Thursday, December 31, 2015

Light housekeeping

One of my favorite cross-stitched ornaments on our living room tree
We ran into a couple of dilemmas with our pre-lit Christmas trees this year and I thought Mr. T's ingenious solution well worth sharing!

In the living room, we have a pre-lit tree with white lights.  In the bedroom, a pre-lit tree with colored lights.  Last year, the colored lights stopped working and so we simply added a separate string of colored lights that did work. 

Near the end of the Christmas season last year, the white lights, just on the top section of the living room tree, stopped working.  We'd forgotten about that until setting it up this year, and wanted to find a short string of white lights to use for that part of the tree.  We hadn't been successful in finding a short string -- we thought 20 lights would be just about right -- but then, on our outing with the grandkids, my hubby happened upon these in a discount store:
They are called rocky icicle lights.  The ones he found were white.
He looked them over carefully and decided that he could remove the "icicle" part from each light, leaving a string of 20 white lights.  When we got them home, he did just that, and strung them on the top of the tree.  Problem solved!

And then he thought of a use for the leftover rocky icicles.  He decided to clip them in place over  20 of the colored lights on our upstairs tree.  Voila!
You can see the "colored" rocky icicles interspersed with the regular colored lights.

It turned out to be such a pretty effect that when he went back to the discount store after Christmas, he picked up a set of the colored rocky icicle lights at half price.  Next year we will add them to the upstairs tree.  Pretty ingenious -- and inexpensive too -- solutions to our tree light dilemma!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Christmastime tradition, last installment

Here's the last post about our little Christmastime tradition with three of our local grandkids.  As you recall, we took them out for breakfast on one day

and then out to do Christmas shopping for their parents and little sister.  We usually like to visit a favorite Christmas and ice cream shop during the same trip, but it didn't work out this year as the Saturday was far too busy.  So we took them there on  a weekday that Mr. T unexpectedly had off.  The kids were doing a volunteer project at their local library that day, but were done in time to head out with us around 4 pm.

We enjoyed ice cream sundaes

and the player piano, in particular.  In the candy kitchen area, the kids each picked out a small bag of candy to take home.  Sam picked assorted jelly beans, Julia an assortment of mini fruit slices, and Josiah a bag of Lego candies that actually snapped together!

After leaving the shop,

 we headed to one of our favorite shopping places which I've posted about before.  The kids love running over to the bridge to see the waterfall and they really enjoy some of the shops.  Unfortunately, even though it was only ten days before Christmas, none of our favorite shops were open.  And, because of the mild weather we'd been having, the waterfall was nowhere near as pretty as usual.  I'll just show a few pictures and add captions.
Looking at the falls
The waterfall as it usually looks at Christmas time!
The waterfall this year
Lighted trees in the courtyard
Lighted garland on the stairways inside the main building
Hope you've enjoyed this look at one of our favorite traditions!  Do you have traditions with kids or grandkids?  Why not share in the comments?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Adorable vintage scene is from The Graphics Fairy
.Taking just a moment from dinner preparations and wrapping a few final gifts to wish all of my readers a very merry Christmas!  May you have a blessed day wherever this Christmas may find you.  And may you take a few moments throughout the day to ponder the "good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (Luke 2:10)!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmastime tradition, part 3

I took this as we were leaving.   You can see someone vacuuming the stairs.  We pretty much closed up the place!
Just another post (there will be one more after this) about our traditional Christmastime jaunt with three of our local grands.  I'm just going to put up the photos and add a few brief comments.
Sorry about the glare on this one, but the fireplace screen is so pretty and those "elf" stockings hanging up are so decorative!
Back in the day, our kids always enjoyed watching Santa sleep.  He used to sort of snore, I believe.   Doesn't seem to anymore, though.
 Pretty cabinet beside the fireplace

Left: a pretty tree beside yet another fireplace; Right: heading down toward the candy kitchen

As we left.  Still vacuuming.
Illuminated chimney with wreath -- so pretty
Hope you've enjoyed this peek at one of our little traditions!  Maybe tomorrow I can put up the fourth and final installment.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Christmastime tradition, part 2

Usually when we take our three grandkids on their little Christmas shopping jaunt, we take them to a favorite shop to get ice cream sundaes.  (The photo above is from a previous year.) A flag always goes on top! 

This year we didn't have time to do the shopping and the sundaes both, so we decided to take the ice cream shop trip a different day.  Mr. T ended up with an afternoon off from work and so we went for it.   I'm just going to show a few pictures with captions.
The player piano is always a hit.
We brought along 2 quarters for each child.  Note for next year: not enough!  The piano was playing fun arrangements of Christmas songs.
Julia and Grampa seeing what song is next.

Grampa's and my sundaes.  The dishes are actually all the same size.  (You can get larger size sundaes, but we all got the smallest ones.  Generous ice cream serving and all the toppings you want.
Enjoying the ice cream!
Happy boys.  You can see one of the other rooms in the shop through the doorway.  That particular room is filled with toys.

This pretty tree was the view from our table.  We were the only ones in the ice cream shop!
 Such a fun time.  More to follow on another day!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Christmastime tradition, part 1

One of the kids set the clock to their meal items.
Just a few photos from our time with three of our grandkids on Saturday morning.  We have a little tradition each year in which we take them out for a meal and then help them do their Christmas shopping for their parents and baby sister.

I just snapped a few pictures with my tablet while we ate breakfast at a favorite McDonalds.
Part 2 of the traditional trip to follow.  Don't you just love traditions?  Clearly, we do!

Monday, December 14, 2015

An early Christmas gift ...

... a new granddaughter, born Saturday morning in northeastern Nevada.  What a blessing -- and one of the nicest gifts we will receive this year, I am sure.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas island

My kitchen island -- which I just got around to decorating this afternoon -- has a baking vignette of sorts.  As I've mentioned, the baking book is just like one my mother had.  Some of the cookie cutters are old and from my grandmother.  I've had the milk bottle quite a few years and display it every Christmas.  The little rolling pin was used by my girls when they were little, and the small red-handled board is one I found at my parents' home. 

Here's the cookie recipe if you're interested:


1 cup shortening (may use half margarine)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. orange extract
2 unbeaten eggs
2 1/2 cups flour

Combine all but the flour and beat thoroughly. Add flour and mix well. Chill dough thoroughly.

Roll small portions of dough 1/4-inch thick and cut out. [Edited to add: decorate cookies before baking with sprinkles and colored sugars; or, bake the cookies plain and frost when cool.]

Bake for 8-10 minutes in 375ยบ oven.

This is from my friend Marilyn's late mother, Fran.  The cookies are wonderful; such festive flavors!

And just for fun I gave one of my island pictures a sepia tone.  Looks like it could have been taken 50+ years ago, doesn't it?  Love it ... it could have come straight from my mother's kitchen.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A few minutes at my crafting desk

... or, my 94¢ repurposing project!

I had such a good time at my little crafting desk yesterday, just in the very few minutes of time that I had available.  It all started with a little 94¢ jar candle from Walmart in the Hot Apple Pie scent.  I was surprised and pleased at the nice scent of this inexpensive little candle, but was very disappointed when the candle became unusable with about a quarter of the wax still in the jar.

The  other day, I gouged the remaining scented wax out of the jar and added it to the similarly scented wax in my tart warmer.  The little jar was so cute that I had to think of a use for it.  I was surprised at how easily it cleaned up.  The label is an easy-peel one, which helped, but I was able to wash the jar quite clean and dry it until the glass sparkled.

Then the fun began!  I knew at this point that I wanted to create a very simple little snow scene inside the jar.  The "snow" could of course be epsom salts.  But what to use for a house or building?  I tried a miniature paper house I'd made a couple of years ago, but it didn't fit into the jar.  I dug through my small tote of Christmas embellishments and found a set of 2 vintage miniature plastic houses.  At one corner of each little red house, a Christmas tree was barely attached.  The unit wouldn't fit into the jar as is, so I twisted it ever so gently and the tree easily broke off.

I wanted to add some snow and glitter to the roof and tree.  Here are a few pictures of the process.  My little desk is topped with favorite Christmas cards under the glass; hopefully that won't be too distracting.  For snow, I couldn't find the snow medium I knew I had, so used a "snow-writer" from a clearance sale; just squeezed some out of the tube and applied it with a little paintbrush.
The raw materials
After snow and glitter were applied to house and tree
I used a tiny funnel to add epsom salts to the jar
After house and tree were placed
Then the lid was added (I removed the plastic gasket to make it prettier) and a length of baker's twine tied around it.
Hope you have enjoyed this simple little project.  I surely did!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Looking a little more like Christmas

vintage card from my collection
So yesterday I did just a couple more Christmasy things.  The front door wreath, which is a grapevine wreath twined with silk ivy, is changed up every season by adding trims.  I have a small chalkboard in the center of the wreath which currently says, "Happy December".  To the wreath, I did something I've never done before and tucked in springs of evergreen from around the yard.  I hung on a few sparkly beaded candy canes and called it good.  The photo below shows the wreath dressed for winter, but you can picture it as I've just described.

Another wreath look from a previous year
Then I also put up my three Christmas card banners over the dining room windows.

And then lastly I added a few sparkly snowflakes and icicles to the garland above the picture window.  Things are looking a little more like Christmas!
This is how it usually looks at Christmas, but so far there's just the center ornament and a few snowflakes and icicles.