Friday, January 29, 2016

A few more after-Christmas buys

Isn't this tin adorable?
Just a few more things to show you today.  I will simply add captions to the photos as I have a busy day ahead.  The tin at top was actually purchased after Christmas 2014.  We had stashed it away with other Christmas packaging items and forgot about it until we brought those things out this year.  I am not sure I could package fudge or whatever in this tin.  It is just too pretty!  As you can probably tell, the snowflakes are on the clear part of the tin's lid, while the scene is inside.  I keep thinking I would like to make a little scene inside, but probably it is pretty enough just as it is.  The photo below shows what the sides of the tin look like.
Now, just a few more:
I think I paid $2 or $2.50 for this pretty poinsettia mug in Marshalls.  Not sure yet if I will keep it or gift it, but thought it was so pretty!
This slightly blurry pic shows a lovely box also purchased at Marshalls.  This was $2 but will make a very special gift container.  I included this pic to show the glittery sides of the box lid.
A better photo of the same box
This gift bag was 90¢ at Marshalls.  I love that they have one-of-a-kind items, but sometimes I wish they had more than one of an item!  Like this bag.
This is a very blurry photo indeed but I had to include it since it was the only picture I got of these gift bags.  I actually got several different designs, and the picture doesn't do it justice.  The backgrounds are sort of woodgrain in different colors, and I forget now the other designs, but they are very pretty.  Look very expensive, but in fact they were around 30¢, I believe, at Ocean State Job Lot.  I got at least a half dozen of these.
Hope you have enjoyed this look at a few of our after-Christmas deals!

Monday, January 25, 2016

After-Christmas buys (and more!) for the Christmas kitchen

During the time while I'm making Christmas kitchen gifts, I will often take inventory as to what I might need for packaging such gifts in the coming year.  Then I can look for them at the after-Christmas sales and stash them away for next Christmas.

This year I realized I didn't have any of these cookie tray bags on hand, so Mr. T went out to Dollar Tree and purchased some.  For most of my cookie trays to neighbors or friends, I will put the cookies on a foam plate and tuck it into a gallon size plastic bag.  The assortment of cookies is so pretty that no embellishment (other than possibly a ribbon and/or a sprig of evergreen) is needed.

But I also give out two special cookie plates each year to folks who enjoy a particular cookie.  For them, I like to find a special plate to include with the cookies as part of the gift.  These cookies -- Eggnog Log Cookies for one person, and Sacher Torte Cookies for the other -- are still pretty, but not colorful, one being cream-colored and the other chocolate.
Eggnog log photo from Taste of Home
So for those, I look for special Christmasy plates that the recipients can use again.

This Gooseberry Patch plate is an example
 And I like to wrap these special cookie plates, laden with cookies, in a special way too.   The cookie bags from Dollar Tree are perfect for this.  They come with coordinating, pre-cut ribbon for closing the bags, and even matching tags.  There are three bags in each package.  Quite a deal!

This year we also found some great after-Christmas deals on packaging for kitchen gifts.  I'll just put in some photos and captions.
These treat bags are very useful for packaging snack mixes and other treats.
These treat boxes will be useful for packaging cookies or candies.
Square boxes like this work great for leaving a gift for the mail or newspaper carrier!
These colorful paper sacks, about the size of a lunch bag, will be so useful for packaging treats within a gift basket.
Tins like these with the see-through lid are a very nice way to package candy or cookies for a special gift.  Nice in a gift basket, too.
What about you?  Do you give kitchen gifts?  What sort of packaging works best for you -- and did you find any great deals on packaging this year?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Questions and answers for Christmas crafting

From a craft calendar my girls loved as children
One of my friends on the Christmas craft forum posed a few crafting questions to begin the new year.  I thought I would answer them here to have a place to record my thoughts.  (They're currently on a piece of paper -- not the best idea if I want to find them again!)

So Rose asked us seven questions.  I will paraphrase them to simplify and then add my answers.

1.  Let's decide if we want to finish any projects started for last Christmas and not completed.  Will we : a)finish them right away and put them in our gift closet;
       b) put them away for a bit; or
       c) get rid of them altogether?

I had one project not completed for a November birthday (though I did make plenty for the birthday baby girl to open!) -- fabric alphabet letters.  So I need to finish those.

And I had one Christmas gift not completed -- another felt campfire and accessories.  My plan is to finish that and send it off to the recipients.

And then I have 3 long-standing UFOs (un-finished objects) -- a crocheted throw, a crocheted scrap afghan, and a "Snow Angels" cross-stitch.  I also have two completed stitchery projects that just need to be finished off in some way -- framed, made into wall hangings or pillows, or whatever.

2.  Decide if we want to go through any boxes/containers holding craft supplies; decide if we want to get rid of any of these supplies.

I'd love to sort out/give away craft supplies, but not just yet.  I plan to finish the alphabet letters and the campfire first, as all of the ziplock bags in which I have fabric scraps sorted by color are a huge mess.

3. Write down any ideas people have given you for the coming year, crafted items or other ideas.

I've done some of this but have more to add.

4.  Does your crafting area need a little tidying -- or a lot?

It needs a lot of tidying.  See question #2.

5.  Think about what went right or wrong in making crafts for gifts -- is there anything you would change for this crafting year?  

My biggest problems were starting too late and underestimating how long certain projects would take.

6.  Set a date for when you want to have all Christmas crafting completed.

My hubby set this date for me -- December 1.  One friend asked if it would work to have Mr. T setting my crafting deadlines for me.  Well, I don't really know yet.  But, as I told her, since he is the one who takes up the slack in eldercare, meal prep, housework and cookie baking if I really get stuck, I am going to try it his way!

7.  Start making notes of what you would like to make craftwise this year.

I've jotted down a few ideas in my Christmas notebook.  I think I'm going to try and aim for making more handmade items for birthdays and fewer for Christmas.

So there is my preliminary planning session.  Now to tackle one of those UFOs!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The actual Christmas baking list from 2015

The original list
Every year I make a Christmas baking list, and every year what I actually make differs from my original plan.  So I always like to do a quick post on what the actual list turned out to include, just so I won't forget.  Here's what actually made the list:

Eggnog Logs
Sacher Torte Cookies
Chocolate Spritz
Whipped Shortbread (both regular and gluten-free)
Chocolate Mint Crisps
Macaroon Kisses
Hot Chocolate Caramel Cookies
Double-Drizzle Pecan Cookies
Date Casserole Cookies
Christmas Tree Spritz*
Pepparkakor Spritz*
Lemon Spritz*

Heavenly Delight (a chocolate peanut butter fudge)
Arlene's Easy Fudge
Chocolate-Dipped Orange Slices
Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

Cinnamon-Sugar Pretzels

The last three on the cookie list were completely unplanned.  You can read about it here: A Christmas mini-miracle.  I had not planned to make any pressed cookies because my cookie press is pretty unsatisfactory.  But my sister-in-law found a vintage one which worked great, so my hubby took the press and ran with it, making three kinds of pressed cookies. 

These are the sort of surprises that often pop up with my Christmas baking plans!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

A gift with possibilities

... many possibilities!
Yes, it's fabric.
My daughter Joanna, out in faraway northeastern Nevada, knows me well.  She told me a few days before Christmas to expect a parcel from an eBay seller.  I saved it to open on Christmas day while we were Skyping with her and her family.  Yes, fabric.  Not just any fabric -- it's Christmas fabric.  Holly Pond Hill Christmas fabric!

Joanna and I share a love for Susan Wheeler's adorable Holly Pond Hill characters and scenes.  I own two Christmas books -- The Happiest Season of All

and Holly Pond Hill Christmas Treasury.

The illustrations by Susan Wheeler and the text by Paul Kortepeter are simply wonderful.  I get these out every year to read before Christmas or sometime during the season.  The Christmas treasury is one that I found at a discount bookstore one year.  I got several copies to give as gifts.

So you can understand my delight at opening up a simple parcel and finding this:

which includes Christmasy scenes from these books!

My daughter had asked the seller to include a note worded like this:

And, as you see, she did.  The note was written inside a pretty card.  Yes, Joanna knows me well.  Now my task is to consider the many possible uses for this fabric and to make the best use possible of it.  Such a thoughtful gift!