Saturday, July 21, 2018

Eggnog Cupcakes

This gorgeous photo is from Melissa at Bless This Mess
Time for a recipe, wouldn't you say?  It seems to me that this Christmas in July has been woefully deficient on recipes.  This cupcake recipe looks fabulous.

I found the recipe for these festive Eggnog Cupcakes at I Heart Naptime.  Eggnog is such a celebratory flavor!

The recipe and photo are by Melissa at Bless This Mess.  I was very impressed by the recipe.  Both cupcakes and frosting are made from scratch and contain real eggnog. 

These cupcakes are a little different from the usual Christmas dessert recipes.  They would make a lovely dessert for Christmas Eve supper or Christmas dinner, or they would also be a nice addition to a potluck or a dessert buffet.  I'm planning to try this recipe!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Great source for Christmas embroidery designs!

I love to embroider and just wish I had more time for it.  Truth to tell, in many ways I enjoy it more than counted cross stitch.  I have found that embroidered dish towels can make wonderful handmade gifts which people really appreciate.

Not too long ago, I found a great source for free designs: Bird Brain DesignsThey also have many lovely patterns and materials for sale.  If you enjoy embroidery, it will be well worth your while to visit the site.  There are also designs for quilting and wool applique.  A needlecrafter could get lost in this site for days.

There are many Christmas and winter designs, as well as designs for other holidays -- even the Fourth of July, for example.  I think a set of tea towels in seasonal designs would make a fabulous gift!

Here's one example of a winter design:
Let It Snow tea towel.  Below is a screenshot I took from Bird Brain Designs.

I've written other posts about embroidery and dish towels which you might enjoy seeing, and which give links to other sources for designs, so you might like to take a look at the following: Christmas Embroidery Designs and A Christmas Tea Towel.

Clicking the "dish towels" label on either of my blogs will also take you to posts that will hopefully inspire your own stitchery.

 The slower days of summer are perfect for embroidering small projects.  Have fun with these ideas!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Cute printable plaid gift tags!

Photo and design by Kelly at Live Laugh Rowe
 Here's a fun idea for your gift tags this coming Christmas -- and you could get busy making these right away!  These free Printable Plaid Gift Tags from Kelly at Live Laugh Rowe are absolutely adorable.

Like many people, I love plaid, and these printable tags are available for download in a soft red plaid, a soft green plaid, and a muted combination of both colors.  They are for personal use only, but I'm sure you knew that.  I like Kelly's suggestion of putting a kraft reinforcing sticker around the punched hole in the tags.

These look great with kraft or brown-paper wrapped packages, but they would also look nice with white or a solid red or green that coordinate with the colors of the tags.

Have fun with these!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tomorrow's Christmas Club meeting postponed!

Regular readers will remember that I'm part of a Christmas club and that we've been trying to meet monthly at a local library.  (The ornament above is one that I made at Christmas Club a year ago or more.)

Occasionally we do crafts, and sometimes we share a snack, but most often we plan, brainstorm, and share ideas from our Christmas notebooks.  It's been really helpful in keeping Christmas preparations from slipping off our radar screens.

A glaring Kindle shot of my Christmas notebook
Several of you -- especially Vicki, Pamela, Lucie, and Lana -- have expressed interest in our little club, and I know that Vicki had even put our Christmas Club meeting for July 19 on her calendar.

So for Vicki and others who were planning on meeting tomorrow afternoon, I need to let you know that the club meeting for July 19 has been postponed due to a conflict with an ice cream social.  (And who could possibly argue with that?)

The next meeting will be in August but I don't know a date yet.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fun snowman ornament to make

Photo and design by Crafts by Amanda
Another craft sounds like a good idea right about now.  I've admired Amanda Formaro's prolific work and unique craft ideas for years.  Last year I saved this with the idea of using it for Christmas in July, so here is Amanda's Antiqued Canning Lid Snowman for your crafting pleasure.

It's a great repurposing idea, because canning jar lids cannot be reused for further canning and preserving.  The bands may be reused, but over time they tend to get rusty.  That makes them perfect to give an antique vintage look to this project!

This ornament uses mostly materials that any crafter would have on hand.  The only things it calls for that I will have to purchase are antiquing medium and Antique Mod Podge.  (I have regular Mod Podge on hand, but not the Antique type.)

Right now in July many folks are making jams and jellies with fresh picked fruit or thinking about canning or pickling garden produce.  If that's you, then you'll soon be buying new canning lids and sorting through your bands.  If you find a few rusty bands, they'll be just the thing to use for this project -- each ornament takes 2 lids and 2 bands.

I'd really like to make a half dozen of these or more.  They would be sweet dangling from an evergreen garland, maybe with a few snowflakes interspersed.  If  you think so too, head on over to Crafts by Amanda and get the how-tos!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fan mail for my mother's famous maple fudge

Photo from Maple Syrup World
Yes, there is more to the story.  I've told you all about my mother's maple fudge and how she was locally famous for the preparation of this delicacy. 
She gave this fudge frequently as a gift-- to everyone from doctors to piano teachers -- and people greatly appreciated its creaminess (it contains 2 cups of cream!) and true maple flavor achieved by using a dark grade of maple syrup.   This very rich fudge was always cut in very small pieces --perhaps an inch square.  We kids were often treated to corner pieces and trimmings -- and, truthfully, that was fine with me.  This is a delicious fudge but it is very sweet.  I have always preferred chocolate fudge to maple.

(Incidentally, since I have no photos of the maple fudge, I went looking on line.  The photo and link at the top of the page will take you to a maple fudge recipe that does not contain white sugar -- only pure maple syrup, butter, cream, and nuts which are optional.  Might be worth a try!  I chose this particular photo because it resembled my mother's fudge more closely than others I found.)

As I've been cleaning out at my parents' home, I have been finding so many notes of appreciation from folks she made this candy for.  Here's one of them:

Notice that Winifred says, "Seems as if the candy was the best you ever made.  I follow your directions but mine is never as creamy as yours.  Mine is amateur and yours professional." What an accolade!

Winifred was an elderly lady who lived at a bit of a distance.  My mother apparently at some point even made some fudge specifically for this lady to give away.  I imagine all that stirring would have been a bit much for an older lady to tackle.  Winifred wrote in another note, "What a wonderful thing for you to make all that candy for me.  A real life saver.  I never expected anything like that." 

Then Winifred writes more about one of her own experiences with making the fudge:
"Mine tastes good but isn't creamy and fine grain like yours.  To begin with I hunted half a day for your recipe, then I measured the whole amount in the pressure cooker.  [My mother always used the very heavy pressure-cooker saucepan to make her fudge in, but she did not cook it under pressure!]  I have never had good luck only when I made half the amount.  The phone rang twice and I had to turn off the stove.  It boiled over once, and besides I got too tired."  Poor Winifred!  This is why I never have tried making that fudge.

Believe it or not, there is yet more fan mail for my mother's maple fudge -- but I will share that with you all another day.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Vintage crafting bits and pieces

In my sorting and sifting at my childhood home, I am coming across a few vintage crafting bits and pieces.  This jar of glitter in the Sprinkle Sparkle brand was one of my first finds.  Vintage glitter!  (And isn't that Sprinkle Sparkle label so much fun!?)

Then I have found some other nifty things, like stickers and seals.
One day I found a gorgeous vintage Christmas gift box ⇓ that contained just 2 items;
This title was on one side of the box.  Guess what originally came in this stunning box?  Men's socks!
The box contained the stickers shown below...
I actually remember using stickers like these.  I loved them and wanted to use them much more liberally than I should have.  These are the type of stickers one had to lick.

... and the above sketch, done on a used envelope.  Opening this box was like opening a time capsule.

What do you suppose the sketch was for?  I can tell you, because I happen to know.  The time capsule took me back to the late 1950s and early 1960s, and my mother's preparations for the Methodist Church Christmas Fair.  I described the project in the post I wrote about this fair: "The base for each pin was a smooth oval of wood.  This was long before the days when such wooden shapes could be purchased pre-cut; my parents, as I recall, cut out the shapes themselves and then sanded them smoothly.  Then tiny hemlock cones, yellow tansy heads, and red-orange bittersweet berries were artfully arranged on the wooden base."

This pin, though not perfectly preserved, survived the years.  I guess some of the tansy heads must have been painted green.
 The time-capsule effect happened many times, but another box, just an ordinary box this time, went back to the very same era as this one.

I wrote about this in the same church fair post: "Another year my mother made small coin purses for kids out of felt.  The purses buttoned closed.  They resembled kittens, and I think there may have been bunnies or puppies as well."

Back in the day when I was in elementary school,  children often carried coin purses in a pocket.  Lunch money and milk money both involved coins, so the coin purse kept them safe.

I am not sure that any of the purses made by my mother at this time still exist, but I did find the magazine where she got the idea and the patterns -- the very first McCall's Christmas Make-It Book, purchased for $1 in 1958.   And as you can see in the box of bits and pieces, there were many more designs than puppies and kittens.  There were birds, and clowns, and snow boots, and who knows what all else.  I scanned a couple of the pages to show you:

The pages in this section were pink, but I chose to scan them in black and white so they would be a bit easier to see and read.

Oh, the memories brought back by these vintage crafting bits and pieces!  Hope they've triggered some delightful memories for you as well.