Sunday, December 17, 2017
 

A Christmas Home

I am up brewing coffee. Just went to let the cat out this morning and he didn’t even want to go. It’s snowing with a cold wind blowing. Kitty is sitting by the door comtemplating. He wants to go out but just ain’t quite sure of it. After Papa wakes up this morning, we will be putting up our Christmas tree, but first I wanted to share some Christmas craft ideas with you Mothers on this early, quiet winter morning.

I have this large, old green basket that I use especially at Christmas. I set it out on the buffet and put packages of hot drink mixes in it. At one side, I may put out a jar of homemade cocoa mix, or a jar with herbs for tea, or just tea bags in a cute jar. I decorate any jar. Just save all of your little pickle jars or mayonnaise glass jars, clean off the labels, and then decorate them up with red ribbons — or maybe paste the front of an old Christmas card on the front.

It’s fun for friends and family when they come to your house to visit and mix up a hot drink. Our kids loved the hot cocoa mix. I usually made that in a gallon jar. They would invite a friend over and would mix their own hot cocoa.

One thing I love to make for a coffee creamer is this. Just take a jar and put in some of that Creamora, or some store brand of dry instant cream, and to this, add a package of the vanilla instant pudding mix. Like to two cups of Creamora, add one pudding mix, more or less. This makes a vanilla sugar. Or you could add a butterscotch instant puddng mix.

In the old days at Christmas, we Christmas sisters would buy a few vanilla beans and put these in our cocoa mix or in our sugar for holiday baking. But, mercy! Those vanilla beans cost about three bucks for one now. They can forget that. We used to get them two for a buck, I think.

But, anyway, just find an old basket and fill it with Christmas cheer. And beside your basket, set out some Christmas mugs. Ya know, if you are low on baskets, the Salvation Army has loads of them and they are cheap. I just wash mine out with soap and water. Turn it upside down and let them dry over the hot air furnace vent. Also, in your basket, you could put some paper napkins, along with the hot drink mixes. And maybe a jar with the little marshmallows for the cocoa mix.

I just make my cocoa mix by how it looks. I make the flavored coffees, too. But I just make them by inspiration. I take the instant coffee and add brown sugar and dried cream, and put this in a jar for anyone who likes it like this. You could put in the pudding mix, too. For a mocha mix, just add cocoa to the instant coffee and sugar and cream.

Maybe you could line your holiday basket with a cute Christmas towel from the Dollar Tree. They just cost a buck. I got one yesterday and Papa bought me one, too, when I wasn’t looking. He usually buys me a Christmas coffee mug each year, too. I mean all this stuff is dirt cheap at the Dollar Store. You can’t hardly afford not to buy this stuff, and it all adds a Christmas cheer to the family home.

Also, you can make your own potpourri for the Christmas fireside jars. Just take orange peels or lemon or lime or grapefruit peels and cut them up with your scissors, in strips. Put them in a favorite old-fashioned pan or crock bowl, or a bucket … whatever. Anyway, mix this up with some pine cones from under your pine tree or your neighbor’s pine tree. Mix in some cheap cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, bay leaves and whatever. Maybe add some old dry sticks from outside, or nuts in a shell. Just stir this all up. The peels will dry in the pine cones. Stir all this around every day, and it will all dry. If you wanted to, you could buy some scented oil at the Dollar Store to put in it. And then, to this mix, string the white Dollar Store lights.

Another thing I do during the Christmas season and well, all winter long, is this. I always have my big 2 gallon coffee pot on the stove with water in it to keep the air moist. This is a huge old fashioned white enamel coffee pot. Papa got it for me many years ago in a junk pile. It is a favorite kitchen pot. It has a bale handle and a handle at the side to hang on to. It’s a handle at the bottom; it goes from side to side — like to hold in the palm of your hand and give you some leverage.

Anyway, to this simmering pot, I add each day an old bottle of spice of some kind out of my spice cabinet. This keeps my spice cabinet cleaned out and the house smelling spicey. You shouldn’t keep your spices for year after year. They get old and this is one way to get rid of them without feeling wasteful. My aunt gave me some spices that she probably kept for 40 years, just using them on the holidays. Well, I used them right away in my simmering pot.

Now, you could use any cooking vessel for your simmering pot. Maybe an old canner from the Salvation Army. Just make sure your pot is big and will fit well on the back of your stove, and that it won’t easily boil dry. You don’t want to start a fire … like “ye ole gal.” Just turn it off when you leave the kitchen after doing dishes or other chores. You could even take an old crock pot that you aren’t using and put the spices in this for a humidifier. If you have little ones, make sure the pot is way away from them. If you have toddlers that climb on cabinets, forget this Christmas idea.

But, ya know, when adding your old outdated herbs to your pot, just add stuff that would go together. Like part of a bottle of basil would go with an old bottle of onion or garlic powder. If it is stuck in the bottom of the bottle, just add water to it and it will come out. Or you could put in some old black pepper or paprika. I love the smell of onions, garlic and basil together. Smells like an old Italian home where Mama is making her famous spaghetti sauce. Or you could put in orange peels and other citrus fruit peels, and add the old bottles of ginger or nutmeg or cloves and cinnamon. And, for cryin’ out loud, the spices at the Family Dollar store are only two for a buck, and those spices are nice and fresh (or a whole lot fresher than what ya got in your spice shelf that are years old.) Just start out with fresh spices this year for your Christmas baking.

Ya know, lately, I have been hunting for the cinnamon sticks and can’t find them cheap. Haven’t found any to put in tea.

Speaking of tea … I used to let my children make tea and stir it with a candy cane, for Christmas. Or the cocoa mix can be served to the children with a candy cane in it. Candy canes are so cheap at the stores, too. We often decorated the tree with them. My children all loved candy canes and would beg all Christmas season to eat them off the tree. We would let them. Heck, you are only a kid once. I know this is alot of sugar for children, but I didn’t feed my children a lot of sugar except at Christmas or other holidays. And they were all hyper, anyway, and it never hurt them any.

Well, I had better get to practicing what I preach and get to my home duties

One other thing I wanted to tell you is that usually each year … well, in the fall … I buy an amaryllis flower to watch grow in the house. It blooms about Christmas time if you plant it in the fall. But you could get one, even now, and start it and it would be about ready for the New Years. I have a red one this year and it is just starting to barely come out. It will be in full bloom for Christmas. I only paid three bucks for it, and oh! it gives the family such joy to watch it grow. The stalk is over a foot high and the blooms will be huge.

 
 
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