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Runs with Christmas Traditions… and Scissors!

September 6, 2014


Ahhhhh … yummy smells here at the Penny Black blog! Finally, the baking is underway! I understand it’s a tradition here at Penny Black to have an extraordinary variety of cookies and candies on hand for the holidays.

Speaking of traditions, our family has a few traditions, too. Some of them were very short-lived as in the white flocked tree with a color wheel and the festival of lights bus tour.

As you might expect from a family where one of the members runs with scissors, some of our traditions are pretty non-traditional.  For example, cookies have been replaced by a delicacy we call “Spam rolls”. Yes, warm yeast dinner rolls stuffed with a mixture of diced Spam, onions and black pepper. Even Santa gives these a thumbs up!


A Polish cookie called kruscyyki (kroo-she-kee) was part of my childhood Christmases. My grandmother came to America from Poland as a young woman for her arranged marriage. I’m sure making and eating these cookies reminded her of the home and family she never saw again.


They are time consuming to make as the dough must be rolled out, cut in strips, each strip slit in the middle and the ends pulled through, forming a bow tie or angel wings. They are deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar making them crunchy, light and delicate. Just like potato chips “no one can eat just one”. Even more fun, the powdered sugar falls like snow, dusting anything and anyone nearby.

Now on to a tradition we all share: the Christmas card. The real beginning of the Christmas card tradition was 1840 in England with the birth of the “penny post”. At that time, there was only ONE Christmas card design. Imagine!!


Since this bird stamp is titled Ode to Christmas, I felt a background of musical notes from Footnotes was appropriate. The kraft and black theme needed a burst of color, so I added the leaves and Noel in deep red.


I wanted to try the same bird in black and white on some linen finish paper and this is the result. This would be an especially easy design to use for multiple cards. Love it that the bird is an image that doesn’t always need further coloring after stamping.


It seems my Christmas cards have gone to the birds!! I love this bird-in-a-Santa-hat from Jolly Critters waiting with his Christmas stocking. Again I’ve used the musical notes background, along with three different diecuts from the Pocket Treasures release. The sentiment is from the Joyous Wishes creative die set.  Looks like there might be a snowball fight later on!

I’ve previously shared about my military family and how our Christmases were seldom spent in the same place. The one constant was the beautifully decorated tree that was my mother’s pride and joy. After help with testing the lights and getting them on the tree, she alone completed the masterpiece.


The main attraction was the tinsel and the cotton “snow” she placed on the branches. In those days, the tinsel contained lead and each strand was heavy enough to hang ramrod straight. There was no tossing tinsel on my mother’s tree!! She placed the strands one by one, branch by branch and then cut out the “snow” from rolls of Red Cross cotton.

When the holiday was over, the tinsel would be carefully removed, “carded”, and wrapped carefully for storage. Each year a few more of the ten cent boxes of tinsel would be added to the collection.


Love this Caroling Tree image! It can be used in so many ways as the focal point of the Christmas card! Here I’ve stamped and embossed and used distress inks for the background. I used glossy red and metallic gold papers for the layers. Love the frame diecut from the Frame and Pattern Creative Die set.


What would Christmas be without a snowman? Love this little guy and his doggie buddy from the transparent set Winter Play. I’ve colored them with Copics and added “Let it Snow” from the creative die set Joyous Wishes, and a snowflake from Crystal Trio.


These little penguins from the Let’s Chill set are having a great afternoon watching their Jolly Critters mouse buddy ice skate! And isn’t he a clever little mouse to skate the word “jolly” into the ice! Looks like the snowballs are at the ready for a little snowball fight when the skating is done. Love how that diecut background looks like snow!


Cooper is feeling a bit better about Christmas this week and agreed to a Christmas photo.  He may be thinking about those yummy Penny Black cookies!

My scissors and I have had a great time using Penny Black stamps and dies to make Christmas cards this week. I love that each card is in itself a little gift. I always include a hand written note as well as a printed Christmas letter in each of my cards. No, mine is not one of “those” letters; all bragging and no admission of the things that didn’t go as planned. I remember a Christmas at a time in my life when I was celebrating the little victory that my kids finally got the hang of replacing the empty toilet tissue roll with a new one. It was that same Christmas my college roommate sent her Christmas letter that included a photo of her two early-teens sons on the roof of the mountain retreat they were building: the boys were installing the roof. Obviously, I had set my goals too low.

By the way, if anyone is wondering what the little sign says in the photo of the Spam rolls: “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.”

Time to pick up and pack up! (including some cookies!) The scissors are stowed away; the clutter has been conquered and neat and tidy reigns once more! I hope you will check out the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery for more inspiration. I also hope you include Penny Black stamps and dies as one of your holiday traditions!

Shop for today’s featured Penny Black Supplies:



35 Comments leave one →
  1. Carmen permalink
    September 6, 2014 12:40 am

    Wonderful Christmas cards and great story! May we have your Spam dinner roll recipe?

  2. dawnnz permalink
    September 6, 2014 12:46 am

    I totally love them all. The birds are fabulous and love the critter cards. Your tree is really elegant and thanks for sharing the awesome photo of your mother and the tree.

  3. eliza permalink
    September 6, 2014 1:31 am

    chrusciki or also called them!!

  4. Darlyne Wagner permalink
    September 6, 2014 2:20 am

    The rolls and cookies look delectable, Cooper looks very handsome and the cards are splendid, as usual. The birds, the postage stamp – cut card, the skating mouse, the tree: all so great. When did you find time to bake and make all those cards? Up at dawn and to bed at midnight? Well, keep them coming, just don’t get too pooped with those scissors in hand and harm yourself, hahaha!
    p.s. your mother must have been so special.

  5. Dianne Crowe permalink
    September 6, 2014 4:36 am

    You have been busy, love the look of the goodies. Perfect cards for Christmas and Cooper looks so happy this week. I had to go back and check out your little sign in the kitchen, very cute but it does look like you use the kitchen a lot. Mothers are very precious.

  6. September 6, 2014 4:41 am

    Oh my – that’s some serious baking The cookies are just like our “klejner”

  7. September 6, 2014 6:09 am

    Thank you for taking me back. It must have been the era because you could have been describing my Momma with the tinsel. She allowed no one to put it on or off the tree but her, sgh………. good memories. The cookies look divine and the cards are so lovely. What a wonderful way to start my morning, by reading this blog post.

  8. Scott schmidlkofer permalink
    September 6, 2014 6:16 am

    Mother, Do not post pictures of spam rolls without sending me some! That is just cruel! people who read this blog, you have no idea how addictive and good spam rolls are! Loved seeing the picture of Grandma and her tree. love , your Son.

  9. quilterlin permalink
    September 6, 2014 6:30 am

    What a wonderful array of Christmas cards, Judy! I loved seeing that little bird on a branch with the Christmas hat, and the Chickadee cards are wonderful, too! And loved hearing about your Christmas traditions! Have a great weekend, my friend!

  10. Donna permalink
    September 6, 2014 6:46 am

    Beautiful cards thanks for giving me some ideas for my cards this year. Would love to have the recipes for the cookies too.

  11. September 6, 2014 7:05 am

    What a wonderful post. First you wet our appetites with all the yummy treats from your Christmas traditon. Then all those fabulous card inspirations. Thanks for sharing th stories of your grandmother, mother and the best insight to your lovely family… the wonderful comment from Scott.

  12. alexandra s.m. permalink
    September 6, 2014 7:09 am

    Your posts always touch my heart Judy!
    You had me with the cookies and the story about your dear GrandMa ;o)
    Love the cards you are so generously sharing with us!
    Many Thanks for making my day just a little bit more beautiful!

  13. Lindi permalink
    September 6, 2014 7:11 am

    Thanks for sharing you families story and your cards are beautiful, love the traditional card but also loved the last card which was really cute…….

  14. September 6, 2014 7:13 am

    Օne can hsve easy finger food recipes fߋr cakes, cookies ɑnd chocolates.
    Аn oven thermometer сan help ensure your oven is onn target.
    t Һave to involve cans, prepackaged foods or а microwave.

  15. ThePurplePlace permalink
    September 6, 2014 8:21 am

    What a nice share Judy!! I also remember the days of the tree with the Tinsel….and your posts brought back lots of fond memories I had from childhood!!

    I also love all your latest cards and have been dying to be well again so that I can get back to my craft desk! Hopefully, that will start later today, after a hair appointment and some errands I am behind on!!

    PS: You cookies look yummy, but SPAM “Anything” is not for me!! ENJOY!!

  16. September 6, 2014 8:34 am

    OMG Judy…I am LMAO…I scrolled to see what Scott said first…I noticed he didn’t mention anything about your low expectations of replacing the toilet tissue roll. You are a hoot!!!
    Some FAB cards again today. Have to know what you are using for the “snowballs” on two of your cards…just adorable!!!
    Spam? I didn’t even know they still sold it. However the kruscyyki looks yummy, and a big paws up for Cooper posing for a picture. Thanks for making my day!!!

  17. knurse22 permalink
    September 6, 2014 8:40 am

    Oh, I love when your posts pop up, Judy, and now I know why…..I think we lived the same life as children!! You had me laughing, crying and drooling as I remembered the kruscyyki (we called them ‘love knots’), the heavy tinsel stored on the card and wrapped in newspaper, that would tingle your fillings if you chewed it (I know, weird memory)……And now I must have the recipe for the Spam rolls, living near Philly, the Spam capital of the east!!!
    Oh yes, I can’t forget to tell you that I ALWAYS love what you create! Simple, elegant, something I can actually replicate in my own craft room. And I STILL want your dog, too!
    Keep ’em coming, Judy….you make my day!!!

  18. Delila George permalink
    September 6, 2014 8:44 am

    Thanks for sharing! I know I need to get started on my Christmas Cards and I think I have the added push I need. Especially seeing all the goodies too, makes one think more about Christmas time is not far off. My 100 cards I need to make are not going to get done if I don’t start soon. Love all of the samples. Thanks again!

  19. Donna Whitten permalink
    September 6, 2014 8:58 am

    Thanks for another entertaining Saturday morning! I loved hearing about your special memories, the recipes, and seeing Cooper’s Christmas picture. Your cards never fail to inspire me, they are so festive, thanks for sharing!

  20. jeanmanis permalink
    September 6, 2014 10:22 am

    Fabulous cards! And hearing about your traditions was wonderful. I especially liked the part about the Christmas letters!

  21. diane clark permalink
    September 6, 2014 11:40 am

    Your cards are wonderful, as ALWAYS…you give so much inspiration. Do you ever share you wonderful family recipes? hint hint

  22. September 6, 2014 12:20 pm

    Love Saturdays in the blogosphere because of you. Can you come to my house to do baking, too. And then maybe, make a few of your gorgeous Christmas cards? I’ll offer candy, coffee or tea…what do ya say/

  23. Bev J. permalink
    September 6, 2014 1:01 pm

    Great cards, photos, memories and goodies. I , too, would like to know how to make the Spam rolls. Thanks.

  24. donna mikasa permalink
    September 6, 2014 4:39 pm

    I’m so glad that I stopped by today! This post is chock full of holiday yumminess, from the cards to the food shots! And of course, the photo of Cooper to top it all. Great post as always, Judy!

  25. Linda S. in NE permalink
    September 6, 2014 5:00 pm

    Your son, Scott is right. People who read this blog but have never tasted Spam Rolls do not know how addictive and good they are. Add me to that list. And what does that cutie pie, Cooper think of this so called tasty treat?? I’m thinking for once he is glad he’s still on a treat restricted diet!!?!! Sorry, Scott.

  26. September 6, 2014 8:35 pm

    LOVE the picture of your mom & the Christmas tree–what a treasure! We hung tinsel & saved as much as possible for re-use each year. Your cards are inspiring, as always! I especially love that die used as snow!

  27. September 7, 2014 6:43 am

    WOW Love ALL of your cards Judy I have yet to dig in and make Christmas cards! Love the story and the photo of your Mom is priceless! xoxoxoxo

  28. September 7, 2014 7:22 am

    Judy, how fun it was for me to read about your Christmas traditions. I am Lithuanian…came to the States when I was 10…we also made the rolls (stuffed with ham) the bow tie cookies (AUSIUKES in Lithuanian, but look exactly the same) AND the Christmas tree looked just like yours…but I don’t remember the tinsel being heavy…THANKS for great memories brought back this morning.
    My sister and I still make the Ausiukes cookies every year…love those!!!

  29. Michelle permalink
    September 7, 2014 7:57 am

    I love your cards, and your stories so much!! You are very gifted, and we are all lucky to have you!! Cooper is also!! Thank you for sharing your talent!!

  30. September 7, 2014 9:07 am

    What a lovely post, Judy! The photo of your Mother beside the tree is priceless. Love the variety of cards, too, from elegant to nature to whimsical, you’ve created them all beautifully. And it’s always a delight to see Cooper’s smile included in your post.

  31. KatieP permalink
    September 7, 2014 2:44 pm

    Fun post. Great cards and neat to hear about family traditions. Always fun to read your posts and experiences through your eyes.

  32. debbieg2014 permalink
    September 7, 2014 7:29 pm

    I always love your cards. I remember so vividly the tinsel on the trees and putting it carefully back on the cardboard to store for next year. Ours was put on, strand by strand. That’s why today I still cannot add tinsel to the tree but it is a very fond memory.

  33. Donna permalink
    September 8, 2014 8:57 pm

    Great post! Lovely cards but especially enjoyed the story and picture of your kruscyyki! My sister and my two daughters and I carry on that family tradition now!

  34. mjmarmo permalink
    September 9, 2014 3:51 am

    The reading your story along with seeing the beautiful cards!

  35. Susan permalink
    September 9, 2014 7:03 pm

    Wonderful memories and traditions! Thanks for sharing your fabulous cards and your pictures.

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