Decking the Halls with Comforting Traditions

By Monica O’Malley-Tavares

swag 2

With life’s hectic schedules, we all long for a bit of old-fashioned goodness during the holiday season. Comforting traditions allow us to decompress, cross something off of our “to do” list, and let us tap into our ever-calming creative side.

Swag Making

winter greens
Need a little fresh air and family time? Take a walk in the woods (try this walk). Dress warm, it’s chilly out there! And don’t forget to bring pruners and a large garden basket. Contrasting shades of spruce and pine, along with cedar and holly, make a perfect adornment for the garden gate, barn door, or front entrance to your home. Tie the branches together tightly at the top with twine, leaving a loop for hanging, (use a twine with less cotton, and more polyester or nylon to prevent stretching). Finish it off with a stretch of tartan ribbon or a rustic length of burlap.

Simmering Potpourri


It’s time to get the dehydrator started up again! Slice up a bag or two of organic oranges and allow them to dehydrate until rigid, (according to your dehydrator’s directions). Wrap the dried oranges, along with cinnamon sticks, star anise, and a sprinkling of whole cloves in cellophane. Tie it up with a pretty ribbon and attach directions for stovetop simmering. Don’t forget to save a batch (or 2) for yourself, and let the house fill with the cozy scent of Christmas.

Gluten-Free Cookie Baking
toffee crisp ingredients

Do you have a family member or friend with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance? Treat them to gluten-free goodies! Use caution to avoid cross-contamination with cooking utensils and surfaces.

Recipe for Double Drizzled Toffee Crisps is here.

*(I added extra Heath Bar and a bit more oatmeal….adjust until a nice consistency to form balls. Also, I used Cup4Cup flour blend as a cup for cup replacement.)

raw toffee crispstoffee crisp

more toffee crispspackaged crisps

Tips for Creating a “Stress-Free” Holiday:

Organize – Gather materials or shop for ingredients ahead of time. Keep them organized in pantry or plastic storage bins until ready to use.

Prioritize– Look at your schedule, pick a date and time for each project. Don’t overbook! And most important, don’t stress if you don’t get to everything!

Ask for Help – Kids love to have “traditions”. Let them slice oranges, measure ingredients, or cut pine branches. They will look forward to this again next year!

Enjoy- If it feels overwhelming or doesn’t fit the schedule, remember that it’s ok to say NO!. Do what feels right.

Happy Holidays!

swagMonica O’Malley-Tavares is a mom, math and science teacher, lifelong gardener, garden writer, and photographer. She spends her free time plotting and planning for the following year’s vegetable and flower gardens on the 2 acres she and her husband call Prince Snow Farm. No matter what the season, you’ll find her outside in her green Muck boots, camera slung around her neck and a small journal for notes and observation nearby, or you’ll find her in the kitchen working on a seasonal recipe. She lives on the south coast with her husband Kevin, also an educator, and 2 children.

This entry was posted in eSS&SC, General Interest and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Decking the Halls with Comforting Traditions

  1. Claire Bacon says:

    Inspite of your recent loss, hope you have a blessed Christmas with your family. Hugs

Talk to us. Please leave your comments here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s