Thursday, March 27, 2014


 The weeks before Christmas in Europe mean it's time to hit the Christkindlmarkt, or traditional holiday street market for your fill of mulled wine and cider, handmade Christmas ornaments, specialty gifts and delicious baked treats. The Christmas market is an annual tradition in Copenhagen, Prague, London and Cologne, but if you don't have time for a tour of Europe this holiday season, you can visit one of several Christmas markets held in the good old US of A.
From the Windy City to the Bay Area, here's where you'll find some of the best Christmas markets in the United States:

German Holiday Market in San Francisco
The German International School of Silicon Valley hosts an annual Holiday Market in Mountain View, California a few weeks before Christmas. The event includes an appearance by Santa, and dozens of booths featuring local crafts, handmade decorations, holiday baked goods and other treats. Head here to stock up on last-minute Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.

Christkindlmarkt in Chicago 

History and Tradition

   Inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, which began in 1545, the Christkindlmarket Chicago brings a cherished German and European tradition with international flair and local charm to Chicago. Chicago's largest open-air Christmas festival was first held on Pioneer Court in 1996. By special invitation of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Christkindlmarket Chicago moved to Daley Plaza in 1997 and has become a staple event on the plaza ever since. Together with the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Christkindlmarket Chicago has grown to become one of the most popular winter attractions in the heart of the city.

   The vision of the Christkindlmarket Chicago was first conceptualized in 1995. The German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc. (GACCoM) Consulting Services was seeking alternative ways to promote bilateral trade between the USA and Germany. Peter Flatzek, former Vice President of GACCoM, and Ray Lotter, then Manager of Commercial Services for GACCoM, initiated the partnership with the city officials of Nuremberg, Germany. Mr. Lotter invited companies from Germany and the Chicago area to participate in the first Christkindlmarket Chicago in 1996. The market was an instant success and continues to flourish.

   The Christkindlmarket Chicago is also the perfect place for teachers and professors of the German language to bring their students. Here, they have the opportunity to practice skills at the market with numerous German speaking vendors. Several educational activities for students visiting the market include: scavenger hunts, interviews with vendors, or even singing German holiday songs for all to enjoy. At the market, students get to experience authentic German traditions without having to travel any farther than the city of Chicago. From Kindergartners to graduate students the message is loud and clear: The Christkindlmarket is fun, fun, fun!

   Make your way to Daley Plaza to see the festive holiday tree lit up in all its glory and enjoy the classic German Christmas market experience at the outdoor market nearby. The market features European decorations, fabrics and textiles, hot German food, and an assortment of handmade gifts and collectibles. It's one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit, and the fun begins right after Thanksgiving. Visit www.christkindlmarket.com/en/ for more information.

Nuremberg's Christkind poses with Santa Claus at the Christkindlmarket Chicago

Dates and Times

   The Christkindlmarket Chicago will be open daily from November 20, 2012 - December 24, 2012.
Opening Hours-Sunday - Thursday: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm Friday & Saturday: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

Special Hours

First Day, November 20, 2012: 2 pm - 8 pm, 
Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm 
Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm


Daley Plaza (50 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602)

Union Square Holiday Market in NYC
Kick off the holiday shopping season with a trip to the Union Square Holiday Market, an annual event that begins after Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas Eve. The market features a diverse selection of handmade gift items, jewelry, ornaments, classic toys, clothes and fine art. It's a great place to find some unique stocking stuffers for everyone on your gift list and enjoy the festive atmosphere in the city. You'll find it at the south end of Union Square at West 14th Street.

Downtown Holiday Market in Washington DC
Enjoy the traditional bazaar-style atmosphere of the Christmas market in downtown Washington DC. This annual event takes place on F Street between 7th and 8th streets and features over 150 local artisans, exhibitors and crafters. Enjoy live jazz and entertainment, sip on some hot chocolate and cider, and pick out your fair share of holiday crafts, gift cards, boxes and holiday collectibles. It's a fun and festive shopping experience the whole family can enjoy.

Sinter Klausen Christmas Market in Milwaukee
Set your sights on Germantown, Wisconsin near Milwaukee to enjoy a traditional German Christmas market experience. It's not a traditional market with dozens of booths, but you can shop in an old house to buy Wendt & Kuhn figurines, Old World series collectibles, hand carved nativities, wood character ornaments and Christmas pyramids. This is also the place to pick up advent wreaths, holiday calendars, fragrant candles and German mouth-blown glass ornaments. Many items are imported from the German countryside and you can stock up on dozens of beautiful, handcrafted items for your holiday events. Visit www.sinterklausen.com for more information.


    Horror films have been a part of American (and international) culture since the very beginning of cinema. In the last 40 years alone, we have seen so many new icons of horror; from Freddy to Jigsaw, and Jason to Pinhead. But are these nightmarish juggernauts also the stuff money is made of? We’ll see, as I present to you the top 10 most financially successful (highest-grossing) horror film franchises (Note: Many of these films are 15+ years old, so the amounts of money shown are in 2007-2011 U.S. dollars, and the amounts of money are only the profits of films (not TV shows, video games, etc.); also, there are some spoilers!):

1. “Friday the 13th” Series

Main Villain(s): Pamela Voorhees; Jason Voorhees; a crazed ambulance-driver; Freddy Kreuger
Number of movies, etc.: 12 (including the remake, and “Freddy vs. Jason”); 1 TV show; 1 video game
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $380,637,525 (not counting the TV show and video game)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $31,719,793.75

    Neither Jason–nor this franchise–can be stopped! With 12 films (2 of which, don’t even feature Jason as the villain), a relatively unrelated television show, and a mask that will never leave the memories of camp-counselors everywhere, Jason isn’t just a fierce, unrelenting killer: He’s also a very wealthy, fierce, unrelenting killer!

2. “Saw” Series

Main Villain(s): John “Jigsaw” Kramer; Jill Tuck; Detective Mark Hoffman; Dr. Lawrence Gordon; Amanda Young; and…well…technically, many of their victims (considering how many of the victims were given a choice as to kill or be killed…if you haven’t seen the film(s), it’s kind of complicated…)
Number of Movies, etc.: 10 (including a direct-to-DVD release, the short film the first “Saw” was inspired by, and a fan-made film); 1 video game
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $342,510,598 (not counting the fan-made film, short film, direct-to-DVD release, and video game)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $34,251,059.80

    The most recent horror film franchise in American cinema is also one of the most successful! “Saw” turned horror cinema on its ear, by creating a horror movie icon who doesn’t kill his victims directly, but rather gets them to kill each other! Brilliant!

3. “The Exorcist” Series

Main Villain(s): Pazuzu (the demon that possesses Reagan); several others (I have not seen “The Exorcist II: The Heretic” in a while, and I haven’t seen “The Exorcist III” yet)
Number of Movies, etc.: 7 films (4 of the original films, 1 prequel, 1 director’s cut, and 1 hardcore porno called, “The XXXorcist” (no joke))
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $331,592,458 (not counting the porno)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $47,370,351.14

    “The Exorcist” is unique, in that the villain of the story actually possesses the heroes/heroines. It is by far one of the most terrifying series of films in history; so terrifying was the original “Exorcist”, that famous Christian Billy Graham claimed that the reels of film themselves were possessed by demons!

4. Halloween” Series

Main Villain(s): Michael Myers (although, his father was also a villain in the remake, if you think about it…); a creepy old guy who makes killer masks; a satanic cult; the orderlies who raped that poor girl in the remake; the guy who bails Michael out of prison
Number of Movies, etc.: 10 films; 1 video game
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $307,729,650 (not counting the video game)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $30,772,965

    Michael Myers is one of the oldest–and most recognized–horror movie icons in American history. Whether it was John Carpenter, or a suddenly competent Rob Zombie, “Halloween” has always been the deadliest–and one of the most profitable–of holidays!

5. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” Series

Main Villain(s): Freddy Kreuger; Jason Voorhees; the dream-demons
Number of Movies, etc.: 8 films; 1 TV show; 1 video game; a 900-number that you could call to get scared over the phone (no, I am not joking)
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $307,420,075 (not counting the video game, TV show, and 1-900 number-profits)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $38,427,509.38

    Freddy is one of the most recognizable faces (or lack thereof) in cinema history; he is also one of the most creative, twisting dreams to suit his needs. His terror spread from Elm Street, to Hollywood (“Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”), and then to Crystal Lake. If those numbers are any indication, his reign of terror will continue to be very well funded

6. “Scream” Series

Main Villain(s): Stuart; Billy; Mickey; Debbie Salt; several others (I haven’t seen “Scream 3″ in a while, and I have yet to see “Scream 4″)
Number of Movies, etc.: 4 films
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $293,553,139 (not including Scream 4)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $97,851,046.33 (not including Scream 4).

    “Scream” is one of the few horror-film franchises that is satiric in nature. It is also one of the few in which each film has a completely different killer(s). While it’s only #6 on this list in amount of money grossed (to date), it has one of the highest amounts of money grossed (per film)!

7. Paranormal Activity” Series

Main Villain(s): An unnamed demon/spirit
Number of Movies, etc.: 2 films
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $192,671,717
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $96,335,858.50

    While many may say that “Paranormal Activity” is not quite a franchise yet, it has certainly earned the same amount of money as one! These revolutionary films–inspired by classics, such as “Cannibal Holocaust”, “[Rec]“, and “The Blair Witch Project”–have already proven themselves as a contender in the league of horror cinema!

8. “Amityville Horror” Series

Main Villain(s): Well…a house; a doll-house…yes, a doll-house; the people who originally lived in the Amityville house, before the Lutzs; several others (I haven’t seen all of the movies yet)
Number of Movies, etc.: 9 films (including 3 original movies, 1 remake, 4 direct-to-video films, and 1 made-for-TV movie)
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $170,533,321 (not including the sequels not shown in theaters (.i.e.: the made-for-TV movie)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $42,633,330.25

    The “Amityville Horror” anthology is one of the most underrated, under-appreciated horror film franchises on this list. Spanning over 30 years, this exercise in terror is truly for the ages!

9. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” Series

Main Villain(s): Leatherface and his family; some shady organization (from part 4…I really don’t know how to explain them)
Number of Movies, etc.: 6 films (including 1 remake and 1 prequel; also, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” was released into theaters twice); 1 video game
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $164,925,750 (not counting the video game)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per movie: $27,487,625

    One might think that such a classic sequence of horror films would be higher on this list; however, due to financial issues with the first “Massacre”, and the terrible 4th film (which was released a second time to cash in on the new-found fame of Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger), Leatherface will have to settle for 9th place. I sure hope he doesn’t have a bone to pick with me…

10. “The Omen” Series

Main Villain(s): Damien Thorn; Damien’s followers (AKA: Thorn Industries); Satan; Satan’s followers
Number of Movies: 5 (including 3 original films, 1 made-for-TV movie, and 1 remake)
Amount of Money Grossed, to date: $162,520,100 (not counting the made-for-TV movie)
Average Amount of Money Grossed, per film: $40,630,025

    Ah, the Anti-Christ, born from an evil as old as time. What better horror film icon than one who has been over 10,000 years in the making?


   This  diy comes from www.dollarstorecrafts.com .  These look quite cool.  They can be used all year round.  Enjoy!

Dollar Barn DIY: Robin’s Egg Vase

Morning, everyone! Your very own crazy crafter, Jess from Mad in Crafts, here.
Are you cheap? I am. I have a little panic attack anytime I see a price tag in the triple digits. Do you like pretty things? I do. When my house is clean and decorated, sometime I just sit and look around at it all. Partly because I know it will be many moons until it's actually clean again. Anyway, because of my remarkable cheapness and love of pretties, you can imagine the internal torment that overtakes me when I visit the Pottery Barn website. ((shudder))
A few months back I wrote a couple of posts called A Dollar Barn Christmas where I took items I found at my local Dollar Tree and turned them into home decor that was inspired by all the goodies at Pottery Barn. I was browsing on the PB website a few weeks ago, and got that lovely crafter's voice in my head. "I can make that. I could make that too!"
I am adding a series of posts on my blog, Mad in Crafts, with tutorials on how to make PB-ripped off Easter/ Spring decor for your home. The first post in the series showed how to create the elements for a fancy Easter centerpiece based off of two PB catalog items.

Today's tutorial is redonkulously simple and would be a fun project to do with any bored, little ones you have moping around the house.

To make Robin's Egg Vase Filler, you will need:
  • 1 or 2 packs of 12 styrofoam easter eggs (Dollar Tree): $1 each
  • craft paint in robin's egg blue: on hand
  • craft paint in brown or black: on hand
  • paintbrush: on hand
Total: $1

I mixed up a few craft paints until I got a color that I thought made a reasonably good robin's egg blue color. Holding each egg by it's handy little hanging loop, slop some paint all over each egg. Let dry. Even though one coat didn't completely cover, it was good enough for government work.

After your eggies dry, yank the hanging loops out of the ends. You might end up taking a little bit of the paint and styrofoam with the loop. You can touch up the paint if you would like, but nobody is going to be looking THAT closely. Unless you have some really weird friends. Which I do.

Put the eggs in a cardboard box or on a well-covered surface. Things are about to get messy. Dip a bristled paintbrush or an old toothbrush in black or brown craft paint. If the paint is thick, you will probably need to thin it out, I found. Flick the paint off the brush and onto the eggs with your pointer finger. SPLAT! Kids will love this part. Keep splattering and rolling the eggs around until each egg has splatters all over it, like so:

Ta Dah! You just made a rip-off of PB's Decorative Speckled Egg Vase Filler which is listed as $14 for 12 eggs. That's right, friends, you just saved yourself $26 if you made a double-batch. Plop them in a pretty vase, bowl or apothecary jar and your home is looking more Spring-y already.


    The legend of St. Urho originated in Northern Minnesota in the 1950's. However, there are differing opinions as to whether it began with the fables created by Sulo Hvumaki of Bemidji, or the tales told by Richard Mattson of Virginia. Either way, the legend has grown among North American of Finnish descent to the point where St. Urho is know celebrated across the United States and Canada, and even in Finland.
St. Urho's Day is celebrated on March 16th, the day prior to the better known feast of some minor saint from Ireland, who was alleged to have driven the snakes from that island.
    The legend of St. Urho say he chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and the jobs of Finnish vineyard workers. He did this by utter the phrase : "Heinasirkka, heinasirkka, men taaita hiteen"! ( roughly translated: " Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell"!). His feast is celebrated by wearing the colors Royal Purple and Nile Green. St. Urho is nearly always represented with grapes and grasshoppers as part of the picture.

The Origin of St. Uhro
    The legend of St. Urho, is not the product of one person, but of many. The original character is usually traced to Virginia, MInnesota, but like most good legends, there have been many voices in creating the history of S. Urho.
    St. Urho was created by Richard Mattson, who worked at Ketola's Department Store in VirginiaMinnesota. Mattson is generally creadited with conjuring up a Finnish courterpart to St. Patrick in the spring of 1956. Just as Patrick had driven the snakes from Ireland, Mattson's saint drove a plague of frogs from Finland. There were several Finnish names suggested, but Saint Ero or Saint Jussi, or even Toivo or Eino, just didn't have the correct ring of a saint name. Urho Kekkonen became president of Finland in 1956, and some believe that is where the came came from. Others say that Kekkonen was called "Saint Urho" by the citizens of Finland, and the name was attached to Mattson's legend.

    Gene McCavic took the St. Urho legend and, with help form Mattson, wrote an "Ode to St. Urho". It told of a boy ("poika", Finnish for "boy") named Urho who got strong on sour whole milk ("feelia sour") and fish soup ("kala mojakka"). In the original, Urho chases out "tose Rogs" (those frogs) with his loud voice. The original Ode also celebrates St. Urho's Day as "twenty-fourth of May". The original poem was written on a piece of wrapping paper, and is on display at Ironworld Discovery Center in Chisolm, Minnesota.
    The legend spread, originally across Minnesota to Finnish settlements on the Mesabi Iron Range, and to Menahoga, New York Mills, Wolf Lake, and of course, Finland. St. Urho's Day is now celebrated in towns with Finnish heritage, across Michigan's Upper Peninsula; Thunder Bay, Ontario; Burlington, Vermont; Butte, Montana; and Hood River, Oregon.

   Today, the St. Urho tradition is carried on in many Finnish communities, sometimes as an excuse to add an extra day of rowdy celebration to the St. Patrick's Day festivities. In many Finnish-American communities, however, St. Urho's Day is the celebration, and St. Pat's feast day is merely an afterthought, a day to sleep off the hangover.

Sinikka, St. Urho's Wife, the real hero??

No St. Urho's Day would be complete without, mentioning his wife, Sinikka! Here's the info on her:

    For many years Sinikka's spirit has been watching all these doings; Urho getting all the glory, and Sinkka, lying unknown in dark ruins.
    But now, up from the grave, the spirit of Sinikka has risen! "You know, Urho and I did things together, like a team of oxen"!
   Many people thought that St. Urho wasn't married and needed a wife, but he was married to the shy young maiden, Sinikka, the love of his life!
   And "So what," you ask, "did that Sinikka, St. Urho's wife do?" Why Sinikka did all those things that Urho didn't have the time to!
   It is said Urho chased out all them grasshoppers, almost big as pigs! To save the vines and grapes in the land where all the Finns live.

    Then while Urho was out getting all the honors, many thought him due, Sinikka was at home tending the vines where those grapes, big as figs, grew!
And when they were ripened, Sinikka would call all their twelve kids, to carefully pick off those vines those purple grapes, big as figs!
    Then Sinikka would heat up the sauna fire, so it was good and hot, and threw in the twelve children, bare naked, all in one lot!
   Sinikka scrubbed them all clean from their heads to their toes. Wiped them down dry, and into the big grape barrel they did go!
   "Now, stomp, jump, and play on those purple grapes, big as figs"! Sinikka told all the twelve children, from the little one to the big!
    So much fun they did have, all those happy children at play, and so much grape juice was ready by the end of the day.
   That it was then coming out so fast that Sinikka had to build a dam, to store the juice 'til she could make it into jellies and jam!

    So you see whil Urho was getting his sainthood many thought him due, Sinikka was at home doing all the chores, which were not just a few!
   Sinikka pounded their clothes clean on the shores of the great Spirit Lake, Sinikka ground up the grain for the loaves of rye bread she baked.
   From Sinikka's garden they dug up vegetables to store in the cellar, so the family could eat with rye bread, pottuja and mojakka all winter!
   Then Sinikka had to reap the bees' harvest and sell some honey, to buy the yard goods and shoe leather, as they cost money!
    Sinikka then taught the six girls how to sew all the family clothes, and to trim the skirts and shirts nicely with braids and bows.
   Sinikka showed the boys how to cut and stitch all the family shoes, and keep them in good condition for the whole family to use.
    Sinikka milked the cows and made the feelia sour, she gathered the eggs, and from the sheep's wool, Sinnikka spun and knitted leggings for all of their legs!
    So, you see, while St. Urho has been getting all the glory for so many years, it's time to honor Sinikka, she stood by him through blood, sweat, and tears!
    Goodhearted, kind, and very hardworking was that Sinikka, wife of St. Urho, and it was said by many that maybe Sinikka was the real sainted hero!
    But nobody wanted to honor a woman, though a deserving Finn, and give sainthood to someone whose name started with "Sin"!