Well; thank goodness 2020 is gone. I have always said don’t wish time away, but this is ONE year that has been so full of upheaval in our everyday lives that I don’t want to repeat it ever again. We are blessed that our grandchildren are “IN” our safety bubble and get to see them on a regular basis! In order to be “IN” the safety bubble, we do very little “outside of the bubble” and report in if there is cause to do something that might be “risky”. This means no hanging out with anybody outside the bubble; no dinners out with others in restaurants, no quilt bees or extended visits of friends indoors, no travelling to shop for fabric in Lancaster PA, no parties or social gatherings outside the circle. This has worked very well for all 10 of us, since June; and we are all staying safe because of the trust in behavior we have with each other. It meant we have had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas together with no risk of infecting one another. We are blessed to be retired, and that the kids are doing their best with school via remote learning and limited in person contact when school is in session. My grandkids have adapted to “outdoor play” no matter the weather with their neighborhood friends. We did one day “out” to shop in a local community for Christmas and used all the recommended methods for keeping safe. The bulk of our Christmas shopping was online.
I’m sorry that my blog has been silent in December. I was busy getting ready for Christmas. Along the way I took a LOT of photos. This year was “odd” because my husband wasn’t tied up with his annual train club open house events, and that meant he spent a LOT of time decorating at home.
Tree decorating at our house started Thanksgiving week and took around a week to get “done”. We set a card table up in the living room and unboxed ornaments, and set aside a lot to have the grandkids give us a hand. They really enjoyed looking at the ornaments and helping us decorate the tree.
It was a lot of fun looking at the ornaments through the eyes of the kids. I had fun looking at the ones we had collected over the years during our travels. The 3 in the slideshow below are just a sample of our travel collection.
Once that train track goes down under the tree, I am finished!
If you are interested in seeing the train “run” pop over to this link –https://photos.app.goo.gl/Mc17HTuFJFG1uzhd7
Hubby has a large collection of Star Trek ornaments by Hallmark that he hangs on garland on our stair railing. Unboxing and putting in batteries etc is often a 2-3 day project. He had some help from our grandson this year.
The two youngest grand girls had a “sleepover” at grandma’s one night in December, and they worked hard helping us “arrange” the Christmas village.
To see a little “train action” in the Christmas village, pop over to this link – https://photos.app.goo.gl/bZeRf5Zf6atLEVdU7
I did some sewing in December. My blogging friend Carole ( https://FrommyCarolina Home.com// ) had a couple of ZOOM retreats in December and I really enjoyed participating.
During the first retreat, I worked on 3 blocks for the Vintage Christmas Quilt (book / pattern by Lori Holt). I did the 12″ blocks and the last 3 I finished were the candy canes, the cup and the stocking. I admire anybody who did the 6″ blocks with those much smaller pieces. My favorite block so far is the train, because my hubby encouraged me to put a Santa face in the block.
This completes the sew along that Carole inspired just before Christmas in 2019. (She was done in July!) I had made kits up for all the blocks, and have now learned to “not cut fabric after drinking wine” with the last 3 blocks! 🙂 During the Zoom retreat I discovered several “miss cuts” in the kits I had prepared months ago! I was able to overcome that problem because I had all the fabric for the project still binned together and quickly recut what I needed. I decided that there are a few more blocks I want to make in that book, so this will hang on the design wall a bit longer. Thinking about how to sash the blocks, which blocks to “make” for another few rows or column is fun, and may be a January project for me.
The second Zoom retreat I chose to work on Christmas gifts. I had decided in October that I was making “pajama pants” for the grandkids, and it took me a while to get around to it. I had all the flannel fabric prewashed, and the day before the Zoom retreat, I copied my pattern into the 3 sizes I needed on butcher paper, and got all the pieces cut out. During the zoom call I got 3 sets of pajama pants made. I was worried about flannel “raveling” during the washing and someone suggested zigzagging the raw edge of the seams. I did that on the first pair, but during the 2nd & 3rd pair I found the “overcast stitch” on my Janome 8900 and that speed up the process of constructing. Following the second Zoom retreat I got a fourth pair of pajama pants made, and thanks to quick shipping from Amazon, I got the elastic and twill tape for ties that I needed. It did this Stitching Grandma’s heart good when the grandkids were EXCITED about the pj’s. It was funny to watch really. The oldest (12 year old boy) was the first to open his package and jumped off the sofa, ran to change. Throughout the afternoon of unwrapping, as each subsequent child opened their package, they ran to change. They all spent the day in their “cozy pajamas”. I included long sleeve cotton t-shirts for them, as I wasn’t sewing tops.
I also did some machine embroidery. I’ve been trying to give everybody in the family an “ornament” every year. This year, I joined a group on Facebook with John Deer https://www.facebook.com/JohnDeerEmbroidery and he gifted the cutest little gingerbread ornament. These are done as “free standing lace” (FSL) using matching top & bobbin thread on water soluble stabilizer. As you will see as you look through the photos, I put a little bit of tulle in my hoop with the stabilizer to add some extra “structure” to the ornament. There is so much waste of stabilizer, I find that I can reduce the waste by putting more than one design in the hoop, and also by “stitching together” bits of stabilizer that might get thrown away. I use 2 layers for FSL, so one layer often contains some of that “Frankenstein stabilizer”. It works well and doesn’t really matter that I used grey thread to join the bits together. I did have one little gingerbread man who was kinda naughty….He ran away and forgot to get all his frosting and eyes, so I “repaired him” with some sparkly eyes glued on and kept him for myself…as he was particularly acting like he was a 2020 oops.
My other “big embroidery/sewing” project was a gift for my daughter. I purchased a pattern in Dec 2019 for the Sweet Pea casserole carrier . The project includes 10 different blocks to stitch out on the embroidery machine, then join on the sewing machine. You need to do a few “repeat blocks” and it didn’t take me long to figure out some of these blocks took upwards of 30 mins to stitch. I used fabric from my never ending scraps for the blocks, and African Wax fabric for the handles, lining, bottom. I like the continuity to the project the African Wax fabric gives in contrast to the scrappiness of the embroidered blocks. I also added extra wool batting and peltex (http://www.pellonprojects.com/products/70-peltex-sew-in-ultra-firm-stabilizer/) in the bottom of the carrier for added warmth and stability. I also quilted the end panels and the bottom panel . The hardest part of this project was turning it “right side out” with peltex inside, but I think it turned out really well. The pattern directions are a bit ambiguous about sizes for the end panels, and I had to do some “adjusting” because of it.
Each block is done “in the hoop” with batting and Insulbrite under the fabric. The pattern gives you a choice of a 4×4 block or a 5×5 block. I did the 5×5. The hoop is taken off the machine for “trimming” of the batting and Insulbrite, and on the blocks with more than one fabric, for trimming of the seam allowances.
Once all the blocks are made, the carrier is completed at the sewing machine. I had fun picking the fabrics and the threads for the various blocks. The African Wax fabric (the lime green and brown) was gifted to me by my other daughter when she lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I thought it was a special way to keep the fabric “in the family”. I got right down to December 23rd before I finished, but was quite pleased with the results.
Christmas eve and Christmas day were fantastic with the family. We “partied” like rock stars with the 4-12 year old’s and parents on Christmas Eve, playing lots of games my daughter presented. Even ol’ grumpy played along and had fun. (Hubby NEVER plays games….) Christmas Day was relaxed and fun, and my daughters each took part in creating a fabulous Christmas dinner. Hubby helped set the “new table” and I even thought to take a photo, though somewhat fuzzy. The “new table” is our big gift this year. I have been looking for 2 or 3 years for a table we could all fit at, and this one easily seats all 10 of us. One of my daughters found it for sale on Facebook Market place and we took a drive to Maryland to purchase it on Thanksgiving weekend.
Hubby and I celebrate our anniversary on New Years eve, and actually “went out” for dinner to a local place that we haven’t been in since March. It was good to be “out” and behaving like normal people, except for the much hated masks. What was strange is to walk in, seat ourselves in an empty restaurant, where 1/2 the tables are removed, and the workforce diminished to just a couple of people. What was good is the server “remembers” my husband and his very particular ordering habits, eating food that I enjoy, but didn’t have to cook and clean up. We had a quiet “rest of the evening” at home, enjoying our “binge watching” of the program “Heartland” on Amazon prime. We managed to make it to midnight, but I was asleep by 1230!!
The big “sigh” for me is the heartbreak of not seeing our beloved friends who are “locked away” in an assisted living facility who can’t even see their own family, much less friends from “outside” or even down the hall. We also have friends who lost loved ones this year due to poor health and COVID, and others that are living at home, alone, with no family near by. I hope to do better in this new year by calling more often to those who are alone, and staying in touch with distant family members.
I pray that in 2021 you will enjoy good health. I hope that 2021 is a year that will bring renewed health and improved economic situation to not only our friends, but those around the world who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. I pray that with the release of 3 vaccines in the last month in England and North America, the distribution will be done fairly and quickly. I pray that those who wish to be vaccinated will suffer no ill effects and that we will soon build to that “herd immunity” we have been waiting for. I will be “in line” for a vaccine so that I can “resume” more of a normal life, including travel and recreation with friends. I’ve still got a “cruise on the books” for 2021, and am hoping it will turn into a reality.
Thanks for following along with my rambles. Happy New Year.