Hello again New Orleans!


So we hadn’t been back to New Orleans for a couple of years and have just recently returned from a quick weekend visit. While New Orleans is mostly about the food, there is lots of shopping, people watching, wedding parties strolling down the Quarter, street music and atmosphere to be enjoyed. We stayed at our favorite Hotel Monteleone located in the French Quarter on Royal Street. The location is great for accessing shopping and restaurants. We also visited Harrah’s Casino, which is much nicer now that it is a non-smoking casino. Yes … I said non-smoking! I learned lots watching hubby play craps and perhaps next time I might even be persuaded to join him at the pass line to throw the dice!

BREAKFAST OPTIONS – We had some interesting restaurant experiences that I just have to share. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, especially when I don’t have to conjure it up. Be sure and check out the Ruby Slipper Café located at 200 Magazine Street, just outside the Quarter. It was recommended by several FaceBook friends and I can see why. The café has several locations and open seven days a week. Their motto is “there is no place like home” and it shows. The staff are the friendliest we encountered during our visit. Hubby had the Eggs Blackstone, which is two perfectly poached eggs over bacon, grilled tomato and open-faced buttermilk biscuit finished with hollandaise sauce and served with breakfast potatoes. Yum! We also had an interesting breakfast after attending Mass at St. Louis Cathedral on Sunday. I had noticed The Grill, 540 Chartres Street, as we walked past it from our hotel. It certainly meets all the criteria of a “dive,” but from the window, had a healthy number of people with smiles on their faces. After Mass, we entered into a world fresh out of the past. The interesting counter configuration with seating stools looked ancient like something out of the 1950’s, or older. I couldn’t help but notice most everyone had an omelet on their plate. OMG … best omelet ever! I had the Vegetable Omelette with delish grits! Eggs were light and fluffy and with over 10 different kinds on the menu how can you go wrong.

OTHER DINING OPTIONS – Dinner in New Orleans is a bit of a challenge, unless you dine at a place that accepts reservations. Wanting to be spontaneous is not recommended. That being said, we had a lovely dinner at King Fish on Chartres Street. They have an interesting menu (crab lollipop appetizer was a huge hit) and the service was great. We also stopped into Kubi’s Bar & Café located at 109 Tchoupitoulas on our way to Harrah’s. Now while I’d definitely call it a dive, hubby and I shared an excellent burger, the Kentucky, brushed with BBQ sauce, topped with bacon, cheese and fried onion rings. Our worst meal was at the Gumbo Shop on St. Peter Street. The line was long, the service too fast, and the food … put fast food to shame. We talked about getting bread pudding for dessert, but skipped it because the food was so bland and well, old-looking. We won’t be going back.

A LITTLE SHOPPING Laura’s Candies has two locations in the French Quarter and has been around since 1913. We couldn’t resist the pralines and promised to come back for more. Unfortunately, we ran out of time! One regret I had two years ago was not making time to check out The Quarter Stitch, a needlepoint and yarn shop, on Chartres Street right down the street from Jackson Square. The place has been open for 43 years and the ladies are so nice. They offered to teach me how to needlepoint, but I declined. These eyes are too old. They have amazing canvases all ready to needlepoint. I lingered through their lovely yarn and chose two skeins of ruby red Merino Superwash made in Peru. Bonus … PJ’s Coffee Shop is right across the street. Hubby had the best time hanging out there while I yarn shopped!

I already can’t wait to go back!

Check out Martha’s Quilters Parish Festival Booth!

This Saturday, October 11, is St. Martha’s Catholic Church’s Parish Festival held from noon to 8 pm at the new church campus. Our very own Martha’s Quilters will have an awesome booth at the festival so come on out and support the crafty ladies with a purchase. The past few months we have been using our vast array of talents and treasures to create unique items that can be purchased for decorating, warming yourself around the fire this winter, and Christmas gift giving! How about a cute rug for your mug? While you are browsing check out our seasonal table runners, wine gift bags, adorable rolling pin covers, as well as fabric shoe bags for travelers. We also have lovely crocheted afghans and lots of one-of-a kind quilts. And don’t forget to check out our designer fabric checkbook covers and candle pads and all kinds of knitted items. Hope to see you there!

The dog-chewed afghan has a new life

Earlier this year Lulu ate part of my husband’s afghan. We caught her red-handed, or red-pawed, depending on how you look at it. Yep … I already blogged about it. I didn’t have the heart to throw the afghan away so it sat neatly folded across the couch all tattered and torn-looking. Recently over Sunday dinner, my son-in-law mentioned that I really ought to fix it.

“Why don’t you just unravel the yarn and then sew it across the bottom?” Chad asked.

I started with this little rant about why you don’t “sew” yarn. Chad didn’t know it yet, but he had planted a seed.

I had been thinking for several months the afghan was unfixable. The project was knitted years ago. I didn’t have the knitting pattern anymore with the cable design. I didn’t know the size of the needles I had used. I knew there was no way I could find the same color yarn. That is a lot of negative stuff.

But Chad got me thinking. What if I just didn’t worry about the pattern matching? What if I got a different color yarn for the five or six inches I needed to add to the bottom so my husband’s toes didn’t stick out when he snuggled? Make it look like it was meant to be a different color. Yeah … I could totally do that!

After a road trip to my favorite yarn shop Twisted Yarns right down the street from Old Town Spring, I was ready to tackle the project!

It took a couple of week of searching all the nooks and crannies around the house to find the knitting needles and just a little while to unravel the bad part of the afghan. Then I picked up the stitches and knitted a bunch of rows.

Thanks Chad for the inspiration! What do you think of the results?

New yarn bowl is uncommonly good

Ceramic yarn bowlI received a beautiful ceramic yarn bowl for my birthday the other day. I know … “yarn” and “bowl” do not sound like words that belong in the same sentence. But trust me … it is a lovely gift for a knitter-type person. Right now I’m working on a colorful scarf. Yep … the bowl is coming in quite handy.

So the premise of the bowl is it also happens to be the perfect size for a hefty-sized ball of yarn. There is also a keyhole, or squiggly slot, in the side where a yarn strand can unfurl naturally. No more balls of yarn falling on the floor in a tangled mess. And it is a tad easier keeping our anything-knitted-eating dog away from my yarn.

My daughter purchased it on Uncommon Goods , a website that reminds me of Etsy, both great places to purchase unique gifts.

Did I mention my great experience on Etsy this last Christmas? I purchased for my son and son-in-law Breaking Bad cutting boards from Etsy. Heck, we are still having Breaking Bad separation anxiety since the series ended. At least the cutting boards make the boys smile until the next wonderfully written series emerges.

Mystery of the chewed on afghan solved!

Chewed on

Lulu did it!
Hubby and I were sitting on the couch last night snuggled under the afghan I knitted for him several years ago. It’s heavy and knitted with two thick strands for maximum warmth. All of a sudden I heard Rick gasp. It was very unlike him to make that sound especially during an episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” After Rick pulled up one end of the afghan I sneered.

“Lulu just took a bite out of my afghan,” Rick growled in Lulu’s direction.

The yarn strands were still wet with her doggie DNA. My heart sank. Lulu is mostly well behaved … but has her moments. She is partial to shoes having taken out my favorite pair about a month ago. Now we know Lulu also likes knitted things. And that means it can be confirmed that Lulu was obviously the pooch that took the chunk out of my favorite afghan last year. The mystery is solved. Lulu is definitely on my “poop list.”

Who ate my afghan?

A bite missing“Is there something you want to tell me?” I asked hubby upon showing him the chunk missing from my favorite afghan.

I had just come back from our special needs daughter’s room. It was going to be cold that night and I thought the afghan would help to keep Mimi especially toasty. I saw the jagged edges where yarn ought to be as I spread the afghan across Mimi. When Rick looked as bewildered as I about the mysterious missing chunk of yarn, I knew he was not the culprit. I would stew about how it happened all week.

I knitted the multi-colored afghan about twenty years ago from a kit. I’ve always loved the colors and the pattern was so easy/breezy. It had a special spot all neatly folded over the couch for easy access. Heck, that afghan was just the perfect weight for an “anytime snuggle” on the couch and used often … very often. Until last week that is.

Did the cleaning lady do it?Everyone was suspect. Moths, the dog, spooky-looking zombies with milk-white eyeballs … heck maybe even the cleaning lady. OK, so I have recently hired a cleaning lady every other week to keep the Frantz house neat and tidy. Dusting is my least favorite domestic duty. So I thought perhaps she sucked part of the afghan into the vacuum cleaner and didn’t tell me. But how was that even possible? When she is cleaning, I am madly clicking keys on the computer 10 measly feet from where the afghan is parked on the couch. I have to confess I did turn the vacuum cleaner over to see if there was any yarn shrapnel stuck to the vacuum brush. Nothing!
LuluWhich leads us to our final logical suspect … Lulu! I vividly recall her “guilty face” after she ate one hubby’s favorite flip flops. But the dog is just so darn cute, it wasn’t hard to forgive. Heck, the last time she chewed on anything inappropriate was a year ago. So I reluctantly crossed Lulu off the list … with a pencil.

I am resigned to the fact I may never know what happened to my afghan. But now I have a great reason to make another one. My crystal ball says there is a visit to my favorite yarn shop in my future!

Life’s Loose Threads first anniversary


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!

Celebrating 80 big ones … and 5 things my mom taught me.

We celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday over the weekend. There was lots of old-fashioned fun with cake, candles and family!

Today I reflected on just five of the hundreds of things my mother taught me.

1. My mom taught me patience. When I was a little girl she taught me how to knit. She is a righty and I’m a lefty, so there was lots of frustration on my part. After dropping many stitches and finally getting my tension just right, I finally got the hang of it. Today the rhythm of clinking two needles together is still music to my ears.
2. My mom taught me about the power of stories. I still remember sitting at the laminate kitchen table when I was probably 8 or 9. It was at that kitchen table I first learned she was a little girl when German soldiers marched into Holland during World War II and stayed for a number of years. Mom would tell me how she peeled buckets full of potatoes every day. It finally dawned on me the story wasn’t really about the potatoes. It was all she and her family had to eat.
3. My mother taught me love is in the little things we do for others each day. I’ll never forget how she spent the first two weeks with us after our Katie was born. In the middle of the night we’d bump into each other in the hallway after our newborn cried out for another feeding. “I’ll take this one,” my mother would say, “you go back to bed.” She would stay with us again when the next two were born.
4. My mother taught me how to iron a shirt. Back then there wasn’t such a thing as permanent press. Everything wrinkled. There was lots of spritzing and heavy steaming involved. Of course, the skill wasn’t just about properly ironing a shirt. I also learned to walk my little brother around the block in his stroller about 10 times so mom could finish making dinner. Basically, I learned to pull my weight so mom could keep a home with a husband and five children running more efficiently.
5. My mother taught me there is beauty in the smallest things like the white paper snowflakes we folded and snipped with scissors as kids. We hung them all over the front picture window every winter. Or the flowers she grew in her yard each spring and shared with family and friends. Too bad I didn’t get her two green thumbs. Obviously teaching is a lot different than inheriting a gift!

A scarf for Elyse

I’ve been knitting since I was a little girl. My mother taught me … which wasn’t exactly easy since I am a lefty and she is a righty. My very first project was a long scarf made from bits and pieces of mom’s stash of leftover yarn. The scarf was a yarn cornucopia of different colors and textures. By the time it was finished the poor thing had a bunch of holes from dropped stitches. Oh, and the width had grown about five inches from splitting so many stitches. But I was so proud of that first knitting project! Betcha nine dollars I still have that scarf around here somewhere.

I have made my grown-up daughter a couple of warm scarfs. Katie was in New York recently visiting family when her lovely little niece asked her where she bought her scarf.

“My mom made me it for me,” Katie answered.

“Oh, can she make me one?” Elyse asked.

Her brother, Josh, also put in a scarf request. Katie told them she would ask upon returning to Texas.

Now Elyse and her little brother had warm and toasty little store-bought hats and mittens. But it seems scarfs for young ones are not so common. When Katie returned from frigid New York of course I said yes. I mean … how can you refuse two of the cutest kids on the planet? And besides … their little necks were cold.

Elyse put in her order for hot pink or gray. Her brother Josh requested navy.

Not having a clue how long and wide to make a child’s scarf, I first had to figure out a few things like how wide, long, what type of yarn and needle size. I learned from good old Mr. Google 4 to 6 inches wide and 36 inches long was a pretty good standard for a child. Not to say Google is an authority on child’s scarfs … but I had to trust someone.

My next stop was my favorite yarn shop just north of Houston, Twisted Yarns (www.twistedyarnstexas.com). My eyes glaze over from all gorgeous yarn colors whenever I go into the place. The nice ladies just led me around by the hand and helped me pick out a wool-type yarn that was washable and dryable. My head cleared enough to drive by the time I got out the door.

I struggled in the beginning with Elyse’s scarf getting the correct width and pulled the stitches out several times and started over. It was all worth it when I went to the mailbox recently. There was the cutest thank you card from Elyse for the hot pink scarf. Josh’s navy scarf is about halfway finished. Hope to get it in the mail before New York City has its first thaw. Below is the simple pattern I used.

Super Simple and Fast Scarf Pattern for Child

Yarn – something washable and dryable and soft – approximately 375 yards.
Needles – US#7 (or size needed to achieve gauge); I like the short needles for scarfs.
Gauge – 20 sts / 4” in stockinette stitch.
Finished size – approximately 5” wide by 36” long.

Cast on 46 stitches. Even rows: K2, P2; rep from * to last st, K2. Odd rows: P2, K2; rep from * to last st., P2. Cast off after length measures approximately 36”. Bind off all sts.

Next year I’ll start clanking my needles together early and include some fancy stitches to knock their little knitted socks off!