John came home from grocery shopping (and stocking stuffer hunting) yesterday and recounted a conversation that he overheard down the canned goods aisle. He noticed a family of four, a couple with two young children. While the wife studied the shelves of condiments, the husband leisurely strolled on ahead down the aisle with his son.
The man said smiling to his son, "We are standing in a grocery store...in Colorado."
And then, "We are shopping for pickles...in Colorado."
His son smiled back up at him and said in response, "And we are watching it snow right now...in Colorado."
I know that feeling. The I-can't-believe-I'm-really-here feeling. I still feel it. I told John that I hope it never ever goes away. I am so thankful that I could burst.
December has been a blur. The snow has fallen. The ski mountain has opened. (We have been skiing!) The vacationers have returned. After two and half years it has gotten easier to identify them. Of course, there are the out-of-state license plates. There are all the selfies. There is the wide-eyed staring at the falling snow. (Oh, I understand!) You can also usually tell a visitor by the contents of his or her grocery cart. The groups of college-aged guys always have steaks and brats and beer. The young families always have chicken and burgers and peanut butter and jelly and fruit and cookies. Tourists always look much more "put together" than the locals. (Local gals don't wear make-up or jewelry when they ski, for example.) Vacationing girls look like ski bunnies in their beautiful, shiny, brand-new ski clothes. Everyone is smiling. I love it.
Apparently, the other way to spot a tourist is by the multiple ski rental stickers attached to every single piece of their ski gear. Many locals own their own skis, boots, polls, and snowboards. We are in the minority on this one. We made the decision to hold off purchasing any gear. Our kids are still growing (and at a rapid rate), and John and I are still getting our legs under us. (Well, I am anyway.) Anyway, our rental stickers tell everyone, "We're on vacation!" This doesn't really concern me, but it gets John's goat. He frequently hears, "Where are you visiting from?", "How long are you in town for?", "On vacation, huh?". He told me one day after skiing, "I think it's my stickers." Whatever. Nobody's looking at your stickers. They just assume you're a vacationer because there are so many of them here now. Well, it bothered John enough that he decided to peel the rental stickers off of his ski poles. Y'all, he hasn't been mistaken for a tourist since. Who knew?!
I have been Christmas-ing since the end of October. Cutting and crafting, stitching and sewing, knitting and purling, always with a Christmas movie or Downton Abbey on in the background. Emma has a little tabletop real live tree in the room this year. I figured on buying her a star for her treetop, but she went straight to her room and made herself a yellow star made of paper. Her way is better. We strung popcorn together and had planned on making handmade ornaments, but when she saw the simple strands of popcorn on the tree branches, she said, "It's perfect." Simple and beautiful. I learn so much from her. I am especially contemplative this year. I decorated the tree, decked the halls, and played Bing Crosby before Thanksgiving, and I never do that. This year I needed it. My heart has been so hurt over the events of the world. Perhaps with the madness out there, I needed the peace and rest of traditions. Those traditions remind me that God is in control. I do not realize all that He is doing now, but one day I will understand. (John 13:7) I sit in quietness with a cup of tea on the side table, knitting and needles in my hands, love and hope in my heart, and prayers on my lips. The prayers mingle with the plies of yarn, and my heart becomes entangled in the fabric of the sweater I am knitting.
Gifts have been wrapped. Packages have been posted. Cards have been received. Now it is time for baking and cooking, for giving and receiving, for loving and giving thanks...in Colorado.
“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.” —Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
20 Projects. A collection of 20 unfinished sewing projects that I discovered stashed away in my sewing room while packing up to move from Texas to Colorado.
I promise there is more going on around here than sewing, though you wouldn't know that from my last few posts. The hiking and biking and home repairing/remodeling posts will come, but I have to admit, I am SO happy to be finishing and enjoying these 20 Projects!
Two years ago I rounded up all these sewing projects that needed completion. I unpacked the cardboard boxes in my sewing room one day because I was looking for a particular little bear...
A Pillow: Uncle Sam
He was stitched over twenty years ago (!) when all I did was cross-stitch in my spare time. (Single and no babies!) I didn't know what to do with him, so I put him away for safe-keeping. Then, many years later, I saw this post of Kristyne's at Pretty By Hand. Adorable! When I saw what she did with her old cross-stitching, I was so glad I had hung onto my little bear.
I had always known I would make a pillow cover. While working on the Pinwheel Sampler quilt (posted below), I decided to incorporate the bear into one of the pinwheel quilt blocks I was making. Patriotic fabrics and colors for points of the star. Navy blue polka dots for the back. Clean, simple straight lines for the quilting.
I really love that bear! I named him Uncle Sam.
A Quilt: 4th of July Picnic
When I first saw Rachel Griffith's (of p.s.i quilt) beautiful Pinwheel Sampler quilt, I imagined taking a picnic on the Fourth of July! I wanted this quilt in fabrics of reds, whites, and blues. Rather than use one fabric line for all of the quilt blocks as Rachel did, I decided to have a little fun with unrelated fabrics. If you look closely, you'll find little girls having a picnic with their dolls, cherries and blueberries, ladybugs, stars and stripes, bottles of Coca-Cola, Texas bluebonnets, red bicycles, sailboats and anchors, daisies, roses, and even Mickey Mouse...scenes of summer.
I had completed the pinwheel blocks in Texas, but between that time and the time that I pulled them back out in Colorado, I had collected some new red and blue fabrics that I really loved and wanted to include in the quilt. I culled out four of my finished quilt blocks and replaced them with new ones. I stuck with the red sunflower fabric that I had purchased in Texas for the binding, used the big navy and white polka dots that I love so much for the backing. I had planned on quilting with a simple cross hatch pattern to allow the fabrics and the pinwheel patterns to stand out (rather than the quilting), but after I stitched the first two cross-hatched lines, I didn't like it. I didn't want to rip out those lines, so I decided to double up the cross-hatched lines. I think it looks a little bit like the lattice on the top of a homemade peach pie...summer! Perfect!
I made a miniature of one of my favorite blocks on the quilt top for the label, which includes the name I gave the quilt. It reads: Pinwheel Sampler for a..."4th of July Picnic" - 2015.
A Recipe: Alton Brown's Blueberry Soda
Our favorite drink this summer! Lightly sweet, crisp, refreshing. Lighter than sugary colas, less expensive than bottled natural sodas. Use gloves if you don't want blueberry-stained fingernails. :)
20 oz. fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
7 ounces of sugar
1 lime, juiced
1. Bring the blueberries and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth that is set in a large bowl. Cool for 20 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the skin and pulp.
3. Return the blueberry juice to the saucepan along with the sugar and lime juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large canning jar or other heatproof glass container, and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, until completely cooled.
Combine 1/4 cup of the cooled blueberry syrup with 8 ounces of carbonated water and pour over ice.
Yield: 3 cups of blueberry syrup, enough for 12 glasses
Happy, Happy 4th of July!!! I pray you are blessed with a beautiful day with family and friends, filled with hope, filled with peace, filled with love.
20 Projects. A collection of 20 unfinished sewing projects that I discovered stashed away in my sewing room while packing up to move.
I have never made gingerbread cookies. Ever. (I tend to prefer butter shortbread. Or snickerdoodles. Or anything with chocolate.) But I love, love the idea of gingerbread men and gingerbread girls and gingerbread houses at Christmastime.
If you love to craft, or read craft blogs, or like to embroider, you likely already know about Alicia Paulson and her amazing, beautiful blog Posie Gets Cozy. Posie has provided so much sewing and crafting inspiration to me. Alicia's photography is warm and soft and, I have to say, magical. Her writing is my favorite. (Have you read the Peonies post? *sigh*)
Alicia also writes and sells patterns and kits for woodland animal softies, embroidery projects, and beautiful hand-stitched felt Christmas ornaments at her web shop. I love the sweet little details found in Alicia's patterns.
A few of years ago I started stitching from the ornament set "Ice Skating Afternoon".
This last month, I finally finished three ornaments that I started stitching two Christmases ago. Gingerbread Girls. Sweet, happy, and so vintagey Christmas.
When I pulled out my supplies, I found all of my gingerbread pieces cut and some already embroidered. One dress piece had "2013" embroidered on it from when I tried to get these finished the year before. "2013" was ripped out and replaced with "2014". I guess she was just supposed to be finished this Christmas instead of last.
I chose to change the color scheme up just a little bit by using red for Ginger's dress bodice rather than navy blue and using aqua for the flowers on her dress. To add a bitty bit of sparkle, I sewed clear beads onto the hem of Ginger's apron rather than punching out eyelets, as the pattern's girl had.
Two "Gingerbread Girls" made their ways to other wonderful homes, where I know they will be treated with the very best of care. My Girl hangs happily on my Christmas tree next to the pink "Hot Cocoa Cup" that I finished three Christmases ago. She is finally where she belongs. Hopefully an "Ice Skate" with a fluffy red pom-pon will join them there next year.
Have you ever met someone, and within just a few minutes of chatting with them, felt as if you had known them forever? I suppose Anne Shirley would call such a friend a "Kindred Spirit", wouldn't she? I met such a friend this last year through the wonders of social media. We have many mutual friends, but had never had the chance to meet in person. But as it turns out, we chat just fine through Facebook messaging anyway.
Rachel Lees is a dear friend, a book author, a wonderful writer, and a fellow blogger who shares her life, her thoughts, her beautiful family, and her love of her breathtaking island home of New Zealand at South Sea Island Home.
Rachel kindly asked if I would share a post on her blog about my Northern Hemisphere Christmas experiences. I was so honored to share my Rocky Mountains with her readers in this Christmas post, and I hope that you will take a minute to hop "Down Under" to Rachel's blog and enjoy her beautiful Pacific Island home.
Rachel, thank you so much for welcoming me to South Sea Island Home this Christmas! I continue to hope to meet you face-to-face over a cup of tea and a Pavlova, but until then, there's always Facebook!
Whether you find yourself lounging in the sun or sledding through the snow, I wish everyone the Love and Hope of this Advent season! Merry, Merry Christmas!