Sunday, January 21, 2018

Christmas Countdown

I have seen a lot of ideas of wrapping up 24 books for kids so they can open one each day in December to count down to Christmas.  I put a little different twist to that.  I wrapped up 24 little gifts for the grandkids so they could open one each day leading up to Christmas.
They recently moved so they are about 10 hours away from us and although they did make it home for a few days between Christmas and New Year's, I knew they would not be here on Christmas Eve like usual.
When they moved the end of November, I sent the first 6 gifts with them.  Since my daughter and I were going to drive out to help them unpack once the moving van arrived, we took the rest of the gifts with us to save them space in their vehicles for other things. 
And since I knew we would be with them from 12/6 to 12/11, I planned out the gifts so they would open ones during that time that I could help them with. 
So here are a few of the gifts - 

Disney play doh set.  

Snowflake streamers

 Funny glasses - snowman and penguin

Gingerbread cookie kit - this was one that they opened while I was there.

Reindeer ring toss.

Some Christmas dishes - Addie enjoyed the bubble wrap. 

Melissa & Doug birthday cake so they could celebrate Mommy's birthday.

Some others things were books, Christmas socks, bath towels, puzzle books, toothbrushes, and flashlights. 

And while visiting them waiting for the moving van (which was a week late) we had lots of other fun.

Making Christmas shirts.

Matching Gingerbread manicures.

Playing hide and seek.

                                                                  Their turn to seek.

iPad puzzles and videos

2 years old!

Reindeer donuts.

Christmas Tradition

My absolutely favorite Christmas tradition is our family ornaments.  In 1977, my sister Jane decided to surprise everyone. She had purchased a pair of socks for each person that would be at our house for Christmas Day - ranging in ages from 76 years to 3 months old.  She also had a little gift to stick in the socks.  A squeeze toy for the babies, candy for the kids and adults.  It was so much fun the next day, especially my mom's surprise!

The next year we bought some engraved ornaments for everyone and hung them on the mantle. And in 1979 we found some small wicker baskets in a variety of shapes and put some candy in them for everyone.   Then she got married and moved to Michigan and I took over playing Santa.   Since Jane and her husband would not be home for Christmas, I decided I would make an ornament for everyone in the immediate family (parents, siblings, their spouses and children) as well as our aunt that lived with our parents and an aunt and uncle that spent the holiday at our home.

That is how it became an ornament tradition.  I would find some pattern or kit and work on them throughout the year - making about 20- 24 over the years.

In 1988, I got married in November and did not have a lot of time to work on them so made some little cardstock boxes from a kit and filled them with candy. In 1989,  I had a baby in December.  Jane and I both worked on some cross stitched ornaments.  In 1990, I was pregnant with my second child and I decided I did not have the time for making the ornaments - plus  the family had grown to over 35 by then.   When I announced at our Christmas gathering that this was the last year, my sisters had another idea.  The three of us would work on them together - and we did for the next 26 years!

Quite a few of those years we got together for a Sisters' Weekend retreat and either planned the year's ornaments or actually worked on them.  Some years we planned our ornaments on Christmas Day - looking ahead to the next year.  Some years it took us a couple months of tossing ideas back and forth to decide.  A couple years other family members pitched in and made the ornaments.  But every year we had ornaments for everyone.  It became a much anticipated part of our Christmas gathering.

This year I found an idea and Jane was going to play around with it to come up with a prototype.  However, that never happened.  Jane died in May after battling breast cancer for the last 10 years.  That left just 2 sisters to make 50 ornaments!  And we had to come up with an idea in June.  I'm not sure how it started but I got the idea of some sort of beehive ornaments since Jane collected bee/beehive items and her trademark on her handmade cards was a bumblebee.  Some searching on Pinterest, a trip to Joann's to check out their novelty buttons and a search for Sizzix die cuts and the plan came together.   A stuffed felt beehive ornament with a couple bee buttons attached.

 Isn't it cute?  And is just perfect to honor Jane.  It was so much fun making these.

And each one is a little different.  The position of the bees or the paths for their flight are unique for each one.

This is our tree before the family party on 12/30.  The day before we took all the ornaments off and packed them away.  Then once we distributed the beehive ornaments, the tree was all ready to have the lights taken off and packed away before New Year's Day.

So thankful for this tradition and we will be continuing it.  We already have next year's planned and supplies purchased.  And I suspect when we sisters aren't able to do it any more, a few of the nieces may step up to carry on the tradition.  (Or at least I hope so)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Year Goals

Boy - it has been quite a while!  One of my goals for 2018 is to use the stash of Stampin Up tools and supplies that I have sitting aside - things I have ordered but never used yet. So hopefully I will have some techniques and ideas to share here. Over the past week I have concentrated on using up some of the Designer Series Paper (DSP) that I have accumulated.   I chose several layouts from Pinterest and one evening while we were watching a movie I sat and cut up about 8 sheets of DSP into the shapes needed to complete the cards.  Then over New Year's weekend I put the cards together - making a few changes of course :-)   Today I grabbed a few more sheets of DSP and cut each sheet up to make 3 envelope liners (6 x 6 squares) and then with the last section I cut into shapes to use on the front of cards.  I cut a 2 inch strip from one side and then cut the remaining 4 x 6 into 2 equal rectangles of 4 x 3.

And I got 3 unique cards with coordinating envelopes.  So quick and simple.

And from some of the scraps I had in the package of DSP I made these cards.  I had a bunch of arrow die cuts from the colors in the designs stuck in the package from a previous project.

I also purchased a Rival CrockPot Express multi-cooker before Christmas.

I had 2 crockpots and did not like the smaller one as it did not have a Warm function.  The handle cracked and fell off in pieces in November and I found this model on sale at - so I am now venturing into Instant Pot cooking.   Last night I made Spaghetti with meat sauce and it was a big hit!  Tom especially liked that there was only one pot to clean up afterwards - and it cleans very easily!  I included the brand names in the recipe because several in a Facebook group I follow said they made it but there's was watery.  Mine was not - so may be the brands that make the difference.  I also hope to be adding to my recipes blog as I find 'keepers' for the instant pot.   My recipes blog is my online cookbook :-)

Other news - we hosted my family Christmas on December 30.  It was a good time with about 40 people ranging in age from 2 to 77.  Lots of good food and fun. And of course, our traditional ornaments. I'll be posting about that tradition and some other Christmas ideas.  Here is a picture of the siblings - one less this year :-(

So hope all you who are following will enjoy my posts.  Feel free to share them with friends or pin on Pinterest.  And if you use any of the ideas/designs - please leave me a comment or photo of yours.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Miscellaneous stuff

A fun thing I have done a couple times is to post a cross stitch project in progress on Facebook and ask my friends to guess what I am stitching.   I usually get quite a few guesses and always amazes me what others see in the stitching.  Recently I posted this series.

 Believe it or not, someone actually guessed correctly from these few stitches.

Added a few more stitches.  Lots of random guesses.  Even knowing what it is, I have trouble 'seeing' the picture here. 

And a few more on the other side.

Taking shape here.  

Pretty obvious now.

The finished piece.  I actually stitched two of the same design for some lap quilts.  These are for a couple gentlemen that are roommates through a charity, Quilts for Older Children and Adults.

 This is another project - a baby blanket.  Loves the colors in the "Sundae Stripes" yarn.  I'm making two of these also - twin girls.   How fun!

And I have to post some sort of food picture :-)  This was a weight watchers recipe - Salsa Stuffed Green Peppers.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cooking, cards, and cross-stitch

Need to update on some recent recipes and cards.

Added some new recipes to my Recipes blog.  Check them out.   The bacon wrapped chicken breasts were a big hit.  Tom said I can make it any time I want.  It is a freezer meal and really pretty simple but looks like you slaved away in the kitchen :-)
Some others I added -
Slow Cooker Stroganoff
Skinny Southwestern Goulash
Sauteed Zucchini and Carrots
Greek Yogurt Pancakes

I've also been playing in the craft room.  Here are some of my favorite cards that I've made recently.

 I call this one "Rob Peter to Pay Paul"  It reminds me of that quilt pattern.  I tried to find an image of the pattern my mom did by that name.  The photo below is pretty close.

This card uses my new stitched shapes framelits.  The framelit cuts the circle and also makes the little stitching design around the edge.  

Another stitched shape framelit.  The sets has various sizes of circles, ovals and squares.  I think I'll be using them a lot!

Here I used some paper piecing.  I stamped the dress on the Very Vanilla and also on the piece of DSP.  I cut out the dress from the DSP and glued it to the design on the Very Vanilla card stock.  It is one of my favorite techniques.

I've also completed a couple cross stitch quilt squares recently. I have to limit my cross stitch time because of tendonitis in my elbow.  Gripping the fabric with my left hand aggravates the tendonitis. I think I'll be looking into some sort of frame to hold my stitching so I don't have to use my left hand :-)

 This Bassett Hound is for a Dogs theme stitch-a-long.  

This is a piece I found in the drawer that was half done.  I finished it up and it can go in the Dogs theme stitch-a-long too.

Easter weekend

I spent Easter weekend in Minnesota with my sister Jane and family.  My daughters, grandkids, and I took a road trip - stopping off at my niece Jill's in Iowa on the way there.   Such a good time - the kids did very well.  It was so much fun to see them get better acquainted with these family members.

A few pictures from the weekend -

 Story time with Cousin Jill.  Derek sat there for about 2 seconds :-) 

 Saturday donuts at the local bakery.  

Dying eggs

Sidewalk art

Chasing bubbles

Red Leaf breakfast - Chef Josh is peeping out from the kitchen.

Easter Sunday

Monday, March 6, 2017

Cooking and Pearls

I'll gotten serious about cooking again.  I have been pretty lazy this winter and not really planned my menus, just grabbed something from the freezer.  And at least once (usually twice) a each week we have picked up something.  And my clothes are telling me it is time to stop that nonsense and plans some healthy meals.  So I've been browsing Pinterest and Wildtree and have a plan for this week at least. 

 Last night was Pork Medallions and Mushrooms.  Sliced pork tenderloin is browned in a skillet while mushrooms are roasting in the oven.  Both are combined in a the oven with some Wildtree Piccata Sauce.   Served over rice and I make some quick and easy frozen broccoli for our side.
It was a big hit!

Another Wildtree meal tonight - Sweet Onion Chicken and Spinach Salad.   This is from the Easy Breezy freezer meal workshop.  The chicken cooked in the crockpot with sliced onions and the Wildtree Sweet Onion Dressing.  Served it on a bed of spinach with diced apples, yellow pepper, scallions and bacon.  Top with a little more of the Sweet Onion dressing and had a couple Cheese Twists on the side (my daughter helped make those using canned pizza crust). 

I've also developed a fondness for an online pearl harvesting show - Shuck It is the name of the company.  People order the pearls - sight unseen - and the ladies shuck the oysters on a live feed.  It is really fun to watch.  There are several but Shuck It is my favorite. You prepay for the number of oysters you want - discounts on larger orders.  They let you know what evening they will be opening your oyster.  I never realized there were so many natural oyster colors. These are not dyed like some are.   

 This is a screen print from my phone of some one person had purchased.  The lower right is a dark lavendar - not very common.   These were all for the same person.  In the center column, the two side by side were from the same oyster - twins!   If you happen to get twins in your oyster, it's a bonus.   And if the oyster is empty, they pull another one for you.  I have watched several times and have never seen an empty one.  There are a good number of twins though.

The bottom one here is called a 'gold nugget'.  It was such a dark gold and it very rare.  The gal that was shucking just kept saying "Oh my malanta!".  She couldn't get over how dark it was.  
It's really fun to see what each person gets.