Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Week, 2009
Dear Friends,
Here we are to the final week, and Christmas seems to be rushing towards us. To some, December seems endlessly long, but to me it just flies by. I never really seem to be ready, and I never have taken enough time to just enjoy the moment. LIke the rest of the country, December weather never seems to cooperate with our needs to be out and about shopping and working and partying. Here in Utah we had a week or more of frigid weather hovering near the 0 mark in the mornings and evenings, and my soul longed for blankets and books. Teri and I chose this time to take wreaths and wire stands to the cemetery. Truly could there be a more bleak time to be there than in mid-December? We arrived on a Sunday evening about five o'clock, abandoned the car at the turn of the road and headed off across the frozen snowy ground. There seemed to be a brisk canyon wind tunneling down the cemetery as we set out causing a wind chill of at least 50 below-- (Teri says 250 below)--and reminding me not a little of a scene from Doctor Zhivago. We were part laughing and part crying as we made our way to the first set of graves, little thinking that in this cold the ground beneath the snow was harder than a rock. We hammered, pushed, dug and jammed trying to get the wire stand into the earth at least an inch. No way. So we set the evergreen wreath on the rickety stand--Teri even apologized to heaven and air--and started to run across the ground to the next spot. When we got there we saw the the stand and wreath had blown over, so we ran back and set it back up then returning to our final destination where we had to guess the approximate place to set up our pitiful offerings. By then we really were sort of crying--and laughing--and headed back to the road to make our way around and back to the car. By the time we got there all wreaths and stands were flat out on the ground. Teri's suggestion was that next year we get to the cemetery before Thanksgiving. Good idea.
This past week we have had a little break from the cold, but lots and lots of snow. Still not that conducive to shopping, so I am still no further ahead. We have cooked a lot, which is sort of unusual for us. Normally, we just think about cooking a lot and never actually do it. This week we have been making snack mixes --chex, cheerios, etc.--for all the delivery guys who come to us. Every night Teri gets busy and makes a new boat load of munchies and then packages them up into big and little bags to give away. We have to give large bags to the UPS guys and the Post men, and little bags to give to customers on Saturday as well as for our family party. Peter came home this week from school and was happy, but a little bored, so she has enlisted him in her cooking projects which is sort of nice for me, because it lets me off the hook. She and Peter have made many successful things, and I can just hang out and watch without having to help much. She really does have a large number of darling gift bags filled and ready riding around in her car with her. Imagine my surprise when we pulled up to the gas station window to get her bi-daily diet coke and she pulls out a large bag of treats and hands it to the folks inside. Well,OK then.

Here is a recipe for the sweet Chex mix that we made. It is a little soft and very yummy. Just make a big bowl full of it and munch your way through the holidays. OK, sorry, I have to send you this next week. I keep forgetting to bring it from home. Oh well, perfect for January.
Now you might think that we haven't been stitching, but that is not exactly true. I have been working on a tiny tiny fob for New Year's. I should have had it done in 2 evenings, but it has taken me most of December. Maybe that tells you the quality of the piece. Teri has been stitching ornaments. The one that I think is so darling is a new one from Homespun Elegance. She is giving them to friends and has them all finished with darling red silk ribbon. They are very, very sweet! Now she is working on a little snowman one that is a companion. It is so darling.
Well, as you can see, Christmas week has overtaken me. I fully intended to get this off on Christmas Eve, but we've been slammed at work and at home and Christmas arrived. So I am hoping that your holidays have been filled with peace and joy. As the New Year approaches, my wish is for you to have a safe, healthy, and happy new year. We are frantically getting ready for our New Year's Day sale on Friday from 1:00 to 3:00. It will be a blast. I am also frantically working on the new scissors and fob for 2010. I am just finishing packaging the fobs and need to be at the engraver's before he closes. It has turned out so darling. Next week I will include a picture just to tempt you.
Happy New Year!!! If I don't see you tomorrow, I'll write next week.
many hugs,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 7th, 2009
Dear Friends,
Happy Advent! I love December. I love seeing Christmas lights in people's yards and homes. I love little lighted candles in windows. I love Christmas music and movies. I love having time to enjoy all of these things and still squeeze in a little shopping. Cheryl and I were just talking about this and wondering what it is about it all that is so comforting. I am not nearly in shopping panic mode yet, so I am perfectly happy to just sit back and enjoy all of these things. Teri and I have actually been doing a fair bit of cooking, and we have had a lot of fun. It sort of started with the shop open house. Normally we just buy everything that we serve, but this year we were just in the mood to look up old recipes of our mom's and nana's and try them out again. So--for more than a week, we have spent a few evenings making toffee, fudge, date balls, Christmas bread, and cookies. We turn on the Christmas lights, and find a movie to put on in the kitchen and get going. I mostly watch the TV and read Teri the recipes--some things never change--but I do have to pitch in in moments of distress when hot candy is cascading off of our inordinately tiny marble slab. The boys usually drift by: Bob to disparage whatever movie happens to be on, Chris to linger and catch a bit of Elf, but mostly we ignore them and continue with our project. No one comes in when we watch the Muppets' Christmas because we like to sing along and they just roll their eyes. In a moment of complete insanity, we even tried making fondant for chocolates that we had learned several years ago from Judy, the candy master. Of course we started just minutes after completely ruining a batch of toffee, so that should tell you something. But undaunted, Teri forged forward. I have to admit there were a few dicey moments when it became truly apparent that we had no idea what we were doing. But Teri, in her unfailing optimism, continued on and may have salvaged the lot. I was extremely busy following her around the room cleaning up unbelievable amounts of sugar sloshes when she announced that: "a good 2 weeks in the freezer ought to remedy this." I am only a little worried that she will want to try another batch. Actually, I think the food for the open house was a stirring success, so it seems that the downward spiral happened after that.
OK--now I am including an old recipe of my mom's that is very delicious--if you like the flavour of dates. It sounds extremely weird, but try it. I think they are quite yummy in an old fashioned way. We made these last year when Charland and Sydney were visiting us, but they seemed sort of stunned that we cooked them in an electric frying pan and had to run to the store at least 4 times to gather supplies.
Date Crispies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups dates chopped---just buy them that way
2 eggs--well-beaten
2 TBS milk
1 teas. salt
2 teas. vanilla
4 cups Rice Crispies
Now here is the thing: use an electric frying pan. ( I suppose a pan on the stove would work, but I have never done it that way.) Melt butter, sugar and dates. Before they are very hot, add eggs and stir well. Add milk, salt and vanilla and cook until mixture leaves the sides of the pan. This takes a while--10-15 minutes? My mom writes: "this is very obvious," but for us--not so much. When you think this has been accomplished, turn off the heat and add the rice crispies. Stir well. Scoop out little balls and roll them in coconut or powdered sugar. They might also be good rolled in chopped, toasted nuts. Eat right away, or store in the fridge. Enjoy, Let us know how you like them.
If we cook something else successful, I'll send on the recipe next week.
We had a very fun surprise this week. As you know we are sort of food network junkies here at the shop, and the Ace of Cakes is one of our favourites. Well they aired a Christmas episode where they made a cake like one of our stockings. A woman had stitched over fifty of them for her family, and her husband had commissioned them to make a cake like Teri's Stocking. It was so much fun to see the painstaking process--the cake looked cross stitched--as well as the darling finished product. So watch for it on your TV. Teri spent most of the next day corresponding with Mary Alice, and all in all it was very fun.
Who would have thought...

Now, back to the shop. Everything is decorated and lighted and it all looks very lovely. It is super cold and snowy here, so the shop looks especially inviting. Our temps have been down in the teens, but taking wreaths to the cemetery yesterday with a bleak wind blowing, it seemed about 40 below. Oh well, the perfect time to snug up and stitch.
Finally, I think we have the picture of our new 10-count kit: Seek and Ye Shall Find
I think it is very sweet and certainly still do-able for the big day.

Teri has had several darling ornaments stitched and finished and I think that they are very sweet. The Stitching Santa by Homespun Elegance is very old-fashioned and adorable. I love the little things he is holding.

And another darling ornament/pin cushion from the same designer is this little Reindeer Joy. I just love all the little parts of this piece: the stars, the bird, the reindeer and the joy. It is in my pile to do this season. I even think the odd colours are quite sweet. This is actually just a small part of a larger sampler--not too large, which is also very sweet. I haven't decided whether to do the bigger piece which has a great holly sprig and very cool ABC on it. Hmm.... I'll let you know.

And finally, Teri has taken pictures of our 3 main Christmas displays in the shop to give you some holiday inspiration. The shop really does look very festive and nice and inspiring. I might have to leave off my recipe reading and stitch, stitch, stitch.

I actually have designed quite a lot, but they are going to have to wait for next year now. Besides the new Christmas things I have been drawing, I am just getting ready to stitch the scissor fob for 2010 to go with the Gingher Elena scissors. Oh boy, we are in a bit of a state here trying to decide what it will say. I'm not even sure myself. The new scissors are very pretty and very different from last year's. Remember, if you haven't gotten your Roberta scissors or the 2009 fob yet, the time is drawing short. Let us know if you need them for Christmas. We do a fabulous wrap job and can always help out a weary
Well, I guess I have to go. It is almost time to close here and we will soon have to face the bitter cold. We are closing around 5:00 for the rest of the month, so if you are coming to us, drop by early. Until next week--stay warm. fondly, Tina