Category Archives: Holidays

Holiday Traditions

It’s time for the annual visit to the lobby of the Benson Hotel to view the gingerbread creation, this year featuring the Lichtenstein Castle in the center and imaginary villages on the sides. The first view with a human for perspective.

Then the detail on the right.

And closer so you can see the chocolate shingles on the roofs.

And closer yet to show the tree with marzipan gifts.

Back to an overview from the right.

And a close up of the tree in the lower right.

Love the pretzel trunk and green frosting.

This is Chef Diffendorfer’s 25th gingerbread creation at the Benson.



Filed under Holidays, Portland OR

Christmas Lights, Crale House

It took four years to learn of this light display half a mile from where I live. I’d heard of the Christmas Ship Parade and gotten there twice. I’d heard of Peacock Lane, and finally got there this year. Then I heard of Crale House. The linked article says their December electric bill is $500.00, and that was two years ago. My first visit was Christmas Eve, but light rain hurried us through a bit. A clear night tonight prompted a second visit. This display demands you get out of the car.


Arches cover the sidewalk along the two lots that are lit up.

gingerbread house Santa’s reindeer fly above the gingerbread house. Several other exhibits lined the fence, but all my photos did not turn out. The exhibit goes deep into this side lot where one path leads closer to the nativity.


Another path leads to the front of the house where there are exhibits in two picture windows. One has animated bears and the other a village.

Train in WindowThe train was going round and round; there was a figure pulling a sled and skiers and a ski lift in motion. (Apologies for the flash glare in the glass.)

This window brought back memories of my grandma’s Christmas tree that always had a little train traveling around the village under it.






Filed under Holidays, Portland OR

Early Christmas

Sometimes family life and calendar life don’t coincide. So we celebrate when we can. Logan is almost 2, and toddlers can be quite entertaining.

We did sight seeing things, of course. We were one of three small groups late in the afternoon at the Lan Su Chinese Garden.


I’m sure part of our enjoyable 2-hour visit there was that Logan led the way. He thought he was in a BIG park.

Wall and windows

We did our ritual stop at the tea house (alas I neglected to take pictures there) where his favorite food was the cucumber garnish. Adults enjoyed moon cakes, steamed buns and dumplings. And of course tea.

And I have to have the ritual shot of the persimmons tree, even though Logan is not in it.

persimmons tree

Not the usual angle, but the same tree.

And the red rose was in bloom, though it was getting too dark to get a photo of it. Sunset was around 4:30; garden visit 3:00-5:00. A visit at dusk was a new experience.

The next day was as full as a 2-year-old can handle. First the Benson Hotel’s gingerbread display.

Gingerbread castle

Gazing at the 150 lbs. of housemade gingerbread, Logan said, “Toys!” Luckily he has learned (most of the time) to enjoy things with his eyes. From there to the children’s section of Powell’s City of Books, then to VooDoo Donuts, then the Christmas tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. No photos. What were we thinking?

Even though light rail is not new to him, Logan got excited to be on the “Big train” with “People,” and even moreso when another train passed us. We rode to N Interstate and N Denver to see the Paul Bunyan statue. Logan was not as impressed as we expected, but he did comment, “Big boots!” No photo because we were hurrying to get out of the rain at Posie’s Cafe for lunch. Next time Logan saw the statue it was from inside the car, and he pointed and said, “Little big guy.”I love trying to follow his logic as he chatters. I’m thinking this statement was a comparison of the apparent size from the car window in contrast to the closer view walking by, and “big guy” was the name of the statue, and this time it looked little.

Another day we went to the train museum.

What a clever museum! The adults loved the three working vintage engines–one of which was being steamed up for an excursion the next day. (We would have ridden it except they were leaving the next morning.) And a toy train for toddlers. We had thought Logan might not let us get our fill; it turned out his interest lasted longest.

And then the early Christmas gifts.

It took a while to get the hang of unwrapping gifts; then Logan wanted to help everyone, play with the paper, and start rewrapping things. (Did you see the placemats in one of the photos? They got finished in time.)

In addition to all that sight seeing and gift excitement, there was food, conversation, and hanging out time.

hanging out

More fun than the toys was playing with the afghan, poking fingers and toes through the holes, wiggling and watching the afghan move. Who needs toys?

Linking with Anything Goes–Hey there is one mention of a quilt.


Filed under family, Holidays

Christmas Placemats

Since December is getting closer, the placemat project is back. It started with fabric I won, and I got as far as making the tree blocks before I set it aside for other projects. (I shift projects like you shift chairs in the game of Musical Chairs.) Back in August or September there was no need to rush, right?

Here are two of the tree variations, ready to be quilted.

I curved the corners so I’d not have to fuss with making them square. I can see I need to improve my freehand cutting or else make a template. Here are the other two tree variations, waiting for their turn at being completed.

Because some of the fabric had black background, I thought perhaps some of it on the tree was in order. Of the four, I like 2 and 3 the best. All the variations have the star fabric for the top square–gotta have a star on top of the tree.

I’d intended on plain green and red backs, but miscalculated and used some of the red for another project, so had to piece two backs.

If you were in a hurry, I think the stripes would make a fine set of placemats. Or if you were in a bigger hurry, a sngle fabric on each sides and another print napkin would also work.

Linking up with WiP Wed before I get back to stitching.

Since I didn’t get them finished, I’ll have to  just link some progress. 🙂 Linking with Show Off Saturday. I do have a couple quilted, but no photos yet. Wonder if a tutorial is in order…Also linking  with Fresh Sewing Day, a monthly event. And since Needle and Thread Thursday took a break last week, I’ll link this week. A new post is coming soon.

12/23/14 They are quilted and gifted, but I neglected to get the final photo. Linking with Val’s Tuesday Archives and Quiltville. Click and browse other Christmas quilty projects. In all my years of quilting, this is the first project I’ve made with Christmas fabric. I have plenty in my stash–might have to make some more.



Filed under Holidays, quilting

The Literary Origins of Valentine’s Day

You were wondering, weren’t you?

Interesting Literature

Did Geoffrey Chaucer invent Valentine’s Day? Yes and no.

St Valentine’s Day has been marked in liturgical calendars for centuries. As a Christian feast day, Valentine’s Day actually commemorates two Saint Valentines: Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. (The Catholic Encyclopedia even speaks of a third Saint Valentine, who was martyred in Africa, but little else is known about him.)

Chaucer1But Valentine’s Day only became associated with romantic love during the late fourteenth century, when Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), author of The Canterbury Tales, made the association in his poem ‘The Parlement of Foules’, written some time in the 1380s, possibly in 1382. The poem features a parliament, or assembly, of birds, which have gathered together in order to choose their mates. As Chaucer’s narrator remarks, ‘For this was on seynt Volantynys day / Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.’ However, several of Chaucer’s contemporaries also wrote poems…

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Filed under books, Holidays