A Little Smackerel of Christmas

Our family celebrates Christmas with very little stress — the kids get presents, but for the adults, we just exchange small edible treats, and make donations to our favorite charities. The fact that I don’t have to run around trying to find the perfect gift, is a gift in itself! So I am free to enjoy the season peacefully.

My favorite old tradition:

— setting up my mom’s Christmas village

My favorite new tradition:

— using my exercycle while wandering through London virtually and looking at all the Christmas displays, via YouTube. I started this last year, and I found myself looking forward to it this year. It is a great way to get a little exercise, while feeling like I am having a lovely outing.

My favorite gift I have received this year:

— this beautiful assortment of wool! One of my quilting friends is de-stashing, and she pulled out her wool (washed it and made sure it was moth-free), and divided it among our quilt group members. To me, this is an incredibly thoughtful gift, because she gave us all something we have wanted to experiment with, but would have never bought for ourselves. And there are so many colors; it is sure to give us all lots of ideas.

My favorite gift to myself:

While I was quilting one day, I searched YouTube for videos on gifts from quilters. The results had more gifts FOR quilters, and one suggestion by Karen of Just Get It Done Quilts was a few magazines I had never heard of. I looked them up, and after just a few seconds watching a flip-through of an issue of Uppercase magazine, I ordered myself a multi-pack of back issues.

It was more than I usually spend on myself, but my kids are all artists too, so I told myself I would pass on the issues when I was done with them. Well, the issues arrived, and the first one I looked at was “One Little Piece at a Time” (paper collage, textile art, artist trading cards, etc.), and there are so many ideas there; I don’t think I will ever pass these on to anybody.

A sample page from Uppercase magazine.
A sample page from Uppercase magazine — “Scrap Happy” textile art!

I want to order them all and the “Encyclopedias of Inspiration” by the same publisher. I look forward to spending lots of time with these in the next year.

A well-received treat to give:

Microwave Pecan Pralines

large glass bowl
a large, stout spoon
waxed paper or freezer paper
2 cups sugar
2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup of buttermilk (or any kind of yogurt or kefir)
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Measure the baking soda into a small dish, because it needs to be added quickly when it’s time.

Put the sugar, pecans, butter, and buttermilk into the large bowl, and stir it up.

Microwave for 12 minutes total on high, stirring every 4 minutes.

Stir the baking soda. The mixture will foam up. Stir for about 10 seconds.

Put it back in the microwave and microwave on high for 90 seconds.

Remove (carefully!) from microwave, and stir until it thickens, about 90 seconds.

Drop spoonfuls onto the waxed paper. It may seem very fluid, but it usually sets up in less than a minute.

Sometimes they look smooth and shiny, sometimes they look more opaque and crystalline, but they all taste good! And they keep very well.

I hope you are enjoying a peaceful holiday full of treats!