Christmas Gratitude

Baby first Christmas

Christmas this year is a time for reflection and gratitude. This was my little grandson’s first Christmas and it is a joy to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. We don’t post photos of my grandson anywhere online for privacy reasons, due to the intrusive nature of advanced facial recognition technology. I am happy to post this lovely Christmas ornament made by my sweet daughter-in-law with my grandson’s precious little handprint. The gratitude I feel for the love in my family is overflowing. It’s not just Christmas gratitude, it’s year round gratitude.

Christmas tree and Advent calendar

My small artificial Christmas tree is perfect for my small condo. The tree is about four feet tall and very narrow, but it holds all of my special Christmas ornaments. I purchased the tree on a whim when I had to work all day Christmas Eve one year. Driving from New Haven to Newington after work, I got the tree on clearance at my happy place, JoAnn Fabrics. There are a lot of angel ornaments on my tree, collected over the years. I like angels very much and everyone should have an angel to watch over them and keep them safe from harm. Currently I am working on a small appliqué quilt that has angels, moons, and stars. It is all handwork and a joy to work on. When the blocks are finished I will design a setting and sew them together by machine.

Christmas cactus

My Christmas cactus bloomed in November and the blooms lasted almost until Christmas. My aunt in New Hampshire has a huge Christmas cactus that is over 50 years old. They can live a very long life and are such a beautiful plant. They need the shorter days of fall, indirect sunlight, and a cool spot in the house to bloom. They only need to be watered when the soil becomes very dry. My Christmas cactus is only a few years old and I repotted it this past summer after it had been pot bound for some time. I found it at Lagana Florists in Middletown when I was waiting for Pamela Roose Specialty Hand Knits & Yarn to open, as I had arrived at the yarn shop too early. It was an unexpected treat to be surrounded by such beautiful flowers and plants and the florist was so gracious. Lagana’s has recently moved to a new location and I need to go check it out.

Trail of hope ornaments

This is the Trail of Hope in East Hampton and it is on the east end of Lake Road, not far from Lake  Pocotopaug. Every year in December, the landowners decorate the trees in the woods with thousands of glass ornaments that shimmer in the light, even on overcast days such as this one. It is a special and magical sight to behold, and I often go out of my way and head in the opposite direction just to drive by the acres of Christmas ornaments in the woods. When the wind blows through the trees, the ornaments gently move and sway, bringing the scene to life. It takes my breath away and makes me so grateful to live in this small town where people do such special things that touch other people’s lives.

Gratitude for All Things Creative

Lake grasses November

I feel gratitude for many things and especially for all the creative things in my life. There is gratitude for family and friends, being able to share time with them in special moments, in ordinary moments, in everyday moments. My grandson is such a joy and I treasure the big smile he always has for me. My family lights up my life. That is the most important thing in life, the people you love who love you back, and not just with words but with actions.

Gratitude for all things creative means that I have come full circle and am able to be spontaneous again and express my creativity in all the different ways that I seek to express myself. My art spirit is healed. I still have some fatigue, and some health problems, but things are getting better. Partly because I am learning to adjust to and accept my limitations, and to take better care of myself. Going full-tilt, nonstop like I used to do was never healthy and that took its toll. It is better to take time, to work mindfully, to go for walks, to take tea breaks, to eat healthy.

Sunrise anniversary quilt

I finished beading the Sunrise anniversary quilt for my son Joe and his wife Aurora. On Thanksgiving Day, I gave the wall hanging to them because I was so excited it was finished and couldn’t wait. The quilt was meant for their first anniversary, but I decided to add beads to the quilt, and beading takes a long time.  I found an assortment of beads that went well with the design at the bead shop at Nature’s Art Village in Montville, Connecticut. Although I have a very nice bead stash, I didn’t have quite the right beads for this project, so I brought a strip of muslin with small swatches of all of the fabrics attached and used that as a guide to choose beads. Beading is a meditational process for me and brings me great peace. I love beading and can spend many happy hours beading a small quilt.

Art journal spread emerging

Art journaling is very important to me. I have been watching some of my class videos (lifetime access online classes with Effy Wild are great) and I am following and participating in my art journaling online communities again. Art journaling is worldwide, but it is not like quilting, where there are quilters everywhere. The only place you can find a group of art journalers is online. Although I have not been art journaling weekly as I did before, I am enjoying the few pieces created recently and accept that I am creating space to bring art journaling back into my life. And it will come back, just like everything else has, and more. I just need to trust the process, and believe.

Hats crazy quilt

The November challenge for the Library Art Quilters was hats. I was not sure what I wanted to do and my first idea was to make a hat box with a hat to go inside of it. But that remained just an idea and didn’t make it to the drawing board. About two days before the meeting, I got a new idea. I did a google search for vintage hats and came up with some copyright free images to download. I chose the best four images, printed them out on one sheet of Printed Treasures Inkjet Printable Fabric, and cut them apart. Then I pulled out my bin of crazy quilt fabric and pieced four blocks on a muslin base. I used a Teflon pressing sheet so that the delicate fabrics wouldn’t scorch under the iron. I managed to get the blocks pieced and sewn together in time for the meeting. I plan on embellishing the small quilt  with crazy quilt embroidery stitches.

Wonky trees quilt

These wonky trees have been popping up all over the quilting internet and I just had to make some. There is a great tutorial on Diary of a Quilter’s blog  here. I am going to add some wonky stars and houses and I need to design some sort of layout to pull everything together. For now, I am enjoying the happiness that these trees bring. These are so much fun to make! No measuring, a few diagonal cuts, some sewing, and you have a little pine forest. I worked on these at a Wednesday sew-in at Lisa’s Clover Hill Quilt Shop. There are old friends and new friends at the weekly sew-ins and we always have a great time!

Book sale finds November

I am a member of the Friends of the Library and helped sort books into categories for the November book sale. There were some great treasures donated for the sale and I came home with a stack of books for about ten dollars. I have read the top two books in the stack and they were both really wonderful. The bottom half of the stack are children’s books for my grandson. He loves books, as I do. Books transport you to other worlds and enhance your life. It is so nice to have the time to read. Libraries are a treasure and I have been to five this month: Westport, Wallingford, Wethersfield, Portland, and East Hampton.