Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Christmas Sales!

Don't you just love 50% off sales? Especially on Christmas stuff? Well, on Dec. 27 our local flower/gift shop starts their annual half price sale on all of their Christmas decor. I saw this cute snowman banner hanging in their window in October and was so happy to see it was still there yesterday morning! I was going to be good and only buy that one thing, but upon entering the store I spotted this rustic red painted beauty. Everything about it screamed my name... especially the price, which to my surprise was $75.00! I couldn't believe I could have this wooden treasure for only $37.50!!
Needless to say, I walked out of that store a very happy camper with these 2 items in my hot little hands for only $56.00!! Best part is next year when I unpack my Christmas decorations (at which point I will have totally forgotten about these new things) it will be exciting all over again when I see them and exclaim, "I forgot about these!!" :^)

Well, I sure hope you bloggers out there also got lucky and picked up some fun goodies at your after Christmas sales! Happy shopping everyone!!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

&*$%@$*%%& Cookies !!

It's not Christmas without our traditional Christmas cookies at our house.   I come from a family of 4 sisters and 3 brothers.  My mother would spend hours and hours rolling dough, cutting cookies and decorating them.  At that time, she didn't have fancy decorating tools; she used a knife and a toothpick for the fine detail.  You could hear her cursing from the other room.  Until you take over this task yourself, you really don't know how exhausting it is.  You can imagine how much my mother appreciated it when we were old enough to really be a help to her. 

One year I called my sister Kathy and I said: 
"Chris is home and I'm going to mom's to do the cookies if you want to come down".  
She said, "Ok, I'll bring the icing".
"No need, I've got lots" 
 "Well, so do I, I'll just bring it with me" 

So we both load up our kids and all our cookies and ingredients and off we go. As we are about to set up, my other sister Deb shows up.  "Oh good, someone else to help with cookies" 
"I ain't helping, I hate doing those cookies!!  I'll do the clean up instead."

Then shortly after that, Pat just happens to show up.  Never before had all 5 sisters been home to decorate cookies at one time.  As we were about to get ready, Kathy pulls out her icing and I pull out mine.  I looked at hers and said, "That's cake icing, not cookie icing" 
"Well that's the kind of icing I make, why can't we use that?  I've got lots" 
"It won't work, it's got shortening in it."  
"So it won't work, it won't dry the same and it isn't self leveling" 
"But you don't want Santa's beard to be level, you want it to look fluffy"
"But if you make it fluffy and the icing is soft, then we can't stack them on top of each other to put in the containers and they'll all stick together" 
Then Mom pipes in: "You have to use the icing that's made with the milk so that it sets" 
"But I want the beard to be fluffy"
Deb cries out, "Oh for crying out loud, it's icing!" 
"But HERS won't dry."
"And HERS won't make fluffy beards.  Fine, You do yours your way and I'll do mine my way"

(It was quite comical and it reminds me of the story about Kathy and Pat and the race to see who makes it to the turkey pan first to make the gravy: You guessed it, one likes it made with flour and the other cornstarch)

At any rate:  Cookie Day was a great afternoon and our mother was in her glory!  So she decided since we had so many people, we needed more cookies ...so... out comes the flour and the rolling pin.  We were hours and hours decorating. Chris had never been home to participate in cookie decorating before so I think she was having the most fun.  We made Santas, and angels, and candy canes, and trees, and wreaths, and stars, and reindeer.  And then we made gingerbread men and they were decorated as Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion.  We had Fred, Barney, Wilma, Betty, Pebbles and BamBam.  The list goes on.

Cookie Day has never happened that way again since.  It's one of those rare moments that creates lasting memories. 

The tradition passed down to my girls.  Holly and Paige were excited because we were going down to gramma's that day to do cookies.  Niki and Sarah were in my kitchen and Aunt Deb popped in.  Niki said, "Aunt Deb, we are going down to gramma's to do cookies, you want to come with us?" 

"NO!!!  I hate making those &*$%@$*%%& cookies !!!"

Niki and Sarah were killing themselves laughing at - not only how bold Aunt Deb was in her statement, but also - I don't think Sarah ever heard that many swear words in one sentence let alone the fact that it came from Aunt Deb!!.  She was literally on the floor laughing. To this day, she still laughs about it.  We all do and they are no longer called Christmas cookies, they are &*$%@$*%%& Cookies.

So today, I share some of my cookies with you.  Grab a glass of milk and lets get started. 
There's a snow storm on my cooling rack.

It's not Christmas without a candy cane.
Of course...the fat man himself.
How cute and easy is this?
  Note: these reindeer are just gingerbread men turned upside down.

And for those of you who are fans of Team Canada .... 
Yes, that is supposed to be a maple leaf.

Any Maple Leaf fans out there??

And last but not least....for all those DEXTER fans out there !!! 

I have to say, that the Santa is my favourite cookie (next to Dexter)... but then again, who doesn't love Santa (or Dexter for that matter) - What's your favourite cookie?

So I say to the guy in the red suit, "Bring it on fat man, I'm ready for ya!" 


Monday, December 20, 2010

More Christmas Decor?... Or Are You Bored?

It's a bit overwhelming, what with the myriad of decorations people are sharing this festive time of year. But if you know me... I can't get enough! I had a bit of quiet time (which is truly a rarity this close to the big day!) so I'd thought I'd share some of my pictures with you.

It is always fun and challenging the first time decorating a newly renovated room, especially at Christmas time. I have to admit though... I'm quite pleased with the results :^) A bonus too was the only new thing I bought this year was the blue ornaments on the tree. Everything thing else I already had!

Love these icy looking wreaths in the window. When they sun happens to peak out, they really sparkle!

The mantle turned out quite woodsy. Didn't really plan it that way...just kept adding stuff until I was happy with the look.

A closer look at the display shelf above the closet. Was up and down that ladder about a hundred times until I got it just right!

A couple of my favourite tin signs: the Magic Christmas was a gift from Bonnie last year, and the Joy (which was also my hubby's Mom's name) has cute little vintage Santas on it.

I hope everyone has had as much fun with your decorating as I did. From what I've seen on your blogs I think you have! I have even stolen an idea or two... do you think that means I will get a lump of coal in my stocking this year??


Sunday, December 19, 2010

These are a few of my favourite things...

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things....

Do you remember the story I told about how I never did anything small, and that the very first cross stitch I learned to do was pretty intricate for a beginner? It was of an angel's face. I found three patterns; each one seemed to represent all of my girls at their exact age, 12, 6 and 1. Below is the very first cross I ever made. It won 1st place when I entered it in the Forest Fall Fair. This little angel reminded me of my oldest daughter, Niki.
This little angel reminded me of my daughter Holly. The picture below this one was taken with no flash; Isn't it funny how the expression seems to change.
And last but not least, the baby of the family - Paige. Tracey and I could never get over how I could always find patterns in 'threes' of little girls. Even the hair is the right colour for each one of them.
Another favourite ornament of mine is one that was made for me by a pen-pal several years ago. We never kept in touch, which often happens with pen-pals, but I wish I could find her to let her know how much I LOVE this ornament and how much I have enjoyed it all these years. I can't even imagine how she knit such a tiny sweater.
This next ornament is also hand-made. It was purchased at the Big Sister craft sale that is held annually in Sarnia. At that time, Paige belonged to the Big Sisters and she was volunteering at the sale too. My sister Kathy had entered a vendor booth and I offered to help her out at the sale. Next to our table was a vendor selling all these teeny-tiny bears made from little pieces of twigs. She sat and cut the pieces of wood and created ornaments right there on the spot. It was fascinating. I guess my excitement was pretty evident because this little ornament magically appeared at Christmas. (I have great sisters, they would always buy some thing for me at Christmas for my girls to be able to put something under the tree for mommy. Paige was pretty excited to give it to me because she knew how much I would like it and she knew I had no idea her and Aunt Kathy's secret)
I've tried numerous times to get a picture of the entire tree all decorated, but you just can't seem to capture how pretty a tree is with a camera. To use the flash - you loose the sparkle of the lights, and well... it just doesn't look the same. And if you don't use the flash - you just can't see the ornaments. So, I've taken just a snapshot of a 'portion' of the tree to give you an idea of what it looks like.
Enjoying the evening with family and friends, good company, great conversation, homemade cookies and hot apple cider, sitting in the living room with all the lights dimmed and just the glow of the tree....

....these are a few of my favourite things.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Come See!

We all love Wintery/Christmas patterns, so we wanted to show you some of our finished products.
Anita stitched this beauty called Santaberry Pudding by Shepherd's Bush 3 Christmases ago on Natural Heatherfield, 16ct (over 2).

Lots of buttons on this one... they really finish off the piece.

You got a glimpse of Holy Night in a previous post. Anita stitched this one too (it's also a design by Shepherd's Bush) and finished it just in time for Christmas this year. She had it and Santaberry Pudding both framed by Neale at the Thread & Eye. Can't wait to see this one in person when we get together at Anita's next month!

This is Christmas Rose Sampler by Cedar Hill Designs done on a piece of White Birch Heatherfield.

Stitched this little Christmas angel in 2003. She was a freebie from Lavender & Lace and a great "quick fix". The frame I picked up at Walmart for about $6.00. Should have bought more than just one of those!

This Santa pattern was adapted from an antique post card and came from a Leisure Arts hardcover book that was published back in the late 80's. It needs to be re-framed someday... back in those days I did most of my framing myself.

One of my Christmas favourites... Seasons Greetings by Bent Creek. I stitched it in 2004 on a piece of Clay 28ct. Cashel linen.

This one was also framed at the Thread & Eye along with my Christmas Rose Sampler.

Hopefully we'll have some new pieces to show you this time next year. Just like all the rest of you stitchers, we all have a very long "to do" list!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Storm December 13 & 14

Well, Sarnia Ontario (30 minutes from where I live)  made it on CNN today.  Lambton County was declared a state of emergency and the military was called in to rescue stranded motorists that have had to spend the last 24 hours in their cars.  Some people may not be picked up for several more hours.  Let's hope and pray that all this snow is the last we will see for quite sometime; we do not need weather like this for holiday traveling. 

It was quite comical to hear reports that the the military was trying to rescue 300 people from 360 stranded cars.  I guess 'Casper,'  'The Invisible Man' and perhaps 'The Shadow' are all doing fine....?

The following photos were taken December 14th.  
The view looking out my window for the past 3 days. 
Driving Miss Paigie to work.
Stranded truckers on one half of the parking lot at the IGA.
The other side of the parking lot and the back of the store are all full of stranded truckers.
Now THIS is pretty!
The weight of the storm.
This wedding arbour looks slightly different than it did at my daughters wedding: but still beautiful.
This was taken looking out my front door off the two step porch.
You can barely see where the lawn ends and the road begins.
Yes, the pumpkins are still in the urn.  I left them there because I knew we were getting a storm big enough to decorate them as snowmen.  Now I have to search for a hat and scarf and the decorations will be complete! 

A few hours later... the sun desperately trying to break through. 

These photos were taken on December 14th, 2010 at noon. Stay safe and warm everyone. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What do you get when you cross a 4 ingredient recipe with 4 excited cross-stitchers on a road trip?

A 45-minute hilarious discussion on tips and tricks to make the best SKORS.

We were road tripping one night to go on a Christmas house tour.  One of Bonnie's friends collects miniature villages and has them displayed all throughout her home;  we were most amazed at the 10 foot tall Christmas tree with 5000 lights and 1000 ornaments on it. That's correct, I said five thousand and one thousand.   Tracey was kind enough to make a batch of Skors for our hostess, but better yet she made a batch for us to eat on the drive.  As we were munching away...Anita exclaimed that she had never made Skors before so we started out by telling her how easy it was because there were only 4 ingredients and you can have them whipped up in less than 15 minutes. 

Each time someone would start to explain to Anita how to make them, one of us would interrupt ..... It went something like this: 

All you need is crackers, butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips.
But you HAVE to use Premium brand crackers, they are the best. No-name crackers do NOT work!
No, they don't, And they MUST be salted. 

Line the cookie sheet with crackers.
Make SURE they are salted side up! 
Yes, they have to be salted side up!

Make SURE you use an old cookie sheet.  The older the better. 
I prefer to call them 'seasoned' as opposed to OLD!  People wouldn't want to eat them if they knew they were made on OLD cookie sheets. 
Oh, and make SURE you use a cookie sheet with and edge  or it will all fall off and boil over.  Don't use one of those fancy-schmancy air baked things with no edge!. 

Melt the butter and then add the brown sugar and mix it together. 
But, make SURE you mix it thoroughly, if you don't it won't caramelize properly and then your Skors will stick to the pan and you won't be able to get them off.  
Ya, there can be NO separation to the mixture at all. I use a glass Pyrex measuring cup, that way I can see if there is any separation.
I use one of those hand-held mixers, they work great.  But you have to be careful because if you mix it on high for too long, then it makes the mixture to 'sugary'. 
Ya, you want it more 'caramelly' than sugary. 

Once you have that mixed up, then you just pour it onto the crackers. 
And then all you have to do is spread it evenly all over the crackers.
Then pop it in the oven for 8 minutes.  It will bubble like crazy so be really careful taking it out of the oven or the crackers will slip off and burn you. 
Ya you really have to be careful. They bubble like crazy right on the pan.
Oh ya, and when you take them out, the crackers will have shifted with all the bubbling of the caramel, so you just take the tip of a fork and carefully rearrange them again.

Then you just take it out of the oven and sprinkle a package of chocolate chips all over it. 
The recipe calls for 2 packages, but I find that one is enough. 
Actually, I tend to use one and a half packages because 2 is too much and 1 is not quite enough.
Don't you have to MELT the chocolate chips first? 
No, you just leave them to sit on there for about one minute and they will soften and then they will spread easily. 
And then I use a knife to spread the chocolate chips.   I  actually bent a knife , just a little, so that it was easier to spread them and that way you won't get chocolate or caramel on your hand when you are trying to spread it around.  Then I just keep that knife to the side and only use it for my Skors. Everybody asks me why I have a bent knife in the drawer.
Or you could use a fork because it's already bent. 
OH, shuddup! 

BUT, make sure you use MILK Chocolate chips. 
Ya, because if you use semi-sweet, they just don't have that same chocolate bar taste.

AND, they must be Chipits.  Don't get Hershey's because they don't melt. 
They don't melt?
No, they don't melt.  Years ago when I was trying to make something, they wouldn't melt so I called the 1-800 number and spoke to someone at Hershey's and they said, "No mamme, they aren't supposed to melt. They are chocolate chips.  When you bake your cookie, you don't want the chip to melt".  Well I'll be.  I've used chocolate chips before and they melted.  "Not Hershey's mamme. They aren't supposed to melt." 

Anyway, once the chocolate is spread evenly, put the tray in the freezer and let them set.
After about an hour you can take them out and break them into pieces. I take the pan and twist it on opposite ends, just like an ice cube tray.
Oh that's a good idea!
Sometimes when you break them apart, the entire batch pops out in one GIANT piece. 
Oh, don't you just love it when that happens! It looks like one huge chocolate bar!! 
1 sleeve Premium brand crackers 
1/2 pound butter 
1 cup brown sugar 
1.5 packages MILK Chocolate chips  
350 degrees - 8 minutes

Now: I'm going to let you read the instructions above to figure out what to do.  In the meantime, please take notes because we are dying to hear all the tips and tricks that you discover while making your SKORS!   Enjoy. 


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Cost of Christmas

Christmas cross-stitch picture supplies- $39.95
Christmas Frame- $120.00
Tracey's 2010 Decorations- $20.00
Rudolph Tins- $9.96
Babes on Staircase- PRICELESS


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Isn't This Precious?

I fell in love with this picture the moment I saw it. Thanks to Dawn at The Feathered Nest for sharing this darling image!

Wouldn't it be beautiful done up as a cross stitch??


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cheesecake Anyone?

December is here, and it's my turn to host our annual Christmas cross stitch meeting.

One of the most important things when hosting this particular month (next to the food of course!) is having your tree and decorations all up and ready for the festivities. Well, everything is set to go and again, the weather isn't co-operating. Bonnie and I both live in the same small town (where we haven't had any snow) , but Anita and Jody both live in opposite directions from here where they have each been bombarded with major amounts of snow the past couple of days.

We are going to play it by ear and see what the weather brings tomorrow, but it's not looking good.

:^( :^(

Of course we can always re-schedule our get together, but there is this Apple Cheesecake just ready and waiting to be sampled? Anybody care for a piece?...


Father Christmas

This project was 5 years in the making. I was in college at the time and it was difficult to find the time to pick this piece up. It was stitched over 2, and finished it measures 21" x 29". Neale from The Thread n' Eye did the framing and I LOVE the tree accent he cut out on the matting. Love the frame. Neale helped me choose it; he has a fantastic knack for picking the right frames and colours.
This pictures hangs on my wall year round. The colours match my room perfectly so I hate to take it down and nobody ever comments on my having a Christmas picture hanging on the wall in July. (It's probably because of the garland that I still haven't taken down from over top of the cupboards since last Christmas!)

I just tell people that it's Christmas all year long in my house.
...except of course when it's Halloween and people see the spiderwebs in my doorways; then I tell them it's my Halloween decorations.

Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016 was held at Jody's this year and we were lucky we had good weather for our travel eastbound.  If there is going to be a...