Home Sweet Home Magazine - December 2021

D E C EMB E R 2 0 2 1

Picture Perfect Make Your Memorable Moments Pop Page 8

Holidays at Home

#HomeGoals Plan Out Your 2022 Upgrades Page 4

Baking Essentials… Page 12 Global Traditions...Page 17 Gifts from the Heart…Page 20

AgentName@Domain.com 123 456 7890 AgentName.HomeMag.me

courtesy of: Agent Name

Dear Homeowners,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know how much I value your friendship and appreciate your continued support of my real estate business.

Please consider this magazine a small thank you for continuing to refer me to your friends and family members. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without you.

As we head into 2022, I want you to know that I’m available for all of your real estate needs, whether you’re looking to sell in the new year or you just need some home improvement advice.

In this issue of Home Sweet Home, you’ll find a guide to planning out your 2022 home upgrades, plus tips on how to hang photos and art in your home. Discover which tools you need to become the ultimate seasonal baker, learn how you can put a global spin on your holiday traditions and try out some creative ideas for DIY gift giving.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful and safe holiday season. I look forward to staying in touch in the new year!

Best wishes,

Agent Name ABC Brokerage 123 456 7890 AgentName@Domain.com AgentName.HomeMag.me 51 Pine Street Atlantic Beach, FL 32233


Table of


PlanYour 2022 Home Improvement Goals Home ownership often feels like a never- ending cycle of upkeep and Pinterest-worthy aspirations. As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to create a schedule for conquering your home improvement goals in 2022.


Make YourHome Picture Perfect Our homes are an extension of who we are. The images and other artwork you choose to display in your home are visual evidence of what inspires you, as well as the people, places and shared memories you hold dear.


Essentials Every Baker Needs for a Delicious Holiday Season Maybe it’s the colder weather or the abundance of holiday spirit, but winter seems to bring out the inner baker in all of us. With a bit of pep work, your kitchen can become the ultimate space to explore your culinary creativity.


WinterWonderlands: Exploring Other Holiday Traditions In our increasingly global society, it’s easier than ever to learn about different cultures and traditions. So why not add a fun and educational twist to your holiday celebrations?


DIY Holiday Gifts Your Loved Ones Will Love


Gift giving is truly an art. Typically, gifts that leave a lasting impression are those that come from the heart. Why not make this the year you get back to the basics?


Home Improvement Projects Plan Your 2022

Budget There are many factors that go into creating a successful task plan. Obviously, your budget is a big one. Do some research and get bids early in the year so you have a realistic budget to work with.

Every homeowner has an ongoing list of things they need or want to do around their house, regardless of the age or condition of their home. If you’re ready to start checking off boxes on your list in 2022, develop a plan to conquer your home improvement goals.

Home ownership often feels like a never-ending cycle of upkeep and Pinterest-worthy aspirations. Sometimes, tackling your to-do list requires little more than a can of WD-40, while other times, home maintenance can mean ripping up your lawn or completely gutting your kitchen.


an aging parent to move in several years down the road or anticipating renting your home while you travel after retirement may also guide your decisions this year.

you’ll want to begin in the spring when you can tackle weeds and eliminate grass. It’s also a good time to level the ground while it’s soft from the spring thaw. Haul and spread sand before the hot weather rolls, as well. If you wait until the first swimmable days, it could be weeks, or even next season, before your pool is ready for use. Schedule contract work early. Most companies who work in the home improvement industry have overloaded calendars during the summer. If your project needs to be handled during the high season, you’ll want to get on the calendar early. Make the calls in January or February and get your bids lined up. It can often take a few weeks to make the initial decision about what contractors you’ll use. Also talk to your contractor about material availability. With every industry still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be surprised by how long it takes to get some materials, appliances or specialty tools.

Consulting online resources can give you a general idea of what to expect, but local bids andmaterial costs will give you the most accurate estimation. Budget one project at a time, and use a line-item analysis to help break the task into smaller parts. For example, a kitchen remodel will need line items for cabinets, flooring, electrical, plumbing, light fixtures, appliances, tile, countertops and paint. Those costs will vary depending on whether you’re hiring out for the entire job, handling part of the work yourself or tackling the entire project DIY style.

Timelines Large projects like a kitchen

renovation or garage conversion become muchmore manageable when you break up the work into seasonal goals. Consider which parts of the project can be completed during which seasons and how your work will affect the livability of that part of your home.

Plan a Season Ahead

Short and Long-term Goals

Plan one season ahead whenever possible.

Life events and long-termplanning are another key consideration when it comes to mapping out what projects you’ll tackle throughout the year. For example, if you plan to put your house on the market at the beginning of summer, prioritize the items on your list that will help you achieve that goal. Other short-term goals such as hosting a wedding or preparing for a child to move back home will also affect your timeline. Long-termgoals, such as maintaining the home for resale 10 years into the future, planning for

For example, if you plan to set up an above-ground pool,


new windows, new plumbing or electrical work and even a new water heater. If you hire a professional, they will handle this portion of the job for you, but if you’re doing the project yourself, find out what permits you’ll need well before the work begins. Of course, urgent unforeseen issues are bound to pop up throughout the year, so planning a season ahead won’t always work out. But taking preemptive action may keep you from having to deal with crises like your AC failing in the heat of summer or your water heater breaking down in the winter. Keep your maintenance schedule in mind as you create your goal list for the year.

Doing remodels in the winter can save you money when plumbers, electricians, painters, brick masons and builders are typically handling less work. Similarly, tackling house painting in the early spring or late fall, building a pergola in October and installing fencing in March can all be budget-friendly off- season choices. Material costs also vary throughout the year, which could save you some money if you find a deal on end-of-season styles.

If you’re tackling the project yourself, check into the supply chain well ahead of your project date rather than assuming the supplies you’ll need are readily available at the local home improvement store. Also take into account any permits and inspections you’ll need. Your local governmental building department can provide information on whether you need a permit and what that process looks like. Some permits are handed out on the spot, while others require you to schedule an inspection before you can proceed. Larger projects often require several inspections and approvals, which can cause delays during builds and remodels. You may also be surprised at the number of projects that actually require a permit. Regulations vary widely from area to area, but you’ll typically need a permit to install a fence,

Break Down Your List by Season

Location and climate will impact your plans. What works in one area may not work in another. Similarly, an unusual weather year can force you to push out projects, or may give you the opportunity to get an early start. There isn’t one perfect season for each task, but here are some guidelines to consider. Winter Depending on where you live, winter can bring many home improvement projects to a screeching halt. In other areas, such as the South or in tropical locations, it may be the perfect time to tackle outdoor projects while the weather is mild.

Save Money Off-Season

Simply put, it will likely cost you more to have work done during the busy summer months.


the summer heat sets in. Put the following projects on your list for the season: ▶ ▶ Irrigation systems. Work the ground after the thaw and before the summer drought. Working a season ahead will ensure the system is in place when you need it during the summer. ▶ ▶ Exterior painting in dry/mild climates. This might be a multi- stage process beginning with replacing rotten window trim or completely replacing portions of siding, so get a jump on it before painting weather arrives. ▶ ▶ Build garden boxes and plant a garden. This is typically the time to get those summer veggies in the ground. ▶ ▶ Gutter replacements ▶ ▶ Fencing. If the ground is not still frozen, spring is a great time to begin a fencing project. ▶ ▶ Home addition. Depending on the size of the project, you’re probably looking at several months of work here, so start as early as the weather allows in the hopes of being done before winter rolls in again. ▶ ▶ Air conditioning. Think ahead and replace units or get them serviced before the industry heats up in summer.

the summer. Inmilder climates, however, it’s the perfect window of time for many projects such as: ▶ ▶ Replacing doors and windows ▶ ▶ Siding ▶ ▶ Building decks, patios and porches ▶ ▶ Tackling the landscaping ▶ ▶ Fencing ▶ ▶ Driveway repairs ▶ ▶ Garage door repairs Fall Some of your spring and summer tasks can roll into fall in areas where the weather stays mild. This might include: ▶ ▶ Exterior painting ▶ ▶ Roofing ▶ ▶ Building sheds

In those areas, plan to: ▶ ▶ Build a deck ▶ ▶ Complete roofing work ▶ ▶ Install hardscaping ▶ ▶ Paint exterior ▶ ▶ Fencing ▶ ▶ Work on outbuildings such as sheds, barns, etc. Typically though, winter is the season for indoor projects. Plan to tackle: ▶ ▶ Painting rooms ▶ ▶ Replacing trim ▶ ▶ Installing new flooring ▶ ▶ Updating electrical wiring, circuit panels and lighting ▶ ▶ Dealing with indoor plumbing

▶ ▶ Replacing appliances. ▶ ▶ Bathroom and kitchen

remodels. Major renovations can take several months, so digging in during the winter will allow you to finish things before moving to outdoor projects as the weather improves. If you plan to complete your room remodel in stages, push your start date out to fall. That way, you’ll avoid living in a torn-up space throughout the summer. Instead, you can tackle the main portions of the project while the weather is still fair and put the finishing tile, paint and flooring touches on as winter rolls around again. Spring In the spring, the weather is perfect for tackling outdoor projects before

▶ ▶ Replacing windows ▶ ▶ Gutter installation or replacement ▶ ▶ Fencing

In climates with early winter weather, fall is the time for cold- weather preparation. ▶ ▶ Furnace replacement ▶ ▶ Water heater repairs and replacement ▶ ▶ Fireplace and woodstove repairs ▶ ▶ Sump pump ▶ ▶ Replacing or installing weather stripping ▶ ▶ Stormdoors and shutters ▶ ▶ Snow fencing

▶ ▶ Replace screens ▶ ▶ Replace siding Summer

If you live in the south, you’ll likely focus on indoor tasks during


Make Your Home Picture Perfect

Choosing the Perfect Placement

Candid shots of memorable family vacations tend to suit

Our homes are an extension of who we are. Beyond displaying our design preferences, they tell the story of our lives. The images and other artwork you choose to display in your home are visual evidence of what inspires you, as well as the people, places and shared memories you hold dear.

informal areas such as your family entertainment room. Professional portraits and fine art paintings often complete the look of a formal dining or living room.

When deciding where to hang paintings or photographs in your home, you should consider the tone and purpose of each room.


2. If you are using artificial light to illuminate a painting or photograph, do not position the light so that it falls directly on the artwork. Artificial lighting can become too hot and cause heat damage. 3. Stay clear of fluorescent lighting. This artificial light source emits powerful ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) that is detrimental to paper- based works of all kinds. UV rays are so strong they destroy color at the molecular level by breaking down the chemical bonds. This process is known as photolysis. Have you ever seen yellowed books and photographs that appear brittle and fragile? This is known as photo- oxidation, another form of decomposition caused by exposure to UV rays. The damage caused by ultraviolet radiation is irreversible, so protect your photos and artwork from UV lighting.

The following is a list of lighting options to consider: 1. LED lights are energy efficient, whichmeans they last a long time, and you won’t be tasked with continually changing out bulbs. They are considered a safe option as they emit a very small amount of ultraviolet radiation and heat. LED lights are also versatile, available in a range of warm to cool temperatures. 2. You may consider using halogen lights if you want a cooler tone, but be aware that halogen lights produce a higher degree of heat. To protect your collection, you will want to make sure this type of lighting is placed at a safe distance from all artwork. You may also want to use UV filters as an extra precaution. 3. Incandescent lights have long been a traditional favorite for lighting art because of the warmglow they cast. However, experts advise choosing warm- toned LED lighting instead. This option gives you ambience and efficiency. (LED lights are extremely flexible and can also be set to cool temperatures.) The Correct Height for Hanging There is no one correct height at which a painting should be hung.

Contemplate the furniture and accent pieces already in each room and the room’s overall vibe. A lighthearted watercolor or photograph taken at the beach, for example, might look out of place in a room filled with dark wood trim and low lighting. The mood of the image should match the atmosphere of the room so you come away with a cohesive and effortless look. Of course, there are more practical considerations you must take into account before you strike the first nail. Your First Priority: Protecting Your Artwork While it’s important to hang your art and photographs in well-lit areas, you should also protect them from light that could fade brilliant colors or cause the materials themselves to degrade over time. Experts recommend taking the following precautions to protect your images from damage caused by excessive heat and harsh light sources: 1. To minimize the risk of fading, do not display artwork where it will be exposed to direct sunlight.

Accent Lighting Options

When lighting artwork, your goal should be to illuminate the piece andmake it a focal point. To achieve this, showcase your painting in a safe form of light that is three times brighter than the regular lighting in the room.


staircase photo displays really come down to proper measuring and planning. Here’s a quick guide to perfectly design this well-traveled space to display your favorite family photos or artwork. 1. Measure the height, width and pitch of the stairwell wall. This step is crucial to making sure your display layout is balanced

For example, if you have a series of paintings or

photographs in corresponding sizes that complement each other, you can craft a distinctive display by hanging the

and your artwork hangs at an increasingly descending level that corresponds to the downward slope of the staircase wall.

pieces at different

levels, creating the perception of a line to draw attention to your chosen focal piece. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different configurations! That said, if you are looking to hang something at eye level, the general standard is to hang the piece so that the midpoint is between 57-60 inches from the floor. If your family members tend to be on the shorter side, hang the piece closer to the floor. If your family members are tall or if you live in a home with high, vaulted ceilings, you will want to hang the piece higher. Eyeing a Gorgeous Gallery Wall for Your Staircase? Staircase walls lined with photos are a staple in homes across the country (and appear in nearly every family film). Beautiful

2. Once you have taken

and written down these measurements, sketch an image of the wall for reference. 3. Using painter’s tape, recreate the shape and scale of the wall by doing a mock layout on the floor. 4. Next, layout the frames you intend to use, one at a time, by placing them inside the painter’s tape floor layout. *Be sure to leave 6-10 inches of blank space along the bottom — this ensures you leave enough room for foot traffic up and down the stairs without disturbing the art. 5. Try different configurations until a cohesive look emerges that combines the right assortment of images with the correct balance of frame shapes and negative space. Pay particular attention to the pieces you wish to use as focal points.

6. You may find it helpful to use some empty frames as you design your final layout. This leaves space to add additional photos, artwork and other collectibles down the road. 7. Take a photo of the final layout for reference. 8. Hang each item in its designated spot using a hammer, picture nails and the appropriate hanging hardware based on the weight of the framed piece. 9. When each piece of art is hung in its designated place, apply museum putty (a strong, yet removable adhesive you roll into balls) to the bottom corners of each frame to keep them securely in place.


Miscellaneous Tips ▶ ▶ The right frame can do wonders! Easily recapture the spirit of treasured family photos andmementos by updating your framing choice. You’ll be amazed to see the difference a modernized or different color frame can do to make your memories come alive once more. ▶ ▶ Hang your children’s artwork in groups. Mix smaller pieces with larger works, and use your imagination! You can hang some works in elaborate frames while you leave other works unframed. Take the opportunity

to really showcase the full scope of your youngmaestro’s talent. ▶ ▶ If you have young children, be safe! Choose frames with acrylic rather than glass for your artwork and photography to avoid accidents. ▶ ▶ Add some depth to your display with shadow boxes! Shadow boxes are an excellent way to introduce fiber art into your display. Think heirloom christening gowns or a quilting block. Shadow boxes are also wonderful for creating keepsakes of milestone events such as weddings and graduations.

your hanging nail? Here’s a simple, yet innovative solution: Go to the kitchen and grab a fork! Rather than fumbling to find the nail behind your painting or photograph and leaving fingerprint smudges on your walls in the process, use a fork to guide your way. Hold the fork face down with the handle pointing upward, then hang your piece by placing the middle tines over the nail or screw. Because of its contoured shape, the fork will protrude from the wall slightly, leaving just the right amount of space for you to slide the hanging wire behind the fork up to and over the nail with ease!

▶ ▶ Ready to hang your

masterpiece but struggling to place the picture wire over


Essentials Every Baker Needs for a Successful Holiday Season

Food Processor

work, your kitchen can become the ultimate space to explore your culinary creativity. Here are the essentials every baker needs. Mixer Amixer should be at the top of your list of essential baking tools. KitchenAid is a notable brand for durability and versatility. In truth, it can handle just about anything you throw at it, from tripled cookie recipes to kneading dough. However, even a handmixer can tackle most jobs, so don’t be discouraged by your budget.

There’s something about the winter season that makes people feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And of course, nothing adds to that comfort quite like the smell of your grandma’s famous apple pie baking in the oven. Maybe it’s the colder weather or the abundance of holiday spirit, but winter seems to bring out the inner baker in all of us. Whether you’re preparing croissants for a family meal or rows of sugar cookies for a holiday bake sale, a successful baking endeavor requires more than a trip to the grocery store. With a bit of pep

Perhaps it isn’t essential, but if you’ve ever used a food processor to quickly mince nuts, you’ll understand the draw here. A food processor makes quick work of many tasks, allowing you to move from one recipe to another without delay. Cooling Racks There are few joys in life like walking into the kitchen to stacks of freshly- baked goods cooling on racks (and sneaking one while the chef isn’t


keep all of your shapes organized when you’re not using them. Sifter Most flour comes pre-sifted these days, but since baking is all about precision, a sifter is a must- have for accuracy. A sifter lifts and separates powdered sugar and flour, adding air as a secret weapon to your light and flaky baked goods. Plus, it’s a great tool for dusting donuts and powdering cakes. Knives Every kitchen needs an assortment of basic chef and paring knives. Make sure they’re sharp for easy and safe slicing. Measuring Cups and Spoons Choose from stainless steel, silicone or plastic, but be sure you have a set of both measuring cups and measuring spoons at your disposal for solid and liquid ingredients. Look for a set with markings that are easy to read and won’t wear off over time.

to cooling rack, wooden spoons, a pastry brush and a candy thermometer. A pastry blender is a nice addition, although your fingers are just fine for mixing butter into a pie crust dough or muffin mix. Rolling Pin Wood, marble, silicone or metal — a rolling pin is a baking necessity. Cookie Spritzer If fancy-looking cookies are in your arsenal of holiday treats, a cookie press will be your best friend. With a variety of disks that easily slide in and out, you’ll be pumping out dainty wafers shaped like flowers, trees, words and lucky charms. Cookie Cutters Cookie cutters are a great tool to get kids involved in the baking process. Whether they’re making holiday-themed treats for Santa or apple-shaped cookies for a class treat, your kids will love picking out shapes and decorating them after they bake. Just make sure you come up with a storage system to

looking). Of course, cooling racks are functional, as well, allowing your breads, cakes and cookies to cool with the right amount of air circulation. Bakeware Baking sheets, or cookie sheets, are a must-have for making cookies and breads. Any serious baker will round out their bakeware inventory with bar pans, loaf pans, pie dishes, muffin tins, plus several round, square and rectangular options. If you plan to make a lot of cakes, consider investing in a fluted pan, as well. These come in myriad material options, such as metal, glass, ceramic and silicone. Mixing Bowls Sure, you could use any bowl you have in your cupboard, but mixing bowls are specifically shaped for easy mixing and often provide extra convenience features such as a thumb hole for easy gripping and a pour spout. Ideally, keep a few different sizes around for wet and dry ingredients. Utensils Gadgets are great, but a few basic utensils are really all you need to cover your essential baking supply needs. The list includes rubber or silicone spatulas for scraping bowls, whisks, metal spatulas for moving cookies from sheet


Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mat If you haven’t yet discovered the benefits of parchment paper, add it to your grocery list. It’s the perfect tool for lining trays when you’re making cookies and breads. The goodies won’t stick, the paper won’t burn, and cleanup is a breeze. For a reusable option, pick up a silicone baking mat instead. Silpat is a recognizable brand. Saucepan You’ll need a heavy-bottom saucepan for melting caramel, butter and chocolate. Linens Since cleanup is an unavoidable part of baking, stock up on your favorite style of kitchen towels, washcloths, hot pads and aprons. Recipe Database In the modern era of the internet, it’s easy to find recipes for just about anything, but any seasoned baker will tell you that not all recipes are created equal. There’s always that one perfect version of almond roca, mom’s rhubarb pie or fifth-generation fudge, and keeping track of your go-to recipes can keep you from frantically Googling and scrolling through reviews in the future.

1. Create Online Files If your primary organizational method has moved online, be sure to organize your files so you can easily find what you’re looking for. One folder labeled “Baking” isn’t going to suffice. Instead, create sub-folders for muffins, tarts, breads and danishes. You may need to break them down even further, such as separating breads into dinner loaf bread, rolls, sourdough, etc. From there, just make sure you always put recipes in their correct folder and label them with a recognizable name. 2. Notebook If you prefer to work from a printed recipe, a three-ring binder is a great way to keep recipes at your fingertips in an organized way. Punch holes along the side of recipes ripped frommagazines, printed from the internet, or photocopied from a friend. Even better, slide each recipe into a

plastic sleeve made for three-ring binders. Use divider tabs to label each section. On the outside of the binder, use a label-making machine to list the categories inside. 3. Recipe Box It’s old school, but effective. Besides, a recipe box allows you to preserve great-grandma’s banana bread recipe she penned by hand. Use recipe box dividers to stay organized, laminate or put recipe cards into a protective sleeve, and make sure to return cards to the proper box promptly after use. 4. Pictures Another way to preserve your favorite recipes is to take pictures of them. Grab your cellphone, and collect photos of 3x5 cards, magazine articles and your mom’s scribbled notes. That way, you can recreate the recipes if something happens to the original versions.


▶ ▶ ½ teaspoon vanilla ▶ ▶ 1 egg ▶ ▶ 36 chocolate kisses or other candy 1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. 2. Beat the butter until fluffy. Then add peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Beat two minutes. 3. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix to combine. 4. Add in dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together. 5. Roll into one-inch balls and

An Organized Kitchen While there is something to the argument that creativity is born from chaos, an organized kitchen will save you time and money, allowing you to focus on the fun part of baking rather than hunting down supplies. Canisters Rely on canisters to store your flour, sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar. This will keep them dry and protected from critters. Totes Gather your specialty baking goods, such as cookie cutters, spritzer and candy thermometer— those things you only use while you’re baking. Keep them together in an easy-to-locate tote. If you have an array of specialty tools for things like cake decorating, break the organization down into smaller totes. Spices It’s never fun to dig through the spice cupboard in search of nutmeg or cloves. Keep your spices in clearly-labeled jars. Line them on a shelf, put them on a spice rack or place them in a basket in the pantry.

a baking station by placing measuring cups and spoons in a drawer near the mixer. Clear a cupboard in the same area for baking pans, as well. Try to keep everything within reach for easy access.

Recipes Peanut Butter Delights

These are a favorite across the country, with the quintessential combination of chocolate and peanut butter. ▶ ▶ 1 ¼ cup flour ▶ ▶ ¾ teaspoon baking soda ▶ ▶ ¼ teaspoon salt ▶ ▶ ½ cup room temperature butter ▶ ▶ ½ cup peanut butter ▶ ▶ ½ cup granulated sugar ▶ ▶ ½ cup brown sugar

bake on a sheet pan in a 375-degree oven for 8-10

minutes, just until the edges are golden brown. Press a Kiss into the middle of each cookie while they’re still hot.

Also think about where you place items in your kitchen. Create


Ginger Crinkle/ Molasses Cookie Whatever you call them, these cookies are soft, sweet and delicious. ▶ ▶ 2 cups flour ▶ ▶ 2 teaspoons baking soda ▶ ▶ 1 teaspoon cinnamon ▶ ▶ 1 teaspoon ginger ▶ ▶ ¼ teaspoon salt ▶ ▶ 1 cup sugar ▶ ▶ ⅔ cup oil ▶ ▶ 1 egg ▶ ▶ ¼ cup warmedmolasses 1. Combine the flour, baking soda and spices in a bowl. 2. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and oil. 3. Add the egg and mix. Then drizzle in molasses while continuing to mix. 4. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until combined. 5. Roll the dough into one- inch balls and roll the top

in granulated sugar before baking. 6. Bake for 12-15 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil without stirring until the mixture resembles a light caramel color. 9. Lower the heat to simmer and carefully add the cream mixture. Stir constantly until the mixture reaches 250 degrees, otherwise known as firm ball stage on a candy thermometer. 10. Pour the mixture in an 8x8- inch baking pan lined with parchment paper. Wait half an hour for it to set slightly, and add a sprinkle of sea salt to the top. Allow to completely cool for a few hours. 11. Remove the entire sheet by lifting the parchment paper out of the pan. Cut into strips or squares, and wrap each piece in wax paper, twisting the ends and adding ribbons if you desire.

Sea Salt Caramels If you want to expand your list of sweet confections, try out candy making. These sea salt caramels are easier than you think and make great gifts. ▶ ▶ 1 cup heavy whipping cream ▶ ▶ 5 tablespoons butter ▶ ▶ 1 teaspoon sea salt ▶ ▶ 1 ½ cups granulated sugar ▶ ▶ ¼ cup light corn syrup ▶ ▶ ¼ cup water 7. In a heavy saucepan, combine heavy cream, butter, and salt. Bring it to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside. 8. In another large saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Monitor on high heat


Winter Wonderlands Exploring Other Holiday Traditions

presumably one evening — burning for eight whole

cake); beef brisket or roasted chicken as the main course; matzo ball soup; and challah bread. For desserts, take your pick from gold-wrapped coins known as gelt; jelly-filled doughnuts; and rugelach, a sweet, filled pastry. ▶ ▶ Decorations The most famous symbol of Hanukkah is the menorah, which holds eight candles or lights to celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah. Blue and white decorations of all kinds are common, with the colors representing the Zion flag and symbolizing the principles of faith, wisdom and truth.

In our increasingly global society, it’s easier than ever to learn about different cultures and traditions. So why not add a fun and educational twist to your holiday celebrations? We’ve listed several lesser known holidays and traditions to explore this year, as well as foods and decorations to make them fun. Happy Holidays! Hanukkah (Late November into December) Often called the Festival of Lights, this Jewish celebration commemorates a very small amount of oil — enough for

nights. Though some texts and historians differ on the exact story details about Hanukkah — also called Chanukah – the customs surrounding this festival typically include food, lights, special decorative items and gifts. Celebrated in either late November or December (often in tandem with Christmas but not always) the Festival of Lights is a great way to introduce new foods and traditions to your family. ▶ ▶ Foods to Try For a dinner spread of traditional Hanukkah foods, prepare a meal of potato latkes (which are a kind of potato


▶ ▶ Other Fun Many families indulge in small gifts on the eight nights of Hanukkah, particularly for the children of the household, with some families choosing to bestow bigger gifts on the eighth night. St. Nicholas Day (December 6) If the kids are driving you bananas in anticipation of Christmas, why not introduce them to St. Nick’s Day on December 6? Also called the Feast of Saint Nicholas, this celebration is sometimes celebrated on December 19 in countries that use an older Christian calendar. Saint Nicholas serves as the inspiration for our modern Santa Claus and is remembered as a devout Christian who sold his belongings so he could donate funds to those less fortunate. ▶ ▶ Foods to Try Foods associated with St. Nicholas Day include spicy gingerbread cookies, punch and chestnuts served with salt and butter — all old-fashioned holiday foods we’ve heard about in songs and stories and all easy to revisit!

▶ ▶ Decorations For decor, try setting out some

▶ ▶ Decorations

Christmas and winter solstice share a lot of the same decorations, but you can add a special nod to the solstice by making “light holders” such as lanterns, wreaths for candles and candle holders. ▶ ▶ Other Fun Spend the evening outdoors on this dark night, and celebrate with plenty of lanterns and lights or even a bonfire. Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1) First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa is an African American cultural celebration that lasts the last seven days of the year. Initiated by a college professor from

alternative depictions of St. Nick himself (other than the commercial Santa Claus). Advent wreaths are also popular.

▶ ▶ Other Fun

Many families celebrating St. Nicholas Day will allow children to put out their shoes and/or their stockings in anticipation of small gifts, provided they’ve been good!

Winter Solstice (December 21) There are many different ways to celebrate the winter solstice, also known as the shortest day of the year or the first day of winter for the Northern hemisphere. Some common ways to celebrate are already familiar to us — festive outdoor lighting, burning candles and burning logs in the fireplace, for example. ▶ ▶ Foods to try Traditionally, solstice foods celebrate the earth and its bounty, so raw foods like fruits and nuts are popular, as well as warm, hearty foods like soups and stews.

▶ ▶ ▶ ▶


Boxing Day (December 26)

means the last day of the month, the “om” in front indicates the big last day – the final day of the entire year, known to most as New Year’s Eve. Omisoka is celebrated by cleansing the body and the home, eating lucky foods and general preparation for an exciting, fortuitous year ahead. ▶ ▶ Foods to Try The Japanese new year calls for tasty items such as seafood, rice and soups. Certain foods have certain meanings for the new year — for example, orange is given to new couples who are hoping to conceive children — so be sure to look up what might represent your hopes for 2022.

Africa, Kwanzaa was Dr. Maulana Karenga’s attempt to form a community among African Americans. Today, Kwanzaa is celebrated with food, candle- lighting ceremonies and acknowledgement of the Seven Principles, a collection of ideals marking the seven days. ▶ ▶ Foods to Try

The day after Christmas, December 26, marks the day to return gifts for many people, but the origin of the day is about giving gifts to the poor. Primarily celebrated in Europe and Canada and also called “Offering Day,” the day after Christmas is still a fine time to celebrate selfless giving. ▶ ▶ Foods to Try Creative ways to use holiday leftovers are the name of the game on Boxing Day – so go ahead and fix those soups and stews and sandwiches! ▶ ▶ Decorations While there are no particular decorations for this day, some families might choose to take decorations down and clean up the Christmas chaos.

For Kwanzaa, indulge in some traditional foods such as jerk seasoned chicken, African creole, cajun catfish, collard greens and gumbo, to name a few.

▶ ▶ Decorations

Red, green and black are the traditional colors of Kwanzaa to keep in mind as you decorate. Try incorporating the seven principles on posters or other decorative art around the house, or light seven candles — bonus points if they are red, green and black! ▶ ▶ Other Fun Families often take the days of Kwanzaa to celebrate not only the seven principles but also think about how to apply them to their own lives. Holding festive feasts, giving thanks, and honoring ancestors are common elements. Gifts are exchanged but are typically handmade rather than store-bought.

▶ ▶ Decorations

Put out your traditional new year’s decor for this celebration — but clean the house from top to bottom first! The “big cleaning” represents wiping the slate for the coming of the year. Pine and bamboo

▶ ▶ Other Fun

Giving is the point of Boxing Day, so go ahead and box up all your unwanted and superfluous items to offer to those less fortunate. Or have a family and friend swap!

wreaths and other plant elements are also used as decorations.

▶ ▶ Other Fun

In some families, adults give the children envelopes with money, along with lessons on how to wisely use it in the future.

Omisoka (December 31)

Omisoka is a Japanese celebration for the last day of the year. Derived from the word “misoka” which


DIY Holiday Gifts Your LovedOnes Will Love

use containers from around the house. Cut-off milk cartons, jars or condensed juice cans are all great options. Melt the wax over low heat, and add coloring and scent, if desired. Then stabilize your wick or wicks. One easy way to do this is to lay a chopstick or pencil across the top of the container. Then wind the wick around the pencil to anchor it in place. Next, pour in the wax and allow it to cool. If you opt for a paper carton, simply peel it away from your finished candle. If you’ve selected a jar as your candle vessel, add a ribbon to finish it off. Etched Glass Create a memorable keepsake in a few easy steps by etching drinkware or vases. Similarly, you can create an ornament or window decor. The key is to use a medium such as Armour Etch, which you can find at any craft store or online. Start with a small container since a little goes a long way. Next, you will need some form of stencil that thoroughly adheres to the glass to avoid the

Gift giving is truly an art. Think about the best gift you’ve ever received, and you’ll likely find it wasn’t extravagant (unless you happened to receive a new car or tropical vacation). Typically, gifts that leave a lasting impression are those that come from the heart. Perhaps it was a craft made by a child, a ceramic piece created by an artist friend or something tasty from a friendly neighbor. Maybe it was a family heirloomhanded down from a prior generation or a handcrafted piece of furniture made by a talented family member. Regardless of which holidays your family celebrates, when it comes to gift giving, make this the year you get back to the basics with gifts made with love. Candles Candles are a timeless gift and are a fun way to express your creativity. Start with a quality wax. Beeswax or soy are preferred. Next, choose a mold. You can buy molds or simply

etching cream seeping underneath. This can be done with a Silhouette or CriCut machine, or you can create your own design using shelf liner and an exacto knife. Similarly, stickers will work. Adhere your stencil of choice where you want it on the glass, pressing firmly with a focus on the inside edges. Practice safety by wearing a mask and using gloves. The etching cream can be an irritant to the lungs and the skin. Then, using a brush, apply a generous amount of etching cream to the stencil. Dab it on, allowing it to form a blob. More is more for this job. Just make sure it doesn’t run off the sides of your stencil or you will unintentionally etch other parts of the glass. The etching cream states it only needs to sit for a fewminutes, but we’ve found better results by allowing it to sit on the glass for around 15 minutes. When the time is up, simply rinse off the etching cream, dab the glass dry, and remove the stencil. Hand wash your project for the best results.


Remote Holder The best gifts are both useful and visually appealing. With ubiquitous remotes for AC units, stereos, receivers, TVs and the Rumba cluttering the coffee table, build a wooden remote holder to keep them all in one place. To build, cut two matching not- quite-perfect triangular sides that angle from 6-10” at the top down to 3” at the bottom. Create matching- height pieces to connect the two sides at the back and the front. Your finished product will be taller in the back and shorter in the front and should be about four inches wide. Be sure to sand wood pieces for a smooth finish. You may want to explore different joint options such as dado, tongue and groove, or finger for the best strength and look. Create sections for each remote by making several evenly-spaced vertical grooves and then sliding a thin divider into each one. Then add paint or stain, or leave it in natural form. You can use the same techniques to customize holders for craft supplies, tools or office supplies, as well. Coat Rack A coat rack takes many forms, but the fun of this project is creating a unique end product. Start by considering the use. In its basic form, this is just a board with hardware attached to it. But the

“Everything.” An easy way to attach light boards together is using eye and tea cup hooks. The fun part about making signs is choosing your paint colors. For example, if you want hunter green on white, start by painting a base coat of white on the entire board. You can also add paint to the natural wood tone without a base layer. For a rustic look, paint the base color and then hit it with a sander or sandpaper to remove some of the paint. Next, use a hand or machine-made stencil for the script and words of your choice. Freestyle writing is another option if you’re comfortable doing so. Remember you can always sand the paint back off and start over, so don’t stress about making mistakes. If you’re using stencils, make sure they are thoroughly adhered so paint doesn’t seep underneath. Apply a very thin layer of paint, moving from the center of the stencil towards the center of each letter to avoid pressing paint beneath the stencil. Allow the paint to dry between coats. When done, remove the stencil and make touch ups with a small brush. Seal the paint with a topcoat. Finally, apply hardware to the sign. Wind picture wire around eye hooks that are twisted into the top of the sign. Another option is to attach a sawtooth hanger

same technique can create a necklace hanger or scarf rack. You can also personalize your coat rack to fit the theme of a child’s room or an office. Start by calculating your board length based on the number of hooks you want to add. Allow five or more inches between hooks so clothing has room to hang without crowding. Paint, stain, white-wash or stencil the board. Then attach hooks. Have fun with it. There are endless options, including rustic knobs, cabinet handles or DIY hooks formed frommetal. Give a Sign Wording for your sign can be anything you dream up. “Gardener Lives Here” or “Family is Everything” are examples. Emphasize pets, hobbies or love and peace. You choose! Start by selecting wood for your sign. You’ll want your board to be about half an inch thick. Pallet boards provide a rustic look, or you can clean them up and sand them down for a more modern feel. Alternatively, forage through your scrap pile or head to the lumber yard to make a selection. Use a planer or power sander for very rough boards. You may also want to use more than one board for bigger or longer messages. For example, the top board could read, “Family is” with a board attached below reading,


Heat Pad This is a common DIY gift many of us have received and appreciated, so why not share the joy? With some basic sewing skills, these are easy to make. Simply select a fabric safe for the microwave. Flannel is a popular choice. Cut two panels of fabric in the same size. They can be square, round or rectangular. Sew the two panels together while inside out. Then turn the project right-side out and stuff with long-grain rice or other grain. Add essential oils if you choose, and hand stitch the final remaining side. You can make an additional outer bag that is removable for washing if desired. Scrapbook or Photobook Memories always make for an ideal gift. Use your DIY-crafting skills to put together a fun scrapbook for grandma, celebrating a special event, trip or daily life as a mom. Scrapbooking provides a lot of room for creativity and customization. With the newest computer programs, you can even create and print a scrapbook full of memories using software. Sugar Scrubs andBathBombs There are countless recipes online for making your own sugar scrubs, and they make a great pampering

gift for those you love. You can also master the craft of making bath bombs to supplement a spa- themed gift basket.

or create pocket grooves using a pocket hole jig.

Kids’ Handprints are aGift Let the kids help with the gift giving and freeze time with their tiny handprints. Simply sew or purchase a basic, plain apron. Then get out the acrylic paint. Allow each child to press their hands into a tray of paint and stamp their handprint onto the apron. Then allow them to use a finger, fabric pen, or paint brush to write their name below a handprint (if old enough). Another great idea the kids can help with is an easy-to-make stepping stone. For this project, pick up a basic but heavy-duty plastic plant saucer between 12 and 16 inches diameter. Mix up a combination of bagged concrete mix and water, or purchase a premixed option. Pour the concrete into the plant saucer. You’ll want the mixture to set up enough that the handprint will remain in place. Test it every few minutes until a finger impression no longer disappears. Then have your child spread apart their fingers and press their hands into the mix. You can then embellish with flowers, pebbles, colored tile or other decorations for a customized finish. Allow your concrete to thoroughly dry before removing it from the saucer, and your gift is ready!

Infused Oils, Vinegar and Alcohol

Infusing your own oils for cooking or massage is easy and allows you to customize the scent and flavor. The same goes for vinegars with flavors ranging from hot pepper to rosemary to use in dressings, sauces and marinades. Store- bought alcohol can be flavored with foods from your garden or farmer’s market. Try cranberry, peach or lavender-lemon vodka. The process is basically the same for all three bases. Choose a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure it is clean and completely dry. Stuff your herbs or fruit into the jar, then fill it with your choice of oil, vinegar or alcohol. Allow the mixture to steep in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks, checking it every few days. Once it has the flavor you are looking for, strain the mixture and add a cute ribbon, label or gift tag.

Cheers and Happy Gifting!


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