Monday, July 30, 2012

Go Green!

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and today I'm urging you to go green!   

I have some newly listed sets of eco-friendly reusable cloth napkins in my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations, with more on the way.  Whether you're looking for everyday napkins, organic cotton napkins, or hand-dyed and handwoven Guatemalan napkins, you can find them in the Kitschy Kitchen Stuff section of my shop:

If you use paper napkins, think about how many each member of your household uses in a year.  My best guess is almost 1000 --  (3 meals per day x 365 days) minus meals out.  A cloth napkin will pay for itself in less than six months.  But you'll not only be saving money, you'll be saving TREES!  (Nebraska is the home of Arbor Day, you know.  Had to put in a plug for the trees.)

Bon appetit!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Matter of Life and Death

During the month of July, my contributions to the blogosphere have been, well -- sparse.  My creativity and inspiration dried up -- like the grass on our parched lawn -- as I worked on a huge custom order, spent time with visiting family members, and worked as part of a volunteer team to review and edit a death penalty brief.  

Yes, I truly was dealing with a matter of life and death.

My little brother, Jeff Larson, a long-time public defender in South Dakota with over 30 years of criminal defense experience, is defending a man who was sentenced to death, and he's doing it pro bono -- for free.   So, when he asked me to be a part of "Team Rodney" I felt I could not refuse.   I became part of a team of four volunteers who reviewed, critiqued, and helped edit the brief.  His paralegal, Kara, deserves a medal for putting up with all of us!!

(The phrase "legal brief" is an oxymoron.  A brief is longer than a term paper, but shorter than a thesis.  It is governed by strict formatting and citation rules which vary from jurisidiction to jurisdiction.  It is a formal written argument presented to a court, often followed, several months later, by an oral argument.)

I was the token prosecutor (as well as the big sister).  Although my brother used to kid me about working for The Dark Side while he was championing the constitutional rights of indigent criminal defendants, my years as a prosecutor helped me to anticipate arguments the State might raise in the appeal. I headed the Appellate Division in the South Dakota Attorney General's Office in the late 70s and early 80s (yes, I am a dinosaur), and I later taught Legal Research & Writing and coached the moot court team at the University of South Dakota.  Although USD School of Law was then (and possibly still is) the smallest law school in the country, my teams qualified for nationals five consecutive years.  In the late 80s one of my teams also took top honors at the Insurance Law Moot Court Competition in Hartford, CT, where 42 law schools competed.  But I digress.

After one face-to-face meeting in Sioux Falls, we traded drafts, redrafts, comments and edits via a flurry of emails through four drafts.  The fifth and final draft is the bound brief pictured above.  I could almost hear the collective sigh of relief when it was DONE.

I will not offer any political, moral, or religious opinions concerning the death penalty, nor will I elaborate on the facts and circumstances of this case.  But I am immensely proud of my little brother for taking on this incredibly difficult and stressful assignment pro bono.  And I was honored to be a minor player on a talented and dedicated team.  In a thank you email Jeff sent to all of us, after thanking each of us for individual contributions, he concluded, "And to every one of you for the heart you have shown, to spend hours and hours, without any compensation, devoting your energies to a project aimed at preserving the life of a person three of you have never met."  

All those sleepless nights?  Worth it.

Now -- back to the sewing room, where nothing is a matter of life and death.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beauty School Dropout - BBArtisans Team Challenge

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, but it is also the BIG REVEAL of my Blogging Business Artisans Team Challenge project for July.

Jenny of A Bird in the Hand Art chose the challenge theme:  Summer Lovin'.  The response to the challenge could be summer or love related, OR it could relate to the movie Grease.

Now Grease just happens to be one of my all-time favorite musicals!  If you haven't seen the 1978 film version starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, by all means rent it.  It is a must see.  My daughter's dance troupe did a production of Grease one summer, many years ago.  And even though I sat through many rehearsals, I never grew tired of the music.  Allison still has her Pink Ladies jacket, pictured below, stored in my closet:

One of my favorite songs from the movie was the ballad, Beauty School Dropout.  Frenchie, one of the Pink Ladies, drops out of high school to attend beauty school.  But a dreamy singing angel, Frankie Avalon, urgers her to turn in her teasing comb and go back to high school. (Image from

So, when I found this hair stylist fabric swatch from the Loralie Beauty Salon collection circa 2006, I knew that would be used somehow in my BBA Challenge project:

I decided to make a roomy 14" x 16" (35.5 cm x 40.6 cm) patchwork drawstring bag, with the hair stylist featured on the front.  The outer bag is a patchwork of 100 - 2.5" squares in black, pink and red.  I used Carolina gingham checks and polka dot fabrics from my scrap stash for a 50s era look.  The drawstring casing technique is one I adapted from a tutorial:  The lining is a bold red and white polka dot print, and the bag could be reversible.  All the fabrics are 100% cotton, so the bag is machine washable.  I chose red "rattail" cording for the drawstrings, and sealed the ends with fabric sealant to prevent fraying.

My 24-year-old daughter, Allison, a DIY stylist, has accumulated a number of hair gizmos--curling irons, blow dryers, crimpers, straighteners -- not to mention brushes, combs, gels, mousse and goop to make her hair shinier.  This bag would be large enough to accommodate most if not all of that stuff.  Perfect for a hair-conscious teen or a recent grad heading off to college -- or even beauty school!  Or a thoughtful holiday gift for your favorite hair stylist.  This is a one of a kind bag.  I doubt that I will be able to find more Loralie swatches any time soon!

You can find this drawstring bag, and other fun and functional fabric stuff, in my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations:

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Can See the Finish Line!

Just a quick Tally It Up post.  70 down and 10 (partially done) to go.

Happy 30th Birthday to my smart, handsome, kind-hearted and shy son Jeff.  He is a Harvard Kennedy School MP:A graduate who works as an economic analyst at the Congressional Budget Office in Washington DC.  Where did the years go?  

Jeff was born on my dad's birthday, which was also my maternal grandfather's birthday.  He never got to meet them.  My dad died when I was 14.  So on July 20 I often think of the Blood, Sweat & Tears lyrics, "And when I die, and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born in this world to carry carry on." 

For my readers with young children -- treasure these crazy, hectic years.  They grow up SO fast!

Have a great weekend!

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dorm Decor on a Dime

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday, and today I'm featuring some one of a kind budget-friendly pillow covers -- perfect for a dorm room or college apartment.  Each of the 16" x 16" (40.6 cm x 40.6 cm) pillow covers has an envelope back -- no velcro, snaps or zippers--just smooth fabric overlays.  Easy to remove for washing.  Easy to change on a whim.   The photo below shows the envelope back of a pillow cover mde using Amy Butler's Nigella fabric.

Here's one that's All Guy with an industrial vibe.  I have two pillow covers listed using this 100% high quality cotton medium weight fabric from the Riverwoods Collection Third in Line designed by Marcia Derse of mdd designs for Troy Corporation.

The colorful faces on this Peeps pillow cover would be a real conversation starter!  Or use the pillow cover as an autograph keepsake, with roomies signing their names with a permanent Sharpie.  The home dec weight fabric was designed by Beckman's College of Design for IKEA of Sweden AB.

Another fun IKEA print was used for this Blue Man pillow cover shown in this close up:

You can find these unique pillow covers and more in the Pillow Covers section of my Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations:   Only $12.00 each, with free domestic shipping!  Such a deal!  I'm also welcome custom orders if you'd like a pillow cover in school colors, a different size, or custom designed to fit your decor.

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Day Late and a Dozen Short

It's the day after Tally It Up Friday, and here is my progress report on my huge custom order--a day late.

All the machine sewing on the 38 Metro Cafe mixers mitts is done, but that front row of  18 "cuffed" mitts?  I still need to hand sew the inside binding to the lining fabric.

I finished cutting out 84 pieces of the BEAUTIFUL Gallery Fiori poppies fabric designed by Karen Tusinski for P&B Textiles for the remaining 42 mitts, and 84 pieces of the BEAUTIFUL Gallery Fiori tone on tone roses fabric for the lining.  (I'd already precut the three batting layers.)  I also cut 42 hanging tabs and 42 binding strips.  I feel a little like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, getting a bit weary looking at all those poppies----but they are SO pretty!

AND today I quilted 24 mitt pieces that will become 12 finished mitts tomorrow.  But as of Friday night (big yawn), I'm technically a dozen short of my goal :-(.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow -- you're only a day away!!  (You're lucky you can't hear me sing this --- Annie I ain't.)  When those 12 are finished that will put me at 50, my goal for the end of this week.

Oh--and that little white note stuck to the front of my machine?  It says 59.  Grandson Oliver (age almost 6) taped that to my machine on my 59th birthday.  He says he'll change it to 60 next year, when I'm REALLY old!

Only 30 more poppies mitts to go.....So I'll keep on quilting.  I've placed myself on self-imposed house arrest this weekend so I can sew, sew, sew!

And I'll put the pedal of my Janome QC to the metal.  Love the turtle and bunny speed control on my machine. Sew, Bunny, sew!  Faster, Bunny, faster!

I still believe I will meet my July 23 shipping deadline.  I think I can. I think I can. I think I can..... One of my favorite children's books of all time is the 1930 children's classic, The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper. Hopefully by this time next week, I'll be chugging happily down a mountain of 80 finished mitts saying, "I thought I could, I though I could, I thought I could."

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sneak Preview

It's Shameless Commerce Tuesday.  Today I'm giving you a sneak peak at a not-yet-listed item for my etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations.

These 16"x16" (40.6 cm x 40.6 cm) handwoven cotton napkins are made from hand-dyed Guatemalan fabric woven on a treadle loom by weavers in the mountains of Guatemala.  I fell in love with this colorful plaid fabric which I purchased from Debbie Maclin at  

I machine hemmed the napkins with a double 1/2" hem.  The corners are mitered, and the miter junctures are hand stitched for extra durability.  The napkins can be used as an eco-friendly napkin or as a basket liner for your favorite bread or scones.

The napkins will be sold in sets of two.  These would be perfect as a hostess gift, housewarming gift, or holiday gift.

The fabric was prewashed with Retayne, a fixative that prevents bleeding in hand-dyed fabrics, before sewing.  The finished napkins can be laundered by machine using cold water and a gentle cycle, and dried on the gentle cycle.

I'm waiting to list the napkins in my Etsy shop because I want to use FiestaWare as a photo prop in my photos.  My quilting buddy, Sue, has an incredible collection of these brightly-colored ceramic dishes.  It's been tricky arranging the photo shoot (crazy schedules!), but it will happen!  If you're not familiar with this Made in the USA dinnerware, check out this website:

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guatemalan Worry Doll

The adorable little handcrafted Guatemalan worry doll shown above is only 2.5 inches  (6.35 cm) tall!

I ordered some more hand dyed and hand woven Guatemalan fabric from Debbie Maclin at Spanglish:  I LOVED her multi-colored plaid fabric so much, I couldn’t resist some beautiful purple remnants. 

Debbie spent two years in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, and she has stayed in touch with her Guatemalan friends and weavers in remote mountain villages.  Her Etsy listings provide little lessons in Guatemalan culture and photos of the villages and villagers she remembers so fondly. 

When my package arrived in the mail, this little worry doll was included as a special thank you for being a repeat customer.  Wasn’t that nice!

According to Guatemalan legend,  children are to tell one worry to each doll when they go to bed at night.  They then place the worry doll under their pillow, and in the morning the dolls have taken their worries away.  

I plan to give this little doll to my granddaughter Madeline when I send her birthday box to New Hampshire next month.  I think she will be intrigued by the story --  and it will be a great show-and-tell for third grade, don't you think?

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tally It Up! July 6

Last week I announced that each Friday during the month of July I will be posting a tally, documenting my progress on a custom order for 80 (yes - eighty!) oven mitts:

My goal for this week was to complete 20 oven mitts.  I failed miserably.  I have only one completed mitt.

However, I am happy to report that one of the unexpected time drains was a sudden spike in Etsy shop orders, including three made to order items, plus two local sales.  When it rains, it pours!  But after a brief "dry spell" in my Etsy shop in June, I am delighted to see so much activity so far this month.  

Although I am clearly NOT where I had hoped to be on the custom order, I did make some significant progress while waiting (impatiently) for more fabric to arrive in the mail:

160 InsulBright heat resistant batting pieces cut and stacked
160 needled Warm & White cotton batting pieces cut and stacked
120 preshrunk cotton flannel pieces cut and stacked
76   Metro Cafe Mixers in Spring mitt pieces cut
40   Cuff binding fabric pieces 14.5" x  2" cut and pressed
Template Plastic pattern templates created

I hope to ship the order by July 23 (due date is July 31)-- which gives me 17 days.  I need to average about 5 mitts per day starting July 6.  I can do that.  I WILL do that!   Next Friday you'll see a fairly tall stack of completed mitts (I hope!!).  

LeAnn aka pasqueflower

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vintage 9-Patch Blocks Upcycled

I'm a day late for Shameless Commerce Tuesday.

I was in South Dakota for my uncle's funeral July 2-3.  It was so good to see long lost cousins and my dear Aunt Jan.  But it was a LONG drive with lots of road construction and limited computer access.

You may remember that I purchased 35 vintage 9-patch blocks at the Lincoln Quilters Guild silent auction.  I believe the fabrics are from the 1940s and some of them appear to be feed sack prints (based on design, coloration, and the slightly coarse feel of feed sack fabric).

Here are three hot pads I made using some of those blocks.  I used woven 100% cotton Carolina gingham for the reverse side of each mitt, and self-made binding. You can find the listing here:

I hope you all have a safe and happy 4th of July!