Monday, December 13, 2010

Saint Lucia Day


Kirsten, my favorite girl of all, is Swedish.  And today, December 13, is one of the most important days on the Swedish Calendar.  It marks the longest winter night, and it is also Saint Lucia Day.  The story of Saint Lucia is that she was a young Christian girl who secretly brought food to persecuted Christians in Rome.  She would wear a wreath of candles around her head so that she would have light, and have both hands free so she could carry more stuff.  Swedes celebrate this traditional day in many ways, but one of the traditions is that the oldest daughter of the family, in the darkness before dawn, will carry a tray of coffee and treats from room to room.  These treats could be St. Lucia Buns, Pepparkakor Cookies, or any other treat.

In order to help Kirsten celebrate St. Lucia Day, we dressed her in her traditional St. Lucia Outift.  This includes a white dress with a red sash around it, and a crown made of Lingonberry branches with candles around her head.  Next, we baked St. Lucia buns to help Kirsten begin her Yuletide Celebration!
The St. Lucia Buns in the oven
Finished St. Lucia Buns
Kirsten's Mini St. Lucia Buns.  Can you guess which one is fake?
Have one!

Even the cats wanted to share a bun.  Well, mostly they wanted to steal a bun.

Happy St. Lucia Day!

If you are interested in making your own St. Lucia Buns, here is the recipe we used:
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon saffron
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon water
24 raisins

1.  Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cut the butter into small pieces.  Add the butter pieces to the warm milk and stir.  Then turn off the heat.
2.  Measure the lukewarm water into a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast over the water.  Stir well.  Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes.
3.  Add the warm milk and melted butter to the yeast.  Stir in the sugar, 1 egg, salt, and saffron.  Then add 1.5 cups flour and stir until smooth.
4.  Add enough of the remaining flour so that you can shape the dough into a ball.  Save some of the remaining flour for kneading the dough.
5.  Put the dough onto a floured cutting board.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough. 
6.  After 5-10 minutes of kneading, you will have a smooth ball of dough.  It should spring back when you poke it with your finger.  Cover the dough with the towel and let it rest.
7.  Spread cooking oil in a large bowl.  Roll the dough in the oil until it is coated.  Cover the bowl with a towel and set it in a warm place to rise.  After 45 minutes, the dough should be twice as large.  If not, check it again in 15 minutes.
8.  Punch down the dough.  Divide it into 6 sections.  Take 1 section and divide it in half.  Roll each half into an 8-inch rope.  Cross the 2 ropes in the middle.  Then coil the ends in tight circles.  Make 5 more buns in the same way.
9.  Place the buns 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Cover with the towel.  Let the buns rise for about 30 to 45 minutes until they are double in size.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while they are rising.
10.  Mix the other egg and water with the fork in the small bowl.  Brush the mixture lightly over the top of each bun.  Decorate the buns with raisins.
11.  Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes.  When the buns are golden brown, move them to a wire rack to cool.

I hope you will enjoy making St. Lucia Buns as much as I did :)

Decorating The Christmas Tree


For Christmas this year, the girls have a tree all to themselves.  They enjoyed the evening decorating their tree and wrapping presents.  Take a look and see what they've been up to!
Here are the girls around the Christmas tree, with their ornaments in hand.
Nancy, sitting with the presents and showing off her ornament.

Kirsten, getting ready to hang her snowflake.

Eowyn and Juanita and ready to hang their ornaments as well.

This is off topic, but I just made this dress for Nancy :)

The girls are now admiring their tree.  Josefina and Niña look on wearing their Christmas gowns and Mantillas.
More admiration of the tree.

I had to put in one last photo of my sweetie and her Mickey Mouse ornament ;)

Merry Christmas to everyone!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

From Charlotte With Love


Afner and I decided to go to Charlotte on Friday night to see all the Christmas decorations.  We thought we would take Juanita along for an adventure.  This weekend, Charlotte is host to the ACC Tournament, so this is a BIG weekend for Charlotte.  We are a beautiful, clean city, and I would encourage anyone to visit.  I hope all our visitors from Virginia and Florida are enjoying themselves this weekend! 

Anyway, on to the photos...
These Christmas Balls are outside at the Wachovia Plaza.  Can you spot Juanita?

Inside the Wachovia Building, chatting it up with a reindeer.

Afner and I posed for a picture in front of the HUGE Christmas Tree in the Wachovia Building.
See if you can find Juanita!

Juanita really likes going out at Night!

This is the water fountain inside the children's park.  During the summer, the fish spit water at you.

Safety First

Here is Juanita with the Firebird.

Juanita and me with the Firebird.  Love it or hate it, the Firebird is actually awesome up close.

Juanita with another huge Christmas ball.

Welcome to the Queen City!  See the crown on the Bank of America Headquarters in the background.

This is my favorite picture from the night.  Just taking a stroll through Charlotte, the city I love.

Christmas Lights at Trade Street

Juanita picked up a copy of La Noticia for her Dad to read.
The City Christmas tree at the corner of Trade and Tryon.

I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos just as much as Afner and I enjoyed taking them :)