Saturday, January 25, 2020

January's Rudolph Day

I have a busy day ahead (preparing for a number of lunch guests at our home tomorrow) so am not sure just how much I will be able to do regarding Rudolph Day.  I thought at the very least I could write a blog post regarding the to-do list I made during Tuesday evening's Christmas Club meeting.  Recall, Susan had given each of us a sheet of notebook paper she's been hoarding for some time, and gave us an assignment to quickly, right then, make a to-do list of what we have to do toward Christmas 2020.  So here's what I wrote:


Order Christmas stamps to use in 2020

Make tentative gift idea list for Christmas 2020

Go through cookbooks/December magazines and identify new recipes to try for Christmas 2020's kitchen gifts

Finish putting away the after-Christmas bargains

Make gift tags from 2018's Christmas cards

Update my Christmas card address list

That looks simple enough.

However, that "update Christmas card address list"?  I've got to admit that other than the address list for my card swap friends on the craft forum,  I've never really had a Christmas card address list.  Shocking, I know.  I have my work cut out for me on that one.  Even more shocking, after all these years without such a list, I finally think it's a good idea!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

January's Christmas Club meeting

So Tuesday night was our first Christmas Club meeting for 2020 at the local library.  (My lighted library above looks a lot like it, in my mind.)  Our Christmas club is informal and sporadic, but we have fun and it is truly helpful to those who attend. 

Susan, our intrepid leader, gave each of us a sheet of very special notebook paper to use for our to-do lists.  She then instructed us to write down the things that we knew we needed to do soon.  Would you believe I had to borrow a pen?  Thankfully, the library has plenty of them!

The thought is that for February and March, we will each do Christmasy things on our own, but in April we will plan to get together for a meeting.   In the meantime, we are to accomplish the things we wrote down on our to-do lists.

We took turns telling about how our Christmases had gone.  We were all so happy to hear that Christmas 2019 was much more joy-filled and happy for Rachel than 2018 had been, and a good bit of that had to do with planning more carefully and not expecting a Hallmark Christmas.  😉

On Monday, I had taken time to go through my annual Christmas debriefing based on this form:
and so I could easily tell how things had gone at our house.  And when Susan asked what didn't work so well, I could share that also.  I plan to post about the debriefing soon, so I won't go into detail now.

We spent the rest of the time preparing and displaying donated Christmas decor items for a Christmas decoration swap at the library.  A good and productive meeting!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

And now, the actual 2019 candy and kitchen gifts lists

Once again, it's time for a reality check as to what I actually made for candy and kitchen gifts.  Here goes!

First, the candy list.  Below you see my actual list.

We only made about half of what I had listed.  Mr. T made several batches of Heavenly Delight, and I made a batch of Arlene's Easy Fudge and one of Special Holiday Fudge.  The other items didn't get made.  I bought the orange candy slices but ended up not using them.  We had some of the chocolate-dipped orange slices in the freezer from last year, and they were still delicious, so didn't need to make more.

Now, for the kitchen gifts list.

Again, this got tweaked in a major way.  I ran out of time to do the Christmas Jam, and I chose to make Chex Mix rather than Cinnamon Pretzels.  I ended up not doing the Hot Chocolate Mix until after Christmas.

I tried a different recipe for the Chex mix, thinking it might be more like the kind my great-aunt used to make for us.  I was underwhelmed with the result.  Next year I want to try a recipe that is spicy and incorporates beef jerky.  Think it might be a real hit with the people I give snack mixes to.  We will see.

It's great to plan, but I always like to also make good note of what worked and what didn't.  It really helps with planning for the next Christmas.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The actual 2019 Christmas baking list

Believe it or not, there is actually still a bit of cookie baking going on in the Christmas kitchen!  The
 Chocolate Mint Crisps on the plate above are some that Mr. T still plans to bake one more batch of.  He keeps inventorying what's in the freezer and saying, "We're getting low on _______ (fill in the blank)."

As I usually do, I'm noting down what the actual Christmas baking list turned out to be.  Remember I had this tentative list:

Well, here is what we actually did (links and photos are on the post with the tentative list):

Lemon Shortbread Thumbprints (2 batches)
Chocolate Spritz (4 batches)
Sacher Tortes (2 batches)
Eggnog Logs (3 batches)
Whipped Shortbread (3 batches)
Chocolate Mint Crisps (2 batches and counting)
Christmas No-Bakes (2 batches)
Secret Spice Cookies (2 batches)
Blond Brownies (1 batch, to help fill out cookie trays early in the season)
Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars (same)

And I think that was it.  As you can see, we didn't make almond raspberry thumbprints, multicolored spritz, or gingerbread men.  And we did make a couple of quick bar cookies (the last ones on my actual list) to help fill out cookie trays we took to events early in the season.

Christmas cookies are so much fun to bake (and eat)!  My hubby is living proof of that, as he can't seem to stop!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Questions to ask for Christmas crafting in 2020

Back in 2016, Rose -- one of the participants at a Christmas craft forum I love -- posted a list of questions to consider for our Christmas crafting in the new year.  I decided it would be a good idea for me to answer those questions for myself again this year.

There were seven questions on Rose's list, so here goes:

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 have 3 large, long-standing UFOs (unfinished objects) -- a crocheted throw, a crocheted scrap afghan, and a felt campfire with s'mores.  I thought I had completed a fabric alphabet letters project, but recently found some precut fabric and batting squares (to make 22 more letters)  so that is a UFO again as well.

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. 


None of these are projects started for Christmas 2019 and not completed.  They are just long-standing UFOs.  The felt campfire was intended to be a Christmas gift in 2015, and the throw was intended to be a birthday gift eons ago.

I don't want to get rid of any of these altogether.  I'm thinking I'll finish off the alphabet letters and give them to a friend for her baby.  I'd like to finish the crocheted throw in time for the recipient's April birthday.  As soon as I can finish the felt items, I'll send them off to Nevada.  The kids are still young enough to really enjoy them ... probably far more than if I had sent them in 2015!

The scrap afghan is for me so I don't mind that remaining a UFO for awhile, but I'd like to make some more motifs for it maybe this winter.  The three different styles of motifs are below.

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 probably not just yet.  I have a house to clean out (not mine) first.  I do have far too many supplies in far too many areas of the house.  I have in the past gone through my cross stitch patterns and supplies, and got rid of many things, but I have so much more in other craft categories that I will never use again.  I know that storage wouldn't be such a problem if I had fewer supplies to store.

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.  I need to do my Christmas 2019 debriefing and start lists for 2020's birthdays and Christmas.  Kinda slow doing that this year, not sure why.

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

It needs a lot of tidying.  See question #2.  It is an absolute disaster, actually.

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.  I so love making handmade gifts, but I need to stick to smaller projects in the future.  No more campfires after I complete this one.  The one that isn't finished is the second of two.

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

My hubby set this date for me years ago -- December 1.  In 2018 he relaxed the date when he saw how much it meant to me to accomplish some simple crafted gifts.  And that year they were quick, easy items.  In 2019 I had grandiose ideas and no real deadline.  I bought materials for super capes, but they didn't even get started.  Pretty sure I'm going back to a December 1 deadline for 2020.

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.  With my hubby's retirement, we'll  need to scale back our spending a bit, so I think more homemade gifts, especially kitchen gifts, may be in order.

Hope these questions are helpful to others like me who love to craft for Christmas!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A few last Christmas decorating photos

Just a quick post to share a few more photos of our Christmas decorating.  Most are from the dining room.  Above you see two hutch shelves with just a tweak or two.  The Christmas cards on the upper shelf were some that I loved so much, I couldn't resist adding them to the hutch.  After I removed the cookie cutter centerpiece from the table (it looked similar to the one below and had been there all December until Christmas Eve),

I also added a green-handled cookie cutter to that shelf.

 The scenes just above are scans from one card (I cropped the top one) that's on the hutch.  This was from my cousin and his wife.  It's liberally glittered and I just love the scene!
This card made it onto my hutch too.  Those large "snowflakes" are actually teensy pom-poms!  This one was from my friend Terry's son.  Love it.

On the lower of the two shelves, I added in this green glass sugar and creamer that our daughter gifted me with for Christmas.  They are new, from Pioneer Woman, and coordinate beautifully with my vintage jadeite treasures.
 On the top shelf you can see just a tiny tweak that I added, sticking a silver bottle brush tree in each jadeite teacup.  Another year, I would place something under each tree to make them higher and more visible in the cup, but this worked for this time around.
 I wanted to showcase this Christmas card which one of our teenage granddaughters created last year.  I tucked it in the corner of the hutch with a frosty bottle brush tree beside it.
 Our creche this year.  The stable was built by my dad many years ago.  He made loads of them over the years for various family members.  The figures belonged to my parents and are much nicer than the ones we had.  That tree to the right -- yes, I know it should be a palm tree, but it's a gold tree candle that my friend Ruth gave me and I couldn't find another place I wanted to put it, so I tucked it beside the stable.
 We found the above print, unframed, in a mailing tube at my parents' home.  We loved it, so found a thrift store frame that fit.  Now I bring it out every winter and swap it out in place of a more summery wall hanging.
Above, the cute wooden tag-shaped wall art came from the Dollar Tree.  We have had it hanging in the front hallway all season long.

Hope I haven't bored anyone, but just had to share these few final photos!

Monday, January 13, 2020

And just a few more ornaments to share ...

We had our last Christmas event of the season last evening: supper and gifts with our oldest teenage granddaughters.  That had been postponed from Christmas Eve, our usual time to celebrate with them, because one was ill.  So last night we enjoyed Christmas Eve Soup with pizza, and a cookie and fudge tray for dessert, and opened gifts in a festive time together.  Now I can think about taking down some of the Christmas decor, making sure to leave plenty of light and sparkle to get us through the rest of the winter.

Before I put the ornaments away, however, I wanted to share just a few more of them with you.

The one below was quite large so I hung it near the bottom of the tree.  As you can see, I was having a hard time getting a good photo of it there.   So I moved it temporarily just for the purpose of getting a decent picture.   You can see it much better in the second photo.

This is one of those "kitschy" ornaments that is so tacky it is almost cute.  (That's what I told myself, anyway.)  Somebody made this, probably in the early 1970s or the late 1960s.  It looks as if the white part was made by crocheting with white yarn around a ring made from a plastic lid, or possibly two plastic lids put together for stability.  Then plastic greenery was glued to it to give a wreath effect.  Two colorful little plastic figures, ice skaters in this case, are glued to the bottom center of the wreath.
Below is the only ornament in this lineup that is not handmade.  It's a sweet little vintage white metal bell with red and green striped candy canes pictured on it and just a plain white string looped at the top.
Below is a mother and baby mouse that I embroidered on felt back in the day.  This was something I had made for my mother, I believe.  It's from Erica Wilson's Christmas World and is intended to be Beatrix Potter's Hunca Munca.  I made quite a number of ornaments from that book.
 Below is a felt gingerbread boy.  Not sure but it may have been made by my Aunt Dot.
 And below, another which I am pretty sure was knitted by Dot.  It's a mitten that matches the stocking I showed in a previous post.  I finally managed to get a decent picture of it.
 The ornament below was cross stitched by one of my friends from the Christmas craft forum and enclosed in a Christmas card in a previous year.  You can't really tell, but the Aida cloth used is glittery!

These two photos (above and below) are of the same snowy owl ornament, just taken from slightly different angles.  This one was made by our friends Sam and Jennifer out of a toilet paper roll.  Very, very creative, I thought! These would be sweet on a tree with just woodland trims or just birds.  I think I will keep this owl out for winter along with the snowflakes, pine cones, icicles, etc.
I love ornaments -- especially handmade ones -- don't you? 

Thursday, January 09, 2020

A few more favorite ornaments

The Christmas tree is still up and decorated at our house, at least through Sunday when we will exchange gifts with our two oldest granddaughters.  Illness kept them from coming on Christmas Eve as is our usual custom.

I took a few photos the other day of ornaments that are new to our tree this year.
 You can't see it very well, but this photo shows a red felt cardinal with holly leaves.  A metal hair clip is hidden under the leaves to clip the cardinal to a tree branch.  I LOVE this and want to make more.  I am sure this is handmade and that no doubt I have the pattern for it in one of my vintage Christmas magazines!  Below is another view.

 The sheet music star above came from one of my friends at the Christmas Friends craft forum in 2018's card swap.  Pretty sure I need to make some of these.
 This is a sweet and tiny hand-knitted stocking.  Think my aunt Dot may have made this.  There's a mitten to match but I couldn't get a good picture of it.  These are adorable and if I could find a crochet version I might be tempted to make some.
Lastly is another ball that was in with my parents' ornaments.  It is tarnished and spotted, but I love it because of the sweet stenciled scene.  If you look just below the heel in the stocking photo above, you will see another similar ornament, sort of a magenta color with a stenciled church and falling snow on it.  That one says "Silent Night" and it, too, is one of my favorites.

Hope you've enjoyed this look at just a few of our ornaments!

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

A few more after-Christmas deals

Last Thursday I got to Walmart when the Christmas clearance had been reduced to 75% off.  I found a few more good buys.  I really liked the plate at the top and got two of them to give cookies on next year.  They are a salad plate size and are from Better Homes & Gardens.  I hadn't noticed them before, but then I had spent very little time in the Christmas aisles at Walmart during the season itself.  These were $1 each.

I had wanted a few larger silver ornaments to use with winter decor, in particular to use in the lighted winter colander I plan to make.  This package of four was only $1.23.

Glittery snowflake ornaments are always a good idea.   They make great package or gift bag tie-ons or make a nice little addition to a gift basket.  There are 20 of them in this package for 74¢.
 These candy stripe cello bags work well to contain smallish gift baskets or larger cookie plates.  My stock of these is nearly depleted since I wasn't able to get them at Dollar Tree.  The package of two was 24¢.
The bags above are quite small -- 5 3/4" x 4 1/4"x 2" -- but they were such a cute design that I just had to pick up a couple.  I loved the vintage look of this little scene.  The bags were 23¢ each!

It might not be too late to check out the Christmas clearance in your local Walmart if you are interested in any of these items!  In addition, there was lots of wrapping paper, quite a few lights, and more Christmasy things.