Sunday, November 14, 2010
History of Luminarias
Holiday luminaries, or luminarias, are sand-filled paper bags with a votive candle or battery-operated tea light set inside. Luminarias line the streets and rooftops in the Southwest United States and throughout Mexico and Latin America during the nine days before Christmas, often through January 6, the Feast of the Three Kings. The lights show the way to the Inn for Mary and Joseph during Las Posadas. Holiday luminarias are also called farolitos, which means little lanterns.
According to the Albuquerque, New Mexico Convention and Visitors' Bureau, "Luminarias have not always been made out of paper bags, the early versions were actually small bonfires of crisscrossed piñon branches which were built in 3-foot-high squares." The bonfires were lit to guide people to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and their difficulty finding lodging when they arrived. Children carry farolitos from house to house, accompanying "Mary" and "Joseph." They knock on doors, sing a song begging for food and shelter, and are turned away. At the last house of the evening, which is designated as La Posada, or the resting place, the children (and adults) are invited inside and served holiday tamales, biscochitos, posole and chili stews.
Holiday luminaries, or farolitos, can be made from small paper bags. Use white bakery bags for the most dramatic effect. The paper allows the glow of the candle inside to show. Colored bags are available in grocery stores, close to the plain brown paper lunch bags in the household products aisle. Fold the top two or three inches of the bag down. If desired, cut a Christmas tree, star, holly leaf or other Christmas shape into the side of the bag. This creates an interesting effect as the candle flickers inside. Fill the bag halfway with sand, then push the candle down into the sand about an inch. The sand keeps the bag from being blown over, and prevents the melting candle wax from accidentally setting the bag on fire.
The festival of Las Posadas originated when Catholic missionaries introduced the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus to the native people of Mexico and and Latin America. Because wood is often scarce in the Southwest, the practice of lighting signal bonfires was not sustainable. When Chinese immigrants brought their beautiful paper lanterns with them, locals began using them instead of lighting bonfires. The lanterns were expensive and the paper to make them was scarce, so people began using plain paper bags instead.
Cities such as Albuquerque, New Mexico have become famous for their holiday luminary displays. Neighborhoods and charities all over the country use the sale of holiday luminaria supplies as a fundraiser, often netting several thousand dollars a season. Displays of holiday luminarias several million dollars from tourism to many Southwest towns. This money is a vital resource for these communities.
Cleanup and Recycling
Unlike jack-o-lanterns at Halloween, there is little cleanup with luminarias. Remove the spent candle, which can sometimes be remelted and molded again. Pour the sand into a covered container with a tight lid to keep cats and other animals from fouling it between seasons. Fold the paper bags and store them if they are in good shape. If they are tattered or scorched they can be shredded and added to your home compost pile..
The Pickled Pepper-Primitive Luminaries
CandleTech-Water Balloon Luminaries
Accentuate "N" Ink-Christmas Glass Block Luminaries
Curbly-Elegant Outdoor Luminaries
Articlesbase-Tin Can Luminary
Oodlekadoodle Primitives-Tin Can Luminarias
Stamping:The Fun Times Guide-Paper Bag Luminaries
eHow.com-Paper Bag Luminaries
How To Make Luminaries from Mason Jars
Christmas luminaries, used to light the way to holiday gatherings, are a popular tradition in the South. Traditionally constructed from a paper bag with a candle inside, luminaries pose the risk of fire if they're not watched carefully and are nearly impossible to use in areas with extreme weather conditions. These Mason jar luminaries reduce the risk of fire and are waterproof.
Instructions.Things You'll Need:
Hologram glass paint
1. Choose pint or quart-size Mason jars that are the same size and style. For the best results, all jars should be the same type of jar.
2. Paint designs on the outside of the Mason jars with hologram glass paint to add sparkle. Trace the outline of a star and fill in completely or dot with the glass paint. Dot fine lines around the jars to make or complete a design.
3. Fill the bottom third of the jars with crushed or cut glass. Create a colorful display by using colored glass to reflect the light, or stick to clear crystals to reflect natural light.
4. Wrap decorative ribbon around the mouths of the Mason jars and tie them into bows. Add luminescent balls or sprigs of evergreens by hot-gluing them in place.
5. Insert the votive candles into glass candle holders. Secure the holders in the luminaries by pushing the base of the holders into the crushed glass.
6. Arrange luminaries along the walkway to light the pathway to your home. Light candles before holiday gatherings to light the way for guests.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Christmas is just around the corner. Homemade gifts are very popular ideas these days and I think I have found an idea you will enjoy now AND for YEARS to come. For packaging a gift, for displaying a collection, or even just for managing clutter, baskets are wonderful!
Even in the beginning, man's eyes were bigger than his common sense. And ever since, we have been finding, accumulating, and storing all sorts of THINGS!
Make baskets out of old newspaper pages. You don't have to be incredibly creative, though a little bit helps. Your children can always pick up your slack in that department. These really can turn out nice! Plan for an hour or so at the kitchen table and you're in business!
First, collect your old newspapers. Sort them into types. My 3 piles were of comics, grocery circulars, and newsprint (by subject - headlines, finance section, etc. can be fun, too). Buy several grade school glue sticks and some medium weight florist's wire and you're ready to go! The florist's wire is not absolutely needed, it just helps a bit when you are manipulating the reeds later.
STEP 1: Make a "reed" out of a 13 1/2- by 22-inch sheet of newspaper. Starting with a long edge, tightly roll the sheet (around an equal length of florist's wire) into a tube. Flatten the tube and use a glue stick to secure the open edge. Assemble seven more reeds.
STEP 2: Lay four of the reeds side by side on a flat surface and weave in the remaining four. Slide the strips together to make the bottom of the basket. Fold the ends of the reeds up to form the side spokes (this is where the wire helps).
STEP 3: Now, cut newspaper sheets into four 11- by 27-inch rectangles. Using the same method as before (preferably with the wire), roll four more reeds. Tape the end of a reed to the base of a spoke. Weave the reed in and out of the spokes, around the basket.
STEP 4: Tuck the end behind a spoke. Weave in the other reeds, one above the other. Fold the tops of the spokes into the basket and tuck them behind a reed.
STEP 5: Use craft paints, lacquer or spray paints to coat the finished basket inside and out, then add decorative items or painted designs.
Once you've made a couple, the sky is the limit on variation!
MAKE A HANDLE
To make a handle, EXTEND one of the reeds on either side of the basket and then when you pull them together ober the top bind them with an extra reed to make a "thicker" spot/handle.
Dip them into liquid starch after they're formed, so they dry stiff or lacquer them after they're painted.
TRY AGAIN FOR DIFFERENT SIZES AND SHAPES
You could even make teeny tiny ones for Christmas ornaments, or smaller gift baskets
Dip autumn leaves in floor wax and then hang to dry (retain color and shape that way). The baskets could be decorated with autumn leaves.
UTILIZE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE NEWSPAPER FOR DIFFERENT BASKETS!
Use the COMICS SECTION for childrens baskets - even alternate comics with newsprint. You could make them out of GROCERY CIRCULARS also for "kitchen-type" gift baskets! Make a billbox for Dad out of the FINANCE SECTION. Just fold your reeds to allow the print to "show" On this latter idea, line the basket with play money.
Make a bubble bath basket by filling your woven creation with a votive candle, a soft washcloth, a bar of herbal soap and a cannister of homemade bath salts. Wrap the whole thing in mesh bag that mom can use to collect bath toys before jumping into the tub.
Make a Snow Man Kit in a basket. Collect charcoal for eyes and a fabric remnant for a scarf. Add a squirt bottle of colored water to "snow paint" with and a extra set of mittens. Add a couple of packets of hot chocolate mix (with marshmallows) and you have it covered!
You get the idea! Happy Basket Making!
Thanks to essortment.com for the instructions!
Friday, September 24, 2010
Things You'll Need:
Bird netting (optional)
Small sharp knife
One teaspoon of bleach
1. Collect the rose hips from the selected plants, preferably after the first frost. You may wish to cover the rose plants with some type of bird netting to keep the birds from eating the selected hips. Rose hips are a natural food for most winter type birds.
2. Cut the hips open with a small sharp knife. The seeds are very hard and will not be damaged by the knife's blade. Work the seeds out of the pods with your fingernail.
3. Place the seeds into a glass jar. Fill the jar approximately half full with water. Add one teaspoon of bleach to the water.
4. Close the jar with a screw type lid. Shake the container well to mix up the seeds and the bleach water solution. Allow the seeds to settle to the bottom of the jar for about ½ hour.
5. Pour off the floating seeds. Keep the seeds that have sunk to the bottom. The sinker seeds will have the best chance at germination. Remove the seeds from the jar and place on the metal tray to dry.
6.Place the dried seeds in the sealed jar and set in the refrigerator for storage and stratification. The seeds will have to remain in the refrigerator for 45 days to 60 days to be fully stratified before planting. Stratification is the process of treating the seeds with cold temperatures before they will germinate.
Tip: Cease deadheading the rose plant prior to the month of September. This will increase the chances of the rose plant in producing hips for replanting.
Rose hips are the cherry-sized red fruits of the rose bush left behind after the bloom has died. Although nearly all rose bushes produce rose hips, the tastiest for eating purposes come from the Rosa rugosa variety. The flavor is described as fruity and spicy, much like the cranberry. Harvest the fruits after the first frost when they become fully-colored, but not overripe. They should yield to gentle pressure but not be soft or wrinkly. Most recipes advise removing the irritating hairy seeds before processing the fruit. When cooking with rose hips, do not use any metal pans or utensils other than stainless steel or risk discoloration of the fruit and loss of its precious vitamin C stores.
If the petals have fallen from your roses, leaving behind small, red hips that look like tiny apples, don't let the hips go to waste. Rose hips aren't difficult to preserve by drying and they are full of vitamin C. The dried hips can be used to make sweet, tangy tea, jam, jelly, syrup and wine. Although not all newer rose bushes have hips, old-fashioned rosa rugosa roses and wild roses will have hips in abundance.
Just after a frost is the best time to gather rose hips. Snap off the tails as you pick,or later when you reach home. Spread the hips out on a clean surface and allow to dry partially. When the skins begin to feel dried and shriveled, split the hips and take out the large seeds -- all of them. If you let the hips dry too much, it will be difficult to remove the seeds. If not dry enough, the inside pulp will be sticky and cling to the seeds. After the seeds are removed, allow the hips to dry completely before storing or they will not keep well. Store in small, sealed plastic bags. These will keep indefinitely in the freezer or for several months in the refrigerator. They are packed with vitamin C and are good to munch on anytime you need extra energy...or a moderately sweet nutlike "candy."