Saturday, December 24, 2011

Holiday spirit

Saw this on the way home from church tonight and laughed the rest of the way home.

Christmas Eve Prayer

Christmas Eve Prayer

Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.


Robert Louis Stevenson

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fun stuff

I have this old wooden bowl that I love that we found when we closed up my in-laws' house a number of years ago (I know the number, I just don't want to admit how many years it has been!). I decided to make some Christmassy rag balls for a decoration on the organ bench that we use as a table in our foyer. I think that starting with styrofoam balls is cheating a bit but it serves two good purposes: it makes the balls really round and you need less fabric.

One of our deans gave me cookie cutters for Christmas, so I threw them in the bowl as well. Fun, cute, fast and cheap. Four of my favorite things

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day four: Melissa's Delicate Mint Sandwich Cookies

I love these. They are very similar to a cookie my sister-in-law Darlene made by the hundreds for my wedding reception in 1986 - 25 years ago this year!

I love anything that includes buttercream as a major player. These will be popular around my office - we are icing people.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Paula's Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

These are delicious, but they're worth making just for the way they make the house smell!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cookies and collaboration

First, the cookies. These are Alton Brown's Gingersnaps and they are day two of the 12 Days of Cookies. They are very ginger-y! The recipe calls for ground ginger, fresh ginger and candied ginger. Next are loaded oatmeal cookies from Paula Deen. I may make them today.

And here's the collaboration. Grace and I were in Las Colchas one day this summer and they had a Charming Log Cabin by Threaded Pear made up with kits for sale. Grace asked Francine and me if that was something we thought she could make and of course we said yes. So, she pieced it this summer and I finally machine-quilted it this past week. The fabric is Tina Givens' Opal Owl line, plus some extras.

Machine quilting is not my strong suit, but she wanted only simple diamonds, so I plunged it with a lot of trepidation and false bravado. I really, really, really love hand-quilting, but I also really love having a quilt finished in a week's time!

The very best thing I did was to baste it a la Sharon Schamber. If you've never tried her technique I highly recommend it. I don't think I'll ever baste another way. The back stayed perfectly flat through the basting and the stitches were so secure. I have so many tops that stay that way because I hate dragging them, my batting the backing and supplies to church on a Saturday and setting up 6-ft tables and taping or clamping the back down, pinning the sandwich together and then bending over the quilt for hours basting. With Sharon's method, I basted the whole thing sitting at my dining room table.

See her Amy Butler gumdrop in the background? That was another fun collaboration.

Friday, December 2, 2011

12 Days of Cookies

Yesterday was day one of the 12 Days of Cookies from the Food Network website. You can sign up to receive a different cookie recipe by e-mail every day for 12 days. Last year Dave and I decided to make a double batch of each recipe each day and take them to our offices and that would be our Christmas gift for all our co-workers. It was a big hit, apparently. People in my office have been asking me when the cookies would start arriving since October! I wasn't sure I was going to do it again this year but I think it's become a tradition.

This recipe is Ina Garten's shortbread and it is delicious and so easy.

Today is also one of my biggest days of the year at work. Today is our holiday brunch for all employees - and we have about 800! We also invite recent retirees and donors to the college. I am in charge of this event and it used to have me in panic mode for weeks in advance. It gets easier every year.

After today is over I have a small convocation event to plan for January, but other than that it's two weeks of office cleaning and catch up before being closed for two weeks for the holiday. It's the only "down time" we have in our busy office.