December 31, 2017

December 30, 2017

This Tool Is Awesome!...

Shelling Nuts
Last Christmas, Andy and Shelly gave me this beautiful nutcracker for shelling my hickory nuts. This year is my first year using it, and it's awesome!!!

I have 15 gallons of nuts to shell, and I've hardly made a dent in the first bucket. It's really efficient! Look. I already have one full jar!

At this rate, I'm going to end up with a boat-load of nuts, and shells. I can see lots of cookies, breads and syrup in our future!

Don't mind the corgi in the background. He'll be back on Tuesday to tell you about his newest gift.

December 29, 2017

Always and In All Ways...

The Liljegrens  • Photograph by Catherine Steffes ©2017
Today, Handsome and I will celebrate thirty three years of marriage.
(We've been together for thirty six years.)
Our vows were
"I promise to join with you and share with you all that is to come
and with God's help, I will be faithful to you as He gives us life together." 
We belong to each other. We take care of each other. We count on each other.
Our favorite saying is, "It's what we do."
Husband, I'm a better person because of you. 
You saved me, and I was forever changed. 
Home is wherever you are. 
You are my heartbeat.

Always and in all ways,
I love you.
Happy Anniversary to us.


December 28, 2017

Making Ornaments...

Brynwood Needleworks - Ornament Supplies
Remember the sweet ornament I brought home from the Christmas party at Lisa Bongean's house? It got my creative juices flowing!

I went online and found some small vintage jello molds, tiny bottle brush trees and wreaths, and then added a few smalls of my own (including tiny hickory nuts from our yard!). 

I'm looking forward to spending a few hours in the studio, making up a few ornaments, over the weekend. I may even add a few to my shop when I'm done. I know a few will definitely go on our tree for a few days yet this year, and will then be added to our collection for coming holiday celebrations.

I can't be in the studio - or even at home - today. I'll tell you all about it as soon as I'm able.I'll be taking one of my portable projects to work on while I'm away. I hope to finish the Kathy Schmitz snowman I've been working on! I have to go, but I'll be back tomorrow. 
Stay warm and may your day be filled with creative pursuits!


December 27, 2017

A Wonderfully Nutty Gift...

Tennessee Pecans
I received a wonderful surprise before Christmas from my blog friend, Jody, in Tennessee. She mailed a package containing hollyhock seeds from her garden to ours; a delicious heirloom tomato; and a nice cache of these paperweight pecans from a farm local to her.

I placed them in a pretty red and white transferware bowl for the holidays, but decided it was time to shell them so I can add them to my next baking project. Of course, I had to taste one or two as I opened them up!
Shelled Tennessee Pecans
These can be opened up by hand, but I chose to save my thumbs and lightly use a regular nutcracker to make my job even easier. In the end, I had more than a pint of shelled nuts. I placed them into one of my beautiful blue vintage Mason jars to store until I'm ready to use them.
Thank you for your generous gifts, Jody! I hope you enjoy the package, filled with goodies, that I sent back to you last week. Thanks also, for the blessing of your friendship.

I'm spending time with Handsome this week before he heads back to Florida (and Bella). My studio projects and frankly, everything else, can wait until after he returns to his southern commitments. God first, family second and studio third. That means I'm enjoying every moment with him that I'm able. I'll get back to work after the 30th.


December 26, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Celebratin'...

Christmas Taggart

 Hi, Everybody!

We hope you had a great Christmas, wherever you spent it. It's been a perfect week for a guy like me. I got to play with our little not-so-little girls, hang out with our grandson, and best of all...Duncan came to visit me yesterday!

Posin' By The Tree

Mom asked me to pose in front of the Christmas tree for her...soooooo I did. Just how many pictures does she need of me, for pete's sake? (Of course, who could blame her?)

Anyway, it was a pretty tree, and it was too cold to be snufflin' around outside. I had much better moochin' opportunities in the kitchen that I'd ever get outside, too!

My Buddy, Duncan
Duncan is a distant relative of Bella's. They're both descended from a male Labrador named "Twig". They have DNA in common, but one thing that's really different is just how big Duncan is compared to Boo. She weighs a svelt fifty pounds, while this guy tips the scales around one hundred ten pounds! It's a good thing he's an easy-going, laid back kinda guy.

I gave him that dog bed in the foreground of this picture. Of course, he loved it, but wanted to check it out before jumpin' right on it. I just know he's gonna love it once he sacks out on it, and I bet they'll have a hard time makin' him get up once in a while!

We spent the afternoon and evenin' with him (and his family) yesterday. It was so nice to have them all visitin'. The only way it would have been better would have been if my own Labrador (Boo) had been here, too. We all missed her.

I'm gonna take some time today to catch up on my beauty sleep. It's hard work entertainin'...and New Year's Eve is practically around the corner! Merry Christmas again. This time it's just from me!
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!...

Web Image

I'm spending the day with family today, but I wanted to drop in and wish you a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

I also wanted to show you two new jams I made over the weekend. They're both meant to be poured over cream cheese or (my favorite) goat cheese, and served with your favorite crackers.

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam

Cranberry Jalapeno Jam is tart with just a hint of heat. I found the recipe by searching the internet. This one calls for apple cider vinegar, but I used white wine vinegar, making it just a bit less sweet.

Garlic-Onion Jelly

This recipe for Garlic-Onion Jelly is another winner from my online friend, Mary Marshall over at Cooking with Mary and Friends. It's not just another pretty jelly, either. It's so delicious.

Neither of these recipes takes a long time to prepare or process. (Just remember to use gloves when working with the jalapenos!)

These will be on our table today as we gather to celebrate the reason for the season. I hope today fills your heart and home with love and laughter...and that blessings abound for you and yours.


December 24, 2017

Sunday Scripture - Fourth Sunday of Advent...

 Luke 2 (King James Version)

From our family to yours,
Merry Christmas!

(Handsome, Tag and Bella, too.)

December 23, 2017

Jammies For The Boy...

Grammie's Jammies For Grandson - Fly Detail

We had another great evening last night, this time at our elder son's home. We were there to celebrate our grandson's Birthday. In addition to taking his Birthday gift, we took along his jammies for Christmas Eve. (We'll see them again on Christmas Day, so it was good we took them with us today.) Better yet, was that we were able to see him open the package and react to his gifts.

This is the first year I've sewn a fly into the pajama pants. (I wonder why I hadn't done this a few years ago!) Although I haven't sewn one before, the pattern was detailed and it was simple to do.

Grammie's Jammies - Pocket Detail

The pattern also called for side pockets, making these pj pants almost "loungers", instead of simple sleep pants. His reaction upon opening it couldn't have been nicer. He loved the soft fabric, and thought the print was great.

Grammie's Jammies

Then, he went upstairs and put them on to model them for me us. Every year, our grandkids' parents email or text the measurements to me. Again, the jammies were a perfect fit. I also add enough to the length so that the hems can be let down, leaving room for growth. 

It was such a relaxing night with family, and the holidays aren't over yet. We're looking forward to more time with them, and with friends, before Handsome has to head back to Florida. 
Today, one of our friends is coming to take our "official" 2017 Christmas/New Year card photos. We always enjoy that, and we've got some good ideas for location and theme. I'll let you know how it goes!


December 22, 2017

Good Tired...

Corgi Sleigh Team
The holiday celebrations have begun. The jammies are made and our girls are so tickled with theirs. I'll have photos of them after they wear them on Christmas Eve. We had a perfect day with them and their parents. 

We got back home late last night...took stock of the day and how much fun we had...and then turned out the lights. The best kind of day...ending "good tired". 

Today is our grandson's Birthday. We'll be celebrating with him and his folks later today...and again, our hearts will be full of gratitude for the special time we spend with our loved ones. It's truly the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year"!


December 21, 2017

Girls' Jammies...

For Granddaughter #1

I've finished our girls' jammies and nearly finished the ones I'm making for our grandson. I just need to insert elastic into the waistband casing, and hem the bottoms. So close! I'll finish them this morning and they'll be ready to wrap.

For Granddaughter #2
I cut these all out on Tuesday, and they were ready to sew yesterday. The first pair took a bit of time (following directions), but the second onsie was finished in less than an hour! They're already packed up and wrapped.
This year was a bit of a learning curve for our grandson's jammies. It's the first time I'm making pj pants with a fly. (In retrospect, I guess I should have done this sooner.) I cut out the pattern, prepped all the pieces and got right after it. I really enjoy learning new things, and this was no exception. I'll share pictures of his gift tomorrow. 

This evening will be our first Christmas celebration with family. Let the fun begin!


December 20, 2017

Back In The Studio...

Living Room Console
I'm back in the studio, making jammies for our grandchildren. Handsome is settling back in at the farm and decompressing from his trip north. (He's getting acclimated to our Wisconsin weather, too. Thankfully, it's been mild since he got here.)
I waited with the last decorating touch until he got home. Each year, we unpack his parents' vintage Santa mug and pitcher set. We keep it stored in the same turkey box that once held a Thanksgiving bird from his dad's employer (UPS). I purposely waited until he got home to set it out.
I added the inside compass and console on the north wall of the living room after he left for Florida, so he hadn't seen it until got back home. It seemed the perfect place to display our Santa set. We'll serve egg nog or hot, spiced apple cider in them when we visit with friends and family in the next week.
I'll be finishing the jammies for our kiddos today, and wrapping them to give to them in time for Christmas Eve. I will have a few other projects to finish before Christmas, but they'll be projects that won't cause any pressure on our end. We want to be sure to enjoy each others company while he's home, and the reason for the season. It really is about family for us.
For now, I'm setting up my serger and getting after it right away this morning. I'll share photos tomorrow.


December 19, 2017

Tuesdays With Tag - Christmas Has Officially Begun...

Lovin' The Snow!

Hi, Everybody!

One week until Christmas, but the holidays have officially begun around here.

Dad's Home!


We're sad that Bella didn't fly home with him on the plane, but she's spendin' her Christmas vacation with Uncle Mike. Really. She won't even miss Dad. She loves workin' with Uncle Mike. (Who doesn't? He's a blast to hang out with!)
Nursing Mom

I had to take care of Mom, too.

We were gettin' ready to drive to the airport to pick up Dad. Mom opened the back hatch on her SUV and then turned to pick me up and boost me into the back. She usually takes a bit of a run at it, so it really hurt when she turned right into the liftgate. Seems the cold kept it from going all the way up like it was supposed to. 

I'm lucky she didn't pass out, 'cuz I don't know how to call 911. I would have just run around in circles barkin' and stuff. I bet I could do a great "Lassie" imitation, though, if I had to!

Anyway, we went to the airport, got Dad and came back home. Dad made Mom take two Tylenols and gave her an ice bag to put on her head where the bump was. I sat on her lap to make her feel better. Don't worry. She's fine. She didn't get a concussion or anything. Just that darn bump (well, and a bruised ego).
A Little Fluff Butt

Mom, Dad and I have lots to do this week, so I'm not gonna hang around and yak today. I'm so glad Dad's back that I don't want to waste a single second with him. I'll be sharin' holiday pictures with you next time I see you. Have a great week!
I'll see you again in seven. 'til then...  
"Chase A Dream - Or A Squirrel".

December 18, 2017

Piggy Poll and Projects Update...

Time To Choose A Name

I'm adding a poll to my sidebar today. I got so many great name ideas, that I'm glad I don't have to choose one myself. I'll leave the poll up until Saturday, so everyone who wants to vote will have a chance.

NOTE: If you read my posts on your phone, you'll need to get on the web version to see the poll. 

I've kept track of everyone who left a name comment, so the person(s) whose name is chosen will get a gift from me. I'll let you know your prize via email, and will post if for everyone to see after Christmas.

Destiny On Break

For the first year, I've done absolutely nothing in the studio two weeks from Christmas. I've been so excited about Handsome coming home for the holidays, and I've had so much fun decorating and making treats, that I haven't been sewing. I just want to be honest with you. I'm not always an overachiever, and I don't always meet my goals. Not always.

The good thing is I'm not going to stress over this. I'm going to change up my plans. Of course, there will be Grammie's Jammies, but I'm going shopping with Handsome for the rest. I'll revisit my holiday sewing plans after the first of January, and plan to have everything done well before Christmas next year so that I just have to make Jammies at the end (our grandchildren grow by leaps and bounds from one month to the next!).

I know it's more important to spend time with family and friends than it is to stress making every gift. I'm not simply justifying my lack of sewing mojo either. This year, there will be gift baskets, filled with tasty treats from our garden and kitchen. So, I did make things, right? Right! 

Handsome arrives early this evening. Tag and I are heading to the airport to pick him up, and our Christmas begins as soon as I see his smile. Officially.


December 17, 2017

Sunday Scripture...

Web Image - Unknown
Third Sunday of Advent


December 16, 2017

This Little Piggy...

Little Piglet

This little piggy just moved in! 

You may remember that our farm's former family used to have pigs. I have the little piggy bank that sits on the buffet in the kitchen, and a couple other nods to the previous residents, so you might understand how I was really taken with this image.

I was looking for a Christmas sled to put near the back door, so a few days ago I went shopping in Plymouth. One shop, in particular, carries a lot of farm decor - new and old - and that's where I saw this canvas and fell in love.

Sweet Piggy
Doesn't it have the most joyful, blissful expression? I can't avoid smiling whenever I look at it. I left the store after seeing this the first time (to think about it), but coincidentally, I had to go back to town again yesterday for a few ingredients for a recipe I'm canning for Christmas gifts. So, as long as I was there anyway, I went back into the shop. 
I decided to bring Piggy home, and today, I hung another reference to Hickory Hill Farm's history on the wall. Now, all I need to do is name him/her. 
What do you think? Is this a boy or a girl? Any ideas for a name? I'm open to suggestions. I may even put up another poll after I get some suggestions. I may even have a prize for the winner! Leave name comments here and I'll tell you about the prize on Monday. 

One more important thing...Only TWO more sleeps until Handsome is home for the holidays. Tag and I can't sleep, we're so excited!

December 15, 2017

Christmas Collage...

Christmas At Hickory Hill Farm

I've been having so much fun decorating the farmhouse for Christmas this year! We gave away many of our decorations before moving south all those years ago. We kept our family tree ornaments and treasured pieces that belonged to Handsome's parents, or were our own from childhood.

Part of the joy was bringing all those pieces into our holiday decorating, but I've had fun finding new pieces to add to them. I've found a fabulous beaded tree and the Santa in the lower left corner of this collage in two different antique shops in Plymouth. 

The beaded tree is nearly thirty inches tall, and it sparkles like ice at night. The Santa is actually a planter, and it's surprisingly heavy.  It's also large, and I had to ask twice to see if the price was correct. Suffice it to say it was a steal

I have a few other pieces that I'll share soon. I'm doing a little up-cycling on them, but won't finish them until after my sewing is done. The "Lodge" print is the flannel fabric I'll be using for grandson's jammies this year. If it said "Farm", I'd be making throw pillows for the sofa with it! It's so soft and comfortable.

I'm not going to share photos of the jammies until after the kids get them for Christmas Eve, but I'll show you the other projects as I finish them. "...and miles to go before I sleep." Where are those elves, now?


December 14, 2017

Fleece Navidad...

No. Your eyes aren't fooling you. This image is not out of focus. These two fabrics are fleece, and they're the designs I've chosen for our granddaughters' Grammie's Jammies this year.

Do you see the corgis? There are light-colored ones and dark-colored ones, too! I know a certain not-so-little redhead who will love this soft, cuddly print.

Both are washed and dried, and ready to be cut out. I'll be sewing today. I'm really looking forward to making these, and I'll share grandson's pajama fabric tomorrow.

My Exchange Ornament

This is the ornament I received in the exchange on Tuesday. Isn't it sweet? The base is a tiny, tin Jello mold topped with felt. I love the tiny bottle brush trees and the Santa head. I may have to make a few of these myself!

We got our first serious snow yesterday. Tag had a ball, running around in the snow, while I shoveled to clear our back entry and approach to the garage. Of course, as the sun went down, the wind picked up, and all my hard work started swirling around the yard. I'll be shoveling again later. I'm going to sew first.