Monday, December 31, 2007

Another year over, a new one just begun

Making resolutions for the New Year doesn't really work for me. I soon fail, leaving behind faint traces of disappointment in my own ability to stick with something. Rather, I tend to take time throughout the year to evaluate and make adjustments.
But someone on a chat group I belong to (Timeless Bliss - yahoo) suggested creating a theme for the year. I've been thinking about it for several weeks and this is what I've come up with.
I want to create in many forms. Words, fabric, paper, homemaking, gardening. I tend to second-guess my own abilities, wondering if I'm just wasting my time and should devote myself to something more productive - ie, more lucrative. But the urge to create just won't go away. I feed it and I'm rewarded in turn by more creativity.
This year, rather than dampen those creative urges, I'm going to give in to them, believing that they were put there by God and that results can be safely left up to him.
One of the first things I'm going to create is a collage to hang in my office/studio with these words on it - to remind me of my theme throughout this year.

In Belief...Create

Check back in a week or more - I'm taking a few days away with my dearest friend, my husband.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Roses in December

My youngest daughter, 21, prettied up the Christmas Day lunch table. An eggplant tablecloth was the background for this charming centerpiece. The green vase is one my mother-in-law gave to me when she downsized her home a couple of years ago. I love its shape. Amazingly, Ashley picked the roses from my front garden! We've had snow, frost, hail and more, but these roses persevered. And they have a delicate fragrance that brings back summertime memories.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Dinner - The Easy Version

This year, I decided I was not cooking a huge turkey dinner for Christmas. My reasons were:

1. It takes too long to cook and clean up when there are better things to do.
2. We're having a big dinner at my parents' place this Saturday where we will have our fill of turkey and trimmings.
3. I was up for something different.

Our married children arrived around 12:00. I had a beautiful table set (by our youngest daughter) and we enjoyed locro, a potato soup from Ecuador and shrimp ceviche. Later, for dessert, we had the buche de noel.

After opening presents and taking a walk I set up the kitchen table and counter with various appetizers - spanakopita, cheese, fruit, crackers, stuffed mushrooms, artichoke dip, vegetables, cold cuts, etc. Our son is turning into quite a cook and brought some delicious blackened chicken calzones to add to the table. Dessert was Christmas baking and hot apple cider served from the crockpot.
I didn't use the dining room table because it was occupied by board games - Settlers and Ticket to Ride.

Would I do this again? I think so. I had a hard time the day before thinking that I should be cutting bread for stuffing and making the side dishes to go along with the turkey. Once Christmas Day came, all was good. The meals were delicious but didn't take all day to prepare and consume.

I like doing big dinners - serving the various courses and spending lots of time at the table. But it seems that the dinner is not necessarily the main event at Christmas time, so why spend the effort then? I'm already planning an elegant, sit-down dinner for my family in January or February.

Last year, after the big dinner and the gifts, we clustered around the fire, playing games, talking, laughing. And our eldest daughter said, "This is the best time, just being together.

For more non-traditional Christmas dinners, check out this blog.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

I've always been glad to be Canadian - for many reasons. But here's one reason in particular. We get two days off for Christmas! Boxing Day, on the 26th, is a time to relax and do just about nothing. I've puttered around the house picking up bits and pieces, snacked on leftovers, watched a little television and read blogs. My husband and I took a quick trip to the furniture store - just looking - but we soon came home to do more of nothing.

My daughter stacked some toilet paper rolls on the stairs to take to her downstairs bathroom. Then she thought they looked a little bit like a she got a marker to make a face...then her father suggested arms...and here is the result. The most ridiculous snowman I've ever seen. But so much fun.

Christmas morning breakfast - just four of us - husband, daughter and friend. A quiet meal, eaten in the breakfast room before the hustle and bustle of the day. The other two children and their spouses came over around midday and we had a lovely, lovely time. I hope you all had as enjoyable a day as we had.
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas


I wish you all a most joyous Christmas celebrating Christ's birth with family and friends. Thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting. May you be blessed in your relationships and creativity.
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Buche de Noel

Our traditional Christmas Eve dessert - but this year we're having it on Christmas Day, when the family is here. I like it because it's light, can be done ahead, and is chocolate! To me, dessert is hardly dessert without chocolate.
I finished the buche this morning and went out and clipped a little holly to decorate the plate. It sits prettily in the downstairs refrigerator, awaiting tomorrow.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Starting to Relax

School is over. Today I went for lunch with a group of teachers and discovered that one is married to my husband's second cousin! Small world.
Presents are wrapped, cookies baked. I'm starting to unwind and feel like taking a nap on the couch. I think I might - cleaning can wait until tomorrow.
This rooster was a present from my daughter and hangs beside the kitchen sink. I love the country french feel of it.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Come on in!

Welcome to my home. It's cold, wet and windy today so let's not linger at the door.
The tea is hot and I have some pumpkin bars ready. We can get to know each other over a cozy table.

Rain spatters on my kitchen window. The village is one I painted years ago. On either side I have small glasses holding fresh rosemary and thyme.

Going upstairs I have a pair of rustic wooden reindeer on the landing. These always make me smile.

A touch of Christmas in the upstairs bathroom. I like to use fresh greenery wherever I can.

The only Christmas decoration in the bedroom is a crazy heart pillow tossed on the bed.

We'll pass through the dining room. It's set for a dinner party I'm having with friends.

This paper cutting was done by my daughter when she was 15. I love its delicacy. It hangs on our Christmas tree.

Our tree - always real. The fresh, woodsy scent greets me each morning when I walk downstairs. This year I left off many ornaments and only hung those of gold, white or silver.

I collect nativity scenes - sort of. I don't have many. This is a small one made from masa pan, bought when we lived in Ecuador.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Brown Paper Packages

Simplicity. Why is that word so appealing? It brings to my mind an image of peace. I let life get so complicated. And when busyness piles up, I am reluctant to let things go. I want to do it all - not out of a sense of duty, but because I enjoy so much. But this year, I've realized that some things had to go if I was to have a truly meaningful Christmas. I have made no gifts, my Christmas card list was cut to less than 25, I have baked fewer cookies and my house is decorated more simply. And it's good. I know that I will not always be so busy (my teaching stint ends February 1) and that I will be able to resume doing other things I love.

Last night I finished up my gift wrapping. I love pretty wrapping papers, but I think they are rather wasteful. Some years the wastefulness wins and I purchase gorgeous papers that get thrown away, and other years, like this one, I use what I have. A pretty tag and simple gold elastic cord finishes off my gifts this year.

Tags were made from scraps leftover from scrapbooking - pretty papers and old music sheets. I love this one with Schumann's winter song title.

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the Holiday Home Tour hosted by Tracey.
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Join in the fun!

A virtual holiday home tour. Tracey is the hostess and she has a wonderful blog full of ideas! Tracey's story is one of courage and creativity. Check out her site and be inspired!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Touches of Christmas

We put up our tree on Sunday. I love sitting in the dark living room with just the glow of a fire and the tree. I left off quite a few ornaments this year and focused on just gold, white and a bit of silver. It's nice to feel like I don't have to put everything up every year.

Some of my angel collection sitting on top of the television armoire. On the far side is the beautiful angel Andi, my swap partner sent to me. She is just lovely.
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Monday, December 10, 2007

Use It Up


I have a quantity of white felt - the acrylic kind, not the lovely wool felt. I'm making a concerted effort to use up what I have instead of rushing out to purchase something new all the time. Lots and lots of fabric fill shelves in my office/studio closet. Earlier in the fall I was also looking for something to do in the evenings while sitting on the couch recovering from teaching Grade 8 French.

I came up with these embroidered hearts - hearts with a secret. On the back they have a small pocket in which to tuck in a gift card or simply a tag to say "This is for you." I'm planning on using them as package tie-ons for my Christmas presents.

This is my first tutorial and I had a lot of fun doing it.


Cut out two hearts from felt. Mine are 4 1/2 inches wide and 5 inches tall. Then cut a third piece using the bottom of the heart as a pattern. Mine is 3 inches tall. This will form the pocket on the back of the heart.


Embroider a design on the front. Although I show a finished heart, do not embroider the edges just yet. I did a variety of things - swirls for which I used a pattern, and also free hand flowers and snowflake/stars. You could add buttons as well.


Using two threads of red embroidery floss, make a running stitch along the top of the pocket piece.

Sandwich all three pieces together, the embroidered front, the plain back, and the pocket piece. Stitch around the heart using a blanket stitch. Stop before going all the way around.

Add some stuffing to plump it up and voila, an easy and unique package adornment.
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Friday, December 07, 2007

Sweet Hearts


Crazy patch hearts sweeten the doorknobs of my home. Made from scraps of fabrics, each one is different, just as each person who lives and visits our home is an individual.
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Making Things

My swap partner Andi received her parcel in the mail, so now I can post what I sent off to her. Some beeswax candles, quilted coasters, cards and tags, and an ornament not in the photo.

I had fun making this shadow box. I covered the back with old sheet music and layered it with a "Fa la la" and a little glitter. The bird on the nest is taffeta and I'm planning to make some more to perch here and there in my house.

Who knew old music would become so popular? A couple of years ago, while cleaning out, I took stacks of old music books from when I was learning to play piano to the thrift store. This happens many times when I clean out stuff - all of a sudden the item will be in hot demand.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Goodies in the Mail

The doorbell rang. On my porch stood the Canada Post delivery lady, holding this parcel. I scribbled my signature, smiled prettily at the lady, took the parcel and closed the door. First I held the parcel for a moment - anticipation building. I read the return label and knew it was from my Swap partner.

What a wealth of loveliness! Andi sent goodies to deck many of the halls in my home. A beautifully sequined stocking, red and gold ornaments, Christmas themed hand towels and the pi├Ęce de resistance - - -

this gorgeous angel to add to my collection! Shimmering in pearls, gold braid, satin and organza ribbons, her serenity will remind me of the angel's message to the shepherds, "Peace on earth, good will toward men."

Thank you, Andi. Everything is lovely.
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Monday, December 03, 2007

Beginning to decorate

After our company left on Sunday morning and we got home from church, I began decorating. I like to take my time - not doing it all at once. The first thing I take out is our hand-carved nativity set from Ecuador. We lived there more than 20 years and purchased this during our first year there. I set it on the china hutch and surround it with greenery.

Several years ago I overheard our three children discussing who was to get the nativity set when we died! Since I wasn't planning on dying any time soon and didn't want to precipitate the matter, my husband and I decided to give each child their own nativity set. This was about the time that the children were beginning to graduate and we knew they would be setting up their own homes. So we went back to San Antonio de Ibarra, a small town in northern Ecuador, known for its woodcarvings.

Quality had deteriorated - there were so many poorly done carvings, not the same quality as we had purchased. But we went into one shop and found a set, beautifully detailed. It was expensive but we bought it and ordered two more. We got one of the orders in about 8 months and the next one was never done. So we settled on a lesser quality and told our son that the original set would be his some day.

I wrap each piece individually in old Ecuadorian newspaper. Joseph's hand is a separate carving which fits into the sleeve. The detail is amazing.

A crocheted snowflake hangs on the mirror. A touch of simplicity on the staircase.
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