Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

A Very Merry Christmas
from Miss Abigail's Hope Chest!
This recipe is a favorite one my mother always made at Christmastime and I hope you will try it. I am busily working to finish up Christmas plans and will soon enjoy time off with my family. We are especially happy to have company coming to spend Christmas with us. Abigail misses her brothers and at times hates being the last one left at home.  I hope you will also enjoy this special time of year with loved ones and friends. I look forward to blogging again in January - see you then.
BTW- the pictures makes the first ingredient a little hard to read. It should read "one three-inch cinnamon stick." (NOT a thirteen inch one!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Handmade Dishtowels - from homespun fabric

If you've not thought of using the cotton "homespun" fabric for dishtowels, you're missing something great. I really enjoy making my own dishtowels. Of course, the drawback is that you cannot bleach them the same as white ones. But, I like the fun colors and prints and you can make them whatever size you like. These homespun towels dry dishes wonderfully--they are very thirsty. But you have to be careful to check the label and make sure the fabric is 100% cotton. It also helps if the fabric hasn't been treated with anything. This set of homespun dishtowels will go with the Christmas Star Dishcloths and the Filet Crochet Towels I made last year to begin a Christmas Set for Miss Abigail's hope chest.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Peek Inside - Embroidered Snowflake Ornament

This gorgeous snowflake was created with a embroidery machine. I saw it at a crafts show and spent quite a lot of time visiting with the woman who made it. I took her card and hope she is still in business if I'm ever ready to have monogramming done on towels for the hope chest. She used stabilizer on a stiff gorgette fabric and then cut away the fabric. Brilliant!

This second stocking ornament is just as cute. I love craft shows and creative people. You just never know what you'll find!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Peek Inside - Rocking Horse Ornament

2011 blessed our family with two new grandchildren. I bought ornaments for them last year and couldn't resist adding this one for Miss Abigail's hope chest. I like to imagine her children hanging this on some future Christmas tree.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Peek Inside - Peridot Wreath Ornament

I made this pretty peridot wreath ornament for the hope chest collection this year. I strung peridot chips on three strands of wire, with red glass beads at intervals. Then I twisted the strands together into a wreath and added the jewelry cap on top.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Peek Inside - Clay Angel Ornament

Maybe you can tell that I like angels? This beautiful painted clay angel reminded me a little of Miss Abigail.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Peek Inside - Yo-Yo Angel Ornament

This yo-yo angel was created a couple of years ago with the ladies of the Stanley Homemakers Club. We often do crafts together and Miss Abigail always enjoys these meetings.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Peek Inside - Santo Domingo Pottery Star Ornament

Each day this week I'll post a peek at ornaments in Miss Abigail's hope chest. This handmade star was made by craftspeople of the Santo Domingo Pueblo. The pueblos of New Mexico are well known for their pottery and each pueblo has traditional designs. This dragonfly is typical of Santo Domingo. Hopefully, this ornament will bring Miss Abigail happy memories of growing up in the culture of New Mexico.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tutorial - Raffia Angel Ornament

 I made this charming raffia angel ornament for Miss Abigail’s hope chest last year. But, because of stormy weather, I couldn’t get to the library to post it. So here is the tutorial, in plenty of time to make one for yourself.

You’ll need a package of raffia, twist ties, and scarlet thread or yarn, scissors and glue.

Separate a small to medium bunch of raffia from the rest of the package. Tie it tightly in the middle of the bunch. This will form the head and body of the angel. Set it aside for the moment.

Take another small bunch of raffia and use a twist tie to hold it together on one end, leaving a bit fluffed at the end. Braid the raffia for several inches. This piece will form the arms and hands, so the length will kind of depend on the size of the angel. Measure it against the “body” of the original bunch. The arms will go around and in front. When you reach the length you desire, use a second twist tie to temporarily hold the braid and cut off the extra raffia. Be sure to leave another bit hanging to give the impression of the hand.

Use the red thread or yarn to wrap the “wrists” and then remove the twist ties. Move the knot to the bottom of the wrists and trim closely. Put a dot of white glue on the knot to help hold it. Set the arm piece aside for the moment.

Take another small bunch of raffia and again tie it off in the middle. This piece will form the wings of the angel.

Separate each side of the wings into four smaller bunches. Do this between your fingers.

Smooth the raffia around your fingers to form the shape of the wing and use the twist tie to hold it temporarily. Repeat on the other side and fuss a little to make both side even with each other. Then use the red thread or yarn as you did with the arm piece to wrap and tie off the ends.

With the knot underneath, fold the original body piece in half and tie around the neck to form a head for your angel. Make a second braided piece and tie in a circle to form a small halo. You should now have each of the pieces shown in the photo: a loose body with a head, a braided arm piece, wings and a halo.

Take the body piece and separate the raffia just under the head and slip the braided arm piece through the separation.

Smooth the raffia around and underneath the arms and tie off a waist.

Braid a length of thread or yarn to make a hanger. Fold it in half and glue it to the back of the head. Glue the halo to the back of the head also, on top of the knot of the hanger. Then glue the wings at the base of the neck.

Bring the arms together at the wrists and glue them. Fluff the skirt at bit and you are finished.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Autumn Gift Set

Before we leave November, I wanted to show that I added these items to Miss Abigail's hope chest in honor of autumn time. As much as I love Christmas, I'm always a little sorry to see autumn forgotten in the rush to decorate for winter. I enjoy fall cooking and cleaning and I hope Abigail will like using these pretty things in her kitchen someday. I love the colors in the hot pad! I truly love all shades of green. I saw the oven mitt in a boutique when we were visiting in Idaho and couldn't resist it. The cloths were very inexpensive and could be used either for dishes or cleaning. I embellished them with a simple machine embroidery stitch around the edges. Very quick!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Peek Inside - Autumn Plate Chargers

These pretty autumn plate chargers were a happy find for Miss Abigail's hope chest. I was in Walmart a couple of days before Thanksgiving and saw them for a terrific price. Abigail loves to set a pretty table and I knew she would like to have these in her stash. So I purchased a set of six.

I was quite amazed at the difference these chargers made on the table. The food looked like it was styled for a magazine and we felt very elegant this year! We'll continue to use them occasionally and make happy memories for her hope chest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Can she bake a pumpkin pie, Billy boy, Billy Boy? She CAN bake a pumpkin pie, she's the apple of our eye, she's a young thing and cannot leave her mother!

This year Miss Abigail made the pies for our Thanksgiving dinner --her first attempt. The crust was the obvious challenge. She used a recipe titled "No-Fail Pie Crust" but it proved to be a real trial. The recipe called for oil instead of shortening and it was too flaky to bend --at all! So fluting the edges was impossible. At one point, we were tempted to throw it away and begin again. But, in the end, Abigail poked and pieced and made it work. Our traditional Chocolate Praline Pumpkin Pie was delicious!

If you would like the recipe, follow the link to our family food blog --Mower Cookin.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Peek Inside - Sewing Angel Christmas Ornament

Every year we add to the collection of Christmas ornaments for Miss Abigail's hope chest. Handmade ornaments are especially prized, particularly when they are actually handmade by Miss Abigail. This very sweet "Sewing Angel" ornament was created by Abigail at our ladies club meeting last week. Isn't she darling?

Billie Lauder, a professional quilter and crafter extraordinaire helped us with this easy project. Billie joined our group some time ago and always has such great ideas for fun things to do. She brought the pieces in a little kit and all we had to do was stack the elements on a long metal pin and twist the end into a loop hanger. The silver metal bobbin is spun with silver thread and the rest of the beads are silver as well. Very clever I think.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


I have so many, many things to be thankful for!
I hope each of you do as well.  Miss Abigail and I
wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Peek Inside - Thanksgiving Recipe Book

Finished! I'm very pleased with how well this little book turned out. Perhaps I should have chosen an album style that could accept more pages, since I had too many recipes to include pages of holiday photos! It was always intended as a recipe book, however, so I will declare myself satisfied. Here are pictures of some of the inside pages:

I added a cooking timetable for Abigail since this will make it easier (someday) for her to get dinner on the table. When I was younger, I worked hard to find recipes that could be made way ahead of time and refrigerated - even the mashed potatoes! I typically do all of the cooking for Thanksgiving dinner, so cooking ahead of time allows me to enjoy the holiday and visit with family and guests. I have more recipes than I could possibly use in one year's feast! I often trade out side dishes from year to year. So, I guess I could exchange photo pages for some of these recipes and make a new dedication page with a photo as well. Or, I could just look for another 5x7 style photo album. Perhaps I'll get around to it someday, but for now this project is finished. I love it when I can cross something off a list!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Peek Inside - Turkey Salt & Pepper Shakers

The hope chest is a wonderful place to gather and treasure heirlooms. I don’t have a lot of heirlooms from previous generations to pass on to my children. In spite of this, with some foresight and planning, I can create an heirloom. An heirloom is simply an object of special value, passed from one generation to another. These objects don’t necessarily need to be valuable in a monetary way, just made special somehow through loving memories and sentimental feelings.

Miss Abigail loves Thanksgiving. She loves to decorate the house and set the table with our fancy dishes. We often have company to dinner and she loves being with friends and family. I’m sure she will have many happy memories of Thanksgiving. So, I want to collect a few things to send into her future home, to strengthen these memories. I bought these simple, vintage-looking salt and pepper shakers. I’ll use them at Thanksgiving for the remaining years that Abigail is at home, and then put them in the hope chest. An almost instant heirloom.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Current Project - Thanksgiving Recipe Book

It seems like life is so busy right now that I can’t find much time to work on handmade hope chest projects. Certainly, the time issue is the biggest hurdle anyone has to overcome to create a handmade or heirloom project. I just keep plugging away at all the things I have going, but if you’ve been following me for very long, you know that it takes me quite a while to get something completely finished. I don’t suppose any of you are very different. Eventually I’ll get something finished and can post pictures. In the meantime, I am working on a Thanksgiving Recipes project in the cracks and corners of my free time.

I bought the supplies for this project a year ago. I was working on the Thanksgiving Kitchen Set and thought it would be nice to include a recipe book of all our traditional holiday recipes. I did finish the kitchen things, but ran out of time for the recipe project. So this year I want to finish it. I have all my holiday recipes collected in one notebook and I like having them together in one place. I thought this small photo album would work similarly well for Miss Abigail. I need to re-type the menu and recipes and print them on card stock. Then I plan to “scrapbook” the recipes, along with some past family photos of the holiday. I intend to leave a blank space on some pages for future photos of Abigail as she helps me cook and decorate for Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Peek Inside - Cross-Stitch Pillowcases

Filling a hope chest is a wonderful thing, especially when it is filled with gifts from those who love you! These become treasures that fill your life with beauty and sweet memories. These pretty pillowcases were a gift to Miss Abigail from her grandmother. Grandma Mower has many pillowcases in her linen closet, including some that are now considered vintage and even antique. It is such a treat to stay in her home and find which treasures grace the pillows on the bed. Many are embroidered and some have delicate thread crocheted edgings created by her great aunts, now gone. Grandma loves to speak of these pioneer women - to tell their stories. I was the happy recipient of several sets of pillowcases, embroidered by my mother-in-law, when I married my husband all those years ago (this post). These are mostly worn out now, but I surely hate to retire them because I've enjoyed using them so much. I didn't save these pillowcases from use. Maybe I should have, but I used them. For more than thirty years I've washed and folded them, felt loved and thought about the skill and generosity that went into their creation. Grandma told me that she now no longer enjoys embroidery, but she still likes to cross-stitch.  I'm sure Abigail will enjoy using these in her future home too, just as Grandma has enjoyed those which were gifted to her years ago and as much as I've enjoyed mine. This is what my hope chest legacy is really about. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Peek Inside - Woven Wool Coasters

The weather is changing and I'm beginning to think about hot chocolate! These pretty coasters were a gift from some homeschooling friends for milking their dairy goats for a week. What a wonderful surprise and a perfect addition to Abigail's hopechest. All of the girls in the family spin and weave. These were made by the youngest, Nicole. Lovely, aren't they?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stenciled Dish Towel

You see a lot of stenciling on the blog because it is so easy and quick to do and I think the results are so fun! I made a set of dishtowels recently to include in a wedding gift and I thought I would show you how I did it. Miss Abigail wrote a more basic tutorial on stenciling for beginners, if you need to see the actual technique.

Start by washing and drying the dishtowel. This removes any sizing or starch from the towel and allows the paint to penetrate into the fibers of the cloth. If you skip this step, the paint will likely fade much faster. Place a piece of cardboard or tin foil beneath the dishtowel, to prevent the paint from soaking through to the table. I use the Tulip soft fabric paint and whatever stencil strikes my fancy.

Use a just barely damp sea sponge and dab it lightly into green fabric paint. Lightly dab the sponge onto the towel to create a foliage background for the flowers that will come on top.

Add just a tiny bit of darker green to give the background some dimension. Use just a tiny bit!

Use the stencil to add flowers and leaves in a design across the foliage background. I blended two tints of the same shade while the paint was still wet to give the flowers a little dimension as well. I also added just a few dabs of a purple color between the flowers. Let this much dry. The directions for the fabric paint will give you the proper length of time.

After the flowers were dry, I stenciled smaller flower "centers" on top of the main flowers. I also used the end of the paintbrush, dipped in the paint and a very tiny brush to add further details and highlights to the flowers. Finally, I used another stencil with two colors to add the word.

Stenciling is really not hard to do and it makes me feel so artistic! So many projects for the hope chest can be stenciled. Dishtowels, of course, and pillowcases -you just need to be creative.
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