Cooking: There have been years when I've had a kitchen assembly line going, making many varieties of candies, cookies and scoochey snacks (you know, like Chex mix). Although, by the time the holidays roll around, a lot of us are suffering from cookie fatigue. One year was particularly successful in gifts from the kitchen--the Year of the Bear. Remember when decorating with bears was all the rage? About that time many home cooks were also into making sourdough bread. In my kitchen I kept this starter going for months--feeding it every week with sugar and flour. I also baked a lot of bread in order to use up the starter. My friends were the lucky recipients of the excess. One Christmas I decided to make Bear Bread. Here's what these loaves looked like. Right off the cute meter, wouldn't you say? Popular with young and old.
Sewing: many years ago the sewing machine clicked late in the night with me making homemade gifts. It was an assembly line here as well. Most memorable year was the one where I made all the girls, young and old, red-striped flannel nightgowns. They were the classic styles with lace trimmed yokes and long set-in sleeves. The big push would be to get them made in time to be worn for the unwrapping Christmas gift photos. One funny memory from the flannel nightgown frenzy was that the guy of the house used to plead with me not to make his bedfellow one of these gowns. Said it was like sleeping with a furnace by the time she got all that flannel wrapped around him! :-)
Channeling Martha Stewart: Finally, I'll do a bit of cheating and re-post the directions for making natural evergreen wreath from a few years ago. I set up a long assembly line in the kitchen and before I knew it had about 10 of these lovelies made.
If you'd like to try your hand at making wreaths, it's a simple process:
Wreathmaking supplies: hit your local tree lots and nurseries and see what they offer in the way of greenery for free (trimmings from Christmas trees) or very cheap bundles of a variety of evergreens. Here on my work table I've got hemlock, cedar, white pine and fraser fir--and holly berries for some color. You may also be lucky enough to have some of these plants growing in your own yard. Only other supplies you'll need are garden pruners, paddles of wire, and wreath forms.
Directions: get an assembly line going, especially if you plan to make more than one (I'm going for 10). Step 1 -- make small six inch bundles of greenery. Step 2-- tie one end of the wire to the wreath frame; with your right hand, lay a bundle of greenery on the frame. Step 3 -- take the wire paddle in your left hand and wrap the wire around the greenery bundle several times while holding it in place with your right hand. Step 4 -- Continue placing the greenery bundles on the frame, overlapping to cover the stems of the previous bundle. Just eyeball the wreath as you make your way around the form to be sure that it's balanced--doesn't have to be perfect. Step 5 --add the holly last throughout the wreath so that you don't knock the berries off, using as much or little holly as you like. Step 6 -- tie off the wire securely and leave enough "tail" of wire to twist into a loop for hanging. Or, if you prefer, lay the wreath on a flat surface and nestle some candles in the middle. Finally, I made some simple two loop red bows for these wreaths and my friends could decide whether to use them or not.
Finally, I have almost all the supplies gathered for this year's gift making assembly. Just a hint: There's snow, black top hats, carrot noses, scarves, and coal. Won't say any more until they're finished except to thank The Church Lady at Living Life in PA for the idea.