Christmas Ceylon from TranquiliTea & Herbs

In my last post I mentioned that we spent a week in Gatlinburg, TN back in September. When I go on vacation, I take along a large rectangular basket which holds three china cup and saucer sets, two two-cup teapots, a creamer, lots of tea options, a quart jar of local honey, Walkers shortbread cookies, etc. I even take a large tray that will accommodate everything for two people so I can move it from the kitchen to the balcony in one fell swoop. Am I a tea addict? No, I just hate to waste the opportunity to have a relaxing tea time while trying some new teas that I purchase and hold on to for such an occasion as vacation time. But, I’m also always on the lookout for more new-to-me teas when given the opportunity.

While I said we are couch potatoes for the most part when on vacation, we did get a bit more adventuresome this go around in hopes of finding a replacement for two of our regular food providers, one of which had changed ownership and the other, the kettle corn kiosk, which wasn’t open. While I didn’t really find a suitable replacement for the kettle corn, I did find a great tea store instead. TranquiliTea is located in the Mountain Mall at 611 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN. When I was there the tea store was in Suite F, but the lady behind the counter, who I took to be the owner, told me that she would be moving to Suite D. So, if you physically go to the Mountain Mall be sure to look at the shop directory in the lobby to get their current location. If you click on the link you will see a photo of the shop as it was when I visited. All those jars on the left side of the photo are different tea blends. There are just as many on the right side of the shop when you walk in, they’re just not visible in the photo. If I remember correctly, the teas are in alphabetical order which makes it pretty easy to find what you’re looking for if you have a specific preference in mind. You can order online, but I did not see the Christmas Ceylon listed when I did a search on their site. You may have to order by phone and ask for this blend specifically. I did see that they have a Winter Blend whose description sounds like something I’d enjoy.
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The Christmas Ceylon tea wasn’t actually on the shelf when I was there, but when I asked if they had any Christmas teas the owner produced a jar that she’d packaged but not yet put out. The loose tea came in a 4 oz. glass jar which I’m guessing can be refilled on future trips providing the blend is available. As you might expect, it has a limited production time since it is a Christmas tea. I enjoyed it so much though that I’d be more than happy to drink it at any time of the year. The label for Christmas Ceylon reads: Black tea (Ceylon) Natural Essence, Hand Processed Smoky Red Orange Pekoe, Smooth & Rare. The label includes the date that it was created and the date by which it is best used. I doubt seriously though that it will last until 2022.

When I unscrewed the lid I knew immediately that I was in for a treat. The smell was definitely that of a spicy Christmas tea. While it isn’t listed in the 3958A583-F125-42DB-84BF-1964E63E0303ingredients, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there is cinnamon as well as cloves in the mix, maybe even some nutmeg. I say this because I was reminded of the taste and smell produced by the spices I use when making pumpkin bread. Very warming, very comforting, very Christmasy. The tea itself didn’t taste like pumpkin bread though so don’t let my comparison confuse you. Having clarified that I’d have to say that the only thing that would have made my tea time better would have been to actually have some of my pumpkin bread to enjoy with my tea. Unfortunately, my recipe for pumpkin bread is definitely not Keto friendly, and I’m supposed to be eating a ketogenic diet (emphasis on the “supposed to be”). Neither is the honey with which I sweeten my tea, but we won’t beleaguer that point right now.

Bottom line…I would recommend this Christmas tea selection without hesitation. I look forward to going back to visit this shop again and try some of their other offerings. Alas, waiting until our return visit is not much different than waiting for Christmas to get here. It always takes too long to arrive and goes by all too quickly, but it does leave one with warm memories that last forever.

Update on two previous posts – Back in July, I mentioned having bought the 12 Days of Christmas gift box of teas from Harney & Sons. They have added this box to their sight and it is on sale! Great group of teas at a great price plus FREE shipping. Don’t miss out!

Last month I reviewed one of the teas from a variety box I’d purchased from Tuesdays at the beginning of this year. They have the same box of tea out this year, for $6.99, but under a different name. Last year it was by Tea of Life, this year it’s by Timothy’s. The graphics and tea blends are exactly the same. What I didn’t realize when I wrote the post last month was that the tea is packed and exported by Amazon Trading (PVT) Ltd. The one currently available at Tuesdays is also by Amazon Trading (PVT) Ltd. Click on the link to learn more about this company.

Note: There are no affiliate links in this post. All links are given for reference and ease of use only.

Holiday Blend from Tea of Life

This year has flown by to say the least. Even with just having hosted our fall Stitchin’ Camp weekend-before-last, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that there are only two months left in this year. I can hear my mom telling me when I was a kid wishing for Christmas or my birthday to come not to wish my life away because it’d go by quickly enough when I got older. Boy, was she ever right.

Last month we spent a week in Gatlinburg, TN which isn’t too far up the road from here. We’re typically couch potatoes when we go there but do have a few haunts that we have to visit before the week ends. One of those haunts is the Lenox outlet in Sevierville, TN. This go-around my long-time friend, Beverly, came down from Fall Branch to spend a day with me while Rick went a bit further up the road to visit his parents. Rick’s very accommodating when shopping at the Lenox outlet, especially given that I need more china like I need another hole in my head, but getting to shop with Beverly was so much fun. I can’t tell you when the last time was that I shopped with another female, besides Victoria of course and we tend to do our shopping via photos taken with our phones depending on who is at a store and who is elsewhere.

Beverly and I met at Books-a-Million and had to buy books and magazines of course, not to mention snacks. She then surprised me with a visit to a nail salon. It was the first time I’d been to one since 1987. Talk about being out of my depth… Eventually, we made it to the Lenox outlet. I’m not sure her husband is going to ever let her go with me again though because she ended up buying a lot more than I did—a whole lot more. My goal was to find any and all of the holiday-themed cup and saucer sets they had in stock because I realized back at the first of the year when I started these Christmas tea posts that I didn’t have but a couple of sets that were Christmas themed. I wanted to correct that oversight on this trip. As for Beverly, I don’t think she expected to buy anything at all. Still, she ended up with several lovely pieces that I know she’ll enjoy using this holiday season.
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One of the sets that I chose isn’t really a set but go well enough together I think. The cup is from the Holiday Tartan group which, sadly, is no longer in production. I’ll find the correct saucer one of these days and may even buy a cup to go with the saucer you see here. This saucer is from the Winter Greetings Plaid group which was discontinued last year. Why did I not buy the cup that went with this saucer when I was at the shop? Because I really didn’t like the shape of the cup. It’s just a bit too round and squatty for my taste. I’m strange about a lot of things, and the shape of my teacup is one of them.
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So, now that you know where this cup and saucer set came from let’s talk about the tea in it. This selection was one of four that came in a large box which I purchased right after Christmas earlier this year from Tuesdays. When I found the box, on sale no less, I was hoping that the Holiday Blend inside would be the same as the Holiday Spice tea that I reviewed in March. Alas, it was not. This blend does have some of the same flavorings, but it is definitely not the same as the other blend. It’s quite good though, and I’ve enjoyed it on several 79FD263E-EDCD-4BDC-8E8D-DFE64A9C5020occasions even though it’s a bit heavy on the vanilla flavour side. The spices are there, but you really have to think about them in order to taste them. Of course, I added honey even though honey is one of the ingredients listed on the box. While one can have too much honey in one’s tea a little more than what was already included in the blend didn’t hurt it one bit. I think if anything it might just have added to the smoothness and flavour.
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If I run across this tea again this season I will definitely buy more. While there were 100 bags of tea in the box, there were only 25 bags of this flavour. I use two bags each time I make tea in my little teapot that I won from teadog.com several years ago, so that only gives me twelve full tea-times and one extra cup to enjoy. If you do the calculations, that’s only enough for once a month. It’s a good thing that I have enough tea in my stash to take care of all the other days in the month…and I keep buying more.

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Holiday Cheer Tea – A Downton Abbey Ltd. Edition

Since the new Downton Abbey movie was released this past weekend, I thought this would be a good time to review a limited edition tea that was gifted to me a couple of years ago. While it was made by The Republic of Tea it was purchased at TJMaxx. Sadly the tea is not showing as a current offering on The Republic’s website, BUT they are showing a Christmas themed tea that you’ll probably want to snag before it’s gone. I’d be surprised if it isn’t just as good as the one that I’m sharing with you today. They’re also offering free shipping on U.S. orders over $25. That makes it a great time to get your Christmas shopping done for those tea drinkers on your list, which includes yourself of course.
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The Holiday Cheer tea of Christmas’s Past is a caffeine-free red rooibos with natural vanilla and cinnamon flavours. While I did not add milk to this tea, it is said, according to the description on the canister, to be lovely when added. The smell that emanates from the container when opened gives you a slight hint at the treat in store for you. Once steeped, it does not fail to deliver a lovely rich flavour that can be savored not only at Christmas time but all year long. The balance of cinnamon and vanilla is just right with neither overwhelming the other. I did add honey to my tea and greatly enjoyed it after a long day. A day when I welcomed cheer of any kind be it holiday or otherwise.

The only other Downton tea that I have on hand is the Bates Brambleberry tea. It is another good choice for those who enjoy a bit of tang with their tea. It’s not too tart but not sweet either. Great for those times when you need to add a little zing to your day without overwhelming your tastebuds.

NOTE: Non of the links given are affiliate links. They are given for the ease of use only.

Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons

It’s July 25. I know, I’m stating the obvious here, but that means that today is the day I talk about another Christmas tea that I enjoyed this past season. It also means that Christmas is now only five, yes, only five, more months away. That’s not long at all if you stop and think how quickly the first five months went by. As if we needed a reminder, the last couple of days have been pleasantly cooler here than normal for the end of July in the south. Ahhh, if only all of summer could be like that.

The tea I’d like to share with you today is Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons. I discovered this tea a few years back when it was on sale after WP-Pic-Holiday TeaChristmas at Barnes & Noble. At that time, I wasn’t as adventuresome where tea was concerned as I am now, so being able to try a tea that was marked 50% off and use my membership discount as well seemed a safe enough way to try something different. All it took was one cup, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I went back to Barnes & Noble as soon as I could to buy more. That’s not as easy for me as it might be for some folks either. The closest Barnes & Noble to us is in Huntsville, AL. We’re talking about an hour drive one way just to buy this new-to-me tea. That should give you a better idea of how much I liked it. It reminded me a bit of spiced cider without the whang that spiced cider has because of the juices used to make it. Holiday Tea is a black tea which has citrus, red safflowers, vanilla flavour, almond, clove, and cinnamon. The tin contains 30 sachets. This tea is part of their Historic Royal Palaces group. You can read more about that on their site. One of the plus factors with this tea is that you can buy it year round! No need to wait for Christmas displays to be set up at the bookstore. Just order directly from Harney & Sons and start enjoying this spiced tea within the week.

July is the month that many businesses use to get your attention by focusing on Christmas in hopes of boosting their bottom line during the summer sales slump. I thought I’d follow their lead and share with you a special item that I bought myself for Christmas last year. Actually, since Rick’s not much of a shopper I bought it so that he could give it to me and I’d be extremely pleased with “his” choice. I know, what a good and helpful wife I am…

Because I was in need of some replacement teas from Harney & Sons just before Christmas, I sat down one evening and took advantage of that need, coupled with a coupon that I’d received from them via e-mail. As I was looking through their treasures, I came upon a listing for a 12 Days of Christmas gift set. Now, we celebrate Christmas over a 12 day timeframe, so this sounded interesting. You can read about that here. After reading through the list of teas that were included, I was thrilled to see that it contained four of the ones that I needed to replenish and a fifth one that I enjoy drinking. Perfect! I could kill two birds with one stone. The bonus was that the tins were in three 16AAA03F-0C25-494C-B590-1B0513566579different colours, each sporting a different wintery design, and better still, the set was marked down. That made each tin of tea a real bargain. The fact that there were also some that I’d never tried appealed to my now adventuresome side which is still almost always tempered with caution. Since the set was reduced, and I was allowed to use my coupon, I knew I wouldn’t feel too badly if I tried a new variety and determined it wasn’t to my liking.

When the box arrived I decided to actually wait for Christmas before opening it. Oh, yes. That took a lot of willpower believe you me. I also decided that it would 6B3B6848-C6D5-42D1-BDAC-A1B165684212go with me to Fort Morgan, AL for my winter vacation. Since it was so nicely packed into a lovely presentation box which came protected in a sturdy cardboard box I knew it would travel well and arrive undamaged. I must admit that while I was thrilled with the set there was a bit of a let down when I opened the box and found that the lovely wintery designs on the tins weren’t actually printed on the container but were labels that had been placed on plain silver tins. I guess I was so excited with my great find that I didn’t look at the photo on their website very closely. If it was mentioned in the description that the tins only had printed labels I didn’t notice that either. As a tin collector I’d much rather have had the design printed on the tin, but I realize that those tins aren’t cheap, especially if they only offer a limited number of sets which means they wouldn’t be buying in huge quantities to get the price per tin lower. No matter. It was just one little glitch in an otherwise lovely box of teas.

The reason that I’m sharing about the gift set with you today is in hopes of giving you a heads-up so you can be on the lookout over the next few months in the event that Harney & Sons offer this gift set again this year. I have no idea just when it appeared on their sight last year, but I believe I ordered it in November. You might want to check from time to time so you don’t miss it. I’m guessing that this might be a limited selection item too. Even if you don’t like all the teas that are included you can use the ones you know you won’t drink as inexpensive, but impressive, gifts for some of those hard-to-buy-for folks on your Christmas list. Or, maybe you have a friend who loves trying new teas. Any one of the ones I received would be a welcomed addition to her, or his, tea stash. Find a nice basket in which to place the tin of tea, a winter themed mug, some cookies, preferably homemade with recipe written out, and maybe a mug rug. That would be one nice gift that would make anyone’s Christmas merry and bright…not to mention flavourful.

Christmas Night from English Tea Shop

This past Christmas season I decided to try some new Christmas teas. While we were back home visiting for Christmas, I had the opportunity to go to TJMaxx with the excuse that I needed just a couple more items to complete my shopping list. That was true by the way, but as I looked for just the right items I ran across this organic tea in its clip-on lidded canister. Sadly, the graphics are only paper, but that might make DDD15282-C013-4A49-BD45-A623F6DC18E5them easier to remove once all the tea is gone, leaving me with the perfect container for another of my loose leaf teas.

According to the description on the front, this particular blend is said to be “bursting with festive cheer” having black tea that has been combined with cinnamon, ginger, and caramel. The back of the label adds to that cocoa, cloves, licorice, and vanilla pods, all of which are organic.

This loose leaf tea has a lovely subtle scent before steeping and an equally subtle aroma when poured into your cup. I add a generous dollop of honey to my tea, so the D914658D-DA82-4F64-9CA2-5307D0130ECBflavour I enjoy might be a bit diffent when a different sweetener, or no sweetener at all, is added. What I enjoy once the tea has steeped is thoughts of a winter evening sitting by a warm fire while having my feet and legs wrapped up in a flannel-backed quilt. No one spice overpowers another, although you can sometimes feel a bite of the cinnamon at the back of your tongue just before swallowing. Best of all, at least for me, is that the taste of licorice is not noticeable at all.

I looked on the English Tea Shop’s website to see if this tea is still available. It shows up under their seasonal offerings in the 3.5 oz. (100g) clip tin like mine. Their site shows that they sell on Amazon, a site from which I never purchase. I’ll just have to look again at TJMaxx, Homegoods, or Marshall’s when I need more of this tea and cross my fingers that they’ll have it. I will definitely buy more when I run out, probably beforehand actually if I can, as I’d rather not be without this option come tea drinking time.

The cup you see here is from the Winter Greetings collection by Lenox. 1DBFA776-56A8-4FB8-AEA6-4E3DBB9C26D1 I’ve been fortunate enough to have added to my collection this year and can’t wait to set a table this upcoming season with this beautiful china. Speaking of the upcoming season, we’re now only six months away from Christmas Day. Hope you’ve been cracking along on your gift-giving projects because the year is half over. If not, get going!

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Holiday Spice Tea from Tea of Life

The Christmas tea that I’d like to share with you this month is from Tea of Life. This is their Holiday Spice Tea which I purchased from TJMaxx in 2017. Try as we might, neither I nor my girls could find this tea again for Christmas 2018, and we looked every chance we got. We looked at not only TJMaxx but also Marshall’s, Home Goods, and even Tuesdays as they tend to carry a lot of Tea of Life tea varieties.3ACE3D3A-2AD7-4E8C-829A-E4ADD52066E2

When I originally purchased this tea I wasn’t really sure I’d like it, but knew if I didn’t there would be a good chance that either Victoria or Julia would. Why did I think I wouldn’t like it? Because it contains vanilla flavour, of which I’m not really a fan, but even more questionable in my mind was the spice star anise, which to me smells and tastes like licorice, and I hate licorice. That being said, I’ve read that this spice has many benefits which include the killing off of bacteria and fungus, providing a concentrated dose of antioxidants which may aid with heart health, and it keeps blood sugar levels steady. It is also a natural way to fight off the flu. In fact, the active ingredient in flu medications like Tamiflu is shikimic acid which is extracted from star anise. (Source)

I decided that for $3.99 I would take a chance since I liked the other spices in this pure Ceylon black tea which are cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, all of which have their own list of health benefits. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I bought this tea, and although I’ve shared it with my girls, who love it, I didn’t give either of them all of it. Since we were unable to find more this past Christmas, I drink it sparingly, which isn’t hard given all the various varieties of tea I have on hand.

There were two sealed foil bags inside the tin each of which contained twenty teabags. The minute I opened the first foil bag I could smell licorice. While there’s a hint of the other spices as well, the overwhelming scent of licorice hit my nose first. That made me even more skeptical. However, I’m glad to say that once it had steeped I really liked the overall taste of this tea. The combination of spices and vanilla flavour was perfect and the aroma was lovely. Just the thing to have in hand when you’re curled up in front of a fireplace with a roaring fire, a comfy quilt, and a good book. And yes, I like it well enough that I do drink it on even not so cold winter days. It’s such a treat!

Just as a reminder, three months in this new year have come and gone. The gift giving season is only nine months away. If you’ve not started on at least a list of things to make, and people for whom to make them, you’d best grab a cup of tea, a pad of paper, and get on it. Time’s a wastin’!

Christmas Quilts & More

One of my favorite types of magazines is those which focus on Christmas. While I love magazines, I love, love, love Christmas themed magazines especially. If I had the money, and the space, I’d buy every one to be found on the bookstore shelves. That’s how much I love Christmas themed magazines. Unfortunately, I have neither the money nor the space, not to mention the time, for such a large variety of magazines that focus on one holiday. So, I pick and choose very carefully those magazines that come into my home starting around November but staying forever…and I do mean forever. I have Christmas magazines that are more than 10 years old that I still pull out for inspiration or just to get me in the mood for Christmas. These magazines cover the gamut from decorating, party planning, new recipes to try, and crafting of one sort or another. The latter being the ones that I actually get around to using for their intended purpose – more or less. I’m still better at looking at the photos and dreaming about duplicating the projects than I am at the execution process.Mag-BHG-Christmas Qlts n More 2018

The other day I received a copy of Christmas Quilts & More in the mail. This is a special interest publication from Better Homes & Gardens. I knew immediately from the cover that I was going to enjoy looking through this magazine, and I’m here to tell you that I was in no way disappointed by its content.

On the cover it states that there are “25 holiday projects, quilts, décor, and gift ideas.” I’ve gotten into the habit of using colorful sticky flags, that I buy from Dollar Tree, to mark the projects or ideas I find particularly interesting. That way, when I pick up the magazine later, I know which pages to look at and am able to save a bit of time, although not much as I get sidetracked and start looking at everything else in the magazine yet again. Yes, you could say when it comes to time management, I’m hopeless. I enjoy myself to be sure, but I’m hopeless in making the most of the minutes allotted to me each day. I’d like to say I’ll get better at it, but I know myself well enough not to lie about this particular kink in my personality.

Mag-BHG Christmas Qlts n More 2018 FlagsAnyhow, of the 25 offerings in this publication I have 15 of them flagged. When I went back and counted the number of flags sticking out the side of the magazine it made me wonder which projects I hadn’t flagged, and why. So, I went back through the issue again. Of the projects I didn’t mark one was a wreath, which I don’t need at the moment as I have a beautiful one that I purchased several years ago. One was for a tree skirt which I don’t need because I purchased one on sale last year at TJMaxx. Then there was a stocking which I don’t need, but after looking again I decided that the holly leaves and berries would work well on another project, like a hot pad or mug rug. There were four quilt projects that I didn’t mark, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t decide to make them later on. Since my count didn’t add up to 25 I went back a third time to figure out where I’d missed the other three projects. I can only conclude that those three are the evergreen sprays that are shown between sections. These should be easy enough to execute without instructions and would look wonderful on or beside exterior doors or windows to add a bit of festive cheer whether they were hanging inside or outside your home. The one using sewing notions would be perfect to hang on your sewing room door.

I do realize that this publication is a compilation of past projects that have been featured in BH&G publications. That means you may already have the instructions elsewhere, but it’s nice to have so many projects, and a fairly nice mix at that, all corralled in one convenient place. If only time could be so easily recycled I might have enough of it to actually be able to get one or two of the projects I marked completed.

While looking through the issue the third time, I had a thought which is actually one that I’ve thought about before but just never allowed to get past the thinking stage. That thought was this. Instead of just wishing my creative time away only to get to the end of the year with nothing significant to show for the days that have flown past, why not get my act together and force myself to make at least one project, probably a small one, each month that could be used as a gift for Christmas or as an addition to my current decorating items. I know I’d have to make a date with myself in order to do that. I also know that I’d have to work on it the same time each day/week/month in order to remember to do so. Otherwise, time just gets past me, and I find the month to be over before I’ve even realized it began. So, I think that’s going to be my approach to getting past the I-wish-I-hadda stage in order to finally have something to point to at the end of next year, Good Lord willing, and say, “Wow! I did all of that this year?! Who’d of thought it…” It might not be a quilting or sewing project either. Creativity and working with ones’ hands is always a good thing to do regardless of the medium. Now all I have to do is figure out where to store the items I make so that I can find them when the time comes to give or to use them next year. Another kink in my personality to be overcome I’m afraid, but that’s a discussion for another day. Suffice it to say I tend to give gifts all year long as I run across them when moving a bag to find something else that’s lost. My kids know I mean well and still seem to love me anyhow. For that I am grateful.

Magazine Monday

Mag Cover-Primtv Qlts-Wntr 2017While I was busy hosting Stitchin’ Camp this weekend, the winter edition of Primitive Quilts landed in our mailbox. Anxious to look through it, but at the same time wishing to be able to give it my full attention, I decided to wait until Sunday afternoon, after my nap of course, to look through its pages.

Sometimes, magazines will offer several projects within their pages, but only one or two that will tickle my fancy. In this case, my wait was welcomed with a magazine brimming with projects that I wanted to do. Mag Cover- Primtv Qlts-TabsI use sticky flags to mark the projects that interest me, so my copy now sprouts nine colourful flags, each marking a must-do project, out of the 16 projects included within its covers. Not bad! In addition to the projects, there are many other useful tidbits included in each issue. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the books reviewed in the Book Nook section as the shop has, or has had, all but one of the ones listed, and I have a special order request for that one book which I’ve not yet had in the shop. Needless to say, I’ve already sold out of a couple of the books that were reviewed, yes, they are that good, but I can always “buy more” as Nathanael used to say when we’d tell him that we’d run out of something, including money.

Now, you might say that “primitive” is not your style. Well, it’s not really mine either. I’m a Victorian kinda girl. But, thankfully, I had a grandmother who was a seamstress by profession. She taught me at an early age to ignore the fabrics used on a pattern, usually dress patterns, and to look at the bare bones drawing at the bottom of the catalog page instead. From her I learned that while I might not like the fabric shown on the cover of a pattern, all I had to do was change the fabric in order to have something that better suited me. She taught me how to visualize the dress made in my choice of fabric(s) instead of the fabric used in the cover photo. At the time, I didn’t realize just how valuable that lesson was. Now, as a shop owner, and creative person in general, I would say learning to look beyond the visible and being able to visualize the possible is a lesson we all need to learn as it can help in so many areas of our lives with one of the most important areas being personal relationships, where looking beyond the outside covering of a person into the depths within can mean the difference between being saved from a bad relationship or making a forever friend.

As one might guess, the colours used in the projects of this issue are mainly warm, cozy colours. While I might make one or two of the projects using similar colours, I will most likely brighten them up just a tad. Instead of using dark greens, browns, and navy, for example, I will probably use bright reds, turquoise, and lime greens. Who knows, I might even throw in some purple along the way because I do have purple ornaments for the small tree that sits on the library table in our hallway. In my book, purple is a valid colour for any time of the year. Of course, there are all those variations-on-a-theme possibilities as well. I can see extracting parts of projects to make a smaller version, especially for gift giving, or mixing and matching bits and pieces to my heart’s content. Oh, dear…here we go…

If you’ve never looked through a copy of Primitive Quilts you can visit their website and see the projects included in the winter issue. You can either order a copy online or visit your nearest bookstore for immediate satisfaction. I really think you’ll be hard pressed to ignore this issue once you’ve taken time to look through it and imagine the projects in your own favorite colours. As always, feel free to share what you’ve made with us. I’ll do that myself, once I decide on just which project to do first. Those who know me well know that decision making is not my strong suit, so it might be next Christmas season, or winter, before I actually have anything to show. Remember though, patience is a virtue. Knowing me will no doubt help make you a very virtuous person indeed.

There’s Still Time!

Proj-2015-RudyNeed a really quick and cute project to make before Christmas Day? We have just the thing for you then. This little stuffed reindeer can be made in just a few hours, and you probably already have everything you need on hand.  Is he not the cutest thing?!  And at about 6-1/2″ tall he’s small enough to fit into a little a little basket or on the branches of your tree.

As with most projects I do using someone’s pattern, I don’t follow it to the letter. In this case, rather than using freezer paper to make my template I just made a copy of the pattern and cut the reindeer out on the outside edge of the black line. I placed my fabric with right sides together (or print sides together for those who know there is no wrong side to any piece of fabric as both can be used equally well by those who are willing to do so) and pinned the pattern to my fabric. I then sewed along the edge of the paper pattern, cut away the excess fabric ¼” from the stitching, and snipped the curves so it would lay well once turned inside out. There were a couple of places where I stitched through the pattern, but I was able to pull the edge of the pattern out from under those stitches and can use it again to make more reindeer if I so desire.

I gave my little reindeer button eyes and a ribbon that was a bit narrower than the one specified by the designer. The designer by the way is none other than Miss Anne of Bunny Hill Designs. The little snowman in the mitten that I shared in a previous post is also from Bunny Hill Designs. Yes, you might say we like her designs quite well and have lots of her patterns in the shop. Not all have been made into samples mind, but we do love her work.

Proj-Snowman Candle MatWhile I was stitching my little reindeer by machine, Miss Martha was stitching a candle mat in wool felt by hand. It turned out quite nicely, but I’m not sure I want to hide the snowman’s face in the Proj-Snowman Candle Mat CUmiddle by actually putting a candle on it. It might just have to lie around and decorate instead of making itself useful being what it’s supposed to be.  I mean, look at him, would you want to cover up that cute, cute, cute smiling face?   This mat is a nice size, around 11″ give or take.  It still needs three little buttons going down the front of the center snowman according to the pattern by Penny Lane Primitives… or does it?  Our wool felt is the good kind and comes from National Nonwovens.  We love this product so well that we have close to 50 different colors on the bolt.

We will be making kits for the snowman candle mat and could easily put one together for the reindeer as well if you need it.  Patterns at present are limited, so let me know if you want one, or both.  Since you’re coming down to the wire where making handmade gifts is concerned, a kit will make it much quicker to accomplish your goal of giving nothing store boughten, as the old folks around here use to say.

 

 

New Projects and Giveaway Winner!

First, I’d like to announce the winner of the sweet sixteens set I used to make the first block of Moda’s Sampler Block Shuffle. Now the winner can make one just like mine, or some variation thereof. The winner is…Janet! Congratulations Janet! While I didn’t say you had to use your new fabrics to make this first block, I do hope to see something that you’ve used them in…eventually.

Now, on to our projects. Miss Martha has been keeping herself busy making new samples for the shop. The latest two are both geared to winter which is fast approaching. The first project I’d like to share with you is actually the last of 12 in the With Thy Needle series that we’ve been doing this year. These are made from wool felt, and we do have kits for each month available if you didn’t participate but would like to. Just give me a call and I’ll put a set aside for you.
Pic-December
This last installment showcases a boot which has been filled with holly, greenery, and candy canes. It can hang from a background designed to be changed out each month, made into a wall hanging, or framed. It could also be turned into a small pillow or hung from a wire hanger. At only 8″ square you won’t need much room to display your handiwork once finished.

The second little project is just too cute! Made from wool felt, and measuring around 4″x7″, you can whip this up in no time. Not only is it quick, but it is a very versatile project as well. So, just how versatile is it? Well, let me clue you in.
Pic-BHill-Snowman in Mitten
The original intent is of course as a tree ornament. However, you don’t have to just hang it on a tree because you could just as easily hang it on the door knob of a kitchen or bathroom cabinet, or the knob on a dresser in a child’s bedroom. Anywhere you’d like to put a little color and cute into your décor would work.

Maybe you’re not one to buy lots of presents and have gotten into the habit of buying gift cards instead. Let’s face it, when you have teenagers on your list it’s usually the best way to go these days. If that’s the case, you could make just the mitten and put the gift card inside. That way they get two gifts in one. They can still hang the mitten on the tree to enjoy long after the gift card has been used up. You could even include the date on the back of the cuff or stitch the recipients name to the front of the cuff in the event you make multiple mittens for the same family. You could also include the snowman if you’d like depending on how much time you have to work with and whether or not you think the recipient would appreciate your efforts. A gift card could easily slid in behind him.

The snowman isn’t attached to the mitten. This means that he can be made as a stand alone ornament by attaching a small loop to the back of his head. Better yet, why not make him into a pin that can be worn all winter long on a coat, toboggan, or purse. Snowmen can be displayed and enjoyed for several months you know.

Maybe you have smaller folks for which to make gifts. This little snowman would make a great finger puppet by leaving the bottom open. With a little imagination you could make a whole snowman family. Make two snowmen the size given in the pattern for a mom and a dad and then shrink the pattern just a bit and make a brother and sister, or maybe one for each member of the family that you gift the puppets to depending on the family’s configuration. What better way to foster a child’s imagination than with finger puppets?

We have a couple of kits ready to go with plans on making more as soon as we get more patterns. If you think you need help making this project, we can set up a time for you to work one-on-one with Miss Martha at no extra charge. While this project is something you could do in an evening or two, especially with all the fabrics on hand, you don’t want to wait too long to get started. I mean, who’d of thought it would be November already!? That means December is fast approaching and will be here before we’re ready. I know that for a fact because it always does. Agreed?

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