Twas the day before Christmas

Well, tomorrow is the big day.  And, true to my nature, I decided I wanted to give some other people gifts.  But, that I didn't want to go out in the crowded stores.  So, I made 19 dozen cookies...

There's an emoji for what you just felt when you read that. 

At the grocery yesterday, I picked up some trays for half off and used them to hold about four dozen each and we went to see the neighbors.  It was down right Victorian. 

Lazy frosted sugar cookies with a tiny bit of orange extract.  Lazy because I tried to pipe a few and said a most un-Christmas like word and frosted them with an offset spatula.  And, I made 10 dozen of my Mom's fruitcake cookies.  They're basically pecans and fruit held together with sugar, butter and eggs, so nothing wrong with that.  This year, instead of using the candied fruit my family has always used and I couldn't find in the grocery, I used dried fruit; pineapple and tart cherries.  And, they're even better than I remember them from childhood.  I made Lace cookies using Linda's recipe and a batch of Hello Dollies, which are a bar cookie with a graham cracker crust and coconut and pecans and chocolate chips...and a can of sweetened condensed milk.  Because, you know.  What's a little Christmas stress without a crapload of sugar content. 

Today is bread day.  I'll be making a monkey bread and rolls for tomorrow.  Tomorrow's tradition is ham and scalloped potatoes.  This year, in the new tradition of trying new recipes, I made my own pineapple spice ham glaze yesterday and we're having au gratin potatoes with spinach and glazed carrots and a salad and green bean casserole and rolls...and cookies. 

Yesterday was my Dad's birthday.  We had a very nice chat.  It was good to talk to him.  Unfortunately, I was keeping him from his lunch so didn't get to talk long, but it's always good to hear what he's thinking about.  He has a way of saying some little something when we talk that makes me feel good.  I hope one day Sydney says that about me. 

Everybody have a wonderful Christmas Eve!  Share a cookie with someone you love.  Instead of hoping Santa is good to you, I'm sending wishes of peaceful holidays, filled with love and laughter. 



In the mail

I finished the Christmas tree quilt.  Yesterday.  At the very last minute.  Of course. 

We made a board for the top sleeve.  Rob painted it and drilled a hole in each end and we used a simple piece of jute for the hanger so his Mom will only need one nail to hang it from. 

I sewed 28 buttons on it and we replaced the hooks on the flat ornaments with red ribbon so she can loop the ribbon over the button to decorate it.  We left some buttons uncovered so she can hang things there.  We're also punching a hole in our Christmas card and explaining she can hang it on a button too using the spool of ribbon we sent and the hole punch. 

The angel was perfect for the top.  I made the blue fabric ornaments about 15 years ago and never hung them on the tree. 

The silver candy cane came from Linda's Christmas boxes and the rest is mostly from our collection.  The rest picked up here and there as I've worked on this project. 

I know she is going to love it.  And, we made the shipping deadline!  Yay!  Rob is sending this in one box and a box of goodies in another.  A few times a year, we send her a box of healthy edibles.  She's diabetic, so there's a lot she can't eat and she has trouble getting healthy fresh food that she can eat in the small town she lives in.  So, we send things and toss in a nice pound of coffee and some fresh apples wrapped in bubble wrap...and a tiny piece of chocolate because she loves it and shouldn't have it but everybody deserves a little bit of something they love, right?  Once, we bought a diabetic cookbook and picked a couple recipes that were simple and sounded tasty and sent all the ingredients except the fresh veggies and meat.  She truly enjoys it and it gives her new things that she can eat that are good for her.  And, it inspires her to focus more on eating things that are good for her without having to eat the same things over and over. 

The couple we gave the tree quilt to came by yesterday afternoon for a visit.  They wanted to give us a personal thanks for the gift and we had a very nice visit.  They're such a sweet young couple.  Like us, her tradition is setting up a tree the day after Thanksgiving.  The wedding meant she didn't have time for that this year, so a few days after the wedding, she came home from work and he had set a tree up in their living room for her to decorate so she wouldn't miss out.  When did the high school jock get so sweet?

Okay, that's it for me today.  I am not starting any more projects before Christmas.  Unless I do.  Because you can never tell with me, right? 

Everybody have a great week!  I have a dentist appointment to start the day.  Yay, me! 



I spent as much time as I could this weekend, quilting that little Christmas tree quilt.  I need to finish by next Sunday, so one week for a bit more quilting, binding, sewing on a ton of buttons, and then we can ship it in time for her to enjoy before the big day. 

I got the border added.  The pattern called for a narrow inside border, but in the name of expediency, I did just one red border. 

And, the back is a plaid that I had enough of to cut one long piece from.  That was another time saver.  I quilted a very loose "wind" pattern in the white background, and then quilted the tree in the ditch.  Whatever I do in the border is going to be quick and easy.  Maybe even straight lines.  I'd leave the borders unquilted but they make the edges of the quilt "wavy".  Three parallel lines of quilting would take care of that.  Or something lose and curvy. 

Or some pine trees.  I've thought of a ton of things I could do in one of these.  Snowflakes in the background.  Pine boughs in the tree.  But, I would have had to start in October to do all the things I could have done, like a loose zig-zag over a gold cord for a garland. The possibilities are endless, so I'd expect to see another one of these in the new year. 

We shopped most of the day on Saturday.  We shop early in the morning, before the crowds, while everybody else is having coffee and snuggling in during an infrequent cold morning.  The three of us managed to pick up several gifts.  In our family, we pick most of our own gifts.  Most of the gifts we unwrap on Christmas are things we need.  Clothes, socks, kitchen tools, shoes...lots and lots of shoes.  It means there are always a lot of packages to unwrap.  And, we also try to surprise one another with a little something every year.  We tend to forget what we picked out, so we get surprises when we see things again.  Lots of people say there's no fun in that.  We laugh at those people as we walk past them in the return lines.  Because if we pick it ourselves, it's always the right size and color and just what we wanted. 

I say I don't mind the crowds.  I hate waiting in line, but other than that, I don't think I mind being among the other shoppers, looking for just the right gift...although I think people should leave their damn dogs at home.  When we took Syd to work, we went into the store she works in and I got my fill of crowds.  It was afternoon, and we saw all the crowd I was ready to deal with for this year.  I'll go back to being the guy waiting around outside the door for somebody to come unlock it while everyone else enjoys their coffee.. 

Rob spent most of yesterday wrapping gifts.  I spent a big part of it in the kitchen, making this week's dinners; tortilla soup, a chicken casserole, meatloaf and a cinnamon coffeecake.  Then, he napped and I quilted and we complained about how bad our backs hurt and then it was dinner and TV and bedtime.  Another weekend worked through on our way to the upcoming workweek. 

Everybody have a great week!  Half the joy of the season is anticipating and preparing for the season.  I gotta keep reminding myself of that. 



Tree quilts

We went to our friend's wedding this weekend.  It was beautiful.  I gave them the tree quilt, but didn't take any pictures after it was bound and finished and washed.  Mostly because I had finished it the day before the wedding.  I said, when I started it in July that I would not finish until the last minute.  Well, I put the last stitch in on Thursday, washed it on Friday and wrapped it on Saturday. 

Then, I came home and worked on another tree quilt. 

I spent a lot of time working on Rob's Mom's quilt.

I got the center together, now I need to add borders.  She doesn't have room in her apartment for a real tree, so she can hang this on the wall and it will have buttons added that she can hang ornaments from and we are sending her several flat ornaments.  I knew I was going to be in a time crunch, so I cheated on the bottom and instead of making the tree skirt in the pattern, I used a fabric printed with holiday packages. 

Still not sure about that.  It's a great fabric to use there, but not sure it's the right shape.  Since I'm not doing the tree skirt, maybe the packages fabric should be more of a rectangle.  Still thinking. 

I used five different greens and cut from all the white on white prints I own (about 6...I don't quilt with much white fabric).  I transferred the tissue paper patterns to freezer paper, so I have a set of patterns if I want to make another.  I'll pack all that together with the instructions for next time.  I think we would like one.  They're very practical, only about 2' by 6'.  I'll attach a sleeve at the top and we'll send it with a dowel so it can be hung easily.

Friday night, Syd tried on her dress for the wedding.  As much as I wanted to shout about waiting til the last minute, I said let's go shopping tomorrow and hold that one for reserve, in case we don't find anything else.  It will work.  She said it wasn't uncomfortable, but it looked like she couldn't breathe.

So, we go shopping.  Here, nothing.  There, nothing.  That other place, a black dress with so many ruffles, it looked like Jethreen (Jethro Bodeen's sister...if you're too young to know who that is, well, you're young enough to google it.)  We got to the place Rob recommended first (she said they wouldn't have anything right off) and she went one way and we went the other, and she walked up with a dress.  And, instead of saying that's the butt-ugliest dress I've seen since the black ruffles, I said try it on.  And, then she put it on and sent a dressing room pic.  And, it looked good.  Surprisingly good.  Very plain, with only a couple zippered pockets in the front.  All I saw was zippers on the hanger, but on her, I hardly noticed the zippers at all. 

So, we paid and got to the car and asked about her shoes.  Welllllllll, haven't found her shoes yet.  Doesn't know where they are...in the closet somewhere.  And, instead of shouting about waiting till the last minute, I said why don't we try a shoe store.  That's a big thing for me because I don't think it's physically possible for me to enter a shoe store and leave empty handed...and I DON'T need more shoes (I grew up with 3 pair of shoes at a time.  I'm clearly trying to make up for lost time).  Anyway, first store, don't carry anything her size.  So, we went to the place Rob recommended first (she said they wouldn't have anything right off) and found not just one, but two pair of shoes for her.  One pair she liked, one pair I liked.  When we got home and dressed and she was trying shoes, turned out I liked the pair she liked best with the dress. 

We were Groom's family at the wedding.  I assumed it would be a little more casual than it was and wish I'd dressed up more, but my family looked great!

It was a sweet ceremony.  The groom cried.  The officiate cried, the bride cried, and everybody in the audience cried.  All the bridesmaids cried.  Most of the groomsmen cried.  You'd think it was sad in some way, but it was really because this couple has dated off and on for 13 years and half the people were moved by the constancy of their love that just couldn't be separated.  The rest were moved because, like, finally!  We were moved because we've known the groom all his life and had talked to him and we knew how he felt.  And, the level of his love for his bride was moving. 

The kind of couple we all hope will meet and share a life.

Everybody have a great Monday!  Lane