Is this what your dining room table looks like right now? A sea of half finished presents. No? Just me? At least I have one thing on my list this year from my growing “Christmas projects” folder on Pinterest that worked:
I have all of the supplies ready to go to whip up a few of these babies too, other than the time. As such, note to self for Christmas 2015:
1. Plant the garden taking into consideration the pickles and other recipes you wish you had canned this time of year to gift.
3. Make no apologies. This has been an apology free Christmas, and it has been delightful. I didn’t send cards. I didn’t RSVP to every invitation. I didn’t say yes unless it made sense, and when I said no, I did so without consolation but instead with gratitude. I did give gifts that were full of meaning and emotion and I didn’t make excuses for why that embarrassed me a little to watch them be opened. (I’m a weirdo. I love giving, but the opening makes me uncomfortable. WHAT IF THEY HATE IT?!)
4. Sleep more. You’ll need it.
5. Consider starting your annual FB rest earlier. I’m off most social media for the next few weeks, maybe months. In turn, I’ve read more in the last few days than I have in months. (I am reading this, and Nadia Bolz-Weber is delightful. A high recommendation and a future book review on the way.)
It has been a fun season of creativity. For all my jabber about how busy this time of year is, I’m always a bit forlorn once the wrapping paper is off.
This is the last of my knits for a bit; I’ve got something going on with my left hand. A pulled tendon? Considering my mom once needed hand surgery from too much quilting, this sort of nuttery comes easy. I’m ready to wake up and not have my hand throbbing. The swelling isn’t so pretty either.
I’ve been trying to eat far more vegetables this month in lieu of all the other goodies hanging around the holiday table. It seems every day there is some invitation for a workplace potluck or celebration. Small bags of sweets keep arriving. Rather than abstinence, I’m trying to find a bit of balance. Green apples, red onion and butternut squash, roasted with a bit of olive oil for 2 hours at 250 is delightful.
I love this Christmasy/winter fabric. Like last year, I sewed a few cheese cloth tea towels. They are super soft and an easy project — nice to wrap around a loaf of holiday bread or a bottle of wine.
And finally, this is on my Christmas list. I’ve been toying with a wall of shelving in my kitchen, but I think this would do the trick. And I’m considering painting it. Red? Or perhaps a soft, spring green. Santa! Dude! Throw this sucker in the sleigh.
I hope your week is going well, friends. I’m off for a bit of holiday festivities and back to the novel editing. (I promise you Basket Baby will be published in 2015._
Hoping you get some down time with your honey under the mistletoe!
Yesterday, I was awake before the neighborhood chickens. I dragged Nelson around the block before heading north and east, driving past Four Peaks just as the sky was beginning to show the first light of day. The saguaros near Roosevelt Lake stood sentry, and by the time I reached the Mogollon Rim at some 6000 feet, a heavy fog clouded the vista. Through the mist, I could make out a few homestead fires on the forest floor, some 2000 feet below. The silver smoke rose in twisting spirals, winding its way upward toward the heavens — and the stream of cars on 260 heading to eastern Arizona.
This drive across Arizona toward New Mexico is forest and brush, high desert and hills. The neighborhoods vary from the odd trailer with a spray painted particle board address sign to multi-million dollar gated golf communities. I drove across several American Indian reservations too, some with flashy neon casinos.
With each curve, wash and bridge, there was a small green sign denoting the place’s name.
The last was apt. I spent 10 hours and nearly 500 miles on the road to reach a small rural community in eastern Arizona facing a suicide outbreak. I arrived midday to join colleagues and city officials to review death certificate data and talk strategy. In cities of all sizes, talking about taboo subjects is more about who you know than what you know. I approached the conversation quietly, listening to folks talk about what they’d heard.
How many? How? Where? Why? Related? Who knows?
Is the word “suicide” being used?
As in many communities, this one has pockets full of the like-minded. There are racial, economic and religious delineations. Each is talking about suicide differently — including, for some, not talking about it at all. Trying to unweave this tangle of small town living is not my mission. Working with local leaders to bring representatives from each of these groups together to talk about what they are hearing, seeing and feeling? That’s the challenge.
And thankfully, I was surprised yesterday by the collaboration that has already taken root among faith and town leaders in the last month. There have been strides toward listening and understanding. There have been public conversations, including prayers around the flagpole, about suicide. People are talking about it, even if they don’t want to use the word.
Stigma hides in the shadows of social issues. It can be found in euphemism and feigned ignorance. It’s threaded through insensitive jokes and is used as a derogation.
There should be no stigma with ending suicide. It is possible. Suicide is not “taking one’s life” or “someone passing away,” but the act of killing oneself — just as some 40,000 Americans did last year. (Ample more died of unintentional poisonings, single car accidents or had a failed attempt at suicide.)
While I was hesitant to attend these meetings yesterday, it was full of hope. I drove away incredibly pleased at the new motivation from many partners to work together to identify local resources for mental health.
– If you have thought about suicide and would like to speak with someone — please call: 1 (800) 273-8255. Your life matters.
I’m busy addressing packages, baking bread, wrapping the last gifts and sewing a few remaining sparkles to gifts I hope with make those in my life feel a bit more loved.
(But you know what I really want for Christmas? Time to read and write. I am eager to get back to that novel editing and the growing stack of fiction on my bedside. I am also thrilled at the idea of long bike rides come December 26th.)
In the meantime, back to the list.
Wishing you and yours peace and love!
A glimpse of the knitting that is being gifted this year. This is what Sundays on the couch watching football look like come December. I am pleased — especially since I had 90% of that yarn in my stash, some of which had moved back and forth across the country.
I’m only a little sorry I sold my Christmas decorations a few years ago. No tree this year — but see that quilted tree skirt at the bottom holding all these presents? Well. One year it will see its glory.
I did find this sweet nativity this year at a thrift store and immediately fell in love. Excited to build a few decorations each year.
Back to the projects list!
What do you do when you are given a giant bag of yarn, including the considerable start to a sweater? There was one ball of matching yarn in the bag and I simply couldn’t bring myself to frog all of this gorgeous cabled work.
What if I completed them and turned them into leg warmers for a certain ballerina in my life?
They are still a bit big at the top. I’ll have to sew a seam down the back once she receives and pins them to fit. But bespoke leg warmers from an abandoned sweater? I’m calling it a win.
We had a 15th birthday to celebrate last week. He requested a “Hostess snowball cake.” And believe it or not — this garnered the ever elusive smile from the teenage crowd. Yay!
Let’s just get the blood part out of the way right now. See that device above? It is a mandoline. Not to be confused with the charming and folksy mandolin stringed instrument. No. No. This thing is a digital death trap. There I was at 6 am on Thursday morning, waiting on the coffee, peeling sweet potatoes and defrosting pie crusts I’d made earlier in the week when I thought, “I know! I’ll use that slicer thing Jason keeps under the counter to cut these into perfect circles.”
What I did not think was, “I know! I’ll slice off a chunk of my thumb and go streaming up the stairs with blood rushing down my arm crying that I need stitches, awakening the household in what came to be a very dramatic interpretation of a minor cut.”
It bled enough that I got out of dishes later that day — so there is the win. I’m also planning on throwing this thing away when he isn’t looking, which I mentioned later in the weekend to a “oh no you won’t!” look. Let’s move on.
Cheese plate! With cute chalk cheese signs and homemade cranberry chutney. A winner all around.
My gram’s blueberry apple pie, which did not go so well this time. I think I didn’t use enough butter, or it didn’t cook long enough. (This photo is before it is going in the oven.)
Weather — another win. My goodness was this weekend in Phoenix gorgeous. We had a great meal on the patio and lounged outside afterward too.
And I am thankful for this family, who bring over gorgeous turkeys that I do not have to cook but I get to eat for a week. It was SO good. (Way better than the fried stuff I’d had the couple years prior.)
I hope you and your turkeys also had a wonderful weekend!
Now, let’s move on to Christmas shenanigans, shall we?
While I’m working away on these holiday projects, I’ve noticed a good change in this craft. My skills are getting better (tension more even) and my patience has lessened. This too is a good thing because I no longer have any patience for acrylic yarn. Crap needles. Patterns that aren’t working after a good 2 hours. I’d rather spend a bit more for the bamboo needles, soft, cushy yarns and frog it when it just doesn’t look right.
I’m researching packaging designs for the holidays. I like to include a bit of information about the yarn used (in case of wool allergies, and so the recipient has care and washing instructions) and a bit of extra yarn in case the item needs future mending. These ideas are pretty rad for those also giving hand knits this season.
What are you working on?
I’m making my Christmas list and checking it twice, so to speak. It’s going to be another mostly homemade holiday, with lots of awkwardly sewn and knitted items, along with a side of prickly pear jam that didn’t set up. Syrup, anyone?
It all comes with the best of intentions, and a built in good laugh.
Any fun projects you are working on this year? I’ve been knitting like mad. It’s time to regroup in the sewing room for a few hours of more monogrammed tote bags (using vintage pillow case fabric for lining and pockets) for coworkers, who are painfully listening to me work with Christmas music blaring and making up my own lyrics.
“Baby! It’s kinda Phoenix-coldish outside…”