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Friday, December 24, 2021

Twas the Day Before Christmas

 Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the house ....  time to write a quick blog. 

Yes we are really getting into the Christmas spirit around here. We are enjoying the weather which was especially accommodating for our upcoming holiday. It truly is a White Christmas for us. The snow started floating down with big huge white flakes. Soon everything was covered and fresh and clean, covering over the snow from last week that had partially melted. We really needed new soft fluffy white flakes as a blanket to lift our Christmas Spirits. 

It was so beautiful as it was floating downwards, softly spiraling and gently piling up. I grabbed my cell phone camera and filmed a couple clips looking out various windows of the house. I always send little short video clips to my friend Linda Baldwin in Tennessee. They sometimes get snow down there, but it melts right away. It reminds her of her home state of New York. Each time when I film snow for her, she wants to come up here and flop down and make snow angels. Come on up and visit us Linda! There's plenty of snow to do quite a few angels in the backyard.

My Steveio Christmas Elf was very busy out in the garage yesterday. He halted his insulation installation and decided to help me.  I had given him the measurements for my upcycled project that I had in mind for a desk in the new office. Soon he had the plywood board cut out, and then he went around the edges with the router to take off any sharpness.

He bought brought the board in where I had the fabric waiting in the She Shed. I had found a nice hunk of brown vinyl that had a leather look to it. We spread it out facedown on the floor and I got down on my hands and knees and started stapling. All of the way around the board I went, pulling it firmly and evenly, making nice neat corners. Then Steve took a hammer and did the extra measure to do my staples, pounding them firmly so nothing would come to the surface or scratch the tables underneath.

He carefully carried it in through the rest of the house without upsetting any of our Christmas ornaments or decorations. He wound his way through to the office room while I excitedly got the two tables ready and in position. I had to square them up and make sure there was enough knee room for the antique chair to slide in between them.

We laid down two sheets of rubber non-skid shelf liner on the end table surfaces, and then a couple of the heavy duty Command velcro strips on each corner. That way we can remove this board if we ever want to, and nothing will mar the surface of the tables. I really like how this worked out and I set my little table lamp and a few do dads on the desk.  The silk plant is from Steve's mom, many years ago.

We ran a power cord down off the corner of the desk in the least-traveled area, under and behind the barrister bookcase.  Now I could plug in the desk lamp and my laptop. 

I really like how this office has come together. Before it was kind of a messy catch-all guest bedroom where everything just got kind of piled in there and forgotten about. 

It had the weird doorway that had been reduced from a double wide space down to a single door. Earlier last month Steve had found some beautiful French doors to replace that odd configuration. For now the transom holds our Merry Christmas sign, but one of my upcoming winter projects is going to be to rearrange parts of a vintage stained glass window to make it fit the space. I have a whole bunch of stained glass supplies that I had picked up at an auction, and I think I have enough to do what I need to do to fill it in.

There is just enough desktop space to put my things, or use it to prepare my items for shipping that I sell on Etsy and Ebay.  All of the shipping supplies and printer are on the side wall of this room. Now everything will be within reach, instead of dragging it out to the diningroom table or the island in the kitchen. I can keep my laptop plugged in and set up, instead of stowing it away each time.  I have not had a desk since we lived out on the river from 1997-2012.  

P.S. The laptop is covered with sea turtles, courtesy of a little granddaughter named Chelsea who happens to love sea turtles.  She gave it to me when she got a different one for school.  Isn't that something that I get my 11 year old grandkid's electronic hand-me-downs??? LOL

So here is my finished project......   upcycled end tables into an office desk. Not too bad for $20 worth of fabric, a hunk of plywood, and a couple of unused end tables.

Steve still isn't entirely sold on my creative idea. 
When asked what he thought about it, all I got was:
 "It's okay."


In the mail yesterday, we got the sweetest Christmas card from our dear friend Connie Schulz! She had saved our wedding invitation from 25 years ago!!!!  I was so surprised to get a thick envelope from Connie  (along with a thank you note I had written for all of the help she gave us with our wedding day).

Just think.... she never sent in her RSVP card!!!

In 1997, I made them and printed them up myself, with a Photoshopped sketch filter of the Moravian church where we got married at Heritage Hill State Park in Green Bay, WI.  In 1997, Photoshopping was really new, and I had gone to a week long class on how to work the program when I was the advertising editor for a large real estate company in Green Bay.  We were also the first company in the area to get a colored lazer printer as well!  So I was able to create my own wedding invitations at work as a "side project" to hone my skills.

I carefully placed the invite in the front cover of our wedding album.  Just think, we will be celebrating 25 years this upcoming June.  Looking ahead to another 25 or more. 


Another project that we worked on last week now I can finally post about. The boxes all were sent out and arrived in the mail to the recipients so now I can talk about doing it.

For many years, my Mother had made some special little cookies. They are actually Ritz crackers with Jif peanut butter between them, dipped into melted chocolate of different varieties. They have a taste similar to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

She would make hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of these and mail out boxes to people---  friends and family and coworkers and church friends --- anyone that she knew would enjoy them. I knew it was a huge task every year and she had talked about making batch after batch, day after day, to have enough to give to everybody that she wanted.  It was her "thing".  As the Christmas season approached this year, without her, some of the nephews lamented on Facebook about not getting a box of her special cookies anymore. Sigh. 

Knowing that we were looking ahead to an empty Christmas season without her cookies, Steve suggested that I make a batch in her memory. Then we could mail them out to the people whom she loved. I really was excited to pick up all of the supplies. We stopped at the Mennonite store up the road to buy melting chocolate. They don't sell it in big hunks anymore. Instead they sell it in bulk bags of big huge flat chips called "melts". The clerk told me they melt much better and it's easier to control the melting process. She said less burnt areas if you're using it in the microwave. She said they don't even sell the big blocks of melting chocolate anymore, this is much better. 

If you're looking to buy these, sometimes they are sold in the cake decorating department at Joann's Fabrics and Crafts stores, or in the party supply aisle at Walmart. I was glad we could buy them in bulk because they were much more reasonable by the pound, than in the little packages.

I remember my mother always telling me that she only used real Ritz brand crackers, because the generic or off-brand ones were too soft. The Ritz are more crisp and hold up better during the dipping process. She also used only Jif creamy peanut butter. I know that was always her favorite. I'm not sure if the brand pf peanut butter really matters. But that's what she always used. So that's what we bought,  in a HUGE can on sale.

We gathered all of our supplies and Steve agreed to help me do this because we had a feeling it was going to be quite the process. After all, it was his idea so I'm glad he was here to help me.

We started out with assembling the crackers and spreading peanut butter between them. It's best if you put the peanut butter on the salty bumpy sides of the cracker facing inwards and leave the flat bottom sides of the cracker as the outer surfaces. We noticed that the salty side seem to make little pockmarks or bumps in the chocolate.

I found that a four cup Pyrex measuring cup was the best way to melt a batch of the chips at a time in the microwave. Then using a little tongs, similar to a pickle tongs, works really well to hold the assembled cracker and peanut butter combination.

Steve was my assembler person with the crackers and peanut butter, while I did the melting and the dipping. Each time I would remove the assembled cookie from the chocolate, I would kind of wipe the bottom surface off with a butter knife to get off the excess chocolate but leaving it smooth on the top surface. I would carefully lay them on wax paper far enough apart so they don't touch.

one splotch there in the middle where I dropped the first one

We used white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate all of the melting chips. But then we had to use regular chocolate chip size chips of the butterscotch because they didn't have them in the wide melts. 

The butterscotch melted at a different rate and was a little more rough in appearance and not quite as smooth.

Tray after tray we worked on these little cookies. By the time we were done we had 366 cookies in all!

After the cookies had cooled off and became solidified, we stacked them carefully into little packages and boxed them up to be mailed out. Everybody got an assortment of the cookies along with a note that these are made in Mom's honor. Although we can't promise that we can make them every year, maybe each of us could take turns making them in memory of Mom. I sure have a new appreciation for Mom for the many hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of cookies she made every year! She would mail us two or three dozen at a time to each of our families. I remember some years she had to wait for her next social security check in the middle of the month to come to afford all of the postage. Then she would worry if they got there in time.  Some years she sent multiple boxes to me inside of a large box, so I could distribute them up here at the family gatherings. 

Steve and I had all to do to mail out smaller boxes of 16 assorted cookies to everybody. We shipped out 14 boxes and hand delivered two tins of them ourselves. 

Thank you, Mom, for this family tradition and we hope to continue it in the years to come.


Now that all the hustle and bustle and preparation work has been done for Christmas, it's time to sit back a little bit and relax today. 

We won't be gathering with our kids and grandkids until New Year's, and we are going to drive up and spend the day with Steve's dad on Tuesday, if the weather cooperates.

Although Steve is thinking about doing another row or two of his insulation in the garage, I am thinking I might get out my latest quilt and finish up the borders. I'm going to have some soft Christmas music playing, sit and relax a bit with my coffee this morning, and then try to spend the rest of the day doing things that we both enjoy.  We picked up a bunch of snow crab legs to cook out this evening in the outside propane steamer, and plan to have a relaxing meal at home together.

So for our "Day Before Christmas", it will be just Steve and I, snug and cozy in our little house, sitting by the fireplace and watching the snow outside.

Merry Christmas 


Happy New Year 

to you all! 



  1. What a wonderful Christmas tradition your Mom started, and the "cookie" sounds intriguing, a little bit of salty and a little bit of sweet. We sat out on our deck by our firepit last night. Not a white Christmas like when I was growing up but a balmy 60° one instead. Merry Christmas.

  2. All your little projects just seem to work out beautifully!

  3. A belated Merry Christmas. Your mom's generosity was amazing. I've never heard of those cookies, but they do sound good.

  4. The cookies looked delicious and what a beautiful thing to do in your mum’s honour. It’s the time of year when we all remember loved ones no longer here but definitely here in spirit. Wishing you both and your family a very Happy Christmas and New Year from England.


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