Loretta’s boxer quilts … a labor of love!

Knew when I heard about the two generously-sized twin quilts my friend, the lovely Loretta, was making for her boys, it would be the perfect subject for this blog. I mean … who doesn’t want to read about quilts made from cotton boxer shorts? It was clear to me it was a labor of love. I had to know more.

But before we get to the boxer quilts … a little background. I met Loretta when we were in a Quilt Bee together for a bunch of happy years. This lady has some serious quilting skills. Sadly for me … two years ago she moved to the Texas Panhandle. At least we have been able to tag up once a year in the fall during the International Quilt Festival in Houston. I savor my “Loretta” face time!

So recently I did a little phone interview for this blog and also some catching up with the awesome Loretta. I learned that Loretta’s grandmother was a serious scrap quilter. When Loretta was a teenager, her grandmother asked Loretta’s mother, and four sisters, for scraps to make quilts for all her grandchildren. One of the 15 lucky recipients, Loretta’s quilt was made with soft colors and triangles and also handquilted. What a treasure to own such a quilt by a beloved family member.

Loretta has sewn since she was a teenager but didn’t learn to quilt until her first-born, Bethany, was 9 months old. That was when she took a 12-week beginning quilting class on Monday nights. Loretta cherished those Monday nights which fed her creativity and started a lifetime love of quilting. Each student made a sampler quilt with 36 blocks. Loretta used fabric colors popular in the 80’s … blues and pinks. The teacher taught such skills as rotary cutting, template making and applique. Loretta still has the quilt.

Fast forward a bunch of years and the addition of two sons! The concept of the boxer quilts got to be a joke with her boys. Loretta’s husband, Jim, used to tease the boys that their boxer shorts were on loan to them. They would someday see them in their mother’s fabric stash.

I loved the boxer quilt concept and the story behind the quilt! For quilters … inspiration can come from lots of places. I’ve seen quilts made from all kinds of things. Why not cotton boxer shorts?

Tyler and Matthew received colorful cotton boxers each Christmas from the time the boys started middle school. Both are now graduates from The University of Texas at Austin so that accounts for the plentiful supply! After the cotton boxers were replaced with new ones, Loretta cut the elastic off the top and took them apart making manageable blocks. Did you know you can get two nice sized pieces of fabric out of one pair of boxer shorts? After cleaning, starching and ironing, the soft cotton fabric called a very large plastic bin home for a number of years.

One of Matthew’s college friends even got into the act. Patrick donated a pair of St. Patrick’s Day boxer shorts when he heard about the project. See if you can pick out the clovers in the quilt photographs!

Tyler’s quilt was made into the “T” block pattern and measures 72 inches by 102 inches. Each block is 6 inches square. I LOVE this quilt! Oh … and did you notice a big friendly dog in some of the photos? That is Colt. Not sure … but I believe it is Tyler’s dog. Colt is often Loretta’s happy companion in her sewing room.

“He does like to spend time with me in my sewing room. I’m sure he would be a quilter … if he only had thumbs,” Loretta told me.

Matthew’s quilt is the traditional Monkey Wrench pattern, but it is also called Hole in the Barn Door. It also measures 72 inches by 102 inches. There are 36 twelve-inch blocks and 60 six-inch blocks in Matthew’s quilt. I love how Loretta made the block sizes on Matthew’s quilt two different sizes. She thought the block pattern needed the size variation. So visually appealing with all the scrappy boxer fabric!

Oh … so Loretta told me this funny story. Tyler had a pair of “good luck” boxers. They were green with white pokadots. He always wore them, even when they got a tad tight, on the first day of school. It was his insurance policy so he would get good teachers!

The two finished quilts were professionally quilted by my favorite longarm lady, Kim Norton. She used a burnt orange thread and longarm quilt pattern. Perfect for these UT graduates!

Loretta hasn’t officially let loose of the boxer quilts. We quilters bond with our quilts. Sometimes it takes a while to separate from our babies! They are currently laying across twin beds in her guest room.

“The quilts have to live with me for awhile,” she told me.

I can totally relate!

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!

Lesson learned … and how about some soup?

Think I went to the grocery store five times this week. I should rent a room.

So yesterday my list included ingredients for a Tex-Mex Chicken Soup. It is bone chilling cold outside and soup just sounded good to me while flipping through a couple of cookbooks. I’ll share that recipe with you later.

At the top of my list, besides a can of green chilies and chicken stock, was an extra-jumbo bag of rawhide chips for Lulu. Our English Springer Spaniel loves to chew … a lot … and she was down to her last rawhide strip! To say Lulu is a rawhide junkie is putting it mildly. We have her down to two a day.

When the clerk rang me up and it was over $90, I thought … what just happened here? Of course I purchased bunches of other food items so I just stuck the receipt in my checkbook to subtract later and left the store. It is what it is … right? I shoulda listened to my gut. Isn’t that what Oprah used to say before she started her own network?

Two days later I glanced closely at the receipt and discovered … what the heck … I’d been charged twice for Lulu’s chews. That’s two times $10.97, plus tax. Geez Louise! There is a lesson to be learned here … and we already know what that is! Customer Service is not just for purchasing your car tags or paying your utility bill I can tell you that.

But back to what’s for dinner. I’ve got this great soup cookbook that has … no kidding … 900 soup recipes. It says it right on the cover. Actually, that could be stretching it a tad. There is a whole chapter on chili, which to me, seems in a class all by itself. Always thought of chili as more like a stew than a soup. Heck, we can debate that one if you want. So let’s cook some soup!

Serves 4+

1 rotisserie chicken (2 cups of boneless chicken shredded)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups chicken stock
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups thawed frozen whole-kernel corn
1-14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 small can green chilies, drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Liberal dashes of salt and pepper
Crumbled tortilla chips and some shredded cheese for sprinkling on top

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, or soup pot, over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and sauté for 10 minutes. Add cilantro, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, green chilies, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, cover for 20 minutes. Add corn and chicken and heat through. Sprinkle with tortilla chips and shredded cheese on top in bowls.

Adapted from Reader’s Digest “The Ultimate Soup Cookbook

Bugs and yellow fuzz

It seems like I’ve been spending lots of my time this week maintaining. I started the week by purchasing the license tag for the family roadster … check. Next, I moved on to having said vehicle inspected … check again.

Oh, and then there was the bug man. Not sure I can officially “check” that one off exactly. He backed out of the driveway without spraying the outside of the house. Of course it conveniently started to rain right as he rang the door bell. Oops … so sorry I can’t do the outside, he says with a smile … some other time. Yeah right. Betcha nine dollars the dude forgot my address the minute he backed out of my driveway.  

 And lastly there was taking Lulu for her first yearly exam/shots. Boy howdy was that an adventure. This was my first time to take our pooch to the vet. Hubby did all the puppy visits. Last week when I called to make the appointment the receptionist indicated I needed to bring a poop sample. Thankfully, she could not see the look on my face.

Yeah, and the night before the vet visit Lulu ate most of the yellow fuzz off a long-lost tennis ball she found under the couch.

 “Dear, you’ve got to follow Lulu out in the backyard in the morning and get a fresh sample of you-know-what for me to take to the vet. If they give me grief about the yellow fuzz, I’m going to give them your phone number. Oh, and please make sure that Ziplock is sealed good and tight,” I told my husband with a shiver.

I decided since the vet wasn’t too far from the house, Lulu and I would make it an adventure and walk. Yep, a little exercise would be great for the both of us. With my purse over my right shoulder and the Ziplock bag in my left hand held carefully between two fingers we started off. Well, you didn’t expect me to put “it” in my purse, did ya?

Did I mention that Lulu pulls with the strength of a team of hairy-legged horses dragging a beer truck with two flat tires? A Dog Whisperer intervention was on my mind as she pulled mightily the entire mile to the vet’s office. Not that Lulu has an aggressive nature you understand. She trembled under the examination table when the good-natured vet appeared. Four shots, a friendly lecture on tartar build-up and another on Lulu needing to lose four pounds and we were out the door towards home. Whoa horsey … I mean Lulu! 

 Geez, I can’t wait till next week. No tellin’ what the heater man has in store!