Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Tradition of Trees

Christmas crafting goes meta. When these are hung there will be trees on trees on trees.

We made these for the first-time Christmas tree households in the family.

All things come around. It's been years since we  received ornaments made of Popsicle sticks, peanuts, or pipe cleaners. 

Now we make our own and pass them back in the other direction.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Elf Off the Shelf

This little fellow, who usually sits on the kitchen shelf minding his own business and keeping his mouth shut, must have thought it was time to send a message.

Who can blame a guy? As of two days before Christmas no cookies have been baked, no pretzels dipped, no taffy pulled, heck, the powdered sugar hasn't even come out of the cupboard yet.
And to make matters worse for a poor little sugar-lovin' elf and probably cause him to lose all hope of proper Christmas confections, we were in full-scale granola production mode for an entire evening.

Elves do not do whole grains.

So he slipped into our market bag and tagged along to the grocery store where he chose the bakery section to stage a sit-in until we agreed to heed his silent plea for help.

No worries little dude. Today is the day the baking begins. You probably didn't notice that we were making lists and checking them twice to make sure we had all kinds of sugar and spice. Chewy chocolate mint, crinkly ginger molasses, and frosted cut-out sugar cookies will all be cooling on the table in a very short while and your world will be right again.

Here's hoping your holiday season is happier than an elf hepped up on hydrogenated fats and highly refined sugar.

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year to you!

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Not All About the List

Look what we saw on a newspaper paper vending machine downtown last week.

And again under random windshield wiper blades up and down the street.

Someone's trying to do something nice.

And we have to believe it is out of the goodness of their heart, 
rather than as part of a late-in-the-game campaign to have Santa reverse his check from the Naughty to Nice column. 

Inspired by the anonymous Christmas Kindster we picked up this label sans candy cane that was laying in the gutter and discarded it properly. 

And then this nail from the grocery store parking lot. It wasn't a grand gesture, but perhaps it saved someone from some unneeded holiday hassle.

If you want to read about some truly kind, but hardly random acts that will extend well beyond December 25 check out this lovely story and this breaking news from a town that knows and actively strives for nice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Penguin Prezzies

John Lewis Christmas adverts bring us to tears annually. And by  "us" we mean anyone who has ever seen one.

This year is no exception.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Soup Saves Christmas

There's shopping to do, gifts to make and wrap, carols to be sung, cookies to bake, a tree to decorate, plus parties, parades, and concerts to attend. 

And don't forget you'll need time to visit Santa, sew costumes for the Christmas pageant, and come up with thoughtful gifts for teachers, garbage men, mail deliverers, and hostesses. 

Where will you ever find time to make a potluck dish for the Garden Club Christmas Party that will make all the guests ooh and aah, and beg you for your recipe?

Canned soup to the rescue!

Makes 8 servings (more with additional ingredients)
Cooking spray
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry 
4 cups of cooked and chopped chicken breast 
(Optional additional ingredients - ½ can of quartered artichoke hearts, 
sautéed leeks with the specified wine used to deglaze the pan, 
 a cup of small roasted and frozen summer tomatoes. 
Any of these can be added to the pan or folded into the mix.) 
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light or fat free sour cream 
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
 ¼ - ½ cup purchased breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat 8 x 8 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. 
(9 x 13 inch with added ingredients)
To assemble: layer spinach and chicken. 
In medium bowl, whisk together soups, mayonnaise, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lemon juice,
 curry powder, wine and salt and pepper to taste. 
Pour mixture over spinach and chicken. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. 
 Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly. 

* This is a lightened up version of a classic recipe. To go even lighter, or at least additive-free make a nice white sauce to use as a substitute for the canned soups.  But be advised that without the time saving use of convenience food products you may have to cross something else off  your to-do list. Yes, something's gotta give so don't get your hopes up for making it to Taste of Tilden this year.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beautiful - Check, Useful - Check

Not since this wonderful find have we seen such an intriguing heart-shaped antique artifact.

Everything about it is charming.

The shape of the bowl with hand etched design reminiscent of  a heart monitor reading.

The stamped handle with twist pattern below.

More, vaguely Scandinavian hand etching on the back, but no maker's mark.

So pretty.

Again we quote the sage William Morris - "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Both is best.