Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweet Holiday Pillow

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Mine was extra special as my dad was able to come home from the hospital on Christmas Eve! It was more quiet than usual as my parents couldn't come to my house, but we all got together yesterday for dessert and gift exchange so it turned out really nice.
I just finished up this little piece, Seasons Greetings, by Carol over at Istitchaholic blog (see sidebar). It's a free pattern and works up quickly. I like it a lot and it adds a nice little country touch to my Christmas decorating. I used leftover linen I had in my stash and some red and green DMC floss. I added a couple little jingle bells for an added touch. I used some leftover fabric I had from Carol's other design, Noel, that I just finished last week. I'm happy to I was able to squeeze in one more Christmas project before the new year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blessed Christmas

Glory to God in the Highest, and Peace to His people on earth...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sew Noel

I promised myself I would stitch something special, just for me, for Christmas. I poked around for awhile and stumbled across this beautiful piece, Sew Noel. I loved the contrast between the pure white and bright red and especially liked that it had a church on it. It was a joy to stitch; minimal color changes! I stitched it on white linen with Splendor silk thread in #S820. I did the finishing as a Heavy Weight using the little book, The Heavy Weight, by Judy O'Dell of Just a Thought. The designer of Sew Noel, Carol, is from England. Her blog,, (see my side bar) is delightful. She has a series of patterns that she designs as PDF files for $4.00. She even has some freebies with a purchase that go along with the Sew... series. I have all of them and will continue to buy them as she designs them. I really like her style.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snowflake Cookies

Every year I join in for a Christmas Cookie Swap. I almost didn't join in this year as I thought it was an unnecessary expense. After much thought, Gary and I decided that it would be very sad if I didn't participate so I called my friend back and told her to count me in.

Now I have to tell you, she is a very good friend of mine and here is what she did: she called and asked me what kind of cookie I was making (now, we do talk about cookies and recipes quite a bit so it didn't phase me at all). That afternoon, she came over with bags filled with everything I would need to make 12 dozen cookies!

It's not like my friend is rolling in dough, mind you... she has seven children of her own and doesn't work. But her heart is unbelievably big... She asked me about the silver dragees and I said I was going to decorate the cookies without them as I couldn't get them anywhere (outlawed, you know!) except on-line and they were too expensive. Next thing I know, I got a package in the mail with three sizes of dragees! She ordered them for me! I can't thank her enough... she truly let me, through her generosity, enjoy a Christmas tradition to its' fullest.
Click on the pics to see a close up of the decorating. They are quite pretty. Delicious, too. They are Snowflakes by Paula Deene.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ornaments, Recipes and Memories

This time of year always brings back memories. As each Christmas comes long, I find myself thinking back to my early married years, then slowly make my way to the present. Our tree tells a story, just as I'm sure yours does: first Christmas as husband and wife, first baby, second and so on. Every year I either make or buy my kids each an ornament. Our tree is quite full, though this is the first year my oldest son is officially on his own. I bagged up his ornaments for him so he can add them onto his own tree. A bitter-sweet time for sure. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite hand-made ornaments... The snowman is a piece I made a few years ago. I love the little beads on it and like the way it glistens.

The knitted stocking was made by my mother-in-law who could knit in her sleep! I picture her now, resting in heaven, but surely with knitting needles in her hands and a skein of yarn at her side...

The little lamb ornament is the one I made for Kierra's first Christmas. It's in dire need of some repair work on the top and I will take care of that during the week.

Casey made this sweet ornament for me when he was just three years old. He's seventeen now.

And this is a little hardanger piece that is one of my favorite...
I hope you enjoyed looking at some of my treasured ornaments that are hanging on the tree. For a little gift to you, please enjoy the following recipes that I was busy making today. Tomorrow is my husband's birthday and I'm also trying to get a head start on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day cooking. Hope you find something new to try!
Hot Buttered Cranberry Butter Rum Mix - from Storybook Woods Blog
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ginger
pinch cloves and salt
Cream ingredients together. Store in freezer, tightly wrapped in wax paper, then a freezer bag. Slice off pieces as needed.
Heat 1/2 cup cranberry juice and 1/2 cup cider. In bottom of cup add a generous tablespoon of butter. Pour hot liquid over juice. Add rum if you like.

Hawaiian Dream Cake - from my good friend, Rose
1 yellow cake mix
1 (20-oz) can crushed pineapple, drained - reserve juice
1 (8-oz) cream cheese
1 (3-oz) instant vanilla pudding
1 cup cold milk
1 (9-oz) Cool Whip or your own whipped cream
coconut to garnish
Make cake using liquid and water for the liquid. Bake in 15 X 10 pan - grease & flour
Blend cream cheese, pudding and milk using a mixer. Fold in pineapple and spread over cooled cake.
Cover with Cool Whip or whipped cream and sprinkle with coconut. Let sit for a few hours before serving and keep in 'fridge.

Jelly Roll
Grease & line jelly roll pan with foil.
Sift together:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp.salt
In small bowl beat: 3 large eggs 'til thick. Pour into large bowl and gradually add in 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1 tsp. vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients until smooth. Pour into greased pan and bake for 375 for 12-15 minutes. Check often - after 10 minutes. Done just 'til top springs back. Loosen edges as soon as cake comes out. Turn upside down onto towel. Sprinkle with conf. sugar. Remove paper. Roll cake while hot - cool on wire rack. Unroll cake and remove towel. Spread with raspberry jam and roll back up again. Sprinkle with conf. sugar. Can be frozen... sprinkle conf. sugar before serving!

Chocolate Jelly Roll
Sift & Set aside:
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cocoa

Beat together:
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients together and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes in a jelly roll pan that has been lined with foil and well greased.
As soon as cake comes out of the oven, immediately loosen edges with a knife and invert onto a towel that has been sprinkled with conf. sugar. Roll up in a towel and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Then unroll and smear peppermint stick, mint chocolate chip or coffee ice cream over cake. Roll back up jelly-roll style, wrap with plastic wrap and foil and freeze. Serve with hot fudge (Friendly's is my personal favorite) and home-made whipped cream.

I can't remember who shared the above two recipes with me but they've been in my recipe box for years. I make both jelly roll recipes every year for Christmas Eve and it wouldn't be the same without them. I made each recipe this afternoon along with a home-made pizza for dinner. I'm glad to be out of the kitchen!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Home-made Soap, Mara Shawl and More

I've been away from blogging lately as Christmas nears. It's one of my favorite seasons and I love the bustle that goes with it. I'm not a big shopper to begin with, but with my hubbie still out of work (since July) I've been extra busy this year making more home-made gifts than in past years. We (yes, we, my hubbie helps in the soap-making A LOT) made two kinds of soaps for gift-giving as well as ourselves. We always have our own soap on hand as we truly love it. Anyway, one kind is Goats Milk with Honey/Oatmeal and Olive Oil and the other is a very soft soap lightly scented with Violet essential oil. Neither are glycerin melt and pour. Both are the real-stuff! I made up many, many washcloths with flannel on one side and terry on the other and paired them with a couple bars of soap. Set in a wicker basket and wrapped with some tinted basket wrapping and a pretty bow made up for nice gifts. Each of my seven kiddoes are getting one of these baskets.
*We do have some soap available for sale. They are $4.00/bar. I can fit four bars into a USPS box for $4.95 shipping. If you'd like some, please e-mail me at and put Soap in the message line.

I also made Kaleigh this beautiful Mara Shawl. The pattern was free on-line. For some reason, the URL isn't listed at the bottom of my print out but if you google it in, you'll find it. It's a beautiful shawl and I really enjoyed making it. Kaleigh's favorite color is green so I think she'll really like it. I used Lionbrand Vanna's Choice yarn. Even though it's an acrylic yarn I found it to be soft and nice to work with. I know we can machine wash and dry it too, so that was a very nice plus.

We recently went on a little day trip to New Milford, CT to the Silo. We go every year after Thanksgiving to see the huge Christmas tree. They put it up in a barn and it's live. The story behind the people that own The Silo is quite interesting. Skitch Henderson (now in heaven) founded The Pops where he conducted at Carnegie Hall for many years and his wife, Ruth, was a Vogue model in Germany before coming here. If you live in the area, you may enjoy a trip there. They have many kitchen goodies for sale along with wonderful cooking classes with famous chefs (if you have the pocketbook to afford them!).

We had some pieogre (I know, it's probably spelled wrong.. Polish dumplings in English) making here recently. Everyone got in on the fun and they came out really good. We only make them once a year, for Christmas Eve, as they're a lot of work. My grandma used to make them and my mother-in-law, too, so it's only natural that my husband and I carry on the tradition. We're determined to pass it along so all of our kids have always joined in the work (oops, I mean fun). Well, we try to make the work fun, and it usually is... our kitchen is filled with lots of laughs as we work!

My oldest son has moved out and is on his own. He's engaged to be married in a year and a half. The other day he was going to make Swedish meatballs and called me from the store. He was missing a few spices. He bought them at horribly expensive prices so I decided to make him up a little gift basket filled with some bought spices and some home-canned goodies. It'll be a nice go-along gift with the crock pot we bought him.
I'm nearly done with Christmas gift making. One of my friends has me busy making a few knitted gift items for her, which I'm truly grateful for, but other than that I think I'll put my knitting needles to rest until after the first of the year and pick up my embroidery needle instead. I have a beautiful counted cross-stitch sampler I'd like to finish for myself before Christmas. If I finish, I'll post a pic. To see more of my Christmas gifts, click on my side bar Homemade Christmas and the year. So... what are you all making for Christmas?