All hail the end of January!

Happy Monday! It’s Sandy logging in from the farm….

Hurray, hurray, the change of season has officially begun: welcome to the months that create the “anticipation of spring”. My childhood friend –who also taught me how to quilt– gave me this name for the time leading up to “real spring”. (I have missed her greatly during this time of Covid. The last time I saw her was in July when we had a socially distanced happy hour at her lovely home.)

I have never asked my friend for the exact dates of the season now known, thanks to her, as the “anticipation of spring”. But today I am hereby proclaiming this official season to run from February 1 – April 1 in honor of my Kindergarten-12 chum, Donny Osmond loving competition, my excellent (and patient!) quilting instructor, and my home d├ęcor & landscaping idol! So it shall be.

The dark days of January will fade into memory just a few minutes more each day. I know that there will be snowstorms and drifts to deal with all through February and March and April too, but in my soul, I know that the cold weather won’t last. And that knowledge makes my steps a little bit lighter.

When my son was small we used “the anticipation of spring” season (before we had an official name for it) to design and plan a Spring cake. We made a specially decorated cake to create and eat on the first day of Spring. Although he is in college now, I feel so hopeful today, that I do believe I’ll start planning a surprise spring cake for him to keep the tradition alive. (Alas, as a complicating factor, he has become a vegan…a bit challenging for the baker in me. Does anyone have a great vegan cake recipe to share?)

I realized that I neglected to share the finished Canada quilts for the granddaughters of my dear friend. They finally arrived at their destination a few days after Christmas. I took the quilts to the farm for a few pictures before mailing. These were created using a modified version of Cindy’s Garden Gate Charm quilt (the most popular pattern on our blog). I adore these happy, bright colors! The fabric inspiration is Fiddle Dee Dee by My Sister and Me, supplemented with my scrap squares.scraps from my stash.

The airing of the quilts on the clothesline.
The blue and teal quilt (front) for Elia Rose. The purple and pink quilt (back) for Pearline.

Here’s hoping that you have a happy anticipation of spring season!

Garden Friendship Forever

I love gardening. I can’t say that I have a green thumb, but I do love to be covered in dirt with my hands in the warm soil and the sun in my eyes. Let me tell you a little garden story.

About 12 years ago, I was forced asked to attend a committee meeting designed to develop eco-friendly initiatives for the college where I worked. At that meeting I met my now dear friend Barb when we both grabbed chairs at the table that had the words “community garden” as the centerpiece. The rest, you might say, is history.

Barb and I became fast friends and together we willed the Alfred Community Garden into existence. She and I spent 10 years digging, designing, haranguing, wheedling, planting, fertilizing, fund-raising, recruiting, and teaching about gardening, self-sufficiency, frugality, sustainability, and community service while the garden grew and grew and grew. Honestly, my friendship with her and that garden were the highlights of my former job.

But then my dear friend retired, and after one lonely year, I left the college too. My next (now current) job put me on the road and I started traveling for work (safely working from home now, no worries). Barb and I enjoyed post-college lunches a few times, but not often enough. And we all know what happened in 2020. I have missed her greatly now for two years.

In the background, I have been thinking a lot about my friend and our garden and the legacy that we built for Alfred to enjoy. And so I started making a quilt. I know that green is Barb’s favorite color, so you know what I did…I pulled out my 1.5″ postage stamps and got to work.

Right after Christmas I finished the Alfred Community Garden quilt. Last weekend I got the briefest of glimpses of my friend when we met in a parking lot and I gave her the quilt. I was so happy to see her face. I cannot wait for a summer day when we can eat ripe, juicy tomatoes fresh- picked from the vine in the beautiful, bountiful garden that we made.

I knew that Barb would love a frugal, pieced backing.
Green and purple together — it just fits.
The Fabulous Ms. G. put the longarm design in the garden quilt

Porch Party!

It’s Cindy reporting in from Ohio.

This morning, I had a porch party with a dear friend. She cleaned out her stash and said she had a bag full of fabric with my name on it. I couldn’t get to her house fast enough!

We chatted on the porch for just a bit (due to inclement weather) AND it felt like a party because we haven’t seen each other in person since I can’t remember when!

Check out all these fabrics! There’s a little of something or a lot of something from every spoke on the color wheel.

Speaking of wheels, the ones in my head are turning with a new crop of fabrics. I was in desperate need of some purples and there are lots of good ones to work with.

Dusting will have to wait and I think we’ll have take out pizza for dinner because I’ll be sorting and stacking fabric.

Thank you dear friend, let’s have another porch party soon!

Dreaming of Spring

Here in upstate New York, the deep, dark, cold of January is starting to lose its grip, if ever so slightly. I cheer on the extra minute or two of sunlight that we gain at the end of every day. I await the arrival of gardening catalogs. I hunker down with bowls of soup while I try to keep cozy under piles of toasty quilts. I sleep or work to pass the time.

This year there is an extra layer of sadness that comes during the long dark hours of deep winter. Friends, family, work buddies, and dear pets have moved on, moved up, shut down, crossed over, and dived off the deep end. I suppose this happens throughout the year, but the dark of winter and that old 2020 stalker, Covid-19, gives me plenty of time contemplate the losses and their long-term effects.

Sheesh! Does anyone else think I’m in need of a grow light or a float? I’m popping Vitamin Ds like they are M&M’s and planning a quilt of spring farm flowers in a bid to self-medicate during dry January.

My newly sprained ankle has been keeping me off the hiking trails and sabotaging my New Year’s resolutions. (Not to worry, back out on the trails in about 4 weeks.) Here’s a picture from the farm on January 1.

Barn from afar
The barn in the distance on New Year’s day.

Meanwhile, I hauled out some old hand sewing projects. First up was a Bunny Slope pillow project that I bought years ago. My stitching needs some improvement, and I really need to work on reading directions, but I love this technique. Now I’m thinking about designing my own project – something happy and bright as I contemplate the promise of spring, perhaps? Suggestions/design ideas are welcome!

Bunny slope
Bunny Slope fun. Try not to zoom in!