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