It brings good luck.

The Germans consider chimney sweeps symbols of good luck for the coming new year.  Here's a link to an article explaining the custom, via Bella Online (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art18309.asp).  We have two good luck sweeps - this one and another one (both purchased at Jutta's Flowers on Claremont Avenue in Berkeley).  These little guys will stay out until the end of January, long after the Christmas ornaments have been put away (I don't put them out on display until the day after Christmas).

The Germans consider chimney sweeps symbols of good luck for the coming new year. Here’s a link to an article explaining the custom, via Bella Online (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art18309.asp).  We have two good luck sweeps on display in the Houseproud homestead’s living room – this one and another one (both purchased at Jutta’s Flowers on Claremont Avenue in Berkeley).  I don’t put them out until the day after Christmas, but these little guys will stay out until the end of January, long after the Christmas ornaments have been put away …

Hello, my pets!  I’ve missed you all very much, really I have.  After a two-week hiatus, this post is going to be all about pictures and will have very few words (well, few by my standards). 

One of a pair of zippered throw pillow covers that I made this year.  The holly fabric was an Oakland White Elephant Sale (OWES) score a few years ago - it looks and feels like it's from the late 50s or early 60s, but as there's no info on the selvage edge its true age is a mystery.  The back is made of some soft green flannel that I suspect I purchased at OWES last year (I really ought to keep track of such things).  The only brand-new components were the zippers.  Off all the things I made this winter, these pillow cases were the easiest (up to and including installing the zippers).

One of a pair of zippered throw pillow covers that I made this year. The holly fabric was an Oakland White Elephant Sale (OWES) score a few years ago – it looks and feels like it’s from the late 50s or early 60s, but as there’s no info on the selvage edge its true age is a mystery. The back is made of some soft green flannel that I suspect I purchased at OWES last year (I really ought to keep track of such things). The only brand-new components were the zippers. Off all the things I made this winter, these pillow cases were the easiest (up to and including installing the zippers).

This is a lovely time of year, isn’t it?  I so enjoy the brief period of calm that settles in for the week between Christmas and the new year, especially in contrast to the busy-ness of the weeks leading up to the holiday.  The Houseproud homestead’s front door and living room were suitably decorated for Christmas two weeks before the holiday, but our bedroom became my craft room for the weeks before Christmas:  my sewing machine remained uncovered & threaded, the iron and its ironing board sat unfolded against the bookshelves, and piles of fabric were stacked on almost every available surface.

But what lovely projects resulted from that busy-ness and mess!  Here are some pictures of the Houseproud homestead, all spiffed up for Christmas (click on the images to see them in their full-sized glory).  I’ll have pictures of some of the presents I made next week.  Until then, enjoy these pictures, my dears, and I’ll see you in the new year.  May the coming year be good to you all!

With much fondness, your little munakins.

I made that red zippered wool throw pillow case this year, too.  That red really pops, doesn't it?  I knit the throw pillow cases from thick off-white wool a few years ago.  They need button closures, I think (they close in the back like an envelope).  I have green flannel all cut out and ready to be made into small throw pillow cases to replace the blue ones you see here, but I ran out of time.  I'll make the new pillow cases in the coming week or so, in hopes that the green of the flannel inspires Ma Nature to send us some flipping rain already.

I made that red zippered wool throw pillow case this year, too. That red really pops, doesn’t it? The two off-white throw pillow cases were knit from thick wool a few years ago. They need button closures, I think (they close in the back like an envelope). I have green flannel all cut out and ready to be made into small zippered throw pillow cases to replace the blue ones you see here, but I ran out of time. I’ll make the new pillow cases in the coming week or so, in hopes that the green of the flannel inspires Ma Nature to send us some flipping rain already.

The hutch in the Houseproud homestead's living room, all decked out for Christmas.  Our decorations vary every year - this year's display is a quiet, natural one.  The bulbs in the square vase are paperwhites, courtesy someone at St. Joseph's who's a wonderful gardener.  The cutout elk and bear are three-dimensional pieces from a Japanese calendar that I bought at the Oakland Museum of California's gift shop a few years ago - they can be folded in a way that doesn't display the calendar.  On top of the hutch are the cards we received this year.  My favorite is the one made by mum-of-mine (it's the one on the far right, the dove carrying an olive sprig).

The hutch in the Houseproud homestead’s living room, all decked out for Christmas. Our decorations vary every year – this year’s display is a quiet, natural one. The bulbs in the square vase are paperwhites, courtesy someone at St. Joseph’s who’s a wonderful gardener. The cutout elk and bear are three-dimensional pieces from a Japanese calendar that I purchased from the Oakland Museum of California’s gift shop a few years ago – they can be folded in a way that doesn’t display their calendars. On top of the hutch are the cards that we received this year. My favorite is the one made by mum-of-mine (it’s the one on the far right, the dove carrying an olive sprig).

A close-up of the hutch, showing the glass owls (another WES score), strung on burlap twine.  That little santa in the upper left corner is a paper ornament from my childhood.  I "framed" 15 such ornaments in the folding screen this year (I used Christmas gift wrap as background), and I think this will become a new tradition.  I have no idea what I'll put in the screen this weekend when the Christmas decorations come down.  Hmm.  Ideas, anyone?

A close-up of the hutch, showing the glass owls (another WES score), which are strung on burlap twine. That little santa in the upper left corner is a paper ornament from my childhood. I “framed” 15 such ornaments in the folding screen this year (I used Christmas gift wrap as background), and I think this will become a new tradition. I have no idea what I’ll put in the screen this weekend when the Christmas decorations come down. Hmm. Ideas, anyone?

We  don't have enough room in our tiny apartment for a tree, so we hang wreaths or fir boughs instead.  I hung a HUGE wreath on the wall next to the tv this year.  I was going to decorate the wreath, but I decided to keep it bare.  It's quiet, unlike the santas and the elves.  The wreath smelled SO good when I first brought it into the house - like being in a forest.  I still get a whiff of forest when I walk past it.  Mmmmm, I do like that smell ...

We don’t have enough room in our tiny apartment for a tree, so we hang wreaths or fir boughs instead. I hung a HUGE wreath on the wall next to the tv this year. I was going to decorate the wreath, but I decided to keep it bare instead. It’s quiet and serene, unlike the nearby joyous clutter of santas and elves. The wreath smelled SO good when I first brought it into the house – like being in a forest. I still get a whiff of forest when I walk past it. Mmmmm, I do like that smell …

The tv corner of the Houseproud homestead's living room, showing our collection of santas and elves.  The little santa to the right of the long glass candle holder is a SMOKING santa that I purchased at Jutta's Flowers ages ago.  It's one of my favorites!  The elf to the right of the smoking santa is one that mum-of-mine purchased when she was a young woman.  I suppose the tv cozy would look better if I ironed it, wouldn't it?  Also, doesn't that holly pillow look lovely?

The tv corner of the Houseproud homestead’s living room, showing our collection of santas and elves. The little santa to the right of the long glass candle holder is a SMOKING santa that I purchased at Jutta’s Flowers ages ago. It’s one of my favorites! The elf to the right of the smoking santa is one that mum-of-mine purchased when she was a young woman. I suppose the tv cozy would look better if I ironed it, wouldn’t it? Also, doesn’t that holly pillow look lovely?

I recently started placing small flower arrangements in the Houseproud homestead's kitchen.  These are from my favorite flower shop, Dandelion (on Park Street here in Alameda).  The owner, Karim, has such a lovely eye for color and design - she and her shop are such an inspiration to me.  She started off selling lovely little arrangements like these at shops around Alameda, then took the plunge and opened a shop of her own.  She's sweet and lovely and brave as ten thousand lions.

I recently started placing small flower arrangements in the Houseproud homestead’s kitchen. These are from my favorite flower shop, Dandelion (on Park Street here in Alameda). The owner, Karim, has such an eye for color and design – she and her shop are an inspiration to me. She started off selling lovely little arrangements like this one at shops around Alameda, then took the plunge and opened a shop of her own. She’s sweet and beautiful and as brave as ten thousand lions.  I want to be her when I grow up.

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