Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Over the river and through the woods - Building Blocks Tuesday

WAY back in February, the lovely Fiona of Celtic Thistle Stitches, who I know through my Star of Africa Bee, requested a "house block" for her month.  Simple enough right?  Well, not if you have an overactive, overachieving brain like mine.  At first I really wanted to show her something typical of the area I live in currently.  I drew up a simple sketch of some houses down on "The Strand", which is a sidewalk that runs alongside the beach.  Houses on the Strand are built right next to one another in close proximity - like maybe no more than 3 feet between.  You can pass a cup of sugar out your window to your neighbor.  And the styles of the houses vary widely.  You can have a Victorian little cottage right next to an ultra modern minimalist house, right next to a Tuscan villa.  I thought it would be funny, and still typical, if I made a few houses and then threw in a Starbucks in the middle.  But, this design had issues from the start.  Fiona wished for 12.5 inch blocks and there was no way I could fit a few beach houses and a Starbucks into the frame of the block.  Idea number 1 - scrapped.

Enter idea number 2 - a paper pieced block, very similar to the idea above but with no Starbucks.  I tried to fussy cut some of the windows to add interest too.  But I got distracted while making the blocks and while trimming one of the sections, I inadvertently sliced through one of the houses that had stuck itself to the bottom of another piece.  Doh!  I also realized that while cute, these PP houses really didn't fit me or my area or really anything.  They weren't special.  Idea number 2 - scrapped.

I once had a teacher who said that sometimes when you are trying too hard, creativity gets blocked, but when you allow yourself to relax, good ideas will present themselves and shine in your mind.  I asked myself what was special to me and like a shining star, the happy memories of my time spent at my grandparents house in Connecticut presented themselves.  I grew up in hot, humid, South Florida.  Each summer, my mom would put me on a plane (by myself!) to travel north to Connecticut to visit my grandparents.  It was like visiting a different world in the eyes of a child.

The air smelled different up there.  Fresh.  There were trees everywhere and I really believed that they were making extra fresh air just for me while I visited.  And with the forests came birdsong of all types.  I should tell you now that I am still describing what it was like to step off the plane at the airport (in "town").  My grandparents actually lived in the real woods - really in the middle of nowhere.  I likened their house to something out of the Hansel and Gretel story.  You needed breadcrumbs to find it.  They were surrounded by thick woods.  I would spend hours staring out the windows because you never knew what wildlife would just stroll by.  It was very exciting as a kid!

I created Fiona a likeness of my Grandma's house from my memories:

Gram's house block for Fiona

It has many of things I remember.  The evergreen bush right in front that each year the robin's would nest in.  Tons of flowers planted all around the stone foundation and along the flagstone path leading to the front door.  And a rather large stump of a tree in the corner of the yard which Gram would place a huge black kettle onto when I would arrive and we planted annuals inside for the summer.  The sunporch off to the right is where Gram would sit and read when it was cool enough and I sometimes slept out there in my sleeping bag.  That room had windows in every direction and I was sure I might see a bear in the middle of the night if I could only stay awake long enough.  Of course all that fresh air made a kid rather sleepy.

This little house is very special to me.  Although it is no longer owned by anyone in my family, I will forever keep its memories close at heart.  This house is block-worthy.

It took me a while of going through hundreds of old photos, but I finally found one of the house in the fall.  I visited one Thanksgiving and it had just snowed.

Gram's old house

Except for the chimney, I almost remembered it right!  Too bad the stump didn't make the photo.

So what have you been working on this week?  I want to know!

Link up your fabulous blocks.  You put a lot of hard work into them - show them off!  This free linky will stay open for a whole week.  And spread the word!

Quilter in the Closet


1) Please link up only to the page in your blog showing your wonderful blocks, not just the blog homepage.  Flickr pictures are also OK.
2) Make sure to put your blog name as the description so people know where they are going or the name of your block!
3) Please grab my button and post it in your blog post or sidebar.
4) Visit other linky participants!

Thanks for reading!



  1. Jen it is fabulous! I am so sorry that you had such angst producing a block for me, but I am thrilled to bits that this block will be heading my way. You are a star :)

  2. What a cute block, and I loved your story.

  3. Amazing block, and the story just makes it that much more special. Great memories to have of your Grandparents.

  4. Your block has the same warmth and homeyness that your grandparents' home had. And the same sense of peace. Beautiful, Jen.

  5. Great house block and such sweet meaning behind it. I'm not sure when I'll be a grandparent, but I would love to think my grandchildren would end up with such fond memories as you describe.

  6. i already loved the house from seeing it on flickr. but now i love the story too,


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