December 29, 2010

Gifts of Christmas

I admit I am a crafter. I like to create, I like to make messes and I like to see the reaction people have to my creations, good or bad. I love to learn new things and in the crafting world it's easy to learn things one step at a time. I also have a dark side. {no comment from my family, please...} I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. I have the best of intentions and worst follow through ever. I started making Christmas gifts in July. Really. I finished the last one Dec 23. Ugh. My other real problem is that while I am amazing at taking an idea and making it my own, I am lousy at coming up with my own unique idea. So thanks to all of the wonderful crafters out there in blogland. Your ideas helped make a great Christmas for my family!

Christmas gifts I give have criteria to meet. I don't just give any old thing. First, it has to be fit for a variety of age groups. Nieces and Nephews range from 2 months to 12 years old. Some of the parents are bigger kids than the kids. It has to be a family strengthening gift. Toys don't last, memories do. Also, some aspect has to be handmade. It's better if I can come up with a plan and make it for each family (9 in all + grandparents), but I am happy to do different things for each family too. Lastly, it has to be affordable. Lots of people, we don't draw names and we have to afford Christmas for our own kiddos too.

This year was the year of games. I loved this idea from a blog I read. I have posted about it before and the same warning still applies. Every family got Yahtzee games with a hand made drawstring bag with their name on it.  The idea was to be able to add personalized games to them throughout the year. I have cousin memory coming up by Easter I hope. I also saw a version of Family Go Fish I liked a lot too. We shall see what actually gets done.

I borrowed an embroidery machine from a friend of mine. (It's actually for sale. Contact me and I will fill you in on the details.) I forgot to take a picture of this,although hopefully Dad and Annie will send me one to add.(Thanks Annie.) It was a bird tablecloth with matching gold napkins. Each corner of the tablecloth had a bird from a different season on it.

 It was really pretty when I was done and quite a learning experience. It fit the criteria in that it's only them living there, she loves to cook and entertain so it brings them closer together.

I also did a couple of quilts. For my FIL and his sweet wife I did this fun quilt.

I got the idea from Crazy Mom Quilts. Good for cuddling on the couch after a long day of horses and chores on the ranch. I decided that one quilt per year for was going to be my limit, but then this one fell into my lap. The same friend who had the machine I borrowed also had a rough outline of this cute quilt done.
 It didn't take long to finish it up, since it was all cut out and had all the pieces together. A lap quilt was perfect for this Grandpa.

For my grandmothers I made tater bags. They both loved them. Good for re-heating rolls, heating tortillas, baking potatoes or apples, these are fun and easy. Both of them have everything they want and love something new and different, so this was the perfect gift for them. No photo of that either. Think bright lined flannel with a bright yellow lining. Cute and functional.

No Christmas cards were sent out this year, I just didn't get to it. Maybe for Valentine's Day. Lots of cooking, lots of sewing {and with a brand new sewing machine, who could resist?} and lots of errands. We helped two friends move away in December, which was sad, but we know they are on to new adventures. I participated in a Christmas Choir, we had illness visit our house and Meg started Pre-school. I did 3 family photo shoots and 2 sweet babies but didn't manage to get our own family photos done. We also celebrated two birthdays and made lots of cookies.

 I traveled to WA for the funeral of my Grandfather

and returned to the biggest storms So Cal has seen in many many years. Here's our unofficial rain gauge for the 5 days of rain. There should be another almost 2 inches but my son emptied it out. Crazy, isn't it?

Still reading? Wow. That was long and involved. There were other gifts this year too. Gifts to me personally that made a difference in my life. Gifts of mercy, when I needed it most, gifts of patience, gifts of self reliance, endurance, music, creativity, hope, family and testimony. Without those gifts, where would I be? We hope you had a wonderful Christmas season and feel ready to take on the New Year with joy and energy. 2011, here we come...

December 1, 2010

Traditional Irish Blessing

Duane Francis Colwell passed away this week. He was my Grandpa, and a Great grandpa to my kiddos. He was full of optimism, even when life was hard and his greatest joy was to bring smiles to the faces of those around him. He loved to joke and always had a zinger waiting for you when you might not have expected it. His life was not easy, and he didn't expect it would be. He lived and died on his own terms and in his own time. 2 years ago when he was told his cancer was extensive and he might only have 4-6 months left, he laughed at the doctor. "What does he know, anyway", he said. "I have things to do. I want to go to the casino, who's taking me?" One thing I remember vividly from my childhood was him walking through the orchards or just sitting outside whistling. He loved Irish Folk tunes and when I ran across the video below, it reminded me of him. We enjoyed the time we had with him and the things that he taught us. Miss you Grandpa.

My wish for youI wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses,
Not that you might never need regret,
nor that you should never feel pain.
No, that is not my wish for you.
My wish for you is:
That you might be brave in times of trial,
when others lay crosses upon your shoulders.
When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed,
When hope can scarce shine through.
That every gift God gave you might grow with you
and let you give your gift of joy to all who care for you.
That you may always have a friend who is worth that name,
whom you can trust and who helps you in times of sadness,
Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side.
One more wish I have for you:
That in every hour of joy and pain you may feel God close to you.
This is my wish for you and for all who care for you.
This is my hope for you now and forever.

-- anonymous Irish blessing