Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Today's progress

Let's see ... I taped up the Christmas cards we've received so far.

I got out all of my Christmas cookbooks and Taste of Home December issues and brought them to the forefront of the baker's rack where they will be ready for use.

Vacuumed the bedroom and ironed a vintage tablecloth to go beneath the tree in that room, so I can pile wrapped gifts there.

Cleared off, dusted, and cleaned the glass on my little glass-topped crafting desk in the bedroom; placed favorite Christmas cards beneath the glass.
 Then had to replace all of the file folders concerning nursing homes, my dad's bills, etc. etc. back on the desk.  Finding them a new home will be a project for another day.   Thankfully I have no handmade gifts yet to craft, but I do hope to create a few ornaments.

Sorted out a few gifts that will be part of gift baskets; placed them with the containers so they will be ready to assemble.

Fluffed the evergreen garland over the picture window and hung a photo ornament from the center, awaiting other trims.

Finished up an online gift order.

And that may be all for today!

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

A lovely poem

I always enjoy browsing through Christmas issues of Ideals, be they old or newer.  (The scan above is part of a 1956 Christmas Ideals, in fact.)  My memories of Christmas on the farm include a stack of Ideals magazines beside my grandmother's chair in the front room.  Oh, how I loved looking through those Christmas issues with their gorgeous photography, lovely paintings, Scripture, stories, essays,  poems, and sometimes even recipes.  I could spend hours with them!

And I still love looking through Ideals today.  Sometimes I will share quotes or poems from them here in my Christmas kitchen.  Today I spent a few minutes browsing through an issue I had bought after Christmas, I think it was last year, and found a poem by James Dillet Freeman that spoke to me.  Here it is:

The House That is Your Heart

Now take this Christmas Day to go 
A little way apart,
And with your gentle hands prepare
The house that is your heart.

Brush out the dusty fears, brush out
The cobwebs of your care,
Till, in the house that's in your heart,
It's Christmas everywhere.

Light every window up with love
And let that love shine through,
So they that walk outside may share
The blessed light with you.

Then will the rooms with joy be bright,
With peace the hearth be blessed,
And Christ Himself will enter in
To be your Christmas guest.

-- James Dillet Freeman

Isn't that beautiful?

I'd like to suggest, though, that we not wait until Christmas day to prepare our hearts and brush out those cobwebs.  We ought to be doing that right now.

Once we have those cobwebs cleared out and the windows clean and shiny, the light within will indeed shine through and draw others to the Light of the world.

"For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light."  (Ephesians 5:8)
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:16)

So many more thoughts spring to mind as I consider this poem.  Maybe I'll share them another time.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Outside my real Christmas kitchen window ...

~ outside the kitchen door, from a previous year ~
it's beginning to look a lot like winter!  We are experiencing our first significant snowfall of the season.  It was predicted to start at 7 a.m. (and it was remarkably close to that time) but the one inch that was forecast has turned into several.  It's nearly 1 p.m. and still snowing.

I have a long-standing tradition that I will bake some type of Christmas cookies on the day of the first real snowstorm of the season.  So today, in my real Christmas kitchen, I am baking Whipped Shortbread Cookies.

If you use your imagination, you may be able to smell them, all buttery and just slightly sweet, with crunchy colored sugar on top.

Later, I may make some fudge, but we will see.  Lots of housework needs doing today too: many loads of laundry, and the bane of my existence, vacuuming.  I also want to wash the dining room windows (insides only, for obvious reasons) before hanging my Simple Christmas Card Banners.
Have a wonderful December Monday, all!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Christmas Star dishcloths

I've posted about this pattern before, but it's been five years and I think more readers would like to know about it.  I saw these adorable dishcloths over at Miss Abigail's Hope Chest and just had to share.  Here is the link to the free pattern, which downloads as a pdf and is easy and fun to crochet:  Christmas Star Dishcloth.

 The original pattern calls for gold yarn on the edging part, but Kathleen, at Miss Abigail's, used red, which to my mind looks even nicer.  I have done these with green edging also.  These look to me as if they would make a nice doily-type item for Christmas decorating, not just a dishcloth.  And in fact, everyone that I've gifted with one of these has said just that -- they see them as doilies and plan to use them as such.

If you need an easy handmade gift or a little something to tuck into a gift basket, and you crochet, here is your answer.  Have fun!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Beginning with the Christmas decorating

It's been a crazy busy few days and I've barely had time to begin the Christmas decorating.  This afternoon I managed to finishing getting all of the fall things down.  I changed the table decor and put some simple (and easily accessible) Christmas treasures on the hutch.  All of this will be tweaked as December moves along, but for now it is an appropriately festive beginning.

This is an older pic of my Christmas ribbon board.  Currently it  has a slightly different arrangement.  I was so thrilled this year to find that I had stored it with the cards all in place.  Good thinking on my part!
Hope you've enjoyed this simple, though somewhat blurry look at some of my Christmas decorating.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Mr. T's wise advice

Well, it had to happen.  It was partway through the day on Thursday, December 1st,  that I finally remembered to turn the calendar over to the new month.  And there in my husband's not-too-neat printing were the words "No homemade gifts beyond this point."

He has just seen too many years of this, beginning with the first year we were married when we were both up late finishing handmade gifts, the only kind we could afford.  Time has passed and we have numerous grandchildren.  I have so enjoyed creating gifts for them.  But life is busier than ever, and somehow I am always down to the wire on the gifts I'm making. 

So last year he told me (and he stuck to it) that as soon as 2016 began,  he was writing a crafting deadline on the calendar.  It doesn't apply to food gifts, of course.  We give lots of those and most cannot be done too far ahead.  (Cookies, which can be made and frozen, are pretty much the exception, but I haven't really begun my cookie baking yet.)

What I decided to do, and it has worked well, is to make handmade gifts for the kids' birthdays instead.  We have birthdays in March, April, May, June, August, September, November, and December.  I've finished the December birthday gifts and they are on their way!

And you know, this is great.  As much as I love making things in December, I am going to enjoy the season more this way.  I have several ornament ideas I want to try, and I do find myself much more relaxed and able to be in the moment.  So I'm thankful for my hubby's wise counsel.  I know he was only looking out for my best interests and trying to reduce my stress level.

There may come a time when we will feel I can make a few handcrafted gifts in December again.  But now, this busy season of eldercare and other responsibilities, is not the time.  I'll enjoy it to the fullest with a light heart.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The first Christmas cards have checked in!

For a little while now, cards have been trickling in from the ladies in the Christmas card swap I'm participating in.  I'm not counting those, however, since I haven't opened them yet!

The card at the top of the post is from good friends at church.  They gave us this card, along with a lovely jar of homemade applesauce as an early Christmas gift on Sunday.  They left today for three months in South Africa, so they were doing their Christmas gifting early.  I would have to say that November 27 is probably the earliest I have ever received (and opened) a Christmas card.

On Tuesday, we received a lovely photo card from friends in Pennsylvania.  I promptly sent one out in return, and I've sent out all of my swap cards, but that's it for sending cards so far.  I enjoy sending cards in response to the ones I've received. 

With the first day of December come many opportunities to get into an Advent Bible study or Bible reading challenge.  I encourage you to do just that --- it will deepen the meaning of Christmas for you.  Later this evening perhaps I can post some links to studies that have blessed my heart in the past, as well as to those I'm enjoying this year.

Happy first day of December, all!