By Gin Jones
Christmas, for me, is all about quilts. I treat myself to guilt-free time spent making them, I give them to friends and family, and I scatter the holiday ones around the house.
Years ago, when I started quilting, I read an essay about a holiday tradition of a special quilt that only came out of storage for the month of December, and then went way again until the next year. The appearance of the quilt was an announcement that the holiday season had arrived, and the limited time the quilt could be used made it even more special. (I think it was Helen Kelley in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, sadly no long being published. You can read about her here. And if it wasn’t her column, well, I encourage you to read her essays anyway!)
Inspired by the idea, I made sure that everyone in my extended family had a Christmas quilt, although I’ve never been disciplined enough to impose the “put it away on December 26th” part of the message on either my recipients or myself.
Some of my favorite Christmas quilts don’t have explicitly holiday prints in them, but instead are traditional two-color quilts in red and white, so they can be used year-round. You can see one of them pictured here (with photobombing cat Rosie, because you can’t have a quilt on the floor without at least one cat checking it out). This quilt usually goes into storage for the summer and comes back out as soon as the weather cools in October.
Another of my holiday quilts is a blue and green hanging for my back door. It’s more of a winter quilt than strictly a Christmas one, so I leave it up through January. At least, that’s the plan. This past winter I got distracted, and it was still on the door when summer arrived, and I was still distracted and forgot to replace it with a more seasonal one. And then all of a sudden it was Thanksgiving and time to get out my more blatantly Christmas quilts, and I still hadn’t taken the door quilt down, so it was suddenly the right theme again. I swear, I’m going to swap it out by St. Patrick’s Day this year. Or at least Memorial Day.
Inheriting her late aunt’s Massachusetts farm is no gift for app developer Mabel Skinner, who is about to learn that even the best-grown garlic can’t ward off murderous intent…
Mabel’s hope of finding an enthusiastic farmer to buy Stinkin’ Stuff Farm is dying a little bit every day. So far, all she’s found are double-dealing developers. But after a heated dispute over grass clippings with an obsessive local rhubarb breeder, she discovers something even more distressing—the breeder in question undisputedly dead in his greenhouse. . . .
Uncomfortably aware that she might be a prime suspect, Mabel stops digging in the dirt long enough to dig up more information about the dead man, and anyone else he might have argued with. The list is longer than she imagined, and includes a persnickety neighbor and a rival rhubarb breeder. With all the ingredients for a homegrown mystery, Mabel must unearth a killer—before the next plot to be dug is her grave. . . .