After the Storms

I’d love to see your smiling face
I really, really would,
But coming up to Fayetteville
Won’t do you any good.
There’s armed guards at some stations
Where they are selling gas,
The traffic is backed up so far
Alabama’s here en masse.
But if you really need something
Don’t hesitate to call,
‘Cause traffic going south you see
Is nothing much at all.
Rick filled his gas tank early
He’s heading south right now,
To check on special people
Called from the road said, “WOW!!!
We’re thankful to the Lord above
That no one we know was hurt,
That the sun is out and without a doubt
We’re sheltered in His love.
So do call if you need us
There’s nothing we’d like more,
Than to lend a hand, where ere we can
That’s just what friends are for.

The storms that ripped through nothern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee yesterday were real doozies. The weather man said that this weather event was possibly the worst ever since records have been kept. The weather service thinks there were over 100 tornadoes of various degrees spawned from the storm system.

We were very fortunate here. No major damage, no power outage. About the worst we had to deal with this morning was a section of driveway being washed out. I think Nathanael has already gotten the rake out and remedied that situation. Yes, Rick and Victoria have taken off to check on some folks we couldn’t get ahold of by phone to see if they were all right first and foremost and to get a shopping list of anything they might need.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have gotten complacent these days and find that I just assume everything will be as it is every day without fail. In the winter I do get concerned about having an ice storm like some we’ve had in the past that knocked out electricity for days and days. Before we moved the shop into the first floor of our house we had a woodburning stove so we didn’t worry too much about keeping warm. Our kitchen stove runs on propane gas so we can cook, and it’s always colder outside than in the refrigerator so we can put anything that needs to be kept cold in the sun room. That’s in the winter time.

The rules change just a bit during storm season. If there’s no electricty we can always open the windows to get a breeze and some fresh air, provided it’s not raining. But what do you do about the food in your refrigerator? There’s no amount of ice that’s going to keep it cold for very long. What about food that doesn’t need cooking? We don’t have a stockpile of food because the grocery store is less than two miles away and we tend to go every day or so, sometimes two and three times a day when we don’t plan or communicate with each other well. Thankfully, this go around we still have electricity and can cook, otherwise we’d be eating peanut butter and crackers and those would have to be rationed.

My thoughts this morning have been racing with how we need to get ourselves better prepared for these types of situations because we never know when we’ll be faced with the prospect of no electricity even without a storm being present. I believe it was David who said, “Give me the old paths…” and I can’t help but think he knew what he was talking about. While they didn’t have computers and such in Bible times I’m sure there were all manner of new fangled things being invented and new ideas surfacing that made him say that. I wonder how many people younger than myself could manage should we need to go back to a simpler way of living. In business now, for example, everything is computerized. Without electricity to run the computers large stores cannot operate unless they have large generators. I’m glad that I learned how to write up sales with a pen and paper long ago. If we had no electricity I could still sell fabric and such because I know how to write out a sales slip by hand. I also know how to count back change without the aid of a cash register telling me how much to give. Man! I’m beginning to sound ancient here. But my point is this, skills that our parents and grandparents had still need to be taught to our children today. We’ve not been involved with the public school system so I don’t know if they have a class on basic survival tactics, but if they don’t they may want to start including one in the lineup of requirements to graduate. After all, they surely want to turn out well-rounded young people who can take care of themselves in an emergency situation. Some of the things that I’ve heard that are taught in public schools aren’t going to help them too much when it comes to figuring out how to feed themselves.

OK…enough rambling. Nathanael has been out picking up trash that blew into our yard yesterday. He brought in a health record for a black Cocker Spaniel who lives in Hartselle, AL. It looks like it might have come from a mobile home because there is a lot number associated with the address. Actually, now that I look at it a little closer the dog who was nine weeks old on 2/11/89 may no longer be alive, but the owner had obviously kept the beloved pets vaccination record.

He also found a 1992 baseball card for Derek Nathaniel Bell of the Blue Jays. I thought it was interesting that they shared the same middle name even though they are spelled differently. It’s also interesting that 1992 was the year my Nathanael was born. Where on earth did that baseball card come from? Things that happen in our lives are often strange and amazing…aren’t they?

Out of the Box!

Boxes, boxes, boxes…we’re always getting boxes. Some are very big and some are very small, but almost all have something wonderful and oftentimes mysterious inside. Why mysterious? Because I often order fabric, for example, months ahead of time. By the time it arrives I’ve forgotten what I ordered because in the interim I have ordered even more fabric that I won’t remember when it arrives. I can kind of go by the name of the shipper to get clues about what’s in the boxes, but more often than not I’m just guessing. We shop owners have to get our kicks somehow…
When the newest box arrived from Martingale Tuesday I thought I knew what was in it, but boy, was I wrong. Instead of getting the new books for April I got the new books for February. Surprise! It was a pleasant surprise though because all of the books are great, of course, and one has my all-time favorite little girl, Sunbonnet Sue as the subject.

Sweet Sue

A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue by Christine Porter and Darra Williamson will give you 12 little quilts with which to entertain yourself as well as make for your favorite people. Each quilt represents a different month. Right now I’m leaning toward the one for August which has a beach theme. Yes, I’m longing for the beach. In this little quilt Sue even has her toenails painted. How different, and cute, is that?!

9 Great Projects!

We also received Scrap Quilts Go Country by Deanne Eisenman which is a follow up to her previous book Country Fresh. There are nine patterns in this selection that will help you use up those fat quarters and 2-1/2″ strips you’ve been collecting. These projects are of a generous lap quilt nature and there are a couple of table toppers as well. The addition of applique to the pieced tops adds so much appeal to many of the designs.

Great modern designs!

Then there is Modern Basics by Amy Ellis. The book is designed to be easy for new quilters, but the 14 designs are so unique that experienced quilters looking for more modern designs will flip for it as well. There are a couple of quilts in this book that look like modern art and are just begging to be made. One in particular is Tumbling Cubes. The quilting on this quilt is also part of what makes it unique and an eye-catcher. You definitely need to go to and view the gallery of projects in this book. If you’re looking for something different you’re going to want this book.

Pick a Flower - Any Flower!

While I was putting together the verbage for this posting the UPS man came. Guess what he brought…another box of books. Yep, we now have the new April releases from Martingale as well. The first one I looked at was Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts by Nancy Mahoney. It has some really lovely floral offerings, and choosing which one to begin with will not be an easy task. I was drawn to one near the end of the book called Pinwheel Flowers because it was made from ’30s prints but also because it used ric-rac all around the border. Too cute! Then there was Orange Marmalade. For some reason I am drawn to orange when the weather starts warming up. I think it’s because I often bought those orange sherbet push-ups from the ice cream man. I love those things! This quilt definitely got my attention and will be marked as a one to do in the future.

18 Great Quilts!

From having done Farmer’s Wife for a year now I have lots of scraps. The new All-Time Favorite Scrap Quilts from That Patchwork Place book will definitely come in handy when I start sorting through them in a month or two. There are 18 quits in this book and I love every one of them. The plus about this book is it gives you designs from several different quilters including Kim Diehl, Pat Speth, Mimi Dietrich (from an out of print book), and Evelyn Sloppy to name just a few. Instead of getting a book with just one person’s style you have a book with several different styles which makes it all the more useful.

Then I came to the last book and I looked through it with mixed emotions. I knew it was on the way, and I also knew that the author, Judy Hopkins, had passed away on March 9 at the age of 69. Her contributions to the world of quilting will be a lasting legacy to a very talented woman. She will be greatly missed by those who knew her well and even by those of us who did not know her directly but only through her work.

A Definite Must Have Book

The Big Book of Patchwork contains 50 “fabulous” traditional style quilts that were gathered from many makers. There are projects of every size represented from table runners to full-sized bed quilts. The instructions are not in-depth, but there are enough easy quilts with which a beginner could start and then work their way up to the more challenging ones, which won’t seem challenging at all by the time they get there. You definitely need this book in your library.

Super Summer Quilt!

I did get one new pattern this week that I want to mention and that’s because 1) it’s a great quilt, and 2) no other quilt shop has it! The Summer Fun Row Quilt pattern is from a local designer, Hailstorm Creek Press, and is soooooo cute. We have a sample of the quilt made up and it is adorable. The appliques on the pattern can even be changed as there are alternatives given. You will have so much fun making this quilt with all those bright colors that you just couldn’t live without but hadn’t a clue what to do with.

OK, it’s time for me to get back to my other job…Farmer’s Wife. I have the fabrics chosen and know what I need to do to get the seventh of ten blocks pieced. Then there will be scanning the block, cutting the kits, writing the instructions, and packing the kits. We’re very close to the end though and we’re getting very excited about putting our 111 blocks together.

Oh yes, our kittens are growing and have the fattest little tummies. I’ll try to get a photo of them soon to share with you. It’s amazing just how big they’ve gotten in less than two weeks. Belle’s leg is getting better and she has been a very good mother. Victoria is in seventh-heaven of course and all’s right with the world when there are kittens around.

We Have Babies!!! & A Spring Formal!

Cute, cute, cute!

Aren’t they cute?!  This morning Belle delivered four adorable little kittens all by herself.  We weren’t expecting these little bundles of joy for two more weeks.  Surprise! 

Belle had to go to the vet on Thursday after we found her limping around.  Turned out she had a puncture wound on her right front leg.  How she got it is anyone’s guess.  The vet said it looked like she’d been shot with a pellet gun.  I hope that wasn’t the reason for her injury.

Belle and her cast

Since she was in the family way the vet had to be very careful about how she was put to sleep and operated on.  Of course, the vet asked Victoria if she really wanted the kittens and of course her reply was that she did.  She takes being a “grandmother” very seriously.   We weren’t sure how much longer it would take for the kittens to be born so Victoria asked and was told two weeks.   Imagine her surprise when she walked out to feed her cats this morning and found four little kittens crawling around on the porch mewing for all they were worth.

Hug 'em all at once

Nathanael has been worried all day about how these kittens are going to survive through the night on the front porch.  We do tend to have wondering ‘possums after all and one of these ‘possums got into the neighbors chicken house and took a couple home for supper.  I’ve told him that the kittens would be all right and am hoping that this photo will put his mind at ease.  Belle placed a protective arm over all her babies when I was taking photos of them this afternoon.  I think she knows what she’s doing even though it is her first litter.  I thought it was interesting that she did this because this is also how she and her litter mates sometimes sleep together, with their arms across one another.  Of course, Smokey and Annie have been booted out of the bed now that the kittens are here.   

So, that was excitement number one for the quilt shop today.  Later on in the afternoon the kids had to get ready for their Spring Formal.  Nathanael wore his tux and looked handsome.  Victoria wore a long dress that looked remarkably like the one she chose last year. 


Beautiful girls!

One of Victoria’s best friends, Bonner, went too and the three of them made a lovely photo.  They’re not home yet but should be soon.  Once they arrive I know we’ll be up a while longer recounting all that went on throughout their evening.

Don't they look nice!?

Now About Those Cookbooks…

When last we got together I mentioned that we had five new cookbooks in the shop and promised to give you a review of each.  Being a person of my word, and having finished with Farmer’s Wife for a while, I will now proceed to tempt you with some flavorful morsels from these new offerings.

Let the Party Begin!

Let us begin with Fast & Fabulous Party Foods and Appetizers.  After all, that is where a party of friends usually begins.  True to its name, this book offers 400+ quick recipes for every occasion.  Some recipes have as few as three ingredients while others have as many as eight, that includes “pepper or salt to taste” by the way.  In addition to the recipes, there are 24 party menus that offer you a variety of possibilities.  Throw in helpful hints and suggestions and you have a very serviceable, not to mention indispensible, cookbook.  There are 14 chapters with recipes that run the gambit from “Wet Your Whistle” and “Crunchy Munchies” to “Heavy Hors D’Oeuvres” and “Delightful Desserts.”  Of course, yours truly went straight for the desserts section.  Go figure…


Next we have Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches.  This book also has over 400 recipes for your enjoyment.  There are 112 soups, 107 salads, 105 sandwiches, 6 seasoning mixes, and 60 salad dressing recipes.  With a mixture like this you’ll be covered no matter if you need something as a first course or a hearty main meal.  The book also contains helpful hints, historical facts, and some fun trivia to help you pass the time between cooking and eating.  Now honestly, wouldn’t that be more fun than cleaning up while your delishious dish is cooking?
If you know you’ll really be in a hurry you might want to grab More Fast & Fabulous Five-Star 5-Ingredient (or less) Recipes.  This is a sequal to the original and very popular 500 Fast & Fabulous Five-Star 5-Ingredient Recipes, which I do not have by the way.  This encore cookbook will give you 500 recipes that require no more than five ingredients but result in very tasty dishes.  With recipes like Jimmy’s Bacon-Wrapped Spuds, Cheezy Bones Pizza, Red Velvet Moon Pies, and Pecan Pie Cookies you know your table will never lack someone’s feet under it.  Also included in the book are additional preparation tips, substitutions, and garnishes as well as amusing sidebars and interesting facts related to “fast” that the editors, Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, thought you might like to read.  Just think how empowered and enlightened you will be by reading through this one book alone!

Tennessee's Finest!

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the Best of the Best from Tennessee now could we.  After all, I’ve eaten a lot of cooking from Tennessee ladies, and I can’t say that I’ve ever had anything I wouldn’t eat a second, or third, time around if the offer were made.  This cookbook contains more than 400 recipes gleened from 54 favorite cookbooks throughout the state, from Johnson City (my old stompin’ grounds) to Memphis, Chattanooga (lived there too) to Clarksville.   Mammy’s Cracklin’ Corn Bread, Chuck Wagon Pepper Steak, Skillet Fried Chicken, Garlic Cheese Grits, Country Ham and Red-Eye Gravy, Chattanooga Chew Chews, and Crisp Crust Apple Pie gives you just a glimpse of what wonderful dishes will be at your fingertips. According to the editors, “The things these Tennesseans do with vegetables is worth the price of the book.”


Lastly, good barbecue is a southern staple, much like grits and gravy.  The chef, Kent Whitaker, includes over 300 recipes sure to make your next cookout a hit.  In addition to great recipes, you will learn what wood to use for just the right flavor, the difference between barbecue, grilling, smoking, pit cooking, etc., the right tools for the job, and safety tips.  Mr. Whitaker, alias The Deck Chef, covers barbecue in the Appalachia area with great zeal.  Father’s Day is getting closer and closer every day.  Forget the tie and get that man this great cookbook!  He’ll love you for it and might even take over the cookin’.  You can’t beat that with a stick now can ya!

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