Saturday, December 17, 2011



 In Russia, Christmas is annually celebrated on January 7th, thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church that has made it an official holiday in the country. Previously the occassion was observed on December 25th in much the same way as it was in the rest of the world, complete with Christmas trees and Christmas gifts, Saint Nicholas and the like. But after the 1917 Revolution, Christmas was banned throughout Russia, along with other religious celebrations. It was much much later, in 1992, that the holiday began to be openly observed again. However, the church in Russia still uses the old Julian calendar which is 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the Western nations. This is why, Christmas is celebrated in Russia on January 7th. But these days, a few Russians have begun to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.

A Christmas tree in Red Square

   Today, Christmas is celebrated in the country in a grand fashion, with the faithful participating in an all-night Mass in Cathedrals. The main religion in Russia is called Russian Orthodox. The Russian Orthodox Church is more than one thousand years old and most of the Christian population in the country belong to it. In Russia, many people don’t eat meat, eggs or milk from a few weeks before Christmas and it is customary to fast until after the first church service on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve dinner is meatless but festive. The menu usually depends on the wealth of the families. A typical Christmas dinner however, includes delicacies such as hot roast Pirog (Russian pies made out of meat or cabbage), and Pelmeni (meat dumplings). The most important ingredient is a special porridge called kutya. The traditional ingredients that go in its preparation are wheatberries (or other grains which symbolize hope and immortality), and honey and poppy seeds which ensure happiness, success and peace. The kutya is eaten from a common dish to symbolize unity.

   A Christmas ceremony of great significance here is the blessing of individual homes. During Christmastime, a priest visits every home accompanied by boys carrying vessels of holy water. A little water is sprinkled in each room, which is believed to usher in happiness and fortune to them. Another popular custom here is that of young children going from house to house on the first day of Christmas carrying a star and singing carols and getting sweets from adults.
   Russia celebrates a white Christmas what with the weather being very cold and snowy during this time and the temperature always dropping to minus degrees. .


   This one comes from www.accenttheparty.com .  Looks very elegant, but oh so simple.  People at your next get-together are going to gobble them up.  Good luck and enjoy some of the fruits (or chocoate brownies) of your baking labor.

How to Make Candy Cane Brownie Lollipops for Christmas


1 package (18-21 oz.) of fudge brownie mix (plus ingredients to make brownies)
24 candy canes
10 ounce chocolate flavored almond bark
Additional decorations such as red jimmies (optional)

1. Line Medium Sheet Pan with a 13 inch piece of Parchment Paper. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Pour batter into pan. Bake 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven to Stackable Cooling Rack and cool for 20 minutes or until slightly warm.

2. Meanwhile, cut straight ends of candy canes off to form 4 ½ inch sticks using Utility Knife. Place candy cane tops into resealable plastic bag and crush using flat side of Meat Tenderizer, set aside.

3. Using Medium Scoop, scoop brownie into 24 rounded scoops, packing brownie into scoop using hands. (Entire brownie will be used.) Roll brownie scoops into smooth balls. Insert candy cane sticks into centers of balls, mounding brownie around each stick.

4. Place almond bark into Small Batter Bowl. Microwave according to package directions until smooth. Spoon melted bark evenly over each brown ball, turning to coat completely. Allow excess bark to drip off. Dip into reserved crushed candy canes or jimmies and stand upright on a piece of Parchment Paper. Repeat with remaining almond bark, lollipops and crushed candy. Let stand until set. Place into miniature cupcake liners.

Wrap lollipops in cellophane, tie with ribbon, and use as table d├ęcor or take home goodies for a special holiday touch.


   This comes form www.creativebreathing.blogspot.com .  Looks pretty cute.  Cold be used on any kind of jar.  Could possibly used to make  a mini cookie/candy jar as a gift.

Since becoming a part of this creative community, I am having such fun revisiting the pages of Home Companion with the thought that perhaps I can make for myself some of the wonderful crafts to be found. I thought I would share with you my attempt to recreate this adorable snowman candy container in the hopes that you will be inspired to create one as well.

With my "use what's on hand" crafting philosophy, an empty vintage jar with a lovely shape will become my base. Learned from Meri Wiley, Imagi Meri Creations, a Styrofoam ball becomes the perfectly perfect base for my snowman. Creative Paperclay purchased at Michael's for $6.00, a bit of water to wet your fingers.

I am like you in that I don't know if I can make something I see, but I do have faith that I can "work at it" until the cuteness reveals itself to me. Flatten Styrofoam by pressing it on hard surface. Keep clay you are not using in saran wrap to keep from drying out.

I have no idea what proper technique I should be using, but I know I need a snowman shape! Press small amounts of the clay with your thumb onto the surface of the ball. You want to "feel" the same thickness under your thumb. A thin layer will dry more quickly.

I notice in the photograph the cheeks seem slightly raised, two round balls created as well as carrot shaped nose; I have used my pencil point to scar the clay for attaching pieces.

Press shapes onto surface. Dip fore finger into water and begin to smooth edges of shapes. The paper clay is magical and very forgiving to beginners. I just kept working at the shapes until they appealed to me.

Check the photograph in the magazine, check my work, close enough! Let dry overnight.

While my snowman is drying, I work to create a base for him to rest. My jar does not have a lid, thinking cap on again. I have traced the mouth of my jar on cardboard, and then cut slightly larger to accommodate the jar's threading.

Trace cutout cardboard circle twice onto printed paper, pink around drawn line. Cut strip of paper to fit over threads of jar neck, two printed paper, one cardstock. I have pulled them between my thumb and pen surface to give them a rounded shape. Glue stick layers together, the "Sandwich Method".

Fit strips to jar neck, hot glue overlapping edges.

Bead of hot glue along strip edge, center round base. I have created crepe ruffles for the snowman's collar. (Tell me PLEASE why JoAnn's and Michael's both do not carry this product! I can only find it at my grocery store.)

Hot glue edges of ruffles to form circle. Apply dallop of glue to center of round base, form rosette twice.

I have used craft paint and a slightly stiff brush to apply the simple colors shown in the magazine example. Paint white, repaint cheeks white again adding small amount of pink while still wet. Back of paintbrush is used to make black face dots.

At this point I'm not sure my funny little snowman will end up looking like the example, but I forge on!

A step I should have thought of earlier but didn't, my pencil inserted in the bottom to hold the head as I glitter. I used Modge Podge as my adhesive because it is what I had on hand, but any white craft glue with a little water will work just as well. GLITTER I said! Julie, Pieceful Bits, has been trying to bring me over to the Glitter Pink Girl's world from day one! It was so much fun! I used MS glitter purchased at Michael's. It is very fine and just wonderfully sparkly.

Completely out of crepe to make the hat, what's on hand does the trick. A paper cone and tinsel stem, hot glued in place. My little snowman is not exactly like artist Joann Sayler's wonderful original creation, but it is as sweet as can be for me and a perfect place to hold my white poms, a little skier girl add charm to the scene.

I love to craft, I am sure you can tell. Something I have always kept secret until finding this community. Please know what a joy it is to find there are others who also love to create such cute things.

This is my hard working snowman. He's all business keeping my Christmas red ribbon collected in one spot. Vintage green buttons a gift from Lisa, Always Home.

I'm smiling, I hope you are as well.

I hope you will know that crafting is about shapes that are already familiar to you and techniques most of which you can learn through trial and error. Now when you look through your craft magazines, I hope you will be inspired to create a favorite seen item for yourself!


   This comes from www.sweetlittleparties.blogspot.com.  Very nice!  They would look really cool hanging up around your next Christmas party for either friends or family.  Make them in different sizes and styles.

{create} tissue snowflake tutorial

Thank you all so much for taking the time to comment on and share our red, white & silver christmas dessert table!!

I hope I have described everything clearly enough for you!! Might be a good idea to look through all the instructions before you start! Any problems please let me know!! x

These instructions are for creating a small tissue snowflake, finished size approx 24cm. You can create 4 of these small snowflakes from just one sheet of tissue!!

1. Take a single sheet of tissue paper
2. Cut into quarters (set three pieces aside, you just need one piece to create your snowflake)
3 & 4. Working with the tissue paper in a portrait orientation, create an acordian fold approx 2cm thick.

5. Collapse folds
6. Take one end and fold in half (width-wise), ready for cutting. (You will be cutting both ends with an identical pattern, so keep the cuts for the first end in top half of length.)
7. Start with a rounded cut on the folded edge, then snip out a 'v'
8. Cut a long curved shape from the open edge.

9. Now cut a longer curved shape from the folded edge
10. And finally a small curved shape from the open egde
11. Repeat these cuts at the other end (to make them the same at both ends, fold in half and trace your cuts from the first end)
12. Open flat, so that you can see the pattern you have created

13. Fold and create a crease in the centre
14. Open flat, and place a staple across the centre
15. Take a single layer from each half, and meet them up
16. Staple together at top and closer to the centre, then repeat for other side, so that you have a round fan shape.

Hang with transparent line.

Try changing the pattern to create different designs! The one above has a simple rounded end, with just two curved shapes trimmed from each side.

Have fun...and as always we would love to see your creations!!



   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.


   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.


   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.


   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!


   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 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.


   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!