Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas at Longwood Gardens

I love going to Longwood Gardens in PA. It is a ginormous (yes that's a word) estate with a conservatory, green houses, restaurant, walking trails, Italian fountain garden, topiary sculpture garden and gobs and gobs of other outdoor gardens.

They do different exhibits according to the season and holiday. During Christmas, naturally they have lights and trees everywhere. This year they focused on gingerbread and old-fashioned wreaths. It was a Dicken's Christmas complete with period-dressed carolers. I hope you enjoy the photos!

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Tour of My Holiday Home

I go a little nuts every holiday, especially for Halloween and Christmas. Here is a peak at my home during Christmastime this year. We aren't having any houseguests over the holiday weekend, so it's low-key this year. (Which means whenever I go all out, it is crazy!)

I skipped the outdoor lights and opted for simple garland and poinsettas.

My living areas are normally decorated in blue, so I tend to use silver with different shades of blue ornaments during Christmas. This garland and wreath are decorated with plain ornaments that I coated with glitter.

I made this mini ornament tree last year using a styrofoam cone, plastic ornaments, tinsel and hot glue.

When I decorate my trr, I like to use floral elements, ball ornaments in various sizes, shades and textures, and lots and lots of lights.

A really easy way to wrap a beautiful present is to start with a plain white box (no wrapping necessary), tie it with shiny ribbon and top it with an ornament or floral pick.

I dressed up these pre-existing pillar candles with glittered floral picks for a quick and easy festive touch.

I love making homemade treats to give as presents. You can find the recipe for this hot cocoa mixon my food blog.

My babysitter received this box of assorted gourmet brownies.

I let my daughters have a tree in their room this year. Their room is pink shabby-chic, so we kept with that theme for the Christmas decor.

I posted the instructions if you would like to make your own DIY Shabby Chic Ornaments.

I repurposed my toddler's old crib railing by using it to display Christmas cards.

I want to give a shout out to all of my blogging friends who have networked with me, supported me, and most importantly have made me laugh through this year. I love and appreciate you guys and hope you all have a very, very, very Merry Christmas!!! I wish you could all stop by so I could feed you with lots of yummy treats and make you watch a million Christmas movies and build a snow fort with me...even though most of you hate snow. ;) 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Hungarian Christmas: Szent Mikulas, Krampusz and Switches to Beat Children With

Budapest, Hungary at Christmastime via

I'm proud to be a 2nd generation Hungarian. My mom is Hungarian with a side of Italian and Romanian. Every year around Christmas, she'd tell me and my sister to put a boot in our windows so she could fill it up with little goodies and candy. I thought it was fun, and who doesn't like extra candy? I don't remember her making it a big deal and trying to make us believe it was Santa leaving the candies, so I didn't really associate it with Christmas all that much. I just knew there was one day a year when she'd remind us to put our boots in the window, and the next morning we'd have candy and small presents in them. 
When I had my own daughters, I wanted to carry on that tradition, so I became more curious about the holiday. Come to find out it's how Hungarians celebrate December 6th-St. Nicholas Day or Mikulas Nap. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day children put a boot in the window andMikulas (Santa) leaves candies, nuts, fruit and a chocolate Santa. Unlike the western Santa who is fat and wears big plush robes, Mikulas has a more slender figure, wears red and white bishop robes, and carries a staff.

Santa brings along an angel to give out presents to good children andKrampusz (a mythical devil-like creature) who punishes the naughty boys and girls. Similar to the western tradition of a lump of coal, naughty children are warned that Krampusz will steal their presents and leave a switch for them to be beaten with. Traditionally a small bunch of golden twigs, representing the Krampusz's switch is put in each boot along with the candies and small toys. I didn't get switches in my boots when I was a child...probably because I was always nice. Well, probably because they don't sell little bunches of golden switches on the streets in America like they do in Hungary during Christmastime.

In Hungary, Krampusz is depicted as a creature with small red horns and a long red tongue. People often dress up as Krampusz to make an appearance with Mikulas, sometimes in scary masks and sometimes in simple devil costumes or devil horns.

However in other parts of Europe, like Austria, Croatia and Slovenia, people dress up as Krampusz with frightening carved masks that have long pointed horns. Some of those countries' traditional Krampusz is depicted wearing a cloth sack or a basket on their backs, with which they can carry naughty children off to hell in. I wonder if that is where the phrase "to Hell in a hand basket" came from. During festivities, men dress up as Krampusz and roam the streets with their switches, frightening children. Nothing says the holidays like some stranger in a freaky-deaky horned mask scaring the shit out of young children!

Well, actually in this next picture it just looks like Halloween in America--an excuse for men to dress up, get drunk and hit on women who are out of their league. I'm definitely seeing a new version Twilight here. I can see it already, a woman falls in love with a Krampusz even though she knows she should stay away, because she has been bad. In turn, the Krampusz has to fight his inate urge to hit her with a switch, so instead he beats animals.

I prefer the version I grew up with--a simple boot in the window filled with candy and small toys from Santa. 

I'll leave you with some vintage postcards and images of Krampusz from various countries in that region. If these don't scare your children into being good, I don't know what will!