Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cold Comfort

Some of you may be feeling sorry for those of us in the Deep Freeze, either here in the Midwest ("Chi-beria") or over there on the east coast. Don't.

It was -8 degrees when I woke up today.  Pretty darn cold.  My sister-in-law is in Florida right now and, like many, has been there awhile in order to avoid this Chicago winter of ours. She invited me to go with her but I declined. She keeps sending me pictures of all the fun she's having in the sun. Don't get me wrong, they're nice and I'm glad she's having fun but I'm not really envious. Actually, we're okay here. More than okay. We're kind of used to this weather. And we've still got sun. Supposed to get all the way up to 4 degrees later.

Can't imagine where the Weather Channel is getting their pictures from . . . .

The real view.

I'm sitting on the sofa right now, curled up in a quilt, wearing my pink fuzzy socks, drinking coffee and beginning to work on the binding for a small quilt I started a long time ago. Life is good, I think to myself.

A few days ago I also became inspired to quilt then finish my little Valentine's Day quilt so I'm on a quilting/finishing roll again.

It felt good to finish something I'd started for a change. Yesterday, I looked at my stack of small quilt tops and half-finished quilts and wondered why I usually just reach a certain point and then quit. Some of them I actually like. No good reason I guess, except that I buy fabric then become inspired to try new projects pretty often and those push the others into the background, then the Unfinished drawer. Many of them I know will not even take that long to finish. So, I pulled out an old one and decided now was as good a time as any to finish something small. 

Anyway, yes, it's cold here. But, for some reason I don't ever mind. I guess I'm just a natural home body. My nesting instinct really kicks in during the winter and every winter I find a strange comfort in the extreme cold. I'm lucky to be able to work at home so I don't have to go anywhere. I don't have an outdoor job - unless you consider standing out in the back yard every hour on the hour, watching the little dog, making sure she doesn't get dragged off by a hawk or coyote my outdoor job. (It kind of IS now that I think about it . . . . )

My husband is working from home today, my daughter came home a couple of days ago to "nurse" a cold or the flu (actually, I am the one doing the nursing . . . . ) and is resting on the other sofa, the dog is curled up next to her, the coffee's hot and I have my sewing to do. It's kind of quiet and cozy here. What could be better? I wouldn't trade it for Florida, that's for sure. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Four Patches for a Small Quilt

I've been playing with fabric scraps and making some four-patch blocks for the past week. The more I play, the more inspired I get. The four-patch block thing started with the current issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. They’re doing a sew along for some pretty quilts that use four-patch blocks in this issue (April).

I may not have time to make a really large quilt like some of those in the magazine, but I was able to whip up some four patches and make something of my own design. Something small and cute for Valentine's Day.

I always Think Pink this time of year, probably a carryover from decorating the house with hearts and  making valentines with my kids when they were young.  It was always a very exciting time for my school-age children as I recall.  The possibility of "secret" valentines, candy, parties, etc.

So, after becoming inspired to make four patches I went looking through my scraps and picked out some pretty left over pink and red pieces. Then  some shirtings. Some squares were already sewn into four patches, can you imagine? My project was already started for me!

The four patches wanted to be made into a little strippy quilt. I had a hard time deciding what thread to use for the quilting.

Finally went with cream colored thread. It's looking good and I got some quilting done on it the other day. With a little luck, I'll be able to finish it before Valentine's Day. Thanks, APQ,  for helping to inspire me to make my little quilt.

 Why not try making something with little four patches yourself this weekend? Pick up the magazine for more four patch inspiration. Just Go Four It.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Walking

I love snowy weather and we sure got enough of it here in the Chicago area a few days ago. They said it was one of the highest snowfalls we've had in years. You know me -  I have to post snow pictures at least once every year.

There's no place to put it all.

Our dog is little and the snow is deep -  about 19 inches. I have to shovel paths in the back yard so she can run around. A little more every day. Can't possibly manage it all at once. Fun to watch her navigate in the snow.

I love the snow so much I even like to walk in it. Our neighborhood streets are plowed but that's boring. And the salt burns the dog's paws. Unfortunately, the down side to living this close to the city is that there aren't a lot of places to hang out in nature, in any kind of weather. I live in Illinois - it's not like we're close to mountains or anything. There are plenty of forest preserves nearby but they're kind of desolate and I hesitate to go walking there all alone. Sorry, I'm not brave like Cheryl Strayed of  "Wild" fame. (Good movie, though. Better book, read it twice.) I'm also pretty sure they don't plow the forest preserve hiking trails in winter either. 

I am lucky enough to live near the Chicago Botanic Garden, however, so that was the perfect solution for my spur of the moment desire to be outdoors the other day. Sure it was cold, but I bundled up and had a great time and got my snow fix and my "nature" fix and some invigorating exercise to boot. 

View of the lake


The afternoon light lent a blue cast to the snow at times.

The English Walled Garden

The greenhouses are warm inside.

Paths! All throughout the garden - and I didn't have to shovel them!

Surprisingly, there were quite a few others hanging around the gardens that afternoon, judging from the amount of cars in the parking lot (apparently I'm not the only fool for snow) but it's a large enough place that I didn't really run into many people. Nice and quiet and pretty too but you can be sure I'm not going to mention the words "Winter Wonderland" or some of you who hate winter will have had enough of me and my silly talk for one day. (More next year.)