Saturday, December 29, 2007

I didn't forget Lelainias's gift!

Our hostess for the 12 Days of Christmas swap made an extra gift...lucky number 13, to be opened by each participant on the day their own gift was to be opened by the group. That way, we all got to open each day. I couldn't post it when I opened it on day 8 as that would spoil the surprise for everyone after that. But here it is!

The Ten Commandments Of Creative Beings. How perfect! Lenainia mounted them in a frame, adding my favorite number and a pretty button embellishment. It is the perfect thing to hang in my studio space, read often and remember always..."to honour and nurture my creative spirit; to allow myself to take creative risks; to increase the beauty of the world".
Those are only a few. What beautiful sentiments. I will always treasure this Lelainia, thank you!

It was Lelainia who began this incredible swap, and I am deeply indebted to her for her creative essence, which is so much a part of her that she was committed enough to carry on with this swap in the middle of a move, and painting of a new house. Wow! Please, have a look at her blog or her website or her etsy shop and drop her a little comment if you like. (Say hi for me too!!)

Boxing Day Adventure

On Boxing Day we decided to "dress up" for a day out. This is what that looks like in the North:
We went out...this is the road into my parents cabin.

There was quite a convoy...6 snow machines and Mike's truck. How he drove in (it's mostly off road) through the three feet of snow (that's one deeper drifts) is a mystery to me. It's a testament to his crazy driving skills, not to mention his complete disregard of the laws of physics!!

However, we did make it in. I traveled with the sisters in the truck with Mike and Drake, (who is so used to his Dad's insane motor-antics that he played video games on his new PSP, blissfully unaware of the motor screaming and the constant bucking motion of the truck. Wild! (I tell you, that one trip gave me a years worth of Kegle excercises...LOL). It's a one hour drive, either the "easy way" that we took with the truck, or straight up the way the snow machines went. They beat us by about 10 minutes, and had the snow shoveled away from the fire pit and a fire going there and inside the cabin when we got there.

The boys were pretty impressed with Uncle Matt's fire starting skills. He used one sheet of newspaper, a handful of kindling he cut with an axe, and one strike of a match. The woodpile was buried under the snow, but he knew where it was and had the boys hauling firewood to stoke the nice warm blaze.

Jordan, Cheryl, me, Holly.

Daniel and the boys.
This was Daniels first time on a snow machine, and he drove with Levi behind and only got stuck once. We've done this trip on Quads, and it is a blast. Beautiful country!
Big Matt and his little girl.

The feast.
Nothing tastes better than a smoky, hot sausage on a cold day.

Holly and Jordan inside the cabin.

The facilities. (Can you say "Brrrrr....cold!!!!!" ?)

Tayler and Jordan ready to head back down the mountain.

Dusk...back on the "real" road, looking down over the lake.

It was a perfect day. Or almost perfect. Dad wasn't well enough to make the trip in. He and Mom stayed back and were waiting for us with, what else?...a big meal when we got home. Groan...

Christmas in Slave lake

Lil' Matt and the girls

In the thick of the gift exchange.

Twilight Christmas Eve

Cheryl and Dad

Hmmmm...Grandad got a piece of coal.

Levi and Grandma

The 12th Day of Christmas

I've been waiting to see the finale, haven't you? Without further delay, I give you.....Chrystal's stunning copper-backed pendant!

Ta Da!

Once again, I'm surprised and touched at the beauty and thought that went into this gorgeous piece. It is perfect, from the little bird, to the verdigris finish.

Could it be more lovely? I think not. Thank you Crystal!!

I took my sweet time posting it, because as I opened it, I had my family hovering over me with bags packed and the car running, waiting to be whisked off (with my darling little bird safe around my neck) to the Grandparents for Christmas week.
So my bird flew, not south with most of it's kind, but North, into the wild, snowy blue yonder. It was the perfect little mascot!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My talented daughter ( in law)

This is the Christmas gift made for me by Vanessa. She made almost all of her Christmas presents this year, and this scarf is (I think) her best work. The pattern is called "Leaf and Acorn", and if you look just under the scalloped edge, you can see the leafs and acorns alternating in the fine-knit lace. Breathtaking!

It is mohair, and soft and light beyond belief. It feels as light as a cobweb, and the lace-work is just as fine. The scarf took just one ball of wool, which means it weighs in at just 40 grams!

I copied her gift card that she included with the scarf, as it gives some details, and a description of the origin of the pattern.

I love this scarf! I love that Vanessa took the time to make something of heirloom quality for me. She said that Mohair is tricky to work with, and as she was knitting it she discovered she was allergic to the wool and her legs broke out in hives. (She knit it in the summer and was wearing shorts at the time).
Did she abandon the project? No! She continued, working at a snails pace with the difficult work, completed it, and then made another for her Great Aunt.

Now I just need a Grand daughter to pass it down to in due time. Vanessa is expecting, so I may have one on the way. If not, maybe the next one? (No pressure Ness!)

Yee Haw!

to quote Deb Trotter...

So today, for the 11th day of Christmas, I had a delivery (by Pony Express of course) from Deb. I LOVE this Cowgirl's art, and was excited to see what treasure the package would hold.

The book inside is a hoot! It's circle pages fan open, and the 12 artists in this swap each have a page and poem dedicated to them. Deb is TOO clever! The poems are hilarious, and the artwork individualized on the back of each page is beautiful and brilliant.

Here is my page, not a copy either, but the original collage piece.
Can you read the quote? It says, "Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark." I love it!
And look inside the nest...instead of's marbles! How great is that!
The poem on the back of my page cracks me's as though Deb completely gets me!

"Arlene is a woman who loves glass that shines
And surely she saves every piece that she finds.
Stacks of old paper, unusual fonts,
And marbles and nests are the things that she wants.
She will not like presents all perfectly new-
Instead, give her something old, vintage, and blue.
Give Arlene a poem, that's what I have planned-
One that is made from the heart and the hand."

Deb, have you been spying on me, or rummaging through my piles in my studio? Ha! It's too accurate...I think you have an in with Santa, who "sees you when you're sleeping, He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good..." (Or messy and cluttered?)

I am really tempted to undo the post binding and get a little Christmas tree to hang these pages individually, to honor the spirit of this swap. They would make such wonderful ornaments, along with some of the gifts I have received. Yes!

Thanks Deb, you're a true cowgirl artist!

Yee Haw!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

So much to show and tell!

Wow. The last three days have been crazy busy, as we are celebrating Christmas today with Nialle and Ness and Liam, before our trip up North. We have been shopping, wrapping, cooking decorating and taking care of all the last minute details we needed to wrap up before sitting back and enjoying the fruits of our labour.

However, the high point of each day has been opening up my little treasures from the worlds most gifted (pun intended, thank you very much) friends and artists.

Day 8 was my day to open the much anticipated gift from the hostess of our wonderful swap, Lelainia Lloyd, (see her here and here. ) I just knew it would be something special; something inspiring and pretty. It is,....but I can't show you yet! I can tell you it is something I love, that I will turn to often for encouragement, and a reminder of the spirit of this amazing exchange. And I promise I will show all in a few days, when Christmas is over and done, and I can really focus on what has been and what is yet to be in the coming year. Stay tuned!

Day 9...oh my! I can show you, but you really can't imagine the lovely experience of opening up this little package from Trudy McLauchlan.

The adorable embroidery, perfect and precise! So cute! The feel of the soft linen and cotton, soft and well washed perhaps?

And the SMELL! Heavenly! A Lavender filled pillow, wafting my favorite scent in the whole world (I can't believe I didn't put Lavender in the database as one of my favorite things!) It is so calming and spirit lifting.
Oh, I do love this Trudy! Thank you So very much! Shall I sleep with it under my pillow? I've been reading with it near by; as it wafts it's marvelous scent up I am relaxed, centered and happy. Ah...bliss.

Day 10 today, and in addition to the stocking stuffers from my family, I had the pleasure and anticipation of the lovely red package from England.
Oh Liz! You read my list, (and my heart)! This little book, fat and full of promise, it is perfect in every way!

Each page is a joy. There are envelopes with treasures I adore....beach glass; worn and smooth and blue as the sea. (I'm drooling!)

Little vintage ephemra bound in or fastened with interesting little paper clips. Each page is more delightful. And in the back, a diminutive pencil to write my secret thoughts and dreams. It is so lovely.

Thank you, thank you!! I will carry this with me and use it and love it and treasure it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My gifts, Day 8.

Here is the pile of little fabric and paper collage books before I wrapped them up. I used all kinds of treasure and junque to embellish them.

They are kind of shabby around the edges, and imperfect, and feel so nice in my hand with the textures of the fabric and buttons and things.

After sewing a little bag for them, I wrapped them in tissue, tucked them in, and wrapped a torn scrap of red around to hold the day 8 tag. Then I put them in their mailing envelopes.
In my haste to get them out, just as Nialle was being admitted to the hospital, I forgot to include my tags with my name on them.

That's it! They are all in the hands of the artists I made them for, and I hope they enjoy them, and find some special little bits and pieces to tuck into the pages.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still more Liam moves...

Indulge me a little. Who could fault this Grandma for being smitten with this?.....

Day Seven...such a treat.

Fiona Mortimer was the artist responsible for getting me up bright and early with this pretty and cheerful polka-dot package. It came all the way from Queensland, Australia.

It's red cotton wrap was waiting when my eyes popped open, and rather than snuggling back in for a few more winks I just popped out of bed and hustled to turn on the Christmas tree lights, get a pot of tea on, and wake up the boys, (who did not want to miss the show).

And what a reward awaited me! Inside the package was a real work of art. The workmanship is so precise, and the subject is delightful. I'm in love with this little quilt!

The back has a tag printed on fabric with all the information of the swap (which I totally neglected to add to my piece before I sent it out) and the fabric is just unbelievable. I am wondering if Fiona hand painted/dyed it's really unique, and gorgeous.

I'm so happy to be included in this swap with such creative and talented artists. It makes these days before Christmas so very special.
Tomorrow is the day my gift is opened. I may be just a wee bit nervous about that. The caliber of art so far is way up there. I know I love what I made, and would be totally happy with it because it is something that is just "me". I will just hope everyone else feels the same.
So, no worries, surprises are always terrific when they are given in a spirit of friendship, right?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lost cat?

So, I know a lot of people hate that cats are allowed outdoors, but Zoot was a stray from the pound when we got him about 11 years ago, and had lived his life previous to coming to our house roaming around outside. Now, since he is half Siamese, he has a really nasty yowl when he doesn't get his way. (The rest of the time he is very sweet tempered; likely the tabby side of him). So to keep my sanity when we brought him home, I finally let him out side. He always comes home, and is usually only out a few minutes before he is making a racket at the door to come back in.

Yesterday, as I was happily crafting in my basement, Levi came tearing downstairs asking if I had let Zoot out. I said "yes" and was about to add "but that was over an hour ago", but Levi was gone, bolting up the stairs in a panic and flinging himself out the door with no coat, smashing his elbow and slamming the door in his haste.
I followed, and leaned out to ask him what was going on. Was their a fire?
He was gone.
Five minutes later he was back, and in obvious distress. He said he's heard Zoot "screaming" out in the driveway, but could not find him anywhere. I tried to convince him that Zoot was probably fine, but he needed his coat to go for a good look before it got dark.

On went the coat, and off he went, running across my pristine front lawn, tracking up my beautiful smooth snow, instead of walking down the driveway. (OK. That sounds really anal, but this is the FIRST year since the boys have been able to don snow boots that I have not looked out my front window to see the snow packed to a flat, dull, battleground with sticks, boards and every shovel in the neighbourhood littering the ground. I was enjoying the unblemished beauty of it all. Sue me.)

But he was on a mission. He didn't come back when the light began to fade. He didn't come back when the street lights came on.

This was highly unusual. Zoot never stays out longer than it takes to chill a whisker. Josh, who had gone looking for the two of them, came back without spotting either the cat or the brother.

Hmmmmm. I thought of hopping in the van for a further ranging search. But wait, I just stopped, and said a simple little prayer. For Zoot. And for Levi, who loves that silly cat as much as any boy loves his first pet. He's grown up with the kitty and can't remember life without his sidekick.
After a word to the Father (of course he cares about troubles like these), I had a lightbulb moment. I looked up and called into the slowly darkening house....."Zoooooot. Here kitty, kitty".

I waited a moment and heard a puzzled "vvvvrrrrrr?" and Zoot came sauntering out of Levi's bedroom, where he is want to sleep the afternoon away. He stopped at my feet, looked up and yaaaaaawwned, a big one that makes my jaws ache just typing it right now. He gave a little tiny meow, as if to say "Wha-da-ya-want? I'm trying to sleep."

I just shook my head and thought of the panics my dear mother in law flies into at the drop of a hat.
If you drop your hat, it causes my mother in law to panic. Because, well, "The hat! The hat is now dirty! And unwearable! And how, oh how, will we prevent our ears from freezing??" Not an exaggeration.
Once, when we unexpectedly met her while we were out shopping at a location 5 minutes from her house, and 20 minutes from ours, she narrowly escaped a heart attack from the surprise and shock of meeting. Us! There!
She staggered around the parking lot, clutching her chest and her head in turn, and saying, over and over in her thick Eastern European accent, "Oh my God! It's really you! I think you are a ghost!"
Can you spell Oscar?

But I digress.

So, Levi finally comes home, and a more dejected looking child I have yet to behold. He slumped against the wall in the back entry.

I say, "Levi? Do you know the first thing you should remember when you are faced with an emergency situation? Have you heard of W.W J. D.? Do you know what it means?"

He looked up at me, his red cheeks smudged with something. Not saying it was tears. But I wouldn't blame him. If they were. Which I am not saying.
He says remorsefully, "You mean, What Would Jesus Do."

I say, "Ya that. But I was also thinking, " What Would (grandma) Jeanette Do", and then DON'T DO IT!"

Zoot regally descended to the landing and rubbed up against Levi's legs, before meowing at the door to get outside.

6th day already!

Pillar's gift was the first to arrive in the mail, and I've been admiring the hand painted packaging for the longest time, anxious to see what was inside. Finally today was the day, it's the 6th Day of Christmas for our group. I was so careful not to tear the's a treasure in itself!

Ooooooww! It's a doll! Look at her, she's jointed and so amazing. Pillar makes such unique and wonderful art, and I am thrilled to have something of my very own.

Thank you Pillar! She's marvelous.