Monday, December 31, 2012

Just a few more handmade gifts

This cute vintage tag was on a gift from my grandmother many years ago.
 Here are just a few more handmade gifts.  I know some people have wanted to see these, so here are some pictures.  Most of these were made for grandkids, with one exception.

I made more felt strawberries and gave a dozen to each of two grandkids.  They continue to love the felt food and are always happy to get more.
I packaged these in plastic berry boxes.
Julia opening her felt strawberries
I sent felt pie slices to two of my Nevada grandkids.
Lemon pie

Pumpkin pie
Chocolate pie
Oh yes, and felt pancakes for the little guy.

Here are the pillow fight shields I made for seven of the kids.

The Nevada four
The local three
The backs of the shields are fitted with elastic handles.
Sam with shield
Julia's sparkly purple shield

Josiah with shield
Flannel hand warmers filled with rice seemed to be a hit with the local five.  Hope they are using them when they play in the snow!
Sam's favorite color is red.
And lastly, I made some crocheted hot mats in Christmas colors for my daughter's birthday.  Only one was included in the package, as I only had one completed when it was time to mail the box.  So the hot mats don't look exactly like these, which I made last year for someone else.

This year's are  mostly the variegated Christmas colors with a dark green edging.  One great thing about this pattern is that it comes out different looking every time with the different color combination.  And it is also very easy, although it looks complicated.

Hope you have enjoyed this look at the last few handmade gifts.  Now I am starting some new projects for birthdays and next Christmas!

Round Steak Italiano

(Photo by Taste of Home)
The other day while grocery shopping I found several packages of round steak with $1 off coupons attached to them.  So that afternoon I prepared this tried and true recipe, which I adapted from one I found in Simple & Delicious.  (I do have the recipe elsewhere here on my blog, but it's in the 2007 archives and honestly, I hate to have anyone miss this.)  This is true comfort food and just wonderful for a busy winter day.  All you will need to add to round out your meal is a salad and/or a vegetable.  (I used frozen mixed vegetables to make supper really easy!)   You will be amazed at how perfectly the potatoes bake in the slow cooker.


1 to 2 pounds boneless top round steak
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 Tblsp. onion soup mix*
1 Tblsp. olive or canola oil
2 Tblsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
Garlic powder to taste
6 to 8 medium potatoes
1 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 Tblsp. cold water

Cut steak into serving-size pieces; place in a 5-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl or a 2-cup measure, combine the tomato sauce, soup mix, oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic powder and pepper; pour over meat.

Scrub and pierce potatoes; place on top of meat. Cover; cook on Low for 7 to 8 hours or until meat and potatoes are tender.

Remove meat & potatoes to a serving platter and keep warm. Pour cooking juices into a small saucepan; skim off any fat. Combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth and gradually stir into cooking juices. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

* Here’s my recipe for:

3/4 cup dried minced onion
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. celery seed, optional -- I usually omit this

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. When a recipe calls for onion soup mix, use 5 Tablespoons mix for each envelope of onion soup called for. So many recipes seem to call for a package of onion soup mix, and this is far more economical.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

More handmade gifts

The adorable graphic is from Little Birdie Blessings.
Here are a few more handmade gifts, all for grandchildren.  Perhaps I can show more tomorrow.

I had posted on my Christmas blog about these cute carriers for the Matchbox®-type cars.  My young grandkids all seem to love these cars, trucks and other vehicles and often seem to carry them in their pockets.  I had seen this pattern for a Car Caddy and so I made three of them for gifts.  I thought I would share on this blog as well, since I know that not all of my readers visit my Christmas blog.
The front of the caddy is shown on the left; the back of the caddy is on the right.
The inside of the caddy has pockets and a track for the cars.
For little girls, I had seen this tutorial for a Bracelet Purse and really wanted to make one each  for my younger two granddaughters (ages 4 and 6).  They came out quite cute, I thought, and the girls seemed to like them.  I filled them with little boxes of crayons, lip balm, tiny bottles of bubble bath, and so on.

Here is Emily's purse.  Emily loves color.
This shows the green lining.  Vibrant!
Here is Julia's.  The lining for  hers is a sparkly purple.  These are fun because you can do them using fat quarters.
Julia investigating the contents of her purse.  I love her shirt!  It's an icy blue and says "Snow Princess".

 Hope you have enjoyed this look at a few of my simple handcrafts!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A few pictures of handmade gifts

Graphic from Little Birdie Blessings
I don't have time today to share all of the crafts I made for Christmas gifts, but here are a few.

I made three sets of mug rugs:
These were for a friend whose name I drew in the Sunday School gift exchange.  This shows the fronr and back sides.
Just the front sides of these Christmas mug rugs.
I made these for a friend.
I made these for a Yankee swap at church.
 I used the same pattern (adapted somewhat) for all three, but the author of the tutorial encourages creativity with the side panel -- the larger panel where the embroidery is on some of the mug rugs -- and suggests using not just embroidery but other possible options as well -- applique, or just showcasing a particularly pretty piece of fabric.

This is the pattern I used:  tea time mug rugs.  I chose to use only a 1/4" seam allowance with the strips, rather than 1/2", so I ended up needing only 6 pieces rather than 7.

And I made 2 aprons for middle school age girls.  I think these would fit teens as well, and probably even adults.  The picture on the pattern (from Gooseberry Patch Christmas book 12) showed a young teenage girl.

These were made from tea towels and turned out simply adorable.  They were very fast to make, just simple cutting, pressing and sewing.  The neck/waist tie is grosgrain ribbon.

And here is a cross stitch trivet I made for my daughter's birthday.

It's actually a plexiglas trivet with cross stitch insert.  The pattern is from Cross Country Stitching and is one of several projects with a tea time theme.

Hope you have enjoyed this look at a few recent crafts!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27

 It's been snowing here a good bit of the day, and tonight the trees are so pretty.  The scenery on our road looks just like a Christmas card!

Today is a very special day in my life.  It's my youngest daughter's birthday.  She had been due on December 11, so as each day went by I grew increasingly more concerned that I might have to be in the hospital over Christmas.  God was gracious (as He always is) and held off the delivery until the 27th.  Close enough to Christmas to have a cute little stocking on her crib in the hospital nursery, but missing Christmas itself, thankfully.

Today she is 34 and the joyful mother of four little ones ages one through six, living many hundreds of miles from here.  We had a few minutes to chat on the phone tonight when Mr. T and I called to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. 

This evening we went out for a bit to do some grocery shopping and to check out the after-Christmas sales.  Oh, the bargains and beautiful things we found at Marshalls!  Some of them will be gifts for next Christmas, others are practical things like coffee.  I hope to get a picture tomorrow of a lovely wall hanging I found for only $3.20.

Soon I also hope to post some photos of my Christmas crafting, now that all of the gifts are safely in the hands of the recipients!  Maybe tomorrow; we will see!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26

It's been a day of beginning to catch up with things around the house and getting back to what passes for normalcy around here.  I was happy to have a good quiet time with the Lord this morning and to get some laundry and other tasks done too.  I also made up another batch of hot chocolate mix for a few belated kitchen gifts.  I spent time at my dad's this afternoon doing some cooking, bill paying and housework, and of course tonight was prayer meeting at church.

Tomorrow is predicted to be quite stormy, with possible accumulations of 12 to 18 inches of snow.

A few minutes ago I walked past this wintry cross stitch on our bedroom wall.  I know I posted about this when I finished the project awhile ago, but think it was on my Christmas blog.

I see such a spiritual application here to what our pastor often calls "our pilgrimage from here to glory".  The way is long.  Sometimes it can seem cold, stormy and difficult.  But, in just a few moments ... we'll be Home.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Mr. T and I hope that each and every one of our friends has had a truly blessed Christmas day, and that we will never lose sight of the true meaning of this season.  May each of you have a happy and healthy 2013 in which you grow increasingly closer to our Lord!

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24

Today has been a busy day with lots of cooking, crafting and wrapping of gifts -- yet it has been a good and somewhat relaxing day as well.  This morning I finished two personalized aprons for our oldest granddaughters -- 9 and 11.  They were so pleased when they unwrapped them tonight.  These aprons were made from dish towels and turned out so cute.  I used a pattern from Gooseberry Patch Christmas book 12.  Maybe soon I can post pictures; we will see. 

We traditionally have Christmas Eve Soup on December 24.  It is basically a potato soup made with carrots, celery and cream and garnished with cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.  Sometimes we have bread or rolls with it; tonight we had pizza.  Dessert was Christmas cookies and ice cream.

Over on my Christmas blog I posted the link to these
One of the Christmas Chalkboard Printables from Nest of Posies
wonderful Free Christmas Chalkboard Printables.  There are five designs to choose from (or download them all).  Aren't they beautiful?

I have been musing much today on what Jesus left to come here to this sinful earth to be born as a baby in a stable, only to grow up to die for our sins.  He truly was, as the songwriter has put it, born to die.  I am overwhelming thankful for His sacrifice on my behalf.

Wishing you all a wonderful day tomorrow!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23

Today has been mostly spent at church.  We taught our Sunday School classes as usual -- I teach a ladies' class and Mr. T a class of 4th-6th graders -- and enjoyed a meaningful morning worship service.  The offertory was an especially beautiful medley of Christmas carols -- The First Noel was most prominent, but Away in a Manger was in there too, and possibly a third carol as well.

Our potluck lunch was yummy as always, and many people brought plates of Christmas cookies for dessert, so it was all very festive.  We draw names each year and buy or make small but thoughtful gifts for the names we get.  That's always a lot of fun.  Some people come up with some very creative gifts!  At this time, too, many of the folks bring in Christmas cards for everyone.  Mr. T and I don't always do that, but this year we did.    During this time a group of the children shared some special music, and we had a short devotional about gifts.  It's all just a nice time of fellowship together as a church family.

Oh, and speaking of cookies, here is a link to the Drizzled Peppermint Cookies recipe.  Enjoy!

After getting home, I worked on making some hot chocolate mix for gifts and also made up a goody tray for Mr. T's boss and his family.  He delivered that and then we went to Walmart for some more kitchen gift components I had forgotten to buy.   We bumped into old friends there who had also come in for one or two items, and had a nice visit.   I have two more handmade gifts I would like to finish if possible, and I worked on those this evening as well. 

A most enjoyable day!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22

A busy late-December Saturday!  We began the day by traveling south to our state's only Cracker Barrel restaurant to have breakfast with some dear friends.  We had not seen them since last December (only it was early in the month) so it was a special treat.  Our daughter, her hubby and family went too, as well as our friends' three adult daughters.  It was a lovely morning and I actually shopped for a couple of needed gift items in Cracker Barrel too.  They were 40% off so that made it even nicer!

On the way home we stopped at a kitchen store so I could find components for one last gift.  The store had just what I needed, but I was quite surprised at how crowded it was.  Seemed like a lot of men might have been shopping for their wives' gifts.

We got home and did a bit of necessary cleaning and some last minute decorating.  I still have a few more decorations to put out.  I am moving things around a lot this year with my decorating, and am having fun seeing how they look used in different ways.  I also wrapped a few gifts.

We had my dad up for supper -- had cheeseburger macaroni, baked beans, and broccoli salad, with a cookie and fudge plate for dessert.  After supper I did a bit more decorating and wrote out a bunch of Christmas cards for friends and church.

So that was our day -- festive and fun!  Hope yours was nice as well!

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21

It has been a different day.  Mr. T had the entire day off due to rainy weather.  We woke up to about 4 inches of wet, heavy snow, which turned to rain and continued as rain the rest of the day.  Since he was home, the entire day has felt like Saturday!  Very odd, but it was nice anyway.

I managed to get most of the Christmas cards written and sent out today.  It feels great to have that task accomplished.

Since he had the day off, Mr. T spent a good bit of the day in the kitchen.  He made hot chocolate bark, gluten free gingersnaps (we had run out) and gluten free Russian teacakes.  He also prepared these:
(Photo by Taste of Home)
 oreo-type cookies drizzled with white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.  I will try and share the link tomorrow, but you get the idea.  Oh, and with the leftover toppings he made a small amount of peppermint bark.

Meanwhile, I worked on handcrafted gifts and finished four of them!  All items for grandkids, these had been in various stages of completion but now they are done!  Any Christmas crafting I do from here on out (this year) will be strictly for fun.  It's a great feeling to have the handmade gifts pretty much finished.  Now I can start wrapping!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20

Another busy December day!  It began with an early morning trip to the grocery store.  It often seems that by the time I shop for my dad and ourselves, then deliver his groceries and put them away, then come back and put ours away, that the entire morning is gone.  Today was no exception, but the putting-away went quickly and I was able to spend a good bit of time on Christmas crafting.

I finished several gifts and got a good start on two more -- the latter two, for the grandchildren.  Those should get finished up tomorrow and then I just have a few more to make.  Mr. T got out of work a bit early today and we did our Walmart shopping then.  We found a couple of gifts to buy while we were in there.

I had made a ham & bean soup and cornbread last night, so delivered some of that to my dad for his supper tonight.  We finished up leftovers, so that made our own supper easy as well.  After supper, Mr. T made some fudge while I sewed.  He ended up having to double the recipe because he had used an entire can of evaporated milk rather than the half can that the recipe calls for.  Oh well, it was a mistake that was easily fixed by preparing another pan and by doubling the rest of the ingredients.  I don't think anyone will complain of having too much Heavenly Delight (chocolate peanut butter layered fudge) around!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19

Wednesdays are always busy days for me, with quite a bit of my day spent out of the house.  But I did find time to do a bit of embroidery this morning and some sewing as well, and did manage to finish half of a homemade gift for a friend.   The other half of it is coming along well and should easily be finished tomorrow morning.   I fit in a tiny bit of sewing this afternoon after getting home, but not much.  I hope to make another gift like it for the person whose name I drew in our Sunday School gift exchange, which will take place on Sunday.  We will see!

In other Christmasy news, I sent out several Christmas cards this morning and got a few more ready to send out tomorrow.  And at church tonight, a friend gave me a sweet Christmas decoration she had found at a thrift store.  I love it when friends or family give me items for my collections.  From then on, whenever I see those items, they remind me of the friends who created those items or purchased them for me.  Later this week, I would love to do a post about some of the tree ornaments that remind me of particular people.  From thinking of those friends it is but a short step to praying for them!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18

A favorite card by artist Kathy Lawrence
Mr. T had the day off due to rain, so we spent a good bit of today finishing up the packing of a Christmas box for our loved ones out West.  It is huge -- and full -- but most of the contents are homemade.  Safely on its way, now.

Tonight we took three of our grandchildren out for McDonalds, ice cream sundaes (make your own) at a favorite candy shop, and a bit of shopping which included time spent in a bookstore with hands-on toys for kids to try out.  A fun time which enabled their parents to enjoy a date night, too.

That was pretty much our day.  A tiring, but good day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17

It snowed most of last evening and into today, then turned to freezing rain.  We may have a white Christmas -- but maybe not, since it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow.  We will see!

Time to think about my goals for this week:
*  Spend time in 1 Samuel Bible study
* Get started on Sunday School lesson 8
 *  Make 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook
*  Review Psalm 103 (memorized some years ago)
*  Read 2 chapters in How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground
*  Limit sugar
*  Exercise 5 or 6 times
*  Keep up with crafting goals for Christmas
*  Keep up a good water intake
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night
*  Post daily in both of my blogs
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for  Zone 4, the master bedroom, plus a few from Zone 2, the kitchen
*  Finish with the gifts I need to buy
*  Finish Christmas decorating
*  Write some TripAdvisor reviews
*  Post about the couples' retreat from October
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do.

And here's how last week went:
*  Spend time in 1 Samuel Bible study -- DONE!
* Get started on Sunday School lesson 7  DONE! ~ actually finished it!
 *  Make 2 pages for "What Do I Know About My God"?  notebook -- only got one page done.
*  Review Psalm 103 (memorized some years ago) -- not yet.
*  Read 2 chapters in How to Build Your Home on Holy Ground --only read one.
*  Limit sugar -- nope.
*  Exercise 5 or 6 times -- didn't even manage once.
*  Keep up with crafting goals for Christmas - did pretty well with this.
*  Keep up a good water intake -- DONE!
*  Get to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm each night -- managed this most nights.
*  Post daily in both of my blogs -- DONE except I have missed a day or two on my Christmas blog
*  Keep up with Kelly's Missions for  Zone 3, the bathrooms, plus a few from Zone 2, the kitchen -- got most of the zone 3 missions done but not the kitchen ones.
*  Finish with the gifts I need to buy -- not yet
*  Finish Christmas decorating -- not quite
*  Write some TripAdvisor reviews -- nope
*  Post about the couples' retreat from October -- nope
*  Make a daily time schedule for the things I need to do -- DONE!

Needless to say, I am hoping for a productive week coming up!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16

It's been a day of Christmasy things.  For dessert at today's potluck lunch at church, we took a tray of Mr. T's beautiful Christmas cookies.  He made some gorgeous spritz wreath cookies in Christmas colors and some especially fine eggnog logs, as well as Sacher Torte cookies, chocolate spritz, whipped shortbread, and more.  It all made for a very pretty tray.

In our afternoon service, our church's Patch the Pirate Club did a lovely Christmas song, "Love Reached Out". and a Christmas skit.

Tonight, I managed to complete 5 handmade Christmas gifts and start 2 more.

And ... it's been snowing lightly but steadily for much of the day.  Looks like we may have a white Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15

A photo from our son-in-law and daughter's home in Nevada
Mr. T and I are both so saddened by the events in Connecticut yesterday.  It is just too close to home.  We are praying for each and every family that has been personally impacted by this tragedy.  May they find their solace in the God of all comfort!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A generous and delightful Christmas giveaway!

It's not too late to get in on this wonderful giveaway over at the Muncks Quiver.  They are offering a choice of 14 wonderful gifts, ranging from handmades like hand towels and a peppermint scrub to tea balls and tea to a Christmas CD and a lovely book.  So many gifts to choose from!  The giveaway ends tomorrow, Saturday, December 15, at 12 pm, so head on over to the Muncks Christmas Giveaway and join in the holiday festivity!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13

The time is galloping by!
The number of days until Christmas is rapidly dwindling.  I'm fairly pleased with the progress I've been making on the handcrafted gifts and am quite sure they'll be finished in time to mail to the recipients.  We have very few gifts left to buy and those can be obtained locally.

Today was a busy day with not a lot of time for Christmas preparations, but I did order one gift and did some work on crafted items for the grandkids.  Oh, and bought part of a gift tonight and also picked up some containers for kitchen gifts at the dollar store.

I love this season so much and just wish it were longer.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time to do all that I would like to, to be able to fully savor the season.  One thing I am firmly resolving (and yes, I make this resolution every year and only partially succeed with it) is to work on Christmas crafting all year round.  We will see!