They are rather worst for wear, but I love them for they are the only tangible things I own of hers. I never knew her, as she died in childbirth long before I was born. Some people may say it is too soon to start decorating for Christmas, but all my guests come at the beginning of December, so I like to have things ready for them to enjoy. So this week I'm baking and making and wrapping and cleaning, as I have guest expected next weekend. I love all the busyness of the holidays. I know some don't, but for me I'm happy to have too much to do, rather than be sitting home all alone. And I've been there so I know what I speak of. There were a few years that due to work and weather I had no one to share Christmas with, and it was the worst sort of loneliness. So if you find yourself in this situation this year, please know I'm here for you. Just drop a note in the comment and I'll respond ASAP. Scout's honor!
MAKING CHRISTMAS WHEN THE POCKETBOOK SAYS "NO"
I collect children's Christmas books and one of my favorites is Mother Makes Christmas by Cornelia Meigs. It's a sweet little story set in Vermont during the turn of the last century about a mother "making" Christmas for her family when was short on funds. Now that is a plot that I can relate to! Ha! I wrote about one such Christmas here if you are interested.
There's so much that can be done on a shoestring to make things joyful. Even if all you have to eat is soup or franks and beans you can still make them festive by bringing in some greens cut from the yard and serving the soup by candlelight. Candles can be purchased so cheaply from dollar and thrift stores. Play some Christmas music softly in the background either from YouTube or the radio, both are free. Gather around and read the Gospel of St. Luke each evening of Advent, there's nothing like it to draw a family together. Attend church services and go to their caroling events. Do some window shopping. The stores are decorated so prettily this time of year.
There's plenty of inexpensive toys and gifts for children. Children don't know the value of things!
Here's a list of things that children enjoy that don't cost an arm and a leg:
Art supplies, such as watercolors, crayons, clay, construction paper, glue sticks, etc.
Craft kits. I still remember the little knitting bobbin I received when I was 5. It instilled in me a life-long love of knitting.
A plain old ball. Or a yo-yo, hacky sack, hula hoop, etc.
As a little girl, I loved barrettes and ribbons and headbands. All which can be purchased at dollar stores.
Homemade doll clothes.
My sons all loved inexpensive compasses and cheap little pocket knives when they were around ten.
Remember those bags of plastic army men? Well know they have farm animals and dinosaurs.
Plain old-fashioned blocks. (Not the expensive Legos)
I know little boys love the Matchbox type cars. Anything that fits in their pockets.
Those little packages of card games like Old Maid and Go Fish and the time to play them.
You get the idea. Older children are more difficult. Hopefully, you've raised them properly and they aren't spoiled. Ha! My parents always gave me a dollar amount I could spend for Christmas. Back in the late 60s it was $30. Which was pretty generous back then. I remember one year I got a pair of skates, one of those cheap camera sets, and a transistor radio. I was over-the-moon happy. Unfortunately the skates were the most uncomfortable ones I ever owned and I went back to wearing my sister's old hand-me-downs. But they were so pretty I held onto them for many years.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
I am sure that many of you who love Tasha Tudor are familiar with this quote by Fra Giovanni:
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instance. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy!
I always say that if you take joy in the little things in life, you will always be at peace. In light of the most joyous of seasons, I made a list of some of my joyful things for this week:
1. I can renew my driver's license by mail!
2. My husband just came into the house gave me a kiss and said "I love our life"
3. Polka dancing with my grandchildren.
4. Baking Christmas cookies with my sandbakkel tins. They are so stinkin' cute!
5. Talking on the phone for two hours with my kindred spirit.
Can you name five joyful things for the week?
Another joyful thing for this week, was a baking experiment that turned out. My son, Scott, loves gingerbread Twix bars, but I don't think they make them anymore, at least I haven't had any luck in finding them. So I decided to make my own, combining a couple different recipes. They turned out great!
1 pkg. gingerbread cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker's)
1/2 C. butter
1 tbsp. water
Combine and spread in a greased 13 X 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool.
3/4 C. butter
6 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. corn or cane syrup
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Combine butter, sugar, syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 5 minutes or until mixture starts to turn a golden brown color. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Quickly pour over the gingerbread, spreading evenly. Cool for 1 hour or until toffee begins to harden.
Melt 1 package of milk chocolate chips in a double boiler and spread over the toffee. Allow chocolate to harden and cut into rectangular "twixes".
I wanted some wreaths for my doors, but I don't like the looks of evergreen ones (the remind me of cemeteries) and the ones offered in stores are too overdone for my taste and too expensive to boot, so these are my solutions:
BY THE WAY
By the way, Binks and Hissy were quite "put out" that I didn't write about them last week, so here's a picture of
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
My daughter-in-law, Erin, sent us home with enough turkey, stuffing and potatoes to last several days.
She also gave us 2 dozen eggs. They raise chickens.
On the way home we stopped and stretched our legs at Shopko which was having their early Black Friday sale. I picked up a video game that Jamie wanted for Christmas on sale, plus some other deals.
I took advantage of Pinetree Garden Seeds Black Friday sale to purchase this coming years garden seeds. The sale is still going on until Midnight of the 27th if you'd like to buy some seeds. You get 15% off your order and the sale code is BLACK16.
I also used the code SNOW to get free shipping with no minimum order at Victorian Trading Co.
Which was good as the item I wanted was only a few dollars and cost as much to ship.
I framed a Christmas sampler with a thrifted frame.
Knitted yet another pair of socks. I discovered that Panton's Classic Wool in Natural Marl makes the nicest ragg wool socks, when combined with a tweed green stripe, they look exactly like those expensive wool socks in the Woolrich catalog.
I needed to be in Pigeon for a medical procedure, so while there I stopped in at Ben Franklins which was having a sale and got 20% off a Christmas gift for the grands.
I've been baking a lot this week, so when I finish I always leave the oven door ajar to help heat the house. This combined with our wood heat has really helped to keep us cozy. I don't think the furnace has kicked too often this week.
Reused some tissue paper that came in a gift bag to wrap some Christmas presents.
Decorated the house for Christmas with things I already owned and pinecones, twigs, evergreen cuttings and pieces of birchbark that blew off the neighbor's tree.
Our phone was acting up, so Magic Jack did some diagnostics over the computer and solved the problem ( for free). All it needed was a new USB plug which cost less than $2. I'm very happy with Magic Jack's service.
Well, that's about it for this week at the old Zempel boarding house. I'm not going to be gone for long though! I decided it would be fun to have a Christmas countdown starting December 1st. A post a day until Christmas. Don't worry! They won't be as long-winded as my usual posts. Ha! Just short little posts to share a thought, idea, recipe, quote or link. Maybe a few glimpses of the old home place decorated for the season. Let me know what you think about the idea. Happy trails until we meet again!