My sweet sister-in-law, Alyson, sent me these beautiful hand-felted (by her) soaps. I love the colors she used. They are almost too pretty to use—and they smell great! I am told the soap comes from here.
This may become a regular feature. Prized possessions will be either sentimental in value, handmade, both or neither.
Today I give you one of my most prized possessions; a quilt we call around here “Big Beulah.” I should say first that I don’t love this name. It’s somewhat oafish, rather than elegant as I remember my grandmother, who made it. But the blanket itself is not elegant and it is huge, thus its moniker has stuck. Big Beulah has been with my family for about 5 years now. When my grandpa passed away in January of 2005, my family had to clear out his house and each of us kept a few items that spoke to us. I was surprised to be the only one who wanted this quilt. Maybe it seemed beyond resuscitation to most, but after a few cycles in the wash it freshened right up. My grandmother was a practical and industrious woman and so the quilt
was made with scraps from her many polyester pantsuits (although my guess is that she did think this quilt was also beautiful). The backing is
super soft toothpaste-green flannel. To my amazement, the only deterioration on
the whole thing is a shredded corner, shown below.
Big Beulah has been such a faithful companion to us (and our friends) during picnics, for fort-building, general lazing about and protection from the cold on night-time outings. It’s also perfect for snuggling under while watching a movie or taking a nap. One of my favorite things about having this quilt in our home is seeing how many little people can gather under it at once—an image which would certainly please and “tickle” Beulah herself.
All credit for this project goes to my mom, who made these precious clothes for Lauren’s Götz doll, Jessica. Her new wardrobe builders include a dress, a pair of pajamas, and a top and shorts set. Yeah, Grandma!
[A note about the pajamas/buttonholes. These were made with flannel from my stash after my mom’s arrival here. I finished the buttonholes on the front and promptly began crying (on Christmas Eve, no less) because I am so frustrated with the buttonhole maker on my machine. My mom soothed me, as all good mothers do, by reminding me that buttonholes don’t have to be perfect on doll’s clothes. But really it’s the principle—and she had to agree. I have a somewhat expensive machine and I shouldn’t have to hold my breath every time I make a buttonhole. I’d say for every ten buttonholes I make, I get four good ones. That’s just not right. I am thinking of trading it in for something different. Any suggestions? My machine is a Pfaff 2038 that Kirk bought me for my birthday two years ago and I like everything else about it but this is just driving me crazy. If anyone has the same machine and a similar—or different—experience, I'd like to hear about it.]
And finally, I made a set of festive oven mitts for my mom, using the pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s book. They turned out pretty cute. However I didn’t finish binding the bottom edges so they went home with mom sans binding and she will finish that part. How’s that for a kick in the pants? All I can say is, thank goodness for mothers who understand.
It was good. I ran around like crazy before the big day, lamented
the unfinished tasks and projects, (no cards this year!?), yearned for
naps, then relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful sights and sounds. There were grandparents, games,
puzzles, friends, music, books, yarn, embroidery thread, treats,
welcoming of the new year, and even a bit of snow to finish off with. I
will follow up with some handmade and gift reports in the next days or so. Until then…
I bid my favorite six-year old farewell today. In his place is now a seven-year old. They have a lot in common, but the seven-year old is a bit taller, has a thinner face, a few more missing teeth and is ever so slightly more thoughtful and serious. (Despite the burping contest held with his friends over pizza Saturday night).
I feel short of words for this occasion. But I think the following scenes capture the weekend well…
Oh Will, how we love your sensitive and tender ways, your infectious laughter, your insightful little brain, your curiosity, creativity and sense of humor. But most of all, we love your kind heart and we thank you for it.
Portland summers take their sweet time to kick in. June is a
particularly torturous month as we wait for our days to heat up, for
morning swimming lessons that don’t require a cup of hot cocoa
afterwards and going to our favorite fountain without being driven away
by the threat of a mini thunderstorm.
Making our wait easier is
the lovely Oregon strawberry, who’s season you could easily miss if you
blink (or spend too much time looking forward to July). Our week has
been full of strawberries. Monday we picked a flat and a half. Later we
ate them with biscuits and cream for dinner—making me “Best Mom Ever”.
Tuesday we made jam and have eaten it with (or for) nearly every meal since. Well, at least I have. Two batches of cream scones have been made and the second nearly devoured, always with spoons full of jam to accompany them. Yum. I have never made jam before this and have become instantly converted. Nothing else can really compare. I just hope we can save some to get us through the winter.
Very tongue-in-cheek title, of course. My blogging mojo packed up and
went on vacation for the early part of December and my Christmas spirit
went with it. I was swamped with a freelance project and thus unable to
even think about Christmas until only a few days before. Some of you may know that we had record amounts of snow here which foiled many attempts to get out and shop or run errands. What frustrated me most though, was not having time nor energy to make anything this year. No holiday crafts, no handmade gifts—not even cookies. This always makes me a little irrational and results in me becoming fixated on tiny things that don’t matter. An example? Two days before Christmas I acknowledged there would be no packages going out, let alone arriving to greet our far-flung families in a timely fashion so I decided the cards HAD to go out, at least. All 50+ cards (purchased last month at my favorite holiday sample sale) were written, assembled and ready to ship but—and here’s the nutty part—they had to have the nutcracker stamps!!!! I drove in the snow and ice to three different post-offices looking for nutcracker stamps!!!! Every one was sold out. I had to settle for the Botticelli stamps and it gnawed at me all day. KJA put it well: “That’s azy-cra!” Pig Latin for “What’s wrong with you? Get over yourself!”
I did indeed get over myself and all the angst about holiday lists and such on Christmas morning when I saw the joy in little faces and spent the morning peacefully on the couch watching the snow fall outside and listening to a play list created just for me, by Kirk.
And when looking back on the many photos taken and remembering all the lovely times had with friends, I saw that, in fact, none of it was bad at all.
My four brothers and I are pretty scattered around this big country and don’t see each other often so when we do it’s very special to me. This holiday saw two of them travel with their families to spend a week in our home playing, laughing, talking, eating and—for me—soaking up the reality that we were simply together. When you live far away from family it’s easy to forget that beautiful sense of familiarity which comes with their presence. I breathed easier while they were here. And now that they’ve gone I miss them terribly.
The kids loved having live-in playmates.
Lauren met her Uncle Zach and Aunt Alyson for the first time. The two of them came bearing gifts of the hand-made variety (photos to
come when I get the film processed). Examples of these exquisite
tabletop objects can be seen here.
Growing up the only girl in a family of five kids has made me so
appreciative of sisters-in-law and I’m very lucky to have two good ones.
Lauren had a hard time saying goodbye and I knew exactly how she felt. Thank you, Taylor, Becky, Kaleb, Jakob, Zach and Alyson for celebrating Thanksgiving with us. I love you all very much.