Thursday, July 24, 2014

A nice idea for Christmas breakfast

Photo from Taste of Home
I don't know about you, but I am always looking for good ideas for Christmas breakfast.  We keep it very, very simple -- usually an egg bake of some kind; muffins, coffeecake or sweet rolls; and fruit.  This is the sort of breakfast I always served Christmas morning when our family was young and all still at home.  I felt it was important to have something hearty and healthy to balance out all of the excitement and sweets.  I love to make egg casseroles because they can be prepared the night before and simply baked in the morning.  I usually make the baked goods ahead too and simply reheat them, although if it is a very simple coffeecake, I might bake it that morning.

Now it is nearly always just my hubby and me at home for Christmas breakfast.  That's just fine with us; our children have their own families and we believe it's very important for them to have their own holiday traditions.  We would be the last people to ever insist our kids must be with us for Christmas.  We actually enjoy our own empty-nest traditions and we don't mind at all having Christmas breakfast on our own.  (And of course we would not mind having company, either.)

I recently came upon this recipe:Scrambled Egg Spinach Casserole and it looks delicious.  I think it will be this year's Christmas morning breakfast entree.  Maybe you would like to give it a try, too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some more fun Christmas fabrics

This is just a scan I did of the fabric.  You can get a much better look at it by clicking the link below.
 A few years ago, a friend and I visited a local shop just before Christmas.  It was a rustic, seasonal spot that seemed to be part farm market, part antiques mall and part craft fair.  Local crafters each had their little section within the shop.  One area I was particularly drawn to held a number of simple sewed items like place mats and pot holders.  I found some simple square pot holders made from a vintage-look skiing print that I loved, and bought one for each of my daughters.

 Ever since then,  I have thought it would be fun to make up more pot holders in similar prints, either for gifts or for sale.  So while browsing to spend my gift certificate, I came upon this Dear Stella design called Ice Skating White, I just had to order it.  It isn't quite as nifty as the skiing print I liked so well, but it is very cute and I can see it being used for mug rugs as well as pot holders.  Then I came upon another, coordinating, Dear Stella design called Train With Presents White -- and, since I have a number of train-loving grandchildren, I thought I could find some uses for that one as well.
Also a scan.  Click the link above for a better look.  This reminds me of a child's drawing, especially the trees.
I've pinned both of these  fabrics to my Crafting for Christmas Pinterest board, rather than to my fabric board, so I will remember to use them in my Christmas crafting.  I hope I have time to do some of that this year, but my life has become very busy.  We will see!  I will wash the fabric and have it ready, at least.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to finish a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, #3

Here it is -- how to finish a cross stitch ornament #3.  I saved the most difficult finish for last -- framing with fabric -- and it is not very difficult at all, though it does involve the use of a sewing machine.  If you can sew a straight line and turn corners, you have all the skills you need to sew this ornament.

If you have never tried framing stitchery with fabric, it's very easy.  You can either use the same fabric for all four sides, or two different ones as I did.  Obviously, you will want to choose colors that complement those in your design.

To begin, just measure your finished stitchery horizontally and note down the width of it. 

Also figure out how wide you want your "frame" to be.  (For something this small, I thought an inch would be about as wide as I wanted to go.)  Plan on a half-inch total seam allowance and cut your top and bottom frame pieces accordingly.  (Don't cut the side pieces yet!)   For example, my stitchery is was 4 inches wide, and I wanted a 1" frame, so I added 1" for the frame and a total seam allowance of 1/2", and cut the top and bottom frame pieces 4 by 1-1/2 inches. 

Pin and sew your top and bottom frame pieces to the top and bottom of the stitchery, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seam toward the frame pieces.  Press on the right side too.  Trim off any frame edges that don't line up with your stitched piece.

Now for the side pieces.  You will measure vertically now, the length of the stitchery which has now become greater because of the top and bottom frame pieces you sewed to it.  Again, add the desired width for your frame (1" in my case) to your 1/2" total seam allowances.  I cut my side pieces 5" by 1- 1/2".)

  Again, pin and sew the side pieces in place along each side of the stitchery/frame piece, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seams toward the side frame pieces.  Press on the right side too and again trim off any frame edges that don't line up with your stitched piece.

Now you will make a backing piece for your stitchery.  You can either use fabric that matches your frame, or a solid color like red or green.  Simply measure the finished piece, with its frame stitched in place and pressed,  and cut a matching piece to use for the backing.  (In my case, that meant a rectangle 5" by 5 1/2".) 

Sew the two pieces together with right sides facing, using a 1/4" seam allowance and leaving a 2-inch opening for turning.  Turn right side out, press neatly, and then stitch around the finished piece about 1/8" from the edge, which will sew the opening closed. and will give a nice finished look to the ornament.

I could have sewed a loop of ribbon or metallic cord in place when sewing the front and back of the ornament together, but I decided it would be simpler to just thread a needle with cord (I used green crochet thread) and pierce the top center of the ornament, then tie the ends of the cord together and trim the ends neatly.

And there you have it!  It probably took me a lot longer to type this (trying to be very clear with my instructions) than it will take you to assemble your finished ornament!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Lemon Spritz

Photo from Taste of Home
Even though I have many, many Christmas cookie recipes already (click the "cookies" link in the label cloud to see some of them!), I'm always on the lookout for some that are new and different.  When I saw this recipe for Chocolate Dipped Lemon Spritz, I was intrigued.

I already have a good lemon spritz recipe (here's the link for my recipe for Lemon Spritz) but this one sounds really, really good -- as Andy Griffith might have said, "Extra good!"  You press the dough into strips using the bar plate and cut it into squares, then dip the baked cookies diagonally into melted dark chocolate and sprinkle with lemon sugar.  If you have ever had, from a box of nice chocolates,  a dark chocolate with a lemon cream filling inside, you can imagine how good this flavor combination would be in a cookie.  The cookies are very attractive, as well.  I like the idea of the lemon sugar sprinkled on top.

 Pressed cookies are so quick and easy, producing loads of pretty cookies with very little effort.  In recent years, Mr. T has been the cookie baker in our Christmas kitchen, and has made simple multicolor spritz cookies.  But I am going to wrest the cookie press out of his hands to try this one!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sing Out the Carols of Old

Vintage Christmas carol book from my personal collection
Here is another lovely Christmas poem by Mildred L. Jarrell.   Enjoy!

Sing Out the Carols of Old

Let us have music for Christmas ...
Sing out the carols of old,
Rejoice in the birth of the Christ Child,
The most wonderful story e'er told.

Sing with a heart filled with gladness
And love for the Heavenly King ...
Lift up your voice with song and praise
Until the rafters ring.

Let us have music for Christmas
In the glow of candlelight,
Mingled with snow and mistletoe
And shepherds that watch by night.

Sing of the star and wise men too,
And angels watching above ...
Bring once again to the homes of men
The gift of wondrous love.

Let us have music for Christmas ...
Sound the trumpet of joy and rebirth;
Let each of us try, with a song in our hearts,
To bring peace to men on earth.
~ Mildred L. Jarrell

I love that, especially the lines "Let each of us try, with a song in our hearts, to bring peace to men on earth."  Oh, how people need to know the peace of God today!  Let's purpose to share His incomparable peace with a song in our hearts!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Embroidered felt gift tags ~ a fun little project!

Photo by Flamingo Toes
I'm not even sure if I should admit this, but I have over 1000 unread emails in my Yahoo inbox.  I subscribe to a lot of blogs by email, and some of them publish every day, so that's a lot of mail.  I try to keep up with the ones that come in each day, but inevitably during holiday time or busy seasons of life, there are those I don't get to.  Then when I have time, I go back and look through the ones I haven't read.  I nearly always find things to try, pin, or save.

It's sort of neat that right now, while I'm trying to come up with posts for Christmas in July, I'm looking through the unread inbox items from last December.  And I found a keeper that I want to share with you all -- lovely gift tags made by embellishing felt shapes with beads and embroidery.  These are the work of the amazingly creative Bev at Flamingo Toes.

Flamingo Toes is one of my favorite creative blogs.  If you have never visited, do go over and spend some time looking around.  You are sure to be inspired!  Bev dreams up some fabulous creations and she does beautiful work.  She does a lot of hoop art and I am wanting to make some of that myself.  But these Beaded Embroidery Felt Gift Tags are what I want to share with you today.

There's a snowflake, a holly berry, and a monogram tag.  These will add beauty to any gift, and I think the recipient might even like to use them as ornaments another year.  The felt shapes are neatly backed with kraft paper to cover the back side of the stitchery.  Aren't they pretty?  You might even think of variations of your own that you would like to try.  Have fun!

Friday, July 18, 2014

How to finish off a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, method #2

 Here is how to finish off a cross-stitch Christmas ornament, method #2!

This is quite easy, being mostly done with hot glue and a few other simple items.  It is a little harder than just popping it in a frame as in finish #1.

You will need:
* Scissors
* Ruler and pencil
*Poster board or cardboard (I like to use the shiny metallic back of a recycled Christmas card.)
* Glue gun and glue sticks
* Glittery Christmas trim or rickrack
* Metallic cord for hanging

In addition to your finished stitchery.

Start by trimming your finished stitchery so that it is a nice even size and has at least 1/4" to 1/2" of unstitched area around the design.  Measure your trimmed stitchery piece, and cut a piece of cardboard or posterboard to the exact same size.

Cut a small piece (maybe 2 to 3 inches) of metallic cord to make a hanging loop.   Place  the cardboard square wrong side up on your work surface.  Fold the metallic cord in half, and glue the ends of it to the top part of your cardboard square, letting the loop part extend above the square so it forms a hanger for your ornament.  (If you prefer, you can simply glue the ends of the loop to the back of the ornament, but it doesn't look quite as neat from the back.)

Now, take your stitched ornament piece and glue it, wrong side down, over the glued cord ends, matching the stitchery and the cardboard piece as evenly and neatly as possible.

Lastly, you are going to cover the raw edges of your stitchery with the glittery Christmas trim, braid, or rickrack.  Probably the easiest way is to cut the top and bottom pieces and glue them neatly in place.  Then, when those are in place, cut the side pieces and glue them neatly in place as well, paying special attention to the corners where the pieces of trim come together.

You are finished!  I've finished off many cross stitch ornaments this way, and they are quick and easy to do.

If you wanted a more rustic look, you could back the ornament with cardboard and glue twigs around the edge instead of the metallic trim, using twine or jute for the hanging loop.

I must say, though, that the quick and easy frame method #1 is my personal favorite way to finish off  a cross stitch ornament.  The method I've shown here is quick and inexpensive, but the purchased frame is more foolproof.  

Whatever method you choose, I hope you will try making some cross-stitch ornaments this Christmas.  So much fun!