Christmas Wrap-Up

We had a joyous but tiring Christmas.

A small deer surrounded by magnolia leaves.
A small deer surrounded by magnolia leaves.

We made and ate Christmas luncheon on Christmas Eve so I wouldn’t have to cook on Christmas Day.

A whole ham with fresh pineapple.
A whole ham with fresh pineapple.

The menu:

  • ham with pineapple and brown sugar glaze
  • roasted vegetables: cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts
  • mashed potatoes and gravy
  • steamed spiced shrimp
  • cookies and chocolate candy
Oiled vegetables ready for roasting.
Oiled vegetables ready for roasting.

I thought I made a ton of roasted vegetables but they were the first dish to run out. The pineapple on the ham was second.

The olive tree is a perfect backdrop.
The olive tree is a perfect backdrop.

This Mexican crèche looked well-positioned under one of the olive trees in the conservatory.

I'm a new fan of magnolia.
I’m a new fan of magnolia.

A magnolia branch simply laid on the table gives some interest to the clay figurines.

The deer play well into the New Year.
The deer play well into the New Year.

I did a little more decorating and have decided to keep the non-Christmas-specific, winter items in place for awhile.

ConservatoryChristmas

My best find this year was magnolia leaves that look good both in branches and well-placed individual leaves.

Loving bouquets of white roses all over the house.
Loving bouquets of white roses all over the house.

I’ll be picking more next year.

Do you have a favorite holiday green?

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas from Charlie and Jo to all our followers and readers. Thanks for making our self-indulgent projects seem interesting. You put the spin on our tops.

The magical charm of a Christmas tree.
The magical charm of a Christmas tree.

We’ve had a joyous and abundant Christmas season which we hope to continue to share in the year to come. More upgrading, updating, DIYing, partying, and mundane postings.

Wishing you the love of family and friends this season.
Wishing you the love of family and friends this season.

Have a Blessed Christmas today, tomorrow, and throughout the year.

What are you grateful for?

More Seasonal Fun

I worked out my plan for last weekend and unbelievably finished everything on the list.

Fresh flowers always seem to spruce up a room.
Fresh flowers always seem to spruce up a room.
  1.  All my Christmas shopping is purchased and wrapped. I would love to give the details but then my family would discover what I got them. Not yet.
  2. All the music I need to learn in 2016 is memorized.  That’s a load off my mind or maybe that’s a load on my mind.
  3. The Christmas programs I write and direct are going into final rehearsals.  Looking forward to the performances and relaxing afterward.
These double lilies are large and fantastic without the colored stamen that plague other lilies.
These double lilies are large and fantastic without the colored stamen that plague other lilies.

Double Asiatic lilies from a friend dominate the living room both visually and aromatically.

5-inch carved wooden angel
5-inch carved wooden angel

I’ve started pulling out Christmas decorations.  This wooden herald angel plays the French horn.

The Greek olive tree is back in the living room window.
The Greek olive tree is back in the living room window.

All three olive trees are in the house for the winter.

Do you have a deadline before the new year for a project’s completion?

Just a Typical Friday Night

Last night I attended a potluck party of a ladies’ Sunday school class of which I am an honorary member.

The dessert table had a treat for everyone.
The dessert table had a treat for everyone.

By the time we got to the dessert table I was full but I took a plate home for Charlie.

The weather is chilly so a fire brigade keeps fire pits going to warm the participants and viewers.
The weather is chilly so a fire brigade keeps fire pits going to warm the participants and viewers.

He spent the evening lighting and tending fires for the Walk to Bethlehem.  He plans the same for tonight.

Norfolk Island pines don't do well outside below 40 degrees.
Norfolk Island pines don’t do well outside below 40 degrees.

Last year for Christmas my son and his wife gave us two small Norfolk Island pines. One of them had died.

A 3-feet tall Norfolk Island Pine tree.
A 3-feet tall Norfolk Island Pine tree.

The other one I gave back to them this year and they decorated it.

Little by little we’re getting a little Christmassy. How are your plans coming along?

A Busy Weekend

I love working on house projects but this coming weekend I’m working on seasonal items.

I'm the gift buyer and wrapper in our family.
I’m the gift buyer and wrapper in our family.

First I plan to wrap up my Christmas shopping both figuratively and literally.

I still have lots of music to learn.
I still have lots of music to learn.

I have 3 songs to memorize.

I usually write on the computer.
I usually write on the computer.

Then I’ve got to write the narration for two Christmas services.

Charlie's building fires to keep the walkers warm.
Charlie’s building fires to keep the walkers warm.

And one Walk to Bethlehem.

Then I can relax and enjoy the season.

Are you finished your shopping?

My Christmas Theme 2016

When Charlie was given the wooden toys made from wood scraps they included bears.

Can you pick out the bears?
Can you pick out the bears?

I thought I could turn these bears into polar bears which gave me a theme for Christmas decorations this year.

A few polar bear projects.
A few polar bear projects.

I searched Pinterest for other polar bear décor and came up with very little useful stuff but there were some fun things. (My Pinterest Christmas Board.)

How cute are these guys?
How cute are these guys?

There were some very cute white-iced gingerbread cookies. I’m not much of a cookie maker.

I am inspired by the white-painted branches stuck into the Christmas tree.
I am inspired by the white-painted branches stuck into the Christmas tree.

There also was a polar bear themed tree which I don’t think I’ll be able to pull off but it certainly carries the theme to the nth degree.

Polar bears made from 3 different sizes of marshmallows.
Polar bears made from 3 different sizes of marshmallows.

I particularly like the polar bear marshmallows for hot chocolate.

A proud polar bear.
A proud polar bear.

I really like this polar bear poster which can be customized.

What’s your theme this year?

Party with a Purpose: Cutting Shoes

Charlie, my friend from the Cottage, and I hosted a party with a goal to cut out 25 pairs of denim shoes and donate them and other supplies to “Sole Hope“, which removes parasitic jiggers from children’s feet and provides shoes and paid work for adults in Uganda.

The shoes are appropriate for boys or girls. We'll be making size "Toddler 10" shoes.
The shoes are appropriate for boys or girls. We’ll be making size “Toddler 10” shoes.

I ordered a kit from “Sole Hope” which includes a DVD about cutting the shoes, an instruction booklet, a paper pattern for one size of shoe, book marks, and a few other items.

I cut out multiple copies of patterns in plastic and cardboard to make tracing them easier.
I cut out multiple copies of patterns in plastic and cardboard to make tracing them easier.

I made stiff templates for the paper pattern pieces in advance.  My friend and I also cut out a few pairs of shoes before the party to see how the process would go so we could be helpful to people attending the party. My friend cut stiff plastic heel pieces from old milk jugs to save cutting time and confusion at the party.

The invitation has information front, back, and inside of ways to support the project.
The invitation has information front, back, and inside of ways to support the project.

Everyone was sent an invitation which listed ways to get involved with Sole Hope so in addition to shoe cutters some folks who could not attend sent other supplies on the list and donated money. This is a good party invitation to send to ALL your friends — different people help in different ways.

I set up extra tables for tracing and cutting the shoes.
I set up extra tables for tracing and cutting the shoes.

As the party got underway we watched the instructional video then people started tracing pattern pieces on the jeans they brought.

Good scissors are essential when cutting heavy denim.
Good scissors are essential when cutting heavy denim.

When the tracing and cutting started the house became very quiet. Ultimately though there was a lot of chit chat and some sing-alongs while Charlie played the piano. The hosts helped answer questions and made sure each pair of shoes was top quality.

It was a treat to have a snack and stand and stretch for a few minutes in the kitchen.
It was a treat to have a snack and stand and stretch for a few minutes in the kitchen.

Charlie served beverages and, after cutting a pair of shoes, the cobblers were invited to have something to eat.

Diligent workers not only cut the shoes but prayed they would meet the needs of the children receiving them.
Diligent workers not only cut the shoes but prayed they would meet the needs of the children receiving them.

Then we sent them right back to work.

Ten pairs of shoes per gallon bag -- we filled 4 bags, 40 pairs of shoes!
Ten pairs of shoes per gallon bag — we filled 4 bags, 40 pairs of shoes!

Our goal was 25 pairs and our actual production was 40 pairs.

The wooden toys made from wood scraps were party favors for each guest to select.
The wooden toys made from wood scraps were party favors for each guest to select.

Added bonus: one of the party goers plans to have another party in the spring with an entirely different constituency. Woo hoo!

What project are you excited to get going with?