Monday, December 5, 2016

A Visit From St. Nicholas

ALL IMAGES FROM St. Nicholas Center

Do you know what today is? The eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas. Tonight is the night you put your shoes or socks out so that St. Nick fills them up with all sorts of treats!

 I have been celebrating St. Nicholas for my entire life, and my mother before her, and her mother too, it is a custom that my family brought over from Germany. In many places where St. Nicholas is prominent his feast day is the day you receive your gifts, not Christmas. 

For those of you not familiar with St. Nicholas, here is an abbreviated history, Nicholas was born in the third century in the village of Patara. His wealthy parents died while he was very young and being the devout Christian that he was he set about giving away his inheritance, to the poor, needy and suffering people in his town. He was raised by his uncle who was a member of the clergy and he dedicated himself to serving God, while still young he became the Bishop of Myra. He became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need and his love for children as well as his concern for sailors and ships. In fact he is the patron saint of children and sailors.

There are many tales and legends of the life and deeds of St. Nicholas which help us to understand why he was so loved and revered. One famous story tells the tale of three young girls who had no dowry, their father was a mean and nasty man and said that with no dowry he could not keep them, he would have to sell them as slaves. Nicholas heard this and tried to think of ways to get them money, without offering charity, as he knew the father would not take it. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, money appeared in their home.  The bags of coins where thrown in an open window, and  landed in their shoes drying by the sill. Hence the reason we put our shoes out!

Some people say it was bags of money, some people say gold balls , that is why you see three gold balls sometimes represented as oranges as the symbol of St. Nicholas, hence the reason  you always find an orange in your shoe or sock along with your other goodies. It is also the reason St. Nicholas became known as a gift giver.

The anniversary of the death of  St. Nicholas also became a celebration of his life, December 6th or if you follow the Julian calendar December 19th. So on the eve of his celebration we leave out our shoes or stockings and a few carrots for his horse or donkey and hope that in the morning we will find some treats, if your bad all you get is a few twigs or some coal.

We do also celebrate Christmas, this was just a little visit from the great man to make sure that we were being good. Apparently we were because we always got an orange, and lots of treats.

What about you? Do you celebrate St.Nick? What are your family traditions? I love hearing all about other peoples traditions or traditions from your country so please do share.

I hope you have a great night, get your shoes or your stocking out, you never know if you are going to get a visit from old St. Nick!

This is from the St. Nicholas site but you can make your own at Wordle.

 If you are interested there are tons of books written on St.Nicholas, and also how the Saint transformed into the modern Santa Claus, Pere Noel or Father Christmas. 

Here are a few of my favorite: 
The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving   
Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
The Legend of Saint Nicholas
The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale 

Whatever you know him by, he was a lover of children whatever your age. You can also find lots of information at the St. Nicholas Center where there are images of the man, a history of his life and of course suggestions for celebrating his life. You can also find information HERE.
All images from the St. Nicholas Center HERE

If you would like to whip up a tasty treat this week check out The Best Chocolate Cheesecake I made recently. It is fabulous! 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Taking a Break Today

Good morning and happy Friday to you! I hope that your week has been great. Mine has been very busy with travel and once again I find myself over loaded with things to catch up on, so I am sorry to say that there will be no Friday Favorites but I promise I will be back with them next week!

Have a great weekend. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Just Curious...What are your Holiday Traditions?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year as I know it is for many. I love the change that seems to come over people it is almost like they have been sprinkled with fairy dust. For a few weeks a year people seem friendlier and happier. There is a spring in their step and a smile on their face and sometimes you can even catch them singing  along to the carols on the radio.

I call it the magic of Christmas. I'm not talking about presents, I am talking about memories, and traditions, the things that fill your heart with joy, wonder and happiness. 

So today I am asking you, what are your family traditions, what are the rituals or things that you do year after year and continue to do or share with our own family. I realize that not everyone who reads this blog celebrates Christmas so if you celebrate hanukah or something else please share your memories of that instead. 

In my family, we set up our tree on Thanksgiving or the day after. At my moms we actually have two trees one that is more traditional and fancy and the other which we call the kids tree. This tree is filled with ornaments that we have been given over the years that reflect our personalities and interests at different times of our lives. The other ornaments are the ones that we have made and we laugh out loud when we pull them out of the boxes, "marveling" at our young talents with buttons and glue. Even after all of these years we can still remember where we were when we made them and why, like a snow day or a sick day, etc. 

My mothers family is German and we have always celebrated the feat of St. Nicholas. On the 5th of December we put out our or socks or shoes and when we wake the next morning they are filled with candy and an orange. 

We love to have movie night, every night that we are together and we watch the same holiday movies that we have for years and eat caramel corn made with the same recipe that my grandmother used to make. 

My grandmother baked for weeks and weeks before Christmas, there were at least a dozen different cookies, stollen, chocolate salami, cinnamon rolls, breads and more. All of the cookies were stored in a closet until Christmas Eve, unless you snuck in there and ate a few ahead of time. I still bake many of her recipes and send them to family and friends just as she did. 

We go to see The Nutcracker, the Christmas Carol or some other concert. My personal favorites are the early music concerts at the Cathedral. 

My family has a cookie exchange and they get together and share their creations some of which are my grandmothers recipes and some of which are new. 

On Christmas eve we have an open house and  friends and family come over for dinner, scrumptious desserts, we exchange gifts and then we attend midnight mass at the Cathedral.

We get to open one gift on Christmas eve and typically it is pajamas.

One night we get a cup of cocoa and we drive around looking at the Christmas lights. In fact when I am at home my mom and I do it almost every night. We drive all over looking at the lights, the moon on Lake Michigan, the new decorations downtown and we just talk, laugh and listen to Christmas music. It is actually one of my favorite things to do with her. 

On Christmas morning and there is a trail of candy from the fireplace to the tree, that Santa dropped from his pack while he was leaving the gifts. We love it now as much as we did when we were kids and my nieces and nephew love it as well.

These are just a few of my favorite family traditions. What are yours? I would love to hear about what you and your family do to celebrate the holidays. 

Have a great day!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Eggnog Cheesecake with Candied Cranberries

Good morning! Did you have a great weekend? Are you reseted and relaxed from the eating marathon? I am ready to move on from the leftovers and on to Christmas baking. Although I an not a huge fan of drinking down a huge glass of eggnog I love the flavors, the nutmeg and the cinnamon and think it taste subtle and delicious in a cheesecake. 

Eggnog Cheesecake with Candied Cranberries


1 cup graham cracker crumbs 
2 Tbsp granulated sugar (for crust) 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp  butter melted 
3- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar 
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup eggnog 
4 eggs room temperature
2 Tbsp rum 
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Garnish with candied cranberries


Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a 9 x 13" cake pan in the oven on the shelf lower than the one you will place the cheesecake on, fill about 2/3 of the way with water. 
In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and butter; then press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9” spring form pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden, then cool to room temp.
Place eggnog, rum, eggs, flour, sugar, nutmeg, and cream cheese into your food processor and blend the mixture until smooth. 
Pour mixture into pre-baked crust and bake 45-50 minutes, or until cake is barely firm to the touch.The cake will look a little jiggly. Turn off the oven and open the door about 2 inches. Leave the cake to cool in the oven for at least an hour. Then remove from oven, run a knife around the edges of the pan and cool to room temperature. 
Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled before serving.
Both the water bath and the cooling in the oven should keep the cheesecake from cracking. If it cracks, no big deal we are going to garnish it anyway. 

What have you been baking or do you plan to make for the upcoming holidays? Share your recipes with us or your favorite pins!

Have a great day!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Small Business Saturday Shop at Billy's Bungalow, Oreillers, Ancient Oaks Antiques, Dunstan & Moles, Splenderosa, 5th & State,The Enchanted Home, and More

Good morning! Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? I hope that you were able to spend time with your family and friends and of course eat your fill of the feast. We went to friends and it was wonderful, the food was fabulous as were our friends but one of the best parts of the day was the new addition to the family, Brady Cooper. Brady Cooper is a Pomeranian puppy that looked like a stuffed animal with his cute red bow tie affixed for the day. His antics amused us for hours, so much so it had me thinking I need another puppy!

Did you get out the the Black Friday sales? I stayed in and out of the mayhem. I am pretty well finished and didn't want to be a part of the craziness. But I have been checking out some of my favorite local shops and blogger stores for one of a kind, special and unique gifts. 

If you still need to do a little shopping why not support a small business? Either one that is local or even one of the many bloggers that we know who have small business on the web and Etsy.

 Billy's Bungalow owned and operated by Barbara and named after Billy(her late dachshund)  is a cabinet of curiosities and filled with treasures from a life well lived. There are beautiful Majolica plates, vibrant Transfer ware, shinny silver, vintage paintings and much more to be had from this wonderful store.  I have purchased several items from Barbara and I love each and every item, they come beautifully wrapped and there is always a special gift in each box.  If you are searching for a unique vintage item this is the place to get it. 

The Enchanted Home Storefront  owned and operated by Tina of the blog The Enchanted Home is filled to the brim with anything you might want or need to decorate your home. Tina offers lighting, china, soaps, candles, silver, statuary and so much more. Each item is hand picked by Tina and would make a wonderful and special gift for your family and friends.  

Splenderosa owned and operated by the ever stylish Marsha is filled with "bling" for all of the ladies in your life. There are rings, bracelets, necklaces, scarfs and handbags and more. Marsha not only curates the items for her shop but also designs and makes many of them. While you are shopping for your family and friends make sure to get something for yourself too.

Yonks, is owned and operated by Di, located in Cardiff, Wales. Her Etsy store  is filled with over 151 English, French and European antiques and vintage finds all of which are carefully picked by Di at auctions all over Europe. There are biscuit jars, silver christening cups, tea services, jewelry and more. 

Oreillers(French for pillows) is the online store owned by Debra of the blog, Acquired Objects. Debra specializes in 15th-18th century European textiles which she handcrafts into pillows. These works of art offer you the opportunity to have a piece of history in your own home. In addition to her handcrafted pillows, Debra offers unique European finds including antique sewing kits, needlepoint pictures, and more. Even if you are not in the market take a look around the Oreillers web page, the textiles are amazing. 

Here are a few other blogs that I know of which have small businesses:

Dunstan & Moles

Have a great day and get out there and shop and the small business that you know and love!

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