December 22, 2012
December 21, 2012
We usually think of plants as rooted firmly in the soil, but this year we’ve been taking them out of the garden and into the home, as burlap-wrapped ornaments for the tree or tabletop.
Easy to make and even easier to care for, burlap-wrapped plants just might be our favorite DIY of the season, and a fun project for families gathering this weekend. At the latest workshop in our Living Gifts series, Styer’s nursery specialist Megan McKee demonstrated how to create natural ornaments from succulents and other petite plants, and shared her how-to with us below.
What You’ll Need:
Succulents or other small, hardy plants (around 2-3” tall)
Twine or string
Ribbon, small pine cones, or other embellishments
1. Select your plants. Succulents, cyclamen, tiny evergreens, and poinsettias are our favorite choices.
2. Surround the roots with soil, then wrap in sheet moss. Press firmly to create a ball of moss around the roots and soil.
For an alternate design, simply fasten the moss ball with twine and skip to step 4.
3. Wrap the moss ball in burlap and fasten with string or twine.
4. Add a length of twine for hanging and embellish as desired.
5. To water, place the root ball in a dish of water for around 20 minutes, then drip dry any excess liquid. Water pines and cyclamen once a week, succulents and poinsettias every other week.
6. Hang from the tree, add to a holiday place setting, or give to a friend. When spring arrives, unwrap the root ball and find a permanent home for the plant indoors or out.Comment
December 19, 2012
We adore the fresh, seasonal fare crafted by Canal House duo Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, but we might be even more enamored with the effortless lifestyle that they showcase in their waterside kitchen. Because the holidays can be a bit hectic, we asked this laid-back pair to share some tips for a full and festive season with minimal stress. They offered five ingenious ways to prepare your home for holiday guests in the weeks leading up to Christmas, so the day itself can be spent celebrating.
Build a Holiday Bar
Prepare for holiday gatherings by stocking your liquor cabinet. Splurge on some special varieties, pick up your friends’ favorite brands, and add a bottle of unusual gin to your collection. Also, keep a case of prosecco chilled on the porch-- you’ll have something festive to open anytime surprise guests stop in.
Once you’ve made your selections, arrange everything on a pretty tray in the space where you entertain the most. Finish off your bar with a mixed but complementary assortment of thin, elegant glasses and beautiful pitchers to make your drinks feel especially festive.
Finally, mix up a batch of homemade milk punch and store it in the freezer inside a pretty pitcher. When guests arrive, simply break up the punch with a wooden spoon before serving. Milk punch tastes even better than eggnog, and looks much more special than nog poured from a paper carton. Find the recipe here.
Hard Boil a Batch of Eggs
Keep a stash of hard boiled eggs in the fridge to make spontaneous and simple hors d’oeuvres. Devil the eggs traditionally, or save time by “buttering” the halves with mayonnaise. Top with bacon, scallions, chives, smoked salmon, caviar, sardines, or other savory garnishes. Hard boiled eggs are a versatile starting point for being creative with what you have on hand in the pantry.
Present an assortment of garnished eggs on a beautiful platter. With their colorful toppings, they look like festive jewels on a holiday table.
Find the recipe in Canal House Cooks Every Day, available in terrain stores.
Make a Christmas Eve Ham
Christopher and Melissa “believe in the ham” as a holiday gift that keeps giving. Cooking a big ham on Christmas Eve is surprisingly simple, and you’ll have enough food no matter how many guests stop by. If you don’t finish it on Christmas Eve, leftover ham is also easy to incorporate into Christmas Day breakfast as a layer for Eggs Benedict, or in sandwiches with freshly-baked biscuits.
Bake Sugar Cookies for Impromptu Gifts
Make a big batch of sugar cookies for gifts or party treats. Package the cookies in cellophane bags and tie them with a length of pretty ribbon. Always keep a few of these easy presents on hand, so you’re never short of a gift for a drop-by visitor.
Preserve Lemons in Weck Jars
For a simple and practical gift that wows recipients, preserve whole lemons in weck jars. In early winter, Meyer lemons are just coming into season in warm climes like California. Salty and a little sour, preserved Meyer lemons are perfect for adding salt to any recipe. They also add a splash of tropical color to the winter months when displayed in glass jars.Comment
Preserving lemons is very simple—you just need a jar, the fruit itself, and some kosher salt. Jars of preserved lemons make no-worry gifts because you can keep them for up to a year if you don’t give them all away. Also, the weck jar is as beautiful as the lemons inside, and the recipient can use it again after their lemons are gone.
December 14, 2012
Fire and water don’t usually mix, but we’ve found an exception to the rule with a lovely, surprisingly easy addition to holiday décor-- arctic globe lanterns. Ancient cultures in cold-weather climates from China to Scandinavia first invented ice lanterns for practical use, but today they’re perfect for creating ephemeral centerpieces and illuminating snowy walkways, especially when nestled among holly boughs or evergreen branches.
What you’ll need:
- Ice lantern kit: balloon, freezing base, insulating disk, balloon clip
- Embellishments like berries or evergreen twigs. Keep in mind that they should fit into the opening of the balloon without damaging it.
- A freezer or cold outdoor space
December 12, 2012
December 11, 2012
Long before we met her face-to-face during a visit to Styer's last summer, we've been admirers of Hannah Queen's striking photography and simple, rustic recipes from her blog, Honey & Jam. Chronicling life in and around her Georgia kitchen, Hannah's stories speak to what she loves, cooking; but also to her cozy home and the surrounding mountains, rivers, and forests that provide her fresh ingredients and the space to enjoy them. She'll be visiting here from time-to-time to share what she's cooking with us, and we imagine you'll enjoy getting to know her as much as we have.
"Winter is blowing in - the days are short, twinkling lights are in each window, and there’s a chill in the air. I’m convinced the best way to celebrate this season is to cozy up with a mug of mulled wine. It’s steeped in all the great flavors of winter, the spices of gingerbread, the freshness of citrus and the warmth of red wine and vanilla. It’s best served near a fireplace and in the company of good friends. I prefer it not so sweet, but feel free to adjust the sugar to your taste.
1 bottle (3 cups) dry red wine
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
2 star anise
1/2 vanilla bean, split length-wise
2 clementines, thinly sliced
Combine the wine, brown sugar, spices, vanilla bean and clementines in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
Pour through a fine mesh sieve, garnish with cinnamon stick, clementine slices & star anise. Serve warm."
Photography by Hannah Queen
December 10, 2012
Since opening The Franklin Fountain in 2004, brothers Ryan and Eric Berley have established themselves as Philadelphia’s go-to duo for all things sweet and historic. Their latest venture, Shane Confectionery, builds upon 148 years of history at a beautifully restored shop in Philly’s Old City. This Christmas, Shane is sharing the tradition of clear toy candy with us in a playful collection that includes sailing ships, cycling frogs, and a menagerie of colorful creatures available in our stores and online. We stopped in to see a batch in the making and learn about these unusual treats from Ryan Berley and head confectioner Davina Soondrum.
Brought to America by German settlers, clear toy candies have been made in Pennsylvania since the colonial era. Shane’s ever-expanding collection of steel candy molds dates to the turn of the 20th century and includes around 350 shapes. Each candy starts on an antique stove, where sugar syrup is boiled then poured into a mold. Once the syrup hardens, confectioners gently open the molds and chisel away excess sugar to perfect each sparkling sweet.
With so many charming colors and shapes at hand, we’re having a hard time choosing a favorite from the terrain collection. How about you?Comment
December 6, 2012
No weekend trip to the Styer’s nursery is complete without a visit to the Sugar Shack, chef Keith Rudolf’s haven for all things sweet. When temperatures drop and snow is in the air, the folks at the Shack tempt us with fresh coffee, warm apple cider, and our winter favorite—hot cocoa made with rich, dark chocolate and a surprising hint of spice. We found ourselves wishing that we could have a cup anytime, so we got the inside scoop from Keith on how to mix up a batch at home.
Sugar Shack Hot Chocolate
8 cups whole milk
½ cup half & half
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cayenne
32 oz. 72% dark chocolate, shaved
Mix milk, half & half, sugar, and spices over low heat. Do not boil. Once milk is hot, remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until fully melted. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or salted caramel and enjoy!Comment