Countdown to Christmas

Yesterday I went to school to make this gingerbread house with Ellie. It is a project for kindergarten that has been a tradition for many years now. I think she has been looking forward to it for a long time. Maya made hers 4 years ago and I've been able to seal it up every year in an airtight container and bring it out every year with the Christmas decorations. This may be the last year for hers. It smelled a little stinky when I opened the container so I left it in storage. I may try to let it air out, then spray it with varnish. The kindergarten teacher said some people have told her they have kept one for as long as 10 years, but she thinks that is silly. She said her daughter and sons make new ones each year. It's so easy... just a little half pint milk carton with 4 graham crackers and some left over Halloween candy along with a few additional purchased goodies. I prefer to try to preserve it, as it is a wonderful memory of kindergarten more than gingerbread cuteness.

The cookie factory.
I usually start baking on December 22 or 23rd. I make the exact same cookies every year for the family on Christmas Eve. This year, I decided to bake a few batches earlier so that I might share with others. Last week I made one batch of rolled butter cookies to take to work. Then, I decided to make cookies for teachers and neighbors, friends and out-of-town relatives. A few days ago I was notified that we would be having a bake sale and auction at work for a friend to suffered a terrible tragedy. So Monday and Tuesday I baked six batches of cookies. It seemed effortless, but now I have to start all over again for Christmas Eve. I actually didn't have enough to fill all the tins for all the friends and neighbors on my list.

At work we have had many bake sales and auctions in the office and it is heart-warming to see the generosity of the workplace as a whole. The first was for a co-worker whose wife had cancer. Even with health insurance the medical costs were overwhelming. Other offerings have been for Katrina Relief, house fires and various medical conditions that have devastated families. My latest bake sale offerings have been Helping Heart and Hand cookies. The holiday season added diversity of gingerbread to the mix.

In addition to the bagged cookies for the bake sale, I added this Christmas tin full of cookies for the auction. It includes a variety of "Patti Davis's Homemade Yummy Goodness": Rolled Butter Cookies, Gingerbread, Magic Seven Layer Bars, Pecan Tassies, Fudgy Pastry Cups, and Butter Pecan Turtle Bars. Some lucky auction winner who doesn't like to bake has the whole assortment of homemade Christmas Cookies!

A watercolor mandala I added to the auction.

By the way.... my cookie signs are made of recycled Christmas cards and the "magical special power" I mentioned in a previous post is just fake energy. It's sugar and caffeine. This is why I cannot maintain it for more than a month. I feel myself starting to crash soon. I only have to make it 6 more days. My morning cup of coffee has turned into 2 cups of coffee and the afternoon cup, I am afraid is sometimes 2 afternoon cups. I haven't exactly been seeking out the sugar. I am submerged in it, as you can see. My body will welcome healthy food and exercise. I actually prefer that to anything. Sugar is my weakness, and I will address that on January 2.
Happy Holidays!


Do Angels Drive Cars?

My mom gave me an old set of wooden ornaments. As I was hanging them on my tree, I said to Maya and Ellie "What is this? An angel driving a car?" We all got a good chuckle out of it. They assured me that angels have wings and can fly, so an angel driving a car is pretty funny.

I love this one, too. So simple. So cute.

I am always surprised how much I can get done during the holiday season. I feel like I have some sort of special magical power at this time of year. Last year I remember designing Katie's CD cover, printing out 100 of them, cutting them by hand and inserting them by hand (including taking each jewel case apart to insert back side) in time for her CD release show on the 20th. In addition to all the baking, shopping, and wrapping, we went to a wedding on the 23rd and I sewed the dress I wore. I wish I had this sort of energy all year round, but I could only sustain it for about a month - then I'm spent. I guess I do give up exercise for this month, too. Not something I would want to do on a regular basis.

It snowed pretty hard last night. We woke up to a beautiful winter wonderland. The girls were dressed and outside by 8am and back inside for hot chocolate by 8:30. Darrin finished shoveling with the help of the neighbor's plow and is now headed for my folks house to do their driveway. While he does all the hard work, I get to curl up in a chair and knit. As much I want to shed the stereotypical gender roles, sometimes I enjoy being the domestic diva. It's so romantic to knit a scarf and hat on a cold winter night. I can't tell you who this is for, it's a surprise. I splurged on really nice yarn since it is a gift and now I want one just like it!

It snowed 2 weeks ago on a Wednesday. I shoveled the driveway (most of it) in the evening after Girl Scouts and piano. Darrin was at class that evening and was surprised. He said "Who shoveled?" "I did", I said. All the while I was feeling empathy for single moms who probably have to work full time, but still do not have enough money to pay someone to do such things. If anyone reading fits that description.... strength and prosperity to you!


98% recycled

It's almost 9:30pm now and I am going to go paint a little before bed. I couldn't help myself and started playing around with recycling old Christmas cards again. All materials are recycled except for the ribbon and silver ink. It would be nice if I had a mantle to hang this from.