What a day yesterday! Mom, Aunt Karen and I met up with Aunt Pat and Uncle Larry at the Wisconsin Quilt Expo in Madison. This is Larry’s first quilt show, and he took it like a man. He is not a quilter, although he has a great eye for choosing fabrics, but he traipsed along with Pat, uncomplaining, and was the official bag carrier. We all arrived about 8:00 a.m. because Karen had an 8:30 class. Pat and Larry left around 3:00, and the rest of us stayed until 5:00 (thanks to another class for mom and Karen). It was a full day, but well worth the sore feet.
I viewed all of the vendors at least three times. Normally I would have made it through only once, but it’s amazing how much faster I move when I’m not allowed to spend much money. I had a $50 budget and I stayed just within that. I made only three purchases (plus lunch) – a Moda “Pumpkins Gone Wild” charm pack, a matching fat quarter bundle, and a five pack of replacement blades for my Ergo 2000 rotary cutter.
Have you seen these? I absolutely love mine – it’s better than any other cutter I’ve used. I’m left handed so mine has a black handle, and the red handled one is for righties. The blade guard requires a little extra movement but with a bit of practice it becomes second nature. Held correctly, they are much better for your wrist. The replacement blades were priced pretty well – my five pack was $17 (much better than the 2 pack for $10).
I was surprised to run into an old friend from high school – it’s always nice when people you know are quilters. He was helping out at one of the booths and we had a nice chat. We exchanged e-mails, did a little catching up. “Imaginary” friends are nice, but it’s always good to talk to a real person now and then!
I took tons of pictures at the show, but the main quilt exhibit has a photo restriction that doesn’t allow posting of the photos. There were some truly gorgeous quilts! I saw a lot of “wow” quilts, but each show I attend I see more and more that make me think, “I could do that!” It’s a nice measure of my growth as a quilter. There was an additional quilt display of local artists that I believe allow the photos to be shared. The kids from Roosevelt School in Janesville, WI created the most incredible quilt – it’s six feet tall and twelve feet wide, and it’s a representation of the city of Janesville.
The quilt is amazing – check out my Flickr set for more photos, and to see larger versions. For those of you unfamiliar with Flickr, you can click the photos to go to the Flickr photo page, then click “All Sizes” above the photo and choose a larger or smaller view. Here are just a few of my favorite closeups:
When we got home we were too hungry to cook, so we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Janesville, the Cozy Inn.
This is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Wisconsin, so old that both sets of grandparents used to go here when they were young. I lost my first tooth here, in a french fry (it was a VERY loose tooth). They have the best egg rolls, fat and greasy with an indescribable flavor. I always eat them inside out – I break them in half, eat the inside of one half with a fork, pick up the shell with my fingers and eat it, then I do the same with the other half. Within the last couple of years I learned their “secret” ingredient – peanut butter! The place is at least 75 years old, and the taste of the food is belied by the appearance. It is literally a hole in the wall, a dive, a pit. My grandparents stopped going years ago because they could no longer climb the stairs. The stairs are steep, and dark, and dirty, and the walls are papered in ancient pink flowers, peeling and taped at the seams. It smells funny, but familiar.
The restaurant itself is tiny, only about 20 tables, but oh, the tables! As I child I adored the big round booths, large enough to hold six friendly people, with tall sides that enclosed you in your own private room. There are about 10 round booths, and then a few small booths and some little tables. In all the years I’ve gone there, only once have I not been seated in a round booth.
Please forgive the terrible photo, but the place is very dark – I probably don’t want to see it with bright lights! The staff is the friendliest and most efficient I’ve ever encountered. You always feel welcome, whether you’re a regular or you’re visiting for the first time. They have an extensive menu, although I rotate between half a dozen favorite items. If we do carryout I always get an extra egg roll for the drive home. (No, I don’t eat that one inside out!)
Cozy Inn is in downtown Janesville, the oldest part of town. There are a lot of old buildings that are in various stages of disrepair, although the city is making an effort to bring people back to the area. This has resulted in a mishmash of stores and I was please to find a used bookstore on the same block. It’s an interesting store, though – I’ve never seen a used books and antique tools shop before!
They were closed, which is probably fortunate. I really should stick to the library for now. Speaking of books, however, I am reading a book by a Wisconsin author, Michael Perry, titled “Population: 485.” It’s a non-fiction account of life in small town Wisconsin, and it’s filled with moments that remind me why I loved growing up in a town with less than 2,000 inhabitants. If you’d like a sense of his writing, check out his website, Sneezing Cow, and especially the Latest News. Then go buy the book, because it really is wonderful.