Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Quilted Ornament, Stitch Markers, and a Secret Sister

For the last several years I have participated in a Secret Sister prayer/ornament exchange program with some homeschool moms I've met on the internet. This year I was assigned Caroline in England. It was a lot of fun to prepare a box for her, partly because of many things we've shared in common over the years. Around those memories and a few new things I learned, I packed her box.

As I thought about what type of ornament to buy for her, I changed my mind. Shopping for nice things like ornaments is quite difficult up here in Northern Virginia, so I decided to make an ornament for her. After some searching on the internet I found a traditional quilt ornament that I thought she might like. I knew she liked traditional things, green, and stars. I also knew she liked quilts. Whenever she sees my quilt pictures on fb, she tells me about quilts she's seen in person. Here is the link to allpeoplequilt.com in case you are interested in this project.

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I made several practice pieces first.
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Of course I chose the green for Caroline. After this point everything was hand stitched. It was a great way to use up small pieces of batting left from larger quilt projects.
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Then I packed her box. She enjoys trying American treats and flavors, tea and  chocolate were on her "yum" list, so I bought the packages pictured below. I told her the Dove chocolates are our favorite, since they are creamy and decadent. Also when you unwrap the foil around the candy, there is a message inside. We not only homeschool but are bookworms, so I thought she'd like the messages. She said the first one she opened said, "Friendship is the greatest gift."   I also shared with her how these candies are made by the Mars Chocolate Company who also donates lots of money to the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. Caroline visited CW several years ago and has brought them up in conversation with me many times.

For that reason, I also gave her a CW Christmas card, shown in the lower right of the photo. Inside the card there is also a recipe from one of the taverns in the historic area.

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Here is the final ornament...
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I found out that she collects stitch markers for her crochet and knitting. She said she can never have enough because of all of the projects she has going on at once. Although I have crocheted years ago, I had no idea what stitch markers were so I googled them. I found some at Michaels that were bo-ring. Hmmmm, practical though they may be, I wasn't sure what was special about collecting them. After digging on fb I discovered that a previous Secret Sister had given Caroline some lovely stitch markers. I did more googling and went to Etsy where I found cute ones. That led to searching for more and more cute ones. They looked a lot like earrings to me. I asked my daughter if she thought she could make some. We went through her beads and planned a design. We used light lavender pearls because purple is another favorite color of Caroline's (and my daughter).    
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I packed them carefully in a tiny zip lock baggy that I had. I didn't want them to get lost in the packing box, especially with international travel and customs. 
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I found these red and green bags to pack the stitch markers and ornament in. That would make things a bit special, especially since Caroline always likes to take the time to gift wrap the Secret Sister gifts that she sends. However I was concerned about customs and thought I'd make things as easy on them as possible.
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While I was packing everything I got this quick idea to toss in an extra copy of my 2013 Colonial Williamsburg calendar. Of course the calendar would no longer be useful, but I thought she might enjoy the lovely photos. That was the year CW saw one of my photos of the garden at the Governor's Palace and asked to publish it for their calendar.

I mailed the box the day before Thanksgiving. Caroline finally received her box last Saturday.  It was fun that we had a lot of connections, like Scotland. She is from Scotland and I now live in a Scottish neighborhood. A lot of Scots settled here in the 18th century so I always think of her when I drive around.  Wonder if she recognized Scotland in my address? Also funny that the postal lady was on her first day of processing international shipping.  When she got to me and plugged in the zip code, she said the box was going to Scotland. Um, no, it had to go to England. It took a while to get things right but that was funny.

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