You know what’s funny about writing a blog?

The most random things become popular.

Can you guess what some of the most popular series on the blog are?

The series of posts about my blue and white living room?


This series of posts I did on the before and after bedroom makeover I did for my mother?


This organizing series.

Umm. Nope. Nope and double nope.

The most asked about series. The most requested series. The one that so many of you e-mail me about and ask me for? Our handmade presents we make for each other every year for Christmas.

And I can’t disappoint. Right?

So here’s one of my favorite handmade presents from this Christmas.

A long time ago in a land far away I was Miss Mayfair.

The reigning victorian queen from my little town.

Every spring during the Mayday celebration, there would be a pageant for Miss Mayfair. We’d dress up in victorian dresses with flower crowns in our hair and parade in a historic auditorium in front of the judges with all the grace and beauty we could muster.

You see.

Miss Mayfair needed to be reserved and modest and shy.

Miss Mayfair needed to be demure.

Miss Mayfair needed to be poised and polished and light of foot and able to spin and sway to victorian music.


In full disclosure? I was none of those things.

But what I was—was SO MUCH BETTER.

I could rock a victorian fan like no one’s business.

I learned it all. How to tell a suitor you were available. How to tell a suitor you were desirous of an acquaintance. How to tell a suitor you wanted to get rid of them. How to say I’m sorry and I love you and let’s meet later.

All with the dramatic twist of a fan.

And dramatic?

That’s my middle name.

And my dramatic fan display with its sweeping motions and stomping feet and a toss of my golden curls won the day.

The flower crown was mine.

I taught my sisters my fan secrets and eventually, they wore the flower crown, too.

And that victorian Miss Mayfair dress that we all wore?

It was part of a different time and a different era when fan dances and gloves and high heeled buttoned shoes reigned supreme.

I thought it was gone forever.


Until this Christmas.

When I opened this.

My sister taught herself slow stitching. Have you ever heard of it? Here’s more about it, but basically it’s all about mindful needlework—taking time to enjoy the process. It’s about stitching with intention and it’s more about the stitches and the process than the final work.

So during 2021, my sister taught herself to slow stitch.

And one of her projects was this thistle that she made for me for Christmas.

The leaves are felt.

The stem is made of fabric.

And the thistle it’s made from crochet fabric and something else. See it right there at the top?

Can you guess?

It’s the lace from that Miss Mayfair dress.

All those years and flower crowns and fan dances ago.

That lace and that dress stayed around just waiting for its day to shine.

A thistle by any other name never smelled this sweet.

And this thistle is testimony to this truism:

Grace and beauty and poise are important, but a little dramatic eyebrow raise, mischievous grin with red lipstick and sweep of a fan…

…always win the day. 🙂

PS If you are new here. Here are some of my other favorite handmade presents from year’s past:

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Debbie Debbie

    Oh, my, this is the most lovely and thoughtful gift I have ever seen. Do I see a sweet hummingbird next to the thistle? I love the story behind the gift. Your family is so talented. Hope the new year is kind to you and you family. Many blessings to you and your family.

  2. Image for Sharon Sharon

    I’m in awe of this technique. I will look into it. Please share the source of your rug under your beautiful thistle. Thanks Sharon.

  3. Image for Cindy Cindy

    This is the best gift! An adorable story to go with it too. Such a thoughtful sister. I don't know of young hirl that doesn't enjoy twirling in a dress. Wonderful memories. Cindy

  4. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    That's just perfect for you on so many levels! I don't I he to be amazed and in awe of you and your siblings and the creative ability you all possess. Love seeing these things you share.

  5. Image for Carol Karl Carol Karl

    What a beautiful gift. I love the idea of slow stitching. I often stitch while watching TV. Even though I enjoy the process, I think I may enjoy it better if I really took the time to. My sister makes me amazing gifts too. We are so lucky to have such wonderful sisters.

  6. Image for Laurie Laurie

    I have been following you for a couple years now. I love your posts-especially the creativity used when telling your stories! You are very talented and this particular post just proves it! I love the handmade gifts idea! We lost my wonderful dad last January; this was our first Christmas without him. I made little snowmen for my mom, siblings, and all his grandchildren using 2 of his favorite shirts. I think everyone appreciated a little reminder of husband, Dad, and Papa. Thanks again, Kari!


      How thoughtful of you, Laurie, to use your Dad's shirt to make these snowmen for all your family! Bless you! Every time you look at these, you will be reminded of your precious Dad!

  7. Image for Dorothy Dorothy

    I love your thistle. I made trees out of a pair of shorts that our Mom made for our family of 7 kids, and have been hanging on to a few scraps of the fabric, so this gives me some ideas. Love your stories and family.

  8. Image for Gale Eley Gale Eley

    What a wonderful gift-looks like the handiwork of Whitney. I have a couple of her pieces from the Christmas art sales you & your sister used to have- miss those days. Your family is so talented and come up with the most meaningful presents. Hope you will share the others.♥️

  9. Image for PJ PJ

    I'd probably say the handmade gift posts are my favorite. Not only are they beautiful, but they also say how well your family knows each other. That's a gift in itself. Keep them coming.

  10. Image for Toni Toni

    Your family Christmas gifts are probably one of my most favorite of your blog posts each year. Honestly you have the most amazing family! That slow stitch picture of the thistle is just wonderful and amazing and how special to be connected to such a cherished memory from your childhood. Beautiful thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to see the other gifts.

  11. Image for david david

    What an awesome gift! Both creative and deeply thoughtful. And I'm totally with your readers that those posts have been some of my favorites. I once made coasters (cause that's what I make) that had blueprint layouts of all the houses that were important to my family (our grandparents homes, my mom and dad's first house that they themselves designed, the houses my sisters and I grew up in etc). The design and research was really fun and, as an extra bonus, it made my sister cry when she opened hers which, as a little brother, is always the goal!


    What a lovely post, KariAnne! I really enjoyed your Miss Mayfair story! How nice of your sister to keep the dress and use it to make this wonderful Thistle picture for you! It's just so beautiful & thoughtful of her -- just like precious YOU, KariAnne! You are a part of such a wonderful family -- and what a wonderful family you and your dear hubby have! Have a wonderful week-end. Bless you for being so special!

  13. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    Oh, wow! What a great sister! Such a sweet handmade surprise! I think it's so cool your family is so talented that you can all make handmade gifts like that. So meaningful! I know you will treasure it. 😁❤

  14. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    Your family never ceases to amaze me--I think they make wondering about the Christmas present and working for it, making Christmas magical, as it should be!!!

  15. Image for Kris Kris

    Your whole family is amazingly talented. I love this thoughtful gift from the heart. I admit I chuckled when you wrote about how you were supposed to be demure and shy! Definitely not the picture I have of you ... but I can totally see you rocking the messages with the fan!

  16. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh my word- love it! And absolutely love the telling of the tale. Thank you for never failing to make me smile, KA. Have a happy weekend.

  17. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I do love this. I love that it so personalized something so meaningful to you in a beautiful art form that allowed her to give out of her creativity. Brilliant. Beautiful. A piece to be treasured and cherished. I love these gifts. Always perfect. Always amazing. ❤️

  18. Image for Susan Eisert Susan Eisert

    Your families’ handmade gifts are truly priceless! Thanks for sharing with us. Needlework is a love of mine so I’ll definitely look into slow stitching. By the way, in one of your photos, there is a group of house on the shelf above the thistle picture. Is that a handmade gift? I love it!

  19. Image for Stefanie Stefanie

    What a beautiful story and an amazing gift. Obviously talent, thoughtfulness and kindness runs deep in the family. I live vicariously through you and smile at every turn. Thanks for bringing a Ray if sunshine into my life. I hope the New Year brings you much joy.

  20. Image for Marlene Stephenson Marlene Stephenson

    Your Thistle is very unique and so pretty, handmade gifts are given from the heart and are the best of all. You are blessed.

  21. Image for JC JC

    This is so beautiful, meaningful, and stitched with such love! I've never heard of slow stitching. I will have to add that to my "crafts to explore list" this year! Thank you, KariAnne, and happy Saturday!

  22. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    So beautiful! What a precious meaningful gift. I know about slow stitching and it is slow! Kudos to your sister!

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