Saturday, December 31, 2005

Gumbo Recipe

You saw the roux last night. Here's the pot on the stove simmering:

Several of you asked about my gumbo recipe. It's one of those things that I just do . . no recipe. If you can make a roux, you can make a gumbo. I found this at that has good instructions for making a roux (it isn't hard but you can't burn it!)

That's basically what I do to make my roux. They say to let it cool a bit before adding the chopped veggies but I don't. I put the onions, peppers and garlic in while it's hot so they saute. Don't add the veggies until the roux is as dark as you want it. You have to get it pretty dark -- cook it slow and stir it constantly.


2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
garlic, chopped (however much you'd like)

Add to roux and saute.

Add about 2 quarts hot water (can mix a little broth in here if you'd like). I usually boil my chicken a day ahead of time. Put the broth in the fridge so the fat can be skimmed off. Remove the chicken from the bones and chop it for the gumbo. I don't measure but you can cook it down or add more water to get the consistency you like.

Add salt, black and red pepper to taste. If you want to add sausage to the gumbo, slice it and fry it to remove the grease before adding to the gumbo.

Add a couple of bay leaves. Simmer for a couple of hours. Before serving, add chopped parsley and chopped green onions.

Serve with a bowl of hot rice and file (spice you probably can't find if you don't live way down south . . can't find it in Kentucky). But you can make your own file if you have a sassafras tree nearby. Here's how you do it:

Never add the file to the pot . . it will get very slimey. Add it to your own bowl right before you're ready to start eating.

Yum . . we're fixing to have ours now!


Monday, December 19, 2005

Teacher Quilts Delivered

Some days I hesitate to post because I get quite a few comments about the number of quilts I make. Please don't ever think I'm trying to say "look what I can do" because I'm not saying that all. What you may glean from my posts is that I don't have much of a life outside of my quilting.

These pictures aren't great. It's 24 degrees outside and I was running in and out with a short sleeve t-shirt so I was just snapping and running back in. Don't ask me why that goofy tree in the background still has leaves either. It is some kind of oak and is always the last tree in town to lose its leaves and the last one to get leaves. Every year I think it is dead because it is so late in getting leaves and then I remember it seems to have its own calendar of when to shed leaves and when to get new growth.

The schools here do semesters. When I was in school, we had the same classes all year (I think . . it's been too many years ago to remember). But here, they have four classes the first half of the year and then four classes the second half of the year. I make quilts for Chad's teachers for Christmas and on occasion, there has been an outstanding teacher during the second half so he/she will get a quilt for Teacher Appreciation Week. So, here are the quilts that were just delivered.

This one was given to Mrs. Whitmer. She was Chad's "advocate" (would have called her the home room teacher when I was in school!). She's had Chad for the past four years so she has received several quilts. She likes purple. I love this crazy star pattern from Buggy Barn and will make another one for myself one day maybe. My friend, Becky, made one in reds and greens and it turned out really pretty. Might be a fun quilt to make for the holidays. This was a stash quilt!

This one was made from my Vienna Tiles pattern and given to Mrs. Gutsche who is Chad's English 4 teacher. I've never spoken to her so I suppose that's a good thing. They had to do lots of writing in this class and Chad isn't much of a writer so I'm sure she earned her quilt! :) It's quilted with the flurry of angels - pretty much overall feathers. This was a stash quilt!

Mrs. Koshy is the forensic chemistry teacher. I didn't speak with her this semester either .. another good thing. This is, of course, another Stack & Whack and wasn't included in the Stack & Whack quilts I posted the other day. Makes you wonder what else might be buried in my stack of quilts. It's kinda hard for me to give quilts to people I've never met, never even seen. Chad was no help but I'm thinking she's young so I hope she likes the bright colors.

Mrs. Markham is the Algebra II teacher and unfortunately, I heard from her often. And, as I recall, it was never good news. Sat to say but I'm thankful the school web page is down right now. I just tried to check Chad's grade. He exempted the math final so his final grade should be posted. Maybe I'll have a glass of wine (or two) before trying to check grades again!

Anyway, Mrs. Markham's quilt was made from blocks that were from a one night beginning quilting class I taught several years ago. This was a stash quilt!

This one was given to Mrs. St. John who was the human anatomy teacher. This quilt was made from fabric a friend and I bought as a challenge to each other. It was the green/red floral. I worked on the blocks for a couple of years when we went to Georgia for Christmas. Glad to have it finished. I can't believe it but I didn't talk to her all semester either. I believe this is the first semester I have ever gone an entire semester without a conference with a teacher and looks like I never met three of his four teachers this semester. I'd like to think it's maturity on his part but I'm going to guess that the teachers feel by the time the kids are seniors, why bother??

There you have it . . the quilts are all in the hands of teachers and I hope they know how much I appreciate them having put up with my little darling for this past semester.

Judy L.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stack & Whack Obsession

I had commented to Samantha about loving Stack & Whack Quilts and she mentioned that she'd like to see some of the ones I made so . . here are a few. If you don't like Stack & Whack quilts, you'll think I'm nuts for making so many but I love them!

This was the first one I made. The fabric is kind of patriotic and has the New York skyline, including the World Trade Towers. I had the fabric for a while but made the quilt after 9/11 and this is one of my favorites. I never look at this quilt that I don't remember where I was, and what I was doing on 9/11. The hardest part of making this quilt was deciding on a background and accent fabric. This is the version my quilting classes call the "easy" stack & whack.

The second one was made using a fabric with pretty ladies and cars from the 50's (or sometime thereabouts. This is the fabric I used. I made one of these quilts for my dad and one for my brother-in-law. Both are in their 70's and I figured they'd get a kick out of the girls and cars. I used the same fabric for the backing on both. This is my favorite setting with the nine patches in the sashing.

Next one was made using fabric with Chinese food. There's a story behind this one. Vince loves Chinese food. I can tolerate it every now and then but for the longest time, every time we'd go out to eat, which is rare, it was Chinese. It got to be so bad that we almost had a serious argument about it and we never really argue. I was sick of Chinese food and besides, the Chinese restaurant here is on the poor to awful scale as far as restaurants go. So, I made Vince this quilt as a joke. I need to get a better picture of it . . this one is kinda blurry and the blue isn't nearly as bright as it looks in this picture. And, Vince now eats Chinese food when he's out of town and we don't go to the Chinese restaurant here.

Starting to think I might have had too much fun with these quilts? :)

This one was fun to make but I do think it's kinda ugly. It really is sometimes surprising to see how some of the fabric is going to turn out when stacked and whacked. I gave it to one of Chad's teachers last year as a Christmas gift. It was a man teacher and he just loved it (or so he said).

This one was also a teacher gift last year at Christmas. One of Chad's teachers loves purple and green. The green wasn't quite as green as it appears in this picture. I also like purple and green so this one was hard for me to give away. I had originally wanted to use a lime green swirly fabric for the background but the star points just blended into the background and were lost so I had to switch to this darker green.

Last but surely not least is my black stack & whack. This quilt won Best of Category at the AQS Expo in Nashville in 2004. It was so weird because I had two quilts in the show. My other quilt had won several ribbons at other shows and I really hoped it would win something in Nashville. My friend, Betty, went to the show with me and we were walking around looking at vendor booths. I told her I was going to look at the quilts so she stayed behind in the vendor booths. I got to my green quilt first and . . no ribbon or anything. I didn't even think the stack & whack might have a ribbon so I casually made my way through the remaining quilts. The quilt was entered in the "AQS 20th Anniversary" category and it had to be quilts made from an AQS book. When I got to that section, they had the quilts hanging with the first place quilt, then my quilt with a purple ribbon, then the second place quilt, then the third place quilt. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what the purple ribbon meant. Wasn't sure. So, I went and found Betty and asked her. She said . . I think it means you WON. Hmmm, still couldn't figure it out so I bought a show guide thinking it might tell me. I called Vince and I was whispering "My black quilt might have won!" He called me back about five times before I ever figured it out. Yep, it won and I was so excited!

There are a couple more stack & whack quilts in my UFO pile and a couple more in my "to be quilted" pile. Yep, they are so much fun to make!


Monday, December 12, 2005

Happy Birthday Chad

Chad will be 18 on December 12. Goodness, this time has flown by. It really seems like just such a short time ago that he was placed in my arms. I had no earthly idea what to do with a baby and I was scared to death. Not sure how well I did as a parent but I cannot imagine my how empty my life would have been without Chad. Things have not always been easy and I suppose any of you who have survived teens would tell me this is normal. We are back to the point where I truly enjoy spending time with him.

So, at this Christmas season, there is a birth mother I will probably never meet, who more than 18 years ago, was a young lady, not sure what direction to take. She sought counseling for an unplanned pregnancy. Abortion was an alternative she did not choose. By taking the harder route, she gave me the greatest gift I have ever been given and I cannot thank her enough!


Monday, November 28, 2005

Quilt going to Road to CA Show

I have a friend in CA . . Vicky. It's kinda funny because she grew up in the town next to my little town in Louisiana and even played basketball for Sulphur (her town) and they played my town (Westlake). I'm sure we skunked them! :) Anyway, we're almost the same age, but we didn't know each other then. We met online and though we've been internet friends for probably four or five years, we've never met. Just to prove to you that she's a swell kinda girl, she even has a dachshund!

(This is sounding like one of Darcie's stories, huh?)

While I'm kinda off track, did you know I also met my husband online?

Back to the story . . Vicky is a very generous person . . very generous. Last year for Christmas, Vicky sent me this box of about 30 half yards of a whole collection of fabrics from Pat Campbell. They were the kind of mottled hand dyed looking fabrics and they were gorgeous (can't remember the name of the collection or I'd tell you). I knew right off that I wanted to make something for Vicky using some of that fabric so I got busy and made her a quilt, and surprised her with it.

She lives near the Road to California show and I was chatting with her a while back and she said "why don't you enter this quilt in the Road to CA show?" Heck, I'll do anything with a little encouragement. So, I burned a CD with the requisite pictures, sent in the application and today my mail man brought me the acceptance letter from the Road to CA show crew. I'm pretty excited . . wish I could go to CA in January to see it hanging but I can't. I'll just be happy to know that Vicky is there seeing her quilt in the show.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Two Stash Quilts

It's Bonnie's Happy Scrappy Houses! But, I made mine 13" so they'd go faster. I had planned to not use sashing but then I thought it needed sashing. They are so fun to make. All of the fabric came from the stash. Is it too wild to donate to the tornado victims? Be honest! I'm going to bind it with a wide (maybe 3" cut) red binding.

I have probably 10 more house blocks but I ran out of the black whacky check fabric and, since the goal is to use the stash, I'm not buying more but I do love black and white fabrics. I'll find something else and make another one of these.

Notice: All my houses have purple front doors! It's my neighborhood and I can build all the houses the way *I* want them! :)

This one may not be finished. I had most of these blocks put together so last night I set them but I feel like it needs a border and maybe another row of blocks. I think I want it to be bigger but . . I'm out of the white on white. I should have not set them and I could have mixed in some other WOW's but I didn't and all these have the same WOW. So, what do I do now?


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quilts going to Lake Charles

I finally finished the quilts for the lady whose husband was injured prior to Hurricane Rita's arrival in Lake Charles. Her favorite color is olive green and her quilt is greens and pinks/rose made from the Many Trips Around the World pattern in the Tradition with a Twist book. I love that book -- it's the Blooming Nine Patch book.

The baby quilt is a panel with an added border.

The green one is a big quilt and it was a windy day so Chad had a hard time holding it for the picture but it really is a pretty quilt.

They're off to Fed Ex tomorrow. Hopefully these will bring a little cheer to her hectic life. The recipient works for a law firm and I'm sending the quilts there since I don't know her so I'll be anxious to hear her reaction.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Graduation??? Maybe Not!

Can you believe these grades? Why do I look at them before bed time . . then I'm all angry and can't go to sleep! The problem (well . . one of the problems) is that he makes a 90 or 100 on everything he turns in but half of the assignments just don't seem to be getting done. What do you do when they're almost 18?

I can't run away from home because (1) the stash will not fit in the car; (2) the longarm will not fit in the car; (3) I have deadlines that I have not met because of Bonnie's Happy Houses! So . . I'll just go finish pulling out my hair but between these grades and the tornado watch, I am NOT going to sleep!


My First Quilt

Finn's post encouraged me to dig out my very first quilt! Back in the early 80's, I was trying to find something to occupy my time during lunch one day. Shopping was my favorite thing to do back then and I came across a little quilt shop. I had always loved sewing and had played around with some of my grandma's quilt patterns when I was a kid but I had never had a class or any "formal" quilt training. So, I signed up for a beginner's piecing class. We were going to make a four block sampler. Well, I had too much fun and I made 16 blocks. This quilt, besides being ugly, is hand pieced and hand quilted (quite sparsely!) Looks like I had lots of fun fussy cutting those roses in some of the blocks. Heck, come to think about it, everything was fussy cut since it was all done with templates and scissors.

There was a little old lady who worked in that shop, Ava Broussard. I know I would never have stuck with quilting if she had not taken me under her wing and kept me enthused. I wish she could see me now! Ava was elderly back in the 80's and I'm pretty sure she has passed away. She would invite me to her house for lunch sometimes. She lived in one of the BIG, old house in north Lake Charles . . where some of the first houses in Lake Charles had been built. Her husband had died and she lived in this huge house by herself and the neighborhood was rapidly going downhill. I always worried about her living there alone.

She made the best kibbi and she knew I loved it so she would make a big batch and freeze some for me to take home. And, she always had homemade lemonade! You know . . I might just try to make some kibbi soon in honor of Ava. I've never made it but it doesn't seem like it would be hard to make if I can find a good recipe.

Then, in the late 80's Ava began losing her eyesight and had to move from her big home where she had raised her children into a townhouse in Sulphur near her son. The new home was in a much safer neighborhood and was brand new and really nice. When Chad was born, she made a baby quilt (3 pigs) for him and I saved it so it still looks brand new. (But that baby quilt still isn't as old as my first ugly quilt!) That's probably one of the few baby gifts that I saved.

Well, this post has taken me down memory lane. Thanks Finn for prompting me to dig out my first quilt and remember how it all began.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Little Joys in Life

Home is where the heart is, right? Not really! Home for me will always be Louisiana where my family and friends are. Almost as much as I miss my family and friends, I miss crawfish and ginger lilies!

We've been in Kentucky for eight years and, without fail, sometime in late summer I have this conversation with my mother (who knows how much I love ginger lilies!)

Mom: You should see my ginger lilies. They are all blooming. Blooms everywhere!
Me: Good! What have you been doing?
Mom: They smell so good! I love walking outside in the morning and smelling those flowers!
Me: Good. How's dad?
Mom: I have so many more blooms than I had last year.
Me: Good! How's Kristy and the girls?
Mom: Remind me to send you some ginger lilies and you can see if they grow there.

NEVER happened! So, when we were home last spring, I grabbed about five bulbs, brought them home and planted them in pots. I will bring them in when it gets too cold and I will have ginger lilies forever!

In Louisiana, they've been blooming for several months now but my first bloom opened this morning and it smells SOOO good!! I wish I could offer a "scratch & sniff" button here but . . you'll just have to trust me.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Vermont in July

I've been working on this design off and on for a while . . more off than on. In July, 04 we went to Vermont for the Quilt Festival. We stayed in a cabin in the woods with no telephone, no internet and no tv. After a few days of "romantic seclusion", I was kinda looking for something to do. I began playing around with Electric Quilt (quilt design software) and decided to draw out the design in the bathroom floor. Then I decided to add other things that reminded me of the trip. This is the design that has evolved. The log cabin blocks in the center represent the log cabin where we were staying. The pinwheel design, which is the center of the floor tile design that was where I had first started my design. The trees represent the many trees in Vermont. It was very green. The brown snails trail blocks in the border . . I hope I don't offend anyone from Vermont but I had never seen so many narrow, winding dirt roads! So, the snails trail blocks reminded me of the roads in Vermont. This quilt will be named Vermont in July and depending on how much I get done in the next few months, might be my entry for Paducah next year.

Want to know how I ended up with the final design? Here's the design I copied from the floor tile.

I thought that was kinda boring so I decided to add some of the things that impressed me about Vermont. The sky was so blue so I added the blue background. The ribbon border represented the roads.

I liked this one ok til I came up with the snails trail border, as shown in the picture at the top. There were about 20 designs from start to finish but many of you ask me how I come up with my designs and this is a little insight into how I get started and the steps that lead to the final design.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Congratulations to Ruth Freeman

Congratulations to Ruth Freeman of Maryland! I heard from her this week that one of the quilts I quilted for her won Best of Show at the Howard County Fair. The pattern is Colorwash Garden by Rose Hahn. Ruth did a fantastic job with it and I am proud to have quilted it for her.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Boomerang Quilt

Back when American Patchwork & Quilting magazine began collecting blocks for the breast cancer auction, maybe in early 2004, I was a member of Alex Anderson's message board (AAMB - which no longer exists). We decided to have everyone who wanted to participate send me a friendship star . . light pink star on a dark pink background or vice versa. And, they were to send me a fq of the background fabric for the sashing. So, I made the quilt, quilted it and sent it in.

I patiently waited for the auction to begin so I could try to get our quilt back. It was in one of the first few batches of quilts and I began to bid and bid and bid! Like everything I really want on ebay, someone else really wanted it too! So, it got way above my price range and I gave up. Right before the auction ended, I ran back to ebay and tried a couple more times but by now it was WAY above what I could pay and I was pretty relieved when this determined person outbid me AGAIN.

There's a very generous lady who was also on Alex Anderson's MB named Vicky. I asked one of our mutual friends, Sally, if Vicky was the one bidding and she had no idea (so she said!). After the auction ended, Sally and her DH did a little investigating and tracked the winning bidder back to somewhere in east Texas. They even gave me the lady's name and I looked her up on Another friend, Gwen, said she had a sister near this person and she would contact her and let her know the details of the quilt. This was all back in July or August, 2004 I think. Both Sally and Gwen (and most everyone else) knew it was really Vicky and they were probably sweating buckshot when I said I might contact this person myself! Thankfully I didn't try to contact that person .. she would have thought I was nuts since Sally and her DH had just made up this person's name and then I found her!

So, from last summer til this summer, I would think about that quilt every now and then and wondered why someone had wanted it so badly who had not been a part of the group making the quilt. I'd wake up some mornings and as I was laying in bed thinking about what I'd work on that day, I'd think about the pink quilt. I had decided that the winning bidder had someone special in her life who had been touched by breast cancer, this person loves pink and so . . she kept outbidding me to get the quilt.

Then, last weekend I hosted a retreat at Paducah. There were 37 of who us attended and almost all of us had met and gotten to be friends on the AAMB. Vicky was to come but she couldn't be there. The first night, Sally said she had a note to read from Vicky because everyone was so disappointed she couldn't be there. Well, it wasn't a note to everyone at all but a note to me from Vicky telling me how much I had helped her along the way with her quilting and they presented me with that quilt. I was so shocked and so thrilled. I felt so bad that I had been bidding against Vicky on that quilt and . .everyone else at the retreat had known for months that Vicky had the quilt and was going to give it to me. Wasn't that the sweetest thing? I still can't read Vicky's note without crying!

Vicky calls it the "boomerang quilt" because it came back to me and I am so thrilled to have it back!

Friends for a Cure - the Boomerang Quilt Posted by Hello

Judy L.

Friday, April 29, 2005

I Live in a Zoo

Chad is failing Algebra 2. Guess I shouldn't be surprised since he's made it through the entire semester without bringing home a book. Oh, boy . . I can't wait til he is a parent and his kids do this to him! :) He scored in the 85 percentile in math on the ACT test so . . why is he failing Algebra 2? I talked to the teacher and she agreed that even if he squeaks out a D, he should re-take it because there's no way he'll get through Alg. 3 and pre-cal. So, I called the counsellor and explained. She agreed and said she would change his schedule for next year. He came home with it yesterday and yes, it was changed but they have him taking Algebra 3 the first semester and Algebra 2 the second semester! Got that straightened out and now he'll be taking Algebra 2 the first semester and Algebra 3 the second semester.

Then tonight Speck gets his favorite blanket caught in his toenail. The toenail had split and the blanket threads were caught in there good so I had to cut a big circle out of the blanket and go to the vet with him. Our vet closes at 5:30 and it was 5:24 when I was on the phone with them. No way were they going to wait for me . . "we'll be here at 7:30 in the morning"! But there's a vet closer to me that stays open til 6 so we've been there and back.

If I was a drinking kinda girl, I'd have a beer (or two)!


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Opportunities Come in the Strangest Places

Some time last year, early Spring I know now, I read in the paper about a fairly young mother of four children, pregnant with her fifth child who had died. The paper listed the church she attended and it happened to be the same church the girl who cuts my hair attends so I asked Robin about this lady. She told me that it was really sad. The lady homeschooled her 3 school age children, got sick and there were complications and she just died -- something fairly simple that affected her heart as I recall.

Then in January (2005) I was at the dentist with my son for a checkup. Our dentist is always so busy and it takes forever to get an appointment. Chad had a cavity and as we were leaving and I was trying to make an appointment after school, they told me they had a cancellation for "tomorrow". I hesitated -- who wants to go to the dentist two days in a row -- but went ahead because it would probably have been 6 months before I could have gotten another appointment.

So, back to the dentist on Tuesday afternoon. We walked in and there was an older lady (not really old but I doubted the children were her children) sitting there with three children. I just KNEW those children belonged to the lady who died. I don't know how I knew it but I did. The children were well mannered and very cute.

The dental assistant called for "Anna" and the lady told her that Anna would be coming with her dad so they took back another child. Then dad came in with Anna, a lively 4 year old. The lady explained to me that he was her brother. I guess she thought I might wonder why she left when dad arrived.

While waiting for Chad, I was working on binding on a quilt. Anna walked over and commented on the quilt. Dad said something like "Mom would like that. She loved quilts." Anna said "Oh, dad. . you know mom is far, far away in heaven!"

Ughhh, now I KNEW it was those kids. So, the next day I called the dentist and inquired. Yes, those were the children whose mom had died. I told them I wanted to make quilts for the kids but I wanted to drop them at the dentist office because I didn't want them to know who had given the quilts.

Then, I'm nosey so I went back and found the obituary in the newspaper archives online. Get this: The mom's maiden name . . full name . . first, middle and last was the same as my first, middle and last maiden name -- Judy Lynn Miller! How weird is that?

Think I was at the dentist office two days in a row for a reason?


This is the quilt made for Kathleen. Posted by Hello

Anna's Quilt Posted by Hello

Jacob's Quilt Posted by Hello

Austin's Quilt Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 27, 2005

No More Grandparents

My grandfather passed away this morning! He was 94 and it was time. My grandmother died almost five years ago. I have such good memories. They lived on a farm in north Louisiana, about two hours from where we lived and I loved spending time with them. For me, those were the "good ole days". They didn't have indoor plumbing til I was in high school, they didn't have a phone, they had one old black and white TV with an antenna that received one channel on a good weather day. Hopefully Saturday night wasn't cloudy so they could pick up Lawrence Welk! They had cows, chickens, pigs, a humongous garden. They lived on a dirt road with no air conditioning so the windows were open 10 months out of the year. Louisiana with no air conditioning can be pretty miserable. Their vehicles were stick shift with no air conditioning and no radio. They went to bed early and were up before daylight.

Sounds like torture, huh? Why did I love those times and why would I go back to them? There were no computers, no video games, kids didn't run the roads all day. Time was spent working hard, socializing with the family and friends. Neighbors were far away but people stayed in the same place forever and they were true friends . . not just passing acquaintances. We have so many distractions and I feel we're missing out on way more than we're gaining with our "modern conveniences".

They ate real food . . at home, 3 meals a day. They NEVER went out to eat. Most of the food had been grown on their farm and it was GOOD! Fresh chicken, fresh veggies, the milk fresh out of the cow was pretty bad though!

Sometimes on Saturday afternoon, we would ride over the Sabine River into Texas (about a 10 mile ride I think but it seemed much farther because it was a trip that was rarely taken) and go to Ivy Morris' grocery store to get ice cream.

On Tuesdays, they ALWAYS went to town because it was double U. S. Green Stamp day at the grocery store.

Those days are gone forever . . never to be known again by our offspring.

Pop and Nannie, I loved you dearly. Thanks for the memories!