Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The actual 2020 Christmas baking list


 It happens every year.  I don't know that I've ever stuck exactly to my tentative Christmas baking list.  This year, all of the cookies were baked by my hubby, and he made everything on my list and more!  A few varieties of cookies that I hadn't thought of made their way onto the list.

You can see that below:

Probably most people are familiar with Peanut Blossoms -- a standard peanut butter cookie with a Hershey's chocolate kiss pressed into the center of each after baking.   I like these cookies, but they haven't been a part of my usual Christmas cookie baking.  My hubby, however, decided that we needed to have some!

The chocolate Rolo cookies are a new variation to me.  My blog friend Nikki shared with me how she varies my Chocolate Spritz recipe by pressing a Rolo candy into the center of each cookie after baking.  Sometimes I use the recipe for Chocolate Butter Cookies to make both Chocolate Spritz and Sacher Torte Cookies, and so my hubby made a batch of those to use for adding Rolos as Nikki does.  They are scrumptious!

Lastly, we needed to make a lot of cookies quickly to help fill goodie bags to hand out after a Christmas program at church.  Mr. T suggested baking several batches of Christmas Tree Spritz, which, since a cookie press is used, would produce many cookies very quickly.  

The only problem was that my only working cookie press is plastic and the Christmas tree plate is very large.  However, I did have a non-working metal cookie press with a lovely delicate tree plate that produces cookies  like the ones pictured here.  My wonderful hubby managed to modify the metal press so that it would work fairly well, and then he proceeded to use it to prepare several batches of cookies!  They turned out so well.  

A reader and blogger, Vicki, asked me if I could give a count of how many cookies were actually baked in our kitchen this Christmas season.  Many of the cookies baked were in multiple batches.  Mr. T did a very rough count and estimates that at least 20 dozen cookies were produced this season!  Wow!

And there you have the 2020 Christmas baking report!

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year!


Image from Gooseberry Patch
 Even though we have no idea at all what 2021 will hold, God does.  I can't say that I loved 2020 as a whole, but it did help me to appreciate many things and to learn to take one day at a time and to be grateful for each day.  I was happy to turn the page on a new year, though, even one that is starting out with a lot of uncertainty.  I'm praying daily for our country and am trusting God to work out His good purposes in all of our lives.

I've actually taken a couple of baby steps toward planning for next Christmas!  I've ordered Christmas stamps already, and am getting the same ones I used this year:

I loved the Winter Scenes and ordered three books of them for this coming Christmas.  The Holiday Delights ones were fun also, but I only ordered one book of those for the coming year.

And then I've also gone through all of our Christmas cards (I had them stored in various places) and have donated a bunch to the thrift store.  I've set some aside to sell on Etsy and others to use in mailing Etsy card orders.  I typically package a card within a greeting card to keep the shipping cost minimal for me, and free for my customers.  

Our unused Christmas cards in the attic had been stored in one huge gift bag and one smallish one.  I'm happy to report that they have now been consolidated into the smallish gift bag and I know right where they are for next year.  I've also ascertained that I won't need to buy any more for 2021.

And I'm nearly finished going through a very large wrapping paper tote that is stored under our bed.  I wanted to clean, sort, and reorganize it before returning it to its place.  That project should finish up today.  I am going to keep out some red and green tissue paper, as I still have a few more hand-crafted gifts to complete and mail to Nevada.

And that's where we are for January first! Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 31, 2020

It's been fun!

 Yes, it's been fun checking in here every day this December!  Even though many days I just had time to quickly stop in here before going to bed, it was still good to touch base with you all and let you know what Christmasy things we'd been up to that day.

Vicki asked if we could tally up all of the Christmas cookies Mr. T and I have baked this season, and I will really try to do that, Vicki.  It would be interesting to know, wouldn't it?  I always try to post about what cookies actually got baked (as opposed to the tentative baking list) and when I do that, I'll try to add a rough total of cookies baked.

This Christmas season I did a bit more crafting than in previous years, in part because of some special requests.  Longtime readers may remember the year that I made these:

for all of the siblings in our Nevada family -- five, at the time.

Fast-forward to this past fall when all of the other siblings did a photo shoot with capes and shields and one little girl didn't have a shield, not having been born when the other kids received theirs.

My daughter strongly hinted that if I had time to make one gift for Jerusha, it ought to be a shield.  (That's one of the mysterious "sewed gifts" I've been alluding to.)  The shield was finished and theoretically there was time for it to get to Nevada by Christmas. However, none of our gifts arrived on time!  

Yesterday, UPS finally delivered the goods, and no time was lost in sending photos to Grammy.  

I'm seriously hoping and planning to do Christmas crafting all year round in 2021, and to post my progress here on a regular basis!  See you all soon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A few pretty shop windows


When Mr. T and I went for our recent walk to observe some lakeside Christmas lights, we strolled around a brick walkway by a number of shops.  Some of them had painted windows, a little unusual in color choices, but we quite liked them and got some photos.  Notice the lampposts!  And also notice, in the right hand window above, the reflection of multicolored lights from an outdoor Christmas tree.

The window paintings are all different, but they coordinate.   I love the nontraditional colors and the falling snow in each pane.

The photo below is of the same windows as those pictured at the top of the post.  We retook the picture because of what you see below -- the reflected glow of a street lamp -- and because we wanted to see the reflection of the multicolored tree lights.  Which do you prefer?

Hope you've enjoyed this peek at some unusually pretty painted windows!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

It's the perfect time to think about making a Christmas recipe notebook!


 I very seldom post the same thing on both of my blogs.  I try especially hard not to do this in December.  Yet today I am sharing the same information on both my Kitchen Table and my Christmas Kitchen blogs.  I just feel as if right now might be a great time for us to go through our Christmas recipes, which are surely still at hand, and transcribe them either for posterity or for our own use.  The project could be a real blessing, helping us keep our family Christmas traditions and foods in mind and heart as we move into a very uncertain time ahead. So I am sharing this post here as well as at my Kitchen Table, knowing that some of my readers don't read at both blogs.  Here goes:

A Christmas recipe notebook will be so helpful to you each year when the Christmas season comes around!  It may seem like a lot of work, but it really is worth it.  I actually refer to mine year round.  And the most convenient time to work on such a project is right after Christmas, when all of your holiday recipes are at hand since you have just been using them.

When I was growing up, my mother always had a Christmas notebook.  It was in a really distinctive pink and white textured binder.  Below you see the notebook in all of its shabby glory, coffee spills and all.  (My mother always had a cup of coffee at hand.  Not a mug; a coffee cup.) 

When I saw that notebook make an appearance around the house, I knew Christmas planning was beginning.  Mom kept lists of gifts she had ordered in this notebook, sometimes in shorthand so snoopers wouldn't know what they were getting.   You can see some of the shorthand entries below.
But she also kept all of her traditional Christmas recipes in this binder.



I had adapted this idea by keeping all of my Christmas recipes on special Christmas recipe cards.  They were pretty and fun, but really, a notebook, especially a loose-leaf one, is a better idea. 

My sister had an entire recipe box with only Christmas recipes, and that is also a good idea, but the notebook, again, is more practical.

Still, I didn't have one until I had the inspiration to create a Christmas memory book for my adult kids and their families, writing down all the Christmas memories I could think of.  You can read here about how I did that project: How to Make a Christmas Memory Book.

In doing that, I naturally added in all of our favorite Christmas recipes.  I included recipes from my own childhood, recipes from my kids' growing-up years, and recipes from much more recent times.

 Below you see a favorite recipe for Fruity Pastel Spritz.  This is a newer recipe I've discovered.  It uses fruit flavored gelatin powder for color and flavor.  We especially like this for Christmas tree spritz cookies.

I find myself turning often to my Christmas recipe notebook, even at other times of year. We might use a recipe for a Christmas breakfast bake, for instance, at any special brunch or breakfast.  Or some of the salads, side dishes, or desserts for Christmas dinner are ones we might use at Thanksgiving or any other special family dinner.

It really does help to have all of the Christmas recipes in one place; it helps especially when planning a holiday grocery shopping trip or list.

So now would be a great time to make a Christmas recipe book of your own.  You can use my directions for assembling a Christmas memory book to see the binder, page protectors and other materials you might use.  Please consider it!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Lakeside Christmas lights


On a recent late afternoon, Mr. T and I took another drive to look at Christmas lights.  Interestingly, this is one of those activities we've wanted to do  in the past at Christmastime, but very seldom got around to actually doing it.  I can remember just a couple of times when we did so, and then it was just around some of the back streets downtown.

This year we have gone out three times to look at lights.  This last foray was the farthest afield.  We drove about a half hour to a lakeside town, then along to another town on the same lake.  From there we took more back roads to get home.  It was a lovely light tour.

At the second lakeside town, we parked and got out and walked around to take pictures.  It was about 30ยบ -- very moderate for this time of year -- but felt a bit chillier due to a breeze off the lake.  We saw a few other folks wandering around doing the same thing we were.  I'll just share a few more photos and hope you enjoy.  The video below is of a rushing waterfall next to an old mill building transformed into shops, restaurants, and a hotel.

This lighted bridge was lovely.

Lighted trees and buildings along the lakeshore

The same little tree and waterfall as in the video.  We always like seeing this!

A lighted extravaganza!

We loved how this building was lighted in red and green!
There you have it -- our third and probably last light tour of the 2020 holiday season (and the only one of which we got photos!).

Sunday, December 27, 2020

December 27


Today is the birthday of my wonderful daughter in Nevada.  She's the fourth from the left, wearing pink, pictured here with four of her seven children. It really seems not all that long ago (though it's been over four decades) that I was expecting her.  The due date of December 11 came and went and I was very sure I'd end up spending Christmas in the hospital that year.  I was so thankful she waited until the 27th to make her appearance!

It was a bit of a challenge at first having a child with a birthday so close to Christmas.  Then we read a book that really helped us make her birthday more special.  In the book, the main character, Betsy, had a little sister, Star, whose birthday was on or around Christmas, I forget which.  Star always had her own special birthday tree.

So we began doing that for Joanna, as well.  Often she even helped to pick out the tree and help to cut it down.  It was often a smaller tree than our regular Christmas tree.  Joanna had her own special ornaments for that tree, and all of her birthday gifts were piled under it.  This eliminated the dreaded possibility of relatives making one gift do for both Christmas and birthday.  It worked out so well.

Joanna as a teen with her birthday tree
 Joanna has often had a birthday tree even after marrying and moving away.  Sometimes she and Clay traveled for Christmas, and the birthday tree has even been set up in hotel rooms at such times!

I will close with a prayer request for a dear man in Joanna's life -- her honorary dad, Jim, the father of her best friend.  He is in a hospital with covid pneumonia as I write.  If you think of it, prayers for his recovery would be much appreciated.  Thank you so much.

So thankful for this dear and godly woman who is my daughter!