Beautiful Christmas Door Decoration Ideas

Christmas is nearly thumping at the entryway. The trees have been trimmed; the mantle has been enhanced, and the Christmas menu has been chosen. However, shouldn’t something be said about the front entryway? How might you leave the front entryway unfilled? All things considered, it is the principal thing that your visitors will see while going to the gathering.

 

Chrismas Decoration

 

There are a great deal of Christmas entryway brightening thoughts for each home. Whatever subject or style you have at home, there are a few incredible Christmas entryway enlivening thoughts for you. There’s generally a wreath or some sort of Christmas stylistic theme holding tight the entryways. Truth be told, Christmas wreaths alone come in different kinds. You’ll be astounded at what number of Christmas improvements are out there for your entryway. Let’s take a look at these great ideas.

Chrismas Decoration

More door decorations at:

https://jihanshanum.com/beautiful-christmas-door-decoration-ideas/

 

Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao)

Shanghai Steamed Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao), by thewoksoflife.com

Soup Dumpling Recipe Instructions

Below, you will find step-by-step detailed instructions with photos. For the full recipe card in condensed form, scroll down to the bottom of this post.

Step 1: The Aspic

The first thing to make is the aspic, or meat gelatin, which will create the soup in the soup dumplings.

You’ll make a pork soup with bones and skin (don’t freak out at this! The Chinese—as well as all of the world’s great food cultures—have learned to utilize every part of an animal and leave nothing behind to waste!), which will help you create a smooth, firm aspic once chilled.

You can use the skin from a skin-on pork shoulder and buy pork neck bones or ham bones. If they’re not readily available in your local market, ask the butcher.

  • ½ lb pork skin (225g), cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 lb (450g) pork neck bones (you want neck bones that still have meat on them!)
  • water
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 scallion, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine

In a small pot, add the pork skin and pork bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately drain and rinse off the bones and the skin. This gets rid of any impurities.

Rinse out the pot and put everything back in. Add 4 cups (950 ml) of water along with the ginger, scallion and wine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, turn off the heat, allow the soup to cool, and strain the liquid into a bowl. As to the leftovers in the pot, you can discard them or go the Chinese route, which would be to drizzle some light soy sauce over everything and start grazing).

Once the liquid is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.

This is what you’ll have the next day. Meat jello!

Pork aspic, by thewoksoflife.com

Step 2: The Dough

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130g)
  • 6 tablespoons warm water (90 ml)

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Work and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes. The dough should be very soft and smooth. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Step 3: The Filling

  • 1 pound (450g) ground pork (70% lean 30% fat)
  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • A pinch of ground white-pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 heaping cup of your aspic, diced into ½-inch pieces

Take your ground pork and put it in the food processor. Pulse for 30-60 seconds until the pork resembles paste. In a mixing bowl, add the pork and all the rest of the ingredients except the aspic.

Mixing ground pork dumpling filling, by thewoksoflife.com

Whip everything together thoroughly, for about 2 minutes. You want everything to be extremely well combined, and the pork should look like a light, airy paste. Gently fold in the diced aspic, and do not over-mix.

Mixing pork and aspic to make filling, by thewoksoflife.com

Cover and transfer the filling to the refrigerator until ready to make the dumplings. If you’re ready now, you can put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up and make assembling the buns easier.

Step 4: Assembly

Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a long cylinder/cigar, about an inch in diameter. Cut the dough into small equal pieces weighing about 11 grams each (the dough chunks should be a size resembling that of gnocchi).

Dumpling wrapper dough cut into small pieces, by thewoksoflife.com

Roll out each piece into a round disc about 3 – 3 ¼ inches diameter. Keep everything under a damp cloth.

Prepare your bamboo steamer. You can line it with cheese cloth…

Single soup dumpling with many folds, by thewoksoflife.com

…napa cabbage leaves, or these lovely bamboo steamer discs, which can be found in some Chinese restaurant supply stores (if using these, you must brush the discs with oil first!).

Steamed Shanghai Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao), by thewoksoflife.com

When all that is prepared, take out the filling. You’ll be making each bun one at a time. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dumpling skin. Pleat with as many folds as you can muster: 12-18 folds should do it.

Watch the video in our Carrot Ginger Pork Bun post. The technique is very similar. Basically, as you fold, you’re constantly using your thumb to push the filling into the resulting little “bag” that you’re creating with the dough. For this one, you’re just making more folds.

Make sure the top is sealed. If the filling ever gets too wet or hard to handle, put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes and start again.

Pork and aspic filling on thin dumpling wrapper, by thewoksoflife.com

Place the buns in the lined steamer basket, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches apart. 

Soup dumplings in steamer before cooking, by thewoksoflife.com

Step 5: Steaming

In a metal steamer pot or wok, boil water. If using a wok, put the water at a level so that when you put the bamboo steamer into the wok, the water rises about ½ inch up the bottom of the bamboo base. You never want the water to touch the dumplings inside, though, so make sure not to fill it too high!

Make sure not to fill it too low either, because if all the water evaporates, you could end up burning your bamboo steamer. See our post on how to set up a steamer if you’re not familiar with steaming foods in Chinese cooking.

Once the water is boiling, put the bamboo steamer in the wok or steamer pot, cover with the bamboo steamer lid, and steam over high heat for 8 minutes. Immediately remove the bamboo steamer from the pot and serve.

Step 6: Eating!

Ok, so there is definitely a proper way to enjoy these dumplings. Put away the soy sauce, because it has no place on the table right now. What you want is Chinese black vinegar.

Pour some out into a small, round dish or bowl, and top with some very thin matchsticks of ginger. You can also dilute the vinegar with a tiny splash of water to make the flavor a little more delicate.

Take out your two utensils—chopsticks and a Chinese soup spoon (a fork would just butcher these and the soup would dribble out all over the table. It would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions).

Carefully, slowly peel the xiaolongbao off of the steamer basket and dip it into the vinegar.

Chinese soup dumpling and vinegar, by thewoksoflife.com

Gently transfer the dumpling to your soup spoon

Dipping soup dumpling into black vinegar and ginger, by thewoksoflife.com

…and take a tiny bite out of the skin on the side of the soup dumpling to make a little hole. Proceed to slurp the soup out of the bun (Carefully. It’s HOT). Then, with a little more vinegar, finish the whole thing off in one bite.

Repeat as needed until all of the Shanghai Soup Dumplings are gone!

By the way, as if it could get any better, a side benefit of this soup dumpling is that it’s full of collagen from all that pork skin, which is a major skin-booster. Xiaolongbao are delicious AND can help you stay young!?! Come ON!

Soup Dumplings (Xiaolongbao)

Shanghai Soup Dumplings, or xiaolongbao (小笼包)—perhaps the most perfect single bite of food ever conceived by man—do not require much introduction. Paper-thin wrappers envelop perfectly seasoned pork filling and rivers of hot, flavorful soup. If you want to make more of these, you can multiply this recipe as needed!
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 d 30 mins
Course: Dim Sum
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 6
Calories: 294kcal
Author: Judy

Ingredients

For the aspic:

  • ½ pound pork skin (225g, cut into 1-inch strips)
  • 1 pound pork neck bones (450g, you want neck bones that still have meat on them!)
  • water
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 scallion (cut into 3 pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine

For the dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (130g)
  • 6 tablespoons warm water (90 ml)

For the filling:

To serve:

Instructions

The Aspic:

  • In a small pot, add the pork skin and pork bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately drain and rinse off the bones and the skin. This gets rid of any impurities. Rinse out the pot and put everything back in. Add 4 cups (950 ml) water, ginger, scallion and wine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, turn off the heat, allow the soup to cool, and strain the liquid into a bowl. Once the liquid is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The Dough:

  • In a mixing bowl, add the flour and the warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Work and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes. The dough should be very soft and smooth. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

The Filling:

  • Take your ground pork and put it in the food processor. Pulse for 30-60 seconds until the pork resembles paste. In a mixing bowl, add the pork and the rest of the ingredients except the aspic. Whip everything together thoroughly, for about 2 minutes. You want everything to be extremely well combined, and the pork should look like a light, airy paste. Gently fold in the diced aspic, and do not over-mix. Cover and transfer the filling to the refrigerator until ready to make the dumplings. If you’re ready now, you can put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up and make assembling the buns easier.

Assembly:

  • Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a long cylinder/cigar, about an inch in diameter. Cut the dough into small equal pieces weighing about 11 grams each (the dough chunks should be a size resembling that of gnocchi). Roll out each piece into a round disc about 3 – 3 ¼ inches diameter. Keep everything under a damp cloth.
  • Prepare your bamboo steamer. You can line it with cheese cloth, napa cabbage leaves, or these lovely bamboo steamer discs, which can be found in some Chinese restaurant supply stores (if using these, you must brush the discs with oil first!).
  • When all that is prepared, take out the filling. You’ll be making each bun one at a time. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dumpling skin. Pleat with as many folds as you can muster: 12-20 folds should do it. Make sure the top is sealed. If the filling ever gets too wet or hard to handle, put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes and start again.
  • Place the buns in the lined steamer basket, about 2 inches apart.

Steaming:

  • In a metal steamer pot or wok, boil water. If using a wok, put the water at a level so that when you put the bamboo steamer into the wok, the water rises about ½ inch up the bottom of the bamboo base. You never want the water to touch the dumplings inside, though, so make sure not to fill it too high!
  • Once the water is boiling, put the bamboo steamer in the wok or steamer pot, cover with the bamboo steamer lid, and steam over high heat for 8 minutes. Immediately remove the bamboo steamer from the pot and serve.

Eating:

  • Ok, so there is definitely a proper way to enjoy these dumplings. Put away the soy sauce because it has no place on the table right now. What you want is Chinese black vinegar. Pour some out into a small, round dish or bowl, and top with some very thin matchsticks of ginger.
  • Take out your two utensils—chopsticks and a Chinese soup spoon (a fork would just butcher these and the soup would dribble out all over the table. It would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions).
  • Carefully, slowly peel the xiaolongbao off of the steamer basket and dip it into the vinegar. Gently transfer the dumpling to your soupspoon and take a tiny bite out of the skin on the side of the bun to make a little hole. Proceed to slurp the soup out of the bun (Carefully. It’s HOT). Then, with a little more vinegar, finish the whole thing off in one bite.

Notes

Makes 18-20 dumplings, about 3 pieces per serving.

It’s not really a good idea to freeze these, as they’re so delicate.

Nutrition

Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 2mg
Can’t wait to try this recipe.  Looks really yum !

Conversation Questions–Gifts

Gift, Christmas, Surprise, Packed, Packaging

 

  • What kinds of gifts do you like to give?
  • Have you ever re-gifted something?
  • If you don’t like a gift, how long should you keep it?
  • What gift will you give your home-stay family when you leave?
  • What was your last gift?
  • What gift will you give your boyfriend/girlfriend for their birthday?
  • Is there a special gift you like to get?
  • What kinds of gifts do you like to get?
  • Do you ever give or get a knick-knack as a gift?
  • How did you like your last gift?
  • Did you ever get a gift you didn’t like?
  • What gift do you recommend someone give in your culture?
    • For children?
    • For parents?
    • For spouses?
    • For boyfriend?
    • For Girlfriend?
  • What gift would you most like to get?
  • What was the best gift you ever received?
  • How do you thank someone who gave you a gift?
  • What kinds of gifts do you think the other people in the class need?
  • Who was the last person you gave a gift to?
  • Is it enough for a husband/boyfriend to give flowers to his wife/girlfriend on her birthday?
  • What are the times of the year that you give gifts?
  • What are some of the things that you do not give as gifts in your country?
  • What do you think of people who give gifts?

http://iteslj.org/questions/

How to wrap perfectly packaged gifts

The genius hack that will help you wrap your presents.

Christmas is fast approaching and wrapping dozens of presents can be one of the more tedious jobs of the festive season.

But one genius and little-known hack can give your presents a flawless finish, using half the paper and at half the cost.

The ‘diagonal wrapping method’, coined by lifestyle blogger Kallie Branciforte, promises to quickly and painlessly make wrapping easier — and it turns the conventional wrapping method on its head.

 

 

For those awkwardly shaped or difficult to wrap presents, Kallie suggests making a gift bag out of the wrapping paper itself.

She begins by cutting a big enough piece of wrapping paper to fit the present.

Next, she folds the paper in half and folds the paper in at each side to create a seam, taping it in place at the center.

To create a secure bottom for the bag, she folds up about a quarter of the paper from the bottom and opens the resulting flap to create an open triangle.

The two outer triangles are folded in and taped together to create the final bag.

The item can then be simply popped inside with the top of the bag folded over again.

a close up of a piece of paper: For those awkwardly shaped or difficult to wrap presents, Kallie suggests making a gift bag (pictured) out of the wrapping paper itself

a close up of a logo: For those awkwardly shaped or difficult to wrap presents, Kallie suggests making a gift bag (pictured) out of the wrapping paper itself

a close up of a red wall: In a final flourish, the top of the bag can be tied shut with a ribbon with two holes punched into either side of the paper to allow a ribbon or string to be weaved through to secure the bag shut.

In a final flourish, the top of the bag can either be taped closed or tied shut with a ribbon.  Two holes punched into either side of the paper allow a ribbon or string to be weaved through to secure the bag shut.

For an even more professional touch double-sided tape can be placed on the inside of the paper seams so no tape is exposed.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/lifestyle-buzz/the-genius-hack-that-will-help-you-prepare-perfectly-packaged-gifts/ar-BBXjUvY?ocid=spartanntp#image=BBXjUvY_2|1

SLIDES © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

13 Best German Christmas Markets

From The Conde Nast Traveler

While other countries draw crowds with their holiday traditions, no one does Christmas quite like Germany. Its festive holiday season kicks off at the end of November and runs up until the beginning of January, and includes traditional cookies and cakes like Lebkuchen and Pfeffernüsse sold in stores and markets, decorative trees and wreaths filling public spaces, and picturesque old towns given the fairy-tale treatment with twinkling lights and glowing candles placed in the windows of shops and residences. (All that Glühwein no doubt has something to do with it, too.) One of the best ways to experience the holidays in Germany? A Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas market. Here, in no particular order, are 13 of the country’s best markets.

 

 

This article was written by Katherine Lagrave in November 2018.   As always, it’s best to check ahead for the exact 2019 dates.

https://www.cntraveler.com/gallery/the-best-christmas-markets-in-germany

 

A Childs Worries, by Age

All kids worry.  The severity of it should concern every parent.  Here is a child therapist’s list of what “normal” worry looks like at every age level.  I’m not a therapist, but my understanding is that most kids grow out of these normal worries as they mature.

Children's fears by age according to child psychologists.

Writing fiction Rules from Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction 

 

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian author of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction. She was born 18 November 1939.

She is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman, The Robber Bride, and The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker Prize in 2000.

Atwood’s work has been published in more than 40 languages and many of her books have also been adapted for television and film, most notably The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace. HBO is currently adapting her Maddaddam TrilogyOryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam.

Her latest novel, The Testaments, was joint winner of the 2019 Man Booker Prize, alongside Bernardine Evaristo’s novel Girl, Woman, Other.

Here are her 10 rules for writers, which first appeared in The Guardian.

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction 

  1. Take a pencil to write with on aeroplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils.
  2. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  3. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  4. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
  5. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  6. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

Source for image: Curtis Brown

https://writerswrite.co.za/margaret-atwoods-10-rules-writing-fiction/