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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent Calendar Finished -- for Real this Time

This year Advent is 28 days, the longest possible, and given that it's a leap year I had to make two more squares.

St. Lucy, whose feast day is December 12:
She is the patron saint of eyes, so the pair of eyes milagro seemed appropriate.  And in various Scandinavian celebrations she is symbolized by a crown of candles.

An elf, suggested by Beadboy2 because by now I was completely out of ideas and feast days:

The solution to the changing liturgical calendar was to come up with a new background onto which I could pin the requisite number of pockets each year.  For that I sewed together 36 squares of various red fabrics, added a red and white print border, and backed it with red felt:

Rather than quilt it, I tied each intersection with a silver-lined bead:

Finished:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Round-Up: Witchy Edition

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell: A witch, a priest, and an atheist meet up at a bar.  It's not a joke, it's the set-up of a novella where the three women team up to defeat the demonic forces (personified by a British version of Walmart) threatening their town and the world.  I loved it -- a fun, spooky story that handled everyone's beliefs, and resulting crises of faith, respectfully.  The only real flaw was that it was so short.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman: A lovely, lush novel I return to every few years.  Gillian and Sally, descendants of a long line of witchy women, do their best to lead normal, unmagical lives, but of course magic won't leave them alone.  Twin themes of sisterhood and passionate love dominate the story.

Babayaga by Toby Barlow: The last two survivors of an ancient coven of Russian witches try to survive in post-war Paris, alongside American ex-pats who may or may not be CIA agents, a nefarious scientist, and Frenchmen being French.  It was an entertaining book with some interesting concepts, but there was an underlying cynicism about human nature (especially feminine nature) that marred it for me.

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab: The plot -- someone or something is snatching the children of a small village -- was an intriguing riff on the Pied Piper of Hamlin, but the story suffered from a surfeit of YA tropes: the impulsive, tomboy heroine; the male relative who tries to make her more ladylike (an odd thing to insist on in a peasant village where day-to-day living requires physical labor from everyone); adults who are either weak or evil; angsty teenagers; secret-keeping; and misunderstandings galore.  The ending, too, was unearned.  Too bad, because there was the making of a genuinely spooky story here.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Restocking the Esty Store

With milagros and religious medal necklaces:

A couple more pairs of bobbin earrings:

I also decided to sell the rest of my embellished Lotería cards:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

All Souls

After the candy and fun of Halloween came Mass and prayers for the dead and still more crafting.  I set up a little altar on my mantle where I put various trinkets and icons, to which I added this skull:

It's a papier mache skull which I painted white, and onto which I glued beads, medals, floral doohickeys, and so on.

I had a pair of skull earrings I've worn for years, getting lots of compliments and even a few sales of duplicate pairs, but I finally lost one of them.
The lonely little guy
I found in my stash another identical skull (just one; wonder what happened to that guy's mate) and made a new pair for myself, with glass flower beads this time:
The floral motif is more obvious, but they are heavier, too.

I made white chocolate skulls for Beadboy2's class Halloween party:
Buying ready-made frosting flowers is so much easier than trying to decorate them myself with gels and icings!  I just used a dab of melted chocolate to attach them.  They were a big hit.

St. Gertrude's prayer for the souls in purgatory:

Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. - See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/11/02/5-ways-to-pray-for-the-holy-souls-in-purgatory/#sthash.m7WWWxJF.dpuf
Eternal Father, I offer you the Most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. - See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/11/02/5-ways-to-pray-for-the-holy-souls-in-purgatory/#sthash.m7WWWxJF.dpuf
Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. - See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/11/02/5-ways-to-pray-for-the-holy-souls-in-purgatory/#sthash.m7WWWxJF.dpuf
Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen. - See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/11/02/5-ways-to-pray-for-the-holy-souls-in-purgatory/#sthash.m7WWWxJF.dpuf

Monday, October 31, 2016

Trick or Treat!

The talented Jo of Serendipitous Stitching is hosting a Trick or Treat blog hop today.  Unfortunately I already showed off my seasonal cross stitching earlier in the month, so all I have is this unfinished Prairie Schooler witch from the 2013 Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue:

But that's not very exciting, so here's a design I finished years ago, "Too Many Treats" by Birds of a Feather:
I don't normally cross stitch such large designs, but I couldn't resist this guy.  This evening my kids will be joining the cat with an over-filled stomach -- one year my middle son got mad at me because I made him stop eating candy, then got mad at me for having let him eat the candy when it upset his stomach, then got mad at me a third time for not letting him eat more once he started feeling better. Fun times.

And now, my assigned letter:

 T

For the next letter, visit Fireflies and Cats in the Garden.  Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Another Swirly Pumpkin

I decided not to carve a pumpkin this year; instead I painted the stem copper (I will save it once the pumpkin decays) and added swirls to the body.  Because I have not cut into it, I'm hoping it'll last through Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Quilting

This wonderful design is from Jedi Craft Girl, although I ended up sketching my own tree.  And for several uninteresting reasons, I also made it a bit smaller.

I was determined to get this up over the mantle by the middle of the month, so that meant machine quilting, never my forte.  After quilting around the tree and cat, I opted to stipple-quilt the background.  On the one hand, it does a great job of making the moon, tree, and cat pop and it adds a lovely texture.  On the other hand, I suck at it, which is frustrating.  Some of it simply has to do with practice -- this part, done towards the beginning, is not great:
The stitches run from tiny to enormous, and there are weird lines and cross-overs where I lost control of the rhythm. But other sections are much better:

But then there is my inability to properly baste a quilt, which leads to unsightly puckering:

And then there is this lovely spot on the back in a corner, the result of trying to rush through before my kids came home, and discovered too late to fix:
Bad for quilting, but kind of a neat effect
Finished is better than perfect, and it's not like I'd ever submit this for judging, but it is still disappointing.  Some things I do very, very well, and others ... not so much.