Tag Archives: holidays

Things We Love: Homemade Christmas Fragrance

We’ve already shared some of our favorite recipes for Christmas cookies. Now we’ll make the house smell delicious with our homemade Christmas fragrance!

SnowmanGreg’s mom Kathy loves having all of the family come home for Christmas. Greg’s sister, Laura, and her family moved to Ohio several years ago, so it is great to have everyone back in South Carolina for the week surrounding Christmas. They enjoy coming south to get out of the snow! This is my brother-in-law, Mike, and my nephew, Matthew, with the snowman they made last week. We all love Kathy’s baking and she loves to bake – so it works out great!

Christmas Haystacks CookiesIn addition to Kathy’s recipes for Christmas cookies that I blogged about before, Kathy also makes Haystacks with chow mein noodles and peanuts in melted butterscotch bits. They look so festive on her lovely platter.

I readily admit – I am not much of a baker. I once made a “No Bake Strawberry Pie” for Greg. He took one bite and chokingly asked, “You didn’t bake the crust?” Nowhere in the stupid recipe did it say to bake the pie crust and the name of the recipe is “No Bake Strawberry Pie” – I rest my case! I haven’t attempted baking since.

As there isn’t much chance of any cookies baking at my house, I do like to add our special homemade Christmas fragrance at this time of the year. I learned this treat from Kathy – it is a wonderful way to make the house smell Christmas-y.

Talbot’s Homemade Christmas Fragrance

1 box whole cloves
1 box cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
Rind of 1 lemon – sliced
Rind of 1 orange – sliced

Throw all the ingredients in a small pot and cover them with water. Simmer the blend gently on a back burner during the holidays to make the house smell good. Top up the water as needed!

The homemade Christmas fragrance creates a festive holiday mood very quickly. The scent takes me back to some fond memories of Christmas past!

Kitten ChristmasHere’s a photo of me with Ozzie, affectionately known as Mr. Kittles, when he was a baby kitten a few years ago. We’re in front of the Christmas tree at Kathy’s house and I do love the way Kathy displays her red and green candles in vintage candlestick holders on the mantle.

Aimee First Christmas and Dad Going even further back to when I was a baby, here I am with my dad on my very first Christmas in 1971. Yep, I really wanted to get my hands on that stacking rings toy. But I’ll smile nicely at the camera if it means I can get to the goodies quicker!

Greg at ChristmasHere’s Greg at about 16 months old, opening presents in the middle of Christmas chaos. Any boy with a puppy, a ball, and a cowboy outfit has to be in seventh heaven, right?

If you try our family’s homemade Christmas fragrance, I’d love to hear if you enjoy it! Tell us in the comments box below, or share your own favorite holiday scents.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Christmas Cookies and Franklin Nut Cake

We are so lucky at this time of year! Kathy makes tray after tray after tray of Christmas cookies – she likes to give out gifts of cookies to the neighbors. Kathy is Greg’s mom and also our Mrs Fixit who handles all our restorations. Of course, she can’t stand the idea of her family not being able to eat as many cookies as humanly possible.

Kathy makes sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin, peanut butter blossoms, magic cookie bars, gingerbread, the Christmas cookies list goes on and on. However, Greg’s dad John and I agree on our favorite cookie – the white chocolate peanut butter sandwiches. In case you have never tried this scrumptious treat, here is Kathy’s recipe.

Chocolate Peanut Christmas Cookies

White Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Decide how many cookies you want to make – you’ll need twice that number of Ritz crackers. Spread peanut butter on half the Ritz crackers and use the other half as sandwich tops. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler. Carefully dip each peanut butter sandwich into the melted chocolate until it is coated, then set on wax paper and top with a pecan. Allow to dry. (Hide them from the family until you want to serve them as they tend to disappear quickly.)

Magic Christmas Cookie BarsGreg’s favorite Christmas cookies are Magic Cookie Bars. These are also pretty darn good, especially if you like coconut.

Kathy’s Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for a glass dish). Melt the margarine in the oven in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Sprinkle Graham crumbs over the margarine. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the crumbs and then top evenly with remaining ingredients. Press down firmly and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Chill if desired. Cut into bars. Store the cookie bars loosely covered at room temperature.

Franklin Nut Cake

However, Kathy doesn’t stop at just Christmas cookies. She also makes fruit cakes and my favorite, Franklin Nut Cake. Greg’s sister Laura and I agree that Franklin Nut Cake is fantastic for breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee – especially if you want to curl up with a good book while you nibble and sip. Franklin Nut Cake is actually a very old family recipe, handed down from Kathy’s mother, Margaret.

Margaret’s Franklin Nut Cake

1 lb. butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb. chopped candied cherries (red and green)
1/2 lb. chopped candied pineapple
1 lb. chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla
NOTE: Save a few whole cherries and pecan halves to decorate the top of the cake.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the beaten eggs. Add 3 cups of the flour sifted with the baking powder and salt. Mix remaining cup of flour with chopped cherries, pineapple, and nuts. Stir into batter and then add vanilla. Pour into a tube pan that has been heavily greased and floured. Decorate with saved cherries and nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan.

This cake is really rich, moist, and tasty! Even people who don’t like fruit cake love this. John is a case in point.

If you try these Christmas cookies and cake recipes, we’d love to know if you enjoy them! Tell us in the comments box below… or share your own Christmas cookies recipes.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Old World Christmas Traditions

Greg and I aren’t taking an antiques buying trip to Europe during this holiday season because we’re too busy filling customer orders for gifts. But I love thinking about interesting Old World Christmas traditions – especially the food! It’s fascinating to see the different ways people in France, England, and Italy celebrate the holidays. While some of these Old World Christmas traditions are familiar to us too, at least in certain regions of the USA or Canada, others are less well-known.

Old World Christmas Traditions in France

Old World Christmas Traditions: FranceDid you know that instead of hanging up a stocking for Santa Claus, children in France often leave shoes out by the fireplace for le Père Noël to fill? Around the holidays, French bakeries are busy making Galette des Rois or King’s Cake. The puff pastry cake is filled with frangipane or almond paste to be enjoyed around Epiphany on January 6. That date is also known as Twelfth Night, to close the twelve days of Christmas. The Galette des Rois traditionally had a lucky bean hidden inside it. Over the centuries that changed to a little charm. If you are served the slice with the charm in it, then you are crowned King for the Day!

Old World Christmas Traditions in England

Mince pies: Old World Christmas traditions

It isn’t an English Christmas without a plate of mince pies! The pies are filled with mincemeat — despite the savory-sounding name the tarts are actually a dessert treat. The mincemeat is a sweet blend of dried fruits, spices, and usually a hearty dash of brandy or rum.

Robin and mince pieThe photo of the robin taking a nibble of a mince pie is just so cute, but also the robin is symbolic of Christmas in England. You often see robins on Christmas cards there. European robins are much smaller than our American ones, and they have a deep red breast. Some say the robin’s red breast is associated with the blood of Christ. Others tell the nativity tale, where the night of the holy birth was so cold in the Bethlehem stable that Mother Mary asked the animals to help warm baby Jesus as the fire near the manger started to die out. Then Mary heard the flapping of wings and looked down to see a tiny plain brown bird fanning his wings at the fading embers, till the fire burst up brightly again to warm the Christ child. In the process, a flame burned the robin’s breast a vivid red, the color it has been ever since.

Old World Christmas traditions: Christmas crackersChristmas crackers are also essential to English celebrations. They are ‘cracked’ before Christmas dinner begins, by one person pulling on each end. The cracker splits apart with a bang, and a trinket, a joke, and a paper hat fall out. You often see Christmas crackers in American stores now too. It’s important to realize that you don’t expect the joke to be very good. It’s usually some kind of groaner!

Old World Christmas Traditions in Italy

Old World Christmas traditions: PanettonePanettone is one of the most delicious Italian Christmas treats. The light and fluffy sweetened fruit bread is shaped like a tall puffy chimney. It originated in Milan and some say its long history stretches back as far as Ancient Rome. Panettone appeared in a 16th century Bruegel painting, and was baked for emporers and popes!

Panettone is tasty on its own, usually served with sweet wine or liqueur. You can also make a quick and sophisticated dessert dish by toasting slices of Panettone, and topping them with a fruit compote. Make a compote with frozen or fresh fruit cooked with a little sugar and water, plus some cornstarch to thicken the syrup if needed. Any fruit will work, but frozen mixed summer berries add a festive splash of color and the tart flavor complements the sweet bread. Pears poached in wine would be wonderful too! Then sprinkle some snowy confectioners sugar on top and add a dollop of whipped cream.

Children shepherdsAnother sweet Old World Christmas tradition: Italian children dress up head-to-toe as shepherds when they go carol-singing. Bless them! Then on Christmas Eve, Italian households bring out the Urn of Fate. The Urn of Fate is a large bowl that holds lots of small presents.  Family members take it in turn to take their chance in a kind of lucky dip.

Do you have any favorite Old World Christmas traditions that you enjoy in your family? Tell us about it in the comments box below.

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her husband and best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.

Things We Love Right Now – December 2012

Did you have a good turkey day? We enjoyed a fun family holiday at home. Then, right after Thanksgiving, Greg and I ran away to Hot Springs, North Carolina, for a quiet weekend before the busy season. As you can see below, we had a wonderful time there!

We came back in time to enjoy our local holiday parade. Newberry, South Carolina, puts on quite a show! People enjoyed our large gallery window, “decorated” by two of our gallery cats, Lenny and Minky. Therese put up a tree in the window and decorated it with her collection of antique fans, scarves, and gloves. Even her Great Aunt’s shoes made it into the vignette!

Things We Love

With the festive season well upon us, all of us here at EuroLux are reflecting on what we love in December. Last month, we introduced you to Greg’s mom, Kathy, who repairs items that arrive damaged in the cargo containers from Europe. Here’s a photo of Kathy at work. Later this month, she’ll share some tips with you on how you can fix any of your ceramics that get broken during the holidays.

Kathy says one of her favorite things about December is decorating for the holidays. She creates an elaborate mantel display using magnolia leaves, not unlike the magnolia wreath below.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays without gifts. Greg loves giving and receiving presents. This year, he’s hoping for a Fender Squier guitar to connect to our Xbox. Greg and I like to unwind by rocking out to the game Rockband. I sing, while Greg plays drums and guitar.

As for me, one thing I love about December is the flurry of holiday cards that arrive in the mailbox. I love both writing and receiving cards. It helps me re-connect with old friends I may only hear from once a year.

I love the colorful display the cards make, whether piled in a wicker basket or artfully arranged on the mantel. In keeping with this theme, I’ll be sharing some information this month about how color and antique furniture can work together to create a unique look for your home. I’ll also be writing about antique furniture as legacy — a theme that’s especially appropriate during this holiday season when we miss those family members no longer with us to celebrate. How fortunate we can fill our homes with heirlooms that remind us of these loved ones every day of the year.

Also coming up this month, I’ll be alerting you to some new decorating trends (antique furniture makes House Beautiful’s “What’s Hot in 2013” list!), sharing some books you might find useful, and spotlighting one of our valued clients.

The main thing we love during December is YOU. We love your emails and phone calls. And we sincerely value your business.

What things do you love about December or the holiday season, in general?

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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Mantels & Entryways: Holiday Decorating Ideas

I love decorating for the holidays. Putting up the Christmas tree and stringing lights and garlands helps me get into the holiday spirit. After the decorations are up, I finally begin to truly anticipate the wonderful family time to come.

Inspired by this “Decorating: Holiday Mantels” slideshow at Traditional Home magazine’s website, I’ve put together a group of photos to inspire you in adorning your home for the holidays. Whether you’re decorating an antique Victorian mantel or the rustic fireplace at your Christmas cabin, you’ll find ideas you can use or adapt to fit your decor. As a bonus, I’ve included a few exterior treatments, as well, to show how you can showcase the front of your stately Victorian or cozy cottage for the holidays. Enjoy!

Simplicity

A beautiful mantel doesn’t have to be fussy. Here, a small nativity set literally framed by a black picture frame hung with simple red ornaments creates a lovely display with a faux, lighted garland. A very stylish and classy look!

Tradition

This traditional parlor looks very festive with its classical carved fireplace surround swagged with beads and topped with a wreath. I love the way the antique mirrors flank the fireplace for symmetry. And note the beautiful antique demilune table to the right. This classic treatment will work well in your Victorian home.

Lodge

Heading up to your cabin for the holidays? Let this fun, lodge-style holiday decor inspire you! The cow skull wrapped with silver beaded wire creates a festive look, while the garland brings the outdoors inside. Hanging stockings complete the traditional look. This design, which could look kitschy in a different setting, looks very natural here.

Opulent

This antique fireplace gets a spectacular holiday makeover using just two colors: white and green. The key here is over-the-top styling. Mounds of white poinsettias ground the vignette, while the faux snow sculpture inside the fireplace box creates an unexpected and delightful surprise. On the mantel, large green ornaments, white snowflake decorations, and a white beaded strand top a thick natural garland. You could really wow your guests by pulling off this look!

Sensational Entryways

You can make a splash outdoors, too. Let your exterior decor complement your home’s style for maximum impact.

Bold Traditional

Here, a city house gets a bold, traditional treatment by running a lighted garland up the railing to the front door. Classic red bows start at the top of the house and continue all the way to the street. This design isn’t overwhelming because it’s scaled to the size of the house. Very appealing!

Stately Victorian

The U.S. Park Service knows decorating. They style the stately Karlan Mansion in a manner befitting the 1877 brick Victorian. Simple red garlands wrap the front columns like candycanes, while traditional pine wreaths with a red ribbon dot each window. This understated design really proves the adage “less is more.”

Charming Cottage

Cottage style is all about the eclectic combination of colors, patterns, and textures, along with a mix of old — and older! — furnishings. Here, the decorator takes cottage style outdoors by creating a garden of light. The green verge defines the garden’s edge, while lavender lights create perhaps a lilac bush, and gold lights along the ground evoke a carpet of daffodils. The wispy holiday lights capture the essence of breezy cottage style. Well done!

We’d love to see how you decorate your home for the holidays, both indoors and out! Send us your photos or link to them in the comments.

 Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina.  Connect with or sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

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