Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Night Before Christmas....Open House

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Actually I had my alarm set since I had already been at the shop the night before.  Karen and I were responsible for the outside decorations.  For a while that night I thought the clatter was thunder since it starting raining before we were done!!  Sharon, Sue and Becky had started on decorating the corner as they do every month but it had to be special this time.

Away to the window I flew like a flash.  Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.  The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.

Actually,  it was a little after day break when I finally open the door to head out to the car the following morning.  The rain had not turned to snow thankfully but the day did turn out to be quite nice. 

When to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

Actually the sleigh was a wagon that Pat and her husband had reconditioned and brought out to the shop last night.  It turned out so nice.  We filled it will greens and lights.  The tiny reindeer were busy elsewhere.

With a little old driver so lively and quick I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.  More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.  Now Dasher! Now Dancer!Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! 

Actually almost everyone was at the shop already starting on the main decorations.  The little driver so lively and quick of course was Becky arriving with all the precious items she planned on putting in her booth.  All the dealers were more rapid than eagles even though they had stayed at work most of the prior night.  We all moved about the shop putting up lights.  Calling out for items staples, extension cords and the like.

To the top of the porch!  To the top of the wall!  Now Dash away!  Dash away all!  As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the housetop the coursers they flew.  With the sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas too.

Actually we had ladders, thank goodness, to reach those roof tops and corners. A wild hurricane is a very accurate description.  In the midst of dealers, ladders, yards and yards of white cloth (we used to wrap the endless strings of white lights), strings of lights, boxes of inventory....I wondered if we would ever put all of this in place in time!!!!

And then then in a twinkling I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.  As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound, 

Actually I did hear a lot of prancing and pawing but it turned out to be everyone ooooohing and haaaaaaaaaaaaing when we turned off the overheads to see how all the Christmas lights looked.  Of course later we didn't have to since we blew a fuse or two!!

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.  A bundle of toys he had flung on his back and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. 

Actually we were all pretty tired, drained and ashes and soot but a little dusty.  When the store decorations were all in place we started on our individual booths.  Each dealer flung open their boxes and bundles of inventory....all looking like antique dealers just opening their pack

His eyes--how they twinkled!  His dimples, how merry!  His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!  His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,  and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth.  And the smoke, it encircled his he had like a wreath.  He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed, like a bowl of full of jelly.  He was chubby and plump a right jolly old elf.  And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. 

Actually we have put out an invitation for St. Nicholas to join us next year.

A wink of  his eye and a twist of his head.  Soon led me to know  I had nothing to dread.  He spoke not a word but went straight to his work.  And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk; and laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose. 

Actually everyone got to work.  We made sure the chimney was in place in the front corner.  Finished up our booths and went home only to return Saturday morning to fill up the coffee, cider and holiday treats. There was nothing to dread but of course we were all wondering how our first Christmas Open House would do.  How many customers would actually come
He sprang to his sleigh, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. 

So we finished the last tidbits and moved our cars  to the back.  We threw on the switch and opened the doors.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight

And as the last car was re parked the crowds DID gather.  We were packed all day and into the night.  Smiling faces.  New customers and old like.  They came from far and near.  All appreciated our efforts.  We were overjoyed..

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

And a big thank you to all that came to our first Christmas Open House.  We look forward to next year and we have already started planning. 

                      So yes, "Merry Christmas to all and  thanks again for a very good night!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crescent Cheese Squares

Crescent Cheese Squares

2 pkg refrigerator crescent rolls
16 oz cream cheese
1 egg, separated
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla

lightly grease 9 x 13 x 3 pan.

With electric mixer, combine cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla

Take one pkg of crescent rolls and fit to bottom of pan.  Spread cheese mixture on top.

Then place 2nd pkg of rolls to fit over cheese mixture.

Beat egg white until foamy and spread over top.

Bake 10 mins @ 400 degrees then 20 mins @ 350 degrees

Cut when cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Basic Caramel

This recipe can be used for caramel to cut into squares for eating.

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup whipping cream
6 Tablespoons butter (cut into pieces)

You will need a Candy thermometer and a pan 5" deep and about 7-8" wide at the top.

1.  Combine, sugar, corn syrup, and cream and butter in the pan.  Set over medium high heat.  Using a whisk or a spoon stir slowly until it starts to warm up.
2.  Clip on your candy thermometer to the pan.  Do not let the tip touch the bottom of the pan.
3.  Bring the mixture to the boil.  Reduse heat so that it just bubbles, small bubbles(light rolling boil)but it does not splash out of the pan.  Stir from time to time. 
4.  Cook to a little over 230 but not more than 235 max.  Do not over cook.  Take off heat at 233.  The hotter you cook it the stiffer the finished caramel will be. 
5.  Take a small square baking pan or dish (9X9) or  (8x12) or (7x12) and put foil into pan, spray or grease or oil the foil well,covering bottom and sides.  Note: 9x9 pan will make thicker 9x12 will make thinner.
6.  When caramel is done, pour into the pan (set on a rack) and let sit to set up until set - 1hr room temp.
7.  Remove caramel and foil from pan and turn upside down on cutting board, and peel back foil.  Cut the caramel into small squares.  You can use a pizza wheel or a knife.  Wrap pieces in wax paper.

Make sure to eat some just to make sure they are o.k. some for the other people!!

Finally...Recipes from Our Open House

Texas Caviar

One Cup Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
One Can 11 oz. Corn
2 Medium Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper
1/3 Cup Red Onion
1 TBSP Jalapeno
3 TBSP Lime----Plus A Little Extra
1 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Pepper
2 Avocados-chopped

Combine all but avocado.  Chill 2 hours.  Fold in avocados before serving.  Use Hint of Lime Ranchero Chips

Many of our customers enjoyed this dish at our Sandwich Antique Mart Christmas Open House that was November 13th.  We hope you enjoy it also.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Christmas Ornaments with Bakers Clay

I haven't used bakers clay in a long time.  I pulled out my old recipe and got working on some ornaments yesterday.  They are really easy. Quick and easy.  I think I will make some more with the Grand kids next week.  That will probably result in a little more flour on the floor, etc.

I used a cookie cutter to make the ginger bread men that I wanted for a tree I was making.   I used a straw to make a hole for the ornament hook.  After baking I let them cool.  Then I put the ornament hook on them.  I bought some green colored large hooks.  The usual silver ones looked cheap and didn't add anything!

You can paint them with poster paint, acrylic, whatever.  I wanted them to be natural looking cookies so I used the hook to hold on to them and dunked them in varnish.  Keep in mind these can be heavy depending on how thick you cut them.  This will also effect how long you should bake them.  But you should also consider storing and handling them like glass ornaments since they will break if dropped.

I let them dry then tied red ribbon around their necks to keep with the color I had planned.  The final step was to give them a light spray with acrylic that I got at Michael's.  This made sure they were sealed was well as kept the ribbon in place.

The tree was made from a birch branch that Mike dragged back from the woods.  It was a little crooked but I thought that added something.  I attached it to a piece of old barn wood for a base.  This was a little challenging.  I ended up cutting a whole in the bottom and secured the limb through that.  The limbs are from our bush in front of the house!! 

I used a small bit to drill holes in the branch where I wanted the limbs.  When I was pretty certain it looked right I added some glue to make sure the limbs could hold the weight of the ornaments.  I added some moss at the base and a few lights.

Now off to the shop.  Hopefully others will enjoy my "Primitive Ginger Bread Christmas Tree"!!!

4 Cups flour
1 Cup Salt
2 Cups water

Mix ingredients then  knead until smooth.  Roll out and cut into desired shapes.  Bake at 350 degrees for around 1 hour

Baking will depend on how thick you cut the shapes and also on how brown you want them.  Usually only the bottom of the shape will turn brown.  You will find that some will even puff up a little which makes them fun.  Experiment a little!!  Don't forget to use a straw to make a hole at the top for a ribbon or hook to go thru.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Christmas is Fast Approaching...and a Visit Back to the Farm

I know we still have Thanksgiving and I really love that season too.  All our family gathers around our table.....hmmm better get going on some dinner plans I guess and soon.

I am headed for the shop.  Plans are going forward on the Open House, November 13th Saturday.  We changed it up a little this year.  We are closing all day Friday to finish up on the decorating etc.  We reopen at 2PM for the open house on Saturday which will last til 8PM.

I am excited to get all the Christmas things I  have out in the shop.  This year I am really trying to keep it more on the primitive Christmas side.  I have rag garland that just looks awesome.  I made some gingerbread men ornaments out of bakers clay.  My tree is from the redwood bush out front and a birch limb that my husband found for me out in the woods. 

The Open House Plans include Wine Tasting and as always treats and lots of them.  I am baking the same Texas Sheet Cake that I had for our last sale but will also bring Banana Bars.  Hopefully most of these will make it to the shop.  Mike and I both love Banana bread and these bars.  Oh well tis the season of gaining...I mean giving :)

Pictures to follow but as for the farm...

Mike and I were meandering around the countryside looking for another auction which seemed to have totally confused our buddy Garmin.  I suggested I take him by the farm that I fell in love with since it was in the area.   The good news is I found it. 

The crops are all harvested now and really no activity.  We did see some hunters in the fields as well as a flock of turkeys way off.  I think it is turkey and deer season.  The farm was also quiet.  I was really glad I could show it to him especially since I haven't stopped talking about it.  We even found the Frank Lloyd Wright home (around Spring Green in Wisconsin).

Hope you are all finding time to enjoy this time of year.  Try putting Vince Gill "Peace on Earth" on your CD player.  Oops maybe its an Ipod these days..who knows.   Ha!!  After finding the farm we happened on a really neat antique shop that was also having their open house.  It was fantastic. (I have their card if anyone wants the address just let me know on comments).  They were playing this CD and it really sounded wonderful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

As Promised

Here is Karen's fabulous dish from our Fall Harvest Sale at the shop.

Apple Squares
Turn these into blueberry squares by substituting fresh or frozen berries for apple. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
Makes 16 squares

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick)butter or margarine
1.2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1  egg
1  teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pared cooking apple
1.2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Cinnamon Sugar (recipe follows)

1.  Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon onto wax paper.
2. Melt butter in a medium-size saucepan over moderate heat.  Remove from heat.  Beat in sugars, eggs and vanilla with a wooden spoon until smooth.
3.  Stir in flour mixture, apple and walnuts until thoroughly combined.  Spread into a greased 8X8X2 inch pan.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar mixture.
4.  Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes or until top springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into squares.

Cinnamon Sugar:  Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon in a small jar with a screw-top lid.  Cover;  shake thoroughly.  Store remainder for future use.