Hold on, man. We don't go anywhere with "scary," "spooky," "haunted,"
or "forbidden" in the title.~From Scooby-Doo

Dec 26, 2007

The Shouting is Over!

Christmas came in a blizzard...luckily Santa drives a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer otherwise he may not have made it! We were blessed, yet again, with an abundance of gifts, good food and time together with family. The favorite gifts were a kitchen for the littlest chef in our house, a trampoline that won't be set up until our yard is thawed and uncovered in the spring and "We got a Wii!"

I felt misty eyed and teary at two special gifts - the first from The Big Easy, a huge picture frame that held 30 photos. He had taken the time to find, print and display some of our favorite Disneyland pictures from our many trips over the years. I knew he had been working on something but couldn't figure out what he was doing...it was his 'handmade' item and it was indeed heartfelt and special. It is a treasure I will place in my craft room or the family room so we can admire and remember.

The second gift was from my parents and something they got for each of their children and their families. It was a complete set of the family genealogy and temple work that had been done thus far. It is a treasure. Tucked in the front cover is a letter from my mom that I haven't read yet. I saw it and knew that I would need a Kleenex and some 'alone time' to do it justice - not amid the wrapping paper toss and shouting that was happening. I will have to shovel out some time today so I can read it. It also includes some other special thoughts from Dad and Mom - what a lot of work and something that has no price tag.

I felt a lot of satisfaction in making a lot of my gifts this year. I think next year I will try harder to find things I can do for the kids as well. I plan on doing the 'handmade holiday thing' again. Whether it was received in the same spirit it was given, I may never know...but I enjoyed it! I am a little 'let down' to not have a pile of things to be working on, but D'Artagnan has requested a robe for his Birthday (that's today!) Got to get sewing...

Dec 13, 2007


It is C-O-L-D here! We got a major rain-turned-snow storm over the weekend. Why does snow have to look so soft and fluffy - like I want to lay down in it and roll around it??? NOT! It sure is pretty to look at when it's falling and when everything is newly white. However...I have the hardest time getting warm (must be my Arizona native blood). It does help with the Christmas spirit though. Monday night we made sugar cookies from a new recipe taken from Pioneer Woman Cooks website http://www.thepioneerwomancooks.com/- super yummy!

I'm still cranking out the gifts for Christmas - finished up two aprons for the kids' teachers using the Sunday Dinner Apron pattern by Vanilla House Designs. That brings my total apron count to 10...2 from this pattern and 8 from the Friday Night Apron pattern. I love the aprons - they are so easy to make and turn out so cute! I have had a terrific time finding fabrics to suit each person's personality and the sassier the fabrics the cuter the apron.

I found a set of dish towels at IKEA (3 for 1.99) that I turned into aprons for the kids to use while making Christmas sugar cookies. Will post pics of them here soon. They are super excited to have their very own aprons and my son wanted his right away to wear to dinner. I explained that it wasn't necessarily an over-sized bib but for cooking/baking purposes but then again...why not!? My oldest daughter and I made a sock snowman tonight based on the advent activities found on the Bella Dia activity advent site: http://belladia.typepad.com/bella_dia/christmas_book_activity_advent/index.html. She named him "Oatmeal" - the 'cast off' name from Frosty the Snowman. He is adorable and we had a great time. Wish there were more hours in the day to do all the crafty activities available for the holidays!

I sent off all my out-of-town packages this week and the 'hand-made' items for my brothers and brother-in-law was a spice mix a la "Emeril Lagasse". I put the mix in little glass jars found at IKEA and wrapped in fabric remnants. It wasn't quite as labor intensive as the aprons but since most of them enjoy BBQ'ing and have turned out to be excellent cooks I think it'll be well received.

I have a couple more aprons left to make for Mom and one SIL and need to find a cutesy tootsie pattern or make up one for my little one. She will most likely get a kitchen from Santa (SHHH!) and I found some adorable pink fabric that would make a perfect kitchen apron to go with it! A new robe is the latest request from my son - perfect for the birthday bear to bring him (his birthday is the 26th). Anyone have a great robe pattern or tutorial???...

Dec 7, 2007

Holiday Recipes

I've been in such a sewing and creating mood lately that I've almost neglected my cooking and baking. I love the smells of the holiday season - especially those tried and true recipes that can catapult me back to time spent with my brothers and sister growing up. Chocolate gravy is one of those, eaten every Christmas morning and often again on New Year's morning. Another is cheese balls that my grandma and mom would make to give away on a tray surrounded by crackers. We always looked forward to the extra (odd ball, cheese ball) that would be left for us to snack on as we waited for Santa.

Cheese boats are another 'family recipe' that not many people have heard of. I come from a small town in Arizona, Globe. I grew up with everyone making them and knowing what they were - we made them for fundraisers and sold them! My mom tended to make them only at the holidays and for the last several years The Big Easy and I have made lots of them and given them away to our friends and neighbors. The kids would help with scooping out the bread and enjoy either eating it, throwing it or saving it for the ducks and birds. We would put 6-8 in a freezer bag and attach instructions for how to heat and eat. We've gotten lots of compliments, requests for recipes and "You're making cheese boats again this year, aren't you?" Sadly, since moving to Utah we haven't made them but maybe next year we'll get back in the 'boat' making mode. Thought you may like to try them this holiday season or any time during the year you need to try something new!

Chocolate Gravy

1 Can Evaporated Milk
1/2 Square Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Baker's Chocolate)
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Heaping Tbsp Corn Starch
1/2 Can Water (Use the Milk Can)

In a double boiler or a pan that will not burn easily - mix milk, water and square of chocolate. Stir often until chocolate is thoroughly melted. (To prevent burning, be sure to stir continually if not in a double boiler) In a separate bowl mix sugar and corn starch together. Add just enough water to make a thick mixture. Bring chocolate mixture to a boil and when it is boiling add in the sugar mixture. Continue lightly boiling and stirring until it thickens. (Hint: if it is not thick enough, to a pudding like consistency, you can mix a little more corn starch with water and add to the chocolate). Serve over baking powder biscuits. (We always just follow the recipe on the Bisquick box!). Split the biscuit in half, top with a pat of butter and pour on the gravy, enjoy!! Yum, Yum! Makes a small recipe enough for about 2-4 people.

Cheese Ball

2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
2 Cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp pimento
1 Tbsp finely chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp grated onion
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
dash of salt
few drops of Tabasco
1 1/2 - 2 cups of finely chopped pecans

Mix all ingredients together. Divide into two and form into balls. Roll each ball into the pecans until coated. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Serve with crackers and enjoy!

Cheese Boats

1 lb. Longhorn/Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can El Pato tomato sauce (hot tomato sauce) if you can't find- use 2 cans regular
1 small jar diced pimentos
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped fine
1 large can diced green chilies
1/2 Cup olives, chopped fine
1 bunch green onion, chopped
4 tsp. vinegar
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 dozen french rolls (you want a nice crispy crust so they'll hold their shape)

Combine all ingredients, except rolls, in a large bowl. Take the rolls and slice off their tops so you have a nice 'lid'. Use a spoon or fork to scoop out the insides leaving a thin shell all the way around, leaving the sides intact. (Save the bread you take out for bread pudding, croutons or bread crumbs). Carefully fill each roll with the cheese mixture. Place the 'lids' back on each roll and wrap in a square of aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and cheese is melted (approx 20 minutes). *NOTE* These can be frozen before heating and then heated for a longer period of time when ready to eat.

* I often remove them from the foil and place on a cookie sheet before cooking to crisp up the bread. If you like crispy outer shells this is just the thing for you!

Dec 3, 2007

Handcrafter's Holidays Meme

Well in case you are wondering - it DID snow over the weekend, Friday night to be exact! We had a breakfast with Santa Saturday morning so it was just a perfect intro to him riding in on his sleight. Our youngest did not enjoy meeting Santa and was terrified of the whole experience - a duplicate photo of last year's crying snapshot. It's a keeper!

I did finish two the Amy Butler bags for Morgane and her sister but the package to France has not been sent off. We are still in search of something unique for her brother - what do you send a French young man in his early 20's??? We'll have to track down something asap! I spent all day today decorating the inside of the house - putting up two trees this year (one upstairs and one downstairs). The upstairs in a noble fir and smells so good. It is decorated with hand-made ornaments and traditional colors and breakable (but cheap) glass bulbs. The downstairs is our artifical tree and full of our 10-year collection of ornaments. It was so fun to pull them all out this morning and reminisce the beginnings of each one. How far we've come and yet how far we still have to go. (The Big Easy and I will celebrate our 10-year anniversary this month!) My sweet little 2-year old was very eager to help place ornaments and did an excellent job - didn't break a one. She tenderly grouped like items together in low spots on the tree and didn't complain when mommy rearranged a few of them to other spots. The other two came home after school to a 'decorated' house and it was heart warming to hear their 'oohs' and 'aaahs' as they ran around re-discovering all their beloved ornaments, stockings, favorite Christmas books, stuffed animals and knick knacks. It made every maddening moment of decorating worth it. We decorated a pre-packaged gingerbread house kit (our first ever). Went smoother than planned despite a caved in roof. Hope it's still standing in the morning.

I love the website "Sew, Mama, Sew" and thought I'd get to answering the questions for their Handcrafter's Holidays Meme:

Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?
Every year Santa puts a toothbrush in our children's stocking and a Lifesavers Book (just like he did when I was a little girl!)

If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making?
(See the photos)

Name one thing on your personal wish list.
A Clover bias tape maker and a gift certificate to Broadbents (a 100-year old department store here that has the most fantastic assortment of quilting fabric not to mention tons of other odds and ends.)

Do you make and sell things that would make fantastic gifts?
Not yet - maybe next year if things go over well this year LOL

What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
We always have a family talent show on Christmas Eve. The kids often showcase their instruments and singing abilities. The adults do some goofy things like lip synching and playing kid-sized trumpets and pianos. My dad always reads Luke 2 and my mom always closes by singing "O Holy Night".

Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up?
Wrapping gifts - Santa never wrapped our gifts when I was a kid, they were always just laid out when we went in the room. I think it's more fun to have them wrapped.

What do you love most about the holiday season?
Doing things together as a family whether it's just the 5 of us or with our extended family and friends. We are so lucky!

What do you like least about the holiday season?
When I feel stressed about getting 'bigger and better' and allow myself to get too materialistic

Anyone close to your heart that you’ll be missing this year?
Just those family members in Texas and Arizona that we won't physically be with - but in spirit we will!

What is your favorite holiday food?
Chocolate gravy. We have it every Christmas morning. People think it's weird but we've never had anyone that tried it, not like it. Think warm chocolate pudding on baking powder biscuits. We make the biscuits from scratch - split them in half, top with a pat of real butter and pour on the chocolate gravy. Served with a slice or two of ham and a glass of milk. YUM! It's a family tradition that's been done as long as I can remember and I'm going to be 41!