Sunday, December 09, 2018

30 Years Later...

Believe cross stitch: QuiltBeeYup, just 30 years after starting my 'Believe' cross stitch its now completed (maybe it's only 28-29, but what's a year here and there?). That didn't take very long, did it?

When I picked it up a few weeks ago I thought that I just had a bit of outlining to do, but noooo - there was quite a bit of it still to finish up, along with more stitching to add. As I went along I realized why this had been set aside - I had run out of the deep purple floss for Santa's sack.








I checked with a few shops in town and finally found DMC floss but the colour code that I had was nowhere to be seen (I almost think that DMC codes have completely changed since this project was started because there was nothing in the 6000 series). Not having been smart enough to take the piece shopping with me so that I could match thread colours (I just took the colour code) I was left trying to figure out which might work; these three came home with me.

None of them were a match but given the area that needed to be stitched I was able to get away with using one. Whew!


At long last it was finished, or at least so I thought. When taking photos I noticed that there are four tiny red stitches missing in this candy cane (just above the toy elephant), so I'll put those in today and that will wrap it up.












Santa cross stitch: QuiltBee
I still like it as much as the day I started it, particularly that it is stitched on linen, and think that I will get it framed. I had thought of using it for a cushion top but I'm afraid of how the cross stitch would wear. Every now and then we enjoy the company of a little four-legged visitor who likes to beat up on my cushions, sending them flying to the floor. I think Santa would be much safer in a frame.

Yesterday we celebrated my favourite niece's birthday so I made a white, snowy cake to match the day. Lots of fun celebrating this lovely and talented gal...M

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Queen For a Day

Incredibly, the calendar has rolled around to Christmas Cookie Bakeoff time again, which we enjoyed to the max yesterday. And this was a special one - it was our 25th anniversary edition of getting together to see how many different combinations of butter and sugar could be created in a single day!











The first get together was back in 1993 in the tiny kitchen of my first home with this little guy manning the gears on the KitchenAid (isn't he a doll?). He's 30 now and still my favourite nephew 😉. Over the years there has been a slight ebb and flow to who was able to join in the fun, but each one was a memorable beginning to our holiday season.










So, how to mark this milestone? Why, with commemorative aprons designed by my favourite niece. They were bundled up with packages of coffee and hot chocolate and a tiny Santa box of treats.

And what's a cookie baking apron without a Cookie Queen tattoo? I mean really, doesn't everyone deserve to be Queen for a day? Oh, the fun we had!













Group photo...
















My friend Lori travels three hours to join us (amazing, I know) and was a little delayed this year as she made several stops to take pics of Mother Nature's contribution to the day.














As usual, things got off to an early start and in no time the table was filling in with tasty treats.

There are always a few cookies that everyone looks forward to in their tins - Social Tea Squares and Buttered Rum cookies, to name a couple - but this year we tried lots of new recipes too, like these Gingerbread Molasses Cookies with Eggnog Frosting. Sweet.










Stephanie always picks the best recipes to make and these Chocolate Thumbprints with Candy Cane Kisses were no exception.

She also made a fantastic chocolate peppermint cookie that I'm going to need to get the recipe for.










Anne's Chocolate Dipped Shortbread with Ginger and Sea Salt were divine (we had to sample a few that were broken as they were pulled off the cooling racks)!













I was feeling a little nostalgic after making mom's Christmas Cake a couple of weeks ago so I pulled out her recipe for Macaroons and made them too. A lovely walk down memory lane.













We are very strategic in placing our graphic designers Jane, Julia and Betty (not shown) on the decorating table...














...all under the watchful eye of Baylea, who was in charge of quality control.



Betty has perfected the art of cooling cookies on the front porch.

















We did have a little unexpected excitement this year. When there is a lineup to get into the oven we set trays of cookies that are ready to bake out on the back porch to stay cool. Well, this year we had a little visitor who thought that we were kindly setting out treats for his enjoyment (first time this has ever happened). Note the gap on the cookie sheet. Little rascal.









Jen was kept busy in 'shipping & receiving', packaging up our tins just so. We missed her daughters Megan and Emily this year.















And of course, there's always a rotation at the kitchen sink throughout the day because when you make 160 dozen cookies there's going to be some cleanup required.













From our gang to yours, here's to a wonderful holiday season and may your cookie plate always be filled with lots of variety!....M


Friday, November 16, 2018

Happiness

We woke up to a blanket of white this morning which, while very pretty, is early for snow in my books. I knew it was coming so last evening I scampered to get the urn for the back deck pulled together (whew!). It did get me into the holiday spirit a bit though. What to do? Why, make Christmas cake of course!











I have never made Christmas cake but in my book it is a wonderful tradition (I can hear a few of you gasping), the ideal sweet to enjoy with a cup of tea that can be savoured long after all the decorations are put away.

Since mom passed away I haven't been able to enjoy that treat and I miss it dearly so this fall I went on a hunt for the recipe. I searched high and low, finding versions that included the ingredients but no instructions then finally instructions but no baking details. Close enough - I could glean how to bake them from other recipes that I had found online.

fruit for Christmas cake: QuiltBee
I remember mom making her cake - the huge bowl of fruit and nuts all mixed together, the loaf pans stacked in her roast pan going into the oven - but I didn't pay quite enough attention to the process; despite that I just had to give it a shot. I'm so glad that I did. As soon as the fruit and nuts were all mixed together I was transported back to my childhood.









This is a HUGE recipe (12 eggs!) and pretty soon I realized that I was going to need a larger mixing bowl. Down to the storage room I went, and voila! Anyone that grew up in our household will recognize 'the big yellow bowl'. Mom used it to mix up her weekly batch of mouthwatering bread or rolls and her Christmas cake, too. Suddenly it was like she was right beside me in the kitchen.







Christmas cake: QuiltBee
There is so much fruit in this recipe - 10 pounds to be exact. I was a little concerned that there wouldn't be enough batter to round things out properly, but it baked up really nicely. Now to spend the next month nursing these little beauties periodically with rum until Santa arrives.








Christmas cake: QuiltBee
The Official Cookie Tester wasted no time deciding that he needed sample one and declared it swoon-worthy. I have to agree; it tastes just like I remember.

I've also found a recipe for Christmas cake with dark chocolate...that has to be tried some day too. In the meantime, I feel like I spent the afternoon in the kitchen with mom so it was worth it just for that....M

Update: I've had a request for mom's recipe so if you like Christmas cake I'd encourage you to try it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

PHB

Mary Englebright Believe cross stitch: QuiltBee
I'm in the PHB zone now (Post Holly Bazaar) - that time when all the prep is behind me and I'm left looking around wondering what it is that I should do next. It's nice not to have a list of pressing projects and baking to deal with but it leaves me a little adrift.

I wasn't quite ready to sit in to my hoop to do some hand quilting or to go down and work on the sewing machine, but I did want to do something. Then, while I was rummaging around in the project basket in the study my bag of Christmas cross stitch fell into my hand.






This was going to be my holiday stitching project last year but that didn't bear much fruit. When I looked at it again last night the timing seemed right to pick it up and I got a few stitches in before bed.

Mary Englebright Believe cross stitch: QuiltBee
There really isn't that much more to do, just some outlining and highlights at the bottom of the piece, so that's going to be today's slow sewing project. If I put my mind to it I should be able to finish it today. I just have to 'believe'!....M