Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The last day of the year...

It's a time for reflecting on the past year.

Overall, 2013 was an exciting year here at JDL. We still love what we do and look forward to going to work every day. That's a great privilege in these times and certainly not something that everyone is afforded. So we're both grateful and humbled by this.

Thank you so much for this past year to all of our readers – of the magazine, on Facebook and here on the blog ... without you, we wouldn't be able to do what we do after all.

Thank you for all of your lovely comments, good ideas and – at times – constructive criticism.

We've always got a lot of ideas in the making and now, at the turn of the year, we have New Year resolutions like everyone else. One of the things that we aim to do in 2014 is strive to make the magazine even more interesting to our readers. The same goes for our products. You can keep up with what's in the pipeline here on the blog.

Happy New Year!

See you in 2014...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday, December 24th:

The table is set and the family gathers...

Here's a sneak peek at our upcoming book on celebrations to be published on May 1st, 2014.
You'll find plenty of inspiration for celebrations big and small.
Merry Christmas – and thank you for this past year.

See you in 2014! / Jeanne d'Arc Living, Vivian & Tina

Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday, December 23rd:

There's always something special about December 23rd here in Denmark.
Most of the Christmas shopping and stress is behind us and now we get to really enjoy each other's company.

In our family, we have a tradition of eating rice porridge on December 23rd. It's easy to make and everyone loves it.

Rice porridge:

Serves 4

You'll need:
7 oz (200 g) pudding rice
4 C (1 liter) whole milk
2 C (500 ml) cream
1 tsp sea salt

Butter, cinnamon sugar and light ale (or malt beer).

Bring milk and cream to a boil in a pot. Add the rice and stir until it returns to a boil. Lower the heat and let the porridge simmer, tightly covered, for 45-60 minutes over low heat. Stir occasionally to keep the porridge from scorching. Once the porridge is done, season to taste with salt. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Serve the rice porridge with a pat of butter in the middle and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve juice or light ale with the porridge. Here in Denmark, many of us still use the old trick of putting the pot of porridge in the bed under the covers after it's been brought to a boil. Leave it in there for a couple of hours and it will be just perfect – no scorched bottom!

We make it the traditional way – wrapped in plenty of blankets on the bed.

Meanwhile, we bring in the tree and decorate it, a task that the whole family participates in with much zeal.
We always have certain specific items that we want to include on our tree. But PERHAPS we'll be tempted by Jo Anne's romantic Christmas this year and go pink.

Once the children are down for the night, it's time to wrap the last presents and perhaps set up just one little Christmas tableau.
I LOVE to potter about with my little displays late in the evening when the house is quiet.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday, December 22nd:

These past few years we've had a tradition of getting our Christmas tree together with Jørgen and Lonnie.
We found a cozy little place nearby that lets us cut down our own tree in the woods.

There's always much discussion about what the tree should look like.

Once we've cut down our tree, we have æbleskiver and shop for specialties in the small store.
Then we head back to Jørgen and Lonnie's house for lunch.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday, December 21st:

Today I'll be spending most of the day in the kitchen

making all of the preparations for this year's Christmas luncheon with the family on Christmas day.

My entire family is coming for lunch. Luckily, my sisters and I have divided out the tasks between the three of us.
We wouldn't want to crash and burn over the number of dishes – and homemade does taste better, after all.
So I'll be making a roast, baking liver pates and making homemade remoulade for the fish filets.

I've already made the Danish rolled meat sausage from my grandmother's recipe as well as the pickled beets.
My sisters will be bringing meat balls, medister sausage, green cabbage in white sauce, stewed kale, various kinds of herring, etc.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday, December 20th:

Today's the last day here at JDL before we close down for a well-deserved Christmas break.
The entire JDL family is getting together for a bit of Christmas spirit. We'll have a soda or a Christmas beer and enjoy some Christmas treats.

We've about had our fill for the year! This is also when we usually pass around Christmas gifts to our employees.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday, December 19th:

Today Jytte brought in homemade oat balls for everyone. She spent a day making Christmas cookies and candy with her grown-up daughter and wanted to share the treats with us.

Here's the recipe:

Jytte's Oat Balls

1 3/4 C (200 g) butter
3 1/4 C (400 g) powdered sugar (NOT regular sugar)
1/3 C (75 ml) milk
11 oz (325 g) oats
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wednesday, December 18th:

I completely forgot to tell you about our little Christmas game out here.

Santa's little helpers...

Throughout the month of December we've had a lot of fun being "Santa's little helper" for someone.

These little helpers can be a bit mischievous – a bit of friendly teasing is part of the game – but mostly they're very nice.
Sweet little presents and decorations of various types have been making their way from one office to the next.

My office, for instance, has been invaded by several wall pixies that hang from my pictures all over – much to the amusement of the entire staff who all know how much I despise red wall pixies.

There's been much laughter and guesswork. It'll be interesting to see if we'll all be able to guess who our "helper" was.
Looks like this is a game that will turn into – yet another – fun and cozy tradition around here.

A sweet snowman Vivian received from one of Santa's helper.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday, December 17th:

These days we're working at full throttle to finish the March edition of the magazine.
We often shoot articles a year in advance in order to follow the seasons.

But the layout, text and final articles are completed three months prior to the publication date.
How we long for spring, sitting here and looking at all of the pictures for that issue...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday, December 16th:

The festival of hearts...

Perhaps you read the November issue of our magazine where Janne showed us how to patinate materials to make them look old.
Pipe cleaners are one of the things that can magically be made to look completely different with just a little shoe polish on a rag.

You can purchase silver-colored pipe cleaners from our retailers.

They're perfect for making little stars or hearts.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday, December 15th:

Today we're making large quantities of Christmas candy.
So the whole family needs to get to work. We'll begin first thing in the morning – and keep going most of the day, almost like an assembly line.

Once we reach evening time we'll all be very tired and full – you have to do a bit of taste-testing after all...
The rest of the candy will be wrapped up and saved for Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Marzipan Dreams

Roll the marzipan into small balls; then squeeze them a little to make them slightly oval. Press them down onto an egg slicer to make nice ridges. Dip them in melted dark chocolate and decorate with a white star or other pretty things.


Walnut Bites

Pour melted dark chocolate into silver-colored drip catchers. Fill them about halfway. Make small balls out of marzipan or nougat and add one to each drip catcher. Add more melted chocolate to cover. Finish with 1/2 walnut on top. You could also use blanched almonds or some other decoration.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday, December 14th:

One of our most popular items this year is this gossamer tulle with a flower motif.

One explanation is probably that it's so versatile. You can use it as a tablecloth – 'as is' or placed on top of a solid-colored tablecloth for a striking effect.

But it also makes a really beautiful curtain. That's one of the things that our designer Dorte used it for.

In early 2014 we'll be introducing this fabric in three new, vintage colors.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday, December 13th:

The festival of lights...

Just now when the days are short and dark, it's time to celebrate Saint Lucy's Day with a candlelight procession and song. According to tradition, the "Lucia Bride" leads the procession carrying a crown of candles on her head. This chastity crown honors the memory of Saint Lucy who gave her life to God as the bride of Christ. The well-known "Santa Lucia" song is based on a Sicilian folk song in her honor.

Song for Santa Lucia

Nightly, go heavy hearts
Round farm and steading
On earth, where sun departs,
shadows are spreading.
Then on our darkest night,
Comes with her shining light
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
Then on our darkest night,
Comes with her shining light
Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

Night-darkling, huge and still.
Hark, something's stirring!
In all our silent rooms,
Wingbeats are whisp'ring!
Stands on our threshold there,
White clad, lights in her hair,
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
Stands on our threshold there,
White clad, lights in her hair,
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!

Darkness shall fly away
Through earthly portals.
She brings such wonderful
words to us mortals!
Daylight, again renewed
will rise, all rosy-hued!
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!
Daylight, again renewed,
will rise, all rosy-hued.
Sankta Lucia! Sankta Lucia!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday, December 12th:

Decorate outside to welcome your guests – it doesn't take much to create a Christmas feel by your front door. Here we've used our old, wooden toboggan and a pair of old skis as the main components in a small tableau for the courtyard.
A lantern for candles is almost a necessity. Add a few sprigs of pine and other greens to the toboggan and – voila – you've created a Christmas atmosphere in just a short amount of time.

Here is a lovely christmaspicture from outside JDL 2012.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday, December 11th:

It's amazing how time flies. We're halfway there...

Perhaps now is the time to revise our expectations of what we can and should accomplish before Christmas.

With 18 family members celebrating Christmas Eve on the 24th and 16 visitors on the 25th here at Tjørnegaarden, I've got quite the list – and I also want to fit in some coziness in-between all the to-dos. Time for gløgg and æbleskiver with the neighbors, and time to sit down with the kids to wrap presents.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday, December 10th:

Last year was the first time I ever made my own burnt sugar almonds. In previous years, my dear nephew Marc has always supplied us with this treat. But now he's studying in Copenhagen so we had to get cooking ourselves. I was surprised at how easy it is – and they just taste so much richer and better than store-bought.

What you need:
8,75 oz (250 g) Almonds
8,75 oz (250 g) Sugar
0,75 liter Water

What you do:
Put all the ingredients in a pot and turn up the heat so that the water boils and the lot starts to bubble. Stir evening using a fork. Then turn down the heat until the water is completely evaporated and the sugar has crystallized again. The sugar must then melt, but only partially so that it settles in clumps on the almonds. Do not let it melt completely otherwise it will be impossible to separate the almonds! Stir them constantly. Pour the almonds out onto a piece of baking paper and use a fork to separate them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, December 9th:

It's time to write Christmas cards to friends and acquaintances. In these electronic times, the handwritten Christmas card has been all but forgotten. But receiving a real, old-fashioned card in the mail DOES feel extra special.

Tonight I plan to sit down with a nice pot of tea and write personal greetings for friends and loved ones.

I've completely fallen for this nostalgic collection of cards featuring little girls...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday, December 8th:

At our house we start putting up decorations around mid-November, adding a little more with each passing week: another small display or decorations; a small garland hung in the window or perhaps just a couple of tea lights and a sprig of pine in the bathroom.

I simply LOVE to just potter about making the house cozy. But I have to have the time for it! No stress or rush – then we're in business.

I might very well become inspired on just a weeknight. Oftentimes it comes as a result of something we did a work that day which inspires me to continue at home. Or it might be some of the products that we sell that I just can't seem to live without bringing home. Today it's this huge cone sewn from an old flour sack with our signature print.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday, December 7th:

A visit to Hjerl Hede Open Air Museum

Visiting living-history museums and markets around Christmastime has grown increasingly popular in Denmark in recent years. Here in Jylland, the "Old Town" in Aarhus has put on a Christmas market for many years. This year we made a visit to the Hjerl Hede Open Air Museum. The museum comes to life with Christmas preparations and demonstrates the tasks like in the old days. There's plenty of Christmas atmosphere, and all of the lovely, old buildings have a sweet smell of Christmas. The baker makes Christmas cookies, the pig gets butchered, homemade hard candies are decorated, boiled and sold and old-fashioned wooden toys ar being made in the workshops.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday, December 6th:

Do you love Christmas decorations from the old days like we do? They can be difficult to get a hold of but you can transform the materials for your Christmas decoration so they look old with just a few tricks. Give paper doilies, lace and paper a vintage look by dipping them in coffee or tea. Today we're having a Christmas crafts day with the kids. This year the glitter paper and red cardstock have been switched out for colored scraps, paper doilies and pipe cleaners.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday, December 5th:

Today we woke up to the most amazing view over the fields. The morning fog was thick, the sun only just peeking through.

We shot this photograph last year around this time at the local inn Hvidsten Kro just a few miles from here. The icicles hung like garland from the roof endangering us all but it sure was beautiful... and cold!



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday, December 4th:

Friday is my birthday. In keeping with tradition, I'm bringing cake for everyone in the company. Home-baked is best ... so I've been busy making profiteroles. /Vivian

Choux Pastry

Scant 1 C (200 ml) Water
1 stick (100 g) Margarine or Butter
3/4 C (100 g) Flour
4 Eggs

Bring water and butter/margarine to a boil and whisk the flour in. Stir vigorously until the dough no longer sticks to the pot. Let the dough cool a bit and add the eggs one at a time. The dough must be stick together before you stir in the next egg. Put the dough on baking paper on the baking pan. You can use an icing bag or you can also use two spoons. We made small round and rectangular choux pastries.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400 °F (200 °C). Do not open the oven door during the first 25 minutes, since the choux pastries can collapse.


Don't forget our new recipe book – The Best Recipes 2 is available now in tre languages, german, ducth and danish. A great gift idea! /Vivian

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday, December 3rd:

Our girls, Mille (Lonnie's daughter) and Mathilde (my daughter), ages 13 and 11, love to bake. This year they've promised to take care of baking our Christmas cookies not just for our own families but also samples for all of us here at JDL. After school my kitchen transforms into a Christmas bakery and the delicious smell quickly spreads to our offices.

Today they're making vanilla rings.

You'll need:
5 oz (150 g) hazelnuts
4 oz (100 g) almonds
1 lb (500 g) flour
3 ½ sticks (400 g) butter
1 ⅓ C (300 g) sugar
1 egg
Seeds of 1 large vanilla bean

Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 300 °F (150 °C). Rub off the skins and chop the nuts coarsely. Skin the almonds and chop them as well. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into a bit of the sugar if you like. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped hazelnuts and almonds, butter, egg, flour, vanilla and sugar. Knead well to combine, shape into a ball and refrigerate overnight. Run the dough through a meat grinder with a star plate attachment (or use a cookie press). Cut the strips into smaller pieces and shape into a "wreath". Bake at 400 ºF (200 ºC) for about 8 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday, December 2nd:

There’s still time even if December has taken you a bit by surprise and you have yet to make calendar gifts for one of your loved ones. An easy solution is to hang 24 paper cones or decorative bags with a few goodies in each. These cones are made from scraps of wallpaper, ribbon and buttons. The little notes with numbers are just printed out and torn along the edges and then glued onto each cone. /Vivian

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday, December 1st:

Today is both December 1st and the first Sunday of Advent. The countdown has really started and the waiting has begun. The word Advent comes from the Latin "adventus domini", which means "The coming of the Lord". We're waiting for the birth of Christ. The tradition of the Advent wreath originated in Germany in the early 1900s and has since become a permanent tradition in many homes here in Denmark.

Have you made your Advent wreath? This lovely wreath is made from light and airy materials. We’ve used eucalyptus, lamb’s ear and salsola. The eucalyptus leaves have the most beautiful grayish-green color and they smell nice. They’re poisonous though. The salsola has the most whimsical leaves or vines in the prettiest shade of silver. You should be able to find both of these at a well-stocked florist. Lamb’s ear, however, is something you’ll have to find in your garden or ask around to see if anyone has some. They have a beautiful color and are oh-so-soft. You’ll be almost tempted to believe that they’re made of fabric. When making this wreath, it’s important to have your materials ready so they’re right at hand for tying on the wreath. We’ve sprayed on a coat of silver glitter to the finished wreath to make it even more special. Wide strips of white gauze are tied around the wreath, which is placed on a tall display so they hang down creating a light and elegant feel.