What is nearly 100 years old....

Is brown and fuzzy and has bright red lips?

Hint - Think back to your childhood toy box.

Give up?

The sock monkey!

NOTE - I am pleased to have Grandson Beckham as my guest blog writer today.

Let me introduce myself, I am Beckham Christian Wilson and I was born on November 20th, 2008. I am your guest writer today. I am filling in for Grandma Brenda as she is taking the day off to enjoy some much needed R&R.

The past several days have been very very busy, going from one Grandma's house to the others to celebrate Christmas & meet family members. It was a pretty good time though...everybody kept telling me what a cute little boy I am!

I am not only a cute little boy but have been a good boy too. I am now getting up only on occasion in the middle of the night for feedings....Mommy so loves it when I do this! Santa brought me some pretty cool gifts...he must have known I've been good!

I knew the minute I opened that one certain package (actually Mommy had to help, as I'm a bit too little yet) that the cameras would soon be flashing. In that box were the cutest, tiniest little sock monkey slippers I have ever seen. I figured Grandma would have to put them on me right away to see if they would fit my "precious little feet"! And as I guessed, Grandma had to get her camera out, again! Everybody laughed at my little toes & said they look just like my Daddy's. I do love my monkey slippers though, and they do keep my little toes nice & warm. I think Mommy & Daddy should have a pair, don't you?

You see... I'm a bit too young yet to sit up by myself, so Mommy & Daddy propped me up on the couch so Grandma could begin yet ANOTHER photo shoot for her brag book. My Grandma has 3 brag books...I'm a bit concerned, is this normal?

I must admit though, I do think I look pretty handsome in my new Burberry outfit & monkey slippers...don't you? These are my first pair of blue jeans & I can tell already that blue jeans are going to be a big part of my attire for many many years to come...they are so comfy!

The furry little reindeer is my gift from Great Grandma & Grandpa Fisher and I just know we will become close buds. Rudolph will keep me occupied when I'm in my car seat on all those trips to the mall & Target with Mom.

For you other grandmas out there... Santa bought my slippers here.

Love, Beckham

P.S. Time for a little R&R for me as well!

Did you know? A little sock monkey history...

The Red Heel® socks where first manufactured in 1890 by The Nelson Knitting Mills in Rockford Illinois. John Nelson came to this country from Sweden in 1852 with the Swedish immigrants stepping off the train in Rockford. The first sock knitting machines were patented by him in 1869. Incorporated in 1880, The Nelson Knitting Co. was the first company world wide to manufacture socks. These sturdy and comfortable work-socks were worn mainly by farmers and factory workers.

In the 1900's mothers started crafting these socks into sock monkeys and other animals for their children. These quality sock were intended and used as work socks, but they became so much more when the Sock Monkey was born. In 1920 Nelson Knitting Mills started to include the directions for the Sock Monkeys with every pair of red Heel® Socks.

Nelson Knitting Mills was purchased by Fox River Mills in 1992 and now Fox River Mills continues the tradition and includes the original directions with every pair of Red Heel® Socks they manufacture.

The original instructions have been packaged with the Red Heel® Socks since 1920.

Happy New Year,


For your pure entertainment, please see how my crazy family spent their Christmas....

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Merry Christmas!

Our CHRISTMAS gift arrived early....

Beckham will make his first visit to Grandma & Grandpas for the holidays...can hardly wait to celebrate our first Christmas with this little one!

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Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

May this wonderful Season of love and peace,warm your life with a joy that will last through the year.

Merry Christmas to you & yours,



Did you know...

The idea for using electric Christmas lights came from an American named Ralph E. Morris in 1895. The new lights proved safer than the traditional candles, which often started fires by falling in the dry Christmas trees.

The use of a Christmas wreath as a decoration on your front door, mantel or bay window symbolizes a sign of welcome and long life to all who enter.

Today poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant and are the number one flowering potted plant in the United States.
The poinsettia, a traditional Christmas flower, originally grew in Mexico, where it is also known as the 'Flower of the Holy Night'. Joel Poinsett first brought it to America in 1829.

The first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
Real Christmas trees are an all-American product, grown in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. Oregon is the leading producer of Christmas trees - 8.6 million in 1998.
Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.
The best selling Christmas trees are Scotch pine, Douglas fir, Noble fir, Fraser fir, Virginia pine, Balsam fir and white pine.
For every real Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place. Each hectare provides the daily oxygen requirements of 45 people.
Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones since 1991.

He is known throughout the world, by various names; Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Saint Nicholas, Sinterklaas, St. Nick, and Pere Noel. On Christmas Eve, countless children all over the world lie in their beds while "visions of sugarplums dance in their heads." When they awake they will excitedly check to see if Santa Claus has come to bring them gifts.
One town in Indiana is called Santa Claus. There is also a Santa, Idaho.
The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born in Turkey in the 4th century. He was very pious from an early age, devoting his life to Christianity. He became widely known for his generosity for the poor. But the Romans held him in contempt. He was imprisoned and tortured. But when Constantine became emperor of Rome, he allowed Nicholas to go free. Constantine became a Christian and convened the Council of Nicaea in 325. Nicholas was a delegate to the council. He is especially noted for his love of children and for his generosity. He is the patron saint of sailors, Sicily, Greece, and Russia. He is also, of course, the patron saint of children. The Dutch kept the legend of St. Nicholas alive. In 16th century Holland, Dutch children would place their wooden shoes by the hearth in hopes that they would be filled with a treat. The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas as Sint Nikolaas, which became corrupted to Sinterklaas, and finally, in Anglican, to Santa Claus. In 1822, Clement C. Moore composed his famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nick," which was later published as "The Night Before Christmas." Moore is credited with creating the modern image of Santa Claus as a jolly fat man in a red suit.

Candy canes began as straight white sticks of sugar candy used to decorated the Christmas trees. A choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral decided have the ends bent to depict a shepherd's crook and he would pass them out to the children to keep them quiet during the services. It wasn't until about the 20th century that candy canes acquired their red stripes.
During the Christmas/Hanukkah season, more than 1.76 billion candy canes are made.

Two hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming of winter. They would gather this evergreen plant that is parasitic upon other trees and used it to decorate their homes. They believed the plant had special healing powers for everything from female infertility to poison ingestion. Scandinavians also thought of mistletoe as a plant of peace and harmony. They associated mistletoe with their goddess of love, Frigga. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe probably derived from this belief. The early church banned the use of mistletoe in Christmas celebrations because of its pagan origins. Instead, church fathers suggested the use of holly as an appropriate substitute for Christmas greenery.

The tradition of gifts seems to have started with the gifts that the wise men (the Magi) brought to Jesus. As recounted in the Bible's book of Matthew, "On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."

In 1836, Alabama was the first state in the USA to declare Christmas a legal holiday.
In 1856, President Franklin Pierce decorates the first White House Christmas tree.
In 1907, Oklahoma became the last USA state to declare Christmas a legal holiday.

The biggest selling Christmas single of all time is Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

St Francis of Assisi introduced Christmas Carols to formal church services. Christmas caroling began as an old English custom called Wassailing - toasting neighbors to a long and healthy life.
The word carol is derived from the old French word caroler which derives from the Latin choraula. This itself was derived from the Greek choraules.

The first Christmas card was created in England on December 9, 1842. Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company. An average household in America will mail out 28 Christmas cards each year and see 28 eight cards return in their place. More than three billion Christmas cards are sent annually in the United States.
In America in 1822, the postmaster of Washington, DC, complained that he had to add 16 mailmen at Christmas to deal with cards alone. He wanted the number of cards a person could send limited by law. "I don't know what we'll do if this keeps on," he wrote.

Animal Crackers are not really crackers, but cookies that were imported to the United States from England in the late 1800s. Barnum's circus-like boxes were designed with a string handle so that they could be hung on a Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas,


Red Velvet Cake

Drum roll please....and the winner of the $50.00 shopping spree is Melody.
Melody said...
Brenda; What memories you stirred. I remember receiving those Lucky Locket dolls. I had forgotten all about those until I saw your post. Barbie was a big part of my Christmas wish list for years. I received the Barbie goes to College Dorm room and sweet shop one year. Merry Christmas! Melody
Melody please email me at order@countrystitchesonline.com to receive details on your winnings.

Thank you so kindly to everyone that shared comments of their favorite toys as a child...definitely a walk down memory lane!

Red Velvet Cake is traditionally our Christmas dessert at my parent's home. My mother has made this cake for Christmas as long as I can remember. Sister Linda baked this cake this year and was enjoyed by all! Mom used to make the cake from scratch, but now uses the Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix with great results & so much easier! The secret to a good Red Velvet cake is all in the frosting. Today I am going to share our families Red Velvet Cake Frosting with you.


5 T. flour
1 cup milk
3 T. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar

Boil flour and milk until thick, stirring constantly. Cool. Cream butter and shortening. Beat 4 minutes, slowly adding sugar. Mix in flour paste. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. NOTE - if you prefer a thicker layer of frosting make a batch and a half for frosting a sheet cake.
Bake the Duncan Hines Red Velvet cake mix according to directions on box. Bake in a jellyroll pan. Allow cake to thoroughly cool. Frost with frosting. Keep cake chilled & enjoy!
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Until tomorrow,



Going home for Christmas...

Today we are heading to Minnesota for our Christmas get together with my parents, sisters & their families. We will first meet uptown to buy gifts for a family that we have adopted. It is then back to the farm to take turns wrapping these gifts. The gifts then will be delivered to the family on Sunday morning.

After the gifts are wrapped we will gather around Mom's kitchen for a meal of appetizers, chili, cookies & popcorn balls. Before we head home we will be treated to Mom's traditional red cake.

Today I am going to share a couple recipes that I made to take home. Enjoy!


1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 pound (1 cup) shredded Monterrey/cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts
pretzel sticks

Beat cream cheese and milk in small bowl on medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth. Add cheese and green onions. Continue beating until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls; roll in peanuts. To serve, place pretzel stick in each ball. TIP: To pack along: Wrap the cheese balls in plastic food wrap. Be sure to keep this cheese snack in a take-along cooler so the cheese stays cold. Place pretzel stick in each ball at serving time. NOTE - this makes 18 pieces, I always double this when making it....18 just are simply not enough!!

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1 (8 oz) tub of whipped cream cheese

1/2 cup white corn syrup

2 T. sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1 c. cherry flavored Craisins (ran through a food processor & chopped quite fine)

1 T. grated orange peel

Mix the cream cheese, corn syrup and sugar until fluffy using a medium speed on your mixer.Blend in the sour cream. Fold in the Craisins and the orange peel. Chill. Serve with Anna's Orange Swedish cookies, sliced green Granny Smith apples or pear wedges. Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

Until tomorrow,


Christmas Brunch goodies....

I often times "cheat" on Christmas day, preparing only two meals for the day. We start off with a morning brunch, skipping lunch, with our large meal in the evening. This allows the cook to enjoy family time a bit more. Today I am sharing a couple of favorite sides that will compliment your egg dish for a Christmas morning brunch.
" The bacon fat and brown sugar form a wonderfully sweet & salty glaze on these."

You will need:
1 package Little Smokies
1 pound bacon
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar

Cut bacon slices in thirds.
Wrap one cut piece of bacon around each smokie and place them seam side down in glass baking dish.
Top with brown sugar and drizzle with vinegar.
Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and bake in a 350° oven for one hour.
Remove from baking dish and transfer to a small slow cooker to keep them warm while serving.
Serve with toothpicks.

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"A quick & easy version....ooey & gooey! These are the cutest mini cinnamon rolls & are delcious!"
Topping Ingredients:
(1/4 cup) butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 chopped pecans

Filling Ingredients:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, softened

Rolls Ingredients:
1 (11 oz.) can refrigerated Pillbury bread stick dough

Heat oven to 375°. Combine all topping ingredients except pecans in 9-inch round cake pan; stir until well mixed. Sprinkle with pecans. Set aside.Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Set aside.Unroll dough; separate into 12 strips. Spread each strip butter ; sprinkle evenly with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Roll up loosely. Pinch seam to seal. Place rolls evenly in pan.Bake for 18 to 23 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Invert onto serving platter. Let stand 1 minute before removing pan. Serve warm.

Until tomorrow,


The Christmas Stocking

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care

in hopes that St. Nick

soon would be there....

Our Christmas stockings were hand knit by Dave's mother. She knit a stocking for each of her 7 children, their spouses & each grandchild...a total of 27 stockings. The original 7 stockings were knit using wool yarns, but as it became harder and harder for her to find wool yarns in her small town she moved into synthetic yarns for the in-laws and grandchildren. Daves stocking being knit with wool has gently yellowed over the years. Grandma Pat earned her angel wings in October, so the stockings will have an extra special meaning this year....

Traditionally on Christmas Eve our children left a plate of cookies, glass of milk and a couple of carrots for Santa & Rudolph. A small note was also written and tucked next to the plate of goodies. The stockings were then hung in hopes that Santa soon would be there.

On Christmas morn we awoke extra early to the noise of the kids scampering down the stairs to see what Santa left in their long wooly stockings. They would find new pencils, lip gloss, hot wheels cars, nail polish, baseball cards and always a box of life-savors. Santa didn't wrap these items, he just quickly tucked them into the stocking as he was off to the next house...no time for gift wrapping!

Our children are now grown, bringing home spouses & significant others, but the stockings still hang by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nick soon will be there...bringing out the child in each of us at this very special time of the year.

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The tradition of the Christmas stockings began by a story told since ancient time about a kind noble man who had three daughters. With the passing of the wife/mother the daughters and their father were left in a state of sorrow. The daughters were left to do all the work in the house. When the daughters became eligible for marriage, the poor father could not afford to give the huge dowries to their husbands.
One evening the daughters, after washing their stockings hung them near the fire place to be dried. Santa Claus being moved by the plight of the daughters came in and put in three bags of gold one in each of the stocking hanging by the chimney. The next morning the family noticed the gold bags and the nobleman had enough for his daughter’s marriage. The daughters got married and they lived happily ever after. Since then children have been hanging Christmas stockings.

Until tomorrow,



The wish book....

As I am finishing up the decorating of the house today my mind is swirling as to what today's blog is going to be about. I'm also doing some dusting & cleaning and really need to sort through and start throwing away the enormous amounts of catalogs that clutter up my house. Remember when there was just 1 catalog at Christmas time...the almighty Sears & Roebuck Christmas Wish Book. You peddled your bicycle extra fast up the lane back to the house the day it arrived! The catalog in itself was somewhat of a toy at our house. Hours & hours were spent thumbing through the catalog, circling the items you wanted Santa Claus to bring to your house.

Here are some of the gifts Santa so carefully wrapped and placed under our tree...

I teeny bodied doll with a very large head that lived in a plastic locket that was worn around the neck. And for when you weren't wearing the locket you simply removed the chain and sat it on your dresser using the easel on the backside of the lid. I had a collection of these and hands down was my favorite doll ever! Any Lucky Locket Lovers out there???


It seemed that a new Barbie was always in need each year. Did I ever mention that I spent most of my childhood pretending? Yep, pretended I was a beautician. My Barbies always sported a fresh, short haircut!

This doll was just the ticket for me, no need to get the scissors out to play beautician....nope just turn the wheel on her back to make Velvets hair long or short. Velvet also had a sister or maybe it was a cousin named Crissy that had brown hair....can anyone please clarify what the relationship of Velvet to Crissy was?

Velvet had her very own carrying case and a spot for hanging her clothes. Older sister Linda kept me well stocked with hand made clothing for Velvet.

While this game seemed to look pretty cool in the catalog, I must say I never really mastered the art of Spirographing....I'd try my hardest to keep the little teeth lined up just so, & then there was the challenge of keeping track of the small little tacks so they wouldn't end up in dad's feet!

Dancerina was a pretty amazing doll Santa brought one year. While my Dancerina had blond hair, if my memory serves me correctly, she did wear the same pink tu tu. She wore this magical crown on top of her head and with just the pull of the crown would make her do various ballerina moves. This is another one of those toys that I was always in fear of dad taking apart to "see how that thing works".


Ahh yes, the Flatsy doll...another favorite gift from old Santa. These dolls as you might imagine were flat and you could bend their bodies in all strange sorts of poses! They came in a cute little picture frame which was their "home". I had a small collection of these as well....the pretend beautician in me loved those big bushy pony tails!


While this isn't a game we actually owned at our house, it was circled in the wish book a time or two. Mom must have told Santa we didn't need this game...I'm sure she had good reasons for that! Our neighbors had this game though and on rare, very rare occasions my older sisters and the neighbor girls would let me play this game with them....I just remember how scared this game made me!


There was also another version to this...more fitting for girls. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it. The shapes were flowers & lady bugs...better suited for girls. The lady bug was my favorite design. The bug fit perfectly on the end of a paper clip or on the tops of pencils. The neighbor girls and I sold these on the back of the school bus to & from school to any interested buyers.


On occasion Santa did bring clothing if we were in need of hats, mittens, pj's or boots.
I don't know if these hats had a name but they were very cool! I have vivid memories of taking the strings and whipping the poms around and around. While my hat was white it did look just like the black one above. If anyone knows if these hats had a name, please let us know!


Dear Santa brought these one year to my sheer excitement, although mine were black. Mine didn't seem to fit my skinny legs as nicely as the model above. Mine were usually down around my ankles by the end of the school day...very attractive!
I will leave you on this note as I need to take on my mountains of catalogs & finish my holiday decorating.

Please leave a comment as to what your favorite Christmas toy was. All names who comment will go into a drawing for a free $50.00 dollar shopping spree on http://www.countrystitchesonline.com/
Drawing winner will be announced on Sunday December 20th.
Until tomorrow,


Bow Making 101

At our house we make all of the bows for our presents at Christmas time...we call them the Gervais Jewelry Store bows. Let me explain.... My father in law owned/operated the Gervais Jewelry Store in Jackson, Minnesota for many many years.

Gervais Jewelry was known for their exquisite gift wrapping...you always knew if your gift came from there, just by the wrapping & the hand made bow. The bows were made by the 2 women that worked there. I spent lots of time watching these women work their magic with the beautiful colored ribbons and learned the bow making, just by watching, I guess...

After school my friends and I would walk up town for a coke and french fries at the Mayflower Cafe. Then it was across the street for a quick visit, some flirting or whatever you want to call it at the jewelry store where my high school sweetheart Dave worked. Dave helped his Dad in the backroom of the jewelry store engraving friendship bracelets (had one of these), sizing promise rings (but REALLY wanted one of these) or washing windows in exchange for some pocket change and most important the use of the family car for a Friday night date.

Many years later, the high school sweetheart is now my husband of almost 29 years. Dave's dad is no longer with us. The jewelry store is no longer there. But the tradition of this simple bow making technique continues on in our family at Christmas time.

Last year when daughter Erin & husband Rob came home for the holidays her gifts had the infamous bows on them as well...she too had watched her mother as a youngster and picked up this bow making unbeknownst to me! It was at that moment last year that I realized just how special these bows really are. They will always remind us of Grandpa Bud, and how fitting...he was so kind & giving.
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You will need:
Various colors & widths of ribbon
Roll of white curling ribbon

Wrap ribbon around 4 fingers that are slightly spread apart...wrap around fingers 8 times. Cut ribbon.

Slide off fingers and fold bundle in half.

Cut off each side at an angle at the fold, forming a V.

Here is where you really could use a 3rd hand, so I use my mouth to hold the still folded cut bundle while I cut about 12" of curling ribbon.
Slide curling ribbon in between folded bundle and tie tightly around ribbon in a double knot.
Now is the fun part. Beginning on the inner most loop, begin pulling the loops outward towards the center of the bow in a twisting fashion; alternating from left to right as you pull the loops out. Remember, it is important that you twist as you bring the loop to the outside and use of some force will hold loops into place.

Now turn the bow and do the same for the other side in the same fashion.

Tie a long piece of ribbon around your box. Tie in a knot to secure.

Tie bow to the ribbon on your box with the long ends of the curling ribbon. Tie in a double knot to secure.
Curl the ends of the curling ribbon with scissors.

Trim any loose ends of ribbon to a desired length if necessary.

Make any adjustments to the loops on the bow & wahlah...you have just made a Gervais Jewelry Store Bow! Wasn't that easy & fun?

Until tomorrow,