Christmas Time. Part 2.

After finishing our Christmas Eve Dinner we went to visit our local North Pole.

In the hearts and minds of youngsters across Norwalk, the Midwood Road home of Joan and Rick Setti is an elaborate winter wonderland and popular holiday destination.

With 110,000 hanging lights and 641 characters on display, the attraction draws thousands of people from around the world each holiday season, many of them repeat visitors.

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The Setti Christmas Village has been illuminating 6 Midwood Road for 25 years and each year the display is a little different.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney characters, Looney Tunes, Harry Potter, Dora the Explorer, Barney, SpongeBob Squarepants and Scooby Doo are just some of the returning favorites. A “Precious Moments” collection and a huge lighted wire reindeer assortment adorn the area by the street.

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The lights go on at 5 every night until around 11, except on Christmas Eve, when he leaves the lights on all night for those who want to catch the display after midnight mass.

On Christmas Eve, the Setti’s dress up as Santa and Mrs. Claus to greet visitors, pass out candy canes and listen to the Christmas wishes of hundreds of children.

Mr. Setti said it takes him from August until October just to hang the lights every year, and without the help of many friends and neighbors who help him plan the display he could never do it alone.

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They don’t ask for anything. Sure, there is a small “tip” jar out there because heck, that’s got to be a monster electric bill, right?!

Even more than the lights, there is a mailbox for children’s letters to Santa that Mr. Setti surely gets to the North Pole in time, and a guestbook to sign your name or write a cute little note.

 This year we found Settis’ new displays, a tribute to Sandy Hook. Although the Settis are celebrating 25 years, he wanted to put up a tribute to 26 Angels of Sandy Hook.

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Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. This year, the year 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of the “house with all the lights.” This year is a warning because next year, the year 2014, is it. No more lights.

While I am sure the people of Norwalk and beyond are sad, Rick & Joan deserve a huge “thank you” for 25 years, and if you’ve never been, you must.

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We came early night, so it took us around 3o minutes to wait for Santa Claus.

Sophia was super excited, asked for her present, and after we left the village, it started snowing, so it was definitely the magic Christmas Eve.

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After getting home and putting Sophia to bed, we got all the presents ready for the next morning:

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It was impossible to put the presents under the tree before Christmas night this year. Sophia has tons of questions now, and to make her believe in Santa Clause we waited to the last minute.

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Christmas Time. Part 1.

Although we celebrate Ukrainian Orthodox Christmas in January, we still respect traditions of the country where we live, that’s why we celebrate Christmas in December too.

It’s hard to explain your 3 year old, why everybody have a holiday, get presents and she doesn’t. It’s easier to follow  local traditions and holidays.

Anyway, Christmas is the birth of Jesus, and if you believe, it doesn’t matter what day or what time you will celebrate it.

We have our own Christmas traditions and rules:

1.get Christmas dinner ready before the first star appears in the sky. It means, as soon as you see the first star the Jesus is born, so you can start eating and celebrate.

2. You should make 12 special dishes for Christmas Eve ( all of them are plant based, with no animal products). These twelve dishes represent the twelve apostles who shared the last meal with Jesus Christ.

3. You should make a special Christmas dish-koliva (boiled rice with raisins, poppy seeds and honey). This is the symbol of Ukrainian Christmas.

4. Kids, people go to everybody’s house on Christmas Eve to sing Christmas Carols. For that they get sweets, treats, presents etc.

I made some dinner at Christmas Eve, unfortunately didn’t make the koliva.

Earlier that day we made some cookies for Santa. To be honest, we spoiled our Santa this year, because we made different sweets for him:

1. Healthy sugar cookies:

It’s super easy recipe. You just use the alternative healthy ingredients instead of the regular one. They turned out very delicious.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut oil melted (or grass-fed butter at room temp)
  • ½ cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix all wet ingredients together and combine well
  3. Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well
  4. Drop a tablespoon of dough on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  5. Bake cookies for 8-10 mins (until edges are golden brown)
  6. As cookies are cooling, sprinkle with a little coconut sugar after baking if desired
  7. Cool cookies for at least 5 mins before serving
  8. (Alternatively, if you are cutting out shapes, refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour and then roll out using a rolling pin and additional almond flour and bake the same way)
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2. Raw Chocolate Almond Cookies.
These were the bomb!!!! They taste even better the next day. Santa ate all of his.
Ingredients:
 1 1/2 cups almonds
1 1/2 cups medjool dates
1 heaping tablespoon maca powder
2 heaping tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of sea saltFrosting:
2 tablespoons cacao powder
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut nectarTo make the cookies: throw all the ingredients in your food processor and process until it all sticks together. Form into balls and press into cookies on a baking or dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate for 2-4 hours, or “bake” at the lowest temperature in your oven, until they hold together. Alternatively you can leave them as is and put them in the fridge. Up to you. Ain’t nuthin’ but a texture thang.To make the frosting: mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Frost your cookies.

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 1 cup any kind of nuts ( I used pecans)
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
½ cup cocoa or cacao powder
zest of two oranges
juice of half an orange
 Add the nuts in to a food processor, and then process until ground in to a dense flour. Add the remaining ingredients, and continue to process until the mixtures starts to come together like a dough.
Use your hands to form small balls. You can dip them in water to prevent the mixture from sticking.In a separate bowl, add the extra cocoa powder.  Roll the balls in the cocoa until just coated, then transfer to a plate. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to set.
The truffles can be kept at room temperature, but they are best kept in the fridge.
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Santa was pretty happy, because he didn’t even leave us the crumbs.
To be continued…..

Christmas Chocolate Chips Cookies.

Impress your family and your guests with these healthy, gluten, dairy, grain, refined sugar free christmas cookies.
We start experimenting with holiday recipes already and these cookie recipe is the perfect sweet treat for coming holidays, Christmas Eve, Christmas handmade present or just a great addition to your hot cup of tea or cocoa.
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Christmas Chocolate Chips Cookies.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ½ cup pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 6 tablespoons of  water
  • 4 tablespoons organic coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate chips ( I used dairy, soy free ones)
  • 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½teaspoon ground cinnamon

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Instructions
Soak the chia seeds and flax seeds in the 6 tablespoons of water for about 20 minutes creating a gel. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients together (except pistachio nuts)  to make sure there are no lumps from the almond flour. In a small mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients (chia/flax gel, vanilla, coconut oil, maple syrup). In the large mixing bowl, make a shallow center to pour the wet ingredients into. Fold and mix all dry and wet ingredients together until a thick and moist dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries of choice. Taking a tablespoon, scoop the cookie dough into a ball and roll in the palm of your hands making a round cookie dough ball. Roll this ball into your finely chopped pistachios, placing one side down and pressing the pistachios into the dough, turn it over and have the pistachio crumbs be the “top” of your cookie. Next set each cookie dough ball on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper, then pushing the ball to flatten. Make sure you leave at least 1½-2 inches in between the cookies. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes. They will start to turn golden brown. Place on a cooling rack to come to room temperature.
 
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Enjoy!!!!!
 
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Nom, Nom, Nom!!!!
 
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Girls’ Holidays Presents Ideas.

Winter Holidays are coming and present time is getting closer too.

Because our daughter’s birthday is right before Christmas, it’s not easy for me to make her impressed with something. She gets a lot of presents every year, and she is still too young to understand the value and importance of presents, but following our traditions we are trying to teach her to appreciate everything that she gets.

I am not a fan of  many toys, because kids usually get confused and get bored very easily, they don’t know what to play with, what they want etc.

Anyway, toys make kids happy and this year( for the first time), Sophia asked for the present that she really wants: A DOLLHOUSE. I have no idea where it comes from, but to be honest with you, we already got the dollhouse for her for Christmas.(BINGO)

I decided to share some gift ideas with you for the little girls that I recently found on line or saw in the stores. Most of them are eco-friendly, natural toys.

1.Hape – All Season Doll House – Furnished Playset

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Hape is a great eco-friendly european toys brand. This is the dollhouse that we got for Sophia. If you decided to buy it, get the furnished one, because it gets a little pricey to furnish it by yourself. The doll family doesn’t go with it, so you need to get it separately.

2.Hape – Gourmet Chef Apron Set

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Hape brand again. Your little one will love pretending to cook with the Educo Gourmet Chef Apron Set! Includes a chef’s hat, apron , and play oven mit. The apron has a functional front pocket. Washable. Ideal for children 3 to 8 years old. You little ones can use it while playing chef or in real kitchen when helping you with cooking.

3.miYim Minnie Mouse Plush, Grey

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This beautifully made organic cotton Disney Baby plush toy is the ultimate in safety and softness for baby. Minnie Mouse features organic cotton and recycled fiber filling, with embroidered details and a chime inside to entertain and soothe. I love, love, love this brand. We have some of these stuffed toys from the time when Sophia was a baby, and she loves them. I am glad they are organic and completely safe for your little ones. Sophia keeps hers in her bed.
71ty5ORejbL._SL1500_ Every little girl wants a playmate to love and care for. A playmate that lets her wash and comb her hair, pick her outfits, tie her shoes. One who will be with her until she grows up and will bring back memories of childhood for decades to come. These are the best organic dolls that will last forever, because they are well-made, washable, organic, safe for you kids. They also have multiple clothes and accessories choices.
Sophia personally has this doll, but they have different characters to pick from.
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For the ones who likes ballet. Puzzles are perfect for the little kids. They keep them occupied for a while. I got the ballet one for Sophia,because she loves everything about dancing.
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This is the best investment ever. We have this placemat for a few month already and it works great during the eating time, when I am cooking in the kitchen and want to keep Sophia busy. The best thing about it, the markers are not toxic, washable and came off from anything. The placemat is washable too, so you can use it again and again. They have different themes of these placemats( we have alphabet one).

7. Greenstart Play, Draw, Create Princess: Reusable Drawing & Magnet Kit

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These Earth friendly, completely reusable kits contain everything needed for everlasting fun, learning, and creativity! Each fun-filled kit includes a magnetic dry erase board, over 30 magnetic play pieces, five dry erase markers in assorted colors, and a write-on/wipe-off activity book filled with lots of reusable activities and games.