Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Take Our Cookies Seriously

For many years now, we have had the annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Night with the Johnstons.  The Johnston children are our children, as our children are the Johnstons' children.  We feel so fortunate to have such good friends, with whom we always have good times.

We take our cookies seriously.  No just icing cookies and throwing some sprinkles on them.  Not with this group.  Oh no. 
The decorating has become so serious that the cookies are baked ahead of time (otherwise we'd never get done).  We pull up chairs and start right in. 
As you can see here, Jim is busy decorating a cookie with his tweezers, while John is contemplating the color of frosting he's going to use for his piece of art.
As you can see here, Jim takes decorating Christmas cookies to a new level using tweezers.  In fact, he's an expert tweezer cookie decorator. 
As an engagement present, Rachel was given her own personal pair of cookie decorating tweezers.  Welcome to the family Rachel. 
Almost too beautiful to eat.  Love the angel in a tux.
Please note Andrews Gator and Matt's black heart.  We also have a Rev. Jim Turkey on this sheet.
Here we have Christmas cats, dogs and bears.

While on this was going on, the two Grill Masters were doing prime rib.

We took advantage of having everyone together and did some celebrating.

We toasted Frank and Rachel for their engagement.

We toasted John on his graduation from Portland State University.

We toasted Andrew on his graduation from the University of Florida.

We toasted Sarah on her 18th birthday.  She's the "baby" of the clan, and is now all grown up. 

And finally, we gave thanks for our friendship, love, friends, and the wonderful children who have grown up on us to become wonderful adults. 

Front row:  Edgar, Matt, Jessica, Lindsey and Sarah
Back row:  Andrew, John, Frank (aka Dave) and Rachel

We love you!



Thursday, December 16, 2010

We've Gotten Mail

We have received mail from some of the troops.  In one instance, our boxes were received in a week.  Here are the comments:

"We received our stockings yesterday and I gave them to the Soldiers and
they were so happy that someone thought of them. On behalf of every Soldier in my unit I just want to Thank you for caring about our troops!  Your support enables us to continue our mission and lets the troops know they're appreciated and not forgotten about. So please let all of your volunteers know that each stocking was received with much gratitude and appreciation."

"First of all, we received the stockings and we're all surprised how fast they got here. We'd like to personally thank you for everything that you do to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. You really have no idea how much it means to us to receive the stockings from someone that we've never even met before. We'd also like to point out that your story was very touching and we wish God's blessings upon you and your family. Please extend our gratitude to everyone that supports Operation Holiday Stockings. This act of kindness which you provide keeps us proud to be in the military and willing to defend our nation. The generosity and professionalism from you and your supporters will forever be etched in our hearts."

This is why we do what we do. 

In total we sent out 1550 stockings this year.  In the six years we have been doing this, we have sent out 6611 stockings.  Not bad for a small nonprofit made up of a lot of volunteers from all over the United States.  Thank you to all of you who help with this effort.  As you can see, it is important that we continue to do this. 

We will be sending stockings out again next year, so start knitting, crocheting, sewing, decorating, and collecting goodies.  We are accepting donations all year so you don't have to wait for the holiday season to get into gear.  There are several of you who knit stockings in the summer months when small projects work best in hot weather, including me. 

Speaking of stockings, one of the volunteers asked if she could use our "official" pattern to make stockings for the kitties at PAWS.  Of course she can, and look at this. 
I love this.  What a fun way to make the facility look festive and inviting for the holidays. 

Not so sure what this kitty thinks of this stocking, but I do know this kitty and all of the other kitties at PAWS would love a new family for the holidays.



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Congratulations to Two Wonderful People

Last night I received a text from Frank which just contained a picture.  It was a picture of a lovely young hand with an engagement ring on it.  I knew it was Rachel's hand, and the ring was from him.  I started squealing and got him on the phone to make sure I was seeing correctly.  David ("Dad") and I are thrilled.  We have come to love Rachel as a member of the family. 

Congratulations to David ("Frank") and Rachel.  We love you and wish you many, many years of happiness. 

Mom ("Sue")

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Stockings Are On Their Way!

The stockings have been stuffed, sorted, counted, packed, labeled, and mailed, all 1525 of them.  All of our elves came over the Saturday after Thanksgiving and stuffed stockings.  Believe it or not, it was done in less than three hours.

Even dumping the box of lip balm in the beginning didn't hold back this crew.  The first thing we did was play 700 lip balm pickup.

We used up all of the lip balm, candy, drinks, toys, and games we had.  Here's a box of candy that was donated by Dave in Portland.  When he says a box of candy, he means a box of candy.

While the elves were stuffing stockings, Katie and I were counting so we would have an idea where we stood. 

In the meantime, stockings continued to come in so we most definitely had enough.

Sue and Margaret came with more stockings and they were stuffed. 

Our "a stocking a day" knitter, Susan M., brought in the rest of the year.  She did admit that the wonderful knitters at Stitches of the Heart gave her a hand.  Susan, your daily stockings have all been stuffed and sent out.

Heather and her mom Janell sent in their 67 stockings.  These two dear ladies have been knitting for OHS since 2005.

Betty, who is in her 80's, has been knitting since July for OHS, and sent in these dear stockings.  Each stocking has three little buttons on it.

Angie got together with Betty and knit these lovely stockings for us.

Karen in Arizona sent us another batch of stockings to make sure we had enough.

And fnally, but not least, Lisa knit these for us.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but each stocking has yarn that sparkles. 

This past week David, Katie, Matt, Susan and I have finished up the stuffing, sorting, packing and mailing of the stockings.  A big thanks goes to Susan and Katie for helping me keep my sanity this past week. 

Thank you all who helped with Operation Holiday Stockings for 2010.  Without your help, support and contributions, it wouldn't have happened.


Aerowood Animal Hospital - Bellevue, Washington
Angela L. - Seattle Washington
Angela O. - Seattle, Washington
Anne - Seattle, Washington
Barbara - Appleton, Wisconsin
Becky - Louisville, Kentucky
Becky - Bellevue, Washington
Bernadette - Seattle, Washington
Betty - Seattle, Washington
Bitsey - Olympia, Washington
Cathi - Edmonds, Washington
Charlie - Seattle, Washington
Chris & Leslea - Temecula, California
Cummins Bridgeway LLC - Hubbard, Ohio
Dave D. - Damascus, Oregon
David R. - Portland, Oregon
David R. - Bellevue, Washington
Dave R. - Bellevue, Washington
Dawn - Seattle, Washington
Deborah - Edmonds, Washington
Deb - Shoreline, Washington
Diana - Lyle. Washington
Dr. Reh DDS - Bellevue, Washington
Elaine - Bellevue, Washington
Enaud - Yelm, Washington
Eric - Seattle, Washington
Eastside Knitting Guild - Bellevue, Washington
Gina - Seattle, Washington
Ginny - Hazelhurst, Wisconsin
Harriet - Seattle, Washington
Heather - Molalla, Oregon
Hilda - Seattle, Washington
Hotel Sierra - Bellevue, Washington
Jack - Seattle, Washington
Jan - Barre, Vermont
Jane - Bellevue, Washington
Janell - Canby, Oregon
Jeffrey Johnson, DDS - Bellevue, Washington
Jenn - North Bend, Washington
Joan & Matt - Bellevue, Washington
JoAnn - Seattle, Washington
Joe - San Francisco, California
John - Portland, Oregon
John - Seattle, Washington
Jolaine - Waesca, Minnesota
Joseph - Seattle, Washington
Julia - Alva, Oklahoma
Karen - Glendale, Arizona
Kathy - College Place, Washington
Kathy - Bellevue, Washington
Kari - Bellevue, Washington
Katie - Bellevue, Washington
Katlyn - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Kim - Canon City, Colorado
Ladies of the Elks - Sequim, Washington
Leanna - Bellevue, Washington
Leslie - Seattle, Washington
Leslie - Sequim, Washington
Linda - Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Lisa - Bellevue, Washington
Lisa - Seattle, Washington
Lori - Seattle, Washington
Makalika - Seattle, Washington
Margaret - Bellevue, Washington
Margot - Franklin, Massachusetts
Marina - Bremerton, Washington
Marlys - Kent, Washington
Mary - Arlington, Massachusetts
Mary - Seattle, Washington
Mary - Green Bay, Wisconsin
Maryann - South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Melinda - Grass Valley, California
Morry - Seattle, Washington
Nancy - Corvallis, Oregon
Nancy - Seattle, Washington
Nicole - Federal Way, Washington
Nicole - Seattle, Washington
Pam - Medina, Texas
Patricia - Seattle, Washington
Pro Sports Club - Bellevue, Washington
Rachel - Milwaukie, Oregon
Ray - Bellevue, Washington
Ricardo’s - Bellevue, Washington
Sam - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Sessa - Renton, Washington
Sharon - Bellevue, Washington
Silver Cloud Inn - Bellevue, Washington
Steve - Federal Way, Washington
Stephanie - Bellevue, Washington
Stitches From The Heart - Bellevue, Washington
Sue C. - Bellevue, Washington
Sue R. - Bellevue, Washington
Susan B. - Bellevue, Washington
Susan M. - Lakewood, Colorado
Susan M. - Bellevue, Washington
Terry & Sheryl - Sandy, Utah
Troop 52107 Girl Scouts - Edmonds, Washington
Now, off to do some winter clean up today in the garden, and some knitting for me. 



Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stocking Stuffing Day

The table is full of stockings, the elves are lined up to come over today, so we will get the stockings stuffed and ready for shipping.  There are about 1300 stockings on this table. 

More stockings came in yesterday. 
Susan B. continues to knit and brought these over yesterday.
Bitsy again made these beautiful stockings for OHS.  Bitsy has been sewing stockings for six years now. 
Margot in Massachusetts knit these beautiful stockings while attending her first semester in college.
These are from Stephanie in Bellevue.  Love these knitters.
Melanie in Grass Valley made these darling stockings.  The red and white stockings are the cutest little snowmen. 
Jolaine sent these to us from Minnesota.  She made these with the softest fleece.
 Well, off to get started. 



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why we do what we do.

About a week ago I had someone ask me why we go to all of the work to send stockings over to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  First of all, I really didn't think this person deserved an answer but I gave it to her anyway.  We do this out of love and support for our troops who are away from home over the holidays.  I know the war is old news, and there are many who totally ignore it.  As I explained to this person, this is not about politics, this is about our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and grandchildren needing a connection with home. 

This year is the first year we have had a website just for Operation Holiday Stockings, thanks to our Webmaster Joey.  Through the site, I have heard from our soldiers directly.  Let me share some of the comments I have received, and then you will know why we do what we do. 

First let me tell you thank you for the support. It's nice to know people are still there for us. This is my fourth deployment and I am wondering how do you decide who to send to. I am deployed in Iraq and I was wondering how I go about putting me and my troops on your list for some stockings. I am sure they would appreciate them. Any information would be greatly appreciated. God bless.

 I am currently serving in Afghanistan and was put to the task of Christmas decoration and logistics. We have a team of around XX Soldiers here. We are … away from the rest of our units. We would appreciate anything that you can do for us. Thanks again for everything you do to support the Soldiers.

We are currently deployed to Afghanistan. I was talking with a friend and they told me about Operation Holiday Stocking. I currently have about XX Soldiers within our company and we would love if they could each receive a stocking. Also I would like to take time out to thank you and your staff for what you do in supporting soldiers.

As hard as it may be to believe, there are many soldiers who never hear from someone at home, and the holidays are the hardest for them to be ignored. 

Everyone involved in Operation Holiday Stockings remembers these soldiers.  We are a small group made up of those making the stockings, those collecting the items for the stockings, those stuffing and packing the boxes to send to our troops, and those organizing collection drives.  We have knitting guilds, moms and grandmas, sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, dads and grandpas, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, classrooms, and service groups, all working for this project.  We have people collecting toiletries while traveling, and collecting loose change for OHS.  We have businesses who donate quantity items for this project, and cash for postage.  In other words, we have a lot of people who care and who refuse to forget our troops in harm's way. 
In the past few days we have received some more stockings. 
These are from Julia in Oklahoma.  I love the little snowflakes on the middle stocking.  These are so cute.
Pam in Texas knit these for us, and the colors are so bright. 

My cousin Sam and her grandaughter Katlyn in Pennsylvania again made these beautiful stockings for us.  They have been participating in this project for six years now, and have been strong supporters. 
Sessa in Washington knit these two darling stockings.  The yarn is so soft and shiny. 
Ginny in Wisconsin sent us this lovely assortment of stockings for the family parties we will be contributing to. 
Mary of Wisconsin sent in another batch of knit stockings.  I love the stocking in the middle, the colors are very pretty. 

Karen in Arizona sent these lovely stockings she knit, each one with a personalized note to the soldier.

We are up to 1257 stockings with more on their way.  I am sure we will reach our goal of 1700 this year.  None of the volunteers participating in this project want any of our troops to be without a stocking, and we've committed to 1700, so 1700 is what we will have. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone, and be sure to give thanks for the men and women who have taken on the task of protecting the freedoms we have.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Go Beavs!

I commute to work every day and so I have some lovely knitting time each way, about 20 minutes to be exact.  I realize that in the world of commuters that is a very short commute, but it is enough time to work on small projects.  I generally have a sock in my bag to work on, or a hat. 

Hats are nice commuting projects, especially when the weather starts to get colder.  You can knit as many as you want and there will always be someone who will want it.  You can knit any color, size, or style, and there will be someone to wear it.  I like to knit with a washable yarn, especially for children.  Hats do need to be washed on occasion.  I also like to have wool in the yarn, be it 100% wool, or a nice blend with at least 25% wool content.  Wool is what makes hats toasty warm, absorbs moisture, and when a hat does get wet, still stays warm. 

One of the gals at work is collecting warm clothing for her church to be distributed to the homeless and displaced.  These are individuals and families who have recently found themselves homeless because of the economy.  If they fortunate enough to have a place to live, their income is primarily for rent and food, not clothing.  If you add children into that equation, which is appropriate 90% of the time right now, clothing is a luxury necessity.  I decided the hats I'm knitting need to go to Lindsey's church to help keep people warm.  I know I love my hat, especially when it gets cold and the wind is blowing, so hats it will be.

This hat was knit out of Universal Yarn's Classic Worsted Tapestry.  I think this particular color has been discountinued, which makes sense since I purchased it several years ago at A Dropped Stitch in Sequim.  This is a nice yarn at a reasonable  It knits up well, and after it has been given it's first washing, is very soft. 

I was curious what this yarn would look like if I used the Helix technique with some other colors. 

Here is the simple rolled brim hat with a soft rose color used.  Looks like a hat for a young lady.

Here's the same hat with turquoise. 

Here are the three together.  This was fun using the different colors for the second color.  It's also a great way to use of orphaned skeins of yarn in your stash. 

I did another hat using the Helix technique and it wasn't easy for me.  You see, the hat is in U of O colors (the Ducks).  I knit it for a baby present for one of the attorneys at work.  I graduated from OSU (the Beavers), which is the arch rival of U of O.  Each year the week before the Civil War game when OSU and U of O get together for their football game, several people at work make a big deal of it to see how Jason and I are going to react.  We are very professional about it. 

Getting back to the hat ... as I said, the hat wasn't easy to knit because the colors were gaging me.  The hat came out really cute, and I am proud of it.  However, I had to do something to counter the hat ...

The hat was presented to Jason in Beaver colors.  He thought it was very funny, and he and his wife loved the hat.  All's fair in love and war they say.

Well, I've finished up my big project, so I'm off to dig through the UFO's and my stash to see what I can knit now.  Stay warm, and wear a hat.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On a Wing and a Prayer

In the middle of November for the past six years I go into a panic, a stocking panic.  The first year hit on November 19th when my dear LT asked for 233 small knit stockings by the first of December.  Considering I had never knit a sock in my life, I first prayed, got an answer from God that you don't say no to your son in Iraq, and then PANICKED.  I panick because the number of stockings we need gets overwhelming, and I can't say no to our troops. 

In the last few days I have received emails directly from soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq asking if we could send them a little something.  Morale is down, and these officers are asking on behalf of their troops if we can send them anything to help with the morale.  Of course I said yes.  Right now we need about 1700 stockings, and yesterday I entered into my panicked mode.  I have received emails from loved ones asking if we can remember their soldier's units, and of course I said yes.  Enter more panic.  Dear David is used to this panic hitting in the middle of the month, and smiles sweetly reminding me that everything will be fine. 

Yesterday I mentioned how we were doing to another volunteer and she really went into a tailspin, and my comment was "on a wing and a prayer we will do this."  This morning I recalled what I said and reminded myself I need to listen to my own words.  On the angel's wing and with a heartfelt prayer we will send stockings to all of the soldiers.

Last night I shared my concern with the wonderful group of knitters on Ravelry who are part of the group I started called Operation Holiday Stockings.  Today I heard back that they are sending stockings, knitting more, and one is pulling out her sewing machine.  I heard from my cousin Sam and she's sending 50 stockings she and her granddaughter have made.  I heard from Kathy and all of her relatives that drive sewing machines for OHS, and I have received stockings in the mail.  My dear readers, don't ever doubt the power of prayer, and remember that we all have angels' wings just waiting to lift us up from PANIC. 

To all of you who are participating in OHS this year.  THANK YOU ON BEHALF OF OUR TROOPS.  One little stocking is going to mean a lot to our men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It will be a symbol of love, support and prayer for each one of them.  I personally extend my thanks in helping me keep a promise I made to my own LT.

Now to show you all what we have received in the last couple of days. 

These darling stockings are from Becky in Kentucky, and one was full of lip balm, which will be very much appreciated by the troops. 

Enaud in Yelm, Washington knit all of these stockings in support of a project her son has started at his church in Oregon, called "Stocking for the Troops." 

Sgt. Pam in Texas knit these darling stockings.  I love it, the military supporting the military.

And then there is Kathy in Eastern Washington, and her friends and family sewing stockings at their "stocking bee."  Kathy wrote me and told me she mailed the stockings and laughingly said she hoped I liked her packaging. 

Alright there is nothing unusual about this Priority Mail box, most of the stockings have been coming in them.  I'm not sure what I expected, because we have received stockings in all kinds of packaging, but then I thought okay Kathy, you've been inhaling too much sewing machine oil.  That is until I opened the box ...

I cracked up when I saw the stockings in vaccumed packed freezer bags that only a home gardener and home food processor would use.  I love it.  Okay, can anyone take a guess as to how many stockings Kathy has "preserved" here? 
There are 95 of them. Kathy, you made my day.  I had an image of these stockings being in the freezer with all of those beans you froze this summer. 

Meanwhile, Edgar is bored, the cat is bored, and they both would love a little excitement around here.  Edgar has decided he's going to hybernate since we won't let him tear up the hill to harass our neighbor, and destroyed his repaired knee.  If fact, it's so quiet around here, Edgar and Abby are getting along with each other.

Well sort of.