Saturday, January 13, 2018

A lovely poem from a Christmas card

I have seen this on several of the vintage cards I've recently found, but it's a really nice poem I hadn't seen before.  It says,

Whatever else is lost
among the years
Let us keep Christmas ...
its meaning never ends.
Whatever doubts 
assail us
or what fears
Let us hold close 
this day
Remembering friends.

I wish I knew who the author was.  Our world is so upside down, a lot of people are trying to find their way.  As Christians, we need to "keep Christmas" so that the world will understand the precious gift we are celebrating. 

Friday, January 05, 2018

A finished ornament

At long last, I have finished my cardinal cross-stitch ornament.  Excuse the shadow at the ornament's lower right.  I took five pictures and every one of them had a shadow.  This was the best of the five. 

This is actually just a little larger than I like in a tree ornament, so it may end up hanging elsewhere, like on a kitchen cabinet or baker's rack.  I'm not really thrilled with how my finish came out, but am happy to declare it finished!  One UFO off the list!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A winter memory jar

I just posted a couple of photos of this project on Instagram, so thought I would quickly describe how it's put together.  This huge glass jar is actually the jar from a churn that belonged to my grandmother.  It had a hole in the cover for use as a churn, but my grandmother, once her butter-making days were over, used a Mendet
Found this on Google images! I thought it was spelled "Mend-it".
 to seal the hole.  She then used the jar as her doughnut jar.  When she taught me to make doughnuts, she gave me the jar.  It's been used for doughnuts and also for cookies in the past, but probably 20 years ago I put a string of white lights in it and have never looked back.  Sometimes it's just the lights, but at Christmas I usually put in some faux greenery and berries, and silk leaves in fall.

Last year I saw several ideas for this type of jar and tried to make one.  I put some snowflakes and a pinecone or two  in the jar along with this photo, which is just an enlargement of a vintage snapshot, printed out on card stock.  The branch of glittery leaves is in there too but it's behind the photo.  It all looked okay but wasn't exactly the look I had hoped for.

This year I decided to try again.   I arranged the photo and snowflakes in a slightly different way to their best advantage, and tucked the green leaves in on the side where they are more visible.  I decided some red berries were necessary, so added a spray of those.  It all made a difference.
I'm much more pleased with this jar.  It's a memory jar in more than one way.  Not only does it contain a memory of my cousin, brother and me and a wintry snow fort, but the container itself -- my grandmother's churn -- is also a memory.  Best of all, we can enjoy its light on our kitchen counter all through February!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A new page in my Christmas notebook

I really can't believe I never thought of doing this before, but it occurred to me this week to make a new page for my My Christmas notebook, Part 1.  This time of year, just after Christmas, I have loads of work to do in the notebook, making a final note of gifts we gave,  doing an after-Christmas debriefing,  and jotting down ideas for the coming year.
After-Christmas debriefing from Organized Home
 Still, I think this is going to be a very helpful addition to my notebook.  The new page is called "After-Christmas deals" and on it, I've been listing down things I pick up at the after-Christmas clearance sales.

I write down the name of the store, what I found for deals, and what the intended use of the items may be next year.  For example, these mugs

will be great to give along with mix and marshmallows for Hot Chocolate Mug Cake.

And these napkins
will be a great addition to a gift basket.

I'm not going to take time to share all of my after-Christmas finds, but so far there are some really great ones that will fit right in with our gift-giving next year.  I love the idea that I already have a plan for these items and that it's written down where I can't fail to find it!  If you have a Christmas notebook, you might consider a page like this too.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Classic no-bake cookies with a festive variation

Knowing that our granddaughters would be with us for our Christmas Eve supper, I decided to make some classic chocolate no-bake cookies.  One of the girls is not a fan of traditional cookies, as most are made with eggs, an ingredient she is sensitive to.  I would have fudge on the cookie tray, which she does eat, but I also happened to think of no-bakes, a real favorite of hers.  I brainstormed a bit as to how I might dress them up as a Christmas cookie.

It was pretty simple and I already had all of the ingredients at hand.  First, I estimated how many marshmallows I might need and cut them in half crosswise, placing them in a small bowl so that a bowl of marshmallow halves would be all ready when I was ready to drop the cookies onto waxed paper.  (I didn't want to put marshmallows on all of the cookies, not knowing for sure how they would be received.)

Then I cooked up a batch of my favorite no-bakes.  For years, I had sporadic results with this classic cookie.  I tried various recipes.  Sometimes the cookies firmed up and sometimes they stayed really sticky and gooey.  This is the recipe I now use, from my friend Veralisa:
So, as I spooned each cookie onto the waxed paper, I placed a marshmallow half atop it, pressing the cut side down.  Then I allowed the cookies to harden.

After the cookies were set, I drizzled some melted chocolate over each one.  I happened to have some on hand that I had used for making the chocolate-dipped oranges.

Another time, I am going to sprinkle some of these cookies with crushed candy canes, as I think that would be delicious as well as pretty.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The actual 2017 baking list

Remember this?  It's the baking list I posted a few weeks ago.  I always like to revisit each year's baking list and see what I actually did bake.

Chocolate Spritz -- actually made 2 batches of these.
Sacher Torte Cookies    -- made just a single batch of these.
Eggnog Log Cookies -- made the double batch of these.
Whipped Shortbread Cookies -- made the double batch of these.
Secret Spice Cookies-- made 2 batches of these.  Excellent!

Chocolate Mint Crisps -- made just 1 batch of these, but it makes a lot.
Almond Shortbread Thumbprints -- pretty sure I made a double batch of these.
Gingerbread Men -- did not make these.
Christmas cut-out cookies  -- did not make these.
Macaroon Kiss Cookies -- made just a single batch of these, but it also makes a lot.

I also added No-Bake Cookies to the list.  My granddaughter doesn't like most kinds of cookies, but I knew she would eat these.  I dressed them up with marshmallows and a chocolate drizzle and hope to post the recipe soon.

On the reverse side of the baking list, I listed candy and then other kitchen gifts. 

I had several different kinds of candy listed, but I ended up only making three kinds:

Arlene's Easy Fudge
Heavenly Delight (2 batches)
Chocolate-Dipped Orange Slices (2 batches)

And then I made some other kitchen gifts:

Christmas Granola (2 batches) -- I just added dried cranberries and pistachios to my regular granola
Cinnamon Pretzels ( 2 batches)
Christmas Jam (7 jars)
Chocolate Mug Cake (2)

I still have to make bran muffins and hot chocolate mix; the recipient was out of town over Christmas so I didn't bother to make these before.

All in all, I feel like I accomplished a lot in the kitchen this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A thoughtful gift

My friend Rhonda brought me the most lovely gift as a thank-you for hosting last week's cookie swap at my home.  Yes, that is it above!  You can't tell (unless you double-click on the photo, which you may wish to do) but there is a chickadee on those berry branches to the left, an owl and pine cone to the right, and a sweet deer sniffing at a snowflake just to the right of center.  I love it! 

And best of all, it matches these plates:

And this wax warmer:

which my daughter Carrie gave me last year for my birthday.

A thoughtful gift, indeed.  No thank-you gift was needed, but I am thrilled with this platter!