Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Our first snow of the year, that stayed! 
Merry Christmas!
I hope you all have a happy New Year too!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Make A Christmas Wreath

I saw a fabulous idea at the craft store and have been slowly collecting pieces here and there to make these wreaths. I didn't want to spend six dollars for each grapevine circle so I went to the dollar store and found wicker wreaths, they only cost a dollar each of course. I waited for a buy-one get-one free sale at the craft store to get the greenery and dug through the clearance basket to get ribbon for fifty cents. I put off making these wreaths until almost the last minute, I was sure they were going to be time consuming and difficult... To make six of them it took me less than 2 hours. They really are easy!

I love this idea of decorating chairs in the dining room, because the only other place to really decorate is a centerpiece on the table which tends to interfere with the food. Just think, you could make a wreath for any holiday, just be creative!

First, I cut the greenery into desireable pieces and wove in the berries, then hot glued them in place.
Next, I wrapped sheer gold ribbon around the wreath, it was a wide ribbon and covered too much greenery so I simply folded it in half as I wrapped, and listened to Christmas carols of course.
Then, I cut red satin ribbon and sheer sparkly ribbon into even lengths to be the ties for the chairs.

Now we are all ready fo a Christmas feast!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hold onto your hats-Its a Gingerbread House Contest!

Yes indeed! We decided to create gingerbread houses and enter the King Arthur Flour Gingerbread Contest.  You can see the other entrants to the contest on Pintrest. We haven't made them in years, I forgot how much work they were!
 "No. 4 Gumdrop Lane"
 This is Mandy's creation where she went crazy with gumdrops. Flattened gumdrops for the path........
.......... rolled gumdrops for shingles
 .........even gumdrops on the chimney (which are actually Dot candies rolled into sugar, because we ran out of red and green gumdrops!)
And gumdrop trees! These are leftover rolled gumdrops shaped into cones.

 And this is "Peppermint Cottage", my little creation.
 I stuck with a classic look, frosting and peppermints!

A few notes on gingerbread construction- we used our favorite gingerbread recipe rolled extra thick. For glue and decorating royal frosting made in different consistencies.

There is still time to join the fun!, the contest doesn't end until Dec 31!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Showing your co-workers you care on a budget!

Plastic bags with carboard
topers.  Just staple them on.
I don't know about you but I love to give my co-workers a little something around this time of year.  We have found that cookies are a great way to show you care but still will fit in your budget. 

The last few years we have made decorated sugar cookies but when we sat down to count up how many total gifts we needed they quickly added up to over 40!  Spending even two dollars on each gift was a bit out of range and decorating enough cookies seemed daunting.  So we settled on chocolate chip cookies and snicker doodles.

A quick trip to Hobby Lobby and I found cute little bags with cardboard toppers 20 to a bag and they were 1/2 off.  (This is the only place I could find these kind of bags.)

So on Saturday I started the great cookie bake! We ended up making 18 dozen cookies. Really it took about 9 hours total from the time I left to go shopping to the last bag being stapled. I think they turned out really cute! And my co-workers loved them! I know that several of them took the cardboard topper and stood it up on their desk as decoration.

Cookies made with the mini
Is it just me but my favorite
part is the cookie dough that
looks like ice cream!

Friday, December 14, 2012

...Happily Ever After

These are Evelyn's shoes that were made just for her, fit for a princess! Here is a picture of her all spruced up and fresh out of the box. The doll doctor told me all about Evelyn, she is a 1930's American made composition doll. Since she was that old her paint contained lead so she was coated by the doctor to seal that in.
Some info from the doctor-
 "During WWI, German goods were embargoed to the U.S. Most dolls were made in Germany. British and American manufacturers scrambled to come up with substitutes. Composition had been used for doll bodies for a long time, but very few whole dolls were made of compo. This started during that time. Usually head and hands were composition, and the body was cloth. This was the start of the American doll manufacturing industry. After the war, bisque-head German dolls were available once again, and were popular through the twenties, but American-made composition dolls were cheaper and less breakable, and mothers liked that."
Evelyn's box stuffed with good things...
 Two new dresses for the dolly plus the pattern so I can make more!

What a sweet face, can you blame me for falling in love?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once Upon A Time...

This is Evelyn,

We met on a musty old porch at an estate sale and my inner child prompted me to pick her up and cradle her in my arms and have a tea party with her. But the adult on the outside looked at her skeptically for she was severely cracked and looked ready to crumble.

I wandered through the rest of the house, picking up a few old records, dishes and books, but it was too late. I had fallen in love and I could almost hear Celine Dion..."near far, wherever you are..."
I had a panic moment that someone else had found my treasure and stolen her away as I rushed back to the little porch. There she was waiting and I did pick her up and cradle her in my arms but held back from kissing her.

As you can see from the before pictures, she was a pretty sad little creature. But I found a fantastic doll doctor and little Evelyn came back to me better than new with a diaper, shoes, new clothes and all kinds of goodies.

Watch for Part 2 of the Evelyn Story
 Check out this lady's ebay store!

Monday, December 10, 2012

I am dreaming of........Warm Woolies!

Doesn't a bit of cold weather make you dream of warm knitted woolens? With the cold weather this week I am already planning what to knit next. As soon as I get done with Christmas presents........
How about a fabulously warm looking pair of mittens from Green Mountain Spinnery? I love the natural simplistic look of them.
 Wouldn't you love to wrap up in this! Peaks Island Hood by Ysolda Teague.

Norby by the wonderfully talented Gundrun Johnston. Doesn't that look like a hat to tromp through the snow in?

So what is on your knitting needles currently? Christmas presents? or just a simple knit to relax during the holidays with?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Fruitcake

The secret to our Christmas Fruitcake? Fresh cranberries!!
Not only do they look pretty, but taste so much better then those brightly colored odd bits of fruit traditionly put in fruitcakes. When we tell people that we make fruitcake, the first response is "I don't like it, all that weird fruit".
 Even lovers of fruitcake are a little put off by it sometimes. The main reason we started using other fruit, (besides the ick factor) was the food dye, it doesn't agree with me. So we set out to create a cake that tasted good, might be a bit more healthy for you (fresh fruit versus processed) and didn't give me hives. We took out all the stuff we didn't like and put in REAL yummy fruit. 
Fresh cranberries, fresh apples, dried pineapple, dates, raisins, dried mango and walnuts.
For this batch we were a little shy on dried fruits. But fruitcake is forgiving. Whatever you have on hand works!
We like ours chock full of fruit, about half fruit and half batter! After all, that is the point of a fruitcake right?
The batter is a little light in color as we ran out of brown sugar. Yes, it was almost a crisis! But then I remembered that white sugar + molasses = brown sugar! We just measured out the amount of sugar we needed (well, maybe we didn't measure, just threw a bunch in a bowl), added molasses and mixed until it looked like brown sugar!

As you can see we like to use a lot of different sized pans. Cupcake sized for gifts, small loaves for stashing in the freezer and large round cakes for Christmas Day! (Did I mention fruitcake freezes great? We love it half frozen!)
Christmas Fruit Cake
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups brown sugar
6 eggs
3/4 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup dried pineapple
1 cup other dried fruits such as kiwi, papaya, mango, passion fruit (optional)
1 1/2 cups chopped apple
1 1/2 (12 oz) bags fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup walnuts
Mix all dried and fresh fruit in a bowl. Stir 1 cup of flour into fruit and set aside. In large bowl cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs. Mix in flour and baking powder. Fold fruit mixture into batter. Bake in greased pans at 275 degrees for about 35-45 mins.

Are you a lover of fruitcake or a non-lover? What do you like or dislike?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Knitted Nether Garments

You ask what is a Nether Garment? 
Well they are legging or thermal underwear!     

I knitted a pair for me using a pattern from THE OPINIONATED KNITTER by  Elizabeth Zimmerman.  I used  left over little bits of sock yarn. I collected the yarn from my Mom and Sisters! We had a lot hanging around, so I put them to good use! 
They are knitted on size one needles.    

I thought the little drawing was cute!
  I hope I have enough yarn left to knit a  top to match!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kate's Quilt

I found these fabrics bundles on clearance, already matched up and ready to be a quilt. I love clearance shopping don't you? The brightness and contrasts immediately brought to mind my sister-in-law Kate, and what a good time to make her a quilt as she graduates this year.
My sister came for the weekend and helped me cut and piece the whole thing, because I have found that you need to piece a quilt all together in a few days. That way you don't lose motivation and also when the quilt pieces are put away and then brought back out, they just don't go together the same way again. Don't ask me how that works, I just know now that you have to do it ASAP!
So thanks to my sister, another sister can be warm and happy this winter! We stayed up into the wee small hours getting it finished, but it was worth it.
The pattern was a little difficult with some odd shaped pieces, its always nice to have a patient sister on hand. The pattern was from Better Homes and Garden's American Patchwork & Quilting, February 2008 issue #90 Windy By the Lake.
I love the texture of a quilt when its hand-quilted and then washed & dried. It gets little "rumply" as Mom says. 
And don't you love the fun paisley backing I chose? I think  a quilt is nice when you can reverse it for a comforter as well.
Here's a link to a great website that has a tool where you can look up quilt stores as you travel. It's how I discovered Neff's Country Loft in Ohio.