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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas letters!

My husband is sometimes a real sweet guy well, most of the time really. This year while I was busy washing clothes and baking cookies etc., he took the time to sit down and write our Christmas letter. Normally that has been my job and it varies from year to year how I tackle it. I guess it depends on the mood I am in at the time. Sometimes they have been funny (or at least I thought so) sometimes newsy, sometimes nostalgic. This year my husband hit the nail on the head and went right to the heart of Christmas. I love this letter so much that I asked his permission to share it with all of you. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas you probably have your own special family times that will make you feel like he is speaking right to you. Enjoy! Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

I am not certain what Christmas would be like without snow. We received about six inches of the stuff a few days ago and I have to admit it has given everything a much more “ Holiday “ appearance. I know a large part of the world is warm this time of year and I am certain they have their Holiday traditions but I have always lived in the Snow Belt and a White Christmas seems much more like home to me. Granted, I grew up in North Dakota where two inches of snow can turn into a blinding, white blanket when the wind blows ( which was most of the time ). It’s just, I have memories of coming in out of the cold and snow, warming up by a warm heater and enjoying the smell of the Christmas tree and all the decorations and lights. My favorite lights were in the shape of icycles and contained some type of clear liquid which generated small bubbles which traveled up the inside of the icycle. I have never found lights like this and I imagine it is because there was something distinctly hazardous about a decoration hot enough to boil a liquid being hung on a tree which could dry out and go up like a torch. It still looked great. Gotta wonder sometimes how we survived our childhoods before all the new safety precautions came to be.

In the small town where I grew up there weren’t a lot of lights on homes. I don’t know if it wasn’t a tradition or if it was just to expensive for many of the families. We did have lights and decorations on the light poles along Main street and it was always quite the occasion to see them go up. There was a hardware store and a small gift shop on Main which would decorate their windows. The hardware, in particular, was a draw because it was stocked with toys and other gifts for Christmas. I am sure it was probably not much larger than a Superamerica convenience store but to a little kid it looked like a huge toy land.

We had a small creek which wound through most of the town. It ran behind our home and each winter we would shovel the snow off to skate. It was during the baby boom years and there were quite a few young kids living along our little street. The creek behind our house was one of the best places to clear the snow because it had some trees and a high bank to protect us from the wind as well as a light from a small park so we could see better. It was always easy to find friends for a small skating party or bonfire.

As I have gotten older, Christmas has been a time to enjoy our friends and family and remember those who can no longer be with us and the wonderful times we enjoyed. When Janet and I had children, we decided we wanted to create some new traditions we could share and hopefully they would remember as they go through their lives. We decorate the tree together, drive through our neighborhood and look at all the decorations, attend a special Children’s service at the church on Christmas Eve, bake cookies, open our gifts to one another early ( very early ) Christmas morning and so on. I am sure each of you have traditions in your families. It’s what helps bind us together and remind us who we are, where we came from and hopefully, where we are going. This can be a very busy time of year, there is always a lot to prepare for Christmas. Try to take a little time and remember what you liked the most in previous years and what you are looking forward to the most this Christmas. Having things to look forward to makes our Holiday Season special . We wish you all the best this Christmas and hope you will be able to look back on this Christmas with many happy memories.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie recipe

Several people have asked for the recipe for chocolate marshmallow cookies. In fact someone mentioned she scrolled over the photo hoping the recipe would show up and than clicked hoping the recipe would show up. Honestly that never even occurred to me and I'm not sure that I can do that with blogspot but I'll look into it for the future. Gives me something new to try to learn.

Chocolate marshmallow cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Sift together:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup cocoa

1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
approximately 18 large marshmallows cut in half
chocolate frosting

Add sifted ingredients a little at a time to the creamed mixture adding a little of the milk each time.

Drop by teaspoonful on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 min. DO NOT OVERBAKE
(Just copying my recipe here)

Pull out immediately press down 1/2 marshmallow on each cookie. Place back in the oven and bake for 2 minutes No Longer
cool & frost

We used to make a chocolate frosting from scratch with a tiny bit of coffee in it, but I'm a little lazy now I guess and just buy some pre-made milk chocolate frosting.

If something doesn't make sense here just asked. I was interrupted four times for someone wanting dinner, sometimes when I get distracted my recipe changes a little. Just ask my sister-in-law about the candy recipe I gave her a long time ago.
Have a creative day

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cookies and Decorations!

I can't show you the quilt I am working on right now since I want to try to enter it in a show. So, I thought I would show you some of the other creative activities at my house this week. Today was a baking day. I made tart cherry scones for breakfast along with scrambled eggs. The scones were wonderful.
Next I baked some banana bread since the bananas were ready for baking or mashing and freezing to be made into bread another day. I was already in the baking mode though so I went with it. We like banana bread with chocolate chips sprinkled throughout.
After that it was my daughter's favorite cookie, chocolate marshmallow. You don't truly belong to my side of the family unless you like these cookies. It is a generational cookie that we all enjoy.
Last night I made some peanut butter cookies with chocolate stars on top. I will have to make more of those later this week. I just made a small amount and they are my son's favorite so they vanish quickly.


One more cookie for me to bake is pecan tea cookies. These were always my mom's favorite and I have found myself liking them more and more as the years go by. Am I becoming my mother? hmmm......We have also been decorating our house. Two of my favorite ornaments were made by my kids when they were in school.

We each buy a new ornament every year. We've always tried to make it something that will show an accomplishment or memory from that year. Like this guy the year we learned how to cross country ski.
Or this one from the year Lloyd and I hit 25 years together. Oh, my goodness that sounds like a long time doesn't it?
We like to buy ornaments that remind us of trips we have taken as a family too. I was just reading about a study that says people really do become happier when they are reminded by photos or mementos of happy times in their life. Here are some of ours:

Lake Itasca in Minnesota

Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
A crystal wreath from Galway, Ireland
A bear from Snowqualmie Falls in Washington, we actually saw the bears when we were in Whistler, Canada on that trip so we thought this would remind us of both parts of the trip.
The Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
We are going to Arizona soon so we will have to try to find an ornament there. Since we love to play tourist and end up at the touristy places eventually, I'm sure we will find something. After Christmas I need to repair a few of my older decorations. Like this Advent calendar I made before my kids were even born. A few of the velcro dots have come off, and some of the ornaments are missing little bits. I need to fix it up before I put it away until next year.
I usually need to tighten up the stitches on a letter or two on my Merry Christmas swag. I don't remember when I made this for sure but it was probably about the same time as the Advent Calendar.
And last but not least, maybe I will have this McKenna Ryan quilt finished for next Christmas. Who knows, stranger things have happened.
Have a Creative Day.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rosie's Christmas Inspiration

I'm so excited I received a gift from Stephanie Forsyth in our quilt group gift exchange. It's an adorable framed tree. Thanks Stephanie!

Here is the gift I made for the exchange. I decided to do handwork, sometimes it is very relaxing.

Our small quilt group is named the Rosie Quilter's, originally for Roseville the city where we meet. We decided we liked being named after Rosie the Riveter too. But today the Rosie's went Russian. We went to the Russian Museum and than to a Russian restaurant (Moscow on the Hill)for our Christmas celebration. It really was amazing. It's not a huge museum but they pack a lot into it. There was an exhibit of photos from the Silk Road and an exhibit of Matryoshka dolls and many paintings. The gift shop was a hit with our group. I came away with a Christmas ornament and a new address book. The food at the restaurant was fantastic.

Have a creative day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas postcards complete!

Just in the nick of time. The due date for mailing is tomorrow, so as long as I can get out of my driveway, I'm OK. It's been snowing most of the day and is supposed to continue all night. I have trouble with our snow blower and my husband is away on business. Maybe I can bribe my son to do it. He is always asking for ways to earn some money.

I'm happy with these cards. I've never mailed any with beads before, so I stitched a few more times than I normally would. I've received cards with beads, so they should make it through to their destinations.

Here is an unfinished card. I thought about doing these for my threadpainted cards for Postmark'd art. The group was larger than I expected though and it took quite a bit of time and thread to make my flamingo. Not sure who I will send this to but it will go in the mail one day.

I have five rows complete for my chip bag purse. Just one more to go. Maybe I can finish it for Christmas! I plan to make a lining and sew the zipper to the lining. At least that's my plan for now.

I'd better go, I have a few more beads to sew on one more postcard.
Have a creative day

Monday, December 7, 2009

"In the meadow..."

Christmas carols are running through my mind lately. I guess that is what inspired my Christmas landscape postcard. "In the meadow we can build a snowman..." They are all cut out now. I have one fused and three to go and than some thread painting to add to the scene. Having fun playing with these in between loads of laundry etc today. I'll show you the finished cards later today or tomorrow.

I did make it to visit my mom yesterday. It was very nice. The retirement home was decorated beautifully for the holidays. They had cookies and coffee and a sing-a-long. They had a few people playing instruments as well. One played violin which was my mom's instrument too, so she enjoyed hearing that. She also liked Emma's tree and it is now hanging on the door to her room.

I took a photo of the stitchery I did for my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Thought I would share that with you. This is one of the many mementos hanging in her room that make it feel like home to her.

Sounds like the washer has stopped so I'd better run.
Have a creative day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Emma's tree decorated

My plant is blooming again! I just love flowers like this in December!

Thought I would do a quick post to show you Emma's tree with decorations. This one is going to my mom tomorrow. At least I hope it is. I came down with something on Friday and wasn't able to go to the Christmas brunch today. I was looking forward to this as I have never gone before. I even finished my stocking to give to the children's home before I was attacked by something nasty. I'm feeling somewhat better now and hopefully one more good nights sleep will take care of it.

Anyway, here is the decorated tree

Here is the label I made for the back.

Here is the stocking I made for the Children's home. I will have to call on Monday and see if I can mail it to them.

Otherwise my eighteen year old says it is time for the Care Bear Stocking to go. Do you think he would take Winnie the Pooh as a replacement? Hummm...... Here is the Care Bear Stocking I made when he was little. I think he is just wanting a larger stocking!

Have a Creative Day

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Emma's trees

The last couple of days I have been making Christmas trees. A member of the learningfiberarts yahoo group lost her daughter to cancer aproximately four years ago. At the time she found herself awake during the night often and needed to keep herself occupied. She found herself cutting squares of fabric, and more squares of fabric. She began making trees for everyone she knew. This year to honor our friend and her memory of her daughter our group is making Emma's trees. She said it will make her granddaughters proud to know their mom's trees are being made all over the world. I have one finished and three more that just need the backing.

I'm planning to decorate them with a star at the top and some simple ornaments and jingle bells. I plan to give one to my mom for her room in the nursing home. My daughter wanted one. I would like one and I'm still thinking about the fourth.

Tomorrow I need to make a Christmas stocking. I'm going to the Minnesota Quilters Christmas brunch this Saturday and they give stockings to children. I think it's a pretty simple pattern so it shouldn't take long. (I hope).

Sunday I hope to drive to visit my mom for their Christmas celebration. It depends on the weather. We are finally starting to look like winter here. It's been unseasonably warm, not that I'm complaining, but didn't seem like winter at all.

So, it will be Monday before I do any more creating. I plan to make my Christmas postcards on Monday. Here are a few of my Christmas decorations that are ancient now. I made the Christmas is Sharing quilt about 25 years ago. I made the snowmen about 8-9 years ago. My sister-in-law made the Santa. I need to get my decorations out tomorrow, I'm behind with that but I'm ahead on my shopping so I guess it all evens out!

Have a creative day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone,

Sorry, I haven't been posting much lately. I've been doing some thinking and planning for now. After Thanksgiving I will be jumping back into the creativity whirl with a number of things I want to finish and start. I have 3 Christmas themed postcards to complete, a quilt for a juried show I want to try to enter, several quilts to finish on my longarm, finish piecing a couple of quilts I started, I have about ten pop cans cut apart and ready to be printed and added to something creative, and I have a sack full of silk scarves that I plan to make something with as I had no luck trying to sell them. Any thoughts.

Today I am cutting a number of chip bags to take in the car tomorrow. I plan to work on my chip bag purse. If you look at my last post on this, it only has three rows so far. The four hour car ride to my brother's for Thanksgiving will give me lot's of folding time. Looking forward to the ride with my husband and children as well as the chance to see lot's of family that I only see once or twice a year.

When my son was little we would buy State magnets for our refrigerator each time we traveled to a different state. I tried to place them more or less where they would actually be in relation to each other on a map. He kept trying to move the states with relatives closer to our own state. Wouldn't it be nice if it were that simple. I am thankful for technology that enables me to be closer to those I love.

I am thankful for the ability and desire to grow and change and learn.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the states!
Have a creative day!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Postcards complete!

I finished the last group of postcards for Postmark'd Art. This group had 21 people and the theme was 'Anything Goes'. Before joining this group I had done 5 postcards at the most for a group. I found that a group this large was draining for me. Many people were energized by the number but for me it seemed to create a block. So, I will have to try to remember that and only sign up for smaller groups in the future. They are each a little different but fairly similar so I will post a few.

I borrowed the recycling theme from another group and cut up bits and pieces of leftover scraps from previous projects. I than added some embellishment and did some free motion quilting. I spiced it up a little by using solar sensitive thread for the quilting. When placed in the sun the thread color will show, otherwise it looks white. I was hoping for a really sunny day for my photos but had to settle for overcast. The color will show up more on a brighter day. I put those in the mail yesterday. I have received more postcards and will be adding those to my slideshow soon. Just wondered do you find the slideshow irritating? Would it be better just to have a clickable link?

I'm not really done with postcards completely as I signed up for a Christmas postcard exchange in the Valerie Hearder landscape group. I will only need to make three cards for this one (four if I make one for myself). I just signed up for that and already have lot's of ideas bouncing around in my mind. That is a better size group for me. All three cards will be traveling to other countries, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland. It will be fun to see what I get in return.

I've just joined SAQA. I want to begin my journey as a more focused artist now. They have something new called the Visioning Project. With the suppport of this group I will be able to prioritize my goals, to lead me where I want to go with my art. I'm feeling very scattered at this point, while I love learning new skills and will continue to do so, I also want to plan for the future. Lot's to think about right now but I think having a cohesive body of work by the end of the year would be a good goal for me. Still refining and thinking so I have some self reflection to do right now. Have a creative day! Janet

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween fun!

We enjoy Halloween at our house. I think we secretly crave being actors. Dressing up as something other than who you are everyday, is always fun. My son decided to be the Lucky Charms Leprechaun this year. He purchased a hat and it came with the little tufts of fur(facial hair?). I dyed a jacket for him. I used one of the jackets I brought back from my mom's. It was stained and I couldn't get the stain out. I've only dyed natural fabrics before so I wasn't sure if it would turn out. Here is a photo of before, during and after.

My daughter was fire. She went with a group of friends who were each a different element, i.e. water, wind etc. She purchased a devil costume. It was a little short so I added some to the length and than made some cutouts within the body of the cotume. Here she is before hair and make-up. Also a couple of close-ups.

We put out a few decorations yesterday afternoon. The guy sitting in the chair upset our dog. He barked at it the first couple of times he saw it and than tried to jump up in it's lap. A couple of kids who came to trick or treat wondered if it was real. Didn't need to put out any fake spider webs as we just left the ones we really have! Realistic touch.

I started the Anilee Treasure Hunt today. I will end up with a quilt designed by Stephanie Forsyth. Can't wait to see it!
Have a creative day.
ps: did you see that Leah Day has her first DVD of free motion quilting designs for sale?