Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Happy New Year to all my followers!

Recipe for a Happy New Year:
 Take twelve, fine, full-grown months, see that these are thoroughly free from all old memories of bitterness, rancor, hate and jealousy; cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off all specks of pettiness and littleness; in short, see that these months are fresh and clean as when they first came from the great storehouse of time. Cut these months into thirty or thirty-one equal parts. This batch will keep for just one year. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time (so many persons spoil the entire lot in this way), but prepare one day at a time, as follows: Into each day put twelve parts of faith, eleven of patience, ten of courage, nine of work (some people omit this ingredient and so spoil the flavor of the rest), eight of hope, seven of fidelity, six of liberality, five of kindness, four of rest ( leaving this out is like leaving the oil out of the salad_don't do it), three of prayer, two of meditation, and one well selected resolution. If you have no conscientious scruples, put in about a teaspoonful of good spirits, a dash of fun, a pinch of folly, a sprinkling of play, and a heaping cupful of good humor. Pour into the whole love ad libitum and mix with a vim. Cook thoroughly in a fervent heat; garnish with a few smiles and a sprig of joy; then serve with quiet-ness. unselfishness, and cheerfulness, and a Happy New Year is a certainty.
H.M.S. (Taken from the book "Leaves of Gold")

~Have a wonderful day~

Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipe

I made Figgy Pudding for the first time on Christmas day. I have never tasted figgy pudding before, so I decided to try this figgy pudding recipe. We are going to do this figgy pudding recipe every Christmas from now on. My family loved it and if you have not tried figgy pudding before I highly recommend it.

"Figgy Pudding"


½ cup butter

½ cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons rum extract (or flavored extract of your choice)

1 apple, peeled and cored and finely chopped

1 pound dried figs, ground or finely chopped

Grated peel of 1 lemon and 1 orange

1 cup chopped nuts

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

1 ½ cups dried bread crumbs

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 large egg whites, stiffly beaten

Custard Sauce


2 cups milk

1 large egg

¾ cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon butter

*Makes 12 servings

 We are going to start with the ingredients that you see here, and there is going to be about three or four steps of the procedure. It’s a little lengthy as far as that goes. As you can see I have the trusty kitchen aid ready to go, and I’ve got a beater paddle on it. We are going to start off with butter and vegetable shortening, and we are going to blend these together and make kind of a paste. Actually a lot of recipes will refer to as creaming. So we are going to dump these in. The shortening, of course, is always soft as it is, but the butter, I actually set out for a while because I wanted that to soften as well, so that this will just blend together nicely and turn into a kind of a soft cream cheese consistency. Now that we’ve got it in there, I can go ahead and turn the speed up just a little bit. All right as you can see, we’ve achieved all one color inside of our bowl here, and we’ve creamed the shortening and butter together. So I’m going to keep this on a low speed now, and I want. to gradually add in my sugar We don’t want to dump a whole lot of the sugar in there. Instead we want to just actually drizzle it in as the paddle turns. Okay, so we’ve finished adding gradually our whole cup of granulated sugar, and I catch it about this speed, and I it all sped it up a little bit in between so that we got nice and combined the way that it needs too. Now we’ve got 3 large egg yolks. We are going to go ahead and plop those in, and we’ve got a cup of milk, a literal cup of milk. I’m going to try to drizzle that down the side. If you don’t have a pouring shield, sometimes it dribbles like that. Now that we’ve got some liquids in there, we want this incorporate fully, and I’ve got some extracts. I used a half-half mixture of almond extract and rum extract, actually. You can put real rum in there if you would like. It’s up to you. Now that we’ve got our liquid elements inside, we are going to go ahead and everything has been incorporated the way that it needs to. We’ve achieved this opaque yellow color, which is what we are after. We’ve got the zest of an orange going in here and the zest of a lemon as well. What I like to use is a microplain grater, and that way you get just the nice vibrant zest and you get none of the pulp because the pulp is going to turn it kind of bitter, and that is really what we are trying to avoid when we use citrus fruit in a recipe like this. So we’ve just got the zest in there, and what is left is the main attraction, which is some dried figs. What I did to get them to this consistency actually was just throw them inside a Cuisinart, and they got to this small stage, which is kind of like a little big smaller than a small dice as far as that goes but not quite minced. So we are going to incorporate those inside as well as I’ve got a whole apple that I cored/peeled. I cut those into really small dices as well. So we will incorporate all that into our mixing bowel, and then we will go to the second stage of the recipe. All right, so we are back to the second stage of the figgy pudding recipe. We’ve got all of our wedding ingredients; our butter, shortening, apples and our figs are all in the bowl now at this point. And we are actually going to start throwing in some things that are going to bind this together and flavor it as well. You can see I’ve got some plain bread crumbs, and I’ve also got some chopped walnuts here. They started off actually as chopped walnuts, and I threw these into a Cuisinart to get them to this consistency. In here I’ve got my baking powder and I threw it in all my dry ingredients in a portion cup. I’ve got some cinnamon in here as well, and it is a little hard to see obviously because it is all mixed together. And I also got a little bit of ginger, ground ginger in there and also some ground cloves. I’m going to go ahead and crank the mixer at a low speed, and I am just going to kind of sprinkle in these dry ingredients first. Just make sure you get a nice even distribution. Now I am going to go ahead and throw in my chopped walnuts. Again I got them to this consistency by throwing them into Cuisinart food processor. So we are just going to drizzle those in. I approach these recipes this way slowly not just in order to teach them, but just because we want everything to have a nice even distribution before we actually put it into the oven and let everything sit together the way that it needs to. And in go the plain bread crumbs. Again, we are just going to drizzle these in. All right, now that we’ve all the ingredients in our mixing bowl for the figgy pudding, what we are going to do next is I’ve got three egg whites. You remember we put three egg yolks into the bowl as part of a binding ingredient. I’ve got three egg whites here, and we are just going to beat these to stiff stage, and once we’ve done that we are going to go ahead and just fold them in with the spatula in the bowl, and folding is actually turning over, and we will show you that process when we get to that point. Now we are just going to beat these to a stiff peak stage and then fold it into the bowl once we are finished. So we’ve got our stiffly beaten egg whites, and I’m just going to hit those a couple more times with a whisk to show you the stiff stage there. So we just kind of fold this in with the spatula into our mixture. I’m making sure to get the edges and the bottom of the bowl. And again, this isn’t stirring. This is really just folding the mixture over upon itself gradually because we want to keep the volume of these egg whites because we whipped a lot of air into them. I’ve got a greased Pyrex bowl that I have been keeping chilled in the refrigerator so that it stays greased, and I just used butter all the way around up to the edges, and I am going to place it inside this pan. With a lot of custards and a lot of dishes like this, this same procedure is going to be used. So we are going to put the ingredients inside of our greased bowl, and then I’ve got some boiling water behind me on the stove, which we will pour into the pan and the whole package will go inside the oven, which I’ve got set at about 325 degrees, and it is going to cook for approximately four hours. So it is a real slow gentle method that we are going to use for this custard. We are going to go ahead and pour this into the bowl, and I am going to kind of pack it in just a little bit. There are options as well. You can pour these into molds to make festive Christmas shapes and stuff if you like. Kind of like a cookie cutter, I guess. But we’ve just chosen a regular Pyrex bowl for illustrating our procedures. So we are just going to level this off and, again, I am going to pour my boiling water about half-way, the depth of my shallow roasting pan, and we will put it in the oven again for about four hours to 325 degrees and show you the final product. Okay so we’re back with the finished product, the figgy pudding here. We cooked this in a Pyrex bowl so that you could actually see on the edges as far as doneness and the texture that we are trying to get on the top of this, and it is just an old rustic bread pudding essentially. So I’ve allowed it to cool, and we know that it is cooked thoroughly because you can see the cracking on the top. So we had a nice even heat in our oven. As you can see, we’ve got a nice crusty top and a really soft and moist center, and I’ve got some custard sauce that I’ve prepared here, and I have mounted it with butter at the very end. That is a tasty Old English treat there. Figgy pudding with warm custard sauce on the top.

 1.For Custard Sauce: In saucepan, scald milk and allow to cool.

2. Mix together remaining ingredients, except for butter. Add to cooled milk. Cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, mixing well.

3. Serve pudding warm with custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream. Store unused portions in refrigerator.

Recipe from: "Louis Ortiz on behalf of Expert"
I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas. I'm wishing you a happy New Year full of joy and blessings.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Nativity Scene Collection

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary and gathered all above while mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of won-d'ring love. O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth...(Text: Phillips Brooks,1835-1893)

How beautiful are the nativity scenes. I just love them. I decorated my mantel with one of my lovely nativity scenes, and I wanted to share my little collection with you.

I made this nativity scene with clay that I found at a craft store, this clay in particular can be baked in a regular oven. I love the natural terracotta color.

The simplicity of white.

 This was my first Nativity scene that I bought when I was newly-wed, it is made of porcelain, and I love the vintage look that the figures have. In Venezuela we traditionaly display the nativity scene in our homes. Baby Jesus is who brings the presents, and we open the presents on the 24th at midnight. Some Family can't hold the anxiety so they open their presents early in the morning. Some groups of people gather and sing serenades to  baby Jesus in the manger, and they go singing from house to house. I was living in the city, so I didn't have the opportunity to see those singing groups, but I have heard people talking about them.
This is a link with a traditional song, "Nino Lindo"

I love the baby's pink cheeks.

 I want to wish you a wonderful Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Thank you so much for reading and following my blog, and for your beautiful comments. I really appreciate it. This motivates me to create new projects, share them with you, and improve my self.

 ~Have a wonderful day and come back soon~

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Musical paper wreath

I wanted to share with you how I made this paper wreath, I'm not going to display this wreath in my home only in Christmas but all the year-round, I just love it.

You will need: A circular cardboard, Hymn book, rotary cutter, hot glue, one piece of chenille stem, black and white paper (construction paper weight)

Cut two circles out of white paper to the same size as the cardboard (one for each side). before gluing the white circles to the cardboard, remember to glue the piece of chenille to hang the wreath.
Cut the pages from the book with the rotary cutter.
Start making the funnels and glue them to the cardboard.

I made three layers of paper funnels.
On the last layer, I cut the funnel smaller making a diagonal cut, so it would match the rest of the funnels. 
Cut a circle of black paper, then cut  long strips of paper and fold them into a fan. Glue it all around the black circle. My husband made the paper star, but you can glue anything you want.
I had fun making this wreath while my little boy was cutting paper, and it is really easy to make. I hope that you have fun making one too.

Another place to hang my wreath.

~Have a wonderful day and comeback soon~

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Decorations

This is my Christmas tree decorated in pink. I put it in my living-room.
I have been collecting pink vintage ornaments for quite awhile, but lately it has been hard to find them. So I made my own pink ornaments. I bought clear ornaments and poured pink, white and gold acrylic paint into the ornament. Then I poured out the excess. I love my pink ornaments.

I love this ornamet.

I used a spray can of snow to decorate my tree, but I did't like the result. It looks more like frost, I wanted a flocked look. Next year I will try something else to accomplish a flocked look.

My little living-room ready for Christmas.

My Christmas tree in the family-room, simply traditional.

12 years ago, I started my ornament collection with this little rabbit.
Nutcracker, love it.

My Christmas tree in the kitchen window.

New little bird creations.

This is my darling sister Mary's Christmas tree. She did a beautiful job and I wanted to share it with you all. She is a really cretive lady with many talents. Thank you Mary.

The tradition of the tree: "Long before the spread of Christianity, pagans clung firmly to the belief that the forests would turn green in spring only if people paid homage to the evergreen throughout the winter. Evergreens, they were convinced, contained mystical powers that enabled the tree to stay green year-around. Unable to persuade the people of northern Europe otherwise, Christian missionaries adopted the practice of bringing evergreens indoors in winter. " The fact that December 25 was chosen [to celebrate Christ's birth]," explains historian Francis Weismer," does not seem to rest so much on historical findings as in the desire to replace the popular pagan celebration of the winter solstice by the festivities of a truly christian holiday" Among the most popular of the early Christian ceremonies were plays written by the clergy and performed on church steps to teach townspeople the bible. One of the most popular of these plays was the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. Since fruit trees were barren in the North at Christmastime, the actors represented the tree of paradise in the garden of Eden by tying apples, representing Original sin, to evergreen boughs. The custom of decorating evergreens with apples, and as time progressed, with candles, flowers, religious ornaments, and candy and cookies, grew into a Christmas tradition in Germany in the 1500s. In England, putting up a tree was a privilege reserved for royalty from the time of their introduction to the century around 1700 until the mid-19th centuty, when the German-born Prince Albert (1819-1861) gained Queen Victoria's permission for her subjects to display and decorate evergreens in their homes. In America, early German settlers carried on their homeland tradition of decorating evergreens for Christmas... Before evergreen trees were planted and harvested as cash crops, forests were ravaged in a rush to gather trees for Christmas. As a result, Theodore Roosevelt- the first American president seriously concerned with the conservation of our natural resource encouraged  the use of artificial trees...While neither as full nor as realistic as today's artificial trees, these older models are eagerly sought by collectors of Christmas ornaments as a means of displaying antique decorations." Took it from: Country Living 1995 Magazine. "Antiques Across America".


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Making a faux fireplace

Thinking about the cosy and wonderful feeling that warms my heart when I look at a fireplace, I can't avoid feeling envious of those who have fireplaces in their homes. Especially on these cold days, having a fireplace is really advantageous. Christmas is the perfect time to show off the fireplace, and create a sumptuous back ground for entertaining friends and family. I don't have a fireplace so I put my motto in practice--"If I can't have it, I will make it" so I decided to make my own cosy fireplace.

I covered the entire piece with all-purpose joint compound to make it look like stone with a putty spatula.

To make the designs on the mantel, I used my cake decoration kit.

For the inside brick wall, I covered the back piece with a thin coat of all-porpose compound. Then, I made lines with a flat screwdriver to design the brick, and let it dry completely.

I painted the brick in acrylic burnt sienna paint. Then I  painted the lines in grey.
I mixed burnt umber, black and blendeing medium paint. Then I applied it with a wet sponge, and removed the excess with a wet sponge.

I din't want sharp corners.

Now I can enjoy the feeling of having a fireplace and decorate it for each season. I'm really happy with the result. I love it.

Some inspiration source that I found at Colonial homes magazine.
~ Have a wonderful day and come back soon~

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