Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wildflowers on the MoPac

Today I am sharing photos of wildflowers I snapped on a bike ride on the MoPac East Trail near Lincoln, Nebraska. The wild roses were nearly out of season, but I found a few hidden in the grass.

Wild daisies were still in full bloom, but so were these dainty look-alikes:

These pretty little purple flowers were growing up the wall of a giant culvert we call "the tunnel" -- about 4.1 miles from the trail head:

This unusual plant was in full bloom all along the trail.  I have no idea what it is, but it reminds me a little of Lotta Jonsdatter's fabric (my fellow fabric addicts will know what I mean):

And finally, there is a noxious weed -- a thistle.  But as much of a nuisance it is to farmers and County Weed Boards, I love its vibrant purple color:

That's all for today.  I'm heading off to the Lincoln Children's Zoo with the three grandsons.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

When I Am an Old Woman

This is a photo of my Great Aunt Dot (Augusta Larsen).  She was a talented milliner who made beautiful hats, but she also had a sense of whimsy.

Today (my 59th birthday) as I contemplate old age, I thought I would share this gem of a photo with you, along with one of my favorite poems about aging.  It was written by Jenny Joseph, an English poet, in 1961, and published her 1974 collection Rose In the Afternoon.  It is also included in The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beer mats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Jenny Joseph

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Boys Are Coming!

I'm busy planning activities for Henry (almost 10), Alex (almost 8), and Oliver (almost 6) -- our three in-town grandsons.  The boys will be staying with us from May 31 through June 10 while their parents are on an anniversary cruise.

We'll be participating in a Lincoln Convention and Visitor's Bureau promotion - DISCOVER LINCOLN --playing tourist in our own town.  We each have a "passport" listing 26 local attractions.  If we visit at least 10, the boys will get souvenir t-shirts.  If we visit 11 or more, we'll be eligible for Gold Prize level prize drawings:  

We already have one stamp on our passport -- the Lincoln Children's Museum.  We'll get another on Friday when we visit the Lincoln Children's Zoo.  Only 9 more to go!  I'll keep you posted!

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, May 28, 2012

Gift Idea for a Disabled or Elderly Dad or Grandpa

It’s shameless commerce Tuesday already.  (Those tricky Monday holidays cause Tuesdays to sneak up on a person.)

Father’s Day is coming soon, so today I’m featuring a gift idea for a disabled or elderly dad or grandpa.  The ready to ship walker bags shown above feature three pockets on one side, two pockets on the other, and large center pocket.  Handy for toting a phone, reading glasses, extra hearing aid batteries, the all important “clicker” for the TV, or any number of other items that dad might want to keep close at hand.  With two hands on the walker, it is difficult to carry things – here’s a thoughtful and practical solution.

Here are links to my ready to ship “guy” walker bags pictured above:

I also make custom walker bags.  In fact, most of my walker bags are custom orders designed to fit the personality, hobby, or color preference of the recipient.  I will accept custom orders for Father’s Day walker bags through June 10, 2012.  Here is a link to my custom walker bag listing:

Looking for a walker bag for someone other than dad?  Check out the Walker Bag section of my Etsy shop for more feminine ready to ship and custom options: 

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  The weather was beautiful in Nebraska.  I biked 10 miles on the MoPac trail.  Wild roses were in bloom, but I forgot to pack my camera L.  My son Tim ran a marathon in Burlington, VT, and stepdaughter Jenny ran a 10K in Boulder, CO.  So proud of them—and all our kids and grandkids.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Perfectly Practical Library Book Bag

It's shameless commerce Tuesday and today I'm featuring a newly designed library book bag -- just in time for Summer Reading Programs and Summer Story Time.  The bag show above features whimsical black giraffes on a creamy white background.

The tote is big enough for most children's books, and includes a black and white polka dot zipper pouch to hold a library card, markers, a cell phone or hand held video game, and treat money.

This bag was inspired by my years as a parent and grandparent taking kids to the library.  If the books stay in the bag when not in use, and the library card stays in the zipper pouch, there will be fewer frantic searches and overdue books.

The fabric is a home dec weight 100% cotton screen print from Premier Prints.  The zipper pouch is also 100% cotton.  The zipper is a polyester YKK zipper from Zipit:  The handles are woven cotton webbing.

The bag measures 13.5 inches (34.3 cm) tall by 12.25 inches (31 cm) wide.  The inner zipper pouch is 8.5 inches (21.6 cm) wide and 5 inches (12.7 cm) deep.  The handles measure 9 inches (22.86 cm) from the "peak" to the top of the bag, so it can be carried as a shoulder bag.

Although I designed this bag as a library book bag, it could also be used for trips to the pool, the zoo, the beach, or for road trips or airplane trips.  It could also be used as a not-too-cumbersome take along bag for reading, knitting, needlework or shopping.

The top seams are serged with two rows of topstitching to secure the handles and inner zip pouch.  Side seams are French seams--no exposed edges.  The bottom is finished with a French seam reinforced with an extra row of stitching for durability.  The bag is machine washable, cold, gentle cycle.  Tumble dry low or air dry.  Touch up with an iron as needed.

To view other bags, totes and wallets, visit this section of my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations:  I also welcome custom orders.

Happy summer reading!

LeAnn aka pasqueflower


Sometimes a Great "Notion"

During the recent 2012 Lincoln Quilters Guild Quilt Show, there was a LONG hallway full of Silent Auction items.  Like sirens luring Odysseus, those goodies drew me down that hallway and a few said, "Bid on me! Bid on me!"

And, as luck would have it, I did have the winning $15 bid on one bag that included 44 nine-patch blocks, mostly made of vintage feed sack fabrics from the 1930s and 1940s.  You can tell by the texture.  Reproduction fabrics are thinner and smoother than real feed sacks. Some of the blue fabrics are not feed sacks, but I believe them to be fabrics of the 1940s.  

But when I opened the bag of vintage 9-patch blocks, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a veritable treasure trove of nifty old sewing notions -- way more than I'd bargained for!

So I'll let you have a peek.  (And if you know any vintage lovers, I'd be willing to share some of this stuff.  Truly it is MORE than I bargained for!)

One of the most intriguing pieces was this pattern showing women how to turn a 36" square Babe' scarf into a blouse -- actually 3 versions of a blouse -- in 20 to 30 minutes (yeah right!).  And you'd have to have a figure like a Size 2 Barbie doll to wear it.  Judging by the hairstyles, and the fact that the pattern calls for adding shoulder pads to each blouse, I'm guessing this was late 1930s or early 1940s.  Scarves probably weren't selling like hotcakes during the Depression or early War years---so it appears the scarf company tried to sell its scarves as blouse kits as a marketing gimmick.  Only a hunch.

Another great find was this two-inch by one inch Butternut Coffee "hosiery repair kit."  Moisten the little matchstick-like thingies hiding behind the thread, and stop a run in your hose.  A precursor to Fray Check? Nowadays I throw out pantihose with runs.

Another great find was this packet of beading needles by Walco - a company based in Bronx, NY.  For 19 cents you got several long beading needles in pretty red foil and instructions on how to apply pearls, sequins and rhinestones ---glitter and glam!  I wonder if the magician on the cover was drawn by the same artist who did the original Monopoly characters?  Where are those PBS Antiques Roadshow guys when you need 'em?

And there were over a dozen vintage metal zippers (not pictured) and quite an array of great sewing notions.  I have enough crewel embroidery and sewing needles to last for my lifetime (although I'll still probably keep buying some John James Big Eye Gold N' Glide Size 9 betweens because I love them so much).

There was a box of vintage metal bobbins which I hope will fit my vintage Featherweight sewing machine, a needle threader, a 141 cm Lutterloh folding ruler made in Germany (before the War?), 4 tape measures, a vintage metal oval embroidery hoop in rough condition -- but it could be a frame maybe, a hem gauge in cm and inches, silk covered snaps (maybe 1960s based on hairstyle), corset stays, a pattern tracing wheel, and a wonderful wooden-handled Joan Moshimer Hook made in Kennebunkport, Maine, that may be very handy when I start making crocheted or toothbrush rugs to use up some of my scraps.  I'm sure I'll need to poke in loose ends.  Several of the needles are from England or France and beautifully packaged, originally priced at 10 cents or 15 cents.

Any ideas for those vintage 9-patches?  The blocks will finish to six inches square, and I have 44 of them-- 30 red, white and blue, that might make a little patriotic quilt or table topper?  The other 14 are a mixed bag -- browns, yellows, purples and maroons.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

LQG Quilt Show - Traditional Quilts

The 2012 Lincoln Quilters Guild quilt show has come to an end.   Yesterday I posted images of some of the amazing art quilts on display. 

Today I will highlight traditional quilts.  Thankfully, our quilt is one that considers diversity a strength, and it embraces traditional quilters, art quilters, modern quilters, old quilters, young quilters, beginners and pros, as well as intermediate-level eclectic quilters like myself.

Sadly, I cannot show you the Best Hand Quilted quilt which also won the overall Viewer’s Choice Award.  It is a white whole cloth quilt, meticulously hand-quilted with white thread.  I simply could not get a high resolution photograph of the white on white quilt.  You’ll just have to take my word for it – it was amazing in person. (Sigh.)

The Baltimore album-style hand appliquéd quilt pictured above is Montana Appliqué’ Quilt by Jan Cutshall.  This quilt took three years to complete, and is beautifully hand quilted.  It won Best of Show honors at the Northwest Montana Fair in 2011.  Although it didn’t win any honors at this show, it earned my vote for best hand appliquéd quilt.

Next is a lovely traditional bear paw quilt with lots and lots of precisely-pieced half square triangles (HSTs).  Unfortunately, my separate photo of the label was not readable.  Some of my readers may remember that in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, Laura and her sister Mary made bears paw and nine-patch quilt blocks.

Isotaupe by Linda Daiker, is a machine pieced full sized quilt.  It was machine quilted by Rich O’Hare.  Who says neutrals are boring?   I thought this would be a good “guy quilt.”  I’m always on the lookout for guy quilts, with six grandsons who will be graduating in the next two to twelve years.

And last, but certainly not least, is Bonnie Kucera’s fabulous bed-sized quilt with over 13,000 teeny tiny pieces.  The quilt uses two traditional quilt blocks, courthouse steps and log cabins, in a scaled down format.   The center is comprised of literally hundreds of small courthouse step blocks.  The two outer rows are darker log cabin blocks. The blocks shown in this close-up photo have “logs” or “steps” only ¼” wide.   No. That is not a typo.  One quarter inch! 

For added fun, Bonnie embroidered kitty faces and little girls’ faces on a few of the blocks to make it an I Spy quilt for her grandchildren and the many viewers who ogled this quilt in amazement during the show.  The quilt is hand-quilted.  Bonnie is one of Nebraska’s finest traditional quilters.  She loves scrappy quilts, she’s an excellent teacher, and her hand quilting has won many, many, many well-deserved awards.   This quilt was voted Best Pieced Quilt and also received an award for hand quilting.

Hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of the quilt show.  

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

The Quilt Goddess and Other Fab Art Quilts

Much of my weekend was spent at the Lincoln Quilters Guild quilt show, May 18-20, 2012. The show was chaired by the witty and uber-talented Elizabeth Sterns, an architect turned attorney who also quilts and volunteers.  The theme of the show is “Let Your Sparkle Out.”   It was inspired by a children’s book co-authored by Julie Andrews, entitled The Very Fairy Princess.

With over 450 quilts on display, it was difficult to choose just a few to share with you, but here goes.

The top photo is Quilt Goddess by Mary Sedlak.  This whimsical quilt was a Challenge Quilt – a special category for small quilts that are not square or rectangular, and which interpret the sparkly theme.

And my jaw literally dropped when I encountered the next fabulous quilt, Four Flowers in the Rain by Chris Taylor.  The large-scale mural print (I’m guessing approximately 3 feet by 7 feet) could hang vertically or horizontally.  It is a whole cloth quilt, painted, machine quilted and embellished with incredible hand beading.  It was difficult to photograph the entire quilt:

This close up will shows the beading and expert machine quilting:

Here is a smaller yet beautiful art quilt, Iris After the Rain by Lois Wilson.  The quilt was inspired by a painting by Therese Guerin, Irises, and uses batik fabrics.

The bed-sized sunburst quilt in the foreground of this photo is actually a tribute quilt made of 32 neckties to honor the memory of Jim Kelley, who died in August of 2010.  This quilt, Memorial Tie Quilt, was designed and pieced by Beverly Thurber and machine quilted by Rich O’Hare (co-owner of The Cosmic Cow and The Udder Store):

The label includes a photo of Jim and labels from some of the many ties used in making the quilt:

This wall hanging, Cobblestone Crows by Jo Ann Drueke, caught my fancy.  It features machine appliquéd crows on a batik background pecking at beads with button and ribbon embellishments.

And last, but not least, is Improv #2 by Sheila Green.  This thoroughly modern quilt was improvisation- pieced using Kona Cotton solids.  I love the color and visual impact.

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow I’ll treat you to some more eye candy -- traditional quilts from the show. 

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hittin' the Dusty Trail

Some days it is just too doggone nice to stay inside!  So this week my new biking buddy Terri and I hit the dusty MoPac Trail east of Lincoln, NE, and went for a beautiful 8.2 mile bike ride.

The MoPac is part of the Rails to Trails program, where abandoned railroad right of way is turned into trails and paths for bikers, hikers, and horseback riders:   The path shown above is part of what used to be the Missouri Pacific Railroad's Omaha Belt Line.  It is a crushed stone trail that winds through prairie, woodland and farm land for about 22 miles, through the little towns of Walton, Eagle, Elmwood, and Wabash.  The crushed stone creates a white powdery dust, so at the end of a ride my bike looks as if it had been attacked by a giant flour sifter.

One of the highlights of the ride was seeing prairie wildflowers, wild roses and sweet clover in bloom.  Near our turn-around point, we spotted a huge patch of wild daisies.  Aren't they cheery?

A few years ago, my daughter Allison and I rode all the way to the end of the trail near Wabash - over 44 miles round trip.  I'm WAY too out of shape for that now!  But it is good to be back on the dusty trail.

Hope you find some time to go play outside this weekend.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Plowed Fields

When I was a farm girl, back in the day, I always looked forward to Spring.  The smell of new grass, baby animals, flowers in bloom, AND—the smell of plowed dirt.  DIRT??  Yup.  Rich dark South Dakota loam soil.  Love that smell!  

Manure?  Not so much.

Once I was old enough to reach the tractor pedals and responsible enough to drive a small Ford tractor, I was allowed to help with Spring plowing.  My dad took the lead on a big tractor, running the plow (think spade in gardener terms).  My brother followed Dad on a medium-sized tractor using a disk to brake up the clods of dirt left by the plow (think hoe in gardener terms).  And I brought up the rear on the little Ford tractor pulling a drag, to further break up the little clods left after disking (think rake in gardener terms).  We were a happy little parade, driving around the field until the soil was all ready for corn planting or soybean planting.   Mine was the dustiest spot – but I also had the best view of the beautiful Franklin gulls who flocked to pluck worms from the freshly-turned soil:

One year, as we were parading around the field I misjudged a turn and starting “dragging” out old wooden fence posts – plink, plink, plink, plink.   When I finally looked back and realized (to my horror) what I had done, the fence wire was tangled into the drag teeth.   When my kind, patient and longsuffering dad came over to inspect the damage, he doubled over with tears running down his ruddy cheeks.  I thought to myself, “Oh, no.  I’ve really pushed him over the edge this time!”  Then I realized he was laughing hysterically – and he was not angry.  He explained that the Farmington Township board had just informed him they would be tearing down that fence to widen the road within a week or two.  “Punky," he said, "looks like you saved them some work!  Now let’s untangle this mess.” 

Dad died when I was 14.  He literally dropped dead of a heart attack.  It was one of those devastating losses from which you can never fully recover.   Here is one of my favorite photos of Dad with his older brother Llewellyn with their pet goat, Goatee, probably taken around 1927.   

Thanks to my cousin Lise for digitalizing so many of these old family photos and sharing them with our generation. Lise (LLPyles)  recently opened a vintage shop on Etsy, Dusty Digger Lise, specializing in vintage paper items:  Her shop banner has a photo of our great aunt, a milliner, in her hat shop in the 1930s.  

I miss my Dad, and I miss the farm.  But I still love the smell of plowed dirt.  When we saw plowed fields on the recent trip to Seward, NE, it reminded me of my days back on the farm, and it set me to thinking…

Much of life is preparation -- plowing, disking, dragging, planting, weeding or cultivating (pronounced CULL uh vay ding in the Dakotas).  But that prep work and the seeds we plant along the way, God willing, produce a crop. And then comes the harvest!

Wishing you all a good growing season and a bountiful harvest.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Little Whimsy

A little whimsy is a good thing.

It can make you smile.
It can make your kids or grandkids giggle.
It can allow your Inner Child to come out and play.
And it can remind you not to take your adult self too seriously.

At the May meeting of the Lincoln Quilters Guild, I was the lucky winner of this delightful little whimsical raw edge  applique wallhanging created by DeEtte Turgeon.  It will hang at the top of my split foyer stairway this summer:

Even the backing and hanger are whimsical:

And I love how she took care to match the label stripes with the backing, and to identify herself and her pattern source, A Single Stem from American Patchwork & Quilting, June 2012 issue:

Check out the echo quilting and the cute, cute button embellishments!  Yup.  Cute as a bug:

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Chevrons - New and Improved!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!  I know I did.  Queen for a day, now back to reality.

It’s shameless commerce Tuesday, and I’m still in my chevron phase.  Today I’m featuring my two most recent listing for single oven mitts made with Riley Blake’s Chevron fabrics – one in navy blue and white, and the other in a luscious summery aqua and white.

These latest chevron oven mitt listings are also the first of my NEW and IMPROVED line of oven mitts!  Although I’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from purchasers of my “old” oven mitts, I received two hints from customers that they felt some heat through the mitts.  Insul-Bright heat resistant batting is heat resistant, not heat proof, so I set out to try to come up with a better batting combination.

My first mitts used Insul-Bright heat resistant batting with flannel.  Fully functional, but perhaps a bit thin. 

Then I tried Insul-Bright heat resistant batting with needled Warm and Natural cotton batting.  Thicker, and I’m totally satisfied with it for normal cooking and baking use.  But it’s not quite thick enough for folks who want to cook with an acetylene torch.  (Only kidding about the torch.)  But do you know anyone who only cooks on HIGH and who sets off smoke detectors?  Well, actually, that would be me. My kids gave me a hard time about the smoke detector thing. 

Next I tried two layers of Insul-Bright with a layer of needled Warm and Natural cotton batting.  Definitely thick enough, but a bit too thick, methinks.   I broke two sewing machine needles and muttered some words unbecoming a grandma before finishing these extra thick barbecue mitts:

Then, EUREKA!  I tried a layer of Insul-Bright plus a layer of needled cotton batting plus a layer of cotton flannel.  Voila!  Not too thin.  Not too thick.  No broken needles.  I think I may have finally found just the right mix for my layers of oven mitt batting….at least for now. 

When making the chevron mitts, I track the chevron design with my machine quilting using my trusty walking foot.  And I am SO grateful for the Needle-Down button on my Janome QE sewing machine: 

There are lots and lots of pivots in the quilting design, as you can see:

Thanks for stopping by!  To see other boutique oven mitts, visit the Kitschy Kitchen Stuff section of my Etsy shop at, or simply view the scrolling widget in the upper left hand corner of this blog.


LeAnn aka pasqueflower