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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.


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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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Now, that Christmas is over, I can share some of my holiday quilting projects.  I have a large stash of orphan blocks, saved over the years from various projects or sometimes made as a single, difficult block that I would not want to use for a big quilt.  I decided to put some of them together as lap quilts for my son in St. Louis, his wife, two daughters and their dog.

In each case the quilts were 36×48 inches (except for the one for the dog) since that’s about as big as I can handle on a domestic sewing machine any more.  Also, the quilts were all backed with fleece and included  hand-embroidered labels.  My son’s quilt was made up of black/white blocks, which included several Judy Martin blocks, an Eleanor Burns block and a 70s style appliqued turkey.

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I used sashing and some lively polka-dot fabric as borders to complete the project.

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My daughter-in-law’s quilt had a large medallion block in the center that was made as part of Jacquelynne Steves’ Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt-along.

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The older granddaughter’s quilt was made using a block I saw on the internet.  I added an embroidered panel at the top.

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vicki-top

The younger granddaughter’s quilt centered around a block I found online plus three hand-embroidered panels at the top.

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The dog’s quilt was made using blocks from a Barbara Brackman Civil War quilt-along and one block I made for a swap about 12 years ago.

cocoa full

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The family sent me a picture of Cocoa with her quilt.  I’ve never met Cocoa and think the next time I’ll need to add a few more blocks for a bigger quilt.

12422134_10100906250494021_1716239658_oClick on photos to enlarge.


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For the past 7 years, my great-grandchildren have come to my house early in December to bake Christmas cookies.   My granddaughter wanted to continue the tradition of when she was a child and baked cookies at my house.

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Granddaughter – 1995

First, there came a little girl, then a little boy, then my granddaughter married a man with two daughters to add to the crowd.  Last September, another boy came along and this year he was big enough to gather around the kitchen table with the rest of the kids.

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My daughter who lives with me was on hand to help, but the kids really have everything down pat by now.

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I wanted to give them some treat bags and found this cute, easy pattern by Red Brolly and made one for each child.

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http://red-brolly.com/2015/12/what-a-sweetie/

When not eating pizza or making cookies, the kids like to get into a big box I keep filled with paper, crayons and markers.  My great-grandson was proud he could draw a Christmas tree.

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A good time was had by all.


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This is block 7 in Susan’s stars and pinwheels quilt-along, called Expanding Star.

https://desertskyquilts.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/stars-and-pinwheels-qal-expanding-star/

I’m using these blocks-of-the-month to make a different project each month rather than saving them for a quilt.  This month, I reduced the block size to 8 inches (unfinished) and made three of them to incorporate in a table mat for a special table in my living room.  I fussy-cut three designs from a Christmas panel and added some festive fabric to make the red diamonds.

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I bought the vintage sewing table in an antique store several years ago and it gets constant use as a table for sewing, eating, watching TV, working with photographs, writing notes and cards, and is the regular Sunday dinner table for my reclusive 16-year-old grandson.  I keep a mat on it at all times

susan7-table

This is an easy block which has a good secondary design.