Saturday, December 31, 2022

"What do the two of you do with all those cookies?"


Inquiring minds seem to ask this question every year.  Yes, that is a wooden glider on our screened front porch, stacked with many cookie containers and a couple of fudge tins!  We live where it gets very cold in December, so this is a workable way of storing cookies for the season.

My hubby started working on Christmas baking in November.  By November 25, he had already made three batches of Heavenly Delight fudge, along with double batches of Secret Spice Cookies, Chocolate Spritz, and Chocolate Mint Crisps, and a large batch of Whipped Shortbread.  By Christmas he had made Lemon Shortbread Thumbprints, Macaroon Kisses, Peanut Blossoms, Lemon Spritz, Christmas Tree Spritz, Eggnog Logs, Sacher Torte Cookies, and Gingerbread Men.  I had made Chocolate Nutters, Christmas No-Bakes, Chocolate Orange Cookies, and possibly another kind.  I forget.  Most of his varieties were double batches.  There were several kinds I had hoped to make that there just wasn't time for.

Hence the question: What do the two of you do with all those cookies?

Well, we do share a lot of them with other people.  Some wing their way to family in Nevada.  Several people on our list get a special, personal plate of their very favorite cookies.    Like the plate below of lemon shortbread thumbprints.

We give cookie plates to several of our neighbors.  (The plates below are examples from previous years.)  If we hear that a friend or family member is stopping by, we prepare a cookie plate for them to take home.  And Mr. T has been taking a cookie tray whenever he goes to his volunteer job at The Wilds of New England.  I took a plate to the staff at my dentist's office.

We take a cookie and fudge tray to Christmas dinner, where it is often all the dessert that's needed.  Below you see a partially depleted tray.
And below you see how it might have looked before anyone had dessert.  This was last year.  Just have to brag on Julia, who made those amazing caramel thumbprints, which taste even better than they look.

And she made them again this year, but this photo is from 2021.

We also served a cookie tray when our two older granddaughters came on Tuesday for their Christmas with us.  Christmas No-Bakes are one of their favorites.  Below is an older version.  This year's were simply drizzled with white chocolate, but I didn't get a picture.  Truth to tell, I'd forgotten about the marshmallow variation.

And of course, when we are invited to a Christmas party or there's an event at church or elsewhere, a cookie and fudge tray comes along with us.  There have been several such events this year.  Below you see a cookie tray and then a cookie and fudge plate, both ready to head out the door for Mr. T's work Christmas party.

And that is what the two of us do with all those cookies!

Friday, December 30, 2022

A festive breakfast

  Prior to our candy making and craft adventures,   these four of our grands -- three teens and an 8-year-old -- came to our house for breakfast.  (The photo is from the fall.)  Astute readers will notice a resemblance (but not an exact one) to last year's menu.

I kept breakfast simple but hearty with breakfast sliders and a Hash Brown Casserole.  The hash brown casserole is always a big favorite with this crowd.  The little one wasn't sure ... but she tried a serving and came back for more!

The sliders were from Jamie at My Baking Addiction.  I had made these for our friends Syd and Cyndy back in November and we all loved them, including some of these very same teens who snacked on the leftovers.  I made homemade sausage patties instead of using purchased sausage.  I used sliced cheddar for the cheese component.

Photo by Jamie at My Baking Addiction

I imagine some readers might like to have the homemade sausage recipe.  I have posted it here before, but it's been a few years.  So here it is:


1/4 cup water
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. rubbed sage
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2 lb. ground pork

In a bowl, stir together water and seasonings. Add pork and mix well. Shape meat mixture into eight 4” patties (or a larger amount of smaller ones). In a skillet over medium heat, cook patties for 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in the center.

This is such a yummy recipe for homemade sausage! I often cut the amounts in half to make a smaller batch. This sausage is very lean and not at all greasy.  For these sliders, I used about 1 1/4 pounds of ground pork, which is what I had, and used half the amount of seasonings specified here.

 Along with the sliders and hash brown casserole, I also served some Cinnamon Fried Apples.  This is a recipe which my Nevada daughter sent me.  It tastes similar to, maybe better than, the Cracker Barrel fried apples.

As before,  every scrap was eaten.  I just made a couple of changes to the recipe as written: rather than cut the apples in bite size pieces, I sliced them; and I used only 2/3 the amount of cinnamon called for.  I used three Ginger Gold apples and 2 Cortlands, all a little on the soft side.  I didn't peel them.  A good use for apples that are on their way out.

That was our breakfast!  It fueled us up for a fun and busy day.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

The traditional ice cream sundaes

 Once again this year we took four of our local grands for ice cream sundaes.  This is a tradition of some years' standing.  (Photo at top is an older one.)  For a number of years we did a meal out, Christmas shopping for their parents, and the ice cream smorgasbord at Kellerhaus, with 3 of the kids.  Their little sister joined in for December 2019.  In 2020 we tweaked the tradition, serving both breakfast and ice cream sundaes at home.

In 2021 we changed it up again, skipping the shopping trip and having breakfast, craft and candy making, all at home before heading off for ice cream sundaes.  We followed that same general format this year.  Maybe tomorrow I can post our breakfast recipes.

Josiah with spoon poised for a first taste!
Sam, Josiah, Grampa and I were at this table.

Julia and Ari had their own table.  The tables are fairly small.

I was a little disappointed in Kellerhaus' Christmas decor this year.  It wasn't as festive as of old, and the player piano still isn't working.  But the homemade ice cream is better than ever, and there are many more flavors to choose from.  Most still prefer vanilla, though, as there are so many toppings.

And that was this year's ice cream extravaganza!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Vintage scraps


 I'd forgotten all about this little bit of history and I am so happy to have stumbled across it again!

Back when I was cleaning out my childhood home, I spent a lot of time sorting through Christmas wraps, cards, tags, etc., both new and used.  Some things, I kept; used (and some unused) cards are being sold on Etsy; boxes full went to the thrift store.  At some point I came upon this little "craft" that I made as a child.  I tucked it in with the tags I was keeping and forgot about it. 

This year, I think it was on Christmas Eve, I was looking through my box of tags to find some that had strings so I could tie them to the handles of gift bags.  And again I came upon this little scrappy item.  

 It's something I made, of that I am sure.  I'm guessing it was something I did (or something my mother suggested that I do) to keep me busy while she was working on projects of her own.

It's pretty simple, you see; just rectangles cut from wrapping paper and laced together at the top with a bit of silver cord.  You can see that I embellished the top one with a snowflake sticker.  Some readers may recall that I found the partial package of stickers in a box of crafting odds and ends from my childhood home. 


I'm sure it must have been wrapping paper that I cut the rectangles from.  Wrapping paper featuring various Christmas stockings.  You see how the top rectangle has a green stocking with a poodle applique and a gray fur trim at the top.  I'm thinking it had a large gray pompom on the toe, that I covered with a sticker.


The second "page" in this creation featured a red stocking with a green cuff, a train applique and golden jingle bells on the toe.

The third "page" featured a real stunner of a stocking: one fashioned to look like a white high-button shoe with green heel and trim and golden buttons.  It's stuffed with mistletoe and holly!

And the last page -- I am terming them "pages" for lack of a better term -- is a red and green stocking with a knitted look.  It has a white fur cuff and a kitten peeping out of a gift box.

I'm not sure what this crafting effort was intended to be in the end.  A gift tag?  A package embellishment?  A tree ornament?  One thing it surely did accomplish was to start my lifelong love of Christmas crafting. 

Hope this little bit of crafting history has brought a nostalgic smile to someone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Making candy and crafts with the grands


 This year our special activity with four of our local grandchildren took place the Tuesday of Christmas week.  It was the day that worked out for everyone.  As they get older there are things that could potentially conflict, and their responsibilities of work, orchestra, and other activities have to be worked around.  

Some readers may recall that last year we tweaked the tradition and did some candy making and crafting with them, and skipped the shopping part of the expedition.  We did, however, continue our ice cream sundae tradition at Kellerhaus.  In today's post I'll only describe our candy making and crafting.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was thankful to be able to find the candy making plan I had made last year.  I thought it was permanently lost and that I might have to start over with a new plan.  So very thankful that was not the case!

So those are the candies I planned for us to make.  You can find the recipes here if you search, but I'll link to most of them:

Chocolate Dipped Orange Candy Slices are such a fun and easy homemade candy.  We make them most every year!  

Arlene’s Easy Fudge is another favorite of mine -- so incredibly easy!

  Drizzled Peppermint Cookies is another super easy recipe, starting with purchased oreo-type cookies.

And Easy Salted Caramel Fudge is just one step beyond Arlene's fudge, as it's the same simple type of recipe with baking chips and sweetened condensed milk.

We shared a nice breakfast before beginning, but I'll share the particulars on that another day.  

Last year I found that it was good to have some crafting opportunities available during the candy making, in case there was any down time while waiting for different steps in a recipe.  So I brought out a lot of craft supplies and Christmasy embellishments right at the start.  Of course that meant that some wanted to jump immediately into crafting!

Sam prepared both kids of fudge.
Josiah was in his crafting element!

Julia and Ari worked on the drizzled peppermint cookies.  They also made the chocolate dipped orange slices.

Ari made the ornament above with a little gluing and lettering help from Julia.
Josiah is a detail guy for sure.  He may be working on a snowman here, I'm not sure.

All in all, it was a sweet time together!

Monday, December 26, 2022

The day after Christmas


 It's the day after Christmas.   We had a truly delightful day and hope that all of you did, as well.  

For the first time ever, I would guess, Mr. T and I didn't do anything in the way of a special Christmas breakfast, no matter how simple.  We've been intermittent fasting for a month or more and so we haven't been eating breakfast.  We'll have "Christmas breakfast" for lunch or dinner one of these days!

Since Christmas was on a Sunday, our church had a special Christmas Day service, with lots of beautiful music by strings and piano, in addition to a brief Christmas message and plenty of congregational singing of Christmas carols.

After church we went to our daughter and son-in-law's home for Christmas dinner and the afternoon, which stretched into early evening.  You see some of the group around the dinner table, at top.  Carrie made a crockpot beef roast and I made Ranch House chicken, also in a crockpot.  Carrie's make-ahead mashed potatoes and Parker House rolls were amazing as always, and we rounded out the meal with my Merry Berry Salad.  I've been making this at Christmas (and often Thanksgiving, too) for many years.  It has a homemade cranberry vinaigrette which we really enjoy.  This time, I didn't have the sliced or slivered almonds I needed on hand, so toasted some chopped walnuts instead.  I think we liked that even better!

 After dinner  the boys washed the dishes.  Then it was time to open presents!  As always, we were blown away by the thoughtfulness of our daughter and son-in-law in choosing gifts for us.  This year they chose a cozy type of theme, beginning with two tins of coffee (one regular, one decaf) roasted by our son-in-law Jim!  From there they expanded on the theme with a gorgeous warm winter throw, plenty of books to read and a jigsaw puzzle to work on!

Holy Hygge was the book they had gotten specifically for me.  I had dipped into it at Carrie's house previously and found it interesting, so she got one for me.

We thought we were finished opening our gifts, but then Josiah handed us a very small gift bag containing some things he had made for each of us.  One was a beautiful ornament, which I will try and get a better photo of.  The other gift, for me, was a pair of earrings he had made.  He painted wooden beads to resemble snowman faces, and added them to earring wires along with a crystal bead above each.  I can't describe them that well -- but, again, I will try and take a decent photo.  Meanwhile, enjoy this fun scan of a Christmas postcard:

We had to think of a creative way to wrap Sam's snow broom (for his truck) so his gift wouldn't be a dead giveaway from the moment he saw it.  We turned it into a wrapped peppermint candy.  Of course he figured it out after holding it for a bit, but it was fun to maintain the surprise for a few moments.

After gift-opening, Carrie set out small paper plates and our cookie and fudge plates 

Photo is from Christmas 2021 but there is a resemblance!

 for people to help themselves and bring to the table to nibble as we played several rounds of Cover Your Assets.  Not a new Christmas game -- but, it's a game Grammy can play!

That was our Christmas day.  It was truly lovely.  I hope yours was the same.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Sunday Scripture


As I've mentioned previously, in December 2020 I used Peace, Be Still: A 31-Day Christmas prayer journal, from Women Living Well.   I've been using some of my simple study from this book as Scripture Sunday posts for this December, using different posts on each of my blogs to keep it interesting for all of my readers.  I will take two from each week's study to use one each on my blogs, and plan to use more of them next December.

Also -- note that this simple study does not use the SOAP method as my studies usually do.  This one includes a verse for the day, a thought for the day,  a reflection question for the day and space to write a prayer for each day.  I tended to look at the verse a little bit in depth, and I tended to answer the reflection question in the prayer, but I didn't always do it that way.  And of course you can use these any way you want to.   Here goes with the study for Week 4, Day 23!

Verse for the day:

"Now the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always by all means.  The Lord be with you all."  (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

My study:

Cross-references for 2 Thessalonians 3:16 include: 

"Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do, and the God of peace shall be with you." (Philippians 4:9)

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  (John 14:27)

* God is the Lord of peace!
* He is able to give us peace always.
* He is able to give us peace by all means.
* He is ever-present with us.

What marvelous truths!  Almighty God, the Lord of peace, is always with me and is able to give me peace at all times, by all means!

William MacDonald writes, "The Christian is not dependent on anything in this world for his serenity.  It is based entirely on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus.  The world cannot give it or take it away.  But we must appropriate it in all the circumstances of life."

Reflection question:

How has God comforted you with His peace in difficult times?

Oh, so many instances.  I have faced some incredibly difficult moments in life.  But God was there and so was His peace.  Many times it was simply His reassuring presence and a sense that all would be well.  But at least twice I am certain that I felt His hand on my shoulder, calming me.

My prayer:

Dear God, I'm so very thankful that You are the Lord of peace.  You are able to give us peace always -- the peace that surpasses all human understanding -- as we stay our minds on You and commit our situations to You with prayer and thanksgiving.  Your peace is "not as the world giveth."  You are with us always, and able to give us peace always, by all means.  We need not let our hearts be troubled or afraid, because You are with us.   I praise You  for this in Jesus' name, Amen.

That's the Sunday Scripture for today.  I pray that this look at God's peace was a blessing to someone!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

A beautiful vintage-look Christmas card


 This is a Current Christmas card, so it can't be quite as vintage as it looks.  I can't even remember how long ago I purchased these -- I want to say it was in the 2000s so this design is obviously a reissue of an older card. Since this is the last one of these,  I decided I had to scan it -- and I'm thinking I will save it to send to someone special.

The signature looks like it says T Russo, but it's actually J Russo -- J for Joseph.  He was evidently an artist who worked for Current, Inc. back when they were still called LooArt.   One card by him that I saw on eBay was mailed in 1966 -- the postmarked envelope was being sold with the card.   I have seen other of his cards on eBay as well.  Some are biblical scenes like Mary and Joseph or the shepherds.  There is one of a Santa on a park bench in a big city, feeding the birds.  There are some pretty New England scenes as well, but none speak to me like this one does.

This scene reminds me so strongly of times when my brother or several of us kids would go out with my dad to get a Christmas tree from our nearby woods.  The mountains both near and far, the treeline, the humps and hollows of the snow-covered landscape, the suggestion of a brook -- it all looks so much like the farm where I grew up.(  Our house was brown like this one but otherwise there's no resemblance as far as the house goes.)

Picture this with more snow on the ground and it shows some of the similar topography of the farm fields.
This shows the ice-bound brook and the wooded area  (see the open place?) where we often went to get our Christmas trees. 

I'm not sure, though, that we ever walked to get the tree ... I think we got it in our Jeep pickup.  My main memories concerning the tree itself have to do with my mother never liking the tree that was brought home.  I think there may even have been times when he cut more than one so he wouldn't have to go back.

Oh, the memories one vintage Christmas card can trigger!  Have a wonderful Christmas Eve, everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2022

A few hours of Christmas crafting


Last Thursday my local daughter and I made plans for an afternoon of Christmas crafting.  Due to circumstances, it morphed into just a few hours, but we did have a lovely time.

We gathered our supplies and settled in at her dining area table.  We had two crafts in mind: paper bag snowflakes and Christmas tree tassel garlands.  Carrie had already made a couple of the brown paper snowflakes and I brought along some white lunch bags to try some white ones.

We had seen this delightful garland on our friend Allison's Instagram last year:

 And Carrie had learned that Allison used this tutorial: DIY Tassel Christmas Tree Garland from The Beetique.  So she had obtained yarn and beads and had cut squares of cardboard for winding the tassels.  It was a fun and easy project.  

Here is Carrie's garland, hung from the bottom of her printer's tray:

 And a closer look:

 And here is mine, hung over a curtain:

 You can see that they differ a little from one another.  And the only problem with my curtain location is that I will eventually want to make 3 more garlands for the other three windows.  But they're easy enough.

We never did get around to making the paper bag snowflakes, but those will be in season all winter, so there will still be time for that!