Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Tradition

Most of us have traditions that we carry on from one holiday to the next which just spell home or family to us. I've already shown you my mantle. It's just not Christmas until the nutcrackers are on display and the stockings are hung at our house. But really Christmas wouldn't be the same if I lost this Nativity set. This is the same set I had as a child. As long as I can remember I've been putting these figures out somewhere near the Christmas tree. 

 When I was a very little girl I loved moving around the wise men and shepherds so they could have the best view of the baby Jesus. My children did the same. Sometimes the donkey has pride of place, sometimes the cow or camel.

Now my grandchildren spend hours arranging and rearranging the angels and sheep. Most are chipped, some have broken legs or wings. One angel has a permanent hole that some long ago family dog chewed on a Christmas Eve we spent too long at Mass. 

The Blessed Mother still looks serene and Baby Jesus is still happy and sweet. The shepherds are still awestruck and the angels are still worshipful. 

I have unwrapped them and set them out for for 60 plus years and hope that one of my children will do the same for at least 60 more after I'm gone.

May your Christmas traditions continue to bring you joy,

'til next time,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holiday Potpourri

Potpourri noun \ˌpō-p-ˈrē\ : a miscellaneous collection 

It's fair to say that's what this post is about, a medley of holiday doings. Things have been going on here on Dogwood Lane. So many things in fact that I haven't had time to write about them. It's trying to snow outside right now and a fire is blazing in the wood stove so I'm taking a break from baking to let you know what's been going on. Wouldn't you know since we live in the country and there's a storm raging it's taking me literally 12 hours so far to get this post done! (The power keeps going off and the internet connection is soooo slow.)

Drum roll please - Chris and I have finished the deck! I forgot to take pictures and then it started to rain, and then Chris got really sick. I mean he's going to hack up a lung! It could have something to do with working in the freezing cold. I'm doing my best to be a good nurse while avoiding him like the plague carrier that he is.

Shocker!! I've also been doing some sewing. I sewed the binding on three gift quilts. I managed to take pictures of two of them before I wrapped them up but the third was already on it's way to San Diego before I remembered to get the camera.

There was a bit of sun before the storm so I could take some pictures.
I won't say who they're for just in case the giftee takes a peek at the blog before Christmas. This is the third quilt in the design stage before quilting and binding. I'm so happy to have these done and my goal for the year finished.

And of course the Christmas baking has been proceeding. This is what 20 dozen assorted, must have family favorite cookies looks like. Not to mention 5 lbs. of fudge and 5 lbs. of peanut brittle not pictured.

Josh's favorite - Snickerdoodles
I think you can see why blogging may have taken a back seat seat this week. I'll bet it's been just as busy at your house. Really I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season I just like it a lot better when it doesn't involve construction projects and head colds.

  In the midst of all this activity I got some happy news - I'm a winner! A blog anniversary winner from One Minnesota Quilter. Judy drew my name from all her commenters and look what that lovely lady sent me.

Is this the cutest? I almost didn't want to unwrap it but I did want to take a look inside so...

Everything I need for a darling little project and notes from Judy on how to proceed. Thanks so much to my blog friend. Do go over to her place and see what she's been up to this holiday season. She and her husband are so talented!

Tomorrow night should see the arrival of the far flung clan, toddlers and little kids. Noise makers running through the house, just like old times! 

Hope your holidays are filled with every good thing.

'Til next time,

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mechanical Action

I promised in this post that I would show you how this baby works.  

I have no affiliation with or recompense from this product, I just like it and thought you might too.
Even though canning may be the furthest thing from your mind right now you might be making out a Christmas wish list and I think this wonder device should be on it. 

Not really meant for leeks!

 No more peeling tomatoes or apples before turning them into sauce. What a time saver. Just chop up what ever your using, in this case apples. Soften by heating for 10 or 15 minutes on low with a small amount of water and run them through the food strainer.

The peels and seeds and cores come out one side and the good stuff comes out the other side! Wow is all I can say. I have spent literally hours peeling and coring apples in the past to make applesauce so this seems like a miracle to me. I ran the peels and cores through twice and got a goodly amount of usable pulp from the second run so that was worthwhile. You can see that the sauce is tinged slightly pink from the skins and with very little water added it's all apple, so yummy.

I don't add sugar to my applesauce. I just rely on the natural sweetness of the apples, in this case a combination of Arkansas Black and Golden Delicious. Sweet apple goodness ready for us all through the year. Consider this food strainer and sauce maker if you're going to do a lot of canning it really will save you so much time. It comes with the screen for tomatoes and apples and such like. You can get a screen for berries but that's extra. I found mine at Placerville Hardware Store for $69. I chose this one because it was recommended at my Master Food Preserver class and because I can get a motor for it that will also work on my hand crank pasta maker if the spirit ever moves me.

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Deck the Halls

Hanging the stockings always makes me so happy.
 As if there wasn't enough to do with decking out the house in her Christmas finery my Darling Husband has decided that the front deck project just has to be finished RIGHT NOW. That project has been hanging around forever. No kidding, I told you about the demolition here, but all of a sudden it has become a priority. I do understand why it kept moving down the list and why it is now at the top of said list but it's really inconvenient to have to stop what ever else I'm doing (binding 3 quilts that will be Christmas gifts) in order to help stain decking.

Chris is a hard worker and the least I can do is be supportive but a little grousing is in order don't you think? That deck is going to be fabulous I tell ya. Santa will have no excuse not to come in the front door this year!

The newest addition to the mantle.

Until next time,

Monday, December 10, 2012

DWM/Memories of Provence #11

I'm in the home stretch on my Memories of Provence Block of the Month with #11 block completed. This has been a real learning process for me with several new techniques I've never done before and I'm so glad I've kept up with it so far. An exercise in patience for impatient me.

When you see the block components individually it's hard to imagine what they will combine to be. How will these units turn into a finished block?

Then you sew them all together in just the right order and PRESTO a finished block that really shines! I love this one don't you? Only one more to go and all the connecting units of course and this quilt will be ready for the machinist. I already have the backing fabric and I have the cutting done on the connectors so I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.

 Linking up to Patchwork Times and all the other great Design Wall inspiration.

Until next time,

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shhh It's a Secret

Well, only a semi secret once I tell all of you but I know for a fact that the recipient of this little gift doesn't read my blog so I feel safe in showing you what I've been working on. Shocker! Some small amount of sewing has been going on here. Our Needle Nellie Christmas party is next week and even though it looks like I left it 'til the last minute really I've been planning my gift for quite a while. I had to get the design CD together and just the right fabric and thread and find the time to sew and... You caught me! I procrastinated on this one big time. That's because I knew as soon as I drew her name what I wanted to do and somehow that translated into already completed in my feeble brain! Does that ever happen to you? Probably not.

It's finished now and not just in my imagination. And it came out just the way I wanted and in plenty of time for next week's party. Whew!

Hope she likes it.

Until next time,
Jed & Ivy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

River at 5 months

Yes, River is 5 months old. She's growing at a remarkable rate and poor baby is teething. She couldn't eat at all for 3 days last week because she couldn't chew even super soft food. I gave her baby aspirin and rubbed her gums. I felt so sorry for her.All better now and back to being hungry ALL THE TIME!

She doesn't much like going out in the rain but a promise to play will get her outside. Just look at those knobby knees.

She weighs 45 lbs and stands 22 inches at the shoulder

Soccer anyone?

She loves her paci.

Until next time,

Monday, December 3, 2012


I have a confession to make to all of you. You know how I'm always going on about canning and making my own chicken stock and baking my own bread. Well... I don't always make everything from scratch. In fact I have a little secret. I use instant mashed potatoes. A lot.

These are delicious and easy and quick. I also use them in breads and I can make a quick potato soup with them. What can I say sometimes I just don't feel like peeling and boiling and mashing for just the two of us. This is the only brand I can stand because there are no additives or preservatives. And no one is paying me to say this, I just like 'em. I get them at Costco.

There! Glad that's off my chest. How about you? Any time savers or not quite homemade things that you just can't do without? Time to fess up you're among friends.

Added on 12/3/12: Judging from the comments I'm not the only person out there who uses instant mashed potatoes! I just may be the only one who felt guilty about it! LOL 

Until next time,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Placerville Hardware Store

The Oldest Hardware Store West of the Mississippi
Celebrating 160 years!!!
In June 1852, Mr. Franklin Stevens was deeded this property. Mr Stevens and Franklin S. Randall erected a stone building on this site in 1854. Mr Franklin, who acquired the business in December 1855, sold in 1856 to I. H. Nash. Business was started as a Tinsmith Shop and Hardware.
Remember when I told you about our day trip to Apple Hill? On our way home we passed through Placerville and we just can't go through that town without stopping at the hardware store. This is not just any hardware store mind you but the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi! This place has character, this place has charm and if you can't find what you're looking for here it just does not exist!

160 + year old floors
Imagine all the folks who have walked these floors. Miners, farmers, scallywags and farm wives.

Just one of the aisle crammed with stuff -  nuts and bolts to rifles.
I was looking for something in particular in their housewares department. They carry things you just can't find in a regular store and at great prices too. 

Here it is! A food mill that I've been wanting forever. No more peeling, chopping and straining for me. Now I can convert those apples I bought into applesauce in half the time.

That's not an apple but it makes for a better visual so you can get the idea. Wait 'til you see this baby in action.

Until next time,