Hands down, this is my favorite ornament for 2011!! My nephew gave it to me for Christmas, commemorating our shared love of pomegranates. We discovered this line of Christmas ornaments last spring at Shady Maple's gift shop; each one is a vegetable recreated as an adorable animal. We oohed and aahed over every single one! I had bought a little banana-octopus ornament for Ricky for his present, and he in turn surprised me with this delightful pomegranate bird.
I love the detailing, including the turned-up tail which reveals the luscious pomegranate seeds inside,
and the fun little crown on his head. :)
This was the animal/vegetable ornament I had selected for myself that day. It's perfect - 2011 marked my first-ever garlic harvest, so this ornament helps me remember that milestone for me wonderfully.
Our family hosted an AFS exchange student from Thailand during the 1977-1978 school year. He sent each of us children a tissue box cover with these elephants stitched on them last Christmas. I decided to turn it into an ornament instead, and it serves as a reminder of his time with our family.
My nephew recently did a presentation on Christmas in Great Britain for his 3rd grade class. As part of the presentation, he made wassail for his classmates. Since he now is hooked on the beverage, I had him bring it for Christmas dinner. :) It is good!
Here's the recipe (adapted for a classroom):
1 gallon apple cider
1 whole clove per child (20-35)
1 whole allspice per child (20-35)
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2/3 c. sugar
1-2 slice oranges or apples (optional)
Put cider in a large pot; add spices and sugar. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain out spices and pour into a punch bowl. Float orange or apple slices on top. Serve.
I love how Ricky mounted this Willow Tree angel; he didn't realize it was an ornament, so he wrapped the tree branches around it to "hug" it and hold it secure. :)
And, this just makes me smile every time I look at it - Ricky created a scene with a little doll ornament (purchased during my trip to Austria), a sheaf of wheat (representing my involvement at Harvest Community Church), a wheelbarrow (reminds me of my Great Aunt Mary who was an avid gardener) and some garden tools (represents some major landscaping projects soon after I bought my house).
I had my heart set on a real Christmas tree this year, but just couldn't justify the expense since I already have an artificial tree that will do. Plus, even though I hate artificial anything, they are so much less hassle than a real tree, especially when you leave the lights on from year to year! So, I thought maybe I could help disguise the tackiness of my artificial tree by setting the stand in this galvanized tub, just like a picture out of Country Living magazine! However, it just didn't fit, and I couldn't figure out how to retrofit the tub or the tree stand without ruining either, and without a trip to the hardware store for supplies to rig up some kind contraption the would probably still result in the tree tipping over.
So, I settled for tucking a few poinsettias in a galvanized bucket instead,
and swapped out the traditional burgundy brocade tree skirt I normally use with some fabric with more of a rustic feel.
I'm going to keep my eyes out for a larger galvanized tub for next year!
I just completed this funky chicken pincushion for my sister for Christmas. (Don't look, Renee!!) The fabrics are from our family scrap bag, left over from clothing Renee and my mother had sewed for themselves, and the buttons are from my mother's button jar, hopefully making this a meaningful gift.
I wish I could take credit for the idea! Instead, we first saw some of these pieced pincushions at the Stichin' Post quilt shop in Sisters, Oregon when we vacationed there this summer.
With the help of a quilting blog, I was able to figure out how to make one without too much trouble.
I used a paper piecing template from one of my quilt books,
making sure I set the stitch length super short to make it easier to tear the paper away.
A felt beak, comb, and
tail complete the look!
After filling with rice, I simply whipped stitched the bottom shut.
Merry Christmas, Renee! Hope this will always remind you of our fabulous trip to Sisters, OR ....
Believe it or not, I picked the last of my Swiss chard today! I said farewell by enjoying it in a yummy breakfast salad.
OK, I'll admit - I have this strange affinity for Swiss chard. While I can't say that I love the flavor, I am intrigued by a green leafy vegetable that can be planted first thing in the Spring, is able to endure the ravages of Summer's heat and insects, lasts into the frosty stages of Fall and only barely misses making it to Winter. For just pennies, it feeds me the entire growing season, whether I use its tender, young leaves in a salad, blend the heck out of it in a smoothie, cook its stalks, or wilt its greens. Because of its noteworthy character (not to mention its beauty!), I'm determined to learn to like its flavor, and eat it because I enjoy it, not just because it's inexpensive and healthful. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting there. And, I'm convinced it's more about me needing to learn how to prepare it tastefully vs. demanding that it please my palate.
This is a great recipe from Everyday Food magazine that does double duty. The leftovers make a great lunch - simply chop the broccoli, flake the salmon and toss with the rice. Yum!
Glazed Salmon with Spicy Broccoli
2 t. olive oil
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 t. red-pepper flakes
1 T. apricot jam
1 skin-on salmon fillet (6 oz.)
1 1/2 c. broccoli florets
cooked brown rice, for serving
Heat broiler, with rack in middle position. In a small bowl, combine oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and red-pepper flakes. Divide mixture in half and stir jam into one half.
Place salmon on a broiler proof rimmed baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray. Brush salmon with jam mixture and broil until fish is opaque throughout, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, set a steamer basket in a saucepan with 2 inches simmering water. Add broccoli, cover and steam until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Toss broccoli with remaining soy sauce mixture; serve with salmon and rice.