It’s a great time to visit the Houston Zoo


If you haven’t been to the Houston Zoo lately you are in for a very tall treat … as in my favorite … the giraffes. My Air Force son, also very tall, was in town for the weekend and we decided to meet daughter Katie, who happens to work there. I have to say the highlight, and there were many, was feeding the giraffes! It is so worth standing in line for a few minutes till you arrive on the raised platform. The beautiful animals swirl their tongue around the stalks of romaine lettuce and in it goes! Katie cautioned that giraffe feeding is dependent on weather and giraffe participation! There is a fee involved to feed the giraffes, so check out the website for feeding times and to plan your zoo visit at http://www.houstonzoo.org.

The creative folks at the Houston Zoo have been very busy updating several habitats since my last visit a couple of years ago. You should check out what they have done with the new flamingo exhibit. The flamingos have been busy building nests with at least one new baby born on display! Cutest thing ever!

Did you know there are also six chimpanzees now residing at the Houston Zoo. The Insectarium opens in the Spring of 2014, and the construction of the gorilla exhibit is also well underway scheduled to open in 2015.

And don’t miss the elephant exhibit. It has also been expanded since my last visit. One of the elephants, not hard to guess which one, is expecting a big bundle of joy in a few months. Go by and pay your respects to Shanti! Baylor and Tupelo were born in 2010 and seemed pretty excited about the announcement of the new addition!

Our visit also coincided with the last few days of Zoo Boo. So many kids and parents came dressed in costume for the festivities. I paused at the graveyard with tombstones listing extinct animals and the year of their demise.

There is so much to see that we missed a lot. Just means we have to go back very soon to catch Zoo Lights, an evening (6 to 10 pm) holiday celebration with thousands of sparkling lights, singing choirs, hot chocolate and so much more starting in late November. Just saying!

Talented ladies sew for St. Martha Fall Festival


I can’t recall how many years I’ve been spending time with some amazing ladies at our church, but Wednesday is my favorite day of the week. Generally, we are all about creating lap-sized quilts that are blessed by one of our awesome priests for the ill in our parish. The ladies of St. Martha’s Prayer Quilt Ministry have also been sewing and stitching and creating for the past several months for this year’s St. Martha Fall Festival. It is being held this Saturday, October 26, from 3 to 8 p.m. at our new church campus. Come visit our booth where we will have such handcrafted items for sale as machine-pieced and tied lap quilts, wine gift bags and pillow cases made by Angela, tooth fairy pillows, receiving blankets and bibs, Christmas ornaments, seasonal table runners, religious bookmarks, lovely crocheted throws by Gina and Sid, Debbie’s delightful bun warmers, headbands, awesome knitted and crocheted items by Jacqueline, doll clothes made lovingly by our crafty Helaine out of St. Martha School uniform fabric, Sally’s adorable child’s tote bags, a couple of Cabbage Patch dolls decked out in St. Martha School uniforms, cute little St. Martha School purses and so much more. All monies benefit our prayer quilt ministry!

Layers of New Orleans’ French Quarter – Part Two

Continuing to inspect the many layers of this historic area of New Orleans, I decided to write one more post before I leave the city. It will probably be another year before we get back. Although not in the French Quarter, my only regret this visit was I didn’t get to go through Louisiana’s Civil War Museum (www.confederatemuseum.com). Better known as the Confederate Museum, it is located at 929 Camp Street right around the corner from the World War II Museum. Darn if it wasn’t closed during the month of September. One New Orleans native told me it was closed for dusting, like I believed that explanation. My husband says the lady could tell I have the word “gullible” printed in big block letters all over my forehead.

Wandering toward the Mississippi River from the French Quarter is the Audubon Aquarium of the America (www.AudubonInstitute.org). It is located at 1 Canal Street at the River. There is also a butterfly garden and insectarium, along with an IMAC theatre in the same area, but I focused on the aquarium since I would be meeting hubby for lunch during his seminar break. My one adult ticket was $22.50, which I thought was a bit pricy, until I spent some time wandering around the impressive exhibits. I loved the Caribbean reef tunnel with its array of sea life. The scuba diver hand feeding the stingrays was the highlight. For some reason I neglected to pick up a map. It actually made it more of a surprise when I happened upon all the different habitat areas containing penguins, sea otters, seahorses, the Amazon Rain Forest and so much more. There are combo tickets available which provide savings for those visiting multiple attractions, children and lots more time.

The Historic New Orleans Collection (www.hnoc.org) is a lovely museum located at 523 Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter. Closed on Mondays and some holidays, it focuses on the history of New Orleans, and what an interesting history it is! Hidden among the many galleries and shops along Royal Street, I know I’ve passed by the museum storefront a hundred times and never knew it was there. The Williams Galleries and special exhibits are FREE with lots of interesting art, maps and artifacts. The special exhibit that began October 1 and runs until March 9, 2014, is “Occupy New Orleans Voices from the Civil War.” They also offer docent tours of the Williams residence for just five dollars. I highly recommend this tour! It lasts about 45 minutes and starts with a short movie and then on through a historic counting house. You are also walked through the 1889 townhouse that was remodeled in the 1940’s. Containing several lovely courtyards and family possessions, it was owned by a prominent family in New Orleans. They took five small pieces of French Quarter property and combined it into one which now houses the museum galleries and townhouse as well as a great little gift shop. What a treasure … and right on Royal Street. Who knew?

Layers of New Orleans’ French Quarter

Beautiful bride in New Orleans
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve strolled around the French Quarter, I always see something new. This time it was a wedding party shuffling down Royal Street with a marching band. The bride is beautiful don’t you think?

I like to think of the Quarter as the layers of a quilt. The top layer is often pieced together with lots of interesting colors of fabric … like the quaint antique shops and art galleries of Royal Street. The bottom fabric layer is often a large single piece of fabric with one identity … the seedy and colorful underbelly if you will … like bawdy Bourbon Street. But does anyone ever see the fluffy batting that lies between the two layers of a quilt? That is what I searched for in September while hubby attended his seminar.

This time I wandered into one of the gift shops along Jackson Square. Located at 523 St. Ann Street is what looks like a typical New Orleans gift shop, only on steroids, with lots of interesting history books and boxed pralines and all things New Orleans. It turned out to actually be a museum gift shop and a National Historic Landmark run by the Louisiana State Museum (www.crt.state.la.us/museum/properties/1850house.aspx). I never saw it coming. For a modest $3 (adult price) you can self-guide yourself up the spiral staircase in the back of the gift shop. The second and third floors of the antebellum row house will quickly turn back the clock 163 years. The rooms are furnished to represent life in the 1850’s before the Civil War. It is a lovely way to see with your own eyes what life must have been like before cell phones and computers.

There is only a small sign on the door which reads “Faulkner House Books” (www.faulknerhouse.net). If you walked past the shop after quitting time when the place is buttoned up tight, you wouldn’t even know it was there. It is another interesting layer of the French Quarter. Located at 624 Pirate’s Alley just off Jackson Square, it is also a National Literary Landmark that should not be missed. In 1927, the young William Faulkner rented rooms in the same space that houses the bookshop. Books in the tiny space can be found in every nook and cranny clear up to the ceiling. Closed only on Mardi Gras Day, they sell new, used and rare editions.

There is so much more to tell about the French Quarter. I’ll attempt to tie the layers of the quilt together next time. Or maybe I’ll just play around in the fluffy batting for a bit longer!

Life’s Loose Threads first anniversary

Snickerdoodle

My little blog is having its first birthday this week!!! The cookies are snicker doodles. I made them last night.

Have to admit I still feel like a blogger baby trying to crawl off the blanket. Yep, but I’m still pretty proud to have posted my 46th blog post, topping out with 488 followers, without blowing the whole thing up. Thanks to my lovely daughter, Katie, for answering all my blog questions and her techie assistance!

Did I mention there have been 2,805 blog views so far from 37 different countries? Imagine my surprise when Mongolia, Bulgaria, Iceland and South Korea first appeared on my blog dashboard? And my deepest thanks to my son, Ricky, who read my blog while he was deployed. I would have never gotten all those hits from Kuwait without him!

While I’ve been writing a humor column for the past 17 years from the suburbs for several local newspapers, it was my thought to take the blog in a different direction. I’m one of those moms/wives that love all things quilting, recreational knitting, traveling around the block and the world, healthy cooking, not-so-healthy baking (let’s face it … everything is better with butter) and reading … mostly fiction. Although I’m not going to lie, I’ve read some pretty awesome non-fiction. It’s why it is difficult to blog about just one thing. Heck, I’m still finding my voice and attempting to make sense of any of life’s loose threads that might come my way.

Which reminds me … while not officially thread … it was also a year ago I started knitting the scarf featured below. When it measures 70 inches, it will be finished … hopefully by Christmas. I purchased the yummy red metallic yarn one summer when my mom and I were hanging out in the Texas Hill Country.

Don’t know how some knitters do it. I subscribe to one knitting blog (www.fortheknitofit.wordpress.com) and the lady is prolific! I am fortunate to get a couple of rows knitted in the evening while helping our handicapped daughter with her dinner.

I purchased the lovely yarn at The Old Oaks Ranch Fiber Art Center (www.theoldoaksranch.com) in Wimberly, Texas. It is a magical place with a fiber arts studio, sculpture garden and alpaca ranch. I know … interesting combination … but it totally works. Next weekend is the start of the “7th Annual Hill Country Yarn Crawl.” I can’t wait for my husband to ask me what a “yarn crawl” is. The art center and nine other yarn shops from Austin to San Antonio are participating.

One of the other stops mom and I made last summer was to The Tinsmith’s Wife (www.tinsmithswife.com) in the teeny, tiny town of Comfort, Texas. Touted as a knitting and needlepoint shop, they are also participating in the yarn crawl. With 5700 square feet of yarn heaven, let’s just say I’ve never seen so much luscious yarn in all my life! So much yarn eye candy, it felt like stepping into The Louve in Paris, France. Quite overwhelming. If you can’t make it to Paris … you should really try stopping by Comfort, Texas and go with a project in mind.

Now that I’ve practically made it off the blogging blanket, I can’t wait to see where Life’s Loose Threads leads me this coming year!