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Every year we host one of the major winter holidays at our home – either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Most often it’s Thanksgiving.    And wow.  Apparently I have not blogged this before?  Huh.

So the thing about this gathering…

It is, quite literally, a Feast.  Capital “F”.  And yes I send invites.  Via email – saves paper.  And trying to find stamps.

We started this tradition in 2005.  This will be the seventh Feast (one year we did it twice – Thanksgiving in Illinois at my mom’s house and Christmas in SD).  I’m not sure where the idea came from, although I’m sure it was mine.  Oh, I’m not trying to brag.  I’m just the only one nuts enough to think this would be cool.  I know how many we’ve had because one of my self imposed rules is that a dish cannot be repeated twice.  Nor a wine.  So I have a huge spreadsheet to track them.  (Creative side?  Meet Engineer side.)

(Clicky on the photo for a jumbo view.  If you want the details, or any of the recipes, leave a comment and I’d be glad to email them along.)

Five courses – appetizers (typically 3), soup, salad, dinner (turkey, gravy, stuffing, regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries), dessert (at least two…with ice cream).  And a wine for each course.  Although this year I decided to mix it up with a Gin Sling for the apps and spiked hot chocolate for dessert.  And of course there’s always sparkling fruit juice for the kiddos.

The group is typically at least 15 people or more.  The largest was 25.  And that was in our old house!  We start early.  We end late.  We generally just enjoy the day spending time with our family and friends, eating wonderful food, catching up on lost time, playing games, watching football, and yeah, getting a bit tipsy.  There’s only been one rejected recipe – a cranberry relish that tasted great but smelled exactly like Copenhagen.  But even this brought happy memories – it reminded everyone of Grandpa!

No, I don’t cook everything.  I make the menu.  Then I ask everyone to bring a dish or two.  It’s much more fun that way.

This year, I wanted to add a new tradition.  A way to capture the spirit of the season, along with some memories of the Feast.

Our Grateful Journal.

The idea is everyone will take a moment or two to write down something they are grateful for.  Healthy kids.  That we can all be together…whatever sparks their heart.  Before the Feast, I’ll add a piece of cardstock to one of the pages so we can add a group photo.  The idea came from Wondertime magazine a year or two ago (alas, they aren’t published anymore).  A family wrote they had a tradition of writing down the things they were grateful for on slips of paper all through the year, then on Thanksgiving they’d read them.  I’ve seen other versions along the way – a tablecloth that is written on every year.  More recently Becky Higgins grateful poster.

This is another crafty post!  Our Grateful journal started as a sketchbook.  I just added some scrapbook paper from Michaels to the cover, along with the word “grateful” printed in the Baskerville Old Face font.  The Boy enjoyed helping me slather the glue all over the cover.  Then he lost interest and decided he needed his own craft – cutting up the newspaper I was using to keep the glue off the new dining room table.

I can’t wait to see this book fill with our writing, our thoughts, our hearts.  Watching our kids handwriting grow.  Seeing what every one writes.  Remembering the folks who join us each year (and watching the kids actually grow!).  I think I’m going to love this new tradition almost as much as I love coming up with the menus and invites for the Feasts.

Moving along the project list…

The kids are taking swimming lessons again this winter.  I think I mentioned that earlier.  And, thank goodness, they’re both absolutely loving it.  What I was not loving was hauling all the stuff.  Three towels.  Three swimsuits.  Swim diapers.  Regular diapers.  Changes of clothes.  Etc etc etc.  I have no bag big enough to haul all this, so I’d been hauling 3 bags along – one for towels, one for the suits and swim diapers, and the regular diaper bag with the extra clothes and regular diapers.  Sheesh!

Not any more thankyouverymuch.

(Um, once again, crappy light quality.  Polished this baby off at 9:30 pm tonight.  Uh-huh, having a full time job is detrimental to the quality of craft photos on my blog.  That and my impatience to post the results.)

I made this with Moda fabrics – Spirit Cocoa Bubbly and Spirit Moss Exuberance.  I’ll be honest, they weren’t my first choice.  I wanted some Amy Butler fabric.  But apparently no one here in the Hills carries her fabric and I was to impatient to wait until someone could ship it to me.  But that’s okay, ’cause I love my second choice.

For reference – here it is holding most of the stuff.  Want a real scale of reference?  It’s about the size of a hockey bag*.  But waaaaay lighter.  I used to haul one of those babies around you know, back when I was young and could stay up late enough for a midnight ice time.  Besides being lighter, this one is squishable, a quality most hockey bags lack.  The point I can was it up into a ball about the size of a football.  I made the straps a bit too long, but I figure that’s nothing a knot at the top won’t fix.

I had intended to make it reversible.  But then I decided to add a pocket.  Yea, I should have left it reversible.  Note to self:  don’t try to improv a pocket.  You ain’t that good.  I suppose I could always rip out the seams, add a funky “patch” over the hole, and wa-la!  Reversible again.

Something tells me I’m not that motivated.  Two projects down, uncountable more to go.

*Oh fine, you aren’t all from the great white tundra with an immediate knowledge of the size of a hockey bag?  22″ tall x 32″ wide.  Ish.

People, it is that time of year.  I seem to have enough craft projects on my docket to keep me employed full time.  Too bad I have that pesky thing called a real job taking up my days…  But I’m slowly ticking projects off my list.  Some you won’t get to see for awhile.  (That Santa dude is supposed to be coming in a month or so, right?)  But I’m hoping to share some of my handiwork in the next couple weeks.

Here’s project #1, completed.

This one is to add some dimension, beauty, and fun to the Girls room.

Yea, you’re fun too.  And purdy.

Way back when…no really.  I’m guessing back around last February maybe, I came across a blog post featuring a paper wreath with butterflies on it.  I loved the look and thought I could make one for the Girls room.  (The post is here.) 10 months later…

(Thanks for the scale helper dude!)

The post said to expect to use under 200  circles per wreath.  Heh.  hehehehehe

(If you want to see these larger scale they’re on my flickr page.)

Mom would have to provide the official number, but I’m pretty sure I used around 800.  This is why it took 10 months to finish.  Mom cut me 200 circles with her cricut and I started gluing.  It became obvious that wouldn’t be enough so I asked for 200 more.  And put the wreath away for a few months.  (Um, mom gave me the circles much sooner.  Alas I am a slacker.)  I glued 200 more on.  Then asked for more circles.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  Including the procrastinating.

To finish the look, more cricut action for the butterflies.  Are you ready?  (Oh – first, please excuse the crappy light.  I had to use a flash.  I finished this at 7:00 tonight.  It’s awful darn dark by then.)

The butterflies and wreath probably cover about 5 feet or so on the wall.  This is also what the Girl sees if she’s laying in her crib staring at the wall near her feet.

I simply used sewing pins to attach the butterflies to the wall (the wreath hangs on a screw).  My thumbnail is not happy about this decision but I figured it was 1) something I had a lot of handy, and 2) would leave minimal holes.

They have a nice 3-dimensional look as well.  The only problem?  I think I need some more.  Hey mom….?