Friday, December 24, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
This time, the memories come from Nola. A custom of her family. Welcome back Nola.
Strange but Wonderful - - -
one of my family's Christmas customs
Have you ever seen real candles lit on a real Christmas tree? Oh, I know – very dangerous! But oh so beautiful to behold! My family always had two Christmas trees – a long-needled Scotch pine for upstairs, and a short-needled variety for the family room in the basement. This family room in itself is quite a sight to see – knotty-pine paneling (aka “boxcar siding”) on the walls, a big stone fireplace, made from rocks called geodes from Bedford, Indiana, Mom's homemade braided rugs on the floors, most of the furnishings are antiques, including oil lamps for light.
But – back to the Christmas trees. Sometimes the tree for the family room was a cut tree and sometimes a live tree with a ball of dirt attached. It would be planted in the yard after the holidays. We had these antique candle holders that had formerly belonged to my grandpa's brother, Uncle Phil. They consisted of a circle of tin cut in a fan shape. Every other blade is bent up to form a cup for the little candle. This piece of tin is soldered to a heavy wire hook, on the end of which is a Plaster of Paris ball, painted red. The ball is for weight to hold the candle upright.
On Christmas night, after the meal was eaten and the dishes washed and put away, and long after the gifts were opened and enjoyed, either Dad or Mom would put a couple more logs on the fire in the fireplace. My brother, being the older of us, always got the honor of lighting the candles on the tree. We always made sure there was a bucket of water beside the tree – just in case!
The candles would be lit, the lights turned off, and we'd sit, usually in near silence, for nearly an hour while the candles slowly burned down. It was a wonderful time to meditate, to remember Christmases past, and for a small kid, a struggle to stay awake! As the candles burned down, my brother would take the brass candle snuffer and extinguish them one by one. For some reason the green candles always seemed to burn down quicker than the rest! After the candles were all out, we'd usually sit for a few more minutes, reflecting on the wonderful Christmas we'd enjoyed.
We kept our trees up until after New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve we'd repeat the candle lighting ceremony. Sometime after New Year's the trees would be taken down, the ornaments and those antique candle holders stored away to wait for the next Christmas. And no, we never set the tree on fire! The only accident we ever had was when I was a teenager – I leaned too close to one of the candles and caught my bangs on fire!
Wow, what a wonderful story. Thank you Nola! That must of been a beautiful site. The tree with the candles all lit...
What are some of your customs? I would love to hear them.
Till next time....
Saturday, December 11, 2010
And Christmas memories can be sad and depressing too. After my parents got divorced, those next few Christmas's were quite sad. Divorce is so hard on kids, who don't understand what is going on.
I have a hard time at Christmas still. Oh, I love the look of wonder and excitement on our children's faces. I love buying them just the right gifts, of decorating the house with their paper snowmen and making cookies to frost and decorate. We all love driving around at night and looking at the lights and displays. But my 3 sisters, Mom, Dad and I are all scattered in different states. No more of Mom's divinity candy (unless she makes some and sends it to us), no more going to church and hearing the sweet sound of Moms voice as she sings. Well, there are lots of no more's in my book. And I try not to dwell on the sad. So I wont continued to go down that road in this post. Back to the fun...
One year, we were able to get our then 3 yr old daughter a pink Barbie ride on jeep, the kind with the battery in it. You should of heard her scream of delight that Christmas morning. Her and older brother, and when younger brother was big enough, him too,had the best fun on that thing. They drove it till the battery would not work anymore, then they 'drove' it some more. Sometimes down a hill, sometimes with big brother pulling it. That jeep gave the kids at least 6 yrs of fun!
I mentioned divinity candy, and it IS divine!! I have yet attempted to make it on my own. I guess that is what makes it special, if Moms makes it and sends me some. But for myself, another treat that is made mostly just at Christmas is fudge. Both chocolate and peanut butter. These are a MUST at this time of year. Here are my recipes, I found them on the net about 5 yrs ago. I'm sorry, don't know where I found them or who put them out there. But they are scrumpious!
2 C brown sugar
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 C butter
1/2 C milk
2 tsp vanilla
3 C powder sugar
Put powder sugar in a large bowl.
In a medium sized pot, melt butter, add milk, brown sugar and cocoa. Bring to boil, and boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Take off heat, stir in vanilla. Pour over powder sugar and beat till most the lumps are gone.
Pour into round cake pan, pie plate, etc and let cool.
PEANUT BUTTER FUDGE
2 1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter
1/2 C milk
3/4 C peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 C powder sugar
Put powder sugar in large bowl.
Melt butter, add milk and brown sugar. Bring to boil, and boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and add vanilla and peanut butter. Stir. Pour over powder sugar and beat till most the lumps are gone.
Pour into round cake pan, pie tin, etc. Cool
These fudge recipes are great to give someone in a pretty tin!
I hope you have lots fond, happy memories of Christmas past.
Enjoy the fudge!
Till next time....
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Jeri has given us a small tutorial on Sashiko.
“Bless you” as my friend Cathy said when I told her about my latest project. No, I didn’t really sneeze. Sashiko is a form of Japanese embroidery. Typically done on dark blue cloth with white thread, much of Sashiko’s beauty lies in the simplistic stitches that create intricate designs.
Here are the steps I follow to create sashiko designs.
1. First print out the design you like on card stock.
2. Cut out the parts you want to show up when you chalk your template.
Oops, I forgot to take a picture of the next few steps. So hear it is in word form.
3.Spray the wrong side of your template with temporary adhesive, and place it where you want it on your fabric.
4.Use some form of marking system to fill in the blank spaces. I use a Pounce, but tailors chalk works as well.
5. Now your piece should look like this.
6. I use white embroidery thread and go around the outline of the stencil. I can’t remember the name of the stitch, so here is a picture.
7. My final tip is to pay attention to stitch length and space length. You want these to be as even as possible. If you have several uneven stitches in a row, take a break.
I hope this has been a useful introduction to Sashiko. To see the finished product (someday), check out the forums.
Thank you Jeri! Looks like a fun project.
We are having thread challenge on the forum. If you are interested in participating, come on over to the forum and check it out, here. Then sign up as a member of the forum, and join in the fun. We would love to have you!
Till next time...
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Nola lives in Indiana, on a nice little farm. She has animals to attend to, and family all around her. Here is what she is doing for some Christmas gifts this year.
"ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS –
pillowcases, fleece blankets & pj’s - made with love by Grandma!
Guess I had too much fun earlier this year learning to make the Sausage Roll Pillowcases! Now my grand-girls have asked for pillowcases for Christmas – Monkey print for Lauren and Frog print for Caitlynn. My daughter decided her new man would like a set too, so I'm making Motorcycle pillowcases for Ryan – orange flames for the body with a motorcycle print for the cuff. And his two girls (soon to be my step-grand-girls) are both getting a set – wild colorful print for Ashlyn and something with lots of blue for Hayllie.
My son John collects military trucks (not scale model ones – the huge full-size things!) He has two from the Korean war era – an M211 6 x 6 and an M37/42 radio command truck. Also has an M715 from the Viet Nam war, complete with a bullet hole in the hood. While at a fabric store last weekend I found this really cute camo flannel with little army trucks on it! Yep, you guessed it! John is getting camo pillowcases for Christmas!
And fleece blankets!! OH MY! I can't see the top of my dining room table for the stacks of fleece waiting to be converted into blankets! This all started when my Esther made a motorcycle print fleece blanket for Ryan for his birthday. His family saw it and now they all want blankets – a snowman blanket for Grandma, a West Virginia sports blanket for Grandpa (he's from West Va.), a log cabin in the snow for Ryan's mom, a Farmall tractor blanket for my hubby's boss, and a red plaid for my John. There's even one just for me - pink and brown plaid! Ryan's girls want to learn how to make the knotted fleece blankets, so Esther bought fleece for them – she and I will get the fringe cut, then she will give them the fleece for Christmas – sort of a “do-it-yourself” Christmas gift!
And then there are the pajamas for the little girls! They were walking through the fabric department at Wal-Mart singing “Llama, llama, pink pajamas” (guess it's a story the youngest girl learned in school)! Caitie found frog flannel and Lauren spied the monkey flannel – so I guess I'll be sewing up some pj’s too!
Sigh! Guess I'll have to put all my quilt projects and plans on the back burner 'til after Christmas! Not even sure I'll have time to put up the Christmas tree! I'm off now to start cutting out all those pillowcases!"
Thank you Nola, sounds like you are pretty busy! Can't wait to see your creations.
Have a great day all,
Till next time,
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
It's Time For The Quilt & Needle’s
Third Anniversary/Winter Mystery Quilt Weekend!
Join Us for the Fun!! December 4 & 5, 2010
It's time to celebrate the Quilt & Needle’s Third Anniversary! The Winter Mystery Quilt Weekend is this weekend, December 4th and 5th, and I do hope you will join us over at the Quilt and Needle Forum as we sew-n-solve the clues to Jess’ newest Mystery Quilt Pattern! Jess has again designed this year’s Winter Mystery Pattern in three different sizes for you to choose from: 60” square, 80” square or 100” square! You do NOT want to miss out on this newest mystery design - it is absolutely stunning! You can order your Mystery Pattern here and be ready to join the fun in December. You can also still order all four of the 2010 Mystery Quilt Patterns at a specially discounted group price here. If you choose this option, you will be emailed the patterns for the March Mystery, the Summer Mystery and the Fall Mystery when your order is processed.
Winter Mystery Quilt Pattern
The Moda Swirl fabrics Jess has specially chosen for this design absolutely scream “Winter”!! Aren’t they just delicious?? These fabrics remind me of snow swirls and ice skating – perfect for this time of year! You can order your fabric kit for the Winter Mystery Quilt here. Also, remember, when you buy a Fabric Kit, the Mystery Pattern is included in the price of your kit! And don't forget to order your Backing Fabric when you order your kit! Just let Jess know which fabric you wish to use for your backing or let her choose the backing fabric for you! Either way, it's the perfect way to finish your one-of-a-kind Jessica J. E. Smith designer original quilt!
Winter 2010 Mystery Quilt Fabric Kit for 100" size
Winter 2010 Mystery Quilt Fabric Kit for 80" size
Winter 2010 Mystery Quilt Fabric kit for 60" size
If you prefer another colorway than the blue Moda Swirls, Jess wants you to know that this pattern will work well in any color way, with any theme of fabrics, so feel free to shop your stash after purchasing the pattern.
Jess and I also LOVE to see pictures of your quilty creations sewn from Jess’ patterns!! Forum members who join us for any Mystery Weekends are welcome to post and share photos of their quilts on the Forum. If you are not a Forum Member and have made a quilt from any of Jess’ patterns, we would love to see your quilt! Just email a photo to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post your photo to the Quilt and Needle Forum album for that pattern’s quilts and post the photo to our Facebook albums, too!!
So, until next time, friends, remember: When all else fails, just fondle the fabric!!
Cindy Prince, aka MisisipiMenace, aka Miss Tassels
Jessica J.E. Smith
The Quilt and Needle
I thought it would be fun to share Christmas recipes, stories, memories...and of course, quilts with you this month. I also have some guest bloggers this month. A few with Christmas stories, a few with quilt related info.
I love to be in the kitchen, baking and cooking for my family. And Christmas time is one of the funnest times to be cooking. There are sooo many yummy treats out there. I love making food gifts for friends and family.
So to kick it off, I am going to share with you my families favorite Christmas cookie recipe. I started this about 8 yrs ago, or so. I was given a Nestle Toll House cookie cookbook one year, and this is where the recipe comes from. My husband is a huge chocolate fan, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. And the kids love decorating them too. We made our first batch yesterday.
(this image was taken off google images)
2 3/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each salt, ground ginger, and cinnamon
3 tbls butter or margarine
3 tbls sugar
1/2 c molasses
Melt 1 1/2 c choco chips.
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon in bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until creamy, beat in molasses and melted chocolate. Gradually add in flour mixture alternating w/water. Beat until smooth. Cover and chill for 1 hr, or until firm.
Roll half the dough to 1/4" thickness. Cut into shapes. Repeat w/other half.
Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are set but centers are still slightly soft.
Either frost w/a mixture of powder sugar and water or melt remaining chocolate chips and drizzle over cookies.
We've had a few snow weekends, finally! My kids and I love the snow. It's been the perfect days for hiding in my sewing corner of the family room. That's where the wood stove is! So not only is it toasty warm, but I have beautiful views to look at, while I am sewing away.
Last year, I made these stockings for my family. My youngest son didn't want a homemade one, he was happy with his fuzzy one from Walmart with a puppy dog on it. But this year, he says I can make him one :)
What are you making this year?
I have some mug rugs to make (Yes, I have joined the craze!! I was told it's a good way to practice my new found machine quilting skills :) a few bags, maybe some pillow cases, a bedside caddy.....just to name a few things.
This coming weekend the Q&N is having our third anniversary mystery quilt weekend!! I'm sure it's going to be another gorgeous quilt, from our leader and great friend, Jess. Kits are available in the shop. And you can buy the pattern here.
I hope to see you join us!
Stay tuned, I'll be posting a bit more this month...I hope!
Till next time