Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rudolph Day for February just did not happen!

This is a photo of the village of Whitefield, NH in 1948 (or I suppose realistically the photo was taken in 1947). but the snowy scene is what it looks like here in New Hampshire today, after all of the snow we had yesterday.
Well, of course February 25 was in its usual spot on the calendar, but the observation of Rudolph Day just did not take place.  I had a dental appointment early that morning, so the rest of the day was pretty much spent on catching up with the laundry and other household tasks I usually do on Mondays. 

Oh, I had plans -- albeit very simple ones -- to do some Christmasy things; sip Candy Cane Lane tea (which I have seriously stocked up on, recently searching an entire holiday tea display at Wal*Mart to be sure I got every last box they had!); listen to Christmas music; make a few gift card holders and go over my Christmas list.  None of that happened.

Since then, I have taken a look at my Christmas list.  I have ideas for our elderly parents -- my mother-in-law loves what we do for her each year which is a bucket of bran muffin batter (the type that keeps for weeks in the fridge), a jar of homemade hot cocoa mix and a bag of clementines.  I give my dad just the baked muffins and the cocoa mix and a few clementines.  He tends to forget about them so I don't waste an entire bag on him.  We also give him a subscription to Readers' Digest.  If you keep an eye on their sales you can get a subscription for $5 or so.

And I have a few ideas for grandkids, mostly felt food so far.  But that is about it, so I need to do some serious brainstorming for Christmas gift ideas.  Maybe next Rudolph Day?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Making a Christmas shadow box

For the longest time now, I've been wanting to make a Christmas shadow box using vintage odds and ends.  I had seen the idea in Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 7, and loved the one they showed.  The directions were by necessity not super specific, because of course everyone's shadow box frame and bits of memorabilia will be different.

I wanted to use an old red wooden silverware tray as a shadow box frame.  This was my mother's and was used by me as a teenager when I had a little home baking business.  In recent years, nearly every time I opened the silverware drawer in my kitchen, I would be reminded of this project and how much I wanted to create one of these shadow boxes.  So recently, I got my materials together and set out to make one.  It took me a week or more, working on it in available snippets of time here and there.  I began by thoroughly cleaning and washing the tray.
Then I lined the compartments with scrapbook paper.  I had some I had bought years ago specifically for this project.  I thought the red plaid had a vintage look -- but oh, aren't those red and green prints amazing?  They look like scans of actual vintage fabric.  There are stains, worn places, etc.  Just the look I was going for!
Another look with the tray flat, just as I glued the paper in.  I used a glue gun for the entire project.
After lining the bottom of each compartment, I remembered something important.  One side of each compartment was going to become the shelf for the memorabilia.  So I needed to line those as well.
I started with the vertical side compartment.
The top shelf holds lots of memories.  When I was a child my grandmother had Santa mugs that the grandchildren were allowed to use at Christmas dinner.  The one here is a cheap plastic imitation, but looks much the same.  The folded cupcake paper (which I may or may not leave there) is from a stash of my grandmother's Christmas things.  The tag is from my daughter as a teen, and the ribbon roses are a reminder of her as well since she often called herself the "little rose girl".  (She loves roses!)  The red ribbon, plastic greenery, the bell, and the little red bird are vintage.  The cookie cutter shapes are new but I thought they went well with the other things.

The second shelf holds a box of vintage light bulbs, a vintage sticker tag and a vintage plastic Santa and sleigh. I stuck a little metal embellishment that says "Cherish" on the tag.  The little metal pieces don't show up well in the photo, but they look cute in the shadow box in person.
I was a bit at a loss trying to decide how to fill the longer vertical space at the side.  Finally decided to make a tag and hang it from a red thumbtack.  Picture is of me and my brother and a cousin in the snow.  The flocked Santa sticker, the plastic holly and the striped bias tape are all vintage.
The letter stickers and the word on the tag are newer items.  You can't really see the word but it says "family" and is a shiny silver color.  In retrospect I should have put the "memories" letters lower on the back wall.  It will be fine when the shadow box is hung on a wall, but is a bit hard to see in the photo.
Vintage plastic deer, light bulb and tinsel from one of our early Christmases together.
A closer look at the tag; Santa sticker, holly, berries and bias tape are vintage.
The lower end of the tall side compartment.  Vintage plastic greens, holly, and berries.  This was old stuff from my great aunt.  Tiny vintage glass Christmas balls, too.
Finished shadow box!
Hope you have enjoyed this look at the making of a Christmas shadow box!  Maybe you've been inspired to make one of your own!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A side dish recipe to try for Christmas dinner 2013

(Photo by Taste of Home)
Browsing old December issues of Country Woman magazine, I came upon this recipe:  Green Beans with Roasted Grape Tomatoes.  With its festive red and green colors, this would be a natural for Christmas dinner.  I often have trouble figuring out a green vegetable to serve for that meal, other than the ubiquitous green peas or green bean casserole (which, when all is said and done, isn't really green).  Brussels sprouts can be made festive and I love them, but not everyone does. 

So this green bean and grape tomato dish is definitely worth a try.  And I plan to try it in the summer when both items are fresh and inexpensive.  For Christmas, I probably wouldn't use fresh green beans, as our local supermarket sells frozen whole green beans that are nearly as good.  This recipe looks healthy and delicious, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A salad recipe to try for Christmas dinner 2013

(Photo by Taste of Home)
 In my browsing through past December issues of Country Woman magazine, I found a salad recipe it would be nice to try for Christmas dinner:  Lynn's Spinach and Apple Salad.  I will try it sometime this winter and see how we like it.

For years, the following has been my go-to salad for Christmas dinner:  Merry Berry Salad
(Photo by Taste of Home)
and we especially enjoy the homemade cranberry vinaigrette. 

But it's always fun to try something new, so I am definitely going to give the spinach and apple salad a try!  May the best salad recipe win!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A recipe to try for Christmas dinner 2013

(Photo from Taste of Home)
I came across this recipe in a back issue of Country Woman magazine:  Cranberry Sauce with Walnuts and think it would be lovely to serve with Christmas dinner.  That it includes toasted walnuts, not to mention apricot jam, sounds so festive.  I have the ingredients on hand to make this, so I think I will try this recipe the next time I roast a chicken.  We can then test it out and see if we'd like to serve it at Christmas.  I'll let you know how it comes out!

Friday, February 08, 2013

A fun almost-vintage find

Recently I was straightening out some of my cookbooklet collection and came upon this one.  I just had to scan it and show you all!

It's a magazine insert which I think  is probably from the 1980s (I didn't see a copyright date anywhere).  I actually don't even remember seeing this booklet before!  (Which may mean it was part of a stash I inherited from someone else.)  I probably won't make most of the recipes, but I plan to try a couple of them.  I so enjoyed looking through this and especially enjoyed the photography.
Blueberry Sour Cream Coffeecake
Brownie Hot Fudge Sundaes
Candy Cane Cake made from a 13x9-inch cake -- love this idea!
Cherry Christmas Wreath cakes
Chocolate Cherry Cordial Drops and Festive Coconut Macaroons
Rich Double Chocolate Cream Torte -- I have actually tried a recipe similar to this and it was fantastic.  I think I am going to adapt this using a gluten free brownie recipe and maybe make it for Valentine's Day.
Gingerbread Men from a spice cake mix
Individual Cheesecake Cups -- and I love the Santa plate.
Lemon Blueberry Poppy Seed Bread
Peanut Butter Sparkle Cookies
Peppermint Marble Angel Food Cake -- so pretty!
Hope you've enjoyed this fun find from my cookbook stash!

Friday, February 01, 2013


We were off on a winter getaway a couple of years ago and were browsing in a bookstore one afternoon when I spotted this book on a sale table.  I admit it, I just had to buy it (yes, an impulse purchase!) because of its title, so similar to the title of this blog, and also because of the charming retro look of this small, square book.

It's titled The Christmas Kitchen and subtitled The Gathering Place for Making Memories.  The author is Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan.  There are twelve chapters, each filled with inspiring and encouraging text, delicious family recipes, and simple hints for making the Christmas kitchen merry, bright, and memorable.  Each chapter is introduced by a lovely photograph.

Chapter 1 is Christmas Central -- the key to making your holiday dreams come true.  This short chapter contains some mulled cider recipes to enjoy while you're dreaming and planning for making the Christmas kitchen a wonderful part of your holiday.  It  also offers some secrets to a more stress-free holiday season that are practical and truly helpful.

Chapter 2 is Christmas Kitchen Prep -- preparing your home and your heart for a season of comfort and joy.  The author expands on four simple steps: take stock, make room, stock up, and make ahead.  Included here are lots of gingerbread house ideas, along with a helpful checklist to use in stocking up for Christmas.

Chapter 3 is Make-Ahead Merrymaking -- cooking together for a joyful, stress-free holiday.  It's filled with simple ideas and recipes for food and treats to make ahead, along with instructions for a stress-free cookie exchange (something I've always wanted to try!).

Chapter 4 is Delicious Decor -- warm ideas for decking halls and hearts.  It includes lovely ideas for decorating your Christmas kitchen and setting your Christmas table, along with simple recipes for feeding a crowd of hungry decorators.

Chapter 5 is Kids in the Kitchen -- the messy joy of creating with pint-size cooks.  It gives great ideas for including kids in the Christmas kitchen, including making cinnamon ornaments, cute cupcakes, and teacher gifts.

Chapter 6 is From Our Home to Yours -- inspired gifts from your kitchen and from your heart.  I love to make and give kitchen gifts, so this was a favorite chapter of mine.  In addition to fun and unusual kitchen gift recipes, it offers over 20 ideas for gift basket themes!

Chapter 7 is The Gift of Yourself -- intimate gatherings for your special friends.  It presents recipes and ideas for treating your closest women friends at Christmas time.

Chapter 8 is Hope You Can Come! -- hospitality for your busiest season.  In contrast to the previous chapter about small gatherings, this one is for larger groups or even open houses.  There are some wonderful appetizer recipes, including one for a cheese ball that can be made half a dozen different ways.

Chapter 9 is No Place Like Home -- fun and delicious time-out evenings.  These ideas are all for your close family members and maybe a few friends as well.    The chapter contains yummy snack recipes as well as several great ideas for fun family evenings.  Very inspiring!

Chapter 10 is Just Like We Always Do -- traditions old and new for a joyful Christmas Eve.  Oh, how children love traditions!  This chapter has some wonderful recipes for Christmas Eve.  There's a Feliz Navidad tortilla soup that is just incredible.  I tried this recipe (but not on Christmas Eve -- we have our own traditional soup for that!) and it is so good. 

Chapter 11 is Always Room at Our Table -- cooking up a fun and festive Christmas Day.  There are recipes for Christmas breakfast as well as Christmas dinner, and loads of ideas for making the day festive yet stressless.

And  lastly, Chapter 12 is Something New -- enjoying the gentle side of the holidays.  It contains recipes and great ideas for celebrating New Year's as well as the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

I love everything about this book -- the recipes, the ideas -- even the chapter titles are fun!  I did a little looking around on Amazon and they have copies of the The Christmas Kitchen available, so you may wish to check it out.  This book would make a wonderful gift as well as a fun resource for your own Christmas kitchen!