Saturday, December 24, 2016

Creating Christmas Nostalgia

Before we were married I began stitching a Christmas stocking for Eric.  We were married 4 years before Anna was born and some time after her birth I stitched her stocking.  Two years after Anna was born we welcomed Ethan and I began a stocking for him.  I actually misplaced that stocking so I purchased another shortly before some Christmas  - probably his 3rd.  His is the most detailed of the family and I quickly realized I was not going to be able to complete it before Christmas.  In fact, I did not complete it for several years!  (I habitually pick Christmas stitching up a few months before the holidays only to abandon it a few days prior to Christmas when I realize I can't possibly finish.)

Once I had finally finished Ethan's stocking, I began to work on mine.  I finished the stitching a few weeks ago but hadn't bothered with assembling it until last night  - when Anna told me peanut cakes (our favorite Christmas treat) could wait but I  MUST finish my stocking.  So off I went to my craft room.

In the course of years and multiple moves I had lost the felt which was meant to be the back of my stocking.  (I did, however,  find Ethan's original stocking!) As I rummaged through my craft room searching for the felt, I found something better and inspiration struck.  Actually I found 2 items: a child size pillowcase that had been my Dad's and my favorite fabric purchased in Taiwan.

The pillowcase was cream with a hand crocheted edge.  I feel rather certain that my grandmother made the case.  If not her, then likely her mother.  I had actually used it on a small pillow for my children when they were little,  so that pillowcase held multiple levels of sentimentality for me.  Over the years though, age was catching up with it and the seam was fraying, rendering it useless as a pillowcase.  It struck me that the crocheted trim would be lovely at the top of my stocking! And since I was going to cut it apart I decided to use the body of the case as the lining for the stocking.  I love these moments of brilliance - they are so painfully rare.

What to do about the back of the stocking?  I have a box of beautiful fabrics I purchased in Taiwan and Vietnam, including many BEAUTIFUL silks.  My favorite fabric though has always been the bright floral Hakka pattern.   The Hakka are the indigenous people of Taiwan. Based on the exuberance of their signature fabric I'm certain they're my kind of people!   I purchased the fabric in 3 colors: red, purple and blue.   I chose the  blue for my stocking, and the reason prompts me to share another detail of the piece.

The kit for my stocking was purchased eons ago.  It has made many moves with me, likely including the move to Taiwan.   As I was feverishly working on it last year, I realized that as you peek into the windows of the house it's walls are aqua or turquoise colored.  The funny thing is the walls in the dining room of my current home - which you see through one of my front windows - are turquoise! That knowledge prompted me to use turquoise thread for my name, though the pattern stated it should be green.  The pattern also included an alphabet in block letters, similar to those for the rest of the family.   I decided to go off script so I looked online for something more my style.

Since I had focused on turquoise for my name, I decided the blue (turquoise-ish blue) would be a great choice for the back.  I am incredibly pleased with the finished product.   The only problem is that now I feel like the other stockings are a bit boring!

Here they are:

And now please excuse me, I need to get back to making peanut cakes. 

Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Summer Vacation Without Kids (Part 2)

In the strangeness that is part of us since we lived in Taiwan, the first place we headed upon arrival on Vancouver Island was the city of Victoria's Chinatown!  It was quite disappointing.  There was the obligatory gate:

And there remains just one street, one block long, which seems to be original to when the Chinese first settled in Victoria.  It is called Fan Tan Alley.  It was wonderful, but there was far too little of it.

Since Chinatown took such a small bit of time, we headed in search of gardens.  The entire next day was set aside to visit Butchart Gardens, so on this day we went to a lovely public garden called Beacon Hill Park.

I believe the flowers are self-explanatory, but isn't this the coolest pine tree?

And this beautiful peacock was strolling the grounds.

All in all, Beacon Hill Park was possibly the most beautiful public space I've ever seen.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Summer Vacation 2016 - no kids (Part 1)

Late in August Eric and I set out on another vacation, this time without the kids.  We had invited them but they thought it sounded boring, so our youth pastor and his wife stayed at our house with the kids and Eric and I set out on another road trip.

I have previously shared pictures from Multnomah Falls.  This is similar and nearby, but different.  I learned of this hike while searching the internet for less touristy things to do.  This is called Horsetail Falls and the hike was classified as "easy".  Two overweight, middle age, non-athletic people could only wonder what a difficult hike would have been!  We hiked up and up and up for - ? 1-1/2 miles?  It was lovely and we absolutely enjoyed it, but we had to stop MANY times to catch our breath!  (For the record, I had begun a diet shortly before this trip which I am still on.  I have lost a considerable amount of weight.  I tried to insert a "before and after" picture here but... you know, technical challenges.)

We were ultimately headed to Vancouver Island, British Colombia, Canada.  I have loads of pictures which I will share in subsequent posts.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Family Summer Vacation 2016

For some reason, on the rare occasion that I write here anymore, I write about the melancholy events. I decided to lighten up and share some of my millions of pictures of good times.

Way back in June our family took a wonderful vacation in which we visited several new-to-us places.  First stop was Bandon, Oregon.  We rented a quaint old cottage on the beach.  The kids surprised me by loving it.  We've stayed in some very nice places over the years; this wasn't anything fancy but I'm quite sure they preferred it over any of the fancy places we've stayed!

You can walk the beach for miles and find some interesting carved out rock areas.  We did spend a good bit of time doing just that.

We took a day trip on a jet boat up the Rogue River.  Fairly scenic and just something different for us.

Of course I made my husband pull over many times so that I could take flower pictures.  Oregon's climate is perfect for growing a lot of gorgeous flowers.  Here, roses have overtaken a deserted building which is marked as the "Book Nook".

Probably my favorite flower in Oregon, the hydrangeas are as big as dinner plates, and the color...!

From Bandon, we travelled south to northern California to see the famous Redwood Forest.  It was quite spectacular.  The height of the trees is crazy!

Next we circled back up to Crater Lake, Oregon.  The lake was apparently formed after a volcano blew up eons ago.  The water is a spectacular shade of blue.  I have pictures that show the color better, but I couldn't load them tonight so this will have to do for now.

See that kid on the left?  That's my 13 year old son (only 12 at the time of this picture) who is almost 6 feet tall already!  He is standing next to his "big" sister.  Their height difference is cause for a lot of joking around our house.

I'll try to remember to get back here soon.