Friday, November 16, 2018


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


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

Friday, November 09, 2018

Done and Dusted

Well, another Holly Bazaar is in the books. Toppers and pot holders were bound and stockings were hung and all was finally ready.

There was a baking frenzy before everything headed out the door so the Official Cookie Tester was working overtime. I baked two different types of loaves (Cranberry Orange and Plum)...

and Social Tea Squares...

Toblerone shortbread cookies: QuiltBee
and a double batch of yummy Toblerone Shortbread.

gingerbread men: QuiltBeeThis year there were also Gingerbread cookies. I made up a batch of dough last weekend and with the help of Anne and Betty made enough snowflakes and Gingerbread men to fill nine bags with cookies.

This is Martha Stewart's recipe and it is lovely - great to roll and they are delicious. A hit of black pepper gives them a nice little kick. Betty always makes these for the Christmas cookie bakeoff so this was the first time that I actually made the dough.

butter tarts: QuiltBee
And there were Butter Tarts too, some with raisins and some with pecans. I haven't made them in years but once I got the idea into my head there was no turning back. I've had this recipe since 2002 and never made it. Its from a bakery in Baysville called Humble Pie Bakery that is renowned for their butter tarts. Can you say 'divine'? OMG! I'd forgotten how good they were. These now go into the rotation.

The bake table did a brisk business as did the craft table and the silent auction. Lunch was ham and scalloped potatoes so after I finished serving tables I had two orders packaged up for takeout which will be our dinner and I am looking forward to it.

As I drove home a gentle snow started to fall and is leaving a dusting on the ground. There will be a rain/snow mix so it won't last, but it was a nice seasonal touch to end the day's festivities....M

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The Same, But Different

The Holly Bazaar is at the end of the week so if I'm going to share my two versions of the Moda Love table toppers like I promised I'd better do it before they leave the house. This is the first one that I made and followed the layout of the inspiration piece that I was referring to.

And this is the second one. They are the same pattern but this one doesn't have a white border around the star. I had already cut the back and batting for it before I realized that there had been a border on the first one so I decided to go ahead and make it without the border and see what it looks like. I think either one work well, and this one might be more suitable for someone with a smaller table.

Both share that happy, stripey binding,

and cheery backings. This red print is on the smaller one and a green version of it was used for the larger one. I bought several yards of each of them a few years ago on sale and they have really come in handy.

scrappy quilted potholders: QuiltBee
In keeping with the 'same, but different' theme, and despite my slow mo mojo I also finished my four scrappy potholders.

scrappy quilted potholders: QuiltBee
They all have scraps of orange but no two are identical. They will be added to the pile for the craft table as well.

This is going to be it for this year. There is one more topper on the design wall but I just kept tripping over myself to get it made so I decided that I didn't need to stress over it and it would be fine to just call it a day. It has made all the difference to my stress level. So now it's just baking and then let the reindeer games begin!.....M