Wednesday, December 19, 2018

An easy reversible Christmas tree skirt


A few years ago, my Nevada daughter sent me the gorgeous fabric you see above.  You can read about this fabulous gift, and why I was so thrilled with it,  here: A gift with possibilities.  I knew that whatever I chose to use it for, it should be a project that would showcase the beautiful illustrations.

Last year after Christmas I decided that I would like to make a Christmas tree skirt from this fabric.  As is typical with me, however, I forgot all about it until it was time to put the Christmas tree up this December.

I wanted to make the skirt reversible as I thought a double layer of fabric would look nicer and hold its shape better, though I doubt I will ever use the other side.  Here is the fabric I chose for the reverse side:                       ⬅

I looked a bit in some Christmas books and online and sort of cobbled together an easy technique for making the tree skirt.

First, I obviously had to make my fabrics into large circles.  I had just done something fairly similar when cutting a circle for the top part of a chef's hat, so it was familiar.  I folded my first fabric from top to bottom, then from left to right to form a square, and pressed it well.  I measured from the corner to one edge of the folded square (where the arrow is pointing above).  This measurement was just over 18 inches, so I decided to work with 18 inches. 

I worked my way around the square with a yardstick, measuring and marking 18 inches from the right corner all around the square, using a water-soluble marker.  Then I connected the dots to form a curved line, and cut on that line.

(There are other ways this measuring can be done; Gooseberry Patch suggests using a string of your desired length and tacking it to the folded corner with a thumbtack to hold it taut while you move the other end of the string along and make your markings.  Sort of like a compass you used to make curved lines in Geometry class back in the day.)

I then unfolded the resulting large circle and used the folds that I'd pressed in to help me eyeball the center of the circle.  I then used the lid of a large glitter container -- 2 inches or more -- any round object of similar size would do -- to draw a circle in the very center.  This would be the hole for the tree trunk.  Then I cut along one of the folds to this circle and cut out the circle.

I placed my cut fabric circle face down on the backing fabric, which I had laid out face up -- so that the right sides of the two fabrics faced one another.  Then I used the cut circle as a pattern to cut a matching shape from the backing fabric.

Putting the skirt together was easy.  I pinned the two circles together well and stitched all the way around the cut edges using a 1/2 inch seam allowance and leaving a 6-inch opening to turn the tree skirt right side out.   I trimmed the seam allowance of the small circle down a bit and carefully clipped into the curved edge, not going through the stitching.  I also snipped off the corners of the tree skirt where the curved and straight edges of the bottom formed right angles.

Then I turned the tree skirt right side out (making sure to poke out the corners to make them nice and square) and carefully pressed it, then hand-stitched the 6-inch opening closed.  I had actually planned to topstitch around the entire tree skirt, stitching up the opening in the process, but I decided that topstitching might detract from the fabric design, and I just didn't want to do that. 

So I pressed it well one last time and arranged it around the base of the Christmas tree, covering the stand and just overlapping the edges as desired.  It actually took far longer to write about making the skirt than it did to do the project.  I would say it took maybe an hour and a half from start to finish.


And there you have it -- my Holly Pond Hill Christmas tree skirt.  I love it!

 




Tuesday, December 18, 2018

An idea to consider for Christmas breakfast


Photo from Taste of Home
As I mentioned yesterday, most of the ladies brought food to the Christmas brunch this past Saturday.  I decided early on to take a cranberry coffeecake, but had been uncertain what to bring for an egg dish -- we were keeping it to easy-to-eat foods that might require only the use of fingers or a fork.

One day while walking with my friend, we were talking about Christmas breakfast,  and she mentioned a recipe she had tried and liked, made in a 13x9 pan.  When she brought me a copy of the recipe the next day, she had also clipped to it this recipe: Amazing Muffin Cups.

Instantly I knew what I would bring to the brunch.  These are so good!  There's a hash brown crust and then an egg filling made with sausage, cheese and chopped red pepper.  I left out the chives because I didn't have any, but it certainly would help to add a Christmasy touch.   Using some red and some green pepper would achieve the same effect.

The recipe calls for link sausages, cut up, but I made my own bulk sausage using ground turkey and then cooked it prior to using in the egg filling.

I doubled the batch to make 24 muffin cups for the brunch, though in retrospect 12 would have been plenty.  There was SO much food there.  So many choices!

This is a delicious recipe that I'm likely to make again and again.  If you're looking for something a little different for Christmas breakfast, may I suggest Amazing Muffin Cups?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ladies' Christmas brunch at church


This past Saturday we enjoyed a ladies' Christmas brunch at church.  We invited ladies from another area church as well as friends, coworkers, etc. and we had about 25 who gathered at 10 a.m. for brunch.  Everybody brought something so we had a lovely variety of brunch foods -- along with a nice fruit punch, lots of coffee, and the options of tea or hot chocolate as well.
The pretty plaid "tablecloth" is actually wrapping paper!
Even a chocolate fountain with lots and lots of fruit!
My friend Ruth had offered to head up this entire event, which was just wonderful.  In a small church, with no pastor at the moment (and hence, no pastor's wife to take the lead in things like this), it often falls to the same people to take on ladies' events.  So when Ruth volunteered to orchestrate the brunch, it was a great relief.  She did invitations, planned a devotional, provided music, decorated, and much more.
A few ladies during the song time.  Ruth is in the red.
When I asked on Wednesday night how she would like the chairs and tables arranged in the fellowship hall, she simply replied that she planned to spend most of Thursday (her day off!) at the church and would take care of it herself.   What a servant's heart she has!  She did say, though, that she was not planning on bringing any of the food, just the drinks.  And there was certainly more than enough food!  People shared so generously with what they brought.

Above you see one more of Ruth's contributions to this special event -- a faux fireplace that she designed, constructed and decorated.  It really came out so nicely -- the photo does not do it justice -- and added a cozy Christmas ambiance to our fellowship hall.  Her hubby actually sneaked over to the church on Friday and added the birch logs for an added touch of realism.

Ruth's devotional centered around Psalm 90:12 -- "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." -- and the necessity of using our time for the glory of God every day, but paying special attention to this during the busy Christmas season when so many events vie for our attention.  It was a wonderful reminder and a lovely event.  Thank you, Ruth!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A fun idea for rustic Christmas decorating ... or gifting!


Image by Twigg Studios
This project reminds me of a lovely gift we received one year from our future son-in-law when he was in college.  He made a very pretty gift out of a decorative glass bottle filled with greenery and berries, water and, I think, some oil.  A floating wick was then placed on top and the wick could be lit to serve as a sort of candle or oil lamp.  Some people made these without oil or a wick and simply placed a round floating candle on top.

When I saw this Rustic Holiday Mason Jar Diffuser by Mary Beth at The How-To Home, I immediately thought of that long-ago gift -- they have been married for 18 years now!  I went looking to see if I could find a photo with the lamp in it.  (No digital camera in those days!)  In the only photo I could find, the lamp was on a table with other decorative items and it was just too dark to show up well.  Eventually the greenery molded (though that took a long time) and had to be discarded.

I'm sure that you can get an idea of how it looked when you see Mary Beth's photo, below:
Photo by Mary Beth at The How-To Home (formerly Cupcakes and Crinoline)
Her diffuser is an even more practical idea in that it requires no water, is not flammable, and the greenery will not mold.  Who knew diffuser lids were available for Mason jars?  Certainly not me!

Have fun with this idea!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Homemade jellied cranberry sauce


Photo from Chowhound.com
Have you ever made your own cranberry sauce?  I've made whole berry sauce and all sorts of cranberry relishes, but up until this past Thanksgiving I had never tried making the jellied type of cranberry sauce.

It all started when my daughter mentioned she was having trouble finding the organic canned cranberry sauce she usually buys.  Everything else, even good brands, contains high fructose corn syrup, and her kids like jellied cranberry sauce so much, she wants it to be somewhat healthier.   I said I would try making some to bring to Thanksgiving dinner at their home.  There was a recipe on the cranberry bag.

Well, that recipe didn't work out so well.  I prepared and refrigerated it on Wednesday night, but by Thursday morning it had still not set.  I would have caved and simply brought a can of regular jellied sauce from my pantry, but I only had whole berry.  Not wishing to disappoint anyone, my sweet husband pleaded with me to let him try making some, as we had plenty of cranberries.  So I looked online and found this recipe: Jellied Cranberry Sauce via Chowhound.  The recipe said it would need to chill for at least 2 hours, but we had started our Thanksgiving morning early and had plenty of time for that to happen.

 I was surprised how quickly the recipe came together.  Before I knew it, the sauce was cooked and strained and ready to add the unflavored gelatin.  (We opted not to use the cinnamon stick and orange zest, although I'm sure those would have been yummy additions, because we wanted it to taste more like the canned jellied sauce.)

It came out delicious and the kids raved over it: "Good job, Grampa!"

My daughter asked for the recipe and said she would never have to buy the canned sauce again.

I'm sharing this recipe now so you will have plenty of time to buy cranberries and unflavored gelatin, which not everyone has in their pantry, if you would like to try this.  I do definitely recommend purchasing Ocean Spray cranberries. 

Hope your family enjoys this delicious homemade sauce if you try it!

Friday, December 14, 2018

A fun craft project -- glittery little trees!


Photo by Diana at Adirondack Girl at Heart
Here's a project I've been wanting to try for quite some time now: Glittery little trees made from toilet paper tubes!  This is another design by the ever-creative Diana at Adirondack Girl at Heart.


Back when I first saw this idea (2015) I started saving toilet paper tubes to use for these little trees.  (Don't worry; I haven't been saving them ever since!)  I think I saved about a dozen.  I split them up the side, which is what needs to happen to turn them into cones, and stashed them in a ziptop bag with my crafting supplies.  I think I have everything else on hand that I might need to make some of these adorable trees. 

Can't you just picture these displayed with bottle brush trees and glittery little houses like those above to make an enchanted village?

With my handmade gifts completed, I may find time to tackle some simple Christmas crafts like this one.  We will see!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Inspiring handmade gift idea for friends

Delightful graphic by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
 Here's an idea from Karen Ehman that I came across quite awhile ago and saved to use here in my Christmas kitchen: Give her God’s Word in your handwriting.  Karen shares how a dear friend gave her these tags, simply cut from manila file folders and backed with scrapbooking paper.  Karen chose to keep the tags in a jar by her sink and chooses one per week to meditate on as she washes dishes. 

I have given handwritten scripture cards to friends before, and this simple gift never fails to be a huge blessing to people.  But Karen's friend Kelly took the idea a step farther in creating these lovely tags.

Following the post, Kelly left her instructions for making these tags in a comment.  It took me a long time to work my way through the comments to find the instructions, so I have taken the liberty of copying and pasting Kelly's instructions here:

"Here are the supplies and instructions. There really is no one way to do this but this is what I had on hand.
Supplies:

manila file folders

scrapbooking paper ( about 3-4 coordinated designs with print on front and back)

white cotton yarn (mine was purchased on a cone and I use it for several things around the home)

White reinforcement hole labels

glue stick (one for crafts,  not kids’ glue)

hole puncher
Instructions:

The size of my tag is 3 3/4″ by 1 3/4″. Cut out a rectangle this size from the manila folders. At about the 3″ mark cut away up to the middle of the top of the rectangle on both sides to make the point. (See photo below.)  Now use this as a pattern to cut as many rectangles as verse cards you will need. I made about thirty for a set. Next, cut out 3 1/4″ by 2 1/4″ rectangles from the scrapbooking papers. Glue these papers onto the tags. This should leave a small border around the tag. (See photo) Use a hole puncher to punch a hole in the arrow portion of the tag. Reinforce with a hole label. Then, cut a piece of yarn 12″. Fold in half. Tie a knot at the bottom, then loop in through the hole. The knot should be the part that is hanging.
Now the fun part. Choose scripture verses to write on the tags. I choose verses from Psalms, but you could choose verses with a theme (love, blessings, comfort, contentment, joy). Choose verses that will encourage the person you are giving them to for whatever circumstances they are in . You could give them in a jar or basket, or just wrap them up and let them choose from a container they have that works for them. You could also make a tag with the verse from Ps. 119:105 and attach it to the gift. They could then attach it to their jar or basket.
I hope these directions are clear enough. You can make whatever size of tag you would like to use. And remember, they don’t have to be perfect. But they will know it was given from the heart."
Photo from Karen Ehman
Isn't this a fabulous idea?  I hope that some of my readers will give this project a try.  I know that I intend to!  (Incidentally, the 25 Days of God-Given Gifts series by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings would be a fun alternative to making one's own Scripture cards for this project.  Just punch a hole in each one and add a string!  But if you have the time, writing out God's Word in your very own handwriting certainly makes your gift even more precious.)



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A fabulous scone recipe to try


Photo from Buns in My Oven
I recently came across this recipe for Maple Glazed Cinnamon Scones from Buns in My Oven.  They look scrumptious, don't they?

When I spotted this recipe, I immediately saved it to use during December in my Christmas Kitchen posts.  Scones make a wonderful kitchen gift.  You can tuck them into a basket with packets of tea or hot cocoa mix, or with a bag of coffee.  These scones in particular, with their festive flavors of maple and cinnamon and their lovely thick glaze, would make a perfect gift.

These would also be absolutely perfect for Christmas breakfast, or for any potluck brunch event you might be invited to.  I'll let you decide.  But I encourage you to give this recipe a try.  I'm going to!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fabric gift tags!


Here's a fun idea!  I know that many people nowadays don't use this type of a tie-on gift tag; they just slap on a self-stick one.  But I still like the type with string and I make a bunch every year from the previous year's Christmas cards.  The quick projects I'm sharing today are nicer still.

Actually, "fabric gift tags" is a bit of a misnomer, as the tags themselves are not actually made of fabric.  "Fabric-trimmed gift tags" would be more accurate.

At top you see a sample of some tags I made years ago.  This is the only one remaining from that tag-making binge.  I think I originally found the idea in a Gooseberry Patch Christmas book.

If you would like to make some, here is what I did.  You will need:  blank 3 x 5-inch index cards, scraps of Christmas fabric, pencil, scissors, fusible web, cookie cutters or other templates for designs, hole punch, crochet cotton, fine point permanent marker, buttons and hot glue.  Fold the index card in half and crease it.  Punch a hole in the corner, going through both layers.  Fuse fabric to web and trace desired designs  on the paper side; then fuse the fabric shape to the front of the tag.  Hot glue a button to the center of the design if you like.  Use the permanent marker to make little "stitch marks" around the outer edge of the fabric shape.  Cut a short length of crochet cotton and thread it through the holes in the corner of the tag.  You are finished!

And recently I found another fun idea which I am definitely going to try: fabric gift tags from Live Laugh Rowe.
Photo by Live Laugh Rowe
I think I have everything on hand that I need to make up some of these.   They are so cute! 

Monday, December 10, 2018

A sweet Christmas quote


I came upon this quote in an unusual way -- browsing through the "Warming Winter Dishes" section of Gooseberry Patch's Slow Cooking All Year Round. as I was looking for a recipe to serve to company one evening last week.

 I've been unable to find any information about the named author of the quote, A.M. Hopkins, but love the quote so I am sharing it regardless.

Here it is:

"I plead for memories of olden times, and simple pleasures, and the making of the most delightful music in the world, the laughter of happy children.  God bless us all and make us contented.  Merry Christmas!"  -- A.M. Hopkins

There could hardly be a better Christmas card illustration to illustrate this quote than the one at top, painted so beautifully by artist Kathy Lawrence.   There you have the "memories of olden times" -- for this family is wearing old-fashioned (yet lovely!) clothing, and the table is lit by an oil lamp.  You have "simple pleasures" as the children delight in stringing popcorn while one reads aloud to the rest.  Unmistakably,  there is "the laughter of happy children."

I love this painting and this quote and the memories they bring of Christmases in a simpler time.  And yet my heart is also stirred as I am reminded that not all children are in circumstances where they can laugh easily.  How we need to be praying for those children involved in such atrocities as human trafficking and labor camps, not to mention more mundane and "usual" situations where kids don't have the blessing of living in a happy or even an intact family.  How we need to ask God to show us what we can to do to help!

And yes, let's be sure we are sharing simple pleasures and making memories with our own loved ones as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  We are indeed blessed!

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Some fun new ideas for kitchen gifts


If you've read here for long, you already know that I just love making and giving kitchen gifts at Christmas time!  You can click "kitchen gifts" in the label cloud to see some of the foods that I like to prepare and gift. 

Today I have some fresh inspiration to share with you all regarding kitchen gifts.  Snow Day Drinks and Treats gift sets, from Courtney at Pizzazzerie will give you some great ideas for your kitchen gifting.

This post includes recipes and free printables -- so sweet.  There are printable labels for the coffee bags in which the drink mixes would be packaged, and tags for the bags you'd package the sweet accompanying treats in.

You can choose from three beverage mix recipes:

πŸŽ„"Bundle Up Blend" -- a cinnamon spice ground coffee
πŸŽ„"Cuddle Up Cocoa" -- a homemade hot cocoa mix
πŸŽ„ Quiet Time Tea -- a spiced chai instant tea mix

And then you can choose from the following treats (recipes provided!)

πŸŽ„ "Candy Cane" Homemade Marshmallows
πŸŽ„ Winter Spice Tea Cookies
πŸŽ„ Vanilla Almond Biscotti

Obviously, the biscotti is intended to be paired with the coffee; the cookies with the chai tea mix; and the marshmallows with the hot cocoa.

Or, you could gift any of these separately.  But the sets are just so cute!  I'll show one example, below.  You will want to head over to Pizzazzerie to see the rest.
Photo from Pizzazzerie
What lovely kitchen gifts these would be for the friends and neighbors on your list!  These ideas have certainly inspired me.  How about you?

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Before you delve too deeply into Christmas baking, check that pantry!


How do I happen to be giving this advice?  It's the voice of experience talking!

I hadn't started my Christmas baking this year until I impulsively decided to stir up a double batch of Chocolate Spritz on December 4.  I had about an hour before my weekly phone call with my Nevada daughter, and thought I could easily get the dough mixed and maybe even finish baking most of the cookies before our chat.

I got the flour into the sifter and got out the can of baking cocoa.  Oops, only a few tablespoons left.  I went to the storage and discovered the baking cocoa was all gone.  My sweet husband went to the store and replenished our supply, but by the time he returned I needed to call our daughter.  He went ahead and mixed the cookie dough, and all was well until he hit another roadblock -- none of the colored sprinkles we usually dip our chocolate spritz into!

So I handed the phone to him and let him visit with Joanna while I searched for sprinkles.  I found some holly berry ones he could use (but they sure don't look like our traditional cookies!) and he proceeded.

I'd purchased some things for Christmas baking -- like orange and lemon and maple extracts, like peppermint baking chips and allspice berries and a few other things.  But I just wasn't fully prepared.

All this reminded me that yes, believe it or not, right in my Christmas notebook I have a list titled "Long-Term Holiday Shopping List".  I think it was an idea from FlyLady some years back.  It includes not just baking ingredients, but also groceries for our traditional Christmas Eve meal, ingredients for a few freezer meals and kitchen gifts, and more. It's such a great idea to check this list against your pantry contents before beginning to bake or cook for Christmas, to find out what will be needed.

I'm sharing my list, but really it will differ for everyone.  In fact, as I looked it over I saw that there were a number of things I needed to add.  So I added them in, and have now actually printed out the revised list and placed it in my notebook.

LONG-TERM HOLIDAY SHOPPING LIST

Extra flour -- regular and gluten free
Extra sugar -- brown, white, confectioners
Corn syrup and molasses
Extra cornstarch
Extra butter
Lemons and oranges
Walnuts, pecans, sliced almonds
Raspberry and apricot jam
Baking chips -- white, semisweet, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and peanut butter
Marshmallow fluff
Evaporated milk
Sweetened condensed milk
Baking chocolate -- unsweetened squares and cocoa
Extracts -- almond, orange, lemon, maple, vanilla
Whole spices -- cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice berries
Ground spices -- cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves
Almond bark -- white and chocolate
Candy -- Hershey kisses, Andes mints, candy canes, M&Ms
Colored sprinkles
Red and green colored sugar
Stretch-tite plastic wrap (best for wrapping cookie trays)
Extra foil, waxed paper, parchment paper
Cheeses -- shredded cheddar, blue cheese, ricotta, Neufchatel, mozzarella
Half-and-half cream
Bacon
Celery
Extra eggs
Frozen chopped broccoli, spinach, pureed squash
Lasagna noodles
Sour cream

So make up your own list, making note of specific ingredients required by your own favorite family recipes for the holiday.  Then check it against what's in your pantry.  Hope this idea saves someone a trip to the store!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Worth the read: an exhortation to be still this Christmas season


Four of my grandkids doing their annual Christmas cookie baking in 2017
I read this last Christmas and think it's something we should reread every year: Be Still: Resist  the Christmas Urgency, by Sarah Beals at Joy-Filled Days.

It can be oh-so-tempting to feel as if we have to do all the Christmas things.  We want to make everything so special for our families.  Sarah relates how she asked her kids what made the Christmas season special to them -- what they saw as the parts of the season that they considered important family traditions.  To her surprise, their list was nothing like hers and included very simple things done together as a family.

Sarah shares a list of ten things we might want to do with our families this season to help us be still and truly savor Christmas.

She concludes with these wise words: "Tis the season to slow down and savor, to be thankful for what’s in front of you. These days that will pass so quickly and be gone forever. Days so full that we might just miss them if we don’t purposefully stop and notice. This is the day–the moment–the Lord has made. It’s up to us to rejoice and be glad in it right now. Joy comes in the present. It’s not found in the chase for more, or in the memory of the good old days. It’s found now."

I love this advice!  Head on over and read the entire post.  You will be blessed, I guarantee it!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Christmas shop worth visiting


In yesterday's post I promised to come back and share more about Kellerhaus, the shop where we traditionally take several of our grandkids for ice cream after our Christmas shopping trip with them.

We often brought our own kids here during the Christmas times of long ago.  Now it's fun to share this with our grandkids too.  Back in the day, there were a lot more animated figures, like elves in a workshop, or a Bavarian band (if I remember right).  But there is still plenty of enchantment.

Some of these photos are from previous years.  The decor varies quite a bit from year to year, as do the items being offered for sale.
Kids love the player piano that plays Christmas tunes for 25¢.
They were very disappointed that it was out of order.
Such a magical place to enjoy an ice cream sundae!

And I mean REALLY enjoy an ice cream sundae!
Santa is "sleeping" at his workshop.  Turn that dial beside the red and green stocking and you can see him breathe and hear him snore!
 The view of lake and mountains is lovely this time of year.  This is the view from the ice cream parlor area.
Pretty Christmas trees are everywhere!
These felt trees from this year are gorgeous in person!  I hope to try making some trees like these.
Josiah liked these tiny bird dishes and put his hand in the photo so you can get an idea of just how tiny these little plates are.
"Lake life."  Need we say more?
These lake-themed plates and mugs are beautiful too. 
These dimensional winter scenes hold flameless candles.
Last year, Josiah posed with an elf in the "Pictures with Santa" area
This was a fun display from last year.  That is a cookie jar front and center!
Kellerhaus is a candy shop too!  The chocolates and other candies are made in the room in back of this display.
I always enjoy seeing the beautifully decorated fireplaces.  There are many!
There's even a pretty lighted wreath on the chimney!
Hope you've enjoyed browsing through one of our favorite Lakes Region shops!  If you are ever in New Hampshire, Kellerhaus  is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

A fun morning with dear grandchildren


With December upon us once again, it was time to plan our annual Christmas shopping trip with three of our local grandchildren.  I think we've been doing this for around five years.

We take them out for a meal (usually breakfast), then go shopping so they can buy gifts for their parents and one another.  The grand finale is a trip to a favorite shop for the ice cream buffet.

We had decided while we were together on Thanksgiving that December 1 would be The Day.  It turned out to be perfect weather -- mostly sunny, with mild temperatures.

I will share more photos of the gift shop tomorrow.  It's a pretty amazing place and well worth the visit if you are ever in the lakes region of New Hampshire.

Breakfast was at a favorite McDonald's, as usual.  This year we gave them the option of a diner or cafe instead, but the general consensus was that we would not tamper with tradition.

This McDonald's has a definite North Woods theme.  Look at the chairs with the moose cutouts on the back!
Not the best photo of the fireplace, but you see my Peppermint Mocha!
A better (though older) photo of the fireplace and eating area ... what a difference three years makes!
Yes, there are snowshoes on the wall in this McDonald's!
After a successful and marathon shopping trip to Ocean State Job Lot (funded by us with Crazy Deal gift cards acquired throughout the year), we headed to Kellerhaus for our ice cream and browsing.  Although we seldom buy much, we all enjoy seeing the beautiful, unique things on display, and the kids usually get a bit of candy to take home.

The ice cream buffet features homemade ice cream and all the toppings you can think of.  Kinda pricey, but it's an experience as much as a snack.
The one disappointment was that the player piano (at far right) was not working.
Check out that view, above!  The White Mountains in the distance, and even a bit of Lake Winnipesaukee is visible.

Following our ice cream, we head home, where the kids sneak their gift purchases into their rooms to be wrapped later and placed under the tree.  As we left Kellerhaus on Saturday, we all agreed -- this is a tradition worth doing again next year!