Holiday Disaster has struck!

‘Tis the Season…      I went to pull out my supplies for making my traditional Christmas gifts.

Time to get ready

Time to get ready

To defuse the Christmas giving extravaganza, several years ago I decided to reframe my approach as things were just getting totally out of hand.  I wanted to reframe my approach to Christmas… back to something that a glimmer of meaning.

1) It needed to be personal (anyone can spend big bucks to buy something and yes, I’d love to do that, but just don’t have enough big bucks in my back pocket these days)! Who needs the stress… who made that rule, anyway. (Oh wait, I remember, the advertising media!)

2) It needed to be useful (something that could actually be used, not just looked at).  People have so many “collectables” that they are falling off the shelves and/or gathering a boat load of dust that cries out “I’m a failure” at keeping my house clean.  No need to add to that scenario. I want MY friends to actually LIKE me, not tolerate me. I’m envying my friends who have mastered the “enough is enough” and de-cluttered their homes!

3) I wanted it to be something that I created.  I have this terrible habit of collecting stuff to make things in the future. Unfortunately it tends to be, the distant future.  I just keep acquiring; but the “doing” is a little behind schedule. Uh, about a hundred years at this point!

Fabric is my downfall (well, … right after books) … the colors, patterns, textures, they all call to me with such appeal.  Then add in threads and fibers and embellishments; my creative brain just goes nuts.   So I MUST have some way to justify buying all this stuff, other than just wanting to be able to touch/look at it, other than to know that it is there if I want/need it. (Some people have comfort food; I think I have comfort books and fabrics!)

Once I master  thinking something into existence i.e. ‘creative brain=finished project’, I’ll be ahead of the game, but until then….


25 different fabrics

25 different fabrics

Someone, after looking at one of my homemade quilts said, you must love quilting! ”

Actually, NO. I don’t particularly like it, but I DO like the results.  The part I like best is the creation of the design; assembling the fabrics, the colors, the patterns.  The actually “work” is just that, a chore to get done.

Sad to say, I have this awesome box full of completed “tops” that have not actually made into the quilt stage. You know, where you actually assemble the sandwich: the top, the middle, the backing, and then bind it all together.  One of these days I’m hoping to find someone who likes that part (I’ve heard that they are really out there…. somewhere). The only problem would be, WHO would get the finished project???? I don’t know if I could give up my “child”.  Perhaps someone would accept dollars for their labor?

Putting it together

Putting it together


BUT, back to my main subject today… the selection of a Christmas project that meets my requirements.

A few years back I decided on pot holders. Who can’t use a potholder. Even those who don’t really cook these days, occasionally need to reheat something, so could use a potholder! And maybe a cup towel if I’m really ambitious (usually planning to do that, but, darn, I always seem to run out of time)!

The other good point about a potholder… I can play with different techniques on a small-scale.  Last year I taught myself how to do

Lattice smocking - not as hard as it looks!

Lattice smocking – not as hard as it looks!

lattice smoking… and turned that into a dozen potholders! Success…. something useful, supplies actually used, and got to ‘design/create’ the item and managed to learn a new technique.  I WIN!

Of course, the last time I went down to visit my daughter she was racing around trying to find the potholder(s) to hang up, that I had given her last Xmas. She found one but couldn’t remember if I had given her two. The trauma… she put them away so they would not get messed up and now she had lost track of them.  Dang it! They are supposed to get used… not stored!

It has been said, the more valuable something is, the less it get’s used.  It’s either that, or it doesn’t quite match with their style! I prefer the first statement, overall.   These days you can buy a potholder from 99 cents to roughly $5, on average.  To make one… well-l-l-l, if you counted labor?  Probably $10 on up.  Like I said, “it’s a labor of love”!  (Love = caring, creative, personal, time, energy.)

Each year I have been able to refine my technique… more heat-resistant, an easier way to hang up (put a magnet in the corner), holds up to washing, and an interesting/different designs  from what you can find in the store.

Fits over the pot handle

Fits over the pot handle


This last year I experimented and made myself some pot “handle” holders. They slip over the handle.

Good thing I tried them out on my own cast iron skillets. “what’s that smell?… smoke?”

I discovered that the constant exposure, when they were butted up next to the hot pan, caused them to begin to smolder, and burn!!!!

Oh yeah, a great gift it would make… slow but insidious way to burn your kitchen down! NOT. Well, time to refine that one.


A colorful fabric stash!

A colorful fabric stash!

I got my new living space organized; set up a sewing area and pulled out my sewing machine. Dove into my fabric stash, drooling & caressing the fabrics, the colors… Super, I’m set… OMG.

Oh darn, where are those dang cords??? you know, the power cords. The thing you stick into the sewing machine to make it work it’s magic.

Wonderful!!!! have sewing machine on hand, but NO power.

Let me see, three, no, four storage units, where all our “stuff” is stored… and now I need to go hunting for a particular cord, for a 30-year-old sewing machine. Talk about a scavenger hunt… do you know just how much stuff that is to wade through, under, and around???? Bummer…

I have discovered that despite best intentions (and actually getting started during the summer), after our move, that most of this year’s potholder project  is “missing in action”. So much for being organized ahead of time and prepared! yikes…

Hmmm, I think this year, everyone is going to get “stuck” with some homemade blackberry jam. Everybody eats, right!

  Bon Appetite!

yum! blackberry jamhomemade!

Yum! Blackberry jam


  1. Judith said,

    December 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Nothin’s better than jam.. hope you find your cord, though!

    • December 9, 2012 at 10:02 am

      I remember my 16 yr old son, Jimbo, asking me one morning, “where is the blackberry jam, mom”. I told him to check the fridge (I had bought some).

      He looked and then complained, “NO, not that stuff, I want the real thing! Where’s YOUR blackberry?”

      Best compliment I think I ever got from him!

  2. December 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I think the best gift was this blog. 🙂

  3. Jeanette said,

    December 8, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Well, honey? Books? Necessary as the breath we take. Fabric? Notions? A creation of love waiting to happen. Organizational skills? A difficult genetic trait lost in our family, right? There is simply too much to do/see/feel/taste/touch, and we seem to boomerang from interest to interest. Even at my great age? I still blame it on my mom and the genetics passed down to me. Delightful, talented, lovely DNA, lovingly passed down through the years…..daughter to daughter to daughter…….How wonderful to read of your evolution … I sit and read your thoughts, I chuckle at my own memory of the self same meanderings of my mind in past years,….We are blessed women…
    women of many talents and the discernment of the true value of life. I do love to read your thoughts, for they often reflect the primal “family” in which you evolved…………..Grin…..Merry Christmas niece. Merry Christmas little one…………..

    • December 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

      Jeannette, writer that you are! I love the flow of words, ” daughter to daughter to daughter”.

      It was good to read your comment because now I see what you mean. I hadn’t put it into the broader context but you are SO RIGHT.

      As the years pass I see more of me in my extended family members. So nice to know that we actually are a “part” of each other, and all having to learn to deal with our “traits”.

      I “see” behaviors or tendencies reflected… and it’s reassuring to know that we all survive and even, over time, thrive!

  4. Anonymous said,

    December 8, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Yes, Amy, the blog was truly a great gift- I think I laughed out loud five times! Sorry that I lost count.
    I love hearing the collective self in your writing. You have a gift for expressing thoughts we all think, and then laughing at yourself, just as Jeanette sees her family so clearly, I see myself and matriarchs past and present too. Hmm, maybe some of the funnier the ghosts of Christmas past.
    And yes, a jar of homemade jam berries a la Amy) is going to my work gift exchange tomorrow!

    • December 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

      OK, HOW does this awesome compliment come from an anonymous address???? And just a tease of info that would tell me who this is.

      “I see myself and matriarchs past and present too. Hmm, maybe some of the funnier the ghosts of Christmas past.”


  5. Jeanette said,

    December 9, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Oh, yes, love, you come from a long line of “strong” women. A great, great, great grandmother that kept going across Texas in a covered wagon……….when her brothers turned back? Your grand mother going back to school after losing her husband and rearing 6 children, ultimately graduating with top honors in three years?……and a mother who helped her husband thru college and then achieving her own RN degree with her houseful of children?….yup………..strong women. You have carried on the tradition of “I can.” “I will”…..”I did”….and I am
    very proud of you. Love ya …..Auntie J

    • December 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      It’s amazing what they could do when they decided it just NEEDED to be done.

  6. January 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I loved this post. I have to say, I am one of those mythical people that loves to layer the quilts and sit, watching TV or listening to music or conversing with friends while scrolling little patterns in a quilt to hold the layers together….but I *hate* piecing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colors and all that, just like you, but the cutting of little squares or triangles, little pieces of fabric with the danger of getting lost due to husbands, cats or kids (or in my case more likely grand kids) – my blood pressure can’t handle it. LOL.

    On the other hand, if someone else goes through all that, delivering a finished quilt topper of pre-determined size, where I match that with the batting and a base, attach them together, stretch them, and do my thing…that’s DE-stress with a capital DE. 🙂

    Now that I’ve proven we do exist, rant-style, I wanted to say I found your blog by looking for container gardening!! I usually fail miserably at anything to do with living plants. I don’t even have to touch them for them to fear me and die. (Yeast breads do the same thing, to my immense dismay, because I LOVE fresh breads.) However, I’m trying mind over matter. Maybe if I raise them with love from baby seedlings, they’ll see me as momma and not die on me. *hopeful grin*

    Love your blog so far, and I’m so glad to see there are some of us out here that still remember the skills of our ancestral mothers. Nice feeling, isn’t it? 🙂

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