Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Crafternoon and the Best Christmas Present Ever!

Christmas came early at my house this year! And it gave me a big smile!

I got my biopsy results back and no thyroid cancer! Benign is such a nice word!

And the lip is healing well, at long last. All is good. So many of you have been so supportive, with messages and good wishes -- I wanted to let you know. And thank you!

I wasn't sure what the results would be on the day of my appointment so I decided to pack the day full of good things -- like a crafternoon with two of my fellow Southern Exposure fans. Instead of doing a single project, we'd work on what we most needed to get done! But first a celebratory toast, with Kate's delicious prosecco!

It's always fun to drink to your health when you've had a good report!

Then lunch. I prepped up a nice batch of Julia's French Onion Soup with some Jeanie Crostini and did up the table.

Jan made a wonderful chopped salad and dessert was Christmas cookies from Whole Foods because baking comes soon!

Then it was creative time!

Kate was creating her own gift bags using stamps she'd carved. When these are done they will be a Christmas tree with several different blocks in diminishing sizes.

Jan was taking a container from an earlier Southern Exposure workshop (HERE) and revamping it for Christmas.

Looked great!

I had a couple of projects. The quick one was to cover a crack in the glass of this little glass house and when I was done it made a lovely home for a wee nativity I had bought at an art fair years ago.

The other was inspired in part by Barbara at Fairmeadow Place. I recommend checking out her easy how-to post HERE When I was at Gardenviews on that horrible, rainy greens market day, they had some branches I loved that were overpriced at $15 each with flocking and pine cones. Then they had plain flocked branches for $3. I bought five, the same as one fancy branch and a $2.50 box of mini pine cones.

Using white paint and crystal glitter to tip the cones with "snow," I adhered them to the branches with gel medium. A glue gun would have been faster but I wanted it to dry clear.

(Barbara used epsom salts for her snow and I forgot I had them or would have but the glitter is subtle and fine.) They're currently on my chandelier but that's for another post.

I sent them home with Jeanie Crostini, which is my go-to appetizer and wonderful with dips or as a crouton.

 Included was my feta dip recipe and two Susan Branch bookmarks that she shared in a recent post.

Such a wonderful day, capped off by the beautiful musical "Finding Neverland," based on the film that tells of how James Barrie came to write Peter Pan.

And guess what?

Baking is next!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Please note that if you visited while this was still in draft and accidentally published, it's been updated with more pix and music!

 Maybe it's because I've been doing so much family history research. Maybe it's because my dad died in December and I've been thinking of him. Maybe it's because I've felt a little more fragile and vulnerable than usual lately. Maybe it's just because it's Christmas. (Cue the Music)

But I've been thinking of many Christmases from the past. Mostly good ones. And those ghosts of Christmas past.

I don't remember the photo below being taken. I was (obviously) too young! But this was how I spent a lot of Christmas days in my childhood -- with my grandparents, their siblings and my dad's cousins. They all look like a barrel of laughs, don't they? It didn't get better as I got older, either. As everyone got older!

(Christmas Eve with my mom's family full of cousins my age was much more fun!)

I think of the joy of being a little kid and that first Christmas. I think I was about a year and a half in this photo. I wish I still had that little piano. But I still have chubby legs, curly hair and that double chin! Some things never change.

I remember my sweet collie, Major, the most patient dog in the world.

And, I remember the magic of our cardboard nativity scene. I found one like it at an estate sale once -- I still have to put it up. It's harder to find a spot than it used to be!

There were a few Christmases spent at the lake. (Not my favorite. As much as I love the lake, it smiles most at me during the summer!) But it sure was pretty. And look carefully -- those are my turkey plates on the sideboard and that Santa is on my tree today! I just noticed that!

Let's do the time warp and flash forward a few years! There were the Christmases with the cousins, my aunts and uncles. We'd have a contest as to who could create the most original wrapping for a gift. Yes, this was once the "container" for a pair of earrings for my mom from Dad. He won more than once!

And we'd get all dressed up!

Mom just loved this skirt. I still have it. I don't think it would fit, but I should give it a try!

And then, that last Christmas before the Moms (my mom and her younger sister, Grace) died. No family Christmas that year.

Just the three of us for the last time.

The year after was a tough one. But the Cleveland cousins came to Michigan, like usual, and we did our best. Champagne at midnight. Carols at the piano. And I suspect there were more than a few tears in the pillows.

We took all the same family photos. Almost. But there was no photo of the Moms. Just the menfolk.

We did our best. Because it was Christmas.

Flash forward to Christmases with just Dad and me, after travel became more complicated with expanding families. We'd invite friends to fill out the dinner table, do Christmas Eve church, quiet Christmas morning. As I look at the photo below, I recognize so many ornaments now on my tree --and I'm also wondering whatever happened to a few of them.

And then he was gone, too. That was the year my friend Bonnie invited those of us closest to my dad over for dinner. Yet another tough year.

It would be a few years before my Christmas celebrations would feature a new cast of characters, but they were good ones.

And when I say characters, I do mean, "Characters." Please note that in the photo below, Kevin really did have teeth. He just liked blacking them out with that awful Blackjack gum!

With them came a new family member -- Miss Molly -- and new traditions, like decorating Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve. (And yes, we still do.)

Dad never knew the Marmelade Gypsy, namesake of this blog, either. And he's yet another of the ghosts of Christmas past and I miss him every day.

This year,  this little boy will walk into the house with a new little boy, a new member of the family who hasn't yet known his first Christmas, and (like me in that photo at the top of this post) won't remember in the years to come.

But we'll remember. Just as I wrap my heart around all my ghosts of Christmas past.

Oh, I wish they could all be here for Christmas present.

And maybe, just maybe, they are.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Juniper Berry Wreath at Southern Exposure

Earlier this week we enjoyed our final workshop of the season at Southern Exposure -- making a juniper berry wreath with real spruce greens and a permanent botanical wreath of juniper berries. This was our project. (Cue the Music!)

But first, a lovely dinner. This time we dined in the Hog House, beautifully decorated for the season.

I showed a few pics of this room in the Christmas Decorating on a Shoestring post, but here are some better views. (I have already bought the chair covers for a whopping dollar each at Dollar Tree!)

This fireplace mantle was a favorite of mine.

I especially loved the Dutch shoes filled with faux candy. (I have smaller Dutch shoes at home. I love them!)

I thought it was fun, filling the baby pram with presents and greens.

And this corner just seemed to peaceful to me.

Then it was on to the craft tent. Scott explained that blue is considered a Christmas color, more so in Europe than the States, in part because of the blue that Virgin Mary is seen wearing in much of the art of the period. Our supplies included the greens and juniper wreath, red twig dogwood, clippers, gloves and long green pipe cleaners. That was my take away of the day -- they work well to wire the individual branches onto the wire wreath form and are visible only from the back of the wreath. It was lots easier to tighten them than it is florist wire.

Let's just say that I am a lot better working with wreaths that are already formed than I am trying to wire live greens to a wire wreath form.

This was my expression during much of the construction. I'll share the finished wreath after I do a little cosmetic enhancement. Like, possibly redoing it to get the greens better spaced!

Still, glorious fun! And chickens! What's not to love?

Linking to: Share Your Style  Pink Saturday  /

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