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Sometimes it's impossible to decorate for Christmas in any way other than an all-at-once sweep of the house, both inside and out—a potentially exhausting process, but fun and done. This article, however, explores some of the possibilities for decorating piecemeal—a kind of spontaneous advent decorating—in which the process of decorating progresses from one room or niche or mantel to another that keeps things spontaneous and new throughout the season.
A recipe for Ballroom Sugar Plums, reminiscent of the sugar plums dancing in the wee little heads of the lucky children sleeping in A Visit from St. Nicholas, is the first of the delectable and lovely Yuletide treats presented in this installment of The Storybook Kitchen. Sugar Plum Meringues also pirouette through the article. A recipe is also provided for oliekoeks (also oliebollen or olykoeks) introduced by the Dutch when New York was still New Amsterdam. They are predecessors of contemporary yeast-raised doughnuts.
The white of an idyllic Christmas need not be limited to a deep, close, endless snow. Some garden plants, known for their white flowers, are steeped in legend, such as The Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) and Snowberry Bush (Symphoricarpus alba and occidentalis). Botanical descriptions from 16th and 17th century herbals embellish information about the hardiness and uses of these plants.
One of the great joys of Christmas is the sense of Christmases gone by. It is breathless childhood watching from the feather-fringe of candlelight and memories that tap us on the shoulder at the scent of oranges and cinnamon. It is the echo of familiar voices telling the old stories, singing the old songs. It is the crumpled tissue paper around the old decorations. This Workshops project isn't just the make-over of a wooden sleigh, it is a sleigh that was made by hand many years ago as a Christmas present when dolls and their dresses and dishes were made by elves and came by sleigh and reindeer.
With the expected birth of Seymore and Bryhta's first children, they are once again invited to stay at Finial House. In addition to recounting their preparations for the great event, Seymore reveals some of his thoughts and fears about parenthood and the kind of father he wanted to be. There was nothing I could do about my fears but keep moving toward them, or away from them, as the case might be, with every passing day. It helped that there was always more to do in preparation and then in aftermath than it was possible to do. His observations range from sentimentality and the desire for everything to be perfect, to what he hoped to give his children throughout their lives.
By Al R. Young
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By Al R. Young
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By Al R. Young The A Visit From St. Nicholas issue of The Storybook Home Journal is now available from Al Young Studios. This issue features these regular sections:Decorating - All Through The House (6 pages)Hearth - The Stockings Were Hung (3 pages)Kitchen - Visions Of Sugar Plums (4 pages)Garden - The New Fallen Snow (3 pages)Workshops - A Miniature Sleigh (4 pages)Bookshelf - A Christmas Reading List (1 page)Garret - Lobelia's Rocking Chair (2 pages)A Visit From St... Read more »
By Al R. Young
My husband Al's two years in Scandinavia when a young man provided him, among other things, with three imperishable predilections: a love of light, of warmth and of cardamom. So St. Lucia's Day, when light wins out over darkness and the warmth of flame re-emerges--and almost as important, when there's cardamom-spiked bread for breakfast--we like to take advantage of the concept.
When Elspeth was young (pictured right), we dressed her in full Lucia regalia and made the more traditional saffron-scented "Lucia Cats," sometimes even taking them about the neighborhood; but now we observe the tradition by making loaf-sized Lucias, use the slightly less traditional cardamom flavoring, and gobble them up all day long... Read more »
By Al R. Young We liked this Victorian summation of Christmas shopping, above, from an 1876 etching reflecting the fact that nothing much about the urge for bouts of seasonal spending has changed in 137 years. The poem that originally accompanied it, spoke of "shopping, shop, shop, shopping," until everyone was "dropping, drop, drop, dropping." And that was even before "shop, shop, shopping" already commenced as soon as the pumpkin pie had been served up on Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday became a synonym for a make-or-break Holiday business season... Read more »