Monday, February 11, 2019

Love in the Cold Winter

 This week had been cold and windy, snowy and cold, melting and freezing, then snowing again.  I might have the order wrong, but we experienced Winter in a big way this week in Chicagoland. Never shrinking violets when it comes to cold, we ventured to the Batavia Fine Arts Center to enjoy a Valentine Concert with our old pal Jim Brickman. 

 My handsome Valentine, here dressed in layers.  You never know when you order tickets months in advance what you'll be facing as far as temps go.  We were prepared.

 Such a nice place they have in Batavia.  A intimate space, with roomy seats and stacked so there is never anyone in your line of sight.  My dearest said Batavia wasn't far...but on a Friday night, cold and dark roads and unfamiliar terrain, I was happy when we reached our destination.  What followed was a romantic three hour concert.

 We have been fans of Mr. Brickman for almost 25 years and also have been fortunate to have enjoyed his music in person on several occasions.  In fact the most romantic concert we ever shared at Ravinia, our favorite venue, was Jim Brickman.  That night we snuggled on a blanket, and my face actually hurt from smiling big the entire time.

This time was equally sweet.  Jim played so many of my favorites, but especially Rainbow Connection, the song from the Muppet Movie, and his signature Angel Eyes.
If you are not familiar with his music, please check him out.  Beautiful, calming melodies, many originals, and he covers songs from films, Disney and songs of yesteryear. 

 Then a visit from our girl.  I put her to work on cleanup after making cupcakes together.

  We made a batch of triple chocolate cupcakes.  Penny said they were the best she ever ate.

 I have to add, she ate one still warm, with the mini chocolate chips still melted.  
This girl and her Mama love chocolate.

 I also bought Valentine cookie dough so we made those too.  She liked the grid on the parchment paper.  Penny said it was like player checkers putting the dough on the squares two inches apart.

 Sunday breakfast at Mount Crumpet.

 "Earth as cold as iron, water like a stone."

 No skaters because of our freezing and thawing all week.  

 Then, we headed to Lake Geneva to see if there were any sculptures left from the Winter Festival.
Sadly, the sculptures were just mounds of ice.

 Penny had never seen the Geneva Lake frozen.  She was thrilled by the cars and people on the ice.

 So beautiful, even on a very cold and gloomy day.

The Ice Castle was still open, though we were not prepared 
for a long walk, and wait to see inside.
Penny was fine with not getting out of the car this time.
Thank goodness, neither did Grandma or Grandpa. We were fine in the warmth of the car.

We had a great visit, the mandatory pan of ziti, and enjoyed the Red Carpet pre show of the Grammy's and the Grammy Show.  Penny knew so many of the artists and loved so many of their songs.  I asked how she knew all these artists.  Penny said she had all the songs on her Spotify playlist.  Who knew?!

Penny saw Dolly Parton and was intrigued.  So,  just to prove I was coolish, I told Penny about the Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus' connection. (If you don't know, Dolly is Miley's Godmother!)  Penny has a Hannah Montana guitar, Miley's character on a Disney Show from years back, so she knew about Miley.)  Anyway, I played the song Jolene, first as Dolly sings it, then as Miley performs it.  Penny really liked it and thought she could sing it as well.  Penny loves to sing and has a lovely voice. Score one for Grandma! 

It will be a week of love around here. Valentine's Day, always one of my favorite holidays and my birthday.  I'll be 64 years old.  I asked my dearest, Will you still need me. will you still feed me, when I'm sixty four? He said, YES!

Happy Valentine's Day My Friends.

Thank you for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, February 4, 2019

A 70 Degree Swing!


From WGN in Chicago...
"The polar vortex brought dangerous sub-zero temperatures, and some of the coldest weather the Chicago area has seen in decades.  Since then, the city has seen a 71-degree turnaround in temperature from Wednesday's minus 25 to Sunday's 46.  In 72 hours, the steam sweeping over a rock solid Lake Michigan is gone , and there are cracks in the ice."

Oh what a week we had here in Chicagoland.  
All the while I was preparing for Charlotte's and Jon's Baby Shower.

 It's a tradition starting with my Mom to make these baby cakes.  
Made with tiny diapers and receiving blankets, and tiny sock roses.

I die cut all the tendrils.
The ruffle is actually a baby tutu.  Buying a pair of them for the twins was so much fun.  Imagining those tiny girls wearing them made me, and everyone who saw them smile.

It's a tradition.

 Dear SIL Elizabeth and I arranged these centerpieces.
I spent a little over fifty dollars and we made six arrangements with flowers to spare.
With the weather so cold, things just stopped for a couple of days.  It was everything done in the last minute for this shower.

 They turned out so beautiful.  The theme was Two Peas in a Pod.  I bought beautiful packages of pea seeds.  We displayed one package in each arrangement.  Elizabeth and I have been collecting these milk glass pedestals for years.  We actually first used them for Kristen's baby shower almost seven years ago.  This time they went home with some special ladies.  

 One arrangement from the back.

 Here's my girl in front of all the gifts.  She was so excited to be included with this group of ladies.
She carried on conversations about yoga, how she has to work on her landings while she is trying to do a cartwheel.  Food, she loves caviar too.  She is not your typical 6 year old. She especially enjoyed the fancy bathrooms, just like a hotels, she said.  

 The stars of the show Charlotte and Jon. They were just back from a checkup and scans of the girls.
All is well, and the girls are growing and gaining weigh. 
We are all so excited for these two to be parents.
The are both so kind, sweet and funny.
They have accomplished so much,
 overcoming some tough times. 
 They've made their home in Indiana, not too far away.  
They are so loved. 

 My beautiful SIL's Elizabeth and Mindy. Penny popped in.

Here my niece Michele, my first baby who will be 50 this year!
My other sweet SIL Lynette and newlywed niece Amy.
Photo bombed by Grandma Roseann, our hostess with the most est.

These were the favors.  The amazing cookies are from Nic's Custom Cookies.
You can find her on her facebook page.

Now here's a little drama.  With the polar vortex closing down Chicago, the airport and the post office, I was afraid that the cookies would not arrive in time.  I photo copied a pea seed packet and had purchased the green sixlet candies, so I made, "just in case" favors.
The cookies were to arrive Friday, but there was still no mail service.  We had a routing number, but the cookies were not showing up on the USPS site.  I waited in line at the PO.  People were not happy, and some crabby people preceded me in line. I went up to the counter and the gentleman tried to help, but there was no information and no cookies.  I really felt bad for the poor guy.  Don't blame the messenger, right.  I went to bed Friday thinking it was too bad, and that we would have 40 beautiful cookies we would have to eat ourselves, when they finally showed up.  Then a mini miracle.  My dearest was checking on line, and checking.  He said, Sorry Hon, they are at the distribution center... Then an hour later, They are at our PO but won't be delivered till 8:00 tonight.  I was at the PO at 8:30 when they opened Saturday morning.  There was already a line of anxious people.  The same gentleman that helped me Friday was at the window.  I showed him the screen save of the notice that the cookies were there.  Bingo, Bango, we had our cookies, with just minutes to spare before we had to leave for Indiana, and the noon shower. I wanted to yell as he brought the big box of cookies to me. I would have hugged that postal worker had there not been a dutch door between us.  Those cookies were a big hit, beautiful and delicious.  Nic packed them so well, each individually wrapped.  I highly recommend her cookie co.  They were little works of art. 

The shower was a great success.  Many friends and family traveled to attend.  Roseann, Charlotte's Mom chose a beautiful venue, with excellent food.  It was a combined effort for our kids.
Those little girls have everything they need, especially family and friends who will love and guide them though out their lives. 

 Yesterday would have been my Mom's 100th birthday.  Here she is with Dad and Jon Jon, Kristen and Michele. Time has passed since she died, but there is still a hole in my heart that only my Mom can fill.  I've lived longer without her, I was just 30 when she died.  This month I'll be 64, just a year younger than when she left us.  I am so happy that Jon and Charlotte choose her name Irene for one of the girls that will be born this spring.  It will keep Mom's memory alive for another generation.  I'll make sure that all my granddaughters know about their great grandma Irene.  I talk to Penny about her all the time.

When we were stuck inside, I found my Mom's old knitting bag.  It had wooden handles and was in my closet for forever.  Kristen and Doug just purchased a new sofa.  It's blue velvet.  Penny adores cats.  I decided I would try to take apart and wash the bag and see what would happen.  It turned our beautiful.  I had a pillow form that fit it and sewed up a pillow for Kris' new sofa.  I told Kris my Mom was clairvoyant.  She saw in the future Kristen's blue velvet sofa and Penny's love of cats.  Both Kris and Penny love the pillow and the history of Great Grandma's knitting bag.

  Thank you for dropping by and for your kind comments.  
Mostly, for your friendship, it means so much to me.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, January 28, 2019

Snow and Cold, My Kind of Weather.


 For a winter that was predicted to have little snow, 
no one obviously inquired to Mother Nature 
on how she wanted things to go.


 We've had beautiful snows.  Crisp clear beautiful days. 


 The snow is drifting in the garden, 
without a footprint or animal track.  
I guess the coyote is somewhere in his den. 


The shrubs are weighed down by the fluffy stuff.

"Kindness is like snow- It beautifies everything it covers."
-Kahlil Gibran



 We did get out for a small grocery run and a much needed thrift therapy session.
I found this sweet yo yo pillow.  I made my Mom a yo yo quilt almost forty years ago.  I have it now and it needs some repair.  All those little circles, cutting, basting, gathering each, takes some time. Then attaching all those yo yo's together.  I think it was a dollar well spent.



 Then, my two dollar quilt.  All those hexagons, not easy to piece. 
 Both Kris and Penny loved it.
I'm sure that it will find a home with Penny, 
who loves a orphan quilt as much as grandma.


 A sneak peek at the afghans I just finished for our twins. 
They are made with Red Heart Ombre yarn 
in the corner to corner pattern.  
I found directions for the edging on the Internet.  
It finished them off perfectly, 
a great solution to the unusual edge of the pattern.  
Plus, it ties the afghans together.  
Just like I'm sure our girls will be, similar but each unique.
  

The theme for the shower is Two Peas in a Pod.
I copied a seed packet, shrunk it down to fit a little bag of peas.
(A small green chocolate candy.)

It will be here before we know it.  This Grandma is ready.


I'm still hanging on to the sparkle of the holidays. 
 My dearest is too.  When he is the first one downstairs, 
he's the one who plugs them in. 
(Makes us both happy;-)
 The dining room table has become shower central 
with so many projects still to be completed.


Finally,
In the Wonderful News Department...
  Our dear friend Jean is in remission. 
This is the best possible news for all of us who love her. 
As Jean continues to heal, I send her my love, 
and know that everyday, things will get better.

"The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love."
-Hubert Humphrey

Thanks for stopping by and for your kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny




Monday, January 21, 2019

A Celebration of Winter

 "The sunshine smiles upon the winter days of the heart,
 never doubting of its spring flowers."
- Rabindranath Tagore


"The inhabitants of cities suppose


That country landscape


is pleasant only half the year.


I please myself with the graces


Of winter scenery,


and believe that we are as much touched by it 


as by the genial influences of summer.


To the attentive eye,


each moment of the year 


has it's own beauty,


and in the same field it beholds,


every hour, a picture which was never seen before,
 and which shall never be seen again."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


I am enjoying these cold and wintry days, 
adding some touches of Valentine's Day.


 A pop of red here and there.


Hearts, so dear.


Memories so fond. I made this baby quilt for Mikey when he was a baby.  I didn't finish it till he was 18! Those little VIP teddies were my absolute favorites in the "Bear" season of the 1980's.
I made so many bears, quilts and vests using this whole line of fabrics. Every once in a while I find a  piece at the thrift or rummage sale. Always takes me back to those days when the kids were young, and so was I.


 I love decorating in a romantic way to welcome in February. 
 Not to rush January.
January has it charms too.


 In the bleak midwinter, a little color is most welcome.  Have you ever tried the kits that the Paper Source sells?  Making your own peonies is very satisfying.  This wreath is at least 5 years old, still pretty and the colors have not faded.  All made of paper.


Made these a long time ago and thought I'd 
make a few for our baby shower that's coming soon.


 I have been having a creativity deficit.  Can't find my muse.  
Think she's held up by the weather.


 Puttering?  Now, I've got lot's of puttering done.


A plate here,


A bird there.


 A mirror there.


 Dishcloth curtains...


 More dishcloths!


This heart is at least 40 years old.  Who remembers Abbey Press?


 A simple mantel.


 Red basket with wreaths that will not make it to the wall this year.


A few trinkets to play with...What's holding up that muse of mine?


 A bench full of thrifted needlepoint pillows.



 Then my mind wanders. 

  "Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love
 and to work and to play and to look at the stars."
 -Henry Van Dyke

A terrible photo of a magnificent sight!
A total eclipse.
Or, the Moon on a 6 degree night.  Moonstruck!

Thanks for stopping by and for your friendship and kindness.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny