My sister Tammy has gotten me in trouble all of my life. Well…trouble of the best kind. She will come up with an idea, and I feel compelled to follow up on it. She might tell the story from a different perspective, but as I have often said, she might just need to write her own dang book.
She, like our mother, is very crafty. We all prefer a hand-made gift to anything that might be purchased. So, in the sixth month of my COVID isolation at the beach this summer, I created what I call “The COVID Sampler” for Tammy’s birthday. The sampler consisted of one of each of the types of arts/crafts that I had worked on during the months by myself at the beach. She was thrilled and I had a great time.
Still maintaining social distancing, I loaded up all of the goodies into the back of the truck and made the 6 hour trip from the beach to her new house near Fort Worth and created a display on her front porch. She was surprised and excited.
I started by rescuing an old metal chair from Tammy’s backyard in Beaumont. She had recently moved to the Fort Worth area for her work, and the Beaumont house had not yet sold. I rescued lots of her plants (that wouldn’t fit into the moving truck) and this very rusty, old metal yard chair. I went into my stash of spray paint and painted it a shiny black. Then, I painted a cute bunch of turtles and polka dots on the chair. Pretty cute. I channeled my inner Mary Engelbreit and made a cute “Life is Just a Chair of Bowlies” card. I crack myself up.
While digging around in the garage, I found a stash of canvas, leftover from some projects that I did years ago. I painted two pillows; one with an alligator (Tammy HATES ‘gators!) and one with a flamingo that I copied from a painting on my wall that she had admired. Painting pillows on canvas is one of my very favorite things to do! I have a little tutorial on this BLOG about making painted pillows. Fun and easy.
Next, I made a small Christmas rag quilt. Early in the quarantine, when I was kind of afraid to go anywhere, I ordered 50+ yards of assorted Christmas flannel for delivery from JoAnn’s. I finished a big (king sized) Christmas rag quilt for my guest room, using about a jillion 6 inch squares. For Tammy’s quilt, I only had a few days (my best ideas always come at the last minute:), so I chose to do a “throw-sized” quilt made of 10 inch squares. It was so much easier and really turned out prettier than the smaller squares. For the remaining jillion yards of Christmas flannel, I will definitely go with the bigger squares.
Then, I found a bottle of “Middle Sister” wine and sewed and painted a wine bottle bag for display. She’s definitely the middle sister:)
Another deserted garage find was a box of 36 brand new wine glasses, sitting innocently on top of the downstairs refrigerator. I had bought two 36-count boxes years ago, when we developed a Lecture Series for the Historical Society on Bolivar. Though I don’t remember, I assume that we didn’t need but the first 36, since the glasses in this box were still individually marked with price tags.
Anyhow, I blinged up each of those 36 glasses + one for Tammy – using 20 gauge copper beading wire (bought at The Big Store – our combo grocery, gift, and hardware store on the peninsula) and some fun, inexpensive beads from Hobby Lobby. I found my beading tools in the utility closet at the beach house when I first got here from Seoul and remembered making tons of beaded champagne glasses about 13 years before, for Trae and Corie’s rehearsal dinner. It is such fun, so easy, and really ups the look of a standard stemmed glass.
Tammy and I talked each morning for the 6 months before Mack returned to the States (as we have for the majority of our lives, with the exception of about a 2 year period when I was pouting and in mourning…another story for another day). Each morning, we chatted, mostly, about crafting. We talked about how cool it would be to make those rag quilts with two different themes (one on top and one on bottom), Halloween/Thanksgiving, etc. Instead of storing them after the holiday, we’d just flip them over and celebrate the next holiday! Well, I didn’t have any alternately themed flannel, but I happened to get out to JoAnn’s right as they were putting out the autumn-themed fleece.
I made fleece throws for each of the grands (see another post about that), and picked up an autumn themed fleece and a Halloween-themed fleece to make a throw for Tammy’s Birthday Bash.Of course, those little no-sew throws are so easy to make and such fun. I learned a new way to tie the edges, which makes for a much smoother throw (see alternate FleeceThrow tutorial). Anyhow, it was so cute.
About twelve years ago, following an evacuation (are you seeing a theme?) from our beach house due to the devastation of Hurricane Ike, my daughter-in-law Corie was finally able to teach me to knit. I had tried, off and on, for years, to learn but had been unsuccessful. During those long days of isolation and grief following the loss of friends and lifestyle down at the beach, Mack and I moved to a townhouse in Houston, just a block from where we had lived as students and newlyweds back in the 1970s. Trae and Corie came to visit and she spent several evenings siting at my side, guiding my stitches. All of a sudden, it clicked! And, I haven’t stopped knitting since.
Now, I’m not a fancy knitter. I love to do hats and scarves and find that those kinds of projects calm me when times are rough. I found a good stash of yarn and some assorted needles in the closet when I got to the beach and I got busy knitting winter hats and Santa hats. I will say that knitting calmed my nerves like nothing else was able to do in those early days of COVID isolation and separation from Mack.
So, of course, I had to make a hat for Tammy’s stash! Here’s a photo of it. And, a picture of the little note that I doodled to go along with the hat.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
And, finally…an apron. No “prize package” is complete, in my mind, without an apron. This one was really cute, made from fabrics that Tammy had given me from her stash when she moved (with the exception of the one with the canning jars, which I purchased…couldn’t help myself).
Anyhow, I added a blank journal and a favorite book (again, no gift is complete without at least one book and a journal), and voila!
Now, just FYI…there are years when I just order something to be delivered from Amazon. Lots of times, I’ll make an item or two or at least paint a card. But, this year seemed like one in which we all needed a little pick-me-up.
In this case, the gift was in the giving.