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Category Archives: Christmas

My daughters are both very skilled at putting together theme gifts for me and for each other. They pick out something that is interesting or sentimental and pack a container with items to match the theme. They each gave me a theme box for Christmas.

My older daughter filled a beautiful Christmas box with items to commemorate one of our favorite Christmas stories, The Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. This is a memoir of Truman Capote’s Christmas when he was seven years old and living with an elderly aunt. They were “best friends” and spent the year saving pennies so they could make fruitcakes to send to people they liked (such as President Roosevelt) and to buy something for each other as Christmas gifts.

My box was filled with pecans which the boy and his aunt gathered from freefalls in the woods, a bottle of bourbon such as they bought from a local bootlegger, and a fruitcake. There was also a box of chocolate covered cherries, the kind that Buddy, the boy, longed to give to his aunt but could never afford, along with a slingshot which they did make and give to each other one year.

There was also a beautiful, delicate cup with a bird decoration similar to what the aunt used and a bag of “AM Coffee – amen” to remember a coffee-naming contest they entered.

My daughter made up a small 4×6 shadow box containing miniature versions of the gifts Buddy really wanted to give his aunt: a radio, a pearl-handled jack-knife and chocolate covered cherries, along with the gift she hoped to get for him one day – a bike. Also, shown are the actual gifts they could manage: a slingshot and a kite.

This a wonderful book and the TV version is available on YouTube.  Be sure to watch the old one with Geraldine Page – a treasure.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQGEUCLqg0U

My younger daughter knows I’m sentimental about the WW II days and also interested in the women’s movement, so she combined these interests in a big box covered with reprints of old WW II posters.

Her gifts included a pair of slippers handmade from a 1942 knitting pattern, a book, Lipstick Brigade, The Untold True Story of Washington’s World War II Government  Girls …

…a 1942 issue of Life magazine with an article on knitting, an interest we share…

…a framed picture of modern women of all types and abilities speaking up for their rights …

…and Rosie the Riveter on a pin with a modern slogan.

These gifts are so much fun to open and I appreciate the extra time, thought and effort it takes to assemble them.  I’m already looking forward to the next one.


This is a really cute, free pattern I used last Christmas with less than a year’s experience in knitting. I had no problems and thought they turned out well – something a little different from the usual holiday decorations.  Here is the link:  https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/jolly-old-elves

I used two difference sizes of yarn and needles to get two different sizes from the same pattern.

The larger elf (about 8 inches tall) was made with #4 worsted yarn and #5 circular needles.


The smaller elf (about 6 inches tall) was made with DK or sport weight yarn #3 and #3 circular needles.

I gave one to each of my daughters along with a gift card for a special Christmas morning gift.


On Friday, I remember a single moment from the past week.

walking-cane-5“Hand me down my walking cane”

The most unusual Christmas gift I received this year was from my older daughter who thought that since my 84-year-old bones can’t handle much walking any more, I would enjoy a cane that commemorated all of the walking I’ve done in the past in some beautiful, wonderful places – most of them with her at my side.  She found just what she wanted at an antique store in Lebanon, Ohio – a vintage cane with metal tags commemorating hikes the owner had made.  It so happened they were tags from German places which we had visited over 25 years ago.  She bought a few more tags on eBay and I have a good start on a cane that reflects some of our trips:  Berchtesgaden, Herrenchiemsee, Schloss Neuschwanstein, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Indiana, Monticello, Gettysburg, Antietam, and Gateway Arch – St. Louis.

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I love the worn and well-used look of the cane right on down to the tip.

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I know more tags will be added – we haven’t even touched on Ireland and Switzerland yet, not to mention numerous places in the U.S.  I might need another cane.

The walking cane will have a treasured place by the fireplace where I can see it every day and think of all of the memorable walking I’ve done in my life.

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My youngest grandson has been coming to my house to bake Christmas cookies since he was three years old.  He loves the holiday traditions and even though he received his acceptance from Wright State (Dayton, Ohio) this week, he’s happy to cut out and decorate sugar cookies once more.  He says it’s one of his favorite memories and that makes it one of my favorite memories.

Happy memories to everyone during this holiday season, whatever your celebration might be.

 

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I really love this version of stollen which is easy and fairly quick to make.  The ricotta gives the dough an interesting texture and the bits of dried fruit are delicious.  Even with a heavy coating of powdered sugar, this is not overly sweet.  Lovely with hot coffee or tea.

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Easy Fruit Stollen


Dough:
2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1-½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup cold butter, cut in cubes
1 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-½ tsp. butter flavoring (optional)
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
l/4 cup each of figs, dates, apricots, raisins, chopped to ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Topping:
3 Tblsp. butter, melted
½ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Blend the butter cubes into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla and flavorings.

Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed.  Than combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it two or three times until it holds together.  Divide dough in half.

Form each half of dough into a rectangle about 4 inches x 7 inches, 1-1/2 inches thick.
Place shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the stollen until they’re lightly browned around the edges – about 40 minutes.  A cake tester inserted into the center of a stollen should come out clean.

Remove stollen to a rack and allow to cool.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar.

Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.  Cut into one-inch wide slices to serve.
Yield:  Two one-pound stollen.

This version of stollen does not keep for weeks as traditional stollen does.  Best if used within 3 days or  so. 

stollen-2Fresh from the oven

stollen-3Topped with butter and sugar

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On Friday, I pause and remember a single moment from the past week.

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Having fun at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant with great-grandson Isaiah.

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On Friday, I pause and remember a single moment from the past week.

We celebrate St. Nicholas on December 6 with small gifts and treats.  The gift from my younger daughter was a real treat – hand-knit bunny PJs just like Ralphie’s in the movie, Christmas Story, right down to the “sappily staring” slippers.

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I have an American Girl size doll that my daughter keeps dressed in imaginative costumes.

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She looks perfect displayed along with my village-sized Ralphie’s house …

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…and Higbee’s Department Store.  You can see Ralphie peering into the window, dreaming about his air rifle.

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Happy decorating, everyone.

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