Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Kind of Town . . .Chicago Is

I just returned from a fantastic few days in the Chicago area. I headed out of Syracuse with a car loaded full of quilts and quilty goodies last Wednesday. My destination: Hinsdale, IL (just outside of Chicago) and the Salt Creek Quilters Guild.

First up: an evening trunk show to a packed house of smiling faces!

salt creek quilters guild

The next day, our first workshop started bright and early. Because I didn't know the area well, and I was staying with my niece and her family, I planned a little extra time and arrived at the workshop location a bit ahead of schedule. A quick google search for some morning caffeine landed me right in front of a famous bakery. A quick step inside Kirschbaum's Bakery, and I had scored dessert for later!

Kirschbaums bakery

Next it was on to some serious sewing! Bloomin' Steps was our project for Friday. Some folks (not mentioning any names!) came with a scraps ready to sew, counted and organized to a 'T.'

scrap fabrics

Soon we started seeing whole blocks, pressed to perfection! . . .

Bloomin Steps scrap quilt

On Saturday morning, a new set of smiling faces appeared to work on the Stained Glass project.


Although, it's hard to choose, this quilt has to be one of my favorite workshop projects. The resulting quilts always look so wildly different based on a couple of inspiration fabric selections and the coordinated scraps.

There are bright and whimsical combinations. . .

scrap quilt

. . . Reproduction . . .


Stained Glass Scrap quilt

. . . Misty neutrals. . .

Stained Glass Scrap quilt

 . . . Bold reds, gray, and black . . .

Stained Glass Scrap quilt

. . . A rainbow of colors inspired by stained glass.

Stained Glass Scrap quilt

Once all the workshop participants retreated to their home sewing studios to continue working on their quilty masterpieces, I spent an extra day with Karen (my niece), Josh (her hubby), and Faye (their super-adorable 2-year old). Our destination for a stunning November Sunday? The amazing Garfield Park Conservatory.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Step inside to a series of connected greenhouses, each representing a different climate. Tropical palm trees to start.

Garfield Park Conservatory

With the terrible events only recently unfolding in Paris, this worker was arranging pennies purposefully in one of the water features.

Garfield Park Conservatory

This greenhouse was like walking into a quilt of light.

Garfield Park Conservatory

And the flowers. . . delicate orchids. . .


. . . Splashes of color to make a quilter drool!


Pin cushion?


Giant leaves of every color and shape. . .

Garfield Park Conservatory

Even Chihuly glass leaves in the koi pond.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Deserts full of prickly succulents in the next greenhouse.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Each greenhouse has so much to take in. This must be a gold mine for teachers and botanists in the Chicago area. And a treasure for people like me who enjoy perpetual summer sun and plant life.

 (I feel a sudden desire to make a pineapple quilt!)

Garfield Park Conservatory

My drive back from Chicago was uneventful with clear, sunny skies the whole distance. And a star-filled sky after sunset. Pretty unique for November in the central and northeast US!

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, November 5, 2015

A day in the life. . .

. . . of a quilter

A few weeks ago, I lamented over my fading smart phone battery. Well the new phone is now in my possession, and I'm so excited I can now take photos, interact on social media, and actually make phone calls and send messages again without the phone battery going dead at a moment's notice!

This week I'm offering a quick photo essay from my sewing room and vicinity - all the photos were taken with the new phone! . . . Enjoy.

My day usually starts with a little fabric inspiration . . .

quilt fabric

. . . and some sewing . . .


. . . and trimming.


Then, maybe a little exercise at the local rink. Depends on the day. . . and the inclination.


Back at home, time to cut some interfacing to pack some Mini Mug Mat packs. Lots of paper work to do, too, but that's not so much fun to photograph.

Mini Scrap Grid Interfacing

A step outside to enjoy a bit of Indian Summer. Frosty nights and mornings haven't completely swept the Summer away, yet. These begonias are hanging in there.

yellow begonia

A few years ago a twig appeared growing in a strange spot in the garden. We didn't know what the plant was, but let it root and grow. It's now about 12 feet high, and this year, we have a real clue to the plant's identity.

apple tree

Fall . . .


Fading summer. . .

fading sunflower

Milkweed, to draw the monarch butterflies.


This plant was part of the landscaping added with the front patio this summer. All summer long its green foliage gave no hint of the bright red berries to come. I'm not sure what it's called. Anyone?


And all the while, I can't shake the feeling that I'm being watched.

Sleeping parrot

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

More than a Little Scary

Several years back, as Halloween approached, my stepdaughter pronounced that Halloween was her favorite holiday. I thought that was a little odd. Don't most kids put Christmas at the top of their list? Or Thanksgiving, even?

So I asked her why, and her answer made me a wee bit nauseous. . . She said, "Because Halloween 'kicks off' the holiday season; once Halloween is here, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years follow right afterward, one after the other, bing, bing, bing!"


She's right, of course. As a kid, the Fall and Winter holidays pair nicely with school vacations, visits with family, gifts under a tree with the assistance from seven dwarves--or elves--or reindeer--or ??

As adults, that magic stuff fades a bit, and the rapid progression from one holiday to the next can equate to a fair bit of, dare I say, stress? I have a quilty suggestion . . .

A BooBonus for YOU!

In the spirit of Halloween, I'm offering a bonus--40% off--on Up One Side Pre-Cut Table Runner Kits.

Click on the image above, choose one (or more) of five different color-ways, enter the coupon code "boobonus" and save 40% on each kit you buy. Supplies are limited, free shipping (domestic orders) when you buy two or more. This offer ends at the stroke of midnight, Halloween night!

Happy Halloween, and Happy Stitching!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Giving 'Thanks'

A few months ago, my friend Tink Linhart sent me a message. I met Tink and her husband Dick through Facebook, and actually got to meet them in person when I was traveling in Wisconsin last year. They are very active in a group, Quilts of Thanks, that makes and delivers quilts to military veterans to thank them for their service. The group of quilters get together on a regular basis in Wisconsin to make the quilts.

Tink contacted me because she has received a request for a quilt, but the recipient lives near New Hartford, NY, about an hour east on the New York State Thruway from me. She wondered if I would deliver the quilt in person.

Of course, I agreed, and went through the logistics to get the quilt and schedule a meeting. I enlisted Dave as the designated driver and last Saturday, off we went to meet Jack Dale, a 95-year-old, WWII veteran. His daughter Sue was also on hand for the presentation. 

Jack is a Navy veteran, so the Storm-At-Sea block was very appropriate. We all got to chat a bit over fresh cider and donuts (Mmm, donuts!) We were treated with a few stories from the SS Washington, the ship on which Jack was stationed in the Pacific during World War II.

After sampling the donuts, on Sue's recommendation, Dave and I decided to venture over to the Clinton Cider Mill for some to take home.

Love the carved wooden door, and Yay! it's OPEN!

Yum! There's a pie in our future!

What good is a good old fashioned cider mill without a good old-fashioned cider press? Yup, got some cider, too!

You know how sometimes, one thing leads to another, and another, and another in the most unexpected ways. We left the cider mill and headed to the town center in Clinton, NY to find a place to have lunch. This beautiful house was a surprising find. It was once a home, then restaurant, and now houses the Alexander Hamilton Institute. It is an extension of Hamilton College. They host author lectures on a wide range of topics--a lot like bookTV. With Dave's interests in history, we went in for a look around. Neither of us had even heard of this before. A hidden treasure?

We left the Institute and wandered down the street for a really nice lunch. (It must have been Red Car Day or something!)

You know, meeting a 95-year-old war veteran, presenting him with a quilt that will provide warmth, comfort, and gratitude over the winter months, then exploring a whole new world only about an hour away from us . . . Makes you stop and realize how much there is to stop and appreciate.

And the best part of this whole odyssey--receiving a note of thanks, for a quilt of thanks from our new friend Jack.

No, Jack, thank YOU for your service, and for opening our eyes to new experiences right in our own 'back yard.'

Don't forget to stop and smell the apple cider this autumn. Just sayn!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

'Waving' from the Beach

Oh, man! Did I ever need to get away for a little down time! Do you ever feel like that? It's one thing to take a day off here and there or spend some time with family and friends for a day or two. But sometimes you just need to unplug and breathe a bit.

That's exactly what Dave and I did two weeks ago. Earlier this summer my friend Gail mentioned her plans to visit Cape May, New Jersey; that sounded like such a good idea, Dave and I decided to spend a week there after the peak tourist season to relax and celebrate our anniversary. Plus it put me right across the Delaware Bay from Lewes, Delaware and the Ocean Waves Quilt Guild where I had a workshop event the following week.

Upon arrival in Cape May, our first chore was to find a place to relax. These porch chairs at the Hotel Macomber seemed just the ticket!

Cape May is on the very southern-most tip of New Jersey. Basically, you are surrounded by beach and ocean waves on all sides.

Without sound effects, it's hard to describe the way the foamy waves wash up on the sand, then dissipate into soft-bubble sounds.

Can't have a shoreline without a headlight. We visited the Cape May lighthouse on a perfect late summer day.

Adjacent to the Lighthouse parking lot, a bird sanctuary is a peaceful spot of all kinds of water fowl. Look at all those swans!

Cape May is perhaps best known for the historic Victorian-style mansions and inns that line Beach Avenue. The entire town is filled with Victorian Inns and painted-lady private residences. . . .

 . . . Like this one. While I'm not sure that this one is as old as many in the town, it's a favorite of mine! Love the purple! Even the gardens were filled with purple flowers! Purple is also a favorite stash color . . . just sayn!

As the week progressed, the weather took a turn. Fortunately, Hurricane Joaquin took a course well away from us. But some early weather predictions had it headed straight in our path. While we didn't get the direct hit from the storm, it left its mark with high winds and surf.

Cape May is known as a stopping point for many migrating birds. These swallows--hundreds of them!--took cover in the beach foliage, but got whipped into frenzied flight with the gusty winds. Amazing to see!

With the turn in the weather, it was a good opportunity to turn to some indoor sports. A stitchery store in town, Stitch by Stitch, had some counted cross-stitch patterns reflecting the Victorian feel of Cape May. I love it when I can combine vacation souvenirs and stitching . . .

Since we celebrated our anniversary in Cape May, Dave and I treated ourselves to some fabulous food!

You can find other quilters, too! A facebook post led to a warm beverage break with another quilty soul. Cathy saw my post, replied, then we arranged a rendez-vous. Very fun!

All good things must come to an end, and at the end of the week, my ferry ride across the Delaware Bay to Lewes, DE, was a bit wavy and bumpy, but efficient.

Speaking of quilty souvenirs, a quick stop at Mare's Bears Quilt Shop in Lewes during a break in between a really fun trunk show and fabulous workshop at the guild (really fun group--thanks for having me!) allowed me to find a some more beachy-quilty loot! I may just turn that cross-stitch into a small quilty wall-hanging with those seagulls . . .

The Victorian houses may not seem to go well with the funky seagull print, but they go with my memories of a truly wonderful trip quite nicely.

Happy Stitching!