Sunday, December 29, 2013

And Now For the Post-Holiday Illness...........

In the traditions-I'd-rather-end-immediately, I'm finishing up the holidays with bronchitis.  The good news is, at least this is the first time since the back injury and even the most severe coughing can no longer throw out my back.  The bad news is, three days of severe coughing hurts my back muscles anyway.  Today, at least, I have felt good enough to knit, though I started a Baby Surprise Jacket because I didn't think I was up for anything but garter stitch.  Still, that is progress.  I'm hoping to be improved enough tomorrow to be up and about some.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays – finally!

As you probably noticed, there was no 2012 holiday letter. So a brief recap on the last TWO years:

In 2012, Andy took up the bass guitar, painted the sewing room and built some seriously beautiful shelves for me, and designed and built us a greenhouse. In August my father was hospitalized with an advanced staph infection, he spent 5 weeks in hospitals here in Boise while my mother lived with us, and he not only fully recovered from the infection—he survived Blue Cross of Idaho, which is even more remarkable. I began the year attempting to get my back/hip straightened out, joined a congressional campaign for a few months, spent 5 weeks trying to cope with my inability to cope with hospitals, due to all the stress ended up back in physical therapy as soon as my father was released, managed to sprain my back while doing physical therapy, and ended 2012 even less mobile than at the start.

This year has continued to be dominated by my back problems, but in June we were able to travel to Indiana to Andy's family's farm for a reunion and last “hurrah” before the farm was auctioned. We had a great time, and I got to meet the rest of Andy's family AND saw my very first fireflies. Thanks to GPS, we also got to see a great deal of Indiana farmland, which was interesting to me because the thought of farmland that needs drainage to cope with too much water is a bit hard to fathom—especially this year. The huge lawns still have me a bit baffled, but I can only guess that riding lawn mowers are very, very popular back there.

In August I started seeing a physiatrist for my back and acquired my third physical therapist. This time I am being treated less for the initial injury and more for the subsequent injuries and the effects of 2 years of pain. It turns out that, while my body has made no effort whatsoever to adapt to the increase in summer temperatures over the last few years, it cheerfully changed my walk and stance to accommodate the hip problem, which actually compounded the problem. So, in addition to therapeutic massage and some new core-building exercises that are a lot harder than my old ones, I have to relearn to walk and stand and am still learning “body mechanics”--usually the hard way. The hardest thing to get used to is how important it is to avoid pain. This probably sounds sort of self-explanatory (unless one played high school sports and constantly heard “no pain, no gain”), but when muscles have been knotted from pain for two years and the therapist has just worked those knots out, they knot back up VERY easily and getting into pain can wipe out two to six weeks of therapy in one shot. So, I'm trying to learn to rest frequently, avoid sitting and any travel for a while, and every week discuss with my physical therapist what I have done and what I think I will be doing the following week, and she tells me either what I have already done wrong or what I am about to do wrong. They aren't as obvious as one would think, as the latest thing-I-do-wrong was to wrap gifts while seated on the floor. As I had just spent the week decorating the house for Christmas and been very careful about the stepladder and reaching and lifting, I had honestly believed wrapping was an easy thing. But it turns out it's quite bad for anyone with hip or back problems. It's like an ongoing pop quiz for which one doesn't even know what book to study, but I do progress. While there are things I will never be able to do again and I still have a very long way to go, I am down to once-a-week appointments, which will continue into the next year, and I am finally starting to have a few normal days again—or as normal as we get around here.

Andy is still telecommuting, with occasional trips to the main office in California—usually during the coldest periods here which he swears are just purely coincidental. Following his sister's lead, he's training to extend his twice-yearly half-marathons to a full marathon, and is making great progress but isn't quite there yet. As souvenirs, he made wooden pens out of walnut from the Indiana farm for all his aunts and uncles, has learned to turn wooden wine goblets, and made a wooden music stand with the opening notes of “As Time Goes By” inlaid in stone for me. His latest woodworking project is building an electric mandolin from a kit, which looks like a miniature electric guitar. The trio he's been playing with each Christmas has named itself for the song they played last year, “Trio de Schlittenfahrt.” While it really means “three German dances,” things sound much funnier in German.

We continue with our gardening adventures (a.k.a vole wars), and after they finished off the fava beans and most of the cilantro, I finally got so desperate to get rid of the little monsters that I dreamed up the brilliant idea of boarding our cats while we were in Indiana so I could put down poison without risk to the cats. It does seem to have cut down on the voles, but so stressed out one of our cats that Theo is on permanent medication for stress-related urinary problems, and had to be on anti-depressants during our entire trip. So far, every time Andy travels for work, Theo requires a trip to the vet for pain medication, even though he largely ignores Andy's existence when he is home. All things considered, just letting the voles have the garden would have been a lot less stressful for everyone concerned. 
Things I've learned in the past TWO years:
  • There are basically 2 gardening seasons: “Please grow” and “Please die.”
  • There will always be people who assert that heart disease isn't linked to weight, but the size of the furniture in the hospital's cardiac ward proves otherwise
  • Sadly, doing one's physical therapy exercises faithfully is a really good way to surprise one's physical therapist
  • I don't know which pain pills are the addictive ones, but I am quite an expert on the ones that cause nausea and give one ulcers
  • A good way to get ALL your tomatoes to grow is to expect half of them to die
  • Nothing unsticks a stuck sprinkler faster than giving it a human target
  • When a doctor tells you “no running” on a treadmill, it seems he also means “do not increase the incline and go at the fastest pace you can.” Go figure.
  • If it's in a new greenhouse, even spinach is exciting
  • I was rather proud when I broke the “unbreakable” therapy band the first physical therapist gave me, but by the time the third one broke, it was just about getting flipped by a 6-inch wide rubber band and a huge bruise
  • Cats may sleep 18 hours a day, but this doesn't prevent them from developing stress issues
  • Nothing makes one more popular with one's gardening friends than to be the only one who didn't grow zucchini
  • Just because there are places that specialize in boarding cats, it doesn't mean it's a good idea
  • While killing off the voles would be nice, I am willing to settle for driving them into the neighbor's yard
  • It's a good thing I didn't choose to go into espionage. I don't know how I would fare with actual torture, but an extra 5 minutes of therapeutic massage alone would have me singing like a canary
  • It's easy to underestimate the perversity of cats until one has to get them to take medication twice a day
  • When doing exercises against a door, the smarter thing would be to make sure it's against the direction that opens
  • I was so tired of unsuccessfully battling squash bugs that I planted NO squash of any kind this year—and ended up with 3 types of volunteer squash...........which the squash bugs ignored completely
  • Even though some people were barely able to pass high school, given a Facebook or Twitter account, everyone is an expert on everything from medicine to economics
  • Sprinkling garlic water in the garden might get rid of some voles, but not ones that are actually eating the garlic in the garden
  • My parents didn't participate in the drug scene of the 1960s, but I think the hallucinogenic drugs they gave my father during his first week in the hospital topped anything the counter-culture ever tried.
  • Even after planting a whole crop of them, we still don't know what fresh fava beans taste like, but the plants are some sort of vole delicacy.
  • You know you've stayed in touch with your inner child when you have to set a house rule to NOT jump on the beds because you've stored the empty canning jars underneath them.
  • When one has to approach canning in moderation, one cans much less weird stuff
  • A vet who prescribes anti-stress meds in pill form for a cat has never had to GIVE pills to a cat
  • At some point in medical school, they probably need to instruct doctors to check what medications a patient has been given BEFORE asking the patient questions. Not that it wasn't funny to listen to my father's answers to their questions—especially the discussion about Shetland ponies outside the 5th floor window—it wasn't exactly medically accurate nor extremely helpful.
  • I was out of bed for Thanksgiving for the first time in two years! I absolutely love Thanksgiving, and it was so nice to participate in it again. Besides the wonderful spirit of the holiday, I love the idea that America's greatest culinary tradition started with someone looking at a piece of stale bread and saying, "Hm, I wonder where I could put this................"

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a healthy 2014,
Toni & Andy

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Random Sunday

* The good news is, cold no longer makes my back muscles seize up.  The bad news is, snowing--especially the changing pressure building up to snowing--makes my back muscles ache.  Right now it's more accurate than the Accuweather weather predictions, but I'm hoping this new superpower of mine is just temporary.

*  If one's back has woken one up in the middle of the night to tell one that it is snowing (or going to snow), one might as well have some fun with it later.
* Just because one's cat has a long shaggy coat and hair between the toes to help cope with snow,
it doesn't mean one's cat is going to have anything to do with snow or building snowmen.

*  In true Jo-Ann's customer service tradition, my order did finally ship more than two weeks later, minus 14 items, including
gray, black, tan, and pink paints, which were the big reason for the order in the first place.  Luckily, I found most of the replacements at Fred Meyer, except gray, which Andy picked up for me today. 

*  The brilliant idea I had of trying bias tape to finish the patchwork ornaments might have actually been brilliant--had I ordered from someone more reputable than Jo-Ann Fabrics.

* I thought yellow thread would look good with a red, white, and blue bowl,
but I hated the result.  Luckily,
having a box of cheap thread means one can simply keep adding colors until one DOES like the result.  Or one's spouse does.

*  Now that I've seen how they look on the tree,
I love lace ornaments even more than I did BEFORE decorating

*  Between finishing gifts, wrapping, and preparing for packaging all happening in the sewing room, I am actually looking forward to cleaning the sewing room after Christmas.  I must check to see if I am running a fever..........

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It Moved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did you see it?  That tiny little yarn tally on the side of the blog finally moved today!!!  I have finally used up another ball of yarn from my stash!!!!

I had sworn that I wouldn't stress about my yarn tally this year, but this was a lie.  I didn't stress about it while I was stressing about 365 ornaments and while I was trying to finish up everything for Christmas, but now--during the last two weeks of the year--I'm going to stress about my stash.  The red scarf is half finished, and now my compulsion to finish the year with as high a number as possible in the "stash used up" category is going to be duking it out with my saner side that thinks I should hedge a little so I could start the 100-finished-projects year with a running start.  I don't know which side I'd actually bet on, but I'm guessing it's likely to be a closer match than most of the holiday football games will be.................

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oops--Where Did The Week Go?

It has been a busy week!  After attending TWO parties on Saturday, there was a lot of resting on Sunday,
 but I did manage to finish off some details on a few gifts,
like the bows for the ballet slipper ornaments,  wrap gifts (using the small bit of the crafting table I have cleared up), and Andy took packages to the post office on Sunday.  I dropped the last one off after an appointment on Monday, and I think everything is shipped for the year.  Or most of it.  I think. 

There has been some crafting,
including a new bowl with slanted sides.  These are by far the hardest to make as I can't use the sewing machine as a guide, but I'm getting better.  There has also been a bit of knitting,
and the new red scarf is almost half finished already.  I just finished the holiday letter and the first cards will go out tomorrow.  I'm dragging around with a cold, but I think I can still make the Secret Santa party tonight. I was really dragging yesterday, but I'm not sure if that was from the cold or the cold medicine, but it's really just a minor annoyance today.  One week until Christmas, I think a cold is probably almost mandatory.........

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nine Days Later......

........and my order with Jo-Ann Fabrics is still "processing."  I wouldn't mind quite so much, but I've dealt with Jo-Ann Fabrics before and the odds of them being out of the things I've ordered when they screw so long with shipping is about 99%.  So, I'm not even sure I'll get the paints I am so anxiously awaiting.  I want the next spending ban to start on January 1, so I'm hoping they can be bothered to send whatever is left at least by December 31 so I'll have a chance to find replacements for the things that they no longer have.  Bastards.

Luckily, everything else is going much better than dealing with Jo-Ann's.  Yesterday I had physical therapy first thing, and I have a glowing progress report to take to the physiatrist on Monday.  I'm still continuing the weekly therapy as I still have a long way to go, but for the first time in 2 years, I can sometimes forget about my back.

After therapy, in spite of the cold (we might get above freezing tomorrow), I ran errands.  LOTS of errands.  IN THE COLD.  For the last 2 years, cold temperatures caused my back muscles to seize up entirely.  This year I can function.  And, of course, I'm getting to wear lots and lots of hand-knits because it has been brutally cold here this week.  Not as bad as January, but we did get down to -6, and yesterday was sunny and eventually hit 23 degrees, which comparatively felt great.  I did extra laps in stores to get exercise in that didn't involve ice, and by afternoon could even walk around parking lots and bare sidewalks in a few places.  It was exhilarating.........especially since I didn't need any muscle relaxers at all to do it.  YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Feeling good, I came home and did a little crafting,
making my first bowl on the Bernina,  which Andy said looks like a fez.  Someone is asking for a lump of coal, I think.  Undeterred (and without asking for further opinion, obviously), I made
a second one!  I am trying to learn shaping with the colored rope before tackling the addition of fabric strips, and the shaping is completely different on each machine, so they might not be my best work, but I especially like the second one.  I still need a lot of practice getting the sides right when trying to slant them, but I'm making progress. 

Unfortunately, by that point I had simply worn out my back muscles, and ended up missing a Secret Santa party last night.  It's one of 2, so I'll still get to participate, and I had such a great day that, while I was disappointed, having a good day in the cold was still such a high that it was hard to be upset.  I did, however, decide that, since I will have to break my WIP streak very soon anyway, that I could have a new project if I was going to miss a party.  I'm not exactly Pollyanna, so there was a wee bit of sulking over being home. I started a cowl in dark plum, but as an evening project the yarn was a bit dark, so I also started a red scarf.  Blogger has stopped letting me add pictures, or you'd be seeing them right now.  I haven't given up on my WIPs, and in fact am now just over halfway on the peach lace mohair shawl, but if I'm going to be mobile again and out running errands, it will be nice to have some portable purse knitting again.  I foresee a LOT of knitting time in the post office next week....................

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I'm Done!!!!!!!

The gifts that NEED to happen are done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Or at least until I get a wild idea or think of someone not on the original list. 

After all the trouble with the laces on the first pillow, the second one was no problem at all--I got the original method to work.  I have no idea why--maybe I was stronger yesterday.  I also have no idea why, having cut them out at the same time and probably mixing and matching pieces,
the one on the left is fat and wide and the one on the right is taller than it is wide.  It doesn't really matter, but it was funny.  They should be exactly the same.  They are even washed,
and I have to admit, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.  They could be a bit more football-shaped, but as they are pillows, I think it works out.

I even finished up the music bag!
Though TWO rounds with the iron on high hasn't eliminated all the wrinkles in it.  I even took it out of the dryer while still wet to iron without success, so these are quite determined wrinkles.  I suppose it happens to the best of us after a while.......

There are TWO new color work ornaments as well,
which I thought would even out the red with the blue ornaments, but it doesn't.  I've now done 14 ornaments from the book, and 9 of them are in blue.  I didn't realize I had that much bias in my knitting.  The weird thing is that the book pictures almost all of them in red, which is what I liked about them in the first place.  Maybe in 10 or so years I'll have done all 55 in both blue AND red.  One can dream......

Speaking of dreams,
my oldest ornaments that I made are ceramic ones that I painted in high school.  Some turned out better than others, and my very favorite was a little mouse shepherd that I was pretty proud of.....and which I dropped on the hardwood floor our very first Christmas together in this house.  Every year when I take out the ornaments, I'm always a little bit sorry that he's gone and that the rest of them don't look a wee bit better.  THIS year I decided to check the internet and,

while I didn't find the shepherd, I did find some new ornaments, so I have pushed back the next spending ban to the first of the year and ordered some paint as well.  This is sort of an unusual thing for me to do as I have stuck closely with knitting and generally don't pick up new hobbies because I don't want to find new space or extra time for them--especially since the last time I tried a new hobby was buying a cheap little sewing machine 9 years ago to see if sewing was more fun than it was when I was a kid.  We all know how THAT turned out for me.  But these don't require much space, and as it's something I've thought about every year since breaking that poor little ornament, I don't think it's something I'll pick up for a bit and never touch again.   And one of the great things about the year-long spending ban is that I saved up so much of my allowance that the money is there for the things that I really do want to do.  These are so cute and I might have had trouble staying focused on the things I need to get done, except that, having checked all other sources first, I ordered paints from Joanns because I could add some bias tape for those quilted ornaments and some variegated thread for the rope bowls, and it's almost a full week later and my order is still "processing."  That's fine--if I had tried to go to the actual store, I'd probably have spent a full week waiting in line for their cashiers anyway.  Today is wrapping and packaging gifts, then maybe the holiday letter, and by the time I get all of THAT done, Joanns will have seen fit to actually ship my order.  Or maybe it will be a surprise for New Year's.......

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And After The Party, The Gifts

Surprisingly, my back was fine yesterday even though it was hurting by the end of the party, so I got to spend some time working on the 3 (I think) remaining Christmas gifts. 

With my trusty sidekick almost with me,
I dug (not an exaggeration)  out a spot on the cutting table in order to have room to cut out a new bag, when I remembered
the canvas bags I'd bought YEARS ago before I realized that one wouldn't actually be able to embroider on bags already made.  One CAN, however,
embroider them after ripping out a seam.  These have webbing for the handles, which is probably stronger than fabric and yet another thing I forgot to get, so I'm hoping it's a bit stronger than the ones I make.  I have an idea for a modified sashiko design for bags that I've been mulling over, but that is going to have to wait until the gifts and holiday letter are done. 

While Jeeves was busy embroidering,
I dug out fleece football pillows.  I had cut these out last year when I made 3 of them for a political fundraiser (of which I don't seem to have any pictures), thinking I'd finish them later in the year for gifts.  But after turning our lives upside-down for my parents during my dad's illness last fall, I had done so much damage to my back that it was worse in some ways than it had been the year before, and there's no way I could have done any sewing for last Christmas.  Luckily, I still knew where they were and they'll be great gifts for this year.

Have you ever made a project once, then gone back to do it the exact same way and had it NOT work?
I suppose by now I shouldn't be surprised by this because the Crafting Gods are evil bastards, but really, once you've made THREE of something, it really shouldn't be possible for numbers 4 and 5 to stump you.  This should be a Universal Crafting Law, don't you think?

I got them laid out and embroidered with no problems whatsoever, sewed the first two pieces together, marked for the laces..............and hit a wall.

Now I even know how I put the laces on.   I used ribbon, threaded it into a large needle, and poked the end through the fleece.  For all three pillows.  Two needles and much swearing later, I had finally gotten ONE lace in place.  Out of five.  Either I used some form of needle that I no longer own or I have about 1/3 of the muscles I had last year, but I just could NOT get it to work.  Finally I decided to just fold over the ends and stitch them down, but this isn't quite as easy as it sounds, because the surface will be curved, not flat, so if the laces were stitched, they had to be stitched while CURVED. 

Now if we were televised-sport people, we might own something that is shaped like a football--like even a real football.  But, being the odd sort who think that sports are something people DO rather than WATCH, we own things like tennis rackets, in-line skates, kayaks, and skis, none of which are helpful in these moments.  Luckily,
I did have an oatmeal container in the sewing room (long story).  It's not perfect, but I could pin the ribbon to it while putting them in place because glue didn't work that well.   Which is why
after a day mostly spent crafting, I am showing you ONE finished gift, not three.  I'm steeling myself to tackle the second one today.  Thank heavens are only two of them!  Sewing is supposed to be my FAST hobby................

Monday, December 9, 2013

We Had A Party!!!!!!!!

Finally! We were able to have an actual party!  I've had a Christmas party almost every year for the last 20+ years, so going two full years without a party was really strange.  And we rejoined the human race in style,
albeit a really ugly style. Andy wasn't the only one sporting lights--our contest winner
had both lights AND a singing hat, and is seen here trying (quite unsuccessfully) to get everyone gathered for a group photo.  It was hard enough to get people for individual shots--there was no stopping the party for a group shot. 

We had some wonderfully creative sweaters,
front AND back:
and I'd love to show you pictures of all the fun stuff, but even taking shifts with the camera didn't capture all the creativity.  But we did have a MARVELOUS time!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

One Day At A Time...............

Yesterday was a bad back day again, which is REALLY frustrating as I thought I was being really good this week AND it meant missing a Christmas party last night.  It turns out that there are lots of things that can cause my back to freak out while I'm trying to heal, including changes in the weather.  I won't know for about a year if the weather problem is permanent or not, but for right now, it is possible that snow combined with a zippy 4 degrees can throw my back for a loop.  Fair enough--the rest of me doesn't care for that kind of cold either. 

So today while getting ready for our party, I am taking regular breaks to sit on my new massage cushion.  The therapist told me that when muscles knot, one essentially has to re-injure them to get them to relax.  Fortunately or unfortunately, my new back massager believes in this program as well.  The packaging calls it "Shiatsu action," which sounds much more friendly than "back pulverization with heat," but it does work.  I think it's the same principal as those mallets for tenderizing meat, but I try not to thing about that too much...............

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Ugly Sweater Party Is Coming!!!

The last party we had was about two years ago now.  I had already sent out invitations for a Christmas party, and luckily had made it a "Share your traditions" party where everyone was to bring the food that was most traditional for them for Christmas, before landing in the hospital with my back.  So, we went ahead with the party with me drugged heavily and my friends had decorated the house for me and all the food came with the guests.  But since then with all the back issues, we haven't had a party since, which is my longest dry spell EVER.  So this Sunday we are hosting an Ugly Sweater party, which explains the lack of blogging.  The decorating is almost done,
including the swags which I was thinking might be the hardest on my back.  We got some shorter light strings, however, and this took about 15 minutes and didn't hurt at all.  YAY!

I did have one bad day this week, so I spent it making my Ugly Christmas Sweater,
since I have never owned a Christmas sweater.  It took us a few tries at thrift stores (charity shops) to find sweaters to decorate because I didn't want to do anything to a nice sweater, but this one
had a big pucker right in front out of carelessness, and funnily enough was THE only sweater I found that was actually made in the USA.  There are prizes for the top 3 ugly sweaters, though Andy and I as hosts are ineligible, and knowing my friends my sweater is likely to be among the least tacky.  Top prize is likely to be a jar of carrot salsa, so competition is fierce. 

I have gotten a little crafting done, including
a Christmas ornament for the newly engaged couple, which I mailed off yesterday, and
 two new ornaments for the Holiday Music Stash-Dash, as well as
another color work ornament started.  I have 3 Christmas gifts left to make, but we have a party to go to Saturday night, our party to get ready for on Sunday, and a strong chance I might have to spend Monday on the heating pad, so that sounds like Tuesday's project.  Or one of them, at any rate........

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How Is It December Already??????

It's December 1.  Our Ugly Sweater Christmas party is a week from TODAY.  What happened???????????

Hope everyone had as much fun as we did on Thanksgiving.  I got to go somewhere!!!!  The last 2 Thanksgivings I have spent in bed drugged to the gills, so I would have been pleased with anything, but we had THE most delightful time with our friends and everyone had a lovely time, so it really was a great day. 

And, instead of the Black Friday greed stampede (which in all honesty I have even been tempted to participate in), I worked on gifts
 including a new approach for a bowl.  The bowl started the whole idea, as after working on the base Thanksgiving morning before retiring to the kitchen to make stuffing, I came back Thanksgiving night to find the base curling upwards.  Or downwards--it was pretty flexible on that part, it just didn't want to lay flat.  So, if you can't beat them, join them.
Usually I use the sewing machine side as a guide for doing the sides of the bowl, so it was a bit of a learning curve to try to just hold it at the right angle.  It was definitely a learning experience--and perhaps my first Learning Opportunity  in crafting that didn't involve swearing.  I even
 feel really good about my finish,
which might be my smoothest one yet.  A Learning Opportunity that I'm pleased with.  Hm...............

Lulled into a false sense of security by the Crafting Gods, I decided to drag these back out:
Anyone even remember these?  I've actually kept them at the ironing board so I could make a few triangles whenever I've been ironing something, so they aren't quite as neglected as one might think. And I thought it would be fun to be able to suddenly announce THREE finished WIPs.  And I'll bet it would have been fun. Unfortunately, there was a little bit of a hiccup.
Now as you might be able to see, I paid 50 cents for this book a few years ago, and even in used books, one can often get their money's worth.  For a whole dollar, I might have gotten an explanation of how the author cut her ornaments into circles.  Or an explanation of why the picture on the cover CLEARLY shows ornaments finished with binding, while the instructions say to use piping and to attempt to sew these with right sides together even though the front will be insanely stiff because of all the triangles now attached to it, 
or that will be peeling OFF of it after attempting this lovely sewing feat. 
I think Theo was a bit shocked at my description of the author's parentage, personal hygiene habits, and mental condition.  He's obviously forgotten the Ribbed Yoke Pullover incident........

Luckily, I had chosen to start with one of the first pieces I did,
which (like this one) was done on a piece of fabric not quite as small as it was supposed to be.  I'm hoping to be able to get the first one salvaged and finished normally--if it survives me ripping out the stitching, and I'm just going to take this one apart and start over on something that's the right size.  And, in case you were wondering, putting them together with webbing tape doesn't hold them together nearly as tightly as one would have thought.

One is actually the right size,
and as soon as I figure out what to use for binding, I'm thinking a green felt back would be kind of fun--if I can have fun with these ornaments by now.  Had I realized that I might want matching binding, I could have saved one of the fat quarters in the nice little Christmas pack for binding.  Wouldn't that have looked nice? I don't know why I keep taking instructions at face value.  You'd think I'd be catching on to this by now--especially considering all the time I've spent with a seam ripper. But then again, if I ever DID catch on, I'd probably stop trying new patterns, so I guess being a REALLY slow learner is okay in some situations........

the big tree is up and is looking pretty good so far.  It's not 100% handmade ornaments, and I really hadn't intended for one tree to primarily be the "homemade" tree, but I was so excited to see them on a tree and I haven't put the smaller one up yet, so I guess this is the mostly hand made tree.  I've been adding the ornaments our friends and relatives have made as well, so that makes it even more fun.  And if I ever get that quilted ornament figured out, the back of this baby needs some ornaments as well.........