For the Love of Christmas Stockings

Stockings hung by the chimney “with care” can’t begin to describe our family tradition. We love stockings, and Santa is on the hunt throughout the year for interesting items to fill them. Opening Unloading them is one of the highlights of our celebration, and sometimes the stockings are just too heavy to be hung. Perhaps that is why our stockings were looking worse for the wear, and I, who struggles is challenged can’t sew a stitch, decided to make new ones.

I had purchased a drop cloth at Lowes to use as a table cover for our neighborhood bonfire, and it was perfect for the stockings I had in mind. I folded it, laid an old stocking on the cloth, traced around it, generously, and cut out the pattern.

Then I waited, because that was as much “sewing” as I could stand for one day. Actually, I was waiting for my mom to come at Thanksgiving and show me how to thread the bobbin on my ancient but hardly used machine. She threaded the needle for me, too, because, well, I have a hard time with that. Then, don’t tell anyone, but she actually offered to stitch up the stockings for me (like she used to do for my Home-ec projects that she was supposed to just help me with) but this time, I put my foot down and said NO maybe “let me see how I do, first, and then I may need your help.”

The stitching was a piece of cake. It’s a stocking, after all, not a skirt that could rip apart and leave me exposed at WalMart or something. And then the fun began. I wanted to personalize the stockings for each family member. I started with my own because I know what I like. The hard part was narrowing it down, since I like pretty much everything except liver. I love anything rusty, and what retired teacher doesn’t love a chalkboard, so here is what I did.


Next, I started on our daughter’s. Tiffany is the sweater queen; she always looks good in a sweater and wears them a lot. So, I am making her a turtleneck stocking using parts of the sweater that I cut up for the snowmen I posted earlier. I just stitched the sweater to the under side of the stocking cuff and turned it like a turtleneck. I wound jute twine around scraps of the sweater yarn to make the “yarn balls” and, since she also loves cooking, I added a miniature whisk.

Two down…several more to go. I’ll post others when I get them all finished. And speaking of teachers and chalkboards (well, I did speak of that, I’m not just rambling) I wanted to show you what I did with one of the old rusty springs I found down in our woods.

Cute, huh? And I didn’t have to sew a stitch. I’m thinking these would be cute as place cards at Christmas, but then, where would I put the food?

My first Pinterest Christmas

Black Friday has come and gone; Small Business Saturday is quickly moving into Sunday, and I have not bought much diddly squat! And, truth be told, I don’t have a single idea about what to get anyone this year.

Last year was my first year to be completely engrossed in Pinterest, and I was so inspired by all the ideas, recipes,and decorations that I wanted to try everything. Most of the things I tried I posted on my Facebook page, but I wasn’t blogging last year, so I thought you might enjoy a peek at some and, perhaps, get inspired to get on with Christmas.

I started a board entitled Wrapping Up Christmas. I planned to pin only ideas for wrapping packages…I love pretty packages, but I randomly ended up with all things Christmas on there. It really is a delightful board, so feel free to stop by and spend a minute few minutes half a day looking at the holiday stuff. Anyway, thanks to that board, we had some really pretty packages under the tree last year, and they were generally very easy to do. The first thing I learned to do was make paper flowers. The post suggested using a lunch bag. Right up my alley. I also like lunch. And bags. Here is my lunch bag flower.

And another I made from white wrapping paper.

I used these instead of bows on several packages. Here is a link to a good tutorial if you’d like to try this.http://www.instructables.com/id/Simple-Paper-Flowers/step3/Add-glue/
A look at my bonus grand daughter’s pins inspired me to choose this black and white wrapping paper and wide black ribbon to incorporate her taste
and use the white flower.

And here, I used brown craft paper and twig snowflakes that I made with sticks, hot glue, and embellishments. I added some deer patterned ribbon for our son, Kris-the animal/nature lover.

You can find the tutorial for the snowflakes here. http://www.littlethingsbringsmiles.com/2011/05/tutorials.html
I used them as package decor, tree ornaments, and even hung some from the mirror above the mantel.

You can even use creatively wrapped packages in your grand scheme of Christmas decorating. Simply coordinate colors of wrapping paper and ribbon with your room decor and place a group of small wrapped presents as a centerpiece on the dining table. Pile gifts in the center of a bed in the guest room. I did this one year when my kids were coming for Christmas and I was also having a holiday gathering beforehand. I wrapped the kids’ presents in colors that matched each of their rooms and displayed them as part of the decor. Later, I carried the gifts downstairs and tagging them was unnecessary because they were color coded.

While I did not get any shopping done this weekend, I did manage to get my mantel done and the tree mostly decorated. Film at eleven…or when I get the mess cleaned up, whichever comes first. I’m also working on making new stockings and can’t wait to share those. In the meantime, tomorrow’s Cyber Monday. Maybe I’ll pick up a gift or two in between restocking at the flea market. The ugly cabinet turned coat rack sold. The snowmen and the mantel were purchased, as well.

Hope you are “wrapping up Christmas.”

I’m dreaming…

Of course! A white Christmas would be lovely, but right now it’s almost Thanksgiving, and every year at this time, I’m wishing for a larger big ole farmhouse table that seats at least ten people. Even though I’m cooking for only six this year, after I set the table, there is not enough room for the food! And, let’s face it, after the blessings and thankfulness, food is what it’s all about. I have removed the centerpiece and added a stacking tray for three of the dishes, but that still leaves very little space for the good stuff.

This year, Saint is frying the turkey. No, not the burn-the-house-down turkey fryer kind, but an old recipe his mom used to make at least once a week since his family had turkeys on their farm. He thought he had a wild turkey breast from last year’s hunt, but he didn’t, so I reluctantlyunselfishly offered gladly gave up the rights to the turkey this year. IF you have never had fried turkey breast, you should try it.
Saintly Fried Turkey
1 fresh or thawed turkey breast, sliced off the bone into thin slices.
2 eggs, beaten with 2 Tbs. milk
2 cups flour seasoned with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a bit of garlic salt
Oil for frying
That’s it! The key is in the pounding, and Saint is very good at this. Pound the slices to a pulp well. Next, roll the slices in the flour mixture, dip in the egg mixture, and back into the flour. Fry slices in hot oil until golden brown. Since the slices are thin, it doesn’t take long, and I give Saint a foil pan lined with paper towels and covered with a foil lid to drain the slices and keep them warm while he’s frying the rest. And…okay, ummm, I banish order suggest he do the pounding and frying on the gas grill or electric skillet outside because, while this is really yummy, it is also really messy! Think little turkey bits flying all over the kitchen windows, and, you know, in the name of health and cleanliness, he works better outside!

I like to make ahead as much as possible, and this cranberry salad recipe that my mom gave me works very well for that. If you are looking for a really easy and delicious recipe, give this a stir.
Raspberry Cranberry Salad
2 pkg. raspberry jello
2 cups boiling water
8 oz. cream cheese
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup walnut pieces
Dissolve jello in boiling water and refrigerate until it just begins to congeal. Whip cream cheese, add cranberry sauce and nuts. Fold into the jello mixture. Pour into mold or dish, cover and refrigerate until time to serve. Some people add crushed pineapple, but we like it without.
And now for the real star of the show. No, not the dessert. The stuffing!

No matter how many other stuffings I play with, I always come back to my own, and don’t judge me when you see the fat content. I only make it once twice a few times each year.
Fry 6 to 8 slices of bacon, drain, crumble, and reserve. To the bacon grease, add 3/4 stick of butter. Add to that hot grease, one cup of chopped celery and one cup of chopped onion. Saute until translucent. Pour a 16 0z package of cornbread croutons or stuffing mix into a large mixing bowl. (You can make your own cornbread if you wish, but I don’t see the sense in that.) Add 2 cups of chicken broth, onion and celery mixture including the grease, and the bacon bits. And the not-so-secret ingredient is dried sage. It is best when I have dried my own and can rub and crunch it into the mixture…mmmmm, don’t you wish we had smellaputers, but this year my garden was minimal practically non existent, so I will use a teaspoon or two of bottled, rubbed sage. Finally,add other ingredients as desired. I love dried cherries, but this year I’m using dried cranberries and pecans. Mushrooms, apple bits, anything you like can be thrown in, and add more broth as needed. The mixture should be very moist but not soupy. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake. Since I’m not baking the bird this year, I will pour this into a casserole dish and bake at 350 until it is warm and slightly browned. I don’t use eggs, therefore, I don’t need to worry about the internal temperature.
So…what are you making for Thanksgiving dinner and where are you putting all the sides?
Happy Thanksgiving!

Reclaiming Lives

You may have noticed that I likelove am obsessed with making over old pieces and turning them into something else. I’m not great at it, but, occasionally, something turns out really nice.Remember the antique bed that I purchased for $7.00? I made the little snowmen out of the bedposts and already sold them in my flea market booth for $14.00-I know, they were worth $50 $35 a lot more, but I sell everything cheap so I have room for more. Then I made the coat rack that I just love and put in my booth last week. Here is a picture of the headboard turned Christmas mantel piece that I also made from that same $7.00 purchase.

I really wish I could have kept it and used it in my home. Oh, well…when I get that lake house! I still have a couple of bedposts left that I have plans for and some other Christmas upcycles to show you later, but I found this article on Houzz that really touched me, and I wanted to share it with you. Reclaimed furniture and reclaimed lives. What an inspiration. Enjoy!

A Joyful Noise

I used to be a pretty good singer; not a trained or educated musician because I don’t really read music. I know enough to follow the notes up and down and I was gifted with an ear to hear harmony. Maybe not the correct harmony, but a pleasing one.

As I’ve become more mature older, my vocal chords won’t cooperate. They crack and move and produce sounds that are foreign to my voice. And I worry about it. Singing, even if only in the shower or alone in my car, (yes, I get the crazy looks) is such a joy. And I don’t want to lose that.

While I used to belt out the National Anthem at ballgames and praise songs and the beloved-but-in-danger-of-becoming- extinct-old hymns, I now sometimes just move my mouth. Shame on me!

A couple of Sundays ago, I sat in front of a young lady I didn’t know. She sang loudly compared to the rest of us mealy mouths that sit in my area, and she was just a tad bit sharp or flat. I told you I didn’t read music. Anyway, she was off! I stopped even moving my mouth for a few bars or measures or stanzas. Didn’t I tell you I don’t read music? What if people think I’m the one singing those notes? At first I felt sorry for her and wondered how many times the people in front of me had felt the same way for me. Shame on me!

This morning in my quiet time I am reading Psalm 98. “O sing unto the Lord a new song…make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”

That lady was singing joyfully! Next Sunday, if she sits behind me, I may even try to harmonize with her. If not, congregation beware, let the moving and cracking begin. I might be singing a new song. Or at least it may sound like a new song.

Call Me Crazy

And I will surely answer!
Before I begin a big largehuge home project, I usually think on the decision forever for a long time. I research options, do a cost analysis, and start a portfolio of ideas that would make an old Sears Catalog look small. For some odd strange reason, I plunged head long into this one without a clue. I decided to do a makeover on our little travel trailer.

We bought this little 27 foot camping trailer from the original owner who upgraded to a motor home, and although it has been gently used and is only a few years old, the decor looks like it is straight out of the eighties; country blue print upholstery, light oak colored cabinets, and gold trimmed cornices over the windows.

Saint did not complain one bit much when I said I wanted to do a makeover, despite the fact that he said it looked fine to him. He’s way more interested in the tires and the tongue than the curtains and comforters. My thought was that just getting rid of the oak look would be a good beginning, and we had leftover cabinet paint from our kitchen update.

Yikes! WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Removing all the screws and hinges was enough for Saint. And after seeing what a coat of primer would look like on this…whatever material these frames are made of, I was a little disheartened. The doors, however, are a better quality material and, after two coats of primer and two coats of cabinet paint, look like this will be do-able great!

After the initial scare of this project, I looked online for ideas and photos of trailer makeovers. I have seen some cute transformations, but nothing that grabs my full attention. I’m leaning toward coastal decor. I would appreciate any suggestions, links to pictures, or personal success (no horror stories, please, I’m already scared enough) annecdotes you’d like to share. Until then…this will be a WIP and I will keep you posted.