Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ho Ho Ho Countdown

I swore off handmade Christmas presents a number of years ago, but now we've got babies in the family and I can't resist. Believe it or not, this is a hat drying on our sugar canister. When it's dry I'll attach the tassel on top. The hat was much harder than it looked in the picture.
I'm a late starter on this present, but neither one gets delivered until New Years when Ian and I got to SoCal to celebrate the holiday with his family. I know I can get this cardi done in time, but I need to make an athletic patch to attach. That's the part that worries me.

I started a handmade Christmas from the year I was married. We lived in Pensacola Florida on Mike's corporal's pay and we were broke. I saw a Sunset magazine article where you could form thin rolls of cookie dough into the shapes of ornaments, a faux lead glass technique. You baked the dough briefly on a cookie sheet, cracked hard candies into the spaces and returned it to the oven to finish baking the dough and melt the candy into a glass-like sheet. When finished, I hung my beautiful ornaments on the tree, where the lights slowly melted the candy onto our few presents and the floor.

I continued to make handmade presents for everyone later when Mike was a student and we had no money. I remember the look on my father-in-law's face when he opened his present to find a special macrame wine bottle. Those were the materials I owned. I know he loved me because it was still around years later.
I took this picture earlier this week as I was working on my warp. I love being right here and stealing from Melissa, I'm calling it a loom with a view.
I finished up the last load of laundry and rousted Charlie from his favorite place in the sun. I got it tied on and hemstitched this morning. If I only use the leftover fabric strips, I might get it done by Christmas Eve.
It looks like a fabric bomb went off. I have strips and fabrics strewn around. I have a lot of strips cut from earlier projects so I've tried to spread the strips into intensity and hues. Other than that, there's no plan or forethought. I'm a quarter of the way done but have to be in town tomorrow. I'm not ruling out a new rug for our Christmas Eve open house - yet.
We keep our tree up a full month and I spend time looking at it every day. The chili pepper reminds me of Carol and Harry- from our shared CSA basket. The Campbell kids ornament to the right is from the Sorrentinos, the amazing couple who adopted my pregnant 15-year-old daughter's baby 25 years ago and came into our lives three years ago. The orange glass pumpkin is from Amy, a sneak buy from her on our vacation trip near Santa Cruz and the needlepoint ornament next to it was one of the last my mother-in-law was able to do.
I could take you on a tour, any quadrant of the tree. I see here the crocheted snowflake from my mother, who passed away 11 years ago. There's a little golden rooster lurking just to the right of it from Laura. This is what I do with the tree throughout this month. It's the richest tree around - rich in memories. I completely understand how this time of year is hard on people who have suffered loss.

And so, yesterday I cooked my first leg of lamb, with much help from Ian, the retired butcher. It was beyond fabulous. Tonight we had lamb pie. It was beyond fabulous. I chilled the Crisco before making the crust. I read about that in Cook's Illustrated. I nearly fainted, it was so flaky. It was beyond fabulous, or did I say that already?


LA said...

Aren't you glad you kept all those ornaments that tell such special stories???? I love mine, and they make each year so precious.

Annie said...

I love your tree full of memories!

Theresa said...

Fabulous! Every single word and thought of that post.
Have a wonderful Christmas, making more memories
for that tree next year. :)
Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours!

Maggie said...

Lamb pie! Mmmmm... Using ice water and a squeeze of lemon juice helps pie dough, too. But that Christopher Kimball knows everything!

Valerie said...

Love that first hat! Great colors.

Heard Chris Kimball on NPR a few weeks ago and he was recommending using vodka in pie crust so it wouldn't be so wet. They also have a very thick cookbook out for the holidays. Costco has it at 40% off....I looked through it and passed on it. Though I like to read their thinking on cooking techniques, I seldom use their recipes....too many ingredients, too many steps. and too little attention to "healthy".

Merry Christmas!!

Benita said...

It looks like Charlies wants to weave.

That pie does look fantastic. Ummm... Lamb pie... Sounds wonderful.

Leigh said...

I'm so glad the lamb turned out so well! And the pie truly looks fabulous. I liked hearing about your handmade Christmases. I've had some handmade in the past, some not. I'll never forget the year I gave my dad a boughten present and he informed me that he preferred handmade! This year, he and my step mom got the fruits of my garden labors.

Nina said...

I love the stories of your ornaments. We have many with stories as well, which make the tree all that more wonderful. The pie looks yummy. Thanks for the tip on pastry. I make a good pastry, but you can never go wrong with making it better!

Life Looms Large said...

I'm with you on swearing off knitted gifts with deadlines!! (Although I am working on a hat that I'd still love to finish by Sunday!)

That lamb pie looks so yummy!! I use that same crust recipe. I used to have pie crust fail constantly, but now I can confidently make pie crust. Yay!

Hope you have a wonderful holiday!!! Merry Christmas!


Robin said...

Merry Christmas, Sharon!