Saturday, December 31, 2011

Baby Apron (aka: Bapron)...

The two youngest grandgirls are eating Big People food now and so this Grammy figured she ought to get some decent bibs stitched up for them.  I found this nifty bib-apron on Pinterest.  It has armholes as well as a top tie at the neck so the coverage is excellent.  I will say this -- it took a great deal of self-restraint not to say naughty words as I stitched the bias tape all around.  I don't care how I do it -- pinned every inch, freestyle, or stitching one side and then the other -- bias tape and I equal frustration!  My baprons are far from perfect, but hey, these cuties are meant to be soiled, so what's the big deal, right?  The girls won't care a flip if they aren't perfectly stitched.
Mary Toodles modeling her bapron

The bapron recipe calls for one cotton fabric and one flannel.  I wanted these baprons to be a little thicker to absorb spills so I used two cotton fabrics to make them reversible and added a thin layer of cotton batting in the middle.  Perhaps the batting is what made the bias tape sewing a little harder.  Here's the link to the pattern:  The Bapron -- a tutorial.

 Addendum: Here's Amy from  Angry Chicken  giving her "No Swearing Bias Tape Method." It did help on the third bib....somewhat.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cleaning up Christmas....

After Hubby and I took the Littles out feeding the sheep and the cows, Miss Peach overheard me talking of taking the decorations off the Christmas tree.  "I want to help you take the decorations off the tree, Grammy."  How could I say no?  She enjoyed plucking each ornament off the tree and placing it carefully in its proper ziplock bag.  We wrapped every glass icicle in a paper towel and put them in their bags too.  All the candy canes were unhooked from the branches and one candy cane slipped itself immediately into her mouth.  The rest were put in a blue mason jar for later.  I unwound the lights from the branches while Peach watched me.  It was fun to sit amongst the lights!

Most of the Christmas decorations are packed away, but we decided to keep the Cowboy Christmas tree up for awhile.  She calls it the Cumbleweed.  Peach thought it needed a few pink balls added in with the white and silver balls.  It looks just right for the New Year!

The candles will stay out all winter long and I'll keep the pine cone garlands up around the windows for awhile.  I also like to keep my evergreen and barb wire wreath at the front door through January.

I was looking around on Blissfully Content (Julia's blog) and found the niftiest gift wrapping idea.  Most of us are all done wrapping gifts, but I have a couple of January birthdays to think about so this newspaper gift wrap & matching bow looks like fun!  The instructions are here.  Enjoy!

I'm beginning to think about January organizing and tidying-up.  I like reading all the magazine articles on home organization and tips for cleaning.  Better Homes & Gardens has a good issue on organizing the home this month.  I'm sure there are others out there.  Maybe we can share ideas with each other when January rolls around.  Until then, enjoy these last days of the Old Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holy Christmas....

Sweet Little Jesus Boy
we didn't know who you were...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Baker's aprons....

I've just finished up two baker's aprons.  These are nice!
I like an apron that really covers me up and this one has coverage-plus!
They will even cover up a man's body!  
(Yes, men need aprons too!)

Martha Stewart has the pattern on her site here.  I didn't follow all the instructions as given, but I did follow the apron style.  More of these are on my to-do list.
P.S.  I just found another Baker's Apron Pattern to try out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mukluks for Betsy...

 I just finished a pair of 3-Button Boots for Betsy, but I'd rather call them mukluks because they remind me of the Eskimo shoes we used to wear as kids.  We called them mukluks, did you? 

The pattern was pretty straight forward.  I used one of Hubby's old suit jackets for the wool exterior and lined them with wool-blend felt.  They are sure to keep her toes and legs warm this winter.  I want to make a pair for Mary too, but the pattern I have looks too small.  Maybe they have a larger one or perhaps I can fudge the pattern a wee bit.  I'm not so confident in that, but you never know until you try.

I found the best wool plaid in green, black, gray, and red at The Bakery yesterday for just $6.95 a yard.  I want to make some throws for the bedrooms since it's extra-wide.  It would make some adorable mucklucks too!  I'm still chugging along on my sewing machine to finish a couple more Christmas gifts and I still have baking yet to do.  Plenty of time....two and a half days!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A childlike Christmas in Art...

I adore Carl Larsson's art.  The faces, the colors, the real-living.  
Enjoy Christmas with the Larsson children and those who love them.

These first three pieces are close-ups from his painting called 
"Now It's Christmas Again"

Even Grandma looks like a youthful child at Christmas!

 (Do you see the young lady in the background praying before the creche?)

This is the original "Now It's Christmas Again" and as you can see, there is so much going on in this one image that the close-ups give us a deeper look.  If you wish to see these images in a larger, clearer size, click here .

 This one is "Christmas Eve Banquet"
So many details here too.
"Brita as Iduna"
 Iduna, the Norse Goddess of the orchard, apple-keeper of the Aesir who grows the golden apples that keep the sky gods eternally youthful. 

Kersti's Sleigh Ride
Christmas Morning


Young Girl with a Doll
Brita's Cactus

I hope you've enjoyed A Childlike Christmas.  I sure have.
Thanks to Pom Pom for hosting this joyful event.
I wish you joy-filled days leading up to Christmas Day.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born in us today
We hear the Christmas angels
Their great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.

~From O Little Town of Bethlehem

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Frosty week...

The days they fly by quickly, and I can hardly believe another week has flashed by me.  We had heavy frost this past week, so much so that we lost our electricity several times.  Thankfully, we have generators to keep us up 'n' running, but the tractors that power them take plenty of fuel to run, and I'm sure they are much more expensive to power than the electricity we buy. 

 The frost makes everything looks so icy and Narnia-like. 
 The wool on the sheep had an extra sparkle to it.

 It looked as though we had a skiff of snow, but it was all frost.  When it started falling off the trees, there was a mound of snow under each tree.  Don't you love seeing the moon in the clear, blue, daytime sky?

  The cows almost look like ants trailing down the hills.

 Even the old John Deere A tractor looked pretty covered in frost!

 Sue and I took some nice walks in the frosty grass and through The Woods (shelter belts) near our house.

The old red granary stands beside an Elm tree.  The chicken coop is just to the left of it with the girls all cuddled up inside.  They are happily laying a dozen eggs a day!  We love our fresh eggs for breakfast each morning.
We had our annual bull sale this week too.  We had a great turn-out and sold all the bulls to new owners.  The delivery process is in full swing now.  This is a picture of the local sale ring and that's one of our bulls.  Not a great picture, but I thought you might like to see it.  There were lots of ranchers in hats!

The two college boys are home now and it's fun having them to cook for again.  We had Creamy Sausage Stew (a favorite) for supper tonight along with baking powder biscuits & honey.  Tomorrow lots of family will be out to the ranch for an Indian Taco Fiesta and some fun & games.  We'll probably have to take time out to watch the Denver Broncos football game.  You know who is playing??  Right!  Tim Tebow!  Isn't he terrific?!  We've always been huge Denver fans in this house, and now we're having fun watching  TT mesmerize the talking heads of football.

Just one more week until Christmas Eve!  I hope you're enjoying the anticipation.  The two sons are going to go cut a Christmas tree for me in the Hills, and I still have all the gifts yet to wrap and goodies to bake.  It seems I always take my sweet time to usher in the season.  One-day-at-a-time works for me.  

I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day.  We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year.  As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year.  And thus I drift along into the holidays - let them overtake me unexpectedly - waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself:  "Why, this is Christmas Day!"  ~David Grayson

Peach has been noticing that we are all receiving "birthday cards" in the mail.  Out of the mouths of babes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Take joy...

 A photo that reminds me of my hometown's Christmas lights from childhood

Way back when I was a young girl, Christmas lights were a fascination.  I remember our little town's downtown being beautifully decorated and lit up for Christmas.  There were lines that crossed over our main street -- which was really called State Street --  on which garlands were draped along with jumbo red lights and wreaths.  There was a giant sized Christmas tree at the end of Main Street near the town hall  which was trimmed out with multicolored big-bulb lights, and was decorated by the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts who sprinkled tinsel, strung garland and added a few handmade ornaments on the very bottom branches as far up as they could reach.   Every store owner had worked hard to display their most desirable merchandise, decking store front windows with Christmas lights and aluminum Christmas trees to coax the shoppers in the door.  There were loud speakers croaking out Christmas music to the street below.  As a child, I thought it was simply magical to be out shopping downtown with snow falling, people bustling, and Bing Crosby singing Silver Bells all the while. 

During the Christmas season Mom always pressed Dad into taking the family for a drive around town to see the Christmas lights.  There was one house, I especially recall -- the Higashi's -- who always had a holiday theme.  One year they had a Holiday Train in their front yard and the lights on the wheels spun around like it was moving and there were cartoon people and toys bobbing up and down, waving from the train cars.  Santa was always perched at the chimney, all lit up with a spotlight and waving at us as we drove by.  Mr. Higashi must have loved planning his yearly Christmas light show anticipating  all the townsfolk driving by night after night.  Most people lit the traditional Christmas evergreen trees and some trimmed their windows and the peaks of their houses all in lights.  No matter what was lit up, as a child, I was in awe and overjoyed by it all.

This year as Hubby and I were cruising a few streets looking at the lights, I promised him that I wouldn't make fun of all the inflated Santas and Rudolphs or the overdone house trimmings.  As a grownup now, I've turned into a bit of a minimalist when it comes to Christmas lighting so I sometimes get overwhelmed by seeing a fully-lit, moving carousel in someone's front yard.  I did hollered out, "Holy Inflatables!" when I saw a bigger-than-life-sized inflated Santa and Frosty the Snowman on 5th Avenue, but I am trying, really trying to see the lights and the decorating as I did when I was eight.  It's more fun appreciating the efforts that some have made to light up the world with Christmas Joy than it is to be a critic.

So today, I wish for you the ability to see things through the eyes of a child, to let the Christmas lights thrill you and remind you that during this special season, all the world adds an extra light, a candle, a string of lights or an inflatable Frosty to bring a smile to a dark world.  Take Joy!

Oh, one more you know the book called Take Joy by Tasha Tudor?  It's an old book full of timeless stories, poems and songs, along with Tasha Tudor drawings, all about Christmas. Your library may have it.  If you get a chance, read it to your children or to your grandchildren or read it for yourself.  Lovely.

This is the third post of A Childlike Christmas hosted by dear Pom Pom.  You can read all the other posts about a Childlike Christmas in the sidebar of her blog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Poinesttias in the kitchen sink and other things....

I bought two small poinsettias the other day and it was time for them to have a drink.  I set them in the kitchen sink to soak up some water from the bottom of the pot.  Wouldn't it be lovely to always have poinsettias in the sink?  The dishes might stack up, but....
There, now they are back in their proper pot.
I stitched a couple of ornaments for the baby girls' First Christmas.  One for Betsy and one for Mary.  There are the cutest patterns over at Feeling Stitchy right now.  These two were from that collection.  I had to enlarge them a little bit with the copier. 

 I just found the adorable ribbon at The Bakery last week. It's red on the other side with white flowers. I wish I had a whole bobbin of it, but it's much too spendy for that.

I'm soaking the cut juniper greens in the bucket so they'll stay nice and fresh when I bring them inside.  I plan to add some stems of evergreen to the barbwire wreath.  I just love the smell of freshly cut evergreens, don't you? Santa needs a little bunch of evergreen plopped on his bald head to stay warm.  Today's a gray day,  frosty and foggy with a bitter wind blowing and 25 degrees.  I don't mind.  It keeps me bustling inside.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Breath of Heaven (Mary's song)....

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, 
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life....~Genesis 2:7

I have traveled many moonless night
Cold and weary, with a babe inside
And I wonder what I've done
Holy Father, you have come
And chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Light up my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy

Breath of heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one one should have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Light up my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy

Breath of heaven

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Orange marmalade...

I had a few oranges that needed to be used up, so I thought of orange marmalade.  We haven't had that in a couple years so yesterday I began to boil the oranges and lemons and let them rest overnight in their juices  for 12-18 hours.   Then this afternoon I finished it off by adding sugar and boiling it until it jelled.  Do you like orange marmalade?  Either you like that bitter-sweet taste or you don't.

Orange Marmalade
~from The Joy of Cooking

2-3  large oranges
2-3 small lemons
Scrub well and cut into quarters and remove seeds.
Add and simmer for 5 minutes in...
3 c. water
Let stand and cover for 12-18 hrs in a cool place.  Remove fruit and cut into very small shreds.  (I removed the peel here and just added a little zest from the peel instead of leaving in all the peels)  Return to the water in which it was soaked.  Boil 1 hour.  Add for each cup of fruit mixture:
1 c. sugar
Boil the marmalade until the juice forms a jelly when tested (temp reaches about 222 or 224* F).
Pour into clean, hot jars and seal.
Makes about 3-4 half pint jars.

 A couple jars for us and a couple to give.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Speed E Whipper goodness....

So....I bought myself a handy little pre-Christmas gift because I knew I would need it desperately for the holiday feeding frenzy.  All of the kids and the grandbabies will be here and there simply MUST be enough whipped cream in the house. And really, since it's Christmas and all, it should be FUN to make, right?  Yes.  Bring in.....
 Speed E Whipper!

In the picture above you see cream, honey and the whipper.  Well, I learned a terrific little tip about keeping REAL whipped cream from separating.  You know how it gets after it's been in the fridge a day or two?  Well, the tip for perfectly stuck-together, unseparated whipped cream is HONEY.  When you are ready to whip your cream, add 1 tsp. of honey to each cup of cream you are going to whip.  Whip as usual and then add in your sweetener to taste.  I like to use Torani vanilla syrup for my sweetener.  I got that tip from OnlyDaughter who used to work in the local coffee kiosk, Pony Espresso.

This nifty kitchen tool came out in the 1950s and is the perfect retro tool for any kitchen.  It is so simple and efficient, and I feel a little bit like June Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver when I'm using it (minus the dress, pearls, and high heels).  Basically, Speed E Whipper is a glass jar with measuring lines and a stainless steel plunger with a lid.  I found my Speed E Whipper over on Etsy and I see them out there on Ebay too.  If you look hard enough, you might find one in the second hand shops or at garage sales.  I like the nostalgia and the cuteness of it as much as I like the whipped cream it produces. (I bought mine for $9 plus shipping)

 I think I gave the whipper around 75-80 plunges before I had perfect whipped cream.  It's fun to make and I'm sure my kids are all going to fight to make enjoy making the whipped cream for our holiday desserts this year.

See!  Isn't it beautiful stuff?  The best part of making whipped cream this way is that you can suck it off the plunger when you're done.  I wish it had a nice little snap-on plastic lid to store the whipped cream in the fridge, but it doesn't.  I might find something in my Plastic-Bowls-n-Junk Cupboard someday.  But really, when you've got a houseful of guests, I'm thinking there won't be much left-over whipped cream.  Yum!

It's the Snow on the Mountain, the Frosting on the Cake, the Star on the Tree,  the Tip of the Iceburg, the Whipped Cream on the Sundae!  Got to love it.  Do you have a favorite kitchen tool?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A Charlie Brown Christmas....

 A Charlie Brown Christmas isn't *just* a cutsie cartoon about a funny bald-headed boy and his spirited (sometimes annoying) dog Snoopy.  It's not even a very jolly Christmas cartoon, but it does touch my heart about some very real issues that always seem to sneak up around Christmastime.  I look for joy in places that always disappoint. 

 No one thinks to send a Christmas card.

I am sent to find the perfect Christmas tree and fail.
 Someone is always interrupting our special moments.
Just like Charlie Brown, I cry out in frustration, 
"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"
Then Linus brings the truth....

I always cry after Linus tells me again that it's about the Baby in The Manger,
Christ the Lord.
Now let's all sing, Hark the Herald Angels Sing! 
together with Charlie Brown's friends.

It's so simple.
What child can resist The Christmas Story?

It's a Childlike Christmas and friends of Pom Pom's are sharing.
Before I go, I must share my all-time favorite Christmas CD.  Of course, it's A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi.  Click here to listen!  


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