Saturday, December 10, 2011

A small finish is better than no finish at all...

Finally!  A Christmas finish to share (never mind that it is only 4 inches square...but it is hand-appliqued and hand-quilted). I love the back fabric on this ornament...the Santas are perfect and they came from my stash, which makes it even better.  Any time I see good, "concentrated Santa" fabric, I pick up a little.
The idea and pattern came out of this book by Nancy Halvorsen.

I was also inspired by my friend Julie Hacala's beautiful Christmas tree to make this silly little ornament.  I was careful this last week to crack the breakfast eggs VERY CAREFULLY so I would have some nice egg shell halves to paint.  I used a high gloss red craft paint and yellow pom poms.  I wish I had used smaller beads for eyes, but this is what I had on hand.  Thanks for the inspiration, Julie!
 They aren't very Christmas-y, but they sure were fun to make!
I made these ornaments for our annual Sit & Stitch potluck and ornament exchange, which was held yesterday at The Quilting Season (thanks for the group picture, Ellen!).

 We had a smaller group than usual due to illness, etc., but those of us there had a fabulous time.
 Ellen, Beth, MaryLiz...
...Ursula, Margaret, Barb, Margit, Cheryl...
 ...Marilyn, Debby, Mary, Judy and Chris.
The pot luck food was awesome and the ornaments were all secretly stashed in identical plain brown bags in anticipation of us drawing numbers and playing our little selection game.
Lucky me!  I received a lovely reproduction log cabin ornament, made by Margit...
...and this cute Santa Claus, so cleverly made by Ellen.  I look forward to this ornament exchange all year, and I love putting up my tree and seeing all the handmade ornaments from years gone by.
Two or three posts ago, I showed this beautiful quilt made by my friend Mary Jones.
A few of you asked about the source of the pattern.  I dug around in the quilt cave (finally!) and found the right Nancy Halvorsen book..."Tidings."  Sorry for the delay in answering your questions.
The Christmas season seems a little "off" this year to me...anyone else experiencing the same thing?  We finally decorated our big indoor family tree last Sunday night.  After years of harvesting our own fresh tree, we bought an artificial tree last year.  It didn't seem right, but we suspect I have an allergy sensitivity to live trees.  This was the second year we struggled to put the 9-foot monstrosity together.  Finally, by 9:00 PM that Sunday night, the ornaments were on and everything all cleaned up so that we could just turn the lamps off and enjoy it.

Something didn't look quite right after about on hour. It looked like we didn't fluff the limbs enough or something. As I started fussing with things a little, I noticed a gap had developed between the middle and bottom tree sections.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the limbs had either broken or stretched the plastic that was supporting them.  I have a lot of ornaments on my tree, but they are mostly lightweight.  The plastic was almost stretchy...what a crappy tree!

Monday it was worse, and on Tuesday, I "undecorated" the tree to reveal this:

The lower, splayed branches were "pancaking" and sagging toward the floor.  We bought this tree because it wasn't very dense and could accommodate lots of ornaments, all through the tree.  So I drove to Plymouth to buy a NEW artificial with METAL HARDWARE and a WARRANTY.  I came home to a message on my phone that the store had loaded the wrong tree in my car and that I needed to come back for a swap.  I came home a second time, removed the rest of the ornaments, and kicked the old tree to the curb.  The old tree had LED lights that were too stark, the lights were only at the branch tips and they didn't have the charm of the older lights.  The new tree has more traditional lights and also has a slimmer profile, so it fits in our house better (still 9 feet tall!).  I ended up driving 140 miles to get the new tree, return home, get again and come home again, and I spent the rest of the day trimming the tree...again.  It's

MUCH better!  I had never heard of a tree actually failing before.  The branch-looking things at the top are sprigs with leaves and red jingle bells...ho-ho-HO!

It just seems like everything is harder this Christmas...schedules are harder to pound out and coordinate, small tasks are taking a long time to accomplish, people are grumpier and some people are downright SNARKY!  I hope things get better for the last 2 weeks before Christmas.  When out in public, I'm trying to smile more, be more patient, open doors for people, put more money in the "red kettles," and try to "pay it forward" as much as possible.  I think the bad economy and uncertain times are affecting everybody.  I think we all need a big "group hug!"

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. Too bad things seem to be negative in your part of the world. I was thinking that this year in MN it seems that people seem more positive this year. Last year seemed negative and down to me. This year people seem more upbeat and pleasant in the malls and stores. Maybe it's because we have had such a great winter and we have not had to battle snow, yucky roads, ice, etc. like we normally do. It has been a joy to get out and navigate around - some days with hardly bundling up!

    Hope things look up soon! Keep smiling! :)

  2. Your Santa is so perfect. :D

    And a group hug is a terrific idea!

  3. Oh My! What an adventure with the tree. I've been back and forth about getting either a real or artificial tree this year. I think I'll stick with getting a real one.

    Lovely ornaments you made and received. :) I'm sure things and people will get better the closer it gets to Christmas. People are probably just stressing out over all the things to do this time of year.


  4. Your finish is adorable!! Glad you had a fun potluck evening. Your tree looks just lovely!

  5. Though I now live in Georgia, I lived most of my life in Michigan and when I moved here I was amazed at all the smiling faces. My husband worked in the auto industry (had to take early retirement) and the difficulties Michigan faces really does affect everyone living there. I am hoping things get better for everyone there soon.

    Feeling bad about your tree but that new one does look fabulous!

  6. I am not feeling Christmas this year at all. I was thinking that maybe it was because this is our first empty nest year. Maybe it is something in the water.

  7. Love your Santa Ornament - Art to Heart has lovely patterns for sure. I think I need to add some to my Wish List. Your tree adventure confirms why I don't put one up. But I am seeing these new skinny trees and like them.

  8. Oh my! You have more patience than I do! I am afraid there would have been some choice words coming out of my mouth. LOL Your tree is GORGEOUS! Just beautiful...and your Santa ornament is adorable. I love all of Nancy Halvorsen's designs and have most of her books (if not all!). So cute!

    Love your blog, Teresa. You are such an inspiration! Thank you for that. :0)

  9. I agree with you on the LED lights....they're just to bright! I like the softness of the older ones. And your new tree is lovely....and loaded with ornaments! Yay! Loved all the pics from your gathering, too. Sweet ornaments!

  10. omg just had to laugh about your tree, sorry! what a story you have to tell for years to come, it will become funnier and funnier to you eventually!
    I am finding this year people are happier at the mall and around town in general...I know how hard hit Michigan has been during the downturn of the economy I do hope it starts to recover as the auto industry is your new ornament, looks like everyone had a lot of fun at the pot luck. Loved looking at all your ornaments!
    Merry Christmas!

  11. Oh I forgot to say I LOVED the ornament you made, that is such a great santa and loved your fabric choices, just fun
    ok those chick holder ornaments are adorable ;)


  12. Did you take a look at the tree they loaded in the car? I think I would have been tempted to say,"That's your problem, come and get it".One trip is enough!
    Love that santa decoration and the gathering looked like such fun.

  13. Oh, I feel your pain with the tree but you persevered and you survived it. A lot of people here are downsizing Christmas a little because of the economy, not a bad thing. I hate parking rage which gets worse at this time of year.

  14. You should keep the branches off the old tree loads of people in the blogosphere are using artificial tree limbs cut up to make Christmas wreaths. You could make mini ones as part of your ornament swap next year. I'm hoping in January someone has an old artificial tree they no longer want that I can do it with!!!

  15. Your newest tree is very pretty, but what a pain in the kazoo! Who would have thought a tree would do that?!
    Love your Santa ornament.

  16. The ornament is wonderful. And your new tree looks great. Merry Christmas! :-)

  17. But now you have a beautifull tree.
    Great work you have done.
    Have a merry christmas.
    Greetings from Holland Janny S.

  18. But don't you have a beautiful tree now. Well worth the effort because now you will have a lovely tree every year.

  19. It really is a lovely tree. Now that yours is all done and you're used to driving, won't you please come by and help decorate mine! LOL!!!

    A group hug and a fabric swap, that will cheer the world immeasurably. Some chocolate thrown in would help a bunch too. Now where did I put that cocoa . . . Happy Christmas.

  20. That was definitely a bit of a trial for you Teresa but I much prefer the new tree, it looks lovely and I like the slimmer profile too...

  21. I agree that we all could use a group hug. We have our gazillion outside lights displayed as usual, but the next street over that usually has lots of light displays is all dark this year. I love your tree story. I really like this new one a lot better, and next year it should be a piece of cake to put up and decorate. Merry Christmas to you!

  22. Group hug! Feel better now. :)
    What a time with your tree. The new is pretty awesome looking now.
    I do not like those new LED lights either. Your Santa ornament is adorable. And I love the log cabin one too. It is perfect for you.
    Always fun to get together with friends that love to quilt.

  23. Kathy sent me over to have a smile. Truth be told It made me feel sorry for you to have to un-decorate your tree so many times. I have an artificial tree for Dh who has allergies. I'm on my second one due to the plastic stand that didn't stay strong. The whole tree fell over last time I used it. No cat to blame it on because of the same Allergic Dh... I hope your Christmas holiday improves too!

  24. Bless your heart, you've had time with that tree, haven't you! It is really pretty now. I ordered on from JoAnn. It took them two weeks to tell me it was out of stock and would not be getting here. Grrr. So, I just decorated the old one. Again. At least the branches are still holding on. LOL
    I love that chick in the egg ornament. I'll have to make some of those. Some time. And yes, people do seem to be getting meaner and meaner, and it doesn't seem to do much good to be extra nice to them. I think we're just all feeling the stress of uncertainty. Good to know Who to hold on to, isn't it?

  25. Oh my girlfriend....I have a hard enough time doing my tree ONE time much less TWICE!!! But as we can see all that trouble was worth it, I think your tree is lovely and it looks pretty real!

    Your Santa is just too darn cute!!! I love Nancy Halvorsen's books!!


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