Vintage Sewing: Festive Placemats

This week I travel down memory lane and reflect back on how much I have learned since making my first holiday placemats.

My sewing and quilting skills have certainly improved, although my hands won’t hold quite as tiny of needles as they did a quarter of a century ago.

Life has taught me many lessons during these 25 years. There was a time when I thought I would lose my ability to hand quilt. Perseverance, medical advancement, and a better understanding of how vital balance-in-life is to one’s health have all played a role in my continued ability to use a quilting needle.

Quilting delightful and useful items for my family fills me with joy. I learned the skills of a quilter before I could afford the gadgets and gizmos of the modern quilter. Even after accumulating stacks of rulers, and cutting mats of various sizes, I still occasionally like to return to the simplicity of the old ways of piecing a block.

It is with simplicity and the budget-minded quilter that I have put together some basic blocks. I have also included instructions to turn the basic block used in my placemats into a rectangular placemat for those who wish for that shape.

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Getting Organized

Even with the crazy world causing life to seem like it is dragging by, I still find myself wondering where all the time has gone. October is now just days away and my crafting to-do list is characteristically not completed.

To-do lists, shopping lists, event lists (although I suspect most holiday events will be only online this year), and gift-giving lists – with so many lists, I needed a way to keep things organized and tidy. So this led me to making notebook covers. Now at least my various lists look pretty as they clutter up my workspace.

I have created a video highlighting the notebook covers I have made this week, and I am providing a template for one of them There are links and information in the description box of the video containing more information on the designs I used.

Now I am back to my list making and my crafting. Top of my list – get more organized with my video/tech/recording. Boy, oh boy, did I ever have tech issues this week.

Happy Crafting

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Saith Me… Make Tomorrow Better

Regardless of if the event is positive or negative, rather than longing for the past, we should strive to make tomorrow better.

Make Tomorrow Better

 

Saith Me… Holiday Cookies

I really must learn more self-discipline when making cookies. There is only so much butter/shortening and sugar a person can eat at one time. Four different flavors of cookies; beaters and spatulas need children and hubbies to lick clean.

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A Peaceful Thanksgiving Day

Embracing something new this year for Thanksgiving. Guilt free, stress free time with my husband.

When we were first married, the holidays were very stressful. Then the kids came and matters became much worse. Fibromyalgia undermined the holidays, especially Thanksgiving in those years when the kids were small and we did not know what caused my intense bouts of pain and fatigue. We did, however, know that participating in a game of holiday grandparent tug-of-war made me ill.

Eventually, the holidays became a time where my small family chose to stay home. Our door was always open, to family and friends alike. I would bake and cook and fill the table until it groaned. A few times friends joined us at that table, but most often it was just our small family of four.

After a very tough year of loss and a year when diagnosis finally explained my ill health, I asked my son to take over the Thanksgiving preparations. He was still a youth of twelve but he loved the challenge. From then on, Thanksgiving was his day.

Thanksgiving in my youth was all about the extended family and the food. Thanksgiving as a young wife and young mother was stressful. I tried my hardest counter the negativity of extended family contention. I learned that in a big family, the craziness is just part of the holiday tradition, but in a very small family, the craziness is unhealthy.

Year by year all our family shrank in size as age and illness took their toll. But with loss came the realization that the contention was gone as well.

We knew it would be awhile before our family would grow again. Knowing that the future would bring new members to our family caused us to ponder how to make the holidays different for the next generation.

These last few years found us carving out blissful memories as we carved the turkey. The holiday season became one of giving, of seeking others for whom we could share our bounty. Our table groaned less under the weight of food, but rather, gifts of food found their way to other tables.

Each holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, my children would focus on the gifts they could share with others outside our home. My son embraced the task of giving bread and jelly. My daughter crafted gifts of yarn and fabric. Baking and needlework filled our time and filled our hearts as our simple gifts brought smiles to others. The holidays were still stressful and fatigue was still a problem for me, but now the stress revolved around helping my children learn the value of giving thanks by giving of themselves.

My kids are not in the position to come home this year. They are both embracing their chosen paths, and I am immensely grateful for the maturity in which they traverse this stage of life. I am also grateful that during the years of teaching them to give of themselves, I have learned to share them with others.

As I reflect on the holidays of the past, I embrace the notion that for a time, maybe just a short time, my husband and I can enjoy Thanksgiving Day as a couple, not so young, but without any guilt or pressure. What to some might seem sad, the two of us alone on Thanksgiving Day, is the very thing for which I am most grateful this year.

I am filled with joy knowing that this year the gift I have given to others is my children and that my children can enjoy this time unfettered by guilt, sorrow, jealousy, and contention, at least not from me.

I am also filled with peace on this Thanksgiving Day; a peace emanating from the presence of good company, a bountiful pantry, and love.

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Saith Me… Frozen Lemonade

When handed lemons, make lemonade or when faced with a brutally cold arctic blast, make frozen lemonade.

The first week of November was unseasonably warm, the second week unseasonably cold. The frigid wind makes any outdoor task exhausting. With the kids gone, and the husband at work, the days have been long. But rather than bemoaning my frozen solitude, I am going to sit in front of the TV and watch a bunch of sappy movies that only air during November and December. Not what I had planned, but I am learning to enjoy lemonade, even when it is frozen.

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Signs of Winter

A blast of winter air blew in this week and ignited in me a strong desire to change the background music that plays constantly in my home so as to drown out the ceaseless wind found in Eastern Colorado. It is October, and although Christmas decorations nestle alongside the ornamentations of Halloween, it doesn’t feel right to begin playing Christmas music so soon. Truthfully, I must confess, in years past I have succumbed to the temptation of playing Christmas music once the first icy winds blow in from the north. Yet this year, I hesitated.

Colorado is known for its perpetual sunshine more than for a distinct changing of seasons. Only in the worst of weather patterns does the sun stay hidden for more than just a day, but unlike in more temperate areas, the earth does not stay green. Certainly there is a beauty in the changing Colorado seasons, of this there is no doubt. Yet, too often the lack of summer rain has turned the earth yellow and the beautiful colors of Autumn are found only in the distant mountains.

In Colorado, it is not uncommon for the first snow to arrive in October. In fact in October 1997 a snowstorm blanketed the Eastern Plains under two feet of snow. Most years, however, the icy north winds only bring threats of snow rather than the fluffy white flakes. Without the prospect of a blanket of snow, the cold, biting wind can overshadow nature’s beauty. When the cold descends, and the sky turns grey, but no snow is in sight, Christmas music can brighten one’s day.

When the kids were at still home rather than in places where Autumn is filled with glorious, rich hues, Christmas music was a magical way to lighten the mood which often arrived with the grey skies and biting winds. Now that the kids are gone and it is just three aging felines and me prowling the house during the daylight hours, the thought of Christmas carols seems a bit overwhelming. Yet, the longing for the simple, timeless melodies of winter music remains. Fortunately over the years I have acquired hours upon hours of holiday inspired instrumental music. No Frosty the Snowman or Jingle Bells, but rather traditional melodies that make one think of hardy souls on windswept plains in far off distant lands or in days gone by.

A morning spent changing the bed linens, adding wool to the cats’ beds, and making a new music playlist has been a morning well spent. The first signs of winter have arrived and I am now ready to embrace the change.

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