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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Monday, December 28, 2009

After Christmas Glow, with gratitude

~ Santa came to Thompson Valley! ~

If your Christmas was as fabulous as mine, you're a very happy and blessed person! Yes, we had some wonderful gifts, both given and received and some yet to come but it's more that we spent it together, Dave and I with the critters, here on the farm. We spent this Christmas in preparation for the year to come; soaking up the tranquility of the event and day, making memories, basking in each others' friendship and love. Some of Christmas day was spent on the telephone, calling family and friends, wishing them well, asking about their day and families. Christmas Eve saw Santa giving out bags of goodies: oranges, apples, candy, coloring books. Santa's helpers put up signs, ensuring traffic would slow down and, for those with children in the car, stop and visit.

~ all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth... ~

From the gleam in his eye, I'm not sure this young feller is asking for two front teeth.

~ Jolly ole Santa ~
I don't know about your Santa, but our Santa is a right jolly ole thing. He's not adverse to the big fellers climbing on his lap and asking for presents.

Can you see this upside down picnic table? It's made entirely of wood and the wind storm flipped it upside down! We've had fierce windstorms, gusting between 60 and 70 mph. Right now, it's 24 degrees F above zero and the wind chill is 4 degrees F above. I'm thinking about taking nap just to get under the covers...yes, it's that cold! Fortunately, the wind has been coming from the south and that means our bedroom stays above 60 degrees F. When the wind comes from any other direction, We're lucky if the bedroom temperature rises much about 50 degrees F and am grateful for the three dogs who share space and warmth.

The weather has been so life threatening, church and all activities were canceled. We had our Christmas play last night and, I must say, I enjoyed it more than if it'd been prior to Christmas. It was more poignant and precious...and I'm not a person who uses the word "precious" lightly.

Our little country church is delightful. We have a preacher who is in touch with God and has a personal relationship with the Trinity and the people are kind and caring; one with discernment can tell these things, you know. Oh, we all have our foibles but the uniting factor is we love Jesus and a lot of us are born again Christians. There are those who come to church for a myriad of other reasons and, as far as I'm concerned, that's okay. I'm just happy folks are in church for we have a better chance of hearing the Gospel when seated in the pew; and, we've a better chance of showing the Gospel when we leave the pew.

Our Christmas play was very traditional and used a baby, children, teenagers and a few adults. They told the story of the first Christmas, the birth of Jesus and there were more than a few sniffles to be heard.

~ the first Christmas ~

~ the littlest angel ~

Yes, this is terribly out of focus...or perhaps it's Gods' way of saying, "fill in the pieces, ponder these things"... but it's my favorite photo of the evening. All the photos were taken without flash, holding the camera as still as possible. This particular picture reminds me of angels who were sent to sing of the glory of the new born King. The littlest angel, seemed not quite sure what she's supposed to be doing, looking to an older angel for guidance and the rush of angels wings were heard all 'round. Truly, I believe we are surround by angels but we drown them out with the radio, the television, the telephone, rushing to and it no wonder we can't hear them? Is it no wonder we miss God's whisper?

 ~ Mary, did you know? ~

~ Swallowtail Shawl of alpaca ~

Perhaps you remember friend Millie who is a Master Knitter Extraordinaire! That's a title I bestow upon her, gladly, and with much appreciation. She's a knitter who knits anything, and I mean anything, she wants to knit...socks, gloves, lace, Zimmerman's Pi Shawl...which won a first in the SC State Fair! The link isn't Millie's shawl but just as beautiful... and she even knits steeks. Oh lawz. If she wasn't so dang nice, she's intimidate the socks off me. But she is nice, extremely nice and there are hundreds of people who will attest to that fact. Millie and I don't see each other nearly enough and we mail Christmas and birthday gifts. This year that was a Very Good Thing because when I opened Millie's gifts, I began to cry. I try to hide everything underneath a tough exterior and that tough exterior was helped by a stint in import export sales in New York City but, the truth of the matter is, the older I get, the more tender-hearted I become. It's not that I feel things any more deeply or strongly, it's that I'm more unable to hide the fact and when I opened up Millie's Swallowtail Shawl, I boo-hooed in earnest. It's an Evelyn Clark design, one of my favorite designers and can be knitted in a variety of yarns and weights. Millie also added heavier wool yarn and the pattern so I can knit my own Swallowtail Shawl, free pattern here. That's another thing about Millie...she's so encouraging and, obviously, thinks of me as being a Much better knitter than I know myself to be. Case in point: what's on my needles is some brown wool yarn that's being knit and knit and knit and knit and knit get the point, surely! into a scarf for Dave. He likes things plain and simple; no fancy cables...which, by the way I can yarn overs because they are too lacy, nothing much except Knit. So, he's getting a knitted scarf and then I'm getting started on my Swallowtail Shawl, hopefully, in January. Wish me well and I'll keep you updated.
One of the gifts Dave and I gave were small, handmade baskets. We filled some baskets with half pint jars of strawberry jam which I'd made this past spring; with those jars we included a French ceramic jam jar and spoon. Other baskets were filled with hand knitted wash clothes and home made soap. The baskets were hand made by Mary M., who is a Lost Arts Guild member. She sells her baskets throughout southwest VA and, if you're interested, please let me know and I'll put the two of you in touch with each other. She also makes larger baskets but all are useful as well as beautiful and made in the old timey style.

~ Peace with dove ornament ~

Remember the month long Handmade Holidays III hosted by Sew, Mama, Sew? Bless me, I won! See the lovely ornament above? It's hand decorated and has a dove on one side with Peace on the other. We no longer put up a Christmas tree but no matter; this beautiful ornament will hang in the studio where I can see it Every day, not just a few days a year. Many thanks, Affectioknit for the graceful work of your hands.

BTW, if you're interested, Sew, Mama, Sew! is looking to add to their board. See their announcement and when you're famous, I can say I knew you when -smile-. I only wish I was good enough to apply myself!

 ~ I won fabric! ~
Please, contain yourself; I know you know it's beeyouutifull and doncha LOVE those colors?! I do. They make me h-a-p-p-y and they make me smile...a lot. You can see them better at Pippinsequim and you can visit her blog. She's a crafty gal and also an wrap your little gray cells around that, why doncha?! Many thanks, Pippinsequim and I'm glad to have met you via the blog and SMS.

And, in closing...a few months ago I announced I was headed to Tomsk, Siberia on a missions trip. For reasons quite personal and best left unsaid here, I am taking the wise council of Dave and my parents and have decided not to go. I am not abandoning my heart for missions, however, and am still sending boxes of goodies to Syktyvkar, Komi Republic, Russia. Dave and I visited Syktyvkar in the summer of 2004 and spent time in orphanages, hospitals and other facilities. Once again, I made a fool of myself when I broke down in tears in The Children's Home; some of the girls gave me gifts of their delicate crochet doilies and it was so unexpected, it caught me totally by surprise. When we came back home, we started the Komi Kids Yarn Project and have shipped a few dozen boxes of yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, knitted hats and sewing supplies to The Children's Home. It's an ongoing project, supported entirely by donations and Dave and I spend our own money for postage. The only year we've missed sending boxes was last year and that was because Dave's mother fell ill and passed away.

The children are special needs and all learn traditional life skills. Girls learn knitting, sewing and crochet work while boys learn gardening and wood working skills. The girls sew bed coverings, curtains, knit and crochet hats, gloves, sweaters, etc. and the boys keep vegetable and flower gardens. They make their own flower boxes and other items to beautify the grounds and buildings. 

~ goodies, destined for Russia's special children ~ 
Julie and Mike sent the above box of goodies for me to take to Siberia; instead, I'll mail this box along with some yarn and other supplies. She also included a couple of gifts for me - this beautiful thistle dish destined to go into the may well ask, how in the world will I ever get another thing in that studio?!...but, trust will happen. Where there's a will, there's a way. Isn't this dish too cute?

She included some pomegranate sauce, which she made and canned, and says it's for ice cream. Hmmm. Maybe. I'm thinking it's for home made bread or biscuits; will let you know which. Don't get me wrong, I like ice cream but I love bread -smile-.

Thank you Julie, Mike and your critters! You have blessed me beyond measure, both with your trust and with the gifts of your heart and hands. I am grateful.

Gosh! If you've read this entire post, you deserve a reward. Leave a comment and I'll have another prize drawing; not sure what I'll send, perhaps rug mugs or a skein of yarn, your choice, okay?

Until next time,

Blessings ~ Christmas ~ Santa ~ gifts ~ The Gift ~ ornaments ~ pomegranate sauce ~ fabric ~ the littlest angel ~ goodies ~ Komi Kids Yarn Project ~ a small thistle dish ~ ornament ~ hand crafted baskets ~ hand knit alpaca Swallowtail Shawl ~


  1. Oh my gosh, it is COLD there! I'm such a wimp, I wouldn't be able to stand a bedroom that's only 50 degrees! Ack!

    Glad to hear you has such a wonderful Christmas. Mine was quiet and wonderful too.

    Happy New Year!

  2. your summary of Christmas just brought such a sense of peace and appreciation to my heart - bless y'all - it is knowing when we ARE blessed that we can pass it along to others. Love the Fire Truck Santa! Happy week between Christmas and New Year - it always seems so different from rest of the year.

  3. My apartment here is San Francisco has only electric heaters, whieh cost about three times the rent to heat the place. Not gonna happen, PG&E! It dropped to 46 during the night a couple times a couple weeks ago. Since I've got plenty of spiffy knitwear and nice heavy crocheted blankets I"m just fine with that, but I do wish I also had the three dogs.

  4. Very cold here ... read your whole post, chuckle! Quite a write ...

    Happy New Year! May your year be full of joy & blessings ~ TTFN~ Marydon

  5. I loved the little angel photo too - and your photo of the ornament was a lot better than mine too...

  6. what a wonderful, peaceful and cold Christmas you had! i love the angel photo, it's perfect!

  7. I just love hand-made things. I am going to try and do something hand-made this year for my grandaughters but I am not very crafty so I think I will start with aprons. I do love to bake so that will be good. I believer it may all become a lost art in the future but I hope not. A very lovely post ...thanks:)

  8. How blessed you are indeed, winning all that beautiful stuff as well as a wonderful Christmas.

    I only know basic crochet, although I'm interested in knitting and am talking with a neighbor about lessons*wink* That Swallowtail shawl is beautiful! What a talented friend you have and good luck in advance on making this shawl in Jan.

    Thanks for your comment on our blog, we look forward to seeing who's visited and chit chatted a bit with us! Come again, we enjoy you visits and always enjoy your blog, even if some are lengthy*wink*; *giggle*

  9. I'm glad you had a wonderful Christmas! I hope this means that your eye is well now.
    The handmade baskets are so lovely, just like the ornament!

  10. Yes Sandra, I read this entire post and I do not need a prize for it because I enjoyed every word!

    I am so encouraged by your willingness to take counsel and not go where you feel your heart is leading you, and it seems you can find other ways to show your love for the children that will not require that.

    Your Christmas does indeed sound like 'Christmas', and Thistle Cove seems a haven of comfort and love. Bless you Dave and Sandra!

  11. Another heart warming, and I hope for you ,OVERALL warming post! I always enjoy stopping by the farm with you. I love the idea of the Santa for the children. It is so important in a small church and for its family to have that presence of a leader who is the "REAL DEAL" when it comes to the TRINITY.
    May God's Peace remain with you throughout the year.

  12. Your blog on Christmas looks amazing. Your looks of Santa look so real. Enjoyed it very much.

  13. Karen Odle / kodle@naxs.net11:39 AM EST

    I so enjoy your posting and stories of the farm. I too live on a farm and know both the trials and joys.

  14. Sandra,
    No post could be long enough from you! I love reading your tales of farm life.

    Congratulations on your win! The ornament is gorgeous and I'm a sucker for fabric. I even got some in my stocking this year. Santa knows what I love :)

    The Christmas play sounds wonderful. My husband and I have been on the look out for a church for 4 years and I really felt the longing for a church home during Christmas this year. The photo of the littlest angel is wondrous. It really does seem to embody the idea of a celestial being watching and waiting.

    Sorry to hear that you won't be going on your trip but I understand. I've had trips best not taken as well. It's always hard to explain. Sometimes, you just can't. I think what you do for the chidren at the orphanage is wonderful!

    Be blessed, dear friend! May your new year ring in with promises of wondrous tidings. Here's to a safe, prosperous and joyful 2010!



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