Sunday, July 23, 2017

Poem: Stocking Stuffer

Today I'm sharing another poem from the 2010 Christmas Ideals magazine.  Today's featured poem is titled Stocking Stuffer, and is written by Elizabeth Collier.

Stocking Stuffer

Christmas fills the senses 
In a most delicious way.
The sight and sound and taste of it
For one full month hold sway.
Crisp and brittle holly wreaths,
Candles' velvet glow;
The smell of cookies baking,
The crunch of sparkling snow,
The eyes of little children
A-shine with hope and joy,
The shimmer of the Christmas tree,
Its base all banked with toys.
Christmas fills the senses, true,
But this is just a part;
For even more than all the rest,
Christmas fills the heart.
~ Elizabeth Collier

This is such a lovely poem!  I thought the photo of my two granddaughters decorating cookies last Christmas was the perfect illustration.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ornaments from vintage cookie cutters

Photo by Thrifty Rebel Vintage
Aluminum cookie cutters like the ones from my childhood are pretty easy to find and fairly inexpensive.  I have quite a stash of them -- more than I will ever use to make cookies with.  This simple project by Tuula from Thrifty Rebel Vintage will make wonderful use of my cookie cutter stash: Christmas Cookie Cutter Ornaments.

Take a look at how creative Tuula has gotten with these.  Sheet music lines the ornaments -- in one case, even a page from a Christmas carol book.  Don't want to cut up your vintage booklets?  No worries -- scan the page, print it out and there you go!  These would look lovely with images from vintage Christmas cards centered in them, too.  My imagination could really have fun with these if I only had the time.

Hope you can use this idea!  Have fun!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Adorable mini trees for ornaments or place card holders

Photo from Cupcakes and Crinoline
This fun craft is from Mary Beth at Cupcakes and Crinoline: it's adorable mini Christmas tree ornaments and place cards!

I'm always enamored of bottle brush trees, and these teensy ones are the cutest ever.  They are placed atop wooden spools gussied up with vintage newsprint and liberal amounts of glitter.  This would be an easy craft to do at the picnic table this summer! 

To make them into place card holders, add a strip of newsprint with the person's name on it by pinning it to the tree with a corsage pin.  (Admittedly not a good idea for kids.)

A piece of pretty baker's twine may be tied around each spool to add color, but I sort of like them just as is. 

Have fun with this idea!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A fun personalized craft ~ Mod Podge photo ornaments

Photo from Our Southern Home
 It's always fun to make some new ornaments, especially if you have new or vintage photos to work with.  Some families like to make new ornaments every year with updated family photos.  These Mod Podge Photo Ornaments from Christy at Our Southern Home are so cute.

They begin with round papier mache ornaments and get gussied up with scrapbook paper (the perfect use for those small $1 packs of scrapbook paper that are so tempting in the craft stores!), a photo, and glitter.  I love these and hope that I can find time to make some.  I think they would be fun to make with sepia or black and white photos as well, and would be cute to make using copies of vintage photos.  (I would never recommend using the originals of family heirloom photos or treasured vintage Christmas cards.  Scan them and then print for your craft usage.)

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From the July archives, Part 1

Graphic from The Old Design Shop
 I thought it would be fun to take a little trip (or two) through the July archives here at my Christmas kitchen, in the years before I began doing Christmas in July.  Here are a few of my finds:

Brainstorming Christmas gift ideas has some very nifty gift-giving ideas which I brainstormed with friends on a crafting forum.  They combine hand-crafted gifts with purchased items for some very gift-worthy ideas.

Then there's a quote concerning Christmas crafting as stress relief any time of year.  I knew there was a reason I'd been keeping a small tote of Christmas craft items close at hand! 

Lastly for today, I'll share the Christmas Tea Wallet which I made as a gift for a friend. 

Pretty sure I've shared this elsewhere on the blog, but it's worth repeating for those who haven't seen it.  It's a fun, easy, and adaptable idea that would make a wonderful little gift or stocking stuffer.

Have fun browsing in the archives .. another archive post will be coming soon!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A sweet tiny Christmas card

Recently I have come upon a number of vintage Christmas cards, many of them unused.  This is a particularly sweet little card, only a few inches square.   What an adorable little girl, shoveling snow!  She reminds me a bit of my  2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Arielle.  And it looks as if she is making friends with a little brown bird.

The inside greeting says,
The perfect greeting to accompany this sweet illustration, don't you agree?

Hope you've enjoyed this look at one of my little vintage paper treasures!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sweet embellished kitchen towels

Photo and design by Shannon at Eat Sleep Make
You all know I love dish towels, right?  I've had this idea on my list for Christmas crafting for awhile now, and just might make one for myself.  Shannon, from Eat Sleep Make,  shares her fabulous idea for Grandma's Kitchen Towels, an Anthropologie knock-off.  Aren't they adorable?

You can see the Anthropologie design on the left and Shannon's on the right.  I actually think that hers is much prettier.  I love the rose fabric that she chose for her applique.  Motifs cut from a vintage sheet might also be pretty.  A blanket stitch (in red here, on both towels above, although you could choose any color that goes with your fabric) adds a fun and distinctive touch.

Have fun with this idea!  I hope to!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poem: "Signs of Christmas"

I came into possession of a new-to-me Christmas Ideals magazine from 2010.  It has some lovely stories in it, but as usual, I especially enjoy the pictures and the poems.  Today I am featuring the poem Signs of Christmas, by Lucille King.

Signs of Christmas

Carols singing, church bells ringing, 
It's Christmastime again.
Wind a-blowing, hearth fires glowing, 
Candles shine in windowpanes.

Pine and holly, fir and hemlock,
A bunch of mistletoe or more;
Skaters skating, children laughing,
A jolly snowman by the door.

White-capped roofs and horses' hooves
Clattering o'er a crusted snow;
Sleigh bells jingling, store bells tinkling
As the shoppers come and go.

Candy canes and crowded lanes,
Goodwill and peace to men;
All around, this spirit abounds --
It's Christmastime again.
~ Lucille King

I love this for the way it conjures up so many different sounds and scenes of the Christmas season.  Hope you have enjoyed it, too!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Some small and simple kitchen gifts

I've blogged about this before, but I was looking back in my July archives and decided to share it again.  This post from July 2007 details my nifty idea for Christmas giving -- I'd been inspired by seeing some spice mixes packaged in fabric bags along with recipes, and thought this would be an idea I'd like to try.

This 2012 post shares a link for many baking, beverage, and seasoning mixes as well as some of my own recipes.

And this post from my regular blog, written in 2010,  describes the Kitchen Gift in a Pie Plate which is pictured at the top of the post.  This was such a fun gift to put together!

You can see that I've made pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice, and then I made some of my favorite pie recipes into a little cookbook to go along with them, packaging the entire gift in a unique spatterware pie plate. 

[Edited to add: You can find these recipe cards at Graphic GardenIn the left sidebar you will see the category "Free Printables."  Down near the bottom of the list, click on "Recipe Cards".  There are so many beautiful designs to choose from!  The  ones I've used here are from the "Seasonal" category and are called "Winter cabin/blank".  At the top of the "Recipe Cards" page, you will find detailed instructions for how to use them.  You can either print them out blank and write on them, or save them to your computer and type on them as I have done here. ]  

I'm starting to get inspired by the mix idea all over again, in fact.  Hope others have as much fun with this idea as I did!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sweet handmade gifts: reversible fabric headbands

Photo from Happy Together
Time for a handmade gift idea!  These reversible fabric headbands from Jess at Happy Together would be a sweet gift for the ladies and girls on your list.  They can be made in kids' sizes, too.  It would be fun to make a whole bunch of these in all colors -- several for anyone who might enjoy them.

There's a free downloadable pattern, and the only other things you need -- other than a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies -- are fabric and elastic.  Very small amounts of fabric will be needed, so this would be a great way to use up some of your scraps.

The tutorial looks clear and the process simple.  I'm thinking I'll make a bunch of these for the girls on my list.  Summer is a great time to make fun little projects like this!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More than a gift tag!

Photo from Laura's Crafty Life
Here's another nifty idea from Laura at Laura's Crafty Life: Christmas Shaker Tags!

Talk about creative ideas!  I'm not sure I would ever have come up with anything like this.  These tags combine elements from scrapbooking and card making, and have all the appeal of a Christmas snow globe, ready to be shaken.

They do require the use of a FUSE tool, which I do not own, as well as a few other items I don't keep on hand.  But if you are a card maker or a scrapbooker, you likely have nearly everything you would need to make a bunch of these.  More than a gift tag, they are like a little extra gift that the recipient may want to hang on their Christmas tree or display with their cards.

Have fun with this idea!  I think I may be pricing a FUSE tool, because this is such a neat project.

[Edited to add: I looked on Amazon, and here is one example of a FUSE tool which sells for around $20 and looks like a neat little gadget to own: American Crafts Fuse Tool.]

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cute idea for giving a gift of ground coffee

Photo by Skip to My Lou
I happen to think that ground coffee, especially seasonal flavors, makes a wonderful gift, and I recently went back and looked at an idea I'd saved some time ago on a fun way to gift coffee from Skip to My Lou.

Cindy has designed two wonderful "coffee carriers" in which to package gifts of coffee.  She shares a good tutorial for making these, as well as a downloadable template for each design.  The carriers are quite easily put together from the card stock of your choice and can obviously be customized as you please.  I usually tuck a bag of coffee into a couple of large Christmas gift baskets given to friends with large families, and I think these carriers will make a festive way to package that coffee this year.  Have fun with this idea!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A great idea for organizing one's gift-giving!

Photo by Vicki at Christmas 24/7/365
This fantastic idea is from the highly organized Vicki at Christmas 24/7/365.  It's her fabulous gift chart.  She shared this on her blog for Christmas in July 2016, and I was so inspired that I saved the idea.

Vicki explains just how she uses this, and I think you will find it helpful -- it may even have the potential to completely revolutionize your gift-giving.  You can certainly personalize and tweak this idea so that it better fits the gift-giving that you personally do.  Hope this wonderful idea is an inspiration for someone today!

[Edited to add: Deanna asked if there was a link to print this chart.  I don't think there is; I checked back on some of Vicki's older posts labeled "organize" and didn't see one.  She did write: "I've been using this method for almost 20 years and it certainly works for me. I create a table with a column for each person I'm purchasing gifts for. The yellow highlighted rows are for stocking stuffers. Since I took this photo I've also added a bright green and a purple row. One is for calendars, one is for ornaments. The pale pink and blue rows are for the grandkids' gifts. Each grandchild gets four wrapped presents."]

  I'm going to try and check in with Vicki tomorrow and see if she does have a printable page she could share. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bethlehem snack mix

There is nothing like a kitchen gift, in my opinion, and I give out lots of them each year.  As you see above, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to Kitchen Gifts.  You can find it here: my Kitchen Gifts board.

Here is an idea that I found some time ago and have never tried.  It has been tucked in my Christmas notebook for probably 15 years.   Since we  had a poem titled "Bethlehem" for yesterday's post, I thought Bethlehem Snack Mix the perfect kitchen gift to share today.

Here's what you need:

Animal crackers
Red and green M&Ms*
Star-shaped pretzels*
Potato sticks**

I am sorry that the recipe I have does not include quantities.  Probably if you started with a cup of each ingredient, you could not go wrong.

* Red and green M&Ms and star-shaped pretzels can usually be found in stores as soon as the holiday items begin to appear.
** Potato sticks are the (fried, I assume) shoestring-shaped snack item -- like potato chips, only in sticks.  They come in a can.  It looks a bit like hay or straw if you use your imagination.

Edited to add: Several people mentioned not having seen the star-shaped pretzels.  I'm pretty sure I have seen bags of only star shapes, but can't remember for sure.  Snyder's of Hanover makes seasonally shaped pretzels which you can see here: pretzels in seasonal shapesYou may have to scroll all the way down to see them.  They show the holiday shapes (which include stars) and football shapes.  They have also recently come out with a patriotic shapes variety, which includes stars, flags, and liberty bells.  You can see that in a snack mix recipe here: patriotic pretzel mix.   Old Dutch is another brand that makes holiday pretzels, and you can see them here: Old Dutch Holiday PretzelsTheirs come in the shape of stars, bells, and Christmas trees.  I think that Utz also manufactures a holiday pretzel assortment.)

The recipe had a poem with it, which I have tweaked in a major way, but it was originally written by someone named Bonniek and posted to Craftsayings.  So, with apologies to Bonnie, I tweaked this to better suit my theology and my grammatical perfectionism.  The poem could be printed on a gift tag which you would attach with a ribbon to the top of a clear plastic treat bag.  Or, fold the top of a plastic or paper treat bag over and staple a rectangular tag to the top of it.  The mix could also be placed in a jar, which would make for a festive-looking gift as well.

Bethlehem Snack Mix

This yummy snack is an easy way
To remember that very first Christmas Day!
Potato sticks remind us of hay
Like that in the manger where Jesus lay.
These crackers remind us of the animals that night --
Sheep and donkey surprised at the sight.
Pretzels in the shape of stars
Remind us of all that the shepherds saw.
Red and green, the colors of the season,
Remind us that Jesus is the only reason!

Or you could certainly write your own poem, or simply list what the ingredients are intended to represent.  Have fun with this idea!  I can see individual bags of this mix being a wonderful gift for Sunday School students.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Poem: Bethlehem

As I mentioned last week, for Sundays during Christmas in July,  I am trying to find meaningful poems to share with you all.  Here is one,  by an unknown author,  that I recently found:


A little child,
A shining star.
A stable rude,
The door ajar.
Yet in that place, 
So crude, forlorn,
The Hope of all 
The world was born.
~ Anonymous

How beautiful, don't you agree?  He is our only Hope.

The illustration at the top of the post is a page from one of my vintage Christmas carol books. 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Cute and easy gift card holders!

Photo from Laura's Crafty Life
 Here's an easy project -- Washi Tape Gift Card Holders from Laura at Laura's Crafty Life!

These are made with plain tags (2 per gift card holder) and washi tape.  Essentially, what you do is cut the top part off one tag and then neatly wrap them together with washi tape, then add a string with bakers twine.  So cute!  You will want to check out Laura's tutorial as it is so much clearer and better than my sketchy description.

I have everything I need on hand to make these, including 2 large boxes of tags.  I had bought these from Amazon for a different project, and it was way cheaper to get two boxes, so I did.  I'm thinking these would be a really fun and easy project to do sometime this month.

These tags would be nice for Christmas gifting, but would also be easy to make for any gift-giving occasion.    Why not start now and make a bunch for all of your gift-card giving needs?

Friday, July 07, 2017

A lovely gift or decoration -- decoupaged glitter candles

Photo and design by Ashlee at My So-Called Crafty Life
I spotted these gorgeous decoupaged glitter candles at My So-Called Crafty Life and just had to share the link.  Ashlee is such a talented designer, and I especially love those crafts she designs with a vintage flair. 

I've read before about decoupaging candles with paper napkins and have long been intrigued, though I have never gotten around to trying to make any.  Paper napkins can be found in such glorious designs and patterns, and are a very inexpensive crafting medium indeed.  For Christmas gifts, you could use either holiday napkins or something else that you know the recipient would enjoy.  The glitter adds such an amazing touch to this simple craft.

Have fun with this idea!  I hope to!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Adorable Anthro-style gift tags!

Photo from Flamingo Toes
Do you enjoy making your own unique gift tags?  I certainly do.  I'll make them out of old Christmas cards or other materials like card stock and stickers.  But these Anthro Penmanship Gift Tags, from Bev at Flamingo Toes, are extra special. 

You can download the tags from Bev's tutorial.  They are blank except that "TO" is already in place, looking as if one had stamped it there.  Then you add the horizontal blue lines and the vertical red lines by stitching with your sewing machine.  Fun!  Punch a hole in each tag, add a loop of bakers' twine, and you will be finished.  You'll have a stack of very unique tags for your most special gifts. 

Anyone can slap a to/from sticker on a gift and be done with it.  But you could make a bunch of these right now, in summer, and have them ready for your Christmas gifting (although they would work for any occasion).  Happy stitching!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Cookies and milk -- a fun gift idea!

Photo from Coton Colors
Here is a fun idea for a little kitchen gift.  This could make a great gift for your co-workers, Sunday School students, grandchildren -- it could even work as a stocking stuffer!

Here's the link: Cookies and Milk Gift.  Basically, it works like this.  You find a mug for each gift you want to make.  I would wash and dry the mug thoroughly because you are going to stack cookies in it.  You need approximately six cookies for each gift.  The ones in the link are ginger cookies -- and those seem especially Christmasy -- but chocolate chip would be wonderful too, or really any firm, crunchy, round cookie that you think the recipient would like.

Then you place the mug in a clear plastic treat bag and tie the top with a ribbon, but do not tie the ribbon into a bow yet.  (I might tend to close the top of the bag first with either a small rubber band or a twist tie, then add the ribbon.) 

Next comes the tag.  On the site you will find free downloadable "just add milk" tags.  Or design your own, if you prefer.  You punch a hole in the tag and thread one end of your ribbon through it, then tie the ribbon into a bow.  You are finished!  And you have a unique, fun little gift for almost anyone. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Patriotic paper stars

Photo from Positively Splendid
Here's a fun project with a patriotic feel: Easy Paper Bag Stars from Amy at Positively Splendid.

These would be a fun decoration for the 4th of July, but they would be great at Christmas time too, or really for any festive occasion.  They start with cute paper bags available at Amazon -- you will see the link in Amy's post.  The bags come in 13 colors and several patterns, including stripes, dots, chevrons, and more.  For less than $6, you get 100 bags!  (You will need 9 paper bags for each star.)

Amy's tutorial looks very clear and includes a video as to how these stars come together.  

The stars look festive on a burlap table runner, as here, but I think they would really shine when strung together as a garland or banner, maybe even alternating red and blue (or red and green for Christmas).  I also did a little sleuthing on Amazon and found treat bags available in gold/white and silver/white chevron patterns.  The metallic colors are more pricey -- $9.50 for 48 sacks -- but they might be really cute mixed in with red and blue or red and green.

Have fun with Amy's sweet idea and easy tutorial!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Another mailbox card

If you've read here at my Christmas kitchen for long, you know my love of cards depicting mailboxes.  I can't even say for sure why I like these images so much, only that they seem to speak of a more civilized era, a simpler, kinder, better way of life.  A sort of reminder of innocence and the way life should be, I guess.

This mailbox card is a newer one, but I like everything about it: the weathered post the mailbox sits on, the falling snow, the greenery, pine cones, and red berries, and the sweet cardinals and chickadees.  This summer, interestingly, we have both cardinals and chickadees in our yard.  We have never had cardinals on our property before, to my knowledge.  It is so much fun to realize we have them nesting here this summer.

Happy Christmas in July!  Do you enjoy cards with a particular theme or from a particular era?

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Poem: The Christmas Star

My intent for Sundays during Christmas in July is to share meaningful Christmas poems I've found.  In looking through an older Christmas book, I recently came upon this lovely poem by Mary Garren. 

The Christmas Star

May the light that shone 
From the Christmas Star 
On that night so long ago
Fall on you this Christmas night 
And set your face aglow.
May it shine from your eyes.
May it rest in your mind.
May it burn in your spirit bright.
May the Peace it spoke to a weary world
Bring joy to your heart tonight.
 ~ Mary Garren

Truly, we have so much to be thankful for.  The world is weary today just as it was at the time of Jesus' birth.  And He offers the only way to lasting peace and joy.  May we reflect on that today and be ready to share this blessed hope with others.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

A great inexpensive source for Christmas books

Today we're kicking off Christmas in July here in my Christmas kitchen,  and I want to share a link for a source of great deals on Christmas books!

I'll admit that I am pretty much addicted to Christmas books, especially Gooseberry Patch Christmas books, but others as well.  It's not that I snatch up every Christmas book I see, for there are many that I can pass by.  But I do love Gooseberry Christmas books and Holly Pond Hill books (like the one above) as well as a number of others.  I am planning to downsize my Christmas book collection, as I have some that I just don't use. 

But if you are still building your own collection, there's an affordable way to do so.  The secret is ThriftBooks.

I just did a very quick search on ThriftBooks for Christmas books and I will not take time to do specific links, but you will get the idea as to what sort of books you'll find and the prices thereof. 

Here are a few of the books I found:
* Christmas from the Heart of the Home, by Susan Branch, from $3.79

* Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 6, from $3.79

* Leisure Arts Spirit of Christmas Book 7, from $3.80

Gooseberry Patch Welcome Home for the Holidays (one of my personal favorites) from $3.79

Christmas with Victoria, from $3.79

Christmas with Country Living, from $3.79

Martha Stewart's Christmas, from $3.79

There are 79 pages full of similar books!  Nearly all of the Gooseberry Patch books start at $3.79.

Another huge plus is that when you spend $10 or more at ThriftBooks, the shipping is free!  It takes me no time at all to spend $10 there.  In addition, as you purchase books, you can earn Reading Rewards coupons -- for every $50 you spend, you earn a $5 coupon which can then be used on any $15 order.  Pretty neat!

So if you have a Christmas book habit like mine, or if you know someone who does, you will want to check out this wonderful bookseller.  Happy Christmas in July!