Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Blog Hop - December 11th

                   It's Starting To Feel A lot Like Christmas! 
    I chose this particular date for my Christmas blog hop slot because it happens to be my birthday. And for me, Christmas and my birthday were synonymous when I was growing up.(Still is!)  It was on my special day that Mom decorated for Christmas and lit all the lights. So, I have kept up the tradition. Tonight our small table-top Christmas tree will shine, as will the lighted star in our front window and the little ceramic tree atop the microwave.
     I was fortunate to have two wonderful celebrations in the month of birthday and the birthday of Jesus. I got gifts twice in the one month, had two festive family gatherings, and enjoyed two times of feasting on cake and special treats.  For my birthday, it was ice cream cake encased in whipped cream. For Christmas, my mom made struffoli - a Neapolitan confection popular in many Italian households this time of year. Just the scent of this treat brings back the warm memory of Mom and Christmases past.
      Making these little fried dough balls covered with honey, sprinkles and nuts, was an all day affair. As a child, I'd watch Mom make a well in the mound of flour where she'd place the eggs to make the dough. Then I'd help her roll the dough into many long thin rolls and cut them into small nuggets which she'd drop into a large pot of hot oil, a handful at a time. The oil would foam up and Mom explained that it was because of the eggs in the dough, so it was important not to put too many in at one time, she'd say, or the pot would foam over. (I remember a few of those times too!) Minutes later, they'd be scooped out and placed on paper towels, ready for their coating of honey, toasted almonds and sprinkles.
      When Mom entered her eighties, the task became too much, so we came up with a simpler version that looks and tastes the same as the all-day recipe, except they seem to be a tad lighter in texture, which we decided we liked better.
       Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it. Kids would have fun making these too. It's soooo easy.
Quick Struffoli   
Two 1 3/4 oz. pkgs. of soup nuts...found most readily in Kosher supermarkets, especially near Hanukkah or Passover.
    1/3 cup honey, warmed in the microwave.
    1 ounce of toasted slivered or sliced almonds.
    Generous sprinkling of colored sprinkles (confetti)
    Place the soup nuts in a large bowl. Pour the warm honey over them and toss quickly with hands, coating all the soup nuts.
    Place in a mound on a serving dish, Add the nuts and sprinkles. You can store at room temperature, covered with waxed paper or aluminum foil.
   Now, for my favorite Christmas reads (with some struffoli on the side.)
SILVER BELLS by Luanne Rice - (October 25, 2005) Bantam

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. (My mom read that to me in her broken English/Italian accent, whenever I felt blue or upset, even in summer. Always did the trick.)


Add some Christmas music to my snack and good read and you'll most likely find me enjoying: The Little Drummer Boy, Hark The Herald Angels Sing and Silent Night. I get goosebumps with those two songs.

   And when I put down the Christmas novels, my two favorite Christmas movies are: 
The classic,  A Christmas Carol...the original version.
  And, A Charlie Brown Christmas!  I especially enjoy watching that as I make Christmas goodies.

    Finally, some good Christmas season memories, other than the struffoli....
    Decorating the Christmas Tree with my parents...Dad would throw the tinsel over his shoulder or under his leg for a dramatic effect.
    Setting up the Nativity set, which was placed at the bottom of the tree in the center. To this day, I feel it important to have a Nativity set by the tree. My mom made sure that this was the highlight of the decor.
    Waiting in front of our house for my paternal grandfather to come pick us up to go to Christmas Eve dinner at his and my grandma's house. It was snowing and the colored old-fashioned Christmas light bulbs that our landlord had used to decorate the stoop railing, glimmered muted reds, greens and blues under a coating of snow. It was a beautiful moment I never forget.
    My friend, Fran, and I, stirring our milk with a candy cane to give the milk a peppermint flavor, then licking the canes until they became like long needles before finally eating them. (Didn't take much to entertain us back-in-the-day.)
      There are lots more, and I am grateful for all the wonderful Christmas memories, esp, those that my parents helped make possible when I was a little girl. I had no idea at the time, that my dad was laid off from his job and sold Christmas trees out in the cold to make ends meet...our tree was up, Santa left all the gifts I'd asked for, and the table was full of special treats.
     Wishing everyone a merry and  memorable Christmas!
Check out a few ongoing Christmas favs of this Christmas blog hop....

Linda G – Dec. 6th

Gail Kittleson – 10th

And our upcoming ones too...
Karen Wingate -Dec.14th –
Patty Wysong - 18th
Davalynn Spencer –19th
Tamara Kraft – 20th       

Friday, December 7, 2012

Writing Christmas Cards-

   I wonder if it is because I am a writer that I enjoy writing out Christmas cards?  I have heard some refer to the task as a drudgery, an obligation that needs to be met and done.
  I choose a morning or afternoon when I will be by myself, put on Christmas music, simmer some cinnamon and orange peel in a pot of  water to bring a cozy aroma to the place, and write my cards.
   I like to personalize each card, after all, it is CHRISTmas. I add a Christmas quote, or a short Christmas excerpt from our church bulletin, a bookmark or prayer card, and some years, a photo.
    I pick my cards rather carefully as it reflects who I am as well as how much I value my recipient. I am not referring to the expense of the cards, but the image or the meaning it portrays.
   I have a good friend who makes her own cards - she loves scrapping and her artistic creativity is put to good use with cards each year.
    Of course, we live in a busy world and some of us have little ones or grand kids at home, or long hours at work. Time seems never to be present for such a luxury as enjoying writing or creating cards with a Christmas spirit.
    Some tips to make it easier....
  Have the addresses of your recipients typed and saved in label-printing format, so all you need do is print out the labels rather than write out each address. This seems to be the gripe many of us have about Christmas card writing....all those addresses.
  First, write out cards to just the special people in your life...those who you are in touch with regularly. Those to whom you really do want to wish a Merry Christmas to. Give those people the time they deserve in your wishes. Next, it might be time to see which people we send out cards to merely out of obligation (because they will or might send us one) even though we don't see or hear from one another all year long. Maybe we need to revise our list.
  Have a Christmas card writing gathering. Serve eggnog and Christmas cookies and have Christmas music playing. Maybe with some relatives or good friends. It can turn the task into a fun time. This idea is great for kids who like to create cards to give to their siblings, friends and cousins.
   Let us not forget e-cards. 
   However we do it, sending out Christmas cards is a nice way to take a moment for each person in our life and bestow upon them a wish and blessing for the birthday of Jesus. And if the recipient is not a believer, than a wish for a beautiful and festive season.
    To learn the origin of writing Christmas cards go to the following link: