25 December 2021

Merry Christmas!


"A Spirited Christmas" is from the December 1999 issue of Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine.

18 December 2021

Christmas in the Woods: Woodland Christmas Garland

TA-DA! My big final project for this year's Christmas Open House is a garland! Since I don't currently have a stair banister or a mantle to display this rather large finish, the only way I could photograph it was to arrange it like this. I didn't measure it, but it's pretty long! It's also kinda heavy. Now you know what those little screw eyes on the sides of each individual disk were for!

I used jute cord to tie the disks together and strung wooden beads in between each one.

Just a few supplies needed for this garland: wood disks (link in first post of this week), a bead garland from Wal-Mart, and small screw eyes.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, you can find wood disks in the big craft stores that will work for this project just fine, but you won't find these: beautifully sanded, uniform wood disks, with lovely bark still intact. Absolutely do use the craft store disks if that's what you prefer (and you need them in a hurry!). This project will still turn out so, so cute. I just wanted to be clear about what I used in case you were looking for the same result.

If you're thinking of stitching some of these precious critters but just want to finish them plain, here are a few posts you might find useful:

Finishing Perforated Paper (super easy tutorial)

Finishing a Perforated Paper Ornament (using old Christmas cards!)

The Joys of Perforated Paper (hint: I love it)

So that's it for this year's Christmas Open House. Thank you all so much for visiting and leaving such sweet comments. This is a tradition I look forward to all year, and some years it's easier to pull off than others. This wasn't an easy year, but we did it, didn't we? I'm so glad that a lot of you look forward to this as well, and it makes me happy to know I can bring a little joy to others every Christmas. Theme for next year (9th annual!) is already chosen!

From our home to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

17 December 2021

Christmas in the Woods: Possum & Squirrel


Our final pair of friends come bearing gifts. A red squirrel with his favorite pinecone, and a wee possum who has found a peppermint. Although I am creeped out by real possums, I think this little guy might be my favorite. Peppermint Possum is just too much.

This soup is maybe a tiny bit more work than the others, but it's worth it. We love cheeseburgers. We love soup. We should love Cheeseburger Soup. And we do.

Cheeseburger Soup

4 small red potatoes, washed and diced

1 c. seasoning blend (onions, peppers, celery) or fresh in the amount you prefer

1 4oz. can chopped green chilies

1 1/2 c. water

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp. beef bouillon

1/4 tsp. pepper

Bring these ingredients to a boil; reduce heat; cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Add and heat through: 

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained

2 c. milk

In a small bowl, stir until smooth:

1/2 c. milk

3 Tbsp. flour

Gradually add flour mixture to soup. Bring to a boil, cook and stir a few minutes until thick. Reduce heat and stir in:

8 oz. Velveeta, cubed


Don't miss the Grand Finale tomorrow!

16 December 2021

Christmas in the Woods: Bunny & Sparrow


Our sweet little folk today are a cheerful, snowy sparrow and a holly-crowned bun. Can we exceed this cuteness? Stay tuned.

I have not always been a soup enthusiast. When I was younger, I could take it or leave it. But after living where it snows in the winter for nearly 15 years, and aging (gracefully, I hope) all the while, I have become a devoted fan. I love soup. And this recipe from a church sister was my first "favorite soup" even before I learned the true joys of soup. Enjoy!

Ham & Potato Soup

1 stick of butter

1 c. water

1/4 c. minced onion

4 c. diced potatoes (2 large)

1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. celery salt (don't leave this out!)

3 c. milk

2 c. chopped ham

1 c. frozen peas

Melt butter in stockpot and add water, onion, potatoes. Simmer while preparing other ingredients, stirring as needed. Add remaining ingredients and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring often, until soup is thick and bubbly and potatoes are tender.


But wait, there's more! Come on back tomorrow for our final pair of Christmas friends! (And more soup.)

15 December 2021

Christmas in the Woods: Bear & Moose


These two dapper gentleman are all ready for Santa! Mr. Bear in his snazzy bowtie, and Mr. Moose (Mr. Wonderful's favorite) with his antlers all decked out in lights.

Today's soup recipe is perfect for when you just want to get out of the kitchen and get back to stitching. Which, let's be honest, is pretty much a way of life for many of us. I adore my slow cookers (I have five) and I absolutely love recipes where you just toss stuff in with little or no prep, turn it on, and walk away. This is one of those recipes. A thick, Southwestern-style cheese soup. I serve it with tortillas.

Santa Fe Cheese Soup

1 lb. Velveeta, cubed

1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained

1 can whole kernel corn, undrained

1 can kidney beans, undrained

1 can Rotel, undrained

1 can stewed tomatoes, undrained

1 packet taco seasoning

Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook 1 hour on high, then 2-3 hours on low.


See y'all tomorrow!

14 December 2021

Christmas in the Woods: Owl & Deer


Welcome back to day two of Christmas in the Woods! The prettiest deer we've ever seen and the wise old owl, fluffed up against the falling snow. 

A snowy winter day calls for a really hearty winter soup, and this one is so thick you can almost stand your spoon in it. Of course, you can thin it with a little milk if you like, but if you want a soup that has on its wool socks and its hat with the earflaps, this is it.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

4 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked & shredded
1 4.5oz. package quick cooking long grain & wild rice w/ seasoning packet
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. butter
2 c. heavy cream (yessssssss)

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, water, chicken. Bring to a boil and stir in rice (save seasoning packet). Cover and remove from heat.
In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, flour. 

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add seasoning packet and stir til bubbly. Reduce heat to low and stir in flour mixture by spoonfuls to make a roux. Whisk in cream a little at a time until fully mixed and smooth. Cook for about 5 minutes or until thickened.

Stir the cream mixture into the broth & rice. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until heated through.

Back tomorrow with more critters and more soup! How can you miss it?

13 December 2021

Christmas in the Woods: Fox & Raccoon


Welcome to my 8th annual Christmas Open House! This year's theme is Christmas in the Woods. Snuggle in for a week of adorable critters and favorite recipes... the sewing room and the kitchen are open!

Today we have a little cookie waving bandit and the most joyful wee fox ever. These two just overflow with Christmas cheer. They look like partners in crime!

This year had to be easy, y'all! Quick stitches, simple finishing, maximum cuteness. I usually wait til the end of my Open House to post all my sources, but just in case your year has been like mine, and you need a little helping hand for a fast homemade gift, I'm listing my supplies today.

The most adorable animal designs in the world are by LaSelva Design and are available in his Etsy shop.

I stitched them on Mill Hill Perforated Paper in the color Wheat, but you can use any color, or even fabric.

I Christmassed 'em up with buttons from JABCO.

The wood disks are from this Etsy shop, but you can find wood disks at most craft stores. However, you won't find this same quality. His stock varies quite a bit, and shipping can take a bit as the order is prepared, but they're worth the wait. Uniform size and a beautiful finish. I'll be talking more about these at the end of the week. If you can't spare the time, craft stores usually have lots of blank or unfinished ornament bases. 

I finished them off with various snippets of Christmas picks and greenery.


It's Soup Week, y'all. To go along with my quick and easy Christmas finishes, I'm sharing my favorite soup recipes. They're all easy. Some are for the soup pot and some are for the slow cooker, but either way, is there anything nicer than having a big batch of soup simmering away on a cold winter's day? So cozy and comforting.

We're starting off with the old stand by, Vegetable Beef Soup. Nothing fancy about it, but boy does it hit the spot when you just need soup. And the older I get, the more I just need soup.

Vegetable Beef Soup

1 lb. ground beef, browned & drained

16 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables

1 c. frozen seasoning blend (onions, peppers, celery) or fresh in the amount you prefer

1 can diced tomatoes

1 8oz. can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 Tbsp. dried basil

1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

4 c. beef broth

1 c. water

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low 5 or 6 hours.


Come on back tomorrow and see who else in the woods is getting ready for Santa!