Friday, February 24, 2012

The Christmas Village That Says "Home"!

Hi Everyone,
So, it snowed this morning, after a day when we reached almost 60 degrees, so I thought I would show you some ideas about Christmas Village construction.

I started collecting Christmas village buildings and accessories years ago.  However, recently I have added some local touches.  There is a company called "Our Little Town," which offers local pieces that reflect our own area.  I am thrilled to have collected some pieces that represent Rhode Island to incoroprate into my landscape.  You may want to do this, because it's a real conversation starter.
Here are some photos of the result.  The buildings not noted as "Dept. 56" are "My Little Town."

 Krispy Kreme was in Garden City, Cranston

 The Narragansett Towers, Narragansett

 Saugy Provisions, Providence

 Denny's Diner, West Warwick

 Tony's Colonial Market, Federal Hill, Providence

The Old Canteen, Federal Hill, Providence

 The historic Haven Brothers Diner, Providence

 This one is the Town Hall from the town where my father
was born; Elba, Alabama.  I found it on the town's web page.
 Coca-Cola building (Dept. 56) is exactly like the
one in Providence
The village.  Note the Starbuck's (Dept. 56). 
We have so many of them around the state, and it's
one of my favorite places for good coffee,
especially the one in Garden City.

So, have fun with your village, and try to get some local color for it as you go!
Have a great day,

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Cathedral of Saint John

Hi Everyone,
This has been a hard few days for us at the Cathedral of Saint John.  Sunday, we announced at the Annual Meeting, that due to lack of financial viability, the Cathedral parish would be suspending services, with our last Holy Eucharist being celebrated on Sunday, April 22. 

Here is the interview that I did this morning with Channel 12.

Take care,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Just forund this great Harry Potter film!

Hi Everyone,As you may know, I am a very big Harry Potter fan, and will never forget the thrill of each book release and film that came out later.
I found this piece on You Tube and thought you might get a kick out of it.
Click here
Have a great day,

Addendum to Mary Poppins

Hi Everyone,
Well, the show was super!  It wasn't just a remake of the movie, but added some very nice touches and musical pieces.  It was great fun!
In my last post, I mentioned that Providence Performing Arts Center is a most beautiful facility.  I found a virtual tour on their website, and am linking it here
Diana also took these pictures and I thought you might enjoy them.

Take care,

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mary Poppins!

Hi Everyone,
When my daughter was really young, our favorite show to watch was the musical, "Mary Poppins."  Tomorrow, we are going to the Providence Performing Arts Center to see the stage performance of "Mary Poppins!"  We are so excited to finally see it live!  This is part of the Broadway series at PPAC.  If you haven't had the chance to go there, you owe it to yourself to see this amazing theater and some of the great stage productions done there.

Here are some pictures from the production:

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valintine's Day is Coming! Make your own beautiful rose arrangement!

Hi Everyone,
So, as we know, Valentine's day is just around the corner.  You don't need to spend all sorts of money to have a beautiful bouquet of roses to celebrate this romantic day.  All you need is a vase, some planting medium, a rose bush or 2 from AC Moore, some wired ribbon and a spirit of fun!

So, first, you will find that AC Moore has a fantastic display of flowers most times, but at Valentine's Day, they have lovely little rose bushes that can be cut apart and made into pretty arrangements.

To begin, cut with heavy wire cutters so that the roses, baby's breath and leaves are separated from the bush.

Cut a piece of the medium to fit inside the top of the vase.

Arrange the flowers, being careful to watch that all sides are equally balanced as you add flowers.  This is especially important if they are to be used in a window display or on a table.

When you are done, drape a wired ribbon around the vase, and make a bow.  You are done!

And while we are on the subject of artificial flowers, I had a brainstorm this year for my deck.  Here in Rhode Island, it is very cold in December, but not usually too cold to go outside.  During the holidays, my deck is a place where people go to talk, or if they smoke, to smoke outside the house.  I thought it might be a good thing to add some festivity to it this year, so I left the deck flower pots on the rail, purchased some bunches of silk pointsettias and cut some holly from the tree in the front yard.  The result was very enjoyable.  See for yourself!

Have a great day, and enjoy the romance of Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Springerle Cookies for Christmas

Hi Everyone,
Today I want to talk about the Springerle cookies that I made at Christmas.  Springerle are a molded cookie, German in origin.  These cookies are like little pieces of art, and many people say that they are just too beautiful to eat.  But then, once they take a bite, they are hooked!

These delicious, mostly anise flavored cookies can be made using individual molds, several molds on a block or using a roller, which is like a rolling pin, except that it is filled with images that make cookies.

My friend, Matthew Cox got me started on these wonderful Christmas delights, but I had some difficulty the first few years getting the dough just right.  This year, I went out to the House on the Hill website and Connie had posted, much to my delight, a tutorial for making springerle.  As I watched, I realized that almost everything I was doing was not quite right.  So, using her recipe, which is called, "Nini's Perfection Springerle," and following her technique, I was finally able to make these great cookies.

One of the great things about springerle is that they last for months, if kept in a well, sealed tin, and they improve with age, as the anise flavor grows.  They travel well, especially in the mail, and you will get rave reviews from your most staunch cookie critic!  Connie's grandmother's recipe is on the website, but is also available in a little brochure called, "Too Pretty to Eat," which can be sent to you in your order if you buy any of their products.

This is a typical mold for springerle cookies.  It is an oval with a lily of the valley in the center.  First, you flour the mold so the batter won't stick.  Then you press the mold into the rolled out dough.

Once that it done, you can see the impression when you carefully lift the mold from the dough.

Then you use a special oval cutter to make the cookie take shape around the mold imprint.

Once this is done, you remove the dough around the cookie and carefully pick up the cookie with a flat spatula, placing it on parchment to dry for up to 24 hours.

Once they are dry so that the cookies will not loose the impressions on the top, they are baked at a low heat in the oven and then cooled on cooling racks.  They are then stored in a sealed jar or tin for freshness.

I hope you enjoy looking at the evolution of these great cookies, and at some of the wonderful images on them.  This was one of the best things that I did during the holidays, and I plan to try some for other times of the year, too.

This last one is Symbols of the Brittish Isles.  The cookie was cut using a fluted cookie cutter.

 The Nativity always makes a nice image for Christmas cookies.

Try your hand at these unusual and lovely cookies.  I think you will be happy with the result!

Have a great day,