Translate

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Year in Review


How is the weather where you are?   In Tennessee it is not unusual to have four seasons in one week, so this week should not have been a surprise.  Wednesday the kiddos went back to school for a full day.  Thursday the weather models were so unpredictable not even our favorite meteorologists could call it.  Schools let out after a 1/2 day on Thursday in expectation of snow.  The south doesn't get snow often enough to have a ton of snow plows or salt trucks like the US does in the snowier states.  I said expectation of snow, but it never came.   I can't tell you how sad I was not to see a snowflake.

 But Friday came.  JOY!  Our son went to school like normal.  I slept in, and about 10 minutes after waking the cat began to act a little crazy--weather crazy.  She flings her paws up on the back door and I realized why in just a few minutes and a few sips of coffee later.  SNOW!  I was so excited--so pretty.

I don't know why, but snow turns me into June Cleaver.  I ended up making French ciabata, a couple of loaves of quasi French baguettes and crustless pumpkin pie with homemade whipped cream (all unplanned) along with some bacon-based pork and vegetable soup. 


Around lunchtime I got a text, robocall and an E-mail stating school would let out an hour early due to the snow coming in.  I wasn't sad about picking up my little cutie head, but I wasn't all that sure about my ski slope of a driveway.   Yes, I did do a little slipping, but once I was out I was okay.  Our driveway slopes down to the street.  Our neighbor across the street has a driveway that slopes to the house.  I'm not only concerned about sliding into traffic, but if we're sliding too fast we're afraid of sliding into our neighbor's house.   In 16 years this has never happened, but I always try to make sure it doesn't.  

This morning there was some French bread left, so I made French toast.  So good . . . thank you France. :-)  I've slowly worked a few carbs into my diet, so when I do eat them I don't feel really awful later.


So what projects did I get completed in 2016?  I'm not a fast cross stitcher, and my focus hasn't been as much on stitching, so the larger projects I did get finished were pretty surprising.


In April I finally finished my version of Ghoultide Welcome.  This one took about seven months to complete.


Then I had to have something narrow to work on during the April flight to Mexico.  I can't think of a better project than a CHS Quaker stocking.  This got completed in July.


In August I put my needle and floss down for just a moment and headed to the quilt shop.  When I left class I had completed a Mondo Bag.



Oh, I know what I'll do next!  My version of  Barbara Ana's Love Never Fails.  Outfits went from black to indigo.  The cat breed was changed to Balinese.  Of course the personalizing to make this a wedding sampler can easily be seen at the bottom of the design.


Oh deer, I need to procrastinate one more time so I will have something to stitch at the Homespun Gathering.  So my last stitch of the year, And Heaven and Nature Sing, came in under the wire.  I wanted to stitch this as designed, but the number was just bothering me.  It just didn't make any sense, so I changed it to something with personal meaning.  Ah, that's better.  This one took just under two months.


I still wasn't quite finished with my deer, but I needed to get started on my Christmas gift for my assistant--a freebie Sub Rosa Design.  


My last stitch went in on December 30th.  I knew that I would finish nothing else before the end of the year.  To ensure I wouldn't start another project, and because I knew it would be raining at the stroke of midnight before the New Year arrived, I decided to burn my floss ball early . . . in the late afternoon.  [Gasp!]  Oh the horrors!  Well it wasn't all that bad.


There is something so cleansing that happens in my soul as the last year's floss fuels a New Year's bonfire. 


I wish you all a very blessed 2017 with lightening fast needles and floss that never tangles.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Judy






Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Comfort and Joy

Several years ago my church began a Christmas tree display.  Each tree was decorated by women of the church with a specific theme.  Trees can be toured each year beginning at the end of November.  

I teach preschool at our church, so I take advantage of the trees each year.  The children get to see the trees, and we take an inpromptu class photo.  This year I switched it up a bit.  I decided it would be fun to do a scavenger hunt.  Each child got a picture of a Christmas tree to find as we toured.  When they discovered their tree I took a picture of them with it.  This went far better than I ever expected, and we're totally doing it again next year!
"Let the Little Children Come to Me"


"The Music Tree"


"Joy to the World"

"Hark the Harold Angels Sing"


And my favorite . . . 

"The Carpenter Tree"



Of course, no Christmas decoration is complete without a manger scene . . . 


and sheepies! :-)


We chose to take the class photo with baby Jesus, and it's such a sweet picture.

Abigail decided she wanted to help me fill in the game mat for the ABCs of Christmas.

Instead of a party with my preschoolers at Christmas I share a sweet treat at lunch on the last day.  This year it was a labor of love.  For someone who bakes all her goodies It took me a while to figure out where Walmart hid the Nilla Wafers.  Fortunately, vanilla icecream was still easy to find.  

Using a 2 teaspoon scoop I filled one cookie with ice cream and topped it with another wafer for a delicious ice cream sandwhich the kids raved about.  We're totally doing this one again too and maybe later in the year when we picnic in the spring. 


My preschool classroom could not run without my assistant.  I am so greatful for them.  Every year I try to think about a gift my assistant might like.  This year I choose a freebie from Sub Rosa Designs and stitched it up.

I very loosely followed Vonna's (Twisted Stitcher) directions for how to stuff an ornament.  Okay, maybe next time I shouldn't be cutting time so close. So here is what I call the non-example. :-)


 Every year I make Giant Ginger Cookies.  The last few years I have started putting bittersweet chips in.  It is a combination made in heaven.  This was my son's favorite cookie before, but the chocolate chips have sealed it.  

If you remember from the last post I made speculaas spice mix.   This year I became curious, and added the speculaas spices instead of the regular spices.  The speculaas spices taste amazing in the speculaas, but they were a complete dissappointment in these cookies.  One of the things I like to do is form the cookies, roll them and sugar and place them on a sheet pan so they can freeze for packaging in a gallon zip top bag.  Here they are ready for the freezer.  When you're ready to bake two or three just throw them in the oven for an extra three minutes.  No defrosting required.


I learn something from springerle baking every year.  The FaceBook group I belong to was talking this year about the hartshorn causing the most problems with air bubbles in the cookies.  Sometimes it just balloons the crusty top layer, and sometimes it make the cookies look like a lumpy mattress.  The good news is they are still tasty, and I have friends that are more than willing to take them off my hands.  God bless them!


I can't forget all the issues I had with my last project.  The mistakes I've had with the current CHS design have been so minor.  Nope, there is no way the letter S is going to fit between Mr. Cardinal and the letter i.


So I gave him a flight plan for the leaf behind him.  He was so sweet to move quickly.


There is nothing like watching our joyful cat when the Christmas decorations come out for the season.


This year I went into The Old Mercantile and asked if they had a potpourri or candle that would make my house smell like their store.  No, such thing.  The store's scent is just the result of the candle section.   So off I scampered to the candles and began sampling the scents.  Some were lovely, but not what I was looking for.  Some were not my favorite, and the one in the vase below was the winner.  It was a combination of this candle and a candle melt I have 1/2 in my car and the other half in our master bedroom.

JOY

My mother has a love of nutcrackers, and I have to admit I love them too.  I'll never forget the year Daniel was in 5th grade.  His teacher played The Nutcracker in the classroom around Christmas time.  Daniel became obsesessed, and if I had a dollar for every time he played the CD I just might be a wealthy woman.


This ornament was given to me by a sweet Army wife friend when we were stationed in Japan. I had no idea what I had for years.  The first Christmas after I began making springerle it dawned on me.  This was a tiny painted paper casting of a springerle cookie.  I will treasure it always.


I'm not exactly sure what this gingerbread house is made of or how we aquired it.  I do remember this styrofoamy confection as a small child.


I'm not really sure where this ornament came from, but I love it anyway.  I think it may have been a Christmas present when I first began teaching preschool.



More childhood ornaments







This card came from my Aunt Nancy.  The photo doesn't come even close to doing it justice.  I've decided it gets to be a yearly decoration.


Well, Christmas finally arrived at the Hall home.  Of course, my husband can't let this celebration go by with out pampering any pet in the house.   The mouse is sitting on top of the box Mr. HH's gift was in.

Playing it Cool

If I play it cool maybe my friend will play with me.

Ah, this is the life!

Note the smile in the upturned lip. :-)
My husband can be quite difficult to buy for.  I thought I had it made when he gave me a hint a couple of months ago while picking up the mule chest.  I went back the week before Christmas to see about picking up that apothocary chest, and my hopes were dashed.  There was no way it would fit on his desktop inside the armoir, but he still needed drawers to organize small desk items, so I did my best.  I knew I loved the items I was buying, but would he?  

On Christmas morning he opened the box and a big smile crossed his face.  He loved it.  "Oh honey, by the way, your other present is in the mule chest because we had already recycled all the right sized cardboard boxes."  When he uncovered it another big smile crossed his face.  It was even giddier when I told him the drawers were the exact same on the other side like a our tanstu.  Typical wood pieces have a front and back.  This one looks and functions the same on both sides.   The next thing I know my musician husband is using the drawers to play the rhythm of "Jingle Bells".  I think I did okay. 



In the last year a Knitting Shop has popped up in the same block as our local quilt shop.  I use the word "knitting" very loosely.  The owner has a big long arm quilting machine in the middle of the shop where she quilts for folks.  Of course there are wool fibers galore and plans for spinning wheels and a loom.  

I visited a couple of weeks ago for a stitching night--quilting, cross stitch, needlepoint, knitting, or whatever needlart you were into.  It turns out I was the only one there, and since I brought everything but my pattern we spent the next 2 hours getting to know one another.   Gayle was absolutely charming, and we had so much more in common than I ever expected.  I am looking forward to going back.  This time with some hand quilting to do.

I don't know about you, but I just love alpacas--absolutely adorable animals.  Gayla was generous enough to send me home with a gallon size bag of alpaca fleece from Corky the alpaca.  I had mentioned I am a preschool teacher and would love to have some real fleece for my children to touch and experience.  She even gave me some tips on what may be a fun dying experience for the kids with some other fibers.   We study Rachel and the sheep each spring.  I'm so excited.


On the way to the knitting shop I had a little in car accident. There is nothing like one of those last minute stops you never see coming because it's night and dark.  The needle was eventually recoverd and nothing was broken.

However, I seat belt things in I would have never have considered before.  Here I am coming back from our last Bible Study meeting of the fall semester.


Mom has decided Christmas Dinner should still be at her house, but it's appetizers instead of dinner and afternoon instead of lunch.  This year that really worked in our favor.  We were talking about the menu.  "Judy, I have all these coctail sausages, but I don't know what to do with them. "

"Well, Mom, most people wrap them in cressent roll (croissant) dough, bake, and call them pigs in a blanket"

"I guess I could take part of my roll dough and wrap them in that."  

Let me tell, y'all, she used a little more wheat than white flour this year in her rolls, and those pigs in a blanket didn't last very long.  They are way better than those piggies wrapped in the crescent roll dough out of the refrigerator section.

Mom, this is how your camera works.

Family Photo

Silly Shot.  My family is so patient.





Christmas was over, and 2016 was drawing to a close.  I thought I was going to stitch this design as charted.  I really did, but the number kept nagging at me.  What in the world did 1827 mean.  Nothing to me so I changed it to 1809--the year my mother's house was built.  Ah, that feels better.


Normally I can keep track of where I have stitched, but not this time.  I had to call in back up with tiny snippets of sticky notes so I didn't miss or double stitch a tree.


Yes, she did!  The last project is done for the year.

Kathy Barrick's And Heaven and Nature Sing
With my final chart finished I left for Mom's for some girl time.  Old Faithful and I went over and I neglected to tell Mom when I got there.  I was pulling a fence post.  I have a very curious and hard working mother, so for her safety I pulled the post out without her.   it's too easy for something to snap and catch anyone standing too closely.  Once pulled the post I did "let her" tell me where she wanted it--:-).

Once the post was pulled we saddled over to the emu barn and worked on the wood too long to go into her wood stove.  I used the electric saw and she placed the wood into the jig before measuring it to size for me.  It has been said many hands make light work, and that day it really did.

The chain was dirty, so she unplugged the saw and showed me how she usually picks the wood out of the chain with a screwdriver.
"Hey, Mom, will you let me read the manual and clean the chainsaw out properly."
"Sure, let me go find the book."
A few minutes later she had a mostly clean chain saw, and I knew she needed a cleaning brush for the job.  I'll be donating one the next time I go over.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but so many things remind me of food as I looked at the wood that day was no exception.  The centers of logs can be fun look at. It's a little like cloud watching.  Sometimes you see the same thing as someone else.  Sometimes you don't.  I wish I had gotten a picture of one of the log slices.  It looked like it had a rabbit in the center, and yes there are still some people who eat rabbit.

My first food was a slice from a crown of pork.

Then I saw a pig even though I think the apple my mother saw in the cedar required much less imagination.


Below the wood reminds me of a slice of watermelon with a bite taken out of the top.


Saturday I was having cross stitch withdrawals.  No house stitching until the quilt is done.  I say no house stitching, but I need to put a project into my trunk for the days our son's schedule changes and I'm at school waiting for 30-45 minutes more than I'd planned.  I could listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or music, but when my hands aren't busy I become a little stir crazy.

So since I can't cross stitch, Saturday I ironed the 80 blocks needed for the quilt top.  Why all the magazines.  I use them to weight each block until it has cooled from the iron.  This keeps everything flat and in shape for trimming.


Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Judy