The Danish word Hygge cannot be translated to one word in English, but my description would be,’ a cosy and contented feeling of wellbeing one gets when spending quiet time indoors with family and friends.‘
Tea and cake or a nice glass of wine in the evenings, may help to promote hygge. When I think of hygge, I think of a wood fire, sitting with my family and my dogs, perhaps a cup of Royal Ritz Loose-leaf Tea from the Tea Centre or perhaps a glass of Shiraz/Port in the evening.
It might be summer in the North, but here in Australia, we welcome winter and that cosy feeling inside our homes that adds a touch of Danish ‘Hygge,’ with a Danish Spice cake reminiscent of warm drinks by a fire, and a relaxed atmosphere.
A Spice cake might also be a great compliment if you are planning a Christmas in July. Including cloves, cardamon and cinnamon, this recipe is packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, giving the immune system a mild boost.
A growing trend in Australia, a Christmas in July event, capitalises on the mild winters and is the perfect excuse to indulge in hearty Christmas dishes, Puddings and Mulled Wine. Foods that are harder to digest when the mercury passes 30 degress Celsius around December.
Spice Cake Recipe
1/2 litre or 2 American cups Plain flour
3.5 deciliters or 1.5 cups Sugar
1 teaspoon each of ground Cloves and Cardamon
3 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
I/2 tablespoon Baking soda
350 ml or 1.5 cups of Kefir/cultured milk/yoghurt/sourcream
2 dessertspoons of Lingonberry or Cranberry jam
75 g or 2.5 oz Butter
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celcius [180 degrees fan forced], or 390 Fahrenheit [360 fan forced].
Mix kefir and jam well in a bowl, electric whisk is always preferable.
Melt the butter, let cool a tiny bit.
Add melted butter and egg to the kefir and jam mix, mixing gently.
Mix together the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients until combined.
Pour cake mix into a greased Bundt tin or cake tin of your choice.
Bake for around 30-40 minutes. [Precise baking time will depend on the size of your dish, and on your oven. You know your oven best!]
Tips for measurement conversions:
1 cup = 8 fl oz = 2.4 dl = 24 cl = 240 ml
1 cup = 10 fl oz = 2.8 dl = 280 ml
dl – 1 deciliter = 6 (scant) tablespoons
Two more Spice cake recipes containing immuno-boosting cinnamon, cloves and cardamon can be found on this post at The Home by the Sea.
Ever tried to find a perfect Christmas or Birthday gift to span across various age groups. A gift to give a family of young and old? An educational and learning gift that challenges the mind and engages the receiver for more than 10 minutes?
Books are great but not everyone likes reading, or the same genre. Then there is edible gifts but choosing an appropriate food means you now have to factor in gluten free, dairy free, lactose free and vegan options. Too many families have food intolerances that must be considered. It is too hard.
Enter the 1000 piece Jigsaw Puzzle from Shannxi Toy Manufacturer.
Puzzles are excellent toys for fostering the development of logical thinking and intelligence. Puzzles are not only educational, but essential in children’s intellectual development as they promote spatial awareness and understanding of shape relationships. These three dimensional skills are especially important in creative pursuits, design or engineering careers.
Shannxi 1000 Piece Balloon Puzzle
I was kindly gifted a wonderful Jigsaw puzzle from Toy Manufacturer Shannxi Classical Trade Co. Their jigsaw puzzles are made of thickened paper, are strong and durable, and suitable for ages 7 – 107 years of age.
The puzzle in a box complete with separators for sorting the various styles of puzzle pieces. It defintiely helps to sort the light blue from the dark blue when it comes to placing sky tones.
As it happens, my neighbour is somewhat of an expert in jigsaw puzzles. At 91 years young, she is fit and sharp minded, something she attributes to her love of completing jigsaw puzzles.
Peg is the authority so here is what she thought of the puzzle:
Review of Shaanxi Hot Air Balloon Puzzle
Border is easy to figure out and complete
Two puzzles in one – the reverse side is printed as another puzzle
Template Mat included, is a great reference tool and can be used as a sorting mat
The puzzle is a lot of fun
Reverse side gives a clue for difficult areas of similar color
Puzzle box has separators to categorize and sort pieces – very useful and a great idea
Design will please most adults
Fosters patience and hand dexterity and great for those prone to arthritis in the hands
Puzzle can be completed by doing one section at a times due to dual printing on both sides
Constructed using high quality wood and paper pieces
The blue sky was tricky and required perseverance to complete
The pieces were hard to retrieve once inserted in the puzzle. ie. if they are inserted in the wrong place and are changed. A small piece broke off from the printed underside of the puzzle piece when it was switched around.
The design could have benefited from some smaller balloons in the distance for higher visual interest.
I am very happy to recommend this product for children and adults.
The puzzle is challenging enough to engage and adult and child for many hours.
It has the therapeutic advantage of being great practice for fine motor dexterity and hand control.
It is educational in the sense that it uses the mind to compute shapes and spatial relationships.
Delivery was timely and email communication with the company was without problem.
Shaanxi also have fully customized options and 3 D puzzles for your enjoyment.
If you are interested in purchasing a Jigsaw puzzle for Christmas or that special gift, Jason and the team will be happy to assist you with various delivery options to meet your personal needs.
Shaanxi Classical Grain Trade Co. +86 15829369901
We chat: +86 15829369901
*I received no monetary incentive for this review.
Over at the Cove, Cyranny has thrown out a Christmas challenge.
As Friendly Friday is in recess till the end of January, time permits my joining this fun challenge. As it is now the 15th January, I mean December, (thanks Sandy), I have some catching up to do. Here is 15 days of postings.
Crafting time and a fun way to recycle paint strips into a personalised Christmas card.
If you wish to try out this DIY, the Christmas trees don’t have to be shades of green; red; pink; purple and grey paint strips would look great with a coloured or white card.
I have to admit I am stumped for Day 7: holiday movies. It is not a tradition here to watch television at Christmas or to watch a particular movie or show. Australian traditions are all outdoorsy things – hey, it is summer here at Christmas!
Think barbeques, pool parties, trips to the beach, so who has time for movies?
But everyone has times for gifts at Chrsitmas.
Join in with the Christmas challenge and get in the festive spirit at Cyranny’s Cove.
Origins of the Traditional Christmas Colours of Red and Green
In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn’t read. The ‘Paradise Tree’ in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.
These photos are taken in Japan in 2019, during the Crimson leaves season. The final two photographs are taken with #No filter.
The Friendly Friday Challenge team will be enjoying a well earned break, from weekly Friendly Friday posts, over the festive period. The challenge will resume in the New Year on Friday 29th January, 2021.
Friendly Friday Challenge in 2021
Your Friendly Friday Hosts Sandy and myself, (Amanda) will post a new format for Friendly Friday, going forward in 2021. One that we hope will encourage and support those wonderful bloggers who have been posting Friendly Friday posts throughout this, a most difficult year for the world. Of course, we also welcome new participants to the challenge.
Almost every tourist to Copenhagen will visit the Tivoli Gardens, but if you want to experience an authentic Danish Christmas, you have to be around on December 24, as that is when the Danes and many Scandinavians, and indeed Europeans, celebrate Christmas. Danes might stay at home making and preparing marzipan Christmas sweets, and in the evening, celebrate Christmas with a hearty meal with family or friends, before dancing around the Christmas tree singing carols, (in danish of course), and finish the night playing Christmas games. It is all about creating Christmas Hygge!
The focus in Norway at Christmas, or Jul, is on food and lots of it. From the Rice porridge, or Rommegrot to seven types of Christmas biscuits or cookies, the Norwegian are into it. Trolls, Nisse and all.
Germany and Europe
Over in Deutscheland, and many parts of Europe, you might attend a Christmas market. It is almost compulsory and who wouldn’t want to, when there is delicous Christmas food, a festive atmosphere and Gluhwein in the offering.
The Swiss have long trumpet like horns that are played in the streets at Christmas time. In Lucerne, they also have enormous cow bells which are held in front of them and are rung, in a rhythmic march, whilst parading down the city streets. A very special Swiss Christmas.
Over in Austria, you might meet fairy tale characters in the streets of the Old Towns, such as these in Innsbruck.
However, the vibe is a little different in Austria and southern European areas like Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Austria, who have the tradition of the Krampus. Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos), start celebrating Christmas on Krampusnacht,December 5. That is when Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, roams the streets with his evil accomplice, brandishing a whip and stick to threaten naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year.
Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and walk the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. That’s Austria. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!
Australia, the ones with the kangaroos and Crocodiles, (not Austria), has its own version of fun in the sun at Christmas time, because it is anything but cool, “down under.” Christmas Day, December 25 is often celebrated at teh beach.
Every shopping centres hosts Santa, where he sits posed on his gold throne, surrounded by fake snow, with children atop his knee, listening intently to wishes for Christmas. It is highly confusing for the smarter kids, as they can’t work out how Santa is able to be at every shopping centre at the same time!
Often there is the opportunity for official Santa photos, and now it is popular for beloved pets get involved too. The Schnauzer seemed to enjoy the experience this year.
Down in New Zealand, you will most likely have a Christmas tree (usually an artificial one), or more than one, if you are as passionate about Christmas as this kiwi.
This Lady of the above house in Wellington loves decorating, makes all her own decorations and has no less than 15 trees in her house. It is always tastefully done, albeit a tad obsessive, but in the nicest possible way! Dianne collects a gold coin donation from visitors and the money raised is donated to charity, so there is method in her madness.
Some of her trees were really creative. She had even created seasonal trees – in tones of Spring, Summer Autumn and well, winter of course.
At the opposite ends of the world, in the far north of Sweden, you might be building a snowman or sliding down a snowy slope on a mattress at Christmastime. Or digging out your car, if the snow is heavy!
In Eastern parts of the world such as Japan, you might not really celebrate Christmas at all and instead, focus on the bigger celebration of New Year. Mind you, the growing tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on December 25, is oddly popular, for some reason. I would most likely starve if I spent Christmas day there.
You may even be someone who dislikes the hype around Christmas and prefer not to celebrate and that is okay too. Wherever you are and how ever you choose to see Christmastime, may you find Joy in your day and peace in your heart.
StPA is finally back after a month offline that was largely spent packing up and unpacking box after box of ‘stuff.’ Stuff that I’ve accumulated through the bulk of my adult life that needed to be moved to a new house. Much of the extraneous stuff has been sold, given away or donated to charity, and so it feels like a new chapter and beginning for me and the MOTH, in our new Home by the Sea.
Meanwhile, on returning to work, I was greeted with the launching of a Christmas room decorating challenge which seems to have brought out a competitive streak in all the staff.
From doorways and even ‘Ralph,’ the skeleton, enhanced with tinsel and Christmas gift wrap, to desks and computers decorated with baubles and Admin staff bedecked with reindeer antler headpieces, some decorations were quirky, funny, pretty and yes, over the top too! A bit like the lady I met in New Zealand, whose home was filled with all kinds of Christmas trees in her own passion for Christmas preparations.
It was with this Dianne in mind, that I decided the prompt this week’s Friendly Friday prompt would be:
Your preparations might be packing for a long awaited camping trip, or cooking up a storm of food, or it might be a well earned rest at the beach with a good book or two, (that’s me), or even a walk amongst the Christmas lights or markets with a warming cup of Gluhwein.
Whatever your preparations are, I’d love to see and hear about it here at Friendly Friday. Here is how to join in:
Joining the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge
Write a ‘Friendly Friday-Christmas Preparations,’ post and include a URL link to this post, tagging the post, ‘Friendly Friday.’
Add the Photo Challenge logo, too, if you wish.
Copy the published url into the comments below, so other readers can visit your blog.
Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following their links. It’s fun!
Follow the host blogs to see future FF prompts in 2020.
Remember to post a comment in this post, so we can find you if the pingback doesn’t work.
Friendly Friday 2020
As Christmas is usually a busy time for most of us, I wish to announce that this is the very last Friendly Friday Challenge for 2019, as the challenge will be in recess over Christmas and New Year.
Friendly Friday Challenges WILL begin again from January 31st, 2020, here at Something to Ponder About and the following week we will welcome our new challenge host, Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles. I do hope you will continue to enjoy and post along with us, on Friendly Fridays.
Snow and I have so enjoyed getting to know such a rich and diverse group of fabulous photographers and bloggers. Maybe we should call it Fabulous Friday!
A huge thanks goes to Manja from Manja Mexi Mexcessive for keeping the Friendly Friday Seat warm for the my hosting weeks in the past month and for being a fabulous backup for both Snow and I. Manja has done a magnificient job and I am very lucky to have a great back up host. Her photos are diverse and enthralling and captions legendary.
Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas in your place?
I must admit that I am pretty low key with decorations this year. I think it is something to do with moving overload !! Which leaves more time for relaxing in our steamy summer weather. And also for some Christmas music. My Christmas is always accompanied by the mellow tones of Bing….
Merry Christmas from Amanda at Something to Ponder About
Here are a few snippets of Christmas past spent in various parts of the World. The spirit remains strong and the family connections, despite whatever corner of our globe we live in. May your Christmas be Merry and Bright!
Glædelig jul – Christmas in Denmark
God jul – Christmas in Norway
Frohe Weihnachten! An Austrian, German and Swiss Christmas
And in Australia, we celebrate too even though it is hot and humid…. but we try to stay cool!
Decorations are in the shops from August in some places, carols are playing over the speakers in shopping centres, and Christmas comes earlier and becomes more commercialized every year.
Even kids are organized early, these days. When my children were younger, a lengthy Christmas wish list of various items ranging in price from in expensive to earth shattering out of my budget, expensive, would appear on my bedroom wall, about a month before Christmas Day. Just in case I was unsure of what exactly to buy for them for Xmas.
There is expectations around gift giving now. Mind you, can’t really blame the kids for trying, even if the follow through does not reach such dizzying heights.
Humbling was the child from a family, at school, who said, when asked what they got from Santa, “A new lunchbox for school.” Did this pull at my heart strings? Oh yes, indeed. Makes me think of many possible alternative options for low cost or free activities, as gifts, that one can request and give for Christmas.
(Write these up onto pretty gift cards, placed in a “surprise bag” and could be pulled out by each child/ adult, as a kind of lucky dip/Christmas game) * A warm and cosy evening/day spent doing whatever each child wishes, one on one, without disturbances from computer, phone, mobile phone or Ipod, Ipad etc etc. It might be a board game, cocoa and a chat, playing games, like hide n seek, or pictionary/ monopoly.
* A Christmas themed movie or power-point presentation for Grandparents and/or extended family
* Building a cubby house, go cart, or raft together. This can be as
complex or as simple as you like: the full wooden hammer and nails bit,
or a large cardboard box.
* Sewing or embroidering a calico/reusable plain shopping bags, with permanent markers or paint
*Make low cost decorations for the tree with pre-printed felt, ribbon and glue.
* Making the Christmas cake/ lolly or cookie jars to give to others.
* Setting out tea light candles all along your street and letterbox dropping others on surrounding streets to do the same. We do this and call it ‘Santa’s highway’.
* Making a card or memory album for Grandma
* Constructing a year in my family chronicle to give out to family members at Xmas with recipes, funny stories, and photos.
* Challenge the kids to present a puppet show or play to family members on Christmas Day. Make a video to give to them when they are older
* A talent quest for family members with a Christmas theme
(Chocolate Prizes for all entrants)
* Swimming or running races or even Trampoline competitions if you have one
* A Forest hike
* A walk or play on the beach, perhaps with the promise of ice cream afterwards.
* If the kids are into books, a trip to the library or bookstore or book exchange
There are plenty more ideas available on the net or in books, so these are just a few that came to me, off the top of my head. This kind of experience will stay in a child’s memory for longer than the short lived joy of getting a cheap plastic toy that may be broken/forgotten in a few months time.
Christmas need not be super expensive. Be creative and have fun, and still be giving a priceless gift that has the bonus of being environmentally friendly.
These activities will surely be something kids might ponder about when they reminisce about Christmas past.
How do you manage Christmas spending?
Have you got a way to save money and still have fun with the children?
The Daily Post challenge encourages us to photograph one tangible object, being conscious of Aperture, composition, focus and depth of field. Furthermore, the post tells us some photographs, like portraits, focus on individuals, while still-life moments capture the beauty (and often treasured stories) of belongings and found objects. I had already been experimenting with aperture the last month or so, and thus, I had this photo ready, (unknowingly), for this challenge. To me, it seems to encapsulate the beauty of our Australian family Christmases with the various Scandinavian traditions inextricably entwined with typically Australian ones.
I used a low f stop to blur the background and make the Danish and Swedish decorations stand out.
To help me learn aperture settings and meanings I jotted down these notes from Photography 101 ‘focus’ tips found here
Shallow depth of field – bigger aperture – lower f number, Deeper depth of field – smaller aperture – high f number.
Deep focus for landscape, architecture, interior design, Shallow or short focus for sports, food or people.
The closer you are to the object, the less the depth of field, The further away you are, the greater the depth of field in an image.
In my second photo, there was no study of depth of field, it is posted because it is one of the weirdest “objects” I have seen on my travels. It is the sort of thing that seem like a good idea at the time, that is: to advertise a fish shop, with an enormous fibreglass prawn, but then, when the fish shop closes……
What happened to the Big Prawn? Something to Ponder about.
Everyone has certain traditions surrounding Christmas or Juletide. Some come from one’s own heritage, or upbringing, whilst others have more modern origins.Likewise in our house, we have a mix of Danish/Australian traditions and some we have created ourselves like the fact that we always have lollie jars for the kids and candy ‘teeth’ sweets and bon bon hats are a must. (Nothing like pretending you have a large overbite and wear pointed paper hats for a good laugh). Traditionally Danish Christmas eve Dinner is held on December 24th, and accordingly we open one present after dinner, and then follow Australian traditions of opening the rest of the presents on the morning of December 25. The lollie jars started out with dinner, when the kids were young, but even so, my big kids, a.k.a. men, still ask for them. 🙂
Christmas day Dec 25, itself, might be spent visiting relatives or playing water volleyball in the backyard swimming pool, seeing relatives, or trying to keep cool in the sweltering heat. Notoriously Christmas day can be around 37 degrees celsius, so one sits inside with the air con on ‘high cool’, lying around watching old home videos that make one laugh and sometimes, cry.
There are , however, some more unusual traditions than ours. For example:
Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos), start celebrating Christmas on December 5, with Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, which roams the streets with his evil accomplice, (who brandishes a whip and stick amd threatens naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year). Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and roam the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. An excuse for outlandish drunken behaviour, methinks. But it is tradition, designed to make children toe the line for the next year. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!
Other strange Christmas traditions I found on openjourneys.com
In Czech republic on Christmas Eve, “unmarried Czech women practice a traditional fortune telling method to predict their relationship status for the upcoming year. If you’d like to give this a try, here’s how to do it: Stand with your back to your door and toss one of your shoes over your shoulder. If it lands with the toe facing the door it means that you will get married within the year. If it lands with the heel facing the door, you’re in for another year of unmarried status“.
In Japan, children eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Day!
In Catalonia, life at Christmas is surely different:
“Caga Tió, the pooping log, is a bizarre Christmas tradition. It starts with a hollowed out log, which is propped up on four little leg-like sticks and then painted to have a face. Every night, beginning December 8th, Caga Tió is “fed” and covered with a blanket (so that he doesn’t catch a cold). On Christmas Eve or Christmas day Caga Tió is put in the fireplace, beaten with a stick and ordered to “poop”. He is encouraged, along with the beating, by singing songs with catchy lyrics such as:
caga tió (poop log) caga torró (poop turrón) avellanes i mató (hazelnuts and cottage cheese) si no cagues bé (if you don’t poop well) et daré un cop de bastó. (I’ll hit you with a stick.) caga tió!” (poop log!)
When he is done pooing candies, nuts and such, Caga Tió will then give one last push to reveal an onion, a head of garlic or a salt herring.” (from openjourneys.com)
“In Caracas, Venezuela, church-goers attend an early morning mass between December 16th and December 24th. Not so strange for a mostly Catholic population. What is unusual about this practice is how everyone gets to church: on roller skates. The streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic until 8 am and children, the night before, tie one end of a piece of string to their big toes and hang the other end out the window. As roller skaters go by the next morning, they give a tug to all the strings hanging out the windows.” That is one way to get the kids up and going to Church.
Then there is always the Nisser in Danmark and Norway, which must be kept happy. Tradition dictates that one must leave a bowl of risengrøt or rice porridge to the little nisse/elf, that lives in the barn, so that he may bring good luck to all. Otherwise, he may play some naughty tricks on the home owners.
Perhaps the strangest of all, is the ones found in “parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy, is to set up a model village of Bethlehem.
Along with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus, a Caganer, or “Shitter” in English, is placed in the scene. The Caganer is a figurine, traditionally of a man, in the act of defecating, pants around his knees bending over with pile of feces at his heels. He is usually placed in a corner, perhaps because he needs privacy. The Caganer has been around for a few hundred years and in recent times it has evolved from a traditionally dressed man taking care of business to figurines of celebrities, nuns, politicians and Santa Claus.” (source: openjourneys.com)
And I thought my tradition of having candy teeth at Christmas time, was a little weird!!
Do you have unusual traditions at your house? Something I’ll ponder about.
Whatever your tradition, may your Christmas be a happy and healthy one, full of fond memories, and love and peace. Glaedelig jul, God jul, Merry Christmas to you all.