They say it’s your birthday…

image courtesy of Wikipedia

Recently, I took a whirlwind trip to New York City to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, and we had a wonderful time. It was a nice departure from the usual birthday party and it got me thinking about birthday traditions. I did a little research on this annual event and found some pretty interesting origins and cultural variations in tradition.

Did you know that birthday parties may have started in Europe as a way to protect the celebrant from evil spirits? People believed that you were more vulnerable to being attacked by evil spirits on your birthday, so all your family and friends would make it their purpose to surround you all day in order to keep you safe. There are so many beautiful birthday traditions all over the world, and in case someone you love has a birthday coming up, I’ll give you a few of my favorites. Why not try something new?

Brazil: In Brazil you pull on the Birthday Boy/Girl’s earlobe for every year they have been alive, and sometimes once more for good luck. Ouch!

Canada: You grease the celebrant’s nose with butter or margarine, this way they are too slippery for the bad spirits to catch. This tradition has it’s origin in Scotland.

Denmark: A flag is flown outside the house to designate that someone in the household has a birthday that day. For children, parents place the child’s presents around their bed so that is the first thing they see when they get up in the morning.

England: A Fortune Cake is made, which is a regular cake with small symbolic tokens baked into it. If someone get’s a coin in their slice of cake, then they are destined to be rich.

Korea: On a child’s first birthday, she/he is placed in front of a table of foods and objects, such as a string, brushes, ink and money. Whatever the child chooses from the table determines his/her fortune. Food represents that they will never know hunger, the string represents longevity, money represents riches and the brush and ink represent intelligence.

South Africa: On a person’s 21st birthday, their parents give them a key. This key symbolizes the young person’s readiness to unlock the door to their future.

Sweden: Traditionally, Swedish children are served breakfast in bed. Parents surprise the children by singing a traditional Swedish birthday song and bringing a birthday breakfast and gifts to the birthday child. The breakfast typically includes a hot roll with a candle in it and a beverage.

Vietnam: In Vietnam, everyone’s birthday is celebrated on New Year’s Day!

So, what do you think? Have you been inspired to switch up any of your usual birthday traditions & if so, where will you start?

Botanical Illustrations by Angela Dalinger

Image courtesy of angeladalinger.tumblr.com

We turn to nature for candle inspiration often and are always looking for ways to bring the outdoors into our home. With an obvious weakness for botanicals, we fell for these sweet illustrations of potted plants and flowers by German illustrator Angela Dalinger. The 28-year-old illustrator and painter makes her own books and prints and makes them available on her online store. Check out some of the other illustrations and photographs on her tumblr for a nice dose of fresh energy.

Nothing says “I love you” like Red Velvet…

image courtesy of annies-eats

When I was in elementary school I used to stay up late the night before Valentine’s Day writing valentines to all my friends and licking all those horrible tasting envelopes. Now that I have my own kids, I do my best to spare them the hand cramps and the bad taste in their mouths. So, the night before Valentine’s Day we make cupcakes for all of their friends, because although everyone has a secret fondness for ‘Sweethearts’, nothing says “I love you” like Red Velvet! I came across this wonderful recipe on www.marthastewart.com, enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • Cream Cheese Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
  3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
  4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
  5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting.

Note

Makes 24 cupcakes. Gel-paste food color is much more concentrated than the supermarket liquid variety; if you substitute the liquid, you may need to add an entire bottle (1.5 ounces) to achieve the desired shade.

Introducing the new Grapefruit candle

One goal I set for myself in 2013 was to be more active. I’ve been setting aside time to fit in some yoga, go for long walks, and ride bikes with the kids when the weather permits. One activity I’ve been hearing a lot about is SoulCycle which apparently has a cult following in NYC, though it isn’t yet available here in Indiana. Have any of you tried it?

Besides the rigorous workout, I love how they incorporate candles into their workouts as an energizing tool and thought I’d bring some of that into my own at-home sessions. Our new Grapefruit candle is perfect for people who workout at home and want to set a motivational mood, or for people who just like the inviting scent of a citrus candle. A beguiling scent, this grapefruit candle offers a fresh infusion of citrus with spicy bottom notes of ginger and green wood. Would you incorporate candles into your workouts? I’ve really been enjoying it!

If you’d like to give it a try, you can purchase our new Grapefruit candle, here.

Valentine’s Day Exclusives

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ve teamed with Terrain on three limited edition candles and packaging. We’re so excited about this romantic trio and wanted to make sure you knew all about them!

New Bulgarian Rose: Inspired by the blooming fields of Bulgaria’s Rose Valley, this candle brings home the fresh scents of rose, black currant, and green leaves.

New Wildflower: Inspired by wild blooms on the Texas prairie, this fresh, floral candle brings home the scents of spring.

New Lily of the Valley: Inspired by delicate, bell-shaped Lily of the Valley, this refreshing candle blooms with notes of hyacinth and jasmine.

Combining natural soy wax, lead-free cotton wicks, and pure scents, Linnea’s Lights clean-burning candles are carefully hand-poured in small batches. Each candle retails for $30. Shop the collection today and bring home a very unique bouquet!