Thursday, 29 December 2011

Jamie Oliver's Family Christmas

Do you like Jamie Oliver?
I mean, as a cook, a writer and a tv host, of course ;)

I do.
And my girls are madly in love with the guy.
Him being cute
and cooking
and being so nice and casual about it.

~sigh and smile~

Around Christmas we watched him cook on Jamie Oliver's Family Christmas
(there is also a dvd of him doing his Xmas magic, Jamie's Christmas ).
Also check his festive website at jamieoliver.com
You want to see some more?

Check this


Love!

love, Irene

Lovely *Free* 2012 Calendar

Remember the calendars I told you about this time last year?
Talented, generous people offering their artwork for free, making our homes a little lovelier~
This year I've got to share this absolutely great calendar.



It's original and very decorative
and I love that the artwork is relevant to each month.
You may add a page each month or frame and display all 12 months.
It comes from my primary source of all things blogging,
which offers great tips and resources
as well as networking opportunities for either fun or business-or both.

So,
do as I do,
go here,
read the instructions
spread the good word
and enjoy!

Happy
2012

love, Irene

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Pines and Mushrooms for Christmas


I love ancient lore.
All of human understanding of the sacred looks to me
 like a long procession of people trying to make sense
of their beautiful yet short, compared to the universe and the elements,
life.

So
...
So, why do people bring Pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored (Red and White) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other and as representations of the love of God and the gift of his Sons life? It is because, underneath the Pine bough is the exact location where one would find this ‘Most Sacred’ Substance, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild.” 
–James Arthur, “Mushrooms and Mankind”
Read the fascinating article here.
With thanks to Prairie Child.


love, Irene

Monday, 26 December 2011

Greek Christmas sweets (recipes)

When in Thessaloniki, Agapitos is our favorite sweet shop.
They make some amazing sweets with great taste and imagination,
 faithful to beloved tastes and traditions.


Pictured above, from an Agapitos ad,  a selection of festive sweets. 
Melomakarona, plain and chocolate covered, in the double-tier,
icing-sugar covered kourampiedes
and just behind them, a tsoureki for the new year.

My mother made all her sweets with the "St.George Mills" flour.
I was so pleased to discover their retro ads!


The recipe for melomakarona 
(olive oil and honey sweets~find a similar recipe in english here)


kourambiedes 
(almond pastries~similar here)


This one, above, is the recipe my mom made for the New Years pie
the Vasilopita
We didin't make tsoureki, as is the custom in this part of Greece 
(remember, in my part of the family we are Southerns!)
we usually bought one or two for Christmas morning and new year's breakfast.
(but you may find a recipe here).

We made this cake-like pie that I love making for our family.

If you read Greek, the recipe is above. 
If not, read on :)

Ingredients
500grs (or 4 tea-cups)  self-raising flour
250 grs. butter or vegetable butter or a mix of the two.
250 grs milk mixed with the juice of one orange
Before cutting and squizing the orange, wash then finally grate its peel
400grs sugar
4 eggs

How to
Beat the butter for 2-3 mins until fluffy. Then alternate adding the sugar, the eggs one by one, the grated orange peel, the milk and the flour. 
Mix well.
Pre-heat oven to 180-200C.
Butter a cake pan well and dust with flour 
(you may use less butter and line with grease proof or baking paper),
and pour in the mixture.
Wash and wrap a coin in foil and hide in the mixture.
{At this point I place almonds, cleaned, boiled and whitened on top, forming the number of the new year}
Bake for aprox. 1 hour.
Let the pie cool, remove from pan and place in a nice serving tray.
Dust with icing sugar.

Why add a coin, you may ask. 
Here is why.
The tradition of vasilopita is associated with the life of Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocea, Asia Minor (now in Turkey) who lived between 330-379 AD. According to the legend St. Basil called on the citizens of Caesarea to raise a ransom payment to stop the siege of the city. Each member of the city gave whatever they had in gold and jewelery. When the ransom was raised, the enemy was so embarrassed by the act of collective giving that he called off the siege without collecting payment. St. Basil was then tasked with returning the unpaid ransom, but had no way to know which items belonged to which family. So he baked all of the jewelery into loaves of bread and distributed the loaves to the city, and by a miracle each citizen received their exact share, the legend goes. In some tellings the sieging chieftain is replaced with an evil emperor levying a tax, or with St. Basil attempting to give charity to the poor without embarrassing them.
Our kids look forward to the vasilopita each year, and so do I :) 

Wishing you a sweet and blessed 2012!



love, Irene

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas anti-blues inspiration


MENUS PLAISIRS

«Le temps et mon humeur ont peu de liaison. J’ai mes brouillards et mon beau temps en dedans de moi. » (Blaise Pascal)

Effet de la dépression saisonnière, l’hiver s’étend sur les visages comme la nuit grignote les journées. Seuls à se réjouir, les commerçants du «bonheur business». Du complément alimentaire censé chasser les idées noires, aux huiles essentielles antibrouillards intellectuels, en passant par une foultitude de petits et gros traités d’à peu près tout, promettant bonheur et joie de vivre, c’est un secteur d’activité qui ne connaît pas la crise.
 À défaut d’extase béate, voici quelques idées de menus plaisirs:
❤ Entendre le réveil sonner aux horreurs et, une fois n’est pas coutume, le faire taire d’une bonne claque sur le museau avant de se rendormir trois heures, sans éprouver le moindre frémissement de culpabilité.
❤ Trouver, en se promenant, un filon de cèpes bronzés nés la veille et ayant échappé aux prélèvements obligatoires des bestioles de la forêt.
❤ Acheter, plutôt qu’un énième recueil de citations tartes sur le bonheur, un livre de Clément Rosset, philosophe rubicond qui travaille depuis quarante ans sur le sujet.
❤ Annuler un déjeuner avec un empêcheur de rêvasser en rond, et savourer comme jamais une heure et demie de solitude devant une omelette paysanne et un verre de bon bordeaux au café.
❤ Écrire à une amie chère qui vit à l’autre bout de la Terre, et recevoir une longue réponse de nouvelles.
❤ Jeter le minimalisme aux orties, relire La Légende des siècles de Victor Hugo et tomber à nouveau raide dingue de l’illustre génie.
❤ À Paris, inviter quelques amis, faire un feu dans la cheminée et y griller des châtaignes que l’on dégustera agrémentées de thé et de chocolat chaud.
❤ Ranger les affaires d’été, sortir celles d’hiver, et s’apercevoir que l’on a plein de pulls doudous et de jolies choses à mettre que l’on avait totalement oubliées.
❤ Faire plaisir à une maman débordée en emmenant son fils voir l’un de ses tout premiers films au cinéma et se tordre de rire en débriefant, à la sortie, avec ce philosophe en herbe.
❤ Froisser un citron vert ou découper un fruit de la passion pour s’enivrer de leurs parfums de voyage.
❤ Convaincre les pépés prématurés de la bande d’aller pour une fois danser après le dîner et les voir, sur la piste, plus contents et déchaînés que tous les habitués.
❤ Ressortir le baggamon et se lancer dans des tournois acharnés.
❤ Se concocter pour les trajets quotidiens, une bande-son ensoleillée.
❤ Faire un gâteau, ce qui met toujours de bonne humeur.
❤ L’apporter au bureau, pour partager un moment sympa entre collègues.
❤ Oublier la crise, la pression, la dépression. Se dire que le pire n’est pas toujours sûr et que ça ne vaut vraiment pas la peine de s’énerver.

Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre


love, Irene 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas stories





The Night When Love Was Born


Christ the babe comes in Christmas as Christ the Savior comes on the cross - seeking only our embrace.
The mystery so large becomes the babe so small and infinite
God becomes infant.
And if there is no cross in my Christmas, then my Christmas has lost the Christ - What is the manger if not for the Messiah, the One who saves us with the scars?
Christmas isn't a product to wrap, but a person to unwrap.
Christmas cannot be bought.
Christmas cannot be created.
Christmas cannot be made by hand.
Christmas can only be found in the creche, in the cradling trough, in the mire and the stench and the unexpected and unlikely and only only in the person of Christ.


Devotional Christmas words by Ann Voskamp








A Child's Christmas Eve Dream


Last night I had a lovely dream, but strange as it could be,
For on the hill beside our house, stood a great Christmas tree.
It glowed with lighted candles, right at the top a lighted star,
And round it dancing in a ring, children from lands afar.
Polite little English girls, Swiss boy's with funny skis,
Dutch children in queer wooden shoes. joined hands with shy Chinese.
Turkish lads is tassled fez, tots from France, Greece and Poland.
Laughing as the children do, in the safety of a free land,
Perhaps my dream's a prophecy, of Christmas to be,
When little children everywhere, can sing because they are free.
I surely wish with all my heart, this day of Jesus birth,
That peace and love and happiness, soon cover all the earth.


Margaret of The Old Digger



"Glory in the Highest to God, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (Luke 2:14)




Wishing you a bright, happy, blessed Xmas



love, Irene

Friday, 9 December 2011

Victorian Christmas recreated at Windsor Castle



I am fascinated by the Victorian era.
It is a time in History when everything seemed possible, when lives were feeling warm and bright, and great things were accomplished in all matters of human life. I also love its style and most of all I admire Queen Victoria herself. What a remarkable lady she was! She ruled over a quarter of the Eart's population for 64 years, but she shaped the entire century and, dare I say, more.
Now, Queen Victoria’s Christmas has been recreated at Windsor Castle.
 The royal residence at Windsor Castle has been transformed with decorations Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert would have recognised for The Victorian Christmas exhibtion. 
Visitors will see how the Queen and Prince Albert celebrated Christmas with their young family as the State Dining Room and Octagon Dining Room are transformed with the tree, a display of Victorian festive dining – and a reconstruction of the couple’s Christmas gift tables.
Queen Charlotte, the German-born wife of George III, is credited with introducing the Christmas tree, but it was Albert who popularised it, presenting large numbers to schools and Army barracks. When a print was published in 1848 showing the royal family around the festive emblem, its use escalated throughout society.



The exhibition will feature a tree hanging in place of a chandelier, as in Victoria’s day, in the Octagon dining room. The artificial tree will be covered with items inspired by decorations featured on the Queen’s firs including swags – ornamental drapery – ribbons, replica candles and imitation snow. 
 While most people open their presents on Christmas Day, the Royal Family still keep to the German practice of unwrapping their gifts on Christmas Eve. The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other royals usually congregate in the White Drawing Room at Sandringham House around a 20ft tree, cut from the estate, and nearby is a white linen covered trestle table laden with gifts. 


 At Windsor two gift tables will be recreated with presents exchanged by Victoria and Albert.
 In the Castle’s State Dining Room, the table will be laid for a Victorian Christmas feast with a magnificent porcelain dessert service by Minton of Staffordshire. Known as the Victoria Service, the set was purchased by the Queen at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and includes four porcelain figures of the four seasons, ice pails, cream and bon-bon dishes, and a pair of silver-gilt sauceboats shaped like sleighs. 
 During Christmas 1860 a visitor to Windsor described the “mighty sight” of 50 turkeys being roasted in the great kitchen, a huge baron of beef and a woodcock pie of 100 birds presented to the Queen each Christmas by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. 
 The Victorian Christmas displays at Windsor Castle will be on show until January 8. 
 For more information visit The Royal Collection. Also read Elizabeth Longford's authoritative Queen Victoria . I also love Jerold Packard's Victoria's Daughters.  

love, Irene

Saturday, 3 December 2011

12 Christmas Crafts n' Gifts

Hello,
I hope everyone is happy and well
and looks forward to the most rebirthing time of the year.
Christmastime is all about nesting and spending time with loved ones.
It is also about presents and dreams fulfilled to the best of our abilities and imaginations.
Even if we aren't anything close to Martha Stewart, there is always something that we can make, craft or cook, to give a little joy and satisfaction to ourselves and our loved ones over Christmas.
Here is my pick of crafts and home made presents for this festive season

::make::

1.Owl ornaments


These are so whimsical!
The Owl being the symbol of wisdom and knowledge, the owl is also a meaningful ornamnet for the Christmas tree, encouraging the quest for self-development in our children and ourselves.


{via}

2. Holiday Burlap Pillows


Very classy and now, they will grace the holiday home for seasons to come.
This one is a particularly good craft for classrooms and the Boy Scouts.
If you do a holiday sale, this will work marvelously.

{via}

3. Cross-stitch winter scenes


Cross-stitching is simple, quick and heartwarming.
Plus, red, green and white is a Christmas classic.

{via}

::Cook::

4. Deeelicious and eye catching candy bark


Put in crispy clear wrap, add red and green tape
and gift around or sell at the school fair.

{via}


5. 12 Days of Christmas cookies



Stop by the Food Network and take your pick!
My favorite?
These chocolate cheesecake candy bars,
a very happy marriage of a brownie and a cheesecake!


::Gift::

6.Candy coloured sewing kit


This is so clever!
Who doesn't need a sewing kit?
If it is a little fancy and sweet, too, all the better.
I love this useful, beautiful and frugal craft!

{via}

::Write::

7. Quote art



Now, supposing sewing or cooking is not one's best pick.
What can one offer to a favorite person?
A word of advice
A wise word
A favorite quote
Something needed and longed for.
Pick a nice antique or handmade piece of paper
a fountain pen
or crayons
and scroll away.

::Read::


8. Kids' Christmas Books



 I can never get enough of kids' Christmas books. I love the happy tales where the tortured being ends up loved and warm and the beautiful paintings make me sing my heart out like a child in a blizzard.

::Listen::

9.Make a list





Make a list of your favorite songs. Christmas songs, love songs, children's songs.
Share the music, make the air vibrate with happy sounds.


::Drink::

10.Apple Cider


Tea, yes.
Something more festive and of the season, perhaps?
A glass of hot apple cider?
I say yes!

{here}

::Print::

11. Mail or Frame

Free, high quality printables are easily accessible.
Have them print professionally or home print
and add an instant stylish update to the home gallery artwork.
Mail, e-mail
or make a totally personalised calendar to gift
and bring a smile to the loved ones' face every day of the year.

::Be::

12. You and Him


Remember
the biggest gift to your loved ones is YOU
and the greatest gift to us all is HIM.
Remember and rejoice!


love, Irene

Classy Bling

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