Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merree Christmas and a Veree Happee New Year

Hope yours is the best Christmas ever!

Suggestion -- Have a happy and healthy New Year too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Coasting into Christmas

Some rather quirky, nativity-themed fabric leftover from making a tree skirt became several sets of coasters and even a trivet or two. Coaster use isn't as important in the non-sweaty seasons, but they add a bit of color to a coffee table, and it makes one feel industrious to use up scraps to create something useful. Joelle Hoverson shows how to make these in Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts.

What else are we going to do while we wait for Christmas?

What's that? Relax with a glass of wine and some light reading? Good idea!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rorschach Christmas

Quick, what do you see?

How about now?

Did you answer stainless steel scrapless cookie cutter? No? Verrry interesting.

Get the picture now? Yes, it's crunch time for getting those Christas cookies done, but we know several boys who would be pretty unhappy if there were no scraps to steal and eat.

Hmmm...there's Santa, Mary and babe, a star, a bell...and a... T-bone steak, a red-nosed dog and an amoeba?

Let's look closer. Yup, that's what we're seein'. Analyze that!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting for Santa

He's nestled all snug in his bed, but this little simian is going to have a very hard time settling down for his long winter's nap with all this vividness surrounding him.

We knew that we were buying 10 yards of this brilliant Ikea clearance fabric for a reason. We were not really too sure what that was at the time, but it became clear recently when we needed a quick duvet for the spare room bed. Our mathematics failed us the first time we got out the pen and paper to make our calculations. Seemed like we had twice as much yardage as was needed. Of course, we had failed to consider that a duvet has two sides. There went the entire 10 yards in a flash, or rather, in the three days it took us to wrestle a tent's worth of cloth into a giant pillowcase shape.

Close your eyes little monkey. Visualize banana flavored sugar plums....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cute-as-a-Button Confections from One Smart Cookie

They were the hit of the button club Christmas party. Our newest member brought them and scored many points in the "getting in the swing of things" category by wowing the crowd of ten button-collecting revelers.

"How did she do it?", everyone wondered. Her technique - fresh-out-of-the-oven peanut butter cookies were impressed with the bottom of a small bottle, then buttonholes were poked out with a straw. That's thinking! This girl has a real future in button society!

We've got a notion that button cookies would be popular at all sorts of events. Quilt, craft, or knitting gatherings for sure, and anywhere else buttons are respected and appreciated. In other words, where wouldn't they be loved?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Me Me Me Me

In the news this week - box office numbers from the last two weekends were lower than the previous record-low attendance weekends which occured immediately following the incidents of 9/11. How can that be explained? The economy, drought of good films, access to internet entertainment? We're not sure but we did our part by seeing The Muppets not once, but twice in the last two weeks. (It's a long story.) We give it two thumbs up and predict you will like it too. A highlight is a return of the musical stylings of Brett McKenzie, formerly of Flight of the Conchords and music supervisor of The Muppets. Written by Bret himself, Man or Muppet will tug at your heartstrings and make you giggle at once.

Yes, time for going to the cinema during the busy holiday season may also be a factor in the case of the absent audience, but if the cookies are baked, the presents wrapped, and the tree decorated we recommend you get out and support the film industry and our local movie, popcorn, and Jr. Mints franchise.

If you really don't have time to relax for a few hours with The Muppets this weekend, enjoy a bit of holiday silliness with a few of our favorites here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Frilly, Less Fat

Made in Wisconsin, U.S.A. Cream City Ribbon is not only pretty, fun, and possessing a sweet name, it also comes with a very interesting story.

Owned by women and producing an eco-friendly cotton ribbon, this company is unique not just to our state, but the nation as well.

Buy it. Use it. Feel really good about it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Lexmark, on HP, on Xerox, and Canon ...

...on Kodak, on Brother, on Dell, and Epson..

Harness up the old printer and lay in the cardstock! How About Orange has rounded up a nice variety of lovely holiday freebies for downloading and printing just in time for your holiday gift giving.

This Rustic Wood Type Holiday Set is made available by the generous folks at Ellinée.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It was in the Cards

An empty nail on a very blank wall needed something eye-catching to adorn it. A $2 tray from the variety store, some crafty magnets, and a colorful crop of Christmas cards did the trick. It may seem like an easy solution, but we had to think, and think, and think to come up with it. And right pleased we are to have finally thunk it.

It could look better though...

You know where we live.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It Takes a Pair to Avoid Frostbite or, Why Can't We be Friends?

Usually friendly relations between neighboring states WI and MI became frosty last week when MI residents took exception to a current ad campaign for winter fun in WI which features the state as a left-handed mitten. Don't worry MI, it's just a seasonal thing. You can keep claim to being the year-round mitten state if you want to.

Unless of course you get out-voted in your own election to see which state is really
the mitten state.

The polls are now open.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Nutty but Nice

Let's just stop pretending Nutella is a toast spread and do what we really want to do - mainline it.
Hold on a minute before you bolt for the pantry. Maybe, just for the holiday we can consume it in a more civilized manner than digging it straight out of the jar with a spoon. Let's put it into cookies!

Hazelnut Krinkle Cookies

1 – 11 oz. jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (That's right. The whole jar.)
3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
¼ c. shortening
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
½ cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts

2 cups finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375F

• Mix dry ingredients.
• In another bowl combine spread and shortening on medium to high in mixer.
• Add sugar. Beat until fluffy.
• Add vanilla and eggs.
• Alternately add milk and flour. Beat on medium just until combined.
• Add 1/2 cup nuts.
• Chill covered several hours until firm.
• Shape into 1” or 1 ½” balls.
• Roll in finely chopped nuts and then powdered sugar.
• Place 2” apart on baking sheet.
• Bake 8-10 minutes.

Hmmm...a mood-altering substance disguised in chocolate baked goods? Mind blowing concept!

'Tis the season to be jolly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Scenic Shopping

You don't get this at the mall.

"Join us out here" or browse from home while enjoying the view from your own window.

Holiday Hint: Go anywhere (except for the tavern) during a Packers game to enjoy any activity in near solitude.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Alien Concept

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to make us really see ourselves and our less than logical behaviours. It doesn't get much farther outside than this.

Holiday hint: Save some petrol and some vexation - shop by phone or interweb with a nice nog and a biscuit by your side.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eggnog on a Stick

A cookie from a friend's childhood has become a new favorite of ours.

Nutmeg Logs

1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
2 t. vanilla
2 t. rum flavoring or rum
3 cups flour
1 t. nutmeg
¼ t. salt

Cream butter and sugar. Blend in egg, vanilla, and rum flavoring. Add flour, nutmeg and salt.
Roll dough into ¾ to 1” thick “snakes”. Slice 2 – 3” long.*
Bake at 350 F for 12 to 15 minutes until set.

Frost with:
3 T. butter
½ t. vanilla
1 t. rum flavoring or rum
½ cup powdered sugar

Sprinkle with nutmeg.

*We horsed around with the dough this once to make mini yule log shapes, but the Play-Doh snake method is the specified and much quicker technique for making these yummy tidbits.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Button Up Your Overcoat, in Red and Green

There's been a serious sorting of the button box to get some secret Santa sewing projects started off in the spectacular spectrum of the season.

Here's a little something for singing while you're sewing - Button Up Your Overcoat:

Listen, big boy
Now that you got me made
Goodness, but I'm afraid
Somethin's gonna happen to you

Listen, big boy
You gotta be hooked, and how
I would die if I should lose you now

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Eat an apple every day
Get to bed by three
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Be careful crossing streets, ooh, ooh
Cut out sweets, ooh, ooh
Lay off meat, ooh, ooh
You'll get a pain and ruin your tum-tum

Wear your flannel underwear
When you climb a tree
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

When you sass a traffic cop
Use diplomacy
Just take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Beware of frozen funds, ooh, ooh
Stocks and bonds, ooh, ooh
Dockside thugs, ooh, ooh
You'll get a pain and ruin your bankroll

Keep the spoon out of your cup
When you're drinking tea
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Don't sit on hornet's tails, ooh, ooh
Or on nails, ooh, ooh
Or third rails, ooh, ooh
You'll get a pain and ruin your tum-tum

Keep away from bootleg hooch
When you're on a spree
Oh, take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Button Up Your Overcoat Lyrics
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Candid Christmas

Our favorite floral and fun-stuff store, Eevy Ivey Over Floral and Vicki's Frame Shop, has a Christmas attitude going on in the card section and we like it. The rest of the shop is seriously spruced up for the holiday season too.

Left: Cheers! to the multi-taskers that make the holidays happen.

Right: My holiday wardrobe hides a multitude of sins...

Please, oh please Santa (or helpers) send us one of these inspired Christmas cards. You know where we live and you know we've been (mostly) nice.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Love

If you need a little more encouragement - here it is.

Santa is in! Today!

Don't forget your camera!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Santa's Lap

From Color Me Katie and Improv Everywhere comes Mall Santa Musical.

If you've ever wanted to do it here's some enthusiastic encouragement to go for it. You don't even have to go to a mall to find the Jolly Old Soul, he's right here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Season's Gloatings

Decorate. Turn the calendar page. Watch the snow fall. Perfect timing.

You can't make it happen.

But when it does, it's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Bit like Christmas

As you probably already know, we feel strongly that each season should have its very own chance to shine. No mums on the porch while the geraniums are still going strong. No wreaths out before the pumpkins are composted. And no petunias while the spring bulbs and ephemerals are still putting on a show. It's just common courtesy. Daffodils have feelings too you know.

Well, the pumpkins are in the bin, the leaves are (mostly) raked, and the calendar agrees... It is time for the holiday greenery and lights to have a turn. Temps above freezing are expected for today and snow flurries are predicted tomorrow. Even though it is our tradition to hang the outside decor with noses running and fingers freezing, every few years there is an exception to our usually poor timing and the ritual is actually a pleasant one.

Thank you to all the happy pruners around town (and country) for the lovely greens and the beautiful bunch of red twig dogwood delivered conveniently to the municipal and neighborhood yard waste dumps.

The 2011 neighborhood light show is looking great by the way. Neighbors new and old are outdoing themselves with festive front porch frippery. It will be a beautiful walk for carolers, strollers, and even the mailman (who is now delivering in the dark) throughout the holiday season.

There is one exception to our overlapping-seasons rule. Approval is granted for outdoor lights remaining lit well beyond December 25. It helps to bring a little brightness to our very bleak midwinter. Please, just make sure they are unplugged before you are hanging Easter eggs from your shrubs. Thank you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

That's How the Cookie Crumbles

After a quarter century of mixing, scooping, swatting little hands out of the bowl, losing focus and burning the last pan, our days of routine cookie baking are numbered. Later this week the last child will be a child no longer. This youngest boy, the non-dough eater, prefers this cookie over all others. The two dough eaters in the family like it too. According to them it is like eating raw breakfast on a spoon with chocolate chips added.

Chewy Choc-Scotch-Oat-Chip Cookies
(a hybrid of Quaker Choc-Oat-Chip Cookies crossed with Nestle Oatmeal Scotchies)


1/2 pound (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/2 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add oats, chocolate chips and nuts, if desired; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 12 to 13 minutes for a crisp cookie. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.


Photos and taste testing: S. Plasch

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Saturday Shopping

Relax, enjoy, and be inspired to support a small business, or DIY far from the madding mall.

Another pretty perusing possibility from Emily Henderson.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Local - It's for Smart Yokels

Here is the perfect opportunity to shop, show your local pride, support some hometown kids who done good, and stay in your jammies and out of the crush of the big-box stores today.

Lots of good stuff inside Volume One's Gift Worthy goods. See the last page for Black Friday deals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bag O' Sliders, Hold the Pickles

Year after year we have been tempted by this coupon in the Thanksgiving week ad inserts. It's time to go for it. This is the year we make White Castle Holiday Stuffing.

Perhaps we will make a few slippery side dishes while we're at it. Nobody's choking on dry turkey this year!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Best Darn Yarners

A recent estate sale find reminded us that it is getting to be the time of year for tall tales, fibs, creative fabrications and recreational prevaricating.

World renown Burlington Liars Club, chooses the Championship Lie for 2011 on December 31. To submit your tall tale, send $1.00 with your entry to Burlington Liars Club, P.O. Box 156, Burlington, WI 53105.

It will be hard to top last year's winner, but maybe you will find inspiration from conversation around the holiday table this year. Just ask Grandpa about that walk to school. Once he's warmed up who knows what doozies will follow.

2010 winner:

“I almost had a psychic girlfriend but she left me before we met.” - David Milz, Bristol, Wisconsin


“My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.” - Ellen Everts, New London, Wisconsin

“My neighbor’s scarecrow was so good that the crows brought back the corn they stole last year.”
- Daryl Lockwood, Waupaca, Wisconsin

It seems that just as "Virginia is for Lovers", "Wisconsin is for Liars". marketing motto? Nah, no one would believe it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let Your Fingers do the Walking

In the comfort of your armchair enjoy some shopping from Creature Comforts' Gifted Magazine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011