My Farmgirl Sisterhood Chapter, “CT Simpler Life Sisters” have been together as a group since 2010. Every year, we try to vary the activities we do, but each Christmas, we keep to our tradition, started that first holiday season together. I have the privilege of hostessing our Annual Christmas party – and it is this sisterhood chapter gathering that we really look forward to all year long.
Farmgirl Chapter Get-Togethers should be fun, not stressful. Gatherings should be simple, with good food and great conversation. For our Christmas party, we always have a potluck. If you’re hostessing, asking each farmgirl in attendance to bring a dish eliminates one person from having to do elaborate meal planning or bearing the entire expense of providing all of the food. I don’t want to be exhausted by the time the girls arrive, so I make easy-to-prepare-ahead-of-time dishes I know will turn out great! Potlucks are also a great way to try different recipes (our group often swaps recipes). This time, I made Baked Ziti With Spinach and Cheese. Delicious and filling, it’s similar to meatless lasagna but easier and quicker to assemble, and serves as a main dish for a few guests, or as a side dish for a crowd. I also made tasty, festive Home Style Green Beans (with cherry tomatoes it looks “Christmas-y”). Both are simple and tried and true dishes I’ve made before, so I can focus on having fun with my farmsisters. I collect vintage cookbooks, and while it isn’t “vintage”, both recipes came out of one of my all-time favorite books, Christmas All Through the House, published by Gooseberry Patch in 2008. It’s got so many great recipes, ideas, and crafts for the holidays.
“CT Simpler Life Sisters” usually do a craft together, or one of us will do a presentation. This time, Jackie showed us all how to make homemade suet cakes. Easy to do, it’s a fraction of the cost of store bought cakes, and a winter activity that will draw appreciative hungry birds to your feeders.
Square Bird Cakes
- 2 cups lard, melted over low heat in a saucepan
- 2 cups birdseed mix
- 2 cups black oil sunflower seeds
- 1 cup dried fruit (such as raisins or cranberries, etc.)
- 2 cups cornmeal
Line a 9X13 pan with wax paper or foil.. Pour the melted lard into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into the lined pan, flattening the mixture and spreading to all sides. Refrigerate for a few hours and cut into squares using a pizza cutter. Place a square in a suet cage. Wrap remaining cakes in wax paper (tape shut) and refrigerate of freeze. *Any fat that can be liquified and turned into a solid can be used. Dry oatmeal can also be used in the recipe.
The highlight of our evening together is always the Annual Handmade Christmas Gift swap. For this, each participant brings a wrapped gift, but it must be homemade/handmade. Each year, we farmsisters try to top the year before! This is our sixth handmade gift swap and so far, no gifts have yet to be repeated! Past years we’ve had candy wreaths, knitted scarves, homemade fire starter kits,embroidered pillows and beautifully sewn table runners – all made with love. The excitement to see what each person has created makes it a gift swap like no other (and gives us ideas for crafts we can make together as a group later in the year).
December is such a crazy-busy month, and this year there’s just a few weekends before Christmas arrives! Half of our members couldn’t attend this time, but we still enjoyed the evening. When I looked at my watch, it was almost midnight! Time flies when you’re with good company. To join a chapter in your area (or start your own), go to http://www.maryjanesfarm.org/Chapters/.
Finally, it’s time to pick a winner for my Recipe Box Giveaway! I had so much fun having you pop by to say hi, or share cherished memories and favorite holiday foods. I wish I had more than one box to share today! (I will definitely have to do another giveaway soon)!
Tappin’ on the breadbox for a drumroll….
And the winner is….
Marge Hofknechgt! Congratulations! Marge, please check your email and send me your address. I’ve sent you an email so I can send your box to you!
Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Congratulations Marge Hofknechgt! I was kind of hoping that would be my name in that slot. You are going to love it!
Hi Mary, This was such a fun giveaway. I will definitely have to do another one. Merry Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Merry Christmas, Nicole!
What a fun post. So heart-warming and what a bunch of talented farmgirl friends you have!
Glad you were able to gather during this busy time of year.
Blessings from the Beach Farmgirl!
Hi Deb! Thank you. I love your decorated canning jar tops…that would be a fun thing to do for our party next year! Merry Christmas to you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Nicole, I loved this post. I wish I could join your Farmgirl sisterhood chapter. We don’t have one in our area… wondering if I should start one maybe?
It looked like such an enjoyable evening. I loved the home-made/hand-made craft exchange. What an awesome idea.
Hi Dori, Well, if you head up this way, you can be a guest of honor at a chapter party! 😉
When I first joined the Sisterhood I was so excited about joining a chapter. I was disappointed when I found there wasn’t an active or open one near me, so I decided to start my own. That was 2010. We have had our numbers grow and get smaller from time to time (like any group, but we are mostly “original” members), and we always have fun. We meet about once a month. Good luck, let me know if you start a chapter! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I was sorry that I missed all the fun this year! See you soon!
Ali, you were so missed, but can’t wait to see you! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I am so excited…I found a chapter near me…well about 50 miles away..but what would one expect in northern Maine.. I can hardly wait to hear back from them. I have toyed with this idea for years and finally took the first step. Thanks for the extra nudge Nicole. I will be trying the site recipe. Looks and sounds like you all had so much fun. Thanks again
Hi Colleen! How exciting! Thanks for telling me! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Must not exist any longer as I haven’t heard anything back
Oh dear, Colleen. That’s too bad. Maybe contact Brian at MaryJanesFarm, and see if he knows anything more. Or start your own! That’s what I did, and am so glad! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Hey, Nicole- I just bought a copy of that darling book for myself, thanks for the suggestion. I think I will love it as much as you do. Thanks again—-
Hi Pamela, Oh you will love it! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Congratulations Marge! what a sweet surprise. This was a great fun post! I’m not in a group right now – wish there was one close to me – one like yours. Thanks for sharing – Merry Christmas. God Bless
Hi Joan, When I started CT Simpler Life Sisters, it was just a few friends. You don’t need a huge group to have fun! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I was one of the farm girls at Nicole’s Christmas party and it was a truly the greatest so far. Although some us sadly couldn’t make it, it was wonderful to have a fabulous new member join our group.
I was the lucky winner of Nicole’s beautiful wreath. Thank you again Nicole. I have it hanging on the back door where all my dear friends enter my house.
Hi Betty, I am so glad you like the wreath! I had fun making it. See you soon! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
I should see if there is a chapter near me. I could use some girl-time.
Hi Susabelle, Just go to that link on the blog and it will take you right where you can check if there is a group near you. If not, why not start one? I did, and I am so happy I did! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
There is one in my town and I emailed them. Hoping to hear back!
Awesome, Susabelle! I am so happy to hear that! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Enjoyed your post. Looks like a good time was had by all. Wishing you and yours a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
Marilyn and Family
Merry Christmas to you and your family, too, Marilyn! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
Nicole, thank you so much! I will treasure that recipe box. I’m downsizing lots around here and have to get realistic about how many cookbooks do I actually need or use. I’ve been making copies of favorite recipes out of this book and that book and then taking the cookbooks to our local library which has an ongoing book sale. The recipe box will be very handy to hold all my favorites. Your Farmgirl Christmas party looks like fun. I need to see if my area has a Farmgirl group that meets regularly. Have a Merry Christmas!
Marge, You are so very welcome! You will have to tell me when it arrives. I hope you fill it up with lots of wonderful recipes. You should have your box very soon. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
So much fun, and what great homemade gifts. Loved it. Felt like I was there. Merry Christmas to you and yours. Be Blessed. Neta
Thank you, Neta! It is just so exciting to see what everyone makes. Reminds me of being a little kid again at Christmas! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole
You look so beautiful and happy in this picture with your farmgirl friends! Very nice blog and love your grapevine wreath too.
Thanks, Mama! Love you! ~Nicole
Man i missed so much this passed six months . Been nursing my husband when things went from bad to worst, then he passed away, now im dealing with depression and my own health issues. A n d this tan l et is driving me nuts. Wish i CouId get THE spell check to stop. Because i correctly spell the word and it mispells it. So another reason not to connect. But anyhow I’m glad if I can get anything accomplished. Could use prayers, hoping wgatcevers wrong cures. But love reading your blog. Susan
Hi Sweetie, I am so sorry that you are going through such a tough time! Don’t worry about your spell check, I do enjoy hearing from you here. You hang in there. Big Farmgirl Hugs and Prayers, Nicole