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My, my.  Haven’t I been quite the delinquent blogger?  I learned this year that if I don’t want most forms a normal life to stop during the Christmas season, I need to start making gifts a lot earlier.  Starting the beginning of November was a mistake, but I was able to get the last stitch in on Christmas Eve.  Whew.

Thanks so much to all of you who shared your great ideas at Homemade Christmas Goodness.  It is the most visited post on my blog, and not only did it greatly help me, it helped hundreds of others who stopped in to glean from your ideas and inspiration.  They were personally much appreciated and many were applied to my gift-giving this year.  I ended up making gift baskets (beautiful Christmassy ones that I found for a steal at Grocery Outlet), as suggested by Camille, and they were filled with a bit of an eclectic array of goods, some homemade and some store-bought.  In the end though, I was very pleased with the final results and felt a greater sense of excitement and joy giving loved ones pieces of things I worked on just for them.  My favorite homemade gifts came from ideas by a book my friend, Rissa shared about called “Doodle Stitching.”  This book is so fun and it inspired great ideas.  Rissa made adorable flour sack kitchen towels and I latched on to that idea and embroidered some of my own.  I ended up making 14 of them altogether.                                                                                              This is my favorite of the birds.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Butterflies and Bumblebee

Butterflies and Bumblebee

The butterflies and bumblebees was the quickest one to make.  I like it’s simplicity, but I think I might add more to it next time.img_0556 I love these funky trees.  In the book, this idea was for a scrap book cover and it had a squirrel in between the trees, but it intimidated me, so here you have just the trees.  🙂img_0557

This was the very first one I embroidered.  I started off very ambitious but soon realized there was not enough time to get 14 of these done in the time left before Christmas.

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Those little guys were my all-time favorite to make.  So fun and rewarding!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract was a quick and impressive-seeming touch to the baskets.  It’s just a vanilla bean and a few tablespoons of vodka or bourbon let alone to mingle for a month.  They make a very happy combination.  The vodka kind is much lighter in color, and I decided to give the darker bourbon version in the gift baskets.  The picture shown is the very beginning of the bourbon extract (week one), and this is also what the finished product of the vodka extract looks like.

I included some yummy Swedish Cream Cookies in glass jars and Nanaimo Bars in little ceramic Christmas mini-loaves (that I forgot to take pictures of) in the gift baskets.  The recipes were from another friend who wins all kinds of blue ribbons at state fairs.

All-in-all, it was a fun season of gift-giving.  What a treat it was to combine the ideas and suggestions of so many lovely friends to make thought-out gifts for my dear family.  Next year, I start the idea/gift making process in the Spring!

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Drought weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat–a league of rutty way –
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves.

– from "The Rain-Crow" by Madison Cawein (1865 – 1914)

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