Christmas in July, Final Day

Today is the last day of our Christmas in July extravaganza! Grab your family together and create a new tradition, all while enjoying some festive holiday tunes.

A Book A Day

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Place 24 wrapped books under the Christmas tree. These books can relate to the meaning of the holiday, favorites of your children, or any type of book you would like. Starting December 1 and going through the 24th, unwrap one of the books each night. Have fun and be creative with this exciting tradition!

Favorite Holiday Songs

Add some Christmas music to your holiday with some of my favorites.

1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

2. “O Holy Night”

3. “The Christmas Song”

4. “White Christmas”

5. “Christmas in Dixie”

Until next time, have a fantastic Christmas in July! Seems the perfect time to say “Mele Kalikimaka!”

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The Easter Bonnet

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(Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in Easter Parade.) 

For holidays, in the South, people are dressed to the T. For Easter, many wear their nicest church clothes and of course, an Easter bonnet, but do you know the history of this popular springtime accessory?

There are many different versions of how the Easter bonnet came about. However, after the headpiece was referenced in Irving Berlin’s song ‘Easter Parade’ and the movie, with the same title, this fashion became popular in the mainstream culture. During the Depression, a new bonnet was considered a simple luxury, and followed the age old tradition of buying new clothes for Easter. Trust me, to this day, I still get a new dress and bonnet for the holiday.

Today, the Easter bonnet is mainly worn by women and girls, across the nation, to Easter services and parades.

What does your Easter bonnet look like for this year?

Happy Easter!

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_bonnet 

The Etiquette of “Thank You” Notes

It is an old Southern tradition to write a “thank you” note for, well, just about anything. We write them to thank a person for their hard-work, birthday or Christmas present they gave us, the cake they baked for us, and so on and so on.

You might think it is pretty simple to write a “thank you” note. However, did you know that all notes need to be handwritten, no matter how many you have (trust me, I’ve spent my week writing over 20 for a recent event), and did you know that there is an appropriate amount of time to thank someone, before it’s too late?

Brush up on your “thank you” note etiquette with these five quick steps.

1: Send your thank yous” quickly: two to three weeks after the occasion is perfect timing. Eight weeks is the latest you should send them out.

2: Write your notes on stationary: it is better to use a personalized set and absolutely no notebook or scrap paper.

3: “Thank you very much” should be said only once: be careful not to over thank them.

4: It’s okay to print addresses onto labels to save time; however, if you can hand-write them, the better.

5: The message should be brief and to the point: make sure to point out the reason you are writing the note, the occasion, the gift specifically, and why it’s special and important to you. Never refer to gifts as “money” nor their amounts.

A Country Belle’s 12 Days of Christmas: Day 1

It’s here! It’s time to celebrate and enjoy the Christmas season! For the next 12 days, I will be posting about my favorite Christmas recipes, crafts, traditions, presents, decorations, songs, and movies. (Of course, I will still be keeping y’all updated on the South and country music world.) To kick-off the next 12 days of fun, I thought I’d start with one of my very favorites: The Christmas Jar!

This tradition lets you and your family help those in need, not just during the holidays, but all-year! What you do is, starting on January 1st, place a mason jar in a prominent place in your house. Most of the time, the jar is placed in the kitchen, because everyone goes there. Throughout the year, collect your spare change and throw it into the jar. As Christmas approaches, you and your family can decide on what charity, organization, family, or person will receive your Christmas jar of donations. Then, on Christmas Eve, it’s “Ring and Run” time! You and your family can drop off the donations to the recipient and wish them some holiday cheer!

The Christmas Jar tradition was started with the book Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright. This book tells the story of “a journalist who finds a human interest story that quickly teaches her a lesson about love, forgiveness, and renewing her faith in human kindness.”

Merry Christmas!

For more information about Christmas Jars, visit: http://books.google.com/books/about/Christmas_Jars.html?id=7PaDMgAACAAJ

Gingerbread Nativity Scene

It’s craft time! To go along with today’s theme for Christmas in July, this craft is fun for kids of all ages. So this year why don’t you change this up and make a gingerbread nativity, instead of a traditional gingerbread house! Have fun!

Supplies:

  • Gingerbread Cookie Sheets or Graham Crackers
  • Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting
  • Large Marshmallows
  • Small Marshmallows
  • Large Gumdrops Multicolored
  • Small Gumdrops Multicolored
  • Black Licorice
  • Mini Snickers Candy Bars
  • Mini Tootsie Roll Candies
  • Mini Candy Canes
  • Fruit Roll Ups
  • Toothpicks
  • Frosting Decorator Tip and Tube
  • Flaky Coconut
  • Yellow Food Coloring
  • Plastic Zip-lock Bag
  • Wax Paper

Directions: 

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

½ cup Shortening or Butter 1 Tbls. Cold Water ½ cup cocoa powder 1 and ½ cups powdered sugar Using a hand mixer, mix together shortening and water, gradually add cocoa powder and powdered sugar, mixing with each addition until smooth.

To Tint Coconut Flakes:

Put 2 or 3 drops of yellow food coloring in a small zip lock bag. Put ½ tsp of water into the bag. Add 1 cup of flaked coconut. Seal the bag and shake the coconut around until it is evenly colored.

Use Graham Crackers or Make your own Gingerbread sheets:

If you decide to make your own gingerbread sheets, make them about ¼ inch thick or less. Cut the gingerbread into pieces that are the same size as graham crackers in order for your nativity to come out the same size as ours. Full graham cracker pieces measure: 5 inches long by 2 and ½ inches wide. Half graham cracker pieces measure: 2 and ½ inches long by 1 and ½ inches wide.

For the Decorations: 

Sheep: Use one large marshmallow for the body and 5 pieces of licorice that each measure about ½ inch long. Use a buttered knife to poke openings in the marshmallow for the legs. Hold each hole open with the knife while you push the piece of licorice in. Do the same for the head.

Horse or Donkey: Make the horse on wax paper so it will be easier to move when you are ready. Use a sturdy toothpick for the neck and head connection. Follow the picture directions to make the horse. It helps if the tootsie rolls are at room temperature when pushing the toothpick through. When finished, let the frosting dry or set before trying to move the horse.

Baby Jesus in Manger: Use one square of a graham cracker or a piece of gingerbread cut to measure 2 and ½ inches square. Cut the square into 4 smaller squares. Make sure you put a generous amount of frosting down the center of one square as shown because lots of frosting will help the other 2 squares to stay in their V shaped positions. To make the baby head, cut off the tip of an orange gumdrop and stick it to the top of the small marshmallow.

Nativity Figure: When you cut a small gumdrop in half for the arms, the inside will be sticky enough for them to stick to the body. After you finish assembling the person, use frosting to make hair and beards.

Shepherd: To make a head covering for shepherds, cut a 1 and ½ inch square piece of fruit roll-up. Cut one of the corners off, this will be the edge that surrounds the face of the shepherd. Put some dots of frosting on the head at the top, both sides and on the back. Put the fruit roll-up piece on immediately. Hold in place for a few minutes to secure. You may add dots of frosting on the arms to tack down the head covering there. Cut 1 inch off the bottom of the candy cane.

Stable: Lay wax paper on a cookie sheet or display platter. Follow the first three pictures to assemble the stable. Use plenty of frosting for glue. Let the left and right walls lean against the corners of the back piece for added support. Let the frosting set or dry. Lastly, take two whole graham crackers and stand them up against the back of the stable. Add some frosting as needed to help attach them to the back. Scatter coconut for straw.

Enjoy!