Saturday, October 16, 2021

Some blogging questions answered


My friend Vee, at A Haven for Vee, recently asked some questions of her fellow bloggers:

What do you consider your favorite posts, you personally, at your blog? Do you like putting together a Day in the Life? D├ęcor? Recipes? Deep thoughts? Stories of days gone by? Faith for living? Travel? Book Reviews? Gardening? Something else? All of the above? None of the above? ...  Do you still enjoy blogging?

I've put together a post answering these questions, over on my Kitchen Table blog, but I thought it would be fun to answer them here as well.  My answers for this Christmas blog will obviously be a little different, and some of the questions don't apply at all.  Here we go.

A Day in the Life -- I don't do this type of post very often here in my Christmas Kitchen, but once in a while in December, I'll talk about what Christmasy things I might have done on a particular day.  And I do enjoy sharing that; they may be among my favorite posts and are fun to look back at.  You can find those posts under the label "December Daily"  in the label cloud.

Working on a Pinterest project with my daughter

Josiah helping to make hot chocolate bark, many years ago.  He's 13 now!

Preparing kitchen gifts

The lovely Miss Julia at our annual Christmas outing with her siblings

More kitchen gift prep

 Decor -- I surely do love to decorate for Christmas!  Logically enough, you will find these posts under the label "decorating".  The posts about my own decorating are lots of fun to write, and quite heavy with pictures.  I might also post about ideas from others about how they decorate, or decorations that they might craft.  I often do look back at these to see how and where I decorated for previous Christmas seasons.

Part of my hutch decor one year

Manger scene with stable made by my dad

One of my collection of lighted houses

Stories of days gone by -- yes, I have lots of memory type posts.   You can click "memories" in the label cloud to read them.  As with my regular blog, one reason I started a Christmas blog was as a place to put my memories so I didn't forget them.  They were a pleasure to write, but took a lot of thought also.

Recipes -- Lots of recipes on this blog.   Click the "recipe box" label, or just categories like "kitchen gifts", "cookies", etc.  Recipes are fun to share, and never more than at holiday time.  These are probably some of my favorite posts to write, because I love to cook and bake and exchange recipes with friends.

A simple baking vignette on my kitchen island one year

A personalized cookbook containing dozens of my recipes -- made as a gift

Faith for living
-- Most of my Christmasy posts that touch on this would be Christmas devotionals, so if you're interested just click that label in the label cloud.  Some were written by me and shared with other ladies in a group setting.  Those were work to write, but I've posted them here so I can refer back to them.  Most, though, are devotional thoughts and encouragements shared by others -- and even ideas for not losing sight of the spiritual side of Christmas, the true reason we celebrate.

Book reviews -- While I find book reviews on my Kitchen Table blog a good bit of work to write, the ones here in my Christmas kitchen are fun to put together.  They are great for looking back at, but I particularly like sharing them so others will know what a particular book is like -- and whether or not it would be worth their while to acquire that book.  I still have many, many more Christmas books that I mean to review -- and I'm thinking right now that a few book reviews might be a nice addition to my annual December Daily on both blogs.

Something else -- Several "something else" categories on this blog are ones that I particularly enjoy writing and sharing.  You can find these in the label cloud.  I'm passionate about handmade gifts, so I love writing posts about those.  Crafts of all types and all sorts of techniques might include handmade gifts, but would also include ornaments and decorations.  I love sharing vintage things, not only because of my Etsy shop but also because of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s and being hopelessly nostalgic.  Last but not least, the traditions label includes some of my personal favorite posts to look back on.

These play mats were such fun to make.  Sadly, the hot glue didn't hold up well.  I should have stitched everything in place.

Christmas card banners made with granddaughters

This shadow box showcases some of my small vintage treasures.

Grandson Sam a few years ago celebrating our breakfast, shopping and ice cream expedition

A Kellerhaus ice cream sundae

For 2020, we had to tweak the tradition in order to make it happen, but happen it did, and you can read about it here: Tweaking a tradition.

Do I still enjoy blogging?

Absolutely!  Lord willing, I will continue blogging for a good while yet.  I still enjoy it greatly and still think I have more to share.  Hopefully my readers will agree, but I think I would blog even if no one else read it!



Saturday, July 31, 2021

A golden jingle bell ornament to make


Wouldn't a jingle bell project be appropriate as Christmas in July draws to a close?   We can hang it on the doorknob of the Christmas kitchen and enjoy the festive jingle as we gently close the door behind us.

I do hope to get back here in the Christmas kitchen often in the coming months, and certainly every day throughout December.

This gold jingle bell ornament is by Kimberly at Serendipity Refined.  

Photo from Serendipity Refined
As you will see, all it takes is some gold jingle bells, gold wire, and gold ribbon.  I think it would also be pretty using silver bells, wire, and ribbon, or even a colored jingle bell like red or green.

Jingle bells of this size were apparently very popular back in the day, for I found many packages of them in clearing out my childhood home.  The button card at top was something I found there, also.  It has sold in my Etsy shop some time ago.  I wish I had been able to see the buttons that originally came on it.

Thanks again to all who visited here in my Christmas kitchen for Christmas in July.  It's been fun, as always!

Friday, July 30, 2021

One more cookie recipe to try -- this one's a bar cookie!


Bar cookies are great because they are so easy to put together, and you can cut the squares or bars in whatever size you see fit.  I'm always happy to have a new bar cookie recipe to try for our Christmas cookie trays.  This one seems like it would be especially nice since it combines chocolate peppermint bark with a frosted sugar cookie.  

This recipe is from Jocelyn at Inside BruCrew Life.  As I've mentioned before, Jocelyn is one of my trusted sources when it comes to baking.  All of her recipes that I've tried have been simply scrumptious, and quite easy to make as well.  

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Sugar Cookie Bars look and sound delicious! A chocolate sugar cookie bar is topped with a frosting rich in butter and whipping cream.  Then the frosting is sprinkled with chopped peppermint bark candy bars.

Can't you just see a few of these on your cookie trays this Christmas?

Thursday, July 29, 2021

And a bunch more personalized photo gift ideas


Sparked by my previous two posts, I thought I'd mention a few more Shutterfly gifts I've created over the years ... these for teens or adults.  

I have already blogged about the Christmas cookie book above, but I've made quite a number of other books as well.  You can check out Shutterfly's photo books here.  Below are a couple more I made for gifts.

 Mugs are somewhat of a ubiquitous gift, but not for pre-teens or teens who may not have a lot of mugs of their own.  A couple years ago I made matching mugs and journals for my young teen granddaughters.

And actually, on the subject of mugs, one young mom I know has made photo mugs with pictures of her growing kids for her parents for a number of years.  They have a whole display by now and want her to keep the photo mugs coming!   You can look at Shutterfly's mugs here and the journals are here.

I've previously blogged about the metal ornaments I made with Shutterfly.  I'm still making them every time I get a good offer, because people love to receive them.  You can take a look at the ornaments here.  Ornaments like those below, which commemorate our New Hampshire grandchildren's cookie tradition and our Nevada grands trimming their traditionally harvested tree, have been great hits with the children's parents. 

 Coasters also make great gifts, and now that I think about it, they would be fun to pair with the mugs.  Look at the coasters here.  I did some with the cookie baking for these kids' parents.  The fall ones were a gift for our friend Terry.  The three of us had gone out for ice cream on an autumn afternoon and were stunned by the beauty of the maple trees at the farm where we were.  I decided to commemorate that wonderful afternoon with a useful gift.  The floral coasters were made from photos we snapped in Nevada one summer.

Magnets are another fun small gift, especially if you use them to commemorate a family memory or a special trip.   Here are the magnets.
Lastly, I've made a lot of gift calendars.  I've taken to making them for my oldest granddaughters each year, using photos from all through their growing-up years.  They look forward each year to what the new calendars will look like.  Here are some calendar styles for you to browse.
In fact, I like to make calendars for birthdays as well.  When making a calendar with Shutterfly, you can set it up to start in any month that you like.  It doesn't have to start in January.  So it's fun to begin that person's calendar with their birthday month.  Below are just a couple pages from calendars I've made.  You don't need to get fancy with arranging photos, though it really is a lot of fun.  You can simply use one photo for each month: easy peasy.


Hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing!  Summer is the perfect time to work on photo projects like these!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Personalized photo gift ideas for kids


Since sharing yesterday's post about the Shutterfly tote bags, I've been thinking about other personalized photo gifts I've made.  I mentioned in a 2019 post that I've made some memory games, like the one above, for gifts.  These are so much fun to make!  You can find more inspiration at Shutterfly, here: memory games.  I'll tell you, too, that some memory games can be more complicated than you think.  I made one for a Nevada grandson featuring logging machines.  I played it with him and found it quite challenging as some trucks and machines look quite a bit alike.  Below is one of my more recent ones.

Jigsaw puzzles are another really good gift and so much the more when they are made from a photo your kids love or that will jog a wonderful memory for them.  Shutterfly's puzzle options are here.  Below are a couple that I have made.  I had to take the easy way out and snag screenshots from the Shutterfly web site, since I don't have photos of all of these.

Photo books can also be fantastic gifts for kids.  One of these started out with an ABC book theme; the other was just a regular photo book that I turned into an ABC book along the way.

Hope this post sparks a few ideas for gifts you can go ahead and make now for the kids in your life!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A pretty and practical personalized gift


 Here's a fun and easy project that you can make now for gifts.  I love Shutterfly and very frequently choose their personalized photo items as gifts.  I think I've made 80-plus projects using Shutterfly over the years, and have always been quite pleased with the results.

However, the projects I'm sharing here today are some that I made for me!  They are a great way to preserve some special memories.  The bag at top is considered a reusable grocery bag.  You can see many of the various designs available here: Shutterfly reusable grocery bags.  Below are a couple more I have made:

These bags are great.  They hold up well; they're made of polyester and will hold up to 50 pounds, plus they are machine washable.  They are so handy.  I don't think I have ever used mine for groceries, but they are great for carrying needlework, beach gear, books, or anything else that one might wish to tote.   

All three of my bags feature photos from summer 2015, the last time our western daughter and her hubby got out here with their whole family.  Those are such beautiful memories and I love having them at my fingertips.  

I've also made some of Shutterfly's cotton tote bags, which seem to no longer be available.  So I include the following photo of one of my bags, just to give you another idea (the photo on this bag is of Nevada's Lamoille Canyon):

They do have canvas tote bags, which are not at all the same.  These cotton drawstring bags are closer.
I think that these bags would make really great gifts.  Once you order from Shutterfly you will find that you frequently receive some great offers for free products.  I seldom pay full price for anything I get from them.  The quality of these bags is great and the possibilities for personalization nearly endless.
As an aside to this post, I'll mention again that since this is my 10th year of doing Christmas in July,  I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a give*away each week.  

As many readers know, I have loads of vintage Christmas ephemera. 

I've been putting together some small assortments of paper treasures and am giving away one of them to a blog reader each week of July.  So for this week, if you are interested leave the word "gold" somewhere in your comment on this post.  Drawing for the prize will be on Friday July 30 and I'll announce the winner on Saturday the 31st.