Friday, September 23, 2022

A fun little gift with a Christmasy touch


Recently our Nevada daughter and her family drove across country and spent ten days with us here in New Hampshire.  She brought me and her sister sweet little hostess gifts -- mug rugs she had purchased at the 2022 Ozarks Homesteading Expo, which their family had attended on their way East.  Mine has tufted titmice, as you see, and the one she brought for Carrie had chickadees.

I thought these mug mats were so cute!  And they look easy too.  The bird postcard motif looks as if it was stitched to the ticking stripe fabric by hand, using a buttonhole stitch and green floss.  

These could be made with any type of rectangular fabric motif.  I love mug rugs and am always wanting to make more for gifts.  Stay tuned ... I may actually make some similar ones at some point.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Muffin recipe for August: Gingerbread Blackberry Muffins


Photo from Victoria magazine, July 1997

It's edging toward the end of August all too quickly, and I have yet to share a muffin recipe for the month.  Paging through a vintage Victoria magazine, I spied this recipe which seems perfect for August.  It makes a nice large quantity,  too -- 18 regular size muffins.  That's a nice reward for turning on the oven in August!

Gingerbread-Blackberry Muffins

3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup dark molasses
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

Grease 18 regular size muffin cups (or 8 to 10 of the Texas-size ones).

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and all of the spices.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar until light.  Gradually add molasses, eggs (one egg at a time) and buttermilk until combined well.

Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk all and once and stir until just combined.  

Layer the batter with the berries (evenly divided) in the muffin pans until each pan is 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffin tops spring back when touched lightly.  Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then gently remove muffins to wire racks to cool.

I'm sure frozen blackberries would work in this recipe, but if I used the gigantic frozen berries from the grocery store, I think I would cut each one in half.

I did a major purge of my magazine stash several years ago,  but I couldn't bring myself to throw away my saved issues of Victoria.  So glad I didn't, as some of the grandgirls enjoy them.  Plus, I get to find recipes like this one!

Sunday, July 31, 2022

One more fudge recipe -- Samoa Fudge


 It was a difficult choice trying to decide what to share for my final Christmas in July post this year.  I finally decided to share one last fudge recipe.  

But first, a word about the vintage advertisement at the top of the page.  It's from a 1958 Woman's Day magazine.  I've been going through some of my stash and scanning particularly fun ads.  I couldn't resist this one, particularly since my grandmother made 5-Minute Fudge every Christmas.  I will likely end up tossing these older magazines, even though I love them.  The stories and decorating ideas are still good, but the pages are so brittle! We will see, however.

Now for today's fudge recipe.  It's for Samoa Fudge and it is from Aimee at Shugary Sweets.  It's a spin on the flavor of the Girl Scout cookies called Samoas.  It combines chocolate, coconut, and caramel flavors.  Samoas are my hands-down favorite of Girl Scout cookies, so I am eager to try this fudge recipe.

Photo by Shugary Sweets

I hope you will enjoy this fudge if you try it.  I surely intend to do so.

Thanks to all who have spent time with me here in my Christmas kitchen this July.  It's been fun!

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Fabric fun!


The main Nutcracker fabric, in Cream

Here's another fun Christmas fabric collection to share with you all: Nutcracker from Dear Stella.  It's described on the Fabricworm site as "Nutcrackers, ornaments, gingerbread men, sugar plum fairies, and holiday cheer all digitally printed on quilt weight cotton fabric".  Here are some of the other designs from the collection:

This one features festive Christmas baubles

Gingerbread men!

This print is called Nutcracker Suite.

And this one, my favorite, is called Sugar Plum Fairies.

Isn't this Nutcracker fabric so much fun?


Friday, July 29, 2022

Gift ideas from the 1950s and 1960s


We may think of mid-century gift ideas as not particularly extravagant.  Things cost much less back then, and many gifts were handmade.  

Yet high-ticket Christmas gifts were sometimes given.  In looking through old Christmas magazines, I came upon a few of them that my readers might enjoy seeing.

A sewing machine was a hoped-for gift ....

What a surprise!

Give the gift of books!

How about a Coffeematic, circa 1958?  This was an expensive gift at around $30.

Ship'n'Shore blouses were a favorite gift for ladies or girls.

The gift packaging for these Cannon towels was pretty fancy!  Really, some of them were additional gifts in themselves -- fruit baskets or magazine racks.

Last but not least, extension phones!  These were not advertised as Christmas gifts per se, but as handy helpers during the Christmas season.

Aren't these vintage ads so much fun?  Hope you've enjoyed this peek into the past!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cranberry Breakfast Cake


Recently I was looking for an easy coffeecake to bake for a ladies' brunch at church.  (Long story -- the brunch was scheduled for May, but first sickness and then other events -- our merger service for example -- kept pushing the date back until here we are near the end of July and just now having the brunch.  It's no one's fault, but there it is.)  

The weather has been exceedingly hot and humid and I couldn't have felt less like baking.  I went searching for something a little different and found this Cranberry Breakfast Cake which looked quite simple and seemed as if it would be delicious any time of year.

Photo by The View from Great Island
I've learned that I can't go wrong with a recipe from Sue Moran at The View from Great Island.  Foods made from her recipes are always delicious and enticing!  I had almost everything I needed on hand to bake this cake.  The only thing I didn't have was the sparkling sugar for the top.

I couldn't bring myself to bake during the day so decided I would start early the next morning.  I sifted the dry ingredients together the night before and left them in a quart-size ziptop bag, to save time in the morning.  If I had thought of it, I would also have placed a stick of butter in a covered bowl to soften.

Then in the morning it was a quick matter to get everything together.  Sue warns that the batter (really more like dough) will be quite thick, and it truly was.  Adding the frozen cranberries really stiffened it up.  It was quite a challenge to spread the batter evenly in the pan, but with the help of a small sandwich spreader I was able to do so.  I did sprinkle a handful of the berries on top as Sue suggested.  Since I had no sparkling sugar (a situation I will try to remedy), I sprinkled on a bit of regular white sugar instead.

This came out so delicious and was so easy!  It would be a great choice for Christmas breakfast or any festive breakfast or brunch time during the holiday season.  And it's good in July too, if you can bring yourself to turn the oven on!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

A faded Polaroid


 I've written before about the Methodist Church Christmas fair which was such a part of my childhood Christmas seasons.  It seemed to get our family into the Christmas spirit.

There was time for photo ops throughout the fair, when kids could have their Polaroid photo taken with various Christmas props.  The photo at the top of the post is one of these.  I've posted others in the past, but this is one I found more recently.  It's faded and scratched.  I'm not sure what story it tells.  

My brother Mike is on the left and my brother Tim is at the right.  In the middle is my cousin Diane.  I find it interesting that only Diane is looking at the camera.  Both boys look rather sad and although they are holding props -- Tim has a Santa doll and I'm thinking Mike is holding a book -- they don't seem to be paying attention.  I'll never know what thoughts were going through their heads, as both have left this life some years ago.  

It's a little slice of life in a faded Polaroid.  I wish I knew more about it.  Have you ever come across a mystery photo like this?