Thursday, January 28, 2021

January 2021 Christmas Club meeting!


So on Monday, January 25, we actually did something very appropriate for Rudolph Day -- we held our first Christmas Club meeting for 2021!  Three of us gathered at Susan's home for  a cup of tea and an hour or more of purposefully catching up on our Christmases and our plans for the coming year.  It surely did feel as if we were starting the New Year off right.  

We began by discussing how our Christmases had gone in 2020, especially considering that some things had to be different due to the virus.  We all felt that they went quite well.  Carrie felt good about keeping things more organized, and shared that her family did nearly all of their usual Christmas activities.  She had also asked the kids about any activities they might like to incorporate, and only one thing on their list did not happen.  Susan shared that their family time with their granddaughter was truly wonderful, at times actually feeling like a Hallmark movie as they shared memories and old family photos.  Wow!  It's hard to imagine much better than that.  As for Mr. T and myself, we felt that things were much as usual and we made some great memories with the local grands.

The one negative thing we all experienced in common was the unusually slow postal service.  Yes, we were warned about all that -- but for a package to take a week to get from the middle of New Hampshire to the lower end of it is slow indeed.  And then it still had to cross the country to its destination.  Though mailed in plenty of time, the gifts sent to Nevada were all late.  (Other than those sent directly from Amazon, which went through just fine! 😀)

We went over a list called "January Assignments" that I had saved from a previous year.  Most of this came from Organized Christmas originally, I think. 

 The first point -- tie up loose ends -- was mostly covered by our opening discussion of our Christmases.  In thinking about this, I know that both I and Carrie still have some Christmas things up in our houses, as we do decorate for winter.  In fact, at my house the tree is still up.  We did take the manger scene down and replaced it with a lighted log cabin.  I am also in the process of winnowing through a tote of Christmas and winter decor, and most of it is headed for the thrift store.

The second point concerns gift closets, and both Susan and I did go through ours this year.  I threw some things away and sent some to the thrift store.  I also found a couple of gifts in an area where gifts had previously been stored.  One went to the gift closet and the other to the thrift store.

 I do need to print and fill out a gift closet inventory form to really make the best use of this storage space.

The third point involves making a Rudy Day tote to have a way to stay ready to celebrate each month.  It's a lovely idea, but probably something none of us will make time to do.

The fourth point is a fun project: recycling Christmas cards.  We are going to do that at our February meeting, but I still have 2018's and 2019's cards, so hopefully I will turn a number of these into gift tags before that time.  The tags pictured below are from a previous year.

 Susan has placed a number of reminders on her phone for the various months, and for February 1 she has a note to herself regarding Valentine's Day: to plan, make, send Valentines or Valentine gifts, or to plan a special meal or activity for Valentine's Day.  

Susan likes to send Valentine cards and maybe gifts; Carrie usually makes a special meal or dessert for her family.  When my kids were in college (a long time ago now) I sent Valentine care packages.  Now that it's just Mr. T and myself, I might make a special meal or dessert, or we might go out.  We don't usually exchange Valentine cards or gifts, preferring to save the money we would have spent on these things and use it on getaways instead.

 Above you see my to-do list to accomplish before the next Christmas Club meeting.  It includes making gift tags from 2018's Christmas cards; printing out and filling in a gift closet inventory form; and going through cookbooks to identify new recipes to try for kitchen gifts.  (For example, I am planning to retire my bran muffin recipe as I just don't like it anymore, and so am looking for something different to replace it.) 

 We will see how well I do.  But it does feel great to have met for Christmas Club -- and on Rudolph Day, to boot!

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The actual 2020 Christmas baking list


 It happens every year.  I don't know that I've ever stuck exactly to my tentative Christmas baking list.  This year, all of the cookies were baked by my hubby, and he made everything on my list and more!  A few varieties of cookies that I hadn't thought of made their way onto the list.

You can see that below:

Probably most people are familiar with Peanut Blossoms -- a standard peanut butter cookie with a Hershey's chocolate kiss pressed into the center of each after baking.   I like these cookies, but they haven't been a part of my usual Christmas cookie baking.  My hubby, however, decided that we needed to have some!

The chocolate Rolo cookies are a new variation to me.  My blog friend Nikki shared with me how she varies my Chocolate Spritz recipe by pressing a Rolo candy into the center of each cookie after baking.  Sometimes I use the recipe for Chocolate Butter Cookies to make both Chocolate Spritz and Sacher Torte Cookies, and so my hubby made a batch of those to use for adding Rolos as Nikki does.  They are scrumptious!

Lastly, we needed to make a lot of cookies quickly to help fill goodie bags to hand out after a Christmas program at church.  Mr. T suggested baking several batches of Christmas Tree Spritz, which, since a cookie press is used, would produce many cookies very quickly.  

The only problem was that my only working cookie press is plastic and the Christmas tree plate is very large.  However, I did have a non-working metal cookie press with a lovely delicate tree plate that produces cookies  like the ones pictured here.  My wonderful hubby managed to modify the metal press so that it would work fairly well, and then he proceeded to use it to prepare several batches of cookies!  They turned out so well.  

A reader and blogger, Vicki, asked me if I could give a count of how many cookies were actually baked in our kitchen this Christmas season.  Many of the cookies baked were in multiple batches.  Mr. T did a very rough count and estimates that at least 20 dozen cookies were produced this season!  Wow!

And there you have the 2020 Christmas baking report!

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year!


Image from Gooseberry Patch
 Even though we have no idea at all what 2021 will hold, God does.  I can't say that I loved 2020 as a whole, but it did help me to appreciate many things and to learn to take one day at a time and to be grateful for each day.  I was happy to turn the page on a new year, though, even one that is starting out with a lot of uncertainty.  I'm praying daily for our country and am trusting God to work out His good purposes in all of our lives.

I've actually taken a couple of baby steps toward planning for next Christmas!  I've ordered Christmas stamps already, and am getting the same ones I used this year:

I loved the Winter Scenes and ordered three books of them for this coming Christmas.  The Holiday Delights ones were fun also, but I only ordered one book of those for the coming year.

And then I've also gone through all of our Christmas cards (I had them stored in various places) and have donated a bunch to the thrift store.  I've set some aside to sell on Etsy and others to use in mailing Etsy card orders.  I typically package a card within a greeting card to keep the shipping cost minimal for me, and free for my customers.  

Our unused Christmas cards in the attic had been stored in one huge gift bag and one smallish one.  I'm happy to report that they have now been consolidated into the smallish gift bag and I know right where they are for next year.  I've also ascertained that I won't need to buy any more for 2021.

And I'm nearly finished going through a very large wrapping paper tote that is stored under our bed.  I wanted to clean, sort, and reorganize it before returning it to its place.  That project should finish up today.  I am going to keep out some red and green tissue paper, as I still have a few more hand-crafted gifts to complete and mail to Nevada.

And that's where we are for January first! Happy New Year, everyone!