Monday, December 22, 2014


The beautiful loaf of bread on the right is houska, a braided Czech bread made with potatoes, butter, blanched almonds and raisins.  We spent Saturday at Dave's parents' house helping to make this Christmas treat.  Dave's mother makes 6 loaves at a time which translates into 40 pounds of dough!  The loaf is formed by stacking 2 twisted pieces of dough over a braid of 3 pieces of dough atop 4 more pieces of dough braided together.  I was first invited to help 3 years ago.  Dave's mother and brother sat at the table with their written out instructions on how to create the 4 piece braid.  I watched them do it once and said, "Oh, you're weaving."  Ever since then, I have helped with the braiding! 

My girlfriends were going to come up last week but couldn't because of illness.  I'd wanted to fool around with salt dough ornaments.  I can remember making them with my babysitter when I was little.  While braiding real houska this year, I got the brilliant idea to make some salt dough houskas.  After forming a few loaves, I pressed some E size cream colored beads into the dough for blanched almonds and gold and plum colored seed beads for the raisins.  After I baked them, I painted them with a wash of acrylic paint and then Hodge Podge for an egg wash shine.  I stuck a wire loop into them before baking to make them into an ornament but they might be too heavy to hang.  If so they can be a paperweight or a nic nac.  I know I'm a nerd but I was so excited to make these!  I also made a couple Danish heart ornaments and a Lopi paw print!  This is a great cheap and non-toxic activity for kids!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lisa's Blankie

 I drew my sister's  name for our gift exchange this year and had been sitting on this fabric for a good ten years.  I am crazy about jelly roll style quilts and have busted through all kinds of fabric stash using the technique.  This is fabric I bought at full price at Joann Fabrics ten years ago when I first saw this line.  I bought 6 yards of backing fabric and 5 yards of individual prints.  This fabric line was Japanese themed in different colorways.  Lisa loves red and so red kimonos, lanterns, fans, butterflies and bamboo chutes.  I hate to admit I was a little disappointed in the final results of this quilt.  I was surprised how small the top came out with the 5 yards cut up.  And of course Lopi has to come lay down on anything you're working on.  That backing is 9' by 7.5'. 
 Really Lopi?  You're going to be in my hair that much?  Here I am trying to trim the batting and backing to stretch as much as I can out of the blanket.  I think she will like it even though it won't be a bedspread size.
As beautiful as the fabric is, I just wish there was more contrast between the pieces.  I bought another whole set of fabric in a blue colorway 10 years ago too.  I seem to remember that my fabric had a few prints that had white as a background.  I won't get to that fabric until after the Christmas season.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

 I am finally posting pictures of the new furniture we got this summer.  It has been cold and snowy with overcast skies for the better part of 2 weeks and the lighting wasn't the greatest when I took these photos.
 Here is the hutch it all it's holiday glory.  I had so much fun polishing the wood and cleaning the glass and then unpacking boxes of nic nacs and dishes arranging and rearranging them in there.  My polish pottery and egg cups and cake plates and chafing dish and relish trays and Maynerd's dishes finally have a home.  Grandma Helen's silver in the wooden lined box also lives in there and the drawers are filled with different serving spoons and herring forks and wooden spreaders as well as candles for the table.  I just love it!  I have waited my whole life to own one of these and have somewhere to put it.  On the ledge you can see the perpetual Advent calender my sister gave us and we are enjoying it.  Her family has a yearly tradition of filling their perpetual Advent calender with candy and taking turns opening it.  Ours looks right at home on the hutch.
 Here is the sideboard that came along as a set.  Currently it houses my cookbook collection and a few Polish pieces and normally is topped with all my framed family pictures.  Here it is holding some holiday decorations.  That red tin is filled with candy because we need to eat to maintain our figures around here!  Maynerd's Christmas decorations are in that bowl and the shelf above it belonged to my great grandma Elnora and used to hang in their farmhouse.  My sister found that carousel at a garage sale and is exactly like the one Mother has and we'd put it together every year when we'd set out the decorations.  It is so nice to have a place to put things.
 I finished a sweater for my niece Laina.  I keep forgetting that Christmas is next week because for us, it isn't Christmas until January 9th when we can all get together.  I used this pattern and 3 skeins of some Classic Elite Waterspun yarn that I bet I've had in my stash for at least 10 years.  I've got all the little ones shopped and knitted for and just have 2 pairs of gloves to knit for my older nieces.  I'll finish a quilt for my sister tomorrow and then if I'm really ambitious, I'll knit a stocking for Lopi.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Wintry Mix

I love my dog.  I love her so very much!  I know I fuss over her more than I should and my dad is constantly saying, "You need to have children."  I baked doggie treats for her from a book I bought at Saver's with seasonal/monthly recipes and it even came with it's own treat cutter!  The treats are quite bland but that is OK for dogs.  They don't need extra salt or fat, etc.  I tasted them myself and would eat them if I were starving to death but she really likes them.  Maybe it is the idea of it being people food.  Who knows. There is a recipe that contains peanut butter and I will try that one next.  I think it would be a nice gesture to bake a bunch of these and deliver them to all the neighbor dogs we see on our walks.  We know more neighbors by their dogs.
 I really liked this particular recipe because it used up some canned pumpkin I had leftover from baking a pumpkin roll cake for Thanksgiving.

1/2 c. canned pumpkin                  1/2 c. water                 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon                          1/2 tsp.  nutmeg          1/2 c. oatmeal
2 c. whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine pumpkin, water, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.  Stir well.  Gradually add oatmeal and flour.  Form a dough.  Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutter.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 40 minutes.  Makes 4 dozen.
I woke up yesterday and found all the trees and fences and surfaces covered in hoar frost!
 Gorgeous winter accoutrements!
 I finished Erik's knitted vest 4 days ago and it has been blocking on the floor of  my sewing room.  The buttons were sewn on tonight and then was wrapped up with his vehicle and sign gift and is waiting under the Christmas tree.  I believed I was on the verge of finishing this on the last days of November to count towards my NaKniSweMo challenge (since I  kind of putzed out with my sweater dress I knit for my niece) but the finishing was much more involved than I thought it would be.  The vest edges were knit and then stitched under and then the 5 i-cord loops were knit and then sewn on.  Still I am pleased with the way it turned out, especially since I bought the yarn a few years ago on clearance when I still lived in Mason City.  I got 5 skeins and was thrilled to bust through 2.5 of them for this project.  I got the buttons on a buy one get one sale at Joann's earlier this month.  I finished this project while watching my new DVD copy of Schindler's List.  I owned a VHS copy years ago but never updated after moving to Minnesota and recognized several locations used in the film that we visited on our trip!  I bought a copy for Dave to give to my mother because he drew her name in the gift exchange.  I couldn't wait to tell her I recognized things and I was afraid if I did, she'd run out and buy a copy of her own so I already spoiled her Christmas gift and told her!