Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010: a journal quilt

   Usually a blog posting takes no time at all, and a journal quilt is  easy. However, this Christmas, though the simplest, had so much going on that I could not narrow to a single special idea.
Click to enlarge photos
     First, we put up the trees. We got the biggest and strongest live one for our main tree. Then there were the attic's older, crazier versions: one for the dogs and cats, one for our sons' creations, one for the grandchildren, and two little ones for the toddler to decorate. There was the centerpiece tree and others not pictured. And, besides family, there were the beaders to entertain.

       The Nutcracker theater was a major addition. The technology purchases and their required adjustments, can bury one at this busy time of year. The celebration 18th - 20th was magical and then all heck broke loose with unexpected bugs, lost trips, weather surprises. But we remain grateful for the joy and peace of this time of year. And all those rollicking trees above under netting are beautiful but no more controlled than the days of our future; and I guess that is probably as good an idea as I can come up with today.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Winter Baby Shower

   Dianthe amazes! At the busiest time of the year she hosted a Sunday brunch baby shower, not just for the ladies, but couples. Makes sense! Sometimes new patterns must emerge.

click to enlarge photos
   Since the sex of the baby-to- be is not known, there were both blue and pink flowers and a holiday tree festooned in white. Soft white leather or satin/"fur" baby shoes topped the tree, a symbol of the movement of those in that gene pool, and baby breath flowers floated on branches. White shirts, hats, bibs and other items decorated the tree further. Mimosas, spinach cheese strata, ham in rolls, fruit salad, were some of the foods.The cozy fire and window views added to the family warmth.
It was fun to have the families included, always enriching the conversation!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hanukkuh, Maccabees and Ebelskiver: a journal quilt

     This year Hanukkuh came much earlier than Christmas. A few happenings were special to my memories; thus, this journal quilt.
      First, Max pointed out to me that the historical sources for Hanukkuh are not in the Bible or the Talmud but in the books of Maccabees I and II, which are part of the Christian heritage. "Things are mixed," he said. I loved going to my huge family Bible to find Maccabees I and II in the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments, with photos and some illustrations by Dore. I also realized that Maccabees I and II can be found in my wonderful Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version.

Click to enlarge
       Next, I wanted to take my usual Beaders' Christmas exchange presents to a gathering before Christmas and during Hanukkuh so that Linda B could have a bit of celebration with us during her holiday. My gift was an ebelskiver skillet that I found at CVS. I got one for each beader for only $10 much fun, a craftsy challenge. I warned the beaders first to Google how to make ebelskivers (little round puff pancakes that can be so much more) to observe some videos.
       Hooray for light and miracles.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Building Boxwood Trees: a tradition

Click to see Chrissy's tree shape
   Each year Nancy has the Beaders to her home to make boxwood trees for the season. I didn't realize I would blog on this so I don't have a full set of pictures, but I have enough information for you to "take off!"
Note Debbie's joy and Nancy's gold container, oasis, tape and position of boxwood twigs
Nita is making a smaller one for her mother's table, and Linda B. a fuller one

  To build a boxwood tree, soak an oasis in the sink until the green "brick" is filled with water. Place the oasis in a container that can hold water, where the tree can be carved and all secured like wrapping a present w string only with floral tape. The edges of the tree are shaped somewhat like a bloated tree, easily done with a carving knife. Next, the collected boxwood limbs are cut with pruning shears to various lengths and inserted in the oasis. The lower branches angle down, the midway branches go more horizontally and the upper branches shape up to a point at the top of the tree.
Enlarge all photos by clicking on them
   Then the fun continues as you see that everyone's tree already has a different personality. You will add bows and ornaments, even flowers, such as those on the my Costco purchase. I was baby sitting and would not get to make one this year. The ladies saw to it that four-year-old Erika did make a miniature tree in 30 minutes and decorate it before we had to leave to pick up Hannah at school.
     Get some friends to join you in the making and be sure to water your tree daily.  P.S. There are little floral spikes with wire that are handy for adding ornaments and bows....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pomander Pleasures

   The grandchildren are in our safe keeping for a couple of days. Fortunately smart friends gave me entertaining ideas. I saw Susan making pomanders at our craft group on Monday.  I don't remember making pomanders, but now I am hooked: Get oranges (Susan suggested clementines for softness), a bulk supply of cloves (Costco for me) and thin ribbons if you like. I picked up gold- edged white ribbon at Ben Franklin, a bit of wire in the edges.

     After nursery school, four-year-old Erika made a pomander and then another to give away to Nancy and the beaders for helping her make a boxwood tree. I tied the bow on first, as one might wrap a package, secured in one or two places with a short ball-topped straight pin (as in shirt purchases).  I put the clementine on a folded paper towel and handed  Erika a toothpick to make preliminary holes (not needed, I think), cloves in a little saucer. Six-year-old Hannah took up the craft when she got home at three after first grade. You may want to add loops for hanging. Some roll them in spices, let them dry and after they seem no longer useful, boil them in water to make the house smell wonderful.  Google orange and clove balls for more ideas and possibilities. Click to enlarge the photos.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keys to the City: a journal quilt

   Thanksgiving weekend allowed our household some time in New York City where we have generous hosts. Thoughtful Jim phoned our car speaker from Miami to see if we had the keys to the condo. We have never before forgotten the keys, but this time we did. Just outside New Haven, we didn't panic, for we could have seen the show at the British Museum and returned to Boston. However, perfect son told us exactly where to find another set, and we drove on up to his place where a free parking spot waited to calm us.
   For this journal quilt, I wanted to show the lively NYC fabric I picked up at the wonderful City Quilter on 25th. The keys could have blocked our way but were a gate to a good time for Joe, Farley and myself. Joe and I saw shows at the Morgan, Neue, Guggenheim and MOMA museums. Farley has never met so many dogs to whom he was so polite. And I went to the City Quilter twice. Love that place!