Thursday, December 16, 2010


During the holiday season, I'm reminded of what I have to be thankful for—family, good health, a loving home. Tuesday was a reminder that I'm also fortunate to have good friends. Two of my dearest ones, Merry and Belinda, came to visit me. Although they don't even live in my same town, they make it a point to visit regularly. When I moved out to my small community six years ago, I was afraid of losing touch with some of my friends. So I'm grateful to have true ones like Merry and Belinda in my life.

Since we were getting together, I decided to give the girls their holiday gifts. Well, nothing could have prepared me for the generosity they showered upon me with theirs. Those who know Merry love getting her homemade goodies. She enjoys experimenting with recipes and everything she makes comes out scrumptious. Merry surprised Belinda and I with a basket of gourmet goodness. It was filled to the brim with edible delights prettily packaged in decorative tins and bottles. This fragrant tin held an enticing array of cookies—sage shortbread with peach jam filling, lavender chamomile tea cookies, and jam thumbprint cookies made with her homemade raspberry jam. Doesn't she sound like a regular Martha Stewart?

I couldn't wait to taste test these heavenly strawberry cream madeleines and decadent chocolate chip brownies crowned with a peppermint patty. The only problem is that I'll have to guard these from my chocoholic husband! He could devour them in a matter of minutes.

Merry also gave us three different kinds of homemade jellies as well as homemade vanilla and lavender extract. I must admit I was thrilled to see jelly in the basket as I've practically eaten all of the ones she gave me earlier.

There was even a bag of homemade cinnamon granola that tasted as though I'd died and gone to heaven. 

As if all that glorious food wasn't more than generous to give to her friends, Merry presented me with this adorable tote she made. I had admired a similar one she made several months ago and she was so thoughtful to make me my very own in these cheerful yellow fabrics accented with splashes of red. I can't wait to start using it. Merry exemplifies what it means to be a good friend. She is one of the kindest, most giving people I know and has helped me through some difficult times. Her kindness is matched by her creativity. This multi-talented gal does everything from knitting and crochet to quilting and embroidery. 

Can you believe she filled the bag with yet more gifts, including a handmade dish towel, the cutest glittered owl ornament I've ever seen, candies, two pairs of sweet embroidery scissors, and holiday napkins?

My other dear friend Belinda is a busy businesswoman who designs the most delightful cross stitch patterns under the Blue Ribbon Designs label. So I was truly amazed that she even had time to make me this oh-so-charming wall quilt. The act of making something by hand is truly a precious gift and I was so touched that both she and Merry would take the time to make something for me. 

Somehow between her many work commitments, Belinda finds time to stitch and make the loveliest things. I come away from each visit with her feeling inspired and rejuvenated. Working in a creative field  for 15 years, I've always admired people who exude energy and creativity, and Belinda is certainly one of those rare gems. The colorations in this little quilt were perfect for my green and pink dining room. 

Belinda even made this thoughtful label for the back of the quilt. I need to take a lesson from her and document more of my quilts! When I see an old quilt that speaks to me, I'm always wishing the maker had done just that. Just think of what all those treasured textiles would tell if they could talk... 

After receiving such a beautiful little quilt, I certainly wasn't expecting more gifts but Belinda had yet more treasures to share. The blue teacup dishtowel will look so homey in my blue-and-yellow farmhouse kitchen. She also gave me the enchanting book on afternoon tea parties. It's filled with gorgeous photography, yummy recipes, and inspiration for throwing your own themed tea parties. I've always wanted to host one and I'm sure this book will spark some fun ideas.

Here is Belinda enjoying the sweet tote and hand towel that Merry made for her (her kitchen is black and white).

The consummate cook, Merry was delighted to receive this intriguing tome on the forgotten skills of cooking and a handmade dish towel from Belinda.

Don't they look like they're having fun? It was better than Christmas morning as a kid around my house! I'll close with this shot of the gifts I gave Merry and Belinda. I saw the whimsical snowman boxes earlier this year and thought they'd make good packages for the smaller gift items. I wrapped the center gift in reproduction 1800s fabric, "taped" it up with glass-head pins, and gave it a final flourish with vintage seam binding. I like that the recipient can re-use the "wrapping paper" rather than throwing it away! 

While it was fun opening all these wonderfully heartfelt and creative gifts from Merry and Belinda, it's their friendship I treasure most. Friends like them are truly golden.