Sunday 28 December 2008

Christmas Pictures

Christmas celebration is over, last bits of the traditional casseroles finished today for lunch and we are getting ready for normal life again. The tree will stay until 6th of January, and I will slowly start packing the decorations away then. But meanwhile, let's enjoy this holiday season!

This is the most beautiful Christmas tree we have had in ages. It is placed in a new corner, behind the big dining table. We only needed 4-5 seats this Christmas, so the two chairs could remain unusable between the tree and the table.

Rudolf with his angel friend are permanent occupants of that step, and now they are enjoying the scent of forest every time someone passes the tree.

A beautiful white amaryllis from DS1 and his girlfriend. You can see through the window that we have some snow, too. Yesterday was the first sunny day in about one month, and today it is colder than for a long time: -8 C or 17 F.

We had some British ingredients in our Christmas this year. DD Kaija was in London earlier this month and she met our friend Karen there and brought me a whole bag full of presents from her. In addition to her hand made beauties she sent us Christmas crackers and Mince pies. The pies were delicious and equally hot as our domestic prune marmalade pastries. Luckily we had an educational Christmas episode of the British "Born and Bred" series on TV just before Christmas so we knew what to do with the crackers! We even managed to make some of them crack with a loud bang. Some of the Questions and Answers were beyond our level, but this one I remember: Q: Who is the most famous married woman in America? A: Mrs Sippi.

This time between Christmas and New Year is a lovely time to enjoy the Christmas presents, read the books, eat the chocolates. Very little determination and energy for blogging, just some careful planning of new things in the new year. I hope you all can have some easy time with your family. Thank you for visiting my blog, thank you for all the comments.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

It's almost Christmas!

This is what Christmas really is about, isn't it? I took my role as Virgin Mary very seriously, when I was ten.

Surrounded by the angels, all the other girls who could sing, I was happy for my silent role.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday 19 December 2008

Shopping day

On Thursday I went for a short shopping tour to Helsinki on my own. I found almost all I needed, and a glimpse of sweet things I remember from years back. This is one of the shopping streets, Aleksanterinkatu, with the traditional lights and A letters. Even the Salvation Army's pot belongs right there, in front of the Stockmann department store.

This is a new tradition, a Christmas market Tuomaan markkinat in the Esplanade park.

The statue of J L Runeberg, a famous Finnish poet.

Onse again, himmeli and other straw decorations.

The Finnish elves are called tonttu and they look like this:

Every year since my early childhood I have seen the Christmas window of the Stockmann department store. There was one in Tampere too, where I grew up. The decoration was different every year, but always with lots and lots of details and moving figures. This time there were children ice skating with a snowman, and small forest animals preparing for Christmas.

The snowman was making circles.

There is always a platform for the little ones so they can get closer and see all the details.

The mice were having a cosy time in their house under the snow.

From the other window you could see the hare family. They had their little Christmas tree in front of the house.

I wasn't the only grown-up remembering the windows from years back. Many mothers told their little ones what kind of windows they remembered from their childhood.

And now back to crafty business. I have been stitching along with Mikes, and now I have finished the Christmas stockings. The snowman figure is my own drawing, and the elf is a combination of Pip's two patterns - I wanted the owl and little bird to go with the boy elf.

I added a Christmas babric to the top edge to make the stocking longer. When I was filling it, I realized that less would have been better!

Here I started cutting along the stitching line so the snowman is a little further from the heel than I meant him to be. Both stockings will go to Turku with my daughter Kaija, who is at the moment visiting us for the weekend.

This was all for today. I hope you are not too stressed with your preparations. Take it easy!

Thursday 18 December 2008

Vintage Thingies 12

This is the last Vintage Thingies Thursday for me this year: Next week it is Christmas Day on Thursday and the week after that it will be New Year's Day already. Coloradolady is hosting again, and there are many links on the list to visit.

The first thing I'm going to show is a genuine Swedish Angel Chimes set I bought in 1973 for my first Christmas I didn't live with my parents any longer. I remember this from my Grandmother's home, so it must be a traditional decoration. I have kept the box as well.

When the candles heat the air, the fan will start turning and the angel go round and round, and the chimes will jingle.

Remember the happy reunion of my table brush and dustpan, and how I hoped to find the kettle for the copper lid I had in my cupboard? Well, several weeks ago I found the kettle in my own cellar. I had kept some dry flowers in it, naturally without lid, and so they got separated. Now they are together again:

The kettle is specially designed for cooking porridge or other meals taking long to cook. To avoid burning in the bottom, there is water boiling in the outer kettle and the food is cooking in the inner one. Pardon my kitchen terminology, these expressions are not easily found in a dictionary!

Finally I want to show something my Sister P sent me with her Christmas card:

She had found it in the church thrift store and for the astonishing price of 10 c she rescued it for me to keep. I think it may have been used as a collar for a lady's dress. It hurts to see that someone's work of several hours has ended up being donated from the family and valued for only 10 c. My luck this time.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

More awards and lovely gifts

Here are three new awards I received yesterday from my blogging friend Suzie, the Little Busy Bee:

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these kind writers. When you pass the award along please include these guidelines. You are to choose eight friends to share this with.

It makes me feel warm inside to see that two of my friends in the virtual world have given me these awards within a few days. Thank you Suzie! Because I already gave further the Christmas Spirit award from Melanie in my previous post, I will not name any recipients this time. If your blog is in my right sidebar (it is a long one!) and you consider yourself a Christmas enthusiast, you can grab the awards and spread them to your friends in the blog world. The rules of the Christmas Spirit Award are here.

Suzie did not only give me the awards. Today I received a box full of gifts from her:

Chocolates, wine gum, and a star decoration with a touching poem in German. A sweet little teddybear softie came to sight. Opening the wrappings showed Lebkuchen gingerbread and other biscuits. Goodbye waistline! I was reading an Elle magazine in a waiting room on Monday, and they had good advice how to hide any problems with your figure, and what to do to make the problems disappear. Non-existing waistline was one of the problems one might have. I had to laugh, because I had every single one of the problems, and I could give up sewing, blogging, cleaning and cooking in order to have time for the suggested programs. The magazine was clearly not for my age group!!! I can solve the figure problems in no time by choosing long trousers with elastic waistband and a loose sweater. And I can have the chocolates! (And keep on sewing, blogging, cleaning and cooking.)

There was also this perfectly sewn, beautiful star. It is now hanging above a door where everybody can see it.

Suzie had also sewn me this lovely notebook cover, with a to do-list printed on the fabric! There is a standard size notebook inside, and when I have filled it with my notes I can buy a new one and use the cover again. Thank you dear Suzie for these inspiring gifts!

Finally I want to show you that I have not started a figure improvement program but spent my time in a useful way. Remember the little paper-pieced quilts from the other day? They ended up looking like this:

I'm so proud of my bindings nowadays! I found this tutorial by Stephanie through Eileen's blog, and ever since I have been sewing bindings easily without a problem, with nice corners and no bulk where the ends meet. It's worth trying!

Saturday 13 December 2008

Christmas Spirit

I was having a nice Christmas spirit earlier this week, when we had snow:

Now it is almost gone again (the snow, not the spirit!), but I still hope we will have a white Christmas, like we ought to have. Being busy belongs to this time of the year, and to ensure this, I have joined in this:

Pip from Meet me at Mikes has drawn a Christmas stocking stitching pattern and I'm also stitching a-l-o-n-g .

My friend Melanie has given me this beautiful award:

And here are the rules:

You must be a true Christmas lover to receive this award.

The person to whom you give the award must also be in love with Christmas.

You must link back to the person who gave you the award.
You must list 5 things that you love about Christmas.

If you can't limit it to 5 things, then keep going till you run out of space!
Pass the award along to as many people as you like. That can be 1 or 45; it's up to you. But, you must pass it on to at least one person in order to keep the Christmas cheer going!
Let your recipients know that you have tagged them by leaving them a comment.

Well, here are my 5 things I love about Christmas:

1. Making presents for as many people as I can
2. All the smells of baking and cooking
3. Decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve
4. Candles
5. Family
I will give this award to my friend Eileen. She has also received it from Melanie at the same time as I did, but I think I have the right to agree with Melanie here! The award also goes to the other side of the globe to Pip, whose blog has been showing lovely vintage Christmas pictures.

Thursday 11 December 2008

Vintage Christmas Thingies (11)

The time flies in December. Thursday again and time to show our vintage thingies with Coloradolady Suzanne. There are many others participating this week, go and find the links to all blogs here. I have been showing my oldest things here and many of them are rather antique than vintage. Then I noticed that I'm old enought to have made some vintage things myself. Take these crocheted hearts for example: they are from the seventies. Last century. I crocheted these for my very first own Christmas tree in 1973, together with some white snowflakes.

These birds called Karjalan käki, cuckoo of Carelia, are not that old, but the pattern is traditional. My parents made one of these to each of their children and grandchildren in 1990. They are all a little different, but my mother has written the names on all the birds so these three belong to the three of us still living here. I'm making a box for both of my elder children who now have their own homes, and in these boxes I will put their own Christmas ornaments they have been given since they were babies.

This is one of them, an angel my daughter Kaija got from my mother when she was 6. My mother had it from a school friend in the 20's. It used to be on the Christmas tree in our family when I was young. The angel is about 15 cm or 6 inches high.

This last item is a true treasure. I have been taking care of it for 24 years now, an it is time to hand it over to Kaija, who will be celebrating Christmas at her own home for the first time. She received this glass bulb from my mother at her first Christmas in 1984. It came in this box, padded with two lace-edged handkerchiefs from my great-aunt S, and a letter telling little Baby Kaija that the bulb is one of the original bulbs from my mother's childhood Christmas trees. It means the bulb is at least 92 years old this Christmas. It has always been my priviledge and duty to hang the cherished ornament in the tree; with shaky hands and careful not to break the fragile glass.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Charlie is back!

Remember the story of our three orphan squirrels? Finally, a couple of days ago I succeeded taking a (blurry) picture of Charlie the Survivor. This is taken through my kitchen window, the only way not to frighten him off. He is sitting under the bird feed box eating the seeds I dropped on the ground when I filled the box. The birds have not yet found the seeds, maybe because it is not very cold yet and they can find their food in the nature as long as there is no snow.

I have been a good girl these days, sewing all kinds of Christmas things, some for the shop in Villa Cooper and some for gifts. Little trees with cinnamon stick trunks and some spice for a good smell:

Today's sewings, paper-piecing patterns I drew this morning, waiting to be sandwiched, quilted and bound. Santa needs some makeup!

A new set of magic cubes. This time I made a mistake and had to rip off two long pieces before it was OK. I used to sew these by machine but it was difficult with all the turning in small scale.

I don't like cats but the cat fabric goes well with the little girl's cat.

Today it snowed a little, making the world a lighter place to live in. Our day is about six hours long now from sunrise to sunset, and still getting shorter. No wonder candles belong to this season, bringing light and warmth to our life.

Friday 5 December 2008

The postman is busy

Yesterday I opened the first box of Christmas decorations. These three little angels came to stand on the fireplace edge. I don't know if this can be called a mantelpiece, as there is no wooden shelf (like I dream of having). I made the angels many years ago.

Last night was also the last sewing group meeting. We gave our teacher an Amaryllis, and I made this gift bag for it using Suzie's tutorial:

The buds will be open before Christmas!

I did some opening before Christmas, too. Yesterday I reaceived a heavy parcel from Melanie. She is such a sweet friend and seems to have endless energy. Inspired by my vintage copper things she had found this set of three small copper pans for me.

Have a closer look at the little basket filled with sweets:

Three Santas with the lovely gifts and Christmas trees with stars on top like we have up here. Thank you so much, Melanie!

Today my good luck continued. I had mail from USA, my Secret Stitching Angel Swap partner Marie sent me the swap gift together with a giveaway gift I won at her blog:

A quilting magazine, thimble brooch, snowman and snowflake buttons, dark chocolate (yumm...), embroidered towels ...

and the swap pincushion big enough to hold long quilting pins safely. Thank you, Marie!
This is a wonderful time of the year! We remember our friends near and far, and even if we don't keep contact all the time, at Christmas we send cards and updates and letters ... and even gifts to people who are important for us. I really like making and sending cards and little presents, and receiving them is at least as much fun. OK, I admit, it is even more fun, and many times also fattening. Which is often the same thing.