Thursday, December 25, 2008

Good News of Great Joy

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned...

For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace...
Isaiah 9

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2

Our God is with us.... Merry Christmas to all...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Some photos from the cookie decorating party the other night. We baked the cookies ahead of time, then the girls and a couple of friends spent the evening decorating. Thanks again to hubby and youngest daughter for photos (I really do have a few "elves" around!)

A peaceful Christmas Eve to you all...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are You Ready?

Christmas is just one week away! Oh my goodness- I feel like I've barely gotten started!
Today, my daughter made up a huge batch of sugar cookie dough. Tomorrow we will roll out and bake the cookies, and then in the evening, some of the kids' friends will come over for a cookie decorating party. Saturday will also be devoted to baking. There will be a family trip on Tuesday, either to a local mansion/museum all done up for Christmas, or maybe we will go into the city of Philadelphia for some holiday sights and sounds. Shopping is mostly done, sometime in the next week the wrapping will get done, as well as sitting down to some of our favorite traditional Christmas movies (like A Christmas Story). Christmas eve will find us at church, and then a quiet evening at home with the family.

Phew!- are you ready!?!

Here is what the "elves" have been up to at our house:

Below is the lovely ornament that I got in the Great Ornament Exchange over at Kate's blog, The Accidental Traveler. It is right on the front of the tree. This was sent by Michelle.

Some winter greenery and red ball ornaments in assorted containers make an easy and elegant centerpiece for the table.

I also put greenery in assorted silver and pewter containers to dress up the fireplace mantle. I love the traditional look to it.
Candy in some of my favorite glassware makes a simple display on the hutch.

Hope everyone is enjoying the preparations and not stressing too much. When you start to feel overwhelmed, remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! Perfectly decorated homes and ornately wrapped gifts mean nothing next to the meaning of Christmas- God sent His Son because He loves us so. My favorite name for God is Emmanuel, which means, our God is with us.

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Christmas Village

I spent this past week helping to set up our Chrismas Village at our church. This is the first time we have ever done it, and when you look at the photos, keep in mind that construction just began in September! It will stay up for a week, and since it takes up our entire sanctuary, this Sunday we will be having services outside in a large heated tent. Sounds kind of fun!

The village came out beautifully, and we hope that every year it will be better and better. So if you live in the South Jersey/Delaware Valley area, email me and I'll give you the information, admission is free.

Here is a photo from the set up at the beginning of the week. Pictured are me, a guy from our church who hosted the construction at his home shop, and our youth pastor.

(I am the one in the back wearing overalls, in case you were wondering.....)

Remember this sign? It was fun looking for the fake baked goods for the bakery window. I also made some gingerbread for the window and the wreath. I made them out of salt dough, painted them, sealed with waterbased matte varnish, and used white dimensional fabric paint for the "icing."

A view inside the toy store window that I set up. I know, I know- sock monkeys aren't exactly Victorian, but ya do what ya gotta do....

The schoolhouse-

A view down one of the streets. I made the fruit ornament over the door (I've seen them on historic homes and in Williamsburg, VA, and I'm sure there's a name for them, but I don't know what it is) by cutting a piece of cardboard in a semi-circle, painting it brown, then gluing on silk leaves and styrofoam fruit which I had cut in half.

View down another street-

The stage area has a church, 2 homes and a Nativity scene. It's just beautiful!

Hope you enjoyed your "tour" through the village. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Free Pattern and Christmas Decorating Part Deux

A little gift from me to you- a free pattern/tutorial to make this tote. I embroidered the bird, appliqued it to some adorable striped fabric, added some ribbon and buttons, and made it into this tote. CLICK HERE for the tutorial in PDF format.

We had a little "Christmas calamity" around here this afternoon. I was on the phone and heard a crash- ran into the family room- to find the tree on the floor, along with a pile of lights and broken ornaments. I'm not sure if it just came out of the stand, or if maybe the cat "helped" it onto the floor. In kitty's defense, I didn't see her around, but maybe she just ran really fast when she saw what she'd done! Thank goodness my daughter was home early from school, because there is no way I could have uprighted it myself. Right now it is in the stand (kind of), tied to the window frame till hubby comes home to break out the tool box and work his magic on a very crooked tree. We had to remove all of the lights and ornaments from the floor and what was left on the tree, sweep broken glass from the floor, wipe up the water that came out of the stand.... What a mess! Now we have to decorate the tree all over again. Oh, well. I guess tonight will be Christmas Decorating- Part Deux.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sweet Treats for Christmas

After a busy, busy Thanksgiving weekend (putting up the decorations and the tree, doing a little shopping) I came down with a really bad cold. It was so bad at the beginning of the week, with fever and chills and achy muscles, that I thought I had the flu. But now I am starting to feel better, though my sinuses still feel sore and I'm still kind of tired.

I have mangaged to work on some quick Christmas decorations for a demo I am doing for a church group in a few days. I got some red and green starlight mints (only a dollar a bag at Walmart) and hot glued them to a styrofoam cone to make a festive little tree. I left the wrappers on, but I did cut the little ends of the wrappers off, so they wouldn't stick out. Then I glued a couple of candy canes on the front for a finishing touch. You could do a whole little forest of these, using different sizes of cones, and making some trees all red and others all green and some with both red and green like I did here.

I also found these fun little treats at the Christmas Tree Shop, they really kind of take me back.

Do you remember these old-fashioned candies? I remember my grandparents always had a bowl out when I went over to visit, Grandpa (who's been gone for about 2 years now) always had a sweet tooth. (Thankfully, Grandmom is still with us.)And do you remember these ribbon candies? So vintage looking- I plan on putting them out in a pretty dish as a decoration on Christmas eve ('cause they'll probably only last a few hours!)
I'm so glad that somebody is still making these- they really bring back memories.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks......

You turned my wailing into dancing;
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever.

It seems a shame to me that we set aside only one day a year to focus on thanks and gratitude. I know that I need to be thankful more often, it sometimes seems that days go by without me whispering even a few words of gratitude to God. I just get so caught up in the day to day stuff of life, that I forget how blessed I really am....

For God's unwavering and fierce love for me....

For an imperfect yet completely wonderful family....

For friends who would drop anything and everything to come to my rescue, if need be....

For the opportunity to live in a country where I can say what I want (even if I'm wrong), where I can worship Whomever and however I want, where I have a say in our government.... I don't think that here in America we really realize how remarkable that is.... The freedoms we have can only be truly appreciated if we go to other countries and experience the fear and control that people live under on a daily basis....

For never being in need of food, clothing, shelter....

And for the OPPORTUNITY to help others out of my blessed abundance and gracious plenty...
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:48

As Americans, we live in the wealthiest and most prosperous country in the history of the world...

Sometimes, I think about the silly things that I allow myself to get upset over.... But still, sometimes things just hurt.... disappointments in life, loved ones letting us down or hurting our feelings.... not tragedies, but still painful. Sometimes I think that I have no right to ever get upset about things, because there are people in our world who deal with tragedy on a daily basis... who will never know peace... who will never know how it feels to not go without, even for one day....

But I realize that God, while His heart breaks for these tragedies, feels my pain too. He knows. He knows my disappointment, my hopelessness and helplessness at times. He knows that life is oftentimes painful, for all of us. And as our Father, He understands.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Luke 12:6,7

I know everyone is so busy this time of year. Personally, I like the busyness- for me it is fun, joyous- shopping, decorating, singing along to my favorite carols. But the busyness sometimes makes it easy for me to forget just how much I have to be thankful for.

I would ask that everyone take just 10 minutes and visit one of the sites listed below. See the work that God is doing, through the hands of His servants here on earth. Please take time to be thankful for what we have, and for people who are willing to help others even on the far edges of our world (and in our own towns). Please pray for these organizations, for their workers, and for those who contribute monetarily to them to make the work possible. Maybe you will be moved to make a donation to one of these worthy organizations, to help them continue their work.

World Vision

Samaritan's Purse

Mocha Club



Operation Smile

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:15,16

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania- Christmas City

What better place to visit at this time of year than a town called Bethlehem... The town was settled and founded in 1741 by the Moravians, a Christian religious sect which originated in Central Europe. Unlike most religious sects that came to the new world during this time period, the Moravians did not come here to to escape religious persecution, but rather, came as missionaries. And unlike many other sects, they sought only to spread their faith, not to change the culture of indigenous peoples.

Bethlehem has lots of beautiful, interesting old buildings. Everything was decorated for Christmas and looked lovely. One of the most interesting places we visited was the Sun Inn, established in 1758. It has been documented that George Washington did indeed sleep there. The inn was also visited by the likes of John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and General LaFayette, among others. If only walls could talk- can you imagine the conversations that must have taken place there? Talk of the troubles with the mother land? Plans for revolution? Or, as my husband wondered, maybe George complained a little about Martha??
The kitchen has a walk-in fireplace. It was originally 4 ft deeper, but the back wall was moved forward to allow for duct work when the building was modernized. Can you imagine the size of that fireplace? It's no wonder that fire was the second leading cause of death for women during that time, as their skirts would catch on fire while cooking. (Lucky for me, the microwave does not pose that threat.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the Studio Today

Hubby and I managed to get away this past weekend and spent a couple of days at a nice Bed and Breakfast in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was lovely (and well stocked with complimentary yummy chocolate chip cookies and chocolate!), I will post some photos tomorrow. On the way up we made a few stops and I happened to find these great buttons, so now I can finish up the huge stack of pins that I have started. I actually have an order to fill, but my button supply was meager, so now I can get to work and get them done.Also, last Friday I got together with an old friend whom I haven't seen in ages. We had a very nice lunch and did a little shopping. There is a cute little country gift shop in my town, the owner always has the cutest things. Near the register, there was the most adorable Mr. and Mrs. Claus. I collect Santas, so I was tempted. My friend also loved them, but there was only one set. My friend decided to get it (and though I was little jealous, I figured she had just saved me some money! And I figured I could go visit the jolly couple at her house any time I wanted!) So the cashier went to get the boxes, and guess what- there was one more set! So I had to get them, and now my Mr. and Mrs. Claus can go visit her Mr. and Mrs. Claus... They are in my office for now, until I get all of my decorations up and find a "special" place for them... Oh I am so happy, they just make me smile! (I love how Santa's mouth is open, ready to shove that cookie in...)Finally, this afternoon I am going to take a ride up to pick up Sam from college for Thanksgiving break- now that REALLY makes me Happy!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Studio Shots

Last Saturday, I spent 7, yes really, 7 hours cleaning up my studio. It was so piled up that I was getting stressed just walking in there- needless to say, I was having a hard time getting anything constructive done. You may wonder how it took 7 hours to clean it up- there was the painting desk, the computer desk, the sewing table, the cutting table, plus 2 countertops that are dedicated to my “piles”- works in progress, books I have been referring to, sketches, generally stuff that I just don’t know what to do with so it just goes in the pile. Then of course, there was the floor- piles of fabric for projects that I have been working on, some projects that are long finished, projects that I am just thinking about. I did come up with this idea for a project that I am still working on- instead of leaving the fabric on the floor, I put it in this tiered basket. When I bought the basket, I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, I just liked it. Now it is coming in handy, don’t you think? So after I finally got it done, it actually looked something like the photos that I put on my website. I kept saying, "Oh I feel so much better," it was probably better than therapy! I think the family thought I was just kind of weird (they’re used to that...) But really, my head feels clearer, I am able to concentrate. In fact, Saturday evening and Sunday I just kept walking in there to look at it. Now I have to work, I kind of don’t want to pull things out and make a mess again! I definitely am more relaxed and focused when my surroundings are neat and organized, which goes against the stereotype of the chaotic, disorganized, flaky artist-type. I am a neat freak, I like everything in it’s place. Go figure. Actually, I think that being detail oriented has a lot to do with it- I notice little things that then make their way into my art, but noticing every little thing means that I notice everything little thing, especially if it’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

I took a couple of photos once I got it cleaned up- ‘cause it will probably be awhile until it looks this good again.I have something in mind for this fabric and floss and ribbon. I’m planning on making something with my Christmas Bird pattern that is on my free patterns page. So much fabric, so little time.... Oh, I wish I had a few elves- Do you think Santa could spare a few for me? Maybe I should put them on my Christmas list?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Little of This, A Little of That

Ok everybody, make sure you head on over to The Robin's Nest for a really super incredible giveaway- Trust me, you're gonna want to get in on this one! Robin has included all kinds of goodies- an apron that she made herself, a couple of cute snowmen, jewelry, soaps, note cards.... wow this is a good one!

Yesterday while "helping" in the studio, Maddie was intrigued by something at the window- a beautiful Cardinal couple. I managed to get the female, but the male was gone by the time I could grab the camera. (The picture is blurry because I took it through the window screen.)
A few minutes later, some nice fat mourning doves came to visit- Maddie liked them, too (she would have preferred to meet them face to face, instead of through the window, but c'est la vie, Maddie.)
I dropped a couple of quilts off to the machine quilter the other day, including this one that I had done a sneak peak for last month... So I will be able to show you that one soon. Sometimes it is frustrating as a designer, because I am working on things all the time, but very often I can't show them until they are done, and I have the pattern published. So even though I might work all day (or 2 or 3, or a whole week), I can't really post it for awhile. It's a bummer to work on something all day, and then in the evening feel like I have nothing to post on! Yesterday and today I worked on a new product which won't debut until the spring... It's so cute and I wish I could show it to you all... But it's a brand new idea in the market and so I really can't until it's completely done and published. Sorry for that teaser (I'm sure it hurts me more than it hurts you- HA HA).

And finally, I received THIS in the mail the other day:
I am 42, people! And this is not a mistake because my husband got one, too, about 6 months ago (thought they did spell my name wrong). What is going on? Sheesh, those "retired people" are aggressive. Maybe they should just start handing their notices out with high school diplomas, or birth certificates.....

So that's it for now. Have a great day.


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