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It's that most wonderful time of the year! Snow is falling, carols are being sung, frenzied shop-pers are out hunting for that perfect gift and families are coming home for the holidays! Set out the nativity, whip up some gingerbread, bust out your tutu and The Nutcracker Ballet! Join with us in a holiday cheer, Christmas time is here! This month in Welcome Home magazine discover the sweet story behind the traditional christmas flower, The Poinsettia. Finally figure out how to whip up the perfect fruit cake, that won't leave your friends and family running in fear! Check out our nifty guide to dealing with the dreaded Christmas tree needle fallout so your feet will be safe long before New Years. Last but not least, discover the man behind the legend of Santa Claus. Merry Christmas and may your home be filled with joy and cheer this very special season!

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Recipe and Design Snowflake Shortbread

Do-It Yourself Snow Globe

Ingredients • • • • • • •

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup powdered sugar 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon salt Parchment paper Royal Icing Sparkling sugar

Preparation: 1. Preheat oven to 325°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. 2. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. 3. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut with a 2-inch snowflake-shaped cutter, and place 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. 4. Bake at 325° for 11 to 13 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks, and cool completely (about 40 minutes). Decorate with Royal Icing, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Royal Icing 3 cups powdered sugar 2 tablespoons meringue powder 1/4 cup cold water Beat all ingredients at high speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, using whisk attachment, until glossy, stiff peaks form. Tint icing with desired amount of food coloring paste, and beat until blended. Place a damp cloth directly on surface of icing (to prevent a crust from forming) while icing cookies. Southern Living, DECEMBER 2010

Snow globes are a Christmas classic, and these oversize spheres put on an impressive display. What You Need: • • • • • •

A globe with rubber base and plastic stand Epoxy Ceramic or plastic ornaments Distilled water Liquid glycerin Glitter

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Look for 7- and 8-inch flower aquariums, which include a globe, rubber base, and plastic stand, at floral shops or online. Use epoxy to attach ceramic or plastic ornaments and figurines to the rubber base, which also serves as the lid. Fill the globe with distilled water to just below the opening; add about 1 tablespoon of liquid glycerin (found in soap-making sections of hobby stores) to thicken the water. Sprinkle with glitter. Working over a sink, slowly invert the decorated portion of the rubber base into the water; stretch the seal of the rubber base over the lip of the globe. Attach the plastic stand, turn the globe upright, and watch the snow fall! For extra sparkle, stand the snow globe in a silver wine bottle coaster. Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.com


The Legend of Santa Claus The idea of Santa Claus and the gift of giving associated with him is said to have originated in Asia Minor which is now Turkey with St. Nicholas in 300 A.D. There really isn't any historical documentation that tells us a lot about him. There are many legends that surround him. It is said that he was a wealthy man whose parents died and left him a fortune which he gave away to the poor and needy. Legends say that he often went out at night disguised in a hooded cloak, to leave gifts of money, clothing or food. He was very religious and became a monk and eventually became bishop of the city of Myra. A well known St. Nicholas story is that he saved three poor sisters from being sold into slavery and prostitution by their father by providing them a dowry so they could be married. Eventually, as his popularity grew along with the legends, he became known as the protector of children and sailors. He earned sainthood status and had a basilica built over his tomb. St. Nicholas isn't the only early tradition tying winter holidays with giving that eventually evolved into Santa Claus. The Saxons in Britain around 600 A.D. dressed an actor in a pointed cap, cloak and ivy and called him King Frost. They then extended kindness and gentleness to him in hopes that the approaching winter would be kind and gentle to them. Around 800 A.D. the Vikings believed that their main god, Odin, dressed up as a sage with a long white beard in December and visited earth to distribute gifts to the needy. The Viking followers of Odin changed the portrayal of Saint Nicholas from having a short, dark beard to a long white beard. The Germans had a character they called Winterman who dressed in furs and skins and these characteristics were also added to the portrayal of St. Nicholas. Over time the European Christians started giving gifts to needy children on the anniversary of St. Nicholas's death calling it Saints Feast Day. The Dutch nickname used for Saint Nicholas was "Sinter Klaas" which stood for Sint Nikolaas. Children speaking English pronounced this name as "Sainty Claus" and eventually it changed to Santa Claus. Washington Irving, an American writer, described Santa as a jolly Dutchman who wore baggy pants and rode over the treetops in a horse drawn wagon, smoking a pipe, dropping gifts down chimneys. The first truly American version of Santa Claus emerged in the famous poem "The Night Before Christmas" which was written by Clement C. Moore in 1821. This poem was originally called "A Visit from St. Nicholas". Moore described Santa Claus as the "jolly old elf, dressed all in fur with a round belly" and mentions eight reindeer for the first time as well as their names. The image of Santa Claus and the myths surrounding him continued to evolve over time to the modern day characterization we all know as jolly old St. Nicholas who arrives on his sleigh, with Rudolph the Reindeer leading the way on Christmas Eve delivering gifts down chimneys for the delight of children everywhere. Written by Karen Jebbia. Courtesy of Articlesbase.com


Christmas Tree Needles: How To Prevent The Poke!

January has brought with it celebration of the New Year. You waltz across your living room and stop abruptly.  "What is that pinch in my foot?" you wonder.  "Did I just step on a nail…a very small nail?" you ask yourself.  A quick examination reveals nothing but upon further review it is revealed.  A Christmas tree needle!


If that story sounds familiar do not feel bad. Christmas tree needles are a fact of Christmas.  If you are going to own a Christmas tree, you are going to have needles and Christmas tree needles are going to drop.  After they drop they are going to get all over the carpet and they are going to stay there until they find a new home, in your foot.  No amount of vacuuming will seem to do the trick. So what will do the trick in the fight against Christmas tree needles?  Some people think that they need to feed their tree more water, so they cut the trunk of the tree at an angle to increase its "mouth."  The problem with this is that while the "mouth" gets bigger, the water in the tree pot tends to drop quicker.  Forget to fill the pot with water a time or two and you will be left with a dry mouth, except once the Christmas tree's mouth dries up it cannot be rehydrated. Do not even attempt to bring out the artificial Christmas tree you bought five years ago because you were too lazy to go out and buy a Christmas tree.  Sure it will work.  The lights will light, the decorations will be decorative but you will find something missing.  Something that pleases the olfactory region, that lets you know that Christmas has arrived.  That sweet smell that is too heavenly not to come from this Earth.  You would know it as the smell that can only be known as that of a real Christmas tree. So what to do when these Christmas tree needle in the foot prevention techniques fail?  What of the sprays, cuts, and false Christmas trees?  Are all options exhausted?  Is all hope lost?  Not so fast!  Like a true Christmas miracle, it is revealed:  the rentable Christmas tree!  No hassle, no fuss, and best of all, no mess!  When you rent a Christmas tree all your worries are gone.  Able bodied workers will deliver the Christmas tree just in time for Christmas.  But that's not all!  The tree is pruned to a perfect shape and comes live!  No worries about needles dropping from a dead Christmas tree.  After you have enjoyed all that Christmas has to offer, the same able bodied workers who delivered your rented Christmas tree will come around to collect it.  No more dragging a dead Christmas tree through the house leaving a trail of needles that will one day end up in your exposed extremities.  No more worries about scratching the paint job of your car. Beyond the annoying needle problem that is solved when you rent a Christmas tree, you are also doing yourself, your friends, your family, and even small (and large) woodland animals a favor.  Renting Christmas trees are very environmentally friendly.  Once you have finished with your rented Christmas tree the tree is planted back into the wild, forming a wooded area.  This will offset your annual carbon footprint by ten percent.  If every tree that was cut down in the United Kingdom each year (eight million) was a rented Christmas tree, the result would be a carbon footprint that was offset by 8 million tonnes. I cannot guarantee that a squirrel will personally shake your hand when you rent a Christmas tree but they will owe you thanks.  This is because when you rent a Christmas tree instead of buy a Christmas tree, you will receive a tree that is to be his home. When the time comes to select a Christmas tree keep these thoughts in mind.  Do not buy a Christmas tree that will leave your carpet and interior of your house looking like a porcupine has shed its quills.   Do not even give a second of your thought to anything called a Christmas tree that is made of plastic.  Select a Christmas tree that is good for you, good for your carpet, and good for the atmosphere.  Rent a Christmas tree. Written by Graham Willet. Courtesy of Articlesbase.com


In The Kitchen REGAL FRUIT CAKE

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups candied yellow pineapple, chopped 1 1/2 cups candied red cherries, chopped 1 cup raisins 3/4 cup currants 2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts 1/2 cup white grape juice 1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature 2 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar 5 eggs, room temperature 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground mace 1 teaspoon almond extract Brandy

Preparation: 1. 2.

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Grease a 10-inch tube or bundt pan; line with wax paper and grease well. In a large bowl, combine candied pineapple, candied cherries, raisins, currants, and pecans or walnuts. Add grape juice; stir until well blended. Let stand 1 hour. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine. Gradually add brown sugar, stirring until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and mace; gradually add to butter mixture. Add almond extract and fruit mixture; stir until well blended. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake 3 hours and 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan, peel paper liner from cake, and cook completely. Wrap in a brandy-soaked cheesecloth; store in an airtight container for one week. After one week, store in the refrigerator. Courtesy of whatscookingamerica.net


Health & Wellness

Honey Natural honey has been used by mankind since the past 2,500 years. The numerous health benefits of honey have made it an important aspect of traditional medicines such as Ayurveda. Scientists are also researching the benefits of honey in modern medicine, especially its benefit in healing wounds.

reason is because honey has osmotic properties; that is, it tends to withdraw water. Water molecules strongly react with the sugars in honey, leaving little water available for microorganisms. Thus, infection-causing bacteria is literally dehydrated to death by honey.

Perhaps your parents failed to mention it when they discussed the birds and the bees with you, but honey has long been known to have a multitude of healing powers with everything from relieving a sore throat, allergies, healing wounds, etc. It also goes great with peanut butter.

The fascinating process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees' saliva, an alchemical process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive where they deposit it into the cells of the hive's walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the moisture's content making it ready for consumption.

It contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3 all of which change according to the qualities of the nectar and pollen. Besides the above, copper, iodine, and zinc exist in it in small quantities. Several kinds of hormones are also present in it. Approximately one half of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from crops pollinated by bees. Today honeybees are an essential part of a healthy agriculture economy. If you have allergies, honey can be beneficial. If you eat honey that is local to your area, it may prevent your seasonal allergy. Bees use the pollen from local plants and eventually it ends up in your honey. Honey has been used in many medical applications over the years, but recent studies are now able to prove its beneficial nature in some applications, including as antibacterial topical treatment for burns and ulcers. The

For people who have frequent migraine attacks, should sip a dessert spoon of honey dissolved in half a glass of warm water at the start of the attack. Repeat after 20 minutes if needed. Its effective as migraine is stress related. Approximately one half of the human diet is derived directly or indirectly from crops pollinated by bees. Today honeybees are an essential part of a healthy agriculture economy. If you have allergies, honey can be beneficial. If you eat honey that is local to your area, it may prevent your seasonal allergies. Bees use the pollen from local plants and eventually it ends up in your honey. Courtesy of Articlesbase.com


Why We Decorate At

Christmas


At Christmas time, being tacky and filling our homes with kitsch, is excusable. Colorful lights, various ornaments and mistletoe provide a joyful environment for us to hide our Gifts under the Christmas tree. Above all, preparing for Christmas feeds our anticipation for when it finally arrives - along with the gifts! Decorations create an atmosphere that makes us feel warm and at home with loved ones. Hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree is often considered an enjoyable activity with the family. In some cases, people will create their own decorations or gifts, with the help of their artistic skills! Different households have different methods of decorating their homes. Some rely on typical objects such as lights, ornaments and Santa figures while others shy away from them. They may wish to be less over-the-top and subtly decorate their homes with a few vintage ornaments. However one question remains, why do we decorate in the first place? After some research we have come to the following conclusions: Why people decorate their entire homes beside just the tree has several interpretations. Most of these traditions originate from hundreds of years ago when winter time was viewed as a time for celebration. The Christmas tree for example derives its history from the Germans who honored these evergreen trees. The first time a tree was decorated inside, was by Martin Luther who displayed it with lights and put Christmas gifts underneath it. Holly is another example of am evergreen plant that is utilized for decoration and given as gifts at Christmas time, but some people believe that it also has religious connotations. Originating from the Pagans, mistletoe represents elements of the Christian religion and still symbolizes fertility. Christmas Cards are considered to have originated from Britain in the 19th century due to increasing speed in mail delivery and flourishing technology. Over time the idea of Christmas decorations and gifts expanded. This means Christmas trees and Holly are not all that is displayed during the winter holiday period. Stockings, figures, banners, candles, seasonal gifts from previous years and the likes are brought out as well. Besides being for appearance purposes, such decorations may also be hand crafted by many creative individuals. If you have children, making Christmas decorations and

hanging them up will help keep them busy and entertained as they wait to unwrap their Gifts Christmas decorations whether bought or crafted do not always have to be tacky or old-fashioned. They can be tasteful, contemporary or classic. For example ornate Christmas decorations made from polished glass, such as the 12 Days of Christmas. Not only do they make lovely gifts but can be hung on a Christmas tree as well. Being made from glass, makes these precious ornaments special and unique to be re-used every year or given away to loved ones as Christmas gifts. For those who are more creative minded, you can create your own Christmas cards to give along with your gifts. To make it easy, gift card materials can be acquired in sets and kits with different themes such as Santa's Grotto, Vintage Moments, 'Noel Noel' and so on. Each of them include 5 cards and envelopes with appropriate decorations that can be assembled in any way you like Similarly a kit to make your own Christmas Crackers is a useful way to disguise some gifts at Christmas time. It provides a fun way to unwrap gifts and keep the family entertained in the evening. It makes up to 6 crackers with snaps, ties, colored hats and labels. They are easy to make and therefore provide another opportunity to do something creative with your friends or relatives during Christmas time. Novelty gifts such as these are always well received A Vintage Christmas Stocking allows for further classical Christmas decorations and gifts. Made of cotton, it has an embroidered message and plenty of room for gifts and toys. Particularly for impatient children, it can be used for some preliminary Christmas gifts a few days in advance. We may never know what exactly made human kind decide to decorate the way we do at Christmas time. Perhaps it really was religion and history that sparked these traditions. None the less, we must admit that we love these tacky ornaments, colorful kitsch and millions of lights that we must dig out of our cellars and display annually. Let us not forget the fun we have when creating our own Christmas decorations, cards and Gifts from various materials. It gives us another reason to spend some time with our friend and families during the hectic winter holidays.

Written by John Smith . Article courtesy of Isnare.com.


The Poinsettia: a christmas star


As the city nights unfold from warm evenings to the holiday breeze, the world slowly prepares for Christmas as early as November. The manifestations of Christmas begin with the insertion of random Christmas carols in commercial establishments or a delivery of Christmas trees that decorates the front entrance of malls. Other than the carols and trees, it is the lights from the many houses that slowly populate the cityscape and captivate the evening. It is tradition that families come and decorate their homes with trimmings and flowers. But these are no ordinary flora - it is a special Christmas flower, the Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima), as it is best known around the world, that echoes to the household that Christmas is just around the corner. Though stereotyped as another tradition, the Poinsettia has its roots in Mexican legend. Based on its roots, it was brought over to the West by a Mexican Ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsettia. But from tradition, the Poinsettia was said to be a bloom most beautiful coming directly from the heavenly skies. The traditional tale is passed down in history with a poor farm girl wanting to offer the very best gift to the Savior during Christmas day. Her plea was heard by the angels above and they instructed her to gather weeds and align the Church walkway with these. According to legend, after the little girl delivered this task the angels miraculously converted the weeds into a crimson red bloom. And thus was born the Poinsettia, a Christmas flower. Regardless of what it is called around the world, the Poinsettia - known also as the Noche Buena, the Winter Rose, the Christmas Star, the Flame Leaf, the Stelle di Natalle finds itself inside the homes of families around the world as a symbol of Jesus Christ’s love for believers in the Christian Faith. The Christmas Flower is usually hung outside homes on the front doors to greet passersby or made to hang on the Christmas tree indoors to bring it to full bloom. Regardless of its many symbolisms, the Poinsettia points to the nativity of Jesus Christ, symbolic of the brightest star that led the wise men and shepherds to that little manger in Bethlehem. The Poinsettia is beautiful. It is a most wonderful centerpiece that decorates the dinner table when family and friends gather to celebrate the season of love. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Written by Timothy Spencer. Courtesy of Articlesbase.com


Products To Love In December

FIE

LD

There are not too many people in the world that are gingerbread house fanatics, but for those that are out there (myself included) this book is an absolute must have! Tired of constructing the same old little house year, after year? How about a post-modern city loft or a victorian mansion? This book has the blueprints for success and the savvy know how to help you pull off your best gingerbread house ever! Please click here for more information.

TE

ST

ED

Reviewed by Rural Jungle Testing

The Polar Express G-Gauge Train Set by Lionel is the perfect way for families to relive the magical scenes of the hit movie together. Three Polar Express figures are included (conductor, boy, and hobo) and the Observation car has an “disappearing hobo” feature. With a touch of a button, you can hear ‘All aboard for the Polar Express’. Easy-to-assemble G-Gauge track creates a 55” x 72” oval. Set includes: Steam locomotive and tender with details never before seen! passenger coach with two opening doors; observation car with “disappearing hobo” feature and opening door; three Polar Express figures; 12 curved and 4 straight track pieces; RC remote controller; 6 C batteries; 2 AA batteries. Please click here for more

information.

Delight the family this Holiday season with a traditional Christmas Classic: Miracle on 34th street! Six year old Susan has doubts childhood's most enduring miracle Santa Clause. Her mother told her the "secret" about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn't expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department stare Santa who's convinced he's the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all - something to believe in. Give you loved ones the gift of believing this year! Please click here for more information.


DYI Project - December

Christmas Ornament Garland What you need: • 30 to 40 large ornaments (3" to 4" diameter) • 30 medium ornaments (2" diameters) • 20 to 30 small ornaments (1" ornaments) • 1/2 wide ribbon

Simply string ornaments onto the ribbon in a random pattern of the different sizes. As you push the ornaments closer together they will begin to form the "cluster" look.  Continue placing ornaments until you achieve the desired length. Courtesy of decoratingfiles.com


There has been much speculation as to how they fly: magnetic polarization, super aerodynamics, fairy dust and even voodoo have been suggested in aiding their amazing yearly journey. But that's not what we want to talk about either. What we do want to talk about is Santa's hiring habits, namely the practice of hiring girls only flight staff.

That's right! You read that last line right. Santa's legendary flying helpers are probably female. Male reindeer usually lose their antlers with after breeding season, which according to our friends at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game means the guys usually lose their antlers in late October! Smaller bulls and females, however, usually keep theirs until April and pregnant females keep theirs until June. While it is possible that Santa's reindeer are male, we really doubt it. I mean, honestly, have you ever heard of someone finding a lost antler from one of Santa's reindeer on their roof? No. It makes sense if you think about it. Santa, not wanting to get sued by some poor schmuck that got beaned by a falling antler, only hires the females. Score one for the ladies!

So now that we have totally traumatized you for life by destroying your entire christmas para-digm, we feel it is our duty to completely eradicate your last tiny glimmer of hope for its re-demption by telling you this: The fact that some one has a "guy" name, does not make them au-tomatically male. Seriously, just think about how many girls there are out there named Alex, Kyle and Drew. Sorry guys, it's most likely that Blitzen is a she.

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