Some of my most joyful moments this Christmas season have been spent at my little glass-topped sewing desk, creating gifts for friends and family. I must note that I am not a perfectionist type of seamstress. The fun of creating means much more to me than making the end result perfect. Saturday, on a whim, I decided to make an apron for a dear friend. She lives several states away, but was to be in New England briefly and we planned a meeting on Sunday afternoon. As I'd been working on other handmade gifts, I had come across some pretty green fabric with tiny red apples. I thought it would be perfect for an apron. And my friend's favorite color is green... so I spent part of Saturday whipping up this apron. The fabrics are not specifically Christmas ones, so it may be worn anytime... but doesn't it make a pretty apron for this holiday?
Here are a few of the crafts I’ve been doing for Christmas gifts. I didn’t want to show these here earlier because some of the recipients' mothers read my blog. But now it can be told!
In 2006 I crocheted some decorative stockings for the 5 grandchildren we had then. This year we added 2 more, so more stockings had to follow! A few years ago I embroidered flour-sack dish towels for my daughters and daughter-in-law. I got thinking this year about my little granddaughter who has a play kitchen and how she might like some mini dish towels. I then decided that there were 2 grandsons who like to help in the kitchen and would enjoy these too. So I’m in the midst of making one for each of the three kids and also came across some partial pieces of homespun-type dish toweling that I turned into mini towels as well. These are the ones for little Darrin, out in Nevada. (I must add a note of explanation about the "dishes are unfair" one. I have no idea where this came from. It was stamped on a piece of vintage dish towel fabric and someone had started embroidering it — in black, of all colors! I either inherited this from somewhere or it came from a thrift shop or something. I thought about what could be done with it and decided to finish it in black (it was about half done already) and then add in some touches of color. Once it was washed, hemmed and pressed I was quite pleased with the result!)
Here’s a winter pillowcase I made for Darrin, too.
The little hats in this photo are intended to be ornaments. After the photo was taken, I added gold cords to hang them with and glued a little snowflake to the dark red one and a little tree to the one in variegated Christmas colors. These went along in the package to NV for him and Emily. These little hats were so easy to make -- just a small section (the larger hat used a 3/4" piece and the smaller hat a 1/2" piece) of a cardboard tube with 12" lengths of yarn tied around it. When the tube is covered with yarn, one pulls all of the yarn tails through the tube and ties them off to form the pompom for the hat. I plan to make more of these as I thought they were very cute. I've had the instructions for years but this is the first time I've tried making any of the hats. Here are two more pillowcases which I made for my older granddaughters. These are a princessy pink with stars and pink glitter. I also made some very simple fleece scarves for the two girls. I was astounded to find how well these coordinated with their winter jackets. And here is an embellished long-sleeved t-shirt which I made for one of them. Walmart had the plain shirts for only $4.50. I sewed some strung pearls around the neck and added a ribbon rose. There will be more crafts to share in time, as we still have one family to open gifts with. I will share more later. I hope others had as much fun crafting this year as I did!
There are still a couple of hours left of Christmas Day 2008... so I have plenty of time to take just a minute and wish all of my friends a very Merry Christmas. We hope that you have had a wonderful day and that each of you will have a happy, healthy 2009.
This little display on my kitchen island (really an old formica-topped desk built by my dad) sums up so much of what I feel about a Christmas kitchen. The Christmas bandanna underneath it all is one I bought many years ago with just such a use in mind. The little "oil" lamp is from a dollar store and the Merry Christmas ribbon some I bought at Walmart a few years back. The two Gooseberry Patch books, Christmas Pantry and Comfort & Joy, fit perfectly in my kitchen this time of year. The pantry is stocked with plenty of cookies, fudge, and apricot fruitcake, and the makings for many other food gifts. And I find my kitchen at Christmas time to be truly a place of comfort and joy.
The "ribbon candy" is really ornaments, made by my daughter Joanna last year. I love the way she packaged them to look like real candy -- and I enjoy them as much (or more) as part of a display like this as I would hanging them on the Christmas tree. The cookie cutters are some of my favorites, and the oversized teacup is from the Mitford snowmen collection. (I found it in a consignment shop a few years ago.) The little rolling pin recipe holder with the candy cane handles was a gift from my granddaughters, and the recipe is a favorite from my dear friend Marilyn. I found the package of vintage light bulbs when we began cleaning the attic this spring, and saved them for just such a use as this.
May your Christmas kitchen be a place like this... filled with sweet old memories and new ones being made... a place where you and your family find joy and where others find comfort too... a place from which your light shines forth to encourage friends and neighbors at this blessed season.
For Show and Tell today I have some more Christmas cards to show you all.
Doesn't this woodsy sleigh ride look like fun? Another sleigh ride, this one with falling snow. (That's what we've got going on outside my window, in fact. Another winter storm beginning!) Love this nifty scene of Santa shouting "Tally-Ho!" This card is not quite as old, but I love its classic Christmas look and would love to reproduce that pretty arrangement sometime. Oh, for more time! This sheet-music themed card is so pretty. I love these red bells and the saying on this card. Lastly, a gorgeous new card handcrafted by a dear friend. I love the sledding children and the glittery letters spelling out "snow"! To see what others have shared for Show & Tell this week, go visit visit There is No Place Like Home and check out the links. It’s so much fun to see what others have to share!
This morning in Streams in the Desert I read something that encouraged me so much that I wanted to share it.
At this light-filled, festive, happy season of the year, I have been reminded that many are experiencing dark times. This is a difficult season for many people. As believers, we are no longer walking in darkness as we used to be. Ephesians 5:8 reminds us, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light." Still, we will pass through dark times even as believers. Consider, for example, the "valley of the shadow of death" alluded to in Psalm 23. And that is why today's reading in Streams in the Desert encouraged me so much as I pass through a time of dark trial in my own life.
The verse referred to was Isaiah 45:3 -- "I will give thee the treasures of darkness." And here is the wonderful reading for today, written by J.R. Miller:
"In the famous lace shops of Brussels, there are certain rooms devoted to the spinning of the finest and most delicate patterns. These rooms are altogether darkened, save for a light from one very small window, which falls directly upon the pattern. There is only one spinner in the room, and he sits where the narrow stream of light falls upon the threads of his weaving. 'Thus,' we are told by the guide, 'do we secure our choicest products. Lace is always more delicately and beautifully woven when the worker himself is in the dark and only his pattern is in the light.'
"May it not be the same with us in our weaving? Sometimes it is very dark. We cannot understand what we are doing. We do not see the web we are weaving. We are not able to discover any beauty, any possible good in our experience. Yet if we are faithful and fail not and faint not, we shall some day know that the most exquisite work of all our life was done in those days when it was so dark.
"If you are in the deep shadows because of some strange, mysterious providence, do not be afraid. Simply go on in faith and love, never doubting. God is watching, and He will bring good and beauty out of all your pain and tears."
Maybe you are going through a time of dark trial today. You have no idea how God is going to bring good out of this, but you are trying to obediently follow Him through the valley of the shadow. I hope that this lovely illustration will encourage you as it has me.
These are not one of our traditional Christmas cookies, but they are a cookie that works beautifully with cookie stamps. I got to thinking -- I have a set of Christmas cookie stamps, and probably others have them as well. I think they were a freebie with renewing or gift subscriptions to Taste of Home or another magazine some years ago. If you are looking for an easy recipe to use with cookie stamps (or with the bottom of a drinking glass), then you will want to try this one.
RICH BUTTERSCOTCH COOKIES (Perfect “cookie-stamp” cookies)
4 cups flour 1/2 tsp. salt 2 cups butter or real margarine 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. brown sugar, packed 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla Sugar
Sift together the flour & salt; set aside.
Cream together butter & brown sugar in bowl until light & fluffy, using electric mixer at medium speed. Blend in vanilla.
Gradually stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture, blending well. Cover & chill dough in refrigerator 2 hours.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and dip the top of each ball in sugar. Place balls, about 2 inches apart, on greased baking sheets (I prefer to use parchment-lined sheets). Flatten each slightly with a cookie stamp or the bottom of a drinking glass.
Bake at 350º 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets; cool on racks.
Yield: 8 dozen.
These were a favorite cookie of my daughter Joanna’s as a child. They are very rich but very delicious. They are super-easy to make and the recipe makes a lot. You can cut the recipe in half if you prefer. This recipe comes from Farm Journal’s Best-Ever Cookies.
To see what others have shared for Favorite Ingredients Friday, head on over to Overwhelmed with Joy and check out the links.
For show and tell today, I want to show a few more of the vintage Christmas cards from my collection.
I love this one with the snowy outdoor tree and the carolers singing around it. The flickering candle flames have such an old vintage look! What a welcoming look this open door has as the viewer peeks into the lighted room beyond. This patriotic red, white and blue card must surely have been produced in wartime. This card with its red mailbox is not as old as some of the others -- probably from the early 1960s -- but it is a favorite of mine. It reminds me of my childhood and how much fun it always was to bring in the mail during the Christmas season. This scene of the family dragging home the Christmas tree through a snowy village is such fun. I love the smoke curling from the village chimneys. Lastly for today, here is a cheery card featuring a December calendar. How glad I am that its date is not correct! To see what others have shared for Show & Tell this week, go visit visit There is No Place Like Home and check out the links. It’s so much fun to see what others have to share!
It isn't often that I recommend posts from another blog, mainly because I have so little time to actually read blogs. But this post, from my dear friend Patty at Beside Still Waters, is an important one to read. She talks about her dismay at breaking some special Christmas items that were important to her, and her realisation that they were only things, after all. Broken stuff is just stuff. Our real concern ought to be for the broken lives that are all around us, and their desperate need for the Savior who can make them whole. Read Patty's post, and take it to heart in this Christmas season.
It's been a busy and tiring day, but I did manage to get some Christmas preparations done. At long last, I nearly completed an actual list of what we'll likely be giving our loved ones. I also made a list of the baking and candy making I still want to do, and baked a batch of gingersnaps (tops dipped in red or green sugar) which I can now cross off the list. I made 8 packages of mulling spices for cider, always a favorite item in our gift baskets or for neighbor gifts. Last night I started a small crocheted stocking for one of the grandbabies. I've started to make some embroidered mini flour sack towels for grandkids who help their mom with dishes, and I recently found in my stash half a blue & white checked dish towel (I had used the other half for a wall hanging at some time, I think) which I cut in half to make 2 more mini dish towels to go along with the embroidered ones. I just need to hem the cut edges on the checked ones to have those complete. Hope to get a little more done on the stocking tonight, and maybe make an ornament or two as well.
This poem was printed on the back of our church bulletin last January. I saved it, and lately the words have spoken to me so strongly that I thought it needed to be shared with others as well. So here it is:
A HYMN OF TRUST
In quietness and confidence My strength shall ever be! No weariness shall overcome The soul that's stayed on Thee. Though trials sore and hardships come My strength He shall renew; His presence shall envelop me -- No ill shall e'er pass through.
My case into His hands I've given, He knoweth all my need; And He who notes the sparrow's fall Shall still provide and lead. Though sudden sorrow pierce my heart, Though storm-clouds rise and thunders roll, In quietness and confidence Shall be my strength of soul.
Though friends may fail, the world be dark, I know for me He cares, And as a Father pitieth In all my grief He shares. And so, whatever may betide, Or whether weal or woe, In quietness and confidence Shall be the strength I know.
~ Nettie M. Sarge
And one of the promises the poet alludes to is from Isaiah 30:15 -- "in quietness and confidence shall be your strength". These words were actually written to God's people, Israel, who so often rebelled against His care for them -- the verse goes on to say, "and ye would not". But God still does give strength in quietness and confidence to all of those who will truly walk with Him, no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. This is what the poet is trying to convey here.
I hope this poem encourages someone else today as it has encouraged me!
A bright, sunny but very cold day here in northern New England. It was 2 degrees below zero when I got up this morning at five! Here's my menu plan:
MONDAY: Macaroni & Cheese, Asparagus, Coleslaw
TUESDAY: Spinach Calzones, 3-Bean Salad
WEDNESDAY: Veggie Bean Soup, Multigrain Biscuits
THURSDAY: Three-Cheese Spinach Roll-ups, Italian Mixed Vegetables
FRIDAY: Red Beans & Rice, Apple Salad
SATURDAY: Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Coleslaw
SUNDAY: (Our church is now going to a weekly -- rather than monthly -- potluck with an afternoon service to follow, to save heating the building twice on Sunday through the winter months, so my Sunday meal each week now through February will be for the potluck.) Vegetable Lasagna, Ranch French Bread, Dessert (yet to be determined, but yesterday I brought a Cream Puff Dessert that was such an overwhelming success, I may just do it again!)
If you would like to see menus which others have shared, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out the links. Usually close to 300 people -- sometimes more! -- share links to their weekly menus. You'll find some great ideas and often recipes too.
Yes, as some of you more observant readers may have noticed, I'm embarking on a new adventure here at my kitchen table. My daughter Carrie got me started as an Amazon associate, and so if you do any shopping there and go through my link, I will benefit a bit from that. It's just an interesting thing to do and maybe help out our finances a little bit at the same time.
And then there's my A-Store, which I have wanted to have for a long time but haven't had the time to get started. I have been having too much fun adding products to the various categories. You might be especially interested, this time of year, in checking out my Christmas Shop. I must warn you though that the store is still very much under construction. I have had very little time to work on it this week and I still don't have all of the products sorted out the way I want them in the different categories. I also hope to add personal descriptions to many of the product listings. In the Christmas shop right now I have many books that have been such fun for my family over the years. So do some window shopping, if you've a mind to.
It's official -- the first batch of Christmas cookies for 2008 has just gone into the oven. It's a new recipe (for me, although it's from a 2003 Taste of Home magazine), one I've wanted to try for some time because it looked simple and as if it would be delicious, too. The recipe is Cranberry Coconut Bars and it looks like the basic formulation for traditional seven-layer bars -- the type with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut, sweetened condensed milk, etc. But this recipe has been majorly tweaked and uses white chips, dried cranberries, and pecans as some of the ingredients. They certainly were simple to put together -- so simple that maybe I'll tackle a more involved recipe this afternoon!
I live in scenic northern New England with my handsome husband. We're empty-nesters with a bunch of adorable grandchildren. We love (tent) camping and traveling, but don't get away as often as we'd like to.