Monday, December 26, 2011

Winding Vine Giveaway

I was the extremely lucky winner of a recent giveaway by Patti, the gifted proprietress of Winding Vine. If you aren't already familiar with Patti's work a quick look at her blog will convince you that she is an amazingly talented artist. 
I knew what wonderful things were tucked inside and they truly felt like they were all chosen with me in mind. It almost felt like they should be tucked among the other presents under the tree, but who could wait knowing what treasures awaited?
The little pouch is beautifully knitted and felted and finished with a very sweet button. It's the perfect size to hold business cards or a gift card for a lucky person--lucky for me it came with a gift certificate to Winding Vine! And this adorable peat pot contains a little battery operated votive--how cute and warm it looks tucked among Christmas greenery! Blessings--yep, that pretty much sums it all up.
Also included was this sweet spotted deer. He looks perfect with my chalkware! Thanks for this giveaway, Patti, I love it all!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Always Comes

I never did get around to putting a bow on top of the tree, but somehow in the big scheme of things that didn't really matter. Wishing all my dear blogging friends the wonderful blessings of the holiday.
"...and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.  May that be truly said of us, and all of us!" Charles Dickens
May you keep a little Christmas in your heart throughout the coming year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Gift from the Kitchen

I like to  give my co-workers something homemade for Christmas. This year I came across this festive recipe in a Midwest Living magazine.
It was easy and quick. No cooking other than melting the white chocolate!

Snowflake Mix

3 cups rice Chex
3 cups corn Chex
1 cup small pretzel twists or sticks
1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
2-12 oz. packages white baking pieces
1-12 oz package M & M's, chocolate or mint flavored

In a very large bowl (I used my Dutch oven), combine cereals, pretzels and peanuts. Melt baking pieces according to package directions. Pour melted baking pieces over cereal mixture; stir gently to coat. Spread on waxed paper. Sprinkle with chocolate. 
Cool on hour; break into pieces. Store in airtight container up to 1 week or in freezer for one month.
Containers from Old Time Pottery

I made two batches of this; one with a store brand of baking chips and one with Baker's white chocolate bars. The Baker's bar melted better, but I thought the batch with the Best Choice baking chips tasted better!
My Mom's Old Pie Ties--A Special Treasure!
Santa supervised from his perch on top of the fridge under my funky tree from Homesteaders on the Prairie.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tis the Season to Entertain

This is such a busy season filled with all the special things we do to prepare for Christmas. We are part of a couple's Bible study group and I wanted to make this week's get-together extra special in keeping with the season.
I was excited for the opportunity to use my Susan Winget dessert plates that I purchased in the Amana Colonies in Iowa last year. 

Then I just pulled out some of my greenery, white ironstone and chalkware pieces and tucked in little votive holders and mini mercury glass ornaments from Crate and Barrel.

I found the big pine cones at the grocery store, of all places! They fit well with the theme and added interesting texture. I love cheesecake and decided to try out a recipe for Vanilla Speckled Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache from Mixing Bowl.Com on the group.

Vanilla Speckled Cheesecake with Orange Scented Chocolate Graham Crust Ganache 'n Fresh Raspberry
Photo from MixingBowl.Com
2 cups     Chocolate Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 T    Orange Zest
½ cup     Unsalted Butter, melted
    Non-stick Cooking Spray
2     (8oz.) Packages Cream Cheese, softened
3     Eggs
1 cup     Sugar
2 cups    Sour Cream
1     Vanilla Bean, split and flesh removed
1 cup     Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
½ cup     Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 pt     Fresh Raspberries, gently cleaned and pat dry


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For the crust combine chocolate graham crumbs, orange zest and melted butter in a medium mixing bowl and stir until mixture is moist. Pour into a greased 8 inch spring form pan and using the bottom of a measuring cup press crust evenly up around the edges as well as flat on the bottom. Place in refrigerator for 5 minutes to set.

In the meantime using an electric mixer beat cream cheese until light and fluffy, smooth and lump free. Add eggs one at a time and beat until thoroughly combined. Slowly begin adding sugar while beating until creamy, about 2 minutes. Finally add sour cream and vanilla bean and continue to beat until evenly distributed but do not over beat. Be sure to scrape edges of bowl throughout mixing to prevent any lumps.

In a large pot boil water needed for baking bath. Pour batter into chilled chocolate crust and using a spatula smooth the top. Wrap a large piece of aluminum foil up around the pan and place into a large roasting pan. Carefully pour hot water into roasting dish ¼ of the way up the sides of the spring form pan.

Bake for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and let cake sit for 1 hour in the oven. The cake should jiggle slightly when removed from oven. At that point remove from roasting dish and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Chill cheesecake in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, loosely covered.

For the topping combine chocolate chips and condensed milk in a small sauce pan and heat over low. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Evenly slather ganache across cheesecake and gently top with raspberries. Chill until ready to serve.
Here's the changes I made. I increased the crust ingredients to 3 cups graham crackers and 3/4 cup melted butter and used a 9" springform pan. I don't know that the filling would have fit in my 8" pan without spilling over. Also, I didn't have chocolate graham crackers so I used regular Honey Grahams and added about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar. I used only one pint of raspberries and made a little pile of them on the top in the middle and sprinkled some orange zest on top. It looked pretty festive! Happy baking!

Friday, December 9, 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas Decorating...

I usually enjoy decorating the urn on my front porch. However, today I learned that's it's much easier to fill the urn before the dirt feezes. However, after a bit of pushing and digging I managed to get things pretty much tucked in and organized.
I like the mix of fresh and artificial greenery. The silver picks remind me of the tinsel garland we used to put on the tree and they tie in well with the silver, gazing-ball type ornament.
One of my favorite shops to visit over the holidays is Mission Road Antique Mall. It's full of great vintage displays and I was pleased to find an iron Belsnickle that looked at home with my rusty urn and twiggy tree.
I don't know if he's an antique or not, but I really liked his look. So two days of decorating but still no tree! Hopefully we'll get that done this weekend, but if not we might settle for this look.
I guess there wouldn't be any needles to get stuck in the vacuum!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas Decorating...

What? Only 17 days until Christmas. I guess I'd better get in gear and get some decorating done before it's time to put it all away for another year. 
I learn so much from reading your blogs. Tammy at A Primitive Place inspired me to decorate my laundry room.
The crazy wool mat is a recent purchase from artisan extraordinaire, Shirley Weymeyer. I want to be as talented as Shirley when I grow up! 
Another place I seem to spend a lot of time, especially at this time of year, is at the kitchen sink so I wanted a little Christmas cheer there as well. The chalkware Santa was found at Brown's Emporium in Independence, MO last year and the label indicated it was created by a local artist.
I'm still tweaking my display on this chest in my dining room (dove by Chris Farr) but had to share this grouping that includes my favorite little urn. Here's what the urn originally looked like.

I really liked the shape but the color-not so much! But with a little rusting solution from Michaels, it now has the kind of aged look I envisioned.