Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Projects & Fun

Days this week have dawned clear and colorful. The whole family has been in residence and activities, cooking extravaganzas and games of various sorts fill days and evenings. I do love the holiday season and this one has been an especially jolly one. Quinn is fully aware of what's going on for the first time which makes it all the more magical for the rest of us. He has been so enthusiastic and curious.

We made most of the gifts we gave this year. It has become a kind of family tradition. For each of the adults we made pendant blank notebooks. They are about 3" high and hang around the neck with a leather tie. The idea is to always have a place to jot down a phone number or other piece of information when you're on the fly. They have removable/replaceable pages. This one is covered in suede. We had a great time figuring out how to attach the loops and fastener. We were pleased to find some very small but nice pens in our local stationery store.

For James I made a satchel out of some beautiful quilting patterns I found in our local fabric store. I made a pocket inside and found an antique scout compass and whistle on ebay to put inside it. I also added a handmade book cover in which I placed a 1950's era scouting guide to camping and trail blazing.

For Emily I made a purse and book. The purse is made, on the striped side, out of a sweater I bought with her years ago in California. She has one just like it. I felted the wool earlier this year and it is now a nice soft fabric. The turquoise side is from an angora scarf I had. I stamped a couple of images on hand-dyed linen fabric and then embroidered them onto the front and back. I love applique and embroidery, although I've never really learned how to do it beyond a few basic stitches. It's one of my New Year's resolutions, to experiment with it. The big red flower stamp is one Emily bought me as a gift from the Victoria and Albert Museum Store when we were in London together last April. It's a genuine Indian fabric pattern stamp. The trim at the top of the bag is an antique one I bought with Emily at the flea market in Paris a few weeks ago. The book is covered in a paper Emily brought me from Italy some years ago. It has strips of bright paper sewn onto the base off-white sheet. The book has favorite recipes in it.

For Quinn we made a game called "A Visit to Nana and Bobo's House." We mounted a large scale photo of our house and pasted it onto foam core. It stands about 18" high. We printed out more photos of some of the family members and mounted them on foam core as well. Rick made nice wooden stands for everything. So it is stable on the floor or a table.

We also made him a finger puppet theater. I found a fantastic site where you can download a huge variety of copyright-free images. They have this wonderful old theater image there.

We love puppets in our family. I bought this old puppet theater in Prague when we visited there several years ago. Quinn is getting old enough to begin enjoying making and watching shows.

On Christmas morning we had fun watching Quinn discover his new toys. Here three boys are fascinated by a wooden robot whose limbs rotate around on elastic cord which allows the robot to contort himself in various funny positions. I can't tell here who's enjoying it the most.

Often on Christmas either James or Emily thinks up some original activity for the family. This year Jos and Emily created a magical crafts fair in the atelier. They secretly set it up on Christmas Eve and invited us down to participate in it on Christmas afternoon. Emily had purchased all kinds of luscious supplies, lots of fabrics, buttons, ribbon and notions from La Droguerie in Paris (a fabulous resource) as well as fancy papers, clay, pottery paints and various other items so we could have a family crafts party. James, Emily and I spent quite a lot of time in the studio making various items.

Quinn joined us occasionally as well. He painted a butterfly mask and a big cardboard "Q". He made some clay animals. My favorite was a Fimo leopard with orange sequin spots which he carefully arranged.

James worked on making a tie for Adric, who wasn't able to join us this holiday season.

It turned out very well. Emily made some very cute brown corduroy pants for Quinn. I made a little purse and a pencil pocket.

Our traditional Christmas meal is a plateau de mer. This year Jos and Rick also made watercress soup. It was delicious.

The day after Christmas was bright and sunny and we took a walk in the woods. Jackets began to be peeled off as we strolled through the sunnier parts.

Quinn tried out his new "early rider" bike which was waiting for him under the tree on Christmas morning. He got the hang of it very quickly.

The new year is right around the corner and I intend to have a slightly different format for the blog beginning next week. It's always good to have a few New Year's resolutions and to use the energy to start something afresh. Wishing all of you a very happy New Year.


  1. What beautiful christmas memories you are making..and I for one love handmade gifts over store bought ones,,thanks for sharing your special holiday happenings,,and a Happy New Year to you...

  2. Dernièrement, nous parlions de transmission sur shouted ... et bien je crois que vous êtes les meilleurs "transmetteurs" du monde d'un esprit créatif, généreux et enthousiaste. Le théâtre de marionnettes s'imposait ! A toutes les générations, il fait partie des meilleurs souvenirs mais celui ci est vraiment magnifique, bravo !
    J"aaime beaucoup la photo de Quinn regardant sa maman et aussi celle où il est avec Rick et Jos (très chic avec ses lunettes !)

  3. What wonderful gifts Nancy. Such beautiful Christmas spirit. The photo of the "three boys" enjoying the robot is so full of joy. It makes me happy just to look at it.

    With very best wishes for a wonderful year in 2012. xox

    PS Off now to check out "La Droguerie"'s site.