Busy Day Ahead

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There's a lot to do today, and I got off to an early start by finishing off my Crusty Walnut Cranberry Bread first thing this morning. It's baking in the oven just now and that heavenly smell reminds me of why I love giving gifts of food at Christmas. Here's a picture of the loaf I baked a couple of weeks ago.

This is one of the best things I've baked all year. If you'd like to give it a try, you can find the recipe right here. The bread is for my mentor who I've mentioned in previous posts. I'm also giving him a tin of peanut brittle and a jar of my cranberry-orange chutney...also exceedingly delicious. That ought to be enough, don't you think?  And I just now took today's loaf out of the oven. Mmmmmmmmmmm. I'm telling you there is nothing better at making the house smell good than home-baked bread. Just make you want to roast some chestnuts over an open fire...but I'm not suggesting that you do.

Also on the list today is to do my grocery shopping to get me through Christmas. It's that time of the year when I start timing my forays into the grocery store very carefully. Go on the wrong day and you'll find the place mobbed or else find the store shelves emptied as if they've been attacked by looters. We always have our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and so that's the date toward which I'm aiming my menu planning. 

It's always been our family's custom to open gifts on Christmas Eve. We used to save our big dinner until Christmas Day until Mae joined our family. By doing the whole thing Christmas Eve, it frees up Erik and Mae to celebrate Christmas with her family. That way, everybody is happy. Just now I Googled that custom of opening gifts on Christmas Eve. I was going to say something about that, but sadly, as with so many things religiously-oriented, there was a lot of talk about war and such. It bummed me out and so I stopped reading. You don't want to hear about Christmas-related war, do you? Here. Here's something to lighten the mood:

So let's see...what else is going on? No blog post from me yesterday because...well, no reason except bad timing. Sometimes I write my posts in the evening just before Mike gets home from work. Last night, we met at a store where we did my shopping for him together. He wanted clothes, and well, need I say more? Can you buy clothes for your husband? If so, consider yourself lucky. He and I went together and he picked out what he wanted. It still goes under the tree and when he opens his gifts from me he'll say, "How did you know? It's a perfect fit! And precisely the style I would have chosen for myself!" There is such great benefit to having been married for many years.

I made Christmas candies yesterday...more peanut brittle for my mentor and some Divinity for us.

Is there a candy more aptly named than Divinity? I wasn't paying close enough attention while beating it and it got very stiff, making the candies a little more crumbly than I would have liked. It didn't hurt the taste, however. I've tested them quite a few times already just to be sure. I think I might have done the same thing when I made them last year. (Note to self: PAY ATTENTION NEXT TIME!)

So with that done, it was time to do some sewing. I made the first two of twelve of these sky blocks for the Quiltmaker's Garden quilt. Do you recall me saying I was going to try to do all twelve in one day? Ha! Perhaps a little bit overly optimistic. These two took half an hour each to make. They aren't difficult...a little tricky, maybe...I suppose I'll get faster as I go along. They are cute, but tedious to make. 

Have I mentioned how much I hate paper-piecing? I love the look of paper-piecing, and I love the sharp points it gives you, but I'd so much rather do some other form of sewing. Embroidery, for example. I'm about 3/4 done with the latest of the Vintage Tin blocks. Sorry for the rumpled look of this, but I've learned it's best not to take a hot iron to that Sticky Fabri-Solvy. It tends to shrink it up like shrink wrap...and that's a problem, as you might guess.

This block has a deceptive amount of stitching on it. There are a lot of open areas, but those big numbers all take at least a full length of floss, and so it seems I'm stitching, and stitching, and stitching and not getting very far. As I was looking at some other posts, I realized I only started this at the beginning of the month. Maybe it isn't taking as long as I think.

Oh yes, and I can't forget to show you this surprise that came in the mail from my friend Carla. Remember Carla? She spent a weekend with us a couple of months ago and we made doll quilts together.

Anyway, Carla spied this tea towel and rightly assumed that I very badly needed it. I'm hoping you'll be able to see this. It's the 12 Days of Christmas, cat style. Remember that you can click on the image to make it larger.

Cute, huh? Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear friend.

So that's about it from me. I need to get going if I'm going to get my grocery list done. I doubt there'll be any sewing going on in my sewing room today.

I hope you have a lovely Wednesday!

14 comments from clever and witty friends:

kathyinozarks said...

Hi Barbara, the bread looks wonderfully delicious. I am hoping to make divinity tomorrow-will remember to stop the beating before it get too over mixed-I haven't made it in a few years but everyone seems to love it.
Love the kitty in the cocoa and whipped cream lol too cute
Happy wednesday

gpc said...

I had forgotten about that bread recipe and I am on my way to do MY grocery shopping too -- perfect timing! The tea towel is adorable! Amazing how much cuter Toms a'spraying are on a towel than in my house, lol.

Teresa in Music City said...

Oh my - that bread looks SO wonderful!!! I can smell it from here..... thanks for the share!

Junebug613 said...

Your and your hubby sound a lot like my mom and step-dad. They shop together for each other. The funny part is that when they open their gifts, they have usually forgotten what thry bought, so it's still sort of a surprise. We usually have a good laugh. That towel is adorable.

Cath said...

You never fail to amaze me with all you get done in a day.....so you didn't write a blog post yesterday...whatevs. Todays post made up for that!
Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs

Deb@asimplelifequilts said...

We do our gift opening on Christmas Eve too and we are hosting this year since my mom had a knee replacement in October. My DH does the meal and the shopping for it, I make the house look pretty and the gift shopping. With no little ones it's pretty laid back... These are the easy years I think!

quiltzyx said...

I could smell that bread from here! We had our Christmas party/gift exchange at Auntie's Ceramics today. Mary Ann makes the most scrumptious chicken salad - I could have eaten the whole bowl myself! Fresh bollilo rolls, veggies & dip, potato salad, mac salad, fruit salad, jello salad, fresh fruit, Pfeffeneuse (sp??) cookies, Honey Baked Turkey....I'm still full now!

quiltzyx said...

Ooops, published too fast!

Growing up, we were always allowed to pick one small present to open on Christmas Eve. We did the rest in the morning. If I'm with my sisters, we still do that. On my own, I usually wait for the morning, so it lasts longer. :D

Dana Gaffney said...

I love Carla's gift, if anyone needed that it's you.

Tami C said...

I sure am missing bread, any bread, and yours looks particularly wonderful. I am on the Atkins diet and bread is one of the things that I'm not supposed to eat. I miss the potatoes and rice as well, but I'm hanging in there because it's been working! I've lost 30 pounds now and am feeling much better for it. I haven't tried any paper piecing yet, but it's on my list to try. Your Tin blocks are coming along quite nicely. I want to do some embroidery too, but feel I need to complete a couple of the quilts I have started. I love the doll quilt your friend Carla is holding! The tea towel she sent you is just adorable as well!

Ann Bassett said...

Carla's gift to you was absolutely precious. So cute. Have fun baking/candy making. Happy Holidays to one very entertaining blogger.

Kate said...

Such a cute tea towel! Hope you got your grocery shopping all done and are all ready to gear up for the family time. We open gifts at my Mom's Christmas Eve and then drive to My Guy's Mom's for Christmas day. It works out well.

Jacque said...

I love the picture of the kitty drinking cocoa! Or is it eggnog? Oh, well....I'm glad someone else is not into paper piecing...everyone else seems to chirp about it very perkily and talk about how "easy it is when you get the hang of it" but ya know, I've not gotten the hang of it and I don't think I'll try any more! Haha!

Brown Family said...

I was wondering what the name of the product you use on top of your hand work. WHere do you get it? I found some that you could run through the printer, iron on and then rinse away. Of course, I cannot remember the name of it, either!