Friday, March 7, 2014


   These tips come from bakeat350.blogspot.com . I hope they help you this holiday season.  These certainly can help.

Making cookies at Christmas used to overwhelm me a bit.  There are so many people I want to make cookies for....and so little time.  I still don't get them made for everyone on my list (the church choir has been on my list now for 2 years and still has not seen one cookie), BUT I've learned how to de-stress the whole process and just have fun with it.  Maybe the choir will get their cookies this year, after all. 

First...take a look at your supplies.  You're going to need:


    Try AmazonSweet Baking SupplyKing Arthur Flour, or even your local craft shop.  (Also, try clicking the links in this post.) ;)

    OK....next.  Start early.  Cookie decorating is really more fun if you break it up into chunks.   
    Do one of the following to make life easier:

    • make the dough ahead and freeze (thaw in the fridge overnight)
    • bake the cookies and freeze (thaw at room temperature for a few hours)
    • bake the cookies the day before decorating
    • make the icing a day (or so) before decorating (if you are doing fine detail work, you'll want to make this the same day you are using)

    If you are making hundreds of cookies, you might want to make and decorate a few dozen at a time, THEN freeze...yes, cookies decorated with royal icing can be frozen.  I individually bag the cookies, then place in freezer baggies, then place those in plastic containers to prevent crushing.  Thaw at room temperature in the packaging for several hours.

    Shipping...after all of that hard work, you really want your cookies to arrive intact.  Check this post and this video for info on shipping.

    So, who's decorating cookies this season?
    {Or are you waiting until New Year's?}

    These few tips work for me; I hope they work for you, too!  


       Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. In the Christian calendar, it finds place as a holy occassion on which priests make ash marks on the foreheads of devout Christians to symbolize their repentance for wrongdoings, their mortality and their commitment to Jesus and the Almighty.

    Origins and History of Ash Wednesday

       Ash Wednesday marks the onset of the Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and abstinence. It is also known as the 'Day of Ashes'. So called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.
        The name 'Day of Ashes' comes from "Dies Cinerum" in the Roman Missal and is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The concept originated by the Roman Catholics somewhere in the 6th century. Though the exact origin of the day is not clear, the custom of marking the head with ashes on this Day is said to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great (590-604).
         In the Old Testament ashes were found to have used for two purposes: as a sign of humility and mortality; and as a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin. The Christian connotation for ashes in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday has also been taken from this Old Testament biblical custom.

         Receiving ashes on the head as a reminder of mortality and a sign of sorrow for sin was a practice of the Anglo-Saxon church in the 10th century. It was made universal throughout the Western church at the Synod of Benevento in 1091.
        Originally the use of ashes to betoken penance was a matter of private devotion. Later it became part of the official rite for reconciling public penitents. In this context, ashes on the penitent served as a motive for fellow Christians to pray for the returning sinner and to feel sympathy for him. Still later, the use of ashes passed into its present rite of beginning the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday.
        There can be no doubt that the custom of distributing the ashes to all the faithful arose from a devotional imitation of the practice observed in the case of public penitents. But this devotional usage, the reception of a sacramental which is full of the symbolism of penance (cf. the cor contritum quasi cinis of the "Dies Irae") is of earlier date than was formerly supposed. It is mentioned as of general observance for both clerics and faithful in the Synod of Beneventum, 1091 (Mansi, XX, 739), but nearly a hundred years earlier than this the Anglo-Saxon homilist Ælfric assumes that it applies to all classes of men
        Putting a 'cross' mark on the forehead was in imitation of the spiritual mark or seal that is put on a Christian in baptism. This is when the newly born Christian is delivered from slavery to sin and the devil, and made a slave of righteousness and Christ (Rom. 6:3-18).

        This can also be held as an adoption of the way 'righteousness' are described in the book of Revelation, where we come to know about the servants of God.The reference to the sealing of the servants of God for their protection in Revelation is an allusion to a parallel passage in Ezekiel, where Ezekiel also sees a sealing of the servants of God for their protection:
        "And the LORD said to him [one of the four cherubim], 'Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark [literally, "a tav"] upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.' And to the others he said in my hearing, 'Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.' So they began with the elders who were before the house." (Ezekiel 9:4-6)
        Unfortunately, like most modern translations, the one quoted above (the Revised Standard Version, which we have been quoting thus far), is not sufficiently literal. What it actually says is to place a tav on the foreheads of the righteous inhabitants of Jerusalem. Tav is one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in ancient script it looked like the Greek letter chi, which happens to be two crossed lines (like an "x") and which happens to be the first letter in the word "Christ" in Greek Christos). The Jewish rabbis commented on the connection between tav and chi and this is undoubtedly the mark Revelation has in mind when the servants of God are sealed in it.

        The early Church Fathers seized on this tav-chi-cross-christos connection and expounded it in their homilies, seeing in Ezekiel a prophetic foreshadowing of the sealing of Christians as servants of Christ. It is also part of the background to the Catholic practice of making the sign of the cross, which in the early centuries (as can be documented from the second century on) was practiced by using one's thumb to furrow one's brow with a small sign of the cross, like Catholics do today at the reading of the Gospel during Mass.

    Customs & Traditions of Ash Wednesday

       At this time of year, many of us are quite familiar with the scene where the young and old, the rich and the poor stand waiting in long queue at the Church. And they may wait for hours, and some may even spare their lunch. No, the zeal is not for clinching a big deal. The reason is rather simple. All of them just want to 'get ashed'. For this is Ash Wednesday.
        Getting ashed apart, the tradition is to pray, and go for fasting as a preparation for Lent. Both the Old Law and the New says that those who had repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Thus wearing sack cloth and sprinkling the head with ashes was an ancient sign of repentance. The Biblical custom for repentance was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one's head. But the Bible does not specify the Ash Wednesday rites as such. In earlier ages a penitential procession often followed the rite of the distribution of the ashes, but this is not now prescribed.

        In fact, the traditions of Ash Wednesday came up as a part of the Lenten customs during the late 5th century. Penitence and fasting are two of the key distinctives of Lent. And thus also of the Ash Wednesday. It does not associate commemoration of any event. For, nothing special is known to have happened forty days before the crucifixion. So, the Day could only be said to indirectly commemorate a Christ since it is the beginning of preparation for the greater celebrations of Christ's saving work. Obviously the Bible makes no reference to this day.
       Unlike the old days, we no longer normally wear sackcloth or sit in dust and ashes, the customs of fasting and putting ashes on one's forehead as a sign of mourning and penance have survived to this day.
        It is just an observance among the western churches. Ash Wednesday is a day of penance. The Church has never chosen to make it or any other specific day the definitive commemoration of the concept of repentance. Still it is a deacon. Some churches observe it with distribution of ashes, reading prayers of repentance, and with other services offered from the pulpit.
        Even in ancient days, people marked times of fasting, prayer, repentance, and remorse by placing ashes on their foreheads. The custom was prevalent in early days of Judaism: as found in 2 Samuel 13:19, Esther 4:1-3, Job 42:6, and Jeremiah 6:26.
       This custom entered the church from Judaism. And is observed on Ash Wednesday, that marks the onset of a period of sober reflection, self-examination, and spiritual redirection.

        At first only public penitence received the ashes. They were made to appear barefooted at the church and perform penances for their sins. Friends and relatives began to accompany them, perhaps in sympathy and in the knowledge that no man is free from sin, and gradually the ashes were given to the whole congregation.
       On this day all the faithful according to ancient custom are exhorted to approach the altar before the beginning of Mass, and there the priest, dipping his thumb into palm ashes previously blessed, marks the forehead of each the sign of the cross, saying the words: "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."In case of clerics it is upon the place of the tonsure.
        The saying and the act are meant for reminding us that man is mortal. This means we are dust and it is dust to which we shall return.
        The ashes used in this ceremony are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. In the blessing of the ashes four prayers are used, all of them ancient. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and fumigated with incense. The celebrant himself, be he bishop or cardinal, receives, either standing or seated, the ashes from some other priest, usually the highest in dignity of those present.
         In the United States, besides the Roman Catholics some Episcopal Churches also observe Ash Wednesday with the distribution of ashes. In addition, prayers of repentance are read and exhortation denouncing sin, taken from chapter 28 or the Book of Deuteronomy, are delivered from the pulpit. The Psalm 51 is prayed and the litany of penitence in solidarity with those preparing for baptism or restoration to the church's fellowship. Other Protestant denominations also mark the beginning of Lent with the observance of Ash Wednesday. Orthodox Churches do not, since the Great Lent begins on Monday. For all Christian Churches, however, Lent is a period of preparation. The culmination is Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday and building to the joyous celebration of Easter.
        Originally it was only the Roman Catholics who had the foreheads marked with the cross of palm ash. But now the imposition of ashes has made its way into the wider church and even the popular culture.


        The Kaapse Klopse is a minstrel festival that takes place annually on January 2nd, in Cape Town, South Africa. Up to 13,000 minstrels, many in blackface, take to the streets garbed in bright colors, either carrying colorful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments. The minstrels are grouped in klopse ("clubs" in Cape Dutch, but more accurately translated as troupes in English). Participants are typically from Afrikaans-speaking working class "colored" families who have preserved the custom since the mid 19th century.
        Although it is called the Coon Carnival by Capetonians, local authorities have renamed the festival the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival as foreign tourist find the term "coon" derogatory.


        One story goes that the carnival was inspired by a group of African-American minstrels who docked in Cape Town in the late 1800's and entertained the sailors with their spontaneous musical performances. The popular song Hier kom die Alabama (Here comes the Alabama) refers to the ship that is believed to have brought them. Another story goes that the traveling minstrels were actually white and painted their face black...hence the painted faces seen today.


        The source of the parade and the festival are the horrors of slavery, as was blackface minstrels in the United States. As Denis-Constant Martin's book Coon Carnival informs us, several forms given to physical torture, including the burning of effigies on Guy Fawkes day, evolved into the present day commemoration. Some would remind us, however, that American style slavery has more influence in America than Southern Africa. Guy Fawkes day is a British custom, and is not connected as such with American slavery. Even American blackface minstrels are more connected with celebrations of the people that came out of slavery than with the institution itself.

    Troupe Organisation

        The majority of the troupes (approximately 169) are represented by the Kaapse Karnaval ("Cape Carnival") Association. In addition, two breakaway organisations (the Kaapse Karnaval Association and the Mitchell's Plain Youth Development Minstrel Board) represent a minority of troupes.

    The Carnival Today

        The festival begins on New Year's Day and continues into January. Traditionally, it has been a site for grievances against white supremacy. Festivities include street parades with singing and dancing, costume competitions and marches through the streets. While many troupes now are supported by corporate sponsors, many refuse and remain sticklers for tradition. The 2005 carnival was nearly cancelled due to an alleged lack of funding, while the 2006 carnival was officially called off for the same reason. However, the troupe organisations subsequently decided to go ahead with the parade despite continued unhappiness over funding, and the festivities, were opened by Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rascool on January 2nd, 2006.


    How to make Glass Tile Magnets

    Crafty fun and free tutorial.
    How to make Glass Tile Magnets!

    This craft is a great afternoon project to do with children or friends.  You will need a bit of space and the tiles will need to stay put while drying, so I suggest setting up somewhere that can be left alone for awhile... otherwise your dining room table will not be used for dinner!  :-)

    Supplies needed:
    This supply list is based on 1 inch glass tiles, however you are only limited by your imagination! These glass tiles come in various sizes and shapes like squares, ovals, circles, scrabble tiles, rectangles, etc.
    Links to all supplies used are at the end of this tutorial.
    • 1 inch artwork, printed on cardstock.  I chose to have all my images printed at Kinko's for the better quality than I could print at home.  New photographs could also be used.
    • Square paper punch or a steady hand, X-acto knife and self-healing mat
    • Weldbond glue
    • E6000 glue
    • Glass tiles
    • Magnets
    • Paper towels
    • Q-tips
    • Plastic wrap or parchment paper (to keep your work surface from getting dirty)
    Make sure your glass tiles are clean and free of nicks.  Some glass tiles have two smooth sides, some have one side that is a bit rough.  Make sure to use the rough side facing down if you have this kind.

    Choose your artwork for a set of tile magnets... you can easily make a set of 10 magnets at a time if you choose to.  You can find tons of pre-made artwork on Etsy, you can make your own, you can use photographs or kid artwork, etc. etc.

    Cut each tile with the square paper punch or X-acto knife and place on parchment paper or plastic wrap, about 3 inches apart from each other.

    Place a nickle-sized amount of the Weldbond glue on the front of the image.

    Holding the side of the tile, smoosh the glass tile onto the image, the glue will seep out the sides and that's fine-- we'll be cleaning that up later.  Be sure to look for air bubbles and gently press them out otherwise you will see them when the tiles are dry as you see in this next photo.

    Repeat process until all glass tiles have been put onto images.

    Go have a snack!  It's best to wait about 4 hours for the next step.  You can leave the tiles for up to about 12 hours if necessary.

    Lightly peel the tiles off of your plastic or parchment.  The glue that has oozed out of the sides will be slightly set and starting to clear... this is the perfect time to cut the excess off and clean up the edges.

     With your X-acto knife, lightly saw left to right to cut off the excess glue.  If the glue has not set enough, the image may move when you do this, so go ssslllloooooowwwllllyyy until you are comfortable with this step.

    Repeat on all sides and all tiles until you are happy.  The tiles may still appear a bit cloudy and can take up to 24 hours to clear completely.

    Apply a teeny bit of E6000 glue to the center of each tile, taking care not to get any glue on you.  Set the magnet in the center and use Q-tips if needed to lightly press the magnet into place.  Let dry for 4 hours.

    Find your most precious photos and use the magnets!

    Supply List:  Where did I get ....?

    For the glass tiles, the teeny, ultra powerful magnets and E6000 glue:  Candy Tiles on Etsy
    For the Weldbond glue, X-acto knife and the square paper punch: DickBlick Art Supplies
    For the collage sheets, I purchased from:
    Tragic Pixels
    Designs by Linda Nee
    Magpie Mine (The Fruit/Vegetable Labels are from here!)