Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A pretty centerpiece project

Yesterday on my regular blog (Across my Kitchen Table; link in sidebar →), I posted a few photos of our Christmas.  One of those was of a colander project I had put together.  Several commented about it, so I thought I would share more here.

In mid-November, I happened upon an inspiring post at Thelma’s Days, where Thelma shared several colander centerpieces she had made.  I will share just one of her photos below, because I want you to go and visit for yourselves and see the other gorgeous centerpieces.
Photo from Thelma’s Days
So pretty, isn't it?  Thelma's centerpieces turned out much nicer than mine, and her photography skills are also much greater.  She gives all of the centerpiece how-to's on her blog, so do check it out.  She also mentions that she found all of these lovely ornaments at thrift stores!

Here are a couple more photos of the one I put together.  I was fortunate that the colander I had (which was my mother's) is one that has a star pattern on the sides.  Makes it even prettier and more festive, although the pattern doesn't show up really well in the photos I took.
 My colander contains all vintage ornaments, plus a couple of glittered pine cones that I found in my parents' attic.
Right now, I'm thinking that when we take the Christmas tree down, I will fill the colander with blue and silver balls, the pine cones, and some glittery snowflakes.  Wouldn't that be pretty for winter?

And this wraps up my daily December posts here at my Christmas Kitchen!  I still hope to post frequently throughout the winter, and I have plenty to post about, so I'll  see you again very soon.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Some after-Christmas deals

Over the weekend I found a few after-Christmas deals.  They aren't necessarily super deals, because the places where I shopped had only discounted Christmas merchandise by 50% at that time.  Still, I was pleased with the prices for what I found.

We browsed a bit in Walmart on Friday evening, but I ended up buying only a package of Christmas cards.  When their Christmas stuff goes to 75% off, I will go back and see about some Christmas plates to use for next year's cookie plates.  That area had too many people in it on Friday night for me to be able to take a good look.

On Saturday afternoon, we checked out the Dollar Tree.  Since that is one of my favorite places to buy tins and jars for kitchen gifts, I hoped to do well there.  But no -- other than consumables like candy items and a few odd plastic things like lighted snowmen and solar lights, everything else Christmas had been packed away for next year!  The Christmas merchandise on sale literally filled only two shopping carts! 

Marshalls yielded a much better haul.  I got two pretty mugs, a roll of wrapping paper, a gorgeous red speckled cookie sheet (not a Christmas item, but on clearance -- I got it for $5!) and a set of festive pillowcases. 
Above is a closer look at the mugs.  I didn't realize until getting home that they pretty much coordinate.  Two different brands but similar with the colors and the black and white checks.  They will make nice gifts for someone.

At CVS on Sunday afternoon, I came out with two rolls of wrapping paper and a package of printed tissue paper.  The striped roll below is from Marshalls, and the snowflake and pine cone ones from CVS.  The snowflake paper is by far the best deal!  It has 130 square feet.  Once I saw that, I would have left the pine cone one behind, but my hubby really liked it so we bought both.

And then on Sunday evening at Ocean State Job Lot, I got an assortment of gift bags, some foldable boxes for cookies or other kitchen gifts, and another package of printed gift tissue.

 These are smallish gift bags but it's a size I use often.  They are kraft paper with classy designs.  The ones with trees say "Have a warm and cozy holiday".  These bags were 25¢ each!
 These packages of 8 paper sacks were each 75¢.  I had quite a supply of these on hand but depleted it somewhat this year.  I like the designs.
These are the foldable cookie boxes.  They have a cellophane window in them.  A little different from any I've bought before.  There are 2 boxes in each pack and they were 99¢ each.

 Above is a closer look at the cookie sheet.  Only $5!  I was so thrilled to find this.  I had a lovely, but battered tin cookie sheet (the type with the pressed in design) that had belonged to my grandmother.  I didn't use it for cookies, but it was perfect for other things like cooking bacon in the oven or roasting vegetables.  I took a meal to a church friend using this vintage cookie sheet, lined with a dish towel, as a tray.  Not the best idea.  When the dishes were returned to the church, someone threw my tin away.  True, it was only an object, but the sentimental value was great, and the size had been so handy for kitchen tasks! 

This new one is not only pretty, but it's just about exactly the same size as the one I lost and has a much nicer finish.  I see it as God replacing my cookie sheet!
 I got the hot cinnamon tea at Ocean State Job Lot.  Not on clearance, but it is a limited edition and was only 2.99.  It will be a nice warming tea for winter.

The pillow cases (3.99 at Marshalls) are at right.  I love the reindeer and snowflake design!  You can't see it well in the photo, but there is a subtle touch of metallic silver in the fabric.  They came in a nifty fabric case that closes with velcro.  Not sure what I will do with that, but I will make use of it some way.  When their clearance goes to 75% off, I plan to go back and see if there are more Christmas pillow cases.  They had more sweet designs, and if I could get them for $2 they would make great gifts.
 Last but not least, the tissue paper.  The one in front, with the snowflakes and candy stripes, is from Ocean State Job Lot, and package in back, with the Christmas lights and polka dots, is from CVS.

Hope you've found some good after-Christmas deals in your area!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The past few days

Festivity of one sort or another has continued over the past few days. 

On Thursday evening we had our dear young friends Sam and Jennifer and their boys here for supper and to exchange simple gifts.  Knowing they had been with family for Christmas on Wednesday and a birthday celebration on Thursday (and had been eating a lot), I planned what some of my grandkids call a "snacking supper" -- including chex mix, cheese log and crackers, little smokies in barbecue sauce, and antipasto squares, along with mulled cranberry orange juice.   We had a cookie and fudge tray for dessert.  This turned out to be the perfect menu and Mr. T and I are still enjoying some of the components.

Friday evening we did a bit of grocery shopping at Walmart and checked the Christmas clearance.  All I bought was a pack of Christmas cards.

Saturday late afternoon Mr. T suggested decaf coffee and a doughnut at a favorite local spot.  We relaxed and chatted by the fireplace while enjoying our snack.  Then we did a bit of clearance shopping at Marshalls and I found some great deals which I will hopefully blog about tomorrow.  When we got home, we decided it would be fun to watch It's a Wonderful Life, which we hadn't found time for on Christmas.  We also opened the very last of our Christmas packages.

Sunday was, of course, church -- good messages and good fellowship.  In the afternoon we visited with our friend Terry and enjoyed fabulous turkey soup she made from her Christmas turkey.  For dessert she served a homemade Black Forest cake left over from Christmas dinner.  Scrumptious and we enjoyed every bite!  On the way home we took a short detour to Ocean State Job Lot and shopped their Christmas clearance as well.  I'll hopefully blog tomorrow about those deals as well.
We took Terry a small container of these.  She loves lemon!
That's been our past few days ... still some festive fun going on!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A pretty mailbox themed card

Longtime readers know of my obsession with Christmas cards featuring mailboxes.  I recently came upon the one above in a sample book of cards from Sunshine Cards'  "Nationally Famous Artists Line".

I love the house in the distance, the stone walls and the falling snow,  not to mention the couple waving on the doorstep.  It is just a bit odd that the mailman is walking and has a mailbag, when this is clearly a rural route and appears to be out in the  middle of nowhere.  It really seems as if he should be driving a jeep!

Inside the card is this little quote:

It says: "Whatever else is lost with the years -- whatever else changes, Christmas remains -- a time of happy recollections -- a time for remembering treasured friends."

Isn't that lovely?  It reminds me of a beautiful poem, Let Us Keep Christmas, which I blogged about in 2014.  Read it and see if you agree.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Friday five for December 27

Time to count a few blessings from the week!

1.  Time with friends.  A couple of good days for walking with my friend Rachel.  Our friend Noah for supper with us last Friday night, and then our friends Sam and Jenn and their boys with us for supper and gifts last evening. 
2.  A great outing with four of our local grands last Saturday.  Brunch, Christmas shopping, and ice cream.  It's our tradition and was such a fun day!

3.  Being able to attend a lovely Christmas Eve candlelight service.  It hadn't been in our plans, but it was in God's plan.  A wonderfully encouraging time.

4.  A wonderful Christmas day.  We prepared a nice festive breakfast for ourselves, then Mr. T delivered a few food gifts while I cooked and also wrapped some gifts.  We squeezed in a brief Skype visit with the Nevada family before heading to our local daughter's home.  We enjoyed a scrumptious dinner, opened and enjoyed gifts together, and laughed a lot while playing games.  Very relaxing.  I needed that.  Carrie has such a flair for seasonal decorating.  I loved the little woodland vignette on a kitchen counter, below:

5.  This girl, now a busy mom of six living in a faraway state, turns 41 today.  So thankful for her!  Here she is pictured with her traditional birthday tree many years ago!
That does it for this week!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A few Christmas cards with trees and deer

Here are a few more lovely Christmas cards from days gone by.  These images include trees and deer.  Enjoy!  (Edited to add a few more cards today.)

I think the embossed snowflake card with the forest scene (at top) is particularly beautiful and quite unusual.
A tree on a tree branch.  How fun!
These green trees are gorgeous!
Santa is recruiting deer, apparently
So sweet
Sweet forest creatures at the mailboxes
This gorgeous blue scene is captivating.
A poem printed inside the blue card above.  Love it!
So pretty
This one is glittery!  Double click it as I can't make it larger ...
A card with a decidedly "modern" look -- probably from the late 1960s
 Hope you've enjoyed these tranquil  (and some whimsical) forest scenes.  I find myself drawn to the tranquil ones this year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

I hope that all of my readers and friends had as wonderful a Christmas as Mr. T and I did.  It was a busy morning culminating in a relaxed afternoon and evening, always trying to keep in mind the true reason we are celebrating.  I've thought so many times the past few days about how incredibly blessed we are that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.  Maybe you've been pondering thoughts like this as well.  I hope that you've all had a blessed day.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas Eve

It's been quite a day, filled with busyness and activity, but I just want to share a quick post this evening.

When I scanned the vintage card above, I titled it "Christmas Eve Service" because, although it's still light outside, the church is all lighted up and people are coming to it from every direction. 

Usually on Christmas Eve we have our two oldest granddaughters over for supper and gift exchanging.  This year one of them wasn't feeling well at all and so we reluctantly decided to postpone. 

That opened up the unexpected and last-minute opportunity to attend a candlelight Christmas Eve service at a church in another town.  Our church had been invited to this but Mr. T and I hadn't planned to go, since we had a previous commitment with our grandkids.

Long story short, we attended and were so blessed.  Our Christmas Eve turned out to be very different from the usual, and very different from what we had planned, but it was a true blessing and the message gave us much to ponder.

So thankful that even when our path takes a different turn than we expect, God is in full control and He always has a plan for the detours.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Dessert ideas for Christmas dinner?

It's a little late for this now, but I did promise to share some dessert ideas for Christmas dinner.  And you know what?  I am coming up completely blank.

That's because (as I realize now) I very rarely make a specific dessert for Christmas dinner.  I haven't done so for many years.

I tried to think of good desserts I had made in the past.  There was a gingerbread trifle, I remember, but when I looked it up it just seemed too heavy somehow for a Christmas dinner dessert.  Sometimes I've made a cheesecake (again, sort of heavy and rich to follow a Christmas dinner), or some sort of pie -- caramel pecan, or chocolate cream.

I do remember a yule log that my daughter Joanna made at Christmas.   I think she made it a couple of times, and may have been in 8th grade the first time she prepared it.  Hers, however, was filled with whipped cream, while the one pictured at top of post has a coconut-pecan filling.  You can check it out here: yule log if  you are interested.

But none of those seem quite right.  My default dessert on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and any event we bring something to throughout the Christmas season is ... a cookie and fudge tray. 

I often start with a large round plate, around the size of a pizza pan, and arrange four or five cookies of each variety around the edges of the plate.  I usually put fudge in the center.   Sometimes I use a rectangular tray and arrange the treats in rows.

Sometimes I will serve this with ice cream alongside, but often it is just the cookie and fudge tray along with some tea or coffee.

So there you have my best thoughts on Christmas Day dessert.  What will you be serving?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A few photos from yesterday

I will take just a moment tonight to share a few photos from our annual outing with several of our local grands.  I can't take time for a long post, as I am trying to finish up the local Christmas cards. 

We always begin our day with breakfast or brunch at a diner or, often,  McDonalds.  Yesterday it was a diner.  The older kids all ordered biscuits and gravy ("almost as good as Mommy's" was the verdict!) and Mr. T and I had omelets.   Little Arielle had a pancake and some bacon and apple juice.

Then we go shopping at Ocean State Job Lot where the kids buy gifts for their parents and sometimes for each other.  Photo below from a previous year ...

Lastly, we end up at Kellerhaus for the ice cream buffet, browsing the toys and other rooms, and getting a small amount of candy to take home.

This year the five-year-old joined us:

A highlight is always the player piano.  25¢ plays one of a marvelous lineup of Christmas carols and songs.

 Photo below is also from a previous year.  The kids love to see the piano play.  Sadly, last year it was not working, so this year I didn't even think to bring quarters.  But we got a dollar bill changed so they could have the fun of seeing it again.

A fun time together, as always.  Lots of memories made every year.  Two of the kids are teenagers now, but in no way do they seem too old for this sweet tradition.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

My December hutch

Just a couple of photos of my December hutch.  I used what I had stashed inside the hutch and corner cupboard to decorate it.  I did not take time to get anything out of the attic, for I wanted to complete this just after Thanksgiving.  I kept it simple.  At the tippety-top is my vintage Christmas shadow box that I created out of a red-painted wooden silverware tray.  You can read how I did it here: Making a Christmas shadow box.

Here's a closer look at the other shelves.

I just had to use a good bit of my small collection of jadeite.  The plates with the pretty crimped edges, the tea cups, and the mug are all dishes that we used at our little summer cottage.  The ironstone soup tureen on the bottom shelf is a family heirloom from my grandfather's family, and the small green-rimmed cup holding the peppermint sticks is one that my mother treasured.

The little green pickup truck is a find from my childhood toybox, and the tiny teacup salt shaker (in front of the milk bottle) is from the Colonial Homestead line -- a set of which is still being used at my extended family's summer camp on Ellsworth Pond.  I have collected bits and pieces of this line on my own and am a long way from having a complete set, but love the ones I have. 

On the top shelf, the small cardinal teapot is from Yankee Candle, the middle plate is from Gooseberry Patch, and the poinsettia mug is a find from Marshalls a couple of years ago.  The small jar candle in the middle, in front of the colorful plate, is a balsam candle from Tall Timber Lodge in  the Great North Woods.

The three plates on the middle shelf are Walmart finds.  On this shelf there's also a small round container which holds a Christmas game.

The little cardinals were a gift from a friend and the milk bottle held eggnog from a local dairy in 1994.  The place mat under the soup tureen was found in some things a friend was getting rid of.

All very simple, but it suits me this year.  

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday five for December 20

(Graphic above from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings.
With little ado and even littler time, here is my Friday five:

1.  Supper and Bible study with our young friends Sam and Jennifer at their home on Saturday evening.  They fixed a "breakfast for dinner" meal -- one of our very favorites, and theirs too.  It wasn't quite "Grandma's Sampler" (below) but it was delicious!

2.  A wonderful time last Sunday as several of our grandkids and our daughter were involved in the musical "Peanut Butter Christmas".  They presented it at their own church in their 2:30 p.m. service, and in our church at the 10 a.m. service.  Everyone did a fantastic job.  The young actors, singers, and bell ringers were amazing and we loved seeing our daughter Carrie accompanying it all on the piano, and our friend Gail directing the singers!  The little girl below was one of the singers and bell ringers.

3.  The opportunity to get out in the fresh (though cold!) air this week and walk three days out of five.

4.  Finally getting our Christmas tree decorated on Monday evening.  It had had just lights in place for a week or more.  We also got our creche set up, the kissing ball in place, and did a bit more decorating.

5.  All of the gifts for Nevada wrapped and sent with time to spare!

And there you have it ... this week's Friday five.