Thursday, December 22, 2011

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Christmas when I was growing up was not always stellar or spectacular.  My mom was famous for saying bah humbug and being in a terrible mood from just before Thanksgiving until well past Christmas.  We weren't allowed to put our tree up until Christmas Eve. When we finally got the tree it was mostly me decorating it with a bit of help here and there from my brother who really wasn't enthused about the whole ordeal.

Christmas got better when I was a teenager because my maternal grandparents moved to Maine and across the street from where I grew up.  They moved in with my great grandparents, Sophie and John, to help care for them and to get my grandfather, who had Alzheimer's, out of the city.  My grandmother, Olga, was and still is one of the strongest women Ive ever known.  Through all that was going on with caring for her aging parents and very sick husband she still had time to make Christmas wonderful for her family.

On Christmas day I would go across the street to her house to help set the table and hang out.  Olga would be cooking and direct me as to what to do then shoo me off into the living room.  My great grandmother would be sitting in her spot on the sofa next to the wood stove and she was always knitting. She made everyone in the family socks, mittens, gloves and sweaters.   I would sit with her and sneak candy from the coffee table and she would tell me story's of when she was young girl in Russia and how she came to America.

Dinner time would come and we would all gather at the table and have a fantastic feast. Throughout dinner Sophie would continually say she couldn't hear those who were speaking to her, particularly those she wasn't fond of.  After dinner she and I would retreat into the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes.  If I spoke to her she would sush me so she could evesdrop on what was being said in the dining room!  Selective hearing gotta love it! 

Those are the best Christmas memories I have, and possibly the best memories of my childhood.

So, what's your favorite Christmas memory?  

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Until this past weekend I really haven't been able to get into the swing of thing for Christmas.  It's been a challenging year with health issues; some serious and some not.  Huge and unexpected repairs to our home; a new heat pump,  having to replace leaking skylights and attack of the ten million ants which lead to having an exterminator. The recent passing of my paternal grandmother which Im still in shock from has just added to the mix of stress. 

Ive been really down in the dumps and as always Andy has done everything humanly possible to distract me and cheer me up.  It's worked.  He started with hanging lights inside and out.  We put up our tree and got almost all new ornaments for it so we could have a fresh look. 

Our tree is small and is on the coffee table in the middle of the living room.  We had to run the power cord  to it off the ground so the bunny won't nibble on it.  It's the second year we have had a smaller tree and it's working well.
Blue lights really do make me smile.  Unless of course they are behind me while Im driving.

This past weekend we drove through Amherst after our trip to the farmers market.  These adorable Nutcrakers were on display in the roundabout.

Andy has sat with me and watched nearly every Christmas movie known to man over the past few weeks (have I mentioned how awesome he is?).  My favorite is the Holiday.  Not only does it make me cry like a baby I am completely in love with the stone cottage house in it.  There are even a few sheep in one scene.

We have decorated and baked cookies.  Two batches of the spritz kind so far.  They are almost all gone.  So we wouldn't be crazy piggish with them, Andy has taken quite a few of them to work to share. 

With Christmas less than two weeks away Ive finally cheered up a bit.  I wrapped and packed all the gifts that needed to be mailed this morning and took them to the post office.  Thought of one more small goodie for Andy and stopped for that on the way home. 

As horrible as this sounds Im not doing any Christmas knitting.  Last year everyone on my list either got something hand knit or sewn.  I made myself  crazy knitting all day and late into the nights leading up to Christmas.  This year has made me think that this is what it must be like for people who don't knit.  Weird!

Monday, December 12, 2011

When Giltter and Wine Mix

This weekend Andy and I decided to take a trip to the local farmers market and hit some of the antique/junk shops in downtown Lynchburg.  We came across this unique and dated owl wall hanging.  I was going to pass it by when Andy suggested that with a little paint it would take on a whole new life.

It sounded like a great idea to me.  We brought it home and cleaned it a bit with Dawn.
Sunday a trip to Michaels was in order to pick up some supplies.  We found some great colors of paint in the Martha Stewart collection and did a base coat of Beetle Black to start with:

I then added some highlights in Sterling which is a metallic accent paint.

And then came the glitter.  I may or may not have had a glass or two of wine while waiting for the Sterling to dry.  First I added just a bit.  Then I realized that glitter is fun.  And the more glitter you add the better.  My inner tacky child was coming out.  Here is the result:

It's actually quite pretty in person.  A bit hard to photograph though.  In any case we have a cute decoration for less than $10 total.  Sucha deal!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Felted Soap

Looking for something quick and easy to make and give this Holiday Season?  Felted Soap makes a wonderful gift that even non fiber (are there such a thing?) people will love. 

 To get started you will need assorted colors of feltable roving. 

I have a big bag that came from Stony Mountain Fibers in Charlottesville, VA.  Barbara Gentry, the owner, has a lovely assortment of wool roving in all sorts of colors displayed in cubes along one wall of her shop.  I went through and put a random assortment of colors in a bag just for making soap and needle felting. 

You will also need the following:

Bars of soap  Obvious, I know, but you will still need them.  This batch came from our last vacation.  It's Crabtree & Evelyn and it was a nice hotel.  That's all Im saying!

Heat resistant kitchen gloves.  Mine are latex free.

A large glass container that can go in the microwave.  I use an 8 cup glass measuring cup.

Step one: fill the glass container 2/3 full with water and heat in the microwave until steaming but not boiling.

Step two: take small pieces of roving, about  twice as long as the bar of soap you are using, open them up and lay them on top of each other.  Randomness works best and gives the most interesting results.

You want to make sure the roving is thick enough so that for the next step no part of the soap will show through.

Step three:  Determine which side of the roving you want to show on the finished soap and place that side down.  Place the bar of soap on top of the roving.

I wasn't kidding about the Crabtree & Evelyn.  Nice, eh?

Step four: Wrap/wind the roving round the soap leaving a bit hanging over the side edges:

I smooth the roving out just a bit with my hand before the next step.  Make as many as you like, it's fun!

Step five: This is the fun part!  Put your heat safe/resistant gloves on. *note each soap is done one at a time
Making sure your water is very hot, submerge the roving wrapped soap into the water.  It is important to hold the soap so at the beginning the roving doesn't loosen up or become unwrapped.  I cradle the soap in my hand. 

Now using both hands agitate the roving on the soap.  This can be done in the water or above the water.  Re submerge the soap as necessary to keep it wet and help in the felting process. (If the roving is not felting quickly try shocking it in ice water then back to the super hot water)
When the roving is firm and appears to be felted around the soap, rinse under cold water.

Step six: Lay your finished soap in a well ventilated area to dry.  A baking rack works well.  I use an old window screen on top of a clothes drying rack.  The soaps should be dry within 24 hours.  If you live in a humid area it may take a bit longer. 

When they are dry they are ready to give!