Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lighting up the Christmas Tree



Love to sit in the living room by tree light....almost done decorating the tree...a few more ornaments to hang.


Our angel topper--I still see plenty of spaces for the remaining ornaments....


I love the way you can see the outline of the angels body through her dress when the lights are on. This angel is from a prior post.click here for angel post


Even the Santa ornaments look better when the tree is lit!click here to see Santa post

The electric candles are in the windows, the greenery is hung and lit around the windows and French doors. Almost done decorating the living room for Christmas! Next on the list is the dining room. Nothing too much, just some simple candles in the windows, some greenery around the chandelier, a wreath, Christmas linens and candles. Then a few decorations tucked here and there....

Because Thanksgiving was so early this year, I feel like I have a jump start on Christmas and plenty of time to accomplish all that needs to be done. I am making some Christmas gifts, I also want to do lots of Christmas baking, and I do love to Christmas shop. I ordered some things online of course but I still plan to do a lot of local shopping as well.

Tonight after I get home from the skating rink, I will relax by the light of the Christmas tree with a mug of hot mulled cider. It helps me to warm up after a few hours at the cold (and I mean COLD) rink!

SPEEDY HOT MULLED CIDER
To make a speedy cup of hot mulled cider, just pour some apple cider into your mug. Add  smidgeons (not sure if smidgeon is a real word and if it is, not sure that I have spelled it correctly) of brown sugar and then cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves to taste. Heat it up in the microwave! Smells so good, tastes so yummy!

A Little Note on Smidgeon

I just had to look it up. I do not like misspelled words. I am constantly reading through all of my old blog entries to make sure I edit and correct any mistakes in spelling. So I was compelled to look smidgeon up. Turns out that it really is a word and there are three accepted spellings of the word:  smidgen, smidgin and the way I spelled it--smidgeon. It is defined as "a very small quantity, a bit or mite." You never know when you might need to know that smidgeon of information!

Of course, when I hit the spell check button, the only indication of a spelling error was "smidgeon"--the way I spelled it. I did check the dictionary so even the spell checker can be wrong!

Hope you all have had a wonderful day and may you all get to relax by the light of your Christmas tree this evening!


"I have been looking on this evening, at a merry company of children assembled round that pretty German toy, a Christmas tree. The tree was planted in the middle of a great round table, and towered high above their heads. It was brilliantly lighted by a multitude of little tapers; and everywhere sparkled and glittered with bright objects."
Charles Dickens



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wreaths as Tree Ornaments


Small grapevine wreath--decorated with poinsettias and a simple red bow. Looks so pretty on the tree.

Begin with a simple grapevine wreath from Joanne Fabrics. I used a heart-shaped wreath approximately 6" across the widest point. Purchase a bunch of pointsettia silk flowers and some red satin ribbon, Narrow ribbon works nicely. Get out your trusty friend--the glue gun--and just begin gluing the flowers to one side of the wreath. When you have achieved the look you want, tie several lengths of ribbon into a bow and glue the bow to the other side. You may attach a hanger to the back of the wreath but I actually just place the wreath around a branch on the Christmas tree and it stays in place.


So simple. Adds a nice homey touch to the tree.



"As from a large heap of flowers many garlands and wreaths are made, so by a mortal in this life there is much good work to be done."
Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta

Angels Watching Over Me


This morning I tore into the storage bin that contains my collection of creative twist paper/clothespin angels. I made these many years ago after a friend had given me one as as gift. I found some wider creative twist paper in various colors, tweaked the design and of course added some of my own "creative twists". Considering they remain in my basement for most of the year, (and year-after-year) I am amazed that they still look almost as good as they did when I first made them.


The creative twist paper comes in so many colors.....


Gold! If you look closely, they all have little tiny gold halos on their heads....


The heart on this angel is also made from the paper twist...


You can embellish any way you like....here I glued on a small fabric heart...

THEN........

I thought, why not try something similar with fabric....here's what I came up with....


My  almost NO-SEW Buttons and Bow Angel.....

Simply cut two matching pieces of muslin for the gown, glue the sides and bottom together. Glue on some lace. I also did a very basic stencil across the bottom. You can really embellish any way you want, additional rows of lace or ruffles would look nice--whatever! Be as creative as you want! Glue on some spanish moss for the hair, add a halo from a small gauge craft wire and insert the clothespin into the fabric. You may either run a gathering thread through the top to gather or just smush the fabric (my spell check came on for the word smush--is that not a word?) You can then glue the fabric to the "neck" of the clothespin just below the angel's head. I use hot glue and it works great! Just hold it in place for a minute and it sticks for years! Trust me!
Then add a button and a bow.

The wings are heart-shaped and are cut from two pieces of fabric. Also cut out a heart shape from a piece of cotton batting. Sandwich the batting between the pieces of fabric and glue. If you don't want to sew at all you can skip the next step. I then used a contrasting thread and stitched large stitches around the edge of the wings. It is difficult to see in the photo, but I used red stitches about  1/2" long and it just gives it even a more homespun look. ADd small pieces of contrasting fabric scraps to look like small patches, glue on with some craft buttons and add a twine hanger. DONE!


In this photo, the batting is easier for you to see as well as the large stitches around the wings.

Both styles of angels look so nice tied on to a gift, or tucked into a boxed gift. You could customized them for each person based on their occupation, hobbies. They can be added to wreaths, hung on the tree.... The sky's the limit!


I had planned to make these paper angels step-by-step for you but realized the paper is no longer available at Joanne Fabrics. I did find it online and I am going to order some. It comes in an amazing array of colors. I think the raffia bows on the wings and the lace add so much to her country appeal. The irridescent creative twist adds a nice touch too! 

I will be ordering some of this paper today so that I can make some new angels for package tie ons. They are fun and easy to make and just so cute. 

"These things I warmly wish for you:  someone to love, some work to do, a bit o' sun, a bit o' cheer and a guardian angel always near."
Irish Blessing


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!




 Thanksgiving is over, the fall decorations have been taken down and we are now getting out bins and bins of Christmas decorations. I will decorate a little each day so that I don't aggravate my neck. Looking up is a headache trigger for me and since the second round of botox has worked very well in reducing these debilitating headaches I do not want to do anything to set myself back.

 Many years ago I made Santa ornaments in three different sizes and they are among some of my favorite ornaments. I found the idea in a craft magazine and I tweaked it a bit, changed the shape slightly and added my own touches. I love Santas! the first one shown is only about 3" tall.


This Santa ornament has a little bit more embellishment and is about 51/2 " tall. I have them all over my tree and they are made from various scraps of leftover fabrics in several shades of red. This is a great way to use up scraps of fabric!


Sorry that this photo is a bit blurry....this is the largest Santa and this one measures about 12". 


Another large, but blurry photo of Santa made in a red print.


Here's a Santa tucked inside a wreath....



This Santa I did not make. I purchased him from a home decor party that I attended many years ago. He has  spent quite a few Christmases with us guarding our tree. I love him!

Today I will get out another box of decorations....I made many paper angels and will hang them on the tree next. I will post pictures. The angel ornaments are very easy to make and I will include some directions on how to make them. Stay tuned!

"Alas, how dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus!...There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence."
Francis P Church

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Counting My Blessings--Happy Thanksgiving!




Happy Thanksgiving! My creative side has been a bit on hold in recent weeks but I hope that I can return soon to what I love most.

I recently was given about 250 Mason jars and given the popularity of reusing/repurposeing Mason jars, in a small way I feel as though I have hit the jackpot. I have a million-and-one thoughts and ideas of what I would like to do with them. The above photo is a centerpiece I made from one of the Mason jars to brighten the extra table I will need to fit everyone at  for dinner on Thursday. All that was needed was some corn, a small candle and some autumn leaves to create a bright spot to the dining table. I made two......only 248 or so Mason jars to go!

Thanksgiving is at my house this year. My oldest daughter Jenn will be arriving Thursday with her finance James, and they will be staying until Saturday. Emily will be arriving Wednesday and staying until Sunday. She is bringing Ellie, one very adorable golden retriever with her (she is babysitting the dog which belongs to her friend) and they will be here until Sunday. I love it when my three daughters are together and I get such a kick out of watching them intereact with each other. There are times in the past where this was not always the case. I am really looking forward to everyone being together.

My parents and two sisters will also be present and everyone is contributing something to our traditional family feast. Tomorrow I will begin my bake-athon and clean-athon though I do have to be at the rink tomorrow evening for a few hours. So my day will begin early and end fairly late, but I am fortunate in so many ways and I have many blessings to count.

I have washed my table linens--they are in the dryer now and I spent some time today washing all the wine glasses and gathering my large serving dishes. I cannot wait for our turkey dinner!



I also placed some autumn leaves around the chandelier. These were 70% off at Joanne Fabrics. I used two strings which were $2.99 each. all my favorite colors! Remember those curtains from my previous post?


Another view of the Mason jar candle--total cost about $3.00.
 
Well, my dryer buzzer just went off so I must go get my tablcloths out of the dryer so they will not be so difficult to iron. I just wanted to pop in briefly to say hello and to wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy the holiday with your family and friends!
 
 
"The more we express our gratitude to God for our blessings, the more he will bring to our mind other blessings. The more we are aware of to be grateful for, the happier we become."
Ezra Taft Benson
 

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
John F. Kennedy

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trying to Remember the Days of September


My favorite time of year has come and gone...that span of time that begins in September and ends around the middle of October. Somehow it has passed me by without so much as making one apple-picking trip, a loaf of pumpkin bread, sewing fall crafts....all those wonderful things I love about early fall did not get done this year. I just went outside to take my annual fall photos and realized the leaves had already fallen to the ground. I missed that beautiful golden moment that I blogged about some time ago.



This was last year....2011



This year.... 2012

It has really been a rough few months. Aside from losing my beautiful dog, I have also been struggling with chronic, severe headaches and neck/shoulder pain. This has been going on for about five years but over the past year or so, things have gotten progressively worse. A few months back I finally gave in and found some relief with pain medicines. The problem with pain medicine is that it renders me useless and of course I cannot drive or really leave the house.

 The diagnosis is Dystonia and I am learning a lot about this painful disorder. Probably more than I ever cared too, but I suppose it is important to educate oneself so that decisions can be made and coping mechanisms can be learned--because well... life does go on.....

More recently I began to have Botox injections to try and relieve the overactivity in the neck muscles that causes the neck pain and headaches. Physical therapy was started a couple of weeks ago but the headaches and nausea came back with a vengeance so my neurologist asked me to stop physical therapy and take it easy for at least two weeks to see if this latest round of injections offers me any relief. I am hoping for the best!

I can feel quite normal on good days but I never know when they will come. I know that when I overdo on a good day trying to catch up from a week of bad days, I can always expect to follow with a day from hell. 

I am finding my responsiblities overwhelming at times and I want to continue my life without this imposition on my health. I do have to make some changes in my life as there is no balance right now between work and play. I just have not had enough time to pursue the things that I find therapeutic like.... sewing! 

I will be back in a couple of weeks with more sewing projects because I have to--it's just the best therapy, and I will be opening my shop on ETSY.....but right now I have to get the new season underway for the skating club. My phone rings off the hook, forms are now arriving in the mail and there is much to be done. It should be an exciting year! I always look forward to the annual show and I plan to make  banners for that as I have in the past. I will be posting photos of the banner process over the coming months.

So for those of you who have sent me gmails asking if I have dropped off the face of the earth, I am still here and plan to get back to sewing as soon as  I can! I did take some time last night to make an apple pie and a pumpkin pie--so I am slowly but surely getting back on track. Thank you for continuing to visit me and your gmails are always a bright spot in my day! Happy Autumn!


"There's just something about the combination of a brisk but sunny day, drinking hot mulled cider, and searching through pallets of bright orange pumpkins and finally finding the perfect ones to take home. Year after year it never gets old."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Island Walks to Remember--Martha's Vineyard



Beautiful sunset on Martha's Vineyard

It has been close to a week since I last posted and just as long since I sat behind my sewing machine. I left a large, batik tote bag without handles--nearly finished but not quite. I was terribly busy last week preparing paperwork and forms for the season opening of our local skating club. I am the President of the club and in the last year of my two-year term. Though rewarding in so many ways, it has also become life consuming at times. Once the season opens at the end of October, (it is only a 5 month season) the times flies so quickly with various fundraising events, competitions, test sessions, and annual exhibition. We end our season on the second weekend in March with our annual show.

Anyways, we decided that since we have not visited with our middle daughter Emily in quite some time, (she lives in Edgartown, Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard--an island) and it looked like we actually had a weekend without anything planned, we would pay her a visit for the weekend. We drove three hours, parked our car in a parking lot, took a twenty minute bus ride to the ferry dock, hopped on the ferry for forty-five minutes and arrived in Vineyard Haven. (Martha's Vineyard)

Day 1  Martha's Vineyard


Blue skies, nothin' but blue skies....I always enjoy the ferry ride. We seem to always luck out with the weather!


My youngest daughter and my husband on the ferry


My husband snapped the photo just as I started talking to him.


We arrived close to dinner time. So we drove to Menemsha where we purchased dinner at a local fish market--we three girls ordered crabcake sandwiches, clam chowder and lobster bisque, my husband ordered a lobster roll. We took it down to the beach (very close by) to eat by the water and watch the sunset. My daughter does this with her friends from time-to-time and there were many others there as well. Often there is wine involved and this was no exception. Emily brought a bottle of red wine and a pair of wine glasses. She did however, forget the corkscrew. No problem though--we ran into two of her friends also sitting on the beach watching the sunset and one of them happened to have a corkscrew. Dinner was delicious and fresh.  It tasted even better by the ocean....


Cheers!


It was beautiful sitting on the rocks by the water...


The sun was beginning to set.....


So pretty!


Going down.....


Sinking into the sea....


If you look closely you can barely see the last bit of fire as it goes down.


Zooming in....



 Going down.....


Gone! Everyone watching on the beach started to clap and cheer as though we had watched a fireworks display! In a sense I guess we did--nature's fireworks. I could get used to this simple life. As I have said before, it really is all about the simple pleasures in  life! 

Such a lovely evening!

***************************************************************

Day 2  Martha's Vineyard 

A walk in the woods with a surprise ending!


Lush green foliage


Watch your step!


Em, me and Lindsay


Em still leading the way--vista ahead


Finally we see what's ahead!



Beautiful view!


Heading down to the beach....


No one here but us! Perfect beach day!


Calm waters here.


No one but us anywhere on the beach.


Investigating the rocks.


Them!



Me!



No beach blankets--so the sand will do. Very relaxing.


Time to head back up....I did not want to leave.


My husband reading all the signs before getting in the car to leave.

We left the parking lot and headed back to the house for a bit of a rest and to change our clothes for dinner. After dinner, we walked around town for a bit and headed back to settle in for the evening. We were all exhausted and headed to bed around 10:30 pm.

Day 3  Martha's Vineyard

We got up and headed out to have breakfast at A Slice of Life but there was too much of a wait so we ended up going back to Espresso Love where we had grabbed coffee the day before. More coffee, along with delicious breakfast bagels on spinach garlic bagels were ordered. We sat outside and enjoyed our breakfast sandwiches--YUMMY!! Then we decided to take another walk.....Emily has lived on the island for almost three years so she knows a lot of neat, out of the way places to go.




Emily--our tour guide!


Beautiful walk to the beach--fencing to the sides was interesting...


A little vignette to the side behind the fencing--totally unexpected.


There were about a dozen people on this beach.


Left view--Heading down to check out the cliffs.


Right view--no crowds here!


My husband loves this place.




He decides to wait for a wave to recede, then he walks around to the other side of the cliffs.



Here he is on his way back.


Look at the sky! Gorgeous!


Walking the beach....


The water is much wilder here!


The waves are good sized and


very loud! This one took me a bit by surprise and my clothes got wet.



Beautiful!


Sisters sharing a relaxing moment.

I didn't want to leave this beach either, but we had to go back and get our luggage and head back to catch the ferry. We had such a nice time visiting Em. We are hoping to return to the island in October for Pumpkin Fest. I can't wait! There is always something new to see, some new adventure!

During this trip, my daughter finally convinced me to take an outdoor shower. Just about everyone on Martha's Vineyard has these outdoor showers. I just could not bring myself to do it on earlier visits. I gave in only to realize how amazing it feels to be taking a hot shower outside with nature! There was ivy growing inside the shower, a butterfly flew over my head , birds were all around.....I walked into her little cottage after my shower with a towel wrapped around me and she was standing there smirking, just waiting for my response, "Sweet Jesus, that was the most incredible shower I have ever had." She laughed out loud! I showered outside the next day too. No one had to convince me. Nature is so healing. That I know for sure!

 I understand why she loves this place so much. Away from the tourist attractions are serene, quiet places. Soothing really. Away from the crowds. Farmland is plentiful here and beautiful stonewalls line the country roads for miles. It is a glorious place! Her little cottage sits quite a ways back from the main road on a dirt road, nestled in the woods with enormous pines trees nearby.It is so quiet. The people that own the cottage very kindly allowed us use of their beautiful home while they were away and they live next door to the cottage. They have been wonderful to our daughter and we are extremely grateful for that!



We also got to spoil their dogs! Koko on the left and Sailor on the right took an instant liking to Lindsay.



It was nice to be around dogs again since we lost our dog Willie about a month ago. We miss him so much.



This little girl was just the sweetest! She sat on my lap and was so content. I got a healthy dose of dog kisses from her!


This little guy was attached to Lindsay wherever she went. Even when she went to bed! He was a very perky little guy with a lot of energy. She loved playing with my husband too!

So now--BACK TO REALITY......

Today, I unpacked and then helped my husband install a new over-the-range microwave. I have horrible luck with microwaves. My last one was only a year old and I was baking a sweet potato in it and it caught on fire! The kitchen was totally filled with smoke and it took us a few minutes to figure out what was burning.

After cooking dinner I decided I should finish my second batik tote bag. I made a similar bag some time ago (here is the link to that post) but I wanted to make this one larger.


I apologize for the lack of artistic presentation! 


This shows the lining and a bit of the double pocket on the inside lining. This bag is reversible.

Well, it is a little after 11:30 pm and this was a very long post with lots of photos. I hope I did not bore you to tears. There were just so many pretty spots and I wanted to share them.

 It was a much needed little retreat after the past few weeks. The summer did not end on a positive note for us so this little get away was just what we all needed. I feel rested, refreshed and I got to spend a few days with my daughter. Now, if I could just catch up to my oldest daughter! She lives in Boston and is always busy....