Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year's Eve Traditions We Keep

Ever since I was little my family has been doing a very specific set of things on New Year's Eve. I never thought of them as traditions back then, more like a weird and annoying list of chores my mother made us do. That might have had something to do with the fact that a huge part of the list was household chores because one of her biggest traditions was that the house be eat off the floor clean. 

Because I am always interested in the traditions that others hold, I always ask. Some of the things I have heard are similar to things my own family does and others are just odd and funny. 

Here are a few of the New Year's Eve traditions we keep, and a couple others we have done when traveling or visiting other families. 
  • I mentioned that my mom had us all cleaning, everything in the house had to be clean, extra clean. If there was anything dirty, piled up, stashed etc, it had to be dealt with. Mom always said that if the house was clean for the new year then it would be clean throughout the year. 
  • Everyone had to be wearing new clothes, shoes, jewelry, and be cleaned up and looking spiffy. Apparently doing so meant we would not go without for the year.
  • So that we would not end up broke in the new year, we all had money on us.
  • There had to be food, lots of it. I don't ever remember their being anything exact, but we had a very nice meal and everyone had a chance to pick a dish, their favorite. Like everything else, plenty of food at midnight meant that we would have plenty year round. 
  • Speaking of food related traditions. My family rang in the New Year in St. Peter's for the new millennium. I remember for dinner that night we had lentils and ham because that was what the restaurant was serving its patrons to bring them good luck and fortune in the new year. 
  • Then there are the grapes, 12 of them, but I don't recall that ever having to do with luck. 
  • And finally, the kissing. Everybody had to kiss everybody else because then your love and affection for each other continues. 
In the past I have heard some funny and odd traditions like putting fish scales in your purse or wallet, not allowing any red heads or blondes into the house, pot banging, throwing open the windows, color coded underwear, and burning munecos. 

The one thing that is important to me personally, is that I am ringing in the new year with my family. It doesn't matter if we are celebrating at home or out, as long as we are together. I know this is important to a lot of people, but I also understand that there are those that it really doesn't make a difference to. Sure the party is not wild or crazy, but that's not always important. As luck would have it, my closest friends all feel the same way and celebrate the day at home with their families too so I have never gone a year feeling like I missed out on some great party. 

What are your traditions? Any I didn't mention?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hershey's Cookie Party! Chocolate Fudge Cookie Recipe

When was the last time you went to a cookie exchange? And why does this tradition only happen during the holidays?  Cookies are way too good to only be exchanging during Christmas!

Hershey's knows how important and fun family time can be for everyone, and they totally get that its not just about the exchange, but the getting together to bake, laugh, and eat. This year, The Hershey Company helped me put together a gathering for friends and family so we could bake together!

Hershey's has tons of cookie baking ideas on their website (Check them out here), and we ended up combining them with some of our favorites, like the Bolitas Magica Kisses that were very familiar to Chocolate Fudge Cookies.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smuckers Cinnamon Strawberry Jam Twists

Smuckers jams are my favorites (besides the jam flavors that I experiment with and make myself) and the only brand I can use on buttermilk biscuits. Even though I cook year round, I tend to bake a lot more as soon as fall comes and the mood extends well past the holidays and into late winter. Today, I decided to make something with the jars of jam Smuckers sent me to try out-- Cinnamon Strawberry Jam Twists (a recipe I memorized from a magazine but never turn out as pictured). Fabulous!

What You Need
1 Puff Pastry Sheet
1/4 cup jam
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gift Ideas for the Art and Architecture Buffs

There are a lot of art and architecture buffs on my Christmas shopping list, so I am always looking for fun, useful, and even educational gifts that are art related. Here are a few gift ideas for the art and architecture buff in your life, all of them are from my own list to buy others and myself!

Facade Tea Towels
I bought my first tea towel on my first trip to London. I love tea, but never use a tea towel and didn't want it hanging in the kitchen as a kitchen towel so I turned it into a throw pillow.  Been buying whimsical ones ever since and using them for everything but what they are meant for. Found these Facade Tea Towels a while back and have been stuck on what I would do with them. Any ideas?
Facade Tea Towels, $22,

Modern Art Memory Game
My mom taught me everything I know about art, and not just because we were h

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Antiquing in Illinois: The Shops of Ridgefield

Photo Credit: Shops of Ridgefield
 Ridgefield is and isn't an entirely new area to me, funny how we can go places that we never even knew was a place to be. Now that we moved a little further west, we have explored a little more each season and gone antiquing, shopping, and just visit areas that are entirely new to us. Call me crazy, but this city girl loves small towns too-- plus they are the best places to find vintage anything.

After having seen ads for The Shops at Ridgefield a few times, I talked mom and the girls into an antiquing trip. Without knowing it the girls and I had wandered into the Ridgefield area several years earlier.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Astronauts Falling and Other Random #Space Stuff #NASA

If you didn't already know it by now, I am a total space nerd. Always have been, always will be. There are so many things in life that are undiscovered, untouched, and unknown, but out of all the things that anyone could possible want to learn and know more about, its space that absolutely has me breathless and inspired.  

Today VSL tipped me off about a space video that went up on YouTube about a year ago called, Astronauts Falling on the Moon. You never get to see that part, in all the moon footage I have seen, if there were any they were pretty buried and so spread out that it would be hard to find them. The video brings them all together. Check it out:

And since I am going on about space stuff again, I figured I would add other random Space stuff that I have come across lately or in the past.