Nov 10, 2011

Handmade Holidays...Homemade Madness...

Hello! Hello!

Is it windy? Are the leaves falling? Are hints of the holidays just around the corner? 

I decided to take some time off, well, some time off to do some stuff. Most wouldn't call that time off, they would call that "time doing some stuff," but I call it time off to finally do some stuff. Stuff like getting my office in order, finishing up some computer work, resting, reading some articles, taking a photo class...some cooking... and getting ready for the holidays! I haven't taken time to actually get ready for the holidays in years. I always throw it all together the days prior because I just work up to the last minute.

This is my living room in the photo. This is how neglected it is lately. No, not really...hahahaha. But it is a photo I took, and yes, styled, for a shoot. Yes, styling can entail trash and waiting for just the right light to hit (if you use only natural light, that is). 

But I share it only because it reminds me of how I usually feel AFTER the holidays are over: A mess, worn out, and pooped. I am determined not to end up feeling this way this year and I hope that for you too. So, I figured, I would share with you some of the few items I made last year for some of my friends, as I can't show you what I am attempting to make this year, yet. 
And maybe by showing a few simple things I made last year, even thought it is before Thanksgiving, it will give you some very simple ideas that may get you through the holidays with some ease. And maybe when the new year won't feel how this photo looks when it is all over.  :-)

Below are some of the crafty gifts I made for friends last year. Just remember I had a post not long ago that said, "Artsy does not mean crafty." 

This little tree in a silver creamer was actually a gift to me from my friend, Renee. Isn't is adorable? I just love it! It is made so simply. I added the watch faces and then took some photos of it and then took the photos and made some cards from it. And then I took a photo and framed it for Renee for her home. See below:

This little farmhouse frame was used to frame the photo of Renee's tree and then on the back I put a little photo and note for her. So instead of just taking one of my own photos and framing it I took a photo of something she made for me.

Below is are little sour cream pound cakes that I made and handed out to family and friends with the recipe on a card that was on the bottom. The cake is really good and I love wrapping it in such simple paper. The recipe is at the end of the post. This pound cake is everyone's favorite.

This photo I gave to my seamstress, Maureen. She is a wizard with scissors and I wanted something personal for her. 

And these scissor photos were given to a friend that just completed her super cool craft room where we girls gather and do fun projects. What a better way to celebrate a project room than with a creative project from a friend that loves you?

I was shopping with some fun girlfriends (Debbie and Renee) at an out of town flea-market where we spent the night, had tons of laughter and non-stop talking, and eating pie. While shopping I came across antique lap trays. All in mahogany. I bought them all and then painted them, aged them and painted the names of my girlfriends on them. I saved one tray for a friend's husband, Terry. It was so cute, because Terry loves to use his bed as his office desk, which drives my girlfriend crazy, since I designed custom bedding for her. So I decided to paint a lap tray for his laptop and coordinate it with her bedding. I left it on their doorstop, and he was so surprised and it turns out he loved it and uses it all the time. He says the little lip on it keeps his laptop from getting too hot and keeps his lap cool too. That made me happy he liked it so much. Who knew?

I made a batch of caramels as well. One year, I wrapped the caramels and placed them in little chinese take-out boxes and then wrote little "Chinese" proverbs on the scrolls and inserted them in the boxes. I never took photos of those...must have been yet another year where I made my gifts only days prior to the holidays. I will make caramels this year and take photos and give you the recipe - early enough so you can make them too! It is time consuming, but worth it.

Here is Elizabeth's Sour Cream Pound Cake...I have had this recipe for 28 years...I still read the recipe off the original paper I wrote it on...over the years I made some changes as I made this recipe countless times and adjusted it. Over time, friends just started to call it "Elizabeth's Sour Cream Pound Cake," although I don't know where the original recipe came from. I think I have it memorized, plus my additions, after all this time...

Here is the recipe with a few more instructions and my own additions and tips over the years:

"Elizabeth's" Sour Cream Pound Cake

Oven 350 degrees
Bake 45 minutes

3 Cups of flour
3 Cups of Sugar
6 Eggs
8 oz Sour Cream plus 1/4 cup
2 Sticks of Butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbs rum flavoring
1 Tbs almond flavoring

In electric mixer (if you have one it is easier) cream butter and sugar.
Add 3 eggs 1 at a time
Add 1/2 of the flour and mix in
Add rest of eggs 1 at a time
Add in the rest of the flour and mix
Add in the other ingredients and mix


Have sticks of butter at semi-room temp. Not too soft and not too hard.

Crack eggs one at a time in small bowl and THEN add to the mixing bowl  (this avoids any shells getting into the recipe)

When flouring the baking pans, I use lots of flour and tap out ALL flour, especially in the corners

When baking, I just slightly under bake the cakes where the toothpick comes out just slightly wet when poked in the center. Once the cake is cooled, the cake will be extra, extra moist and heavy and will stay moist over the next few days and not dry out.

I wrap in wax paper and then use a large zip lock baggie to store them in if not giving them out right away. This keeps them very moist and heavy.

The batter will be very heavy and you will need to spoon out the batter, it will not pour.

This will make two regular loaf pans or several small loaf pans.

I do not double the batch. I make two batches instead. 

Hope you enjoy the pound cake as much as I have for so many years. You will want to make quite a few....they don't last long. And yes, you may freeze them as well.

I will try to get a batch of caramels made soon and get that out to you. I hope showing you that even a very non-crafty person can make some gifts and with funds being tight, we can still come up with some personal and fun gifts. I think the most fun is the taking some down time and enjoying the process. When I finally found the time to make these regret was that I didn't slow down to enjoy it all because I just ran out of time. But when I got into the projects, I enjoyed it so much...all the more reason I wanted to slow down this season.  

You know how I like to keep it real on my blog, so even in my rush, I took some  very quick behind the scenes photos to show you how the above "pretty photos" weren't so pretty behind the all the rush - hence the rest of the name of this post...Homemade Madness!!

The madness began with making the pound cakes...thinking as they bake...I will just "do everything else."  Remember how I think I can do a week worth's of work in one night? Well, below shows how my thinking is so waaayyy off.... hahaha

I begin with my sour cream pound cakes...while they bake, I will just make all the other things....yeah....right....

I still need to get my photos done of the little tree...and make cards...and make the gift of the photo framed....and then I notice....ahhhhhh!!! The damn cat had made her way into the caramel tray sometime earlier that day and "sampled" it!! I now have to make a new batch...or...maybe just cut that chunk one will know....right??? But I ended up making more because it was a big-ass chunk and I was so mad....and now back to the kitchen.

I am feeling pleased...I got my "sample" tray done and the others are drying...and look! it is still daylight!

I come up with this bright idea of something I saw somewhere that inspired me. But I decided to do "my take" on it. To make some chicken wire trees in my window seat - THREE of them, all lined up and then stuff paper all around them with lights...I thought...that would be so easy!

Several hours later, and one scraggly tree with no paper on it yet and I am pooped and not liking it....

Oh, did I mention all this was taking place on December 23rd? So, I scrap the damn tree idea and decide to go down to Flower Row before they close and go buy all fresh greenery, which I usually do every year, but didn't find time because of my you can see, it is now dark....

I am standing here, as you can see, by the roll of chicken $#@& wire on the right, debating and trying to convince myself that once all the paper is on it and all three are lined up, that it will really be "cool looking" now that I have an European grain sack wrapped around it. Yeah, right, a SACK makes it so much better.....NOT....

I am feeling a little more merrier now (something to do with the bottle of wine, I think) and the smell of pine and greenery. As you can see, it is pitch black out. The pound cakes are baked and smelling good too. As you can see, I haven't given up on the damn tree...NOW, I have tried waxed paper thinking that might work...but NOT.

But then....damn! I realize that I need to get the cards done...and my markers are old and drying up...must get new ones this year. So, now I am in my office...forget the trees....and down to the basement is my one lonely tree and there it still sits, mocking me. 

Sometimes, seeing my crappy pictures, my crappy, messy house, and my crappy attempts of "crafting" makes me laugh NOW.  But at that moment, I was thinking...."Geesh,!!" When in reality, I should just in the moment give myself a break. Because if I were reading this on someone else's blog, I would just laugh and think...OMG...I am just like her...a real spaz! 

Why are we so hard on ourselves to perform...especially when it is just our own selves? I mean, no one was even coming over...I wasn't even entertaining....I wasn't having a dinner or anything...and yet, I was beating myself up for waiting until the last minute. Although, I didn't really "wait," I was working so hard, I just didn't have time. That makes sense to me NOW, but last year, I didn't see it that way...I saw it as not using my time wisely and not "having it together." 

I really hope for you this season that you aren't as mean to yourself as I can be to myself. I hope  if you find yourself saying mean things to yourself, you click on my blog and scroll right past all the pretty photos and go right to my mess and think....I have a Spazzy Cyber Sister...I am not alone!! And give yourself a break.  I know I am giving myself a break this year and I want the same for you too - because I love you.

Big messy hug to you.

from my homemade mad house to your house,



Richard Cottrell said...

Home made is best. Looks beautiful. Happy Holidays. Love the magnolia branches. I have two trees that are 6 years old, I might be brave enough to snitch a few little bunches. I don't know for sure???? Stop by soon and see my hand crafted Christmas. Richard from My Old Historic House.

Tamra said...

What?! You mean you're NOT supposed to attempt to do an entire weeks worth of work in one day before sunset?! LOL

And all this time I thought it was just me.

Natalie Meester said...

Absoulutely gorgeous photos as you usually do! I have seen these chicken wire trees wrapped in burlap. They somehow made a cone shaped pattern with burlap and then stitched it together on the back side with twine.

Old feed sacks look lovely this way too!

You are such an inspiration to me...thanks!


Claudia said...

I can attest to the deliciousness of Elizabeth's caramels. I was lucky enough to enjoy several of them when we met up in NYC.

Elizabeth - the lap trays are such a good idea. I use a lap top and I've been looking for something to put it on other than my lap because the heat from the laptop isn't good for my skin. I'll have to keep an eye out for something like this.


Elizabeth Maxson said...

HI Richard,

Happy Holidays to you too! I love Magnolia branches too...may have to sneak on over to your house with some clippers! are on my list of visits :-)

Can't wait to see you and your beautiful home.

Miss you and Prissy,


Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Tamara!

You are so funny. I KNEW we were kindred spirits!! Would love to see/hear about your spaz days....

So glad you wrote,

Big hug

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Natalie,

You burlap trees sound very cool...way too much work for me you can see by my photos. Hope your season is a great one.

Thanks so much for making me smile,
Big hug
Elizabeth ;-)

Elizabeth Maxson said...

My Claudia!!

Thanks so much about the nice of you to mention them...I am so glad you liked them. And yes...the darn laptop does get hot, doesn't it??? And then I am told that using a pillow isn't good for the lap a lap tray is a good solution. Too bad I didn't keep one for myself!

Big hug to you --lovely photos on your blog - as usual.
Elizabeth :-)

Anne Lorys said...

What really struck me as I was reading through this post, is that everything you do, you do with the utmost generosity and love.
'Tis true.

It shows in your photos, in your crafts, in your words...your art is a reflection of who you are as a person, and knowing what sort of gal you are, that's my highest compliment.

I'll take a crack at that delicious sour cream pound cake sometime soon, it sounds way too good to resist!

Thank you again for being my sounding board today, I owe you one. More like two, actually. ;-)


Elizabeth Maxson said...


I always love talking with you and wish we were near each other! Take a crack at the sour cream pound cake...that is what some call it...."legal crack." Hahahaha.

So glad we could chat today. Big hug to you and know that I am thinking of you this season.


trash talk said...

I think we need to form a "Spaz Anonymous" club. I could be a charter member. can be president and I'll be your secretary!
When it comes to crafting, I can take the artsy right off of it. There's a reason they don't let me play with scissors here at the home.
This just pickles me tink to see someone like you who appears to have it so together, cussing the clock!
Keep keeping it real it and you. Now I gotta go find me some bed trays.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Deb!

As you can see, scissors are best left for photographing for me as well. You don't run with them and I will just photograph them - hahahaha.

Yes, SpazSistas...would be a great club - more like a fort in a treehouse...with a secret word to get in..."Nuts"

You always make me laugh. And you give me too much credit....I didn't even know there was a clock...that is the start of my issue to begin with!


Just A Girl said...

Even your step ladder looks gorgeous!

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

Truly...this is SO me!! I have so many grand ideas and then they don't come together like I had "envisioned" and I am so frustrated! I printed the pound cake recipe and will do this for sure! And the cat! The damn cat...laughed out loud!! I have four!!!! I can SO relate!!!

Love your blog....Anne sent me over :) I am a follower and I will be back :)

Lou Cinda

Unknown said...

I was laughing myself sick - especially about the cat getting into the caramels...but thinking the whole time - wow if I'm just like Elizabeth then I must be pretty fantastic! LOLOLOL You are too funny!

Burlap Luxe said...

Oh Oh Oh, !! Elizabeth it really does not get any better than visiting with you, soulful, peaceful inspiration over here even if you rushed to complete your beauty over night!
Sometimes are best work is while we are in a frenzy to complete it would you not agree :)

Oh how I wish I were one of your home girls on the end of your gift giving and you on mine, how much fun would it be if we could create together like there was no tomorrow :)
Your photos speak softly with beauty.

Blessings to you and your treasured time in creating.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Okay Cori...that was supposed to rum FLAVORING...are you dipping into the real thing over there??? My step ladder is NOT gorgeous...but thanks all the same :-)

Big hug

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Welcome Lou Cinda

Love that name....sounds like a fairy tale name...and any friend of Anne has gotta be very cool. So glad you stopped by and will be visiting you soon too!
Enjoy the weekend,

big hug
elizabeth :-)

Elizabeth Maxson said...


I would like to think the opposite...if I am anything like you...then maybe that gives ME some hope! Either that, or you just have to set your goals just a tad higher...hahahahaha.

Thanks so much for visiting with me,
Big hug
Elizabeth ;-)

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Dore, Dore how I ADore you!!

I always love to hear from yo - and yes....I can't wait to meet with you will be a festive meeting of gabbing, gluing, and painting. I will watch while you do all the work have WAY more talent in that department. Would love to visit with you and create...can you imagine????

Big hug to you and a squeeze too
Elizabeth :-)

MJ said...

Elizabeth Im so happy to see your creativity again. I know you have been busy and I love all of the sweet personal items as gifts. I think this year especially I feel that less is's the thought you put into it not the $ you spend.
I have always felt that way about decorating but dont think I apply it well when gifting...this year I will make a different choice.
Hope you have a wonderful upcoming Thanksgiving!

Lucky 7 Design

Di@Cottage-Wishes said...

To funny, that is how I feel sometimes when I am done with something...working on a garland and thinking what am I doing and buring my finger. Oh well. I am going to have to copy the silver tree though, I have one as well and will put it in my sugar bowl. much fun...Difrom Cottage-Wishes

Jillayne said...

You just wrote my holiday story - it should be called "Why Do One Thing When You Can Do Ten?"
I beat myself up for the same thing almost every year too, but last year was the worst. Your post did exactly what you intended - there is comfort in knowing I'm not alone. You're a true kindred spirit!

Legacy of a Single Girl said...

Dear Cyber are not alone! We are all blessed with certain gifts from our Maker...some of us craft, some of us sing (not me) some of us take beautiful photos (not me). If we had all the gifts, we wouldn't be blessings to each other! We'd be competitors! And you are certainly a blessing!! Love your mess!

golfingal said...

Love your blog; thanks to Fiona & Twig!

Shannon said...

Beautiful pics! Thank you for sharing your behind the scenes shots....

I'm a new follower & plan on spending some time catching up on your posts.

Free Art Printables said...

I love homemade! :) it was so great to finally meet you in person the other night at 3 french hens. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Elizabeth Maxson said...


It was a real treat to meet you too! What a nice surprise to run into several talented bloggers while shopping. And what a great event too. I am so happy that you came up to me...and I LOVED your my mirror! It is going above my cabinet of ironstone. My friend Debbie found it only minutes after I said, "What can I put above my cabinet? I am putting up my Christmas village on it this year and need something above it...." And only five minutes later, she found it :-)

And your tree ....if it had fit in my car, I would have stolen it. I didn't see a price tag, so I assume it was only a display...which meant I would have to steal it. hahaha

Big hug
elizabeth :-)

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Welcome Shannon!

Always happy to have new people join in. Looking forward to getting to know you. Thanks for taking time to stop by and I hope you stop by again.

Have a great holiday season
And a big welcome hug
Elizabeth :-)

rozetta said...

Your chicken-wire trees brought back some memories. In the early 60's my mom and other mothers on the block made chicken-wire and napkin trees. LOL My mother made her a pale green with big red bulb lights.

I think using coffee filters might work. You could save your coffee filters or stain a bunch all at once.


Nella Miller said...

Elizabeth, you are sooo funny. I loved reading this post as I am coughing and hacking, and wondering when I will get over this flu, so I too can start acting like a whirling dervish!!
This year I am giving gifts from the kitchen......I will keep you posted!!!! N.xoxox

Charmaine said...

Dear Elizabeth,
You're such an inspiration! I wish you posted more often because I love everything you do and say :) I finally had a chance to make your sour cream pound cake tonight. They're cooling now and if they taste anything like the batter they will be divine :) They fell while cooling so I'm asking what I did wrong? Do you have any suggestions to prevent this? Maybe my kitchen was too cold? Thanks for reading my question and even more thanks (and Merry Christmas!) if you have time to answer.........

Burlap Luxe said...

Hi Elizabeth, I am returning to let you know I have been busy building and would love for you to come see my latest post :)

Also I have not received my win...Where Women Create Mag yet! I must be on some sort of mailing list :)

Lots of love to you and all you create.
O do come over I think you being so artistic you will be charmed by my latest

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Charmaine!

I wish I could post more often too! I have photos, but can't load them quickly. I hate to say that I never had the cake fall once....? In fact, if I put too much batter in, they rise to high and I don't like them too "puffy" looking. Can't imagine. Try less sour cream? Maybe a little hotter oven? I don't even really let them cook, I pop them right out of the pans onto the cooling rack....they are so ready to go. My oven tends to get pretty hot and I adjust the temp a lot (vintage oven, temp must be watched), so try a higher temp and watch them.

Let me know! Curious and thanks for writing and checking in. I just did a little outside holiday project that I can't to show because I have not had ONCE decent weather day to take photos....very frustrating.

Will post soon!
Big hug
Elizabeth :-)

Curtains in My Tree said...

Oh Elizabeth I would love to have one of your pictures you have framed and gave to friends. Good idea for a give a way if you do that. But since I would not win LOl you can just sign one of your pictures and send it to me LOl

Glad you are taking time for yourself, my gosh we all need to do that.

I was hoping to get over to Richard's in Clarksville Mo to see his house decorated for Christmas, would love to meet you there , I read where you might go visit him

keep on having fun

Merry Christmas to you & your barber husband
also your precious little pug

Elizabeth said...

I am Dale Balmer's daughter, Elizabeth. I remember you as the fun lady who worked with my dad at Ellsworth Air Force Base :) I love your blog, and have used ideas from it for our 1893 farm house. Also, I tried your pound cake this Thanksgiving when Dad visited and it was delicious! I didn't even have to change the name of it :)
-Elizabeth Latta

Elizabeth Maxson said...

HI Janice!

I hope you are doing better and getting around better. I heard about your health and I will keep you in my prayers. And you are so funny...never thought about the photo give away idea. Will think on that :-)

Thanks for writing and keep me posted. Have a great season and take it easy girlie!
Big hug

Elizabeth Maxson said...


How exciting to hear from you! Last time I saw you, you were a cute little, red-head girl, always making her dad proud. I remember you as the one who was always smiling....or the one who was always making her dad smile!

So great that you wrote. I think of your dad often and always state how he was the BEST commander anyone could have ever asked for. Wishing you and your family the very best season.

Elizabeth :-)

Flowers said...

Everything is so beautifully wrapped and presented. Thanks for the ideas and the recipe :)

Flowers said...

Everything is so beautifully wrapped and presented. Thanks for the ideas and the recipe :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...