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Christmas, sewing

Handmade Teacher Gifts – Christmas 2015

I am happy that I managed to make something for all of the kids’ teachers, even if it was somewhat last minute.  I had big plans for their primary teachers…lap quilts made with quilt squares that the students designed with fabric markers.  I even had all the coordinating fabric cut out ahead of time.  However, the student created fabric didn’t work out quite the way I had expected!  I ended up scrapping that idea and moving on to something a little simpler.  I also had to plan for a total of 6 teachers – 2 primary teachers, 2 math teachers and 2 science teachers.

For the primary teachers, I had a charm pack of Cotton & Steel’s Tinsel fabric and decided to make a couple of simple patchwork table runners.  They were simple and easy to put together.  I also have enough fabric to create two more…something to add to the Etsy shop for Christmas 2016!  I happened to have just the right colored turquoise fabric with red dots for binding…always great to use up a fabric that I wasn’t sure what to do with.


For the backing, I also used some fabric from my stash – some large red polka dots used as backing on my Red Sox quilt and some leftover Kate Spain Christmas fabric that I used on a Christmas table runner five years ago.


The fun part was rolling them up and realizing that they fit perfectly into wine gift bags!

Maybe it's a tease to put these table runners into wine bags but it was a perfect fit.

Maybe it’s a tease to put these table runners into wine bags but it was a perfect fit.

For the other four teachers, I made drawstring bags using Jeni Baker’s tutorial from her blog In Color Order.  I have used this tutorial every year for 4 years I think!  I added a little Target gift card to go along with the bag.  Once again, fun to use up from fabrics from my stash!




Touring Memphis before Christmas

The week before Christmas was a busy one as Mom and Dad came for Christmas.  For some reason I thought we’d have all kinds of time to go out and shop and look around in the days before Christmas.  It’s fun shopping with other adults, but we never really had the desire to drag the kids out with us.  They wouldn’t even go out to lunch at Five Guys with us one day!  They just wanted to go home and play.  We did get around the area a bit though.

My mom has loved Elvis forever so she and I and Dad went on a tour of Graceland.  I had heard that some people were disappointed with it because you just look at his house and that’s it.  But there was so much more and it was all so interesting.  The house is really neat.  It’s like stepping back in time, only people usually think of going back centuries when you do that.  Because it was only decades, it didn’t feel so far removed.  You could easily imagine the people that moved in and out of the house and it felt like Elvis could have walked through the door at any moment.

From shag carpet on the ceiling to a room that was covered in thousands of yards of fabric, there were so many details that were fascinating.  On top of his house, we toured a trophy building with a chronological history of his hits and his movies and his charitable works.  We went to a lot of extra little exhibits on our tickets as well and I have to say that I would definitely take anyone else who came into town to visit Graceland again.

We also spent an afternoon in Memphis.  We went on our annual Christmas ice skating adventure.  There is a rink set up at the zoo so went to that one.  Casey was on skates for the first time this year.  She was very excited but she has a little work to do on her balance.  Jack has been playing hockey since November and he was a little show-off.  He zoomed around the ice faster than any kid out there (and he knew it.)  We had a great time until Casey had enough of the falling and Jack took a couple of rough spills too.

We wandered through the zoo on our way out and I’ve never seen the animals so active.  It was like going to the zoo for the first time.  The pandas were out and were even moving around and eating.  All the cats were pacing and moving around.  It’s one of my favorite trips to the zoo and we weren’t even looking at animals for all that long.  

A quick tour of downtown Memphis one evening took us to the Peabody Hotel.  The hotel is known for its ducks.  In the morning, the ducks come down the elevator and hop into the fountain in the middle of the lobby.  They spend the day there, enjoying the people while getting shooed back into the water as soon as they make a move to escape.  (I think someone is payed to be on duck watch every day.)  In the evenings, there’s another big ceremony as the ducks march back to the elevator and back to their evening residence.

On this trip, we did not watch the march of the ducks.  I’ve seen it twice and it is very misleading.  The ducks do not in any way march.  They get out of the pond and waddle to the elevator.  There is really no where else for them to go because people are lined up on either side of them from the fountain to the elevator.  But there is a bit of pomp and circumstance and a fun little story behind it and the kids like it, even though they have to sit and wait for 45 minutes if they want to get anywhere near where the red carpet.

So we saw no duck marching but we just enjoyed the gorgeous Christmas decorations in the lobby and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.  There was a huge gingerbread village with a train that travels around it that entertains the kids.  There was live piano music.  And it was gorgeous!

Finally, we went to get some traditional Memphis BBQ.  I’ve been to a place in downtown Memphis which is renowned for it’s bar-b-que and it’s atmosphere but I was not impressed.  Pat took us to another place this time and it was just right – great bar-b-que and a great atmosphere.  We’ll definitely go there again too!


Christmas with Kiss

I joined my first book club when I moved here to Memphis and I’ve really been enjoying it.  I’ve read some great books and met some great people.

For our November/December book club (for which no one read the book but me and the host), the big part of the night was really a white elephant gift swap.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that kind of swap but I was told to bring anything – a new gift, a gag gift or a re-gift…anything you might find around your house and want to pass on to some unsuspecting soul.

The first gift I ended up opening was a cute apron and book to go with it.  But as we went down the line, someone snagged that and I chose another gift.  It turned out to be a very interesting Christmas ornament.

The friend, H, that brought this gift felt bad because she claims I’m the quiet, sweet girl and I think she thought I deserved something better.  Or maybe, she didn’t think I would be able to appreciate the beauty and value.  (She’d be mortified if I didn’t also mention that she included a Starbucks gift card with it.)

The gift that I brought was an infinity scarf that I made.  When H found out that I brought a homemade gift, this made her feel even worse.  But it shouldn’t have…to me the scarf was the easiest thing I could bring.  I had already made it and it was sitting around my house.  I had looked at some gag gifts in the store and honestly didn’t feel like wasting my money.  I’m just not a gag gift type of girl and being fairly new to the group, I didn’t have much background in which to work in a funny gift.

When I first opened the ornament, I thought it was Star Wars related.  In that fraction of a second I thought that my kids would be excited about it.  Upon further inspection, I discovered it was this…

I didn’t manage to capture my own picture of the box so I found this one on the internet.  While searching for it, I learned his name is Gene Simmons.  (Yes, I’ve probably heard that before but if you’d asked me his name, I couldn’t have told you.)  And I also learned that there are several more Kiss themed ornaments.

So we laughed about it.  I promised to take pictures of it on my tree and I think she promised to come to my house to verify that it was actually on my tree.

It sat around the house for a few days because it took many days for the tree to “fall” and be ready for decorating.  And then the kids found it and it turns out they were excited about it…

They thought it was hilarious and wanted to do their impressions.  I think they did a pretty good job.  Jack is actually holding the ornament in his hand but it’s a little blurry there.

And when we finally decorated our tree, they fought over who would put it on the tree.  I would have shoved them out of the way to have the honor but then I wouldn’t have gotten any pictures.  And we did not hide him!  He’s not up there with the angel obviously but he wasn’t tucked in the back either.

This was serious business…
Behold the beauty…
This ornament will stick around.  (I really hope he doesn’t lose any of the spikes over the years.)  It will always make me smile and remind me of my first book club and a fun night with new friends.  I might even have to add to the collection.  Or at least replace my red bead garland with something a little more chain-like.   

The Nutcracker

I got to take Casey to her friend Nutcracker ballet this year.  We had pretty good seats at the Orpheum in Memphis and I was excited to take her.  I think I was probably in high school the last time I went to see it.  

We got all dressed up in our finest and met with a friend and her little girl and headed downtown.  
Casey took a short nap just in the car before we arrived…
Even though we had good seats, it was hard for little people to see over the heads in front of them.  Casey spent the first half bouncing between her seat and my lap trying to find the best view.  Then of course she had to use the bathroom just when the Mouse King was about to come out.  For the second half she sat on the aisle seat and seemed to enjoy it a little better.  I sat on the other side of our friends because she didn’t want to sit on my lap any more.
I thought Casey behaved very well during the show.  There were parts where even I was a little less enthusiastic about the length of the dances.  There were also men in really tight white tights and that was a little distracting at times.
After the show some of the dancers came out for pictures and autographs.
Overall, it was a very nice first ballet experience!

Elfing Around

Our Elf on the Shelf, Bob, returned for a third year this Christmas season.  He comes out the day after Thanksgiving and hangs around in various places until Christmas Eve when he heads back to his North Pole home.

The kids were even more excited about Bob than they have been in the past.  Every morning they couldn’t wait to find out where he was.  Although he didn’t do anything too crazy or elaborate, he found some fun places to keep an eye on the kids.

One day Bob was found dangling from the overhead light…

This was the day we brought our tree home and since they couldn’t do any decorating until the tree settled, Jack and Casey entertained themselves.  The took the tree skirt and some Santa hats and did their best impressions of Bob’s mischievous smirk and eyes.