Thursday, December 30, 2004

Quilt Chronicles 1

Entry December 13, 1999

It’s 2:30am and I am still awake. I guess I’m just excited to see my students’ quilts in 12 hours. It has always been like this every time they graduate from my quilting class. In the three years I’ve been teaching patchwork and quilting, this part has been the most exciting.

In a year, I have a new class every quarter and I always come up with new designs for my students to choose from for their quilts. Usually, when a student enrolls in a class, her first reaction would be, “I can’t do this, it’s too complicated!” The beauty of the fabrics being pieced together would just overwhelm some and they wonder if they could ever sew such a magnificent piece of artwork. I have some enrollees who would get goosebumps just by looking at each patched and applique’d tops I have made for the last 8 to 9 years.

But what is a quilt really? This is my simple, straightforward question every graduation day as they come up to show and tell their finished quilt. Surprisingly, each response was unique: “To me, a quilt is sleepless nights… any piece that has been constructed by putting a lot of pieces together…made with love…with someone in mind…more than a stuffed thing, it’s your mama hugging you… A gift of time and thought and planning…fabric arranged to please an audience…something that keeps you warm at night… A wall hanging…a blanket…it’s pieced, has batting and a lining…bedcovering…comfort…meeting new friends…story of my life…the definitions are endless!

My definition of a quilt is a combination of all these responses and it is conveyed in each of the projects with a story. Every project I see is the result of one’s planning, making and finishing an idea. They didn’t just enjoy one part of it, but it’s in the process of making it. I admire their tenacity and “stick-to-itiveness”. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how they have grown as designers too.

We are all quilters here and we do it for different reasons. Some of us want to try every color combination under the sun. The geometry of piecing patterns together or the painting-like effects of appliqué fascinate most of us. Others can’t resist a floral pattern. I have a hard time resisting heart motifs myself. We are all at different stages of accomplishment. I know one student quilter who is always learning a new technique, wanting to master as many as possible.

A needle is a natural extension of a quilter’s fingers and this is our personal challenge. It is good therapy, a relaxing way to collect our thoughts. Sometimes it is also a way of dealing with feelings constructively and in an entertaining way. Oftentimes, it’s an extension of aggressive outpouring of emotions: pain, anger and frustrations.

I doubt if we’ll ever ran out of ideas or reasons to make quilts. It’s such a unique way to show our love for someone. There’s always the potential for wedding and milestone anniversaries to commemorate with quilts. Every kid needs a quilt to cuddle. It is the best way to express ourselves.

Quilters, if I may say, are the greatest of all people. If they’re tired of war, murder, drugs on TV or they just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, they drop everything and refresh themselves in a quilting bee or meeting. There they are, young and old, tall and short, fat or skinny, rich or poor, talented and ordinary- all sharing a common love. When show-and-tell comes, the applause is loud and supportive. These are loving, kind, neat people. These are my quilting students!

Quilt Chronicles ll

Dear God, thank you for protecting me and my loved ones today. Thank you for keeping us safe, fed and healthy. Thank you for keeping my fingers nimble and my mind relatively clear. Thank you for the constant gift of my precious family: my husband, who has been supportive of my staying up at night to the wee hours to finish a quilt project, my two sons and my lovely daughter. Please look after us as we sleep tonight. Keep us safe until morning and if there is a fire, please give me time to grab my quilt………

I’m sorry! I couldn’t help myself! The words just popped out. I know I’m being selfish, asking for time to grab my quilts. But the thought of losing my many stitches in a fire is devastating!

For example, the Blue and Red Lone Star quilt I made in 1993 for my eldest born son. I was filled with excitement and thrill to sew something for my first child. When I got pregnant again shortly, I sew the Bear’s Paw quilt for my second son.

Then, the Star of Bethlehem quilt was born the year after that. This quilt reminds me that You gave me hope and strength to cope during those hard and trying emotional times of my life.

Another quilt, my Heirloom quilt is hanging on the wall on top of our bed. It was applique’d during the time when we moved out of capitolville house and started our own rented little home. Six months of transition went into that quilt. Hard times challenged me but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else. Please give me time to take it down from the wall.

The pink and green Hearts from Above appliqué quilt that covers my daughter’s bed is special too. That same year, you answered our prayer to build our own house. The loft, my future quilt studio on the third floor needs stairs to get to it, some flooring and ceiling too.

The Grandmother’s Fan lap quilt is hanged neatly on the wall by the receiving area. I take it down if we need some warmth on a chilly night. Oh, my anniversary quilt, the Double Wedding Ring, once it is completed will fold neatly at the base of our bed. And let me not forget to grab my very first quilt project I made in 1985. A Christmas stocking of red, white and gold, the very thing that started this quilting career.

Besides the quilts, there’s my two big scrap boxes at the left side of the computer by the family room. It holds all my future quilts, my dreams, my scrappy earth-bound idea of heaven. Couldn’t I take them too? It has taken me nine years to accumulate the many different fabrics it contains, gleaned from ukay-ukay, donations from my husband’s aunt, exchanges with my quilting students and visits to fabric shops that resulted in guilty purchases! I couldn’t bear the thought of starting again.

Lord, a big one, a little over a thousand meters of cotton fabrics in bolts, some folded and stacked neatly by color in 2 large 10-feet covered shelves. It will be a lot of work to unload them and so I would like some extra time for that too, please.

It will take me almost no time to grab the photo albums that contain the group pictures of all the quilting classes I have taught since 1996, and my old electric sewing machine… I almost forgot about that. I bought that at a good price of 600, partly broken, but was fixed for free. It runs very well, I would not need a new one. It’s quite heavy so its by the front door, ready to be brought out just in case.

Not to mention the unfinished quilt tops: Dresden Plate, Flower Bouquet, Broken Hearts, Cathedral Window….I wish I can take them too, can I?

I know I have asked more than I should, so I won’t ask for time to snatch my quilting books and magazines. I won’t ask for that… but my quilting hoop! My dear old quilting hoop is now entering its ninth year of trusty service. It has been glued, nailed, taped and glued again because of my reluctance to part with such a precious old friend. It is right by the family room fronting the terrace. I’ll just toss it to the yard on the way out and hope the tape holds….

There it is – the sum total of my fourteen quilting years, a growing mass of possessions strewn from one end of the house to the other. That’s all, and yet, I haven’t mentioned the curtain samples hiding behind the bookshelves, my extensive cardboard and paper collection, my tin of buttons, my threads, my expensive scissors, my betweens needles, my embroidery scrolls, my silver thimble and rubber gloves placed in my small heart-shaped sewing box. The odd bits of quilting flotsam and jetsam tucked away in nooks and crannies unremembered. I won’t mention them.

I won’t mention them because there’s also all my quilting patterns and stencils, my boys’ toys, our inherited antique furnitures, my old sewing machine lamp that illuminated our evenings, or the fact that if I don’t save some clothes, we will go naked for a while…..

I can’t bear to think about it! My prayer has gotten out of hand and I’m fighting this uncontrollable urge to stack my scrap boxes, quilts, and books, by the front door….

Please God, may I amend my prayer? No fire please. No fire or emergencies that would mean leaving behind the precious little comforts of my life. Please keep us safe and free from harm.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

A chat with God

17 June 2004

Me: “Dear Lord, living a life of faith must be tough! How much faith is required?”

Him: “Just simple obedience.”

Me: Wow, Lord, that simple? How about a faith that can move mountains? Now, that’s a lot of faith!”

Him: “Not really, just plain obedience. Start by obeying simple, small truths. That’s all.”

Me: What else, God?

Him: “Trust Me.”

Me: Trust and total surrender, even if I have to do it 50 times a day, right?”

Him: Yes, even more than 50 times a day, if needed, my child. It’s trusting one breath at a time.”

Me: Lord, I trust you but I’m wiped out!” …. Just as David said.

Him: “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Me: “So be it, Lord, Amen.”

Sunday, May 30, 2004


I learned.... that It’s not worth the calories unless it’s chocolate.

Friends..... Forever

Laughters and tears

We all share our dreams

No matter what tomorrow brings,

The thought of friends, my heart sings!

(Not in photo is Kiki)

Thursday, April 8, 2004

How to boil sweet corn

It was in the early 90's, when my husband and I was into farming a couple of years after we were wed, one of the crops we planted was sweet corn. We did a lot of experimenting until we came up with the best way to boil them. Here's the tip:

Don't boil corn for more than 3 minutes. Place the corn directly into boiling water, and do not add salt. You will find the flavor is much better than cooking for 10 minutes or more. Corn will never get soft, no matter how long you cook it-it will only lose its taste.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


It's no longer a secret. Try our delicious Carbonara present in every Sunday luncheon.

1 pack (250g) smoked bacon, sliced thinly
1 pack 400gram spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente
1 small can evaporated milk or ½ cup fresh milk
1 tetra pack cream
½ block of grated cheddar cheese
2 beaten eggs
1 bulb finely chopped onion
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese
Pyrex dish


CREAM MIXTURE: Mix together “well” the cream, beaten eggs and grated cheese. Set aside

Cook the spaghetti al dente, set aside.

In a big casserole, fry with its own oil the thinly sliced bacon bits until golden brown. Set aside draining the oil with a paper towel. Use the bacon oil to fry the chopped onion and garlic until almost transparent (do not overcook) in the same big casserole.

On low fire, stir in the cooked spaghetti and milk and mix together in the casserole. Then add in the cream mixture and mix together with the use of two wooden spoons until the spaghetti is coated with the cream. Do not overcook. Make sure the fire is maintained low and that no egg curdles appear. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Transfer the well mixed spaghetti unto the pyrex dish, topped with cooked bacon bits and parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

Serves about 6.