Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Christmas

Christmas with the Simmons family....

We wish you Peace and Happiness to all during the festive season.
Hope you had a lovely Christmas Day. I went to a different church service (Lutheran) with Riikka, our exchange daughter on Christmas Eve, and then friends came over for supper afterwards. A really good start to this special day. Our children and grandchildren had a very relaxed lunch with us, and we really enjoyed spending time with them . Of course opening the presents was a highlight of the day for the boys. Each of our grandsons has a handmade Christmas stocking. Here is the latest for William - I finished it on Christmas Eve. It is a red velvet creation, with computer printed images on cotton fabric appliqued to the body of the stocking. It depicts Santa busily writing out his lists of good children and things to do, distracted by William playing with the lights from the tree in the background. I bought the little tree light buttons some years ago, and here they were in my stash just waiting for the right creative occasion.
Riikka has been doing a lot of Christmas cooking including a gingerbread house, complete with Finnish flag and snow. In Finnish tradition, the gingerbread house is not eaten until the 12th day of Christmas (6 January), but I did notice that some of the chocolate "freckles" shingles on the roof proved irresistible to little boys.

Special News: Please follow the link to the Hello Dollies blog, where I have published, free to all, the instructions for the little beaded Christmas star.
I hope you all have a wonderful relaxing holiday time doing all the things you most enjoy with your family and friends.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It must be Christmas when...

We all associate different sights, smells and activities with Christmas. Our exchange daughter, Riikka, is waiting for snow before she will believe it's really Christmas. Besides the spiritual associations, I think cooking definitely goes with Christmas, and here I am with some of my preserves, jams and pickles labelled ready for gifts for my friends to be given out today at the Hello Dollies Christmas lunch. Although my preparations were a little late starting, today I am beginning to feel a bit organised, with only as couple of things to do before Christmas day. After the Simmons family party tomorrow (30 people for lunch at our place), it 'll be time to relax.

It's been a busy week. My card making class had a Christmas morning tea on Thursday. Even with all the festive food, we were still able to make some lovely cards and enjoy the camaraderie of the morning. I had also made some little tree decorations for the ladies who sit at the same table as I do each week, so obviously we have become friends. These are basil card tags, covered with decorative papers, and embellished with polymer clay 3D Christmas symbols. (mostly poinsettias). On the back, I chose a fairly plain decorative paper, so I could write a message. These decorations were instead of cards - I was quite happy with the result.

Today was the Hello Dollies Christmas party and the annual Christmas sale at Anne's Glory Box. Quilts, dolls, teddy bears and all sorts of treasures at absolute bargain prices - no one could resist. Like everyone else, I left with a bag full of stuff I absolutely need! I think I was quite restrained with only one bag. It was wonderful to have the Sydney dollies join us in Newcastle for the day, and we revisited the Adage challenge, with those dolls on display again today. The food was special and really delicious, and we all had a great time discussing doll projects past, present and future, making the little beaded stars and swapping gifts on a star theme. What a happy time we had - it must be Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Party Party Party

A round of parties this week ... Yesterday, it was the Gumnutters' Christmas party. ( The Gumnutters are a doll makers' group here in Newcastle. We meet once a month and swap creative ideas and teach each other new skills) The Gumnutters have been wonderful this year supporting the Mando project in Papua New Guinea - thanks very much, you are a special group of creative women. Besides eating lots of yummy food yesterday, we had a Christmas stocking swap and we were all delighted to receive such beautiful stockings. We also made beaded Christmas wreaths - everyone getting into the spirit of Christmas. These little wreaths are very simply made with a few green and red crystals and wire. For this project, acrylic beads look sparkly, too and make a lovely embellishment for a parcel or for the tree. The instructions for this little project are in the Australian magazine , "Beads Etc" issue 8, 2006.

Last night, Jim and I travelled to Sydney to a 120th birthday - our friends Bill and Maureen (whose birthdays are 12 and 13 December respectively) have a combined age of 120! Their sons and daughter organised a fantastic surprise birthday for them . It was a great night, with their friends and family coming from all over Australia for the celebration - and they had no idea until they came in the door to rousing applause and singing.

Today is a very special day - our grandson's third birthday.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Handmade Treasures Christmas Sale

Each year I organise a Handmade Treasures Christmas Sale to support a humanitarian project. There are three aims for the sale ... 1) to raise funds to support a project, usually in a developing country; 2) to showcast the work of local artisits/craftspersons; 3) to provide stree free Christmas shopping. In the past, we have been able to support the purchase of mosquito nets for Papua New Guinea via the program, Rotarians Against Malaria, the Mando Primary School Project for which Jim and I have been volunteers this year, and RotaryPolio Plus campaign .

Today was SALE day... it was rather hectic getting things ready for the sale, especially as I had the whole month away in PNG in September and seemingly less and less time to work on creating stuff. However, there are many talented women in Newcastle and thanks to good friends - Diana Carson, Wendy Scott, Bobbi Oliver, Jane Lambert , Dolores Prete and Judy Hardy who participated in the sale by bringing in such great creative work, we had a fantastic display of high quality handmade treasures. And of course, we had some really positive customers so it was a great success.
What were the best sellers ? Surprisingly - the feltfollies all went quickly as did the silver jewellery and felted bags. It was also wonderful to sell one of Wendy's quilts to someone who really appreciated her beautiful work.
Tips for sales in your home and sanity? 1) Be organised 2) Have a husband who is willing to help, supply continuous tea and coffee to sellers and buyers alike, make lunch and generally pack and carry. 3) Gift wrap 4) Have a great network of friends 5) Be positive at all times 6) Keep remembering that having fun is more important than sales.

Today we have been able to support the Mando project - equipment for a special classroom for students with disabilites, and provide some medical equipment for a hospital in Polillio in the Philippines. Thank you everyone.