Friday, December 26, 2014

Celebrate New Year's Eve...December 2014

Anyone who follows my blog or knows me personally...knows how much I need and love nature...and all the gifts and blessings I believe humans receive from nature and the land.Frankly I get grumpy and out of balance when I am denied nature.

This New Year's Eve...keeping nature in mind...go for a quiet walk...in a local park and pick up a small fallen branch or two (make sure the branch you pick up has small branches...on it... as you will be using the small branches)...and bring your branch home.

Next...once your home...find a slender vase or basket...and place on the floor in your studio...office or den or even in your bedroom...so you will be able to view it each day. If you have some small twinkle lights...string these on your branch.

Now...using small tags or pieces of paper or cut cloth...write down your hopes and dreams for the New Year...and tie the written tags...paper or cut cloth on each small branch...blessing each hope and dream as you add it to the branch.

When you are done...sit before your hope and dream "tree" saying a prayer if you wish...or other personal message from your heart.

Keep this "tree of hopes and dreams" up until next New Year's Eve ...reading all your tags...and seeing how many of your hopes and dreams have come true.

Happy New Year 2015
Victoria

Saturday, December 13, 2014

DECEMBER 13th 2014 COOKIE RECIPE FROM NEW MEXICO

Okay...it is so very true... I love cookies...and can be tempted very easily to eat way too many at one time if they are around. Especially a cookie that is homemade...and especially holiday ones...and especially a recipe for Christmas... from one of my favorite states New Mexico..Another words...especially any cookies.

This is true.

Now you know my weakness.

Here is the recipe...be sure to make a double batch...because they will go quickly...and these can also be a great gift to give.

BISCOCHITOS,,,FROM NEW MEXICO MAGAZINE

This recipe is the state cookie and is served each December...and will make about 6 dozen cookies. Hide some for yourself.

COOKIES
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound lard at room temperature ( or use 1 pound unsalted butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons ground anise seeds
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) whiskey

TOPPING
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

TO MAKE

Have your topping made...before cookies start coming out of the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 425F. Sift together the 5 cups flour...baking powder and salt. Beat the butter or lard with electric mixer...gradually adding the sugar until extremely light and fluffy... about 8 minutes. Stop mixer every couple of minutes to scrape down sides of mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time...beating in each one before adding the next. Mix in dry ingredients...beating only until incorporated. Add the anise seeds...orange juice and the whiskey. A stiff pie-like dough is what you are after. Add some or all of the remaining flour as needed to get proper consistency.

Spoon dough into cookie press... and push out dough into shaped cookies unto an ungreased cookie sheet. Please avoid handling the dough too much...you want tender cookies here.

Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes. Let cool...just a bit ...and then roll each cookie in topping. Cookies will keep a week.

Monday, December 1, 2014

FEMININE LIVING TRADITIONS FOR YOUR HOME...HEARTH...AND HEART DECEMBER 2014

December musings...

I want to wish you personally the most wonderful holiday season this December...and your time with family and friends...the most cherished moments and fond memories for years to come.

Truly being with loved ones and those you care about...honoring traditions...and celebrating together...this months festivities... is the true meaning of the holidays.

I love to research  and study holiday traditions from around the world...and truth be told...I have loved some of them so much...I practice them here in my own home now. There is something so special about taking a tradition from another land and culture...and making it my own. I feel somehow deeply connected to the people I am practicing their holiday tradition from...as well as the history and meaning of their customs and rich heritage.

And by all means begin your own special traditions to share with your family and friends. Perhaps you like to bake and could start a new holiday cookie baking gathering...and everyone get into the kitchen to bake and decorate holiday cookies together...and then give a prize to the person with the best tasting...or best looking holiday cookies.

Have a caroling party...singing holiday songs...then eat holiday snacks and hot cocoa afterwards. Or you could have a gathering making good old-fashioned popcorn balls together...a messy but ever so fun activity for the holiday season.

And be sure to include in your holiday traditions acts of giving to others who are not as fortunate as you. Start a food or toy drive...in your local neighborhood...so everyone has a good meal and children toys for Christmas.

Visit an elderly care facility...and read or sing songs to them...or give your time to visit the children's ward at your local hospital...to see how you can help out and make their holiday more special.

Whatever you decide to do to create more traditions in your home...this holiday season...whether it be practicing ideas from other countries or creating your own...your holiday will be more special...bonding...and intimate...as you share traditions that will last a lifetime...and be carried on from generation to generation.

That is the cherished beauty of traditions.

Now that...is something to smile about.

Happy Holidays
Victoria




WORLD TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER

December 8th...Feast of the Immaculate Conception...December 10th...International Human Rights Day...December 13th...St. Lucia's Day...Start of Hanukkah...December 16th...December 21st...Winter Solstice...December 22nd...International Arbor Day...December 25th...Christmas Day...December 26th Hanukkah ends...December 26th...Kwanzaa begins... December 31st ...New Year's Eve


FULL MOON IN DECEMBER is December 6th


FLOWERS OF DECEMBER  Holly...poinsettia...Christmas cactus


STONES OF DECEMBER Serpentine...peridot



FACTS ABOUT CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

Did you know that the hanging of wreaths are a symbol for pagans of the Wheel of the Year? They believe the wreath is a symbol of no beginning and no end...because it is the form of a circle.There is archaeological evidence to support the fact that wreaths have been used in this symbolic way for more than 4,000 years. Wreaths came to be used at Christmas through the influence of Scandinavian pagans who hung them up at Yule...to honor a new beginning of the ever moving and changing circle of life.

IN ITALY...Merry Christmas...is Buoen Natale!

ST. FRANCIS
The first Nativity scene was staged on December 24th, 1223 in a simple monastery at Greccio by St, Francis of Assisi...as a tool to teach the uneducated...yet faithful the story of the first Christmas.

SANTA LETTERS
Today in small-town Italy...children post their letters to Babbo Natale...the Italian version of Santa Claus...in a special mailbox...that only appears at Christmas time.

AUSTRIA
Did you know that the song SILENT NIGHT was composed in Austria...which has been translated into more than 250 languages in a small town in this beautiful country nearly two centuries ago?

PORTUGAL

Keeping with the Catholic tradition of no meat ...the Portuguese make "fiel amigo bacalhau (salted cod) for a traditional Christmas Eve preparation called Bacachauda da Consoana.

The fish is boiled up with potatoes...cabbage...carrots...and hard-boiled eggs and then drizzled with Portuguese olive oil.



All winter long
behind every thunder
guess what we heard
- behind every thunder
the song
of a bird,
a trumpeting bird.

All winter long
beneath every snowing
guess what we saw
- beneath every snowing
a thaw
and a growing,
a greening and growing.

Where did we run
beyond gate and guardsman?
Guess, if you can
-all winter long
we ran
to the sun,
the dance of the sun!

Native American Song


NEW YEAR'S EVE CELEBRATION

Before the end of December purchase a small Rosemary plant and set it on a table...until you are ready to use it for this New Year celebration. What is so great about having this Rosemary plant for your celebration is that you will then be able to use this wonderful herb for cooking later or to place on your door step or patio.

SUPPLIES
One Rosemary plant
pens
plain tags with string attached
1 pillar candle...in a fireproof container

On New Year's Eve have your Rosemary plant set on a table for easy access for everyone present. Place the pens and plain tags next to the Rosemary plant. Have your candle ready to light after everyone is complete with the celebration...as a symbol of each persons soul or light of their heart.

Gather everyone together around the table...and explain to them...that one by one they can write on the tags ways they can become a more positive and loving person in the new year. After they have written on as many tags as they need...they can then hang their tags on the Rosemary plant...saying a blessing or prayer as they do so.

When everyone is complete...everyone join hands and say a blessing and also wish everyone success with their written messages...and then to complete the celebration light the candle...and everyone hug one another.

Allow the candle to stay lit until you retire for the night...and keep the Rosemary plant with the messages up for a few days...as a reminder to everyone...then have them take their messaged tags off and keep them in their own personal space...so they can view them...as a gentle reminder of what they are wanting to become in this New Year.

 

FEMININE LIVING TRADITIONS

...FOR YOUR HOME

Place a few drops of Peppermint oil on your light bulbs...when you turn on the lights the scent will fill your whole house with the uplifting scent of Peppermint oil.

Clean and clear out your desk and work space...this month... and take all those pieces of paper and receipts you have kept throughout this year...put them in a paper shredder.. and place the now shredded paper in a container to store... that you can then use for packing material... for future shipping. How is that for waste not...have not?


...FOR YOUR HEARTH

What is more festive this month then getting in the kitchen and creating handmade treats for the holiday's? It is keeping traditions alive and at their finest.

This holiday season carry on traditions with food by making and enjoying a traditional food from another country...and traditions bring Scotland to mind for me...a land and people steeped in history and lovely traditions.

SCOTTISH TRIFFLE
4-6 servings

For the sponge cake and jam:

1 8 ounce sponge cake
1 12 ounce jar of really good strawberry jam
4-5 tablespoons medium sherry

For the custard:
16 fluid ounces whole milk
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon super fine sugar

For the cream:

1 pint whipping cream

The first layer:

Cut up sponge cake into 1 inch cubes and put into a pretty and large glass dish.Melt the jam till it is just warm and runny. Pour the melted jam over the cut sponge cake cubes.Pour sherry on top. Leave for a few hours or overnight to soak up the sponge cake and jam mixture.

To cook Custard:

Heat the milk in a pan. In a bowl break the eggs...then add the sugar and whip.When the milk is hot...add a little milk to the egg mixture and gently stir ( adding just a little hot milk at first keeps the  eggs from scrambling) and then return egg and milk mixture to the pan.Cook over low heat...stirring all the time till it thickens, or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Take off heat and allow the custard to cool a bit...and then pour over sponge cake and jam mixture.

To make the cream:

When the custard is set..beat your cream until stiff and top the cake and custard trifle. You can add fresh berries if you like for decoration or just leave as is. Serve chilled,,,in your very best desert bowls or dishes.


...FOR YOUR HEART

Start a journal this month...about how you can connect more with your inner spirit...and live from awareness and your heart...and then begin to create the necessary changes to begin living a more loving and heart centered life.

Nurture yourself this month with long soaks...by candlelight and adding...Lavender oil and epsom salts to your running bath water...to soak away stress or sore muscles.

Start a prayer partner with someone you trust and are close to...and by telephone pray with each other at the same time and day each week.