Thursday, July 31, 2014

Down the Lane to Christmas

A favorite vintage card from my collection
Here is one last lovely poem by Mildred L. Jarrell.  Oh, the memories it brings!

Down the Lane to Christmas

Down the lane to Christmas
Mid fields adrift with snow,
I can see the old familiar home 
With windows all aglow.

I can hear the Christmas music
Carried o'er the frosty air,
And picture home folks singing
Round the organ by the stair.

The yule log will be burning
Near the tinseled Christmas tree,
And I hasten with a yearning
Towards the ones that wait for me.

Though the road is long I've traveled
Sure my heart no more will roam,
For down the lane to Christmas,
My heart is nearly home.
~ Mildred L. Jarrell

I hope you've all enjoyed this simple Christmas in July as much as I have.  It's been fun for me and a nice break from my everyday responsibilities.  See you in August!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A fun last-minute handmade gift

Photo by Raising up Rubies
I admit it ... I am slow, slow, slow when it comes to catching up with blogs I follow by email.  Sometimes I read the posts I get by email right away.  Other times, especially when I'm very busy, they just stack up in my Inbox without being read.  But I save them to read later ... you can easily see why I have over a thousand emails in my Inbox at any given time.  When I finally do get around to looking at these blog posts, I nearly always find something I want to pin or save.    That's the case with this fun last-minute gift from Jaime at Raising up Rubies.

This Peppermint in a Jar gift is so simple yet so much fun, with a couple of handmade touches to make it impressive.  Jaime's creative fingerprints are all over it.  Go on over and check it out ... I'll let you get the details and the helpful photos from her.

Have fun with this idea!  I plan to make some of these!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chocolate Nut Fudge

Photo from Taste of Home
Can you use one more fudge recipe?  This one, Chocolate Nut Fudge, which I saw in the December 2000 issue of Country Woman magazine, looks like a classic and a keeper.  It sounds simple to make, and I like the fact that it uses both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips.  It also calls for large marshmallows rather than marshmallow cream, and I like the idea of that -- more vintage-y, somehow. 

I'm planning to give this one a try.  In my book, you can never have too many recipes for kitchen gifts!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Two more fun Christmas fabrics!

Snow Magic
 Today I'm going to share scans of two more of the Christmas fabrics I recently purchased.  One I got from Walmart,  primarily because it was a nifty small print with sort of a vintage look. 

With its unusual color palette of gold, brown and red, it will go with other, plainer fabrics in my stash.  The little motifs include deer, trees, sleighs, ornaments, candy canes and more.  I regret that I don't know the name of this fabric.

The other fabric was part of my recent purchase from to finish off my $125 gift certificate.  I could no longer find the fabric on their site, although they did offer a couple of other coordinating items.  But I did find it here: Snow Magic.

I love this scene!  To me, it really looks like Vermont.  For one thing, there are sugarhouses near a couple of the pictured homes, and backyard sugarhouses are pretty common in Vermont and New Hampshire.  The other thing that makes me think the artist was depicting a Vermont scene is the slantwise upstairs windows on a couple of the houses.  From what I understand, it was pretty common to place a window slantwise in a space where a window would not otherwise fit, in an upstairs room.  I imagine this is true, because a good many old houses in Vermont (and some in New Hampshire, Maine, and probably the other New England states as well) have these slantwise windows.  Good old Yankee ingenuity!

This is such a fun fabric although I have no idea yet what I will do with it.  Maybe just a simple table runner, to showcase the design.  We will see!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One more Christmas poem

This tiny card is from my personal collection.
Here is another Christmas poem from The Blessings of Christmas, one of my attic finds.  This is a lovely poem by Georgia B. Adams which could be a heartfelt prayer for our friends, rather than merely a wish. 


What do I wish you this Christmas?
    Above all, I wish you peace ...
A peace of heart and soul and mind
    That will with each day increase.

I wish you a tranquil spirit,
    Trusting in God above,
The joy of knowing His presence
   And deep abiding love.

I wish you a calm composure,
    Peace of mind unsurpassed;
I wish you faithful friendships -- 
    That will forever last.

What do I wish you for Christmas?
    Peace may you find alway;
May this be the gift that fills your life,
    On Christmas and every day.
~ Georgia B. Adams

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Photo from Taste of Home
Always on the lookout for new Christmas cookie recipes to try, I came upon this one in a back December issue of Country magazine: Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints.  The recipe looks fairly simple although there are several steps to it:  baking cookies; making a filling and filling the indentations; then melting chocolate and adding a chocolate drizzle.  (I'm getting hungry just writing this!)  I do have several other recipes that incorporate the same number of steps, and it's not difficult work, but you just can't be in a hurry.

I think this would be a perfect cookie for a cookie exchange, as it is quite different and looks delicious.  I'm thinking too that eliminating the drizzle and sprinkling the caramel with coarse salt instead might make a nice salted caramel variation.  Definitely a want-to-try cookie for this season.  Too bad it's too hot to bake or I might fire up the oven right now!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rudolph Day for July

An illustration from Jolly Old Santa Claus, one of my favorite childhood books
 Yes, today is July 25 -- Rudolph Day for July!  For today, I thought I would share a quote.  This idea comes from Jennifer Acuff and was quoted in the "Country Woman Almanac" pages in the June/July 2009 issue of Country Woman magazine.  Here it is:

"Our family beats the summer heat by celebrating Christmas in July.  We stay inside all day watching our favorite holiday movies, making stocking stuffers, decking the halls and eating a Christmas dinner.  The festivities end with reading the Nativity story and munching homemade cookies."
-- Jennifer Acuff, Monterey, TN

Isn't that a neat idea?

My own Rudolph Day is going to include some errands and busyness, but I also hope to take some time to look over my Christmas notebook and do some planning and tweaking of my Christmas lists, simplifying them a bit.  Maybe I'll do a little online shopping for some necessary materials for handmade gifts.  We will see!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A nice idea for Christmas breakfast

Photo from Taste of Home
I don't know about you, but I am always looking for good ideas for Christmas breakfast.  We keep it very, very simple -- usually an egg bake of some kind; muffins, coffeecake or sweet rolls; and fruit.  This is the sort of breakfast I always served Christmas morning when our family was young and all still at home.  I felt it was important to have something hearty and healthy to balance out all of the excitement and sweets.  I love to make egg casseroles because they can be prepared the night before and simply baked in the morning.  I usually make the baked goods ahead too and simply reheat them, although if it is a very simple coffeecake, I might bake it that morning.

Now it is nearly always just my hubby and me at home for Christmas breakfast.  That's just fine with us; our children have their own families and we believe it's very important for them to have their own holiday traditions.  We would be the last people to ever insist our kids must be with us for Christmas.  We actually enjoy our own empty-nest traditions and we don't mind at all having Christmas breakfast on our own.  (And of course we would not mind having company, either.)

I recently came upon this recipe:Scrambled Egg Spinach Casserole and it looks delicious.  I think it will be this year's Christmas morning breakfast entree.  Maybe you would like to give it a try, too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some more fun Christmas fabrics

This is just a scan I did of the fabric.  You can get a much better look at it by clicking the link below.
 A few years ago, a friend and I visited a local shop just before Christmas.  It was a rustic, seasonal spot that seemed to be part farm market, part antiques mall and part craft fair.  Local crafters each had their little section within the shop.  One area I was particularly drawn to held a number of simple sewed items like place mats and pot holders.  I found some simple square pot holders made from a vintage-look skiing print that I loved, and bought one for each of my daughters.

 Ever since then,  I have thought it would be fun to make up more pot holders in similar prints, either for gifts or for sale.  So while browsing to spend my gift certificate, I came upon this Dear Stella design called Ice Skating White, I just had to order it.  It isn't quite as nifty as the skiing print I liked so well, but it is very cute and I can see it being used for mug rugs as well as pot holders.  Then I came upon another, coordinating, Dear Stella design called Train With Presents White -- and, since I have a number of train-loving grandchildren, I thought I could find some uses for that one as well.
Also a scan.  Click the link above for a better look.  This reminds me of a child's drawing, especially the trees.
I've pinned both of these  fabrics to my Crafting for Christmas Pinterest board, rather than to my fabric board, so I will remember to use them in my Christmas crafting.  I hope I have time to do some of that this year, but my life has become very busy.  We will see!  I will wash the fabric and have it ready, at least.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to finish a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, #3

Here it is -- how to finish a cross stitch ornament #3.  I saved the most difficult finish for last -- framing with fabric -- and it is not very difficult at all, though it does involve the use of a sewing machine.  If you can sew a straight line and turn corners, you have all the skills you need to sew this ornament.

If you have never tried framing stitchery with fabric, it's very easy.  You can either use the same fabric for all four sides, or two different ones as I did.  Obviously, you will want to choose colors that complement those in your design.

To begin, just measure your finished stitchery horizontally and note down the width of it. 

Also figure out how wide you want your "frame" to be.  (For something this small, I thought an inch would be about as wide as I wanted to go.)  Plan on a half-inch total seam allowance and cut your top and bottom frame pieces accordingly.  (Don't cut the side pieces yet!)   For example, my stitchery is was 4 inches wide, and I wanted a 1" frame, so I added 1" for the frame and a total seam allowance of 1/2", and cut the top and bottom frame pieces 4 by 1-1/2 inches. 

Pin and sew your top and bottom frame pieces to the top and bottom of the stitchery, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seam toward the frame pieces.  Press on the right side too.  Trim off any frame edges that don't line up with your stitched piece.

Now for the side pieces.  You will measure vertically now, the length of the stitchery which has now become greater because of the top and bottom frame pieces you sewed to it.  Again, add the desired width for your frame (1" in my case) to your 1/2" total seam allowances.  I cut my side pieces 5" by 1- 1/2".)

  Again, pin and sew the side pieces in place along each side of the stitchery/frame piece, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seams toward the side frame pieces.  Press on the right side too and again trim off any frame edges that don't line up with your stitched piece.

Now you will make a backing piece for your stitchery.  You can either use fabric that matches your frame, or a solid color like red or green.  Simply measure the finished piece, with its frame stitched in place and pressed,  and cut a matching piece to use for the backing.  (In my case, that meant a rectangle 5" by 5 1/2".) 

Sew the two pieces together with right sides facing, using a 1/4" seam allowance and leaving a 2-inch opening for turning.  Turn right side out, press neatly, and then stitch around the finished piece about 1/8" from the edge, which will sew the opening closed. and will give a nice finished look to the ornament.

I could have sewed a loop of ribbon or metallic cord in place when sewing the front and back of the ornament together, but I decided it would be simpler to just thread a needle with cord (I used green crochet thread) and pierce the top center of the ornament, then tie the ends of the cord together and trim the ends neatly.

And there you have it!  It probably took me a lot longer to type this (trying to be very clear with my instructions) than it will take you to assemble your finished ornament!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Lemon Spritz

Photo from Taste of Home
Even though I have many, many Christmas cookie recipes already (click the "cookies" link in the label cloud to see some of them!), I'm always on the lookout for some that are new and different.  When I saw this recipe for Chocolate Dipped Lemon Spritz, I was intrigued.

I already have a good lemon spritz recipe (here's the link for my recipe for Lemon Spritz) but this one sounds really, really good -- as Andy Griffith might have said, "Extra good!"  You press the dough into strips using the bar plate and cut it into squares, then dip the baked cookies diagonally into melted dark chocolate and sprinkle with lemon sugar.  If you have ever had, from a box of nice chocolates,  a dark chocolate with a lemon cream filling inside, you can imagine how good this flavor combination would be in a cookie.  The cookies are very attractive, as well.  I like the idea of the lemon sugar sprinkled on top.

 Pressed cookies are so quick and easy, producing loads of pretty cookies with very little effort.  In recent years, Mr. T has been the cookie baker in our Christmas kitchen, and has made simple multicolor spritz cookies.  But I am going to wrest the cookie press out of his hands to try this one!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sing Out the Carols of Old

Vintage Christmas carol book from my personal collection
Here is another lovely Christmas poem by Mildred L. Jarrell.   Enjoy!

Sing Out the Carols of Old

Let us have music for Christmas ...
Sing out the carols of old,
Rejoice in the birth of the Christ Child,
The most wonderful story e'er told.

Sing with a heart filled with gladness
And love for the Heavenly King ...
Lift up your voice with song and praise
Until the rafters ring.

Let us have music for Christmas
In the glow of candlelight,
Mingled with snow and mistletoe
And shepherds that watch by night.

Sing of the star and wise men too,
And angels watching above ...
Bring once again to the homes of men
The gift of wondrous love.

Let us have music for Christmas ...
Sound the trumpet of joy and rebirth;
Let each of us try, with a song in our hearts,
To bring peace to men on earth.
~ Mildred L. Jarrell

I love that, especially the lines "Let each of us try, with a song in our hearts, to bring peace to men on earth."  Oh, how people need to know the peace of God today!  Let's purpose to share His incomparable peace with a song in our hearts!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Embroidered felt gift tags ~ a fun little project!

Photo by Flamingo Toes
I'm not even sure if I should admit this, but I have over 1000 unread emails in my Yahoo inbox.  I subscribe to a lot of blogs by email, and some of them publish every day, so that's a lot of mail.  I try to keep up with the ones that come in each day, but inevitably during holiday time or busy seasons of life, there are those I don't get to.  Then when I have time, I go back and look through the ones I haven't read.  I nearly always find things to try, pin, or save.

It's sort of neat that right now, while I'm trying to come up with posts for Christmas in July, I'm looking through the unread inbox items from last December.  And I found a keeper that I want to share with you all -- lovely gift tags made by embellishing felt shapes with beads and embroidery.  These are the work of the amazingly creative Bev at Flamingo Toes.

Flamingo Toes is one of my favorite creative blogs.  If you have never visited, do go over and spend some time looking around.  You are sure to be inspired!  Bev dreams up some fabulous creations and she does beautiful work.  She does a lot of hoop art and I am wanting to make some of that myself.  But these Beaded Embroidery Felt Gift Tags are what I want to share with you today.

There's a snowflake, a holly berry, and a monogram tag.  These will add beauty to any gift, and I think the recipient might even like to use them as ornaments another year.  The felt shapes are neatly backed with kraft paper to cover the back side of the stitchery.  Aren't they pretty?  You might even think of variations of your own that you would like to try.  Have fun!

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to finish off a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, method #2

 Here is how to finish off a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, method #2!

This is quite easy, being mostly done with hot glue and a few other simple items.  It is a little harder than just popping it in a frame as in finish #1.

You will need:
* Scissors
* Ruler and pencil
*Poster board or cardboard (I like to use the shiny metallic back of a recycled Christmas card.)
* Glue gun and glue sticks
* Glittery Christmas trim or rickrack
* Metallic cord for hanging

In addition to your finished stitchery.

Start by trimming your finished stitchery so that it is a nice even size and has at least 1/4" to 1/2" of unstitched area around the design.  Measure your trimmed stitchery piece, and cut a piece of cardboard or posterboard to the exact same size.

Cut a small piece (maybe 2 to 3 inches) of metallic cord to make a hanging loop.   Place  the cardboard square wrong side up on your work surface.  Fold the metallic cord in half, and glue the ends of it to the top part of your cardboard square, letting the loop part extend above the square so it forms a hanger for your ornament.  (If you prefer, you can simply glue the ends of the loop to the back of the ornament, but it doesn't look quite as neat from the back.)

Now, take your stitched ornament piece and glue it, wrong side down, over the glued cord ends, matching the stitchery and the cardboard piece as evenly and neatly as possible.

Lastly, you are going to cover the raw edges of your stitchery with the glittery Christmas trim, braid, or rickrack.  Probably the easiest way is to cut the top and bottom pieces and glue them neatly in place.  Then, when those are in place, cut the side pieces and glue them neatly in place as well, paying special attention to the corners where the pieces of trim come together.

You are finished!  I've finished off many cross stitch ornaments this way, and they are quick and easy to do.

If you wanted a more rustic look, you could back the ornament with cardboard and glue twigs around the edge instead of the metallic trim, using twine or jute for the hanging loop.

I must say, though, that the quick and easy frame method #1 is my personal favorite way to finish off  a cross stitch ornament.  The method I've shown here is quick and inexpensive, but the purchased frame is more foolproof.  

Whatever method you choose, I hope you will try making some cross-stitch ornaments this Christmas.  So much fun!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Christmas poem: "I'm Thankful"

Vintage card from my collection
Here is another lovely poem from The Blessings of Christmas, which I found in the attic I've been clearing out.  Enjoy!

I'm Thankful

I'm thankful for intangible things
    Like faith, and hope and love --
These things that fill our life with joy
    Are blessings from above.

I'm thankful for faith, the bulwark of
    My very heart and soul --
Faith in God and those I love,
    And hope as my highest goal.

I'm grateful for love of friend and kin,
    For all those I hold dear,
For courage and strength they share with me,
    Along with bits of cheer.

I'm thankful on this Christmas Day
    For spiritual help through prayer;
Intangible though these things may be
    I find them everywhere!
~ Georgia B. Adams

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Free printable Christmas labels to print now!

Image from World Label Blog
Just think, you could print out these fun labels anytime and have them ready for Christmas!  I'm sharing links to 2 different sets of labels from World Label Blog, a fantastic resource for ordering all shapes, sizes and types of labels which also boasts an amazing array of gorgeous freebies to download and print.  You can even customize many of them with your own choice of wording and fonts.  If you have difficulty finding a good variety of labels at your local stores, I suggest you try World Label Blog.

Here's the link for the first set (pictured above): Holly Jolly Labels by Ink Tree Press.  I printed out the address labels with my name and address last year and was very pleased with them.  So cute!

And here's the link for the second set (pictured below): Happy Holidays labels by The Shy Socialites.  These are very nice also and even include such extras as labels for water bottles, CDs or DVDs, and tags for candy canes.  How fun!
Image from World Label Blog
Have fun with these!  I love free printables, don't you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Heart Goes Home for Christmas

Oh, my.  I have found a new favorite poet via the older Christmas book I acquired, The Blessings of Christmas.  It contains several poems by Mildred L. Jarrell.  They are lovely and evocative and just touch a nostalgic chord in me.  Here's a real favorite of mine:

My Heart Goes Home for Christmas

My heart goes home for Christmas, 
For there I long to be,
Together with my loved ones
Sitting 'round the Christmas tree.

The little farmhouse nestled
Near a snow-clad country lane,
And dear familiar voices
Raised in carols once again.

I can see the fireplace gleaming
With its cheery flickering glow,
And candlelight a-beaming
Through the windows on the snow.

The road that leads me homeward
Is filled with memory
And I recall each blessing
Of those days that used to be.

My heart goes home for Christmas
And though we're miles apart,
My thoughts go winding onward
And I'll be there in my heart.
~ Mildred L. Jarrell

Isn't that pretty?  I love the line about the candlelight beaming through the windows on the snow.  It reminds me of the colorful electric "candoliers" my grandmother always put on her window sills at Christmas time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

In From the Cold -- a fun fabric panel from Moda

Let me say right up front that I don't believe in either luck or coincidence.  But I have had the blessing of somehow winning a number of giveaways -- books, handmade soap, cereal bars, fabric, Christmas magazines, a Jo-Ann's gift card ($100), and even a $125 gift certificate to!  That last one was a giveaway from Sew4Home, a site where so many people enter the giveaways that I never dreamed of actually winning one.  I have won two giveaways there over the years, so this proves to me that those random giveaways really, really are random indeed.  It's taken me awhile to spend the gift certificate, but back in early June or late May, I forget which, I actually finished it up.  Quite a bit, but not all, of what I bought was Christmas fabric on sale.  I'll be showing you the rest of it at a later time.

This "In From the Cold" panel by Kate Spain for Moda is truly versatile, with lots of fun options.  The directions for each project are right on the panel.  Here are some options:
Option A: Placemats
Option B: Table Runner
Option C: Small Pillows  (I think the rectangles for this might also make cute mug rugs!)
Option D: Round Coaster Set
Option E: Square Coaster Set

Maybe you would like to get one of these, too.  I know I'll have fun using the one I bought.  I couldn't find the panel again at,  but they did have some other "In From the Cold" items like a jelly roll, charm pack, etc.  You might also check Fashionable Fabrics, which did have some of the panels last time I looked.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Candy Cane Fudge

As most of my readers know, I am always on the lookout for good recipes for kitchen gifts.  These might include cookies, cakes, breads, muffins, jar mixes and more -- plus, of course, candy.  This Candy Cane Fudge, which I found in a back issue of Country magazine,  looks like a keeper.

This fudge looks to be delicious, and is said to be easy.  Even better is how pretty and festive it looks.  I'll be trying this one for sure!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Christmas is Always

I'm not sure how to title this; it's not really an essay, but it's a little more than a simple quote, by Dale Evans Rogers.  I found it in The Blessings of Christmas, an Ideals type magazine I found while clearing out an attic.  Here is what Dale Evans Rogers wrote:

"Christmas was not just a starlit night in Bethlehem: it had been behind the stars forever.

"There was Christmas in the heart of God when He made the earth, and then gave it away -- to us.  When He sent us His prophets, that was Christmas too.  And it was the most magnificent Christmas of all, that night in Bethlehem when He gave us His own son.

"As Jesus grew up, Christmas was everywhere He went, giving food, giving sight, giving life.  For Christmas is giving.

"But Christmas is also receiving.  In the Bible it says: As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God.*

"As many as received Him!  When we understand that, we understand that receiving can be even more important than giving -- at Christmas!  When we receive Christ, we experience completely the gift that is Christmas.

"Then, for us, Christmas is truly always, for Jesus said, Lo, I am with you always** ... And Christmas is Jesus!" ~ Dale Evans Rogers

* John 1:12
** Matthew 28:20

Friday, July 11, 2014

Trim the Christmas Tree ~ a vintage children's book

I've saved most of my Little Golden Books from childhood.  Recently, though, I threw one away.  Trim the Christmas Tree had clearly been an an adorable book in its day, but it had been used and loved pretty much to death.  Both covers had been reduced to scraps by the punching out of a Christmas tree and stand; most of the pages were missing completely, and the few remaining ones were torn.  Still, the illustrations were beautiful and the story looked good.  I wanted to share the book with you all, and a Google search yielded copies available on eBay, Etsy, and so on.  I pinned the book to my Vintage Christmas
Pinterest board, and this is the link to the specific pin: Trim the Christmas Tree.

So you can get an idea of the beautiful illustrations, here are a few which I scanned.  You will see  how torn and tattered they are.

The story line seems to center around a family that has recently moved into a  new house.  Here the children have just come inside after helping their Dad cut a Christmas tree.  You can see  him through the window bringing the tree to the house.
They search all the moving boxes and barrels but cannot find the Christmas decorations.  So their Aunt Kass teaches them to make their own.


Paper birds -- this page was two-sided
Busily crafting

Decorating the tree with their handmade ornaments
Hope you have enjoyed this look at a fun little book!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Christmas Everywhere

I've always loved this little card from my collection of vintage Christmas cards.  I love the colorful bells, but especially the saying "Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!".  I didn't know it was a line from a poem by Phillips Brooks, until I came upon the poem, or part of the poem, in the book I described earlier, The Blessings of Christmas.  Here it is:

Christmas Everywhere

Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
Christmas in lands of the fir tree and pine,
Christmas in lands of the palm tree and vine,
Christmas where snow peaks stand solemn and white,
Christmas where cornfields stand sunny and bright ...
Christmas where peace, like a dove in his flight,
Broods o'er brave men in the thick of the fight;
Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
For the Christ-child who comes is the Master of all;
No Palace too great, no cottage too small.
 ~ Phillips Brooks

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

How to finish off a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, #1

Years ago I used to love making cross-stitched ornaments, and have made many over time.  This past winter I stitched up a couple of simple designs, but hadn't finished them off.  I decided to do so in time to share for Christmas in July.  I'm planning to share three simple ways to finish off a cross-stitch ornament, and will start with the simplest -- just popping it into a frame.

Here is the ornament before anything was done to it.

            I may have mentioned that I'm in the process of clearing out some unneeded items at my dad's house.  I'm finding many craft items  from both my mother's and my sister's stashes.  I came upon some brand new frames just perfect for  ornaments.  There was a red one and a green one, among others. 

Obviously, in framing your ornament, you want to use a color that echoes or complements the colors in your design.   I chose the green  because I wanted to point up the green lettering, and felt that the red would be just too much red.  With this type of frame, all you do is snap off the back, trim your stitchery to fit the frame, and snap it in place.  So easy!

I wish I had taken a picture of it at that point, unembellished.  I decided that it needed something more, and thought I would add a snip of red ribbon and a jingle bell.  But in looking through my box of embellishments, I found a package of these pre-made red bows.  You can't really see in the photo, but the print on this ribbon is musical.  Perfect!  And there are some green touches to the print as well.  I tried threading a jingle bell onto the bow, but it wasn't working out.  I had been thinking all along it might be fun to attach real jingle bells to the stitched bell strap, but was afraid it might be too much.  Now I decided it would be just the touch that was needed.  So I took the stitchery out again and sewed the real bells in place before re-framing it.                                           
I think it came out really cute.  And it was so easy!

Stay tuned for methods #2 and #3 later in July ...

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Nurturing kids' creativity with Christmas in July

My impatiens a few years ago.  Their petals might be pressed and become the start to a lovely little gift.
Did you ever think of putting the above two concepts together -- nurturing kids' creativity and Christmas in July?  I must admit I never had.  I was looking through a favorite reference of mine, Victorian Family Celebrations (formerly published as Mrs. Sharp's Traditions) by Sarah Ban Breathnach, for quite another reason, when I found that the book includes a page on Christmas in July.  The author writes, "Observing Christmas in July was the custom of resourceful Victorian mothers who started thinking about Christmas long before Thanksgiving."  She notes that summer "affords us a wonderful bounty of present-making materials as well as the luxury of time to begin our work."

Now I must say that I don't really feel I have the luxury of time any more in summer than in the rest of the year -- but the days are longer, and that helps.  I do like her thought of beginning to make gifts in summer; in fact, I try to do so all year long.  I know people who start their Christmas gifts, so to speak, when they plant their gardens, planning to give jars of salsa to everyone on their list.  Others go berry picking and plan to make jelly, jam, and chutney for gifting.  Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests getting kids involved.  What a great idea!  Kids enjoy gardening, crafting, and cooking, so why not let them help with plans for creative Christmas gifts?  They could press flowers to make bookmarks, note cards, and more, or make picture frames using seashells and bits of sea glass.  For kitchen gifts, some jar mixes can be made ahead, as well as spice or herbal blends to use in cooking.  When you think about it, the possibilities are nearly endless.

One more quote from Victorian Family Traditions: "Celebrating Christmas in July keeps youngsters as busy as Santa's elves, while nurturing a gift that will last a lifetime: their creativity."  So true, don't you think?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Painted Holiday Delights

Photo by Taste of Home
 When I was a child, one of my favorite cookbooks (yes, I had a small collection of them even then!) was the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls
I still have my 1957 edition of this classic cookbook!
 I would page through it by the hour -- and of course I actually cooked and baked from it too -- and one recipe that always appealed to me was one for sugar cookies decorated with egg yolk paint.  However, at that stage of my life I hated eggs, and egg yolk paint just didn't sound good to me, so I never tried that recipe.

Well, these Painted Holiday Delights cookies are even prettier.  Just lovely.  The designs, painted with a fine paintbrush (or even a toothpick) on icing, are so delicate.  And I like the fact that these are sandwich cookies, shortbread with jam in between. I've been thinking about trying these cookies for a few years now.  Maybe this will be the year I paint some.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Christmas poem

The lovely graphic is by Little Birdie Blessings.   These young ladies certainly have love tucked in the Christmas packages they are carrying.
 I may have mentioned that I am cleaning out the attic at my dad's home.  My mother saved many things, often new items she planned to use for gifts, but also many other things that may not have needed to be saved.  I am the only child left and so it is going to be up to me to clean out the house.  I decided to start now while I have the energy.  There are many things in the house that he doesn't need or even know about, and he is happy to have me give things away to folks who might use them.

One of the things I found was a nice book called The Blessings of Christmas -- similar to the Ideals books and magazines.  It contains many lovely Christmas poems and essays in addition to beautiful photos and pictures.  I plan to share some of the writings with you for Christmas in July.

Here is one of the poems, by Lucille Crumley.

Love Tucked In

When your gifts are wrapped
And gaily ribbon tied,
Please remember to enclose 
A lot of love inside.

The gift may be quite simple;
But love tucked in with care
Can change it to a priceless thing -- 
An offering, rich and rare.

The gift itself may soon be worn --
Its usefulness be past;
But of this you may be sure
That love tucked in will last.

~ Lucille Crumley

More to follow!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Great kids' craft idea -- coffee filter snowflakes

Photo by Laura's Crafty Life
Wow!  I would never have thought of this, but I'm so thankful there are creative minds out there, like Laura of Laura's Crafty Life.    What a terrific idea -- teach kids to make paper snowflakes using coffee filters.  Starting with paper that's already round will really help with the process.  Here's the link to Laura's post: Coffee Filter Snowflakes.

If you have young kids or grandkids, you will want to file this idea away to try as Christmas approaches!  I pinned it to my my Kids' Crafts Pinterest board so I can't possibly misplace it!

Friday, July 04, 2014

Patriotic Christmas cards

Image courtesy Vintage Holiday
 I've mentioned before how I acquired a lovely collection of vintage Christmas cards, but in case there should be new readers here, I'll share it again.  Many years ago I worked at a Christian school my girls were attending, and one of my duties was to teach art once a week or so.  Of course there was no real budget for art; I brought supplies from home if anything outside of the usual school supplies was needed.  I told a few people that I could recycle used greeting cards for a number of projects, and ended up getting bags of them.  Surprisingly enough, among them were many vintage cards from various sources -- most of them Christmas cards. 

Obviously I didn't have the kids cut up these gorgeous old cards for art projects; there were plenty of newer ones that worked great for the purposes I had in mind.  I kept the vintage ones and display them seasonally on ribbon boards.

I always found it interesting that some of the vintage Christmas cards had a patriotic theme.  The only one of mine that really fits that description is this one:

I've always liked the watercolor look of this one.  This is the message inside:

I did just a tiny bit of research to learn more.  In a post titled "Long live the tradition of sending Christmas cards!" a British blogger  for the UK White Pages blog noted, "During the wars of the 20th Century, Christmas card designs took on a patriotic edge in order to remind people of their absent friends and family during the Christmas season."

I also read the following in a history of the American Greetings card company:       
"Before World War II, Americans were usually married and buried in the same towns in which they were born. They didn't travel much and had little need to communicate in writing. The war changed that. People were often separated from their families, and used greeting cards to stay in touch. Now known as American Greetings Publishers, [Jacob Saperstein's] company had six artists creating red-white-and-blue cards with patriotic rhymes to help families connect the home front with the front line." 

Wow! Six artists just creating the patriotic cards.  There must have been a real demand for them.  In light of that, I'm sort of surprised that I only have one.

I do have one other red-white-and-blue Christmas card; it's a favorite of mine but not really that patriotic looking.

Happy Fourth of July to you!

Images courtesy Vintage Holiday

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Fun Christmas fabric!

This cute retro fabric, depicting a festively decorated street filled with Christmas shoppers, is called Merry Main Street and is by Alexander Henry Fabrics.    It looks to me just like magazine ads from the 1960s -- very colorful, "modern", and whimsical.  Notice how even though it is presumably December, all of the ladies and girls are wearing dresses!  It is just a fun fabric.

I always like to check out the remnants at Fashionable Fabrics because I can nearly always find some really nifty pieces of fabric at a small price.   This particular remnant is a long skinny piece of Merry Main Street fabric for which I paid $1.90!  I think it will work very well in mug mats and/or coasters for Christmas giving.  A small indulgence, buying this fabric, but I will have so much fun with it!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Tart Cranberry Butter

Photo from Taste of Home
For today I thought I would share a kitchen gift that's on my want-to-try list: Tart Cranberry Butter.  This is not whipped butter with cranberries in it, as you might guess, but is a tart cranberry spread, somewhat like apple butter.

Wouldn't this be a good kitchen gift, perhaps tucked in a basket with a half dozen cranberry-orange scones or some baking powder biscuits?  Sounds good to me!

(Of course, it would also be nice on a turkey sandwich, as in the photo!)

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Welcome to Christmas in July in my Christmas Kitchen!

Poem by me, but the pretty red house is from The Graphics Fairy
Yes, I'm really tackling it.  My life is busier this July than it's been in a long time, but some of you have encouraged me to do Christmas in July posts again this year, so here goes.  I may not post every day in July, but will give it a good try.  I have lots of simple posts in mind to share, so we will see where it goes.

I thought I would start with a simple graphic featuring a poem I wrote for Christmas in July a few years back.  If you would like, you may borrow or adapt the poem for your own Christmas in July use.  The pretty Christmas house graphic I used is from The Graphics Fairy.

Happy Christmas in July!