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Pandemic projects: The DeMarcos get busy: He builds spice rack, she sews two quilts

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesma-Review

Like many of us, Frank and Marianne DeMarco found themselves with time on their hands during the pandemic.

“Our four kids are scattered in five states so, the travel restrictions limited us,” Marianne said. “We both struggled to keep busy but found there were lots of ideas out there to inspire us.”

An avid quilter, Marianne decided to tackle a pattern that she had received as a Christmas gift several years ago.

“The pattern looked too hard to me,” she said.

But with ample time, she raided her fabric stash and got busy.

“Usually, when I quilt I know who it’s for, but this time I just had to do something.”

She started the quilt in April and was finished in July. Since many restrictions were still in place, Marianne decided to make another quilt – this one using the traditional basket weave pattern.

With several young adult grandchildren, she thinks the quilts might someday make lovely wedding gifts.

While her hands were busy, Frank had his own project to complete.

“My sister sent him a picture of a pretty cool spice rack on the inside of a pantry door,” said Marianne. “She said it reminded her of our pantry.”

Frank is no stranger to home improvement projects. In fact, he built their cabin on the Pend Oreille River.

“He never really makes little things,” Marianne said, smiling. “And he’s not speedy.”

Indeed, he began building the cabin in 1996 and when asked when it was finished, he grinned.

“I’m still working on it.”

However, he did complete the pantry spice rack.

“Well, we did have all our spices on the dining table for several months,” said Marianne.

Frank started by expanding the pantry shelves and installing a motion-activated light. Then he got to work on the spice rack. A large piece of plywood for the back was the only lumber he purchased.

“The rest of the wood was at the cabin,” he said. “I had all these teeny pieces.”

Ensuring the shelves would hold various sizes of jars and bottles proved tricky.

“I took one of each size jars and fit them in the shelf,” said Frank. “I had to go inside the pantry to make sure the door would close.”

He sanded and painted the wood and adjusted the spacing between shelves so spices could easily slide in and out.

The couple spent a lot of time at their cabin during the shutdown. Marianne took her sewing machine and quilting projects, while Frank scrounged for the wood needed for the spice rack. They also adopted a pandemic puppy – a chocolate lab named Enzo Ferrari.

“I love the pantry,” Marianne said. “Now, there’s light and more room.”

Frank shrugged and smiled.

“It was more fun building the cabin,” he said.

They’re both happy they found ways to keep busy when traveling wasn’t an option.

“I enjoy quilting and found it relaxing,” said Marianne. “We were together all the time, and it gave me something to do while he puttered around at the cabin.”


Correspondent Cindy Hval can be reached at

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