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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 12/05/14

Friday, December 5, 2014

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.



TIPS FOR TAKING BETTER HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS PICTURES!




Five Tips for Better Holiday Photos




   This season is the stuff that cameras are made for: holiday lights and decorations, brightly wrapped presents, kids anxiously darting around the tree. Your camera is probably getting excited just thinking about the opportunities you're going to give it in the next few days. So as you get ready for the veritable Olympics of personal digital photography, consider these five tips for taking better pictures. Also, if you're shooting outdoors, don't forget my advice on winterizing your camera. And since you'll be taking a lot of pictures indoors, be sure to review my tips for taking better pictures of people and how to get better results in difficult lighting.
   Finally, before I get into the nitty-gritty of this week's holiday photo tips, I want to wish each of you a warm, safe, and happy holiday.





1. Set Your White Balance

There are few lighting situations trickier than Christmas morning, with a cacophony of lighting sources competing to confuse your camera. There might be morning light streaming in your window, but also overhead lights, decorative bulbs on the tree, and perhaps even a couple of candles to truly give your camera's sensor a coronary. Your best bet? Set the white balance manually using a white sheet of paper before the festivities begin. Check your camera's user guide to see how to adjust white balance.
Another option: shoot in your camera's RAW mode, so white balance won't matter. You can adjust the white balance afterwards, on your PC. You'll get better results, but it's more time consuming. Read "Fix Your White Balance" for some more pointers.








2. Fire and Forget

If your camera has a time lapse or intervalometer mode, you can set it on a tripod in a corner of the room and let it take a photo every minute or so. There are two cool reasons for trying this.
First, interval shooting might allow your camera to snap some interesting moments you'd have missed if you were trying to open presents, enjoy the festivities, and be the family photographer, all at the same time.
Second, you can use your camera's automatic abilities to take the few hundred photos and then turn them into a stop-motion movie. Especially neat if you have young kids, a stop motion video can be an awesome remembrance of this year's holiday. You can combine individual photos into a movie using Windows Movie Maker; see "Make a Stop Motion Movie, Part 1" and part two for details.








3. Pass the Camera Around

Not enthused about leaving the framing and timing of your holiday photos up to the camera? Then break out of your standard routine and pass the camera around the room. Let everyone take a few pictures to give you a break and to get some different points of view. You can even make a game of it; each person has to take five photos, for example, and pass the camera to the person to their left. If your camera has a beefy memory card, you should have room for hundreds of photos.
You do have a big memory card, right? Remember that you can get an 8GB CompactFlash card for as little as $20. 







4. Shoot Holiday Lights

Make sure you photograph the tree in all its illuminated beauty. You should steady your camera on a tripod, since this is the kind of photo you'll want to take at night.
Like most kinds of night photography, there's no right or wrong exposure. Set your camera to manual mode, pick a midrange aperture (like f/5.6) and then try a several second long shutter speed. Check your results. If you want brighter, more dramatic lights, extend the exposure time some more. You can "bracket" the exposure for a variety of different effects and pick the one you like best afterwards. To take this tree, with the fireplace in the background, I used a 6-second exposure.
I used a much longer exposure--30 seconds, in fact--for this close-up of a few lights and ornaments.















5. Get Up Close and Personal

If you ask me, closer is always better. I generally like shots that are tight and emphasize the subject, rather than wider angle photos in which the subject gets lost in the background clutter. This is especially important in holiday photos, because there is a lot of clutter to get lost in. Zoom in tight for your people shots, and look for subtle details to capture up close even when shooting still life shots, like the tree, ornaments, and presents
.

THE STORY OF THE CHRISTMAS CAKE!






The Christmas Cake as we know it today comes from two customs which became one around 1870 in Victorian England. Originally there was a porridge, the origins of which go back to the beginnings of Christianity. Then there was a fine cake made with the finest milled wheatflour, this was baked only in the Great Houses, as not many people had ovens back in the 14th century.

PLUM PORRIDGE

Originally people used to eat a sort of porridge on Christmas Eve. It was a dish to line the stomach after a day's fasting, which people used to observe for Christmas Eve, or the 'Vigil' as it was called long ago. Gradually, they began to put spices, dried fruits, honey etc in the porridge to make it a special dish for Christmas. Much later it was turned into a pudding, because it got to be so stiff with all the fruits and things, that they would tie it in a cloth, and dunk it into a large cauldron of boiling water and boil it for many hours. This turned into Christmas Pudding.






PLUMCAKE

Later, around the 16th century, it became popular to add butter, replace the oatmeal with wheatflour, add eggs to hold it together better. This became boiled plumcake. So boiled plum pudding and boiled fruitcake existed side by side depending on which ingredients the housewife used.
Only big houseS had proper ovens to bake in. In the castles and fine homes, people would make a special cake for Easter, which was a rich fruitcake recipe with a topping of what we now call marzipan or almond paste. A similar cake was baked for the Christmas festivities, but whereas the Easter one was a plain cake with almonds, the Christmas one had dried fruits in season and spices. These represented the exotic spices of the East, and the gifts of the Wise Men . Such things were first brought to Europe and Britain particularly, by the Crusaders coming back from the wars in the Holy Land in the 12th century.







TWELFTH NIGHT CAKE

But it was not a Christmas cake, but a Twelfth Night Cake. Twelfth night is on the 5th January, and has been for centuries the traditional last day of the Christmas season.. It was a time for having a great feast, and the cake was an essential part of the festivities. This was slightly different in different countries, and also at different social levels.
In the GREAT HOUSES, into the cake was baked a dried Bean and a Pea. one in one half and the other in the other half. The cake was decorated with sugar, like our icing, but not so dense, and ornamentation. As the visitors arrived, they were given a piece of the cake, ladies from the left, gentlemen from the right side. Whoever got the bean became King of the Revels for the night, and eveyone had to do as he said. The lady was his Queen for the evening.
In smaller homes, the cake was a simple fruitcake, with a bean in it, which was given to guests during the twelve days of Christmas. Whoever got the bean was supposed to be a kind of guardian angel for that family for the year, so it was an important task, and usually, it was arranged that a senior member of the family would get the bean! This was observed until recently in Poland in fact.
In Britain the cake was baked as part of the refreshments offered to the priest and his entpourage who would visit on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6th, to bless each house in the parish. this custom died out after the Reformation in the late 16th century.. In Mallorca, the main island of the Spanish Balearics Islands, they have a similar custom which takes place at Easter.
The festive cake in Britain was revived at the end of the 17th century, and became very much part of the Twelfth night partying again. It is recorded In royal households, that the cakes became extravagantly large, and the guests divided into two side could have a battle with models on the cake! One battle was a sea battle, and there were minature water canon on the cake which really worked!







TWELFTH NIGHT

This is the Church festival of Ephiphany. The traditional day when Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi or Three Kings at Bethlehem. It used to be the time when people exchanged their Christmas gifts. The feast was marked, as were all the old feasts, by some kind of religious observance. A visit to the church, a service or some kind, and then a folk observance which was tightly wrapped up as part of the Church activities. As we have seen, Twelve Day (the day following Twelfth Night) entailed the blessing of the home, and in some countries is still observed. But after the Reformation, these customs of the Church were banned by the Puritans, and fell into disuse. Without its religious overtones, Twelfth Night became a time of mischief and over indulgence. By 1870, Britains Queen Victoria announced that she felt it was inappropriate to hold such an unchristian festival, and Twelfth Night was banned as a feastday.

THE ARRIVAL OF THE CHRISTMAS CAKE

The confectioners who made the cakes were left with boxes full of figurines and models for Twelfth Cakes, and also had lost revenue by the banning of the feast. So they began to bake a fruitcake and decorate it with snowy scenes, or even flower gardens and Italian romantic ruins. These they sold not for the 5th January, but for December Christmas parties. And it was thus that we developed the Christmas cake.






BOILED PLUM CAKE FOR THE COLONIES

People in Britain began to make the boiled fruitcake to send to their families who had gone to the new world colonies - in Australia, Canada, etc. and to send to those who worked on the missions. The boiled cakes lasted bestter than the baked ones, and in those days of the 19th century, they could take many weeks or months even to cross the world by ship. These cakes were usually sent as part of a Christmas Hamper of food and presents, and this way the tradition of Christmas cake, often eaten with a piece of cheese or apple pie, became known all over the world.
The Americans in turn were getting cakes sent from all parts of Europe by relatives in the 'Old Country'. Then in the 1890's a German immigrant opened a cake bakery in a small town, and began to bake cakes which the Americans in turn would send to their relatives back in Europe. This cake was based on a traditional Christmas cake, but contained many of the fruits which were grown in the Americas. This cake is now sent out to countries all over the world by the bakery, and is probably the most popular Christmas Cake today!