Ken Lockwood Gorge ….. My Special Place for Peace & Inspiration

Ken Lockwood Gorge

Ken Lockwood Gorge

Do you have a special place where you can go to find peace and inspiration?  Perhaps a spot where you can hear yourself think, listen to your heart beat, find answers to the questions/problems you face and calm your soul?

I live close enough to NYC that I can take the train in to see what is new in my favorite fabric haunts in the garment district or check out the trendy products and displays at ABC Carpet & Home.  This weekend I get to go in to take part in the Quilters Take Manhattan conference.  All of these places and events are very exciting and inspiring, but my very special place for inspiration is not far from home – the Ken Lockwood Gorge in Califon, NJ.  A walk through this hidden natural gem never fails to nourish me in so many ways.

2013-09-24 017Today was the perfect day to stop and walk down the gorge trail, right next to the Raritan River – not a cloud in the sky, a little cool, a picture perfect early fall day.  On my way home from running errands and rushing through my day, my car found its way there. For a little over an hour I slowly walked, enjoyed each turn in the path, noticed how the sunlight changed along the edges of the river, and listened to the sounds of nature.  The music alone of the water rushing through the rocks lowers my blood pressure and calms me more than any yoga class ever has.

Ken Lockwood Gorge - a popular spot for trout fishing.

Ken Lockwood Gorge – a popular spot for trout fishing.

Although I hadn’t planned on it, I found myself thinking about a design problem I was facing yesterday – one that had me stuck and frustrated and doubting myself.  But on the walk, as I looked at the amazing natural world around me, the next direction for that problem suddenly became clear.  This has happened to me several times before when I have faced what looked like a dead end.  It’s never forced.  It’s never anything I set out to find, but there is something about this place that helps me to answer questions and problems, whether they be personal, worldly or related to my work and design projects.

The heron who lives at the Gorge.

The heron who lives at the Gorge.

Reflections in the water.

Reflections in the water.

The music of the rushing river waters...

The music of the rushing river waters…

I hope you have a special place too.  Whether it’s a beach, or a lake, a favorite museum or book store or a quiet neighborhood path, never underestimate the power it has to renew you.  Take the time to go there, if not in person, then at least in your mind.

Coaster Quilts…Thank You Pokey & Mom

quilted-wine-coastersThank you to Pokey Bolton and her mom!  Several weeks ago, Pokey from Quilts, Inc. posted a tutorial on her blog, Pokey’s Ponderings, for making these adorable wine coasters/mug rugs.  How cute are these?

sewingSo simple to sew.  Only five circles of fabric…four of them folded in half, then overlapped and sewn to the fifth circle.  No batting, no pinning, no hand sewing.

The stem of the wine glass slips into the opening of the finished coaster.  Or, they can be used flat as regular coasters.coasters&mug2

The timing of Pokey’s post was perfect as I was looking for something quick and easy to make as a favor for my daughter’s bridal shower.  It was being hosted at the Iron Bridge Wine Company in Columbia, Maryland so what could be more fitting than wine coasters to give as favors.

I used a stash of Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner fabrics to make sets of four coasters for each guest.  Thanks to my Accuquilt 5″ circle die, cutting the fabrics was a breeze.  Doing the ironing and sewing assembly line style made the job quick and efficient.  It took me less than 5 minutes to make each coaster.  And even though I ended up making a total of 96 coasters, I was was able to finish them in a couple of days.

I strung four coasters together with pearl cotton and added a little “how-to” note for each guest.  Since they ended up looking like little round quilts, we started calling them “Coaster Quilts”. CoasterQuilts They were a big hit with everyone, including the bride.

This little project will now be my go-to project for a quick hostess gift.  Perfect with a bottle of wine.  Thanks Pokey and Mom from a very happy Mother-of-the-Bride!