Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa's Sweat Shop

Christmas is almost here--it's Christmas Eve in the United States. I know for some of you around the world, Christmas has arrived already. I want to wish each and every one of you out there in Blogland a wonderful holiday!

My online Thimbleberries group was reminiscing this morning about Santa experiences, telling stories about their own childhoods and their children's. Hearing these stories reminds me of the magic of the season when we suspend our doubts and logic and allow our imaginations to take over, if only for a little while.

Here in this part of California, we don't really get any snow, but we've certainly had some wet Christmases. When my kids were little, one year when the ground was damp, I went out on Christmas Eve and made "hoof" impressions in the mud, using the rim of a cup to form the prints. I think seeing the reindeer prints on the ground on Christmas morning more than anything else allowed my son to continue to believe in Santa for a few years longer than he would have otherwise!

I've been so busy in the last couple of weeks that I've missed out on doing some of the things that I enjoy during the holiday season. I've had a jigsaw puzzle--in its box--sitting out on the table, waiting for me to find a little time to sit down and relax and put it together. So far, that hasn't happened. I haven't found much time to relax and read. I haven't found time to just look around the house at the beauty of the Christmas decorations and experience that magic and peaceful feeling that comes along during this time of the year. And I think maybe the thing that I've missed most is going to the mall and visiting the tree with the names of children and families less fortunate than our family is. Our tradition--and one that we've not made time for in the last couple years--is to buy gifts for one or two of those kids. More than anything else, when I think of that "missed" tradition, I realize that I need to plan the holiday season differently next year.

We HAVE managed to spend time with family and friends, so that's one very important holiday tradition that we haven't missed. Saturday was spent with my husband's family, and we had a wonderful time. I didn't count the number of people there, but with six kids in my husband's family, and now all their spouses and kids--and the girlfriends and boyfriends of some of the kids--added to the group, I think there were probably about 30 people there or more.

Late Friday night, I finished the quilt I was making for my husband's aunt. I had pieced it several months ago, but hadn't managed to get it quilted until the last minute.

I just used a simple meandering pattern for the quilting. Knowing I was pressed for time, I had decided I wouldn't wash and dry it as is my normal custom. That plan changed, though, when I came home from work to put the binding on Friday night and found it covered with ants. Ants in my sweat shop?! I don't really keep food in there, but I had a tiny little package of Smarties that some Canadian friends had given me a year or two ago, and that may have been what brought the ants. Or maybe they knew is was the "aunt" quilt and misunderstood! In any event, I had to spray all over with ant spray, so into the washer and dryer that quilt went when I finished it.

I know you'll laugh or think I'm crazy when I tell you I had a relaxing day yesterday and then tell you what I got done. But I still have a couple things to make before tomorrow and I'm working in overdrive.

First of all, I finished making a pair of flannel Christmas PJs for myself. I wore them last night and was warm and toasty!

Then I took a little nap. See? That was the relaxing part! After my nap, I cleaned house and heated up some of that leftover meatball soup for dinner. Yum!

Then I decorated this flask as a gift for my son. I had picked up two of these flasks at the flea market for $1 each. During this arty-crafty phase I've been immersed in, I picked up some alcohol inks to "paint" the flasks and then used a rubber stamp for the image. I have another one to make for my daughter's boyfriend. I think they'll like them!

Next, I made some of Kairle's Roasted Cinnamon Almonds. Yum! They are SOOOO easy to make and are really tasty. Go on over to her blog if you'd like the recipe. I'd send you some, but I don't think they'll last very long here!

Finally, I made this picnic tote for my son's girlfriend. It's a pattern by Quiltsillustrated called The Desk Deli.

As you can see, there are pockets inside which will hold utensils, napkins, etc. I'm planning to make a couple roll-up placemats today and a couple napkins to match. Along with the tote, I'll give her a bottle of wine and a Trader Joe's gift card so she can go on a little picnic. My girl boss's birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, and I think I'll make one for her too. Oh, and my boy boss's birthday is next weekend--I have NO idea what I'll do for him, so I may just default to a gift card from Borders or something. "Boys" are so much harder than "girls," aren't they?!

If I don't post tomorrow it will be because I'm spending time with loved ones--relaxing! My son and his girlfriend will be here and we plan to spend some quality time playing games and munching on goodies. I hope you and your family have a joyous holiday!


Cheryl said...

I am worn out looking at what all you have gotten done. The quilt wonderful, PJ's love them, the flash-great idea and that tote is one I gotta make!! Have a Merry Christmas! Oh, and I forgot to mention all the goodies your cooked-wow, can I come over??

Cheryl said...

Geeeeeeeeeeeez - I need to read what I write before I post. I meant the Flask!!!!!! and all the goodies you've cooked ---hey what can I say all I've had is sugar today :-)!!

dot said...

Beautiful quilt. It will be loved. Have a Merry Christmas.

Linda said...

Glad to see you found some time in all your preperatons to make something for yourself, the pj's look very cozy. What a terrific flask, so original and I just love the picnic tote, what a clever idea.I hope you and your family have a day filled with love, laughter and joy.

Andrea - under a blue moon said...

I *just* picked up some alcohol inks (I was distracted because my normal stamping store source had her handsome husband manning the cash register and he talked me into them). I haven't even tried them out but your flask idea is brilliant. Post more ideas so I can be inspired!

Darlene said...

Merry Christmas, Kim! Take a few minutes to relax and reflect! :-)

Yvonne said...

Merry Christmas Kim....I love it all. Enjoy your time with your family. :)

Carole said...

Wow! What a production! Lovely! Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones! Hopefully you're relaxing now! Keep well!

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Biy, imagine what you could have got done if you weren't relaxing LOL!!! Love those jamies! and everything else, the flask is awesome!
Hope Christmas was great, lol tracey

Red Geranium Cottage said...

What a cute picnic tote that is. That's a great idea you had there. I just may have to copy it next year. Or should Istart now?? I laughed at your soup bowls santa left for you. He may be the smartest MAN around. LOL!!!

Marcie said...

Really cute picnic tote Kim, and jammies! But your ant' quilt takes the cake--ha! Hope you are having a good week!

Nan said...

My oh my - your resting is my idea of getting a TON of work done! Everything you've made is gorgeous! The "Desk Deli" is awesome - what a wonderful gift idea!
The quilt is lovely - glad you discovered the ants. I guess they wanted to participate in Christmas, too.
Love your jammies - very cute! And the flask is amazing!
I'm glad you finally got to rest and enjoy Christmas!!