Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back Home

How good it is to be home. We spent most of yesterday driving home from Louisiana. Marion, Michael and I arrived home about 7:00.  Our oldest son was not able to travel with us. He had bar-b-que chicken wings and fries waiting for us when we drove in the drive-way. 

Today, I've spent most of the time dealing with clutter. We still had remainders from opening presents in our family room Christmas morning. There was luggage to unpack. Clothes to wash, dry and fold.  I've begun collecting some of the Christmas decorations, but will probably wait until this weekend to put it all away. Rusty needed lots of cuddle time. We (Rusty and I) took an extra long nap. That should hold us over until bedtime. 

This was a difficult trip.  My Dad is in an assisted living in our hometown. He is having health problems, physical and mental. He sleeps lots. I did sit with him in his apartment most of the time that we were there. Marion and Michael ran errands. We picked up meals and ate it with him. It is a blessing that he doesn't realize that things are not good. 

 I did get to work on a wool applique project while visiting Dad. It is one of our Sisters projects, Antique Pomegranates. This is my first wool applique project. Looking at my work, you can see some improvement from one  section to the other. In fact, I made sure I didn't work from left to right on the project so that my work would be a bit even. I'm really liking this project. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Done - Finally!

The  cookies and banana nut bread have been baked. All the packages are wrapped and under the Christmas tree (oh why do I wait so late?) We even did some house cleaning. I dusted. You would think for someone who is allergic to dust and dust mites that I might get to this more often. The thing about dusting every 3 months is that you can really tell the difference :)

The last quilt is finally completed. I just finished the last stitch to the Sassy Sixteen quilt for my godchild/niece who turned 16 this year. We will see her on Saturday. She lives in Baton Rouge.We leave on Friday to drive to Louisiana to visit my Dad and my husband's mother. They are both living in assisted living communities. This past year has been difficult for both of them. It's rather depressing, but we are blessed to still have them with us.

Please say a prayer for  Marion's nephew's family. His wife is pregnant with their first child. She was hospitalized yesterday. The baby is about 32 weeks. They are in California and on their own. The baby is a girl - Baby Kate. As much as we are anxious for her arrival, we would love for her to wait a bit.

Merry, Merry Christmas, dear friends!!! May this be a special time for you and your family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Family Tradition

The first Christmas that we were married I found a French Market Bean Soup recipe in Southern Living Magazine. My husband and I went to the grocery store and purchased 20 pounds of dried beans. We mixed the beans, bagged them in ziplock bags, reproduced the recipe and gave them to coworkers and friends for Christmas gifts. That was 21 years ago. Over the years Marion, my husband,  has revised the recipe, we've added lots of beans to the mix. This year we mixed the beans in one of our rolling ice chests. Seems there were over 50 pounds of beans. We all have our roles in the production line. Marion buys the beans. Michael, our son and I take them out of the plastic bags. Michael mixes them in the ice chest. I purchase Christmas stationary and make copies of the revised recipe. Michael and Marion bag the mix. Over the years we've also begun making a Cajun Spice to use with the recipe. It's one Marion revised from one of Emeril Lagase's cookbooks. The real secret with the spice mix is to purchase fresh spices from one of the international markets. While I can't send the bean mix to you my blogging friends, I can give you the recipe. It works with any mixture of dried beans, about 2 cups worth. I especially love the colors of the cranberry, pinto, black, and red beans.



1 bag Bean Mix (2 cups of dried beans)

1 pound sausage (sliced) or ham (cubed)

1 onion chopped

½ bell pepper chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

3 cloves garlic crushed

1 can Rotel tomatoes (in the canned vegetable section)

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, such as Tony’s Chachere’s    Cajun Seasoning

Hot sauce to taste

Green onions and/or parsley


Wash beans thoroughly.  Place beans in large Dutch oven and cover with water 2 inches above beans.  Soak overnight.  Drain beans and set aside in a bowl.  Sauté sausage or ham until brown, add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for 10 minutes in the Dutch oven.  Add beans, tomatoes and seasoning and cover with fresh water (2 inches above beans).  Cook on low to medium-low heat for 1-2 hours or until beans are tender.  Serve over rice.  Garnish with green onions and/or parsley.


Note:  You may add more water during the cooking and serve as a bean soup.



Monday, December 22, 2008

A Holiday Treat!

I'm still not believing this. Today, I met one of my all-time favorite authors, Jan Karon. I had no idea that she was visiting Atlanta.  Yesterday afternoon while reading the AJC (Atlanta Journal & Constitution) I saw a note under Literacy Activities that Jan Karon would be at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore on Peachtree (about 30 miles from my home). I had a dilemna. I had a dental appointment scheduled for the same time as her visit, but I really, really love her books especially the Mitford series. My friend Kathy (of the quilted tote bag) is also a big Mitford fan. She calls us Mitford nerds. I gave Kathy a call. It didn't take any convincing for her to also drop her to-do list and head to Buckhead with me. I called the dentist this morning and rescheduled my cleaning. 

We arrived about an hour before the event. We were afraid there would be a line. Well, I guess everyone else was shopping because there were only a handful of die-hard fans there. We had plenty of time to chat with Ms. Karon. She is a delightful, gracious lady. She autographed our copies of Shepherd's Abiding (the Mitford Christmas book) even though she normally doesn't autograph at her book tours because of problems with carpal tunnel syndrome. The first photo is me with Ms. Karon (I wore my Christmas vest with snowmen like The Mitford Snowmen book) She is currently working on the second book in the Fr. Tim series. It will be set in Ireland. She told us the working title, but of course I don't remember it.

The second shot includes my friend Kathy. Ms. Karon's sister Brenda Furman lives in Atlanta. She compiled The Mitford Bedside Companion. Last night at her house, they read The Cajun Night Before Christmas. Well, both Kathy and I are Cajuns and read that to our students. Kathy even dresses as an old Cajun woman to read to students at her school. Ms. Karon and her sister convinced Kathy to read it aloud to them with her Cajun accent. Brenda had Kathy sign her copy. How much fun! This was truly a special time for me. A wonderful holiday memory! 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Two down, one more to go....

I've been hand-sewing the binding on this quilt for months. I did a couple of inches every weekend watching football games. Guess I made the stitches too small. Anyway... this one is completed. It's for my husband's sister. We will spend Christmas day with them. I'll give it to her then.   I love this quilt. It's hard giving this one away. Of course, I do have enough fabric left-over to make one for me.The pattern is from McCall's Quilting magazine June 2005. The original quilt name is Star Light. My regular quilt holder is still sleeping. Rusty said, me hold the quilt? 

I need to machine sew the binding on my neice's quilt. My work was so poor yesterday morning that I put it aside. Decided I'd better wait until later today so I would do a better job. 

The tote bag pattern is a design by Penny Sturges. It is called Charm Party Tote. I gave it to Kathy last night. She was speechless for a little bit. That's always a good sign :)  

One down, two more to go...

Christmas gifts to finish, that is.  I'm just plain disorganized this Christmas. I can't seem to get motivated about the holidays.  This tote bag is for my dear friend Kathy,  who values homemade presents. I used a charm pack from the Peace On Earth fabric line by Moda. The lining is yardage from my stash. I think it's Chocolat by Moda.  The bag had to be finished and wrapped for tonight. Completed. Done. Check another one off.