Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Gifts

Christmas gifts....we give them, ponder what to get for this one and that, wrap them all up in colored paper...and we get them too. I think when you grow up you spend more time in the giving than the getting and that's OK. This year I received a few gifts that were quite special. Mr. Scottie Dog sent to me by dogsled (or maybe it was FedEx, I don't remember) a box for Christmas. As a rule we don't really exchange big gifts. If we want or need something we usually just buy it when we can afford to, if not, we save the money up until we have enough and then we buy it. Gifts are just a token between us. So I was so surprised to see the antique-looking heart locket he gave me. Inside were tiny photos of each of us. It's because we spent this holiday apart. I felt all warm and fuzzy inside.

The I opened a box from Liz and Steve. Inside was a Double Wedding Ring Quilt. I was speechless. I've always wanted one of these. The top was pieced in the 1930's (with fabrics from 1880-1930's) and Liz quilted it for me. The scalloped edge is sweet. She left the binding to me....she knows I LOVE to bind quilts. I love this new quilt!!!!
Sydney gave me a big box too. Inside was a lovely big bowl. It is a work of art! And Sydney made it for me. She wanted it to look like a quilt and it does. Here's the inside "blocks."
The outside is painted like big blocks too. Polka dots, stripes, such color! OK, so I cried a little as I looked at it. What a wonderful treasure. I can imagine eating popcorn out of it, bringing pasta salad to a pot luck in it, serving greens from it. I'll keep it forever.

Of course the bottom is pretty special too.
Lots of other things too, I feel blessed.

We all know that Christmas isn't really about the presents, right? It's really about the Gift in Jesus that God provided His Son to save us from our sins. The real blessing of Christmas is the forgiveness and love for each of us from the Lord above. And the love of family, the caring things they do for us. May all of you feel as blessed as I am.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas in a Hotel

The thought of Christmas brings up many images...snow covered fields, lighted houses, families gathering around the Christmas tree in the living room, Christmas Eve candlelight services and more. One image I never imagined was Christmas in a hotel. Mr. Scottie Dog spent Christmas with our daughter Beka's family in Minnesota this year because of business he needed to conduct. He has been loving the grandkids, holding the new baby and helping out around the house. I have it on good authority he came in quite handy erecting the new basketball freestanding hoop we gave the kids!

I, on the other hand, celebrated with Liz, Steve and Sydney. We took a quick road trip to Grants Pass, Oregon so we could see Steve's Grandma (Sydney's "Grandma the Great) and Sydney's cousins on Christmas Day. We started out early and made a pit stop at Trees of Mystery.
Shouldn't every Christmas Eve start with a visit with a gigantic Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox?

Next stop was Dairy Queen in Cave Junction, OR. This is a treat for those of us living in isolated Eureka. I showed Sydney a photo of what it had looked like 30 years ago when we used to bring her Mama there. Eventually we made it to Cave Junction and our hotel. Sydney had worried Santa wouldn't find her if she wasn't at home but last week when she saw Santa she told him she'd be in Oregon. The hotel was all decorated up for Christmas! A beautiful tree, stockings hung above the fireplace and candles and poinsettias all around. After arriving in our room Sydney hung the stockings with care.She looks pretty excited doesn't she! Mama found a great place for dinner and afterwards we let Sydney open one present....it was the doll her mom had had as a girl and Grammy had made a bunch of new doll clothes. (notice The Sound of Music playing on the TV!)
Right after the doll clothes were all tried on, we put on Home Alone, hoping Sydney would soon be asleep. Nope, she watched the whole thing. Afterwards we waited for her to fall asleep. Finally Steve and Liz went to the car with the luggage cart to bring up all the loot. Still awake. Steve went to sleep and Liz and I went to the lobby. Half hour later we went to the room. Still awake. Lights out, Grandma stroked her forehead and sang to her. Still awake. Mom and Grammy sat in the dark for another 1/2 hour. Finally, finally around 11:45 pm, Sydney fell asleep. We set up the little tree we'd brought and set out the presents.

The stockings were filled, the gifts arranged and we went to bed. Sydney woke up at 7:30 am and announced she'd seen Santa putting out the gifts. We enjoyed our stockings, our gifts and each other. What a fun time. Belgum Waffles for breakfast and Christmas Dinner with Grandma the Great, Steve's sister and her 12 year old twins. Here's Sydney with one of her gifts: a Calico Critter motorcycle & side car and critters. She also got the Critter Mansion and various other "go withs."She looks happy, doesn't she! Christmas in a hotel wasn't bad at all! Wonderful memories. We're now back home and tomorrow I'll share a few of MY presents. Here's hoping you spend your day with loved ones and made memories.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My new "vintage" stocking

About a week ago my daughter Liz announced that we were going to have new Christmas Stockings. Now, I don't know about your traditions, but at our house Christmas Stockings are a big deal. It probably started when I was a little girl and my mom & dad let us open up our stockings while they got up and got ready to open gifts (of course my brothers and I got up at Oh dark thirty!). No gifts went under the tree until we were fast asleep and so there was a huge surprise Christmas morning. Pat, Denny and I would pull out oranges, chocolate, a balsa wood airplane, paper money, Chinese finger puzzles, kazoos and the like from our stockings (oh, and a new penny...always). We'd be fingering the loot, candy canes stuck firmly inside our cheeks and pointing out our pepperminty, drooling mouths. Finally, FINALLY Mom and Dad appeared to ooh and ahh over the tree before we could dig into the tree and all it's wonders.

We followed this tradition when my own children were born and stockings were filled with treats and fun trinkets. Stockings were first, presents were second. I remember the year the girls noticed that I rarely had anything in my stocking (I was the one who filled theirs and their father's). They have made sure every year since that my sock was full. When the girls were born I bought some pre-printed quilted fabric and made the family stockings. Then made some more when the girls were teens. When the sons-in-laws joined the family they each got a stocking too.

Fast forward to last week when Liz announced we were all going to have new stockings. She wanted to make them for the entire family so that when we had a Christmas together at Grammy's house everyone had a matching stocking. They were all to be out of red and green 1930's reproduction fabrics. They will all have the names embroidered on them. And she was just starting them. Well, actually just her family this year. By next year everyone else would have them. She gave me some pieces of her 1930's fabric collection and I made one for me. I finished it tonight.

What could be more 1930's Vintage that that? Several of the fabrics have Scottie Dogs on them. I'm all set! Now if only someone fills my sock!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Last of a Generation

I grew up in Los Angeles. Southern California was filled with Aunts & Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents and a huge group of friends who all were like family. We spent lots of time together: barbeques, picnics, beach trips, camping trips, visiting back and forth in each other's homes. There were weddings and parties and holidays and school performances filled with relatives. Growing up I had no idea how blessed we were to have such a hord of relations. My Aunt Betty (Brenda Elizabeth) and Uncle Bill and Cousin Bob lived directly across the street on our cul-de-sac. We were all not only friends, but family. And if you weren't actually blood relatives it really didn't matter.

Aunt Lulu (Lucianna) and Uncle Paul lived in Lawndale just a stone's throw from our house. Although all of their children had been born in Illinois by the time I knew them they were Southern Californians. They had the very first color TV in the family (years before my folks got one) and I remember watching the Rose Parade one New Year's Day at their house. There must have been 60 people crammed into their living room all oohing and ahhing over this small, nearly circular screened TV and saying that the green faces of the hosts "looked so wonderful." We marveled over that color TV.

On Christmas Day their family would come to our house to see what Santa had brought. Their youngest child was four years older than I so now I can see the humor in it all. Uncle Paul always brought a FIVE pound box of See's Candy. We were in heaven!

Here's a picture of the Clacks: Aunt Lulu, Carolyn (about 6 or 7 in this photo), Uncle Paul, Kenny (16) and Eddy (14). I don't know if Peggy was already in college, but she's not in the photo. They are standing in our driveway in Los Angeles. As you can see the house across the way isn't quite finished yet. I was two and a half when we moved into this house (my very first memory is being entrusted with holding a lamp on the way to moving into the house).

Why are we walking down memory lane? Aunt Lulu, my father's oldest sister passed on last month at age 96. She still drove (and drove well!) up until just a couple of months before she passed on. She had the blackest hair, and when she smiled her eyes sparkled. Her laugh was a tinkling sound. And she laughed liberally throughout her life.

Uncle Paul was a Jack LaLane follower. He took vitamins and supplements and worked out in a gym. He didn't laugh, he chuckled. He was always throwing children up in the air and catching them (except the one time he dropped my brother Pat!). He loved to fake punch people in the stomach and then ask them to hit him hard in return. He was proud that you could never hurt him when you punched. His entire face scrunched up into one big grin when he smiled.

I got a call yesterday that Uncle Paul had passed away. I think he was 98. I last saw them when Dad married Willie in Bement, IL, the old home town. They had moved back many years before. Uncle Paul's dementia was showing some then and just over a year ago he'd moved into a specialize care center. The last time I saw him though, Uncle Paul made a muscle and then asked me to hit him in the stomach! His grin was huge and he hugged me hard.

And so, the last of a generation has passed. My cousins, my brothers and I are the older generation now. I remember how I couldn't wait until I got to sit at the grown-up table on holidays and when I finally got there I realized it was more fun at the kid table. I don't know if I'm ready for to be the older generation....sometimes I'd rather be a kid.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Celebrations

Some of the best things about the Christmas Season are the programs put on by schools and Sunday Schools. In Minnesota today, Mr. Scottie Dog had the pleasure of watching our grandson Jakob perform in the Christmas Program at Bethany Church. He had begun learning his part before I come home mid-November.

On Thursday night, granddaughter Sydney was an angel in Redwood Christian School's Christmas musical, Christmas in Reverse. Even as a 1st grader she had a solo part.

She looked the part and was quite good (at least a proud Grammy thought so!).

Then today I joined Sydney, Liz & Steve at the Eagle House in Old Town Eureka. We went because we had it on good authority that Santa (the REAL Santa) would be there. Sure enough he arrived by horse carriage (he's resting up the reindeer for an upcoming long trip). There were tables all set up, home made cookies, hot cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows AND sprinkles (!) were in abundance. The tables were set with green clothes, holiday decorations and a coloring page which was as it turned out, a letter to Santa. There were games to play (stick the nose on Rudolph and Snowman Snowball toss) and finally it was Sydney's turn to see Santa. How do we know he was the REAL Santa? His eyes twinkled AND he wore a Christmas Crown. His "helpers" only wear red hats trimmed in Red. At least that's what Sydney told me.

Here she is...amazed that Santa had just pulled a chocolate coin from her ear. She whispered to me later...."Gamma, Santa knows magic!" Many thanks to those who put this Cocoa with Santa event together.

I'm sitting here listening to Christmas Carols and thinking of my many blessings. May you also be blessed this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just for Fun

What does a quilter do for fun? From 1999 to 2001 I made this quilt known as a "Dear Jane."

The square blocks are 4 1/2" in size. It's my interpretation of a quilt made by Jane A. Stickle during the Civil War. I loved making it although as you can see, it's quite challenging. While we were at Quilt Market in October I fell in love with another quilt. This one is called "Common Bride" and the original (and pattern) is by Edyta Sitar. Here's the pattern.

The little 4 patches are made up of 3/4" squares, the triangles are 2". Don't you just love it? I figure this is another quilt that will take me a few years to make. I really don't care how long it takes, it's the journey that makes it fun and worth while. I have several of the triangle/flowers finished and yesterday and today worked on the center star block. I found that the easiest way to make it was by hand. I don't do much hand piecing but this one came out the right size and almost perfectly flat. The colors are fairly true except the outside triangles are more red than purple.One down and 24 more of these blocks to go. And that's not even starting on the applique! I've got lots of fun ahead of me!