Sunday, March 29, 2009

Early spring snow in Chicago

This morning, Nate and I woke to find our neighborhood covered in this familiar fluffy white stuff.  As tempting as it was to just sit at home and watch episodes of 'The Wire' on demand, we ventured downtown to the Art Institute to see the exhibit of Yousuf Karsh photography.  It was a very pleasant use of a Sunday morning.  While we were at the Art Institute, we said hello to the lions, who seemed less than amused by our freak snowstorm . . .
and while I was in the bathroom at the museum, I found this little piece of art, which proclaimed "Happy Spring" on the back, along with a little note saying it was, indeed, "found art" so I didn't have to feel bad about taking it home with me.


Also downtown, the tulips on State Street are getting ready to pop - hopefully this snow won't make them think twice!   We had a few other errands to run;  we found a great suit for Nate to wear to a few upcoming weddings, then went to a bookstore so that I could get a book about origami.

My plan for our upcoming Easter Brunch, which Nate and I are hosting for the 3rd year in a row, is to make some origami easter "baskets" for a few party favors.  It has been a while since I've done origami, so I found it best to start with a few beginner's projects.  The first was a little hat for my stuffed hippo, Sammy.  He wore it all afternoon.  

After a few prototypes, I have more or less figured out how to make this - the book calls it a Dresden Bowl, and it reminds me of a cootie catcher, thought it is a lot more complicated to make!  I've put together 6, and so far they're proving to be cheaper than what I've bought in years past (though mentally taxing), as well as a great use of the scrapbook paper that I am constantly buying with no specific plans to make a scrapbook!  

Friday, March 27, 2009


Another check off of my to-do list and this is a big one!  Yesterday I started (and today I finished) a tote bag for Jess.  I'm giving it to her at her bridal shower next weekend, along with her two other bridesmaids - we're putting together a whole goody bag of wedding day necessities and not so necessary fun things.  
The flowery fabric is one I ordered at the same time as my skirt fabric - it's another Amy Butler Daisy Chain pattern, and the faux bois which I made the bottom and handles out of is this luscious Joel Dewberry fabric.  I was a little worried that the two would look too intense together, but I think they compliment each other perfectly.  
I'm pretty sure that Jess is going to love this bag - they are definitely her colors.  I was looking at her registry the other day, and unsurprisingly she is registered for a few kitchen gadgets in this aqua/teal color, including a kitchen-aid mixer.  I haven't decided what I'm giving her for the actual wedding gift yet, but I hope someone does spring for the kitchen-aid!  Maybe I can make her an apron in some more complimentary fabrics.  

p.s. I'm seeing the first signs of life from some of the seeds I planted on sunday!

Monday, March 23, 2009

skirting the waistband issue

So, I believe I've said before that I do not like to follow instructions. If something is easy, I like to make it harder, and if it's already hard, well then I guess I'm in trouble.
Anyway, I got it in my head a while ago that I wanted to make myself a new wrap skirt, but of course instead of making one skirt, while I'm putting the work in, I might as well make it double-sided so I'll have 2. The actual sewing of the skirt, in this case, is not that hard, and cutting out 2 times as much fabric is just a fraction more work. But making the waistband was harder, since with a one-sided skirt you can just leave your stitches hanging out willy-nilly, but with a 2 sided skirt you have to hide your messes!
I forgot to mention that most of my Saturday was spent cutting out fabric, putting together this skirt, then freaking out over how I'm going to make this waistband. Since it is a slightly circular skirt, just making a simple bias binding waistband seemed out of the question because the curve of the skirt might make the straight waistband fabric bunchy. I more or less made a mountain out of a molehill and on Sunday Jenny helped me realize that a bias binding was the best way to go. Even better, I decided to try the pre-cut and creased binding available at JoAnn's and was so happy with the results.  The blue fabric is an Amy Butler Daisy Chain pattern and the pink is a Heather Bailey Pop Garden pattern. And I've got plenty of fabric left over!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sowing seeds and sightseeing on a Sunday

To get a head start on this year's garden, I sowed some seeds this morning: asters, strawflowers, sweet peas, dahlias and basil.  I'll let you know when anything sprouts - not much to look at right now!  Last year I had decent luck with my seeds - well, probably 1/3 of the seeds I planted actually turned into flowers - but I didn't try planting any of these guys last year, so it's more or less back to square one.  We'll see what happens.
This afternoon was a little adventure.  Jenny and I took the bus down to the University of Illinois at Chicago (henceforth UIC) campus to see what there is to see.  The architecture building, Jenny's prospective new home, was a little confusing to navigate, but we did manage to find a bin of old architecture magazines that were free for the taking, so we felt sufficiently welcomed.  I was rewarded for my efforts with a huge gyro in Greek Town before we came back up to our neighborhood on the north side.  
The pictures are of the UIC campus (one small part of it) and a really neat sculpture/ installation that was on the side of the engineering(?) building.  

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Last night, I cashed in on my final Christmas gift from Nate.  We went to see the Mary Poppins musical that has just started its run in Chicago.  After a yummy dinner at 312, we popped over to the Cadillac Palace Theater and settled in for a night of great entertainment.  
I have always loved the movie version of Mary Poppins - it's my go-to make-me-feel-better-when-I'm-sick movie - and I was interested to see how it would be adapted to the stage.  Understandably, there were no cartoon penguins or runaway carousel horses.  But there were great special effects, including, of course, a fair amount of flying and other moves involving cords.  My favorite part was actually the sets; each different set of scenery was in a different artistic style, and by far the best one was the house, which opened up like a doll house to reveal the insides of 17 Cherry Tree Lane.  By the end of the first half, I was not convinced that the new songs written for the musical deserved to be on the same stage as those adapted from the movie, but Nate argued that "Practically Perfect in Every Way" was really quite catchy, and I thought the finale, "Anything Can Happen if You Let It" was great.  "Feed the Birds" is still my favorite though, and I felt the parts they added to "Step In Time" made it a lot more singable.  
It would have been there perfect night if the kid, I'm sorry teenager, sitting across the aisle from me hadn't thrown up in the beginning of the 2nd half.  I guess we all need a nanny every once in a while, but I think that's the kind of thing Mary Poppins would not have stood for.  

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Colgate Day/ St. Patty's Day double header

What is the most romantic day of the year?  If you said Valentine's Day, you would be wrong, apparently!  My friends and I celebrated Colgate Day by congratulating our friends Mike and Emily on their engagement, which we all managed to keep as a secret from Emily, even though it was pretty much all we could talk about for the whole week.  We staked out a spot at one of our favorite bars, Sheffields, to have a few drinks and dinner in honor of Colgate Day, and once Mike and Emily had finished with their celebratory dinner, they and their families joined us at Sheffield's for lots of hugs and oohing and ahhing over the ring. (The picture to above is the happy couple, at my Christmas Party last year.)  But we couldn't stay out very late on Friday . . .
We were up early Saturday morning (some of us earlier than others - Jenny got up to make a yummy green cake) to head downtown to our friends Jon and Karla's apartment to celebrate Chicago St. Patty's day under the pretense of being able to see the river getting dyed green from their apartment, though none of us bothered to go out on the balcony to look.  We were too busy consuming bloody marys, Irish coffees, and lots of bagels and enjoying each other's company.  
Nate and I made sure to pace ourselves, though, because we had a long day ahead of us.  We headed over to Navy Pier in the afternoon to see Watchmen at the IMAX theater, then walked down the Lake Shore Path toward the Symphony, stopping along the way for me to take some touristy pictures of my favorite city.  We enjoyed dinner at the Millenium Park Grille and the day was capped off with a wonderful concert of Beethoven's fifth piano concerto and fifth symphony.  
We have a much more relaxed Sunday planned, although I do need to go do some fabric shopping with Jenny . . . 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday the 13th - take 2

Colgate Day strikes again (tomorrow), and as a reminder for this Colgate Day double header, the administration (or whoever) sent out an email wishing everyone a happy 2nd Colgate Day.  The pictures I posted after last month's celebration clearly got into the right person's hands; the picture of me, Nate and our friend Katie sporting our Colgate sweaters was the top image in the email!  Looks like Red Raiders all over the country get to enjoy this one.  For your viewing pleasure, here is the photo one more time:
Happy Colgate Day, everyone!  I'll be sure to let you know what we do to celebrate this time - we've got some good stuff planned . . . 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Basted, quilted, and bound!

My midwest modern quilt has been sitting on a chair in the living room, calling to me, for the better part of a month.  I had all the layers finished, and the binding ready to go, I just needed that final push to get it all done!
Thursday afternoon I set to work and basted, basted, basted.  Luckily, I have enough floor space to lay the quilt out completely flat, or else this would have been a serious mess!  
I used Bamboo cotton batting, as suggested in the quilt instructions.  I liked the weight and the texture of the batting, but I found that it would stretch when I pull it, but wouldn't bounce back, which meant that my quilt was a little doomed.  It was impossible to get all of the layers 100% flat. 
I nevertheless went ahead with the quilting - just some simple, 
straight, diagonal lines, spaced evenly with the quilt blocks.  I was pretty pleased with the top side of the quilt (and no, I'm not showing you the back).
Friday afternoon was binding time, and I used the method I though up when working on my Midwest Modern placemats.  I was again very happy with the results and look forward to many more finished quilts - I have a few more on the way!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another nice day for a walk

Though reeling a bit from a hefty session of karaoke last night, I took a 3.25 mile walk to pick up my car this morning.  The weather, even better than yesterday, showed all signs of spring, with an early morning rain still soaking the sidewalks and the haze keeping the Hancock Tower just barely visible.  My route was a little different than 2 days ago; instead of walking all the way on Clark St., I took Lincoln Ave., and noticed some nice buildings I never have while driving along that street.  I found a neat old house, in need of some repair, but nevertheless full of character:

And a really rare numbered address (which it took me a while to figure out, until I remembered I was on Lincoln Ave.):

Now my car is all better and safely back in my garage, but I'm hoping that this weather holds out so I can leave the car parked and keep walking!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Getting some Spring in my step

Yesterday I had to take my car in for a checkup because on the drive home Tuesday night it started making a Scary Noise.  The temperature was finally above freezing, so instead of taking the train back home, I decided to walk the 3 1/3 miles.  It was such a nice break for me - usually I'm driving everywhere - and it reminded me of how I got around all the time when I first moved to Chicago - on foot!
Today, still car-less, I was pleased to see the temperature reach into the 50's(!) and I celebrated with another walk, just around my neighborhood this time.  You can see my 2 mile route here.  With spring in Wrigleyville, Chicago, comes an annually renewed hope for the baseball season, and inevitably, a few new shops around Wrigley Field banking on the Cubs and their icons.  

I was also 
greeted with 
a "Hi" from 
my home state 
of Connecticut.  
Hello CT!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fat Quarter Swapping; the sequel

Less than a week after I sent out all of my fat quarters, I received my final fat quarter (or two) from my fellow swappers.  I also got some neat buttons, ribbons, and notes about the history or significance of some of the fabrics  As you can see, each fat quarter is a very different color and pattern from the rest.  I will have to put on my thinking cap to come up with individual projects for each of these very individual fabrics.  I hope that my swapping buddies liked the fabrics they received as much as I did!