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 MsCleaver.com and the blog now resides at http://www.mscleaver.com/chronicles/ or you can find the rss feed at http://www.mscleaver.com/chronicles?format=rss or Follow my blog with Bloglovin

So please update your bookmarks, feed readers, etc.!

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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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A Stocking for Steiny and Other Makings

I was trying to not to be one of the those crazy pet parents who gets their pets Christmas parents (which seems to be a largely American thing - yes?), but I gave in and not only got Steinbeck a gift, I sewed him a stocking. IMGP4571.JPG

In my defense, it only took me the baking time of about 2 dozen cookies to get the whole thing done from conception to completion and it's totally cute. The fabric was leftovers from my Valentine's skirt and a wreath I'm still trying to finish up.


In addition to the aforementioned cookies, Ive made my annual batches of dark chocolate mint fudge and peanut brittle.


The goodies are baked, the house decorated, the packets shipped, and the gifts (mostly) wrapped, with three days left, I think I'm good to go!.

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Between my last post and this one my world stopped. After church on August 16th, while washing her hands to make lunch, my Grandmother collapsed and never got up again.

Though she was 81, she was in excellent health and her death shocked us all.

I felt the same way I did when my father passed away five years ago - that the world has lost one of it's greatest members and most people didn't even know what they missed, and what I am missing so very very much.

This blog was the home page on my Grandmother's computer. We always talked about it when we spoke on the phone or when she wrote. I only feel it appropriate to put down some of my memories of her in this space.


Leota was a wife of 58 years, mother of two, grandmother to five, great grandmother to one, with another on the way.


She was a home economics teacher, a part-time bookkeeper, a bridge player, a quilter, a needleworker, a cook, a collector of sterling silver napkins rings, and the consummate hostess.



She was always stylish and had her hair done every Thursday. I though I got my red hair from her, until my mother told me she got it from a bottle.


She was born in Missouri, but called it Missoura in a town named Isadora she called Isadori -


that she took each grandchild to visit when they were twelve.


She started life on a farm, but traveled the country Leota0062.jpg

and the world Leota0083.jpg

She had a succession of somewhat sad-looking Southern California Christmas trees Leota0069crop.jpg

and made fantastic feasts.


She quilted each of us a blanket and stitched each of us a specifically chosen Christmas stocking.


Mr. Cleaver's was the last stocking she completed and our wedding quilt was the last quilt she finished. Her round robin quilting group was working on a biography quilt, when she passed away - the squares she made for her own quilt depicted the farm she lived on after she first got married and of the balloon ride she took over the African safari.  That's my grandmother in a nutshell.

Oftentimes when someone dies, everyone scrambles to find a photos or an object to remind them of the one we lost, none of us had to scramble pieces of her handiwork were already there.


I can't believe she's no longer with us, but at the same time, every time I pick up needles, or press a seam, she'll be there.

I love you and I miss you very much - and if there's internet in heaven, I know you're still reading this blog.

(Thanks to Jen for the scans)

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