When I dragged out my Christmas stuff after all these years, I came across Bowser Holly, a delightful part of the Christmas decorations.
Of course I originally bought him (I can tell it’s a boy by the voice) because he reminded me of Miss P and I would tease her with him. And after I found a small Phillips head screwdriver, replaced the batteries and removed the corrosion, he started to sing again. He sings and barks his way through “Deck the Halls” in a very engaging version.
This is my other singing battery operated Christmas decoration/toy that I got two years ago. I include him in Christmas just because he is a reindeer wearing a scarf. He sings “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”, not a very seasonal tune. But he is cute and he claps his hands and raises his ears, and is generally adorable.
The Three Stooges are not part of Christmas, but they do have batteries so I’m including them in this post. These were sold as “dog toys”, although they are quickly demolished by any competent dog. (I sent a set to my fellow Stooge fan and brother. His dog took an instant dislike to Larry and killed him at the first opportunity). They don’t have any moving parts, but when squeezed they feature voices of the actors.
Dear Rex is the senior among these battery operated marvels. I probably bought him in 1985, and he has gotten a little arthritic over the years. But his eyes still glow and his jaws still move. He is the king of the collection. He is somewhat modeled on Godzilla, and as I recently argued on Facebook, Godzilla is part of Christmas too (at least if you live in Japan, where he is part of every holiday).
After four years of not having a tree, a faraway friend inspired me to put one up again (you know, that tradition thing). Back when we had a rambunctious dog. I had decided on getting a small artificial tree (yes I decided on artificial because I don’t like to kill things) that I put on a table. It can’t be knocked over by a careless tail, and I use all my favorite ornaments, with no plain glass balls allowed. This collection started small and has been added to over the years. When we used to travel to scientific conventions, L’s wife and I would always end up at a Christmas store, and some of these ornaments were purchased then. Many of the others were bought at the after-Christmas sales because I hate to pay full retail price for anything.
These African beaded ornaments were purchased in San Antonio, near the Alamo.
The lion came from San Francisco, I don’t remember about the dog.
Every tree needs some birds flying around it, and what says “Christmas” as much as a parrot. (You could really teach a parrot to say this).
The lizard was made in Africa and I can’t remember if M bought it there or if I got it from somewhere in the US. I think the poison dart frog was purchased in Denver and the rest I got in town somewhere.
What is it about me and frogs? This isn’t even all of my frog ornaments. I guess I like frogs because they are funny and cheerful.
I don’t know about the mouse jester, but the humahumanukunukuapua’a was definitely bought in Hawai’i.
St. Nicholas belongs to the season, but I’m not so sure about the gargoyle, giraffe or Northern Pike. (Yes, they are part of Christmas too!)
But of all my ornaments, these are perhaps my very favorites. Small plastic dinosaurs with adorable faces, and just the right touch of holiday spirit. I have had these for about 30 years, and I purchased them right here in town.
Since it is almost Christmas I decided to go ahead and start my cooking. It’s tradition and you can’t mess with tradition. This recipe was printed in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a newspaper that was published from 1852 to 1986. I’m guessing that this recipe is from 1976 or 77. Mom saw it, clipped it out of the paper, and made it for Christmas one of those years. I thought it was delicious, and as it is a tiny recipe I promptly lost it. But the food editor of the paper kindly looked it up and sent me this copy, and I have taken more care with this copy.
I have made this every year since then, and it’s one of the things that I only make at Christmas time. I would make this for me and make German hazelnut cookies for M. His recipe was translated from German and started out “make a mountain of flour and mine a pit in the center” [those Germans do have a way with words ;-).]
Anyway, it doesn’t look like much, I supposed I could fancy it up but I am quite lazy. It tastes delicious and carries the taste of Christmas in my mind. The recipe claims to make 12 servings, but I have never found this to be the case (it’s between 4 and 8).
And it is the perfect thing to enjoy on a gloomy winter’s day.
Another somewhat weird tradition is the buying and wearing of Christmas pins. My paternal grandmother loved to wear these, and so she would get one for Mom and sometimes me as well. (I looked in my jewelry box, but I don’t still have any of these, I was too hip to wear these as a young woman).
This is a horrible picture I took with my new from this century phone that I don’t know how to use. My friend said that it was her mother’s, so it is probably 40 years old or so. They used to cost about a dollar, and there would be big displays of these in the shops. They were sold in a little box, sitting on cotton wool so one could give them as gifts.
I always liked the more unusual sort of pin, and these were purchased at Christmas time. I have another one of the lobster pins (somewhere), and I have the frog as a plastic toy as well as in this metal pin. I have had these for years and still occasionally wear them.
This one is new and not really gaudy enough to be a Christmas pin.
Another frog pin, are we sensing a theme here?
This is my current favorite and I have been wearing it a lot lately. It’s so cheerful and not a bit Christmassy.
But this is the best holiday thing to wear (not a pin). It’s actually intended as a Christmas ornament, but I put it on a bit of cord and wear it as a necklace. The dog in the picture is my previous dog (Chow and Golden Retriever), so this necklace is probably at least 15 years old. Whenever I wear this, people will stop me and ask where they can get one just like it (all one needs a time machine to purchase this).
When I was just a kid, I always seemed to get socks and underwear for a Christmas present. As these are rather utilitarian and mundane objects, it did not seem like it was much of a present to receive. And then there was the pressure of getting days-of-the week underwear, what if you were wearing the wrong day? But now that I am old, these things don’t have the same meanings. Socks and gloves are what one buys when it snows or the weather turns cold, undies whenever the old ones get ratty. I have been learning to knit socks, a complicated process and somewhat useless skill.
These were the first socks I knitted, and since they are not perfect, I made them for myself.
Once I knew a bit of what I was doing, I made these for my brother, as a present, but not a Christmas present. Then his wife told me that he loves socks, so she is wrapping them up and putting them under the tree.
I made these ones for her, and she told me that she had gotten socks and underwear for Christmas as a child too. But she actually liked getting them, so I suspect she may wrap them up for herself.
So here’s a pair in process, they are knit on five knitting needles and it is a bit like wrestling an octopus. But eventually the beast is tamed and a sock emerges. As you can see in the photos, the yarn one uses makes a big difference, these are all self-striping yarns. It would be incredibly boring to knit with a single color: not to say that it is not boring to use these 😉 .
And these are the competition, ready-made socks. These are knit in an incredibly complicated pattern and cost $7 at the store. The yarn I use in hand knit socks costs more than that. But, hand knit socks are a labor of love, and perhaps that counts for something!
And then again there is the dissenting opinion.
Well it’s not anything I’m making, I remain quite short on inspiration, but I do buy the occasional bit of art to put on my walls. And as it is that time of year with craft shows there has been the opportunity to add a few things to my walls (although I admit that none of these has been framed or put up yet).
This came from the same Japanese festival as the obi in the living room. It is a 3 dimensional fabric piece made using old kimono fabric. I don’t really have a need for it, but I loved how darn cute it was. And you know how I love textiles.
I saw this photo at a craft fair at the college this past weekend. I was in a crabby mood and did not want to buy anything, I just walked around for a while, feeling crabby. But I kept thinking about this fox, so I had to go back the next day and buy it. I have bought art from the photographer before. She is an older woman (that means she is older than me 😉 which makes her ancient) and she takes amazing wildlife pictures.
Here’s another look at little boy, her backyard fox. He has quite soulful eyes, he was much more interesting than the other fox she photographed. (I used to have a little fox that lived up the hill, but he disappeared one day 🙁 so now we are over-run with rabbits).
I liked this photo of two Sandhill cranes.They are perfectly lined up so it looks like a three winged bird at first glance.
This tiny piece of art is a refrigerator magnet. A friend gave them out at a party and I like the sentiment. And unlike the other bits of art, this one is hanging ;-).
I’m completely out of inspiration, so here are some pictures of old art that hangs in my living room.
I still like this piece and the jungle fabric that I used in it. It sits behind a burgundy wing chair which is the perfect place for it.
This piece was made for a show, the theme was “Jazz”, so I did some improvisational piecing in it. Then I quilted it in a riff on traditional quilting. It doesn’t show in the photo, but the black fabric is iridescent, and the quilting is done with different colors of shiny thread. I did win 1st place in Professional Quilting sponsored by my quilting machine company and this quilt hung in their booth at the giant quilt festival in Houston. It was the third quilt in a series based on this same idea.
This is an ancient piece, it was probably the 6th or 7th quilt I ever made. I was just showing off my technique.
I think I made this quilt in about 1985. Back then it was hard to find all the different solid color cotton fabrics, and as it has aged the fabrics are fading at a differential rate. I think this has made it more interesting.
This one is obviously not made by me, and it is the newest thing (sort of) in the room. It is a vintage obi and I bought it back in October at the annual Japanese festival. I thought it would just fit a narrow space and look good hanging there. I guess all of this shows how much I love textiles.