Wellness Lifestyle from Sunny FLA

“Wonderful Things”: King Tut, Highclere Castle, and Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle: The Real Downton AbbeyThis is Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey.  The widely popular t.v. show is filmed here.  Additionally, the writer of the show Julian Fellowes drew inspiration from the real family that calls the castle home.  For several centuries the castle has been the domain of the Earls of Carnarvon.  The 8th Earl and Countess are the current owners of the home.  The 5th Earl- The Great Grandfather of the current Earl was a pretty famous guy back in his day.  His name was George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, know as the 5th Lord Carnarvon.

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Auld Lang Syne or Sang or…Who Knows?!

auld lang syneEvery New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight groups of party goers happily mumble/lip sing to the words of Auld Lang Syne.  Nobody seems to know what the words actually are, never-mind what language it’s in or what it means, but everyone sings along.  It’s sung all over the world-on every continent; but where does it originate?  Here’s the story behind the New Year’s Eve anthem, Auld Lang Syne.

It was written in 1788 by Scottish poet Robert Burns.  Burns was the son of a poor tenant farmer.  He was born in Alloway, Scotland in 1759 and began writing poetry at the age of 15.  In his 20’s he continued writing and began working on two anthologies of Scottish folk songs and traditional poems.  The first was “The Scots Musical Museum” which he co-wrote with James Johns.  The second was “Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs”  Auld Lang Syne is one of his most famous works.

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Gluten Free Eggnog Pie

Gluten Free Eggnog PieEggnog is just delicious- and such a holiday treat!  Ever since I was little it has been a favorite!  I can remember begging my mother to buy it as soon as it arrived in the grocery store.  This year while playing around on Pinterest I discovered several recipes for eggnog pie.  Yum, yum, and more yum!  My husband loves eggnog too- so this was the perfect new desert to add to our holiday fun!

Eggnog is a traditional holiday beverage; served from Thanksgiving to New Year’s here in America.  It is made of eggs (shocker!), milk, cream, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Traditionally it was made with raw eggs- but due to FDA regulations American eggnog is not raw.  It dates to the mid-17th century and was probably invented in England.  Most likely it was derived from an older milk drink from Medieval England called posset- which did not contain eggs.  Eggnog arrived in America with English settlers in the mid-1700’s and quickly became a favorite beverage.  Eggnog traditionally contains alcohol- brandy is the choice in England and in America it’s bourbon.

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Vintage Christmas Wine~ Smoking Bishop

smoking bishop collage

Christmas time is the time for festive cocktails.  I always find myself craving something warm (even though it’s hardly ever cold here) and the past few years I’ve been giving mulled wine a try.  Mulled wine is an old drink- it dates way back; definitely to the Middle Ages and some sources say even to Roman times.  It’s a European concoction and has traveled with European settlers around the world.  In a nutshell mulled wine is red wine that is simmered with spices and sometimes sugar is added.  It is served warm, and will quickly warm the body from the inside out.  English versions are called mulled wine, the German version is called glow wine, and the Scandinavian version is called glogg.  There is also a drink called Wassail- which is sort of related- but not the same thing.  Mulling spices usually include: cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice.  Oranges are included as well, being a winter fruit they are the perfect addition.  The inclusion of oranges also gives us a clue that (until the mid 20th century) the drink would have been considered extremely special and expensive, as oranges were expensive to import from Spain.

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Winter Wonderland in Christmas Lights

I love the song “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”, but here in Florida there is VERY little chance of a snowy wonderland actually happening (especially with the crazy winter we’ve been having).  So, the only way to get a slight taste of a “Winter Wonderland” here is to visit one of the many attractions around the state with LED snowflakes and bubble solution snow.  We’re spending Christmas in Tallahassee this year; so we visited the light show at Dorothy B. Oven Park- Tallahassee’s very own “Winter Wonderland”

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All Wrapped Up at Christmas

‘Tis the season for wrapping lots and lots of gifts!  I’m sure all of you have pulled out your scotch tape, ribbons, wrapping paper, little gift cards, and scissors.  I have a serious love/hate relationship with wrapping.  I DREAD the wrapping process, yet somehow once I get started I strangely enjoy it (I think the Christmas music and hot chocolate have something to do with it).

One way that I’ve found that helps me get into the spirit is to find pretty wrapping paper that inspires me.  I like to sort of create a wrapping scheme each year.  I love to use natural colors and elements in my schemes and I especially love incorporating something homemade also.  Last year I used brown paper and wrapped it with simple red raffia ribbon.  I used Christmas stamps and stamped Christmas trees in green on the paper.  It turned out really cute (of course I don’t have a pic- this was before I started blogging)- but it was a little time consuming.

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“Stille Nacht, Holy Night”: Christmas Truce 1914

This illustration was first published on January 9, 1915 in The Illustrated London News. The caption read (in part) "Saxons and Anglo-Saxons fraternizing on the field of battle at the season of peace and goodwill."

This illustration was first published on January 9, 1915 in The Illustrated London News. The caption read (in part) “Saxons and Anglo-Saxons fraternizing on the field of battle at the season of peace and goodwill.”

The moon was full and bright, the damp air had turned into a crisp cold, and white frost lay on the ground all around.  The guns were silent, the sky was clear; and the thoughts of the men were of home and the miracle birth of the Christ Child.  101 years ago something miraculous happened in the midst of chaos and death, it was the Christmas Truce of 1914. The power of love, grace and forgiveness, that is embodied in Christ and the celebration of Christmas made it’s way to the battlefront.  Though it was short lived it is a tiny testament to the power of commonalities of men in desperate circumstances.

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The Gift of Frankincense

Matthew, Chapter 2One of my favorite times of year is Christmas.  Since becoming a mother this holiday has become even more special to me. Not just because I enjoy seeing the holiday through my children’s eyes, but because I feel intensely drawn to Mary- the mother of Jesus. God gave us his only son as a sacrifice so that we could experience God’s grace and the gift of eternal life in heaven.  Having two sons of my own, I realize even more how great a gift Jesus is to humanity, and what a holy and faithful woman Mary was.

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