Previous month:
November 2008
Next month:
January 2009

December 2008

post Christmas daze


Oh, hello.


Yes, the holidays happened around here, too.  We're still recuperating.


From the food.  And the decorating.

graham cracker houses

And the long hours, spent together, becoming guitar heroes.

rockstars are born

It was a full and festive Christmas around these parts.  Hope you and yours enjoyed the blessings of this holiday season as well.  

See you next year.  xoxo  ~misschris

New to me, a good old read.

Fidget's new favorite book in our house:

Fidget's new (old) favorite book

Night Before Christmas Vintage Pop up Book

I cannot tell you how excited I was to find this little Random House popup book book earlier this year while antiquing.  I thought it was a steal at 7.50, and a quick check online confirmed it. It is in perfect condition and totally takes me back to  my childhood.  Fidget is being very careful with the pull tabs because she knows it is special, but she can hardly contain her excitement either.

flaps everywhere

 Published in 1967, designed by Paul Taylor and illustrated by Marvin Brehm, this pop-up version of The Night Before Christmas takes me back to the imagery of my childhood, although I doubt we ever would have owned something this fancy.  The illustration is so folksy and kitschy and fun.  I can't stop staring at the detail.

throwing open the sash...

 All the photos above are clickable and worth viewing at higher resolution over at flickr, I promise.  There are several more pages, but without the motion, you do lose a bit of the magic, so I didn't shoot them all...


It's blustery, white and cold outside today.  Perfect Christmastime weather, although it is giving drivers headaches... be careful out there, local friends.  xoxo

French Dip Sandwiches

It's really cold today.  Like in the negative numbers, which isn't any fun for anyone.  I'm feeling especially bad for delivery people and anyone else who has to work outside in this weather.  It's just awful.

So what I really wanted to eat for lunch was a hot French Dip sandwich from Atlanta Bread Company, but it's not on the menu anymore.  Or at least the New Girl That Was Working There on Friday hadn't heard of it.  Like, ever.  Who hasn't heard of a French Dip sandwich with it's dippy drippy goodness?  This made me sad, but I'm done grieving for now. 

Instead, today I decided to make my own.  Hubs had bought some especially delicious looking roast beef the other day, so I was tempted.  The secret, of course, is the Au Jus dipping sauce.  I've tried in vain to make this before and only returned to Atlanta Bread Company with my 7.49 in hand.  Not this time.  I had no backup plan.

I surprised myself.  Not only did I go to the world's most annoying tv chef, Rachel Ray, for help, but it turned out so satisfactory that I considered making a second...And then decided that being satisfied with a good lunch was better than that post-Thanksgiving dinner feeling after all.

But I was so excited, I have to share.  And I was way too busy eating this delicious sandwich to take PHOTOS of it, for crying out loud.  So you'll just have to imagine its loveliness.

Oven 450 (I used my toaster oven)
French Dip Sandwich
bread (I used slightly stale whole wheat, but sourdough rolls would do nicely)
roast beef, thick slices...
spicy brown mustard
swiss cheese
Slather mayo and mustard on both slices of bread.  Layer roast beef.  Add cheese.  Leave slices open-faced and put in oven .

Start the au jus for dipping.  This is where I kind of used the recipe from RR.  Her ingredients include:
2T butter
1 shallot, chopped
1T flour 
1 jigger sherry 
2 cans consomme or beef broth
(my last minute, shortcut substitutions in bold)
Melt butter over moderate heat. Add shallots (I used dried minced onion) to butter and saute 2 minutes (30 secs for dried mo). Add flour to butter and shallot (mo) and cook a minute longer. Whisk in sherry (I used cooking sherry) and cook liquor out. Whisk in consomme (I used 1 1/2  cup of water mixed with 2 beef bullion cubes) in a slow stream. Bring sauce to a bubble and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve sandwiches.

Pour Au Jus into little dipping bowls.  Remove sandwich slices from the oven and slap 'em together.  Slice and then dip to your heart's content.  Yum.

Now go!  Eat!

And the Christmas festivities and decor continue tomorrow....

real cookies and a virtual quilting bee

And whoosh!  It's December 9th.  How the heck is this happening?  Better start baking.

sugar cookies, year 9.

That is what the girls and I did on Saturday.  We used the original Better Homes and Gardens Sugar Cookie Cutout recipe.  My cookbook is about 35 years old, so you know it's made with the good stuff.  And we topped them with Martha's royal icing recipe

We've made these cookies from scratch for the last 9 years.  It's mess, but totally worth it.  We also make about 10 different colors of frosting.  Pink and blue trees are totally acceptable.

royal icing, per martha's instructions.

This year Fidget helped, too.  She was very protective of her cookies and her work. 


And, finally.  My late block for Jessica's November Autumn-themed Twelve Square quilt.  She sent me the green and brown fabrics, and I added the florals from my stash. 

Nov block for Jessica

There was so much green to use, so I got this crazy idea to gather long strips and sew them into the block.  Autumn for me is all about textures, so I thought this added an unexpected crinkliness.  I hope she likes it.  I really hope it doesn't mess up the quilting part.   

November Block :: Jessica :: from pinkpicketfence

For the gathered edge that hangs off (bottom left in this picture), I left a topstitched edge hanging over the quilt square, so it wouldn't lose the gather before she attached this square to others.  I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Decking the halls

Busy here.  Busy there.  Who isn't?  Just pictures today because the sun is shining and filling the house with light.

bannister garland

inside is cozy

Peeking at the tree.  Fake, yes.  My hands break out in a terrible itch if I touch the real stuff.



And a cheapo skinny little wooden tree I picked up somewhere long ago that looks good no matter where it ends up.  Don't you love stuff like that?   


on the mirror

Been keeping busy over here.  Decorating.  Eating.  Planning.  Scheming.

Our Thanksgiving was busy and fun and full.  What more can you ask?  (I do wish I hadn't been battling a head cold, but it's all good now.  Have you ever used one of those personal steam inhalers?  Heaven.  Thanks, Michelle, for letting  me borrow yours!)

I'm behind on my November 12 Square block for Jessica (but I know what I'm going to do, I promise!).  This week!  I have to admit I was relieved when I opened Kristena'sswatches and explicit instructions for a crazy log cabin square.  Whew!  There are also a few aprons in the works for teacher gifts.  I'll share all of it soon.    

Also, I just found out yesterday that the spaghetti-strapped dress my daughter (and those of all the girls she knows) is wearing to the Winter Dance is Not Appropriate, so we will also be fashioning more appropriate, wider straps that match her particular shade of purple satin by the end of this week.   Does Hobby Lobby carry dress fabrics?  I really don't want to go all the way to Joanns for a quarter yard....

advent house

This year I buckled and bought an advent calender house thingy.  Every year I have grandiose ideas of making a calendar, and reality sets in.  So far, I'm planning on notes with things to do, and tiny candy surprises.  Nothing outrageous.  The girls are not up at the same time in the morning (my poor middle schooler catches the bus at 6:45), so we opened the first door last night after dinner.  The note read:

December is a time for rejoicing, memories and sweets,
We are lucky to mark each day
with little surprises and treats.
Here's to a Merry Christmas Season, sweet sisters!

Oh yes, it's corny. But they loved it.  Fidget kept putting the note back and reopening the door.  See that Santa standing out front?  They staged it.  Hilarious.  Looks like he is trying to decide which door gets the treat. 

tiny little santa from japan

I picked up this little (tiny! Less then 2 inches) Santa a couple weeks ago while thrifting.  I think he's adorable.

Things are in full swing around here.  I miss posting so frequently, but I'm trying to keep it all in check.  You know how it goes.  Happy December, friends.