Tree Classics’ Favorite Recipes: Flavors from the Emerald Isle

Apart from breathtaking landscapes and charming villages, Ireland also offers a unique gastronomic experience. A small island with big culinary ambitions, the Emerald Isle features bold flavor and some of the best raw ingredients this side of the globe. With its rising brood of artisan chefs who continue to up the ante in the world of Irish cuisine, Ireland is definitely an island to reckon with when it comes to innovative culinary art.

In this post, we salute the old and welcome the new as we present some of Ireland’s favorite dishes and how you can make them part of your home menu. Continue reading

10 Simple Ways to Feng Shui Your Home

 

Founded on the main principle of living in harmony with your environment, Feng Shui enhances your home’s overall look and improves the way you live. It aims not only to make your home pleasing to the eyes but to all the senses. Before you think about an indoor or outdoor home décor theme, start with a time-tested design principle that can help improve your home’s look.

In this post, we present a few easy-to-follow Feng Shui guidelines that show big changes are not always necessary to make a positive impact on your family’s lifestyle.

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DIY Valentine’s Day Cards

That time of year has come again, the perfect occasion to shower family, friends, and loved ones with thoughtful gifts and tender words of affection. With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, there is still time to come up with creative gifts; change the tradition of cheesy, unimaginative gifts by giving something more personal and from the heart.

In this post, Tree Classics features a few DIY Valentine’s cards that will show its recipient how much thought and care you put into creating the perfect Valentine’s gift.

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Christmas Tree Deals: Get Ready for Next Year

Gone are the days when one had to wait for the winter season, or until Thanksgiving, to purchase a Christmas tree. As more people start to see the advantages of having an artificial tree, stores are beginning to offer these prized products all year round.

The best time to shop for an artificial holiday tree is during the post-Christmas tree sale period, which runs from the day after Christmas until January. Aside from finding the best deals, this will get you ready for the next holiday. You may stock up on holiday ornaments and décor sold for a fraction of their regular price.

If this is your first time to buy an artificial Christmas tree, take note of these important reminders.

Measure the Space of Your Tree

Determine the space that your tree will fill in. Measure the distance from your ceiling to the floor and get the area’s square footage as well. Make sure to include some space allowance so your display doesn’t look stuffed.

If you want to place gifts underneath your tree, a full-shaped tree guarantees more room at its base. Online Christmas tree stores offer different types of spruce, fir, and pine in varying sizes. Determining the height and width of your tree will make the selection process less tedious.

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Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year: Marsala

This year’s color reflects every individual’s need for nurturing and empowerment, say color authority Pantone. People will get inspiration from Marsala, coined from the famous Sicilian wine, which is going to dominate this year’s fashion and clothing, accessories, cosmetics, and home design.

In the area of home design, Marsala’s underlying brown tones and sophisticated reds will serve as the focal point of many designers. This flexible shade can produce a lot of red and brown variations to suit every homeowner’s personality and lifestyle.

Tree Classics offers a range of palettes that you can combine with the color of the year to give your home an amazingly new look for 2015.

Bronze and Amber Blend


Anyone with a penchant for warm, earthy tones will love the combination of Marsala, bronze, and amber. Play up Marsala on the walls of your home and the brown tones on your furniture, while using accent pieces tinged with amber, to create a beautiful contrast.

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Roast Recipes from Around the World

Roasting meat over an open fire, or in a closed oven, creates an aroma that is unlike any other. Whether it is the smell of roast pork, duck, or chicken, it builds up one’s anticipation for a scrumptious meal.

Roasting is part of most holiday celebrations because it produces delicious dinner table entrees. Because it’s a slow-cooking method, roasting gives everyone time to catch up on each other’s lives, while waiting for their roasted dinner to be served.
Tree Classics gives a rundown of several delicious roast recipes that everyone will love. Prepare the Christmas wine glasses, start the fire, and prepare a sumptuous feast with the family!

Peruvian Roast Chicken

Tree Classics Peruvian Roast Chicken

The Peruvian favorite roast chicken is best prepared marinated in herbs and spices.

It used to be served exclusively to the aristocrats of Peru, but the Peruvian roast chicken eventually reached the plates of the country’s regular folks, too. To make your version of this dish as flavorful as the original, marinate your chicken in herbs and spices before roasting it over charcoal. Wait for the chicken’s skin to turn golden brown, then serve it with French fries and a side dish of vegetable salad. Click here to see the ingredients and recipe for Peruvian roast chicken.

Lechon 

Lechon

The lechon is a staple in Filipino feasts.

Lechon is a delicacy that originated from Spain. In the English language, it means roast suckling pig; a piglet as young as two or six weeks old is used as main ingredient for this dish. It takes two days to prepare a crispy and juicy Lechon. The first day is allotted to the marinating process, while the second day is when the actual roasting takes place. In the old days, people would roast their pig over wood fire or charcoal. Nowadays, many households prefer to use their oven. Learn how to make Lechon here.

Roast Goose

Roast Goose

The roast goose introduces a burst of flavor with every bite.

A traditional Christmas Eve dinner in Germany includes a roast goose with crispy, golden-brown skin. The secret to achieving the perfect roast goose is to measure its cooking time to accuracy. You also have to note that the goose’s stuffing is just as important as the length of its oven stay. It includes rice, sweet apples, and aromatic leaves, among others. German households serve their roast goose with potatoes and cabbage on the side. You can find the complete roast goose recipe here.

Peking Duck

Peking Duck

The legendary taste of the roast Peking duck is known throughout history to satiate even the appetite of kings and emperors.

In Beijing, where this delicious dish had originated, a Peking duck is forced-fed and slaughtered at six weeks old. It is then marinated with maltose syrup, a sweet seasoning, and hung in a cool place to dry. You can tell a duck that’s been roasted to perfection through its crispy, thin skin. To achieve this, separate the duck’s skin from its fat before roasting it. Now that you know, pour some white wine into your Christmas wine glasses, and serve your Peking Duck with Mandarin pancakes and scallions. Click here for a delicious Peking Duck recipe.

Roast Beef

Roast Beef

Whether you eat it on a platter or as sandwich, the roast beef is sure to get your tummy full and satisfied.

To make a platter of succulent roast beef, you need premium beef sirloin first and foremost. Next, coat the meat with a generous amount of mustard flour, which, when mixed with the beef’s fat will create a delectable, crusty outer layer. Set your oven to 375◦ F, put your beef inside, then lower the temperature after roasting the beef for 30 minutes; this will enable the meat to retain its natural juices throughout the remaining cooking time. You can see the full recipe here.

Roast Turkey

Roast Turkey

The classic taste of the roast turkey is best enjoyed even beyond Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving has just passed, but you’ll probably agree that no one has had enough of turkey meat. If you’re planning to serve roast turkey for Christmas dinner, make it taste extra special. Nothing could be better than moist turkey meat, so keep its natural juice from being absorbed by its stuffing. You can do this by precooking the ingredients that you’re going to stuff your turkey with. Once you have placed the turkey in the oven, brush it every now and then with a butter and herbs mixture. Here is how you can make roast turkey with herbs.

Make your Christmas Eve dinner with your loved ones memorable with one or two of these roast recipes.

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DIY Christmas: Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Ugly Christmas sweaters have become a delightful part of holiday tradition in recent years. People come to holiday parties dressed up in colorful and funny outfits all to celebrate the joys of the season. The more unique and ridiculous your ugly sweater is, the more popular you are at the party. This is why a lot of Christmas party-goers pull out all the stops in order to create the most whimsical gimmicks they can think of.

To help you come up with the best (or worst) ugly sweater for your next Christmas party, Tree Classics presents five of our favorite do-it-yourself sweater designs. With these fun and simple Christmas crafts, you can be sure to be the ugliest of them all.

Christmas Elf Sweater


What better way to cap off a great Christmas party than handing out the gifts dressed as one of Santa’s little helpers? This awesome elf outfit makes use of a light green sweater accessorized with red and white trimmings. Finish up the look by adding a few details such as the buttons, the small bells at the collar, and the large black belt and buckle. This is one ugly sweater design that even old Saint Nick will be proud of.

Pink Holiday Sweater


Let your ugly Christmas sweater feature a unique style by splashing it with loud and proud colors. This pink sweater is charming enough but by adding some colorful nutcracker and Christmas ornament prints, it became even more eye-catching. This is a great way to introduce some pink power to your traditional holiday party.

Stuffed Animal Sweater


For party-goers who prefer a cuter, more adorable way to dress up their ugly sweaters, you can definitely choose this stuffed animal sweater design.  Go through your collection of stuffed toys and pick out your favorite one. Create a nice bedding for your stuffed animal by attaching a wreath or garland on your sweater. Place the toy on your sweater through sewing and then a few holiday details around it.

Ginger Bread House Sweater with Lights


Give Rudolph a run for his money by sparkling your way to the party in this ugly Christmas sweater with lights. Upgrade a printed sweater by attaching a few battery-operated blinking LED lights to it. With this ugly sweater, you’re sure to light up the holiday scene.

Christmas Tree Sweater


Wow the crowd at your Christmas party by coming in dressed up as a Christmas tree. Take a plain dark green sweater then tie a gold or silver tinsel garland around it. Attach a few ornaments, such as Christmas balls and finials, and then wrap it up with a large star or angel tree topper. Whenever you feel in character, simply stretch your arms upward to form a pyramid, lift the tree topper, cross your legs and strike a pose to get that Christmas tree look.

This year, be the life of the party by donning the ugliest Christmas sweater around. Stretch the boundaries of your imagination and come up with the most unique design to suit your personality.

Traditional Christmas Dishes from Around the World

A Christmas Eve dinner varies from one country to another. While a roasted dish in Puerto Rico may lead to the clanking of Christmas dinner plates, a spicy chicken entrée could be the only showstopper in Ethiopia. The diverse cuisines this world has to offer is the reason why every one of us is always excited to cook something special during this time of the year.

Before you prepare Christmas dinner, though, you may want to check out these 10 traditional holiday dishes from around the world. One of these just might inspire you to come up with a new holiday recipe.

Roasted Pork Shoulder

The Pernil Asado is a Puerto Rican dish that means roasted pork shoulder. It is the Christmas ham’s counterpart in Puerto Rico. This slow-roasted dish, which is marinated in orange juice, cumin, and garlic, will take approximately 11 hours to prepare. Rest assured, the outcome of your effort will please anyone’s taste buds. Click here for the complete recipe.

The Feast of Seven Fishes

Introduce something new on your dining table with this traditional Italian seaside meal. It commemorates the wait for the birth of Jesus Christ at midnight, but others say that the number seven represents the number of days God created the world. Regardless of the story behind it, your family will love it down to the last fish. Check out the complete recipe here.

Kruschicki 

In English, this dish from Poland means bow tie fritters. These crunchy, sugar-dusted cookies would always stir kids and adults with excitement on Christmas Eve and other holidays. Prepare your whiskey glassware if you’re having these on Christmas Eve because according to the Polish folks, Kruschicki is best served with a glass of whiskey. Here’s the complete recipe for this dish.  

Doro Wat

A perfect Ethiopian Christmas dinner comes with Doro Wat or chicken stew. This flavorful dish is marinated in an array of spices, such as chili, garlic, onion, oregano, paprika, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, and Berbere, which is a special Ethiopian spice. The chicken is then cooked slowly for three hours at low temperature to release its natural juices. Click here for the full recipe.

Bacalao a la Mexicana

Mexico’s traditional Christmas dinner happens on January 6, when every home in the country features a dish called Bacalao a la Mexicana. This spicy food, which was inspired by Spain’s Bacalao, consists of salt cod and different kinds of spices that render its authentic taste. Click here for the complete recipe.

Christmas Goose with Stuffing

Back in the 17th Century, oyster and lamb dishes were often served in American homes during Christmas Eve. Nowadays, a traditional American Christmas dinner would include the rich taste of a roasted goose with apple and cranberry stuffing. Some Americans, though, prefer to use poussin instead of goose when cooking this dish because the former’s meat is more tender. Get the recipe here.

Laufabraud

Incorporate a slice of art into your holiday feast with this Icelandic dish, which means leaf bread in the English language. It is a crunchy, thin, flat bread with intricate patterns. Families in Iceland make this delicacy a few days before Christmas Eve to ensure they accomplish the bread’s beautiful patterns flawlessly. Here’s how to make a Laufabraud.

Buche de Noel

This delicious buttercream cake was inspired by France’s tradition of burning a yule log in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. These days, the French would welcome Christmas Eve with a log of Buche de Noel complementing their Christmas dinner. Learn how to make your own yule log cake here.

Sauerbraten

If you’re still wondering what your main course should be, take inspiration from Germany’s pot roast beef or popularly known as Sauerbraten. Soaked in lemon juice and buttermilk marinade for three days, then slow-cooked for two to three hours, this dish will surely give your family and guests a memorable gastronomic experience. Get the authentic recipe for this dish here.

Julskinka

This list of traditional Christmas dishes wouldn’t be complete without Sweden’s Julskinka or glazed Christmas ham. In Sweden, the Julskinka is the dining table’s main attraction during Christmas dinner. Making this Swedish ham entails a lot of patience because you need to go through different cooking methods to achieve its authentic taste. If you want to include Julskinka in your Christmas dinner menu, follow this recipe.

Enjoy a virtual trip to international kitchens with this list of traditional Christmas dishes from around the world. Which of these entrees are you considering for your Christmas Eve dinner?

5 Simple Ways to Give Back to the Community

The Christmas season is all about the spirit of giving. While the most common idea is to hand out gifts in appreciation of others, there are other ways you can give back to your community. Here are Tree Classics’ five simple but meaningful ways you can lend a hand around your neighborhood and show how much you value all the help they gave you throughout the year.

Pay a Visit to Your Local Care Home

What better way to start giving back to your community than to drop by at your local care home? Many senior centers often accept volunteers. There are times when you don’t even have to do much other than to spend time with grandmas and grandpas and listen to their awesome stories. These are good folks who always appreciate meeting new people and having a great laugh, so paying them a visit and chatting with them from time to time would mean a lot.

Hand Out Desserts to Your Neighbors

The next time you whip a batch of your favorite dessert, make some extras and share it with your neighbors. Aside from strengthening your friendship with other families, this is also an excellent idea to build rapport and open communication around the neighborhood.

Make New Friends at the Animal Shelter

Animal shelters are almost always in need of extra hands. With so many stray or abandoned pets to care for, they could definitely use some help around the place. Sign up at a shelter near you and help take care of these poor little critters. Being a volunteer has never been this adorable.

Help Out at the Community Garden

For people who have a knack for cultivation, helping out at the neighborhood garden may just be the thing for you.  Here you can grow crops that could benefit your community as well help improve the environment around your neighborhood.

Share Your Skills and Smarts  

Another great way you can lend a hand in your community is to share your talents with other. If you’re good at painting and other crafts, why not join your local art group and start a mural painting drive? Ask your local officials if you could paint murals on public walls and make them more colorful and attractive. If storytelling is your strong suit, then you could volunteer at schools and orphanages to read stories to children during your free time.

Helping out in your community is one of the best ways to show appreciation for others. Whatever your talents and skills maybe, you can definitely make a difference if your share them with others.