Sunday, November 28, 2010

Polar Express

by Chris Van Allsburg

I’m joining Jain at Food for Thought, her wonderful blog for people who love both the written word and the foods mentioned within the books.

I’m also joining Beth's Poinsettia Party at her beautiful Food as Art blog.

Her party runs from Dec. 5th through the 15th, so won't you please pop over & join her, too?

The Polar Express is the magical story of one Christmas Eve many years ago.
A boy lies in bed, listening hard for the bells of Santa’s sleigh,
which he has been told by a friend do not exist.
Later that night he hears not bells but a very different sound.
He looks out of his window and is astounded to see a steam engine parked in front of his house.
The conductor invites him to board the Polar Express,
a train filled with children on their way to the North Pole.
The boy and his companions journey past tiny towns and forests full of wild creatures.
They travel up and around mountains and across the Great Polar Ice Cap
to the magical city at the North Pole.
The train takes the children to the center of the city,
where Santa and the elves have gathered for the giving of the first gift of Christmas.
The boy is chosen to receive this first gift.
Knowing that he can choose anything in the world,
he decides on a simple gift: one silver bell from Santa’s sleigh.
Santa cuts a bell from a reindeer’s harness and
the delighted boy slips it into his bathrobe pocket
as the clock strikes midnight and the reindeer pull the sleigh into the sky.

When the children return to the train,
the boy realizes the bell has fallen through a hole in his pocket.
Heartbroken, he is returned to his home.
In the morning, his little sister finds one small box
with the boy’s name on it among the presents below the Christmas tree.
Inside is the silver bell!
The boy and his sister are enchanted by its beautiful sound,
but their parents cannot hear it.
The boy continues to believe in the spirit of Christmas and
is able to hear the sweet ringing of the bell even as an adult.

We took our whole family on the Polar Express excursion a few years ago on Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, one of the oldest, longest & most scenic tourist excursion railways in the country.
It is a private, volunteer supported, non-profit organization operating in partnership with Cuyahoga Valley National Park & dedicated to the preservation of passenger rail transportation in Cuyahoga Valley and the Historic Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Each year, starting around Thanksgiving, they offer tickets,
via a lottery system,
for the Polar Express train ride experience.

Pajama clad families board the Cuyahoga Valley train for this magical Polar Express journey!
This fun-filled evening excursion includes hot cocoa & cookies, a reading of the classic story,
a lighted North Pole Village, caroling & a visit from Santa himself -
all set to the music soundtrack of the motion picture!


Our train car's Elf was named 'Emily'. She was there to apply pink fairy dust to everyone's cheeks.


You can just imagine the scene when the conductor walks through the station,
with his lantern swaying, looks at his pocket watch then starts
calling out in a very loud booming voice


The kids are literally dancing with excitement!

They can barely settle down to listen to the story after they

are told that Santa will be meeting up with the train soon.

Looking for Santa

After the reading of the Polar Express story & while the train is still moving,

the children have a
Pajama Party Parade

up & down the aisles & are then treated to

hot cocoa & homemade cookies from the elves.

Once Santa comes on board, each child gets to sit on his lap &

tell him what they would like for Christmas.

They are each given a little keepsake bell, in keeping with the story line.

DSC_0264 framed

We bought a souvenir Polar Express mug to commemorate the excursion &
every year I get it out to enjoy some tea or hot chocolate while we read the book to the
Here it is arranged with my poinsettia Christmas teapot (Thank you, sisters!)
on a little table in the sunroom.

This shows a close up of my free motion quilting on this little table runner that I made a few years ago.
I used gold metallic thread, a metallic needle, dropped the feed dogs &
then I just followed the lines in the poinsettia flower.
It gave the runner a nice touch of bling...I do bling, especially at Christmas!

DSC_0267 DSC_0271

Here is a little hint...if you place one Dove chocolate in the bottom of the cup before you pour in the hot liquid, it makes for an especially decadent treat!

Look at the snow we had overnight!!
Perfect day to snuggle down with a book, a quilt & a cup of hot cocoa.

Be sure to try the elves Merry Mint Patties, too...only available at Christmas & DELICIOUS!!!


I used my embroidery machine to do the little Christmas tree on this hemstitched towel,
then threaded the narrow silk ribbon through every other opening, using a bodkin.

The Polar Express reminds children and adults alike that the world is full of wonder—
all one must do is look for it, listen, and believe.
If you ever get a chance to go on a Polar Express excursion with your children or grandchildren,
I highly recommend it.
The kids still talk about it every year.
Maybe its not too late to put our names into the lottery again this year?
Do you think the 14 year old grandson will still want to go, too?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Get Your Flu Shots!!!!!

I have been soooo sick this week!
Its going on 5 days now & I'm STILL suffering, gang!

Truly, this illness is the spawn of the devil.
Who else but Satan would give you a horrific cough AND diarrhea at the same time?

Holy Mother of God, I've never run so fast in all my life.

You'd have thought my clothes were on fire or I was trying to catch a bus!

I thought I had hit upon the right combination of
heavy drugs (legal) & alcohol (cough syrup)
yesterday but the fix was only temporary.

All the symptoms have returned with a vengeance this morning.
I want to be like Ichabod Crane,
the Headless Horseman in
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow &
just carry my poor aching head around under my arm.
I'm sure it is no where near as heavy as it feels.

Sleep is out of the question when the other side of the bed
is shaking so heavily from either snoring or coughing.

I should move to the guest room but I'm afraid DH will need me.
Like I'm in any shape to do HIM any good????

I could probably crawl to the phone faster than he could
but with my memory loss lately,
I wouldn't be able to find the #11 if I tried to dial 911.

Excuse me while I go open yet ANOTHER box of tissues.
My garbage can this week will be labeled in RED....Warning: TOXIC BIO-HAZARD!!

What else can I say but "GET YOUR FLU SHOTS!"

I don't know if this is seasonal flu, chicken (bird) or the other white meat....pork (swine) but its awful.

I'm going to miss tennis & Smock & Talk this week as well as my Quilting group.

I wouldn't wish this on my ex-husband let alone risk
giving it to my sewing friends!!

EDIT to say this is a repeat of a blog post I did last year at just about the same time of year.
It still applies ...I always get sick after Thanksgiving! Too many hugs & kisses, I think.
I was feeling too lousy to re-do it much.
I'll be back to posting when I'm less contagious.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Story of Jonah....

like you've never heard it before!

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Notice she is wearing a SMOCKED bishop!!! ~~big smile~~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Friend's Thanksgiving Table


Since we are going to be at my husband's daughter's home for the holiday,
I would like to share with you my friend's beautiful Thanksgiving table.

I met Nicole through an online sewing forum & when she realized how close we lived to each other, she offered to pleat some fabric for me & teach me to smock.
Little did I know what a BIG part of my life, she (and smocking) would become!


I love her entire home but especially this beautiful room which can accommodate
seating for 12 at her gorgeous Chippendale dining furniture.

She used teal & cranberry accents in this tablescape.
Her china is the elegant Monroe pattern from the Presidential series by Lenox.
It has burgundy & black bands of color accented with gold twisted rope patterns & rims.
Her exquisite stemware is Waterford's Castlemaine...both sets are cherished wedding gifts.

PB170053 cropped


I forgot to bring my good camera to our weekly Smock & Talk gathering,
so I apologize that the quality of these photos is less than stellar.


They don't do justice to all her beautiful items, such as the
Wallace sterling silver sugar & creamer above.
Here is a clearer photo of the same, below.


Peek-A-Boo...I see you see me?
LOL! I try so hard to stay out of those kinds of shots.


The two GORGEOUS footed compote bowls at either ends of the table are
antique Imperial Acanthus Leaf Carnival glass.
I had to hold one up to the window so you could see &
appreciate the intense color & texture. Just Beautiful!!


Darling handmade turkey placecards mark her children's seating.
I love how she mixes the whimsical with the elegant!


Her flatware is the exquisite Wallace Grand Baroque, a gift from her mother-in-love.
I am GREEN with envy over this silverware!



The above photo shows the intricate detailing of the handles as well as the pretty burgundy & gold band of her china.
The leaf shaped salad plates (source unknown) accent the teal in the placemats.
The pretty beaded napkin rings are from Pier One.


On the other side of the dining room sits this exquisite
1924 English sterling silver tea & coffee service with bone handles
... a treasured family heirloom, gifted to her by her grandmother.

See the chains on both sides of the center vessel?
They hold pins which slip into little holes on either side to anchor the kettle to the base.


Again, my photos don't do this is just magnificent!



Carved Pilgrims & Indians mingle throughout the centerpiece arrangement.





I am very happy that Nicole has graciously allowed me to feature her beautiful Thanksgiving table.
I cherish her friendship as well as the other members of our Smock & Talk group.

As a side note, it was Nicole's husband, a cardiologist, who was on call one year ago this week when my husband went into the emergency department in the middle of a heart attack.

It was Nicole's husband who was awakened with at least a half dozen calls from the ER staff as they tried to stabilize him with IV medications.

It was Nicole's husband who kept him alive until they could get an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) or *heart pump* inserted to give his heart a rest & some help in perfusing his body, while I begged God, "Please, not yet?"

I don't think I've ever properly thanked Dr. Joe for literally saving his life!
I am
humbly & eternally grateful.
He gave us one more year of sharing holidays...Christmas, our birthdays, our 23rd wedding anniversary & many precious moments with our children & grandchildren.

I wish for all of you many blessings this Thanksgiving.
Life is about caring & loving your friends & relatives
while you can still see & hold them close.

Thanksgiving Prayer

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

It's time for another Tablescape Thursday with our gracious hostess,
Susan of Between Naps on the Porch!

Be sure to stop by her beautiful blog to see other participants in the party!
Thank you, Susan for hosting this fun event each week.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Snow Maiden Ballet

Last week, we were fortunate to take my granddaughter, Caroline to see my husband's
granddaughter perform in the The University of Akron Dance Institute's "The Snow Maiden" ballet at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.

What a beautiful production in a beautiful facility!

It is a Russian fable of a child of snow who is brought to life by the warmth of human love.
The delightful family ballet featured 94 performers, ages 5 to 18.

My husband's granddaughter was one of the many young children in the cast.

She is just turning 10 TODAY (Happy Birthday, A!)

She did a fabulous job...never missed a single step!

I'm sorry I didn't capture any photos of her in costumes...she had several.

She barely had time to run home for a bite to eat &

rest a little before another evening performance!

Caroline was enthralled throughout the entire program &

she gave her a big flower bouquet after her performance.

She even wore her sparkly ballet slippers for the occasion.

She takes dance lessons & will tell you she's going to be a ballerina when she grows up.

We were both thrilled to find this dress still fit her &

I will move the buttons over for more wearings in the Spring, too.

According to Caroline, it is "my bestest, most favorite dress EVER" that I've made for her.

It is "Coco" by Connie Moses which was featured in Australian Smocking & Embroidery.
( issue #85)

My hands ached for weeks after finishing the smocking on this brown twill with thick, solid dots!
With BROWN FLOSS, no less!!! A true labor of love!

Thanks for stopping by the Gazebo House.

Since we're going away for the holiday, I will have photos of my friend's

beautiful Thanksgiving table to show you soon.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Some Recent Sewing Projects

I just completed a few corduroy autumn outfits for my granddaughter, Caroline.

This dress is from the Childrens Corner pattern, Annie, view C with 3/4 length sleeves.

It is a size 6 appears to fit her quite well. She may even get two years of use out of it,

since there is space to move the buttons over next fall for more room in the bodice area.

I purchased the picture smocked insert (sorry I don't know the name of the plate).

Although I know HOW to do picture smocking, I just don't enjoy it.

Life is too short to spend any precious hours doing something

that doesn't make your heart sing!

Besides, I don't have the patience nor the eyesight to do it well.

I do
♥ ♥ ♥ to do geometric smocking but the picture smocking

is too much like counted cross-stitch...drives me nuts!

The same trim was used around the neckline & cuffs.

I thought it resembled tatting a bit.

Something ELSE I don't have patience to do. LOL

I used the same piping around the back belt tabs & across the top of the smocked insert.

I wish now, in hindsight, that I would have put it across the bottom of the insert as well.

The weight of the corduroy is distorting the pleating a bit.

Later, I will put some tight back smocking stitches

on the underside to try to stabilize that area a bit more.

Below is another Sara's Skort, also a Childrens Corner pattern.

This, too, is made of corduroy but lined with a slick broadcloth.

The shorts beneath are also of the same broadcloth.

She will likely need to wear tights with this during the winter

& I didn't want them to *grab* against the corduroy.

BTW, That is a SNOWFLAKE in front of the camera!!

What we won't go through to get some decent outside light for photos, huh?

This is a close-up view, showing both the cute leaf pattern on the outside

as well as the solid red lining & shorts beneath.

This pattern fits Ms. C well.

I've made it several times before &

I have added 1 1/2 inches to the length of it & it is STILL above her knees.

Since it is only slightly flared, it would be restrictive to walk in it,

if it were below her knees.

Hard to cartwheel in, too.

I added the monogram to the store-bought shirt,

to pick up the bright blue color in the skirt.

She can still wear the top with other things, like jeans....

although she is such a *girly-girl*, she hates to wear pants.

Thanks for letting me share my sewing projects with you.

I do appreciate your comments & any constructive criticism offered.

How else does one learn?