Victoria Bryant: December 2008 Archives
When I first married many years ago, my husband and I were assigned to Nicaragua in Central America. I was young so it was very exciting. The country was beautiful and the weather was very mild. As it approached the holidays, I began missing the cold weather, Christmas trees, shopping, the hustle and bustle of the holidays. In ohter words, I was homesick. It is very difficult to decorate a palm tree! I thought long and hard about how I could create my own special holiday without a lot of the things I would usually use. One of things I missed was the smell of cinnamon. I decided to make my house smell like Christmas even if it would not look like a traditional American Christmas. Here is my recipe for a simmering potpourri.
1 bay leaf
3 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup whole cloves
Cut the lemon and orange into pieces and place in a saucepan. Cover with a generous amount of water. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Check water occasionally and replace water as needed. In no time, your house will smell like Christmas even if you are on the equator!
I have persuaded our own Robin Montgomery in Customer Service to share her instructions for her wine bottle wrappers. It is good to have someone share their ideas with us.
Here is a picture of Robin's wraps:
1/2 yard of fabric
Cut 2 pieces of fabric that measure 18'' wide x 16'' tall. If your bottle is larger or smaller, just measure the bottle and cut 2 pieces of fabric to the measurement of your bottle, allowing 1-2 inches for hem.
Cut 1 piece of fabric 2 1/2 inches x 13 inches long. Fold in half on the long side, right sides together, Stitch a 1/4 inch seam and turn to the right side. Press. Stitch ends. Fold fabric in half. When you stitch the body of the bag together insert the folded fabric tie about 1- 1 1/2 inches from the top. The folded edge will be caught in the seam. You will never lose your tie.
Do a double rolled hem on one of the 18 inch wide sides of the main fabric.
I like to finish all of my seams, so I do enclosed or French seams on my bags. To do this, fold the fabric in half with the hemmed edge being the top of the bag. Fold the fabric so that it is wrong sides together and do a ¼ inch seam. Turn bag inside out. Right sides will be together. Sew 1/4 seam along the same seam. This is where your tie is inserted. Turn right side out and you will not have any unfinished seams. This will make one unlined bag.
I love the way the tie is sewn into the seam of the wrap, so when you insert your bottle or jar the tie can be tied around the neck of the bottle.You will never lose the tie.
I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did. Thank you, Robin.
It is the 2nd day of our 12 days of Christmas. There will be no turtle doves, but two Christmas stockings. This can be a very enjoyable time to work with children to create their own special memories of Christmas.
My seven-year old consultant, Jade, and I selected the Christmas stocking kit to make. This kit contains two premade stockings- one is red and the other is winter white. These are excellent quality felt stockings. Included in the kit are colorful ribbons in gingham and polka dots, cotton ball fringe, beads and sequins, patterns, and six rectangles of felt in two each of white, red and green. This is all packaged in a vintage inspired reusable container. The patterns include a Christmas tree, two snowflakes, two different sized stars, berries and a simple poinsettia. I chose a quiet Sunday afternoon to begin this project.
Walt Disney was a brilliant man. He made his movies to run no longer than 90 minutes. His reasoning was that children's attention span is only 90 minutes. The younger the child, the fewer minutes should be allowed. Working with children can be fun if you follow the tips:
1. Plan on 1- 1.5 hours for the project.
2. Select an area that easy to clean up. There will be a mess. Do not work in a carpeted area. It is much easier to clean a linoleum floor.
3. Precut the patterns and cut the shapes out of the felt. I used the snowflakes and it took awhile to cut out the shapes. These were intricate, but well worth the effort. The other patterns are much simpler. Cutting the fabric would probably be best for ages 12 and above.
4. Turn off the TV. Play soft music or Christmas music. We had a great time talking about what was going on in each of our lives and deciding how to design our stockings.
5. Glue is not included in the kit. I tried several and selected Elmer's craft glue. It dries clear and is easy to clean up. It also worked well to adhere the felt patterns and sequins/beads to the stocking. It also allows a little "wiggle" room before the glue sets up if you want to make a change. Fabri-tac is good but is much more difficult to work with and sets up very fast.
6. Provide some guidance to children about placement of materials, but do not dictate everything. This is their stocking. So what if their name or letters are off-centered and lop-sided. There is joy in the fact that they did this themselves.
7. For young children, I would add glitter and fabric paint. This is much easier for them to handle. Who doesn't like glitter? My seven-year old consultant had no trouble with the sequins. She was very meticulous about the placement of the sequins.
At the end of the day, we enjoyed our time together and had some beautiful stockings. We shared adventures at school, talked about favorite teachers and not so very favorite teachers. If you are lucky, you will find out what they really want for Christmas. As Mastercard says "Priceless", but I did not need to use a credit card.