December 31, 2012

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

     For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
     We'll take a cup of kindness yet,  for auld lang syne.

V4.  And there's a hand my trusty friend!  And give us a hand o' thine!
And we'll take a right good-will draught,  for auld lang syne.

     For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
     We'll take a cup of kindness yet,  for auld lang syne.

"Auld Lang Syne" is an old Scottish song that was first written down in the 1700's.  Robert Burns is the person whose transcription got the most attention, so the song is associated with him.  From what I could find, a good translation of the words "auld lang syne" is "times gone by".  

Happy New Year!


December 30, 2012

A Walk Downtown in the Snow

As promised, I went out yesterday early evening, and then a little later when it was dark, to takes some photos of downtown Lititz all decked out for Christmas.   The Moravian people settled in Lititz as early as the mid 1700's.   The Moravian's were a pious people who came to the colonies to escape religious persecution.  This picture is of the Lititz Moravian Church.  

The church steeple has a large Moravian star that just glows when lit at night.

There are many quaint shops on Main Street.  The next three pictures are some of my favorite Christmas storefronts.

The next few photos are of Lititz Springs Park.

Lititz has some lovely old buildings with beautiful architectural features.  I was actually shocked to find that this beautiful stone building only dates back to 1941.

That concludes my tour of downtown Lititz.   I hope you enjoyed taking the walk down Main Street with me!

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December 29, 2012

Christmas Eve in the Country

I realize that this is little late, but I really wanted to share a bit of our Christmas Eve candlelight service.    Our church held the service in an old Lancaster County warehouse.  My friend, Sue, and I did the decorating for the service.  We kept it pretty rustic and simple to fit the space.    It was snowing outside, just adding to the beauty of the evening.  Candlelit luminaries lit the way to the entrance of the building.  Once inside, you were greeted by our pastor and his son playing traditional Christmas carols on trombone and trumpet.  

The little tree is from my front porch and I made the chalkboard using an old wardrobe door that I've had in my garage since summer.  It was transformed with chalkboard paint in the center and Anne Sloan Old White on the frame.  

Star luminaries continued inside and lit the way to the staircase leading to the upstairs space where the service was held.

The main space was really dark and hard to get a good shot, so I'll try to give you a mental image of the space.  Picture rustic original wood floors, exposed brick walls with beautiful arched windows,  exposed wood beams, and wrought iron chandeliers.  When you reached the top of the stairs, the main window in the front of the room featured this beautiful lit star (purchased at Ikea).  It was a stunning focal point in the darkened room.    

We had a table set up at the top of the stairs with a simple burlap tablecloth, covered with traditional red poinsettias and a glass bowl filled with water, cranberries, and floating white star candles.  There were also baskets holding the individual candles for people to pick up for the candlelight service.

The arched windows lined all four brick walls and each window held an iron candlelit lantern surrounded by fresh greens.

The chairs were set in the round with one single candle on a tall pedestal stand in the center - representing, Jesus, the Light of the World.  My favorite part of the service is when all the lights in the room are extinguished and the room is completely dark, except for that single candle.   Then the pastor takes his small candle and lights it, then shares his lit candle with another person to light their candle.  One by one, the light spreads as everyone's candles are lit; representing the church spreading the message of Christ to a dark world.  It was beautiful!  

Once everyone's candles were lit, we stood and sang "Joy to the World" and during the last verse, everyone raised their candles high!  Because I was helping, I was standing in the back of the room wishing at that moment that my camera was nearby, because it was a stunning sight to behold.  But, I knew I didn't want to interrupt the moment to go get my camera.  I hope I've painted a picture for you of this simple Christmas Eve service in the country.   Next year, I'll be prepared with my camera in my hand!

It's snowing here again today and I hope to get some pictures in town to share with you tomorrow!  Have a wonderful Saturday!



December 27, 2012

My Favorite Projects in 2012

2012 was my very first year here in blogland.  It's been so much fun to share my home with you all and it has really jump started some renovations that have been on the back burner for way too long!  Here are some of my favorite projects from this past year!  You can click on the numbered titles to take you to the original post.

10.  Slipcovered Chair

Thanks for your friendship and support in 2012!  I'm so looking forward to 2013 and all that it will bring!



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December 22, 2012

Sand Tarts - A Christmas Memory

I've been wanting to write this post for some time now, but ended up exploring some family history in the process.  I first searched the internet for sand tarts and found that apparently there are three different kinds of cookies that are all called sand tarts, but are very different.  The sand tarts that I am referring to are a very thin, cut out cookie.   From what I have found on the internet, this type of sand tart seems to be most prevalent in Pennsylvania.  

One of my fondest childhood memories is making these delicate cut out cookies with my grandmother and her sisters, Ruth and Mary.  The three ladies would gather for an all day cookie baking extravaganza!  They would make the dough the night before and keep it in the refrigerator.  Then, in small portions, it would be rolled out, as thin as possible, and cut out with cookie cutters.  The sand tarts they made were sprinkled with colored sugar, at least that's how I remember them.  This was in the mid 1970's.  Those ladies would spend the entire day making just these cookies and then store them in large tins on my grandmother's summer porch, as she called it (it was an enclosed porch with windows, but not insulated or heated).  From then until Christmas, I would have these cookies with milk.  There were so many, they never ran out until the Christmas day festivities. 

When my great-aunt Ruth died, I purchased all of her recipes from the auction.  I have searched through these handwritten  recipes many times to find something I remember having as a child.  I have other sand tart recipes, but I believe this is the original one that was used by my grandmother, Mabel, and her sisters, Ruth and Mary.  At the bottom of the recipe is the name, Mrs. Ashman.  I believe this was Mrs. Ida Ashman, born 1865.  She and her husband, Sigal, owned the farm that my grandfather purchased.  My father, Evan, built a home on the same property when he and my mother married and dad worked the farm with my grandfather.  

The farm was known as the Ashman Farm and was built in 1792 by Colonel George Ashman, who fought in the Revolutionary War.  The Ashman's were from England and came to America around the middle of the seventeenth century.  The farm was passed down to Sigal and Ida Ashman at some point.   My grandparents were married in 1914 and my father was born in 1930.  I'm not sure of the exact year that my grandfather purchased the Ashman farm, but I know my father was born in the farmhouse in 1930.   This little bit of history, is all to say that this is a very old recipe!

The original recipe says to brush with a well beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and finely chopped pecans.  I have seen the sand tarts like this a lot here in Lancaster County and this is probably how they were first made.  Also, I think they were originally just cut in simple shapes and later with tin cookie cutters.  I imagine that when colored sugars came along, people began to decorate the cookies with that to look more festive for Christmas.  Here are a few of the tin cookie cutters I have from my grandmother.

Here's a picture of the ladies I made sand tart cookies with when I was young - they all look thrilled to have their picture taken with that creepy Santa!  This picture is probably from the early to mid 1970's and includes my mother and her mother, Vivian Hoffman.  

So, if you want to try these thin cut outs, my best advice is to keep your dough as cold as possible and only use a small amount at a time.  This will make it easier to roll the dough very thin - so it is almost transparent!  And, watch them carefully in the oven.  They bake very quickly because they are so thin.  

Thanks for indulging my little trip down memory lane!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



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December 21, 2012

DIY Silhouette Nativity Templates

I received so many sweet comments about my DIY silhouette nativity, that I thought I would share the templates with you.  Now, you can make your own silhouette nativity scene!

My nativity is larger than the jpeg images I am providing (an overhead projector could be used to make them larger or you could take them to a copy center to be enlarged).  I wanted you to be able to print the images from your own printer.   You will need legal sized paper to print most of them.  You will need to watch the proportions of the characters.  To get some of the images to fit, I needed to make them a bit smaller.  When making your copies, just use your judgement to adjust the sizes as needed. 

Also, I used heavy chip board for my silhouettes.  You could also use poster board.  I used the real silver German glass glitter from Meyer Imports to make my nativity scene sparkle, but you could skip that step if you aren't into sparkle!  

As in my original post, I used birch branches to make the stable.  I used tiny nails at the four major joints and then reinforced those joints by wrapping them with jute twine in an "X" pattern.  Then, I just hot glued additional, smaller birch twigs to the frame to make it a little more rustic.

I have been asked how I made the silhouettes stand up.  First, I laid out four birch branches in front of the stable and staggered them left to right and front to back.  Then I  hot glued each silhouette to the branches where I wanted them placed.  By staggering the branches, you can add depth to the scene (some of the silhouette images are more toward the front and some more in the background).  

Here are the jpeg images.  I hope you will let me know if you decide to make your own silhouette nativity and, of course, send pictures!

 Mary Silhouette

 Joseph Silhouette

 Jesus Manger Silhouette

 Shepherds Silhouette

 Sheet and Star Silhouette

 Donkey Silhouette

 Cow Silhouette

 O Holy Night Banner 1
 O Holy Night Banner 2