Outdoor Decorations

I was supposed to do these yesterday.  I finally made myself do the stairs to the basement, to look for the bows I needed for the wreaths and swags.  I was so efficient boxing up Christmas last Spring to get it out of the way of our packing, that I can’t find a bin filled with burgundy bows!  So, I sulked and didn’t get anything done yesterday.

In a moment, I’ll be leaving the computer to make bows for three carriage lights and two wreaths.  This morning Dear Husband and I went out to Michael’s so that I could get the bows I needed.  Of course, those bows are no longer to be found on every end cap in the store, so I’ll have to make them.  Luckily, the ribbon was on sale, at half price.

I want to get the swags up at the carriage lamps, and the outdoor wreath in place this afternoon.  We have a little bit of rain coming in tomorrow, and I’d like to take advantage of our 62 degree temps!  I also need to trim some of our evergreens for branches to fill the container at the dining room windows.  I have tall, curvy twigs that will give the arrangement some height, and I picked up some fake red berries.  It remains to be seen if the squirrels will check out the berries while they look for places to hide black walnuts.  If it looks like they’ll be an attractive nuisance, I’ll find something safer to use.

So, I hope you’re all enjoying the day as much as I am.  Happy Holidays, and a Merry Christmas to you all!

 

December is Upon Us!

I  have really enjoyed the days since Thanksgiving.  The timing of Thanksgiving resulted in the longest period we get between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it seems so much more relaxed when we have more time.  A friend reminded me that next year we will have the least amount of time between the holidays, and it will feel frantic.  I’m going to put that thought right out of my mind! *G*

My stepson took all the Fall decorations downstairs Thursday.  I didn’t ask him to bring Christmas things upstairs.  I thought that I could do it.  Maybe not.  I’m still having problems with my right foot (I see the doc on Tuesday).  However, I did bring up the boxes of things I use to make wreaths.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the bin that should have dozens of burgundy bows!  I might have to buy three more so that I can get the swags up on he coach lights while it’s still so warm outside.  We may be above 60 degrees F. tomorrow!  I was outside feeding the birds without a jacket this morning!

I’m going to make a rustic wreath using a grapevine base for the fireplace face in the living room.  Dear Husband is allergic to cedar, and he’s camped out next to the fireplace as he recuperates, so I thought maybe I’d depart from tradition and spare him.

I hope you’re all comfortable with your preparations, and enjoying the season.

Coming Down to the Wire

It’s cookie day today. That is, it’s cookie day today if I can ever get myself in gear. I hope to make several family favorites that aren’t what you normally think of as Christmas cookies: sugar crisp, brownies, spicy nut slices, and peanut butter cookies. If there is time, and the body is willing, I’ll make Raspberry Ribbons, and Russian Tea cakes. The raspberry ribbon is a lovely sugar-type cookie that is rolled out in tubes, and a depression is made lengthwise in the tube of dough to hold raspberry jam. After it’s baked, you drizzle glaze over the tubes and cut them into one-bite diamonds. SO yummy!
Tomorrow I plan to cook brisket for “Mom’s Barbecue.” We’ve been invited to share Christmas Eve with my oldest sister and her family, and she was willing to let me make the barbecue that we’ve had on Christmas Eve for the last twenty years or more. While the brisket is cooking, I’ll be wrapping gifts. Dear Husband assures me that we have all the gifts on our list, so the shopping is done.
I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays. What’s the purpose of all the preparation if we don’t enjoy what we are doing? Merry Christmas!

Cookies

I haven’t really considered Christmas cookies, and it’s the 10th of December!
I’ve made one recipe of the Sugar Crisp that my family considers a holiday treat. My youngest sister was coming for Thanksgiving and I wanted to be sure to have a box of them to send home with her. (Her husband found the box first and tried to make off with it!)
I think every family must have cookies that speak to them of Christmas. In addition to the Sugar Crisp, Russian tea cakes, Thumbprints, Holiday Raspberry Ribbons and peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s Kiss seem to be cookies that we make every year. I rarely make cookies that need to be decorated. One of my nieces makes the best iced sugar cookies I’ve ever had, so I leave it to her to supply the family.
For Dear Husband, I might make the spicy nut slices that we talked about in November. Those are his particular favorite, but I don’t usually think of them as a Christmas cookie.
I can see that it’s time to browse my cookie recipe collections tonight. Perhaps that will get me in the mood to bake.

So Many Thoughts

Why is it that I’m never close to the computer when I have a thought I’d like to share?
Mostly those thoughts are just worthy of a line or two, so a bunch of them might make a post. I’ll see how many of them I can remember.
This has been the warmest Fall on record for those of us on the outskirts of Chicago. We FINALLY had our first measurable snowfall on Thursday night, and it amounted to less than 1/2 an inch. We have been known to have snow as early as the end of September, or into October; definitely by November, so it’s quite a surprise to have waited well into December for the first white stuff. Dear Husband would like me to be quiet and quit tempting fate.
Thanksgiving went very well. As usual, we had plenty of food to send home with everyone, and we ate leftovers on Friday. It was a joy to have not only sisters and nieces and nephews, but some of their in-laws and pets as well. I was thankful that so many of us were able to gather.
The Sunday following Thanksgiving I was invited to do a short trunk show of some of my quilts for the Empty Nesters at church. The theme for the pot luck which followed church was “Leftovers,” which seemed fitting following Thanksgiving. I made a raspberry pretzel salad to share, one of my favorite salads/desserts. I’m usually lucky to have just one piece a year, and this year I’ve topped out at more than FOUR!!! YEA!!!
The trunk show was fun. I started out by saying that I was NOT showing all my quilts. I showed enough quilts to fill about 25 minutes, and was gratified when one of the men told me that he found the presentation interesting.
I’ve been watching the birds at the feeders, thinking of how my Mother loved to watch them. We have the usual suspects: blue jays, chickadees, juncos, mourning doves and a host of other small birds (mostly sparrows, I think), but my favorites are the cardinals. They are truly gorgeous against the snow.
The house is chilly now. I’ve been considering using a space heater in the studio when I’m working in there, and I’m rarely without a quilt over my lap when I sit to read in the living room. I don’t know whether I just need to acclimate to the lower temps or whether I need to get more exercise to warm myself up, but I’m not fond of the cold. I can appreciate how much DH must dislike having to be out in it most of the day!
Midweek, as the temperatures were dropping, a skim of ice was beginning to develop on the retention ponds. I’ll be watching tomorrow when we go out to see if they are totally covered with ice.
I’ve started a new quilt for Scraps on a Mission. A friend at quilting bee showed us a pattern that I thought might use up scraps. After the next session at the sewing machine, I’ll have 25 blocks done. I’ve used bright children’s fabrics, and the blocks will be set with white sashing to a finished size of 40×40.
My plan for the coming week is to finish labels for baby quilts that I plan to give just before Christmas. I’m using “Printed Treasures” to make the labels, adding a picture of the baby to the inscription. This is the first time I’ve added pictures, so I hope they turn out well.
I’m sure there are lots of other short thoughts that have gotten away from me. Perhaps it’s just as well that I’ve forgotten some of them, or you’d be here all day! *G*
I hope you are all enjoying the preparations for Christmas, are well, and have good weather. Merry Christmas to you all!

Black Friday

I DETEST that term! I am sick unto death of the ads telling us to get out and bust down the doors for the best savings. It’s all about SPENDING…..it has nothing to do with Christmas.
I don’t understand why stores don’t do special sales earlier in the year on their own individual schedules, rather than all of them trying for your attention at the same time. Doesn’t it make sense that the consumer would buy more if he can spread it out over more time?
I hate lines. I hate badly behaved shoppers. I hate seeing people fighting over the last of some highly touted item that their child is going to ignore after a week. I hate the feeling that I MUST buy a gift for someone, when I haven’t a clue what they might like to have.
I am fed up. I will not be giving Christmas presents this year to anyone other than our granddaughters, who are seven and younger. I am having a reaction to years and years of increasing hype, and am having my own personal revolt! It’s quite probable that part of the problem lies within me, because I truly don’t like to shop. But, a larger share of the blame for my reaction goes to the force-feeding of ads and the focus on spending for the season.
So, please don’t be upset when you do not receive a gift from me. I’m going to be celebrating Christmas differently this year.

Party #3

I’ve been a social butterfly this month! It started with a Christmas dinner with my quilting bee December 3rd. They always help me to get into the Christmas spirit, so it’s great that our dinner is always the first Friday of December.
The second party I got to attend was a very posh gathering in a subdivision called “Falling Water” The houses are grand, and the landscaping is awesome, and everything that doesn’t move is lighted! We had a wonderful time, and our hosts made sure that Bears afficionados wouldn’t miss the game! Just to the south and to the east in Indiana, roads were closed due to a winter storm. We celebrated for about ninety minutes before we decided that we needed to make the trek home.
This morning, the woman who leads my exercise class is having her annual Christmas party for the class, right after we exercise! It’s a lot more fun than it sounds. We all bring something to share, and she and her husband provide quiche, sausages, juice and coffee. They have a lovely home and our class loves to visit with them.
I decided that I would take a Praline Pull-apart Bread. It’s rather like a cross between cinnamon rolls and Monkey bread. I rolled frozen white dinner rolls in butter and then in a mix of sugar and cinnamon, and placed them in an Angel Food cake pan. you sprinkle pecans over them, and set them in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.
This morning, Dear Husband woke me when he was ready to start his day, and I finished the preparations for the bread by whipping cream and adding cinnamon and brown sugar to it. The mixture is poured over the rolls and then it’s baked for an hour. It sits for ten minutes (can’t you tell we are sitting as we speak?) and then it’s turned upside down onto a serving platter.
I’m really looking forward to this party. I like my classmates and really enjoy having the time to chat with them. Even people who are not a part of the current class will attend this party, so I’ll have the chance to catch up with old friends.
Isn’t that the best kind of party?

Wrapping

We are at the wrapping stage of the season. I’m just amazed, because I frequently spend a couple of days just before Christmas wrapping all our gifts. Most of Dear Husband’s gifts came in on Monday, so while he was at work today, I opened the bags, checked the invoices, made notes about what came from which store, and then boxed the gifts.
It was a good plan, because just as I closed the last of the boxes, Dear Husband walked in the door. It’s so bitterly cold that he hasn’t been able to put in a full day at work. He’s been repairing heaters and other equipment, and working on proposals, and then coming home around lunchtime..
DH asked if he could have the scissors and tape, so he could wrap gifts. I let him have them, and went off to move some laundry. You have to realize that DH doesn’t wrap gifts for beauty. His wrapping is very functional. I asked him if he really WANTED to wrap gifts, and was relieved when he said, “No.” I told him that I would wrap everything but my own gifts. He could do those. He seemed to be as relieved as I was! *G*
So, I wrapped the gifts for my youngest sister’s family, which need to be mailed off tomorrow morning. Then I finished the wrapping on DH’s gifts, and wrapped most of the packages for our oldest granddaughter. I have a long way to go with the wrapping, and a short list of things I still need to get, but we are well on our way to being ready for Christmas.
I really like the idea of simplifying our preparations for the holiday. I’ve enjoyed the past two weeks more than I usually do because there’s less pressure to have everything “perfect.” I think I may get around to making cookies next week! YEA!!

Simpatico!

I’ve found a person with whom I am totally in sync! My Postmistress!
Today, when I stopped to send a box to my sister, this lady and I were the only two in the post office. I have decided to be politically incorrect and wish people “Merry Christmas.” They may respond as they wish, so I’m going to say what I want.
So, I told her I knew it was politically incorrect, and then wished her a Merry Christmas. She agreed with me! And that started off a five or six minute conversation about all the things we object to in our current government.
The upshot of our conversation was that if we don’t tell our government that we object to the decisions they are making they will never know that they are on the wrong track. Those of us who have been part of the Silent Majority now need to take responsibility for where things are going. Write your representatives. Tell them what you think, and continue to let them know what you think.
And for my part, I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Christmas Tree Lights

Will someone PLEASE tell me how to keep calm while trying to find the one bulb on a line of fifty, already wrapped around a fake Christmas tree, that’s keeping a string from lighting???
I have two pre-lit fake trees that have strings that have gone out. Unfortunately, on the tallest tree this string is last from the top, meaning I have to work with my arms up over my head. And to make matters worse, this string has the little extra plastic piece that is supposed to snap in place to keep the bulb tight against the connections. It’s tough to wrestle the bulbs out of their bases without twisting them and causing damage.
I decided to work on the four-foot tree that is lit with all clear bulbs. I thought it would be easy to sit down and find the one that wasn’t working, but I couldn’t solve that one, either. At one point I started trading white bulbs for red ones so I could see what I had already tried, but I didn’t have enough red bulbs to get very far. I can either mark my starting spot with a clothes pin, test the white bulbs I have, and then swap the red bulbs for white ones, or I could buy more red bulbs to fill the string, and hopefully find the bulb that is bad.
Despite having several days to laze around, I’m really not up for this task. I think I’ll go finish the laundry.