Thursday, December 27, 2012


The festivities have begun. Christmas is different when your children have grown up. And it has always been different for us since most of our family are in Europe.

This is our church St. Martin's. No white Christmas this year.
Finally I remembered to take a photo of the small tree with all the straw ornaments. When I was a child I would make many straw stars every year. I don't know what happened to them? Most of these are bought.
The lace tree in the loft. And of course my Hartensteiner Adventsstern. This star is very unique and famous all over Germany. It was and still is made in the town my father was born and grew up. This star is older then my children. I can't ever remember an Advent without it.
I actually made two new bobbin lace ornaments this year for the tree.
Sarah's in-laws Kathy and Mike arrived on Saturday Dec 22 to spend this special time with their son Wade and Sarah. All four came over in the evening to have dinner with us. Sarah had requested "my" Taco Salad which my neighbor Lois Jeanne in St Louis had taught to me many years ago. I didn't take one picture all evening but we had a wonderful time. This was next day's lunch from the leftover cheese sauce ... made by James.
Christmas Eve Day and Christmas Day Sarah had to work but she had worked it all out to make the best of it. Christmas Eve James and I were invited to their house for Christmas Dinner. Wade and his parents had prepared everything very nicely. James was making his roast potatoes and I had brought my Spinach Salad with the horseradish dressing. This is Sarah and Wade's Christmas tree.
This is the second year that they had a "real" tree. Sarah had preserved a couple of slices from last year's tree trunk and asked me for suggestions how to make an ornament out of it. This is just a trial sample I did with my wood burning tool. It will be a project for after Epiphany when this year's tree comes down. 
I did take photos of Jimmy and Schatzi who were on their best behavior that evening.

We did a little gift-opening after the meal and before all of us went to the midnight mass at St Martin's. Sarah was delighted with the gift from her sister. Helen knew exactly that Sarah would like this necklace.
James and I had some presents under the tree too. This picture was taken for Helen to show her thumbs up and kiss kiss for my new quilt calendar. She is always afraid that I might get bored about getting one, but I love it. When I sent her this picture she asked right away whether the vest I was wearing was Sarah's present to me. Eagle eyes! Yes. Love my vest too.
James is getting ready to open his present from Helen too.
Christmas Day!  James and I went to the morning service which is always for only a few people since there are two services the evening before. But we enjoy the quieter service with close friends. In the evening we all gathered at Kathy's brother's house in West Point. Carolyn had laid the table so beautifully!
Again, not many pictures. But I had to take this one for Helen.
This is were the metal art hangs which Ben had made. Here is a link to his business! Helen had seen it only wrapped ready to be shipped. I really like the crab.
Kathy had taken this picture and mailed it to me. Thank you, Kathy!
Was it British night? Carolyn had laid the table with crackers. I think this was new to our hosts so James explained how he had done it all his life. We had a lot of fun.
Looking for the toys and jokes/trivia.

Some gift exchange next to the tree. Cooper was told that you have to have the crown on to open a gift.
 And, oh yes, dessert! Our hosts new house came with a pecan tree. That pie was made with their own pecans, gathered by Cooper, shelled by Jon and baked by Carolyn ... eaten by me, ha-ha. So good. But so were the other goodies.
Carolyn taking a picture of Kathy, Sarah, Wade and Mike.
 I have to take a picture of our hosts Jon and Carolyn and her parents Barbara and John. We had such a great time with them.
Boxing Day, in Germany "zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag" (second day of Christmas), was my father's birthday. 64 years ago he got me and a block of chocolate.  I had a wonderful birthday. Most calls from Germany come in the morning or early afternoon (time difference) and I got a lot of messages on Face Book and per e-mail and, I must admit, I was really touched. Thanks, all my dear friends!
We had a quiet evening because we had to call off a little celebration with Sarah and Wade. Suddenly I didn't feel so good in my stomach. Oh, well ...

Today I got the best birthday cake ever! Look at this art work of William. Obviously he likes to paint, even if he probably had a little help. May be we can watch him next time Helen does Facetime with us. Yes, love those gadgets!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Busy but great ... Advent time

Love it. LOVE it! I love being busy. Sometimes it is overwhelming what I WANT to do but of course that is self-inflicted. Luckily, dear James is not only understanding but also supporting the things I like to do. And quite often he helps.

The Chrismon effort! As you know it started more then 20 years ago in Paducah, KY. And when we moved to Virginia, our new church let me do it here too. I make a Chrismon ornament for every child in the church. This year it is an angel for St Martin's. 
80 angels are made and wrapped = check!
The ECW ladies helped make the boxes. "Chrismon Sunday" this year is 2nd Advent Sunday.
The Christmas-card-ornament is made for the HLG Christmas card swap  = check!
I had the bobbinlace heart made some time ago. When I found out after the drawing that my recipient is my friend Lise (a very accomplished bobbinlacer, much better then I ever will be) I included a tatted ornament as well (because that is one thing she doesn't do).
But it is not all work and no play. First Wednesday of each month is the CrossRidge (our community) women's meeting. December of course is the Christmas Party. A delicious free luncheon preceded by mimosas and followed by entertainment.
For a taste click here!
A week later James and I go to our CR Pavilion for a concert by the Glen Allen High School Choir. It was so great and uplifting. We decided that we can not miss this in years to come.
I took three short videos:
James and I usually walk to the Pavilion for things like this ... and we walked home with a swing in our steps.
Advent greenery arrangements made for ourselves, friends and the St Martin's bazaar = check!
The bazaar took place December 8. I sewed a good number of my "over-the-door-card-displays" which sold quite well and so did my Chrismon books. (Gosh, I have to work on #2)
After the bazaar I didn't feel like cooking. Sweet James took me to a Chinese restaurant and we had "Szechuan Hot Pot". We had it in Beijing and Chongqing. This was alright and awoke many memories. James had beef and I had seafood mix. I had mild broth and James spicy. If you look close you can see that the pot is divided. Don't be in a hurry when you want to do it.
And then one day we came home and our crape myrtle in front was decorated. We "accused" Sarah and Wade but it actually was our nice neighbors Betsy and Robert.
 Such a surprise!
O.k. it was time to decorate the house. Second Monday of each month: Colonial Lacemakers meeting! December 10 again in my house.
First I decorated the "big" tree in the dining room bay window (by the way, dear James set up all 4 of my trees in the house). The big tree is full of memories. All the accumulated ornaments of the many years including ornaments from my parents etc. With every ornament I  hang a flood of thoughts slow me down ... but that doesn't matter. I enjoy it very much. You can guess what this ornament is about? William's first Christmas.
Then there are three little trees. This is my Chrismon tree in the sunroom. Every one of my designs in small (for the church children or home trees) and the same in bigger for church trees.
Then there is a tree in the living room corner decorated only with straw ornaments = a very German thing.
And then there is the lace tree in the loft. I ran out of time to put the ornaments up before the lace meeting. James asked me about it and I said if my friends were bothered that the ornaments are not hanging, they would do it for me ... and James told me that he liked my attitude. Christmas is just so much more enjoyable if you don't stress. So what that my floors were not totally dust free?
I was able to make an apple Santa for each guest. Something we used to do a long time ago when my children were very young, and probably when I was a child too.
The table is laid. James did that. He put a Santa on each place too.
So I didn't know where this guy ended up. He was the one with his eyes closed and gave away the door prize.
This is almost our whole group. Unfortunately there is always somebody who can't make it.
After the lunch (which was my special mixed salad and my enriched "real" Turkish lentil soup) the ladies are making that year's Chrismon for themselves to take home. And if they want to, they may take the directions also to make more at home. Everybody did a good job.
We were so busy that we almost forgot to use the crackers on the table. Lali is reading her joke.
It must have been a good one.
Christmas time brings so much joy like my blooming amaryllis. How my father liked his amaryllises every year.

This year we managed to defend our camellia from the occasional frost so far too.
Gosh, one  just has to look around for all the beauty and enjoy the world. Isn't this gorgeous? Of course it helps when the sky is blue and the sun is shining.
Our CR community has so much to offer for everybody, we can't participate in everything. I do like the monthly "knit, stitch and chat" gatherings on the second Wednesday of the month. I saw this which gave me an idea (just a simple log cabin pattern) and a lady came in showing the place mats she was making in a very interesting technique I didn't know. Definitely have to try that first chance I get. I was very excited to learn about that.
What is NOT helpful to me are all those goodies everywhere around.
Have to take mental notes though. Doesn't this look nice? Couldn't really partake though because ...

... because straight from that meeting I went to my friend Julie's house who had invited several friends to a luncheon, a wonderful "sit-down and be served event". The funny part: she is one of my avid blog-readers and had enjoyed this one. Right after she had read it, she called me to tell me that she had to get back into her Christmas boxes to pull this little guy out. She had wondered what he was doing in her Christmas stuff and was happy to know now his story.
YES! My HLG Christmas card swap mail had arrived! Carol O. had made her card special and had included a tatted and ...
 ... a bobbinlace ornament. The spider (besides the hedgehog) is kind of an mascot for lacemakers = weaving a web! Carol included a note with the story of the Christmas Spider.

And right on time my (several) Christmas cactus(s) started blooming. 
And the latest ... I needed new glasses. I had not had my eyes checked for a while too.

The young lady doctor thought it was cute to take a picture.