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Tag 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.


I made the slippers pictured above (one of each pictured) for my two daughters last year and liked the pattern so much, I made many, many slippers in various sizes throughout the year for the children of Pine Ridge in South Dakota. This is the basic pattern:

http://www.needlebeetle.com/free/aadb.html

This pattern is very easy to adapt to other sizes using your preferred yarn/needles by changing the size of the sole of the slipper. The length of the slipper leg can also be changed.

In the past month, I’ve made 5 different sizes for children …

I even made a pair of moccasins for my American Girl-type doll which my daughter had dressed for Thanksgiving…

This is an easy pattern and easily adapted using your stitches per inch gauge and the measurement of the foot. I also made a change to make the toe less pointy and impish. In my design, when doing the decreases in the foot, I stop 4 stitches before the center marker, knit two together, knit two, move marker, knit two and SSK (slip/slip/knit). This makes a rounded toe.

Depending on your busy schedule, there may still be time to knit up a pair of slippers before Christmas.


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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stollen-5

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.

stollen-1

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.

jblap (2)

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

jblap (1)

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.

dd cudd chr

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

vicki full

vicki-top

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

veronica-full

veronica-top

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

cocoa c u

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.