Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nollaig Shona!

Merry Christmas!
 Wishing you and yours the safest, warmest and brightest of holidays this season. Enjoy your family and friends and prepare for all the great things that 2012 will bring!

"Every year at just this time,
In cold and dark December,
Families around the world
All gather to remember,
With presents and with parties,
With feasting and with fun,
Customs and traditions
for people old and young."

- Helen H. Moore

Christmas Magic

Are we too grownup to feel a thrill
As we light the Christmas tree?
Are we immune to cookies,
Christmas cards and Christmas glee?

Are we too adult to "Ooh" and "Aah"
At the Christmas candle's glow?
Are we blasé about our gifts;
Do we shun the mistletoe?

Are we too mature for carols,
For merry or for jolly?
Do the decorations leave us cold,
The ornaments and holly?

Fat chance! We'll never grow too old
To love the Christmas magic.
A year without a Christmas
Would be boring, even tragic.

So bring it on! The candy canes,
The feasting and good cheer;
O Christmas, lovely Christmas,
You're the highlight of the year!

By Joanna Fuchs

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Junk Mail Christmas Wreath

   While making my rounds yesterday for the Yule Magic Blog Party I came across the blog Magpie's Baubles and a really creative Christmas wreath idea.

     It's done using junk mail of all things but I'm sure you could also use left over pieces of paper, construction paper or even wrapping tissue paper you didn't use on your Christmas gifts. Here's the picture of her wreath:

     Cute, isn't it? I am definitely going to try this this season. Click HERE for the tutorial on it.

     I also found directions on how to make your own "Merry Christmas" sign out of white felt. It's very simple, but very beautiful.  Click HERE for that tutorial and enjoy!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yule Magic Blog Party 2011

   Hello and Welcome all who are joining in the Yule Magic Blog Party hosted by The Village Witch.

     My Yule gift to everyone this season is simple: inspiration. Whether you create things with your hands, pour your heart and thoughts down on paper, or bring stories to life through film, I hope that everyone is inspired this holiday season and through the New Year.

     But I don't only wish it for those who create art because inspiration doesn't just stop at art. You can inspire people you know to be better people, your children to treat others well, a close friend to follow their dream. BE the inspiration yourself and watch what great things can happen.

   As for the rest of my post I wanted to share a few drawings and stills from one of my favorite films ever, "Harry Potter". Truly a film inspired by so many things but also an example of just what can be done when you let your creativity flow!

Nollaig Shona Dhuit!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dickens in Ireland

   Did you know the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come were in Ireland? That's right, dear old Charles Dickens made a trip to Ireland in 1858. Read all about it here from Discover Ireland's website:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Yuletide Blessings Blog Party!

      Happy Saturday dear readers and welcome everyone who found their way here from Astraea Sapphire's Yuletide Blessings Blog Party!

   This blog party is all about Yule-time traditions that reader's families hold.

   Many Blessings and Enjoy!

   **Note: These are not my personal pictures as I'm not a great picture taker.  :) **

 Starting November 30th, my family and I unpack our Christmas tree and let the decorating begin! We actually just bought a new tree last year so I'm excited to put it up and see how big it is! Usually we have blue and silver christmas ornaments as well as garland that wraps around with clear lights in between.

I have boxes and BOXES of Christmas decorations that come out this time of year. (My husband keeps saying we should get rid of some... BLASPHEMY!)
These boxes include our stockings, little christmas trees I decorate, LOTS of garland and little figurines from our favorite Christmas specials like "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" and "The Year Without a Santa Clause"

My husband and I have been together 5 years, married for about 1 1/2, and we have gotten a Christmas ornament for every year we've been together and plan on doing this for every year to come. Last year was really special with the birth of our daughter so her First Christmas Ornament was the one we bought. Here's a picture of the exact one (her name isn't Erika though):

The Christmas lights are next. Not too many people put lights up on their houses anymore which is a shame because their beautiful at night and we love to see them!

Every year I try to make our Christmas cards but sometimes there's just not enough time so I have a back up box full to send out!

When Christmas Eve finally arrives we do the usual opening up of one gift the night before. For dinner we usually have something simple at home or we might venture out to a nice restaurant. But right after we always drive around town to look at all the house that are decorated with lights. Like I said, it's not too many anymore so seeing them is always great!

This year, we're really excited because we get to play Santa for the first time for our daughter. It's the small things that really make the holidays!

Christmas morning always starts out with a batch of warm cinnamon rolls followed by the opening of presents. There's really no rhyme or reason to how we do it, we just dive in!
And of course, the day wouldn't be complete until you've had Christmas Dinner!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Taking the "Christ" out of Christmas

   This is actually something that has been bothering me for a few weeks now but I couldn't find any words eloquent enough to express how I felt about it.

  For you fellow Facebookers out there, I'm pretty sure you've come across this little gem as of late:

I am sick and tired of every year when CHRISTMAS comes around, there are people who want to take CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS. It might offend someone. Well how about all of the CHRISTIANS? What about offending us because you are taking our CHRIST out of CHRISTMAS!?!? CHRIST IS CHRISTMAS!!! If you aren't celebrating CHRIST then why are you celebrating? CHRISTMAS is about the birth of our SAVIOR! CHRISTMAS is one of a few holidays left that celebrate my CHRIST! Leave my holiday alone!!! And tell everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holidays! Repost if your not ashamed.

Oh yes...

   This little declaration caused quite a stir on the wall of a "friend" mine, resulting in 42 comments and a lot of tension.

   My response? Christ is not the "reason for the season" and Christians do not "own" Christmas as a holiday. Plain and simple. Whether it be "Merry Christmas", "Happy Holidays" or "Happy Winter" - say what you want and everyone else can get the hell over it.

   However for a better put together response to both this and another situation, take a stop by The Whimsical Cottage and The Secret Life of the American Working Witch to read their excellent thoughts!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Witches Yule Tide Ball

Nollaig Shona Dhuit! (Merry Christmas in Irish Gaelic) Welcome to all those stopping by for the Witches Yule Tide Ball! For my post today I am sharing some Irish Christmas Traditions, many of which we do here in the states. So enjoy and Happy Holidays!

   Christmas in Ireland is a traditional holiday in both parts of the island, and very much a family and religious celebration! As in French Canada, Roman Catholic families attend Midnight Mass together on Christmas Eve. Christmas is the important celebration, rather than the New Year, which has more emphasis in Scotland. The festivities last from Christmas Eve until January 6th, when decorations are put away.

   Most homes have fireplaces and mantlepieces that are decorated with holly and ornaments. People also clean their houses thoroughly, and in the past it was whitewashed as well as a means of purification.

   In many areas on Christmas Eve a lit candle is placed in the window, though nowadays an electric one is usually the case. This goes back to traditions of hospitality in ancient times.

   In terms of other decorations, usually the most elaborate kind is found in shops, restaurants and hotels around towns. In residential areas, the spirit of Christmas is felt more than the glitz and glitter.

   In Ireland, Santa Clause or Father Christmas leaves gifts for children at the foot of their bed rather than under the tree. The tree is where you may find gifts from friends and family.

   Another common tradition is that of mistletoe. Since Victorian times, it has been a cherished Christmas decoration. Kissing under the mistletoe is as much an Irish Christmas tradition as it is anywhere else. But for centuries before that custom came into practice, this custom was actually banned in Christian Ireland...anything held so dear by the "pagans" (Druids) was thought to be evil.

   Although most people think that the 12 days of Christmas end with Christmas Day, they actually begin with Christmas Day Mass.
   Legend has it that the "12 Days of Christmas" carol was sung as a way to remember the tenets of the Catholic faith in secret.
   Christmas Day, like in America, is a time for feasting, celebrating, and exchanging gifts with friends and family. But as American life gets back to business the day after Christmas, Christmas in Ireland is far from over. The day after Christmas is celebrated as well.
According to Irish Christmas traditions, December 26 is also an official public holiday...St. Stephen's Day. It is so named in honor of the first Christian martyr, Stephen. Remember the "feast of Stephen" in the traditional Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas"? That is a reference to this Irish Christmas tradition. Another Christmas Carol mystery solved...they are referring to St. Stephen's Day. The day for feasting and celebrating with family and friends.

Irish Christmas traditions draw to an end on January 6. The 12 days of an Irish Christmas mark the twelve days between the birth of Christ and the arrival of the "Three Wise Men". January 6 is called "Little Christmas" in Ireland, Nollaig Bheag in Gaelic. It is observed as the last day of the holiday season. It is the last day of the children's winter school break, and the last day for displaying holiday decorations. In fact, it's very bad luck in Ireland to take down Christmas decorations before Little Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Edible Gift No. 6 & 7

Edible Gift No. 6

Sugar Plums
           Finely chop 1/4 cups toasted almonds in a fod processor with 1 1/2 cups each prunes and dried apricots, 3 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of orange zest, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/3 teaspoon of nutmeg. Roll into balls, then roll in course sugar.

Edible Gift No. 7

Nut Clusters
        Cook 1 1/2 cups sugar over medium heat, swirling the pan but not stirring until dark amber, about  10 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 cups salted mixed nuts. Pour onto an oiled baking sheet; seperate into clusters and let harden.

Monday, December 5, 2011

   Today I wanted to share a website for a company I discovered through a friend of mine on Facebook. The name is Ogham Art and they make, you guessed it, pieces of art using the written language of Ogham. Some of you may remember that for my online Etsy shop I created some Ogham signs out of felt to be hung up, so it's awesome to see other pieces. Their work includes cards, jewelry, ornaments and more. Check out both their company website and Facebook page below!

   Edible Gift No. 4

   Minty Marshmallows
                Drizzle marshmallows with melted chocolate and press in crushed peppermint candies. Chill until firm. Float in a cup of hot cocoa.

   Edible Gift No. 5

   Salted Caramel Sauce
               Simmer 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water in a saucepan over medium high heat, swirling the pan but not stirring until dark amber, about 12 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in 1 cup cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Let cool, then divide among jars and chill.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

25 Days of Edible Gifts

   I've been trying to think of something to do for Yule like the "Month of Pumpkin" back in October and I believe I've found it.

   Once again, it's from the Food Network magazine which, for anyone who hasn't read it, should pick up a copy because it's really good! For December, I'll be sharing 25 of their 50 Edible Gift ideas for the holidays. Don't know what to give this year? You can never go wrong with food!  (**I'll include the first 3 gifts in this post since I'm late in starting**)

   Also, just a reminder, there are a few blog tours and parties going on this Yule so take a look at the left side bar and join in the fun!

   Edible Gift No. 1

   Chocolate Fudge
                    Melt 1/2 stick butter, 4 cups marshmellows, 1 cup ice cream, 2 cups sugar and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in 3 cups of chocolate chips until smooth. Spread in a foil lined 9-by-13-inch pan. Let cool and cut into squares.

   Edible Gift No. 2

   Peanute Butter Fudge
                     Melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan with 1 cup creamy peanut butter. Off the heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and a sifted 1-pound box of confectioners' sugar. Spread in a foil lined 8-inch square pan. Press 1/2 cup chopped peanuts on top. Chill until firm and cut into squares.

   Edible Gift No. 3

   Chocolate Truffles

                    Bring 1 cup cream and 1/2 stick butter to a boil in a saucepan, pour over 1 pound finely chopped chocolate in a bowl. When melted, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until smooth. Chill until firm. Scoop with a spoon and roll into balls, then roll into crushed peppermint candies, chopped nuts or cocoa powder. Chill.