Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Consider making a Christmas recipe notebook (Part 1)

Really -- it will be so helpful to you each year when the Christmas season comes around!  It may seem like a lot of work, but it really is worth it.  I actually refer to mine year round.  And the most convenient time to work on such a project is right after Christmas, when all of your holiday recipes are at hand since you have just been using them.

When I was growing up, my mother always had a Christmas notebook.  It was in a really distinctive pink and white textured binder.  Below you see the notebook in all of its shabby glory, coffee spills and all.  (My mother always had a cup of coffee at hand.  Not a mug; a coffee cup.) 

When I saw that notebook make an appearance around the house, I knew Christmas planning was beginning.  Mom kept lists of gifts she had ordered in this notebook, sometimes in shorthand so snoopers wouldn't know what they were getting.   You can see some of the shorthand entries below.
But she also kept all of her traditional Christmas recipes in this binder.



I had adapted this idea by keeping all of my Christmas recipes on special Christmas recipe cards.  They were pretty and fun, but really, a notebook, especially a loose-leaf one, is a better idea. 

My sister had an entire recipe box with only Christmas recipes, and that is also a good idea, but the notebook, again, is more practical.

Still, I didn't have one until I had the inspiration to create a Christmas memory book for my adult kids and their families, writing down all the Christmas memories I could think of.  You can read here about how I did that project: How to Make a Christmas Memory Book.

In doing that, I naturally added in all of our favorite Christmas recipes.  I included recipes from my own childhood, recipes from my kids' growing-up years, and recipes from much more recent times.

 Below you see a favorite recipe for Fruity Pastel Spritz.  This is a newer recipe I've discovered.  It uses fruit flavored gelatin powder for color and flavor.  We especially like this for Christmas tree spritz cookies.

I find myself turning often to my Christmas recipe notebook, even at other times of year. We might use a recipe for a Christmas breakfast bake, for instance, at any special brunch or breakfast.  Or some of the salads, side dishes, or desserts for Christmas dinner are ones we might use at Thanksgiving or any other special family dinner.

It really does help to have all of the Christmas recipes in one place; it helps especially when planning a holiday grocery shopping trip or list.

So now would be a great time to make a Christmas recipe book of your own.  You can use my directions for assembling a Christmas memory book to see the binder, page protectors and other materials you might use.  Or, stay tuned for Part 2, which will share some different ideas for making a recipe book.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!


 From our house to yours, a Christmas greeting!  We hope that each of you has had a wonderful Christmas today.  I know that there are those among my readers who are grieving a recent loss, and those who are dealing with serious health issues -- and you are in my thoughts and prayers.  We trust that it was still a day when you could celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with deep joy in your hearts.  We had a blessed day and we hope that all of you did, also.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Tweaking a tradition


 Those who read here regularly may remember that a few years back we began a fun Christmas tradition with three of our local grandkids.  Briefly, it included going out for breakfast at a local McDonalds -- one that's a favorite because it includes a gas fireplace and a talking moose head.  Following that, we took them to a discount store to shop for gifts for their parents.  And finally, we took them to a fun candy shop that offers an ice cream buffet.   The number of participants has now risen to four, since their little sister turned 5 last year and so was included for the first time in 2019. 

This year it became obvious that we would have to tweak the tradition if it was to work.  Sadly, I got no photos of the event, so these from previous years will have to do.   But I'll tell you what we did.
Breakfast by the fireplace

All of our local McDonalds are currently only offering take-out and drive-through options.  So here's what we decided to do: Grampa and the kids picked up breakfast sandwiches to go.  Meanwhile I was preparing accompaniments here at home: hash brown casserole: 

(Even better, use my homemade soup substitute for cream of chicken.)

A coffeecake (made by Mr. T the night before):

grapes, and homemade hot cocoa.  It actually worked out very well.  It definitely saved money and was even more tasty.  But we did miss the fireplace and the talking moose!

Coffee by the fireplace -- that is Grammy's spot!
Sam at McDonalds some years ago  

Julia shopping (again, quite a few years back

We always liked topping off a sundae with an American flag!

For the ice cream portion of our outing, we were pretty sure the ice cream buffet was not going to be a go.  We didn't know how the shop was handling things, but it seemed simplest and less expensive to do this portion back at home, as well.  We had the kids choose ice cream flavors ahead of time.  Our local Market Basket had Hood ice cream on sale 2/$5.  I set out toppings like caramel sauce, whipped cream, strawberries, and hot fudge:

Wish I could remember what Ari said about the hot fudge sauce as I whipped it up in the microwave.  Something like, "This is the best chocolate smell EVER!"

The Christmas room is a wonderland!
And the player piano is always a huge hit.  Pretty sure that would have been cordoned off with crime scene tape this year.

Some felt Christmas trees in the Christmas room, in a previous year.

These lake-themed dishes are so pretty!

Josiah poses with an elf

Fireplace in the Christmas room

And so a tradition is tweaked.  Not sure if, or how, these changes will affect next year -- we sure hope the candy shop will again be a viable option -- but at least we have proven that traditions can adjust if needed.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Making space -- week 6


 So I need to get this posted even though I suppose Sunday technically is week 7 of the Making Space challenge.  

December 9 — to the thrift store: 3 Christmas CDs (listening to them and winnowing them out), a pair of decorative-edge scissors and a rack for holding scissors; 2 hardcover books I decided against reading.

December 13 -- to the trash: 5-6 boxes of outdated jello; 2 boxes of outdated pudding mix; a jar of very, very outdated fig pastry filling.

Also to the trash -- a tall kitchen bag FULL of worn-out hats, gloves, sweaters, etc.

To the thrift store: 3 hats and a pair of 1980s leg warmers!

To a lady who felts wool sweaters and turns them into mittens: a black trash bag full of old wool sweaters neither of us will ever wear again.  

We usually set up our Christmas tree in front of the picture window of our living room.  A cedar chest ordinarily resides under that window and we always move it to make way for the tree.  This year I decided that we would declutter the contents of that chest (a project that's been on my list for months!) when we moved it.  Hence, all of the woolens being disposed of.  It feels great to have that project taken care of!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Borrowing a question from the Hodgepodge


 There's just no time right now to participate in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, but I decided I did have time to answer one of Joyce's multi-part questions:

2. What's one thing you've baked this month? 

I'm trying to think.  Have I baked anything this month? We had guests for Sunday lunch on December 6 and I know I served some type of dessert.  But I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

Now, my hubby has baked a lot this month.  In fact, he has baked each and every cookie on the list at the top of the post, except for the no-bakes, logically enough.  I was thinking I might get to those today, but I didn't.

Lemon Shortbread Thumbprints
Whipped Shortbread

Secret Spice Cookies

Just to picture a few.  He has also made two batches of Heavenly Delight (see below) and one of Special Holiday Fudge.

Have you eaten the finished product? 

Not too much.  But yes, we, and especially he, have sampled.  Something about quality control, he says.

How much baking do you do around the holidays? 

A lot.   As you might have guessed from that list.  In recent years, Mr. T has done most of it, and this year, being retired, he is pretty much doing all of it.  (He's working for our son-in-law on a carpentry job today.)

What baked sweet something does your family insist is on the menu during this season of the year?  

Eggnog Logs and Sacher Torte Cookies.  You can find any of these recipes by typing the name of the cookie into the search box at top left.

Thanks, Joyce, for the inspiration today!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

A sweet Christmas surprise in the mail


Oh, what fun!  I got the sweetest surprise in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  This sweet new cookbook was written by author Angela MacRae from the blog Tea with Friends.  Anyone who knows me realizes that I fit the description on the cover to a "T" -- I am also a "baby boomer, thrifter, and flea market fanatic" (though I seldom get to a flea market).  I love vintage Christmas decor and recipes and have an entire blog (Mrs. T's Christmas Kitchen) dedicated to all things Christmas.

Angela had purchased something from my Etsy shop, A New Hampshire Attic, and we corresponded a bit about vintage Christmas recipes, etc.  

 I sent her an extra vintage cookbook of Christmas recipes, just like the one my mother had used when I was growing up.  Isn't it nifty?

 Angela had told me she was writing a vintage Christmas cookbook,  and was interested in vintage recipes and graphics to use.  She had also told me she would mail me a copy of the finished book, but I had forgotten all about that until I received her package.  So much fun!  I have barely had time to do more than page through this delightful book,  but I look forward to reading it soon.

You can find Angela's book here on Amazon, should you be interested in obtaining one of these fun cookbooks for yourself.  

Thank you, Angela!

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

A little progress


 ... very little.

Today has not been much of a day for Christmasy preparations.  Mr. T has been baking like crazy, but took a time out today to work on other pursuits.

Today he did make a batch of Special Holiday fudge.

I got a number of gifts ordered.

I also unearthed a pattern I will need to make a particular gift.

And I think that is it for today.

Don't you love the Christmas cards that feature an open doorway with a warm, lighted room within? I love the Longfellow quote on this one too!

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Something new in my Etsy shop!

 I'm trying something new in the way of Etsy shop listings in the Vintage Christmas category: small and simple ephemera packs for people to use in paper crafting and other projects.  This is proving to be a great way to sell some bits and pieces that otherwise might get lost in the shuffle.  So far I've put together four of these, and two have sold.

The first ephemera pack I put together was a classic Christmas theme with mostly red, green, white and gold components.  I'm including unused cards, used cards, card fronts, vintage tags and stickers, and more.  I'm adding a vintagey Christmas photo card into each pack too.  I'm wrapping up each assortment in a strip of vintage, or vintage-look, wrapping paper.

I'll show you the finished four packs and a few of the items for each one.  The photo for the first pack shows nearly everything it contains, but others do not.

Next I got the idea to make a "Blue Christmas" pack.  Many Christmas cards have a blue theme, and I have always loved those, so ...


Next I assembled an ephemera pack in shades of green.

The most recent pack I've put together is items with a red, or red and white theme.

What do you think?  Which of these would be your favorite?  Do you like the idea of a real assortment of colors and designs in a paper ephemera pack?  Or would you prefer items of mostly one color?  Any ideas for other colors or Christmas themes I should feature?  (I've considered candles, Santas, bells, lanterns, snow scenes and more, but I'd be open to more ideas.)