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Great Ideas for Christmas Breakfast

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Dec 21, 2014

Delicious Choices for Festive Christmas Breakfasts

 

The children have awoken, the Christmas presents have been unwrapped and there is a joyful spirit that consumes the house.  Everyone is all smiles and is anxiously waiting for the time to play with toys and trinkets found underneath the tree.  It’s the most magical morning of the year for many and the anticipation and energy surrounding this time can really work up an appetite for your family!  While the holiday dinner has been in pre-preparation for weeks, we must not eliminate the specialty of serving a festive and delicious Christmas breakfast.  This meal is sometimes looked over and forgotten because of the abundance of cooking that will be done later in the day but I can promise you there is a simple and easy way to nourish early appetites with yummy dishes that will not take an exhaustive amount of time to make.  Try these suggestions to ensure your entire holiday is filled with merriment from the breakfast to the dinner table.

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                                      photo credit: thecookingmom.com

Eggnog French Toast

This is a great recipe that I found which is fast and takes very few ingredients, making it so easy to whip up in a hurry.  Eggnog French Toast might sound a little decadent but really, it’s the flavor that has made this meal perfect for the season.  Grab 2 eggs and beat them until the consistency is soft.  Add 2 tablespoons of pumpkin spice, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and 2 cups of store bought eggnog.  Whisk together and dip 10 slices of thick bread into the batter carefully coating each side.  Then heat a skillet with a either Pam cooking spray or a pad of butter and sauté each piece until golden brown.  Serve immediately with rich maple syrup and watch everyone dive into this lovely Christmas breakfast.

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                                                  photo credit: simplyrecipes.com

Sausage Casserole

Oh, you will love this recipe that is sure to please even the fussiest feaster at your table.  Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees and heat a skillet where you will be cooking 1½ pounds of pork sausage until tender, draining the grease from the pork once ready.  In a bowl, whisk 5 eggs with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1½ cups of milk and 2 teaspoons of mustard powder.  After it’s mixed thoroughly, add the sausage, 2 cups of breadcrumbs and 10 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese.  Give the bowl another last stir to make sure that everything has blended nicely.  Next, grease a casserole dish or square pan and pour in the egg concoction.  Place in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes and let cool after the casserole is done.  Slice into triangles or squares and serve immediately.

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                                     photo credit: lovethispic.com

Scones, Donuts and Muffins

Don’t be embarrassed to outsource this meal for the sake of convenience, that’s what your local bakery is there for!  Select baked goods that reflect the Christmas season such as cinnamon, peppermint or sugar powdered frostings and toppings to add extra dazzle and delight.  You’ll be surprised at the wide selection and the wonderful holiday shapes that are usually present within the bakery’s cases during this time of year.  Buy your choices the day before to ensure freshness and sit back and relax on your Christmas morning!

 suzie_and_lance_canale Suzie and Lanc, November, 2014 Westwood, MA

Suzie will be having Christmas breakfast at her home in Westwood with her two boys, husband and mom.

Tags: Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, cooking, #EXFL

Decadent Christmas Desserts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Dec 20, 2014

Christmas is a wonderful time of year where we gather together to laugh, love and enjoy all those who are special in our lives.  We do this in a variety of ways including decorating the tree, singing carols and participating in the gift of giving.  One of the most time-honored traditions associated with this season is feasting, where family and friends create delicious meals with one another in the kitchen.  Whether we are creating trays of roast beef, turkey, mash potatoes, carrot soufflé, gravy, cranberry stuffing or cinnamon acorn squash, we know that these special hours of preparation are some of the most entertaining moments of our celebrations.  That is why I look forward to baking the deserts, which are always designed to be thematic of the joy and magic of Christmas.  There is truly nothing like the smells of sugar, flour and eggs as it wafts from the oven to the four corners of the house.  Can you think of a more inviting welcome for your guests?  Here are a couple of my favorites to pass onto your desert plates this December. 

 

Mitten Shaped Sugar Cookies

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                            photo credit: thehungryhousewife.com

These are so adorable and are really easy to make, even if you don’t have a mitten cookie cutter.  Start by mixing 3 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and ½ teaspoon of baking soda.  Crack 1 egg and add to bowl.  Add 1 ¾ cup of melted butter, 1 ¾ cup of sugar and 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract.  Mix thoroughly until the consistency reaches a firm doe.  Shape cookies with a rolling pin and either use a cookie cutter or butter knife to form the shape.  Place in a 375-degree oven for 8 minutes.  Once set to cool, spread different colored frosting over cookie for the mitten fabric and then use sprinkles to form a band around the wrist.  You’ll be surprised how beautiful, tasty and perfect for all holidays!

 

Santa Hat Cheesecake Squares

santa+hat+cheesecake11                                                photo credit: cookingclassy.com

Oh, these are just too cute and deliciously simple!  Particularly if you are looking for a last minute dessert to bring to holiday parties, this is your best bet.  If you don’t have time to make the cheesecake, your local bakery or grocery store is bound to carry them so don’t feel guilty about cutting corners.  Cut the sheet cake into small squares, about 3 x 3 inches.  Take strawberries and cut off the stems leaving a nice flat surface.  Place upside down with the wider surface planted on the cake to form a cone.  Then use either whip cream or white frosting to seal the surface of the strawberry and the edges of the 3 x 3 square.  Don’t forget to give a dot onto of the point to make the white ball of the hat. Voila!  You have an adorable sweet treat that Santa is sure to approve. 

suzie-1 Suzie Canale, The Beantown Tales

Suzie lives in Westwood, MA with her family. She is the Director of The Women's Locker Room Foundation.

Tags: Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, cooking, #EXFL

The Three Best Childrens Christmas Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 19, 2014

The Christmas season is embodied by a rich sense of love, comfort and joy which we gleefully show within our decorations, celebrations and feasts with one another.  Children in particular make this time of year especially wonderful, as they expel the enchanting spirit of “still believing”.  As parents, our own spirits are lifted because of our little one’s excitement and we relish in the fun of making every child’s wish come true.   Over time, many authors have captured these beloved aspects of Christmas by writing stories and illustrating images that not only teach the traditional customs of hanging up the lights, baking the cookies and singing the hymns to carols, but also bringing new and whimsical storylines to broaden our imaginations.  I have become a long time lover of Christmas books because of the bold coloring drawn throughout the illustrations and the beautiful magic and that is present within the pages.  My favorites are expansive, I will admit, but I’ve managed to narrow the list down to three.  Take a look and see if you can find any of your more favored holiday tales to that you read to your kids during this captivating time of year!

Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Clement Clarke Moore is the distinguished poet who wrote the infamous story about the arrival of Saint Nick on Christmas Eve.  Written in 1822, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (also entitled “A Visit From Saint Nick”) was first published in the New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823 with no accreditation to Moore, a requested condition on his behalf for having the piece featured.  Becoming a huge success, the author did not reveal his ownership of the poem until it was included in a later collection of short stories in 1844.  Over 1500 years later, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” has become a time read tradition for many of us to read on Christmas Eve where we listen to the fine words describing a special visit from Santa Claus. 

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”

These were the famous words penned by Dr. Seuss which his iconic character, The Grinch, mutters as he figures out the true meaning of Christmas.   First published in December of 1957 where the stories goal was to teach children about what is really important to celebrate, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has remained the highest requested book in bookstores and libraries during the Christmas season.  There is no denying the remarkable imagination that the author used when creating the land of Wooville, depicting a story of a mean and scary green creature who looms on the mountain tops plotting the ruination of Christmas for good.  Readers are taken through a wonderful adventure that focuses on friendship and togetherness while learning the invaluable lesson of the holiday spirit. 

 

Dream Snow

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Eric Carle out does himself in this picture perfect wonderland created out of the idea of dreaming of snow.  Set during the wintery Christmas season, a man closely illustrated to resemble Santa Claus, drifts off to sleep where he imagines his farm covered in a blanket of snow.  When he is awakened, he sees that snowflakes are falling and he decides to go to his barn to decorate his Christmas tree.  The particularly beautiful and unique design of this story includes snowflakes placed on clear pages throughout the book, where when lifted, children can see five farm animals hidden.  Another lovely aspect is the button towards the end of the story that plays a sweet musical jingle when pushed. Eric Carle outdoes himself in this holiday classic where the images are bold and the storyline is splendidly simple Christmas tale.

suzie_c 

Suzie lives in Westwood, Mass with her family. She has not only published four childrens books, but works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Suzie & Ryan Canale

Newbury Street, Boston 2014

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, Kids

Tasty Treats for Hanukkah

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Dec 17, 2014

The Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, consists of a wonderfully eclectic variety of cuisine that can be easily compared to culinary art at its finest.  Traditionally based on foods containing oil (one cruse lasting for eight days) and cheese (based on the book of Judith), the selection is endlessly yummy and includes favorites such as latkes, donuts and scrumptious challah bread.  From family to family, there are amazing variations of dishes, bringing in their own story and personality to the table.   Recipes are passed down from each generation in the hopes that some of our ancestor’s time honored recipes will be included in the celebration of the Festival of Lights.  Here are few of the top rated Hanukkah recipes that are not only customary to this holiday feast but have been praised as mouth watering delicacies by Boston’s top chefs.

 

Parsnip Latkes

PARSNIP_LATKES                                                                 Photo credit: bettycrocker.com

Here’s a great spin on the customary fried potato latke where parsnips and sweet potato are used as the main ingredient.  Start by grating 2 large parsnips and 2 large sweet potatoes in a food processor.  Combine root vegetables with 4 egg whites, 3 thinly sliced shallots, 1½ teaspoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of dried thyme.  Mix together thoroughly.  Heat a frying pan with canola oil and place a quarter cup of the batter on the pan, pressing down to brown the cake with a fork or spoon for 3 minutes per side.  Place on paper towel to relieve the latkes of excess oil.  Makes up to 20 latkes and can be served immediately or kept warm in a low temperature oven. 

 Jelly Donuts

jelly_donuts_hanukkah                                                    Photo Credit: Food.com

These are so good and wicked easy to make!  Grab three eggs and combine them with ¾ cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, ½ cup of sugar and mix together well.  In another bowl, add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1½ cups of flour with a teaspoon of salt mixed in as well.  Combine the two bowls slowly making sure that a smooth doe is formed to make a sandwich like shape.  Heat a deep fryer at 375 degrees with canola oil and add a precooked donut that consists of two layers of doe with a layer of jam in the middle.  I prefer strawberry but any kind will taste superb including raspberry and blueberry.  Making sure not to overcrowd the pan, fry donuts for about 4 minutes each until they reveal a golden color.  Let them cool on plate and sprinkle with confectionary sugar for an attractive presentation. 

 Maple Applesauce

Chunky-Applesauce-OR

This is a wonderful recipe for tart applesauce with a little kick to it that also pairs well with a large variety of main courses.  Gather 8 peeled apples with a sour taste (such as Jonathan apples or Granny Smith’s) and 3 sweet apples (such as Golden Delicious).  Slice apples into small pieces making the process of cooking them easier.  Place in ½ cup of boiling water and reduced heat to medium allowing the apples to soften until they begin to pull apart.  Once ready, mash down the apples to a desired consistency and then add 4 tablespoons of Vermont Maple Syrup (only use the good stuff).  Once you have thoroughly mixed the sauce, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to add zip to the flavor.  Refrigerate the dish until the desired time of serving.

suze Suzie Canale, Union Oyster House, Boston, MA August 2014

Suzie lives in Westwood, MA. She is avid chef and makes an amazing New England clam chowder.

Tags: Jewish Holidays, Hanukkah Decorating, Holidays, Chef, cooking

Flowers for Holiday Gift Giving

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Dec 15, 2014

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Finding the perfect presents can sometimes be challenging during the holiday season when we often find ourselves either over spending for items that the receiver doesn’t really want or grabbing just anything you can find at the last minute with no real thought put behind it.  The goal for Christmas gifting should be found in the consideration and affordability, not the expense or haste to get all of your shopping done.  One strategy that always receives a winning response is making your own gifts, which are fun, efficient for budgets and most importantly, sentimental to those we care for.  The options are numerous including woodworking, sewing, clay and painting crafts where you can create just about anything that your imagination will allow.  This year’s most popular made-at-home presents are utilizing flowers as the primary material because the color, scent and flexibility in design allow designers to come up with some pretty interesting ideas!  Curious about how to make a bookmark or delicate necklace made from the natural gifts found in your garden?  Here are some options to get you reeling in the world of floral crafting. 

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Bookmarks are a great present to give any avid reader because they are always in demand and can be styled after millions of different themes.  If you know someone who loves books and also gardening, this might be the ideal present.  Begin by picking flowers that can be easily pressed.  Excellent candidates include lavender, violets, pansies, delphinium, freesia, daisies, larkspur and hydrangea.  You are looking for flowers that can be easily flattened and do not hold a lot of water within their structure so be careful not to choose bulky blooms.  Once you have made your choices, take the stem and place it between two pieces of absorbent paper and then slide the pages within a heavy book.  Make sure the weight is adequate by placing a brick or other heavy object on top of the stack.  Allow two weeks for decent pressing results and then carefully lay the bouquet within two pages of transparency paper.  Using scissors carefully cut a desired shape for the bookmark, either a rectangle or oval.  Punch a whole at the top and finish off with a piece of tied twine. 

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Although the traditional form of the necklace commonly given at Christmas is made out of gold or silver, I can tell you first hand that flowers make stunning links when crafting your own jewelry.  There are many different varieties that will work but I have found that the best and easiest flower to use is a small rose head, particularly from the spray rose family.  You will find that not only are they much more efficient when stranding but they are grown in a large spectrum of color in shades of white, pink, red, orange, yellow and purple.  To get started, simply hang the bunch of roses upside down for a minimum of four weeks.  After the heads have dried, carefully snip off the rose buds making sure that there are no protruding stems left attached that may wound the person who is to wear the necklace.  String a needle with a heavy-duty thread and pierce the head at the bottom of its neck.  Continue the process until the desired length has been achieved.  When finished, secure a clasp that can be bought inexpensively at your local craft or fabric store.   Place the chain in small box and there you have it, the perfect gift for any jewelry lover on your list!

suze Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA

Suzie works at the Westwood Public Library and also serves as the President of the Women's Lockerroom Foundation of Boston.

Tags: Floral Design, Holiday Decor, Christmas, Christmas Flowers

Florists Offer Much More than Roses at Christmas Time

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Dec 13, 2014

Top Floral Pieces Requested For Christmas

 

It’s about that time to break out the ornaments, eggnog and yes, the Christmas greenery!  Florists are busy this time of year with an extensive line of holiday products just perfect to spruce up your home.  Worried that your budget can’t handle the extra expense of centerpieces and roping?  Don’t be!  Boston designers have all you need to fit anyone’s spending guidelines.  Many are actually unaware of the multitude of choices that they have access to during the month of December, holding the presumption that trees, wreathes and roses are their only options available to them this time of year.  Well, nothing could be farther from the truth and to convince the hesitant floral buyers, you wont believe these stunning holiday décor pieces that I’ve come up with just for you!

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Boxwood Trees

Boxwood trees are lovely compliments to your regular Christmas decorations and provide an authentically elegant appeal for holiday parties and festivities.  Produced in a variety of different sizes and themes, box trees can be purchased plain or with ornamental accessories, although trust me, they are equally as stunning.  Florists are clever in they way they are constructed by placing balsam strips into a preformed structure of oasis making them durable and healthy for a long period of time as long as they are watered consistently.  Box trees are perfect either dispersed throughout the home or placed in the center of the dining table, making it an excellent fuss-free option for centerpieces. 

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Kissing Balls

Kissing Balls may seem traditional but have remained one the most frequently requested items from Boston florists.  Shaped in a ball of balsam, some designers have put their own signature stamp on the piece by adding tiny pine cones, dried flowers, white lights, ribbons and even round sparkle gems.  Historically kissing balls were used to instigate a smooch from couples standing beneath one, (resembling the mistletoe effect) but nowadays, many are hung in front of houses in replacement wreathes.  Again, these simple but charming Christmas florals are both inexpensive and easily maintained to last throughout the entire season. 

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Contemporary Christmas Flowers

Contemporary Christmas flowers hold a traditional appeal but possess a modern presentation for the Christmas lover dying to create outside of the box.  Most of the time, this consists of changing one aspect of the arrangement such as replacing a clear vase with a vessel wrapped in birch bark or using a bright flick of orange to break up the ho-hum red, green and white holiday palette.  Berries are another wonderful option for those wanting to design a piece themselves.  Since there is an abundance of pinecones, fir greenery and wild bittersweet growing naturally in the New England habitat this tie of year, these are extremely easy to find and are less expensive than some of the harder to find and imported flowers. 

suze Suzie Canale, Freedom Trail Boston, 2014

You can be sure to see orchids at Suzie's home in Westwood at Christmas time.

Tags: Holiday Decor, Christmas Trees, Christmas, Christmas Flowers

Five Favorite Christmas Movies

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

There’s nothing like snowfall, a roaring fire and a great holiday flick to cozy up to during the Christmas season.  Being one of the largest topics played out on screen, holiday movies rank as some of the highest watched movies through November and December.  Why do you ask are they so popular?  Many of us need a little pick me up during this time of year because there is sometimes added pressure to complete tasks such as cooking, shopping, decorating and yes- family get-togethers which can also cause us to feel overwhelmed and anxious.  We need that burst of laughter or sentimental teardrop that is experienced while watching Christmas movies because they give us comfort and enhance a further enjoyment of the holiday.  I certainly have my favorites and the list is long!  Here is my top five with a small introduction about each to help select the perfect Christmas movie just right for you!

 FAMILY_STONE

The Family Stone (2005)

This is definitely one movie that I look forward to watching every year because of the all-star cast and witty mix of comedic drama.   New Englanders will fall in love with the beautiful cinematography as well as the heart felt writing that pours throughout the story that includes disagreements between siblings and misled expectations for romantic partners.  Starring Diane Keaton, Sara Jessica Parker, Rachel McAdams, Claire Danes, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney and Craig T Nelson, a family reunion gets sticky when the eldest brother brings home his uptight fiancée to his wacky childhood home.  Trouble begins when the special guest just can’t seem to fit in which leads to couple swapping over the holiday weekend.  Sure to make you giggle and cry, The Family Stone is reflective of the common misunderstandings, mishaps and quirky relationships that most households possess during the celebration of the Christmas season.

 

Fred Claus (2007)

Funny, hilarious and a laugh out loud film, Fred Claus is both a comedic and sweet film about the pains of being the older brother to one of the most famous men in the world, Santa Claus!  Moviegoers will take a ride with Fred Claus to the North Pole where he must step up and save Christmas from extermination from the evil efficiency expert determined to end the holiday for good.   Starring Vince Vaughn, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Bates and Kevin Spacey, the hysterical combination of Vaughn’s dark humor (you’ll love him dancing to Elvis on top of tables) with the festive glee of Santa’s elves is brilliant and succeeds in presenting the lesson that family is the strongest unit of all.

 National-Lampoons-Christmas-Vacation-christmas-movies-32844508-1920-1080

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)

It’s a classic and if you haven’t seen it, you have to!  Following along in the beloved ways of the Griswold’s, this time Clark (played by the infamous Chevy Chase) is determined to make it the best Christmas to date by digging deep into customary traditions and creating the zaniest craziest celebration ever.  Accompanied by a cast including Juliette Lewis, Beverly D’Angelo and Johnny Galecki, the Griswold’s welcome their extended family of grandparents, great aunts, uncles and cousins to experience over cooked turkeys, gas explosions, fire fried trees and even the kidnapping of Clark’s boss over a bogus Christmas bonus.  The laughs are endless in this classic Christmas comedy where you learn that family is everything to the Griswold’s.

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Jingle All the Way (1996)

So you’ve seen Arnold Schwarzenegger play action hero before but I promise you, the actor puts a whole new spin on the character.   In this fun loving comedy about a business man to busy to spend time with his family,  he makes the ultimate mistake by forgetting to buy the only present his son wants, a Turbo Man doll.  Taking you through a hilarious journey where he fights a mailman (played by Sinbad) through malls, radio stations and a holiday parade in the middle of the city, he finally figures out in the end that his son really just wanted to spend time with his hero, his dad. 

 deck_the_halls

Deck The Halls (2006)

If you love lights, then you will love this flick about two neighbors in a heated competition for who can put on the best Christmas display on the block!  Led by Danny Devito, Mathew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth, the jokes start reeling when a new family moves into town and decides to shake things up from the usual low-key traditional décor to a wild holiday spectacle.  Attempting to have their home seen from outer space, the tension grows when situations arise between the two families as electricity is stolen, blinding light shows start occurring in the middle of the night and egos are bruised.  This story is not only incredibly funny but sends a sweet message to viewers about the true meaning of Christmas.

 suzie_canale Suzie Canale, Westwood, MA 

Suzie is a huge movie buff. She will be sure to watch these movies and more with her husband.

 

 

Tags: Holiday Movies, Traditions, Christmas, Holiday Memories

Themes for Christmas Tree Decorating

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Christmas Tree Boston 

Tree decorating is one of the most time-honored traditions during the holiday season where families and friends gather together to prepare their most important centerpiece for the Christmas holiday.  Decked out in ribbons, pearls, heirloom ornaments, popcorn and stars, we see some of the most stunning and imaginative Yule tide creations which represent our personal interpretation of the beauty of Christmas.  The interesting part of this tradition is the fact that no tree is exactly alike and holds their specific theme within the décor of their branches.  Around the world, people intertwine their vision with baubles, sparkle and lights, swaying away from the customary palette of red, green and gold.  Contemporary decorators see no fault in purveying a new and unique embellishment for their seasonal balsams and why shouldn’t they?  Don’t be afraid to mix up the motif this year by adding a modern flair of imagination!  Here are a few suggestions that may help to get your creative juices flowing.

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Hot pink, orange and lime green.  Yes, it might sound a bit risqué but I assure you this color combination packs a “wow” factor punch particularly when hosting a Christmas soiree.    The element of bright and cheery is reflected when using these pigmentations together and can be easily accomplished by using simple accents throughout the tree.  Hot pink roses, baby tangerines and limes make affordable yet glamorous ornaments that are guaranteed to stun and awe onlookers.  If you feel that this style might be perfect for your holiday party but a little too much for everyday appearance, you need only to substitute the hot pink pieces for shades of cream, blue or silver which pairs well with the remaining tones. 

 woodland christmas tree theme

Although ornaments are traditionally crafts that represent the holiday season such as icicles, tinsel and bows, there’s no reason why you can’t utilize objects that you love to become display items as well.  For example, a woman collected fine pieces of doll set china and wondered if she could use her beloved treasures to decorate her Christmas tree.  She soon figured out that many of the items could be hung with string or easily tucked carefully and securely within the pine needles.  Another family who loved animals and had several dogs and cats decided that they would represent this special adoration by placing their pet’s paws in a molding clay, creating a print and then poking a whole at the top to be strung.  There was even a boy who enjoyed folding origami and thought that the clever projects he made would be a wonderful theme for his parent’s tree.  Whatever you come up with, it will be great but just remember one thing, don’t forget to use a lot of light, my husband insists on over 1000.

suzie_canale_westwoodSuzie Canale lives in Westwood, MA with her 2 sons and husband. She decorates her tree on December 11th, her son Lance's birthday. What a great tradition.

Tags: Traditions, Christmas Trees, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays

Mistletoe - Facts and Fiction

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Dec 11, 2014

mistletoe-kiss-by-norman-rockwell 

Mistletoe is a tradition of Christmas where we hang bundles over the hearth, in doorways and in the arches of our hallways.  We recognize the symbol as a signal to kiss whomever is standing beneath it, but history says there is another origination all together.  Mistletoe was first used by the North American Indians, the Norse and the Druids for several different purposes, although it mainly held a protecting significance from evils such as goblins and demons.  The branches had to be cut with a golden sickle and could never touch the ground or the leaves would loose their powers.  If you ever wondered why it is commonly hung on front doors, the Druids began the custom where they believed that a gathering of mistletoe would ward of bad weather and unwholesome spirits.  Later, the plant became manifested more towards a romantic practice where anyone who stood beneath, was met by affection by the opposite sex.  It was said that if the woman refused the advance, than she would not be married for an entire year.  Another interpretation of the use of mistletoe was used as a sign of peace (which still holds today) where apposing soldiers would have to lay down their weaponry if they met under growing mistletoe in the forest. 

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How to Spot Mistletoe

Mistletoe is part of the parasitic family, which means that it needs the help of another living thing to survive.  In this case, the plant is usually seen growing on oak trees where its roots embed themselves within the bark.  Mistletoe feeds off the food that the tree provides and then grows accordingly across the branches.  The leaves can be easily identified in the wintertime because they stay green when other fauna has changed to a brown or grey tint.  The berries can be either red or white and are always toxic to the taste that may cause diarrhea or even death. 

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How To Hang

Make sure that your mistletoe has been freshly cut because it does not live for long periods of time without its host.  Tie the ends upside down and secure a ribbon around the clinched ends (preferably red).  Tack a nail or pin in your doorway and hang the bundle 1 foot down as to be sure not to interfere with passerby’s who walk underneath the threshold.  Enjoy the beautiful decoration for the season and if preserving is desired, store in a dry, unlit area where it can be saved for a later date.    

 

florist_costume Suzie Canale, Westwood  Public Library, October, 2014

Suzie can be found under the mistletoe with her husband at their home in Westwood.

Tags: Symbols of Christmas, Holiday Decor, Christmas, #EXFL

How To Create Christmas Snow Globes - Kids Crafts

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Dec 10, 2014

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                                                                                               photo credit; The Santa Clause 3

The Christmas season is filled with gift buying, cookie baking, Yule decorating, card sending and most importantly, enjoying the time that we share with one another.  As parents, we try to involve our children with as many holiday themed activities as possible, hoping that they will relish in the seasonal cheer and maybe someday, pass these memories onto to their own families.  Don’t get bogged down with an elongated to-do list that seems never ending during the month of December.  Instead, take a little time out to use your hands with your children to make adorable crafts that will not only develop stronger skills in both the right and left sides of the brain, but help build a stronger foundation between each other.  Projects are numerous and can be created easily and inexpensively requiring only one necessity, your imagination!  If you wouldn’t call yourself especially gifted in this department, there is no need to worry.  Here is an idea that uses few supplies, uncomplicated to construct and most critically FUN for everyone, a Christmas snow globe!  Follow these steps and you will be well on your way towards a success Christmas craft.

Snow globes are very popular within the arts this time of year because let’s face it- it’s cold outside!  These spherical wonders are a fantastic option because you simply need colored paper, glue and a few white cotton balls for the materials.  Begin by cutting out a circle and a base as shown below.

                                                                                 

  GlobeCircle_copy                                    snow_globe_craft

 Light blue construction paper works best to represent the glass ball but other colors that will work are white and black.  The base can either be darker in shade or leave it up to your kid’s to choose their favorite color to put their own signature mark on the project.  Glue the circle to the top of the base hiding a small portion of the bottom arc behind the base as shown below.  

 

 

snow_globe_kids

Once you have this attached, cut out seasonal pictures of your choice and glue them onto the globe, making a lovely winter landscape that can include (but are not mutually exclusive to) snowmen, Christmas trees, wreathes, Santa Claus or any imagery that represents something special for you and your family.  Once the scene has been attached, glue tiny white pom pom balls to represent snowfall.  If you can’t find these to use, take a whole puncher and make your own using white paper.  The shape is the same and can be mounted just as simply. 

suzie_canale Suzie Canale lives in Westwood, MA. An author of four childen's books, Suzie also works part time at the Westwood Public Library and raises her two boys who loves the holidays.

Tags: Childrens Book, Holiday Decor, Christmas, Holiday Memories

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