Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great Aunt Claudette's Quilt

Aunt Gertie got the call from Great Aunt Claudette in Washington state. Great Aunt Claudette was Gertie's aunt on her mother's side. She had some upcoming medical procedures and wanted to make sure the family was kept up to speed on what was happening. The procedures were likely to take 4-6 weeks to complete. Gertie's immediate thought was to make a quilt to remind Claudette of all the people that love and support her as she recovered. Great Aunt Claudette was a Great Aunt as in family relations and a GREAT Aunt as in a favored Aunt.

Aunt Gertie called her mother (Rainey) and Great Aunt Earlene to discuss the project. Rainey was the oldest of the three, then Claudette, followed by Earlene. The sisters thought Claudette would love the quilt, what better way to feel the love of your widespread family that a picture quilt?

Great Aunt Earlene and Mother Rainey (That makes her sound like a nun, which Rainey was definitely not) made a few phone calls, sent a few e-mails and the pictures started to come in. Aunt Cora and Uncle Fred combed through the mountains of family pictures looking for the perfect shots and making sure no one was excluded. It was amazing how many people contributed to the picture pool.

Gertie and Martha sketched out a Storm at Sea pattern to create the three hearts. Cousin Martha suggested they place photos of Claudette's closest family in the hearts. Her husband DOC, her boys, and her sisters. The hearts would be surrounded by the photos of other family and friends. "I want the background to look like a party." Aunt Gertie commented. "A sea of photos of people that love her."

Gertie and Martha were off to Matilde's Quilt Shop to get the photo fabric. They were thinking they would use about 40 photos and would need about 20 sheets. They discussed the merits of black/white and sepia toned photos. They had all agreed that color photos would get lost in the quilt. Aunt Myrtle was collecting the photos and formatting them, but Gertie and Martha were picking the fabrics. Black/white seemed to be the way to go considering all the color in the quilt. They wanted the quilt to be happy.

Cousin Martha suggested they add a mat to the photos to make the photo blocks the size they needed. The mats would all be the same fabric for consistency. Aunt Gertie thought they could also add a frame to each picture to add color, Like pictures hanging together on the wall. Each an individual shot, but somehow related to all the others.

Aunt Gertie printed the pictures onto the special paper as Cousin Martha pressed the images, rinsed them and pressed them again. They sorted through the stack to determine which pictures needed to be square, vertical or horizontal. The two sorted and stacked then resorted and stacked. They worked through the night to put the quilt together quickly. Cousin Martha chose a fleece backing to ensure the quilt was warm enough for the chilly nights in WA.

Not a word was said to Great Aunt Claudette, but they wanted to ship the quilt so that Claudette would receive it the first week of her treatments. They hurried to send the finished product off to WA. It arrived just in time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Treats for the Little Ones

Sweetie Petey

Some would say Aunt Gertie's house had a tendency to sound like a kennel at times. She had four little puppies at her feet or in her lap at all times now. "Rotten, rotten, rotten!" Gertie would say, "Spoiled rotten!"

Today, Aunt Gertie had decided she needed to make the little ones treats. In general Gertie and Cousin Martha had been eliminating processed foods from their diets. They both liked to cook and had large freezers to store the bounty. It seemed only natural to extend that idea to the puppies, although not to the point of making their regular food.

Aunt Gertie scanned page after page on the Internet trying to determine which recipe her little brood would like the best. There were so many choices, peanut butter, bacon, cheddar... In the end she chose a bacon recipe. What dog would turn down a bacon treat? What person would turn down a bacon treat for that matter? Cousin Martha uncovered the mixer and gathered the ingredients. She fried up the bacon with a few extra pieces for quality control. They would taste the bacon but let the little ones test the finished biscuits. Both Gertie and Martha preferred their treats to be a little sweeter, more like chocolate.

As usual, the kitchen was soon a mess of flour. "Why is it I can't cook with flour without a fine dusting settling all over my kitchen?" Gertie asked. Flour, eggs, bacon bits, bacon fat, and a little salt all went into the mixer, was rolled into balls and into the oven. They looked like those little candies on paper Gertie had as a child, only all the little bits were biscuit brown. They baked for 30 minutes and were crispy when they came out with the aroma of bacon. The little puppies all knew goodness was in store.

Friday, August 12, 2011

August? ...Already?

Aunt Gertie was in her Florida backyard, tending her dying tomato plants. The heat this year had just been too much for them. The few pieces of fruit they produced had been eaten by the stray animals. As she surveyed the garden wreckage, she started to think about the variety of greens, yellows and browns before her. A feeling of Autumn came over her as she stood in the 100+ degree heat. It was hot now, but the weather was going to change soon and bring visions of pumpkins and multi-colored leaves. Maybe this year she would make that scarecrow quilt...or the pumpkin with the witches hat...or that pattern of the witch she accidentally purchased twice.

Cousin Martha could see Aunt Gertie's puzzled look as she stood by the remains of the tomatoes. "We can replant tomatoes in September Gertie. No need to be so sad." " I know." Gertie replied. "I was contemplating some of those quilt ideas that need working out and the unfinished tops waiting for me. It's time to review my journal and look through the unfinished pile. If I start working on one of those fall quilts now, I may be able to use it in season."

Cousin Martha gazed off over the dead plants and remarked, "What about that picture of Aunt Myrtle's front steps...you know, with the pumpkins on it? Or maybe just one of the faces."

"I know." Gertie replied, "So many ideas and not enough time."