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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Handmade Holidays

I got ornaments this year. My SIL did a fantastic job with photos -- the back of a relevant photo has a pattern printed on it. The one in the photograph is a picture of my kids at the cabin on the lake. The ornament uses two brads and ribbon. I love it. The light shining through the hollow space is very pretty to see at night. I think I ended up with five of these ornaments, all with a different pattern on the back -- one for each child plus one for Mr. GAIN and me.

My business partner, in her effort to join our family smelting, made a cross stitch ornament. She was pretty excited to see the different gifts that we all opted to make. I think the time spent in thought and effort is similar to buying gifts, but there is something about smelting that says "You are extra-special."


Monday, December 29, 2008

Handmade Holidays

Two of the handmade holiday gifts that I received.

First a note about these pics. I can intuitively figure out the functions on my camera, but it is so different from my old camera that I get stuck comparing the two during use. So bear with me not making the best use of it with the different lighting situations. I need to practice using it. Which would mean homework. I really don't like homework. I may use the old camera for still photos like these. I think I just miss the extra toggle switch.

On to the gifts. My BIL made a tray for me. It is an old satellite dish decoupaged with oak leaves. If you have seen my front porch, you'll understand how much I will use this. The edging of the dish is a black rubber seal of some sort.

I also received a struesel coffee cake in a jar from my sis. It looked really cute in its package. Alas, it was emptied before photos were taken. The little spatula in the pan is also new from her, but not handmade by her. It was a great cake. My younger son asked if coffee was an ingredient. 4/6 of the family is sick right now, so I think only two or three of us ate any. I probably ate half of it over the course of the day.

I got more handmade gifts, but I'm not happy with the pictures (see above). I'll try to figure out the manual settings on this camera. But maybe not.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

receiving smelts

I am trying to get a good picture of the "smelted gift" that I received. Perhaps tomorrow will bring nice lighting through the window.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Smelting, cont'd.

Tonight, we revealed our smelts. For Scott, a magazine rack. I cut and glued 80 pieces of corrugated cardboard to make it.

For Lisa, Mr. GAIN made a backpack. We had some upholstery fabric left from gift that G of GAIN made in 2007. The children all did a nice job making gifts for their cousins. G made a necklace and matching earrings, N made a bottle cap belt, A made a pop can tab belt, and I of GAIN painted two boxes filled with a wee girl and candy. And everyone got a quilled snowflake ornament.

The cheese ball was a success. N of GAIN and I used organic garlic from Turtle Farm and chives from our garden.



G of GAIN has honored the Blue Man Group through a gingerbread homage.

N of GAIN and I made a cheeseball from scratch after wanting to make cheese for over a year. It got rave reviews.

The next picture is the wrist warmers (see the previous post) on a model, the younger brother of the gifted. Definitely longer when worn by a younger person. I can always add length.

The last picture is special because it shows that no late night smelting occurred, which is probably a first. See all the light coming through the window? After this many years, we may be getting close to semi-pro smelting status. I didn't even have to help Mr. GAIN with the sewing machine, except to thread the needle.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Preview of boy gifts -- gaiters. Excuse the rotated pictures. blogspot sucks in that way.

For some reason, mass manufacturers cannot make a mitten for little kids (or big ones, sometimes) with a long enough cuff. Maybe if you don't move, the cuff is long enough to keep you warm. But if you move (and who doesn't?), there is always that little strip of wrist that gets exposed to the cold -- the jacket sleeves creep up and mitten cuffs are too short to cover that little area of skin. A wrist warmer/gaiter does the trick. My oldest confirms this when she works the drive-up at the grocery store. Since I used dark yarn, I put my big hand (compared to a three year old) in the cuff so you could see it better.

The neck gaiter is for another little boy. I put a button on it to keep the ends of this short scarf together. The parent can put the button through the scarf wherever there is a hole -- which is all along the garment. So the garment can adapt as the child (or parent) needs. I myself struggle with cold air down the neck, to varying degrees, with jackets and coats.

More gifts -- a hat that needed lengthening (I added about 2") and a pair of super-soft sleeping socks.

Smelting, cont'd.

A belt and a batch of cookies.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Smelting, cont'd.

To paraphrase (without a transcript) the lovely Victoria Jackson in the classic SNL Christmas skit, "Remember that one time when I was gone for four days in the woods?...Well, I found some copper-bearing ore and I smelted it and cut these gears (for a watch)...."

I pat myself on the back. I have never done sleeves before, and the angel is the largest thing I have ever cut on the jigsaw. My oldest was impressed with my wood cutting skills. She also wants a copy of one of my cookbooks once she leaves the house, which I thought was sweet.


Sawdust, anyone?

Gifts for Christmas -- building blocks (hat tip to my older son for doing half of the work) and a draft stopper made from an old pair of jeans. The jeans had a hole in one knee, so I cut out the good leg and added length with a small remnant (of the many in the drawer). I used my commercial draft stopper as a guideline. It's filled with wood chip animal bedding, except in the ends and the center, where I used a small double bag of play sand. Spare clothesline makes a handle to hang it from the door knob when not in use.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

working away

We are working away at school and Christmas. I've got to figure out a way to get more hours in the day -- the cookies are gone as soon as they are out of the oven. If only everyone would fall sleep before I do.

I included some shots of school to show that you don't need a desk to learn. Home is quite comfy, messy bedroom and all.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recent Smelt Activity

Best of all, in my inbox, a notice that the new issue of knitty is ready!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Recent Smelt Activity

With dh Mr. GAIN's family, there are so many of us that everyone exchanges names. Additionally, there is a spending limit on either the gift or the ingredients of the gifts. There used to be a condition that the gift had to be handmade. That stressed people out (think of a really competitive talent show), so handmade is optional these days but not for the people in my house. No one really wants to quit crafting.

In honor of the Victoria Jackson-Paul Simon SNL Desert Island Skit from 1987, we call the handmade Christmas process 'smelting' and the gifts are 'smelts.' As a materials scientist and engineer, I fully know what smelting really is, which makes the process all the more humorous to me. As a 'smelter,' I identify myself as the Victoria Jackson character. The smelting bar is very high.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Meme

I found this somewhere in bloggerland. I've been to many many craft blogs because of the Sew, Mama, Sew Give-Away Day.

the rules:
"Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay, just copy (not forward) this entire email and paste into a new e-mail that you can send. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then send this to a whole bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you......Tis the Season to be NICE! "

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? both. I save everything from year to year.

2. Real tree or Artificial? artificial. this year. if we get a real tree, it's a frasier fir, which Capt. Jack called the "Cadillac of Christmas Trees." we quit getting a real tree last year or the year before because i was pretty stressed about everything it entails. we're in a different life situation currently, so we probably could have hunted for a real one. then again, the cost is crazy.

3. When do you put up the tree? any time. it's up right now. i am usually a humbug, though, so later rather than earlier. matt got it out this year and made the kids decorate it last weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? any time after the new year. i don't keep track. I am guessing after the twelfth night.

5. Do you like eggnog? yes. half milk, half AE nog.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I cannot recall anything favorite. I wish I could answer this better.

7. Hardest person to buy for? grandparents

8. Easiest person to buy for? children under the age of 5

9. Do you have a nativity scene? yes, a few. the kids have their own, too.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I do not remember getting 'the worst' gift.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? it's a wonderful life

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? all year round.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? if i have, i don't remember doing so.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? homemade cookies because they remind me of different people

16. Lights on the tree; colored or white?

17. Favorite Christmas song? don't have one. but here is an interesting website that gives origins of songs and carols:

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? we travel in town.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? yes, but i cannot reveal the answers lest you copy me.

20. Angel on the tree top of tree or a star? depends on the year. sometimes we have a dove or other ornament near the top of the tree because the top branch doesn't fit the angel or star properly.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? christmas morning

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? birds with feathers, started when i was a child and someone gave me a red peacock and a white dove.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? no memory of a favorite. i just like eating :-)

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? peace of mind and heart for myself

26. Who is most likely to respond to this? no idea. this is a long meme, so maybe no one.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

embed a video test

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