Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Poem from a vintage magazine

I inherited quite a collection of New Hampshire Troubadour magazines from the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Since then I have found a few more, including the December 1946 issue pictured above.  Isn't that a glorious cover photo?  It shows the Methodist church in Gorham, New Hampshire.  But what I like best about it is the lighted windows in the church, and especially in the house. 

The back cover is very nice, too.  That one is simply labeled as "An Old New Hampshire Home" -- it doesn't say where it is, but the photographer was E. Greely Clark.
Now, to me, that house looks very familiar.  I was sure I had seen it in another photo.  At first I thought it might have been the one below,  from a different perspective, of course.  But now I don't think so -- there's no stone wall in the photo below, and no shutters on the windows of the house.  Still, I love that photo below (which was a back cover on the December 1950 New Hampshire Troubadour), so I'm leaving it in the post.

Back to my most recent find!  The December 1946 issue features a lovely Christmas poem which I would like to share with you all.

Country Christmas
by Adelbert M. Jakeman

Beneath the canopy of winter sky
Are hemlocks standing heavy with the snow;
Their lovely branches bend their burden low.
And meadows soft along the roadside lie.

Reflected in a golden window light
Is found contentment caught between four walls;
And resting in their rough and simple stalls
Are living things secure against the night.

Familiar sounds break through the crystal dark:
The bell that echoes from the starlit spire,
The hoofs of running horses striking fire,
And hounds that listen to their lonesome bark.

Each tiny town becomes a sparkling gem
Of beauty born of ancient Bethlehem.

I thought this poem painted a beautiful picture.  "Contentment caught between four walls" would mean so much in light of the recently ended World War II.  And "living things secure against the night" would speak of a blessing too, remembering that dark time when security felt very tenuous indeed. 

I am not sure of the meaning of the last line, but I do know that whenever I see little towns depicted on Christmas cards -- even towns of a far different century and continent than Bethlehem -- it does always make me think of that little town where Christ was born.

This vintage poem seems like a lovely note on which to end this year's Christmas in July.  See you again soon here in the Christmas Kitchen!

Monday, July 30, 2018

A beautiful Christmas table setting idea to file away

(Photo and design credit goes to Bev at Flamingo Toes.)

I always like to find ideas for special table settings that are festive yet simple.  Here's one that I will definitely be filing away to use this Christmas!

You see how uncomplicated this Simple Christmas table setting is -- just a white tablecloth, red runner, then round white place mats and red fabric napkins.

I really like the color scheme that Bev has used, but it would work with many other colors as well.

The centerpiece is so pretty!  Just a cake plate or server with a whimsical tree at the center and Christmas balls poured around the tree, and then a few bottle brush trees arranged at the base of the plate.  This is just my style.

But in case it's not your style, Bev shares two other table setting ideas in the very same post: 3 simple holiday table settings, so head on over to Flamingo Toes and have a look.  You're sure to find a bit of inspiration!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

More fan mail for the maple fudge

Photo from Maple Syrup World
I told you there was even more fan mail out there for my mother's maple fudge.   I'm sharing some of what Ive found, but I have no doubt I'll encounter even more by the time I'm done with sorting things at the family home.

 (I must add that the photo and link at the top of the page will take you to a maple fudge recipe that is not my mother's but looks a lot like it.  The recipe linked to above 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.)

Below is my mother's recipe. 
As I mentioned, she gave this fudge frequently as a gift-- to everyone from doctors to piano teachers -- and people greatly appreciated its creaminess and true maple flavor.  The fudge was often given as a thank-you gift as well.  I found one letter she had written herself thanking a businessman for something very kind he had done to help my disabled brother.  (Yes, my mother tended to keep rough drafts of letters.  In this case, I'm glad she did.)

She wrote toward the end of the letter: "This morning, I mailed to you a package of maple candy, which is our family's Christmas specialty, and that I hope will reach you in good condition, to give you a taste of New England."

Now, on to a little more fan mail:

The above note came from an elderly aunt, Kate.  She wrote, "Thanks for the candy, nice of you to send it to me.  How do you find time to make candy with all your work?"

Then there were a couple of notes from my mom's sisters.  One, who was looking after a granddaughter at the time, wrote: "The fudge is delicious but I'm afraid she'd choke on it so won't waste a crumb trying."  She wasn't wasting any of that fudge!

Another sister wrote, in the card above,  "We're enjoying the maple candy -- had some tonite and it's still soft and creamy.  Thanks much!"

And then there was a note from the nurses at a medical practice:

"Just a note to say thank you from everyone at the office for that delicious candy!  Dr. F appreciated your thoughtfulness and we all certainly enjoyed the candy."

She goes on, "We are wondering if perhaps we could have your recipe! ... we'd be grateful.  Don't go to any trouble mailing it because there is no rush, but we would like your secret of getting it so smooth."

As I've mentioned before, my mother generously shared the recipe with everyone who asked for it -- but no one was successful with it.  And she wasn't one to leave out an ingredient just to keep a recipe exclusive, as some ladies did.  It was just a tricky recipe.  I have no idea if the nurses were successful when they tried making the fudge, or not.

One more thing!   I also remember seeing, though I can't find it now, a note from a neighbor in which she mentions that -- since the fudge had arrived at their house -- her young son declared that now it really felt like Christmas!  To my mind, that was the highest praise of all.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Another fun kitchen gift!

Photo by Jocelyn at Inside BruCrew Life
Here's a snack mix recipe you could try right away to see if it might fit the bill for kitchen gifts this coming December.  As I mentioned yesterday, I enjoy giving kitchen gifts and nearly always do something of a snack mix nature for my son and son-in-law at Christmas time.   And then we always like to make a big box or basket of treats for my husband's boss and his family. 

For that, I will put snack mixes in small tins or other containers to nestle them in the large box or basket.  I love to tuck in bags of holiday coffee, boxes of small flavored creamers (the shelf-stable kind), tins of cookies, boxes of biscotti, and much more.

This Hot Cocoa Trail Mix, from Jocelyn at Inside BruCrew Life,  looks like it will be a hit with everyone.  It contains peanuts (both regular and chocolate-covered), cocoa almonds, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows which have been coated in white chocolate.  Wow.  (Have you ever tasted cocoa almonds?  I bought a box of the individual packs of them to take on the plane last summer when we went to Nevada.  They are delicious and I imagine they will add a great flavor to this trail mix.)

This wouldn't be practical for a summer hike (unless it was kept cold), but you could certainly pack some into a tin and keep it on the counter for the snackers in your household.  Give it a try!  I think I probably will!

Friday, July 27, 2018

A kitchen gift idea -- White Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn

Photo from Skip to My Lou
I'm not sure about you, but I know that I'm always looking for new ideas to give as kitchen gifts.  Every Christmas I will often give a homemade snack mix of some sort to the men in my family.  We also give a large box or basket full of various snacks and treats to my husband's boss and his family.

At first glance this popcorn snack looks just like the sugary pink popcorn that my grandmother would make for special occasions when I was very young.  Hers was just made with a sugar syrup tinted with food coloring, I am sure.  But this White Chocolate and Peppermint Popcorn from Skip to My Lou would be even better.

I'm pretty sure I'll be making at least one batch of this for Christmas 2018!  Maybe you would like to try it, too!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A lighted rag garland

Rag garlands are a great way to use up fabric scraps, especially Christmas fabric scraps.  (Who wants to waste even small pieces of lovely Christmas fabrics?  Certainly not me!)  I made some rag garlands many years ago and have always enjoyed bringing them out every Christmas.  Above, you see the garland I always put above my kitchen sink window.  Below, is a rag garland I have used in my living room.  I interspersed silhouette ornaments made by my daughter with other handmade ornaments on this garland a couple of different years.

However, for a long time I have wanted to try my hand at creating some lighted rag garlands.  I had vague ideas of tying the rag strips to a string of Christmas lights, but wasn't sure it would work out safely.

This simple tutorial from Brenna at Life After Laundry has given me the courage to give it a try.  You'll find it here:  Scrappy Lighted Garland.

Photo by Brenna at Life After Laundry
I've had "lighted rag garlands" on my Christmas crafting list for years.  Now it looks as if I can cross off that project.   Summer might just be a good time for the low-key project of cutting rag strips and tying them onto the garland.   Maybe others would enjoy trying this simple idea as well!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Free Christmas printable kit!

Image from The Elli Blog
Just in time for Rudolph Day, here is a fun free holiday printable kit from The Elli Blog to help with your Christmas planning.  The ideas and printables are so inspiring!  I love the rustic wood look of the backgrounds and the colorful touches of classic red and green.

I downloaded the food tags and the recipe cards and they are very pretty.  In addition, there are stickers, gift tags in both round and rectangular options, wrappers for jars or boxes, gift wrap, and much more. 

The recipe cards would be great if you are giving a kitchen gift and want to include the recipe.  Or you could print out a half dozen recipe cards with favorite Christmas recipes and tie them up with jute or red or green twine to make a lovely little gift or stocking stuffer.

The possibilities are endless with this free printable kit.  Have fun with it!