Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More Christmas boards on Pinterest!

A page from one of my vintage Christmas carol books
I cheerfully admit I am somewhat addicted to Christmas (and possibly a bit to Pinterest as well).  I seldom get time to actually go to Pinterest, but a lot of interesting things come my way and I like to pin them so I can't lose them.  To that end, I've found myself creating a bunch of new Christmas boards.  Rather than try to link to them separately, I'll list them here.  You can follow me on Pinterest via the red button in the sidebar and then scroll down from there to find the boards.

Newer ones are Crafting for Christmas, Christmas Cards and Sentiments, Advent Calendars and Christmas Countdowns, and Christmas Cookie Exchange.  You might also like to check out my Christmas, Vintage Christmas, Handmade Gift Ideas, Kitchen Gifts, Glittery Little Houses, Winter, and Fabulous Fabric boards.

Happy Pinning!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rudolph Day Report for November

 I didn't find time to work on any Christmas gifts yesterday, although I did some cross stitching on a project for a late-December birthday.   My other crafting yesterday was trying to finish up a second Thanksgiving-themed candle mat,
 just so I can have the set of two completed and can cross it off my list.  It isn't quite finished yet, but should be today.

I did, however, complete a Christmas project, with Mr. T's help.  Last year we had purchased a clearance pre-lighted Christmas tree at Jo-Ann's, which we had not been pleased with.  It was sold to us as being new, but it was clearly used.  The box also contained a number of playing cards from assorted games, plus instructions and spare parts for a lighted Christmas gift sculpture.  Plus, the tree seemed much narrower than the one pictured on the box.  In short, the price was right, but the tree was not.

We looked into taking it back but would only get a store credit, if I remember right.  It was the last tree they had.  So sometime during the year, we had a brainstorm:  Although this was not the tree we wanted to replace our very aged (but high-quality) artificial tree, we could set it up somewhere else, like the upstairs hallway, or our bedroom.

Years ago, I put up a small, real tree in the bedroom dormer every year and decorated it with an assortment of Victorian-style ornaments. 
One of many Victorian style ornaments I have made
But over time our furniture configuration changed and I stopped doing that.  So we both liked the idea of a Christmas tree in that room again. 

Since I was working in zone 4, the bedrooms last week anyway, I did an extra-thorough dusting and also placed Christmas cards under the glass on my crafting desk while Mr. T vacuumed, then he set up the tree.  It looks so nice, with its myriad of colored lights, that I may not even add ornaments!  I draped a small bit of vintage poinsettia fabric over the tree stand.  And the narrow shape of the tree is perfect for the available space.
Just to the left of the tree, you can see my little glass topped crafting desk tucked into the dormer.
So there is my November Rudy Day project!  It is getting us into the Christmas spirit already.  Now I can wrap completed gifts and place them beneath the tree!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The joy of handcrafting for Christmas

A lovely handmade pin made by my friend Ruth
Few things bring me more joy than sitting at my sewing machine or my little crafting desk and creating a gift or decoration for my own home or for someone I love.  At such times I feel perfectly content.  It's even nicer if I have a cup of Candy Cane Lane tea at hand and the snow is falling outside the window!

Some time ago, I read a lovely post on The Legacy of Handmade by Myra at My Blessed Life.  I have been meaning to share the link here ever since, because Myra's post captures much of what I feel about handcrafting gifts.

My handmade gifts are not perfect, but I hope they will be a blessing to the recipients and will become heirlooms of a sort.   I hope too that they will inspire others -- especially my children and grandchildren -- to continue the joyous tradition of handcrafting gifts for others.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A cute gift idea for kids

If you are looking for a nice and fairly easy gift idea for kids this Christmas, you might like to check out this link:  Car Caddy.  It's a little caddy for taking the small Matchbox®-type cars along.  You know how kids love to take them along in the car, or to Grandma's, etc.  My grandkids will often stuff their pockets full of them.  This caddy will hold 8 to 10 cars, depending on how large you make the pockets.  I made 3 of these recently and was quite pleased with how they turned out.
This photo shows the back of one caddy and the front of the other.
This shows the inside of the open caddy.  A "race track" on one side, and pockets for cars on the other.  You can see a few cars peeking out of the pockets.
If you try these, you will want to read the tutorial and study the pictures carefully before proceeding.  One need not use a pizza box for this project.  Any sturdy cardboard will do (I used corrugated because that was all I had of the right size), and what you need is 2 (two)  9-inch squares of it.   Similarly, you need not cut 10 x 20-inch pieces of felt and then cut them in half.  Just cut 4 (four) 10-inch squares of felt.   If you are like me, just reading instructions doesn't quite do it for you (I am the same with commercial sewing patterns); you need to look carefully at the pictures as well.

Also, I should add that I didn't do the stitching around the edges of these as the tutorial shows.  I skipped that part because the cardboard is securely enclosed by machine stitching, and I felt the outer stitching just wasn't necessary.

This weekend I was concentrating on felt projects during a craft-along hosted by Genuine Mudpie.  I didn't really have a lot of free time this weekend, but wanted to join in on this, so I set aside a few hours to craft.  In addition to these car caddies, I also made a bunch (not sure how many) of felt strawberries,

and cut out the pieces for more felt food.  All of these will be Christmas gifts, so I hope the recipients (or their moms) don't look too closely at my Christmas blog!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Tentative cookie and candy list for Christmas 2012

A favorite Christmas card -- artist Kathy Lawrence
I've already posted a short list of food items I plan to prepare for Christmas gifting.  The following list of cookies and candies will include some of the same items, but I always like to make a general list (which I don't always stick to) just to give me an idea of how much baking I have in mind for the season.  I like to start around the time of the first snow -- which I thought would be today, but the snow didn't come this far north, and I really don't mind!  Anyway, on to the list:

Chocolate Spritz
Sacher Torte Cookies
Whipped Shortbread
Macaroon Kisses
Eggnog Logs
Almond Raspberry Thumbprints
Date Nut Casserole Cookies
Pride of Iowa Cookies
Homemade Granola Bars

Special Holiday Fudge
Heavenly Delight
Lemon Ice Candy
Lemon Pistachio Fudge
Chocolate-Covered Fruit Jellies
Different types of bark (Mr. T bought many pounds of almond bark after Christmas last year!)

Plus I also plan to make several batches of homemade hot cocoa mix and some bran muffins for gifts.  As I said, the list is subject to change.  I nearly always find a few new recipes I want to try!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Candied Pumpkin Spice Nuts ~ a great kitchen gift!

(Photo from Taste of Home)
I was looking for something different in the way of a nutty confection to make for a friend's birthday gift.  This recipe sounded good, so I decided to try it: Candied Pumpkin Spice Pecans.  I didn't have pecans on hand (and they are so expensive right now that I didn't want to buy any), but I did have a can of mixed nuts, so I decided to try that.

I had just over 3 cups of mixed nuts, and the recipe calls for 2 cups of pecans, so I made one-and-a-half times the recipe.   I always find making any caramel-type recipe like this a bit intimidating -- it seems the sugar and butter always separate at some point -- but it worked out fine in the end.  It seemed to me that the nuts were going to end up a bit greasy, so after they had cooled on the foil and appeared set, I transferred them to paper towels until they were completely cool before packaging them in a jar.

These went over well with our friend -- his wife has just asked me for the recipe -- and here at home too, as I had enough left over for us to enjoy some as well.  These nuts would make a nice kitchen gift for friends and family this Christmas!

Friday, November 02, 2012

A fun and different Advent countdown

(Photo from
This Christmas Bucket, which I found via Tip Junkie, looks like a really fun way for a family to count down the days until Christmas.  There is a wrapped and numbered gift for each day.  The "gifts" needn't cost a lot of money; some of them are simply an activity to do that day.  I have done something similar in the way of Christmas countdowns in the past, using slips of paper with activities, etc. but this looks like such a fun and different idea.  If I had kids at home, I would be trying this one for sure!