Friday, January 07, 2022

The actual 2021 candy list


Every year I publish a tentative list for cookies, one for kitchen gifts, and one for candy making.  If I think of it, I usually go back in January and do a reality check, noting how close I came to that tentative list.  Sometimes I end up making nearly everything on the list.  Other times, what we actually make varies wildly from the original list.  That's what happened with this year's candy list.

Of the candies on this list, we actually made only three varieties this year: Heavenly Delight, Holiday Special Fudge and the Chocolate Dipped Orange Slice candy.  Mr. T made at least 6 batches of Heavenly Delight!

Then we made some candies that weren't on the list: Salted Caramel Fudge -- aka Tasty Disaster Fudge (2 batches), -- Rocky Road Fudge, Creamsicle Fudge, and Candy Cane Fudge.  

I had placed Salted Caramel Fudge on a mental list, 

and Mr. T had Creamsicle Fudge on his mental list.

So as you see, our actual candy list for 2021 did indeed vary quite a bit from my original tentative list.  


This important info will now go into the Christmas notebook for next year!

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Book review: The Farm Chicks Christmas


 I was putting away some of my Christmas books today (not all -- I am still going through some of them) and it occurred to me that I might share a review of one of my favorites, The Farm Chicks Christmas.  This is a Country Living book and the author is Serena Thompson.  This was not even a book that I was aware of until I won a hardcover copy in a giveaway.  After I received the book and paged through it, I knew that this was a book both of my daughters would enjoy -- so I went to Thriftbooks and found a copy for each of them.  So now I'd like to share this fun book with all of you.

In all honesty, I don't think I have ever heard of The Farm Chicks prior to winning this book.  You can learn more about them here: The Farm Chicks.  And you can learn the fascinating life story of author Serena Thompson here: About Serena.  This is a gorgeous book full of decorating ideas, traditions, recipes, and much more.  And all incredibly photographed!

Honestly, I wish that I could share each and every photo with you, but of course I can't.  I will content myself with simply going through the table of contents and sharing the highlights of the book with you.  I'll add in a few vintage-y images of my own, because the photography and design of this book are just glorious and I won't even try to scan the pages to show you.

The book is divided into two parts: The Spirit of the Season with 2 chapters; and At Home for the Holidays with 7 chapters.

In The Spirit of the Season, the first chapter is called 'Tis lovely to give.  It is filled with ideas and traditions from Serena's childhood and from her life now with her husband Colin and their children.

The second chapter is called A Visit to the Tree Farm and tells about the Thompson family's annual Christmas tree hunting tradition with friends.  The last 2 pages in this chapter contain many warm beverage recipes, titled "Ways to Ward Off the Chill".  There's spiced cider, hot mocha, chai latte and more.

A vintage milk bottle cap!
In the section At Home for the Holidays, the first chapter is Holiday Welcome.  It includes dozens of ideas for front porches and other outdoor decorating and how to make every corner bright.    There are even patterns -- for example, one for a holiday scalloped bunting made out of assorted fabrics in Christmas colors.

The next chapter is The Decorated Tree.  This includes photos of four different decorated Christmas trees, a lovely story about a tinfoil star, and directions for making sweet tree trims like snowball pompom ornaments and silhouette ornaments.  It also has a page of fun ways of displaying vintage Christmas light bulbs and balls.  If I remember, I'll do a jar of vintage light bulbs for next year!

This chapter also has a section called The Gift of Giving, which includes many ideas for gift wrap, gift card holders, and festive shipping ideas.  

The next chapter is called Wreaths and Garlands.  It includes many fun ideas, and pages of glorious photos.  There are instructions for making a sweet paper garland  and a wreath made from balls of yarn.  The section Make Every Corner Bright gives many ideas for decorating with greenery and other natural accents.

 The chapter Cupboards and Corners is next.     It includes page after page of beautifully inspiring photos, and also fun crafts like colorful cone trees and a wrapping paper village.  There's a feature on Christmas collections, too.  There is SO much inspiration in this chapter that no description of mine can ever do it justice.

Kitchens and Pantries is the next chapter, and it is even more fun than the one before it.  A full 20 pages of glorious, inspiring photography and fun, fun ideas for decorating kitchens and pantries and for packaging food gifts and more.  There are ideas for displaying kitchen treasures and directions for making a "Merry" banner.

Next comes a chapter titled Happy Memories.  Again, no descriptive words of mine can describe the delight of this chapter.  All manner of vintage items are pictured, from a sequined felt stocking to a metal toy barn decorated for Christmas to toy trucks and a plaid thermos with a sprig of greenery -- oh, just beautiful!  There are also directions for making a gumdrop wreath, felt stemware coasters, and paper serving cones for snack mixes.

The last chapter is called Holiday Recipes and it is filled with ideas for beverages, cakes, nut recipes, cookies and tarts (lots of cookie recipes!), and even a page of Cookie Tips.  

 Lastly in the book are several pages of recipe cards and stickers to use in giving your country kitchen gifts to others.  Just one last touch of vintage sweetness!

I'm sure you can tell that I'm enchanted by this book.  Highly recommend it to all of you!

Friday, December 31, 2021

Swanky Swigs

 Ever heard of Swanky Swigs?  Apparently, we may own a set!  These are vintage beverage glasses that once were produced as a way to get Depression-era housewives to purchase more of Kraft's cheese products.  The processed cheese products came in glass containers that could be washed and then reused as drinking glasses.  Double the value!  You can read more about the history of Swanky Swigs here: Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.

When we cleaned out the old homestead, we had found a dusty old set of 6 Christmas glasses featuring a black stagecoach drawn by black horses, green fir boughs around the top edge, and thin red ribbons around the lower part.  I didn't really want to keep them; I didn't think they were all that attractive, and they were an impractical size -- midway between a juice glass and a tumbler.  But Mr. T wanted to keep them, so we cleaned them up and have been using them this Christmas season.

The other day, I got the notion to do a little online search and see what I could learn about these unusual glasses.  And that's when I learned about Swanky Swigs.  Now, our glasses may or may not be the actual Swanky Swigs -- apparently those were only made for Kraft by the Hazel Atlas Glass company.  But other food manufacturers made similar promotional glassware.  Products like cottage cheese, sour cream, jelly, and peanut butter also came packed in reusable glasses with a hand-painted look.  

I will need to do more research to determine what was originally packaged in our Christmas glasses.  But I am so glad I didn't just send them to the thrift store.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

A thoughtful surprise!


Earlier in December, I had a lovely little surprise.  I usually attend a ladies' Bible study every month at a friend's home.  I wasn't able to make the December meeting due to inclement weather, and felt badly to miss it.

Imagine my surprise the next day when one of the other ladies appeared at church with a cardboard box and proceeded to hand out sweet Christmas floral arrangements to those of us who had missed the meeting.  Our thoughtful Bible study leader, Amanda, had made one of these for every lady.  I suspect  her little boys may have had a hand in these as well, since she often recruits their help in projects.

The day before, puttering around my home with a bit of Christmas decorating, I had placed on our dining table a pretty hand-quilted Christmas table topper that someone had made for my mother.  When I saw how beautifully Amanda's floral arrangement coordinated with that table topper, I was stunned.  It just could not go more perfectly!  The deep rich colors, the touches of metallic gold and of white -- they were all just perfect together.  Immediately I removed the little decoration I had placed there earlier and put this sweet arrangement in its place.


Christmas surprises are so much fun, don't you agree?

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Gorgeous card featuring an entire cabinet of Christmas treats!


Here is a really fun vintage Christmas card that is just so appropriate to feature in my Christmas Kitchen!   I'm guessing that this is from sometime in the 1970s.  Cards then, approaching or around the time of our country's bicentennial in1976, often had a handmade, antique type vibe.

This shows Christmas goodies within a cupboard, presumably with glass doors through which one can see just what is on the shelves of this handmade, hand-painted cabinet.

Inside, with the doors open, one can more easily see the contents.  Looks like a different plum pudding on both top and bottom shelf.  Jars and othe containers filled with Christmas cookies and candy!  Lots of crisp red apples.  There's a jar of candy canes on the center shelf and some of the gorgeous, fun fruit slice candies.  Pretty sweet!

Hope you've enjoyed seeing this fun and fanciful vintage Christmas card!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A smidgen more outdoor decorating


 Just posted some of our outdoor lighting over at my Kitchen Table blog, so now I'm adding just a bit more.  We didn't have a lot, but more than usual.  The trees that I posted about on my other blog are new this year, so you may wish to go over and read more about them, where they are located and how we chose to decorate them.

The flag at the top of this post is one we have on a flagpole mounted on a tree out by the end of our driveway.  We have it illuminated with a small solar light all year round, but Mr. T hadn't thought to get a  nighttime photo of it until he was outside snapping photos of our other lights.  It looks a bit Christmasy since it's on an evergreen tree.

Now the lights below are some that we light up every year.  These are the strings of colored lights with the large bulbs.  We've had them up there for years, tucked just inside the roof line of our garage.  We just have to replace a bulb or two from time to time.  Sometimes we place a lighted star (white lights) centered just below these.

The photo below pictures neither lights nor decorations, but our stacks of cookie tins that are keeping frozen on the front porch.  They are a little bit decorative, I guess -- and people do light up when they see a plate full of Christmas cookies!

Monday, December 27, 2021

A fun vintage Christmas card


 For a very quick post this evening, I'll just share a fun vintage card I found recently and listed in my shop.  "A Christmas Note" is a play on words as this card has a musical theme.  Even the letters spelling out the words have some music notation attached to them.

The large treble clef appears to be formed out of white-frosted greenery and red berries.  A pretty cluster of holly and berries decorates the treble clef.

This would have been a very appropriate card to send to one's music teacher back in the day.  Hope my readers have enjoyed seeing this vintage find!