Winter Solstice

It’s been a little quiet at my pay-the-bills job (shout out to @Tierneycreates for the moniker). I work for a not-for-profit on a college campus, and all the students and faculty have left for the holidays. This makes for some looonnnng days.


Just a quick mid-morning nap.

Luckily, there is a greenhouse on campus that comes equipped with little benches and tables. This respite from the cold and snow provides a needed vitamin D fix on winter days –and keeps my creative soul nourished on even the most dull work days. My boss is an excellent gentleman: he knows that marketing types are most productive when they are not sitting behind their computer all day, so today, instead of taking a nap, I headed to the greenhouse for some brainstorming.

There, I discovered new life and it makes me hopeful for spring on this darkest of days of the year.  I started out in the desert room. It is full of cacti and succulents. I wish I could name them.


The desert room has some beautiful blossoms.


I have no idea what any of these plants are, but they are life-affirming.

The next room is a planting room. In it grows a cherry tomato plant about the size of a golf cart. I have to confess to stealing a tomato and popping it in my mouth this morning. The taste exploded in my mouth. It was incredibly delicious. I never, ever eat store-bought fresh tomatoes in the wintertime because they taste like red plastic. This was the real deal. If I had to choose a last meal, I think it would include a sun-ripened fresh tomato sandwich.



Site of future breakfasts.

Next, there is a tropical room. It is lush and green and it is home to a small waterfall and some cute koi. This room is great for my sinuses. The thick, rich air is alive with promise.


The bright colors are mesmerizing.

Finally, the greenhouse has a hydroponics lab. This morning I discovered that students are working on a strawberry growing project. Previous years have hosted lettuces and herbs. I’ll have to keep a close eye on this inventory, in case it ripens while everyone is gone!


This reminds me — I can’t wait to see how mom reacts to Cindy’s Strawberry quilt on Christmas Day!

Just a few more hours and I’ll be on my own Christmas break. I hope this tour helped you through the winter solstice.  Happy shortest day of the year!

A Berry Special Gift

Mom loves to pick berries–especially wild strawberries!  Ever had one?  If not, it is a delicacy to behold!

These teeny, tiny little berries are packed with unrivaled flavor and sweetness. 

Every Christmas, we each get a small jar of wild strawberry jam.  It is such a treat!  Wild strawberry jam is great on toast, let’s say mid-January when the snow is blowing and we get to stay inside all day.  My husband likes it as a sauce over vanilla ice cream.  This small jar doesn’t go very far and needless to say, it takes a whole lot of tiny berries to make even a small batch of jam!

Growing up on the farm, we always picked wild strawberries mid-June, right before the hay was ready to cut.  When my son and my nephew were young, mom always took them on a wild strawberry picking bonanza, they loved this time with Gramma!  In my quilt shop travels, I saw the Strawberry Fields fabric collection by Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree & Co. and I decided that Gramma would be getting a quilt for Christmas from her grandsons.


The fabrics are so feminine and pretty with images of strawberry blossoms, tiny strawberries, leaves and spring flowers.  I decided on a pattern called “Nest and Feathers” from Janie Lou’s book entitled Precut Quilts.  It’s an easy pattern that uses fat quarters cut into 6 inch x 6 inch squares.  The squares are sewn together in random order, re-cut and then sewn together to make larger blocks.  The solid brown sashing helps to showcase these bright, fresh prints.


My quilter, Ms. KB, quilted a sweet leaf and vine pattern for me.  You can see some of the quilting on the front and the back.   I just finished adding the label and the binding this morning.


I know mom will love her quilt and cherish the memories behind it.