Today I want to share some of the early Christmas presents I received this year. The first one is a quilted wall hanging I got from my friend Faith in Maryland. Since the colors go well with my blue Christmas, it saved me from having to finish my star wall hanging (which means I can now hand quilt it, which is what I wanted to do because it is hand pieced also).
My friend Sabine in Germany sent me a beautiful handmade Christmas card and two CDs she picked from my amazon wishlist. :)
I got this little book with German Christmas poems from my friend Anni in Vienna. We have known each other (and been friends) since our last two years in school (1980/81). When I read the poems I was - almost - feeling sentimental, but then I remembered that the Vienna I left last year had little to do with the one I grew up in. Almost none of the things I remember from my childhood are still there. I hope they won't regret one day what they sacrificed in the name of progress.
This addition to my penguin collection came from my friends Regine and Gerhard in Vienna. :) It is carved from wood.
Yesterday this adorable little bird and it's nest came from my quilter friend Victoria. It had a little tag on it about how lucky it is to find a bird's nest in your Christmas tree. So I put it into the little tree with the handmade ornaments. :)
I always preferred "small" gifts given with love and thoughtfulness over big flashy things that don't mean a thing. I am blessed and thankful to have loving friends, even if they are far away they are close to my heart (every day, not just at Christmas). I wish them all a
I guess it gets easier with practice. ;) Although the engine has a lot of little pieces in it as well, it went together way better than the other cars did. Before I put on the outer border I am going to pick out all the paper (yikes!). Tomorrow or Saturday I will baste and quilt it, and then it gets wrapped and put under the tree. I knew I would get it done in time, all I need to do is stay away from the computer long enough. :)
Almost there. :) The only thing still missing is the steam engine. The wheel parts of these wagons are smaller than the seam allowance. I had a lot of fun with them - NOT! It took about two hours for the blue passenger car. And just a little less for the caboose. By the way, the engine is going to be purple. ;)
I am making good progress with Del's Christmas present. The train station part is finished and one of the train cars as well. It has an awful lot of little pieces in it and even though it is paper pieced it is not quite perfect. In the picture it looks like it is standing on tip-toe but that is only because of the seam allowance on the bottom. ;) I am pretty positive that I will be able to finish it in time. I plan to make the other train parts today and assemble the whole thing either today or tomorrow and quilt it on Friday (no cleaning this week! ;). And just so in between I made a red hat. I am thinking about setting up an online shop next year and try to sell some of my crafts. I much rather give everything away as gifts but I could use some extra money to buy more supplies. And I will try and see about participating in craft shows, which is probably more fun than selling anonymously on the internet. I also finished the healing/prayer shawl for my friend. It is really warm and cozy and chunky and very soft. I did not take a picture yet. I will mail it to her after the holidays, since she spends them with her family away from home.
Well, the garland just would not stay up on the wall this year. Last Friday I received the ornaments from the swap with my online quilt group and they were just too pretty to keep them in the box. What to do? Buy another tree! I now have 3 Christmas trees, the only room that does not have one is the kitchen (maybe next year?) and Miss Kitty is happy, because all three are hers. :) She loves Christmas trees and is very protective of them. I got a 4" pre-lit tree at my favorite craft store and it was even 40% off. It now stands on my big worktable in the bedroom and keeps me company while I sew.
Nothing helps you embrace the motto "Less is More" than packing up your entire household (including husband and cat) and move to a different continent. It also helps with decluttering your home. We currently live in a two bedroom apartment and use the smaller bedroom as a combination of home office and play room (for hubby and me). So, if you really want to see this year's Christmas decorations, here they are:
Our tree, for the first time ever decorated in blue (part of our promise to ourselves to do things differently in our "new life").
This is my advent wreath with a table runner I made (and actually finished in time!):
My nativity scene (made from a panel many moons ago):
This garland was actually above the closet in the big bedroom, it holds Christmas ornaments from swaps with other quilters. About one hour after I finished decorating it, it fell down and I have given up on it, the extra strong hooks are obviously not strong enough for it:
This is my little tree that sits in the small bedroom. I started it last year after I discovered the small ornaments with quilt blocks on them, the little nativity scene was added this year.
And now the funny bits, my Christmas card display and my collection of stuffed animals with a Christmas theme:
Thank you for visiting my humble dwelling this holiday season. Please help yourself to a cup of cider (recipe from Cooking Light - my favorite food magazine) and some applesauce-raisin-cookies. :)
I hope you enjoyed the tour and now please head back over to BooMama's Place and visit all the other nice folks who open their homes for us to see.
Oops, a day late and a dollar short. :) Trying to have something to show on Wednesdays gets me motivated to actually work on something. Yesterday I made a bible cover to give Del as Christmas present, it should have been a birthday present, but did not get made in time. ;) He picked the colors and I am not very happy with it. No, not because it is red, because I did not trust my measurements, added another strip to the back and now it is a bit too big (and not quite straight either, but that is a different story). I think he will like it anyway. I have decided to put off finishing the star wall hanging in time for Christmas. A friend of mine has just been told that her cancer is back and I want to make a prayer shawl for her. Went out yesterday and got a really funky yarn and will start on that right away. I hope to be able to at least finish Del's wall hanging in time. I also made a hat for him, he had to try it on for size but I will still wrap it up as a present. I also made three more hats, maybe one day I'll join one of the craft markets around here and try to sell them. I just can't sit and watch TV without doing something with my hands at the same time. I will be participating in a "Christmas Tour of Homes" tomorrow, hosted by BooMama. So if you want to see my holiday mess, check back in tomorrow. :) And now for today's pictures:
I baked two types of cookies yesterday and neither one of them came out right. I have no idea why. I followed the recipe and did not forget any ingredient. They are the type where you plop a spoonful of dough on the cookie sheet and when they bake they are supposed to first puff up and then flatten out. Well, mine did not move at all - I swear these things are as lazy as me and my cat ;) - needless to say, they ain't chewy either. If anybody needs something hard to throw at noisy neighbors or publicly speaking politicians, let me know. :) That's it for me with Christmas baking. I might make some kind of cake for the actual weekend, but no more cookies.
On Saturday we went to the Holiday Party at the Victory Junction Gang Camp. We had a great time, I just love being at the camp, it is such a beautiful place. There was music and yummy foods (have you ever eaten chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick?), lots of presents for all the kids, many of them where former campers and a demonstration by the Golden Knights Parachute Team. Rumor has it that even Santa himself was there, but the line to see him was just too long and so I passed on that. :) I did see Pattie, Kyle and Richard Petty though, which is even better. ;) The weather was gorgeous and I even got a bit of a sunburn on my nose (in December!). I took lots of PHOTOS (again) and I always I feel a little sad that Adam never got to see what he started, but it is such a wonderful tribute to him.
This is the little cat we rescued in October when we found her wandering our apartment complex during a stormy night (hence the name). My friend Angie took her in and she sent me these pictures. The first one is from the night they brought her home, the other one is a more recent one. Miss Stormy looks like she can be a handful. :)I am so glad she found a good home. Thank you Angie!
Not much to report today. The table runner is almost finished, just need to stitch down the binding in the back. The other work in progress is our Christmas tree. The lights are on but somehow I can't get myself motivated to put the rest of the decorations on. One thing I did finish this week: I made a new hat, with a different pattern than the other ones and I like this one a lot more.
We had quite an active weekend. Friday night we did our usual shopping plus a few other stores which we had to re-visit on Saturday because we forgot half of what we wanted to buy. ;) I can not believe it: It is the first weekend in December and the stores are almost sold out of Christmas articles. Has everybody gone crazy? I keep reading all those articles about how terrible it is that the greeter at Walmart can not wish you a Merry Christmas, but I have to read an article yet about how shopping like crazy is not what Christmas is all about either. All I wanted was a blue plaid ribbon to tie to my glass balls for the tree, went to Hobby Lobby and found the Christmas section almost empty. I can't believe it, the same at Lowe's and Walmart. My glass balls will be bow-less this year. :) On Saturday morning we drove to Randleman to pick up our packages for the Victory Junction Run on Sunday. Then we got all our Christmas stuff from our storage unit and put up the tree. It is still naked and I am not sure that I really want it in the place it is standing right now, it blocks too much daylight. In the evening we went to Archdale to see the luminaries in City Lake Park, put up by the Girl Scouts. This year it was nice and dry and the park looked really beautiful. A lot of work goes into doing that. On Sunday we got up early and drove to Randleman to take part in the Victory Junction Run, or rather the 4.5K Victory Lap, as a half marathon would be way too much for us. The weather was beautiful, a bit cold but really sunny. We had a worship service in the gym of the Randleman Middle School, lead by Kenny Crosswhite, pastor with MRO (Motor Racing Outreach). During the racing season he holds worship services for the drivers and crews at the various racetracks and he also holds a Bible study at Petty Enterprises. After the service we - the 4.5K participants - saw the runners for the half marathon off and then we were taken to the Victory Junction Gang Camp by bus. There we waited to see the the first runners arrive and then it was time to start our run/walk. I am still fighting the remnants of my cold - mainly a nasty cough, that just does not want to leave me - and I was glad we could do this at our own pace. We walked the course in about 45 minutes which is not bad for us. We normally average 20 min per mile when we walk in the park. Everybody got a medal and I love the T-Shirt I got, it has the John Bingham Racing Penguin on the front and he wears a shirt with the #45 on it. :) After the race we all ate chili and fruits and granola bars in the dining hall of the camp. I took a lot of PHOTOS and as always I felt sad to leave the camp, but we will be back next weekend for the Holiday Party. :) The EVENT raised over $65.000,- for the camp which is really great, they were hoping for 500 participants and had about 800. I am just a tiny bit sore today but ready to tackle my to-do list which is as long as my arm. :)
Today I made the second set of blocks for the Christmas table runner and now I am playing around with EQ4 to find out whether I want cornerstones or not. I also finished another afghan for the camp this week and because I had a ball of that yarn left I decided to make myself a scarf with it. I like how the color in the yarn forms a pattern of its own. I have been fighting an early bout of Christmas blues, but I am feeling better now. This weekend we will put up the tree and decorate our home. My Pens won the game last night and my favorite player scored his first two goals of this season. :)
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie
Today I have something special to share with you. The very first quilt blocks I ever made. When Granny Fran asked about the pattern for the six point star I remembered that it was one of the first blocks we learned in the first quilt class I ever took. It was in 1993, back in Vienna. I knew nothing about quilts or quilting. The first time I ever heard about them was when I read "The Color Purple", quilts are mentioned in the book and they are made out of fabric strips, that's what I remembered. :) So I found a class in one of the community schools in Vienna and took it. Back then I thought all the patterns were traditional ones and everybody who knows about quilting would know them. I know better now. :) I did not have a sewing machine yet and the only cotton fabrics that were available were Dirndl-fabrics. Dirndl costume, the last time I wore one is the traditional Austrian women's of them was when I was very little. Well, anyway, Granny Fran's questions sent me scrambling to find the patterns from that class and I actually found them and the old quilt top as well. It is all hand pieced and I am quite sure it was cut out with scissors. I also found two more blocks for it and as far as I remember I had planned on making a third one to add another row to the top. My cold wandered from my nose down to my chest and I have a nasty cough. I took yesterday off and did not do any sewing, instead I started the felting project. Yes, I know, I said I only get to start that once I worked on my Christmas projects. Well, I did make four of the blocks for the table runner yesterday. Please refrain from pointing out the obvious. :) The way I felt yesterday I was glad I did not sew them together with the wrong ends. ;) And besides, there should be at least one mistake in every quilt, only God's creation is perfect. The good thing is, in most cases I don't have to make a mistake deliberately, they just happen. :)
Fran, if you still want the pattern for the six-point star, please email me.
Well, my cold did not get much better but after a healthy dose of aspirin my head was clear enough to get some stuff done. I always print my own address labels for my Christmas cards. It may seem a bit impersonal but my handwriting is not that great and it is easier on the postpeople if the address is actually readable. ;) So first thing this morning I took a picture of a penguin glass ball I recently bought and used that as decoration for this year's address labels. Then I went to finish the Christmas cards I made earlier. I used a rubber stamp for the greeting on the inside. Next I had planned to put on the labels, but Miss Kitty thought it a good idea to give me a hand with that. :) After some gentle convincing from my side she finally decided to go to sleep on the blanket you can see in the background. I also put my alternative advent wreath together and I am happy with the result. It is actually a tart baking form filled with glass pebbles and plastic balls, completed with votiv holders and artificial ivy. So totally different from what I used to do in the past. Blogger does not let me add the pictures nicely on the side so I just add them all here at the end.
I have a cold and feel crappy and cranky. Whine. :) I have not had a cold in years thanks to the vitamins I took in Vienna. Since we got here I had trouble finding a multi-vitamin pill that would not give me problems. They either have too much iron in them, which I cannot take or the give me digestive problems. I am now taking one that I hope I will be able to keep, but obviously it was too late. Grrrr! I have so much to do at the moment and a fuzzy head is the last thing I need. We went to a craft show in Winston-Salem yesterday, it was very nice, very high quality items from professional craftsmen and -women, also very pricey. Afterwards we went shopping, I got everything I need for my alternative advent wreath and my blue Christmas. And some yarn for something new I want to try - felting. I had 86 of my recent photos printed. I tried for the first time to upload them to Walgreen's photo service from home and then pick up the prints. They turned out very well. I will send them - together with a long report about our adventures - to my parents. Today I printed 12 different photos on my printer at home and made this CALENDAR, which I will give my parents for Christmas. I found the photo-album-calendar at Big Lots yesterday and thought it looked really cute. I have another one and maybe I make one for my friend back in Vienna. I really hope I feel better tomorrow.