Christmas has Come.

Today we celebrated our first Christmas; with sweetie’s two daughter’s and his oldest’s boyfriend. We spent most of last evening and this morning chopping, preheating, cutting, washing dishes, icing, glazing, baking, mixing, washing dishes, stirring… (the dishwasher is running yet again as I type; not to mention all the dishes we washed by hand).  My sweetie does not cook, but he takes direction well, and he’s good at sticking with it until the job is done. Together, we made this lovely brunch, and the Christmas cookies and candy:

Brunch

A fruit compote (pineapple, bananas, strawberries, and apples)

Chocolate Dipped Fruit kebabs

Pecan Swirl Cinnamon Rolls

Sausage and Apple Quiche

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Saltine Toffee

Christmas Wreaths (Holly Crackles)

I ate entirely too much — but it was all so good.  Incidentally, should you decide to make that Dark Chocolate Cookie recipe, I recommend using your own common sense when it comes to cutting them out and baking them.  Martha Stewart must be on crack if she thinks anyone in the real world (read: anyone without a sizeable staff) has that kind of time to devote to one damn batch of cookies.  Read the recipe, you’ll understand what I mean.  I didn’t spend any of that time freezing rolled out dough, I don’t possess parchment paper, and my cookies turned out great.

Sweetie’s youngest loves to bake (and is GREAT at it); she brought a large tray of cookies to add to mine.  I don’t even want to admit how few of those cookies are left on the plates this evening. His eldest brought a gift basket of flavored popcorn, chocolate dipped pretzels, cookies she baked, and some wonderful smelling William-Sonoma hot cocoa. I’m going to need to fast for a few days after the festivities are over…

We gave each of the kids a stocking full of goodies, exchanged a few goodies and lots of conversation; the afternoon was gone before we knew it.

The youngest gave us a “Box of Dates”; to be opened one at a time, any time we decide we need a “date night”.  Some are marked for “winter”, “spring”, etc., and others are marked “anytime”.  Clever gift, huh?  It’s kind of fun to think we get to draw Christmas out by having delayed gratification of one of our gifts…

Box of Dates

Winter arrived this week, as well.  With a vengeance, I might add… Wednesday and Thursday, we got hit hard with a true, honest-to-goodness blizzard.  Trees and wires were felled under the weight of the snow and ice, highways were closed for much of Thursday, and travel was almost non-existant.  The result was roughly a foot of snow, and on Friday, some beautiful sights…

White Christmas

Tomorrow is a celebration with my side of the family, more eating, conversation and laughter.  It also happens to be the due date for grandbaby girl (our first grandchild).  She doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry to join us, but you never know… we’re hoping we get to meet her sometime this week!

A Very Merry Christmas to you and yours…

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I stole this post.

True story.  I stole this post from my brother’s blog without asking him for permission.  Sorry, Ted.  (I’m not really that sorry).

Family Night… or day.

(written by my little brother, Ted)

Greetings and salutations!  Going back a little more than 7.5 years now, we decided early on when Robby was a baby, that we would have an open invite to family members, once a month where we would cook up some good (hopefully!) kibble and just enjoy each other’s company.  That way, Robby grows up with a good support cast around him and knowing the family from the immediate surrounding area.

As time has gone on, we’ve missed a few months, but for the most part, we’ve been pretty consistent.  We’ve also added a few “traditions”, if you will.

That brings us to the subject of this post. It’s December 2012, and we’re decorating gingerbread houses.

This time, the boys picked who they wanted to be partnered up with.  Robby and Aunt Doris (I got picked FIRST for a team!  First time EVER!!!) were a team, as were Samuel and Aunt Molly, Caleb and Aunt Dianne, and last but not least, Jonah with his Aunt Lesley.  Not one boy picked his Mom!

A shot of the troops at work, getting dirty and having fun.
Molly, Sammy, Robby, and Me….

Team Lesley/Jonah modeling their creation; ]onah with a mouthfull of candy.

Team Molly/Samuel.  Sam, unlike his brother, could show teeth in his photo.
Team Dianne/Caleb with their house o’ candy.  Caleb hopped up on sugar.
And team Doris/Robby with their crafty craft (note the rainbow doorway!).
After the gingerbread houses were done, we had lunch, then decorated cutout sugar cookies.
3 of the lads at work.
The Four Horsemen pose with their creations.
…and again, just to relieve a little sugar pressure.  And thus wraps up another family night!

I posted about last year’s Gingerbread House day here, which was in November, and before my brother, his wife, and Robby travelled to China in December 2011 to adopt Caleb.  See how well he fits into the family already?!?

Merry Christmas!

Love,

Doris

100 Wishes

BLOGTOBERFEST, Day 23

In December, I mentioned that I was helping my SIL, Lesley, make her first quilt.  It is a 100 Wishes quilt, for the son they adopted from China just before last Christmas, my sweet nephew Caleb.

In Northern China, where Caleb hails from, it is customary to invite friends and family to contribute a patch of cloth with a wish for the baby. Part of the patch of cloth goes into the quilt, and the other part of the cloth is kept in a scrapbook along with the wish for the child. The quilt contains the luck, energy, and good wishes from all the families and friends who contributed fabric; hence the name, a 100 Good Wishes Quilt.  Great idea, right?  Well, many adoptive families carry on this tradition to commemorate welcoming a new little one into their family.

Lesley had never made a quilt before, but she was determined to make one of these for their son.  She started collecting fabric about six months before they traveled to China to meet him and bring him home.  I helped her decide on a block, and a layout, and answered questions for her as needed (usually via the telephone).  Her project is an ambitious one, Caleb has a full size bed, so this first quilt is a LARGE quilt.

She had cut and sewn every block herself with fabric donated from friends and family, and while they were in China last December, I squared them all up for her, and got them ready for piecing.  I also made the two special embroidered blocks to surprise her with at Christmas.

Last month, I agreed to help Lesley with the layout of the quilt, and instruct her on the next step — piecing the rows together.  We realized we needed a few more blocks to make it the size we wanted, so we pulled out the fabrics and pieced 13 more blocks.

Caleb is fascinated with how things work.  Once he saw the sewing machine come out, he was not the least bit interested in playing with his brother and his cousins — he wanted to know more about this strange looking machine, and more importantly, use it himself!  Above, I am explaining to him how the sewing machine works, and he did not leave my side for the rest of the afternoon.  He even sewed a few seams, pressed blocks, and the best part — helped us decide on the layout of his quilt:

He loved this task, and he was so proud of his work:

and see the border fabrics being auditioned in that photo?  That was Caleb’s doing.  Somehow he knew that is what you do, take your big pieces of fabric and try them out along the sides of the quilt to “audition” borders:

This day was a treat for his Mom and I; neither of us had any idea that Caleb would be involved in the making of his own quilt top.  But like I said, his natural curiosity for learning new things, especially when there is any kind of technology involved, kept him with us all afternoon.  I am so proud of this boy, he might actually be the one I get to teach how to quilt and sew!

His Mom, Lesley, has since sewn her rows together, and she needs to add the borders, piece a back out of the leftover fabrics, and have it quilted.

On December 16th, it will be one year since he came home, and became a citizen of the United States.  Since that time; he celebrated his 5th birthday, attended a semester of pre-school, had surgery to fix his cleft palate, began speaking English, started kindergarten this fall, and joined a soccer team.  I’m sure there are a hundred other important milestones I haven’t mentioned here. He loves his big brother, and Daddy and Mama, adores his grandparents and other extended family members. It’s hard to remember that just one year ago, he was only a little boy in a photograph, from the other side of the World, that we all looked forward to meeting.  He fits so well, it seems like he’s been a part of our family forever.

Happiness, delivered.

BLOGTOBERFEST, Day 12

Yesterday I showed you the wonderful happy I received from Mary. Today, I’ll show what I sent to Cindy in Fresno, CA. Cindy makes all manner of fun selvage items, her most recent came in SECOND in a recent online contest, Texting while Sewing:

I’ve started collecting my selvages, but I had yet to make anything with them.  I knew I had to include something with a selvage for Cindy… but what?   I had seen this pincushion and sewing kit on someone’s blog recently, as part of the Zakka Sew-Along–suddenly I knew this was the item to create for Cindy and just how I would use the selvage!  I don’t own a copy of the book, so I made this up as I went along, and modified it to make it work for me.

The pincushion is filled with walnut shells (why?  They are inexpensive and readily available… and the crushed shells work like emery, keeping your pin and needle points sharp!)

Yep, I buy it at a pet store, a giant bag is under $10.00.  Fill your pincushion with a funnel, and stitch up the opening.  Easy as that.

The pincushion fits nicely inside this roll-up sewing kit, which has small pockets to hold your package of needles, thread, your English paper piecing hexies(!), your scissors, your thimble, etc…

Most of Cindy’a kit came from my scrap bin, except for the green “tree” print used for the binding and one end of the pincushion.  I chose that fat quarter because I had purchased it at Grubers last year, the same weekend I met Cindy for the first time.  The entire kit rolls up and ties nicely, for a fun take along sewing kit:

The band is attached, it is another piece of selvage dots (from a Dr. Seuss fabric as it had the brightest colors I could find!) and satin ribbon for the tie.  Enjoy, Cindy, I had a lot of fun making this for you!

p.s  HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN to my beautiful Goddaughter, Leah!  

(My God, how did sixteen happen?!?)

 

Pretty in pink (and purple, too)

My niece turned 1 over the weekend, that’s her focusing intently on the mylar Butterfly balloon tied to that bag of gummy candy I just gave her (she has two big brothers to help her out with the candy) 😉  It is incredible how fast a year can fly by… and she looks so tiny in these pics at age 3 months…

She’s got that looking cute thing down pat.  😉  My sister has been planning Zoe’s big-girl-bedroom for a few months now, and when I was at Gruber’s last month, I started cutting hexagons for her twin bed quilt (see bottom right photo:)Friday, I started to make a pillow that will match her big-girl quilt.  This was probably as much a birthday gift for her Mommy as it was for her; but keep reading, Zoe liked her gift, very much.

My sister has always loved animals of all kinds, and the inspiration fabric I bought for the quilt is covered in butterflies, and is being used for other items that will go in her room, too.  And, I have been dying to try our One Big Cabin quilt pattern in feminine colors, ever since I first drew the animals… so…. Ta-Da!

A pink owl pillow, with two pretty butterflies (fussy cut from the inspiration fabric) surrounded by scrappy log cabin blocks made from all the fabrics in her quilt!  Isn’t that pink and purple owl precious?  Well, not as precious as that sweet baby girl up there, but it is pretty cute.

There are 9  little owls hiding in the log cabin blocks, as well as some fussy cut flowers and one red heart.  These are from a Rile Blake fabric by My Mind’s Eye.

On the back, I used a piece of the butterfly inspiration fabric, and found in my stash, I had Cosmo Cricket alphabet fabric that just happened to have the Z and the O lined up, so I decided to make another log cabin block with her name on it:

Zoe’s Mommy loved the pillow, just as I thought she would, but Little Miss Zoe Grace loved it, too:

She did her best to crawl onto the middle of it and perch there proudly, but a 20″ fluffy pillow is pretty big for such a little girl.  So she continued to climb on, roll around on, roll off of, lay her head on… giggling the whole time…

She even found it was useful for baby yoga poses:

(oh to be so flexible)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Zoe Grace!  Thanks for sharing that pretty little smile–Auntie Doris loves you to the moon and back…

One in a Million…or so

This is my nephew, Caleb.

Caleb has the best smile.

He REALLY likes Mickey Mouse.

Caleb turned 5 years old last week.

He was abandoned near a toll booth when he less than 24 hours old.

He spent his first 4.5 years being cared for by some wonderful people at an orphanage and in foster care, in Changchun, China.

He joined our family officially on December 5, 2011–FIVE MONTHS ago this week.

Caleb has brought immeasurable joy to our family in five short months.

He was born with a cleft palate.  At some point, he had surgery on his upper lip, and at least one other surgical procedure. As a result, he has a fear of doctors and hospitals like no other.

But Caleb has gotten braver since coming to live with his forever family, visiting the doctor for many exams, shots, tests, etc.

Caleb is having surgery TOMORROW to repair his cleft palate.

Caleb could really use your prayers and happy thoughts TODAY for his pre-Op visit with the doctor…

This summer, Caleb will work to learn English, and speak without any kind of defect.

In August, Caleb gets to go to kindergarten, just like all the other five-year-olds.

Caleb is a lucky boy, but I am lucky, too.  Because I get to be his Aunt Doris.  Forever.

 

***The United Nations reports that the number of orphans around the world waiting for help is more than 140 million.

There are more than 46 million orphans in Africa.
There are more than 71 million orphans in Asia.
There are more than 10 million orphans in Latin America.
There are more than 120,000 orphans in the United States.