Dresses For Christmas

What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? Say a dress made of white Batiste with cranberry trim and maybe some smocking? Maybe it would have a beautiful little green ribbon running through the threads of the smocking and maybe the tie would be cranberry too?

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Would that dress be the prettiest thing you ever saw? Would a granddaughter of eight years old think it was the best dress ever made for her?

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Would Christmas be just that much better wearing a new dress made just for you? Would you feel like a princess in a crisp white dress ironed just so and stitched with all the love possible?

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Would the pictures taken of a dark haired girl in the new white dress be all the more precious because her grandmother made the dress just for her? Would the dark haired girl feel the same because she knew the dress was meant for no one else but her?

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What could be better than a new dress for Christmas? How about two new dresses for Christmas? How about a dark haired granddaughter and a fair haired great-granddaughter in matching dresses? How about Christmas memories that will last a lifetime for two?

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Is that not that the best picture for Christmas? Two precious girls, in two precious dresses, at the same time? Am I the luckiest Granny ever?

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Sometimes Christmas Comes After Christmas

Sometimes Christmas doesn’t happen on Christmas Day.  Sometimes people are working. Sometimes family members can’t get together on a particular day.  Sometimes Christmas comes after Christmas.

That’s the way it was in our house this year.  Our Christmas came on December 27th. Two days after the official day, our family got together for a Christmas pancake brunch and gift exchange.

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Of course, all the decorations were still up, because this was our Christmas. The miniature Snowflake Village was in place with all the required snow and Victorian buildings. There is even a pond with skaters!

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The collection of Santas lined the short wall between the dining room and living room. My favorite is the small white felt Santa who holds his own among all the giants.

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The fireplace mantel is a tribute to my mother, who was a supreme baker, especially at Christmastime.  Anything having to do with candy and sweets can be found there.

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The card holder is a set of shutters I painted and stenciled specifically for its Christmas charm. I love it standing so tall next the fireplace.

We don’t have much room for a Christmas tree, but the tall narrow tree seems to fit pretty well.  We have many decorations collected over more than forty-five years.  It is very  nostalgic to handle each one while decorating the tree.  We are tinsel people and always have been.  I know it’s going out of fashion, but I love it.

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The table is all set and ready for everyone to arrive.  An hour or so later it was full of family, pancakes, eggs, bacon, biscuits and cinnamon rolls.  Everyone had their fill before emptying the tree of all its gifts.

Outside it was rainy, windy and cold.  Inside it was warm with a fire, bright with all the lights, happy with everyone talking and laughing.

Outside it was unpleasant.  Inside it was family.

Outside it was miserable.  Inside it was Christmas!

 

 

 

A Retreat Of Beginnings

Every October my quilting group has a retreat. We go to a special place, at a special time, for a special activity. Each time the retreat seems to take on a life of its own. This year, it seemed to have an aura of beginnings, of starts, of onsets. Sometimes people are finishing quilts or projects, binding, sewing on labels or putting on the finishing touches, but this time brought out new squares, not-seen-before projects, uncut fabrics and patterns to try out.  It was all very exciting and challenging.  New projects, new quilts, new ideas. What fun!

IMG_0890 This unfinished piece is a wall hanging made out of wool, in the Noah’s Ark theme.

IMG_0891Another closeup of the animals in wool.  What a great beginning!

IMG_0898This beautiful start of a quilt is made from handkerchiefs.  It will be spectacular when finished.

IMG_0897Aren’t these aprons bright and beautiful?  AND they are DONE!

IMG_0894This quilt was started just in time for Halloween.  What a cutie!

IMG_0895A closeup of one of the Halloween quilt squares.  What a hoot!

IMG_0896A witch to contend with!

IMG_0893This interesting piece is a pillow top made with a handkerchief and thread painting.

IMG_0892This adorable doll dress was the first of about six dresses made.  What a lucky girl and her doll will receive these for Christmas!

IMG_0905Doesn’t this quilt look like Argyle socks? I think it will be just as comfortable and cozy.

IMG_0904This almost done baby quilt is for a baby named Scout.  How perfect is that?

IMG_0903The shimmering cross made with all fabrics that have gold threads in them.  Gorgeous!

IMG_0902Won’t this one be beautiful when it is finished?  It’s certainly on its way!

IMG_0901This quilt is made of college colors and looks stunning.  I can hardly wait until it is all sewn together!

IMG_0900This will be one stunning Christmas quilt when completed.

IMG_0899How fabulous is this sampler!  The quilter worked all day attaching the piano keys border!

All of these projects were so inspirational.  Each one made me want to break out new fabric, new patterns, new thread, and to start new quilts.  The problem with all new beginnings is that they have to be finished eventually!

Gift Tags From Christmas Cards

What to do with all those lovely Christmas cards! Too pretty to toss, too meaningful not to keep and too cumbersome to just collect over the years. I have a solution that I have used for many years. I make gift tags from the cards. It is easy and very eco-friendly . . . as in recycling.

This year I made more than 180 tags from about 45 cards (that’s two years worth). Any cards can be used . . . Birthday, Easter, Thank You, etc.Tag - TraceATag 2I have a set of templates that I use, but you can use any shape you like, such as cookie cutters, or coloring book pages. I just like these because they look like luggage tags and don’t have any curves to cut.Card - Seasons

I pick a card and lay the templates on. Simple as that! Having different sizes helps to get every inch of the design of the card used.Tag - Four Angels

Then just cut them out. Be mindful of where you will punch a hole or where you will write a name. Sometimes that makes a difference.Tag - Bird II

Always look on the back of the card. Sometimes there are little gems there. (Sorry about the flash. I’m slowly getting this photography thing down!).Tag - Wishing

And don’t worry about everything being square and even. Tag - Wishing & Cutout

Sometimes cattywhompus looks cool!Card - Come & Behold

Here is the front of a card I used. (Again, sorry for the flash.)Card - May Your

And the center of the same card.Tag - Nine

These are all the gift tags I cut from the one card. Amazing isn’t it? They are all unique and all beautiful.Tag - Layout 4

If you want, you can always punch attachment holes in the tags or just tape them on the packages. Tag - Layout 2

Here are more samples of tags from my Christmas cards. They are all ready for next year’s packages and gifts. What could be more personal and say Merry Christmas better than this?

It’s Just A Day

Gramps and I are on the road, headed for Arizona to visit our niece,her husband and our “spiritual” grandchildren x 6. Our rental car is packed to the roof with Christmas gifts for young and old. Yes, I know Christmas was 6 days ago, but what’s a day? Or two? Or more?

We have never had Christmas with this special family since we became honorary Dad/Mom and Gramps/Granny. They weren’t able to come to our house for the holiday, so . . . . logic says we take Christmas to them. Even though we had Christmas with the other children and grandchildren on the designated, accepted day, we still wanted to take Christmas to Arizona.

So here we are on December 31 celebrating Christmas away from home with our “new” daughter, son-in-law and 5 of the 6 “new” grandkids. And you know what? It feels exactly like Christmas did last week!

What is Christmas after all? It’s just a day. If you can’t enjoy the actual day, pick another. It will work just as well. Or do as we have done . . . . rejoice 2 or 3 times over. How fun is that?

I have a very special memory from my childhood of the year we had 2 Christmases. According to my parents, Santa had forgotten to stop at our house and was coming back to deliver our gifts. The 3 of us children bought this story completely and were excited beyond belief that Santa would do such a thing for us. We were treated like royalty at school! No one else had ever gotten such special treatment from Santa. All the kids thought we 3 had an inside link to the bearded man! It wasn’t until I was an adult that I figured out why this all happened . . . . my parents couldn’t afford Christmas and had to wait for the after-Christmas sales to get our gifts. Can you imagine how hard this was for them and yet they were able to make it into one of the best memories for us. That was the true gift we all got that year and none of us have ever forgotten. We “kids”, all in our 60’s, still talk about the year we had 2 Christmases as one of the best ever.

A true Christmas can happen any day, any where, with or without wrapped presents. The love, the sharing, the giving cannot be put in a box with a bow. Although I’m not discounting the thrill of opening a present, big or little, given with thought and creativity.

This “2nd” Christmas has everything the first one had last week . . . . family, laughter, surprises, thank yous, piles of wrapping paper,lost little plastic men, good food, shared music, rowdy boys, exhausted adults. The only things different are one squealing, giggly little girl (the only granddaughter) and the neighbors here are watching reruns and eating mac and cheese. I think we are definitely having more fun! Maybe every year should have 2 Christmases!

The Best Christmas Gift

Here we are! It’s after Christmas . . . we made it . . . we are alive and well! Wasn’t it grand? I hope yours was as memorable as ours.

Gramps and I have been recollecting the holiday events, remembering the jokes, rehashing the conversations, reminiscing the family gatherings and generally reliving the last 4-5 days. It makes them seem to last far longer. And really, aren’t the memories what it’s all about anyway?

Santa was so good to us this year. We got more than we deserved . . . because if we got what we deserved, it would probably always be more coal that candy.

First, Granny received a new toaster oven from Gramps. Our old toaster (a wedding gift, making it 43 . . .yes, 43 years old!) finally died. Thank you, Sweetie!

Next, Christmas day brought lots of hugs and kisses from little boys. Love those!. Also many laughs, giggles plus yells, screams, hiyahs, booms, bangs, yahoos, yipees, and wahoos. Did I mention 2 6yos and a 3yo for a whole day!

The tree was overflowing with presents for young and old but mostly for young. The oldsters had more fun watching the youngsters play with their toys than playing with their own. As it should be!

The house looked great (see previous blog) and smelled pretty good too. A turkey was baking in the oven, pies cooling on the counter and gravy simmering on the stove. The table set and all were in their places at Granny’s big dining table. The meal was a success in every sense. We all ate, laughed, shared and ate some more. Whew! I’m still stuffed!

When all was said and done, it was a perfect day! No, not that kind of perfect   . . . . we did make a mess, a glass of milk was spilled at the table, several children cried periodically, discipline was administered, statements were misunderstood, an ornament was broken and Granny was absolutely exhausted. But the Spirit of Christmas was among us and all our wishes came true.

We were together with the ones we love. We enjoyed good music, good food, good humor, good hospitality. We exchanged thoughtful and creative gifts. We shared good times, good thoughts, good wishes. AND THERE WAS PEACE THROUGHOUT THE HOUSE. AMEN.

Love to all of you, my Sweeties, from a happy, fat, exhausted Granny!

 

 

Welcome To Granny’s House

Well, it’s almost here . . . that magical day, Christmas! We sure are having a great time getting ready at our house. Hope you are too, my Sweeties.

This year I was motivated (by having a choir party at our house) to decorate as I have never decorated before. I mean I love holidays. You know I do! But I have used every bit of glitz and glitter in all the boxes to doll up my abode for this Christmas. Gramps and I have been enjoying the atmosphere and I thought you might enjoy seeing it too. So welcome to Granny’s house!

Santa welcomes everyone in! This is the first year I added lights to the front door. I don’t know why it took me so long. They look wonderful!

The front hall. This creche is so old . . . let’s see . . . about 40 years . . . can that be right? . . . yes, 40 years old! I made it during my ceramic period. I love nativity scenes and have them all over the house.

The tree. (The big tree. There is another.) We had to get a skinny tree to fit the space, but I love how elegant it looks.

The tree is full of old, new and handmade ornaments. I love the eclectic, gathered look. There are many Thomas Kinkade house ornaments that have lights shining from them. They all look so cozy and warm in their own little nooks. And tinsel . . . lots of tinsel!

Our children used to take a handful, toss it up and blow it on the tree. Gramps and I have never been able to master that skill very well, but we try.

My sweet Santa collection! It has taken me many years to finally get this mantel to look like this. I had a vision in my head and this is it! I even made a couple of these little guys! And they are so nicely reflected in Aunt Gladys’ antique mirror. I love it.

Welcome to Snowflake Village . . . the miniature town that appears every year. Most of the pieces are replicas of the buildings from Norman Rockwell’s hometown . . . which somehow seems sweeter to me. As if people actually lived in them at one time . . . I know, Granny’s getting old! Anyway, the grandkids love this village and always look for every detail, i.e. mailboxes, horses, street lamps and the one skater that has fallen on the frozen pond. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the Snowflake Village at Granny’s house!

Here is another creche that I love because a dear friend of mine made it for me and because it depicts children. This always reminds me of the many Christmas plays we sat through when the kids were little. So sweet, it made your teeth ache!

Shelf decoration in the living room. These votives look spectacular with candles in them at night! The lace pattern is beautiful! I didn’t realize how beautiful when I bought them. What a nice surprise!

On to the dark pink dining room. Once I painted this room this yummy color, I loved it so much, I began to tell everyone that every house needed a “red” room. And many people have come to see the truth of that statement without any arm-twisting needed!

The mache Mary and Joseph are probably 45 years old. I made them for my mother when I was in college. They have adapted to the new decors around them nicely.

I just realized as I was looking at the previous photo that the candles that were burned down during the party have not been replaced. Please imagine tall green tapers in the brass candlesticks on the buffet. Alas, dear Sweeties, Granny is not perfect!

More photos of the dining room and another small creche under a dome. This one was also made by my dear friend who passed on several years ago. I miss her still.

The kitchen is bright and festive with greenery stuffed here and there. The striped stockings on the dish rack were purchased in different places and at different times. It amazes me how alike they all are.

This is the shelf above the stove which houses the candy jars with edible candy . . . see half-empty jar. Also the pitcher for milk and the plate for cookies for Santa, both of which are as old as my children. (Don’t worry kids, I’m not telling!)

 

The powder room off the kitchen is small but I love putting a touch of holiday cheer in there. Don’t mind the painted bedpan!

Even the laundry room gets a little bling! I told you I was on a roll!

Into the den, where you will see “Candy Corner.” I love the candy theme and so do the children, although none of it is edible! So sad! There are now 9 of us with my son getting married in june, so “all the stockings” means a mantel-full.

The card holder is made from a set of shutters. I’ll have a tutorial on that at some future date.

This is my “sewing tree.” The ornaments are all miniature and most are thimble-themed. This year I made a button garland, which really adds an extra spark. I’ll give you a tutorial on that too . . . later! The little wooden train is a favorite of my “boys.” They expect it to always be there on the trunk in front of the “sewing tree,” where they can get to it and play with it. I wouldn’t think of having it anywhere else!

Can’t forget the bathroom with its snowman theme. Aren’t they cute reflected in the mirror?

One last creche. One of my favorites. Too-too cute.

Well, that’s it . . . Granny’s Christmas house. You have to imagine the warmth of a fire, the aroma of banana bread baking and apple cider simmering on the stove. Now conjure up a loving hug from Gramps and me, and a hearty “sit a spell and chat with us” to get the full effect of the holiday here. We’d love to share it all with you, my Sweeties!