Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A February for the Record Books

A gift from my pal Kathy.
 Usually we freeze and shovel snow in February.  Actually I prefer a cold wintry month to the month we've had.  Temperatures in the 60's all the way up to the 70's.  It seems to make everyone in Chicagoland a little giddy.
 Not one to miss a beautiful day in the great outdoors, we headed to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for a late afternoon walk before picking up our babygrand.
 Moat people were leaving as we arrived, a perfect time to have these amazing gardens all to ourselves.
 Well, not completely...
 This promenade is one of my favorites in summer.  It's cool and green and shady, even on the hottest day.
 It's been quite a few years since we spent much time at the gardens and it's almost unrecognizable.
 Never a serious photo with this one.  My Guy!
That water must be very cold, as there were still patches of ice floating in places.
 I am happy that the cold temps will return this week.  Hate to loose all the bulbs and buds of real springtime with this freak warm spell.
 The path we used to take is still there, just so many distractions on the way.
 There is not a bad view...
 From the paths, bridges or overlooks,
 It was hard to think it was the middle of winter,
 and at least 5 or six weeks till Spring.
 They know.
 The carillon plays on the hour and there are concerts by guest artists through the summer.
 Snowdrops, the only flowers we saw.
From a small man made body of water to...

 Our beautiful Lake Michigan.  She was in a mood on Monday, and it was at least 20 degrees cooler up in Wisconsin.
 Got to spend the President's holiday together, a great long weekend.
 We've been watching this tree lean for years now.  One day it will take the long fall down this bluff onto the shore below.
The Sun was not cooperating, but we still had fun.

We spent Friday evening and all day Saturday with Penny.  Lot's of walks, some thrift shopping and her favorite pizza place for dinner. She has a knack for picking a great bag.  You know the ones hanging on the wall with all kinds of stuff inside.  She found a "Real Pet"parakeet toy.
  She knew exactly how it worked and that it needed new batteries.  Grandpa and his tiny screwdriver fixed it and she loved playing with that bird she named Hydrangea.  I found a box with chicken wire I had in my stash, so that was her cage.  It sings and can be taught to talk.  There were several other birds in the bag all for .99.  She also found a small doll, that had two pair of shoes and a couple of outfits, again .99!  I think she's hooked on bargain hunting.

On Sunday night we had dinner with the kids.  All of them.  I was in my glory with all our family around us as we celebrated our February Birthdays.  Jon, Doug and I all share this as our birthday month.  We ate at a restaurant that we frequented when we were dating many moons ago.  So much fun when we are all together.  We are all very much alike.  At times when our server brought another drink or pitcher of water ,we would all say thank you, almost on cue.  Especially Kristen and I have the same tone in our voices and it sounds like stereo. We sang happy birthday to each other and had cupcakes before we headed for the cars and took some photos outside.  Mike and Amanda rode home with us.  It was so sweet to hear them laugh and talk from the back of the truck.  I asked Mike if he ever imagined( back when he was the one who had to go to the third row of seats) sitting in that seat with the woman who will be his wife... He said no, but that it was really great that he was. 
These are the moments that make me truly happy.

Sometimes the photos are not chronological, and sometimes I use my phone for photos and have not figured out where the heck they go after I download them. Oh well.

Thank you so much for stopping by and for your friendship.
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny


Monday, February 13, 2017

Sunny Monday

Feels so good to wake up to a sunny day.  We had a busy week and weekend.  A bake sale at Church, a visit to our grand daughter to deliver some Valentine gifts, a quiet sunny Sunday, capped off with watching the Grammy's.  (Oh Adele...She is so talented, wonderful and confident.  Imagine, stopping a live performance, to get it right.  I just admire her so.)
 First off, we stopped at a thrift I haven't visited in a while.  There on the fabric rack was this quilt top.  Neatly folded with a tag that said $4.99.  I asked my dearest to help me unfold and inspect it...
 OM Goodness...One hundred and thirty two hand pieced blocks!
Someone, somewhere, toiled hours and hours...maybe weeks, maybe months, hand sewing each block.  How did it end up at the thrift?  It makes me so sad to find some one's labor of love sold for pennies.  I can't tell you how often I find handmade baby quilts, crochet and knitted afghans, sometimes with a tag...made by grandma... Sometimes I sadly walk away.  I can't save them all. (Though my daughter might say I've tried.;-) This time I am thrilled to have this treasure.
See how each block is hand sewn, then machine sewn to the gingham.  My friend Maureen has a quilting business.  She uses a long arm machine to quilt, and this orphan quilt top will have a new life. Sending out thanks to the person who made this quilt. Your work is beautiful, fabric choices wonderful.  I will cherish it.
 I have no success making a cake in a mold like this, but boy, isn't it cute?  Can't help thinking about spring.
 Found these little ornaments for a Springtime Easter branch.
 This is the second bunny planter I've found.  They will be so sweet planted with wheat grass.
 Pink Peonies.  I actually planted a pot with pink peonies last year.  Not sure how they will do this spring.  This pot is from Home Goods.  Of course I found it at the thrift.  These blooms with end up in a vase, and for the cost of one bloom at the Hob Lob.
Here's a few photos from our bake sale.  The tables were beautifully decorated by a sweet and talented woman named Lydia. This was before the last Mass.  The tables were packed for Saturday night and Sunday morning. I made four cakes and heart shaped brownies. I think we all did well. All proceeds go to making our service projects in the community possible.
 Isn't this beautiful?
 Lydia went all out to make the tables lovely for our sale.
 A few of my dear Guild sisters.
I am posting some photos from a guest photographer.  She is new at photography, but has a promising career ahead of her. This is her bear, Elsa.
 A close up of her doll.
She has big blue eyes just like the photographer, Penny, my grand daughter.

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your friendship.
Happy Valentine's Day to you with love from me!
Enjoy this beautiful day.
Love, Penny

Monday, February 6, 2017

Helicopters and other cool stuff.

 Expecting company for Super Bowl Sunday later in the day, we got an early start to Lake Geneva Wisconsin, for their Winterfest and U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition. The excitement started when two helicopters flew over our shoulders, and over the lake.  They turned and headed back our way and landed about 100 feet away from us on the frozen lake.
 I am usually terrified of hovering helicopters, but they were relativity quiet.  It was really cool to see them close up.  I'm not sure if it was an exercise or demo or what, but WOW.
 Some of the sculptures were creepy...

 Some were divine...
 This one was creepy one way...

beautiful the other...
 With the winter light there is very little contrast between the snow and the sky.  This was a monster under the bed...
 The drawing of the above...
 and his hand on the book.
 This one was lovely...
 The back of which had this rose carved into it.
 The circus...Penny corrected me.  We face timed as we walked about and I told her this was a lion.  She said that tigers have their ears on top of their head, not lions.  
 This was my favorite, all these graceful dancers.


Lake Geneva is beautiful in all seasons, but I like winter best.
We usually go to Starved Rock State Park to see the eagles that roost along the river on Superbowl Sunday, but since we had just visited in the fall, decided not to.  I missed our pals but we'll meet soon to celebrate our winter birthdays like we've done since we were teens.

I never took a photo of our football festivities, but here's what we ate.  Tacos and fajitas, taco rice.  Mike made the peppers and chicken for the fajitas, also Amanda and Mike brought little Smokey sausages they cooked in their crock pot with barbecue sauce and cherry jelly.  Jon and Charlotte brought their blender and made margaritas.  Chips, salsa and quesso dip. Ice cream cones or donuts for dessert.  Always great to have the kids home.  Kris and Doug and Penny were home since Kris has been sick.  We missed you guys. 

Seven years ago I wanted to do something brave to mark my 55th birthday, and this blog, At Home in English Valley was that brave thing.  Seven years later I am still at it, chronicling my life.  I am amazed that I've kept it up, and can't believe that you dear reader take the time to stop by... 
 I thank you for your friendship.  


Thanks so much for your kind comments. Welcome to a new follower. 
Enjoy this beautiful day.

Love, Penny