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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 12/21/11

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

CHRISTMAS EVE IN A FINNISH GRAVEYARD!

Christmas Eve in a candlelit cemetery

Candlelit cemetery at Christmas, Finland


   At  Christmastime many Finns visit cemeteries to place candles by the graves of relatives, or by monuments such as this one in memory of war veterans.
Visiting the local cemetery is very much a part of many Finnish families’ Christmas rituals. Hey, it’s not as morbid as it might sound.
   Although going to a graveyard might seem an unlikely activity for the festive season, the sight of hundreds of graveside candles glowing in the snow in a serene wooded cemetery can be surprisingly uplifting.
Placing candles on the graves of deceased relatives at Christmastime is a deep-rooted tradition followed by non-churchgoers and members of the Orthodox faith, as well as believers from the majority Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. “As many as three-quarters of Finnish families visit a cemetery at Christmas, mostly on Christmas Eve, and we even have to make special traffic arrangements to accommodate the crowds,” says Risto Lehto, who manages six cemeteries run by the Parish Union of Helsinki.
Lehto explains that many people stroll in their local graveyards at Christmas even if none of their relatives are buried there, just to enjoy the tranquil candlelit scene. “Our cemeteries also have memorial features where people can light candles for those buried elsewhere.”

Light in the Darkness

Click to enlarge the picture
Coming to the cemetary to pay their respects



   Though the cemetery may be crowded, the atmosphere is silent and solemn as people quietly reflect on the candlelit scene, and their lost loved ones. “In truth cemeteries are for the living and not for the dead,” says Lehto. “In Finland we really take care of our cemeteries as scenic parks with grand old trees. They’re places where people can enjoy a peaceful stroll, as well as remembering the deceased. Grieving can be a long process, and we like to provide settings where people can gain comfort. Our cemeteries are nothing like the scary derelict graveyards you see in horror films!”
   The myriad graveside candles certainly bring light and joy to the scene on a midwinter afternoon, making a secluded cemetery look like a mystic fairy dell. Some people make picturesque natural lanterns around their candles using piles of snowballs or icy covers made of water that has been frozen in a bucket.
Lehto explains that the tradition of putting candles by graves only became widespread in Finland in the 1920s, when candles became affordable. However, the custom of paying seasonal respect to the dead probably dates back much further, and may even have its roots in pre-Christian times – like the pagan tradition of lighting midsummer bonfires, which is nowadays associated with the Christian feast of St John’s Day (Juhannus in Finnish).

A Hectic Time of Peace



Click to enlarge the picture
Hundreds of gravside candles glowing in the snow


   “In the post-war 1950s, when people wanted to remember those who died fighting to preserve Finland’s independence, putting candles on graves became more common on Independence Day (December 6) as well,” says Lehto. All Saints’ Day (November 1) is another day when Finnish cemeteries radiate with soft candlelight.
“The tradition of visiting the cemetery certainly fits in well with our idea that Christmas is a family festivity, and a time of peace,” says Lehto. “Though actually for most Finnish families Christmas Eve ends up being a very hectic day, with a trip to the cemetery on top of other compulsory rituals like the huge Christmas meal, the Christmas sauna and the eagerly awaited arrival of Santa Claus!”

O'TANNENBAUM CUPCAKES!

   This recipe come from www.bhg.com.  These look like a very neat treat to have some family members help you make and to pass a chilly afternoon making.


Oh Tannenbaum Cupcakes


Makes: 12 servings
Serving size: 1 cupcake
Start to Finish: 1 hr 30 mins


O Tannenbaum Cupcakes
Pointy ice cream cones provide the lift in these sky-high cupcakes. A star-tip frosting tool helps create the fir effect.
Ingredients
  • 1
    recipe Creamy White Frosting or two 16-ounce cans creamy white frosting or vanilla frosting
  • 1 1/2
    cupspowdered sugar
  • 12
    Pine Cupcakes or other 2-1/2-inch cupcakes
  • 12
    rolled sugar ice cream cones
  • Green and brown paste food colorings
  • White and/or green edible glitter or sprinkles
  • Small pearl candies or other small candies
  • Fresh thyme leaves (optional)*



Directions


1. In a large bowl mix Creamy White Frosting and powdered sugar. Spread a layer of frosting on each Pine Cupcake.
2. Place an ice cream cone upside down on each cupcake.** Tint remaining frosting forest green with green and brown food coloring. Place green frosting in a large pastry bag fitted with a small open star tip. Starting at the bottom of the cones, pipe short bursts of frosting onto the cones to cover completely.
3. Sprinkle edible glitter around rims of cupcakes. Decorate cones with pear candies and, if desired, thyme leaves. Makes 12 cupcake trees.

From the Test Kitchen
  • Tip *Test Kitchen Tip:If you choose to use fresh thyme on your Christmas trees, you will probably want to remove the herb before eating the Christmas tree cone.
  • Tip **Test Kitchen Tip:If you prefer not to pipe frosting, use only 3 cups Creamy White Frosting or canned frosting. Frost cupcakes as directed in step 1. For step 2, tint the remaining frosting forest green with green and brown food coloring. Place green frosting in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave on 100 percent power (high) until smooth and melted but still a little thick. Holding each ice cream cone upside down over bowl, spoon melted frosting over outside of cone to coat completely, allowing excess to drip into bowl. Place coated cones, pointed sides up, on a wire rack set over waxed paper. Let stand until set. Place cones on top of cupcakes. Continue as directed in step 3.



Pine Cupcakes
Makes: 24 servings
Serving size: 1 cupcake
Ingredients
  • 1
    2-layer-size white cake mix
  • 1
    tablespoonfresh snipped rosemary


Directions
Grease and flour twenty-four 2-1/2-inch muffin cups (or line with paper bake cups). Prepare cake mix according to package directions, except stir in fresh snipped rosemary. Fill muffin cups and bake according to package directions for cupcakes. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes 24 (2-1/2 inch) cupcakes.
  • Servings Per Recipe 12

Creamy White Frosting
Yield: about 3 cups            
Ingredients
  • 1
    cupshortening
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoonsvanilla
  • 1/2
    teaspoonalmond extract
  • 4
    cupspowdered sugar
  • 3 - 4
    tablespoonsmilk


Directions
In a large mixing bowl beat shortening, vanilla, and almond extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Gradually beat in remaining powdered sugar. Gradually add milk until frosting reaches a spreading consistency. Makes about 3 cups.

    TOP 25 FOOD GIFTS, PART II!

       You got the first 13, in part I.  Now sit back and take in the next 12 of the Top 25 Food Gifts, Part II!



    Poppy Seed Thumbprints Recipe


    Poppy Seed Thumbprints Recipe



  • 60 Servings




  • Prep: 15 min. Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling



  • 15 10 25

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
    • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the oil, egg and vanilla.
    • Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Beat in poppy seeds and lemon peel.
    • Shape into 1-in. balls. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon preserves into each cookie.
    • Bake at 325° for 10-12 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
    • Yield: 5 dozen.


    Cookie Dough Truffles Recipe



    Cookie Dough Truffles Recipe


  • 33 Servings



  • Prep: 1 hour + chilling



  • 60 60

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1-1/2 pounds dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour, alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
    • Shape into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Loosely cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.
    • In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in coating; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. If desired, remelt remaining candy coating and drizzle over candies. Store in the refrigerator.
    •  Yield: 5-1/2 dozen.


    White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies Recipe



    White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies Recipe


  • 24 Servings



  • Prep: 20 min. Bake: 10 min./batch



  • 20 10 30

    Ingredients

    • 1/3 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 cup white baking chips

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in cranberries and chips.
    • Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing to wire racks.
    • Yield: 2 dozen.

    Caramel Heavenlies Recipe



    Caramel Heavenlies Recipe




  • 36 Servings



  • Prep: 20 min. Bake: 15 min.



  • 20 15 35

    Ingredients

    • 12 whole graham crackers
    • 2 cups miniature marshmallows
    • 3/4 cup butter
    • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1 cup sliced almonds
    • 1 cup flaked coconut

    Directions

    • Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with foil. Place graham crackers in pan; cover with marshmallows. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook and stir butter, brown sugar and cinnamon until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
    • Spoon over the marshmallows. Sprinkle with almonds and coconut. Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes or until browned. Cool completely. Cut into 2-in. squares, then cut each square in half to form triangles.
    • Yield: about 6 dozen.


    Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Recipe


    Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Recipe


  • 20 Servings



  • Prep: 10 min. + chilling



  • 10 10

    Ingredients

    • 1 pound white candy coating, coarsely chopped
    • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1-1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

    Directions

    • In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Repeat with chocolate chips. Stir peanut butter into candy coating. Thinly spread onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with chocolate chips. Cut through mixture with a knife to swirl the chocolate. Chill until firm.
    • Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
    • Yield: about 2-1/2 pounds.


    Orange Coconut Creams Recipe



    Orange Coconut Creams Recipe


  • 108 Servings



  • Prep: 1 hour + chilling



  • 60 60

    Ingredients

    • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
    • 1 package (2 pounds) confectioners' sugar
    • 1 cup flaked coconut
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons orange extract
    • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate
    • 8 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons shortening

    Directions

    • In a small saucepan, combine milk and butter. Cook and stir over low heat until the butter is melted. Place the confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Add milk mixture; beat until smooth. Add the coconut and orange extract; mix well. Roll into 1-in. balls; place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
    • In a microwave, melt the chips, chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip balls into chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set.
    •  Yield: 9 dozen.


    Chocolate Swirled Bars Recipe



    Chocolate Swirled Bars Recipe


  • 39 Servings



  • Prep: 5 min. Bake: 15 min. + standing



  • 5 15 20

    Ingredients

    Directions

    • Press dough onto the bottom of an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan (dough will be thin). Bake at 350° for 11-13 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
    • Immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips. Allow chips to soften for a few minutes, then spread over bars. Drop spoonfuls of melted vanilla chips over top; cut through chocolate with a knife to swirl. Let stand until set. Cut into bars. Yield: about 3 dozen.


    Gooey Chocolate Cookies Recipe



    Gooey Chocolate Cookies Recipe


  • 54 Servings



  • Prep: 15 min. + chilling Bake: 10 min./batch



  • 15 10 25

    Ingredients

    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1 package (18-1/4 ounces) chocolate cake mix

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add cake mix and mix well (dough will be sticky). Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
    • Roll rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 9-11 minutes or until tops are cracked. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
    • Yield: 4-1/2 dozen.


    Christmas Almond Toffee Recipe



    Christmas Almond Toffee Recipe


  • 24 Servings



  • Prep: 50 min. + standing



  • 50 50

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon plus 2 cups butter, divided
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup slivered almonds
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips, divided
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

    Directions

    • Grease a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. pan with 1 tablespoon butter; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the remaining butter. Add the sugar, slivered almonds, water and salt; cook and stir over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 295° (approaching hard-crack stage). Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.
    • Quickly pour into prepared pan. Let stand at room temperature until cool, about 1 hour.
    • In a microwave, melt 1 cup chocolate chips; spread over toffee. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or until set. Invert onto an ungreased large baking sheet. Melt remaining chips; spread over toffee. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Let stand for 1 hour. Break into bite-size pieces. Store in an airtight container.
    • Yield: about 1-1/2 pounds.


    Fudge-Filled Sandies Recipe



    Fudge-Filled Sandies Recipe



  • 24 Servings



  • Prep: 25 min. Bake: 20 min./batch + cooling



  • 25 20 45

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1 teaspoon Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
    • Additional confectioners' sugar

    • FILLING:
    • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 tablespoon shortening

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in pecans.
    • Roll into 1-in. balls. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center of each. Bake at 325° for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Roll warm cookies in additional confectioners' sugar; cool on wire racks.
    • In a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup, water and shortening. Spoon or pipe into cooled cookies.
    • Yield: 4 dozen.


    Mocha Truffles Recipe



    Mocha Truffles Recipe


  • 66 Servings



  • Prep: 25 min. + chilling



  • 25 25

    Ingredients

    • 2 packages (12 ounces each) semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
    • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
    • 2 teaspoons water
    • 1 pound dark chocolate candy coating, coarsely chopped
    • White candy coating, optional

    Directions

    • In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Beat in cream cheese. Dissolve coffee in water; add to cream cheese and beat until smooth.
    • Chill until firm enough to shape. Shape into 1-in. balls and place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Chill for 1-2 hours or until firm.
    • In a microwave, melt chocolate coating; stir until smooth. Dip balls in chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Melt white coating and drizzle over truffles if desired.
    • Yield: about 5-1/2 dozen.

      Note: Dark, white or milk chocolate confectionery coating is found in the baking section of most grocery stores. It is sometime labeled "almond bark" or "candy coating" and is often sold in bulk packages (1 to 1-1/2 pounds). It is the product used for dipping chocolate. A substitute for 6 ounces chocolate coating would be 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet, dark or white chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon shortening melted together. Truffles can be frozen for several months before dipping in chocolate. Thaw in the refrigerator before dipping.


    Raspberry Coconut Bars Recipe



    Raspberry Coconut Bars Recipe


  • 36 Servings



  • Prep: 20 min. Bake: 20 min. + chilling



  • 20 20 40

    Ingredients

    • 1-2/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 2-2/3 cups flaked coconut
    • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
    • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
    • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • 1/4 cup white baking chips

    Directions

    • In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs and butter. Press into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with coconut; drizzle with milk.
    • Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
    • Spread preserves over crust. Sprinkle with walnuts. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Drizzle over walnuts. Repeat with vanilla chips. Cut into bars. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.
    • Yield: 3 dozen.






     


     

     

     

     


     



     

     

     

     

     

    DIY SIMPLE MANTLE TREES!!

       This diy comes from www.makinglemonadeblog.blogspot.com .  These are real simple, just add your favorite paper or fabric.  Even make them different sizes and shapes. Enjoy!


    What inspires you? Sometimes I find inspiration in books, in nature, and in dreams. Sometimes I find it in the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog. Today I found it while playing home preschool with my daughter.





    During an impromptu tree craft I was doing with my Ms. Noodle (which can be seen at the end of this post) a lightbulb went off and I realized an easy way to make some pretty little trees. These trees can be tucked along a mantel, in windows, in nooks, on end tables, as part of your holiday table... I even thought they'd make cute gift tags. They take less than 5 minutes to make, too. Oh, and they are practically free. Sweet.





    Somehow they manage to look vintage and modern at the same time. My favorite mix!




    Since our mantel area is literally under construction right now {tile and hearthstone to be added this week-- woot!} I only have a few snippets to reveal. I've tucked them into the shelves in our new built-ins, adding to what is already there.



    I even used a few half-trees to spiffy up some frames and mirrors.




    Easy decorating, using what you already have-- right up my alley!

    Tutorial: Simple Mantel Trees

    Materials:
    scrapbook paper
    scissors
    glue (I used rubber cement)

    The first tree I made was from two mismatched scraps of paper. The second time around I used a whole piece of scrapbook paper to make a larger tree. Either method works! The first tutorial is the basic idea using scraps, and then I detail the faster method below it.

    Step One: Fold a piece of paper in half, pattern side in.



    Step Two: Freehand a simple tree shape along the fold, so when you cut you'll have a whole tree. Cut out the shape. Do this using other pieces of folded paper until you have 4 whole tree shapes.




    Step Three: Apply glue to one side of the back of one tree. Glue one side of the back of another tree to it. Continue on until you have all four trees glued back to back, creating a 3-D tree.




    Step Four: Trim off any excess paper that peeks out and you are done!





    Shortcut method: fold a piece of paper in half {pattern outward}. Fold each half back upon itself so that white paper is showing on the outside.






    Keeping the piece closed, cut in half so you have two identical folded pieces.






    Draw the tree on the outside, making sure the fold is in the center of the tree.





    Cut out the trees. You should have two. Then use one to trace the same shape in the same method onto the second piece of folded paper.






    Now you have four identical trees, ready for gluing in step #3 above!



    This method actually makes two additional tree shapes. I made a few half trees and propped them against picture frames, books, and more.