An Ode to Christmas Cookies

Christmas and Cookies go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly… you really can’t have one without the other.

It’s a week before Christmas and my house is filled with the spicy aroma of fresh-baked Ginger Cookies… a tradition in my family for many years. They are thin, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and sparkle with granulated sugar they had been rolled in before being squished flat… and not TOO ‘gingery’. I posted about them 2 years ago… HERE.

Last week I spent a fun-filled day with my daughter rolling the dough for our traditional Sand Tart cookies. This recipe came down from my husband’s side of the family. It’s basically a sugar cookie that is rolled out really, really, really thin, cut in a diamond shape (OK not every one fits that description), washed in egg white, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and topped with chopped pecans before sliding into the oven. No matter where in the world our family is celebrating Christmas, they can expect a package in the mail with these delicious cookies. They are so thin and crisp that 9 times out of 10 they arrive as crumbs… but no matter, they taste just as good as an ice cream topping. If you are very lucky, you might find enough whole ones to actually bite in to. The recipe for Sand Tarts is HERE.

I know the true meaning of Christmas… and yet this holiday is oh so much more. It’s about family, near and far… it’s about loving your neighbor… helping the sick and less fortunate. It’s about kids being happy, it’s about hopes and it’s about dreams. And more importantly… it’s about COOKIES!

Think about it for a moment. Have you ever in your life seen someone eating a cookie who wasn’t happy??? So I urge you to stop staring at your computer screen, go to the kitchen, bake your favorite cookie, and share them with friends and family (oh, and don’t forget to drop some off at my house).

Spread the JOY (and the sugar and the calories)! * FYI… If you are counting calories then you need to know there are NO calories in cookies that are made from scratch and shared with someone. Hee, hee.

I wish you all a HAPPY HOLIDAY… no matter which you choose to celebrate. It’s all good!

I leave you with a photo of my morning’s daily doodles…

Daily Christmas Doodles www.debhathaway.com

Daily Christmas Doodles www.debhathaway.com

 

A Tale of Two Quilts – DP#143

When I decided to make quilts for Hurricane Sandy Families it was very freeing for me. I had amassed a lot of favorite fabrics over the years and this was a way for me to put it all to good use. Rarely do I know anything at all about the recipient. If a friend of a friend asks me to make a quilt for someone the MOST information I get is… “They are a close knit family with three kids”… OR… “The quilt is for a husband and wife, in their early sixties, he likes to fish and she likes cats.” More commonly however, I get no information at all. I have total creative control over the entire project from beginning to end. I choose the design, the fabric, the backing, batting, border and final stitching… and cross my fingers the recipient/s will love it as much as I do.

If I am making a quilt for an organization such as Quilts of Valor… I need to follow their loose guide lines of using Red, White, and Blue fabric with a patriotic design. Again… I still have total control over the creative process… as long as I follow the concept.

Well… this Holiday Season my world got turned upside down. Two special quilts caught me off guard and had me looking at sewing in a whole new light.

QUILT #1…

Someone I know personally contacted me about making a quilt out of her son’s band shirts. “Sure”, I replied. My mind began planning the quilt before the shirts even arrived. First step would be to get a look at the school colors, and the mascot… then move on from there. I received a plastic bag of shirts a week later and when I opened the bag my jaw dropped to the floor!!!

What I saw before me was nothing but black shirts with names like Mayhem, Doom, Metallica, and others. OH MY!!!! Not at all what I expected. YIKES! Now what?  I took a deep breath… re-arranged my thinking… rolled up my sleeves and got to work. My heart just wasn’t into it. I went through the motions cutting up the shirts and tried my best to get enthused… but it just wasn’t happening.

I plodded through and eventually the top was finished, and ready to have the actual quilting done. I dragged my feet. The black and grey was depressing. I had no clue where to even begin. One day I sat down at my sewing machine, resolute to finish this thing and get it the heck out of my house. Ick!!

Placing the quilt under the presser foot, I sighed. Slowly I started stitching… black thread on grey fabric… blah. My mind went on cruise control. Thinking about the recipient of this quilt… a young man in his early twenties. He wouldn’t want a prissy, perfectly executed quilt. The light bulb over my head flashed BRIGHT… like a neon sign!! My hands started moving on their own in a different pattern. All the rules I have learned about quilting flew out the window. Leaving raw edges frayed, not following a straight line… the quilt was telling me what to do!!!

It turned out AWESOME!!! Edgy!! Perfect for a guy his age. Nothing at all what I envisioned when I first received the call about making the quilt.

I know his mother, the client… loved it. I can’t wait to hear his reaction!!!

Edgy Quilt 1

QUILT #2…

A young woman called and explained her father passed away 4 years ago, he always wore polo shirts, was a ham radio operator with a call sign… and asked if I would possibly consider making a memorial quilt out of his shirts as a surprise Christmas gift for her mother. Again I answered, “Sure.” And again I began designing the quilt before seeing the shirts. I envisioned ham radio logos, graphics, call signs and such. I was excited to get started.

The shirts arrived, I opened the bag, I pulled the shirts out and saw regular, plain, solid colored, well worn and well loved polos. Remnants of the life of a loved one… and this person, whom I have never met, trusted me to make something wonderful of them. Speak about PRESSURE!

I learned my lesson from the previous quilt. Let the shirts speak to me. Let the quilt design itself. “I am just the instrument”, became my constant mantra.

The first thing I did was to dump the shirts out onto my dining table and mix them up in a huge messy pile. With no preconceived plan, and a pair of scissors in my hand… I started cutting up the shirts. My heart was racing, not knowing what my hands were going to do… but I let them do what they wanted… and WOW was I amazed at the result!!!

Being guided by some other force… I cut and sewed, and sewed and cut until I finally came up for air. Shirt fabric flying left and right, I felt like Edward Scissorhands!  Again… this quilt designed itself… and I couldn’t have been more pleased!!

The block I am most proud of is the one with the CALL SIGN. The young woman told me the story of how her dad came to her in a dream and told her the call letters… W3GWW. I sewed a block of stripes, then appliqued the letters. Zigzagging around each one brought back memories of the hours and hours I spent sewing High School Band jackets and hundreds of ice hockey jerseys ‘back in the day’. I still have the skills!! Woo! Hoo!

Call sign

 

Quilt 2

I am honored to play a small part in the these families Christmases. Both will have an heirloom to treasure forever… and I helped to make it happen.

And THAT is what makes Christmas special to me!!!

Merry Christmas to one and all!!!!

Quilt 2 pinned 

 

Christmas Stockings…

Want to see what I made today??? Christmas Stockings!!!

They actually look much better in person than these photos. I think after the New Year I need to concentrate on taking better quality pictures for this blog.

I am so excited! Thanks to PINTEREST I got the idea to purchase a painter’s drop cloth at Home Depot to make a tablecloth for half the price of a pre-made one. It took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to cut a 104″ circle and hem it… by HAND! It looks GREAT! Right now I left it the natural color… however it reminds me of a blank canvas just screaming to be painted.

When I moved to this house two years ago the stockings I have had for years didn’t seem to fit the ‘new me’ and my new lifestyle. I moved in October and Christmas came too fast to worry about making a new set. Last year I was in a ‘Bah Humbug’ mood and used gift bags. So THIS year I decided we HAD to have new ones. I hit the stores looking for the perfect stockings.

ICK! All I found were cheap, ugly, boring stockings. Sitting around staring at the pile of leftover painter’s drop cloth… a lightbulb clicked on… I’ll make them myself! The first one I made was mine. I wanted a ‘beach’ theme, inspired by Hurricane Sandy. Sewing is my life, so I pulled out my needles, threads, and scissors ready to start applique production. “NO! Let me do something different”, my brain screamed at me.

I hunted around for the fabric paints I bought over a year ago and scrounged them out of a long forgotten drawer. My mind conjured up all kinds of designs. I decided to paint out of my comfort zone and paint ‘loose-y, goose-y’. I love the final result.

Next was my daughter’s. I lost the carefree attitude and painted a lot more ‘controlled’ like I normally do. In reality the colors are hot pink, purple, and turquoise. Great combination. Her ‘groom to be’ is in the navy, so next up was to paint an anchor for his.

Last, but certainly not least was my son’s. He is in the movie biz… so film strips seemed appropriate.

My other daughter is jealous I didn’t make one for her and her husband, however I explained that only people sleeping over on Christmas Eve get one. Santa will fill their stockings at their house… not mine 🙂

Now that the hard work is done… it’s time to add the icing on the cake. I want to make embellishments and add a pretty bow to the hanging loop. I’ll paint and sew some holly leaves for the guys, a starfish for mine, and an ornament for my daughter’s.  There’s no rest for the weary!