"Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest."
~ Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lazy days of Christmas.....

With Christmas being two days in Holland, we had a nice and relaxing long weekend other than me cooking three special meals starting on Christmas eve. But since I love to cook, that was no punishment to be sure. But this week seems like the holiday has stretched out even further than the weekend. I cannot seem to decide what I want to do first...read, stitch, quilt, work on things not done around the house...

I like to read a book that has a holiday theme around Christmas, so when I placed my last order from Amazon, I bought "Twelve Days of Christmas" by Trisha Ashley. I keep wanting to read more but need my hands free as I am hand quilting a quilt at the moment. Over the Christmas weekend, I stitched up this little winter design and had the perfect frame for it in house so I could finish it and use it right away.

This was the first Elizabeth Edmondson book I have read..."The Villa in Italy". I loved it so much that I also got two more of her books. Has anyone else read this one?

I have not only sat on the couch with book and needle in hand. While in Germany back in September for vacation, we went to a flea market and found the most beautiful antique tree stand. It is made from wrought iron and very heavy and very rusted under and in the corners. The man only wanted 25 euros for it but, being married to a true Dutchman, we ended up getting it for only 12,50 euros. A friend lent me her sealer for the rust which we used on it yesterday. I leaves the color in tact but seal it so that it does not rust any farther. It was now ready to use and we replaced the stand with the one that comes with a tree I have.

I loved the details on it...holly leaves with red berries.

Even the screw ends are pretty. We wanted to place the new black pencil pine tree my mother bought for me in it. This tree stands in my quilt studio. The size of the tree was not quite right but Jos used slivers of our oak floor and it fits perfectly. I will paint them black after the holidays so they are less visible.

This tree holds all my handmade bobbinlace ornaments in my quilt studio. I have a new ornament on my lace pillow so I guess we can add that to the list of things I so want to do all at the same time. *grins*

I hope you are enjoying some lazy days of Christmas...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas eve at Christmas Village.....

It is December and once again Christmas Village has suddenly appeared. This magical little village only comes out for people to see once a year. On Christmas eve, it comes to life...

If you look closely, you can see that Mrs. Dewhurst who is the wife of the vicar has just taken a scrumptious looking Christmas cake out of the oven. Doesn't it look delicious? It will be perfect to serve for the annual Christmas tea at the vicarage.

But wait! Mrs. Dewhurst hears carol singing as she passes the window. 'Oh yes!', she exclaims, 'It is already past noon and the carolers have begun. I must hurry and put on my warm coat and mittens and rush to the church square.'

There is already a crowd of villagers gathering. The singing is so beautiful. Mrs. Potts has opened her door to listen and Sister Charity has joined her.

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

The schoolmaster approaches and sees that Sarah and her lamb Snowflake are already there to listen.

But what is this??? Even the woodland creatures have quietly drawn near to hear the singing.

Mr. Rochester pauses from his work. He has brought a yule log in from the woods on his little sleigh for the vicarage Christmas tea.

A visiting family comes out of the general store with some last minute gifts while Peter rides off on his sled.

He is on his way to the other side of the pond where Thomas and Luke are waiting for him. They are going to make a big snowman there.

Mr. Brownlow is bringing the last Christmas tree he has to deliver today. It is for Miss Markham who just moved to Christmas Village recently. She is excited to start decorating her tree for her first Christmas celebration here.

And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day?
And what was in those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
The Virgin Mary and Christ were there,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
Pray, wither sailed those ships all three,
On Christmas Day in the morning?

O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
O they sailed into Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

I am including the song on my playlist of Little Toy Village. It is a very old song but one my mother and I love as it reminds us of my sister who learned this sweet song at school as a girl. She sang is every Christmas. I found it early this year but with a shock. I will give you this link to read about my photos being used for the video part of the song. This village is very special to me and unique. It is just like the one my mother made when I was a little girl and remade for me when I had my own home. It is all handpainted by my mother and sister. Each Christmas, I thank my mother over again for my special toy village. Thanks Mom!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May it be as magical as that in Christmas Village and full of thoughts of the true meaning of Christmas as declared in

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Nutcracker Suite!

This is going to be a picture heavy and long post so pour yourself a cup of your favorite tea of coffee, perhaps even a cup of hot cocoa and put on your speakers to enjoy some music. We are off to the land of Sweets at Marzipan Castle...

My love affair with The Nutcracker began when I was a young teenager. I watched The Nutcracker ballet each holiday season often on PBS. When I was sixteen and got my driver's license, I went to see the ballet for the first time in person. What a thrill! It became a tradition for me each December.

I dreamed of owning a real nutcracker but knew they were very costly. But the year after the wall fell in former East Germany, we drove to a little village deep in the Ezgebirge which is the birthplace of the nutcracker. I was in heaven...this village celebrates Christmas every day of the year! We visited the nutcracker factories and I started my collection...

Over the years, I have found nutcracker ballet ornaments here and there. These hang proudly in my Victorian tree each year.

I collected two kinds of nutcrackers. These are from a series of natural look nutcrackers...

They stand on my table in my quilt studio. To keep with the natural look, I placed pine branches and walnuts around the nutcrackers.

But I also have a collection of traditional and brightly painted nutcrackers. These stand guard in my entrance.

In my quilt studio stands my nutcracker tree which I keep out year round. This little pink feather tree holds tiny handmade wool felt sweets which I made myself. You can see them in more detail and read about it here on my handwork blog.

A Dickens Victorian couple sing carols...

And the Nutcracker King holds court each year to ensure that we keep Christmas well...

It is easy to keep Christmas well when there is a winter wonderland outside your window. We woke up to 20 cm of snow this past Sunday morning. There is more snow predicted this week. I am dreaming of snowflakes in the air on Christmas Day!

I really love snow! This does bring problems for driving or walking but as long as we all are careful, we can enjoy the season. Please be careful and stay safe as you go about your shopping and visiting this week...

Take a moment to watch the video that goes with The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on my playlist in the sidebar. It is from Fantasia Fairies in 1940 and so beautifully made.

Christmas Eve is fast approaching and my Christmas village will come to life again this year. I hope you will return then and visit Christmas Village with me...

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Yesterday, I took a good friend of mine to the Singer Museum in Laren. We wanted to be sure to catch the exhibit Dutch Utopia before it was gone in a couple of weeks. What could be more fun to share a few of our favorites with you here? If you live here in Holland, try and attend this exhibit before it moves on...

The paintings are created by a group of American artists drawn to Holland between 1880-1914 to capture their romanticized vision of "Dutchness". As an American having immigrated to Holland almost 25 years ago, I can see what they saw in my beloved adopted country.

I was pulled into many of the paintings. Purple was so striking in a couple of them including 'Skaters' by Gari Melcher.

Enny and I both loved this and she said that it is my garden this coming summer after I start working on it. 'The Unpretentious Garden' by Gari Melchers.

'The Sisters' by Gari Melchers made us smile. So much so that we made a second round along this among a couple of others. Click on the photos to enlarge them and get a much closer look. The expression in the little sister's face is so sweet.

The strict eye cast at the sleeping woman is pure humor. 'The Sermon' again by Melchers.

Walter MacEwen was obviously inspired by the style of Vermeer visible in the many paintings hanging in the exhibit. You wanted to reach out and place your hand in the pleats of the lady's dress as they were so real in 'The Notary'.

George Hitchcock's 'The Stork's Nest' was very typical Dutch.

Dutchness would be defined as the action of being Dutch. So we did and took a break having a nice lunch in the beautiful museum restaurant. It had started snowing and we sat by this window with our very own romantic view of Dutchness. After our second round along our favorite paintings and a visit to the museum shop, it was time to try and make our way home.

I cleaned my car off and Enny laughed when I got back in the car as the windows were full again before I could get in. We started off but traffic was really bad as we could only drive 10km per hour on the highway. A 20 minute drive took us well over an hour but it was a beautiful drive. The snow turned everything into a romantic winter wonderland. Somehow I think these American painters would have loved to sit and paint that landscape!

Have a very enjoyable weekend and last advent Sunday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Visions of sugarplums?

"The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap..."

from 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

I am done with my Christmas decorations in the house and find this year that I wanted to move to more simple and natural decorations. I also had to get used to decorating a new house. I have a downstairs bedroom now with a nice big window sill. Pine branches with pine cones, berries and a few large ornaments give just the right touch.

We definitely have visions of sugarplums as our bedroom is finished. I just changed my summer quilt to this winter one which is a little warmer.

I folded our summer quilt over a little chest in the corner. This corner is a spot where you can sit to pull on those warm winter socks. Or perhaps to simply read this sampler I stitched four years ago. You can read the verse on my old blog here.

If you remember back when we got the keys to this house, we found a nasty surprise of pipes sticking up in the middle of the bedroom floor. You can read about it in this previous post. A carpenter made us a chest which spans that space. It covers the pipes with a door for access and contains two large drawers for extra space. It was made to match our chest of drawers. We sawed off the feet of the chest and place it up on top of the newly made one. We think the carpenter did an excellent job. The glass door leads to the newly renovated shower room.

I use the space above the drawers for a sampler wall. To me, there is no greater joy than waking up in the morning to see my needlework before me.

I surround myself with things I love which is my stitching and quilting. That makes for sweet dreams.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snubbing Murphy!

Finally, something has surprised us by going very well. It was nice to be able to laugh in the face of Murphy. *grins* We had decided to keep the woodstove that was in our new house for the time being. We planned on replacing it eventually with the same beloved one we had to leave in our previous house when it was sold. We also needed to check if the fan worked that is on our chimney. After all we had been through with this house, we had little hope that it was going to be okay. The costs to replace this part of the chimney are very high. The weather warmed up yesterday so Jos went out on the roof to check it out. It worked pefectly.

We made a fire to see how this woodstove works. It is easy to start a fire in and burns very efficiently. So much so that we have decided that we will keep it. This same amount of wood would have burned within no time in our old stove while we have kept the stove burning all afternoon and evening.

Our new radiator has arrived this week but is not installed yet. We hope it will be done this week but now it is nice to know that we can build a fire to keep up warm regardless.

We enjoyed a light lunch by the fireside today of warm baguette with baked Camembert. For myself a glass of wine and for Jos a German wheat beer.

The delights of a warm fire!

And hopefully, this weather will return this week as predicted. We have had two weeks of a winter wonderland but this weekend all has melted away as the temperatures rose.

Perfect weather to start decorating for Christmas. I have been having problems with becoming very sensitive to many things lately. I guess it goes along with my chronic skin condition. *sigh* But being allergic to an artificial tree is a bit much. I have also discovered that I am very allergic to wool. I cannot even wear it with a turtleneck shirt on underneath it. I am having to buy a couple of warm sweaters to replace my wool ones.

This will be our last year to put up our Victorian tree. It has become more and more difficult for me in the past few years as my fibromyalgia continues to become more and more of a handicap. This year, it was just causing me far too much pain so we have discussed it and decided it is best to sell this tree next year and put up a small one that is easy for me to do.

I will miss the excitement of pulling out the various ornaments each year but it is time to move on from this tree. This year, we will enjoy the beauties hanging in the tree this last time.

Are you also busy doing your Christmas decorating?