Lady Liberty appliqued wall-hanging, pieced by my sister, quilted by me, in 2000

In celebration of our nation’s birthday, this Fourth of July, I will share with you my collection of handmade quilted items in red, white, and blue.  I’ve made these over the years from fabric scraps.  They’ve become treasured holiday keepsakes.

Star Soup quilted wall hanging, made in 1995

Glory Be quilted wall hanging, made in 1998

Pledge of Allegiance, embroidered and hand-quilted while on a trip to Washington, D.C. in 1999

Red, beige and blue scrap quilt made in 1999

Midnight Sky quilt made from old blue jean scraps, 1998


Red and Sear

November 5, 2010

“November’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear.”
     — Sir Walter Scott

Red maple leaf

Watercolor sketch of red leaf

Fan of red rhododendron leaves amidst the green

My eyes catch the odd flash of red from an early turning leaf.  It’s not quite autumn, but there are hints of the fall season all around, a few early-bird leaves already changing color.  We are on the cusp of change.

“The maples and the mountain ashes and the spindles and all the lovely autumn things swell and burgeon and expand, making the most alluring promises of what they will be doing when the frosts come, and dropping, from time to time, a little hint in the shape of a single scarlet leaf that has dressed up too soon, having made a mistake in the date of the party.”
     — Beverley Nichols, Merry Hall

I’m going to try to make this week special by creating art every day, even just a sketch or two.  I’ll treat myself to a mini-retreat at my dining room table!  Let’s see if I can actually do it.  I often don’t take the time to sit down with watercolors and pencils, but whenever I do, I have so much fun.  It makes me wonder why I don’t do this more often.  I’d like sketching to become a daily practice.

Here are yesterday’s efforts:

Watercolor sketch of red buttons

Watercolor sketch of poppy pod

Red geraniums

The flash of red -- geraniums!

“In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing:  a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window.  And then another:  my daughter in a yellow dress.  And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon.  Until I learned to be in love with my life again.  Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.”
     — Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson


July 10, 2010


Crocosmia bloom

I don’t remember seeing this flower until last year.  It’s shape does resemble the jaws of a crocodile, I think.  These Crocosmia Lucifer plants are also known as Falling Stars.

Red Berries

June 28, 2010

Red raspberries, some ripe for the picking

Succulent red strawberry

“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”
     — Wendell Berry (whose name is very apt for this quote!) 

I wanted to serve fresh strawberries for dessert accompanied by some kind of lemon cake.  So I looked through my stash of yet-to-be-tried recipes and found this one from Cupcakes:  Luscious Bakeshop Favorites from Your Home Kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski: 

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes 

1 c all-purpose flour
1-1/2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1/4 c sour cream 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. (I used cupcake liners instead.) 

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon extract, and beat until combined.  Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.  Add the sour cream and beat until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 – 20 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. 

If desired, spoon a lemon glaze over the cupcakes.  The glazed cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcake


Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes ready for glaze

Poppies: Sooty Lashes

May 16, 2010

Poppy bud about to bloom

Poppies in a parking strip

Gorgeous pink poppy

“Her big, lewd, bold eye, in its sooty lashes . . .”
     — Ted Hughes, “Big Poppy”

The poppies are popping out all over town.  I like poppies, and have collected some prints of them over the years.

My collection of framed poppy prints

What is Pink?

May 14, 2010

What Is Pink?
by Christina Rossetti

What is pink? A rose is pink
By the fountain’s brink.
What is red? A poppy’s red
In its barley bed.
What is blue? The sky is blue
Where the clouds float thro’.
What is white? A swan is white
Sailing in the light.
What is yellow? Pears are yellow,
Rich and ripe and mellow.
What is green? The grass is green,
With small flowers between.
What is violet? Clouds are violet
In the summer twilight.
What is orange? Why, an orange,
Just an orange!

I pulled a few photographs from my archives to illustrate this poem:

What is pink? A rose is pink . . .

What is red? A poppy's red . . .

What is blue? The sky is blue . . .

What is white? A swan is white . . .

What is yellow? A pear is yellow . . .

What is green? The grass is green . . .

What is violet? Clouds are violet . . .

What is orange? Why, an orange . . .

Faded Beauty

April 30, 2010

Last days of a red tulip

“The flowers anew, returning seasons bring,
But faded beauty has no second spring.”
     — Ambrose Phillips

The tulips are losing their sprightliness; many have lost their petals.  Beauty fades.  Can we let it go without regret?

“Beauty’s a doubtful good, a glass, a flower,
Lost, faded, brown, dead within an hour;
And beauty, blemish’d once, forever’s lost,
In spite of physic, painting, pain, and cost.”
     — William Shakespeare

The last few petals on this tulip stand like angel wings.

Fading beauty

Seed pods of spent tulips