Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I prefer to call them Goals for the year rather than resolutions, since resolutions are easier to forget. Regardless of how I label them, this is a short list of things I wish to accomplish in 2011:

1. Donate art quilts to AAQI. At least 2 since I made this plural!

2. Create more original patterns AND market them. (Funny, as I'm sitting here, I just came up with another quilt idea... yay!)

3.Get the rest of the boxes unpacked. There's only a few, but they're the ones that I look at and can't seem to figure out what to do with the stuff..... (garage sale?)

4. Make my family proud. :)

5. Heal my ankle/heel. I'm tired of this pain, so this coming year, I pledge to obey Dr's orders the WHOLE time and get it healed so I can run a marathon before I turn 31. :) As I am now, though, I get to start the new year with an MRI on Monday... oh joy. Telling this ADHD girl to lie still for an hour? Bad idea. It wouldn't be so bad if I were allowed something to occupy my hands!

Honestly, that's not too hard of a list, is it? Except the whole listen-to-the-Dr. thing....

I hope your Christmas was as Merry as mine, and here's to a great New Year!

PS- if anyone is randomly wondering, chipotle peppers are rather spicy.... the kind that seems nice and mild, but as you eat it creeps up on you until your sinuses are definitely clear!! But, man-o-man, this chili I just made is TASTY!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I have batting again!

HOORAY! I was able to go get 4 yards of batting- I had been OUT since finishing Christmas presents- the casserole carrier had used up the last odd piece. It was on sale at JoAnn's thank goodness, so I got 4 yards.... which should last for about 6 projects since I've been working on smaller things. Which means, it should last until February, unless I go on a finishing binge... :)
And, I might have found a couple clearance fabrics that needed to come home with me.... no worries, though, because three of them are destined to be part of my next purse.

The thing I'm most excited about is that I got three new quilting magazines- I love looking through them for inspiration! They are the three I would love a subscription to (Hey, Husband, still want a Valentine's gift idea?) since I buy these three every month.

And the last things I got from JoAnn are three plastic bins to start sorting scraps even more. Let's hope this helps!

All of this was packed into a single bag that USED to be big enough. Not anymore... so hopefully, having the scraps semi-sorted like this will make it easier to make scrappy blocks. Call me out on it if you don't see some scrappy goodness within a few weeks... please? Thanks!

Tonight's cooking adventure: I separated and de-tipped raw chicken wings. I'm one step closer to being less squeamish, and on the way to sticky chicken wings for dinner!

Oh yeah- we had an earthquake this morning.... about 20 miles from where we live. Scared the bejeebers out of me until I figured out what it was. I wish I could blame it for the mess in my sewing room.... but that's been there for days now, and Tim has seen it at its worst.... haha. I did conclude I could never live in Cali- I could never get used to the earth shaking like that!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

American Onion Soup- That's what's for dinner, kids!

I made French onion soup with a bottle of Sam Adams Winter Lager to deglaze the pan rather than wine since I'm severely allergic to sulfites. It can't be "French" made like that, but it still tasted soooooo good. The "kids" (our 2 dogs) played with a slice of raw onion for a while, each one licking it, pawing at it, shaking their heads, etc before finally leaving it in a gooey blob on the kitchen floor. Crazy dogs.

As for that lunchbox that has been defeating me, it's still only halfway made- but Tim's ok if it turns into a patched up Frankenlunchbox. He actually sounded like he would prefer that. It's nice being married to someone who doesn't require perfection (but, he is still quick to honestly answer when I ask if a quilt flaw is noticeable).

I got a set of blocks made for the lotto this month. It was at the bottom of the list as long as the Christmas deadline was looming, but now that things settled down, I got around to it. It took two attempts, but the second pair fit the requirements. Honestly, I'm not too sad about having to keep the first pair.... I already know what I want to make from them rather than lump them in with the other orphans.

I leave you tonight with a picture of the casserole carrier I whipped up while the casserole was cooking last week. I think I did a good job making up my pattern and getting it done in just an hour! It fits even my largest Pyrex pan. :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

The joys of being an "independent"

Anyone else out there have the *pleasure* of filling out a fafsa? Oh, joy, I just finished one.... I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that our income was low enough last year to have had people tell me to fill this thing out!  So now what? It's been submitted, so I'm guessing this means I get to have *fun* with the bursar and finaid to find out if that hour lost will be worth anything, or if I have to take a semester off and save so we can pay for summer classes.... which, honestly, wouldn't be too bad given I wouldn't be driving all winter. And, let's face it, I could probably find a few projects to work on.... :D

This morning we had a nice visit with some friends... Tim's buddy lost a good friend to cancer yesterday, to which I responded by baking an apple pie. We took it down to them today, and had a fun visit playing with their oldest girl (she's four and full of energy) and had an all around fun morning.

I think it is time to go back to my sewing room. The Hubs has left for work, the dogs are quiet, and my chore for the day is done. Yes, sewing time. Something fun... like maybe winter placemats, or some such nonsense necessary decoration.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I'm trying to make Tim's stupid lunchbox, and it's being a pain. This is what I get for trying to "figure it out" without any pattern since he wanted a box like the ones you can buy, but please, Kasey, make it for me even though you've never ever made an insulated lunchbox before....
Big ol' sigh. It will work out in the end, but I'm going to have to add a piece on one side to make everything match up. This is turning out to be a PITA project. But I love him, and he'll love it, even if (especially if) it comes out looking like a Franken-lunchbox. I think the Wii is calling my name... I need a break.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve, and I just got back from dinner with Tim and the guys working on base tonight- I couldn't let them be left out on Christmas Eve, so I made ham, bambini (mini calzones), and cheesy potato casserole, and fudge and frosted sugar cookies for dessert. I have never seen 8 guys looking so happy and grateful! It was well worth working most of the afternoon. I love holidays, especially the meals. This way, I got to have dinner with Tim again.

While I was making dinner, I made a casserole carrier-- basically in between steps I ran back to my sewing room, finishing the carrier about 10 minutes before the potatoes were done- now that's what I call perfect timing!

This makes the second festive dinner I've made in a row! Last night, I hosted fondue night (which is usually Christmas Eve, but this year is a little wonky). Mom came down on her way to my brother's, and her brother, my uncle John came. We had a blast. I'm proud of myself for having been able to pull off not one but two festive meals.

Tim and I exchanged the rest of our gifts on Wednesday evening- he had gotten my presents that morning, and is worse than I am about waiting to give a gift. I didn't mind- it means I got to wear my new sparkly jewelry a couple days early! He loved his fleece blanket, and Dexter season 4, and his 3 PS3 games. I still have to make a lunchbox for him, but that can wait.

I think I've earned an evening of rest. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crochet wreath tutorial

Ok, so this isn't quilted, but I'm all-around crafty! I haven't made one of these in years, but they're so easy and quick that when I found my yarn I had to make one (I also needed a good excuse to open up the gallon of apple cider in the fridge)

My grandmother taught me to make these a looooong time ago during one of my many sick days in elementary school. They are easy enough a sick first grader can make them!

You will need:

plastic ring from a jug of milk or cider
Crochet hook size G
green worsted weight yarn
about 12" red ribbon
basic crochet skills.

 Start by making your first loop, then single crochet through the plastic ring. See the picture? The ring functions like a chain of stitches would if you were going to crochet in the round. I hold the tail of my yarn against the ring so it gets covered up and hidden as I go around the loop...
 Like this! Make sure you squish the stitches together a bit so they're a little crowded. Slip stitch to join the first and last stitches.
 Chain 2 and then single crochet around again...
 Ending up with this! Slip stitch again, and then finish it off and tuck in the yarn end.
 Now, take the ribbon, fold it in half, and tie a knot about 1" from the loop, then push the ends through from back to front through two slots next to each other like this. Tie these ends into a pretty little bow, trim even if necessary, and ta-da!
A cute wreath! Hang it as an ornament, or use less ribbon and omit the bow and you can attach the wreath to a pin back or a magnet.  Wasn't that easy?

Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Most of these fabrics came from my stash!
The last official Christmas present is DONE! Hooray, hooray, time to relax a bit! I told Tim I'd make him a lunch box, but that doesn't have a deadline like the other presents. This quilt is going up with him tomorrow for my MIL. It was inspired by designs in the book The Cat's Meow by Janet Kime (one of the many books my aunt left with me when she was in town in September). I added the letters for a little extra humor.

It measures approximately 42" by 56", which will make it a great quilt for her since she's only 5 feet tall.

It feels so nice to be done with all the necessities for this year! I had wanted to make more for our house, but I don't want to drive myself crazy anymore, and there's always next year. I'm taking the night of now. I'm not even frosting the cookies I made today until tomorrow- it's a resting night for me, since tomorrow will be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning in preparation for having Mum and my uncle over on Thursday and then cooking/baking some more for Friday for the guys who have to work Christmas Eve.   In my world, no one should miss a good meal on Christmas Eve, especially my husband, and definitely not those who serve our country. Plus, I love to cook. :) Win-win!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Simple, but DONE

 (Sorry for the sideways picture)
I am the queen of simple quilting today! Straight lines, simple boxes inside the t-shirts--- my brother the mechanical engineer will LOVE it. And isn't that label pretty cool? It's from one of his shirts from Japan.

Tomorrow I can definitely get my MIL's quilt done. 2 rows of quilting and binding are all it needs. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Whoohoo! Almost there!

 My hands have been so cold I had to put these arm warmers on over my sweatshirt... but, it did help speed up productivity while finishing this:
 Ta-da! Benny's quilt is a flimsy! Since this photo, I laid it down over the fleece and it's ready to be basted. WHOOHOO! I'm so glad I got it that far today with time to spare (so I can watch the Survivor finale... guilty pleasure!). Perhaps that's because I got up when it looked like this:
Isn't that a pretty sunrise? I love our new house... I have seen a version of this through the kitchen every morning since we got here.

Tomorrow, it's going to be a quilting frenzy: finishing the quilting of my MIL's, and then quilting Ben's. I CAN DO IT, YES I CAN!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Crazy? Maybe.

I've been very busy today- As soon as my lovely husband left for work, I headed out to JoAnn's by myself for the first time since we moved here 18 days ago! I had a set list, and I am pleased to say I stuck to it, but I also enjoyed a good hour in that store getting to know this particular one. It has the biggest selection of calicos and quilting cottons!!!! I just wanted to walk up and down the aisles... there's also a huge selection of Kona cotton, including several colors I could never find back up north, like chartreuse, and pretty greys, a delicate pinks... I'm very happy that this store is close enough, but not too close!

Once I got home, I finished framing all of Benny's shirts, so now they just need to be put together. I got fleece for the backing of his quilt- he's very tactile-selective, and by that I mean extremely picky about how things feel. I'm sure everyone knows that one person who cuts out itchy tags, or wouldn't wear jeans growing up because they were scratchy, or even won't eat any food with lumps (It either needs to be whole, or pureed). Well, that's my big brother. So I opted to try a new technique of not using batting at all and backing the quilt with fleece. In my head, this will work out perfectly and the quilt will also end up being warm but not too warm. We'll see what actually happens!

Tim made me open a present early since I gave him his quilt early- actually two. A pair of Gingher pinking shears, and the Straight No Chaser CD-- both of which I am so excited to have!!!

 I made these, and then used the new shears with glee.... Tim actually asked why I was giggling as I sat near the tree and trimmed them, and then hung them up. I have now made six new ornaments this year-- a selvedge stocking, a scrappy heart, a ribbon candy,  the house ornament, and these two trees. There will probably be more. :)

As for being crazy, after I got home today, I washed all of the towels, our sheets, and a load of clothes... then I washed the dogs (which then meant I had to shower.... you know how that goes!), and the crockpot, and swiffered the floors, and unpacked one of the lingering boxes, and remade our bed, and just now ate the last slice of Dutch apple pie. I MAKE A DANG GOOD PIE! I could have eaten the whole thing by myself, but thankfully Tim helped, and shared some with a coworker.

Look how proud this little monster is. Prudence the wonder dog, no longer the smelly dog!

Another reason I might be crazy- I agreed to make another present for Tim for Christmas! He wants an oversized lunch box. Silly me, I said OK. So, once I finish Ben's quilt and bind Val's quilt, I'll make Tim a lunch box.

If this post feels all over the place tonight, I apologize- things are hectic! I'm kicking myself a little for not being done with those last two quilts. This is the latest I've gone in years when it comes to being done with Christmas. Usually, I'm done by Thanksgiving so all I have to make during December is fudge!

Good night, everyone. 7 days until Christmas, 5 days until I need to have those two quilts done, and about half an hour before I fall asleep in front of the tv.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sew easy

To get distracted, that is!
 If I don't finish Benny's quilt by Christmas, it's Bonnie Hunter's fault! Every time I tell myself I'll put together another part of his quilt, I see the string blocks sitting next to my machine and think I'll just sew a few strings on to get me started... and then all of a sudden I have five more finished blocks and it's dinner time! Today had the added temptation to make some of the HST's, too. I really need to stop working on the mystery quilt and finish Benny's present.
And tonight, I also procrastinated the T- Shirt quilt some more by making this candy bowl. I love it-- I made my version of the fabric boxes from a tutorial over at Stash Manicure (you can find that lovely blog on the sidebar). This box matches the coasters I made-- not because I'm a matchy-matchy person, but rather because I had almost enough pieces precut from making the coasters to make the box.

 As far as finished presents go, Tim has been cold at night, so I gave him his quilt already- he was really excited (more than I expected) and immediately brought it back to our bedroom and laid it on his side of the bed, all the while saying, "This is awesome!" He loves the fact that the bargello is designed after his Busse knife handles, and he laughed when I told him those were Contrary Wife blocks I put along the edge as a joke. He slept happily under it last night, and again today during his pre-work nap.
The other excitement from yesterday can be seen at the base of this tree: do you see it? The black lump at the base of the tree... It's a pileated woodpecker!!! I wanted to get a better picture, but by the time I got our regular camera, it flew away. I was so excited, though, since I've only every heard about these birds before. I love how we actually have wildlife surrounding our house!

I should get back to working on that darn t-shirt quilt... in a minute. Time for some pie first!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everything happens for a reason!

The latest adventure: Tim woke me up Monday night when he got home with the announcement of "The Porsche is in a ditch." Thankfully, as he had walked past (poor guy) our mailbox, the paper work had come so we could get the family discount (thanks, Benny) on a new Toyota truck. So Tuesday morning, Tim got a brand new Tacoma! Yay! I went to bed after finishing his quilt at midnight (So tired I forgot to take a picture before wrapping it!) and then was woken up again by an angry husband: "Do you know where the Porsche is? Because it's not in the ditch where I left it." Oh crap.

Thankfully, it wasn't stolen- it had been towed. We found out it would cost about $100 to get it back, which is no small sum, but better than it being stolen. Here's the kicker: The guy who towed the Porsche might buy it! So, right now we're hoping and praying he calls back soon and says he definitely wants it. That would be awesome!

This all goes to show that everything happens for a reason. Tim is slowly coming around to my family's motto... this just pushed him a little further that way!

Monday, December 13, 2010

(Sung to the tune of the carol "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

See that dark spot? Floating in the water? 

Said the little girl
to her ironing board,
"Do you see what I see?
It's floating there,
in the water reservoir...
Do you see what I see?"
A spider, a spider,
Floating in a ball
He met a steamy fate after all!
He met a steamy fate after all!!!

Thank goodness I was able to get that little bugger out! The *funny* thing is that I had been sewing and pressing for well over an hour when I noticed its curled up dead body floating there... I'm guessing all the steam I was using boiled its little brain! HAHAHA (I hate spiders).

That, my friends, is why after I'd been making progress on Ben's quilt last night I decided to call it an evening. 

But it is not the worst/weirdest place I've discovered a spider. In elementary school, I used to drink chocolate milk every day from a plastic cup with one of the big bendy straws. I washed the cup after every use so it would be ready for the next morning. One day, I made my chocolate milk, stuck the lid on the cup, plunked the straw through, and took my first huge gulp... BLECK!!! THERE WAS A SPIDER IN THE STRAW, WHICH QUICKLY BECAME A SPIDER IN MY MOUTH! My dad almost yelled at me for spitting chocolate milk all over the counter until he realized why. then, as all great dads do, he started laughing.

I'm kind of nervous for spring here in our new house with all these woods around because of the spider Tim squished for me on the porch on the last barely warm day... it was the kind you could saddle up and ride into town. 

I'm giving myself heebie jeebies thinking about it. 

Sleep tight, everyone! ;)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

For future reference...

 I am an incredibly slow hand-piecer. At least when it comes to English paper piecing... I had never tried it, but this little hexagon caddy from Penny's Hands called for it, so I decided to try. SEVEN HOURS later, I had finally finished this little bugger! I was determined to finish it all the way yesterday, though. I knew if I stopped in frustration it would become a UFO and probably never get finished because of how slowly I had been stitching! I think part of the slowness was because I was using a teensy whipstitch, another part was named Prudence, and another part named Matt Lauer. Plus the three of us (Well, Prudence and I) were watching movies all day. Dan in Real Life, Uptown Girls, and  The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe were all on tv at various times yesterday. :)
 See? She watches more tv than some people I know!!!
Before I went to bed, I made an ornament I've been dreaming up to symbolize our First Home and first Christmas together (despite being the second Christmas married-- Tim was deployed last year). Isn't it cute? A wonky house ornament!!!

I made these coasters last week. Too cute! I strip pieced them together, then used my Go to cut wonky squares- It helped me to get 4 out of the strip without having to do the math to make sure I wouldn't get just 3.5! And, I must say, it was incredibly quick... I hope I get more dies for Christmas so I can play some more!

Today's agenda:
Get espresso machine? Perhaps!
Then, I MUST work on Benny's T Shirt quilt, or my brother won't get his present this year!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

What a week.

I am still exhausted from moving! And that was 9 days ago...

We finally got internet here yesterday. It should have been ready Wednesday night, but they didn't put the work order through, so after an hour of fiddling, Tim called, found that out, and got it scheduled for Thursday morning... and then the guy came, it started working, but only through the ethernet cable (not our wireless router). Thank goodness Tim was persistent (stubborn?) and is smart enough that he figured out how to get it all up and running! It makes up for what he did later... he asked me to make caramel sauce. From scratch. I've never done this before, but being agreeable at the moment, I said I'd try. So, I looked up a couple recipes, found one I had all the ingredients for, and started making it. 45 minutes into the hour it took to make it, he asked me WHAT I WAS MAKING. GRRRRR!!!!!!!! And men wonder why we feel unappreciated sometimes... the caramel sauce turned out ok, though. I'm proud of myself for not holding a grudge the last 15 minutes it took to cook it-- I heated some cider for him, too, to put the caramel sauce in.

Does anyone know of a caramel sauce recipe that doesn't get rock hard by morning? I was hoping this one wouldn't do that, but it did. I want a true sauce, one that will stay delightfully gooey.

Now, back to sewing...

Tim keeps swiping my fleece blanket, so I made him one... nice and manly, isn't it? Ok, technically not sewing... but a fabric craft nonetheless!
 Last Thursday, I decorated our tree. I made that tree skirt last year. It looks better in daylight, but the tree looks better at night.
I also made the cafe curtain for our master bathroom... doesn't it look nice? I love it. So simply, but so pleasant.
And now for pictures of my sewing room... CAUTION! Still not unpacked or organized!
 That quilt is almost finished...
 I've had to put off unpacking/organizing so that I can finish Christmas presents like the cat quilt, my brother's T-shirt quilt, and Tim's quilt.
 But, as you can see, I have some things put away in the closet, and at least I've made room to function for now.
Isn't that a pretty wood floor behind my cute new wallhanging? It's one of the things we loved when we first saw this house.
I made this wall hanging-- the pattern is from the December issue of Quick Quilts. It will be hung somewhere as soon as Tim can cut my dowel rod down to size. I wrote "Let it snow" in glitter paint towards the top, and I kind of like how difficult to see it is... I don't want to encourage a blizzard, just enough snow to be pretty!

I need to get back to work on those presents... but my hands are so cold they hurt. It doesn't matter how warm the room is, my hands and feet are like ice. Maybe I'll sit under a blanket long enough to get them luke warm, then try sewing a little more tonight...

It is so nice to have finally moved! Tanks to everyone who provided moral support and encouragement!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Should have, could have been a snow day

If I hadn't left early enough to get here, I would have still been home when my professor sent out the email saying class tonight was optional due to the weather. GRRR!!! But, since I didn't get that email until about a half hour after it was sent and I had already driven an hour and a half to get here, it has become a "might as well stay" day.  The benefit? INTERNET ACCESS!!!!

We should have it at home by Wednesday. I really don't mind not having internet at home right now-- I've gotten a lot of unpacking done. :) So much my mom was surprised when she drove down to help yesterday, then got to our house and realized we didn't need it! It was still nice having her and my aunt come down though- they got "the tour," and having Mum drive me to Kokomo for a Target run was easier than dealing with the off/on/off/on I have to do with the boot.

Last night, I finally felt like I had unpacked enough to sew a little. I made a cafe curtain for our mater bathroom, then made some more progress on my MIL's Christmas present. It just needs two more side pieces, then quilting and binding. Then, I only have 2 more big presents to finish. Then the question becomes, what to work on? I am searching for more ideas for decorating and organizing. I know I want to make a cover for our spice rack, but after that, I'll be at a loss! I have a bunch of UFOs I could finish, but let's be real... after i finish Ben's T Shirt quilt, I'll have earned something completely FUN.

Wednesday I hope to have photos of the house, and my few Christmas decorations for this year. I still love the tree skirt I made last year... but it's now hiding under presents!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas wish lists, anyone?

(Gotta love the post scheduling option... hopefully I'm busy unpacking and will have internet in the new house soon)

When I was really young, as in just past believing in Santa but still "little" young, my parents used to have my brother and I make a Christmas wish list. We were often given the toy ads and allowed to cut and paste the things we liked onto a piece of construction paper. My mom has a favorite story that she's told at least three times this year already: One year, while my brother covered the front and back of his paper with pictures and written items, telling her he ran out of room but he could give her more ideas, I handed her a paper that had a simple sentence: "If it's not too much, a sleeping bag would be nice."

That, my bloggy friends, is the epitome of my inability to make wish lists for myself. 

What would you want Santa to bring to you this year?

Here are a couple of things I think everyone should ask for, and my reasons why....

SWEATERS! Nice, comfy, warm sweaters. Unless you live somewhere that stays above 65 degrees all year, theres going to be a day or two when you want a sweater. And when you put on a sweater that was a gift, you think about the person that gave it to you... it's like wearing a hug, and being warmed by gratitude (at least for me it is).

TOYS! Ok, so adults have a different version of toys than kids. For men, it's often tools-- I bought my brother a wrench set 3 years ago, and he still loves them. Women have a lot of toys, too-- some women would love a new stand mixer, some would prefer scrapbooking supplies, and then there's us quilters, who like things like nice pinking shears, Go dies, even fabric assortments.... if my stocking were stuffed with fat quarters, I just might cry!

INDULGENCES! Whether it be nail polish to paint your own nails, or a gift certificate to get a pedicure,  nice cocoa with which to bake or a box of delicious chocolate truffles, sometimes small pleasures can bring great joy. I'll be making hand-beaten fudge (the REAL kind, not that marshmallow crap) for several people on my list this year.

HAND-MADE GOODNESS! Either food (I've been spoiled by my grandparents with beef log and peanut butter fudge every holiday, and I always make rolled sugar cookies, molasses, and Aunt Sally's cocoa drops with my mom), or a hand-made gift (ahem, quilt). My husband, brother, and MIL will all be receiving quilts this year, several family members are getting mug rugs, Mom is getting some fleece goodies, and a friend is getting her fleece-lined fleece mittens to lose by New Year's (Love ya, Jen!) My family knows the value of time spent making a present. It does to them what sweaters do for me. I don't often receive hand-made presents (probably because they all assume I'll make my own), but when I do, they mean so much more than a store bought item because I know how much more thought and effort are put into it.
And by the way, I think food is a perfectly appropriate gift as long as it's something the recipient eats. I wouldn't give a vegan a beef log, but last year my mom gave me some fancy sea salt to cook with, and I LOVE IT. It's something I wouldn't splurge on, so getting it as a gift means I've been cooking with sea salt all year and loving it.

And, last but not least, ESSENTIALS! Come on, everyone I know used to get new underwear and socks at Christmas... why not? They both serve a vital purpose, and you always need them, and if the people who buy them know you well enough they'll know the one store whose underwear fits your bottom best. In a strange way, basic, utilitarian socks and undies say "love" so much more than lingerie-- honestly, who's comfy in that stuff anyway?

So there you have it. This is my idea of Christmas.

In the long run, it's not about how much you spend, but with whom you spend Christmas. This year, I am grateful to have my husband home, so no matter what I find under the tree or in the stocking I made, it will be better than last because I'll have woken up to his sleepy face next to mine.