Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This comes from www.afieldjournal.blogspot.com . Gool Luck.

O Christmas Tree

This year, Green Valley Christmas Trees kindly treated me to a mail-order tree to decorate and share with you here. I chose a 4 ft Fraser Fir and it's just stunning, even at this small size. I love the neat definition of the branches in this particular type of tree. I knew it deserved some first rate trims. I decorated it with some store-bought finds as well as 32 handmade ornaments (whew!), in five styles (one of each is pictured below). I know, Christmas day has come to a close, but I wanted to provide templates and brief/informal tutorials just in case you'd like to try these next year.
Click the photo above for a larger view.

The Felt Pinecones, were inspired by my mom's friend Denise who made little brown ones to top off a woodsy s'mores kit. I also used Suzonne Stirling's tutorial for Family Circle as guide (she has a much tidier method for transferring the pattern to the felt, and other great tips). Here's how I made mine: Gather the template, scissors, a pen, felt, fabric glue and a wooden skewer. Use the template to trace and cut 6 small, 8 medium and 12 large felt pinecone layers. Then stack them on the skewer in the following order 1 S, 3 M, 12 L, 5 M, 5 S. Stagger the points to make the pinecone look realistic and dab a little glue between some of the layers to help secure it - especially top and bottom layers. Trim away excess skewer. Form the point of the pinecone by pinching it at the bottom and securing with glue. Finish the top by cutting a felt circle about the size of a nickel. Poke a hole in the center and thread ribbon through for hanging. Attach to pinecone with glue.

For the Paper Cone, download the template and trace onto patterned card stock. Cut out, then score and fold along the dashed lines. Glue closed using the tab and let dry. Decorate with desired trims. For mine, I sewed a crepe ruffle from a party streamer (this makes a great garland as well; set your machine to the longest stitch and it should gather as you sew). I also added velvet ribbon, a wired pom pom handle and holly leaves made from cut paper, velvet flocking powder and a bead.

The little putz-style Church Ornaments are my absolute favorites! The template I used is from the Little Glitter Houses site (scroll to the bottom of the page for the church). I scaled the template down a bit in order to make it appropriately sized for an ornament, and used thin white cardboard and Tacky glue to construct them. Poke a hole in the roof of the steeple and thread with a loop of string for hanging before completely assembling. Also, cut an "X" with a craft knife in the back wall of the church, so you can poke a light through when you hang it. I free-handed the windows and cut them out with a craft knife, adding window frames cut from card stock as well as a door. The rest is just painting, glittering and decorating. For the pipe cleaner wreath, bend a pipe cleaner over on itself and twist it together, then wrap around a circular object to give it its shape, and glue to church. Cover the seam with a bow.

For the Glitter Ice Skates, I used watercolor paper because it's sturdier than card stock, and I happened to have a pad of it that was going unused. I find it works well though. Using the template, cut two skate shapes and one blade for each ornament. Glitter the skates with iridescent white glitter and the blade with silver glass glitter (I gave the blades a coat of silver paint and let it dry first). Once the glitter is dry poke holes through one side of the skate with a sturdy pin and sew on "laces" with silver embroidery floss and a needle. To complete the ornament glue together the two skate shapes with the blade and a loop for hanging sandwiched in between. Place under a heavy book or clamp together with clothespins as it dries. As a final touch, glue on a 1" pom pom as shown.

For the Glitter Leaf, use the same method as the ice skate. The leaf shape is provided on the template. Cut two and glitter the sides that will face out (leaves are not symmetrical). You can give them a base coat of paint the same color as the glitter if desired. String a loop of ribbon through a bead before gluing between two glittered leaf shapes. Clamp and let dry.


This comes from www.sweetopia.net . Very cool looking and very delicious!

Christmas Cake Pops

--> I have to start this post out by thanking Angie at Bakerella. If you haven’t heard of her, she is without a doubt, the queen of cake pops – having blogged for years as Bakerella and having published an excellent book on making cake pops. The instructions in her book are fantastic – she covers every detail from the basics on how to make cake pops of all kinds, down to how to ship and store them. I’m pretty sure she has played a major role in the cake pop craze sweeping the globe too!
Her book’s thorough instructions made these Christmas cake pops easy to make for the holiday issue of the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine. (Yay! I was so happy to be asked to make the pops for them. Btw info. in index and photo on pg. 29).

If you haven’t seen Food & Drink, it’s a Canadian magazine dedicated to the art of entertaining, including the latest recipes and information on wine, spirits and beer. It’s a real treat for the eyes and is so inspiring – no matter what the season, it always manages to get me in the mood for trying new sweet and savoury dishes.

It’s a little early for Christmas, but since they were actually made in July, I’m happy to finally post them here.

All the pops were vanilla or chocolate with merckens candy coating. These above were dipped into sanding sugar and decorated with gum paste snowflakesand gum paste trees.

The milk chocolate pops were topped with gold flakes (If you’d like to read more info. on edible gold, please click here).

Some ‘snowier’ options included cake pops covered in coconut, white sanding sugar or candy cane bits.

Green gum paste used with this holly cutter, as well as white and red royal icing, turned these into a cake pop version of Christmas fruit cake.

And of course I enjoyed nibbling (okay chomping), on the ‘fruits’ of my labour.
Fun to make, delicious to eat and perfect little personalized gifts – hope you enjoy making cake pops this upcoming Christmas season too.


    In France, different regions of the nation celebrate Christmas differently, and even at different times. Most provinces recognized and celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but in northern and eastern regions of France, the Christmas season is officially begun on the 6th day of December. La fete de Saint NIcolas, la fete des Rois, and la Fete de lumieres, honor Saint Nicholas, the Epiphany, and the Virgin Mary. These holidays are special parts of the French Christmas season.
    Children in France don't hang stockings by the chimney, they place their shoes in front of the fireplace for Pere Noel to fill with gifts. Candy, fruits and nuts, and toys are also hung on the tree Christmas Eve night. Pere Fouettard, who is basically Santa's Counterpart, gives out spankings to naughty boys and girls.

    In 1962, France passed a law requiring all letters written to Pere Noel, to receive a response, so Santa sends each child a postcard acknowledging their letter and wishing them a happy holiday season.
    La Messe de Minuit (Midnight Mass) on Christmas Eve is an important part of Christmas for many families, and is followed by a grand feast. This feast is called le Revellion is meant to be a symbolic awakening to the glory and miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ. Many restaurants and cafes stay open all night to serve this meal. Each French region has it's own traditional menu ranging from turkey, goose, and chicken to a dish similar to white pudding, called boudin blanc.
    Traditional dessert foods include la buche de Noel ( Yule log cake made with chocolate and chestnuts), le pain calendeau (Christmas loaf, which is shared with a less fortunate person), and la Galette des Rois (round cake that is cut and handed out by a child hiding under the table. There is a charm hidden inside, and whoever finds it is King or Queen during the celebration of Epiphany.

The sapin de Noel (or Christmas Tree) is a similar traditional decoration in homes and businesses, as well as town squares. Lights and candles are common, but candles are used more in France than in America, to honor the Virgin Mary. After the Awakening, it is customary to leave a candle burning in case Mary should pass by.
Another important aspect of French Christmas

celebrations is the creche (nativity scene) displayed in churches and homes. Living nativity's are commonly performed to remind those in attendance that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the miracles surrounding that birth.

For those looking to incorporate international Christmas traditions into your family celebrations, consider downloading and playing some French Christmas carols. Perhaps this year, your family can leave a candle burning in case Mary wanders by, or attend a living nativity offered by a local church. Even playing some French carols during dinner might make you feel like you are in a decorated French cathedral, lit by candlelight. "Joyeaux Noel"(Merry Christmas)!


This comes from www.showtellshare.blogspot.com . These would look really great on your Chirstmas buffet and dessert table. Good luck!

Peppermint Topiary Trees

Last week Stephanie Lynn over at Under the Table and Dreaming invited us to be part of her Handmade Holidays series using STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam. We were super excited to be featured with several other talented bloggers! Here is the project and post I shared with them:

Some of my special childhood memories of Christmas center around holiday candy. Peppermint sticks and marshmallow Santas and those creamy bits of heaven called Lindt balls were stocking standards in our home. I would savor my stocking candy for weeks, trying to prolong the magical taste of Christmas. Santa always left Starlight mints for us among the cookie crumbs on his plate, and although I enjoyed them year round, those enchanted drops touched by The Man Himself always tasted special and different on Christmas morning.

Last holiday season my friend brought a peppermint-covered decoration to our girls' craft night. The sight of her ball brought back vivid memories of Christmas-morning delight and crispy-coolness melting in my mouth. I knew I had to make some peppermint topiaries for my home as well! With her permission, I'm sharing my interpretation of her idea. Thanks Tiffany!

Materials needed:

10" STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam sphere
6" STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam cube
Pot or container for the base
Peppermint candies, about 4 1/2 11-oz bags
Red duct tape
1" dowel
Decorative accents and ribbon as desired

I painted my dowel white, since I wanted a cute, whimsical look to match the red and white candy.

Cut the dowel to 24". Finding the exact center of the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam cube, gently twist the dowel into the STYROFOAM™ at the center point until it is firmly embedded in the cube, approximately 4-5 inches deep. Secure the cube into the bottom of the container with hot glue.

To hide the white STYROFOAM™, I cut a piece of square cardstock to size and let it rest on top of the cube, cutting a hole in the center for the dowel. Before gluing the dowel into the cube, twist the other end of the dowel into the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam sphere, about 5-6 inches deep. Pull the sphere back off the dowel.

Using small strips of colored duct tape, cover the surface of the sphere. Be careful to leave the hole for the dowel uncovered. Smooth down any rough edges or wrinkles in the tape, and then glue the sphere onto the dowel.

With a glue gun, begin at the top of the sphere and attach unwrapped peppermint candies to the tape. Of course, you'll have to suck on a few of the chipped mints as you work. Just remember that they won't taste as good now as they will on Christmas morning. After the entire sphere is covered, spray generously with a polyurethane spray to keep the candies from becoming sticky or melting. Down in these parts we've been known to have 80 degree temperatures at Christmas time. That just feels wrong somehow.

I added green tinted glass gems to the top of my cardstock to give some extra sparkle, and a big bow for accent.

Depending on the length of your dowel and the size of your sphere and container, these Peppermint Trees would make a cute centerpiece on a table, a festive arrangement at the base of the staircase, or a welcoming display near the entry. As for me, my trees will be right next to the fireplace, waiting to welcome The Man in Red on his Christmas Eve visit.

Merry Christmas!


    I have been seeing a great many Christmas articles lately and there is a question that should be answered at this time of year. What did the "Three Kings" see? A common Question to be sure and it does tickle the mind for Christians that believe something came to pass, that could not have been ordinary.
    So where do we start on this small exposition? Let's start with the Kings. We know them as Kings however, they were not really "Kings", they were scientist priests, well versed in astrology and were most honored by the ruling class of that time and place. The word "king" was used by the Christian writer Tertullian in 120 A.D. when speaking of the priests as Magi. What made these men so important during the time of Christ's birth was their ability to interpret the celestial heavens, in particular, heralds.

   Because the Magi found prognostic events within the night sky, the Hebrews of that time and place found this constituted a form of divination and thus, was considered pagan and could never have been acknowledged by their God, Yahweh. Therefore, the Magi must have come from outside the Hebrew country and according to the bible, they came from the east (Mathew 2:1). The Magi were Hellenists or Greek and therefore would have come from the east to the Judea countryside, just as the bible state correctly.
    The Magi used calculations that took into account the orbital mechanics of the solar system and constellations afforded by the sky. That is, where a certain planet or constellation would be in the future. This form of astrology was vastly different from the simplistic observational positions the Babylonians used. Did they see a star or predict one? No. They did not. So what happened to generate such a willingness to travel vast distances to a specific location searching for a specific individual? They studied planetary motion, not a people or a place.

Night sky Constellations

    Remember the herald? 2,000 years ago the stars that individuals and the Magi saw at night were constant in their count and placement within the sky. For this reason they were given shapes and those shapes took many forms. We know them today as the zodiac and because some constellations passed over certain countries and lands, they took the meaning of those countries and lands.
The constellation known as Aries had the symbol of a Ram and related to Syria, Idumea and Judea. In 6 A.D. the area of Judea was placed under Syria. Prior to, it was independent. Therefore, any person seeking council from the zodiac would have used the sign of an Aries or Ram for its portents. Additionally, because Judea was Incorporated with Syria and Herod was the King of Syria and Palestine, his astrologers would have also been monitoring that same constellation. The Magi could predict where certain signs would be and this was most revealing one morning.

Constellation of Aries

    Genesis 1:14 states, "And God said let there be lights in the firmament....let them be for signs". The Ram in this particular sign is a lamb, not fully grown as yet. The lamb means to reign, have dominion or government. Additionally, the ram considered was also crowned with a circle. The most ancient name for this animal was "Baraziggar" or the "sacrifice of the righteousness. This alone would not have induced the Magi to travel so far, so what was the importance? It is, I believe, that the observation seen by the Magi was so statistically unbelievable that its occurrence had never happened or would never happen again. They had to be in wonder and awe beyond belief. All the planets that represented a king using Aries as the sign would have: the sun, Jupiter and Saturn in it. No big deal, it occurs every sixty years. The second point regarding a royal birth for consideration was the placement within the sky. Another point is whether the sign is ascending in the east or setting in the west as well as what signs are in procession. There is also a consideration of where the rising signs are located, meaning if their locations in the sky are closer to the horizon or at the highest point in mid heaven during their observation, all of this is very significant.

    The sun and moon have their role to play as well. The sun is considered to be of the most regal signature (Sun: King, moon: Queen) and have five planets that attend it because of that issue. The last piece of this puzzle was exaltation. This can be defined as the planetary location within a specific sign. Example: If the Sun were in The Aries. This would give impetus to the Sun's power in regal stature. Bright lights were important also. If Jupiter was seen as a bright light in a certain sign, which would lend importance to the overall signature event.
    On April 17, 6 B.C., the morning sky must have rendered the Magi into an unbelievable state. Was there a star, no? In the morning sky, was an unfolding event so rare as to defy anything they had ever seen or could hope to ever see.

    Aries was in ascendant, rising over the eastern horizon. All seven planets were in that Judea sign. This get better. When the Aries was in the mid heaven position, all seven planets were also in the Judea sign. Continuing, the Sun was in exaltation within the sign of The Aries at dawn and mid heaven along with both ruling planets of Jupiter and Saturn. The guardians of the sun being Jupiter and Saturn, proceeded immediately before the rising dawn. This was not all. The attendants of the moon (Queen), Mercury and Mars were there as well.
    The Magi had to be stunned on April 17, 6 B.C., someone of incredible significance was born, or about to be born in Judea. Probabilities of this magnitude "defy statistical quantification". The statistical alignments of seven planets in a specific orbital location, in front of specific stars that are moving through space and light years away at a specific point in the rotation of earth, all in motion and with different orbital mechanical probabilities, defy its occurrence. Yet, that is what happened.
That is why the Magi were compelled to travel to a distant location they were not aware of. Also, they were indeed guided by a planetary source but it was not just one star.