Saturday, December 20, 2008

white and woolly


Although I'm still hoping for a real white Christmas, on this cloudy day I'm enjoying these soft fluffy trees made from tufts of wool and brought back in my suitcase from The Curious Sofa booth at Silver Bella.   Festooned with winter berries and a red scarf made by Julie Reed, they also serve as a backdrop for my little drummer guy, crafted by my youngest son when he was 9 and starting his drumming career.  Soon he'll be here with the rest of the family for the holidays. Can't wait!!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

a little christmas music


I've been pampering myself by wrapping up small gifts for large-hearted friends, so I thought I'd share a photo of some heading out today. The piano music wrap is embellished with an extra strip of song lyrics, two blanket-stitched felt hearts, and three-dimensional snowflakes punched from music paper and coffee filters.  You can find the punched snowflake idea in Teresa McFayden's currently-available ezine, 12 Days of Comfort & Joy. Hope you are also having a lovely time indulging in the holiday spirit.


Monday, December 15, 2008

a heartfelt holiday wish


As we approach this holiday season with its message of hope and peace and our shared desire to keep our families close and safe, I thought it might be interesting to take note of some things in the news lately. While Americans are anticipating a peaceful change in our government's administration after the holidays, there are sobering considerations, too.

For example, many American families will not be together for this holiday because a military family member is serving overseas in a hostile environment in order to protect our freedoms, including freedom of religion. Many other Americans are rather nonchalant about the quality of this military service, unable to personalize its meaning into their busy lives. Think about this: According to a recent CNN news report, in Obama's Illinois district (apparently up for sale now and at a very high price) less than 6% of age-qualified residents there are eligible to serve in the military because they either have not earned a high-school diploma or have a criminal record. But even our high-school drop-outs and criminals (other than felons) can vote because they are born with that right, safeguarded by a stable government supported by a volunteer armed forces.

On Tuesday, our current President spoke to West Point cadets about the heavy load of service responsibility they will inherit upon graduation. These are bright young people who care about our safety and American value system in a proactive way. You can read this informative speech here. While you read this speech, consider the Congress-mandated low pay, the constant moving, and often-difficult living conditions that military service members and their families earn in return. (I know this first-hand. My husband is a retired Army officer and West Point graduate; my first husband was killed in Vietnam; my 3 older children have each spent several years in military service before starting their prosperous civilian careers; my youngest plans to serve as an Army doctor. Last Christmas my son and daughter-in-law were serving in Iraq. In case you thought military families were somehow society's cast-offs, I'll mention that I've attended Oxford University, the Sorbonne, American University in Beirut, and was a President's Fellow at RISD.) The military is under-appreciated because it is a necessity in a democracy, not because it is illiterate or criminal.

Then contrast the just-revealed $50B 30-year-long largest-ever Ponzi scheme, run by a former head of Nasdaq, Bernard Madoff, a different kind of upstanding American. The effect of this obscene rip-off act, which looks uncannily like that of a dictator's (start with Saddam, or Yasser Arafat) leaching his country to line his own pockets, is $50 billion's worth of projects just sucked out of the economy, including hospitals being built by the Shapiro Group, many charities like Spielberg's, and much much more.

So, as you make your holiday wish list, I hope you'll add a fervent wish for the safety and success of your fellow Americans in the military overseas -- who are safeguarding the pleasure we take in conducting our lives and holiday celebrations as we choose.


Friday, December 12, 2008

late edition: silver bella swaps and classes

Egad! Where is the time going? Last Sunday, while teaching my final class of this year, I was reminded again that I had still not posted photos of my Silver Bella swaps. Oh my tardy slippers! So, here's the late edition, with a few photos and not too much blather.

This little pink house in the cotton woods was for the "Glorious Glitter House Swap" hosted by Alanna George and Amy Powers (who is having a sale at Inspire Co.) For this swap, we all began with one of the tiny houses offered here. Luckily for me, I benefitted from a hands-on tutorial from sweet Miss Amy herself, so I could learn how to put together a mini version of her fabulous Sugarville houses.

But oh my gosh, look at what I received from the talented Amanda Willey at HodgePodge! This super-fantastic creation staging a glittery carousel in front of the Eiffel Tower came home -- carefully coddled -- in my carpetbag purse on the plane. No way could I trust that it would survive being tossed around in my jam-packed suitcase. I can't wait for my grandchildren to see this in a few days.

For the "Twinchie Advent Calendar Swap" hosted by Melissa Wisner, we made 25 little repeats of our given day. For my 11th day of December, I built up a little frame around a miniaturized "Winter" poem from a late-1800s children's book, then ornamented it with German Dresden in silver, gold, and pink, plus silver glitter, with aqua vintage wallpaper on the back. Once I learned what a twinchie was, making the first little squares was lots of fun, but square by square I remembered my limits for repetition. :)

Laid out like a tree until they are actually hung on a little Christmas tree, here are all the twinchies from the swap. Unfortunately, my collection didn't include a day 15 to show you, but aren't you amazed by all the sweet little details? (Click to enlarge photos.) By the way, please excuse the condition of the dining room rug in the background; I'm trying to pass off all the glitter (etc) around here as fairy dust until vacuuming moves up on the to-do list, which is headed by this motto: "spare no effort, waste no effort."

Michelle Geller hosted this most clever and beautiful "Bella Button Fabric Fatbook" swap. You can see gorgeous photos of the pages in this fantastic book here. But I'll add a few of my own to show the scale of this wonderfully chunky book. Besides sewing an exquisite page of her own, Michelle bound the pages and beautifully covered the book:

Julie's page (on right):

Melissa's page (on right; Julie's reverse side on left):



My page:

Stephanie's page:

Stacy's page:

Sandi's page:

Mollie's page:

Amy's page:

And Michelle's credit page:

Finally, a quick look at two class projects. Although my painted and embellished "Prada Schmada" bag from Charlotte Lyons' class is not yet done, here's the in-progress view. Under the elaborate top fringe that I bought from Charlotte is a fabric pocket (partially) sewn with blanket stitch and layered with more lace and a pink yoke found at Second Chance. All the pretty buttons are from eBay. The leaf-painting was done with a cut potato per Charlotte's instructions.

And Rebecca Sower's "Prayer Collage" class showcased intimate sewing and wrapping details with layered fabrics, buttons and small ornaments clustered around a favorite prayer. This close-up shows part of the collage with charming items Rebecca provided.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

amy's club little house sorting party


The merry sorting crew met on Monday morning at Amy's house. Her eager Club Little House elves, including Hope, Claudine, Lorraine, Leslie, and me, couldn't wait to see all the littles that came from around the country, from Canada, even from England, Finland and New Zealand.

First we crowded around Amy's coffee table to ooh and ahh at the whole assortment of miniature creations that Amy had displayed like little worlds on cake stands and under glass domes.

Because Amy had made enough of her own swap item (!) to trade with each participant, she was able to share the whole amazing collection with her captivated elves. So much creative detail in such small scale!

Then we went to work. Amy had already developed her matrix so her elves could distribute all the little packages among the participants in the Club Little House swap.

We whisked around among the 36 piles of daintily wrapped little goodies, following her matrix so no one received their own little back and so no one received duplicates when several participants made versions of the same thing. These are my littles (a dozen shabby "French provincial" armoires) wrapped in music paper.

Before long, we were all sorted and ready for a snack break. Well, you know how elves are.

Shall I share a peek at the littles I brought home with me, after we elves finished chatting in Amy's festively decorated home, with her little flocked pink tree and handsome sofa pillows and gently lit sconce glowing next to the big green tree? Doesn't this dainty pile of goodies look a little like Christmas, too? Since I received my trove of treasures before the mailed packages reach the other swap participants, this glimpse will surely whet appetites. :)

Displayed above: Tracey's charming picnic basket, complete with that special blue gift box, Tammy's soft bright quilt and sewing basket, Leslie and Sylvan's amazingly detailed "birthday in a box", Jill's favorite late-night Santa treat, Hope's framed silhouette and print, Louise's dainty dolly and bed set, Saucy's working miniature iPod, and Amy's hand-painted garden set.
In my "shabby French-provincial" armoire: Kim's glittery houses (her fabulous glittery delivery box is off to the right) , Claudine's poppets sitting pretty, and Heidi's nostalgic Thanksgiving set. Click on the photos to enlarge the details, and visit these creative ladies at their blogs to see more inspiration.

Monday, December 08, 2008

anna griffin holiday layout

Quick preview of the Anna Griffin holiday layout class I'm teaching this month. Lots of snowflakes and sparkly bits. Hope you like it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

december already?

Predictably, December finds me with the inevitable to-do list that's a lot longer than the ever-shorter wintry days. It just seems to be built in to the anticipation of the holiday season in our family. Happily, I've learned to take pleasure picking out my favorite things to do from the list without worrying about the rest. Some things are better left for the elves, anyway.

.However, after a marathon Thanksgiving baking session, my kitchen counters are now covered with the makings of my dozen Club Little House swaps, like piles from a miniature woodshop. I wish they were filled with dreamy pink confections like Charlotte's counter. Instead, I've been sawing, gluing, painting, pinning, wallpapering, carving, and otherwise wondering how did there get to be so many construction steps to this little thing? How I wish I were a better or more experienced crafter! Nonetheless, on Monday, I'll be part of Amy's merry sorting crew as she directs us in packaging up all the little goodies for her wonderful swap.

Would you like a peek at what I've been doing in my kitchen? There are still some windows to cut out and corners to miter with the mat knife before this woodshop is closed for the season.