Saturday, December 26, 2020


One week before Christmas

Me: If Dan has no other plans, ask him to join us for dinner on Christmas Eve. 
Paul: Will do.
Me: Do you know what you want to eat?
Paul (excitedly): Let's get in Christmas Story. 
Me (realistically): Are you sure Dan will be OK with it?
Paul: I dunno. 
Me: Let's just do the regular turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes etc.  We can do the Chinese for New Years, when it is just us.
Paul: OK. Then let me pick up the meal from Harris-Teeter.
Me: How much?
Paul: $50 for turkey and sides.
Me: That sounds reasonable.

A New Finish

However when Paul went to order online, the price was $80. The turkey was pre-cooked and would require re-heating as would all the sides.  I put my foot down.

Me: I do not wish to overpay for mediocre food that was prepared in bulk and refrigerated that I will have to re-heat anyways.  
Paul: Then you have to do the cooking. 
Me: Seriously American food is easy to prepare.
Paul: You are awesome.

Can you guess?

Yellow Backing, Striped Binding

The backing is super fun!

The following convo happened about 4:00PM on Christmas Eve.

Me: I put the turkey in the crock-pot around noon. Should be ready by 6:00.
Paul: Cool.
Me: I am done cleaning and tidying up.
Paul: Looks nice here. 
Me: So I am going to take a shower now and do the rest of the cooking later.  Because I can mash the potatoes in front of Dan but I cannot take a shower in front of him...
Paul: But it is Christmas...

For the next few minutes, I forgot the shower and the spuds because I was laughing so hard.  Paul certainly puts the Merry in my Christmas :-)

Meet Leela. The Sanskrit word Leela means Play(noun). The nine colors are playing beautifully in this quilt made of Picket Star Quilt Blocks





Rust Brown



Medium Blue


Green (this was the very first RSC block for 2020)


Happiness is a Rainbow

I added a border to protect the points. I chose to have fun with the backing. Continuing the theme of the rainbow scrap challenge on the back I made a few scrappy log cabins. A focus strip of these log cabins was added to the backing fabric to add sparkle :-)  

Pieced Backing with a Strip of Log Cabin Blocks

I was concerned that this pieced strip may not be completely straight/vertical after quilting.  The truth is that it isn't exactly vertical but almost straight is good enough :-)

Fun Fabrics

Embrace the Wonkiness

Cute Kitty (pink) & Lovely Gal (green)

Did you see the elephant?

Dragonflies make me smile :-)

The mummy and the all seeing eye

Is it Crawfish or Lobster - I'll eat them both

Used a serpentine stitch with my walking foot to go over the seams. Since the seams are pressed open, I feel that a wider stitch pattern like the zig-zag or the serpentine better secures the seams. 

Quilting Detail


I wanted the multicolored diagonal stripe fabric for binding but I did not have enough of it :-( 

So I combined with a white fabric for a faux piped binding. I got the desired overall effect with the ease of piped binding. What seemed like a challenge turned out to be a blessing in disguise. 

Faux Piped Binding

Leela finished at 53" square and I am happy that I completed at least one RSC quilt before the end of the year.  I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties including Angela's Linky Party

I am in love with the binding!!!


One Last Look

Hope your Christmas was Merry, your Holidays are blessed and your New Year is Joyful. 

Should you have any thoughts about the holiday season or my festive quilt, please let me know.  Your comments enhance my merriment :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Diwali Memories

Diwali is the festival of lights - the biggest Hindu festival in India. In terms of fanfare, think of it as Hindu Christmas plus fireworks. Friends and neighbors exchange sweets (akin to cookie exchange), homes are cleaned (like Christmas) and decorated with lights and Rangoli patterns. There are sales on home goods and folks are bombarded with advertisements for jewelry and watches (for the special someone in your life). Everywhere you look there is a sale or a bumper sale. Streets are decorated with lights and shops/markets are dressed up in their glittering best.

When Bernie asked if I have a favorite holiday memory, I said - Yes, oh yes. I sure do.

My dad was a bank manager. In an era when ATMs were unknown and online banking had not been invented, dad interacted with lots of people from all walks of life. Their concerns were as varied as their financial standings and dad went out of his way to help them. Most of his clients were local small business owners and some of them had loans from the bank. There were short periods of time when their accounts were overdrawn when their bulk orders were delivered. As a bank manger, dad had the discretion whether they received a fine or not. Since dad knew them and their businesses he knew that they were good for it. Of course this meant the world to a small business owner. Naturally they wanted to express their gratitude but dad refused all gifts due to ethical reasons. 

Large Welcoming Display at the New Delhi Airport

Come Diwali, all those small business owners had a chance to express their gratitude. Visitors would begin as early as 10:00 in the morning. Most came with a standard box of sweets, some brought a fancy box of dry fruits (cashews, almonds, raisins and pistachios). Dad and mom would greet the visitor and offer tea which was mostly declined. There were many more boxes to deliver, they would say.  Of course they were in a hurry so mom and dad would walk with them to the main gate chatting all the way.

Large Rangoli - Flower Petals, Grass and Colored Powders

This was our golden opportunity. While mom and dad were seeing this gentleman off, us girls (my sister and I) would sneak into the drawing room and attack the box of sweets. If the box contained all one kind of sweets, we'd be disappointed. If the box contained an assortment of sweets, we'd be thrilled. Joyously we'd each pick our favorite and enjoy the syrupy sweetness completely oblivious of the calories or additives. By the time mom and dad walked back into the drawing room, we girls would be elbows deep into the box of sweets. Dad would shake his head and smile while mom would give us the stink eye. 

"Come on girls," she'd say. "Some of these sweets can go to friends and neighbors." Yes sweets regifting (if the box was unopened or the sweets looked undisturbed) is normal and acceptable. 

One time we received a large fruit basket and even mom was impressed. I still remember the sweet and juicy pears. 

In the evening mom would prepare the special meal - matar paneer (peas and cheese), alu gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower), pooris (fry bread) and dahi wada (dumplings in yogurt with sweet tamarind chutney).

Pre-made Rangoli (painted wooden frame)

Rangoli by Paul and Preeti 

Dad would light the firecrackers, while we girls watched from a safe distance away. My sister and I were fine with holding sparklers but rockets and flower pots were too much for us. Mostly we sat happy and wide-eyed as dad went through all the crackers - little noisy ones on a string that went pat pat pat, long rockets that went zoom, and pyramid shaped flower pots - big, bright and colorful.  I remember, one year there was a new cracker/rocket that started as one color and then changed to another and ended with a shower of little stars. 

Then we'd gather for the Diwali Pooja (prayers to Ganesha and Laxmi). We'd all sing the aarti (Hymns to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi) together. After the Pooja it was time to enjoy the sumptuous spread.  We went to bed while the distant sound of firecrackers continued till after midnight.

Fourth of July Fireworks 

Big and Bright

After dad passed away we never got firecrackers. Mom still sends sweets to a few close friends and family members but those days of almost non-stop sweets/fruits are long gone. My fond memories remain.

In process

Rangoli 2016 - Completed with the tea lights

Although we did not make Rangoli growing up, I have adopted that tradition as something that Paul and I can do together. We make the Rangoli to welcome the Goddess Laxmi. I perform the Diwali Pooja, while he watches reverently. I feel silly (and off kilter) singing by myself, so we listen while I play it on my phone. We light candles and turn on the festival lights. This year Paul surprised me with firecrackers, "because they make you happy", Paul said. Although he bought them for 4th of July, we saved a few for Diwali.

Modest Diwali Lights

Paul with Sparklers :-)

Rangoli 2020 - Bit Subdued

Fireworks still make me happy. Once we went to Chicago for the 4th of July and watched the fireworks display from a boat on Lake Michigan. Awesome!!! A couple years ago I met Sandra in Buffalo, NY and we watched the fireworks display from the bridge between US and Canada. It was beautiful and I was very happy.

I'll never be too old for fireworks

I got take-out from an Indian restaurant. The only thing missing was the sweets. Paul does not care for Indian sweets so I asked him to get whatever dessert he wanted. He got a Strawberry Cake. 

The next day I called mom and narrated to her how we had pieced together a pandemic Diwali celebration. "As long as you got your favorite sweets, it works. It is important that the festival includes all." She added, "next year I wish that you and Paul can come to India and we can celebrate together."

I agreed.

Paul: But what about Christmas memories?
Me: We did go to a convent school and sang Christmas carols at the morning assembly. 
Paul: No. Not your childhood Christmas memories. Our Christmas memories.
Me: Huh?

Our First Christmas Together (Paul got us a TV)

Paul had created the "Santa Scene" (Jonesie in the background) 

My sense of awe is intact

Paul's gift was a hit

Me: Oh yes. It was 2016.
Paul: There was a little Christmas tree on the table with tiny ornaments.
Me: You know I ordered that from Indian Amazon and had it delivered to mom before we got there.
Paul: That was very sweet.

The little Christmas Tree

With Meetu

Me: Meetu brought the food.
Paul: Didn't you bake the cookies here and carried them half way across the world.
Me: I wasn't sure I would get all the ingredients in India.

Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

On Christmas Morning (see the tree/plant behind)

Paul: Anju and her husband came too.
Me: And they brought my favorite - Black Forest Cake.
Paul: But you are forgetting the best part...
Me: No, I was saving that for the last.
Paul: The tree.
Me: Yes, the big tree.

The potted plant in the picture above became the Christmas tree.

My brother

Mom and Paul

Paul is a huge hit in India. I have lovingly called him my trophy husband. His fair skin and blue eyes are an instant draw. He speaks almost no Hindi and makes for an excellent listener. Savita's son and Ruby's boys are fascinated with him. They will take pictures with him and post on FB and then beam with every like and comment. They will proudly claim him to be their American uncle married to their Indian aunty. So when they realized that Paul would be celebrating Christmas with them, it became a mission. Mom's driver Lalit joined in the scheme and they decorated a large live potted plant.


Paul and his young fans 

Merry Christmas

Me: Didn't you make the star on the top of the tree?
Paul: I did. Cardboard and aluminum foil.
Me: With a pencil at its base?
Paul: Yup.
Me: Merry Christmas to you, babe.
Paul: Happy Diwali to you, darling.

Christmas in India

Diwali in the US

I am going to read about all the holiday tales and traditions as narrated by other quilter/bloggers. Won't you join the fun?

And if you have a favorite holiday memory, I'd love to hear all about it in the comments. 
Have a Safe and a Happy Holiday!