Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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!

The Season of Silly Things

December 2, 2015

This is the time of year that pack rats shine. We find things, silly things, to go on tables or in stockings or on trees. I’ve already had a good start to the season, thanks to the Thanksgiving turkey that graced our table.

Lani Longshore gingerbread turkey

I found this gingerbread turkey kit at Trader Joe’s. The gingerbread pieces were already made. My son and I had great fun assembling the kit, although I suspect he had more fun laughing at how excited I was to put the critter together.

My reward for sorting another bin in the sewing room was finding some buttons I bought years ago. I plan to glue this moose on a plain, flat ornament and add it to my Christmas moose collection.

Lani Longshore moose button

The pink flamingo buttons may sit in the “what do I do with this” pile a little longer, but I’m still thrilled to discover them.

Lani Longshore pink flamingoes

Quilting Arts magazine’s latest reader challenge is to illustrate your super power in fabric. This month my super power is finding silly things and having fun. I plan to bead the living daylights out of this fabric.

Lani Longshore beading project

I’m not sure what I’ll call the piece, but I do know I’ll be giggling the entire time I’m making it just because of the tin I’m using to hold the lavender beads.

Lani Longshore mint tin

Luck and wisdom!

Solstice, Santa and SAD

December 24, 2014

Aside from the spiritual significance of this time of year, for me it’s the season of the solstice, Santa and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). I love the holidays, but lack of sunlight is a problem (the cold doesn’t help). This year, I decided to take the advice I’ve given to others and began a yellow project.

Another of my grandmother's UFOs

Another of my grandmother’s UFOs

Apparently surrounding yourself with yellow helps with mild cases. Getting more light does, too, but if you’ve got more than the winter doldrums give yourself the gift of medical attention. We spend so much time taking care of others, we need to remember to take care of ourselves.

Jingle them bells!

Jingle them bells!

Some people collect Santa figurines – I collect reindeer and moose (although the kids swear I only have moose). This year I also acquired a jingle ring that is less fun to wear than I expected. It now graces this reindeer’s antler.

My colors of Christmas

My colors of Christmas

Years ago I made Christmas stockings for the family. I really like the one I made for me, but I saw this purple stocking in the grocery store. On sale. “Self,” I asked myself, “how can you resist?” I decided I couldn’t, and bought it.

Beads and markers can do anything

Beads and markers can do anything

After I finished wrapping and baking and cleaning, I had a few minutes to myself. The small black canvas reappeared as I was searching through one of the piles, I had some beads out, and I found the right glue (and my copper marker), so I entertained myself with a little solstice decoration. Take time to enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate in your own way!

Luck and wisdom!

The Year In Review – Take One

December 17, 2014

This is the time of year for reviewing the balance sheet of projects completed versus projects attempted. I expect that I will reframe my achievements and shortcomings more than once before the end of the year, so here is The Year In Review – Take One.

Not quite clear enough for dancing, but I can get to my fabric

Not quite clear enough for dancing, but I can get to my fabric

The sewing room isn’t entirely organized. I’m beginning to think the universe will end if I ever get everything under control, or maybe that’s just the excuse I use to justify the continued chaos. Still and all, the floor in front of my fabric drawers is navigable, and has been for nearly two months. This is a major victory.

Yes, that is the diary of River Song - holding my space Viking notes

Yes, that is the diary of River Song – holding my space Viking notes

The third installment in The Chenille Series – The Chenille Ultimatum – isn’t done, nor is my planned novel about space Vikings. I have, however, been organizing my notes, making better scene outlines, filling in holes in my character profiles – all things that will make for better writing. This may not be a victory, but it is progress.

Not a partridge, not a pear tree, still fun

Not a partridge, not a pear tree, still fun

We have a decorated Christmas tree. There was a question about whether we would have one, since our daughter is the one who does the bulk of the decorating and she won’t be home this year. The joy of the season won out over my natural laziness, and I brought out the decorations. In the process, I also found the box for the Easter decorations. After I finished trimming the tree, I put away the Easter eggs that had been on display for the past two years. This is also a victory, although if I had any sense I wouldn’t admit to it.

Luck and wisdom!

Return of the Forgotten Things

December 10, 2014

I went through the two small drawers in my sewing table, and discovered they are magic. When I’ve opened them in the past, they presented a collection of straight pins, sewing machine feet, screwdrivers, and the occasional hidden candy bar. When I started taking things out, however, I discovered a cache of items I lost so long ago I forgot I had them.

Lani Longshore scissors

There are scissors in some of my project bags, scissors with a project I’m working on in the family room, and scissors next to the sewing machine. Now these two little critters show up, and I have no idea when I got them. Nor do I have any idea when I acquired two boxes of replacement cutter blades. I never can find them when the need arises.

Lani Longshore needles

The same with needles – I’ve been nursing my favorite hand quilting needle because I thought it was the last one. Where were these two months ago? In the drawer, obviously, but covered by what cloak of invisibility? I can understand one package of needles hiding in the far corner of the drawer, but half a dozen?

The good news is I’m not the only one discovering forgotten things. My mother was looking for wrapping paper, and discovered a stash of Christmas fabric instead. She says it is part of the collection I gave her a few years ago when she wanted to make Christmas totes. She decided to cut a large enough square for the gifts and tie it with a gold ribbon. Some people send fruitcakes back and forth – Mom and I send fabric.

Lani Longshore Christmas fabric

I opened one of the presents early – the decoration package. My mom makes ornaments every year for us. This year it is a free-standing ornament, and the first decoration I put on display.

Thank you, Mom!

Thank you, Mom!

Luck and wisdom!

Seasonal Petulance

November 26, 2014

This time of year I sink into my own slough of despair, and revel in seasonal petulance. The holidays are too crowded, too commercial, too costly. Whine, whine, whine. I guess the universe got sick of listening to me kvetch, because – try as I might to be grouchy – I have been surrounded by kindness and love. “Self,” I said, “get over yourself.”

A pie crust in waiting

A pie crust in waiting

The first thing I decided to do was give myself permission to celebrate all the holidays in order. Thanksgiving comes first, and I am extraordinarily thankful for my grandmother’s never-fail pie crust recipe.

Original Recipe

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vinegar

4 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter. Gradually add the egg and vinegar. Pour water over dough and mix.

My Version

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (cider or sweet balsamic for a sweet pie, white wine for a savory pie)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the butter and flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth. You will need to heavily flour the board and pin when rolling out the dough.

The start of my personal, private Advent calendar

The start of my personal, private Advent calendar

Next comes Advent, which for me means the little calendars with numbered boxes and chocolate prizes. The bad news is this year I missed out on my favorite one – they sold out before I even put it on the shopping list. The good news is, I made my own version with all those mint tins I’ve been saving, and some leftover holiday trims.

Lani Longshore Christmas ornaments

Next comes the Ceremony of the Tree. My daughter has decorated the tree for years, but she won’t be home until spring. I was all set to skip the tree, when I remembered the new ornaments a friend gave me. My daughter has her own favorite ornaments, so this year I’ll put up my new ones and some of the older ones that have been buried at the bottom of the storage box.

Lani Longshore Christmas card

I don’t write the Christmas letter until Christmas day. The cards get sent out sometime between Boxing Day and Epiphany. This tradition stays.

Lani Longshore Christmas fabric

Last is the Time of Forgetting. This is the celebration of discovering you’re a day late and a present short. It’s not the best tradition, but it’s one with a long history in my house. I guess it stays, too.

May your season of holidays – whichever ones you celebrate – be joyous.

Luck and wisdom!

Ahead of Schedule

April 9, 2014

 

This has been one of those weeks where I check the calendar twice to make sure I haven’t forgotten something. Projects for friendship groups? Check. Deadlines for bills? Check. Short story for anthology submission? Check. The squirrelly part of my brain is chittering, “What are you forgetting? What are you forgetting?”

Until I figure out what I’ve forgotten, I’m collecting fabric for the next projects on the list.

Christmas project, take one

Christmas project, take one

This is the first run at my mother’s Christmas present. She sent me a sample of the colors she wanted. The peach is the right shade, but I’m not sure it is the right print. The luxury of knowing I have time to find a better fabric is worth more than chocolate.

The little scraps will find a home

The little scraps will find a home

The next Challenge project is on the theme of water. I have had this box of sky and water scraps sitting on the shelf for a very long time. It was high on the list of boxes that had to be cleared out. The joy of having one’s procrastination rewarded is almost as wonderful as the luxury of extra time.

Luck and wisdom!

 

Cards and Shiny Stuff

December 11, 2013

Sometimes Christmas boutiques provide more than unique gift ideas. I stopped at a photographer’s booth to look through the cards, and realized that I could use my massive collection of blank cards as Christmas cards. So what if I didn’t have any reindeer or Santas? Or that they weren’t red and green? If I chose carefully and embellished where needed, I could easily tailor the card to the recipient.

 

When I actually looked at my collection, I discovered some of them are ready as is, like this kaleidescope star by Christine McCall.

 

Lani Longshore Christine McCall star

 

With the joy of discovery in my heart, I looked to my embellishments –

 

Lani Longshore bling

 

and other treasures, such as this blinking necklace (thanks, Jeanne Brophy!) that I can wear myself, wind around the dog’s collar, or hide in a floral centerpiece.

 

Lani Longshore necklace

 

The best discovery was the Christmas tree napkins that I bought on sale last year that serendipitously match the wrapping paper I bought on sale this year.

 

Lani Longshore napkins

 

One final note of joy for the season – I finished my mother’s birthday present and mailed it in time! I chose at least one picture from each decade of her life and made a photo quilt. This project was made possible because my husband has created a digital database of our entire photo collection – an incredible gift to the whole family!

 

Lani Longshore quilt

 

 

 

Transitions

October 16, 2013

The prison quilting class began a new phase this week. I conducted my last class as leader and passed the program on to new teachers.

 

My last load of kits and class projects

My last load of kits and class projects

 

Whenever I let go of one project – rare times, but they do happen – I imagine all the new projects I’ll tackle with the extra time in my schedule. One would think by now I’d have accepted the reality of transition time. One would think.

 

This is the notebook I re-purposed for the FCI quilters manual.

 

Lani Longshore notebook

 

Since I had been a committee of one, the manual was in my head. Part of my transition time was occupied by writing down the things in my head, which is always a scary business.

 

Lani Longshore title page

 

There is also the scary business of transferring all the stuff I still have for the program to the new teachers.

 

Stuff that must leave my house

Stuff that must leave my house

 

Admittedly, it will be scarier for them.

 

More stuff that must leave my house

More stuff that must leave my house

 

When all that is finished, I need to finish up my Christmas projects. Mom and I bought the fabric for her gifts together. Here is the block for one of the three dresser scarves I’m making for her.

 

One block, just one little block

One block, just one little block

 

This is what all three look like on my design wall.

 

What do the blocks say to you?

What do the blocks say to you?

 

I think there is some kimono work in my future, when I really do have that extra time I’m imagining.

 

 

Boxing Day

December 26, 2012

The week between Christmas and New Year holds such promise. When the kids were younger I always planned to do great, fun things on their vacation. When they got older I planned to do great, useful things around the house. But we all know about plans . . .

At any rate, I did manage to do some things in the sewing room. I started a free-form stuffed collection that I hoped would look like Christmas ornaments that I could pile in a decorative bowl.

Christmas puffs

I still like the concept, but I’m going to have to spend some time auditioning embellishments.

My daughter asked if I would make a name tag for her dog’s Christmas stocking. She asked on Christmas Eve. After dinner. Luckily, she liked what I did.

Christmas stocking name tag

The week between Christmas and New Year holds demands, too – specifically the demand to clean up the place. Given that I still have my Easter Egg collection out on the hutch, I’m not holding out much hope for getting the Christmas moose/reindeer collection back in storage any time soon.

Christmas centerpiece with reindeer

Still, it is Boxing Day today, and regardless of what it might mean in the U.K., at my house it is a reminder to get out the boxes and put things back where they belong.