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If I had to describe December in a word, it'd be full.

Full calendar, full bellies, full hearts. 

Some highlights for me were decorating cookies for Santa and taking LMC to see Portland Ballet's Nutcracker, where she was totally engrossed in Act I and conked out and slept her way through Act II (though not for lack of interest).

In the midst of a hectic baking schedule (2 types of cookies, gingerbread cake and peanut brittle), I managed to make several gifts too, including my bi-annual cross-stitch family portrait (inspired by this year's Halloween costumes), a knit hat for LMC in the hopes of seeing something other than the doggie hat on her head, an ornament for my knitting group's annual swap and  two tutus, because you can never have too much tutu. But the gift that I'm most proud of making is my little Children's book, which I wrote and illustrated for LMC.

As I said, it was a full month, and while I wouldn't call January "empty" I am looking forward to getting back into a quieter rhythm. 

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A Holiday Review

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I finished the stocking with 2 days to spare. The last backstitch was completed the evening of the 22nd and the stocking assembled and sewn on the 23rd.

The kit came with some poly-felt for the backing, but no instructions for assembly, so I took a good look at the ones my Grandmother made and worked from there, using some pre-made piping and leftover linen for the exterior and some muslin for the lining. After nearly 21 months of work, it was proudly filled with goodies by Santa on the 24th, and somewhat anti-climatically put into storage on January 1.

I also managed to complete a toddler sweater and an apron, a large batch of cookies, several pounds of peanut brittle, the assembly of a wooden play kitchen and, with some finishing help from Bristol Ivy, a knit hat for Mr. Cleaver.

With a list like that it's no wonder I took the week after Christmas to relax and watch old movies (Charade and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - both highly recommended!) and Doctor Who on Netflix. I also managed to clear up some of my sewing project backlog, but more on that for another day.

Though last year was LMC's first Christmas, this was her first year with some understanding about the holiday and we really wanted it to be magical and mindful of both sharing in the traditions we grew up with (Handmade stockings! Toutiere on Christmas Eve!) and building new traditions of our own.

Christmas music was played, the Nutcracker was danced to, stop-motion animated films were watched, and food was shared with family. We took her to see Santa, who she was rather uncertain about until he gave her a little teddy bear, and then he was a great guy. We drove to see the lights and decorated together. It was enjoyed by all of us and I gained a great deal of respect for all that my parents did when I was child to make Christmas something special for my brother and me. 

Usually, when the decorations are packed up and put away on the First of the year, it always felt a little barren to me, but as we shift to this new year, life just feels so full - in the very best way possible, that it couldn't possibly feel barren at all.


PS -

New year - new site!

I've built a shiny new and the blog now resides at or you can find the rss feed at or Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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Stocking Progress



I've finished all the cross-stitching (excepting the name, which I'm saving for last) and have moved on to outlining. With 50 days until Christmas, it's starting to look as if I might actually be able to finish the stocking in time for this year.

Of course Mr. Cleaver, being the reasonable one (and knowing me all too well), has encouraged me to banish the thought from my mind instead of giving myself some crazy deadline.

He's probably right, butfor now, I think I'll keep stitching along and call it come December 10th or so.

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Slowing Down, Stitch by Stitch

Cross Stitch Stocking in ProgressWaldorf DollCross Stitch Stocking in Progress
Waldorf DollCross Stitch Stocking in Progress

Waldorf DollThe end of summer came all too quickly this year bringing with it big changes (LMC started daycare two days a week) and big deadlines (knitting and day-job related), and the sad realization that I should have taken more days off of work. I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with it all and have found some soothing simplicity in hand-work. Setting all knitting aside for a a few weeks, I've been focused on my cross-stitch, and this newly finished Waldorf Doll for LMC. At other times, I would find it all a bit tedious, but for me, for now, it's just right.

What do you turn to when you need some quietude in your life?

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The Stockings Were Hung





This weekend, I put up all our decorations (indoor and outdoors) with the exception of the live tree. Since last year, my Christmas decoration stash significantly expanded when my family shipped out all the decorations I still had at my mother's house, which amounted to a rather large plastic tub of ornaments and my collection of about a dozen Christmas-themed music boxes. We also bought a silver tinsel tree at the after-holiday sales, because I have always wanted a silver tinsel tree. And since it's the first question people ask when I tell them we have a silver tinsel tree, no I did not get the lighter spinner to go with it.

Of all my decorations however, there are two there are most precious to me. First is my pair of German Nutcrackers. The soldier I received as a gift as a young ballet-loving girl. I loved it so much that I saved up my money to buy another nutcracker (Herr Drosselmeyer), a year later at a little shop in Eureka, CA we stopped at each year when we visited my great-grandmother for Thanksgiving. It was the biggest purchase I made as a young child and I remember it vividly.

The second, and far more precious, is the needlepoint stocking my grandmother made me.  My grandmother had a tradition of making everyone in the family some kind of needlework stocking. They are detailed and specially chosen and very beautiful. Every spouse and new grandchild or great-grandchild got one - not right away, as they are terrifically labor intensive and finding the right one could take time, but sooner or later, there it was, given with a lot of love and no great fanfare. When my grandmother passed away in 2009, my Aunt took over stocking-making duties for her own grandchildren and in-laws; and while my mother offered to take up the task, I knew I would want to make Little Miss Cleaver's myself.

So for the past 7 months or so, whenever Miss Cleaver takes an extended nap in my lap, I've been plugging away on her stocking. Though I learned how to cross-stitch at a young age, and distinctly remember cross-stitching bookmarks in the pews at church as a young child, I can't say it's my favorite craft. For me, it tends to fall somewhere between soothing and the world's most tedious form of coloring in the lines. But the thought of her hanging it up with anticipation every year makes every stitch and tangled thread worth it.

I'm maybe a third of the way through the pattern at this point, and I certainly know that I won't be done in time for this year (nor will LMC miss it), it feels good to be working on it at this time of year and knowing that I'm carrying on this tradition.

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More Christmas Makings

Here's a few more things I either made in secret (ornaments) or at the last minute (wreath):








Did you do any Christmas making?

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