Tuesday, October 31, 2017

From the October archives here in the Christmas kitchen ..

In both of my blogs, I've been trying to do a couple posts from the archives each month.  In the process of trying to do so for October,  I've found that there were some Octobers when I didn't post here at all.  Shame on me!  The only excuse I can come up with is that October tends to be a busy month for us and a time when we often have traveled somewhere.  For whatever reason, there's a scarcity of posts in the October archives.

As a result, I only have a few links to share today.  Here goes:

From 2007, Easy Patchwork Coasters are a project I've made many times and referred to many times on both blogs.  They're not really patchwork, but look that way as a result of folding, stitching, and turning.  A project I highly recommend for using up smallish scraps of Christmas fabric!
This Advent Countdown project is one I did some years ago from a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book.  I actually made three of these.  It took some time but was a very rewarding project.
This post on Baking, Beverage, and Seasoning Mixes shares a link to a long list of such mixes.  I love giving these as part of a gift basket!
A fun little gift for a 1-year-old is fabric alphabet letters to play with and, as they get older, to spell out words.

And lastly, I blogged about a favorite kids' book from my own childhood: The Animals’ Merry Christmas!
Hope you've enjoyed this quick browse through the archives!

Monday, October 30, 2017

October Rudolph Day (lakeside edition!)

 Obviously, October 25 would have been Rudolph Day for this month.  I was pretty busy that day (Wednesday) and decided to postpone any Christmas-related activities until the weekend when things would be quieter.

And they were indeed much quieter!  Although Mr. T and I were off on a brief getaway to our favorite northern lake, I did manage a little Christmas crafting time on Saturday.

The day was glorious.  Simply glorious.  Sunny, bright, and warm.  Even though it was the end of October, Mr. T and I had prayed for good weather -- sun, and temperatures warm enough to allow sitting on the dock.  God certainly answered our prayers.  Friday had some temps warm enough for dock-sitting too, but it was extremely breezy and not a day to try and do any crafting out there.

But Saturday ... now, that was definitely a day for outdoor crafting.  First, I sat on the dock for awhile and worked on this cross-stitched cardinal Christmas ornament.
Then I decided to put some time into my cross-stitched "Snow Angels" which is a UFO of many years' standing.  This project is done on 18-count Aida, not a favorite of my aging eyes.  Although not technically a Christmas project, the brilliant sunlight there on the dock was perfect for working on this challenging scene.
This is one of those projects that I work on so seldom, I have to figure out where I am each time.  There is so much shading in here that I find it really difficult.  Even though I try and mark my place with washi tape -- and that seemed to work very well for awhile -- I still struggle to figure out how to pick up where I left off. 
Took the Snow Angels photos back at home.  Sorry this is so blurry.
This time, after a few frustrating minutes, I decided to work on the sky, which is done with fairly large amounts of the color I had threaded in the needle already.  That worked very well and I was able to accomplish quite a bit.  It's the very pale sky blue that you can barely see.

It actually got too warm sitting there in the sun after awhile.  I ended up moving to a nearby picnic table which was still sunny, but not too hot, and still in view of the glorious sights and sounds of the lake.  What a beautiful place to stitch!

Although I didn't accomplish a large amount of crafting on this Rudolph Day, I must say it was one of my favorite Rudolph Days this year.  So thankful to be stitching beside the lake on this gorgeous October Saturday!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A little vintage Christmas gift!

As many of my readers know, I've been cleaning out a house.  One thing I've been finding is lots of decorative tins full of odds and ends. 

A really fun find in one such tin was a net scrubby -- I think it was probably intended to be enclosed in a Christmas card.  Or, it may just have been a bazaar item.  It's a rectangle of red netting -- it looks like about four layers, cut 5-1/4 inches by  3-1/4 inches -- sewed together with green thread.  Up in one corner is a little embroidered evergreen sprig.
And attached to the scrubby was this little mimeographed poem:

This Christmas card of nylon net
Will help you most when it is wet.
It's extra good for pots and pans;
Eliminates most dishpan hands. 
So for my year-long Christmas wishes,
Use it when you do the dishes.

Cute, don't you think?  I may make up a few of these to tuck into special Christmas cards!

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Cracker Barrel Christmas with Arlene!

Image of Woodland Cardinal Mug from CrackerBarrel.com
My friend Arlene blogs over at Nanaland, and she recently visited a Cracker Barrel where the Christmas goodies were already on display.  Check out the post here:  A Cracker Barrel Christmas.

Our nearest Cracker Barrel (and the only one) here in New Hampshire is quite a distance away, certainly not a trip to take on the spur of the moment.  So I went to their website instead and enjoyed browsing the Christmas section there.  It's not arranged as beautifully as in the store, but the merchandise is all there.  (Arlene's photos, of course, do give the flavor of actually being in the store.)

I was smitten by the Woodland Cardinal Mug at the top of the post, even though I certainly don't need another mug of any sort.  Maybe for decorating?  It would work for fall right through Christmas!

Here are a couple of other neat finds from CrackerBarrel.com:

This sweet Woodland Chickadee Ornament would make a nice gift, 
Photo from CrackerBarrel.com
 and I also love the  Paper Barn Ornament, a cute variation on a putz house.
Photo from CrackerBarrel.com
 I would love to hang either on our own tree.  Both are very reasonably priced.

Thanks to Arlene for the Christmas inspiration from Cracker Barrel!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A couple more from the September archives

Just a couple more posts from the September archives!

I couldn't resist linking to our Mini Christmas in September from 2012.  Just a fun memory!
And then this one: Thinking Out Loud -- from last year, and still timely, especially for people like me who have a history of overextending themselves.  Due to my estate responsibilities, this is going to be another year of very few handmade gifts. 
Maybe these thoughts will be helpful to someone else!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A few posts from the September archives

Image from The Graphics Fairy
I guess I must not post very often in September on my Christmas blog, because there were not a lot of posts in the archives to choose from.  Still, here are a few, and I'll post a couple more of the links later in the week.  Today I want to focus on some handmade gifts that you could complete if you started in the next week or so.

Personalized Cookbooks make a wonderful gift and are great for any gift-giving occasion, not just Christmas.  Over time, these have become my standard wedding or shower gift.  It's an easy project, but is time-consuming.
Christmas Tea Towels are fun to make, and are nice gifts for your daughters or women friends, maybe even co-workers.  You know your friends' tastes.  I myself would always enjoy receiving a gift like this, as I would decorate with it even if I didn't use it to dry dishes!  A whole set of these would be a nice gift for a family member.

And then there are these Pillowcase Grocery Totes and a nifty way to present a set of them as a gift.  I made a set for each of my daughters one Christmas and have since made a set for myself.  They are handy for many uses, but always elicit favorable comments at the grocery store!
Have fun with these ideas!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Customizing Christmas cards with Paperless Post (a review)

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Paperless Post, a company that offers the capability to create one's own unique online and paper stationery.  There are many attractive designs for cards, invitations, and much more that can be completely customized to reflect one's own personal style (or, in the case of birthday cards, the personality of the recipient).  According to their About page, since 2009 Paperless Post users have sent out over 85 million cards for all occasions.

I was interested to try this out because I often send e-cards for holidays and birthdays.  It's been getting more difficult to find e-cards that I like everything about.  So the opportunity to customize my own digital cards with photos, personal messages, and more, seemed like a very good one.

Although I have only begun with seeing what Paperless Post has to offer, I'm impressed with it so far.

There is an entire category for holiday cards: Paperless Post holiday cards, featuring designs for a number of different holidays.  There also are many, many Christmas cards to choose from, and you can see them here: Paperless Post Christmas cards.

I decided to customize a photo card, so I chose an attractive design and got started.  The cards are completely customizable -- one can change the wording, change typefaces, text colors and sizes and much more.  These aren't at all like e-cards I've sent in the past where the design, greeting, etc. are put together in advance by someone else and I've just added a simple personal message.

It's very, very easy to upload your own photo.  I chose a mountain scene from our trip to Nevada this summer.

First there's the card front -- as mentioned above, there are many great designs to choose from.  The message on the front can be changed if you wish, the font made larger or a different color, etc.  Next, you can choose an optional backdrop to complement your card.  This isn't necessary, but it's fun and there are many backdrops to select from.  I used a sort of white stucco with greenery for my backdrop.

For many of the photo cards, there is a back side where you can also add photos and a greeting.  You can use their greeting or write your own, choosing the font, the font color, size, spacing, etc.  The envelope back is the next step; you can choose your color of envelope to coordinate with your card and then add an optional envelope liner which is lots of fun.  Again, loads of choices for these.  For the envelope front, you again choose a font, etc. for the address.  You can choose a postmark and a stamp for your envelope.

The whole process was quite easy and fun.  It actually reminded me of the photo calendars and books I've made online, with the many options for personalization.  There is the option to send a card right away or to schedule it for a later date and time, a feature that I absolutely love.  I have three Christmas cards already scheduled to be sent to friends in December.

All in all, I've greatly enjoyed customizing Christmas photo cards with Paperless Post, and will be looking forward to personalizing and sending more of their cards to family and friends.  I would definitely recommend this site to my readers who might be interested in something like this.

This post was written in partnership with Paperless Post and Anagram Interactive, but obviously all opinions are my own and reflect only my experiences.   I've also begun customizing and scheduling a few birthday cards and have posted about that on my regular blog.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A few posts from the August archives

Graphic from The Old Design Shop
Here are just a very few posts from the August archives here at my Christmas kitchen.  I suppose that, at least for the past few years when I've been doing Christmas in July, I have a good excuse for August being rather a lean month as far as postings are concerned. 

How I adapted the “Christmas in a Can” idea might give others some inspiration for gifts to help with a family's Christmas celebrating.
A dollar store find inspired me to make this Quote Journal for a friend.  If you can find a pretty, small blank book or journal, you might like to do the same.   Give her God’s Word in your handwriting is a post I found by Karen Ehman that presents a similar and very good idea for friends.

Candied Walnuts are a wonderful kitchen gift in their own right, but also great topping a salad of spring mix, dried cranberries or blueberries, and feta or blue cheese with a fruity vinaigrette.
Photo from Taste of Home

Have fun with these ideas!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thrift store finds with a Christmasy look

When we visit our daughter and her family in Elko, Nevada, I always enjoy visiting the local thrift stores.  I didn't get to all of them this time, but I did visit several. 

In one of those, I found two plates that will likely find their way into my Christmas decorating. (The photos were taken with my tablet so they came out rather faded-looking.)
The above plate is part of the Old Curiosity Shop line by Royal China.  It is called a handled cake plate.  I have a few other items from this line, so I thought this plate, in perfect condition, would make a great addition to my little collection.  I paid $3 for it.  As you see, these plates are selling on eBay for anything from $4 to $16.
The second plate, which is also shown at the top of the post, is a vintage pine cone Melmac plate made by Boontonware.  The Etsy listing has a set of 7 plates (with scratches and discolorations like mine) for $30.  Mine is a bit more faded; someone had tried to clean it, I suspect with a magic eraser.  I erased a bit more when I got it home.  Since I only paid $1 for this, I'm not too worried about it.  I think the colors of this plate will make it a fun addition to my fall decorating as well.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing these thrifty finds!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Christmasy find in Idaho!

Photo by Parlor Antiques
We just got back from a wonderful vacation to parts of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada.  I wouldn't have thought such a summer trip would generate any content to share on my Christmas blog, but yes indeed!  In a shop called Parlor Antiques in Buhl, Idaho, I made such a fun Christmasy find that I just had to share it with you all.

This shop has loads of beautiful vintage and antique items spread throughout several rooms and the basement (which I didn't get to visit due to time constraints).  The items I looked at were very reasonably priced.

I spotted a bowl full of vintage paper milk bottle caps and began looking through them just for fun.   I had never realized that these caps were made in special holiday designs.  (I'm well within the age range that remembers when milk was delivered to homes in glass bottles, but I didn't know or remember any special holiday bottle caps.  Our local dairies probably used them, but I didn't drink milk as a child and thus would never have been the one opening the bottle.) 

Back to the antique shop.  In a short time I found three pretty Christmas-themed designs.  The caps were priced at 25¢ so I bought four, in the three different designs.  What fun!

The one with the little red cottage is my top favorite.  Which one do you like the best?

I actually own a Christmas-themed glass milk bottle from the 1990s and I like to bring it out at Christmas time.  I had made my own paper cap to use when storing it, but now I'll be able to use a pretty vintage one. 

What a fun find!  I wish now that I had purchased more of the caps, as I can think of several ways they might be used in crafting and decorating.  Hope you've enjoyed this look at an unusual vintage Christmas item!

Monday, July 31, 2017

A patriotic Christmas card!

Just perfect for the month of July is this patriotic vintage card I recently found from 1973.  So I thought I'd share it before the month ends.  When I found this card (sent to my parents by some good neighbors), my first thought was that it had come to them as part of a fundraising effort by some veterans' group or other.  But as I looked at the back of the card, I thought not, seeing that it had a  Famous Artists Studio trademark.

A little research revealed that Famous Artist Studio did do mailings of Christmas cards for nonprofits, and some for the VFW, so that's likely where our neighbors acquired this card.

 My personal feeling is that the flag sort of overwhelms the pretty scene, but I thought I would scan the card and save it that way, for it is definitely an interesting vintage card.  It reminds me, too, that not all people have freedom to worship as they choose.  We are very blessed in America!

Thanks to all of you who've visited my Christmas kitchen for Christmas in July.  It's been fun!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Poem: Sometime During Christmas

It's Sunday, so I'm featuring one last poem from the 2010 Christmas Ideals magazine.  I have always enjoyed seeing the Christmas Ideals, ever since my grandmother used to have them in the 1950s.  I could pore over them by the hour back then, and probably still could today if I had an hour to spare.  Today's poem is Sometime During Christmas, by Ree Reaney.

Sometime During Christmas

Sometime during Christmas
As the days go rushing by,
Take time to see the Christmas lights
Mist-haloed 'gainst the sky.

Sometime during Christmas
Breathe deep the Christmas smell;
The bayberry and the piney scents;
What welcome they foretell!

Sometime during Christmas
When carolers are singing,
Retell the age-old story
For which the bells are ringing.

Sometime during Christmas 
Midst the gaiety and noise,
Take time to hear the quietness
Of simple Christmas joys.

Sometime during Christmas
Remember friends are near,
And feel the warmth of knowing
That your friendship's very dear!
~ Ree Reaney

I thought this was such a beautiful poem.  Sometime during Christmas, let us take time to do each and every one of these things!

(The illustration at top is the cover from one of my vintage Christmas carol books.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A sweet little card

I always enjoy finding sweet little Christmas cards in this stash or that,  Here's one I recently found and scanned.  This scene is surely from a different vantage point, isn't it?  Looks as if the artist was up on the roof of an adjoining building, or up on a hill above the town. 

There's the church steeple, complete with pealing bells, in the foreground, and townsfolk circling the lighted tree.  Maybe the tree has just been lighted for the first time this Christmas season, for everyone seems awed and delighted.  I think the person in the center of the group, back toward the tree, looks as if he may be leading the others in a Christmas carol.    Someone has even brought their sled along. 

Snow is falling and the entire scene looks as if it could be right at home inside a snow globe.  Sigh.  I simply love the innocence of vintage cards, don't you?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Planning ahead for a stress-free Christmas

"A Happy Christmastide" -- from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
I know, I know, we have all seen articles and blog posts with this sort of a title.  We have looked at them and then commented that it's nice for the writer, or the people quoted in the article, but it would never work for us and our family.  Oh, you've never made a comment like that?  Well, maybe it's just me (but somehow, I don't think so).

But here is a real plan that works for a real family, probably not so much different from yours or mine.  This advice is from Vicki at Christmas 24/7/365. and she shared it last year for Christmas in July there on her blog.

 This is Vicki’s plan for a stress-free Christmas, and you just might find it very helpful.  Vicki shares her timelines for card writing, letter writing, card mailing, decorating, baking, and so on.  I can really see how this could work quite well to free a family up to just enjoy December and the festivities it brings.

I'm posting this toward the end of July because we are that much closer to Christmas and surely need the inspiration.  Why not do some work in your Christmas notebook and jot a few of Vicki's deadlines on your calendar?  I'm planning to!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A sweet decorating idea ~ miniature teacup trees

I've long been fascinated by the idea of miniature Christmas trees in teacups or sugar bowls.  They just look so sweet.  Some years ago I made some soft fabric trees, and this green one looks right at home in a Christmas teacup.

Even prettier is this teacup tree
 from Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage.  Sandi also has a beautiful Christmas blog called Christmas Pudding, which is well worth a visit for some lovely Christmas inspiration.  To read more about Sandi's teacup tree and how she uses teacups in her holiday decorating, go here: Mini Tree in a Teacup.

Lovely as these ideas are, Tuula at Thrifty Rebel Vintage has taken them a step further with her mini teacup Christmas trees, using miniature teacups.  Aren't they sweet?

Photo by Thrifty Rebel Vintage
In my cleaning out of a home and years of accumulation, I have found tiny souvenir teacups as well as children's toy tea sets that would work perfectly for this. What is even neater is that Tuula doesn't glue the trees in place; she just places them securely in the teacups.  That way, both teacup and tree may be used again in different ways.

This is a genius idea,  in my view.  Hope someone else has been inspired by it, as well!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

From the July archives, Part 2

Here are a few posts of interest (at least, I hope they will be of interest!) from the more recent July archives.  I know that not everyone has browsed around in the archives or even visited here much, so wanted to share just a few more of my archived July posts.  Here goes:

From 2012, Fantastic Felt Food shares some of the fun food items that can be made of felt.   The chocolates below and the foods at top are a couple of examples.  Kids love felt food!  The photo at top was taken at the county fair when my grandkids entered their collection of felt food.

How to Make a Christmas Memory Book, from 2013, is a clear tutorial on how to make a memory book for your family.  I have never regretted taking the time to make these for family!

From 2014, Nurturing kids’ creativity with Christmas in July shares how you can get your kids involved right now with preparing for Christmas gifts.  I found it inspiring.

Linked, but not baked, in 2015, Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Bars is a recipe I want to try for the cookie trays this Christmas.

 And last year I encouraged readers to Peruse my Pinterest boards!  I have a bunch of Pinterest boards specifically for Christmas and have even added another since this was posted: Bringing Home the Tree.

 You will find loads of inspiration here.  Pinterest is so much fun!

So there are a few archive posts.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Worth the read: 12 Tips for an Easier Christmas

Detail from a table runner I made for my daughter
This post, 12 Tips for an Easier Christmas, from Rachel at Small Notebook, is well worth your read.  In fact, it is well worth printing out and placing in your Christmas notebook for perusal again and again.

I'll briefly detail a few of Rachel's tips and how I'll use them, but you must read the full article to get the real benefit.

*  Handmade doesn't necessarily mean DIY.  So true.  I love to support Etsy shops and they are filled with great gift ideas.

* Buy, wrap, and ship gifts early.  Yes, indeed, especially if, like me, you have family living three time zones away.  I also like to schedule package pickups (very easy with Priority Mail flat rate boxes) -- and another thing I've done is to have gifts from places like Amazon and ThriftBooks sent directly to my daughter.  She then wraps and tags them for me.

* Limit traveling.  This is such a great idea, especially if you have small children or a lot of children.  Do not be guilted into going "home for Christmas."  You are home!  Let your parents come to you, if they must, or just enjoy your own personal family traditions.  Don't add stress to Christmas by traveling unnecessarily in iffy weather.

* Do "preventive life maintenance".  Wonderful ideas.  Stock up on tissues, toilet paper, cough drops.  Plan and even cook ahead for easy meals.  (I've written in the past about this concept.)  Life is going to go on.  It's not going to slow down just because it's Christmas time.  In fact, quite the reverse.  So be prepared, and there won't need to be emergency runs to the store or drive-thru.

Go check out Rachel's post!  Rudolph Day for July is the perfect time to give this some thought and do some planning.