well (and passed them on) and know the intent of optimism. But I must say the struggle of half full or half empty wrestles me more often than I care to admit.

Little did I know, sixteen years ago, that I would live in the country, fifty + miles from a strong bookstore or shopping mecca. I'm not even a true shopper but from these passing years I have come to realize my psychic need for availability--just knowing it is there. I love the creative energy of merchandise, color, theme arrangements, more magazines and books, pencils, paper and pens, t-shirts, jackets and skirts than I could ever want or need. For me it is joy just to know the product availability is within reach. Each store, each item communicates energy packaged in creativity and possibility.

But not to be. Instead I look out my window to grasses, cows, occasional deer and the endless land of trees and brush.It is miles from a creative mecca of books, clothing and gallery. The quietness and solitude are contradictory to me. I love and disdain the silence and the emptiness; I love and disdain the natural beautiful vs. organized landscape; I love and disdain the distance from everything, not unlike similiar feelings toward too much traffic or stores with ill arranged merchandise. So, what to do?

I reflected on the dilemma and caught myself seeing exactly two ways to observe everything, all holding true to the "half full-half empty" synopsis.

Here's mine from the "half-empty perspective"

Same location...same day...same window

--53 miles to nearest mega bookstore
--53 miles to office store
--a desolate road, infected with oak wilt and dead thistles
--lizards and the lurching possibility of a snake under the bush
--minimum flowers--deer eat them all
--loud dooley trucks heaving fast down the one lane road,hauling hugh loads of hay and pushing the walker  (me) to the pasture
--technology deficiency-no cell phone service except outside-computer comes and goes
--the gate is locked-the best friend, daughter, grandchildren, sister  are on the other side, down the road and across the way
--loneliness bellows; my heart cries for community

OR "the half-full perspective"

--native trees and dry-stacked rocks tell the hill country history and stroke the land with beauty
--charm of home in a house 1 1/2 centuries old, filled with stories of yesteryear--each board lovingly restored
--7 miles to a destination village, crowded by city dwellers seeking to run away
--7 miles to quaint, old-world German imagery or heritage and
--attractive and appealing small stores standing strong amid marketing to keep the big boys "out"
--moderate traffic--easy access to grocery, produce stands and fresh summer peaches
--old time tradition--parades, county fairs and Germanfests--taken for granted?
--solitude and peacefulness in the quietness of 'none'
--freedom of being--in the middle of nothing
--luxury of space and land, privacy and comfort

What's your view-- same location, same window, same day?  Is your glass half empty or half full?



a favorite scripture: "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

a favorite read: Louisa May Alcott, a personal biography by Susan Cheever. The bottom line--"life is slow in 'changin'. Many of her problems and opportunities are only different chapters in today's world.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


CELEBRATE!--It's almost the 4th of July!

                                    Do you occasionally see color or design that stops you in your tracks? Several years ago my grocery shopping trip was interrupted by sight of the McCall's Scrap Quilt magazine featuring a full size version of this quilt, Washington's Cherry Wreath, designed and sewn by the Gingham Girls . I knew someday I had to make a table topper of their pattern.  

I love old; I love traditional. So, from 2007 to now, the magazine set on my traditional pattern shelf, with my review from time to time. I decided this July 4th holiday had to be the year.. The design celebrates our wonderful country, the fabrics let me recycle from my stash and the image felt retro--like the quilts of yesteryear.  My sewing energy engaged. I started looking for blues and tones of neutral.

And in the mist of digging through scraps, RE-planning the celebration of tradition, I saw a pattern. Again and again--the prefix RE--recycle, reuse, etc. I became fascinated with it and brainstormed all the RE words I could imagine. Think about it.

Do you REmember REbutter, REcycle, REbuild, REdo, REdraft, REfashion, REpair, REmake, REmodel, REpeat? The list goes on. My dictionary has over eight pages of RE this and that. I searched the concept on the web and immediately found the Latin prefix "added to verb bases" the beginning, and list after list of RE. Maybe it IS part of the RENEWAL of celebrating the freedoms of our beautiful country. 

And a bit corny, but I could not help myself.  I named this post REmember, REcycle and REjoice  for the blessings we have in the celebration of this, our 235th year of the United States of America. In the journey of REjoicing and REsearching favorite Independence Day poetry and music, I REcalled the countless celebrations incorporating  Irving Berlin's 1939 beautiful song, GOD BLESS AMERICA.

God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above....

How many times have you sung it? Read it? Even memorized the beautiful words?
And trivia you might want to REmember and pass on to well-wishers this 4th:

In 1941 the US Congress declared July 4 a legal public holiday.

May you and yours have a HAPPY 4TH OF JULY.



a favorite scripture: So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

a favorite read: TENDER MERCIES by Anne Lamott, 1999. Candid is an understatement about Anne Lamott. She tells it like she sees it; funny, sad and forever REmembered. I've read this twice--try it; I'm guessing you'll laugh and cry.


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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Excuse me, DO YOU QUILT?

One word at a time makes story...

the writers workshop that changed my life
It seemed simple enough. I was taking a writer's workshop in the awesome desert town of Alpine. Joe Nick Patoski, my creative non-fiction teacher opened the class with "What is your passion?" Pas-sion? I heard. What does he mean?--kids, cooking, writing? One student after another started answering his question. I knew my turn was next.
"Ugh," I thought. "Well, I'll just say "quilting." He smiled, turned to the chalk board and wrote: 

Class dismissed. Go find your passion. Come back to class tomorrow with a 1500 word story of what you find.

Gulp-Gulp. I couldn't believe it. It was only 1 p.m. and hot as August can be. I was home-based on a solitary college campus and did not have a car. Town was two miles away. Well, I thought..."guess I better figure this out." After all, I had a tote, a camera, a plastic water bottle and comfortable shoes. I knew I could make the walk to town.

After a few minutes of web surfing, commonly called "procrastination" I took off on my adventure. Anxious to find quilters from the Sul Ross campus to the end of town, I was confident to find the latest quilt happenings. After all, women share, women stitch, no matter what the circumstances. And the internet had shown lots of quilt activity.

My first stop was the DeJaVu Store and Gallery-RECYCLED. Surely they would have a polyester double-knit quilted pillow or a used how-to quilt book. I wandered up and down the aisles--"not much here that works for me. Maybe I should ask?" I spotted an "authority figure", a woman about age 50 with glasses on her nose.
"Ma'am, I'm a writer taking a workshop at Sul Ross. I'm doing a story about the quilting interest in Alpine. I thought you might have some quilts or know some quilters."
"Dooney, Dooney," she called. "Do you know the name of that quilter's place? It's a little house just before the grocery store. I think it's called the Sunshine Store, the Sunshine Shop. What's it called? Oh, anyway, take a left at this corner walk down about two blocks. There might be some quilters in there."
"Thanks." Off I went, counting the blocks, one- two, I spotted a neat house with pretty petunias on the porch and a plaque by the front door "Surely the Lord shall live in this place." Confidence filled my chest. I knew this would be a safe place to ask again about "The Sunshine Shop." It must be close by. Knock, answer.
Well, how big can this town be? I kept walking. "Oh, there it is" attractive plastered house with potted plants around the porch and the sign, "The Sunshine Shop." I eagerly walked to the door. It was locked. I peered in and saw a red and white star quilt hanging on the wall. The sign read: Hours 10-2. "Shucks, well, at least I know where it is. ...maybe tomorrow."
"Mercy, it's hot," I reminded myself as I gulped the bottled water. Across the street I saw the town's Thriftway Grocery. The store looked nice and cool. "Surely there is a quilter there." I stalked the aisles. I looked at every face. "No, she's too young. She looks in a hurry." Maybe, around the cereal aisle...
"Oh, ma'am, ma'am," I approached the middle-aged lady wearing the blue Thiftway shirt. "Excuse me, but do you quilt?" Standing on a ladder and restocking beans, she stopped and looked down at me, blankly..
"Oh, hi, I'm Alice and I'm working on an article about quilters in the beautiful Big Bend area. Are you a quilter?"
"Well, no, but I do embroidery."
"You do, what kind?"

"Well, I draw my own pictures and sew them every night. It keeps me from getting stressed. Well, I don't do exact pictures. I just sew the shapes. I fill in the areas. I sort of make it up as I go. I used to have a store here and one time they were filming a movie nearby and one of the movie stars came and bought everything I had."

"Really, were you pleased?"
"Pleased, you betcha."

"Do you have any more embroidered pieces?"
"Oh yeah, I have lots. You want to see them? How long will you be here? I'll bring them tomorrow if you have time to come back." I quickly read her name tag, "Irma, I can't wait. I'll see you tomorrow."
I returned. We walked to her truck; she opened the door. There, a box full of her stress-relief embroideries. Wow! What colors, what imagery. I was in love.

Wonderful little children's faces, drawn in Charles Shultz'-Peanuts style--multiple tiny french knots created happy children in sets of two or three, sometimes sets of five or more. Intriguing little faces, curly hair, bright eyes...

"Oh, Irma, May I buy one?"
"Sure, Pick out the one you want.'Several minutes later, I had chosen my favorite.
"Will you sign it for me?"
" don't mind if I use my art name do you?" 

I watched her write  Pink Cookie ...boldly and proudly.
We shared smiles. We knew; we each had found a friend. 

To another great day,


a favorite scripture: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

a favorite book: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes, 1996.
I'm always the last to read the best sellers so older books feel new to me. So,if like me, you haven't read this...go, fast to your bookstore or library and indulge! A great read.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hands Down!--CHOCOLATE Wins!

Homemade Chocolate pie--the favorite of our crowd

"Let me bring dessert," I offered. 
"Chocolate pie?"my friend quizzed. 
"Will that compliment your entree?" I asked. 
Glazed, almost serious eyes looked back at me. "How could chocolate pie NOT fit my entree?"he laughed.

I knew immediately-- no other dessert options, chocolate pie was THE choice. So it is and ever shall me. Our family (and many of our friends) think of me making only one fitting dessert for every occasion, what they call Alice's chocolate pie.

I'm not sure how the tradition began. Mom made chocolate pie from her mother's recipe. We loved it. Then when I became the matriarch of the family kitchen the chocolate pie expectations strengthened. 

At every occasion  my husband, relatives or friends tease each other about the size of the pie slices. And George, who prides himself regarding his daily diet, looses all discipline when chocolate pie is still in the kitchen after company has departed. 

Over the years I've customized our favorite pie, combining mom's recipe with Better Homes and Gardens and the classic recipes I acquired in college foods classes. I still enjoy reviewing and comparing a yummy chocolate pie in a magazine to our family favorite. To play with tradition by adding espresso or rum extract is fun, partly to question the family's palette. And I've learned, through lots of experimentation--quality DARK chocolate and homemade crust make the difference.  

Regardless of the occasional variations, the family chocolate pie is THE favorite, maybe the only pie that is always welcome at our dessert table.

First, mix dry ingredients thoroughly; add milk 1/2 at a time.
Stir until completely mixed and while the heat thickens the pudding.
Stirring and low heat make a great pudding. - Add butter and vanilla after thickened. 

Homemade pie crust is the best. I use Hodgson's Mill 50/50 flour  &  real butter-yum!

To baked and cooled crust pour the chocolate filling

Beat egg whites to frothy peaks--a beautiful final addition

Not a crumb will be left--I promise.



1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch OR 1/3+1/6 cup of flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 squares of unsweetened dark chocolate (I use Ghirardelli)
1 Tablespoon of high quality cocoa (again, Ghirardelli)

Mix all dry ingredients until totally blended. (cornstarch or flour MUST BE blended into the sugar to avoid lumps)
Chocolate squares are added with milk.

3 cups milk (I use 2%, whole and/or canned milk)
Pour 1/2 of milk into dry mixture and stir until well blended. Cook on low temperature, thickening the mixture.
As it thickens add the last amount of milk, continue cooking, stirring until pudding consistency. Next, add

3 egg yolks--Break yolks into custard cup. QUICKLY add some hot chocolate mixture, stirring fast to blend the ingredients. Pour the egg yolk/chocolate mixture into the main mixture.

2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Stir into the cooked pudding. Set aside to cool

PIE CRUST (variation on a KitchenAid mixer recipe)

Hot oven - 450 degrees
1 9 inch pie plate

2 1/4 cups of mixed 50/50 wheat/unbleached flour (I use Hodgson Mills)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup real butter (1 1/2 sticks cut in narrow chunks)
4-6 tablespoons COLD water

Pour  and mix flour and salt into mixing bowl. Add chunks of butter while the mixer is turning. Mix the flour and butter until it looks like small peas. Add 1 Tablespoon of water at a time until the dough "cleans" the bowl. (amount of water varies, but usually about 4-5 tablespoons is perfect). Take dough from bowl, form into a ball.

Flour a work surface. Lightly flour the dough ball. Roll out in a circle shape, about 2 inches larger than the pie plate. Lift and center over plate and form the shell to fit the plate. Bake at 450 degrees about 8-10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.


3 egg whites
6 Tablespoons sugar
pinch salt /cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour egg whites into mixing bowl. Add salt and cream of tartar. Begin whipping and add two tablespoons 
sugar at a time until all is used. Whip to stiff, but not dry. Add vanilla. (I like to add the sugar as the whites are whipping to avoid a grainy texture.)

Pour pudding into baked  9 inch shell; Spread meringue over pudding, touching the crust edges with meringue so it will not shrink. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Cool and ENJOY!

Happy cooking,


And a favorite scripture: I Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality up to one another without grumbling.

And a favorite cookbook: Helen Corbitt's red book titled Helen Corbitt's Cookbook, dated 1957.
(I used my first one so long that the pages fell from the spine. I found another in an antique store and see it often in book stacks in antique or half/price book sales.

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