Friday, September 23, 2022

A fun little gift with a Christmasy touch

 


Recently our Nevada daughter and her family drove across country and spent ten days with us here in New Hampshire.  She brought me and her sister sweet little hostess gifts -- mug rugs she had purchased at the 2022 Ozarks Homesteading Expo, which their family had attended on their way East.  Mine has tufted titmice, as you see, and the one she brought for Carrie had chickadees.

I thought these mug mats were so cute!  And they look easy too.  The bird postcard motif looks as if it was stitched to the ticking stripe fabric by hand, using a buttonhole stitch and green floss.  

These could be made with any type of rectangular fabric motif.  I love mug rugs and am always wanting to make more for gifts.  Stay tuned ... I may actually make some similar ones at some point.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Muffin recipe for August: Gingerbread Blackberry Muffins

 

Photo from Victoria magazine, July 1997

It's edging toward the end of August all too quickly, and I have yet to share a muffin recipe for the month.  Paging through a vintage Victoria magazine, I spied this recipe which seems perfect for August.  It makes a nice large quantity,  too -- 18 regular size muffins.  That's a nice reward for turning on the oven in August!

Gingerbread-Blackberry Muffins

3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup softened unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup dark molasses
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

Grease 18 regular size muffin cups (or 8 to 10 of the Texas-size ones).

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and all of the spices.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar until light.  Gradually add molasses, eggs (one egg at a time) and buttermilk until combined well.

Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk all and once and stir until just combined.  

Layer the batter with the berries (evenly divided) in the muffin pans until each pan is 3/4 full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffin tops spring back when touched lightly.  Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then gently remove muffins to wire racks to cool.

I'm sure frozen blackberries would work in this recipe, but if I used the gigantic frozen berries from the grocery store, I think I would cut each one in half.

I did a major purge of my magazine stash several years ago,  but I couldn't bring myself to throw away my saved issues of Victoria.  So glad I didn't, as some of the grandgirls enjoy them.  Plus, I get to find recipes like this one!


Sunday, July 31, 2022

One more fudge recipe -- Samoa Fudge

 


 It was a difficult choice trying to decide what to share for my final Christmas in July post this year.  I finally decided to share one last fudge recipe.  

But first, a word about the vintage advertisement at the top of the page.  It's from a 1958 Woman's Day magazine.  I've been going through some of my stash and scanning particularly fun ads.  I couldn't resist this one, particularly since my grandmother made 5-Minute Fudge every Christmas.  I will likely end up tossing these older magazines, even though I love them.  The stories and decorating ideas are still good, but the pages are so brittle! We will see, however.

Now for today's fudge recipe.  It's for Samoa Fudge and it is from Aimee at Shugary Sweets.  It's a spin on the flavor of the Girl Scout cookies called Samoas.  It combines chocolate, coconut, and caramel flavors.  Samoas are my hands-down favorite of Girl Scout cookies, so I am eager to try this fudge recipe.

Photo by Shugary Sweets

I hope you will enjoy this fudge if you try it.  I surely intend to do so.

Thanks to all who have spent time with me here in my Christmas kitchen this July.  It's been fun!

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Fabric fun!

 

The main Nutcracker fabric, in Cream

Here's another fun Christmas fabric collection to share with you all: Nutcracker from Dear Stella.  It's described on the Fabricworm site as "Nutcrackers, ornaments, gingerbread men, sugar plum fairies, and holiday cheer all digitally printed on quilt weight cotton fabric".  Here are some of the other designs from the collection:

This one features festive Christmas baubles

Gingerbread men!

This print is called Nutcracker Suite.

And this one, my favorite, is called Sugar Plum Fairies.

Isn't this Nutcracker fabric so much fun?

 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Gift ideas from the 1950s and 1960s

 


We may think of mid-century gift ideas as not particularly extravagant.  Things cost much less back then, and many gifts were handmade.  

Yet high-ticket Christmas gifts were sometimes given.  In looking through old Christmas magazines, I came upon a few of them that my readers might enjoy seeing.

A sewing machine was a hoped-for gift ....

What a surprise!

Give the gift of books!

How about a Coffeematic, circa 1958?  This was an expensive gift at around $30.

Ship'n'Shore blouses were a favorite gift for ladies or girls.

The gift packaging for these Cannon towels was pretty fancy!  Really, some of them were additional gifts in themselves -- fruit baskets or magazine racks.

Last but not least, extension phones!  These were not advertised as Christmas gifts per se, but as handy helpers during the Christmas season.

Aren't these vintage ads so much fun?  Hope you've enjoyed this peek into the past!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Cranberry Breakfast Cake

 


Recently I was looking for an easy coffeecake to bake for a ladies' brunch at church.  (Long story -- the brunch was scheduled for May, but first sickness and then other events -- our merger service for example -- kept pushing the date back until here we are near the end of July and just now having the brunch.  It's no one's fault, but there it is.)  

The weather has been exceedingly hot and humid and I couldn't have felt less like baking.  I went searching for something a little different and found this Cranberry Breakfast Cake which looked quite simple and seemed as if it would be delicious any time of year.

Photo by The View from Great Island
 
I've learned that I can't go wrong with a recipe from Sue Moran at The View from Great Island.  Foods made from her recipes are always delicious and enticing!  I had almost everything I needed on hand to bake this cake.  The only thing I didn't have was the sparkling sugar for the top.

I couldn't bring myself to bake during the day so decided I would start early the next morning.  I sifted the dry ingredients together the night before and left them in a quart-size ziptop bag, to save time in the morning.  If I had thought of it, I would also have placed a stick of butter in a covered bowl to soften.

Then in the morning it was a quick matter to get everything together.  Sue warns that the batter (really more like dough) will be quite thick, and it truly was.  Adding the frozen cranberries really stiffened it up.  It was quite a challenge to spread the batter evenly in the pan, but with the help of a small sandwich spreader I was able to do so.  I did sprinkle a handful of the berries on top as Sue suggested.  Since I had no sparkling sugar (a situation I will try to remedy), I sprinkled on a bit of regular white sugar instead.

This came out so delicious and was so easy!  It would be a great choice for Christmas breakfast or any festive breakfast or brunch time during the holiday season.  And it's good in July too, if you can bring yourself to turn the oven on!

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

A faded Polaroid

 


 I've written before about the Methodist Church Christmas fair which was such a part of my childhood Christmas seasons.  It seemed to get our family into the Christmas spirit.

There was time for photo ops throughout the fair, when kids could have their Polaroid photo taken with various Christmas props.  The photo at the top of the post is one of these.  I've posted others in the past, but this is one I found more recently.  It's faded and scratched.  I'm not sure what story it tells.  

My brother Mike is on the left and my brother Tim is at the right.  In the middle is my cousin Diane.  I find it interesting that only Diane is looking at the camera.  Both boys look rather sad and although they are holding props -- Tim has a Santa doll and I'm thinking Mike is holding a book -- they don't seem to be paying attention.  I'll never know what thoughts were going through their heads, as both have left this life some years ago.  

It's a little slice of life in a faded Polaroid.  I wish I knew more about it.  Have you ever come across a mystery photo like this?

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Another fudge recipe

 

Photo from Pixabay

I just can't seem to stay away from Oreos as a fudge ingredient!  I guess maybe it's because our grandchildren so enjoy the jars of Oreos we keep on hand for them at our little camp.  

Before starting my Christmas in July posts, I came across a great resource of 40 Fantastic Fudge Recipes from Andrea at The Cottage Market. Peppermint Oreo Fudge is the first one I picked, and now I'm sharing Double Decker Oreo Fudge.  This is a recipe from Naomi Robinson at Bakers Royale.  It's one of those nice and easy fudge recipes that uses a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Screenshot from Bakers Royale

Doesn't it look good?  I think it would make a really yummy Christmas gift.  Maybe a tin with some of the peppermint oreo fudge and some of this might look nice.  But not everyone likes peppermint, I know.  I'm pretty sure I'll be trying this double decker oreo fudge come December, if not before!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Christmas in the city

 


 I found this vintage Christmas card among paper treasures from my parents' home.  I'm thinking it's from the late 1950s or very early 1960s.  This was a card sent to my grandmother by her sister-in-law who lived in New York City.  I found it very interesting that Nellie would choose a card depicting the city rather than the typical countryside or forest Christmas images.  I think she had always lived in the city and considered it home, and so this scene would epitomize the Christmases she had known.  

Skaters are milling about on a frozen pond while skyscrapers loom in the background.  The scene is captured within a pretty evergreen wreath trimmed with pine cones and a bow made from real red satin ribbon.

I have a couple of other cards with city scenes, but none as nice as this one, which will eventually be listed for sale in my Etsy shop.



Hope you've enjoyed this vintage look at Christmas in the city!


Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Christmas poem: Sleigh Ride

 


Here's another Christmas poem for you all this Christmas in July.  It's another from a vintage Christmas Ideals magazine.

SLEIGH RIDE

Beside the hearth the sleigh bells hang
And wait my touch to sound again
That joyous ring that once we heard
As prancing steed tossed high his mane.

Our songs were gay, our laughter rang
Across the fields of glist'ning snow,
For we were young with carefree hearts
Those Christmas Eves of long ago.

"We're going home.  We're going home."
Those singing bells would seem to say
As round the bend to lanterned door
Our cutter sparked its icy way.

And now the holly spray I twine
Between each shining silver bell.
I'm glad I lived in sleighing years
That only in my memory dwell.

-- Martha D. Tourison

I am just a little bit too young to have lived "in sleighing years", but I loved this poem!

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Christmas fabric fun!

 

An older fabric from my fabric stash ...

Time for some more Christmas fabric fun!  Unlike the fabric at top, which is an older piece from my personal stash, the fabric I'm showcasing today is a brand new collection, not even shipping until August or September!

 This week's featured Christmas fabric collection is Joyful Joyful by Stacy lest Hsu for Moda Fabrics.  Below are a few screenshots:



This one is called Festive Paisley Cream.

This one is Floral Birds in cream.

This is Holly Berries and the color is Field.

And this is Oh Little Town in Midnight.

Aren't these fun fabrics?  I love the colors.  It's fairly unusual to see a fabric with nativities, but I really like this.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Pastel vintage style ornaments to make yourself!

 




 I was mentioning earlier this month about how pastels were in vogue for Christmas a few decades ago.  Vee mentioned, rightly, that it's a cyclical thing.  What is "in" for decorating seems to come and go every few years.  It's the same with clothing styles. 

 I am drawn to the vintage Christmas pastels and have occasionally done entire small trees in pastels.  I am also drawn to ornaments with little scenes peeking out from inside.  So when I saw these DIY Vintage-Style Ornaments from Michelle at The Scrap Shoppe,  I was pretty much smitten.

Photo by Michele at The Scrap Shoppe

Michele made these by painting clear plastic ornaments with a front opening.  As you will see when you read the tutorial, these can be found at Amazon, under $20 for a dozen of them.  She dresses up inexpensive bottle brush trees with little pearls, to place inside.  (Now, why have I never thought of doing this?  I have bottle brush trees on hand and I have sweet pastel pearls on hand from a project years ago.  I also own several high-end bottle brush trees with pearls on them.  No idea why I have never thought of making my own!)

These are so sweet!  If I can part with $20 for some of the ornaments, I will plan to make some this year!

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Book Review: Gooseberry Patch Big Book of Holiday Cooking

 


I purchased this book back in April 2020 as a gift to myself.  I was not disappointed!  I found this very large, recipe-filled cookbook at Thriftbooks for only $5.99.  (The list price is around $30.)  My copy is a used book designated as "very good" condition.  I think it is closer to "like new".

The subtitle is Celebrate year-round with favorite family recipes and it's very accurate.  This cookbook literally contains hundreds of recipes for holidays all year round, not just Christmas.  But it does contain many wonderful Christmas recipes!  I'm going to give you a brief overview of the book:

The first section is called Fireside Favorites -- Cozy wintertime dishes that warm heart & soul It has dozens of yummy sounding recipes including Warm Country Gingerbread Waffles, Brown-Sugar Glazed Bacon, Garlicky Chicken with Redskin Potatoes, Cherry Brownie Cobbler, and many, many more.

The second section is In the Garden -- Sensational spring favorites everyone will love.  Incredible Mini Burger Bites stood out to me, along with Pasta Bake Florentine, Church Ladies' Ham Salad Sandwiches, Easiest-Ever Cheesecake, Michele's Fruit Sticks, and much more.

Next is Picnics & More -- Garden-fresh summertime recipes to share with family & friends Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake, Strawberry-Watermelon Slush, Family-Favorite Pork Tacos, Louise's Potato Salad, and Best-Ever Strawberry Shortcake appealed to me.

 Next is Bountiful Harvest -- Comforting classics to welcome the autumn season Bacon Quesadillas, Speedy Chicken Cordon Bleu, Autumn Acorn Squash, and Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream Fantasy all sound so good!

The next section is called A Family Feast -- Festive holiday recipes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The oh-so-festive recipes include Christmas Cheese Log, Cranberry Christmas Canes, Penny's Turkey Enchiladas, Old-Time Pickled Peaches, and Buche de Noel.

The next part is called Gathering Together -- Homestyle favorites for celebrating throughout the year.  Recipes here (there are dozens) include Farm-Style Cinnamon Rolls, Sunday Baked Chicken, Heavenly Chicken Salad, BLT Salad with Basil Dressing, and Holly's Chocolate Silk Pie.

Next is Christmas Pantry --Handcrafted goodies made for sharing.  You'll find recipes for Comet's White Chocolate Crunch, Double Chocolate Mint Brownies, Holiday Gift Cakes, Backyard Barbecue Mango Chutney, Lemon Curd, and many other treats.

There's even a selection of Menus for All Occasions -- 12 menus for all year-round.  These include Friday Night Fun, Easter Tea, Supper for Your Sweetie, Star-Spangled Supper, Homestyle Festive Feast, Simple Weeknight Supper, and more.

And of course there's a great index to help cooks find any recipe quickly.

I should add that this cookbook is filled with pretty artwork and gorgeous photos that just make you want to try the recipes.  It's a beautiful book.

All in all, this book is a fabulous resource any time of year!  Thriftbooks currently has a copy in Good condition for only $5.79, should anyone be interested.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Muffin recipe for July: Ginger-Peach Streusel Muffins

 

Photo from Pixabay
 Time for this month's muffin recipe!  I found the recipe for Ginger-Peach Streusel Muffins in a free issue of Real Simple magazine that showed up in my mailbox.  And right about now, fresh peaches are becoming available in supermarkets.  We had some really good Eastern peaches a couple of weeks ago.  They didn't look like much, but we placed them in a paper bag on the counter (as my walking partner suggested) and they ripened perfectly in a few days.

This muffin recipe looks really good.  A streusel topping is always a plus on any muffin, in my book.  I haven't tried the recipe yet, but hope to do so on the next cool day.  I don't have any crystallized ginger on hand, but the recipe in the magazine said that could be left out if none was available.  Both muffin and topping have ground ginger in them, so there should be a nice touch of ginger even without using the chopped, crystallized variety.

Screenshot from Real Simple
The recipe also specifies that frozen peaches, thawed, can be used instead of fresh peaches in these muffins.  That means that these could work as a Christmas kitchen gift if they should happen to win the title of best muffin.  We will see!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A fun gift or stocking stuffer for creative children

 

Photo from Pixabay

Here is a really fun little idea if you know children who enjoy painting with watercolor sets.  Back in the day, my kids loved to receive a new watercolor set, or maybe a paint with water book.  I think most kids instinctively like to paint (and most parents instinctively dread the mess that can accompany painting).

This idea for a gift set using a box of watercolors and some printable coloring tags looks like so much fun!  And there's an upcycling aspect to it in that you use a heavy business-size envelope, folded, to make the gift pocket to package it all in.

The graphics were a team effort between Keren at Free Pretty Things for You and Lori at ChouxChoux Paper Art.  Aren't they just the most adorable vintage images?  They remind me of when I was a child, sometimes the kids in our family would receive a set of little activity books for coloring, dot-to-dots, mazes, crafts, etc.  The covers were always really nifty and resembled the design on this gift.

 

Image from ChouxChoux Paper Art

I might try this out for some of the kids in my life.  I almost think I have everything I need on hand to make some of these  What about you?

Monday, July 18, 2022

Sweet ornament to make using vintage wrapping paper

 

 I simply love vintage Christmas wrapping paper!  It probably stems from my childhood when my grandmother wrapped the Christmas presents so perfectly ... 

I know I've written before about my fascination with my grandmother's Christmas tree and the wondrous packages piled beneath it.  It wasn't so much wondering what was in the packages, or checking to see which ones were for me.  I just loved seeing how she had wrapped them.  My grandmother  seemed at times to keenly regret her lack of higher education, but she absolutely had the soul of an artist and showed it in so many ways -- in the kitchen and pantry, in her seasonal decorating, and so on.  Christmas was the high point of her artistic talents and of our year.  Her gift-wrapping skills were amazing and I simply loved seeing the papers she had chosen. 

So I was excited, a few years ago, to come across these fun metal ornaments that make use of vintage wrapping paper.  This project is designed by Ashlee at My So-Called Crafty Life.  Ashlee is a great go-to source for vintagey Christmas ideas.

Photo from Ashlee at My So-Called Crafty Life
 
This blog post was from 2015, and it looks as if Michaels no longer carries the galvanized metal ornaments that Ashlee used for the project.  I checked Hobby Lobby also and found nothing.  Hopefully I can locate some somewhere, as this is an ornament I'd really like to make.  I did look on Etsy and found these galvanized metal stars that might be a possibility.

 

However, these stars have a bit of a puffy look which might not be conducive to applying the wrapping paper.  They do seem to have an edge where the pipe cleaners could be attached.  One plus is that these ornaments have a hanger already attached, so it would be easy to replace the jute with ribbon or string and no awl would be needed.  I may have to order some and experiment, but the shipping is a bit high so again I might not.

Regardless, this is an adorable use of vintage wrapping paper!  I would guess that scrapbooking paper could perhaps be used in place of wrapping paper if one chose to do so.  I've seen some scrapbooking paper with designs that resemble vintage papers.

Hope you've enjoyed this crafting inspiration!



Sunday, July 17, 2022

A Christmas poem: The Shepherd

Another July Sunday, and here is another Christmas poem from a vintage Christmas Ideals magazine.  This one, by John Davenport Womack,  is written from the point of view of a shepherd at the manger.  I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

THE SHEPHERD

I do not think I'm likely to forget
The brilliance of the star that blazed that night,
And in my ear the song's resounding yet
Of that celestial choir whose voices bright

With hope and promise filled the shining air;
Rang from the nestling hills, rang from the earth
Where slept our flocks that night, all unaware
These voices heralded a Saviour's birth.

We went into the stable where He lay
And my poor gift of love placed at His feet.
He smiled on me.  The place grew bright as day,
And there was peace, ineffable and sweet.

-- John Davenport Womack

The nativity scene at top features a stable made by my dad, and the lovely figures they had used over the years.  I have always loved the shepherd boy with the lamb across his shoulders, and am so happy to own these figures now.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Christmas fabric fun!

 

A fabric from my own stash ...

 Here's this week's featured Christmas fabric!  I found this one at Fabricworm.  It's Camp Holiday by Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Organic Fabrics.

These are modern designs that also have a vintage, or maybe more of a retro, vibe.  But they are so colorful and fun!

 




I'm working hard at trying to make sewing (which I dearly love) part of my life again.  I would love to make some small projects with one or more of these.