Monday, December 17, 2007

Merry Week-before-Christmas!

It truly is coming, and so this is my week to switch into mild panic mode. I am not an early shopper, and I have to think about every little thing I buy for at least 2 days--even stocking stuffer's--so you can see my predicament. I had such a great and Christmas-sy weekend with Bob's office party, an hilarious play down in Salt Lake City, and the Christmas concert at the LDS Conference Center that I feel quite transported into the holiday spirit and virtually lofted above the whole pagan present thing. Right. A late night viewing of an old--OK, ancient--Walton's Christmas special has quickly and painfully brought me back to reality. It's time to suck it up and get it done.

This week has been Christmas card week at the shop. Teri loves to receive cards so much that she has concocted this little red pom-pom swag up in the front windows to clip our cards to as they arrive. Of course the first 2 weeks of December they proudly displayed 2 cards from banks, 1 from Christian's Orthodontist, and 1--with a coupon-- from a plumber that we used a number of years ago. Last week, however, things started looking up, and the swags are finally being filled with darling cards from friends far and near. Behind the counter we have a growing collection of photograph greeting cards--1 of my niece Kristin's adorable children (she does our blog and website), 1 of a former employee, Charity with baby Peter, and one of Chyrl's daughter, Stephanie, and her little ones. And right in the midst of these is Teri's prize card sent from Kathy, a friend in England, with a photo of Colin Firth on it. We get a few odd looks about that one, but it may be well past the blessed holiday before it comes down. I don't know, there is something about receiving Christmas cards that just makes you happy.

Did I mention that Teri loves cards. She has been buzzing around taking photos and doing cards from the shop, and now is busy getting her own ready and sent out. She has lost all the various parts of them at least 5 times, but she is completely undaunted, and I have full faith that they will be in the mail shortly. She has even organized Christmas cards for a very elderly friend of ours who has just moved into an assisted living center. She spent last weekend taking pictures of Ruthie in her new home with her beloved cat--you know tiny Santa hat and bells--and this weekend helping her to sign and address them all. In the meantime, the cat passed away. She deserves a gold star or at least a postage stamp--Christmas of course--on her forehead.

Me--I think I like the idea of cards better than the actual doing of them. I have a box of darling ones on my desk at work, a booklet of holiday stamps which I have lost, and 24 photographs of Christian and Lindbergh in the snow which he doesn't want me to send because Peter refused to be in the picture, and he thinks it is terrible that it says "Merry Christmas from the Hermans" when he is the only one in the picture. I told him the dog is in it, too.
So--have a laughing, bustling, ringing, caroling, munching, Christmas carding week.

fondly, Tina

another ps--We just unpacked the long-anticipated Judith Hayle book from Needleprints in England and it is quite fantastic. I can't wait to read it cover to cover.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Shepherd's Bush Christmas Picks

Hello--one more week--and I'm sure you have accomplished much since last Monday. Me--not so much. I started shopping so that's a good thing, and I have done a little baking. We were going to get the tree yesterday, but that didn't happen. I will now have to wait for the Subaru to come home so I can throw the tree on the roof rack.

Because of "Shepherd's Picks," I have been thinking all week about what it is that I love to do at Christmas. As you well know, that is hard to put in 1 thought. We all have a million things we love to do. (see below) One thing that I try to do every year is to stitch an angel. Sometimes I give them away, and most of the time I keep them myself, and sometimes I give them away and then re-stitch them for myself. I guess that makes it a tradition, although I have never thought of it as such until now. When Christian was 3, he got sick on Christmas Eve just as we were getting ready to go to my brother's house for dinner. I stayed home alone with him lying next to me on the couch and I stitched an angel all evening long as he slept. That will always be a special Christmas for me.

Earlier this week, I read through my Sunday school lesson--12-13 year olds--to discover that it was on suffering. I simply closed the book, bought-frost-your-own-sugar-cookies and pulled together supplies to stitch tiny angels in our class. OK--you're right a little suffering going on in the class after all. But the kids had a blast--even the skeptical boys--and I think we might have them finished in another 4-5 weeks. Then last night, I pulled out the pattern and stitched one for myself. I just might stitch lots of these angels this year. Or---I might stitch the brand new Mosey n Me piece--Santa's Coming. I don't do Santas--cause remember I do angels, but this is the absolutely most darling pattern. We have stitched ours at the shop on red, hand-dyed linen, and I can't wait. I think we will have the picture at the bottom of the blog, so take a look.

Now, I promised you Shepherd's picks for Christmas, so here we go. It is actually sort of hard to decide what your favourite anything is since there is so much to choose from. Maybe one of these picks will inspire you, or maybe you will just decide that your own picks beat out ours. Either way--have fun.

Tina: I love Mr. Magoo's Christmas. I know that is a bit odd, since I don't really like cartoons. Perhaps too many years with boys, but I have always loved this movie. I used to have all the songs memorized--pitiful--but how can you resist the pudding song or ringle-jingle. I also love to watch the Muppet's Christmas Carol. --yeah--I have most of those memorized too--except for the sappy one.

Sue: This year my favorite pick for a Christmas movie is Christmas with the Kranks. This is because our oldest daughter just got married in August and lives in Milwaukee with her great new husband. They will be home for Christmas this year and I'm all for "skipping"--but not really. I want everything to be perfect for her, her new husband and the rest of our family. I love the laughter that this movie brings. Fun Fun Fun.

Kari: Next to going downtown to see the lights at Christmas Village, I love watching old classic Christmas movies. One of my favorites, and my pick for this year is: It's a Wonderful Life. Whether you watch it while baking Christmas cookies, or with the Christmas tree lights on (with all other lights off) while sipping a cup of hot chocolate, or just curling up on the sofa with your new cross stitch project, this movie is bound to touch your heart and bring in the Christmas spirit.

The original Miracle on 34th Street is one of my favorites. There is just something about those old classic movies, wrapping up in your warmest and most favorite blanket, with your newest cross stitch project and watching until the early hours of the morning and then doing it all over again the next night. Merry Christmas to everyone.

Teri: I only read Christmas books during December. Over the years I have read so many great ones. Here are a couple of my favorites. Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah, Redbird Christmas by Fanny Flag, and Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. May you find the time to curl up next to the fire and read into the night by tree light. Happy Holidays!!!

Chyrl: I love everything about Christmas. My favorite Christmas song is Mirriah Carey's All I want for Christmas. My favorite book is Pioneer Christmas Memories. My favorite taste of Christmas is cookies and chocolates. And of course, whatever Christmas stitchery I'm working on. Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

Kristin: One of my favorite parts of Christmas is coming up with the "perfect" gift for someone I love. I have discovered that I can't find that gift for everyone every year, but each year there is at least one person for whom I have a gift that I wait with anxious anticipation to give. This year that person is my three-year-old, Jillian. I am finally finishing her stocking. She has looked closely at her sisters' (Sophie's and Elisabeth's) hanging on our mantle and asked all season when she can have her "bootiful stocking." So, I am stitching Jillian's Stocking into the late hours of the night. When I can convince my husband to watch TV with me as I stitch, our favorite Christmas shows are, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" and "Mr. Bean's Christmas." We both agree that they get funnier every year!

The following picks were told to me over the phone, so I am trying to relate them to you as they were told to me:

Leslie: Leslie's pick is to go on a 4-day trip to the Homestead all by herself where all she would have to do is stitch and take walks in the sunshine to enjoy the fabulous view. (I'm not sure whether she means on Christmas day or not, but either way, we are all jealous.)

Nancy: Nancy's pick for the holidays is the new Mannheim Steamroller CD--but she can't remember the name. (Do you think that this is what she loves or is this what she is hoping for?) She also loves It's a Wonderful Life. (Our pick for Nancy is the delicious shortbread she makes every year.)

: All my things start with F. I love Food at Christmas. Eating with Family and Friends yummy holiday food. ( Lonii also makes Fabulous Christmas Fudge... it is milk chocolaty with marshmallows and nuts and we love it when she brings in a batch to share) I hope that this week you have time to enjoy a few picks--either ours or some of your own. Happy getting ready.

Until next week--Tina

This is a photo of a darling Mosey N' me picture "Santa's Coming.'
We stitched it on a great, red, hand-dyed linen and used overdyed floss.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Snow, Friends and Cookies

OK I'm not going to say it--you know about time flying past swifter than a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. But I did just type in November and had to go back and correct it. What a fun and wild week this has been. Judy Bielic from Mosey 'n Me came on Friday to teach her needle felting class and everyone had a great time. The projects turned out perfectly, and it was great to see how each student added her own twist and style. I think we have pictures up after this blog so you can see what they did. Unfortunately the weather man must have heard last week's whine about the warm, dry weather, so of course we were blessed with a lovely snow fall on Friday and Saturday making the drive to the class quite a challenge for many. In my maturing age, I have discovered that I appreciate the concept of snow a lot more that the thing itself. The upside--Judy was thrilled with the snow and the beautiful views especially on Sunday Morning as the sun hit the top of Mt. Ben Lomond. Charland and Sydney traveled from Toronto to take the class and just hang out, and we did a lot of both--but not a lot of sleeping, well at least not in a bed for me. It is hard to send them home again. We are sisters you know--just separated at birth. We have been together a lot this past year, and so it makes it even harder to let them go back home. We tried to get them to stay--but they are in the air even as I write.

I'm sorry this is a little disjointed, but I am feeling sleep-deprived as well as despondent. I know that I promised you Shepherd's Picks this week, but we will all have to wait for next week. Don't worry it is coming. Instead I shall entertain you with a recipe since Teri left it taped to the computer. Believe it or not, we had 2 date trees in our back yard when we were growing up, and every year it was our job to pick the dates while dodging biting horses. My mom had this great recipe which she would make out of the precious fruit every Christmas, and which I never liked until I was long grown up. We haven't made them for years--maybe Teri and I have never actually made them--but for some reason she was compelled to make them Thursday night at midnight after dragging Sydney and Char all over Salt Lake City and 3 trips to Smiths for supplies. Anyway, all of us were half asleep at the table, but Teri never seemed to notice as she cooked and yakked on into the morning hours. The odd thing is that you make these cookies in an electric frying pan which the Charlands thought was very strange, and then Teri began a weekend-long frenzy of cooking her entire repertoire of electric frying pan recipes. It was a little embarrassing. As they drove away this morning she was still trying to entice them to stay another night with yet 1 more recipe. They didn't look back as they sped over the viaduct. Well anyway, everyone loved the cookies, and so many people have asked me for the recipe--here it is. It is very odd--but don't be scared, it really works and they are very good.

Sophie's Date Balls
Plug in your electric frying pan at a medium hot temperature--maybe 350.
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped dates--we just used 1 package. Not actually growing them anymore.
2 well-beaten eggs
2 T. cream
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla--Madagascar Bourbon vanilla from Williams-Sonoma is quite fine
1/2 cup toasted, sliced almonds crushed up a bit
4 cups Rice Krispies
1 package of flaked coconut
Melt butter, sugar and dates in the frying pan. Before it becomes very hot, add the beaten eggs and stir to mix. Now add cream, salt, vanilla and nuts. Cook and stir until it is very hot and bubbling. Keep on cooking. Her recipe says to cook until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. "This is very obvious," mom writes. Hmm--not so obvious to us. It took quite a while--maybe 10-15 minutes--and did become very thick. Be sure you stir and watch at the end so it doesn't burn. Turn off the heat and add the 4 cups of Rice Krispies. Mix completely. As soon as you can stand to touch it, form into little balls with a cookie scoop and roll in the coconut. Lay out on parchment paper to cool. Store in the refrigerator. Enjoy.

So, go make a batch of Christmas cookies tonight--if not these--then your own favorites. Watch for Christmas Picks coming to you next week from the Bush. Until then, have a fun, safe week, and watch our web site for our new holiday kits.


The Friday night class was making snowmen. It snowed in honor of our class!

Judy Bielec shows Lisa and Cheryl Jolley how to shape the head.

Linda, Loree and Judy show off their heads. YIKES ae the making ET? Nancy works on.

"OUCH" those needles are sharp!!

Kathy's hat will be perfect on her Santa. Lisa and Cheryl put on finishing touches while Charland works on.

Nancy and Diane finish up.

Allison and Dixie show off darling Santas.

Lynne and Anne are finished with their Santas.

Judy and Linda with her Santa.

Loree Clark's Santa is darling!

Charland and Sydney finish up their Santas.

This was a great day's work! Thank you Judy!!