Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without Pop’s toffee. I can’t believe it, but I think I have been making a tin of toffee for Pops the past 9 or 10 years. Crazy, but worth it.
I remember being at my Grandparents as a little kid. In Colorado... Or even when they visited us in St. Louis for Christmas. Gram and Gramps always brought a box of special toffee. It was from somewhere in Colorado, Colorado Springs maybe? It was extra thick and crunchy – really dense. I can’t even describe it. All I really know is Pops loved it.
So when Gram and Gramps were no longer around to give the wonderful box of toffee, I decided to step in. I tried to locate the company that made the original toffee, but had no luck. So, in an issue of MS Living, I found a recipe for toffee. Not exactly the same kind – not as thick or crunchy, but the sentiment was there.
Now, years later I am still making the toffee and Pops still enjoys just one piece a day until it runs out. If I could enjoy only one small sweet treat a day – I just don’t know how he does it. The extra, not so perfect pieces get packaged and given as extra gifts – or this year to my bosses at work.
If you haven’t made candy before, the recipe may seem a bit overwhelming. But really, once you try it, it is pretty easy. It takes a lot of time, but not much work. You have to wait for the main mixture to reach 280 degrees, which means you have to wait for at least 45 minutes. Then you wait for the mixture to harden in the pans, another 45 minutes. Then you melt chocolate and cover with pecans and wait 24 hours to break it apart. But honestly, it is just a lot of waiting and not too much work. Give it a try.
Oh, and after the first year, I stopped trying to cut it all nicely like in Martha’s picture on the website. Never worked for me. I just have fun and break it into fun pieces. So much easier!
A couple posts back, I mentioned a mini-ornament swap my friend Dawn and I did this holiday season. It took me a really long time to decide what to make. I had no idea... Until one night while I was trying to fall asleep, it came to me - Gram’s Ice Skates. I got out of bed right then and headed to the basement to search them out. Of course, the ornaments were in the very back of the storage room! Sorta how it always happens, right?
Gram’s ice skates were perfect inspiration. These skates are older than me and are in pretty good shape for their age. From these skates, I updated the pattern just a little – rounded out the edges a bit. Nothing to big that I think she would mind...
Want to know how I made them? I took pictures along the way, so I figure it will be just as easy to write a little tutorial as I describe them.
Gathering all my supplies would have been really easy if I didn’t have to wait in line for 30 minutes at the fabric store for 1/2 yard of fabric (1/4 yard gave me enough for 12 sets – yes, I started out planning to make just one set, but then I decided I might need to make one for everyone in my family too).
I traced my pattern (you can download it here) onto the felt and the batting and cut them out. On the batting, you will then need to trim about 1/8 or so off the edges... Or probably smarter, trim inside the line the first time you cut.
Gram’s laces were sequence and beads. I liked her style, so I matched them completely. On one side of each skate (remember, each pair has on right and left, so be sure to bead on correct sides) add 4 sequence, bead combinations. First place the sequence, add the bead and then take the needle back through the hole in the sequence.
Now it is time to put the pieces together, scoot the felt through the paper clip, so the clip is in the middle of the pattern. I like the double end of the paper clip to be the toe-pick. Place the batting in the middle and fold the felt. I then pinned it together with a long quilting pin. It really only needs one and I even tossed that one aside once I got going on the embroidery.
To stitch, I used two strands of matching embroidery floss. I started my thread inside the back of the skate so I could hide the knot. Evenly space your stitches around the skate and about 1/8 inch from the edge. Before you get to the top of the skate, add a length of ribbon by poking it inside between the batting. When my stitching got there, I did a backstitch to tack in the ribbon. You can hardly see it in the picture...
When I finished both skates, I tied the ribbons together so that one skate was higher than the other. This is so much like how I used to carry my skates as a kid... Just without the skate guards.
I know, I know, I am a little late with this In-Stitches Along project – almost 8 months late. Way back in April, I even bought some pretty pink fabric and green ribbon for my embellished pj pants... And yes, the fabric is still sitting nicely in one of my fabric bins. Instead I opted for some cozy flannel. It is so, so soft and seemed a bit better suited for a winter holiday gift.
My Momma is very hard to buy for. She never really used to be - I could always get her something for the kitchen... a new cookbook or fancy utensil. But these days, mom tends to sit around or sleep most days. We blame it mostly on all the medicine she is taking. The one thing that will get her motivated to get spiffed up and ready to go is shopping. But as much as we may wish we could shop every day, it just isn’t a reality. Anyway, because of this, I thought how can I make her days more cozy? I already made her a quilt for Christmas last year and she loved it. Pajamas was just one of the many littler gifts I could think of. And since she insists I “make her something,” store bought just wouldn’t do.
So, I thought, what a great way to sneak in another In Stitches Along project. I started out the year on a roll with the projects... And ended by missing the majority or months. Oops. Hopefully when Kelli and Finny pick a new book, I will be more successful next year.
The pants were extra easy to make. I did take a little time to zig zag and trip my seams – this made them look so much more professional. And it also made me wish for my own serger! The legs are really wide, but I love them. So cozy. I remember reading people’s comments that they were so big – I am hoping that they were only talking about the wide legs, because I didn’t find the waist and hips to be extra big on me. I am going to move forward believing it was only the legs that were big... Because if I don’t, I might get a complex. I opted for simple twill tape for the draw string. I really didn’t want to spend the time making it out of the flannel – too much folding and ironing for me.
I hope they fit Mom. She is a bit shorter and a little bigger than I am... If they don’t, I have some back up flannel and a week off over Christmas to make another pair.
Oh and this is another instance of one for you, one for me. The blue ones are for momma and the pink ones are for me :)
Holidays are so much fun!! Well, at least when you take a moment to breath and do a little celebrating amidst the mad rush to finish our our handmade gifts, shopping and baking. Last night I took a break - went to a nice holiday dinner with Dawn. The food was yummy, the waiter and host were pretty cute and friendly... and best of all there was lots of girl talk.
Oh, and there were presents too! Presents bring out the kid in me... and goodness was I lucky this year. Dawn crocheted me the prettiest green clutch and embellished it with great vintage buttons. I really can't wait to use it (too bad I carry to much with me to work or I would be using it today).
In addition, we exchanged ornaments... we both weren't sure we would have enough time to join the big ornament exchange, so we created our own. Too bad I didn't pay attention to the instructions... I only made one for Dawn and she made two for me. This weekend, I will be adding a crocheted snowman and an embroidered owl to my tree. I can't wait... the new ornaments have renewed my desire to fit in tree decorating this weekend. Goodness, I will be busy.
Pictures of the ornament I made are coming soon... and I may just get to an extra ornament this weekend. I have an idea.
I really don't think I have knit enough Uptown Scarves this holiday season. Three total. One for me, one for Renee and now one for Shannon.
I have talked about Shannon a few times, so I wont get into a ton of background, but I will shout that she graduates from college this week. Actually, today is her last exam! I am so proud. Her path has been a bit zig-zagged, but I always knew she would make it. And you know what is even better about this week? She and Ben are sneaking (not really sneaking because we all know about it) away to Breckenridge, Colorado this weekend to get married.
Seriously, what a great week for one of my very favorite people!!!!
So, knowing it will be a bit cold in Colorado, I thought "I have to knit her a scarf." And the Uptown Scarf pattern was once again there to rescue me from a time crunch. They are so easy, but I really do love how they look when they are finished. This time I went to my LYS for some nicer, softer yarn - Blizzard in Red. It is soooo soft. I want to make this hat out of it for myself.
For all my to do list loving friends (myself included) out there - did you know there is a To Do list book and blog?
We are not alone - so many people are list writers. Maybe it is an addiction. We write lists about everything! From groceries to holiday gift list to New Years resolutions... not to mention our crafty to do lists.
To get a peak into what our list writing compulsions mean and even a look at other people's lists, check out the To Do List book.
The blog is great too - Go vote for the craziest list ever at the To Do List blog. I think I need to get more creative with mine - add some doodles, color and many more things to do... How about you?
I know I am crazy busy with crafty holiday projects, but my pantry has been calling my name the past few weeks. It really needs some work... and if I am going to enjoy my holiday baking, it needs to be clean and organized soon.
On a recent trip to the store, I bought some new jars - the fun vintage, squarish looking ones with silver lids - for my baking supplies. But, I put them in the basket drawers of my rolling cart/island instead of in the pantry.
My pantry is pretty small. And honestly it has too much stuff in it. I am trying to limit my grocery purchases so I can use up what I have and take stock of what I really need. I also plan on being a bit pickier as I purchase new items - more healthy choices, less processed foods etc.
One shelf I really need to start with in the spice shelf. Have you seen the McCormick spices ad in the magazines that shows some old jars and tins? It tells you how crazy old some of your spices might be. I know mine aren't 10 or 15 years old like the ad illustrates, but I know mine could use a weeding out.
Over the weekend, I stopped into my neighborhood Penzey's Spices. I have to admit, I haven't actually visited before and it has been open for years. What fun. I know, it is a little odd to have a blast in the spice store, but I did. I picked up some small containers of spices I knew I needed and some I wanted to try. I am looking for as many unique ways to spice up chicken and fish... so now I have some new options.
More organizing to come soon (photos too I hope)... but hopefully, I can avoid last nights disaster - dropping an open jar of peppercorns. Seriously peppercorns move far and fast on a linoleum floor and are not so much fun to clean up!