the power of a cookie

Just think how amazed you would be if today, someone handed you a tin of cookies and said, I made these JUST FOR YOU.

That my friend is a powerful expression of love.   Having someone bake for you is remarkable.  It sort of takes your breath away.

You HAVE that power.  It’s easy (6 ingredients), pretty quick, minimal cleanup and the outcome is simply beautiful not to mention melt in your mouth tasty.

20181127_110536-1Last night Mr. Right spent 45 minutes and shelled 1 pound of walnuts.  After shelling, that equals 1/2 pound of glorious, amazingly delicious, wonderful walnuts.   His effort will be rewarded.

Today, I baked the first of the season batch of Christmas cookies.  One of his favorites.

Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, however, I’m one of “those” people.  I write, scribble, put stickers, use jelly markers, underline, highlight and leave notes to myself on the pages of my cookbooks.

On page 65 of a cookie book, I wrote: “this season, I baked 9 batches of these beauties”. Using a red pen, I wrote “heavenly”.   20181127_120053 I gave them 5 stars.  “Melt in your mouth”.  There are hearts and stars drawn all around the recipe.

These are extremely simple cookies with only 6 ingredients.  However, because there are such few ingredients, PLEASE use excellent quality of each.  The results will be so worth the effort.

May I gently suggest you bake a batch for your husband, boyfriend, teacher, neighbor, the weekly group you attend,  a teenage grandchild?  Yes, I wrote, bake a batch for your grandchild.  Write the short recipe out in your handwriting, and offer up a piece of your heart and soul, your family history.  I have two recipes written by hand from my grandmother.  Powerful and simple memento to pass down.

While at work, I like to send Mr. Right a picture of what was baked just for him.  Encourages him to drive with purpose on his way home.  Certainly, a powerful, mouthwatering picture to receive via text or email.

Hurry home, Mr. Right, freshly baked cookies await. Drive safely, see ya soon.

Russian Teacakes.

1 cup of butter ( I use unsalted, French butter), 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon Vanilla (I use Cooks’s choice), 2 1/4 cups flour (I use unbleached), 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Maldon Sea Salt), 3/4 cup chopped Walnuts (Freshly cracked tastes amazing)

Heat your oven to 400*.  Mix butter, powdered sugar, and the vanilla.  Stir in the flour, salt, and nuts.  Shape dough into balls.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 8 to 9 minutes.  Roll in Powdered sugar while warm; cool.  Roll in powdered sugar again.

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…..and so the baking season of love and goodness begins.   Love to hear about your favorite holiday cookie to bake.

In this together, friends, Happy Baking.

Chat soon.

 

keeping you on pins & needles

I am sure you have been on pins & needles for a while now.  Did she or did she not achieve her goal of this year?  When will she give us an update?  Will she ever in a million years do something like this again?

2017 the year I proclaimed the year of the pincushion has come to a close. Thankfully.

Holy Toledo, I learned more than I ever imagined.  It took more time than I ever estimated.  My original goal was to cross stitch 12 pincushions for gifts.  I completed and gave 16.

I was able to give three of those beauties in person.

Now, before you fret, yes, I have a beautiful,  rather large pincushion of my own.  I have used it almost daily for quite a few years now.   I stitched the tower to remember our trip to Paris.

If you remember, here was my original challenged issued to me.

https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/poke/

To make it even more interesting, I added another element, pins.

https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/a-good-luck-poke/

 

I used an entire bag of crushed walnut shells to fill each.  I had to go and buy a second bag to fill the last two.

All of the pins I glued beads onto were used and my button jar came in mighty handy this year.

What did I learn?

I still enjoy counted cross stitch.

I liked personalizing the pin keeps to each person.

I learned that I most likely will never, ever do a project like that again.  It requires a whole bunch of heart & soul and time & effort.

I wanted to lovingly, slowly stitch goodness into each, piece, however, the deadlines and mailing times sort of took the fun out of making each.

My plan was to stitch each cushion and fill it with grace and well wishes for the other person.  Not everyone is excited or appreciates handmade gifts nor do many understand the hours it takes to produce them.

I put more good karma, energy, time, effort, money into each than need be.

I figured out, that while I was not looking for a “proper thank you note”, of which I received four, I was secretly hoping for a personal connection.  A conversation.  Some type of tie to the person I gave the gift to.  A reason to talk and spend time with the person.  A way to jump-start a conversation that would linger and fill us each with a wonderful memory. That did not happen.

If I ever do a counted cross stitch piece for anyone other than family, I will most likely keep track and share the number of hours it took to complete.  Not to be boastful, but to share the time that was spent on that person. I came to realize that folks that do not do handiwork, have no concept or understanding of how long each project takes.

I learned for Christmas this year, I am buying gifts.

The only handmade gifts I am making are for our Grands.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was going to say, I will most likely never cross stitch another pin cushion again.  However………I already have a person in mind (she herself is a beautiful cross stitcher) that I might like to make a pin cushion as a surprise in 2018.  We will see.

So here are a few of my 16.  Some, I forgot to take a picture.  One, I took a picture of the back and promptly deleted the front picture after it was already in the mail.  sigh.

Thanks for following along and keeping me company this past year.

I would dearly love to have a conversation about gift giving and making/giving handmade gifts.

I have a counted cross stitch pattern, thread, and fabric all ready to begin January 1, 2018, for me!

Also, we have a new GRANDBABY on the way in 2018 so my hands will be flying as I make oodles of goodness for the new one in our life.

Here’s to accomplishing my goal and then some!  Setting a goal and working towards completion is very satisfying.

In the coming year, I hope you are planning and setting a goal or two of your own.  Would love to hear your plans.

In this together, friends.

Chat soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 things

When the calendar reads November and we are about to flip the page to December, inevitably, those words some of us dread are spoken aloud.

What would you like for Christmas?

For some, it is easy peasy and those kids/people can fill a sheet of college rule lined notebook paper and then turn it over and fill the back.  For other kids/people, it is a daunting task.

Sure, sure, we would all love:  World Peace, Food Banks Filled to overflowing, Animal Shelters turning away donations, because they have more than enough food, volunteers, and money……

However, for some of us who celebrate this holiday, in addition to giving and sharing with others and worthy causes, we would very much like to give each family member or friend a gift or two.

primitive_cottage_red_buffalo_plaid_lumberjack_heart_sticker-r925673d75f1240248ae6cb0f257daac8_v9w0n_8byvr_324We as the givers would really love to give them something that they would like.

Sure we give experiences. Yes, we make donations in people’s names and give to charity.  Yes, we try our very best to listen and then write down ideas that our people may want or need.  Thank you, Jesus, sometimes we find the “perfect” gift for the perfect person.

Often times its kids that have a hard time articulating exactly what they would like.  On the other hand, sometimes it’s husbands that have almost zero wishes.  Or adult children really don’t want to give people a list.

What would you like for your birthday and/or Christmas?  “I would like a pair of socks,  maybe a bag of potato chips.”

(This is just a hypothetical scenario.  I am not using names to protect the sad list makers of our lives.)

Seriously, it is tricky for said “giver”.  Today my plan is to purchase one pair of socks.  I can give him one sock for his birthday and one sock for Christmas.  Done.  (Just kidding)

Jeepers, Creepers!

I happen to have come across a brilliant, simple, easy peasy…lemon squeezie idea on momastry.com  She wrote down this little poem and asked her children to come up with & write down 4 things.  Everyone, no matter the age can write down 4 things.

That seems simple and doable.

Here’s the poem:

christmas-guidelines_10151346022691522_51785292_n

A gentle suggestion, this year before you ask the question……….how about asking nicely, I just need you to write down 4 things?   simple.  easy peasy.

Here I’ll go first!

Something you want………I want a heavy duty, folding potato masher.

Something you need…….. I need Italian Roast coffee beans.

Something to wear…….. I would like a new gray sweater.

Something to read…… I would like a new cookbook.

Pretty painless and quick.  Oh sure, you can give more details like where to purchase or make an Amazon wishlist or give store names or websites…… The idea is to stick with 4 things.

Nothing overwhelming, not too time-consuming and pretty darn easy, for all of us.

In this together, friends.

Chat soon. christmas-buffalo-plaid-check-pillow-

 

 

 

 

 

Ps.  Full disclosure.  I borrowed this picture from google images.  Yes, I have white rocking chairs.  Yes, I took off the autumnal pillow covers I made.  I am still searching for Buffalo Plaid fabric to sew covers for my pillows.  Fingers crossed this weekend.

mad about hats

 

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I have been sewing, quilting, cross stitching since I was 12 years old.  I also took knitting lessons, twice.  (It was not the teacher, it was most likely the student.  I am not a knitter.)

I started learning to crochet on February 1, 2017.  Technically I am a beginner, however, my daughter in law thinks I can easily call myself an “Advanced Beginner”.

I like that.

Advanced Beginner.  You know that feeling when you have accomplished quite a bit and you are just about to move ahead to the next grade?  Excited, anxious to learn something new, yet feeling all puffed up about yourself with what you have already learned.

I think I will start a new hat today!  20170927_110716-1_resized

Then all of a sudden, some unkind, dreary, non-sparkly person says, “Enough with the hats, I think you got that, time to move on to something else.”

Actually, I like making hats.  OODLES and OODLES of hats!  I like to donate hats.  I like to make them for gifts.  I love to make them for my grands.  Yes, I am well aware that not everyone likes or uses handmade hats.  Secretly, I think everyone would feel special if someone made them a hat.  Just my opinion.

Our grands all live in very warm places.  So the amount of time they actually “need” a warm hat is not very long. I am okay with spending my time, money and effort on a hat for my grandchildren EVEN IF they only wear it one day!  How’s that for a granny who loves them?? They also like to play dress up and pretend that it is winter indoors sometimes.  That’s where having a hand crocheted hat from their granny comes in handy!

Hats work up fairly quickly and with each one or two, I am trying to learn a new stitch or a new method.  While making these, I learned how to make bigger, fluffier, pom poms. 20171022_122030-1_resized

I even had my own tags made.  The tags say, Splurge with my initials underneath.  I like the thought of splurging on fancy yarn to make something special for the grand little people in my life.20171024_201802-1-1_resized

On these hats, I learned the cluster stitch. 20171031_135009-1_resized

These booties were made for a new little girl & the hat for her big brother.  With these, I learned to crochet plaid.20171104_102636-1_resized_1

I like to celebrate with my friends when they tell me they are going to be a grandma.  I like to share in their happiness.  Making something makes me feel connected. Sewing or crocheting something with my hands does my soul good.  20171106_204031-1_resized

These are a gift for twin boys about to be born and a special one for their big brother.

It is a true honor to participate in historic traditions.  Makes even the silliest of hats seem worthy.

Love to hear what you are making with your hands to feed your soul and spirit.

Guess what I am going to start today?  🙂

In this together, friends.

Chat soon.

 

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poke update

June is knocking on the door, six months into the new year & about 180 days into my sewing goal.

20170116_200943-1_resized_2I thought I would give you a quick update on20170414_202404-1_resized (1) my pin cushion project of 2017.

 

 

 

In case you need to catch up, zip over to this post.    I decided to stitch birthday pin cushions this year.

https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/a-good-luck-poke/

 

To date I have made & given 8 pin cushions.  Another one is sitting in a basket waiting for 20170427_100224_resized20170103_144545-1_resized (1)backing fabric and a new one is currently being stitched.

So we are almost 6 months into the year and I have 10 pin cushions almost under my belt.

 

 

Some observations so far this year:

  1.  I have not given one cushion in person. Giving hand-made gifts that you don’t get to see the person open, is over rated.  Most likely won’t do again (except my grands and family).
  2. I have a love of handmade stitchy gifts/projects, that is not the case with most everyone else.
  3. It is way more time (hours & hours, even a few days), energy, effort then I calculated.  Hard to stay motivated at times.  To mail in a timely fashion, I have to prepare and stitch a month or so before the person’s birthday.
  4. Making two the same is not that thrilling.
  5. I love choosing the perfect buttons.
  6. I have had to put some other larger counted cross stitch projects on the back burner, while I attempt to make all these pin cushions.
  7. Being thoughtful is at times, hard work.
    20170322_080402_resized

I think I needed this project to remind myself to be more kind and thoughtful towards others, even when I don’t feel like it.   A lesson I won’t soon forget.

I would love to hear what gifts you are making for friends.  Maybe we could encourage each other?

Please share,  in this together friends.

 

staff of life

This day is full of bluster.  Wind gusts that take your breath away.  Rain pouring so hard it blocks the light of noon day.  It is a loud day.  I can hear trees and bushes brushing the side of the house.

Instead of fighting it and complaining, I decided to lean into it.  I have on warm socks and a sweater.  I made a huge cup of strong, dark, rich coffee and stirred in a spoonful of homemade caramel sauce.  I turned on the twinkle lights and flipped the switch on all the battery operated candles.   I even whipped up a mixture for the diffuser (spruce, cinnamon and orange).  Smells like winter.

Perfect day to talk about bread.  artisan bread

About 4 1/2 years ago I bought this book.  I got the supplies needed.  Then I didn’t do it. Life somehow got mixed up in MY plans and the road detoured for a bit.

I have baked many, many, oodles really,  loaves of bread in my life time.  I wanted to try my hand at Artisan Bread.

Why on earth did I wait so long?

You know that moment when you are in an upscale restaurant and they serve a slice of bread with holes and has a really good flavor and “chew” to it?  The chef simply kisses the bread with a little fire and somehow elevates everything that is served near, beside or atop it.  Yeah, that bread.

I wanted/want to learn to make that perfect texture, great color, haphazard slices swiped into the top, smell of heaven on earth, mouth-watering looking and tasting staff of life.  This is my first loaf!!!  Seriously folks, this is what baking is about.   Man alive, I wish your screen was scratch n sniff.   This is the real deal.  Oh, sweet mawma!

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“In the history of art there are periods when bread seems so beautiful that it nearly gets into museums.”
Janet Flanner, Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939

 

Once you mix the dough and let it sit in the refrigerator for a day or two or fourteen……..it takes HONESTLY 5 minutes to form it then you step away and allow it to do its thing.

I love the feel of the proofing cloth.  I love swirling the flour around with my hands.

The original recipe makes enough for four loaves.  I started with two.  It was easy peasy to divide.

Once I practice a bit more, we will share loaves with our friends and neighbors.  You can make a smaller loaf for a single friend or couple.  You can make a more generous size for a larger family.  As well as still making an amazing loaf for you and your spouse. 20170510_172200-1_resized

Baking a loaf of bread by spending 5 minutes.  What a lovely way to speak to your husband.  Yes, Mr. Right means that much to me.  I smiled to myself, the moment he walked in that back door.  His words,  “yum, smells like fresh-baked bread”.

That is why I bake bread.

That and the fact that it makes awesome toast.20170511_101744-1_resized

Gentle suggestion and nudge.  Buy the book.  Learn something new. Spend 5 minutes on making something for someone else.  You will be so proud of yourself.  Your family will be smitten with your new hobby.

Feeding yourself, family and friends fresh bread.  Nothing feels more right.

Imagine yourself, offering a loaf of fresh-baked bread to your neighbor or your co-worker expecting a new baby.  Yes, it feels that good and more.

In this together friends,

ps.  If you stop by, I promise to share a slice or at least get a loaf baking so you can take it home with you.

 

poke

I have decided to stick it to my friends this coming year.  Just kidding, well no, not really.

I have decided to make pin cushions for every single man, woman and child I know.

What does that mean?

 ANNOUNCING…

2017 will be……… the year of the pin cushion!

I know, right?  You can feel the excitement, the enthusiasm.  The air seems electric.

Would you like to know what brought this on?

One gift.

springtime-messenger-coverI decided to make a beautiful pin cushion for a retirement gift.  I have gathered the thread colors, the linen, antique buttons and the pattern.  Next, I needed the filling.

Of course you already know that you can’t just stuff a pin cushion with fluffy fibers.

So, I went looking for crushed walnut shells. Yes, they are the perfect solution.

The weight of the crushed shells keep the pin cushion in place during use.  Perfect reason number 2?  The crushed walnut shell texture keeps the pins & needles sharp.

My local quilt shop has 4 ounce bags of shells for $7.00.  Because I think I will need two bags to fill my pin cushion, It seems rather pricey for filling.

I should be able to do better.  um.

Enter a national chain pet store.  They sell crushed walnut shells for the flooring of desert dwelling animals.

So, I bought a 5 quart bag (weighs about 8 pounds) for $10.00. 20161204_092943_resized

Quite a bargain.

I was tickled to purchase such a HUGE bag, for such a good price.

Now, the trick is to make enough pin cushions for birthdays, retirement gifts, thinking of you surprises, just because gifts, a gift for the UPS man……… that my “fabulous” frugal buy ends up being well worth the money.

I am rather puffed up about my great find.

I am anxious to begin stitching & filling.

However, if this blog post encourages your creative juices and you too, want to make beautiful pin cushions……….

I will gladly share the bounty.  Seems there is enough for everyone and then some.

In this together, friends.

Chat soon.

PS.  please act surprised when you receive your pin cushion next year.  “Oh gee, I wonder what she filled it with?”

tag, you’re it

I gathered my supplies and a few minutes later, I have 10 cute gift tag made and ready to use. 20161205_094734-1_resized

Let me back up.  Last year after the big holiday season, I bought 10 plastic ornaments (lightweight and easy to mail) costing 9 cents each!  Honestly, you have to use your imagination during those 90% off sections of the stores.

I bought some glitter (using a coupon) and stick on letters (yes, on sale) and floor wax.

Then took the tops off the ornaments.  Swirled in about 1 Tablespoon of floor wax, poured out extra.  Poured in some glitter, tapped out excess and let dry.  Then stuck on a letter for each 20161205_111730_resizedrecipient.

Ta-Da!

Slipped a ribbon through the hook and tied onto each gift.

Once the gift is opened, paper tossed, the gift tags “magically” turn into Christmas ornaments.

Now, to tackle the glitter all over the counter and me.  🙂

Chat soon. 20161205_113522_resized

 

oh deer, what do I hear

While putting away the Halloween decorations, tossing the carved pumpkins, eating the last of the roasted pumpkin seeds..I heard something.  I think………wait……..yes, I think it was a jingle bell.

Not only does Mrs. Claus have to start early, so does Grandma Daleen.

Last year, we found beautiful (and sturdy) advent calendars for the grands.  I tucked them away for this year.20161102_161101_resized

So we didn’t forget, I wrote on our kitchen calendar, November 1…….

 “send calendars to Z.A.C.”

This year, I stitched each a simple and sweet ornament.  I try to make something that is not breakable.  I want it to be cute and sweet, yet something even the parents would be okay with hanging on their tree.20161102_154558-1_resized

Um, yes, this is what grandmas are supposed to do.  They are suppose to make things for their grands.  Make cookies or an ornaments or a poem or a book or a quilt or a doll blanket or a car mat….whatever you can create… this is what all those years of practice were for.

Grandma’s tell their grands they love them with scratchy knit slippers (with treats tucked inside).  Grandma’s make silly bracelets or super capes.  Nanas and MeeMaws across the land make their super, secret, special cookies and put them in a special tin, just for their grands.  Great Grandma’s make personalized book marks for each little in her life.

You have time.  Get your creative juices flowing.

 I can promise you, no matter what you make, they will feel loved and of value.  Here’s the best part about making something for your grandchildren:  They will LOVE whatever you make.  They don’t criticize or judge.  They don’t point out your mistakes.  They are pure of heart.  Grand children just love that you made something for them. 

Here’s a peek behind the scenes:

I used a free pattern from    http://cutesycrafts.com/2013/12/felt-deer-and-fox-christmas-ornaments.html

Yes, I said free.  Good news, there are oodles of people on the” inter webs” who are sharing recipes and patterns for free!  Out of the goodness of their cotton pickin’ hearts.  Just because they want to share the love.   How’s that for lifting your spirits about mankind??

I used wool felt that I already had in my felt box. 20161102_154625-1_resized

I used thread  that I already had in my thread box.

20161102_154609_resizedI used ribbon that I already had in my ribbon box.

Scissors, needle and a couple pins.

A couple of hours later, TA -DA

Sweet, charming, adorable ornaments.  I stitched all sorts of crazy love and good karma into each.

Chop, Chop!

The time is now.

Please remember to make something with love for the sweet people in your life.

I would love to see and hear about what you are making for your grands or your niece, nephew, neighbor kiddo,  a little person that lives on your street.  You get the idea.

Instead of buying into the commercial notion that you have to purchase something , please take a moment, deep cleansing breath…… you can do this, make something with your very own hands.  I have faith in you.

When they hold and touch the gift you made, they will hold your love in their hands. It’s that simple. Really.  Nothing deep.  Just pure love for your grandchildren.

I look forward to hearing how you packaged cocoa or simple krispee treats.  I would love to hear what book you bought to go along with the glitter book marker you made.

This year, let’s share and lift each other’s spirits.

We all could use a little extra love this season.

In this together,

Chat soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

busy bags

Another one of our amazing, smart, funny, goofy, silly, adorable grands’ is having a birthday!!! 20160920_075749_resized

We try to find gifts that help the parents, not hinder their tough job.  We still aim for gifts that are fun and silly for the kiddos.  Sure, sure, we sometimes send “build your own planet” kits with paint & string and boy howdy, that was a messy job for the parents. However, on the whole, we try and think through what we give to the “littles” in our life.

While the parents gave us (much appreciated) gentle suggestions, I was left wondering, how on earth will they keep all those pieces in one place?  Yesterday, while wrapping gifts, in place of wrapping paper, I sewed a drawstring bag.  That way, once he opens the gift, the bag can be re-used as storage for all those pieces.

One of the gifts I made was a set of “Busy Bags”.  While making the set for a birthday gift, I also made two other sets to give to the other grands as well.  I ordered the zippered bags from amazon. I filled with things to occupy little minds & hands.  While waiting in the car pool lane for sister to get out of school or waiting in a restaurant for their grilled cheese sammy to be served, this might help the arduous process of waiting.

You can find oodles of ideas and suggestions as to what you can fill the Busy Bags with on Pinterest.

I hope that they leave the Busy Bags in the car.  Not a toy for in the house to loose pieces here and there.  Just a special treat to use when out and about and in need of a distraction.

 

They could sew a lace around a fish or string a necklace.  They could choose to make a bracelet out of pipe cleaners and pasta.   Or they could choose to create something cool with Popsicle sticks with Velcro circles.  (I bought the colorful craft sticks at the craft store and ordered the stick on Velcro circles from amazon)  One of the Busy Bags contains Army men for the little guy in our life.  To count or line up or whatever.

While we wish a million bits of goodness for a very Happy Birthday to Cooper, we also want to keep in mind that helping the parents keep track of those million bits will be a gift unto itself.

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Being a parent is tough, tricky and exasperating.  It is also fun, silly, happy and rewarding. We want to be in the category of grandparents who help the process, not create more mess.