Five weeks ’till Christmas, and …

Normally by this stage of the year, I would have already made several dozen crochet snowflakes and will be elbow deep in the thinned down PVA mixture that I use to stiffen them. Having passed the mid-point in November, the undecorating and redecorating should be well underway too.

This year is going to be a little different.

Firstly  – of course – while I factored the surgery in August in to my forward planning, and got as far ahead on that score as I could, I didn’t really count on bringing Golden Staph home from Hospital, or the resultant month and a half spent horizontal on the couch, too exhausted to even lift a book or knitting needle. Nor did I foresee the need to spend the next month or so all strapped up in splints and wrist braces.

The secondly, to that firstly, is of course, the imminent arrival of Chris and Nadie’s little miss, still affectionately being referred to as Cookie. We are currently at due date minus 4 days and counting, so I know not what my movements over the next couple of weeks will be.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, the crochet snowflakes are running a bit behind schedule, but I have not been idle.

In the absence of block clearing, goat wrangling, spinning, reading, knitting, crochet and quilting, there was … Pinterest!

I thought Facebook was a major timesuck [ and it is ]

I thought Ravelry was a major timesuck [ and it really really is ]

but Pinterest really should carry a health warning.

Inevitably I browsed [ amongst other things ] for Christmas ideas.

I rediscovered the salt-dough cookie ornaments that we all used to make forty years  a long time ago. So David helped me to whip up a batch

The results were a little … MEH!

[ Yes, of course I have a goat cookie cutter … and you were surprised, why exactly? ]

In the face of such underwhelmingness, I tried this recipe from Woodside Kitchen, which uses a much finer textured mix of Bicarb Soda and cornflour [ cornstarch ] which is cooked in a saucepan, much like the play-dough of yore, before rolling the mix out, cutting and baking for a fairly long time in a slow oven.

The first lot I used a cheap Black & Gold brand wheaten Cornflour, and the results predictably have a slightly wheaten hue but with a silken texture that is almost porcelain like.

The next batch I used a name branded cornflour and the results are slightly lighter, though still not the glossy white of the original blog post. One of the challenges was deciding how thick [ or rather how thin ] to roll the dough. IMHO thin absolutely looks best but there’s a definite point at which the number of accidental breakages increases exponentially.

I took a Pinterest-guided leaf from here on Katy Elliott’s blog, and freehand drew swirls, curls and hearts with a red felt pen on some of them before a top coat of spray clear varnish.

The last batch of ornaments, destined for the wee kitchenalia-themed tree in … yes … the kitchen, were made with a recipe that pretty much everyone accepts originated with Martha Stewart about twenty years ago:  Cinnamon Applesauce dough. This has a bit of Elmer’s Glue in the mix, which seems to be an American brand name for a PVA glue, so that’s what I used.

They do smell wonderfully cinnamonish, but you can also smell the glue in there, so next time I may try one of the versions that are purely applesauce and cinnamon.

Of all of these that I’ve tried, I think by far my favourite is the bicarb/ cornflour version, and I hope one day to find a brand that replicates that wonderful glossy white finish of the original.


Vintage Yuletide Treasures

I think it would be fair to describe the type of Christmas that I grew up with as fairly meagre.

My parents tried, but money was tight, presents were few, and I have indelible memories of faded tissue paper bells, paper chains, pages cut from the Reader’s Digest and framed, and the rattiest, saddest tinsel in the history of the world.

You’d think I wouldn’t want to be reminded of those days, but truthfully, some of my favourite decos date from the time of my earliest Christmas memories, and I guess the truth of the matter is that, had my folks been even moderately affluent, these things would’ve been tossed decades ago and I wouldn’t still have them to enjoy and share.

This tri-fold Christmas card printed with Clement C. Moore’s classic “A Visit From Santa” [ otherwise known as “The Night Before Christmas ” ] was sent to me the month I was born, and Mum taped it up in my bedroom every year that I can remember.

When I got married I took it with me, read it aloud to the kids every Christmas Eve when they were little, and when it finally started falling apart from all those decades of sticky tape, I had it laminated. Over the years that last statement has given more than one avid collector of ephemera the screaming meemies, but it was a choice: fold it carefully away from the light of day or keep on displaying and loving and enjoying it.

Last year when I mentioned to my 90 year old Godmother  [ she who had signed it on behalf of her then 18 month-old son ] that I still had it, she was utterly gobsmacked.She shouldn’t have been really. My mother kept anything with a sentimental attachment, and I am very much her daughter.

Witness this next treasure:

You may have already spotted it on the shelf of Nativity sets in an earlier post but it deserves closer attention.

Again we’re looking at those wonderful soft 50s graphics.

It says so right there on the back – 1950 – in my mother’s distinctive hand.

So, I know that this was bought their first Christmas as a married couple. It cost a  1/3 [12c] at a time when my librarian father earned around 7 pounds [ $14 ] a week

I would be willing to bet that if you’d told the English company that produced it, that one would still survive … in use … in Australia … more than 60 years later, they wouldn’t have believed you. The same could probably be said of whoever designed my Night-Before-Christmas card too.

and Mum’s habit of dating things again:

My oldest Father Christmas. Unmarked. Possibly Japanese. Probably bought at Coles.

He was just always around at Christmas, and as long as I can remember having Santa, I’ve also had these three

As Senior Citizens, they now spend most of the year cocooned in cotton quilt batting, but for 6 weeks or so a year, they hang out in the kitchen keeping company with all those snowmen from yesterday’s installment.

Who has similar treasures to share?

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