Wednesday, June 21, 2023

So the Countdown Begins!

 Happy Wednesday to all.  Happy summer!  The summer solstice is today - it will be the day of the longest daylight hours of the year for the northern hemisphere!  We are on day 172 - week 25 - and half way to Christmas!!!!!!!  Yes indeed!  Don't shoot the messenger - just saying!  LOL
Now that being said, is anyone else thinking about Christmas gifts?


I have started to think about it, because I like gifting homemade items and home canned goods.  So I start contemplating such things during the summer.
I always do the gift baskets - and homemade jelly is a must - as is salsa and the "special" grandma/mom cookies!!!!
The grape arbor is full of bunches of grapes - and hopefully there will be lots of tomatoes this year.  The plants look great and they are full of blooms.

This year I want to add MORE homemade stuff and less specialized store-bought stuff.
In years past I have also added a lot of jar mixes - which are always appreciated by my sister and brother.
The younger generation likes a nice bottle of wine or anything else 'special'.  I made homemade peach moonshine one year - they loved that.  A quart jar was what they received - not a guzzling type of drink, but a sipping drink.

I want to do some new things this year.
I am thinking pecan pie mix in a jar (will give recipe later).  I have lots of pecans to use up!
Pineapple upside down cake jam (recipe later)
Maybe some candied nuts
Some hot chocolate or tea mixes/blends
Divinity - IF I can master it.  My Mom always made this and it is a favorite.  I have only had success once!
I also plan on making homemade Kahlua!  I found a recipe recently that is much easier and quicker than the one I had.  Kahlua and coffee or Kahlua and milk is tasty.  I remember when we camped that Kahlua and coffee was a morning 'special'.  Only way I have ever been able to drink coffee!!!  LOL

Here is the newer and easier recipe:

COFFEE LIQUEUR
1/3 C instant coffee
3 1/2 C sugar
2 C water
1 fifth vodka
3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine coffee, sugar and water.  Heat until all is dissolved and then cool.  Add vodka and vanilla.  Pout into a half gallon/gallon glass jar.  Age at least 2 weeks.  The longer it sets the better it tastes.
I think I will get some amber colored pint Mason jars (if I can find them) to gift it.  Maybe some dark colored bottles.

I know many of you knit. crochet and quilt.  I bet many have already added to their gift 'pantries'.  Crafting of all sorts can always be done early and then one is done!  I love watching for special buys and deals.  I need to yard sale more again!!!!  I used to find all kinds of neat things to add to the baskets - brand new things - original things - for the baskets.
I like finding special books.  Either at yard sales or my favorite place to buy brand new books - Ollies!

I have a gr. niece that has asked me to make her a special quilt (not a Christmas gift).  Each of her children have all gotten special blankies over the years and they use them too!  She wants a big quilt utilizing baby clothes from each of her kids!  Hmmm - that may be a head scratcher.  Have any of you made something like that.  Curious how you did it.  Just pieces of items or whole items?
Any way I told her that was a fall and winter project - when it is cold out.  I have time to think.

SOOOOOO have any of you started Christmas stuff?  Bought anything?  Crafted anything?  Got any new ideas to share this year.
Yes, we have time - but remember how quickly these past 6 months have gone by!!!!!!!! 

Happy solstice!

42 comments:

  1. I'm growing a lot more herbs this year because I have a few people that love to receive jars of dried herbs. I've already made extra jars of strawberry jam for gifts. This summer I want to try tomato jam. I hear it is a great taste of summer in the winter and who doesn't enjoy that?

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    1. Tomato jam in winter sounds SO good! When the time comes, will you please share your recipe? Thanks, Lori. --Elise

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    2. Great ideas. homemade goodies are just so tasty. Love the ideas of herbs! Heck you could probably even start a few little pots indoors and gift those as well. My bother makes tomato jam - it is tasty.

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    3. I always make a small batch of tomato jam as I am the only one in my family who likes it. Last year I made a different recipe, that cooked it a little longer and added chilli and herbs which resulted in a more caramelised chutney, it was great with cold meat sandwiches and on a cheese plate. Everyone loves it and my youngest son even bought home tomatoes to make another batch.
      Louise

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    4. That sounds wonderful Louise. Maybe you will share the recipe!!!!!! hint-hint!!!
      Tell Miss Linda I said hello!!!!!!!!!!! Hope she is well.

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    5. I will read the comments to her and wait to hear her giggle at that.
      I will look for the recipe and post it in the comments on Sunday if that’s okay. I’m stretched to the limit time wise for the rest of the week. I will add it to my list of things to do.

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    6. Thanks Louise - whenever you get a chance.

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  2. I have a container full of baby sleepers and tee shirts, that my daughter wants me to fashion into a quilt. Like you, I'm not certain how to start. I'm thinking, I may take the front of the tees, and applique onto cotton squares. But the sleepers have me stumped.

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    1. Kind of my thought too. I mean if they want a quilt - surely they realize things will have to be cut! A real thought provoker for sure!

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    2. The way I have seen it done by my friend - is she cuts out the front that has a design to the size she wants. She irons on interfacing to stabilize knit fabrics. Sometimes she will add a border Fabric to the square. Basically to get everything to a uniform size. The joins the blocks together. She has made several of these quilts so sometimes if mom saved baby blankets she will incorporate those into the top also. She quilted it on she home machine because as her long arm quilter I refused. To many buttons and snaps included in the top for me to long arm but it was a manageable size for a home machine. She also has an embroidery machine and embroidered the child’s name onto the border fabric. Since one was a memory quilt for a grandchild that had past it had both birth and death dates. That one took her 18 years to be able to make. She has said one of the most important things she has learned was to stabilize the knit types of fabric. She uses a lightweight iron on. And yes things have to be cut. I think she took the item he came home from the hospital in and appliqu├ęd it on a block but said that was the only time she would ever do that. It ended up in the center and she had to make all the other pieces work around it. I salute people who take on this challenge, it is not something I ever want to do. Give me a nice pieced quilt any day. Nancy in Vancouver WA.

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    3. NANCY - thank you so much for the advice and tips. They all make such great sense. I will have to start gathering some items to help with this project. I bet all her blankets were lovely.
      THANK YOU again! Great advice.

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  3. You always have great ideas! I'll be interested to hear how you use baby clothes for a quilt.

    Beautiful day, tho hot. Enjoy!

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    1. We will see how it goes - not sure of any certain plan yet!!
      It is lovely - nice breeze here.

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  4. Thank you for this post, Cheryl. I don't feel quite so crazy. LOL! Ideas are churning and some purchases have been made (at deep discounts). Other than the few here and our Phoenix relatives, everything else must be shipped. Meaning shipping costs. Weight matters. So for those gifts everyone is getting a set of Locknlock + a gift card with the Christmas card. The containers are food grade, BPA free, airtight and tough; they can be used for all sorts, so some gift cards will be for craft stores, Home Depot/Lowes, Sephora or grocery stores/Walmart. I'm also making extra jams for gift baskets to local workers and such.

    If I knew how to do embroidery (I don't), there are two towel sets (one white, one ivory) that could be made into gifts. Craft-wise, my focus is more on what could sell at Holiday Craft Fairs. Items under $50 sell best. Under $25 even better. It's always good, too, to have $5-$10 stocking stuffers. Also hoping to do some online reselling again as the holidays approach. Hope you and Maebeme get answers for the baby clothes quilts! --Elise

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    1. P.S. It's a beautiful sunny morning with butterflies in abundance. :-)

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    2. Beautiful day here as well.
      Good ideas for mailing things. Let people get what they want and save on shipping! Not crazy - time flies and it will be here before we even think possible.
      Lots of neat things for craft fairs in that price range. I used to do those many moons ago!

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  5. Debby in Kansas USAJune 21, 2023 at 9:53 AM

    Good morning! The thunder and lightning band has started this morning, but I hope they leave the hail instruments at home!! Rain is good, but hail is not!

    We don't give gifts much anymore. I send a care package to my brother with homemade fudge. I still have one nephew in the gifting age, but I always give him money. That's about it. I think y'all know by now that I'm not a Christmas person. If we could afford it, we'd hop a plane to Hawaii with the dog in the middle seat lol. Maybe see the Hula Bowl.

    I think I'm going to send Thanksgiving cards this year. I love being done with it by December. I've been looking at my supplies for ideas.

    I love your ideas and I'm sure they will love everything. I'm looking forward to seeing the pineapple jam! Love the cake. I was just thinking about making some strawberry banana jam this weekend. If you're curious, I just add some banana extract to the strawberries. Got that idea from an online friend and had to guard it from my mom lol. I'm hoping to get some sand plum jam at the nearby Amish farmers market. I'm too old to wander the country ditches looking for them lol. It's hard work for a younger person with good knees.

    Well,I'm off to tackle some more of my June list. Toodles!

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    1. Not giving a lot of gifts can be a good thing! It sure saves money. I have such a big family and we all get together at different times - we just make it a fun thing.
      The pineapple upside down cake was always my favorite. Mom always made me one for my birthday and pecan pie is my favorite pie - so there ya go!
      Your jams sound tasty. No I wouldn't be out scouring the ditches either!

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  6. Pinterest is a great place to find ideas for the baby clothes quilt. We gave up on exchanging Christmas presents years ago. The grands do get $ though. This may seem Scrooge-like but it works for us. Judy in CA

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    1. My family tried that in the 1st year of Covid, Judy, but that probably wasn't the time to try it. We all missed it. I'm glad, though, that it works for you!

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    2. I will check out Pinterest - thanks for that reminder. Heck, you can find about anything there.
      Whatever works is good. I just enjoy it a lot - so keep doing homemade.

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  7. LOL, I can't believe you are thinking Christmas already! Just struck me funny. But yes planning is a must. Our children are older so mostly it's just money now. I do send to the granddaughter though. She's 2, I do have crocheted blankets in my gift cupboard for donation at Christmas time.

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    1. The lady who LOVES Christmas can't believe I am thinking Christmas????!!!!!!! LOL
      Money is a sure fire win! Babies are just fun to buy for. Nice to have those blankets on hand and a lovely gift!

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  8. I started some Christmas shopping while I was in Ireland. Have other things that I'd like to do. I will say that one of the very best gifts that I got -- 40+ years ago -- is a pair of pot-holders crocheted (I think) by a good friend of my mother-in-law (and an older woman that I also knew). It was an inexpensive gift that she gave me for a bridal shower, along with one of those kitchen towels to fasten to the oven handle. Those pot-holders are the absolute best, heavy duty and I never come close to burning myself. I don't know what yarn she used or what stitch, but they are the best and have been treasured for years.

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    1. How neat that people will get gifts from abroad!
      You have pot-holders that are 40 years old? You go girl! That is amazing. She did well, that they lasted so long and are so very loved still today!
      Cool!

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    2. Debby in Kansas USAJune 21, 2023 at 11:35 AM

      Lori, I have some crocheted potholders that are the same- no burn, I've had them 30+years, and they'll probably outlive me!! Super tight stitch. My old college roommate is a master crocheter and loves a challenge. I should send her one and ask her if she can eyeball the pattern. Thanks for mentioning that! Mine were maid by relatives that have long since gone.

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    3. I have potholders that are crocheted and no burn. They are double strand thread afghan stitch and folded double thickness. The problem is the quality of the thread - new thread just doesn't hold up as well as the older thread. I don't know what to do about that. :(

      I need to give gifts to DiL and DS, mostly DiL as she has no other family to gift her. DS will be happy with food - nuts, cheese. Then the grands want things. They're little so I usually give DS money to buy something he knows they'd like (because I don't know what they actually have). I give them some food treats as well, little cans of Pringles, CheeseNips, homemade cookies.

      Very good idea to get moving on this though. I hate shopping in late autumn, so pressured plus traffic is high. Thanks for the reminder. :)
      MaryB

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    4. I am very impressed you all have pot holders that old. That is so neat that there are many of you that do.
      I have afghans and bedspreads made decades ago by mom - but no potholders.

      MARY - money is the universal gift!!!!!!! They can actually get what they enjoy. As the kids get to be teens - I do a do the same thing - all the snacks they love, their cozy socks and $$$. They love it.

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  9. Last Christmas I did baskets for several people. There were some homemade things in them but mostly stuff I bought inexpensively. This year I hope to make them mostly homemade. I have started on some items. But I'm still working on summer clothes for my grandson!! Lol. Plus I made a couple of toys for him that I gave him already. I couldn't wait until Christmas!
    ~margaret

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    1. YAY - I love that you did baskets for people too. I have so much fun doing that. I do a mix of homemade and bought (heavier on bought). Lots of special things they wouldn't buy or special things I hear them mention.
      This year I hope it is more homemade. They always get excited!

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  10. Time sure does fly. I've been working on all manner of things to refill the gift closet, whether for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, or no reason gifts. 99percent of the gifts we give are handcrafted by us during the year, with all baked gifts started Thanksgiving weekend, and frozen. Cookie

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    1. You are on the ball girl!!!! That is fantastic. We need to take lessons!!!!

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  11. I have always made things for Christmas for our sons and Harvey, this year I am going to take the easy way out and purchase something for them for a change. Mind you the coffee liqueur sounds simple and would be enjoyed by the boys.

    God bless.

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    1. Some times we just need to change things up a bit. They will love anything they get. Yes, the liqueur is an easy one!

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  12. Oh wow, you are certainly inspiring me to get on the ball! I love the idea of homemade gifts and you have some great ideas!

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    1. It will be here soon - times flies. Hope you have some fun along the way.

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  13. I love Kahlua and milk! But, I won't be making or buying it...lol. I only give to my four grandchildren and Tommy. My grandchildren are from 16 to 28. Until covid, I bought and sent presents. Since then, I have given egift cards from Amazon. These please them. Until I moved here, I baked gifts, too. Now, I save a little bit every month to be able to afford the egift cards. It works for me at this stage in my life.

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    1. We all do what works for us. Someday I will change up what I do, I am sure. Gift cards are wonderful and I am sure they are enjoyed!

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  14. You know those "should've had a V-8" moments? Count this as one of them. With my 1st cup of coffee this morning I thought about how very special most folks--ladies in particular--feel about plants in the garden that came from mom, grandma, auntie, etc. Now would be the time to take cuttings or plan fall divisions for FREE gifts of love and memories from your garden. Just a thought. --Elise

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    1. Great tip. My backyard is full of plants from my folks house.

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  15. Cheryl, Christmas?! I haven't given it a thought yet those 6 mos can slip by so quickly. I have a "tickle trunk" that I store gift finds in. I haven't been on a good shopping trip for a long time. I need a girls' weekend that involves wandering stores & lunches & visiting attractions. Christmas gifting always includes homemade kitchen goodies. I prefer consumables & experiences to "stuff".

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    1. LOL - I know!!!!! Yes, those 6 months will fly by and we will say "how did that happen?"
      That sounds fun - it would be neat to go where there are lots of different little shops or bazaars!
      I prefer consumables myself!

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