A Homemade Holiday

Think it’s not worth the trouble? Making things for the holidays or anytime, for that matter? Think no one will really appreciate your effort? Think it is all a waste? Think again, my Sweetie!

I believe the biggest and best gift you can give anyone is your time. It is precious, unique and will never come again. Any time you are thinking about someone, doing for someone or sharing with someone, it is a gift to be treasured and held in the highest regard.

So spending the time making a gift or fashioning a decoration or baking food or brightening up the yard is a gift of your time and thought. Do I believe you should do EVERYTHING – NO!!!!  That’s a killer and a misuse of your time. But adding your personal touch to each day and especially each holiday is very doable.

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And the memories it makes! Oh Boy! I have the best memories of my mother baking for every occasion. Pies! Cookies! Candy! Cakes! Everyone enjoyed her handiwork. Everyone was blessed by her efforts. And she loved doing it.

That’s the double blessing of homemade. The maker is as happy making the gift as the receiver is getting the gift.

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I love spending time on a project for one person. The whole while I’m thinking about them. How they will look when I give them the gift. How they will enjoy it. How it will benefit our relationship. On and on I think, until the project is done.

Then I get to really see their face when I give it to them and watch them enjoy it and feel our relationship deepen. What could be better than that?

I remember when we had young children, we decided to each have small blank books one Christmas. In each person’s book we would write down the gifts of our time we were giving that person. I had things like: “I  will make your bed” from my daughter, I will give you a back rub” from my son and “I will bring you breakfast in bed” from my husband.

There were many others that year and  in the years to follow. How fun it was to cash in the certificates during the year. Those gifts were extra special in so many ways.

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Putting forth effort for those you love is never a waste. It is love in the purest sense, it is a teaching moment and a good example for all those watching you. It couldn’t be more important.

So put your personal touch on every holiday. Whatever that means – making presents, making decorations, fashioning yard art, baking, cooking. It could be as simple as wrapping a gift or tying a bow or as interesting as smocking a Christmas dress. Whatever shows your talent and care.

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Show your love. Give of your time. Make you holiday homemade.

 

 

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One Hundred Years To Make A Quilt

One hundred years ago my grandmother Irene started embroidering linens and doilies for her home. She made tablecloths with matching napkins, pillowcases, dresser scarves, hand towels and handkerchiefs.

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She also began collecting special pieces that were decorated by others she knew. Some of the linens were probably to be used in a quilt or bedspread and some were treasured gifts from treasured people in her life. All were spectacular and beautiful.

Sixty years ago my mother Peggy inherited the wonderful collection of embroidered linens from my grandmother. She used a few of them in the house we lived in.

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Over the years, she added a few pieces to the group. I remember a tablecloth with napkins for a card table and a liner for a bread basket. I know she made more but that’s all I remember.

Both my grandmother and mother were great sewers and made most of their clothes. My mother made many of my clothes as well as my two children’s when they were little. What they didn’t do very much was embroider, so everything they did embellish is just that much more precious.

The embroidery has become more than just a pretty attraction. It has become a symbol. It represents continuity – a connection over the years, the decades. It is a thread that binds my grandmother to mother to me. All the hours they spent are there. All the starts, mistakes, restarts and finishes are there. All the plans blossoming into beautifully decorated linens are there. There for all to see, appreciate and learn from.

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Forty-three years ago I became the recipient of the grand collection, which by then had become fairly extensive. After a few years of my own collecting, I began to try to plan a good use for the expanding treasure trove of embellished pieces of linen and cotton.

Last year I designed a quilt using as many of the antique and vintage pieces as I could. The center is the middle of a tablecloth surrounded by four hand towels and corners of two dresser scarves.

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Around that are the borders of a tablecloth. The mosaic panels are made up of all sorts of linens and doilies overlapping all around the quilt.

Doily Quilt5 It is a glorious mixture of all the types f embroidery, crochet, tatting and crossstitch.

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The final border is made up of handkerchiefs of every color and design.

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While sewing every seam, I thought about mother and grandmother, their love of sewing and their contribution to the quilt. Their enthusiasm and love of the art were with me every step of the way. What a lovely way to share with the generations.

One hundred years of hand work, collecting and loving special pieces of cloth, three generations of women and one quilt to show all the care. What a grand result!

I couldn’t have done it without you two!

 

A Wedding In The Neighborhood

It all started last Wednesday. The sweet couple, Mr. and Miss, from across the street started working on their yard. They trimmed the trees; shaped the bushes; fertilized, mowed and watered the lawn; swept the sidewalks; and finally pressure-sprayed the fence. The are both teachers and so have summer days available for yard work. But this was all day in the Texas heat!

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Then on Thursday, everyone in the neighborhood received a lovely decorated, typed letter from Mr and Miss explaining that they were having a wedding at their house on Saturday. They hoped the music and noise would not disturb anyone and also hoped we were as happy for them as they were.

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Friday brought more cleaning outside and inside the house across the street. Windows were washed, carpets steam cleaned, rugs aired. Mr and Miss were in and out numerous times with bags of goodies going in and bags of trash going out. All was aflutter with action and purpose.

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Looking up and down the street, I saw several of the neighbors out sprucing up their yards and tidying things up. Was it for the wedding? I thought so. I’m sure we were all trying to make the neighborhood look as presentable as possible for the impending nuptials.

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That evening we saw signs going up on the block. The one on the corner read, “Wedding This Way” with an arrow and the one at the house gladly announcing “Wedding Here!” All seemed ready.

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Saturday morning, all was quiet at the house. I’m sure much was going on inside but from across the street, it looked very calm.

Next door however, a garage sale was occurring. Cars and trucks were busily driving up and down the street, dropping off the eager shoppers. Was this going to interfere with the wedding? Would there be enough room for all the guests to park? Was this going to be a major clash of events? Neighbors were worried.

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But just as the garage sale closed down, guests began to arrive for the ceremony next door. All problems were averted. All manner of people happily entered the house – adults, elderly, children, even a couple of babies.

The block was filled with cars and trucks. Not one more vehicle could have been parked on the street. Something was definitely happening!

As the sun began to set, all the lights in and on the house were lit. Then the lights in the trees of the backyard were turned on. It was quite a spectacle. Everyone was indoors witnessing the exchanging of vows and rings. I imagined it to be a lovely ceremony with friends and family closely gathered around the bride and groom. Nothing but love and good wishes being expressed. Hugs all around.

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As darkness set in, the Mariachi Band arrived and all the celebrating moved to the backyard. When Gramps and I took our regular evening walk, we were serenaded with music, laughter, singing and hoorahs around the entire block. It was a lovely summer evening with a slight breeze. We walked in silence and just listened to the happy, magical sounds coming from the backyard across the street.

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The whole neighborhood experienced it with joy and gratitude. We’d never had a wedding on the block before. We somehow all felt a bit involved in the great joy, bonding, care and outcome of the event. We wanted it all to go well for Mr and Miss and ultimately be what  they dreamed it would be.

The merriment of the backyard with the good food, good beverages, good people, good cause, good entertainment went on til about midnight. Nothing rude or rowdy. Just lots of laughter, music and singing. People having good clean fun with families in attendance.

When it was done, it stopped and everyone left very graciously and politely. No problems there. All behaved themselves very well. They did leave with smiles on their faces, humming in their throats and bit of a jig in their step.

Sunday morning with the bright light of day found the house across the street very quiet. The sign out front, reading “Wedding Here!” still in place. The only reminder of the previous days’ activities.

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Monday morning the two, now Mr. and Mrs. were off to get ready for the opening of school. They seemed different but looked pretty much the same. Or did they seem the same but look different? I’m not sure, but something was definitely different.

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I hope something in their life has changed now that they are Mr. and Mrs. living in the house across the street. They know what it is. They wanted it. Now they have it. Becoming Mr. and Mrs. will do that for you.

And the neighborhood rejoiced!!!

A Day With Mac

Mac’s mother called to let all of the grandparents know that Mac had a few open days after Summer Rec ended and before school started. Between those ending and starting days and an upcoming vacation to Washington, D.C., there were a few days open to Grandparent time. We ended with him this last Wednesday for twelve hours.

Now Mac is eleven years and is able to entertain himself a good portion of the time, but when Granny and Gramps get involved, the expectations are raised. Plans are made to fill almost every minute of the day. Fun must be had on an almost continual basis.

We picked Mac up first thing in the morning. He spent about an hour on my phone playing a video game called “Simple Planes”. He built and destroyed numerous planes in that short hour.

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Then it was off the movies to see “Jungle Book”,  in 3D of course. It’s a great movie of love, loyalty and perseverance – good wins out in the end. And Bill Murray as a Grizzly Bear is just funny no matter how old you are! Mac loved it! We all did!

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Child eating out with his grandparents in a restaurant

After the movie we went to lunch for burgers, chips, sodas and BBQ sandwich for Gramps. The music was very retro, so Gramps and I were humming along to songs from our college and high school years.

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The weather here in Texas is too hot for outdoor anything during the day, so home we went to play board games. Our current favorite is a game called Qwirkle, which is somewhat like Dominoes. Mac wins more often than not.

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Gramps and Mac watched a car race on TV together in the study. They rooted for their favorite cars and drivers. I have no idea who won! It’s a guy thing!

As the sun got low enough and the temperature lowered, Mac and Gramps rode bikes down to the lake near our house. They talked to the men who were fishing on the edge of the lake and rode their bikes back.

By then, everyone was hungry. Sweet Gramps made us a lovely dinner of baked chicken and sautéed squash. After getting full on nutritious food, Mac took a bowl of chips into the back room to read a book.

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An hour later, Mac’s mother came to get him. When she asked how his day had gone, he answered, “Fine. It was a normal day.” Normal day?!

Gramps and I certainly had a great deal of fun and loved the time spent interacting with Mac. We love listening to him talk and explain things. We love watching his brain work. But this was anything but a normal day! Mac was still raring to go. Gramps and I were exhausted, pooped, worn out, wasted.

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Mac’s normal day had taken the stuffing right out of us. All we wanted to do next was sit down, lay down and sleep. What a difference age makes!

 

Fancy Bottoms

This is a beautiful window I made out of an old window, cabochons (small glass discs with one flat side), and cut-glass dishes.  Of course, it did not start out looking this good.

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The project began with an old dirty window I found at a local antique store.  In fact, one of the panes was broken and had to be replaced.

 

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Some old windows have slots on the sides where cords are attached to run the windows up and down.  I removed the cords from the slots, which are not visible when the window is hanging .

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The first thing to do is paint the old window.  I chose Annie Sloan paint because it requires no sanding and dries to a nice matte finish –  white to match the bathroom trim.

 

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Here is the window all nice and painted white.  What a difference, right?  I then used a razor scraper on the panes to remove the paint I got on them – no need for masking.  The window was ready for decorating!

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I looked for glass dishes that had nice fancy bottoms because they would be glued on upside-down.  I bought glass cabochons online in four different sizes to set off the dishes, using different layouts in each pane.

Weldbond glue holds everything very well and dries clear.  All the pieces were glued to the glass panes with the window laying flat.  Any design will work – use your imagination and lay the pieces out in varying ways.

Simple chains and hooks from the hardware store are used to hang it from the window frame.

Here’s the window in the bathroom over the tub at sunset with no lights on.  I love it!

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A different view of the window with the lights on.  Isn’t it amazing?

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This is the window after sunset – it changes through the day with the varying light.  I hope you enjoy my lovely window as much as I do.

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New Neighbors

I love my neighborhood. It’s small, quaint and in my mind, adorable. The houses are cottage sized with good-sized garages and well kept lawns. Sidewalks connect all the homes and lovely wood fences keep all the backyards nicely separated.

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I know everyone on my block and most of their pets by name. We see each other on evening walks around the neighborhood and at local gatherings. Often times we just meet on someone’s front lawn to discuss the day and recent happenings in our lives. Children and dogs are also found running in packs at these spontaneous gatherings, which adds to all the fun and joy.

A few months ago, a For Sale sign went up at the house across the street. Our neighbors were moving. And so began the showings and people in and out, looking at the house. Eventually, a SOLD banner replaced the For Sale sign and things change at the house.

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Boxes were taken in empty and brought out full and taped shut. Some furniture was given away and some was set out on the curb. A party was given and attended by everyone on the block. A van came to move all the big appliances and furniture. Many trips were made in the truck and the car to move everything else.

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After several weeks, the house was empty. All alone. The only unoccupied house in the neighborhood. Sort of lonesome looking, but full of the potential of new owners.

We waited for new cars to show up. And they did. We waited for a moving van to show up. And it did. We waited for new people to show up. And they did.

New parents, new children, new pets, new furniture. All are moved in across the street. Starting a new life in a house on our block.

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Today I’m making banana bread to take over and welcome the new family to the old neighborhood. I’ve seen they have three children and one boy looks to be about ten years old.

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My ten year old grandson Mac is going to be so excited to make a new friend!

Walls Can Make A Home

A house is made of all the structural parts of a building – the floors, the roof, the doors, the windows and the walls. Walls are vital to holding a building up and separating the rooms according to their function. Walls can be of all sizes, tall or short. plain or fancy, connected or independent. They simply have to do their job to be called walls of a house.

Walls of a home are something else entirely. Granted, they have their function and hold up the ceilings, but they are so much more. Used properly, they can add life and beauty to each room and therefore to the family that lives in the rooms.

I believe in decorating walls with meaningful colors and art. Each wall should be its own little vignette of the love and history of the family. I’d love to show all you Sweeties how I have translated my feelings for family and heritage onto my walls.

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Welcome to my entryway. It is full of my favorite colors, blue and white and some of my favorite things.

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In my world there can’t be enough blue and white!!!!

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Many of these plates remind me of trips taken and vacations enjoyed.

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Next is the dining room with a wall of china which I have mostly inherited. 

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Isn’t it grand and imposing? All of these dishes are dear to me and precious for different reasons.

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Some of these pieces are almost 100 years old and could never be replaced.

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Another wall of the dining room is covered with a very old mirror from my aunt and pieces of needlework from several people in my family. It is unique, to say the least!

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The large crocheted collar was a special Christmas gift from my daughter when she was in collage.

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I also have a collection of thimbles in the dining room. (Can you tell I do not like bare walls?) Many of these have been given to me as gifts over the years by friends and family. And they are very easy to carry as souvenirs. 

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Some of my favorites are, of course, the blue and white ones.

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The living room has only this sweet little corner of a wall. It holds a piece of needlework done by a friend who has since died and a piece done by me. There is a poem given to me by my oldest friend (known her since 6th grade) and a saying I dearly love about family.

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This warms my heart!

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By the back door I have Welsh love spoons and cross stitch that changes with each month.

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I love old granite ware and have it in every corner of the kitchen and breakfast area. Some of these pieces are from my husband’s aunt.

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Even the laundry room is filled with old granite ware. Most of these pieces and the enamel sign came from my husband’s aunt.

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More of the laundry room.

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The guest bathroom is very vintage style, so the walls are covered with everything old I could find. Including rug beaters and slates.

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Some old graters and a wire basket for towel storage.

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In the master bedroom, next to the blue and white quilt is the wall of more thimbles and two white dresses with white threadwork.

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A closeup of the beautiful dress and the wonderful handwork. 

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Even the walls of my sewing room have been decorated. No wall should be bare in my world!

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The wreath is made of sewing notions from my grandmother. And my collection of laces are wound on old commercial spools.

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My thread is kept in an old type drawer. I love reusing old things in a new way.

So don’t let your walls be unused. Tell your story. Decorate the vertical spaces of your home. Use all the parts of your unique home to show your love of family, friends, hospitality.