Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Time for Traditions

December 12, 2018
Lani Longshore tradition-turkey-12-12-18

I am just about ready to start my holiday baking, and decided to use my quilt guild’s Unfinished Quilt Challenge to guide me. I bought a chocolate turkey for a Thanksgiving decoration but had no clear plan for what to do with it after Thanksgiving. Yes, I intended to eat it, but how? It’s a solid little bird, and I had no desire to be gnawing on it until Easter. Then I remembered the challenge, and how we were advised to repurpose old projects so we would have a reason to finish them.“Self,” I said, “repurpose that turkey into fudge.” My mom used to use a stick of butter, a bag of marshmallows, and a bag of chocolate chips to make a quick candy. I figured I could do the same, but I cut the marshmallows down to half a bag (because that’s what I had). Add a few maraschino cherries while it’s setting up, and you’re done.

Luck and wisdom!

The Gifts Your Character Receives

December 10, 2018

My mother sent me some Christmas ornaments that she inherited from a friend. Although I did not know this friend, Mom knew I would appreciate her workmanship, and wanted to make sure her legacy survived a little while longer. I appreciate the gift, not only because the ornaments are beautiful, but also because my mother trusts me to cherish them,and pass them on to someone else who will love them.

This got me thinking about character development. What is your protagonist trusted with, aside from carrying the plot? Is she the cousin who gets all of the batty uncle’s books because only she will take the time to catalog them? Is she the gardener who ends up with dying houseplants because her friends know she’ll nurse them back to health? Is she the keeper of the calendar for herself, her family, her church study group, and the neighborhood babysitting co-op? Whatever gifts she receives tells something about her (even more if she keeps them).

Luck and wisdom!

Jolabokaflod – An Icelandic Christmas Treat

November 26, 2018

Giving books at Christmas is an Icelandic tradition that goes back to World War II. It’s called Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood). It helps that Iceland’s literary history goes back to the medieval era, and that every Icelander gets a book catalog sometime in November from the Iceland Publishers Association. As an independently published author I would love to see a Christmas Book Flood start in this country, so I have to wonder why most Icelanders buy books and most Americans don’t (or at least that’s what I’ve been told).

I am on the far edge of the book-buying curve. My one regret is I buy books by the pound and read by the page, so I’ve got stacks of unread books around the house. They go nicely with my stacks of unfinished quilt projects because if push comes to shove I can throw some fabric over the books and call them end tables.

One of the reasons I don’t read as much as I would like is that reading is a treat for me. It’s my reward for getting all the chores finished and my deadlines met. Since I acquire obligations at the same rate I acquire books (and fabric), you can see my problem. Even if the chores are done, there is always some deadline or other hanging over my head.

I suspect that is true for many Americans. Reading for pleasure is treated as an indulgence. I think the Icelanders have a better idea – reading is a treat, yes, but a vital one, like making time for family or enjoying the outdoors. I say it is time to be nicer to ourselves, and revel in the joy of reading. If that encourages you to buy more books for Christmas presents this year, so much the better.

Luck and wisdom!

The Shiny New Year Will Have To Wait

January 3, 2018

I can still see carpet in my sewing room. To be honest, I haven’t put back all the stuff I squirreled in other places, and I just barely started a new project when my iron died. I took that as a sign from the universe that the shiny New Year will have to wait for a bit. Having no wish to revisit all of 2017, I decided to enjoy an extended Christmas. A bit of carpet still showing is one of the holiday happy things. This moose is another.

Karate Moose and Raku Moose

My daughter sent me a collection of karate forest animals. The moose, of course, will have premier status.

I know this period of limbo won’t last forever. The new iron will arrive tomorrow and I’ll be forced to review my list of project deadlines. The first is a collection of blocks for Community Quilts.

After I finish the blocks I’ll need to make some blocks for a friendship group, then start a new project for that same group. I’ve promised to make some baby quilts, and there’s the guild challenge to finish a project a month. In the midst of all that, I hope I remember my own personal, private challenge to restore some order to the sewing room. Perhaps this book will help.

My guide for 2018

Luck and wisdom!

The Seven Levels of Cleaning

December 27, 2017

We are having guests for the holidays, so that meant getting the sewing room packed away enough to put a cot in there. Going through all the piles is never first on my list of fun things to do, but I always find some reward in it. This time it got me wondering if creating a cost-benefit list might encourage me to go through the process more regularly, and The Seven Levels of Cleaning is what I came up with. But first, I want to show you my studio floor (yes, it actually exists):

 

I can walk on this floor!

Now for the list:

The Seven Levels of Cleaning

Level 1

Reason for cleaning: I want to get to the cutting table to work on a project.

Cost (time, effort): 15 minutes to clear a path; requires a steady hand to rearrange stacks.

Benefit: I might find something I can put away.

Level 2

Reason for cleaning: I need to finish a project.

Cost (time, effort): 30 minutes to clear space to cut, sew and iron; requires discipline not to get distracted.

Benefit: I finish something, and perhaps free up space on a shelf or in a drawer.

Level 3

Reason for cleaning: I need to finish a quilt for a gift.

Cost (time, effort): 30-45 minutes to clear working space; requires finding room on the floor to put the stacks so they don’t fall onto the quilt while I’m working on it.

Benefit: The project will not have odd scraps quilted into the back (yes, this has happened – more than once).

Level 4

Reason for cleaning: I’m having a meeting at my house and the guests are quilters.

Cost (time, effort): 1 hour, minimum; requires neatly folding fabric stacks and consolidating book/magazine stacks.

Benefit: My friends will appreciate the effort enough to pretend they think my sewing room is clean.

Level 5

Reason for cleaning: I’m having an event at my house and the guests are not quilters.

Cost (time, effort): 90 minutes, minimum; may require finding a place to hide stacks.

Benefit: I might find things that don’t belong in the sewing room (more space for me).

Level 6

Reason for cleaning: Company is coming to stay for a few days.

Cost (time, effort): 2 hours,minimum; definitely requires finding a place to hide stacks.

Benefit: I will force myself to admit some projects will never be done .

Level 7

Reason for cleaning: Mom is coming.

Cost (time, effort): Days; requires chocolate.

While the benefits of cleaning are clear and attractive, I suspect I will always need a pressing deadline to actually get in there and clean. After all, it is much more fun to create art than tidy up afterwards. My goal for 2018 is to keep the sewing room floor open for at least two weeks after company leaves. We’ll see if I can be that disciplined for such an extended period of time.

Luck and wisdom!

 

Of Reindeer and Chenille

December 28, 2016

Despite the approach of 2017, or perhaps because of it, I’m starting this post off with something cheerful and cute:

Lani Longshore reindeer

This is a Christmas present from my son. The kids sometimes tease me about my odd collections, but they know how to make me smile. Having something to smile about will be important in the coming weeks, because my Christmas present to myself was permission to ignore the projects in the sewing room.

I did manage to start one project, turning chenille into products that might be marketed with The Chenille Ultimatum. My co-author Ann Anastasio saw a tote bag with raw seams that we thought would work well for chenille.

Lani Longshore chenille tote bag

The bag is made from one long strip of fabric and two small rectangles for side panels. I added the pocket. The raw edges are ideal for chenille, since managing those thick seams isn’t fun at all. Here is the reason I know that:

Lani Longshore chenille pillow

Turning the pillow corners took nearly as long as sewing the entire envelope. I’m not sure if it would be easier to make a round pillow or to try inserting tassels in the corners to hide any irregularities.

Those are questions for another day, however. Today, I’m going to admire my new reindeer, and ignore my projects as my New Year’s gift to myself.

Luck and wisdom!

A Time To Sparkle

December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice! Over the years, I’ve become entirely solar-powered – if the sun isn’t up, don’t expect me to be. While I don’t actually believe the sun won’t come back if I don’t do my bit to help, I do enjoy putting lights and other decorations around the house. Here is a sampling:

Lani Longshore stuffed reindeer

Rather than amassing my reindeer collection, which takes more open space than I will ever have, this year I decided to scatter selections throughout the house.

Lani Longshore moose reindeer vase

Here is another grouping. Yes, the stuffed toy is actually a moose. I don’t care. One day I might even make a reindeer-moose convergence quilt for the holidays.

Lani Longshore birds in basket

I also have a bird collection, and a basket collection. Combining the two seemed reasonable.

Lani Longshore TARDIS tea ball

My son gave me this TARDIS tea ball. I used it for tea once and decided it was more pleasant to look at it than to clean it. It is now a decoration in my kitchen. This is the first year I’ve displayed it on the tree.

Here is my gift to you – a link to The National French Toast Alert System. Plug in your zip code and find out if it is cold enough to stock up on milk, bread and eggs (the usual items people seem to grab when the weather gets cold and nasty). Enjoy the holiday season, no matter what you celebrate.

Luck and wisdom!

Next Steps

November 16, 2016

Before the holidays really kick in, I’ve sorta kinda maybe vowed to clear off my sewing table. I do this every year, sometimes successfully. This is the season when my studio turns into the scary room. We clear out stacks and piles in other rooms to accommodate guests and the Christmas tree and presents needing to be wrapped and extra supplies and . . . anyway, I did finish the tree project

A few beads, a little silk cord, and done!

A few beads, a little silk cord, and done!

I also made a project for myself with another patch from my collection.

Lani Longshore celtic horse

While I was rearranging piles, I found a painted block of Cannon Beach. The block will go on top of a pile for inspiration once the holidays are over and I need something to distract me before I check on all my new deadlines.

Lani Longshore Cannon Beach

Luck and wisdom!

Wanted: Minions

December 23, 2015

It is too late in the season for sustained creativity. Well, technically it is early in the season, which is winter, but late in the year, which is the holiday season. Perhaps you can see why I want minions. I’m no longer capable of following patterns, or recipes, or the point I’m trying to make. If I had minions, they could do all that for me.

My husband doesn’t want to be my minion. I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to be anyone’s minion, either. Aside from that, he is busily working his way through his own projects, including turning a less-than-ideal bathroom mirror into a lovely bedroom mirror. He made a frame for the mirror this week, and will install the piece as soon as the varnish dries.

The frame is made from stock molding

The frame is made from stock molding

You might ask why I am showing his work instead of mine. Well, I didn’t finish any creative projects this week (aside from the Christmas cookies, but I gave them away or ate them – no photo op there). Also, he decided he wanted to paint the leaves on the frame gold, and asked if I had any gold paint. Of course I have gold paint. I have several varieties of gold paint. And this year, because he made new shelves for the sewing room and I sorted like there was no tomorrow, I found all the varieties of gold paint. Hallelujah, and Merry Christmas.

Luck and wisdom!

Surprises

December 16, 2015

This is the season of surprises. Some of the good surprises that have come my way include our Christmas tree.

A tree for the house

A tree for the house

This is how it looked before we smothered it with lights and ornaments. I almost kept it this way, but we’d already brought the decorations out of storage. Given the drought and fires in the region, I was grateful there were Christmas trees available at all. The best surprise is the smell. It is the most fragrant tree we’ve had in years.

Clean enough for now

Clean enough for now

The next surprise is I’ve kept my sewing table clean-ish. Yes, there are still a few stacks to deal with, but the space was cleared enough in time to wrap presents. Then I put the wrapping things back where they belong. That qualifies as a Christmas miracle in my book.

The last surprise came from two artist friends who gave me note cards they’ve made from their own work.

Lani Longshore Ann Anastasio note card

This is Oak Leaves and Acorns by Ann Anastasio. She is a talented fiber artist, and also the co-producer of Art Quilt Santa Fe.

Lani Longshore Kat Mulkey note card

Dot Bees is the creation of Kat Mulkey. She is a fabulous photographer and painter. These cards are going into small frames, then into the sewing room to inspire me.

Luck and wisdom!