Category Archives: Christmas

Ten Stockings

 

This Christmas season felt to me like a reflection of my life this year:  lots of  little things causing what I call “speed bumps” which are frustrating and time wasting, but ultimately everything works out.

We got our Christmas tree mid-month.  It’s huge.

 

It was the 15th of the month, and we’d had scheduled activities every day in December.  We decided to go cut a tree, which of course meant finding winter gear for everyone.  Some of them fell asleep while we were driving, so we ended up with two asleep and others who were crying as they hiked through snow that was, for them, knee deep.  All of the trees were short, it was getting dark quickly, people were crying, and son #2 had Scouts in 40 minutes (and I was supposed to provide a plate of treats for him to take caroling).  We hiked to the first tree that was nice and tall and decided to cut it down.  At this point, I was just grateful we were getting a tree and decided to let go of all expectations.  My oldest daughter, however, was angry and upset and started ranting about how she wouldn’t even go in the family room to be with such an ugly tree.

We cut it, hiked back to the cars, and my Cub Scout and I jumped in the other car and left for Scouts.  We frosted cookies, got him out the door, and then the family arrived home and we went to work on the tree.   We cut it to the right size and brought it in…..

and the stand broke.  So now we have a Christmas tree (9 feet tall by 6 or 7 feet in diameter) laying on the floor in our family room.  We have crying hungry children, homework to do, you get the picture.  So I left to go buy a new stand.

1.5 hours later and after stopping at every store in town (Walmart, Target, Home Depot, etc.) I learn that everybody sold out of Christmas tree stands long before.  Seriously?  Finally, feeling discouraged, I was leaving Lowe’s to go home when I noticed three Christmas trees for sale standing in an obscure spot by their garden area.  I pulled over and discovered that they were in stands!  I parked again, went back in, and BEGGED them to sell me one.

3 employees went out to remove the 8 foot tree from the stand, find a SKU number, and I cheerfully dropped $50 to leave with a dirty, used Christmas tree stand.  Hooray!  Did it all work out?  Yes.  Did it take about 5 hours longer than we planned?  Yes.  Did it mean that all the other things I was planning to get done were put off (again)?  Yes.  Is that the story of my life?  YES!  But, I keep reminding myself that in spite of the detours it always seems to work out.

So we got the tree up, ran out of lights, couldn’t find any white lights in stock anywhere… do you see a pattern here?  Did it eventually work out?  Yes.  Did we finally get the tree decorated on, like the 19th of the month?  Yes.  And you know what?  I think it’s my favorite tree ever.  I don’t know if that’s because it truly is beautiful, or because I was just so relieved to have it done, or if it’s because I had no expectations.

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I enjoyed hanging the ornaments I bought last year on clearance, and I also borrowed all my big stars from my laundry room to stick in the tree.  I took my white starfish collection and added it as well.

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I unpacked Christmas boxes until I found the stockings, and then I quit.  It meant that the dining room got decorated.  I love the fresh, bright colors.

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I played with the curtain tiebacks and added color to all the vintage silver.

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And since I am obsessed with birds, I gave in to the urge to put them everywhere.

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A bit of color and my favorite nativity scene.

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Not nearly as much decorating as I usually do for Christmas, but this is the year of simplification.  A fussy baby and an overscheduled family have governed the month, and that’s ok.  And as I said, my Christmas lesson this year is that ready or not, it all works out.

Merry Christmas mini quilt

My youngest sister graduated from college last weekend.  Way to go Kris!
I made her an adorable Christmas mini quilt as a graduation gift, to go along with the rag quilt that we made in November.

The pattern is from Nancy Halvorsen’s book,  I Believe.  I spotted the pattern back in July and loved it.  I had planned to make several of them for my mom, sisters and some close friends, but it’s looking like this will be the lone quilt made this holiday season.  The book also has patterns to make a Christmas card holder and an apron using these same Merry Christmas letters.  I’d like to make one of each!

I changed the color combination to the traditional green, red and white and am very happy with it.

 

The project really wasn’t hard.  I began by tracing the letters onto interfacing.

 

Then I cut them out, but not on the line.  I cut about 1/4 inch outside the lines, and then ironed the letters onto the back of a variety of fabrics.  After this, I cut them out of the fabric by cutting on the lines I’d traced.

I used a black and white background because we did that in her other quilt, and just arranged the letters until they were all in place.  Then I peeled the paper off the backs and ironed them in place.  (Sorry about the poor lighting; it was around 1 a.m. and I obviously didn’t have any natural light.)

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When they’re all ironed in place, stand back and ooh and aah a little bit at how cute it is!

 

Next came the borders, simple and straightforward.

 

Ta, da!  The top is completed.

 

I decided to piece a backing so I could put in a strip of my favorite Christmas fabric.

 

I cut my batting the same size as the backing, and since the quilt is so little I decided to use basting spray to hold it together while I quilted it.

 

I laid some paper on the floor to protect my floor from the overspray.  Then I put my batting down and sprayed half of it.

 

I carefully placed my backing, right side up, on the batting, working from the middle to smooth it out really well.  Then I sprayed the other half of the batting and did the same thing.  Next I turned it over and sprayed the other side of the batting and put the top of the quilt on the same way.

Then came the only real time consuming part:  quilting around every one of those letters!  I most certainly didn’t do a perfect job, but I think it turned out fine.

 

When that was done, I used some leftover striped binding from a quilt I made a couple of years ago, and bound it.

Finished!  The quilt measures approximately 24 by 30 inches.

 

I love this pattern.  I think it’s one I will end up making several of (hopefully, next year!) because it’s just so happy and festive.  I’m really glad that she liked it.

Merry Christmas!

Holly & Berries Christmas rag quilt

So, back in October I sketched a little design for a Christmas rag quilt.  My sister and I went shopping for fabrics, and after she cut out tons of holly leaves and berries, we got together to make a quilt.

 

Two sewing machines on my table!  What fun!  As we began this project, she looked at me and said, “You realize that a lot is at stake here, don’t you.  If this doesn’t work, I’ll probably never try making a quilt again.”

Yes, I realized that a lot was at stake.

So, we took a deep breath and began!  Here are the first two holly leaves.

 

Add the berries, and we’re liking it!

 

And so it began.  A day of sewing with my sister.  It was a really fun day, as the quilt slowly began to take shape, one block at a time.

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I think she’s having fun.  I hope so.

 

After quilting every piece, we laid them all out.

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Here’s Kristen holding the first finished row:

 

Right about now I realized I’d made a mistake in my math when I drew the pattern out, and we made an adjustment so it would still work.  Then we sewed the rows together, and here it is!

 

 

It was time for Kristen and Jake to head home, so she took the quilt minus the borders and finished it at home.
She just sent pictures of the finished product, with borders, all snipped and washed and snuggly.

 

I think it’s so cute.  I love the way the holly leaves and berries turned out, and I hope that she likes it.  It was a fun project to do together.

So here’s the big question:  Will she ever make another quilt?

I know I will.  I might make one of these!

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