Julehjerter ~ Danish Heart Baskets

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My dear grammy Kelly (maiden name of Jorgenson) was of Danish descent.  Apparently in her household growing up, the primary language spoken was Danish.  It’s unfortunate that by the time she got around to being married and raising her own kids, the language had been long tucked away and now lost.  I imagine caring for a husband, five children and a farm did not leave a lot of time to teach the wee ones a second language.

While I’ve always been very proud of my Irish heritage, I’ve recently become quite fond of discovering more about my other roots.  So I’ve been researching Denmark and Danish traditions.

I came across these lovely ornaments today and while I’ve seen them before, I did not realize until today that they are common in Danish households around the holidays

Here is a good tutorial I found on how to make Julehjerter.

http://gingerbreadsnowflakes.com/node/28

TO MAKE PAPER HEARTS YOU WILL NEED:

Wrapping paper or letter weight crafting paper in two colors

Scissors

Ruler

Pencil

Elmer’s or Aleene’s Tacky glue

Select two pieces of paper in contrasting colors. Although white and red is traditional in Norway, I am using colors that will show up better in photographs.

Measure and cut a strip 3″ wide and 9″ long from each piece of paper.

Fold each strip of paper exactly in half crosswise, as shown.

Place a 3″ diameter biscuit cutter on the OPEN end of the folded papers. Use a pencil to trace the outline of the biscuit cutter onto the paper to create a half circle. (Or, you can draw the half-circle freehand.)

Normally, I would draw my lines very lightly, but for this tutorial I am drawing them dark so you can see them! Cut along the curved lines you have drawn. Again, be sure you are cutting the curve on the open end of the paper.

In the steps that follow, you will be dividing each folded piece into three 1″ strips. You’ll be cutting these strips most of the way across each piece, leaving those rounded ends un-cut. To help you gauge how far in to cut your strips, place one piece over the other, as shown. The cut lines you’ll be making in the coming steps should be 3/8″ longer than the point where these two pieces overlap. (When you’ve read the rest of the steps, this should make more sense.)

So, as we just discussed, mark three 1″ strips on each piece of paper, and draw them on the paper. See how these lines begin at the fold and end in the curved edges? Now you are ready to cut! Reminder: The curved edge is on the OPEN end and the lines are drawn from the FOLDED end.

Cut through both layers of paper along the lines you drew, beginning at the fold and cutting toward the curve.

For your first basket, you may want to number the strips as shown above. (Once you have made your first basket, you will not need to number the strips again – it just helps you with learning the process.) Lay the two folded paper pieces in front of you on the work table in the position shown above. (Don’t worry if those numbers are hard to see here – they’ll be clearer in the coming photos.)

Slip strip #1 between the top and bottom layers of strip #4.

Now, slip strip #5 between the top and bottom layers of strip #1.

When you have completed the first two weaving steps, your “heart” will look like this.

Now slip strip #1 in between the two layers of strip #6.

Congratulations! You have completed the first row! And it should look like this!

To weave the second row, begin by slipping strip #4 between the top and bottom layers of strip #2. (See how I had to slide the two halves of the heart into different positions so that I could manuver my second row of weaving in?)

Now slip strip #2 between the top and bottom layers of strip #5.

Slip strip #6 between the layers of strip #2. Your “heart” will now look like this. (And the weaving pattern begins to emerge!)

Now that you have finished weaving the second row, slide the woven strips down toward the curved ends of the heart until they can go no further. This will give you some “wiggle room,” which you’ll need in order to weave the last row. Weaving the last row can be a little “fiddly,” but just go slowly and be patient while you get the feel of it.

Slip strip #3 between the layers of strip #4. You will need to gently bend the strip in order to do this. As you can see, the first two rows of weaving are being held in place by your other hand.

Pull strip #3 through strip #4 and flatten it back out. Your heart will now look like this.

Place strip #5 between the layers of strip #3. Stay with me! You’re almost done!

Finally, slip strip #3 between the layers of strip #6. This is probably the most fiddly step, so it may feel a little awkward. Keep working with it until it falls into place.

TaaaaaaDaaaaaaa! You did it! All the strips are woven together. A couple more little steps and you are done.

Holding the curved tops of each side of the heart, gently pull them outward so that the edges of the heart become nice and even.

Now to add a handle. Cut a strip of paper about 8″ long and between 3/4″ to 1″ wide. Glue each end of this strip to the inside of the woven heart, as shown. If you are thinking of putting little treats inside, then you may want to also tape down each end of the handle on the inside of the basket with some clear tape.

Make a couple more three-strip baskets to get the process down, and then you’re ready to make a four-strip basket, like the one on the right. It is constructed exactly the same way, except that you divide those initial pieces of folded paper into four strips instead of three.

You can make hearts that are smaller or larger by using a copier to enlarge or reduce the template in this tutorial.

Try making heart baskets with patterns and different colors if you wish. Craft stores and scrapbooking outlets have so much to offer as inspiration. (Just be sure to stick to lighter weight papers.) Embellish with whatever your heart desires – from sequins to buttons, to beads….. Fill your baskets with cookies, candy, small gifts, baubles, or even dried flowers.

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And a blessed Winter Solstice to all and to all a good night…

wintersolstice

Celebrate the Winter Solstice With Your Family
by Wendy Priesnitz

The winter solstice provides a great opportunity for our families to share the principles behind our lifestyle and beliefs with others, especially with our children. Solstice celebrations can attune our family to Nature’s cycles, while strengthening bonds within our immediate families. And, if we’re not religious, it can provide us with an alternative celebration to share with extended family and friends who are.

Many of the religious holy days celebrated by people around the world are linked in some way to the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and have ancient roots in pagan celebrations. The term solstice means “sun stands still” and, indeed, this is a time when the sun appears to halt in its apparent journey across the sky. The Roman feast of Saturnalia, honoring the god Saturn, was a week-long feast that included the observance of the winter solstice. Parties took place and houses were decorated with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees, and lamps remained lit to ward off the spirits of darkness. Much visiting took place, along with gift giving, and processions of revelers took to the streets. Pagan Scandinavia celebrated a winter festival called Yule or jul. Many of our Christmas traditions were inherited from these celebrations and you can incorporate them into your own solstice celebrations…along with creating your own personal traditions.

Planning your Celebration

First of all, decide whether your solstice celebration will be focused on the exact time of the solstice, or at twilight, later in the evening or during the day. That, and other details, will, of course, depend upon the ages of the attendees. Then, decide on whether you’ll be outdoors – in a park or your backyard, for instance – or inside your home.

Food is the focal point of many celebrations. You might want to prepare a feast of favorite foods (or have a pot luck), topped off with a cake decorated with a sun. One family we know puts candles on the cake and each family member lights one while making a wish. Then the whole family blows them out together. (For good indoor air quality, use beeswax candles.)

luminariesBecause they symbolize light, candles are important to solstice celebrations. You can decorate outdoors by making luminaries – or candle holders – and spacing them about a foot apart…along the sidewalk to your home, for instance. Place candles inside dollar store glass holders or canning jars, punch decorative patterns in tin cans or use flat-bottomed paper bags. If you use bags, fold over an inch or so of the top to help hold their shape and place a few cups of sand inside to weigh them down. Twist a votive candle into the sand in the middle of each bag and light the candles as dusk falls. (Don’t use indoors!)

Create your own family tradition by gathering in a circle around candles. Each person can light a candle and talk about something they’re grateful for or something they wish for another person in the coming year. Or you could tell or read legends about the winter solstice, or sing appropriate songs. (You might want to record this part of your party for future enjoyment.) You would, of course, adjust the ceremony based on the ages of any children involved.

Feeding our friends in Nature can be a part of a solstice celebration too. You can erect a bird feeder or fill an existing one, or venture into a neighboring forest and create a ceremony around placing seeds or nuts in a place where wild animals will find them. You might want to talk about how this connects us to and makes us grateful for our place in Nature.

Yule wreaths, logs and trees are other familiar aspects of solstice celebrations. Wreaths can represent both the family circle and the cycle of seasons. Making one from natural materials that you collect can be a meaningful and enjoyable family activity. While you work, you can discuss the meaning of the various customs, or each family member can share something they appreciate about each other or about winter.

If you have a fireplace or a space outdoors to light a bonfire, you can gather around it in the dark and tell stories. One ancient tradition has each family member throwing a holly sprig onto the fire to usher out the old year, then saving some of the charred wood to start next year’s Yule log burning.

Since solstice is a celebration of Nature and of light and living, your Yule tree should, ideally, be a living one. It can be growing in your yard or you can purchase one in a pot to plant in the ground later. Each family member should add an ornament that is meaningful to them and many families enjoy limiting the decorations to representations of the sun in honor of the solstice. (Moons and stars are other suitable decorations.)

There is a long-standing tradition of gift giving at solstice. You could have a unique and Nature-themed gift for each person present. Or you could dispense with gifts altogether and just enjoy the companionship.

It’s always good to end by holding hands in a circle focusing on the joys of friendship and family.

http://www.naturallifemagazine.com/0912/celebrate_the_winter_solstice.htm

 

5 Unique Holiday Gift Ideas for the Garden

Solar Shoji Lanterns

Japanese-inspired, energy-efficient outdoor lights!  Gorgeous grouped in an outdoor seating area.

Weather resistant and they have an on/off switch!

http://www.gaiam.com/solar-shoji-lanterns/14-0448_1,default,pd.html?start=15&cgid=1010703

Victorian Manor Bird House

The Victorian Manor with Bracket Bird House is designed for use by a large variety of backyard birds including Finch, Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Wren, Swallow. Decorative bird houses bring an aesthetic quality to any yard or landscape, and are fully functional and intended for outdoor use.

http://www.yardenvy.com/p/Victorian_Manor_Bird_House_with_Bracket_Decorative_Birdhouses–16874–318.htm

Adding a touch of Old World charm inside of your home or on a patio table is simple with the Cara Classica Fountain. Water bubbles out of the top of this Grecian flair and overflows over the front of the bust. This cast stone tabletop fountain is very unique and adds a wonderful water sound to any space. Even placed in an office, The Cara Classica Fountain stands at 19 inches tall, and is small enough to fit just about anywere but its design and beauty is sure to make an impression.

http://www.garden-fountains.com/Detail.bok?no=120

Stone Egg Candle Lanterns

Slotted to illuminate in all directions, these oval stone lanterns open so you can insert a tealight or votive candle (not included), depending on the size. The smaller lantern sits securely on a table or rail, while the larger one provides lighting for a pathway or stairs

http://www.vivaterra.com/garden/garden-accents/stone-egg-candle-lantern.html

Sundew ColorSpree Indoor / Outdoor Rug

100% polypropylene for extra durability.

http://www.companyc.com/handmade-area-rugs/sundew-red-colorspree-rug/18989.htm

Bacon Wrapped Feta & Almond Date Appetizers

Ingredients

16 large dates
2 oz. Mild Feta Cheese
32 PLANTERS FLAVOR GROVE Skinless Almonds Sea Salt & Olive Oil
8 slices bacon, cut in half
Directions

  1. Cut slit in long side of each date, being careful to not cut completely through date. Remove and discard pits. Cut cheese into 16 (1×1/4-inch) sticks. Stuff each date with cheese and 2 nuts.
  2. Wrap 1 bacon piece around each date, completely enclosing cheese. Place on rack of broiler pan.
  3. Bake 14 to 15 min. or until bacon is crisp, turning after 8 min. Cool 5 min; transfer to plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.