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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 12/20/11

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CHRISTMAS IN INDIA!



   India is a secular nation and houses every community. Christians are a minority here and form nearly 2.3% of the population. But the fact that there are only about 25 million Christians in India, in no way lessens the observance of the festival. Moreover, the occassion is celebrated not only by Christians but by people of other religions as well.
   The tradition of Christmas observance was introduced here with the colonisation of Europeans. Though the country gained its independence in 1947, many European customs and festivals stayed on. The fact that there is the presence of a Christian community in India, helped the maintaining of these traditions in no less a way. Today, Christmas is the biggest and most-loved festival of Indian Christians. The festival is also enthusiastically celebrated by people of other religions residing here.





   Like in many other countries, Christmas is observed in India on 25th December. Everyone gears up for the festival from nearly a week before. Business stores are decked up for the occassion with every gift shop packed with Christmas trees, presents, ornaments and other items of decoration that are bought by millions of enthusiastic celebrants of the festival.
   For Indian Christians, especially the Catholics, the Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a very important service and holds great religious significance. Every year, on the night of 24th December, all members in Christian families visit their local churches to attend the Midnight mass. On this night, churches in India are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles. The mass over, everyone relishes a mouthwatering feast of various delicacies, mostly consisting of curries. Thereupon, presents are given to one another and "Merry Christmas" is wished. India being a multicultural nation, many different languages are spoken here. In Hindi and Urdu, Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Bade Din ki Mubarak'; in Sanskrit it is 'Krismasasya shubhkaamnaa'; in Bengali 'Barodiner shubhechha janai'; and in Tamil it's 'Christhu Jayanthi Nalvaalthukal'.





   Nativity plays are staged in many schools(mainly the Christian ones) and churches on Christmas morning. The perfomances by young children depict the birth, life and actions of Jesus Christ and usually end with the singing of hymns and carols and the visit of a person dressed as Santa to distribute candies/toffees to kids. In the metros a smiling Santa Claus, entertaining children at departmental stores with toys and gifts, is not an uncommon sight. Caroling processions on streets and thoroughfares can also be seen on 24th night.
   A sizeable population of the Christian Community reside in Mumbai of the Indian state of Maharashtra and are mainly Roman Catholics. It is a delight to watch their homes during Christmas. Every Christian home creates a nativity scene, often display a manger in the front window. Giant star-shaped paper lanterns are hung between the houses so that the stars float above you as you walk down the road. There is a provision of sweets, mainly home-made, in every household to welcome visitors during the occassion. In Southern states, Christians often light small clay oil lamps and place these on the flat roofs of their homes to show that Jesus is the light of the world. In the North-western states of India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk take out caroling processions during the whole Christmas week and often visit neighbouring villages to tell the Christmas story to people through songs.





    In India, Father Christmas or Santa Claus is held to be the giver of presents to children from a horse and cart. As in the U.S., he is believed to deliver presents at the house of every kid who behaves well during the whole year. Santa Claus is known as 'Christmas Baba' in Hindi and 'Christmas Thaathaa' in Tamil.

DIY SHADOWBOX CHRISTMAS ART!

   This diy comes from www.allisonwaken.squarspace.com .  Cute and clever. Enjoy!


Super easy Christmas or Holiday craft | DIY modern holiday decorations
We’re working on lots of fun stuff, but I made this up this evening and thought I’d share. I wanted some fun framed holiday decorations, and something that was a little more modern. First, I had this 12x12 shadow box frame I had picked up on sale at Hobby Lobby.

Then I found a piece of scrapbook paper, you could use patterned but I found this shimmery silverish color

I found these little tubes of cute little bows for $1 and figured I could do something fun with them, so I figured, why not frame them?

I wanted them in a square, but you could do any shape. A circle or triangle like a tree would be fun. I measured, and penciled in a square, I ended up going with a 2 1/2” border.

Then just lay out all of the little bows into the shape. 25 little bows fit nicely into my square. How appropriate.

Now, you could be very easy on yourself and just use the sticky back of the bows and stick them on, but I felt like being difficult and wanted to see what it would look like when I used these foamy sticky things I bought on clearance.

Stick them all on your paper and stand it up to make sure none fall off, then erase your guide lines.


Then, just pop it in the frame and you’re done! My kind of project!

TOP 25 FOOD GIFTS, PART I!!


   Give the gift of great recipes this holiday season. Surprise someone special with one of these favorite food gift ideas—Christmas cookies, fudge recipes, Christmas candy and more!


Gingerbread Cookies Recipe


Gingerbread Cookies Recipe




  • 60 Servings




  • Prep: 30 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling



  • 30 10 40

    Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 3/4 cup molasses
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • Vanilla frosting of your choice
    • Red and green paste food coloring

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses. Combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight or until easy to handle.
    • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with floured 2-1/2-in. cookie cutters. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.
    • Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Tint some of the frosting red and some green. Decorate cookies. Yield: 5 dozen.



    Sweet & Salty Snowmen Recipe


    Sweet & Salty Snowmen Recipe
    


  • 8 Servings




  • Prep/Total Time: 25 min.



  • 25 25

    Ingredients

    • 8 pretzel rods
    • 6 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
    • Assorted candies: M&M's miniature baking bits, miniature chocolate chips, small gumdrops, jelly rings, Fruit by the Foot fruit rolls

    Directions

    • Dip pretzel rods two-thirds of the way into melted white chocolate, or drizzle chocolate over pretzels with a spoon. Attach baking bits for buttons and noses and chocolate chips for eyes.
    • For hats, dip the bottom of a small gumdrop into chocolate and press onto a jelly ring; attach to the top of each pretzel.
    • Carefully stand snowmen by placing them upright in a tall glass or pressing the bottom of the pretzel rods into a 2-in.-thick piece of Styrofoam. For scarves, cut fruit rolls into thin strips; tie around snowmen.
    • Yield: 8 snowmen.

      Note: This recipe was made with Chuckles jelly rings.


    Celebration Spoons Recipe

    Celebration Spoons Recipe


  • 24 Servings



  • Prep/Total Time: 10 min.



  • 10 10

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

    • 24 metal or plastic spoons
    • Peppermints and/or Andes candies, chopped

    Directions

    • In a microwave, melt semisweet chips; stir until smooth. Dip spoons into chocolate. Tap the handle of spoon on the edge of the bowl to remove excess chocolate.
    • Place on waxed paper. Sprinkle with chopped candies. Let stand until set.
    • Yield: 2 dozen.


    Gumdrop Fudge Recipe

    Gumdrop Fudge Recipe


  • 81 Servings



  • Prep: 20 min. + chilling



  • 20 20

    Ingredients

    • 1-1/2 pounds white candy coating, coarsely chopped
    • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 cups chopped gumdrops

    Directions

    • Line a 9-in. square pan with foil; set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the candy coating, milk and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until chips are melted. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and gumdrops.
    • Spread into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm. Using foil, remove fudge from the pan; cut into 1-in. squares. Store at room temperature.
    • Yield: about 3 pounds.


    Shortbread Ornament Cookies Recipe


    Shortbread Ornament Cookies Recipe

  • 40 Servings



  • Prep: 1-1/2 hours + chilling Bake: 15 min./batch + cooling



  • 90 15 105

    Ingredients

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1-1/2 cups cold butter, cubed
    • 2 tablespoons cold water
    • 1/2 teaspoon rum extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

    • ICING:
    • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons 2% milk
    • Food coloring of your choice, optional
    • Colored edible glitter and nonpareils

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water and extracts until mixture forms a ball.
    • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    • Bake at 325° for 15-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
    • For icing, in a large bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and milk. Divide into small bowls; tint with food coloring if desired. Gently spread over cookies. Decorate as desired.
    •  Yield: about 3 dozen.


     
    Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe

    Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Mix Recipe



  • 18 Servings




  • Prep/Total Time: 10 min.



  • 10 10

    Ingredients

    • 1-3/4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1/2 cup powdered nondairy creamer
    • 1/2 cup baking cocoa
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup miniature marshmallows

    • ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
    • 3/4 cup hot milk

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, combine the milk powder, sugar, creamer, cocoa and cinnamon. Add the marshmallows; mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 3 months. Yield: 18-19 batches (about 3-1/2 cups total).
    • To prepare hot chocolate: Dissolve about 3 tablespoons hot chocolate mix in hot milk.
    • Yield: 1 serving per batch.

    Peppermint Lollipops Recipe

    Peppermint Lollipops Recipe


  • 10 Servings



  • Prep: 5 min. Cook: 30 min. + standing



  • 5 30 35

    Ingredients

    • 1-1/2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil
    • Red and/or green paste food coloring
    • 10 lollipop sticks
    • Crushed peppermint candies, optional

    Directions

    • Butter 10 assorted metal cookie cutters and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300° (hard-crack stage).
    • Remove from the heat. Stir in oil, keeping face away from mixture as odor is very strong. For each color of candy swirls, pour 1/4 cup sugar mixture into a ramekin or custard cup; tint red or green.
    • Immediately pour remaining sugar mixture into prepared cookie cutters. Drizzle with colored mixtures as desired; cut through with a toothpick to swirl. Remove cutters just before lollipops are set; firmly press a lollipop stick into each. Sprinkle peppermint candies over tops if desired.
    •  Yield: 10 lollipops.

      Note: This recipe was tested with LorAnn peppermint oil. It can be found at candy and cake decorating supply shops or at www.lorannoils.com.

    • It's recommended that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.


    Chocolate-Coated Pretzels Recipe

    Chocolate-Coated Pretzels Recipe


  • 20-24 Servings



  • Prep: 15 min. + standing



  • 15 15

    Ingredients

    • 1 to 1-1/4 pounds white and/or milk chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped
    • 1 package (8 ounces) miniature pretzels
    • Nonpariels, colored jimmies and colored sugar, optional

    Directions

    • In a microwave, melt half of candy coating at a time; stir until smooth. Dip pretzels in candy coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until almost set. Garnish as desired; let stand until set.
    • Yield: 5-6 dozen.



    Cappuccino Mix Recipe

    Cappuccino Mix Recipe



  • 16 Servings




  • Prep/Total Time: 5 min.



  • 5 5

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup powdered nondairy creamer
    • 1 cup instant chocolate drink mix
    • 2/3 cup instant coffee granules
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    Directions

    • Combine all ingredients; mix well. Store in an airtight container. To serve, add 3 tablespoons mix to 3/4 cup boiling water; stir.
    • Yield: 16 servings (3 cups mix).


    Coconut Cashew Brittle Recipe

    Coconut Cashew Brittle Recipe


  • 24 Servings



  • Prep: 25 min. Bake: 10 min.



  • 25 10 35

    Ingredients

    • 2 tablespons plus 1 cup butter, divided
    • 2 cups cashew halves
    • 2 cups flaked coconut
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon water, divided
    • 2 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

    Directions

    • Butter two 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan each with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside.
    • Combine cashews and coconut on a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
    • In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup water. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Add remaining butter; cook and stir until butter is melted. Continue cooking, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300° (hard-crack stage).
    • Meanwhile, combine the vanilla, baking soda and remaining water. Remove saucepan from the heat; add cashews and coconut. Add baking soda mixture; stir until light and foamy. Quickly pour onto prepared baking sheets. Spread with a buttered metal spatula to 1/4-in. thickness. Cool before breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
    •  Yield: about 3 pounds.

     Note: We recommend that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.



    Cinnamon Chocolate Minties Recipe


    Cinnamon Chocolate Minties Recipe





  • 48 Servings



  • Prep: 45 min. Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling



  • 45 10 55

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/3 cup coarsely crushed soft peppermint candies
    • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

    • DRIZZLE:
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
    • 2 teaspoons finely crushed soft peppermint candies

    Directions

    • In a small bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in candies and dark chocolate chips.
    • Shape into 1-in. balls; place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake at 350° for 6-8 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
    • In a small bowl, melt semisweet chips with oil; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with candies. Let stand until set. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 4 dozen.

    Editor's Note: This recipe was tested with Bob’s Sweet Stripes peppermint candies.

    Terrific Toffee Recipe


    Terrific Toffee Recipe



  • 30 Servings




  • Prep: 10 min. Cook: 25 min. + standing



  • 10 25 35

    Ingredients

    • 1-1/2 teaspoons plus 1 cup butter, divided
    • 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons water
    • 2 cups coarsely chopped almonds, toasted, divided

    Directions

    • Butter a large baking sheet with 1-1/2 teaspoons butter; set aside. In a small bowl, combine semisweet and milk chocolate chips; set aside.
    • In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until a candy thermometer reaches 290° (soft-crack stage). Remove from the heat; stir in 1 cup almonds. Immediately pour onto prepared baking sheet.
    • Sprinkle with chocolate chips; spread with a knife when melted. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Let stand until set, about 1 hour.
    • Break into 2-in. pieces. Store in an airtight container.
    • Yield: about 2 pounds.

     Note: recommended that you test your candy thermometer before each use by bringing water to a boil; the thermometer should read 212°. Adjust your recipe temperature up or down based on your test.



    Sugared Cherry Jewels Recipe


    Sugared Cherry Jewels Recipe





  • 30 Servings



  • Prep: 25 min. + chilling Bake: 15 min./batch



  • 25 15 40

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • Additional sugar
    • 1 jar (10 ounces) maraschino cherries, drained and halved

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the corn syrup, egg yolks and vanilla. Gradually add the flour and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
    • Roll into 1-in. balls; roll each ball in additional sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each. Press a cherry half in the center.
    • Bake at 325° for 14-16 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
    • Yield: about 5 dozen.




    DIY EPSOM SALT CANDLE AND ORNAMENTS!

       This diy comes from www.thriftyparsonageliving.blogspot.com .  They look like they been outside and the snow and ice has crystalized on them.  Very nice.  Enjoy!


    DIY Epsom Salt Ornaments and Candle




    I know there's been candles and ornaments
    made with Epsom salt floating around blog land for a while now,
    but I thought I'd share my version which utilizes simple things most of us have lying around our homes.

    Here is what I had and you'll need if you're going to make these.
    1. Styrofoam balls
    2. Candle
    3. Paint
    4. Mod Podge or Glue
    5.Epsom Salt

    I made this project for mere pennies because every thing I used I already had in my home.

    Three styrofoam balls - from a "free" box at the local thrift store.



    Paint (deco art) given to me by a friend who no longer had a use for it.


    Glue

    I didn't have any Mod Podge in the house, but
    you can substitute glue watered down with a few
    drops of water as a homemade version.

    Begin by painting the balls.

    Next, a rubber band was placed about 1/3 of the way from the top
    of an old candle (left over from our daughter's wedding)...



    .....and the bottom two thirds painted
    (the rubber band acting as guide/stopping point for the paint)
    .




    After painting all the items, I coated them with glue followed by sprinkling Epsom salt on them.
    (Removing the rubber band after everything is totally dry.)

    I added some left over silver elastic ribbon to the top of the candle...




    ...and placed all the items on a heirloom tray
    from my grandparents 25th wedding anniversary.