What’s in your Christmas toolbox?

Normally, I am posting about my “Quilter’s toolbox”, talking about my favorite tools that make quilting tasks easier. But, today I put up our Christmas tree and decided to talk about my favorite tools for easy tree set-up and removal!!

Let me first say that the Arnold family ALWAYS has a real tree….or two!!! The “inside” tree is 8+ feet tall and for many years we struggled to get it securely set up. Then one day I happened upon this product…..

Krinner Tree Genie

Now it doesn’t come cheap, BUT today my husband and I (both in our 60’s) set up a 9-10 foot tree in only 5 minutes!! The design has 5 prongs that are attached by an extremely strong wire. You place the tree trunk in the center, step on the pump lever, and slowly the trunk is captured by the wire and prongs and is held fast!!!

It is truly amazing…..

The second tool in my Christmas tree arsenal is this simple watering system……

It is simply a funnel attached to a length of plastic pipe!!! The pipe base fits easily into the water channel of the stand. The funnel top comes off and I leave the pipe intermingled with the tree branches…..

It’s just below the orange line!!!

When I need to add water, I simply reattach the funnel and pour in the water.

But now the festive season is over and the tree needs to come down…..but the stand is full of water!!!

I have purchased this small syphon pump similar to this one…..

Once I have pumped out as much of the water as possible, I stuff newspapers (or paper towels) into the opening to soak up any additional water and the tree is ready to move out!!! The hardest thing about this process is finding newspapers to use…….

These seem silly tips but they certainly make quick work of the decorating and de-decorating, meaning that I get upstairs to my studio even faster!!!

So here’s to a HAPPY and FUN Christmas season….even if it is 2020!!!

It’s Christmas Time….almost!!!

This past week my small quilting group got together to exchange gifts.  I had known about this for over 2 months, but just couldn’t wrap my head around what I wanted to do.

Then, I remembered a blog post by Emma in Australia where she had machine quilted ornaments, resulting in this gorgeous quilt…..


I had been very taken with it and decided to play with something similar for my gift.   I started out by free-handing some ornaments and practicing my quilting….


As it ended up, I wasn’t that happy with the resulting product so decided to make a few changes.

I got online and found drawings of lots of interesting ornaments.  I cut a few out and started playing with an arrangement.   I quickly found that I wasn’t happy with vertical arrangement so started playing with a horizontal one…..


I fused a thin interfacing to the fabric, traced the designs on it and started looking for appropriate threads…..


I did the first round of thread painting, only to find that there was a lot of puffiness to the piece……


SO….here is another opportunity for creativity…..I decided to Trapunto the ornaments to give them some more dimension (and to relieve the puffiness).  I used two layers of a high-loft batting…..


…..and then basted it with a wool batting and started quilting.   When I got ready to quilt the background, I had planned to do an overall pattern but was afraid that it would be too flat so opted for straight lines instead.

Here is the final product…..


…..with a few close-ups…..




And, excitingly, my friend Deb was the winner!!

In return, I received this wonderful Christmas pillow from Brenda……



Thanks Ladies for a FUN evening!!!

A Stocking for Amber

Eighteen months ago our son Brian married Amber, a wonderful young woman!!!  It dawned on me this year that I had not made her a Christmas stocking so I set out to rectify that.

The first step was to come up with a design to use.  Our family stockings were made when we were living in Australia and reflected that time of our life…..

_B283475 (2) 

I knew that I wanted something that would fit  Amber  but also wanted to keep the same design of the previous stockings.

Since Brian and Amber are recent cat owners, I started looking for a Christmas kitten pattern that would work.   The first that I came across was this needlepoint design…..

DSC01540I covered it with a transparency and traced the general outline…..

DSC01543  I realized that he needed to face the other direction to best fit on the stocking so I simply turned the paper over, being sure to mark which was the front.

I then placed the transparency on the light box, placed a Teflon pressing sheet on top of the transparency and began to build the design.  It was very easy to see where the pieces were to be placed….


After I ironed the design onto the Teflon sheet, I peeled the entire picture off in one piece and placed it onto the stocking…..DSC01546 

The final step was to outline all of the pieces, quilting at the same time…..


The final embellishment was to add a bell for the kitten to be pawing at. 

I am looking forward to filling this new stocking with goodies on Christmas morning!!!!


Beaded Decorations……


My friend, Marilyn, who now lives in Brisbane, Australia started making beaded ornaments several years ago, and she has sent us a wonderful array of decorations.  Here are a couple for you to enjoy…….

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I met Marilyn while we were living in Canberra, Australia and we spent many hours together working on various projects at our church.  At the time I was leading a craft group at the church and her husband credits me…..or should I say accuses me……of being the start of Marilyn’s many craft efforts.