Thursday, December 31, 2020

It's been fun!

 Yes, it's been fun checking in here every day this December!  Even though many days I just had time to quickly stop in here before going to bed, it was still good to touch base with you all and let you know what Christmasy things we'd been up to that day.

Vicki asked if we could tally up all of the Christmas cookies Mr. T and I have baked this season, and I will really try to do that, Vicki.  It would be interesting to know, wouldn't it?  I always try to post about what cookies actually got baked (as opposed to the tentative baking list) and when I do that, I'll try to add a rough total of cookies baked.

This Christmas season I did a bit more crafting than in previous years, in part because of some special requests.  Longtime readers may remember the year that I made these:

for all of the siblings in our Nevada family -- five, at the time.

Fast-forward to this past fall when all of the other siblings did a photo shoot with capes and shields and one little girl didn't have a shield, not having been born when the other kids received theirs.

My daughter strongly hinted that if I had time to make one gift for Jerusha, it ought to be a shield.  (That's one of the mysterious "sewed gifts" I've been alluding to.)  The shield was finished and theoretically there was time for it to get to Nevada by Christmas. However, none of our gifts arrived on time!  

Yesterday, UPS finally delivered the goods, and no time was lost in sending photos to Grammy.  

I'm seriously hoping and planning to do Christmas crafting all year round in 2021, and to post my progress here on a regular basis!  See you all soon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A few pretty shop windows


When Mr. T and I went for our recent walk to observe some lakeside Christmas lights, we strolled around a brick walkway by a number of shops.  Some of them had painted windows, a little unusual in color choices, but we quite liked them and got some photos.  Notice the lampposts!  And also notice, in the right hand window above, the reflection of multicolored lights from an outdoor Christmas tree.

The window paintings are all different, but they coordinate.   I love the nontraditional colors and the falling snow in each pane.

The photo below is of the same windows as those pictured at the top of the post.  We retook the picture because of what you see below -- the reflected glow of a street lamp -- and because we wanted to see the reflection of the multicolored tree lights.  Which do you prefer?

Hope you've enjoyed this peek at some unusually pretty painted windows!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

It's the perfect time to think about making a Christmas recipe notebook!


 I very seldom post the same thing on both of my blogs.  I try especially hard not to do this in December.  Yet today I am sharing the same information on both my Kitchen Table and my Christmas Kitchen blogs.  I just feel as if right now might be a great time for us to go through our Christmas recipes, which are surely still at hand, and transcribe them either for posterity or for our own use.  The project could be a real blessing, helping us keep our family Christmas traditions and foods in mind and heart as we move into a very uncertain time ahead. So I am sharing this post here as well as at my Kitchen Table, knowing that some of my readers don't read at both blogs.  Here goes:

A Christmas recipe notebook will be so helpful to you each year when the Christmas season comes around!  It may seem like a lot of work, but it really is worth it.  I actually refer to mine year round.  And the most convenient time to work on such a project is right after Christmas, when all of your holiday recipes are at hand since you have just been using them.

When I was growing up, my mother always had a Christmas notebook.  It was in a really distinctive pink and white textured binder.  Below you see the notebook in all of its shabby glory, coffee spills and all.  (My mother always had a cup of coffee at hand.  Not a mug; a coffee cup.) 

When I saw that notebook make an appearance around the house, I knew Christmas planning was beginning.  Mom kept lists of gifts she had ordered in this notebook, sometimes in shorthand so snoopers wouldn't know what they were getting.   You can see some of the shorthand entries below.
But she also kept all of her traditional Christmas recipes in this binder.



I had adapted this idea by keeping all of my Christmas recipes on special Christmas recipe cards.  They were pretty and fun, but really, a notebook, especially a loose-leaf one, is a better idea. 

My sister had an entire recipe box with only Christmas recipes, and that is also a good idea, but the notebook, again, is more practical.

Still, I didn't have one until I had the inspiration to create a Christmas memory book for my adult kids and their families, writing down all the Christmas memories I could think of.  You can read here about how I did that project: How to Make a Christmas Memory Book.

In doing that, I naturally added in all of our favorite Christmas recipes.  I included recipes from my own childhood, recipes from my kids' growing-up years, and recipes from much more recent times.

 Below you see a favorite recipe for Fruity Pastel Spritz.  This is a newer recipe I've discovered.  It uses fruit flavored gelatin powder for color and flavor.  We especially like this for Christmas tree spritz cookies.

I find myself turning often to my Christmas recipe notebook, even at other times of year. We might use a recipe for a Christmas breakfast bake, for instance, at any special brunch or breakfast.  Or some of the salads, side dishes, or desserts for Christmas dinner are ones we might use at Thanksgiving or any other special family dinner.

It really does help to have all of the Christmas recipes in one place; it helps especially when planning a holiday grocery shopping trip or list.

So now would be a great time to make a Christmas recipe book of your own.  You can use my directions for assembling a Christmas memory book to see the binder, page protectors and other materials you might use.  Please consider it!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Lakeside Christmas lights


On a recent late afternoon, Mr. T and I took another drive to look at Christmas lights.  Interestingly, this is one of those activities we've wanted to do  in the past at Christmastime, but very seldom got around to actually doing it.  I can remember just a couple of times when we did so, and then it was just around some of the back streets downtown.

This year we have gone out three times to look at lights.  This last foray was the farthest afield.  We drove about a half hour to a lakeside town, then along to another town on the same lake.  From there we took more back roads to get home.  It was a lovely light tour.

At the second lakeside town, we parked and got out and walked around to take pictures.  It was about 30ΒΊ -- very moderate for this time of year -- but felt a bit chillier due to a breeze off the lake.  We saw a few other folks wandering around doing the same thing we were.  I'll just share a few more photos and hope you enjoy.  The video below is of a rushing waterfall next to an old mill building transformed into shops, restaurants, and a hotel.

This lighted bridge was lovely.

Lighted trees and buildings along the lakeshore

The same little tree and waterfall as in the video.  We always like seeing this!

A lighted extravaganza!

We loved how this building was lighted in red and green!
There you have it -- our third and probably last light tour of the 2020 holiday season (and the only one of which we got photos!).

Sunday, December 27, 2020

December 27


Today is the birthday of my wonderful daughter in Nevada.  She's the fourth from the left, wearing pink, pictured here with four of her seven children. It really seems not all that long ago (though it's been over four decades) that I was expecting her.  The due date of December 11 came and went and I was very sure I'd end up spending Christmas in the hospital that year.  I was so thankful she waited until the 27th to make her appearance!

It was a bit of a challenge at first having a child with a birthday so close to Christmas.  Then we read a book that really helped us make her birthday more special.  In the book, the main character, Betsy, had a little sister, Star, whose birthday was on or around Christmas, I forget which.  Star always had her own special birthday tree.

So we began doing that for Joanna, as well.  Often she even helped to pick out the tree and help to cut it down.  It was often a smaller tree than our regular Christmas tree.  Joanna had her own special ornaments for that tree, and all of her birthday gifts were piled under it.  This eliminated the dreaded possibility of relatives making one gift do for both Christmas and birthday.  It worked out so well.

Joanna as a teen with her birthday tree
 Joanna has often had a birthday tree even after marrying and moving away.  Sometimes she and Clay traveled for Christmas, and the birthday tree has even been set up in hotel rooms at such times!

I will close with a prayer request for a dear man in Joanna's life -- her honorary dad, Jim, the father of her best friend.  He is in a hospital with covid pneumonia as I write.  If you think of it, prayers for his recovery would be much appreciated.  Thank you so much.

So thankful for this dear and godly woman who is my daughter!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

December 26


 Today went a little different than planned!  We had planned on having two young couples over for breakfast, but they both ended up canceling for different reasons.  Thankfully, we found out about one cancellation the night before, so we had already begun to scale down our breakfast menu.  From there, when the second couple canceled, we scaled it down even further.  The two of us enjoyed bacon and waffles and maple syrup.

For some time, I've been wanting to try using the Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten free baking flour in waffles.  We finally did it.  It worked out very well.  The waffles seemed more substantial and had much more of a crunch to the edges, which we really liked.

After breakfast, Mr. T made another double batch of Christmas tree spritz.  These will go into treat bags to be given out at the end of tomorrow's Christmas play at church.

I worked a little bit on a blog post for my Kitchen Table blog.  I need to get busy over there, but I am doing well to get here every day even if I can't write very long posts.

A small flurry of Christmas cards arrived today and it was fun to read them and tape them up in the hallway with the others.

In other postal news, yesterday I heard that two priority mail packages we had mailed to Nevada around December 16 had reached a "distribution facility".  Just reading that subject line led me to the conclusion that the packages were in Salt Lake City.  Imagine my disgust to learn that the distribution facility in question is in New Hampshire.  Yes, it has taken them nearly ten days to reach southern New Hampshire from the central part of the state.  As my hubby noted, he could have put the packages under his arm and walked there more quickly.

This afternoon we had a practice for the Christmas play, and on the way home we took the opportunity to drive around a nearby lake and check out the Christmas lights.  We saw some beautiful ones, including this lovely old inn:

 Picture is from 10 years ago or so, as we took no photos this time, having done this on the spur of the moment.

And that was our December 26.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!


 Mr. T and I had a wonderful day and we trust that all of you did as well.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner and gifts with our local daughter and family.  While there, we were all able to Skype with our Nevada daughter and her family.  We even got a look at the new baby, Rosemary, which was wonderful.  Just a joyous day with thoughtful gifts, yummy food and good company.  We hope that all of my readers and friends have had a blessed Christmas day, too!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve


 Today we did some last-minute baking: a double batch of chocolate spritz and then one batch of Christmas tree shaped spritz cookies.  We will be packaging up some cookies for folks who attend our Christmas play at church on Sunday, and we don't want to run out!

Today we also exchanged food gifts with our neighbors.  Our neighbor Walter makes a great sourdough rye bread, and his wife sent along a plate of treats as well.  In return, we gave them a nice assortment of cookies and fudge.

I finished up the last of the sewed gifts this morning ... nice to have that taken care of ... and got it all pressed and wrapped.  Got a few other gifts wrapped as well.

After supper, we took a short drive around some neighborhoods to check out the Christmas lights.  There were some really nice displays.  One house in particular took my eye.  It was all decked out in white lights, even the hedge in front of the house.  Snow on top of those hedge lights made it particularly pretty.  

Hope you've had a lovely Christmas Eve day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Nearly finished with Christmas prep!


 I got a few more things accomplished today, tweaked the decorating a little bit, did some sewing and some baking.

Christmas Granola (just my regular granola recipe with pistachios and dried cranberries added) is made as of today.  I use this for kitchen gifts and/or hostess gifts this time of year.  It's currently packaged in large zip-top bags -- I will transfer it to jars or tins for gifting.  

My last sewed gift is pinned together and ready to sew tomorrow.

I'm continuing to work on a few small crocheted items which are likely not to get finished before Christmas, but progress is being made.

I had a nice phone chat with my Nevada daughter today.  So nice to compare notes on our Christmas preparations!


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Nativity scene


 I finally managed to take a few pictures of this year's nativity scene.  Usually, I place this stable, handcrafted by my dad, on a low cedar chest in the living room.  This year, I placed it atop a recently acquired bookcase in a corner of the living room.

I like these figures, which belonged to my parents, much better than the ones we used for years.  I especially like the shepherd boy holding the lamb on his shoulders.

There isn't room for the wise men in this bookcase location, which is absolutely fine with me since they weren't at the manger anyway.

Some years ago I saw a wonderful idea from Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage -- or it may have been at her Christmas blog, Christmas Pudding -- to place a New Testament, open at Luke 2, in front of a nativity scene.  I think this is just a lovely, most meaningful idea, and I have done so myself ever since noticing it on one of Sandi's blogs.  

It's a joy to display this cherished heirloom every Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2020

A bit more progress


 Today I completely finished up writing the Christmas cards and got the last few into the mail!  Yes, it's about time, isn't it?

I also wrapped a half-dozen or more gifts.

My hubby packaged up 8 goody trays for his former co-workers (one of whom recently asked if he'd be delivering Christmas cookies this year!πŸ˜„) and took them to a job site.  He also delivered a large crate of goodies to his former boss and family, who are good friends of ours.  And he took his mom cookies, fudge, muffins and clementines.

My Nevada daughter is having gifts for her sister and family sent to our house so I can wrap them.  About half of the items have arrived as of today.

My friend that I ordinarily walk with had shoulder surgery a couple weeks ago.  She loves my Little Apricot Fruitcakes, so I had to make one for her.  Rather than make the small loaves, I made a large loaf for her and her hubby.  That will be delivered tomorrow, along with a nice tray of cookies and fudge.

I'm continuing to work on a couple more crocheted gifts, and I have one more thing to sew.  Hopefully that gets done tomorrow.  Top secret!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Front-door wreath


Most readers know that I've had a grapevine wreath wound with ivy on our front door for a long, long time and just change it out seasonally.  A few years ago I added a little chalkboard to the center,  and change its message for various holidays.

Back in March, I changed the chalkboard message to  "Hope in God" and added some forsythia to the wreath.  In summer I kept the message the same and added some daisies and American flags; in fall, some red leaves and yellow mums in addition to the flags.  I've kept the same chalkboard message all of these months since it is really the most important message I can put there.

A few weeks ago I augmented the silk ivy with some pine and fir sprigs from around our yard.  I added some faux red berries and stuck in a couple of gold snowflakes, keeping some American flags in place as well.  It's a little quirky I guess, but a look I really like.

And "Hope in God" is still the message.  He is in control!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

A busy December Saturday


Saturdays in December always seem to be busy, wouldn't you agree?  Today was no exception.

As usual on Saturday mornings, Mr. T spent the hours from 8 to 10 a.m. at the local flag wave near our town's McDonalds.  It was below zero but a total of about 20 hardy patriots were out there standing in the snow and waving lots of American flags.

While he was gone, I wrapped some gifts, wrote some Christmas cards, and prepared a plate full of lemon shortbread thumbprints to take to our friend Terry.

Upon Mr. T's return, we headed 45 minutes south, picked up Terry, and headed out for a late breakfast at a favorite restaurant.  Despite the need for masks and contact info, the restaurant was busy and had the almost-normal holiday weekend bustle about it.  What a sumptuous breakfast we enjoyed!

We visited with Terry for awhile back at her house, then in late afternoon headed home, stopping at Lowe's on the way to hopefully find a container for a gift basket.  We found a nice pine crate that will serve the purpose nicely. 

I had finished a small crochet project en route to Terry's, and started another one this evening.  During the time left before supper (we didn't need much!), I wrote a bunch more Christmas cards and Mr. T made a double batch of Cinnamon Pretzels for a couple of gifts.

So it was a productive Saturday as well as a very enjoyable one.  I'll leave you with a photo of our Christmas tree:

I had turned off the tree lights, so they really aren't visible in the photo.  It is very pretty, though, we think.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Today's progress


Today we shipped out the second priority mail box to Nevada.

Then I finished a sewing project I'd been working on.  Here's an older picture with a clue:

 After much hunting around town, Mr. T found a mailing envelope of suitable size to send this awkwardly shaped gift to Nevada.  (It had been a special request.)  I won't even tell you how much it cost to mail.  Ridiculous, but it cost nothing to make, so it all evens out.

He also baked muffins as a gift that will go to his mom along with a bag of clementines.

Oh, and I wrote a post for my regular blog about this annual event:

 and how we tweaked it this year.

Tonight, I finished a crochet project and wrote a few Christmas cards.

Next year, I think I may go back to a December 1 deadline for getting Christmas crafting accomplished.  It just wasn't practical to do so this year, but it has made things a little crazy getting things finished.πŸ˜ƒ

Thursday, December 17, 2020

A few more Christmasy things done today


The most important thing I did toward Christmas today was to set up the Nativity scene.  It actually looks a bit different from the one above, which is from a previous year.  I still have the same stable and New Testament (open to Luke 2), but the figures are different.  I have never liked these, but they were all that was to be found the year my dad made the stable for us.  So all these years I have had them.  Now I've inherited the figures my parents had, which are much nicer looking.  Maybe in the next few days I can get a picture.

Then I finished a very large sewing project I was working on (simple enough, but large) and started another sewing project.  Good progress was made on that.

I also wrapped many more gifts and, with Mr. T's help, packed another box for Nevada.  Lots of his cookies and fudge are winging their way there in yesterday's box, and the recipients are already eagerly anticipating its arrival!

Finally, in Christmasy news, we got about fifteen (15) inches of snow today.  It seems strange to have gone from no snow on the ground at all, to having lots and lots of the fluffy white stuff!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Just a little more Christmasy progress


Yes, just a bit more progress has been made in the last couple of days.

Yesterday, we were able to decorate the tree.  We got out all of the ornament boxes and I chose which ones we would actually put on the tree.  (Last year, we didn't do this.  I decorated the tree by myself and used only vintage ornaments I'd found at my childhood home.)  In the process of decorating the tree yesterday, I found quite a few Christmas decorations I wanted to get rid of, and those went to the thrift store today.

Today I began wrapping, and packed a box for Nevada, including lots of cookies and some fudge.  Tomorrow, the next and hopefully final box will be packed.  (We ordered many of their gifts online.)

I also ordered the last of the Christmas gifts, some for grandsons, some for friends.  Just two more gift cards to buy, and a gift for one of the names we drew at church, and we will be done shopping.

Oh, and one rather large gift that I was sewing is nearly complete.  I have one more sewed gift to make, and all of the pieces for that are cut out.

Pretty encouraging progress, really!  We also went over and finished doing last minute things to winterize (so to speak) our little camp, including placing a Christmas wreath on the outside.  I hope passers-by find it a cheery touch all winter long!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A timely quote for today

Back in 2014, when my granddaughter and I made our simple Christmas card banners,  some of the pennants were from the insides of Christmas cards.  We chose them according to how well they would fit our template, of course, but we also chose them according to the message they shared.  We tried to pick ones that were meaningful to us.

  I've shared about some of these before, but it's been awhile.  Yesterday I put these banners up, in preparation for a special breakfast with some of our grandchildren. The message on one particular card jumped out at me and begged to be shared:

"Let us have a little warmth
in the midst of winter ...
Let us have a little peace
amid the rush of daily life ...
Let us have a little comfort,
a  little beauty, a little wonder ...
Let us celebrate Christmas."
~ Ellen Brenneman

Isn't that beautiful?  I loved it when I first read it,  and I especially love it right now.  We need a little peace, a little comfort, a little beauty, a little wonder.  Regardless of the powers that be and the restrictions of the "pandemic", let us indeed celebrate Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmasy progress as of today

 Just a little bit more progress to report.  Let's see.  

Yesterday Mr. T baked another batch of Christmas cookies -- Peanut Blossoms.  Those are the ones that are basically just peanut butter cookies with a Hershey's kiss in the center.

He also managed to get the Christmas tree up and assembled (it's a new one, but he's pleased with how well everything was marked and it went together fairly easily).  Later in the evening, we managed to get the lights on the tree.  I admit it, I'm sort of a stickler for lights and how they are arranged on the tree.    It annoys me when they are just draped from branch to branch with all of the cords showing, so when we put lights on our tree I like to tuck them well into the branches.  We've had pre-lit trees before and I always love how they look at first, but then it seems very quickly, after only a year or two, sections of the lights begin to go dark and we end up wrapping lights around the tree anyway.

Yesterday I eked out time to create several Shutterfly gifts -- one of them I already had well started and was just waiting for a decent sale -- so they are now in the works.

Today we took four of our local grandkids on a traditional outing we do with them every year.  We had to tweak it a bit due to the times we are currently living in, but we made it work and had fun.  I'll post more about this on my regular blog, hopefully tomorrow.

This afternoon Mr. T baked another batch of cookies -- chocolate with a Rolo pressed into the center of each.  While he did that, I cut out several gifts that will be easy sewing projects.  This evening I finished a crocheted gift I've been working on.

Really, when I write it all out, it seems as if quite a lot of Christmasy progress is happening!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

A fun reminder from Christmas 2019


 Last year our Nevada daughter sent us some wonderful photos of their Christmas preparations.  It was such a blessing, since we rarely get to be with them at Christmas.  It was such fun to see how the kids were getting into the Christmas spirit!  Above, you see Elliott and Micah decorating the tree.

Emily and Jerusha work on making cookie dough.
The girls make gingerbread cookies.  The two boys are working on another project in the background.
One of the boys strings colored lights on the fence.
The little lighted roof near the top left is the kids' fort.  It comes in for its share of Christmas decorating, too!

It made me so happy to pull out these photos and again watch the kids in their preparations for Christmas.  I hope that my readers enjoyed them, too.