January’s Website Review: The Happiness Project & My Simpler Life

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.
When I was girl my mom would make a special milkshake for me when I was too sick to eat anything. So when Everett got a canker sore in his mouth and would not eat anything I set out to recreate my mom’s milkshake. All she gave me to go on was milk, price vanilla and egg. The result was watery and bland. As I mulled it over a thought hit me. Eggnog. My mom’s milkshake was the same base as eggnog. I knew I just needed something to sweeten the shake up and alter the measurements a little.

Since I was planning on giving it to my toddler, more about the next task was to figure out how to cook the eggs. I did not have any pasteurized eggs or powder around. The first time I made the milkshake I cooked the egg in in a water bath. Set a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the egg until the the thermometer read 160 degrees; but, more about I felt the taste was a little off. I can’t say if it was the cooked egg or the lack of sugar. My first thought was to add the sugar to the egg then I figured hey why not cook all the ingredients together. It took a long time to get the mixture up to 160 degrees. I think next time I will just heat it in a sauce pan.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat a pot over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Place a heat prof bowl over the pot. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg in the bowl until combined. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla mixing well. Heat the mixture until a thermometer inserted reads about 160 degrees. If heating in a sauce pan, add all the ingredients to the sauce pan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

If you do not have any concerns about Salmonella, then by all means mix all the ingredients in the blender and bottoms up.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.
When I was girl my mom would make a special milkshake for me when I was too sick to eat anything. So when Everett got a canker sore in his mouth and would not eat anything I set out to recreate my mom’s milkshake. All she gave me to go on was milk, price vanilla and egg. The result was watery and bland. As I mulled it over a thought hit me. Eggnog. My mom’s milkshake was the same base as eggnog. I knew I just needed something to sweeten the shake up and alter the measurements a little.

Since I was planning on giving it to my toddler, more about the next task was to figure out how to cook the eggs. I did not have any pasteurized eggs or powder around. The first time I made the milkshake I cooked the egg in in a water bath. Set a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the egg until the the thermometer read 160 degrees; but, more about I felt the taste was a little off. I can’t say if it was the cooked egg or the lack of sugar. My first thought was to add the sugar to the egg then I figured hey why not cook all the ingredients together. It took a long time to get the mixture up to 160 degrees. I think next time I will just heat it in a sauce pan.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat a pot over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Place a heat prof bowl over the pot. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg in the bowl until combined. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla mixing well. Heat the mixture until a thermometer inserted reads about 160 degrees. If heating in a sauce pan, add all the ingredients to the sauce pan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

If you do not have any concerns about Salmonella, then by all means mix all the ingredients in the blender and bottoms up.
When I think of an Advent calendar the first thing that comes to mind is the familiar story “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I have had my fun leaving presents on doorsteps with friends and family as we created our own version of The 12 Days of Christmas or in many an office, recipe Secret Santa. Advent calendars are a fun and can be a magical way to hasten in a holiday such as Christmas.

  • Stephen remembers the piece of cardboard with perforated windows when punched out reveal a piece of chocolate. Building paper chains, candy necklaces, felt projects and hanging a decorative stocking or picture hung each day are some ways families countdown Christmas.
  • Many years ago Stephen’s mom bought an advent cabinet for all her children and their families. She asked me to help her gather items to put in each box. Each compartment contained an object related to the accompanying story, game, craft or recipe. There was a bag of marshmallows for hot chocolate, mini musical instruments for songs, and the last week had Nativity stories, Bible verses and mini figurines.
  • A few years ago my sister-n-law, Alison, sent us a binder filled with 24 tender religious Christmas stories to count down the days until Christmas Eve. Each heart touching story reminds us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas. I loved the book so much I made copies for my friends the following year. I have since added to the binder and instead of ending on Christmas Eve we have enough stories for the whole month of December.
  • Last year Mason was old enough to become excited over Santa. I found a really cute little mailbox on a post at Target that became Santa’s mailbox. Periodically a letter would appear in the mailbox from the Elves at the North Pole explaining what was going on around the village. This year as soon as the mailbox went up Mason and Adelin were busily writing many letters to their dear friend Santa explaining what we have been up to and a mention of what they would like for Christmas.

I am always one ready for a party so when I heard about all the year long traditions Stephen’s sister Natalie tries to carry on with her children I was inspired to start organizing my own family traditions. This is the slowest December we have had in ages. It has been nice taking it easy and really having the opportunity to share some magical experiences with my children.

  • December 6th was traditionally called a day of feasts. Shoes were filled with candies, nuts and fruit. It is a nice welcome to the month of December when the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement over Christmas.
  • December 13th is known Saint Lucia’s Day. The legend states a young girl dressed in white with an evergreen garland and candles in her hair, carries a tray of saffron buns to the bedside of the members in her family. While she will not be doneing a wreath of candles we will place a halo of flowers like my sister-n-law does in her family.
  • In years past we went on an outing on Christmas Eve. One year we took a train ride on the Polar Express, the next year we went to see the WWII planes decorated with lights at the Air Museum. This year will be the first Christmas without my mom. We are planning on spending the evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. Then we will enjoy our new tradition of Christmas Eve doughnuts and hot chocolate.
  • The first gift of Christmas is given on Christmas Eve. Our children are met with a surprise gift on their beds. Christmas pajamas from Santa.
  • Christmas morning the table is already set with a holiday tablecloth and serveware. A few years ago Stephen’s sister Jennifer gave us snowman plates and mugs and his brother’s wife Alison gave us felt santa utensil holders and santa candle holders. All that is missing is our traditional Ebelskivers or Danish pancakes.
  • When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a family, the Bogarts. Their Christmas present to their little children every year was a book. I thought that was coolest idea and now that I have a family we carry on that tradition.
  • We save all the bows from Christmas day to make a New Year’s Eve hats to bring in the new year with.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.
When I was girl my mom would make a special milkshake for me when I was too sick to eat anything. So when Everett got a canker sore in his mouth and would not eat anything I set out to recreate my mom’s milkshake. All she gave me to go on was milk, price vanilla and egg. The result was watery and bland. As I mulled it over a thought hit me. Eggnog. My mom’s milkshake was the same base as eggnog. I knew I just needed something to sweeten the shake up and alter the measurements a little.

Since I was planning on giving it to my toddler, more about the next task was to figure out how to cook the eggs. I did not have any pasteurized eggs or powder around. The first time I made the milkshake I cooked the egg in in a water bath. Set a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the egg until the the thermometer read 160 degrees; but, more about I felt the taste was a little off. I can’t say if it was the cooked egg or the lack of sugar. My first thought was to add the sugar to the egg then I figured hey why not cook all the ingredients together. It took a long time to get the mixture up to 160 degrees. I think next time I will just heat it in a sauce pan.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat a pot over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Place a heat prof bowl over the pot. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg in the bowl until combined. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla mixing well. Heat the mixture until a thermometer inserted reads about 160 degrees. If heating in a sauce pan, add all the ingredients to the sauce pan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

If you do not have any concerns about Salmonella, then by all means mix all the ingredients in the blender and bottoms up.
When I think of an Advent calendar the first thing that comes to mind is the familiar story “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I have had my fun leaving presents on doorsteps with friends and family as we created our own version of The 12 Days of Christmas or in many an office, recipe Secret Santa. Advent calendars are a fun and can be a magical way to hasten in a holiday such as Christmas.

  • Stephen remembers the piece of cardboard with perforated windows when punched out reveal a piece of chocolate. Building paper chains, candy necklaces, felt projects and hanging a decorative stocking or picture hung each day are some ways families countdown Christmas.
  • Many years ago Stephen’s mom bought an advent cabinet for all her children and their families. She asked me to help her gather items to put in each box. Each compartment contained an object related to the accompanying story, game, craft or recipe. There was a bag of marshmallows for hot chocolate, mini musical instruments for songs, and the last week had Nativity stories, Bible verses and mini figurines.
  • A few years ago my sister-n-law, Alison, sent us a binder filled with 24 tender religious Christmas stories to count down the days until Christmas Eve. Each heart touching story reminds us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas. I loved the book so much I made copies for my friends the following year. I have since added to the binder and instead of ending on Christmas Eve we have enough stories for the whole month of December.
  • Last year Mason was old enough to become excited over Santa. I found a really cute little mailbox on a post at Target that became Santa’s mailbox. Periodically a letter would appear in the mailbox from the Elves at the North Pole explaining what was going on around the village. This year as soon as the mailbox went up Mason and Adelin were busily writing many letters to their dear friend Santa explaining what we have been up to and a mention of what they would like for Christmas.

I am always one ready for a party so when I heard about all the year long traditions Stephen’s sister Natalie tries to carry on with her children I was inspired to start organizing my own family traditions. This is the slowest December we have had in ages. It has been nice taking it easy and really having the opportunity to share some magical experiences with my children.

  • December 6th was traditionally called a day of feasts. Shoes were filled with candies, nuts and fruit. It is a nice welcome to the month of December when the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement over Christmas.
  • December 13th is known Saint Lucia’s Day. The legend states a young girl dressed in white with an evergreen garland and candles in her hair, carries a tray of saffron buns to the bedside of the members in her family. While she will not be doneing a wreath of candles we will place a halo of flowers like my sister-n-law does in her family.
  • In years past we went on an outing on Christmas Eve. One year we took a train ride on the Polar Express, the next year we went to see the WWII planes decorated with lights at the Air Museum. This year will be the first Christmas without my mom. We are planning on spending the evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. Then we will enjoy our new tradition of Christmas Eve doughnuts and hot chocolate.
  • The first gift of Christmas is given on Christmas Eve. Our children are met with a surprise gift on their beds. Christmas pajamas from Santa.
  • Christmas morning the table is already set with a holiday tablecloth and serveware. A few years ago Stephen’s sister Jennifer gave us snowman plates and mugs and his brother’s wife Alison gave us felt santa utensil holders and santa candle holders. All that is missing is our traditional Ebelskivers or Danish pancakes.
  • When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a family, the Bogarts. Their Christmas present to their little children every year was a book. I thought that was coolest idea and now that I have a family we carry on that tradition.
  • We save all the bows from Christmas day to make a New Year’s Eve hats to bring in the new year with.

Artwork: The Queen of Lights by Pamela Delli Colli

Saint Lucy of Syracuse Day, ampoule also known as Saint Lucia, ed honors a young Christian woman during the time of the Diocletian Persecution in Italy. The Empire was still housed in Pagan beliefs. The government severely persecuting those who followed Christianity.

Many legends have been passed down through the generations of time. It is unclear, cialis 40mg however, which of the details is fact or fiction. We do know, Lucy was martyred for her unwavering devotion to God and her refusal to marry due to a previous commitment to God. According to legends she was denounced for being a Christian, out of spite, by her betrothed.

Some legends tell of several miraculous deliverances from torture and execution. It is said that when the soldiers came to take her away, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they could not move her. The guards may have removed her eyes and yet she was still able to see. She was then sentenced to death but the fire was unable to consume her. Consequently she was stabbed to death.

Other accounts describe Lucy dressed in white bearing a tray laden with food for the Christians who where hiding from the Roman persecutors. A crown like garland of candles encircled her head, lighting her way through the dark underground tunnels. While other rumors place her on a ship with her white robes and halo delivering food to starving groups of people in Sicily and as far north as Sweden, Norway and Denmark; who were suffering from famine.  Many believe the latter is the result of Viking traders, who traveled the Mediterranean taking her legends home with them.

December 13th commemorates the feast of Saint Lucia’s martyrdom. It is also coincides with the first day of Christmas Celebration or Winter Solstice in Scandinavia. Young girls dress in white and done a halo of evergreen, flowers or candles. In some parts of the world boys and girls gather in a parade to honor Lucy’s love for the poor and testimony of faith by going door to door with a tray of saffron buns and coffee. While others, such as my sister-n-law Natalie, quietly pay homage to the Saint by choosing the oldest or youngest daughter to serve sweet breads and Cuccia (a sweet porridge made with wheat berries, chocolate, sugar and milk) and coffee to all the family members or just the parents in bed.

Natalie was searching for fun year round traditions. In her search she found the story of Saint Lucia. I believe the oldest wears the flower head piece and carries the tray of sweets to the children in their beds. This year we start our own Saint Lucia tradition. I like the idea of the traditional saffron buns and Cuccia. There is something warm and inviting about lit candles but Adelin will not be wearing them. Instead we plan on putting our Christmas lights up outside and battery operated candles in the windows.

Saint Lucia Buns or Saffron Buns:
Cardamon is another common Scandinavian ingredient sometimes added to saffron buns. These buns are meant to be formed in delightful shapes. A fantastic task fit for a kid. Let them get really creative making cats, dogs, the traditional figure eight or in Mason’s case a Clone trooper.

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter, melted
1 teaspoon saffron threads (a good pinch)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants
2 eggs, warmed
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg, beaten
Sugar sprinkles, optional

To make the dough: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of sugar. Heat the milk and add the melted butter to it; cool until the mixture is lukewarm.

Grind the saffron with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a small dish. Add 1 tablespoon of the warm milk-and-butter mixture and allow the saffron to steep for 5 minutes.

Add the saffron mixture, milk-and-butter mixture, sugar, salt, currants and eggs to the yeast. Using an electric blender on medium speed, beat until blended. Add 2 cups flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a medium-stiff dough. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and satiny. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to lightly oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

To make a braided wreath: Punch the dough down and divide into 3 parts. With the palms of your hands, roll and shape each part into a rope-like strand about 36 inches long. Braid the strands by aligning them vertically and alternately crossing each outer strand over the center strand. Shape the braid into a circle and place on a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together where they meet to seal the strands and to conceal the beginning and end of the braid.

Transfer to the baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles if using. Let rise for about 45 minutes or just until puffy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and dry. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 servings.

Note: To make two smaller wreaths: Divide the dough into 2 parts and braid as above. Place each wreath on a baking sheet, allow to rise and bake for about 20 minutes.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.
When I was girl my mom would make a special milkshake for me when I was too sick to eat anything. So when Everett got a canker sore in his mouth and would not eat anything I set out to recreate my mom’s milkshake. All she gave me to go on was milk, price vanilla and egg. The result was watery and bland. As I mulled it over a thought hit me. Eggnog. My mom’s milkshake was the same base as eggnog. I knew I just needed something to sweeten the shake up and alter the measurements a little.

Since I was planning on giving it to my toddler, more about the next task was to figure out how to cook the eggs. I did not have any pasteurized eggs or powder around. The first time I made the milkshake I cooked the egg in in a water bath. Set a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the egg until the the thermometer read 160 degrees; but, more about I felt the taste was a little off. I can’t say if it was the cooked egg or the lack of sugar. My first thought was to add the sugar to the egg then I figured hey why not cook all the ingredients together. It took a long time to get the mixture up to 160 degrees. I think next time I will just heat it in a sauce pan.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat a pot over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Place a heat prof bowl over the pot. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg in the bowl until combined. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla mixing well. Heat the mixture until a thermometer inserted reads about 160 degrees. If heating in a sauce pan, add all the ingredients to the sauce pan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

If you do not have any concerns about Salmonella, then by all means mix all the ingredients in the blender and bottoms up.
When I think of an Advent calendar the first thing that comes to mind is the familiar story “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I have had my fun leaving presents on doorsteps with friends and family as we created our own version of The 12 Days of Christmas or in many an office, recipe Secret Santa. Advent calendars are a fun and can be a magical way to hasten in a holiday such as Christmas.

  • Stephen remembers the piece of cardboard with perforated windows when punched out reveal a piece of chocolate. Building paper chains, candy necklaces, felt projects and hanging a decorative stocking or picture hung each day are some ways families countdown Christmas.
  • Many years ago Stephen’s mom bought an advent cabinet for all her children and their families. She asked me to help her gather items to put in each box. Each compartment contained an object related to the accompanying story, game, craft or recipe. There was a bag of marshmallows for hot chocolate, mini musical instruments for songs, and the last week had Nativity stories, Bible verses and mini figurines.
  • A few years ago my sister-n-law, Alison, sent us a binder filled with 24 tender religious Christmas stories to count down the days until Christmas Eve. Each heart touching story reminds us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas. I loved the book so much I made copies for my friends the following year. I have since added to the binder and instead of ending on Christmas Eve we have enough stories for the whole month of December.
  • Last year Mason was old enough to become excited over Santa. I found a really cute little mailbox on a post at Target that became Santa’s mailbox. Periodically a letter would appear in the mailbox from the Elves at the North Pole explaining what was going on around the village. This year as soon as the mailbox went up Mason and Adelin were busily writing many letters to their dear friend Santa explaining what we have been up to and a mention of what they would like for Christmas.

I am always one ready for a party so when I heard about all the year long traditions Stephen’s sister Natalie tries to carry on with her children I was inspired to start organizing my own family traditions. This is the slowest December we have had in ages. It has been nice taking it easy and really having the opportunity to share some magical experiences with my children.

  • December 6th was traditionally called a day of feasts. Shoes were filled with candies, nuts and fruit. It is a nice welcome to the month of December when the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement over Christmas.
  • December 13th is known Saint Lucia’s Day. The legend states a young girl dressed in white with an evergreen garland and candles in her hair, carries a tray of saffron buns to the bedside of the members in her family. While she will not be doneing a wreath of candles we will place a halo of flowers like my sister-n-law does in her family.
  • In years past we went on an outing on Christmas Eve. One year we took a train ride on the Polar Express, the next year we went to see the WWII planes decorated with lights at the Air Museum. This year will be the first Christmas without my mom. We are planning on spending the evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. Then we will enjoy our new tradition of Christmas Eve doughnuts and hot chocolate.
  • The first gift of Christmas is given on Christmas Eve. Our children are met with a surprise gift on their beds. Christmas pajamas from Santa.
  • Christmas morning the table is already set with a holiday tablecloth and serveware. A few years ago Stephen’s sister Jennifer gave us snowman plates and mugs and his brother’s wife Alison gave us felt santa utensil holders and santa candle holders. All that is missing is our traditional Ebelskivers or Danish pancakes.
  • When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a family, the Bogarts. Their Christmas present to their little children every year was a book. I thought that was coolest idea and now that I have a family we carry on that tradition.
  • We save all the bows from Christmas day to make a New Year’s Eve hats to bring in the new year with.

Artwork: The Queen of Lights by Pamela Delli Colli

Saint Lucy of Syracuse Day, ampoule also known as Saint Lucia, ed honors a young Christian woman during the time of the Diocletian Persecution in Italy. The Empire was still housed in Pagan beliefs. The government severely persecuting those who followed Christianity.

Many legends have been passed down through the generations of time. It is unclear, cialis 40mg however, which of the details is fact or fiction. We do know, Lucy was martyred for her unwavering devotion to God and her refusal to marry due to a previous commitment to God. According to legends she was denounced for being a Christian, out of spite, by her betrothed.

Some legends tell of several miraculous deliverances from torture and execution. It is said that when the soldiers came to take her away, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they could not move her. The guards may have removed her eyes and yet she was still able to see. She was then sentenced to death but the fire was unable to consume her. Consequently she was stabbed to death.

Other accounts describe Lucy dressed in white bearing a tray laden with food for the Christians who where hiding from the Roman persecutors. A crown like garland of candles encircled her head, lighting her way through the dark underground tunnels. While other rumors place her on a ship with her white robes and halo delivering food to starving groups of people in Sicily and as far north as Sweden, Norway and Denmark; who were suffering from famine.  Many believe the latter is the result of Viking traders, who traveled the Mediterranean taking her legends home with them.

December 13th commemorates the feast of Saint Lucia’s martyrdom. It is also coincides with the first day of Christmas Celebration or Winter Solstice in Scandinavia. Young girls dress in white and done a halo of evergreen, flowers or candles. In some parts of the world boys and girls gather in a parade to honor Lucy’s love for the poor and testimony of faith by going door to door with a tray of saffron buns and coffee. While others, such as my sister-n-law Natalie, quietly pay homage to the Saint by choosing the oldest or youngest daughter to serve sweet breads and Cuccia (a sweet porridge made with wheat berries, chocolate, sugar and milk) and coffee to all the family members or just the parents in bed.

Natalie was searching for fun year round traditions. In her search she found the story of Saint Lucia. I believe the oldest wears the flower head piece and carries the tray of sweets to the children in their beds. This year we start our own Saint Lucia tradition. I like the idea of the traditional saffron buns and Cuccia. There is something warm and inviting about lit candles but Adelin will not be wearing them. Instead we plan on putting our Christmas lights up outside and battery operated candles in the windows.

Saint Lucia Buns or Saffron Buns:
Cardamon is another common Scandinavian ingredient sometimes added to saffron buns. These buns are meant to be formed in delightful shapes. A fantastic task fit for a kid. Let them get really creative making cats, dogs, the traditional figure eight or in Mason’s case a Clone trooper.

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter, melted
1 teaspoon saffron threads (a good pinch)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants
2 eggs, warmed
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg, beaten
Sugar sprinkles, optional

To make the dough: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of sugar. Heat the milk and add the melted butter to it; cool until the mixture is lukewarm.

Grind the saffron with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a small dish. Add 1 tablespoon of the warm milk-and-butter mixture and allow the saffron to steep for 5 minutes.

Add the saffron mixture, milk-and-butter mixture, sugar, salt, currants and eggs to the yeast. Using an electric blender on medium speed, beat until blended. Add 2 cups flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a medium-stiff dough. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and satiny. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to lightly oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

To make a braided wreath: Punch the dough down and divide into 3 parts. With the palms of your hands, roll and shape each part into a rope-like strand about 36 inches long. Braid the strands by aligning them vertically and alternately crossing each outer strand over the center strand. Shape the braid into a circle and place on a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together where they meet to seal the strands and to conceal the beginning and end of the braid.

Transfer to the baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles if using. Let rise for about 45 minutes or just until puffy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and dry. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 servings.

Note: To make two smaller wreaths: Divide the dough into 2 parts and braid as above. Place each wreath on a baking sheet, allow to rise and bake for about 20 minutes.

Felted Beads

I learned the art of felting a couple of years ago with a friend. We drove up to Sonora to visit a little Waldorf supply shop and could have easily spent hundreds of dollars on the amazing creations displayed there.

Felting is one of the oldest forms of fabric making. There are two ways to felt. One is needle felting and the other is wet felting. You can make felted beads using the needle felting method but for today we are going to avoid piercing our fingers with sharp needles and instead burn them in hot water.

Felted beads are really fun to make and create a wonderful learning experience in the use of natural products. Felted beads can be easily jazzed up with the addition of beads and ribbon. If you want to be a little more creative after the balls have dried you can use the needle method to add flowers or other designs. Little kids love to rub them, more about and bounce them and pretend they are treasures.

Some people like to roll tuffs of the undyed wool into a ball then add the color. I prefer to get it done with no fuss and just use the colored roving.

Wool Roving

Supplies:
Merino Wool Roving
(wool that has been washed and combed but not yet spun into yarn. Can be found in a variety of colors on Etsy.com, some natural craft stores (such as a Waldorf supply store) or a sheep farm.)
Hot Water
Dish Soap

Tuff of Wool

Grab a tuff of wool.

Wet the roving

I use a pot of hot water (as hot as I can stand). Place the wool roving in soapy water.

Ready to felt

Gently pass the roving back and forth between the palms of your hands; wetting the ball frequently in the soapy water.

Felting beads

As the ball begins to form start to apply a little more pressure. Keep rolling, pressing and wetting until the ball is firm and hard.

Rinse the felt

Rinse under cold water.
Continuously rolling and pressing to get all the soap out.

For a simple tutorial watch the following video from Sara’s Textured Crafts. She really makes the process look easy.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.
When I was girl my mom would make a special milkshake for me when I was too sick to eat anything. So when Everett got a canker sore in his mouth and would not eat anything I set out to recreate my mom’s milkshake. All she gave me to go on was milk, price vanilla and egg. The result was watery and bland. As I mulled it over a thought hit me. Eggnog. My mom’s milkshake was the same base as eggnog. I knew I just needed something to sweeten the shake up and alter the measurements a little.

Since I was planning on giving it to my toddler, more about the next task was to figure out how to cook the eggs. I did not have any pasteurized eggs or powder around. The first time I made the milkshake I cooked the egg in in a water bath. Set a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the egg until the the thermometer read 160 degrees; but, more about I felt the taste was a little off. I can’t say if it was the cooked egg or the lack of sugar. My first thought was to add the sugar to the egg then I figured hey why not cook all the ingredients together. It took a long time to get the mixture up to 160 degrees. I think next time I will just heat it in a sauce pan.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat a pot over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Place a heat prof bowl over the pot. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg in the bowl until combined. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla mixing well. Heat the mixture until a thermometer inserted reads about 160 degrees. If heating in a sauce pan, add all the ingredients to the sauce pan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

If you do not have any concerns about Salmonella, then by all means mix all the ingredients in the blender and bottoms up.
When I think of an Advent calendar the first thing that comes to mind is the familiar story “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I have had my fun leaving presents on doorsteps with friends and family as we created our own version of The 12 Days of Christmas or in many an office, recipe Secret Santa. Advent calendars are a fun and can be a magical way to hasten in a holiday such as Christmas.

  • Stephen remembers the piece of cardboard with perforated windows when punched out reveal a piece of chocolate. Building paper chains, candy necklaces, felt projects and hanging a decorative stocking or picture hung each day are some ways families countdown Christmas.
  • Many years ago Stephen’s mom bought an advent cabinet for all her children and their families. She asked me to help her gather items to put in each box. Each compartment contained an object related to the accompanying story, game, craft or recipe. There was a bag of marshmallows for hot chocolate, mini musical instruments for songs, and the last week had Nativity stories, Bible verses and mini figurines.
  • A few years ago my sister-n-law, Alison, sent us a binder filled with 24 tender religious Christmas stories to count down the days until Christmas Eve. Each heart touching story reminds us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas. I loved the book so much I made copies for my friends the following year. I have since added to the binder and instead of ending on Christmas Eve we have enough stories for the whole month of December.
  • Last year Mason was old enough to become excited over Santa. I found a really cute little mailbox on a post at Target that became Santa’s mailbox. Periodically a letter would appear in the mailbox from the Elves at the North Pole explaining what was going on around the village. This year as soon as the mailbox went up Mason and Adelin were busily writing many letters to their dear friend Santa explaining what we have been up to and a mention of what they would like for Christmas.

I am always one ready for a party so when I heard about all the year long traditions Stephen’s sister Natalie tries to carry on with her children I was inspired to start organizing my own family traditions. This is the slowest December we have had in ages. It has been nice taking it easy and really having the opportunity to share some magical experiences with my children.

  • December 6th was traditionally called a day of feasts. Shoes were filled with candies, nuts and fruit. It is a nice welcome to the month of December when the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement over Christmas.
  • December 13th is known Saint Lucia’s Day. The legend states a young girl dressed in white with an evergreen garland and candles in her hair, carries a tray of saffron buns to the bedside of the members in her family. While she will not be doneing a wreath of candles we will place a halo of flowers like my sister-n-law does in her family.
  • In years past we went on an outing on Christmas Eve. One year we took a train ride on the Polar Express, the next year we went to see the WWII planes decorated with lights at the Air Museum. This year will be the first Christmas without my mom. We are planning on spending the evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. Then we will enjoy our new tradition of Christmas Eve doughnuts and hot chocolate.
  • The first gift of Christmas is given on Christmas Eve. Our children are met with a surprise gift on their beds. Christmas pajamas from Santa.
  • Christmas morning the table is already set with a holiday tablecloth and serveware. A few years ago Stephen’s sister Jennifer gave us snowman plates and mugs and his brother’s wife Alison gave us felt santa utensil holders and santa candle holders. All that is missing is our traditional Ebelskivers or Danish pancakes.
  • When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a family, the Bogarts. Their Christmas present to their little children every year was a book. I thought that was coolest idea and now that I have a family we carry on that tradition.
  • We save all the bows from Christmas day to make a New Year’s Eve hats to bring in the new year with.

Artwork: The Queen of Lights by Pamela Delli Colli

Saint Lucy of Syracuse Day, ampoule also known as Saint Lucia, ed honors a young Christian woman during the time of the Diocletian Persecution in Italy. The Empire was still housed in Pagan beliefs. The government severely persecuting those who followed Christianity.

Many legends have been passed down through the generations of time. It is unclear, cialis 40mg however, which of the details is fact or fiction. We do know, Lucy was martyred for her unwavering devotion to God and her refusal to marry due to a previous commitment to God. According to legends she was denounced for being a Christian, out of spite, by her betrothed.

Some legends tell of several miraculous deliverances from torture and execution. It is said that when the soldiers came to take her away, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they could not move her. The guards may have removed her eyes and yet she was still able to see. She was then sentenced to death but the fire was unable to consume her. Consequently she was stabbed to death.

Other accounts describe Lucy dressed in white bearing a tray laden with food for the Christians who where hiding from the Roman persecutors. A crown like garland of candles encircled her head, lighting her way through the dark underground tunnels. While other rumors place her on a ship with her white robes and halo delivering food to starving groups of people in Sicily and as far north as Sweden, Norway and Denmark; who were suffering from famine.  Many believe the latter is the result of Viking traders, who traveled the Mediterranean taking her legends home with them.

December 13th commemorates the feast of Saint Lucia’s martyrdom. It is also coincides with the first day of Christmas Celebration or Winter Solstice in Scandinavia. Young girls dress in white and done a halo of evergreen, flowers or candles. In some parts of the world boys and girls gather in a parade to honor Lucy’s love for the poor and testimony of faith by going door to door with a tray of saffron buns and coffee. While others, such as my sister-n-law Natalie, quietly pay homage to the Saint by choosing the oldest or youngest daughter to serve sweet breads and Cuccia (a sweet porridge made with wheat berries, chocolate, sugar and milk) and coffee to all the family members or just the parents in bed.

Natalie was searching for fun year round traditions. In her search she found the story of Saint Lucia. I believe the oldest wears the flower head piece and carries the tray of sweets to the children in their beds. This year we start our own Saint Lucia tradition. I like the idea of the traditional saffron buns and Cuccia. There is something warm and inviting about lit candles but Adelin will not be wearing them. Instead we plan on putting our Christmas lights up outside and battery operated candles in the windows.

Saint Lucia Buns or Saffron Buns:
Cardamon is another common Scandinavian ingredient sometimes added to saffron buns. These buns are meant to be formed in delightful shapes. A fantastic task fit for a kid. Let them get really creative making cats, dogs, the traditional figure eight or in Mason’s case a Clone trooper.

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter, melted
1 teaspoon saffron threads (a good pinch)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants
2 eggs, warmed
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg, beaten
Sugar sprinkles, optional

To make the dough: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of sugar. Heat the milk and add the melted butter to it; cool until the mixture is lukewarm.

Grind the saffron with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a small dish. Add 1 tablespoon of the warm milk-and-butter mixture and allow the saffron to steep for 5 minutes.

Add the saffron mixture, milk-and-butter mixture, sugar, salt, currants and eggs to the yeast. Using an electric blender on medium speed, beat until blended. Add 2 cups flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a medium-stiff dough. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and satiny. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to lightly oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

To make a braided wreath: Punch the dough down and divide into 3 parts. With the palms of your hands, roll and shape each part into a rope-like strand about 36 inches long. Braid the strands by aligning them vertically and alternately crossing each outer strand over the center strand. Shape the braid into a circle and place on a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together where they meet to seal the strands and to conceal the beginning and end of the braid.

Transfer to the baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles if using. Let rise for about 45 minutes or just until puffy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and dry. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 servings.

Note: To make two smaller wreaths: Divide the dough into 2 parts and braid as above. Place each wreath on a baking sheet, allow to rise and bake for about 20 minutes.

Felted Beads

I learned the art of felting a couple of years ago with a friend. We drove up to Sonora to visit a little Waldorf supply shop and could have easily spent hundreds of dollars on the amazing creations displayed there.

Felting is one of the oldest forms of fabric making. There are two ways to felt. One is needle felting and the other is wet felting. You can make felted beads using the needle felting method but for today we are going to avoid piercing our fingers with sharp needles and instead burn them in hot water.

Felted beads are really fun to make and create a wonderful learning experience in the use of natural products. Felted beads can be easily jazzed up with the addition of beads and ribbon. If you want to be a little more creative after the balls have dried you can use the needle method to add flowers or other designs. Little kids love to rub them, more about and bounce them and pretend they are treasures.

Some people like to roll tuffs of the undyed wool into a ball then add the color. I prefer to get it done with no fuss and just use the colored roving.

Wool Roving

Supplies:
Merino Wool Roving
(wool that has been washed and combed but not yet spun into yarn. Can be found in a variety of colors on Etsy.com, some natural craft stores (such as a Waldorf supply store) or a sheep farm.)
Hot Water
Dish Soap

Tuff of Wool

Grab a tuff of wool.

Wet the roving

I use a pot of hot water (as hot as I can stand). Place the wool roving in soapy water.

Ready to felt

Gently pass the roving back and forth between the palms of your hands; wetting the ball frequently in the soapy water.

Felting beads

As the ball begins to form start to apply a little more pressure. Keep rolling, pressing and wetting until the ball is firm and hard.

Rinse the felt

Rinse under cold water.
Continuously rolling and pressing to get all the soap out.

For a simple tutorial watch the following video from Sara’s Textured Crafts. She really makes the process look easy.

The Crafty Crow

So I think I am going to start a Featured Link of the Month. I just have to gush about my absolutely favorite site right now, viagra The Crafty Crow. Fun crafts and fabulous book reviews, and I can’t forget the enormous long list of links to other wonderful and amazing websites.

I was on the hunt for something new this Christmas. We made our little beaded candy canes, glittery paper ornaments, a colorful paper chain garland and our traditional hand print Christmas tree. As we still have a couple more weeks to go I needed inspiration for more Christmas crafts.

Also the creator of Bella Dia, the designer of The Crafty Crow needed a spot to store her extensive and growing collection of children’s crafts. The categories make it easy to choose a craft by topic or age group. Each post is detailed with photos and step by step instructions and links to get the supplies needed for each project.

Right now she has a book and craft advent going on. She suggests a book to read and a craft to go with it. I am also digging the paper houses and felt reindeer ornament.

For anyone who knows my kids, they actually allowed three bananas to turn brown. Shocking I know. I was faced with the dilemma of what to with them. Banana bread was out of the question. Muffins and cookies maybe. I settled on the banana bars because the fact that we have brown bananas calls for a celebration. I cringed at the amount of sugar but bit my lip and went ahead and made them. They were also a great way to use up that container or whipped cream cheese frosting left over from Mason’s birthday. Frosted banana bars would make a nice gift or treat at a party.

I substituted plain low fat yogurt for the sour cream. The next time I will try replacing a little of the all-purpose flour with wheat pastry and maybe a little wheat germ. I do not know how much good it will do but I makes me feel better. This time around the kids opted for no frosting on theirs. To appease the masses I frosted half the pan and sprinkled chopped walnuts on top.

Source Allrecipes.com
1/2 cup butter, sildenafil softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (About 3 ripe bananas)
Cream cheese frosting or make your own

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jellyroll pan or one 9X13 pan and an additional 8X8 pan. In a large bowl, cialis 40mg cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.
I could never stand the wiggly looking stuff in the bowl. Cranberry chutney takes on a whole new meaning for cranberry sauce. Just make sure to use ripe cranberries.

Source: GOOP
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup water
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest of 1 small orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, patient bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer for about ten minutes or until thick. Let the chutney cool before serving. Makes about 2 cups
Variations:
Use brown sugar in place of the white.
When I was girl my mom would make a special milkshake for me when I was too sick to eat anything. So when Everett got a canker sore in his mouth and would not eat anything I set out to recreate my mom’s milkshake. All she gave me to go on was milk, price vanilla and egg. The result was watery and bland. As I mulled it over a thought hit me. Eggnog. My mom’s milkshake was the same base as eggnog. I knew I just needed something to sweeten the shake up and alter the measurements a little.

Since I was planning on giving it to my toddler, more about the next task was to figure out how to cook the eggs. I did not have any pasteurized eggs or powder around. The first time I made the milkshake I cooked the egg in in a water bath. Set a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk the egg until the the thermometer read 160 degrees; but, more about I felt the taste was a little off. I can’t say if it was the cooked egg or the lack of sugar. My first thought was to add the sugar to the egg then I figured hey why not cook all the ingredients together. It took a long time to get the mixture up to 160 degrees. I think next time I will just heat it in a sauce pan.

1 egg
1 cup milk
1 to 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla

Heat a pot over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Place a heat prof bowl over the pot. The bowl should not touch the water. Whisk the egg in the bowl until combined. Add the sugar and beat well. Add the milk, sugar and vanilla mixing well. Heat the mixture until a thermometer inserted reads about 160 degrees. If heating in a sauce pan, add all the ingredients to the sauce pan and heat on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Place in the refrigerator until cold.

If you do not have any concerns about Salmonella, then by all means mix all the ingredients in the blender and bottoms up.
When I think of an Advent calendar the first thing that comes to mind is the familiar story “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I have had my fun leaving presents on doorsteps with friends and family as we created our own version of The 12 Days of Christmas or in many an office, recipe Secret Santa. Advent calendars are a fun and can be a magical way to hasten in a holiday such as Christmas.

  • Stephen remembers the piece of cardboard with perforated windows when punched out reveal a piece of chocolate. Building paper chains, candy necklaces, felt projects and hanging a decorative stocking or picture hung each day are some ways families countdown Christmas.
  • Many years ago Stephen’s mom bought an advent cabinet for all her children and their families. She asked me to help her gather items to put in each box. Each compartment contained an object related to the accompanying story, game, craft or recipe. There was a bag of marshmallows for hot chocolate, mini musical instruments for songs, and the last week had Nativity stories, Bible verses and mini figurines.
  • A few years ago my sister-n-law, Alison, sent us a binder filled with 24 tender religious Christmas stories to count down the days until Christmas Eve. Each heart touching story reminds us of exactly why we celebrate Christmas. I loved the book so much I made copies for my friends the following year. I have since added to the binder and instead of ending on Christmas Eve we have enough stories for the whole month of December.
  • Last year Mason was old enough to become excited over Santa. I found a really cute little mailbox on a post at Target that became Santa’s mailbox. Periodically a letter would appear in the mailbox from the Elves at the North Pole explaining what was going on around the village. This year as soon as the mailbox went up Mason and Adelin were busily writing many letters to their dear friend Santa explaining what we have been up to and a mention of what they would like for Christmas.

I am always one ready for a party so when I heard about all the year long traditions Stephen’s sister Natalie tries to carry on with her children I was inspired to start organizing my own family traditions. This is the slowest December we have had in ages. It has been nice taking it easy and really having the opportunity to share some magical experiences with my children.

  • December 6th was traditionally called a day of feasts. Shoes were filled with candies, nuts and fruit. It is a nice welcome to the month of December when the kids are bouncing off the walls with excitement over Christmas.
  • December 13th is known Saint Lucia’s Day. The legend states a young girl dressed in white with an evergreen garland and candles in her hair, carries a tray of saffron buns to the bedside of the members in her family. While she will not be doneing a wreath of candles we will place a halo of flowers like my sister-n-law does in her family.
  • In years past we went on an outing on Christmas Eve. One year we took a train ride on the Polar Express, the next year we went to see the WWII planes decorated with lights at the Air Museum. This year will be the first Christmas without my mom. We are planning on spending the evening driving around looking at Christmas lights. Then we will enjoy our new tradition of Christmas Eve doughnuts and hot chocolate.
  • The first gift of Christmas is given on Christmas Eve. Our children are met with a surprise gift on their beds. Christmas pajamas from Santa.
  • Christmas morning the table is already set with a holiday tablecloth and serveware. A few years ago Stephen’s sister Jennifer gave us snowman plates and mugs and his brother’s wife Alison gave us felt santa utensil holders and santa candle holders. All that is missing is our traditional Ebelskivers or Danish pancakes.
  • When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a family, the Bogarts. Their Christmas present to their little children every year was a book. I thought that was coolest idea and now that I have a family we carry on that tradition.
  • We save all the bows from Christmas day to make a New Year’s Eve hats to bring in the new year with.

Artwork: The Queen of Lights by Pamela Delli Colli

Saint Lucy of Syracuse Day, ampoule also known as Saint Lucia, ed honors a young Christian woman during the time of the Diocletian Persecution in Italy. The Empire was still housed in Pagan beliefs. The government severely persecuting those who followed Christianity.

Many legends have been passed down through the generations of time. It is unclear, cialis 40mg however, which of the details is fact or fiction. We do know, Lucy was martyred for her unwavering devotion to God and her refusal to marry due to a previous commitment to God. According to legends she was denounced for being a Christian, out of spite, by her betrothed.

Some legends tell of several miraculous deliverances from torture and execution. It is said that when the soldiers came to take her away, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they could not move her. The guards may have removed her eyes and yet she was still able to see. She was then sentenced to death but the fire was unable to consume her. Consequently she was stabbed to death.

Other accounts describe Lucy dressed in white bearing a tray laden with food for the Christians who where hiding from the Roman persecutors. A crown like garland of candles encircled her head, lighting her way through the dark underground tunnels. While other rumors place her on a ship with her white robes and halo delivering food to starving groups of people in Sicily and as far north as Sweden, Norway and Denmark; who were suffering from famine.  Many believe the latter is the result of Viking traders, who traveled the Mediterranean taking her legends home with them.

December 13th commemorates the feast of Saint Lucia’s martyrdom. It is also coincides with the first day of Christmas Celebration or Winter Solstice in Scandinavia. Young girls dress in white and done a halo of evergreen, flowers or candles. In some parts of the world boys and girls gather in a parade to honor Lucy’s love for the poor and testimony of faith by going door to door with a tray of saffron buns and coffee. While others, such as my sister-n-law Natalie, quietly pay homage to the Saint by choosing the oldest or youngest daughter to serve sweet breads and Cuccia (a sweet porridge made with wheat berries, chocolate, sugar and milk) and coffee to all the family members or just the parents in bed.

Natalie was searching for fun year round traditions. In her search she found the story of Saint Lucia. I believe the oldest wears the flower head piece and carries the tray of sweets to the children in their beds. This year we start our own Saint Lucia tradition. I like the idea of the traditional saffron buns and Cuccia. There is something warm and inviting about lit candles but Adelin will not be wearing them. Instead we plan on putting our Christmas lights up outside and battery operated candles in the windows.

Saint Lucia Buns or Saffron Buns:
Cardamon is another common Scandinavian ingredient sometimes added to saffron buns. These buns are meant to be formed in delightful shapes. A fantastic task fit for a kid. Let them get really creative making cats, dogs, the traditional figure eight or in Mason’s case a Clone trooper.

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick ) butter, melted
1 teaspoon saffron threads (a good pinch)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants
2 eggs, warmed
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 large egg, beaten
Sugar sprinkles, optional

To make the dough: In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Add a pinch of sugar. Heat the milk and add the melted butter to it; cool until the mixture is lukewarm.

Grind the saffron with 1 teaspoon of the sugar, using a mortar and pestle or with the back of a spoon in a small dish. Add 1 tablespoon of the warm milk-and-butter mixture and allow the saffron to steep for 5 minutes.

Add the saffron mixture, milk-and-butter mixture, sugar, salt, currants and eggs to the yeast. Using an electric blender on medium speed, beat until blended. Add 2 cups flour and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a medium-stiff dough. Let dough rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and satiny. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to lightly oil the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

To make a braided wreath: Punch the dough down and divide into 3 parts. With the palms of your hands, roll and shape each part into a rope-like strand about 36 inches long. Braid the strands by aligning them vertically and alternately crossing each outer strand over the center strand. Shape the braid into a circle and place on a greased or parchment-covered baking sheet. Pinch the ends together where they meet to seal the strands and to conceal the beginning and end of the braid.

Transfer to the baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar sprinkles if using. Let rise for about 45 minutes or just until puffy.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out clean and dry. Cool on a rack. Makes 16 servings.

Note: To make two smaller wreaths: Divide the dough into 2 parts and braid as above. Place each wreath on a baking sheet, allow to rise and bake for about 20 minutes.

Felted Beads

I learned the art of felting a couple of years ago with a friend. We drove up to Sonora to visit a little Waldorf supply shop and could have easily spent hundreds of dollars on the amazing creations displayed there.

Felting is one of the oldest forms of fabric making. There are two ways to felt. One is needle felting and the other is wet felting. You can make felted beads using the needle felting method but for today we are going to avoid piercing our fingers with sharp needles and instead burn them in hot water.

Felted beads are really fun to make and create a wonderful learning experience in the use of natural products. Felted beads can be easily jazzed up with the addition of beads and ribbon. If you want to be a little more creative after the balls have dried you can use the needle method to add flowers or other designs. Little kids love to rub them, more about and bounce them and pretend they are treasures.

Some people like to roll tuffs of the undyed wool into a ball then add the color. I prefer to get it done with no fuss and just use the colored roving.

Wool Roving

Supplies:
Merino Wool Roving
(wool that has been washed and combed but not yet spun into yarn. Can be found in a variety of colors on Etsy.com, some natural craft stores (such as a Waldorf supply store) or a sheep farm.)
Hot Water
Dish Soap

Tuff of Wool

Grab a tuff of wool.

Wet the roving

I use a pot of hot water (as hot as I can stand). Place the wool roving in soapy water.

Ready to felt

Gently pass the roving back and forth between the palms of your hands; wetting the ball frequently in the soapy water.

Felting beads

As the ball begins to form start to apply a little more pressure. Keep rolling, pressing and wetting until the ball is firm and hard.

Rinse the felt

Rinse under cold water.
Continuously rolling and pressing to get all the soap out.

For a simple tutorial watch the following video from Sara’s Textured Crafts. She really makes the process look easy.

The Crafty Crow

So I think I am going to start a Featured Link of the Month. I just have to gush about my absolutely favorite site right now, viagra The Crafty Crow. Fun crafts and fabulous book reviews, and I can’t forget the enormous long list of links to other wonderful and amazing websites.

I was on the hunt for something new this Christmas. We made our little beaded candy canes, glittery paper ornaments, a colorful paper chain garland and our traditional hand print Christmas tree. As we still have a couple more weeks to go I needed inspiration for more Christmas crafts.

Also the creator of Bella Dia, the designer of The Crafty Crow needed a spot to store her extensive and growing collection of children’s crafts. The categories make it easy to choose a craft by topic or age group. Each post is detailed with photos and step by step instructions and links to get the supplies needed for each project.

Right now she has a book and craft advent going on. She suggests a book to read and a craft to go with it. I am also digging the paper houses and felt reindeer ornament.
This month’s website review happens to include two websites; The Happiness Project and My Simpler Life.

THE HAPPINESS PROJECT is a memoir written by Gretchen Rubin about her year long adventure as she sets out to test every theory, click tip and scientific study on being happier. The website is her daily blog on the subject.

MY SIMPLER LIFE – SIMPLE LIVING
Beth Dargis is a simplicity coach. Her goal is to help teach others how to love life, work hard and have fun, how to stay positive and take time to relax. She helps her clients “uncover what is the most important things for them to be doing.” She coaches those individuals “searching for something more in their life while releasing what they no longer need.” There is no need to become a client in order to become inspired or get tips on time management off of Beth’s website.

Both The Happiness Project and My Simpler Life teach how to step back, breathe and enjoy what we have at the moment. My brother once told me you are who you are now, unless you change who you are today. I have come to realize their is never going to be a better day than today unless I make it so. I find I am happier when I break free of me. When I can step back and think of all the joy around me. It takes time and a lot of practice. I am also trying to laugh more. Something I lost for a while. It is really hard to be angry when I am laughing or singing.