To me, no Christmas season is complete without gathering around the tube to watch the Frank Capra classic, It's a Wonderful Life. Long after the holiday has come and gone, I can't hear a bell ring without thinking of this heart-warming, life-affirming tale of selfless George Bailey, the night he loses faith, and his well-meaning wingless guardian angel, Clarence.
I also can't get through Christmas without the story of The Littlest Angel and his simple gift to baby Jesus. So heartbreakingly beautiful. It gets me every time!
I think one of the reasons I'm so drawn to these stories is because they feature angels as main characters. I've had a thing for angels since I was small. I love the concept of heavenly creatures who provide guidance, watch over us. and, when we need to hear it most, let us know everything's going to be alright...
which also happens to be the message at the heart of Christmas...
What holiday story gets you into the Christmas spirit?
'Tis the season for crafting and making, wrapping and baking!
For the last twenty-five or so years, my daughters and I have created ornaments, gifts and treats for family and friends. Though Hilary and Cori were not able to be with me last weekend, the youngest two, Caroline and Clare joined me around the kitchen table to continue this tradition - though I'll admit they ditched me now and then to study for finals and to hangout with friends - the nerve! We managed to make enough of this year's projects to have visions angels and turkish delight dance in our heads. If we weren't in the holiday spirit before, we certainly are now!
The Handkerchief Angel, one of the earliest ornaments we made over twenty years ago, long before the two youngest girls were born, made a comeback this year. Made from vintage (new is ok too!) hankies or napkins, these heavenly ornaments can be made in just minutes, which was a good thing since this years food treat, Turkish Delight, is a bit more labor intensive. Things always have a way of balancing out, don't they?
We've been wanting to make turkish delight for many years. Ever since reading the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe where Edmund betrayed his siblings to the White Witch for a bit of the exotic Middle Eastern candy treat (known as Lokum), we've wanted to make our own turkish delight but I was always too intimidated by its seemingly tricky recipe and persnickety nature to give it a whirl...until this year. I found a great recipe and video tutorial on the good ol' worldwide web to finally feel confident enough to go ahead and take a whack at it. We made two delicious traditional flavors: Rose Water with Lemon and Orange Blossom. It was surprisingly easy and oh-so-good! If we can do it, you can too!
Here's the link featuring Natasha Levitan:
look for the video to the lower right of the recipe
Let me know if you find it helpful and decide to give turkish delight a try!
What You'll Need:
Any square handkerchief or napkin (vintage is best!)
a round crocheted doily (I found ours at Joanne Fabrics)
narrow ribbon or string - apx. 12inches
1/4 inch wide lace trim or pearls - 4inches (for the halo)
hot glue or Fabri-Tak fabric glue
batting (for stuffing the head - I reused a dryer sheet)
What You'll Do:
Fold your hankie or napkin into a triangle
Gather the center of the folded edge to form the head, stuff and tie-off with string or ribbon
Tie a knot toward the end of each of the two points of the folded edge to form "hands"
Gather the center of the doily and tie with a string to form the wings; glue the hands together
Cut a length of ribbon or trim to form a loop for hanging; glue loop to wings. Glue wings and hanger to the back of the angel. Cut a short length of lace trim or small pearls to create the angel's halo, gluing to the head.
Now all we've got to do is package up 400 pieces of turkish delight. Sampling along the way, of course!
May you too have visions of angels and delight, turkish or otherwise, dancing in your head!
Wreaths are the order of the day for this holiday season in the Cullen household. Twenty-two of them in all...
Wreaths of recycled grapevine canes...a symbol of abundance and rebirth...
Wreaths of evergreen rosemary from the garden...symbolic of eternity and remembrance...
The circle unending and unbroken...infinite.
Did you know?
Greeks and Romans used wreaths to symbolize victory and glory in competition.
In ancient cultures, the circular shape of the wreath symbolized the sacred space within.
Rosemary is so named to honor of the Virgin Mary.
Rosemary is said to prevent nightmares when placed under one's pillow.
Napoleon's favorite perfume was rosemary water. He used 100 bottles of it on his honeymoon alone.
"Where rosemary flourishes, the woman rules" Ancient Roman proverb.
Anyone who smells rosemary on Christmas Eve is guaranteed happiness in the coming year.
Making your own rosemary wreath is incredibly easy.
This is all you need...3 items...
a base (grapevine, metal, or straw)
material (rosemary or other foliage, enough to cover the base)
attachment (paddle of 22 gauge wire or hot glue)
Keep it simple...
This is what you do:
Wire together bundles of two or three 6inch sprigs of rosemary, enough to cover the circumference of the base plus a few extra (I used 12-14 bundles for a 12inch grapevine base; Hilary used shorter and fewer sprigs for her little 6inch wreaths).
Place a bundle onto the base, winding paddle wire around the bundle and base to secure (do not clip wire, just keep winding as you go).
Add bundles, slightly overlapping previously placed bundles with the new; continue winding wire to secure bundles until the wreath is completely covered with foliage.
Tuck additional sprigs into the wreath to cover any wire that remains exposed.
Hang anywhere that could use a festive, symbolic touch of the season. I plan on leaving my rosemary wreaths up all year long!
Christmas Eve Happiness Rosemary Garlic Potatoes
(What could hardly be called a recipe, it's so simple!)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Scrub and halve, then quarter 10-12 medium red potatoes.
Drizzle potatoes with 2-3 T. olive oil.
Add 6-8 whole cloves of peeled garlic.
Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, black pepper and 3 T. roughly chopped rosemary leaves (add red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, if desired).
Place on a baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, turning potatoes midway through cooking time.
HGW! (Heavy Garlic Warning) BTWI! (But They're Worth It)
These rosemary garlic potatoes are sure to guarantee happiness for Christmas Eve dinner AND the coming year - just make sure everyone eats them...or the poor person who doesn't, can't be guaranteed of happiness unless they have a clothespin for their nose!
Michaels Arts and Crafts
Country Living, Crafting Wreaths at Home; Hearst Books
My collection of Christmas ornaments is one of my most prized possessions. Among them ornaments made with my daughters and their friends each year at our kitchen table; ornaments given to me by dear friends who are aware of my ardent appreciation for such things; ornaments I picked up along my travels.
Treasured ornaments fancy and rare, simple and tug-your-heartstrings humble - all find an equal place on the tree - transforming it into an effervescent expression of color and sparkle, memories and time.
Our family Christmas tree has become part scrapbook, part curio cabinet, part art gallery, part jewelery box, part diary. Last year I attempted to have a "color coordinated" tree, limiting the ornaments to those within a narrow precept of green and white. It lasted less than a day. I missed the ornaments that have become like old friends, so up they went!
As long-time readers of QWC probably recall, each year I design an ornament (at least one!) to make and give, placing one on our very own tree. While I've got something in the works, this year I'm getting a late start. But The Tree waits for no one!
I'll add this year's edition later on. In the meantime, I decided to take a trip around the house looking for special mementos and treasures that could be transformed into ornaments with the mere addition of ribbon (and sometimes not even that!). Items deserving an exhalted position among what will one day become family heirlooms, by my estimation anyway - part of my legacy!
All things merry and bright! Here's what I found...
A pair of pince-nez glasses...
An old watch face...
A handmade lapel pin...
An old corncob pipe...
A robin's nest...
Gift tags from years past...
One of my Nana's keys...
A pair of baby shoes...
A doll from Brazil...
My favorite thing...a mask from Venice, a present from a dear friend...a good home for it until I can have it framed in a shadow box...
My merriest and brightest treasures - even though they won't fit on the tree!
What treasures can you find around your house?