Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Picnik

No, I haven't gone crazy and forgotten how to spell picnic.  I used the online photo editing website Picnik to jazz up a photo of DD to use in our holiday cards.  I went a little crazy and upgraded to the premium package just so I could have access to all of the fun stuff.  After editing the photo, I uploaded it to my Shutterfly account so I could have the pictures printed at my local Target store.

After I ordered the photos I realized that they won't fit in the photo card frames I had already purchased :(  So being the clever clogs that I am I went back to Shutterfly and ordered wallet sized photos to use in the frames that I do have (and got for $1 a package at Michael's).  These will be the ones I hand out at work.  When I pick up my photos tomorrow I shall peruse their selection of photo card frames -they had some scrummy ones there last time I looked!  So although I won't be quite as on the ball as Diane, I at least have a plan and most of the materials.  I should have time this week to finish the deal! 

The only thing to throw me off course is an issue regarding stamps.  I purchased holiday stamps last year and still have enough left over to handle this year's mailing.  But the postage rate has gone up since then.  Do I purchase non-holiday stamps to add to last year's for correct postage, or should I get new holiday stamps all together?  Your advice will be appreciated!

Of course this also means I have extra holiday photos coming to me -if any of my Twisters would like to get on my mailing list DM your address to me  :)

For those of you who may have missed my Twitter updates on Friday,  I'M OFF FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK!  Holiday Prep in Full Force.......

Don't forget to check out the Holiday activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Friday, November 20, 2009


Christmas Dreams

Maybe it is the wine.....maybe it is the fact that I have some quiet time to myself at the beginning of a week off from work.....but I've been thinking A LOT about holidays and why this time of year is so special to me.

I remember the artificial tree we had.  All the years I lived at home it was the same one.  Maybe 6 feet tall, before lights were wired into the branches, super short needles at the top of the tree from where there was damage from a fire my first Christmas.  A fire started by the lights on the tree which was in the basement of our house and which wiped out my sister's extensive Barbie Doll collection.  And also scorched the wall by my crib in the room directly above.  Fortunately, my parents had gone out for the evening so my siblings & I were with an aunt at the time of the fire.

I remember the decorations for the tree.  The funky 50's shapes and colors of our glass ornaments.  The beautiful glass balls.  The ornaments we kids had made through the years at school.  Red and green garlands, and tinsel crinkled and shortened from being used year after year.  Whatever happened to tinsel?  I haven't put it on any of my own trees - is it even still available to buy?  There was this candle too. Round bottom, five sides, stained glass panels and silver glitter.  It had this scent.....I don't know what it was called originally, but to me it smelled of Christmas.

My nephews used to fall asleep with the thick Christmas flyer that Toys-R-Us sent out.  For us it was the arrival of the JC Penny catalog.  The number of times we would look through it, circling the items we wanted -I'm surprised we didn't break the spine!

I remember the special food we had.  My dad was in charge of candy making.  He was a typical dad of the time: made great pancakes and was always in charge of the grill.  But at Christmas time, he would take over the kitchen.  He would make carmel corn, chocolate rainsin clusters, chocolate peanut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels.  Come to think of it, if it stood still long enough he covered it in chocolate.  He also made peanut brittle.  I didn't necessarily cared for peanut brittle, but I knew that it was tricky stuff.  You have to get the sugar mixture to just the right temperature.  Dad didn't want me to get hurt (or be under foot when he needed to move quickly) so I would sit and watch from under the table.  When I was older I was able to appreciate the beauty of the sugar as it bubbled up in its carmel-colored glory in the pan after he added baking soda(?) to the mixture.  But while I was younger, I would watch from my safe perch while he moved to and fro, stirring this pan, mixing up the popcorn as it baked in the oven, checked to see if things were solid enough to move from the wax paper lined trays.

I remember the family friend who would dress up as Santa and come visit me at home.  When I was 8 & my younger sister was 4 I discovered he wasn't really Santa.  My sister took one look at him and said "Hi Bob!".  I was crushed.  The tape from the beard stuck to his face when he came back from "checking on his dog" did not support his argument that it wasn't him.

We had a fireplace at the home of my early years.  It felt right and natural, after all Santa needed it to get into my house each year, right?  It was great being able to hang my stocking from the mantle each year.  We moved when I was 11 to a home that did not have a fireplace.  Santa still visited us (for the sake of my younger sister), but it didn't feel right.

Perhaps this memories are so vivid in my head because I am very aware of the fact that Turtle is now at a point where she is going to remember these same holidays.  She already sees pictures of Santas or Christmas trees and says "Oh that's Christmas!"  This will be her 3rd Christmas with us, and I think it will finally be the one where it too will become a special time for her.  So I'm thinking about what traditions I want to start for her.

We don't have a fireplace, so there will be a special key that we hang from the door on Christmas Eve.  Last year she received from Grandma a special plate to put cookies on for Santa's reindeer.  I have purchased a shadow box for these two items so they can be part of our Christmas decorations and easily accessible for the Big Night.  Tonight as we were driving to Grandma's house we passed a park that had some trees lit -she was enchanted!  She also thought the street lights were part of the display as well, but I'll cut her some slack since she is a toddler.  I think the evening drive to look at lights will become part of the ritual.  Stockings will either hand from the entertainment center in the living room or magically appear at the foot of her bed.  This year may be different due to some medical reasons, but Grandma usually comes over on Christmas Eve to spend the night with us.  I make pastitsio for dinner, then we kick back and watch Christmas movies and tv shows while we wait for DH to come home from work (retail).  In the morning we open gifts from DH's family sent to us from Denver and now also, from Santa.  DH makes eggs benedict for breakfast, and a leg of lamb for lunch.  (Johnny Walker Red also comes to visit us on Christmas Eve and usually stays thru lunch/dinner the next day.)   Turtle is too young for an advent calender, but I'd like to sew one this next year for her.  I also like the idea of the special activity every night (Thanks DianeDenmark!) so I'll be trying that next year.  I also like the idea of the elf that comes to stay in the month leading up to Christmas.  He keeps tabs on everyone in the house and makes daily reports to Santa.

I think this may be the longest post ever!  Thanks for joining me down this trip down Memory Lane :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like........Chaos?

Let me begin this post by saying if you are related to me, please don't read any further.  If you do then I will take no responsibility for your discovering what your gift is and thus spoiling the fun.  Thank you.  And now, a commercial break to allow those who need to make a discrete exit:

OK, now that they have left the room I can fill you in on all the projects that have been dominating my free time the last week or so!

The biggest gift so far:  my wine cork Christmas Wreath.  It has taken two years (and borrowing from my sister) to get enough corks to make this one.  Yes, I could have purchased wine corks to add to this but that's not the point.  The only thing that was purchased new was the straw form (approx. $2.00).  The ribbon, corks and hot glue I already had on hand.  Needless to say I'm very tempted to keep it for myself.........


Next we have the Get Well Gremlins.  They are made from thrift store sweaters & filled with rice so they can be warmed (or chilled) when someone needs to feel better.  The little pocket on the front is perfect for holding a cotton ball or scrap of fabric with essential oil on it.   The original idea came from 5 Orange Potatoes, and as with most ideas, I've taken what works for me to make it my own.  The free pattern makes a gremlin just right for a little one:


I made a larger pattern to use for a grown-up:


I didn't think to take a photo of these two together so you could see the size difference, so I'll do that later.  I have another one in the making -they are very addictive!

Finally, I made some hand-warmers from scraps of old blue jeans.  They are intended to be for DH, but I may make another pair because these seem to large for his hands!  Thanks to Frugal Family Fun Blog for the idea  :)


Because of all my crafting madness, by basement looks like it has exploded.  Mostly that is due to DD being down here whilst I work (she's got to keep herself busy exploring & pulling things apart, you know).  At least the projects are coming along swimmingly:  I should have them done in plenty of time to be wrapped BEFORE they need to be given.  I have another project or two underway as well, but I'll keep those to myself until they are picture ready :)

Next week I have the entire week off from school -DD starts a new daycare on Monday, so I'll have a day at home by myself -an unheard of treat these days!  Thanksgiving will be at my sisters so no need to prepare my home for it  :D

Check out the Holiday Planning activities at:
A Mothers Ramblings
Typical Ramblings, Atypical Nonsense

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Holiday Traditions

No post last Sunday for the Holidays -sorry about that!  The flu hit my school & I came down with something :(  But with an extra hour of sleep under my belt, I'm ready to tackle more Holiday writing.

My younger sister loves chocolate covered cherries, and it was her tradition to get a box to herself each Christmas (I get Holiday Cap'n Crunch).  One glorious year I realized that I had a recipe for chocolate covered cherries in my trusty Better Homes & Garden red & white book.  My older sister & I adventurously decided to give it a whirl.  We've made them every year since then & they are our most requested item on our Holiday goody trays.  The recipe is simple, but they are a bit fiddly and time consuming to make.  We usually make a triple batch the weekend after Thanksgiving because they need 2 weeks to mature before eating.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

  • 30 oz maraschino cherries with stems
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 lb Ghiradelli Candy Making & Dipping Bar (or regular confectioners coating if you can't find Ghiradelli)
  1. Drain cherries on layers of paper towels for several hours.
  2. Mix together butter & corn syrup.
  3. Stir in powdered sugar, then knead mixture until it is smooth.  (Chill 15 mins in fridge if too soft to handle).
  4. Shape approximately 1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar mixture around each cherry.  
  5. Place coated cherries (stem up) on lined baking sheet.
  6. Chill 1 hour (no longer or they will start to dissolve!)
  7. Melt chocolate coating while cherries are chilling in fridge (we use a mini-crockpot so chocolate stays melted)
  8. Hold cherry by the stem, dip into melted chocolate.  Once powdered sugar mixture is completely covered with chocolate, place on lined cookie sheet.
  9. Chill cherries until firm, then store in fridge in a tightly covered container for 1 to 2 weeks before serving.

Makes approximately 60 cherries.

White and Dark Chocolate Cherries