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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

HOW TO MAKE HOLIDAY SNOW GLOBES!

 This comes from www.marthastewart.com .  Almost anyone will enjoy making and setting these out for the holidays.

Create a Winter Wonderland in a Jar

Create a Winter Wonderland in a Jar

The shimmering magic of snowfall is always transfixing, whether it's outside your window or inside this classic toy. Homemade globes let you create a wintry scene straight out of your own imagination.

Almost any jar works for this project: Baby-food, pimiento, and olive jars are good choices. Look for plastic or ceramic figurines (metal ones are prone to rust) at flea markets and hobby or model-railroad shops. Synthetic evergreen tips are available at many floral-supply stores. You will also need oil-based enamel paint, sandpaper, epoxy, distilled water, glitter, and glycerin (available at drugstores).



Add Distilled Water and Glitter

If the jar lids are not in seasonal colors already, paint them with oil-based enamel paint. Sand the inside of the lid until the surface is rough. With clear-drying epoxy, adhere the figurine to the inside of the lid, and let the epoxy dry.

Fill the jar almost to the top with distilled water; add a pinch of glitter and a dash of glycerin to keep the glitter from falling too quickly. Don't add too much, or the glitter will stick to the bottom of the jar when it's flipped. Screw on the lid tightly, being careful not to dislodge the figurine. Turn the jar over and back again -- and let it snow.




Sleigh-Ride Snow Globe

For a more professional look, you can also assemble a snow globe using a water globe and base. With a little shake, our customized snow globe even jingles! The horse, sleigh, and pine tree are model-train-set props. The bell-harness can be made with red and black enamel paint and tiny silver beads.

Customize the Snow Scene with Paint

To customize the water globe, paint the base, the sleigh's interior, and the jingle harness red; glue on silver beads for bells and waxed twine for reins.
When real snow is nowhere to be found -- as is the case in many parts of the United States in December -- you can conjure up a one-horse-sleigh ride. With a little shake, our customized snow globe even jingles. The horse, sleigh, and pine tree are model-train-set props. The bell-harness was made with red and black enamel paint and tiny silver beads; the reins were made from waxed twine.



Sleigh-Ride Snow Globe


Tools and Materials
6-inch water globe with base
Sculpey modeling clay
Snowflakes
O scale horses and sleigh, legacystation.com (or use other small toys)
Paint (for base and sleigh)
Paintbrushes
Silver beads (for bells)
Waxed twine (for reins)
Aluminum foil
Drill with a 3/32-bit
Screw and washer
Silicone sealant
Ribbon and bells (optional, for base)
Note: Assembling the globe takes two days, so plan accordingly.

Snow Globe How-To

1. To customize, paint base, sleigh's interior, and jingle harness red; glue on silver beads for bells and waxed twine for reins.
2. For snowbank, shape Sculpey clay over an aluminum-foil form, making sure resulting bank fits atop gasket inside base and is visible inside globe.
3. Press tree, sleigh, and horse into clay to make indentations. Bake clay according to label. Drill a hole into center of bottom of patty with a 3/32-bit; attach to gasket with a screw and washer. Cover seams with silicone sealant. Glue figures in place with sealant. Presoak snow, fill globe with water, and seal. Tie ribbon and bells around base.

DIY TINY GINGERBREAD HOUSES TO PERCH ON YOUR CUP OF COCOA OR LATTE!!


  Found this on www.notmartha.org .  These little houses have so many uses and can be given away as gifts or made for that  next Christmas party. Happy holidays!!


gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


I made tiny gingerbread houses that are meant to be perched on the edge of a mug of hot chocolate.

gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


I had been thinking about those sugar cubes that hook on the rim of a teacup earlier this month, and I was also thinking about 3-D cookies and how they fit together and figured it would be pretty neat to make cookies that hang on the edge of a mug. I thought I was being so brilliant but it only took a few seconds to discover that a flat cookie on the edge of a mug has already been done. So I started wondering what else I could do. At the time I was making a bunch of gingerbread recipes trying to find one that would hold up for my partridge in a pear tree cookie, so a gingerbread house was on my mind.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


I made a few versions to figure out how to make one that wasn’t so top heavy that it would flip off the mug, and how small I could get away with and still fit on both large and small cups. I generally followed the size of my The Mini Gingerbread House Kit (though, those pieces don’t fit together as nicely as I’d have liked).



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I’ve made a PDF pattern of gingerbread house pieces which you can open or download right here. My only instruction is that you should make sure that the wall pieces are to be sandwiched on the inside of the door pieces, that way the roof fits on properly. I included two door pieces you can choose from, one at 3/8ths inch wide and one at 1/2 inch wide. I found that a 3/8ths inch door, or slot, fits most mugs but the 1/2 can be used for your really big and heavy mugs. I traced the pieces onto this template page at 9:54 in the evening, please forgive the sloppiness but I’m getting tired, let’s just call the untidy lines charming.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


I used the Gingerbread Snowflake and the Royal Icing recipes from marthastewart.com.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


I rolled it out onto a sheet of tin foil at 1/8th inch thick. I skipped a silicone mat because I use a paring knife for the corner details and didn’t want to accidentally cut down to the layers of glass fibers, and after some trial I found that parchment paper will warp after being chilled and then stuck in an oven which can distort some shapes.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


I used a dull sewing pattern roller (like a small pizza cutter) to go around most sides. You can do all of one side than turn the entire sheet of tin foil 90 degrees to do all of the next side, this makes the process go a bit faster. Try to fit all the pieces for each individual house in the same batch, I found my batches browned differently from each other. Lift the excess dough up from the tin foil, not moving your cut out shapes at all, this will help them keep their shape. Then slide the tin foil sheet onto a cookie sheet and put both in the freezer for about 15 minutes, you want the dough really well chilled before baking.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I used a (well cleaned) flat head screwdriver to get in the detail around the doors, then a paring knife to make sure the corners are cut cleanly.
Here are some tips, most of these are in the recipe but I don’t want you to overlook them:
  • After making it divide the dough into thirds (I made half a recipe) wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Make the royal icing while it’s chilling, you’ll need it before you make all the gingerbread you are planning on.
  • Roll the dough out to 1/8th of an inch. It seems impossibly thin but you be cutting the shapes and pulling the excess dough from around them so your pieces won’t be too disturbed. Feel free to nudge your shapes back into squares before chilling them again.
  • Preheat the oven, roll the dough out on tin foil, cut your shapes and lift off the excess dough, slide the tin foil onto your cookie sheet, now put the cookie sheet into the freezer for at least 15 minutes before baking. This will keep the gingerbread from spreading too much.
  • Make a single test house with your chosen door width. This sounds like a pita, and it will be, but it will be far less trouble than the frustration of finding none of your finished houses fit on mugs. Knowing now that you need to cut a wider door is worth it.
  • I found that dough chilled for only an hour puffed up quite a bit, but didn’t necessarily spread if the cut out shapes were chilled in the freezer. Dough that had been in the fridge overnight, or even the second day (it’ll keep for a few days) puffed up quite a bit less, perhaps because the baking powder had lost it’s mojo by this time?
  • If you suspect your intended mugs are thicker and sturdier than usual grab some cardstock or a magazine insert and cut a few different slots — 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 inch wide, about two inches deep (or tall). The one that slides easily onto the edge of you mug and even has a little wiggle room is the width you want for your door.
  • If your gingerbread should spread and the doors look too narrow to you, you can trim them when the gingerbread is just out of the oven before it sets and cools too much. I suggest a paring knife and trimming just a bit from either side of the door.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

I decided to only decorate the roofs for now. I might make these again next year and get more detailed with the decorations. I used a variety of sugars and sprinkles. One note, I discovered that candy cane dust will stick together so well that it will not show any piping detail beneath it. I liked the way regular sanding sugar made the roof sparkle a bit, though I couldn’t capture the cuteness in my pictures.



gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

Don’t fill your mug of hot chocolate too full, you don’t want the bottom of your gingerbread house to get soggy.


gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug

Can you tell the crushed candy cane one was my favorite?
I would be these would be fantastic made out of sugar cookie or shortbread dough. You could certainly leave them undecorated, or perhaps press sanding sugar into the roof pieces before baking. On the other hand I’m curious to see what one would look like covered in pieces of tiny candies. I’m also planning on making house-shaped marshmallows that will fit on the edge of the mug.


gingerbread house that sits on the edge of a mug


update: I made a few variations including a chimney and a version made out of sugar cookie dough which you might be interested in.

a few variations on my tiny gingerbread houses

SANTA CLAUS, ST. NICK AND CHRISTMAS FIGURES AROUND THE WORLD!!!


    Christmas is a Holy Christian observance that is often celebrated with imaginative, fanciful traditions from folklore and legend. Santa Claus is a legendary personality, similar to St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Sinterklass, and Julenisse. Christkindl, representing the Christ Child, started bringing small gifts to children in Germany during the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther, St. Nicholas, Santa Claus and German Christkindl.
    Christmas personalities are authority figures who bring gifts to good children. In some cultures the Santa Claus figure is feared because he knows all and sees all and may decide children are bad and leave nothing or something like a lump of coal.
    As people move around the world, traditions mix and change with time. The United States is a melting pot of cultures with different traditions observed by the many ethnic groups in the country. Likewise, many cultures may adopt the traditions of neighboring countries.
The following are some different Santa figures and traditions around the world.



Christkindl

  • Austria- St. Nicholas Eve is celebrated on December 6th. Christmas Eve is when families gather for dinner. Christkindl, a young woman dressed in robes, visits Austrian homes and gives gifts to children.




St. Nicholas

Pere Noel

















  • Belgium- Dutch speaking Belgians are visited by St. Nicholas on December 6th. Francophone's are visited by Pere Noel on December 6th.


Father Christmas

  • EnglandFather Christmas fills stockings or pillowcases with presents for children.



Jouloupukki

  • Finland- Finns know that Santa Claus, also called Jouloupukki, lives in the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland. Since Santa lives so close to the children in Finland, he is able to visit them while they are still awake and able to greet the "Jolly Old Elf."



Christkindl

Weihnachtsmann


















Germany- There are different traditions in Germany, depending upon the region and religion. St. Nicholas Day is observed by Catholic Families, Christkindl, an angelic figure in a white robe representing the Christ Child, visits many Protestant homes. There is also a Santa Claus type figure called Weihnachtsmann who brings gifts.


St. Nicholas


  • Hungary- December 6th is St. Nicholas Day, an important winter holiday in Hungary. Children leave their shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with chocolate candy and other goodies.


Father Christmas

  • Ireland- Children in Ireland leave stockings or pillowcases at the end of their beds, hoping that Father Christmas will visit and fill them with treats.


La Befana

  • Italy- The Italian equivalent of Santa Claus is La Befana. The elderly, witch like woman flies above Italy on a broomstick to give gifts to the children on Epiphany Day.



Papa Noel

  • LebanonPapa Noel is the Santa Claus in Lebanon. Children wait for Papa Noel to leave presents near the manger under the Christmas tree.




St. Nicholas and Black Peter

  • LuxembourgSt. Nicholas is accompanied by his servant Black Peter (Houseker). Children leave out plates for St. Nicholas on December 5th to be filled with fruits, nuts and sweets.



Magi

  • Mexico- The Magi leave gifts for children on Christmas Eve.



Sinterklaas

  • NetherlandsSinterklaas is St. Nicholas in the Netherlands. Dutch children put wooden shoes filled with hay and sugar for Sinterklaas' horse. Good children receive shoes full of sweet treats.


Julenisse





Nisse



Fjonisse


Santa Claus




  • Norway- Elfin beings called Nisse are part of the Norwegian folklore. Norwegians offer Christmas Eve porridge to the Julenisse who lives in the barn to avoid elfin trickery and mischief by Fjonisse, who lives in the barn and cares for animals. Santa brings gifts for the children on Christmas.



Magi

  •  Puerto Rico- The Magi, or three Kings-Malchor, Gaspar and Baltazar, visit and leave gifts for children in Puerto Rico.


Grandfather Frost and handmaiden


St. Nicholas





  • RussiaSt. Nicholas delivered Christmas gifts in Russia until communist rule, when Grandfather Frost took over. Grandfather Frost usually wears a blue suit instead of the red suit of Santa Claus. A handmaiden accompanies Grandfather Frost.



St. Nicholas


SloveniaSt. Nicholas and mischievous elves visit to scare children who have misehaved during the year.



Santa Claus


  • South Pacific IslandsSanta Claus arrives on the beach in a magical canoe.




Tomte

  • Sweden- The Christmas gnome, called Tomte, is supposed to live under the floorboards of the house or barn. Tomte brings a sack of gifts and distributes them to kids.



Christkindl

  • Switzerland- The Christkindl appears as a beautiful angel dressed in white and lights the candle on the Christmas tree and distributes gifts to children.



Santa Claus

  • United StatesSanta Claus flies in a sled drawn by flying reindeer and slides down the chimney to deliver gifts to children. St. Nicholas also visits many homes on St. Nicholas Day.

Friday, December 27, 2013

THE CHRISTMAS TREE SHIP!


The Original Christmas Tree Ship





Captains Schuenemann





    The story of the beginning of the Christmas Tree Ship is the story of the Schuenemann family, and most particularly the story of Capt Herman Schuenemann and his last ship, the Rouse Simmons.
In approximately 1885 August and his brother Herman Schuenemann moved to Chicago to seek out their fortune. Chicago’s Harbor was one of the busiest in the world at this time with over 20,000 vessels entering and leaving annually. As competition was fierce, the brothers became excellent businessmen as well as sailors. Although they made a relatively good living, two-thirds of their annual income was generated between Thanksgiving and Christmas with the sale of trees. August had become a truly competitive trader and by 1895 had a well-established reputation as a Christmas tree merchant. In early November of 1898, August was in Sturgeon Bay looking for trees that he would bring to Chicago on a ship named the S. Thal. He purchased 3,500 trees and on November 9th departed with 3 crewmembers for Chicago’s Harbor. A few days later the S. Thal was caught in a horrific storm off the coast of Glencoe, IL and perished. There were no survivors. Herman did not sail with his brother that year, probably due to the birth of his twin daughters in October.
    Continuing with the efforts of his and Augusts, Herman now had a business without a partner. Herman sailed further and further north with each passing year. This allowed him to purchase better quality trees at a lower cost but this also made Herman and his crew incur poor and unpredictable weather the further north they sailed. Over the next few years Herman had lost one ship and almost lost another. This triggered him to purchase larger ships (the largest measuring 130 feet long and 26 feet wide.) With the larger and more stable ships, Herman went as far north as the Soo Canal to purchase his trees from the Indians. Eventually, he would hire his own crew to cut and prepare the trees for the journey back to Chicago. In 1910 Schuenemann had established the ” Northern Michigan Evergreen Nursery” whose address was given as the “SW corner Clark Street Bridge.” This allowed him to lower his expenses by selling his cargo directly from the deck of his ship. No longer would Capt. Schuenemann pay laborers to carry trees to store owners and local grocers. He was trying to eliminate as much of the middleman as possible. While Herman sold trees and greens on deck, his daughters worked below by the warmth of the cabin stove making wreaths out of cut greens. In order to even further lower his expenses, sometime between 1910 and 1912 Herman purchased 240 acres in upper Michigan. In salaries for tree cutters, crew, provisions, towing fees and miscellaneous expenses, a single trip would have cost him approximately $3,000. Any failure to return with trees would leave Herman flat broke. In order for Herman to cover all of these expenses as well as make the bulk of his annual income, he now had to transport as many trees as possible with each journey.






Loaded with Trees




    By 1911, Schuenemann owned a large vessel named the Rouse Simmons. A ship of her magnitude could carry more than 5,000 trees that were lashed down tightly. The weight of these trees would not become a factor unless they became wet and froze. If this was to happen the weight could now become detrimental to the journey’s success. Schuenemann had the Rouse Simmons recaulked during his passage to Chicago in 1911, but failed to recaulk her prior to leaving Chicago for his 1912 adventure. The neglect to recaulk the Rouse Simmons in 1912 was probably due to financial strains caused by Schuenemann being sued for failure  to repay an old debt. The decision not to recaulk the Rouse Simmons would be a fatal one. She was last seen on November 23, 1912, between Kewaunee and Two Rivers Wisconsin, with distress signals flying. Capt. Schuenemann and his crew of 16 went down just 30 miles south of his boyhood home of Ahnapee, Wisconsin. Throughout the years that the Schuenemann’s made their living from the Maritime Christmas Tree business, it rose, peaked and by 1912 was fading. What began as an informal barter system evolved into big business controlled by the high-volume wholesalers. As the railroads and improved highways were now the most efficient way of moving Christmas trees throughout the Midwest, old wooden bottomed vessels became obsolete.
    Chicagoans remembered ” Christmas Tree” Schuenemann for at least the next generation. In December of 1934, in the height of the depression, three middle-aged women opened a store on the Near North Side of Chicago. The sign, which brought back many good times and feelings, read CAPTAIN AND MRS. SCHUENEMANN’S DAUGHTERS. Passerby’s entered the store, shared stories of their childhood on the docks and bought the tree they were to display in their parlor. That was the only year that the daughters had a shop. That was probably due to the depression, but it was said that so few people had given so much joy to so many people, as did the Schuenemann family, just for doing their job.





Chicago Christmas Tree Ship Pictures





    With a Christmas tree hanging from its mast and a red-bowed wreath fastened beneath its bridge, the icebreaker Mackinaw powers through the frigid waters of Lake Michigan bound for Chicago's Navy Pier. Lashed to the decks of the U.S. Coast Guard ship are 1,500 Christmas trees that will be distributed to disadvantaged families in the Windy City.
    Each December, the 240-foot Mackinaw and its 60-person crew carries on the time-honored tradition that rouses holiday spirit and creates lasting memories for tree growers, volunteers and recipients.
    "This will be our first Christmas tree," says Nana Afari, 34, after receiving a free tree last year with her husband, Eric, 36, and their son, Kweku, 3. "We're very excited about it," adds Afari, who immigrated to the United States from Ghana eight years ago.
    "We're going to put a star on the tree," Kweku chimes in.
    The Christmas Tree Ship, as the evergreen-laden Mackinaw is dubbed, continues the legacy of the Rouse Simmons, a three-masted schooner that transported Christmas trees to Chicago a century ago from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The ship's captain, Herman Schuenemann, sold trees from his vessel and gave some to Chicagoans who couldn't afford their 50-cent price.






afari-family-christmas-tree-chicago Pics





"The crew and I feel fortunate to share in such a wonderful endeavor," says Mackinaw Cmdr. Scott Smith, 42, standing aboard his ship. "We're proud to stand in for the Rouse Simmons."

Reclaiming a Tradition

   The legacy of the Rouse Simmons was resurrected a decade ago as Coast Guard administrators and members of Chicago's marine community were searching for ways to help Chicago's less fortunate during the Christmas season. They formed the Chicago Christmas Ship Committee and began raising money to purchase trees for families who couldn't afford them.
    "We knew a large number of kids couldn't afford Christmas trees; we didn't want that to happen in Chicago," says Truitt, the committee's program director.
    Since 2000, the all-volunteer organization has given away more than 10,500 trees to poor individuals and families. "It gives me great satisfaction to know these trees are going to families who wouldn't otherwise get one," says Lloyd Karzen, 71, a yachting enthusiast who has served on the    Chicago Christmas Ship Committee since its inception.
    The committee organizes thousands of volunteers each year and raises thousands of dollars to purchase Christmas trees. Growers in Michigan and Wisconsin provide 6-foot fir trees at reduced prices and deliver them to Cheboygan, Mich. (pop. 5,295), where the Mackinaw is stationed.






unload-christmas-trees-needy-chicago Pics




"Contributing to someone else's happiness is what the season's all about," says Chris Maciborski, 36, owner of Dutchman Tree Farms in Manton, Mich.

Voyage and volunteers

    Scouts, high school students and crew members load the Mackinaw prior to Thanksgiving before the Coast Guard cutter departs on its 600-mile seasonal journey to replace buoys on Lake Michigan with winter markers.
    After the Mackinaw docks in Chicago on the first Friday in December, yachting club volunteers string 8,000 lights on its railings, some years chipping off ice before they can decorate the ship. Hundreds of school children tour the ship, listen to ecology lessons from Coast Guard Auxiliary, and hear Ruth Gibson retell her mother's Christmastime story.
The following day, the trees are unloaded. Laughing, joking and singing holiday songs, 250 Scouts from across the Midwest unload trees from the Mackinaw's deck. Trucks transport the evergreen cargo to 16 charities and churches throughout Chicago for distribution, and the Mackinaw departs to resume its winter mission.
    "This is a fantastic display of human togetherness," says Boy Scout Nick Bernstein, 17, a third-year volunteer. "It's truly heartwarming."

CHRISTMAS IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO!


   Christmas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is more of a religious festival than being commercial. Most people won't have any presents.
   Christmas Eve is very important with Churches having big musical evenings (most churches have at least 5 or 6 choirs) and a nativity play. These plays last a very long time. They start at the beginning of the evening with the creation and the Garden of Eden and end with the story of King Herod killing the baby boys.
   People taking part in the play really like to show off their 'best' acting skills and tend to go over the top and 'ham it up'! King Herod and the soldiers are often figures of fun (like pantomime 'baddies') and Mary is often well advanced in labour before she arrives!




   The birth of Jesus is timed to happen as close to midnight as possible and after that come the shepherds, the wise men and the slaughter of the innocents. This means the play normally finishes about 1am. However, in some places there will be further singing until dawn! The Christmas day service then starts at 9am with lots more singing.
   On Christmas day, most families try to have a better meal than usual. If they can afford it, they will have some meat (normally chicken or pork). The rest of the day is spent quite quietly, maybe sleeping after a busy and late night on Christmas Eve!
People go back to work on the 26th (Boxing Day).
In the Lingala language, which is spoken in the DRC and some other African countries, Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Mbotama Malamu'.