What happens when you put two ladies together, friends with a Lutheran church connection and a need to be more creative?


Welcome to our journey of creative discovery!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the fifth day of Christmas...

Some Christmas Remembrances

The book from my childhood.  It's falling apart, but will never be replaced.

  We spent Christmas Eve all together watching "It's a Wonderful Life".  The ending brings me to tears every time.  Then it was pajamas and time to read "The Night Before Christmas."  I have a collection of "The Night Before Christmas" books, but, on Christmas Eve, we must read from the one my father read to my brothers and I from.  No matter how many other beautiful illustrated versions I have, this is the one for me.  Up until last year, if my father was over, it was his job to read the story aloud to us all. Sadly,  Dad's dementia has advanced to the point that reading aloud to us is no longer possible. So the kids piled into bed with their father and I and we read the book aloud.  Boy we used to fit in that bed with a lot more room to spare a few years ago!  But I'll take that kind of crowding any day.  Then off to bed so Santa could visit!

 Christmas morning!  Our savior is born! 

The nativity set of my childhood.  One of the wise men is missing.  We will find him one day in one of our many Christmas boxes.  For now, we pretend he has temporarily stepped back from the scene, perhaps to ponder with amazement where the star has lead him. 

With two teenagers and one just turned 20, gone are the days of my husband and I being woken up at dawn. Our youngest, 13, was still the first one up, though it was an hour or two after sunrise.  His older sisters had to be gently nudged awake.
On Christmas morning, first come the stockings.  There are always two things we can count on Santa leaving in each stocking. The first is a fresh, juicy clementine in the toe of the stocking.  Santa does this to remind us of how blessed we are.  Omi, the children's great-grandmother, and my grandmother, grew up in a small, simple  house on a farm in Germany with 10 or 11 siblings. As you can image, money was scare.  On Christmas, each child received an orange as their sole gift.  It was a special treat and something they treasured.
 The second thing Santa always leaves in each of our stockings is a little piece of Christmas wrapping paper.  This is Santa's hint as to which presents under the tree belong to each of us.  What a smartie that Santa is!

 Next comes the hunt for the pickle!  Somewhere on the tree is hidden a blown glass pickle ornament. The child to find the pickle first gets to open the first present.  But do you know what?  Santa forgot to hide the pickle this year!  So Daddy came to the rescue and, as the children hid their eyes,  he hid one of his favorite ornaments instead.  Eva was the lucky seeker this year.  More tomorrow...I have kept those dirty dishes waiting long enough.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twas the week before Christmas...

The decorating is finally underway.  I think it will be quite simple this year. More on that another day...

My version of the wreaths Carol and I made.

Angel on top of our tree.

My daughter Eva started decorating one of the doll houses for me.  Looks like a white Christmas for the doll folk. 

Some of my son Daniel's nutcracker collection.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Ho-Hum Ha-Ha

 Well, it has taken me forever to get into the Christmas spirit this year.  And this seems to be a season of sad news for me and people dear to me.  And then on Monday, Cynthia and I made wreathes.  I hope she posts the pictures she took soon (but she is being distracted by a two week substitute teacher stint).  This is mine hanging for only a moment on my front door.  Once I closed the outer storm door I squished the wreath.  So it is hanging on the inside of my door (the white side so not as good of a contrast).    I may change the "picks".  All in all it was a fun project to work on with Cynthia and put me into more of a Christmas spirit than I had been. I like the wonkiness of my wreath.  Cynthia aimed for symmetry and I think succeeded.  My creation had a bit of a mind of its own.

How did we get this idea you ask?  Cynthia and I were shopping for Olivia's art supplies (see some previous post) and spied these wreathes on the way into the store.  We had a light bulb moment and decided it would be our first Advent "secret" project.  I made two wreathes actually, one went to my Mother and Dad.  Theirs is green and goes well with their white door.  I will take its picture someday...  It was to be their front door surprise wreath, but my sister Ruth put a greenery wreath on her door that morning to surprise them.  Great minds think alike?

Christmas 2011 Carol's Wonky Wreath
I even accomplished the majority of my Christmas shopping.  My daughters will be home next week (Jocelyn on Dec. 21 and Emily on Dec. 22).  Between now and then I hope to do some Christmas decorating.  Maybe some baking.  Or even make my formerly annual fudge.  (I haven't made it in a few years.) 

It seems the less I get done around my house the more bah humbuggy I get in December.  So this year I am working extra hard to accomplish things on my house.  And I will continue in the new year. (NOT a resolution.  I don't make them.  Then failure is not so obvious.)

I hope everyone is enjoying their preparations for our greatest gift of all - - Jesus!

Blessings to all this holiday season,

Friday, December 9, 2011

Granny Squares and Left Handedness

I made one of these 6 inch granny squares for a swap I'm in and decided that I wanted to make a whole bunch more for my own blanket!  I've always admired but never made a granny square blanket. And its a good use for all the yarn I bought earlier in November.  (Note to self - I am using a size G hook)

  I love making these squares except for the fact that my thumb really hurts!  Ouch!  Joint pain. I think I need to experiment with other ways to hold my needle.

 I am left handed but I crochet with my right hand. This is because my dear Omi (German grandmother) taught me to crochet and she was definitely right handed. She came from a time when being left handed was just not allowed!  As a matter of fact my mother was also left handed. This was quite a consternation to both her parents who tried to force her to use her right hand. At that time my grandparents owned a German bakery/luncheonette on 2nd Avenue in New York City, not far from Bellevue hospital. The doctors would come in for coffee and a bite to eat.  They saw what was happening and told my grandfather that it was very damaging to force a child to be right handed against their own natural inclination. So, good for Grandpa, he and my grandmother immediately stopped their attempts and allowed my mom's left handedness to blossom. As it turned out both my brothers and I are all lefties. Omi, who lived with us my entire life, was simply surrounded by lefties!  While she accepted it, watching me chop vegetables with a large knife in my left hand always gave Omi great anxiety. "Ach, ja!" she would say. "You are going to cut your fingers off using a knife with your left hand like that!"

Omi tried to teach me to knit and crochet left handed but it was just too difficult for her to figure out. So I am a righty in these things.

Now, what to do about my aching thumb?

Square number 1 hanging out in front of my doll house.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lily's new hat

 Baby Lily will be receiving a new hat for Christmas from her grandma Karin (a friend of mine and Cynthia). 

Karin commissioned a hat from me and this is what I came up with.

This is the back view ============>

I really loved creating this hat!  Baby hats are so much fun to design.  I hope to get a photograph of Lily wearing her hat to post after Christmas!


Snowflakes and Violets in Winter

 I am working on crocheting snowflakes and doilies.  These are blocked but not yet starched.   

I love the snowflake on the right side of the picture to the left.  It looks like I expect a snowflake to look.  That said, did you know that there are no two identical snowflakes? 

The one to the right is my favorite doily style so far. 

This one on the left is called a snowflake but it has eight points.  I thought that snowflakes only had six points.  
While I am thinking snowflakes, my violets that sit on a shelf over my kitchen sink decided to bloom.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Some progress...

Hooray! Progress has been made on the family room since my last post. It's been a long day of cleaning and organizing.  Now its time to figure out how to arrange the furniture in the living room around the Christmas tree we brought home yesterday.
One of my metal dollhouses with two Playmobil neighbors. 

An unfinished punch needle/quilt project waiting for some attention.

Unfinished (yes another one) wool penny rug with one of my toy sewing machines and a favorite photo of Mom and Eva. Boy have I been missing Mom lately. 

Poor little mini stocking waiting patiently to be finished

Friday, December 2, 2011

The stockings were hung...but the house is a mess

I am in the middle of a two room renovation.  Books, yarn, craft supplies, baskets and so much more are piled everywhere. The laundry pile is growing exponentially while waiting to be done.  Company is arriving from Holland in two days and will need one of the torn-apart rooms to sleep in.  The whole house must be cleaned and food bought and prepared. So... it seemed like a good time to try and make a mini Christmas stocking! I saw these on  Le monde de Sucrette. and loved them. This stocking was squeezed in during coffee breaks and while helping the kids with homework.  It was good practice for me with working in rounds. I'm not satisfied with my seams, but I think the next stocking will show improvement. I'm hoping to squeeze in 4 more before Sinterklaas day so each of my children and my niece and nephew from Holland can get one filled with small treats.

Now its time to start moving books...

   We are renovating our basement. It used to be a beautifully finished playroom for the children - a full wall of bookcases filled with all the books we loved to read, a play kitchen and table for imaginative tea parties and games of "restaurant", the baby dolls and their cradles and high chairs, the wooden lincoln logs and train set that we loved to arrange and rearrange over and over, the toy tool bench for creating wondrous things and so much more. Many, many wonderful hours were spent in the playroom.
   Then the room flooded due to a big rain storm. The carpeting was ruined and some of the bookcases were damaged along the bottom.  The carpet was replaced.  Time passed. Another flood and the second carpet was ruined and more damage to the bookcases. Now the children are older. The old toys are put away. The basement is being redone as part office and (larger) part creative space for all to share. The walls have been painted a cheery greenish blue (or blueish green I guess). A new, hopefully flood-proof floor has been installed by my hubby. The most damaged bookcase has been discarded and the other two cleaned. We have decided to move the wall of bookcases in the den to the basement and move the two remaining basement bookcases to the den.
   So today I need to sort out all of these books - gardening, cooking, art, crafts, beloved childrens' books that we cannot bear to put away, travel and on and on. This is how I left the spaces last night.  I hope I will have tremendous progress to show you later in the day.
No stocking breaks today!  But I do have to go AC Moore (the local art/craft/yarn store) to pick up art supplies for my daughter's art class tomorrow.  Carol....did you hear that... we need to go to AC Moore...on a husband-sanctioned trip...

The basement before the first of 4 shelving units is filled and organized. Yikes!

Other end of shelving unit. That's my grandmother's table which I will eventually (when its cleared) use as a work surface.

The back wall of the den as I left it last night.  This is where I start today.

Friday, November 25, 2011

What a nice surprise

My Christmas cactus is blooming beautifully! This never ceases to amaze me because I don't think I take very good care of it all year long. I do much better with outdoor plants. Nonetheless,  I was greeted this week with these gorgeous blooms. A true gift!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Preparations

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We are busy here at home preparing for Thanksgiving - the shopping is done, food for tomorrow is being prepped, the kids are helping to clean the house and my hubby is trying to finish stage 1 of our basement redo - painting and laying down a new floor.  Eva comes home from college tonight and we are all looking forward to catching glimpses of Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade tomorrow.  Our favorites are the balloons, marching bands, Radio City Rockettes (reminds me of all the Christmas and Easter shows Omi, my grandma, used to take me to as a child) and of course Santa!  Now its back to work...
Flipping through some of my old favorite cooking magazines for inspiration.

Preparing the red cabbage the way Omi used to.

Sweet potatoes next.
 Kids love them mashed with marshmallows on top.
 Just the way I had them when I was growing up!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Something old, Something New

Some Progress on Daniel's Blanket
Well I have added a few more rows onto Daniel's blanket. This is usually my take-along project to do when watching F-Troop with Dad. He likes to watch the same episode over and over. That's OK. It's time together. 

Something New
Sometimes in the midst of a long project I get the urge to do something a bit quicker and different. Some immediate satisfaction. So I am using some of the lovely yarn I bought (on sale hubby, on sale) to make covers for my three wooden stools. I was inspired by seat covers I saw on another blog (I will post the link as soon as I can remember where I saw it (Carol do you remember?) Right now I am playing with colors and pattern.  But its time to put it away for today and get to the housework, food shopping and pack for the Youth Retreat I am attending as a  chaperone for six of our church's Jr, high students.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Squares of Comfort

Carol came over today for our weekly creativity fest. She was a little bleary-eyed from her trip to the eye doctor and I had to leave for an hour for parent-teacher conferences at the middle school (it was so good to see my former colleagues!) so we didn't actually get a lot of creating done. We are still trying to figure out this world of blogging (what exactly is the difference between following a blog and becoming a member?), so we spent some time on that. Also, Carol brought along two big bags of 8 inch squares that our friends at church have been making. She started (a year and a half ago?) a crochet group at church. Carol is a great teacher and has taught many women and some of our girls to crochet. I was always too busy or exhausted  juggling my family and teaching job to get to any of these meetings. Then last December I stopped working (that's a story for another post) and one of the benefits was that I could now go on Tuesday nights! The group has evolved into more than just crochet - some crochet, some knit, some do beautiful needlework, some make jewelry, another draws and paints,  and one little girl came and brought her shrinky dinks to make jewelry with! We enjoy creating and sharing our lives together. Aside from our own projects and gifts, we are going to assemble blankets to donate. That is where the 8 inch squares come in. These are just a few of the many - all different styles, colors and patterns. In January we will begin the task of designing and sewing together the blankets.
I haven't seen the squares I made in a while. Looking at them I am reminded of my dad.  When I made these he had just moved into an assisted living and I crocheted squares as I sat with him and watched his favorite movies.  Dad has dimentia and I knew the move, while essential,  was the beginning of a long, sad decline. Focusing on learning different patterns helped to ease the turmoil of knowing that the dad I knew was slipping away.  I hope the blanket made with my squares will bring comfort to someone else, child or adult,  going through a difficult time.