Monday, December 11, 2017

Sweet vintage card


Readers of my Christmas blog know that I love Christmas card scenes depicting mailboxes.  I've said many times that the reason I love these scenes so much may just be that they picture a more innocent, trusting time.  One could leave packages in and around the mailbox and they would be perfectly safe. 

Whatever the reason, I appreciate these simple country scenes so much.  And as I've been sorting through reams of old paper, I've found so many lovely cards, and probably a half-dozen depict mailbox scenes that are new to me.  This particular card is a tiny size, probably 3 by 5 inches, and I like the more muted colors.  The chickadee and bunny add a sweet touch.  Adding sentimental value to this card is the fact that it was sent by my favorite great-aunt, Bessie. 

If you love vintage, and I know many of you do, I'm sure this card will be of as much interest to you as it is to me!

Friday, December 08, 2017

December 8


Photo from Taste of Home
Well, a few Christmasy things have gotten done since my last progress post.  On Tuesday, I baked some Eggnog Log Cookies -- one of our favorite Christmas cookies.  They are one of the most time-consuming, so I made a double batch and sternly advised my husband not to eat too many of them. 

Wednesday I didn't manage to do a lot toward Christmas .. had a dental procedure late morning.  I did, however, bring my own CD (I listen to music during procedures involving the dentist's drill) and so John McDermott's soothing tenor kept me relaxed as I listened to The Holly and the Ivy.   (The Piano Guys would not have been as relaxing, but they sure would have drowned out the sound of the drill!)
Thursday I bought loads of ingredients for kitchen gifts as I did my regular grocery shopping.  I will definitely be making a couple of batches of chocolate-dipped orange slices, so got 4 bags of the candy and a large bag of dark chocolate chips.  Those who are interested may find that recipe here.  It's a real favorite!
Then Thursday afternoon I baked a batch of Secret Spice Cookies, dipping the tops in red or green sugar as I usually do with this type of cookie at Christmas.  They turned out really well and I wished I had made a double batch.  My hubby couldn't determine what the secret spice was, but he thought the cookies tasted great!
And then I tackled making a batch of Kitty’s Christmas Jam.  I had found the recipe last year and really wanted to try making some, but ran out of time.  I was fairly determined to make some jam this year and am glad that I made the effort.
The jam came out very well.  Now to decorate the jars for gift-giving, which should be lots of fun.

Today I've done very little toward Christmas preparations, other than to make a list for our little annual Christmas shopping excursion with three of our grandkids, planned for tomorrow.  Right now, though, I hope to wrap a few gifts.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

My simple Christmas curtains

A few days ago I mentioned my dining room curtains and a simple change I made for Christmas, and Vee asked to see my Christmas curtains.

As I mentioned in that post, years ago I made some curtains to cover the bottom half of the dining room windows that look onto the porch.  The view is not all that pretty , and these simple curtains from vintage fabric

worked very well to camouflage it and still let light in.  Later on, I made some fall curtains with fabric I had on hand. 

For years, I've been wanting to make curtains specifically for Christmas or winter.  I've seen some lovely ideas, but there just hasn't been time to make the curtains.   So I usually just use the geranium curtains shown at top.   They are green and red, after all.

But this year I tried something different.  I used wooden clothespins to clip red-and-white checked dishtowels to the tension rods.  
 The photo above shows both windows.  Since the dishtowels are not wide enough to cover the entire window, I opted to keep them to one side of each window.
This is a better photo as far as showing the color of the walls and so on.  The hooked rug picture, if anyone was wondering, was made by my great-aunt Marjorie with the traditional hand hooking method.

These "curtains" would look nicer if I had enough dishtowels to use two per window, but I only have enough for one each so am going with that for now.  It has occurred to me that I could probably find some Christmas dishtowels, maybe even in the dollar store,  to serve the same purpose, so I may eventually do that.  And I'd still love to make some Christmas curtains, one of these years.  For now, though, my simple and cost-free solution is working fine.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

December 6 Hodgepodge

 I'd say the general store above was filled with a hodgepodge of Christmasy things, wouldn't you agree?  This is a scan of a Christmas card our family sent one year when I was growing up.  I know, because the card was signed by me with the names of my parents and siblings.  My mother often had me sign and address the Christmas cards to help out, and that was a chore I enjoyed taking on.  This one, along with several others, apparently did not get sent.  My guess as to why?  I'm supposing that my perfectionist mother didn't think the cards I'd chosen were right for those particular recipients and re-did them, tucking the unsent ones away so I wouldn't know.  No matter -- I'm happy this card with its fun scene was there for me to find, as I'd forgotten all about it!

I'm not sure how this happened so fast, but it's Wednesday again -- not to mention that it's also December!   So it's time for the Hodgepodge with Joyce and friends at From This Side of the Pond.  Head on over to get the questions.  Then answer them on your own blog and go back over to Joyce's to link up!   Here are the [very challenging] questions for this week:

1. What title would you give this current chapter of your life?

What an interesting question!  Let's see.  Maybe "a tale of two houses" for I am spending time at two.  Maybe "never enough time."  Maybe "the endless season" as it seems I am never going to be finished with this task.

2. December 6 is National Microwave Oven Day. Who knew? Besides popcorn and coffee reheats, what's the most common thing you microwave? Could you get along without a microwave?

I microwave leftovers quite frequently.  I also use the microwave to soften butter or margarine for baking cookies, to heat a mug of water for tea, to melt chocolate or butter for various recipes, to make oatmeal, to cook frozen vegetables.  If I am making a baked potato just for myself, I'll bake it in the microwave.  Some types of candy, such as almond brittle or peanut brittle, are easily made in a microwave.  Although there was that one time ... when making almond brittle, a kitchen disaster did occur.

Could I get along without a microwave?  Absolutely, but it really does simplify my time in the kitchen and saves a lot of dishes.

3. If you could insert yourself into any Christmas carol and experience the lyrics in real life, which Christmas carol lyric would you choose and why?

Another fascinating question that really makes one stop and think.  Of course any of the biblical ones like "Joy to the World" or "O Little Town of Bethlehem" or "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" would be neat to be part of, but you know, I really am happy to be living in modern times.  "Silver Bells" has always been one of my favorites.  How about this one: "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"?  I would like to take a look at the five and ten, glistening once again, and the tree in the Grand Hotel, and one in the park as well.  I suppose that is not strictly a Christmas carol, but it sure is a Christmas song.

4. Describe the most beautiful drive you've ever taken.

 Oh, that would really be difficult.  I would say almost any drive on Prince Edward Island.  Potato fields -- gorgeous green plants against red earth -- and fields of lupines, sloping down to the sea.  I have taken other scenic drives, up mountains and so on, but those invariably involve hairpin turns and switchbacks.  If I am truly to enjoy the scenery, it's better that the drive be straightforward and uncomplicated.
Partway up Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park
5. What's something on your Christmas list this year? (an actual list or figuratively speaking, either one)
 
On my actual list: Several winter getaways with my husband.
On my figurative list: The finished task of a cleaned-out house.  Also a new pastor for our church. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

 I seem to be enjoying Christmas music more than ever this year.  It's making a great backdrop for cleaning, baking cookies, whatever I'm doing.  My sorting and clearing out at my dad's home is being made much more enjoyable by having Christmas music playing while I'm working.  I just purchased John McDermott's The Holly and the Ivy and am loving it.
Music filled the house when my girls were home from college on Christmas break, back in the day
And so ends another Hodgepodge!  Happy Wednesday, everyone!  And Happy December, too.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A pretty outdoor decorating idea


Last year I spied this beautiful idea for outdoor decorations at the nursing home where my dad was living.
 They had one of these arrangements on either side of the pillars at the front entrance.
 I took the photos with my Kindle and they aren't all that great.  But you get the idea.  The elements to the arrangements are mostly natural.   Large bunches of fresh evergreen branches were placed in sap buckets.  So appropriate to New Hampshire!  Pine cones and winterberries were tucked in among the greenery.  I'm not sure what the silvery dried materials are.  Dusty miller perhaps?  Possibly even goldenrod.  I can't remember for sure but I think there may have been some white twigs in the arrangement.  Then a red bow was added and each bucket was placed atop a chunk of birch with the pretty birch bark still intact. 
Hope this lovely idea is an inspiration to someone!  I would love to make one of these to display outside at our own home.

Monday, December 04, 2017

December 4

 Just a little update on Christmasy preparations ... today I finally got the Christmas card banners in place over the dining room windows.  But there's more!

Years ago I made some curtains to cover the bottom half of the dining room windows that look onto the porch.  The view is not all that pretty and these simple curtains
worked very well to camouflage it and still let light in.  Later on, I made some fall curtains with fabric I had on hand.  For years, I've been wanting to make curtains specifically for Christmas or winter, but there just hasn't been time and I usually just use the geranium curtains above. 

But this year I tried something different.  I used wooden clothespins to clip red-and-white checked dishtowels to the tension rods.  It would look nicer if I had enough dishtowels to use two per window, but I only have enough for one each so am going with that for now.  It occurred to me that I could probably find some Christmas dishtowels, maybe even in the dollar store,  to serve the same purpose, so I may eventually do that.  For now, though, my simple and cost-free solution is working fine.  Maybe I can take a picture later, but not today.

Let's see -- last evening I wrapped about half of our gifts for the Nevada contingent and did the click and print at USPS.com, then scheduled a carrier pickup.  Light-years ahead of my usual speed in accomplishing this task. 

I hope to get the rest wrapped in the next few days and get them on their way as well.   While I'm at it, I'll also wrap the gifts I have for our local family members and stick them in large gift bags to await the Christmas tree.

There are just a few gifts left to purchase and even though I'm feeling very stretched in other ways, this part of my Christmas preparation seems in good order.

Between Saturday and today, I also prepared Christmas cards for a swap I'm taking part in and got those on their way.

Today I made some fudge and prepared care packages for a couple of college students to get them through the last days of the semester.  Just now did click and print and scheduled a carrier pickup for tomorrow.  I love being able to do this online ... it saves me so much time and trouble!

I'm also trying to take part in a Christmas photo challenge over at Instagram.  So far, so good!  I'm having fun with it.

That's all for now.  Hope everyone else is having a productive December!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

A Christmas poem ~ "Christmas Splendor"


Some of my recent finds include vintage Ideals magazines in a smaller size for sending to friends.    Envelopes like the one shown above were included with these.  So pretty!  The envelopes are ever so faintly dusted with glitter, although you can't really tell by looking at this scan.

The poem I'm sharing came from the 1956 Ideals "Christmas Greetings".  It's by Lida Shivers Leech.

Christmas Splendor
Lida Shivers Leech

The dawn breaks o'er a beauteous scene,
Quiet, dazzling, and serene;
A wealth of diamonds in the snow
Set hill and vale aglow.

A panorama unsurpassed,
Traced by the Master-hand;
And etched in jewels crystal clear
By nature's magic wand.

A bright-eyed snowbird pecks around
For crumbs or berries red;
With cheery chirp he greets his mate
On icy branch o'erhead.

Christmas splendor-- a spotless robe
On roof, on shrub and tree;
We stand amazed and gaze in awe
On this, God's mystery.

This actually reminds me quite a bit of the type of poems my husband's dad would write.  It does set a beautiful scene.  God is indeed the Master Artist!