2015 – A Year of Finishes

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That’s what my plan is. Over the decades, I’ve accumulated scores of projects. I have most of the supplies to complete them all but never had the time. So this year, I prayed a short & sweet New Year’s Prayer.

“God, you own time. You can hold it back or speed it up. Right now, I’m pretty sure it’s shortened. … You said unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Well, I’m not asking for more time, I’d just like enough time to finish. Please let me have just enough time to finish everything. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

I realize “everything” is quite expansive. And I’m ok if “Everything” might not include all my scores of projects. But I’m confident that this will be the Year of Finishing. Woohoo! Yes!! I want to actually finish things, especially the old things.

The other day I found this cross stitch while rummaging in my closet. It was started around 1994 from a kit by Candamar Designs. It must have been a popular design because Teacup Stack is still being sold.

I made slight changes to the design, including some color changes. One change was a mistake, using a thread much too red to make berries. The teacup looked too much like a Christmas teacup.

Teacups cross stitch - the red was too bright so I cut out all the stitches.

Teacups cross stitch – the red was too bright so I cut out all the stitches.

So a couple days ago I cut out the colors I didn’t want and added new. I’m really liking the colors so far.

Teacups cross stitch, with pretty purple berries and a softer bow on the pink teacup.

Teacups cross stitch, with pretty purple berries and a softer bow on the pink teacup.

I’m not sure how I’ll finish it. I probably won’t stitch the pitcher or creamer on top and bottom. The teacups look balanced as they are but the pitcher seems much too unrealistic. I do want to add some words around the border though, something about “my cup runneth over” and maybe a quote about service to others if I can find a good one.

 

Thank you for your patience while I was away. I’ve missed posting but will catch up. Keeping current with this blog is part of my commitment to Finishing! That’s a happy thought indeed.

More Christmas

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I will be away for a bit but want to leave you with a couple photos. I’ll post more when I return.

Making gingerbread.

Making gingerbread.


Gingerbread snowmen with wood pick arms and raisin buttons.

Gingerbread snowmen with wood pick arms and raisin buttons.


Decorating gingerbread.

Decorating gingerbread.


The fun part of making cookies.

The fun part of making cookies.


Christmas 2014 7676
Christmas 2014 7681
Lots of sprinkles!

Lots of sprinkles!


Italian Sienese Nougat Candy

Italian Sienese Nougat Candy


Wrapping each little square of Sienese Nougat Candy in cellophane. Washi tape worked great.

Wrapping each little square of Sienese Nougat Candy in cellophane. Washi tape worked great.


Springerli. The rolling pin and cookie mold are from House on the Hill http://houseonthehill.net/index.php?p=home

Springerli. The rolling pin and cookie mold are from House on the Hill http://houseonthehill.net/index.php?p=home


The first cookie tray for the company office.

The first cookie tray for the company office.


Christmas 2014 7797
Christmas 2014 7798
My mom made the miniature tree under the cloche. I have several small forests of trees; this one is on top of the tall dining room book shelf.

My mom made the miniature tree under the cloche. I have several small forests of trees; this one is on top of the tall dining room book shelf.


We never see our tree lit until Christmas Eve. Every light in the house is turned off and the house is very dark. The light sets are turned on one by one according to the scripture. Here is the very first set, lighting the star at the top of the tree over the manger scene down below.

We never see our tree lit until Christmas Eve. Every light in the house is turned off and the house is very dark. The light sets are turned on one by one according to the scripture. Here is the very first set, lighting the star at the top of the tree over the manger scene down below.


With a completely fused spine, I'm unable to get down to floor level to look through my camera lens so focus is hit or miss. But I love this photo and I can identify with a clueless sheep. Yet my Lord still watches over me tenderly.

With a completely fused spine, I’m unable to get down to floor level to look through my camera lens so focus is hit or miss. But I love this photo and I can identify with a clueless sheep. Yet my Lord still watches over me tenderly.


The tree completely lit about 40 minutes later, Christmas Eve.

The tree completely lit later Christmas Eve. We didn’t have time to put the ornaments on so there are very few. But the lights make the tree lovely!

Merry Christmas

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The time is late and the date is no longer the 25th. But Christmas Day here doesn’t end until the lights are out. And right now, they aren’t out yet.
It was a day full of joys and bittersweet memory, a little tears and laughter and sweetness. Losing someone precious is never easy. But we’re rejoicing in the hope of heaven and thanking God for providing a way through Jesus. We shall all be together again some day. Here’s to good times, good food and laughter. Here’s to love and family!
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. ♥
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Angel Curtain Treatment

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All I wanted was a little more light in the dining room so I gathered up the curtain in one hand and pulled it up and discovered … an Angel Curtain Treatment!

Angel Curtain Treatment

Angel Curtain Treatment

[Please excuse my unwashed window. We’ve pared back on a lot of things since my surgery. ;) ]

Normally, the sheer curtain just hangs over a tension rod stuck in the window frame. I don’t hang the curtain full length as normal, using the rod through the curtain sleeve, but rather just drape the floor-length panel over the tension rod so the pretty embroidered bottom edge hangs about halfway up the window as seen in this fall photo.
I also like the double thickness of the sheer when I hang the curtain like that.
1 b Fall arrangement 2014

To make the angel curtain treatment, all you need are two S hooks with lengths of ribbon tied on and whatever decoration you want to use for the top of the “angel head.” That’s it! One end of the ribbon is shorter than the other when tied, as you can see here.
2 Angel Curtain Treatment

I made two S hooks from an old hanger, making sure they would fit over the tension curtain rod. I like using the inner stiffening layer from men’s ties as ribbon. (You can see what else I used the tie pieces for here.) In this tutorial, I will call the wool tie interlining pieces “ribbons” for clarity.
3 Angel Curtain Treatment

The curtain is very light and airy and you can see how long it is here. I’m not sure this treatment would work as easily with a heavier curtain. Also, the top of the curtain will actually be the bottom of the angel’s dress. So the back of the curtain’s hemmed sleeve must look good.
4 Angel Curtain Treatment

To begin making the angel, the S hooks with ribbons were hung near the center of the rod.
5 Angel Curtain Treatment

The two shorter ends of the ribbons were tied loosely across the middle, wrapped several times to make the ends hang at the sides of the “angel head.” I didn’t have to tie any knots because the rough tie fabric held position easily when wrapped around several times. But if your ribbon is slick, like satin, you will have to pin it together to make it stay.
6 Angel Curtain Treatment

Here I’m lightly gathering the curtain in one hand, a little above the embroidered edge. I adjusted the curtain length over the rod and made sure the embroidered edge was arranged with pretty folds as I gathered it together.
8 Angel Curtain Treatment

Once the curtain was gathered together in my hand, I raised it up.
9 Angel Curtain Treatment

Again, I adjusted the folds to adjust the bottom of the curtain.
10 Angel Curtain Treatment

Once the curtain was held up, I looped the long left ribbon under and around the bundle of gathered curtain.
11 Angel Curtain Treatment
12 Angel Curtain Treatment

The two long long lengths of ribbon tie were tied together under the gathered bundle.
13 Angel Curtain Treatment

I fine tuned the embroidered curtain edge, pulling it down a bit to make it longer.
14 Angel Curtain Treatment

Here you can see the curtain sleeve from the top of the curtain now hanging at the bottom of the angel’s dress.
15 Angel Curtain Treatment

To finish the angel, I simply tucked a small halo of gold star holiday wire and a Christmas package decoration on top of the ribbon tie.
16 Angel Curtain Treatment
17 Angel Curtain Treatment

The finished Angel Curtain Treatment

18 Angel Curtain Treatment

An angel spreads her wings of sheer batiste. She disappears at night when I let the curtain down and the window sill lights shimmer through like stars.

To make this window treatment took less than 5 minutes. Seriously, it took longer to rummage through my old ribbon box to find the package decoration! To take it down, simply untie the ribbon from behind the curtain and remove the S hooks. Super simple.

And Thank You, Brenda, for your husband’s ties. This project finished up the linings I had from the first batch of ties. Your bag of ties will be plenty for new projects!

Giving Thanks continues…

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We are still eating delicious Thanksgiving leftovers so it’s fitting that the house is still decorated for fall. I’m glad we were back in time from Japan to see the maple turning red. The color was spectacular this year! Brighter than it’s ever been, even on a cloudy day.

The Japanese Maple was spectacular this year.

The Japanese Maple tree was spectacular this year.

The table was set. Even with the heavy overcast, the new windows provided splendid light.
2 2014 Thanksgiving table set
I asked one of the guys to label the serving dishes to make filling them faster when the food was ready. He labeled the water glasses! So funny.
3 2014 Thanksgiving table labels
The turkey was small this year, barely 14 lbs. It was the perfect weight for me to lift by myself. It was nice being able to use the rosemary and thyme growing in the kitchen planter.
4 2014 Thanksgiving turkey
Not all the family was present and we missed those far away. But everyone here was in a jolly mood and we were happy to be together.
5 2014 Thanksgiving everyone happy
We started with a salad course. One of the guys cut the peppers into leaf shapes. We made our own house dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, cracked Tellicherry pepper, water and a bit of boiled cider. It was delicious!
6 2014 Thanksgiving salad plate
Then on to Pumpkin Bisque. We tried a new recipe this year. The cardamom was prominent and very good with pumpkin.
7 2014 Thanksgiving Pumpkin Bisque
After the salad plates and soup bowls were cleared, we placed the rest of the food on the table. Here are some of the dishes.
8 2014 Thanksgiving table
9 2014 Thanksgiving side dishes

Baked Brussels Sprouts, Green Beans and Bacon

Baked Brussels Sprouts, Green Beans and Bacon; Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup; Buttered Squash with Cinnamon.

10 2014 Thanksgiving turkey

French Bread Stuffing with Sage Sausage; Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes, Turkey with Rosemary and Parsley.

The turkey was taken to the kitchen island for carving. This was the first year we used a fresh turkey. It was delicious and tasted much better than a frozen turkey. It did cook faster than I thought though, so we’ll remember that next time. Look at the steam rising! Delicious.
11 2014 Thanksgiving carving
We didn’t take any more photos. There were many wonderful moments, such as when grandson “cooked” his real food in the toy oven. But I was so thoroughly enjoying the baby and grandkids, eating pie and participating in our myriad conversations and laughter, that I completely forgot to take photos.

This morning I finally got around to washing the crystal. The glasses sparkled in the sun. As I held a glass, I wondered whose hand had held it and extended it in a toast to family. Even the grandchildren got to hold the crystal in toast this year. My beloveds were here! That’s a warm and happy thought indeed.
12 2014 Thanksgiving washing crystal day after
The latest additions to my gratitude journal are even more full of thanks. Being thankful ALL the time is truly a choice. You can’t complain one minute and be thankful the next. Choose optimism, choose joy.
13 2014 Thanksgiving journal
This year we placed his cutting board in the center of the table. Thank you God for good meat, for good bread, for good wine. Thank you for family and friends. –I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 — Thank you for helping us see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, here, now.
14 2014 Thanksgiving letting the candles burn
Today I made the apple pie I didn’t have time to make for Thanksgiving. Today we’re still giving thanks.

Thank you Ethan and Gabe for taking some of the photos and thank you Holly for the delicious Candied Carrots and Baked Squash. ::smile::

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving dear family and friends!
May the light of gratitude continue to shine through the coming winter.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Home from Tokyo

Three weeks filled with amazing food, great scenes and warm family. Wow! I was hoping to update my blog while there but computer access was minimal. Sorry for my long absence. I missed sharing with you all! I’ll post more over the coming weeks.

This jet lag is tough. There must be a better way to get over it. Today I woke at 4:30 am and needed supper. And then later today I lay down for a little nap and slept six hours. Oh dear! Any tips for getting past jet lag? The time difference was …. 13 hou…r…. zzzzzzz.
Oh, did my head hit the keyboard just now? Yep, I’m struggling with jet lag.

Here’s one photo, taken at Nijo Castle in Kyoto. It was a warm, rainy fall day and very peaceful.

It was a rainy day in Kyoto, Japan at Nijo Castle. We enjoyed watching the koi in the ponds.

It was a rainy day in Kyoto, Japan at Nijo Castle. We enjoyed watching the koi in the ponds.

Crafts and Tokyo on my mind

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I’m packing today and I’ll see my daughter and her husband soon! In Tokyo!

NC to Japan

NC to Japan


Despite all the trip preparation, I still fit in crafting time. My granddaughter had her heart set on a “Princess cone hat” so here is the hat I made for her to wear with her princess costume this year. We worked with the materials on hand… a poster board cone, pink acrylic paint, plastic gems and pearls, and an antique silk handkerchief. The ties are made of a multi-stretch fabric, I can’t remember the name right now. It’s the kind of fabric used for bathing suits and worked beautifully for a comfortable fit.
Princess hat made of poster board, fabric, gems and pearls.

Princess hat made of poster board, fabric, gems and pearls.


She loved the hat!
Granddaughter in her princess cone hat.

Granddaughter in her princess cone hat.

Dessert Tea

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The timing was right… It was Rosanna’s 8th Annual Tablescape Contest, my daughter-in-law’s birthday, and I was finally healed enough to tackle an ambitious baking event. What better way to celebrate all three than with a Dessert Tea!

1 Dessert Table

Dessert Tea table setting

Here is the table before I started adding all the desserts. I made the tablecloth from an old bedspread with fringed edge. (You can see scraps from that old tattered bedspread in the photos of Tea by the Sea. Crafters don’t waste any scrap. Ha!)

I adore Rosanna’s style and was hoping to enter her 2013 tablescape contest last summer. But we didn’t get the remodel done in time and I wasn’t very mobile back then. The china cabinet was emptied so we could move it around and all the china was stacked on two tables in the living room. That’s when I got the idea for a blue and white and yellow theme for a table.

This year, I thought about the Dessert Table theme for weeks. Each time I got an idea, I added it to my notes.
2 Dessert Tea notes

4 Dessert Tea Centerpiece

Four elegant mugs on a dessert pedestal hold the floral centerpiece.

After I decided on the serving dishes, I wrote a list of tasks, desserts and a tentative baking schedule.
3 Dessert Tea schedule
There were two main focal points for the table, Rosanna’s elegant Luxe Moderne mugs for the centerpiece, and her La Mode fashion plates.
I used four of Rosanna’s mugs on a vintage dessert pedestal to make the centerpiece. I was so excited about this design. It has a lot of potential and I plan on using four mugs as a centerpiece base for other tablescapes.

Sugar cookies were painted following Rosanna’s designs on her mugs. I wrote about the cookies here. It was challenging to paint the designs! I have new respect for Rosanna’s design skill.
5 Gilded dress cookies
The fashion plates are so pretty!
6 Rosanna Inc La Mode plates

7 Napkins hung like little dresses

These are not dresses, they are napkins! Small squares of fabric folded are diagonally and draped over a miniature hanger. A bit of ribbon and trim… and you have sweet petite dresses!

9 Tiered server with various trays

This server was made to accommodate round plates. But rectangle platters made for more interest.


This tiered server used to be bright red, yellow and blue but I painted it all white with acrylic paint. Instead of using round plates on the server, I used two rectangle trays on the bottom. It looked great!

12 Layered desserts

Dessert Tea – Layered Desserts with Vanilla Bean Cake, Raspberry Mousse and Orange Gelatin with Raspberry and Mandarin Orange Slice.

To continue the fashion theme, I cut 6″ to 8″ squares of fabric for petite tea napkins and fringed the edges. Each napkin was folded and draped over hangers to look like dresses. Most were folded diagonally. Each was tied at the “waist” with ribbon, a little flower tucked in the waist and a small piece of trim was draped over the top to look like a collar.

I made the miniature hangers from pieces of coat hanger cut with wire cutters. One coat hanger made three miniature hangers. The metal cake stand was perfect from which to hang the napkin dresses.
8 Little coat hangers

The tea service was on the back of the table, behind the desserts. I wrote how I made the Sugar Bonnets here.
10 Dessert Tea tea service
On the tiered server, top to bottom: Spritz, squares of Fudge and Shortbread, Butter Cookie Dresses.
11 Dessert on three tiers
I experimented with a new baking pan to make the Layered Desserts. They were delicious and so pretty! I will post the recipe some time.

The Layered Desserts looked perfect on the long rectangular tray.
13 Layered desserts
I also made a Lemon Orange Cheesecake topped with Pineapple and a Marmalade Glaze. So delicious!
14 Pineapple Orange Cheesecake

16 Cherry Tarts

Dessert Tea – I didn’t have time to make round pastry shells. It was quick and easy to cut squares with a pizza cutter and place the pie pastry in the tart pan.

19 Dessert table

Dessert Tea – a table set with a delicious assortment of desserts: Layered Desserts, White Chocolate Praline Cake, Pineapple Marmalade Cheesecake, Cherry Tarts, Spritz Cookies, Fudge, Scottish Shortbread, Butter Dress Cookies, Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Macadamia Frosting, Honeydew Melon Balls with Blueberries and a bowl of Cherries.

20 Fabric napkin folded to look like a dress on a hanger

Dessert Tea – napkins folded diagonally and hung on a miniature hanger, tied with ribbon and draped with lace.

Two bowls held Honeydew Melon balls and Blueberries and Cherries, garnished with fresh mint.
15 Fresh cherries honeydew melon and blueberries
Cherry Tarts were on a glass dish.

I only had four covered glass dishes but that was enough to place four Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel and Macadamia Frosting.
17 Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Macadamia Frosting
The birthday cake was a White Chocolate Praline Cake with homemade Strawberry Raspberry Jam topping.
18 White Chocolate Praline Cake
All together, the table looked lovely and the event was a huge success!

I submitted my photos and won an honorable mention in the tablescape contest… happy face! =)
My daughter-in-law was thrilled with her birthday, the girls loved the dress napkins and all our guests enjoyed the delicious desserts.
And it was the perfect event to celebrate the return of my health and stamina after such a long recovery. A sweet day indeed!

Today it rained

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1 After rain 10 14 14
2 After rain 10 14 14 Dragonwing begonia
3 After rain 10 14 14
4 After rain 10 14 14

Little figs are growing on the new growth.

Little figs are growing on the new growth.

But there are bare stems where the little figs dropped too soon.

But there are bare stems where the little figs dropped too soon.

Fungus is growing on the fireside stumps

Fungus on the fireside stumps.

8 After rain 10 14 14 Double Impatiens9 After rain 10 14 14 Impatiens petals on the deck