Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Catch-up quilts...

So, I'm a much better quilter than I am a blogger, but I'm trying to improve.  It seems like now is a good time to try to show off a few older finishes that never made it on here, since I've got lots of in-progress projects that won't be finished for another few weeks perhaps.

My cousin, Kelly, had her second baby right around when we were getting married.  For her first baby, Julian, I made a cute little bib/burp cloth thing (a rectangle to put over your shoulder to sop up drool...not sure what to call it) with a hand-appliqued chick on it, since she and her husband, especially, love orange.  As usual, I didn't photograph it - if I had a nickel for every cool project I made and gave away without photographing, I'd have...well...at least a dollar!  Anyway, you'll just have to take my word for it that it turned out very cute.  I wanted to do something a bit bigger for her second baby, both for her and as a special thank you to her parents, my aunt Roz and Uncle Dean, who were kind enough to host our completely wonderful wedding reception crawfish boil at their house in New Orleans.  I wanted to finish the quilt in time to bring it to New Orleans, since I thought they might enjoy having the quilt at their house for when baby Archer comes down to visit (or they could deliver it on one of their many trips to see their grandbabies), but I didn't have much time to get it done because I'd been so focused on finishing the quilts that were long overdue for my bridesmaids, Anne and Talia, before the wedding.  

The weekend after our wedding, Bryan and I went to Chapel Hill to see several nights of surf band music (my husband's obsession) and to see where he grew up, meet up with some of his best college friends to celebrate our marriage, and to generally take a stroll down memory lane.  We had a really fun time during the days, heading over to Greensboro one day to our favorite BBQ place, Stamey's, and hiking through the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park that he'd gone to frequently as a kid.  We drove by old houses he had lived in and by the little lake that was the location where he and his brother first "ran away from home" with their backpacks filled with PB&Js and comic books.  We even drove by his elementary school.  (I'm a nut about stuff like that...I made him do the same thing with me when we went to New Orleans for our "official" reception, including my elementary school, favorite park, and the first house I remember living in!)  We saw the house in Chapel Hill that he shared with his awesome housemates in college, the planetarium where he worked (and saw an amazing show about black holes that really blew my mind), and we enjoyed walking around campus.  We also went to some great restaurants for dinner in Chapel Hill that I'm still craving, including the Lantern and Cholonad.  But, the official reason for the visit was the Instro Summit.  I've started to like surf music (especially since we went to Croatia 2 years ago to see an incredibly friendly Croatian surf band called the Bambi Molesters and ended up being interviewed for Croatian television for the length we went to to see the band).  But, I am not a concert-girl, despite marrying a man who likes nothing better than going to see live music.  I knew I didn't need to sit in a little bar for almost 24 hours over the three days watching bands (though I did go one evening and it was more fun than I expected!).  So, I decided to try my hand at a strip quilt, ala Film in the Fridge and after seeing one of the charity quilts Katie made last year, except that I also wanted to do it in the quilt-as-you-go method, and I wanted to do it in the hotel room when he was off galavanting with a few of his college friends the first night of the shows.  I cut all the print fabric at home so that I wouldn't need my cutting mat (though I forgot to cut the coordinating solids I so carefully purchased).  I knew the hotel would have an iron and ironing board, so all I needed was my strips, batting, backing, pins, thread, and trusty sewing machine.  And voila!  I used Kate Spain's Central Park fabric on the front, an old hand-dyed for the back, and Kona cotton (perhaps tangerine) for the binding.  (I should add that Kelly lives in New York and takes her kids to Central Park, so it felt doubly appropriate!)

In my first evening at the hotel, I had a quilt-ish!  I ended up deciding to add quite a bit more quilting when I got home, including some straight lines around the seam lines, as well as tracing some of the curves in the tree print, though I made that harder than it needed to be by using my walking foot.  And while I got the binding attached once I got home, I didn't have time to hand-sew it down until I was on the plane heading for New Orleans!  So, in these pictures, it hasn't been washed yet, but it was wrinkly more from its handling than the process...it was actually pretty easy to keep it smooth as I sewed it down, even without using basting spray (though next time I think it would have been easier to have spray basted the backing to the batting before starting).

In addition to sewing down the binding by hand, I wanted to actually sign the quilt, since that is another of the things I rarely do but am trying to improve on.  I think it helps that my new married name is 6 letters shorter than my maiden name.  It's a bit hard to see in this picture because I just used orange thread instead of perle cotton...why I took all these pictures indoors is beyond me, since I could have taken some really great outdoor shots, but there you go...at least I got my mom to help me snap some pictures for once!

Uncle Dean, the host with the most!
And, I can't leave this topic without a few pictures from the "reception".  I should start by saying that Bryan and I both love eating crawfish.  One of the first times he cooked for me, he made crawfish pie.  And I think one of my big attractions for him was a family from New Orleans (for many, many generations)!  When we were thinking about our wedding, we considered a lot of options, but we decided that rather than have all of my family from New Orleans trek to DC, it would be a lot more fun for everyone if we just traveled to New Orleans!  So, my awesome aunts from Champaign, Illinois, my brother and nephew from Athens, GA, my parents from Atlanta, GA, and Bryan and I from DC/MD all descended upon my uncle's house for Memorial Day weekend!
The traditional "crawfish race"!
My aunt, in particular, was very worried about the heat of New Orleans that late in the season, so in addition to the standard crawfish boil tables under tents, they set up a little cooling spray system on the side of the tents that worked like a champ.  We were all dressed in our grubbiest clothes (which was funny when I tried explaining to the lady at Nordstrom's Wedding Suite that I didn't need lovely white shorts for my crawfish boil reception...I don't think she understood what is involved in a crawfish boil!).  And we sat around eating crawfish, crabs, corn, mushrooms, potatoes, whole cloves of garlic, onions, and spicy sausage.  We had bought a doberge cake from Gambino's as our "official" wedding cake - half chocolate and half lemon.  This is a wonderful cake, but really the reason I wanted it was because my dad's dad ("Pop") always loved lemon desserts, and especially lemon doberge, and that was my way of bringing him, in spirit, to our celebration, even though he passed away almost a decade ago.  In addition, my uncle Bud and his wife, Dena, brought us a lovely cake that had whipped cream, berries, and maybe pastry cream...it was delicious.  Aunt Roz had bought beautiful flowers and had some really fun decorations.  My brother also brought his mandolin down and played some music for "our first dance", which my honorary Aunt Cathy filmed.  It really was wonderful - better than I had even imagined.

Intense concentration on putting crawfish into my mouth!

My brother, Rob, continuing the family tradition, and sharing a crab claw with his son, Rowan

...who happily accepted.
The happy couple, complete with my aunt's hysterical wedding decor!
Bananas Foster in action!

We also ate at a lot of fun restaurants, including a dinner at Commander's Palace with the famed Bananas Foster (who knew cinnamon thrown on the fire would make such a good show!), the impeccable Mr. B's Bistro, Bryan's old favorite Mother's Restaurant, and Emeril's Delmonico.  And we couldn't go to New Orleans without a stop for beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde.  But the best meals were at my uncle Dean's house.  We had an amazing brunch the day after the crawfish boil with crawfish etouffee omelets, crepes, fruit, and the best hash browns on earth (made from the potatoes, onion, and garlic from the crawfish boil).  And before we left, my uncle went completely above and beyond and made my absolute favorite - crawfish bisque - complete with the crawfish stuffing in the shells.  Thank you so much, Uncle Dean and Aunt Roz, for being such wonderful hosts.  I asked my nephew which of his aunts' wedding celebrations he preferred, and, of course, since my reception did NOT involve putting on a suit or sitting through a boring ceremony but did involve eating delicious food, playing horseshoes, fishing in the canal behind my uncle's house, and playing lots of fun games, well...I won hands down!  :)


  1. I love your blog!!! And congratulations on your wonderful marriage! What an awesome family you have! Love the Central Park quilt!

  2. Elle, sounds like a wonderful reception!!! I'm very impressed at the quality of the quilt you made in a hotel! I loved reading about your reason for having a lemon cake. John and I drank champagne out of martini glasses (quite messy, but fun) in honor of my grandmother at our reception. It's always wonderful to be able to bring in memories of our loved ones at such a special time...and in such delicious ways ;)


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