christmas in new york made of twigs and pomegranate seeds

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. Do you know the story of the eight-year-old girl whose belief in Santa Claus begins to waver one Christmas in New York City?

She writes to the editor of a New York newspaper. The little girl’s father is a faithful reader and believes any story in the paper to be true. The editor of The New York Sun answers her letter in the newspaper and gives a renewed sense of holiday hope to children and adults.

Today, Macy’s pairs with the Make A Wish folks to donate money, from the letters children write to Santa, collected from the mailboxes at Macy’s.

Take a closer look at Macy’s at Herald Square and the buildings above. They are replicas of the iconic store, and a row of New York City brownstones, made from twigs, seeds and other natural elements.

These buildings are part of the Holiday Train Show, at The New York Botanical Garden, and it is a bit of magical fun for people of all ages. New York landmarks are mixed with private residences and represented in the glass atrium at The Botanical Garden site.

Trains weave in between the buildings and hum along tracks, on the ground and overhead, on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges made of bark.

We went the other day for a holiday outing. The sun streams through the glass of the atrium filled with towering palm trees, violets, cyclamen, citrus fruits, and ferns, as well as the buildings, made with leaves and tiny twigs.

There is everything from the old Yankee stadium, with tiny white lights poking through acorn tops for the stadiums lights, to the New York Public Library, and The Conference House on Staten Island, made of carefully constructed rows of twigs to create paned glass windows.

The details on the buildings and bridges use deep ruby-colored pomegranate seeds as berries in holiday decorations and as elements of stained glass windows. Twigs are twisted and braided to make different architectural features. Acorn caps are used as terraces and decorative awnings.

So simple and so elaborate all at once. A holiday train show and visit to some winter gardens. Back home we made some hot chocolate from our homemade mix we keep on hand for the winter months. It’s recommended to swirl your leftover candy canes in a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

Check out this mix for hot chocolate that you can make in your kitchen. The holidays may be coming to an end — but winter will stick around for some time.

Make some hot chocolate and continue reading here and over at in the new year.

Happy New Year and all the best for 2014!

Hot Chocolate Mix

 Yield: Makes 10 big mugs of hot chocolate

2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

10 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mini milk chocolate chips


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and strain mixture in a bowl.

Gently start to warm milk and add vanilla extract.

Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Continue stirring. Add chocolate chips and melt.

Serve with mini marshmallows or whipped cream.

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