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Archive for March, 2010

Fun Sites That Let You “Santa Yourself”


Posted in Christmas
March 30, 2010 by Lisa

Elf Yourself may have popularized the idea of adding your own head to a cartoon character and sending it to all your friends, but they’re not the only game in town. In fact, if you’re tired of being one of Santa’s helpers and want to be the big boss himself, these sites will let you “Santa Yourself.”

santa yourself at dancing santa cardDancingSantaCard.com is a stand-alone site that lets you create a free Santa ecard with your face. The URL of the site is www.dancingsantacard.com, but when you get there, you’ll actually see “Santa Yourself” at the top of the page. Simply upload a photo of yourself (or someone else) to become Santa Claus, and your Santa will dance to the tune of “Jingle Bells” against a snowy blue background while Rudolph peeks out from the side of the card and shakes a bell. They provide an email link, but you’ll need to copy and paste it into your email service to send it.

Santa Profile Pic - Cast 1You can also turn yourself into Santa at JibJab. They have a variety of static holiday cards to which you can add your photo, as well as a number of funny animated greetings in which you can star.

Finally, FunPunch.com is a full ecard site that offers plenty of fun animated cards, including a whole series of “You’re the Star” ecards that allow you to upload a photo and become the center of attention. And they’ve got a great selection of animated Christmas cards that will allow you to Santa yourself.

santa yourself dancing santa cardThey have two cards that allow you to upload a photo of yourself and fly Santa’s sleigh, one that will let you go golfing in Santa gear, another that gets you dancing on a rooftop, and yet another that allows you to dance with some rocking reindeer. You can even find out what it’s like to be Santa getting chased by a dog. This site also makes it easy to share your creations by providing an email service and a link to post your video on Facebook.

Have fun!

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Banbury Tarts – An Old English Christmas Recipe For Today


Posted in Christmas
March 25, 2010 by Lisa

Here’s a great family recipe for the holidays. It’s a recipe for Banbury tarts, which are named for an English town known for fine cakes. These traditional English pastries contain fruit such as raisins and currants. There are many recipes on the Internet for Banbury tarts, and this article includes some variations that you might find on the web.

Banbury Tarts – An Old English Christmas Recipe For Today
By Harriet Hodgson

The recipe for Banbury Tarts goes back centuries. Early recipes contained soaked raisins and sugar. Extra fruit was added to later recipes. My mother-in-law made these tarts every Christmas. She got the recipe from her English grandmother and it has been passed down to succeeding generations.

Centuries ago these mini pies were served at church gatherings and afternoon teas. They are also a thoughtful, labor-intensive gift. When you give these cookies to a family member, friend or neighbor, you are not only giving them a dessert, you are giving them the gift of time. Though they look sturdy, the tarts can break, so pack them in a box or tray for gift giving.

Our family recipe begins with ground fruit that is refrigerated for a week. An old fashioned metal meat grinder was used to chop the fruit. Now, thanks to the invention of the food processor, you can make the filling in minutes. Thanks to crust mixes and refrigerated crusts, you don’t even have to make the pastry. Of course, you always have the option of making your favorite crust from scratch.

There are many recipes for Banbury tarts on the Internet. Some use candied cirtus peel, while others call for dried figs. Butter may also be added to the filling, though this is not an ingredient in our family recipe.

I was surprised to learn that some cooks do not fold the dough circles in half. Instead, they make one-crust, mini pies. The baking temperature varies, too, and you can bake the cookies at 375 degrees for less time.

Remember to wash the grapefruit, orange and lemon before processing them. According to my mother-in-law’s handwritten recipe, pound cake crumbs may be substituted for cracker crumbs. The juice in citrus fruit varies and, if the filling seems dry, add a little ore orange juice. Do not over-fill the tarts or you will have a big clean-up job on your hands. Banbury Tarts smell and taste like the holidays. Here is our historic family recipe.

Ingredients

1/2 pound currants

1 pound raisins (dark or golden)

1 large orange, juice and rind

1 lemon, juice and rind

3 tablespoons cracker crumbs (My mother-in-law used Ritz.)

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 package refrigerated pie crust or frozen puff pastry

Extra sugar (regular or colored holiday sugar)

Method

Cut the fruit into small pieces. Place in food processor. Add cracker crumbs, sugar, and egg. Pulse until mixture is combined, yet still has texture. Pour into food container and refrigerate for one week. Cut the pie crust into 2 1/2-inch or 3-inch circles. Put a rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle. Fold crust over to make half moons. Crimp the edges with a fork and sprinkle tops with sugar. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is firm and lightly browned.

Copyright 2009 by Harriet Hodgson

http://www.harriethodgson.com

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for decades. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of Health Care Journalists, and Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from Amazon.

Centering Corporation has published her 26th book, “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life” and a companion journal with 100 writing prompts. Please visit Harriet’s website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

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5 Ideas For A Crepe Paper Christmas


Posted in Christmas
March 24, 2010 by Lisa

This article offers some fun ideas for creating inexpensive Christmas decorations out of crepe paper.

5 Ideas For A Crepe Paper Christmas
By Jane A Morris

How about a Christmas decor that does not cost you an arm and a leg to do your home decor, and any of the parties you will be having, or even some other holiday get together you may be having.

1. The best place to start will be to decorate your Christmas tree:

  • First make some paper flowers that are for the Christmas season such as red roses or small poinsettias and have them ready for decorations. You can find instructions on the Internet in articles and in e-books and videos.
  • You can also make your Angel for the top of the tree out of crepe paper check on the Internet for instructions on making crepe paper angels.
  • Next make some crepe paper bows, these are not hard to make simply make a simple bow and tie as you would with ribbon.
  • Also you can make crepe paper garland to go around your tree. All you need to do to make the garland is to take a length of craft wire and make a loop on each end then wrap it with floral tape which comes in green, white, or brown use the color that goes with the crepe paper flowers that you are going to add to it; these flowers should be small so that they will not over shadow the other flowers etc that you are decorating the tree with, then add your flowers to the garland using your floral tape.
  • If you are using lights on your tree be sure to not cover them with any of your crepe paper designs. Place your lights on the tree first then add your other crepe paper garland, bows, flowers, and your angel top.
  • Before you put any of your crepe paper projects on the tree though if you want a little more sparkle or shine you could sprinkle on some sparkles or add a few sparkling beads and spray with a glossy spray that will make them shine. With the lights this will make your tree sparkle and shine.If you do not want to use the lights on your tree you could just shine a light on the tree itself and it will still sparkle and shine.

2. The second idea is to decorate your home:

  • You can make potted crepe paper poinsettias to use as centerpieces or to decorate your fireplace mantel or other places that you would with a real plant. Make paper flower garlands to show off your stairways or around the doorways of your home, they can be made the same way as the garland that you made for your tree just make the paper flowers a little larger.
  • How about making a crepe paper kissing ball to hang in the doorway of your home. There are instructions on how to make these on the Internet. They are not hard to make all you need to do is to make a bunch of mistletoe leaves and you can use beads for the berries put some leaves and some of the beads together then stick them in a Styrofoam ball continue doing this till you cover the ball then add a ribbon to hang it with and a small bow.

3. The third way is get ready for a dinner party:

  • The main thing is to make a pretty centerpiece for the dinner table. Make a bouquet of beautiful crepe paper Christmas roses or a bouquet of pretty crepe paper amaryllis. You can find the instructions and patterns for these in e-books, on the Internet, or sometimes in your libraries, bookstores, and sometimes you can find videos.
  • Make a pretty paper flower to add to the napkin rings this will make a nice accessory for the table and you could use a small version of the poinsettia.
  • You could also add a pretty small paper flower to the name cards for your guests you can use any type of flower just use a Christmas color.
  • Using decorations for your chair backs is another idea. Just make a large Christmas bow out of crepe paper add a crepe paper flower and you have a very pretty chair for your guests to be seated on.
  • How about making a paper flower ring for the wine glasses this will add a finishing touch to your dining table for the Christmas holidays.

4. What about a Christmas party for the fourth way to use crepe paper?

  • You will need to have a Christmas tree decorated for the center of attention. Use the decorations as above for decorating the tree.
  • Make sure your home is decorated as in the above suggested ideas or use your own Christmas decorating ideas.
  • For the dining table you will probably make a buffet table instead of a sit down meal so all you really will need to do is make a pretty centerpiece of paper flowers for the center of the table and add a Christmas table cover.
  • If you are exchanging gifts instead of adding bows to your packages why not make some crepe paper flowers to adorn the packages this would be something your friends and family can keep as a reminder of your crafty ideas.
  • You may want to make a crepe paper piñata for the younger children and instead of putting candy in it why not put small gifts that are wrapped so they do not know what they are picking up and will have fun checking out what they get.

5. The last idea is to make a Santa suit out of crepe paper for a party game.

  • You will need red and black crepe paper, white cotton, scissors, and a heavy clear tape.
  • Next divide your guests into teams.
  • Have each team pick a Santa and then they will make a Santa suit to fit their Santa out of the materials that they have been given.
  • You should have someone to be the judge of the best costume and the best costume will win the prize for the team.

These are just a few ideas to start your imagination working so that you might come up with even more ideas to use crepe paper for your Christmas holidays.

Jane Morris
For the most and best descriptive book on How to Make Paper flowers since the 1920’s go to: http://www.ourpaperflowers.com

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10 Easy Steps to Help Your Kids Write a Letter to Santa Claus


Posted in Christmas
March 15, 2010 by Lisa

Writing a letter to Santa Claus is a great way for kids to practice spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the basics of writing a letter. This can be both a fun and educational event for parents and children to enjoy together. If your child needs a little help getting started, here are 10 tips for writing a great letter to Santa Claus. You can read these steps to your child or copy and print them out so your child can read the steps while writing.  

1. Get in the Christmas mood. Put on some Christmas music or your favorite holiday shirt so you’ll be ready to think about Santa.

2. Select your paper and writing instrument.. You can use any kind of paper, but if you’d like something special, try the Dear Santa letter template at Christmas Letter Tips.com, the free Santa letter template at Santa’s North Pole Zone.com or the free letter to Santa template at Santa Letter Templates.com. Ask your parents to visit these sites and download these documents for you.

3. Start your letter with a greeting, also known as a salutation. Good ways to start your letter include “Dear Santa” or “Dear Santa Claus.”

4. Let Santa know who’s writing the letter. Of course he knows who you are! But you need to let him know that it’s you that is writing the letter because he gets so many letters every day.

5. Ask Santa how he’s been. Santa only hears from you once a year, so before you start asking about toys, it’s polite to ask how he’s doing or how the reindeer and elves and Mrs. Claus have been.

6. Tell him how good you’ve been this year. Before you ask for toys, you’ll also want to remind Santa Claus of some of the good things you’ve done this year. Have you been nice to your sister or brother? Have you helped your parents by putting all your toys away? Santa already knows these things because he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake, but he likes to be reminded of the reasons you should be on Santa’s Nice List.

7. Politely let him know what toys you’d like. Ok, you’ve asked about his life and told him how good you’ve been, so NOW you can let him know what toys you’d like. Try to keep your list to the two or three things that you want the very, very most. That way he’ll know which gifts to bring.

8. Thank Santa for being so kind and close your letter with your signature. After asking Santa for a few toys, be sure to thank him for his kindness by saying something such as, “Thank you, Santa, for bringing so much joy to kids like me” or “Thanks, Santa, for bringing me toys every year.” Santa loves little kids who are polite. Then end your letter with a closing such as “Sincerely” or “Love” or “Best wishes” and sign your name.

9. Put your letter in an envelope and seal and stamp it. Make sure to lick the envelope so it’s sealed tightly, and then ask your mom or dad for the address.

10. Give the letter to your parents to send. They’ll put it in the mail and make sure it gets to Santa in time for Christmas.

Then wait patiently for your reply! He’s a very busy man, but he always answers all his mail with a Christmas letter from Santa.

Reprinted with permission from How to Write a Letter to Santa Claus by lisadh on Squidoo.

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