Day 9: Christmas Eve traditions

Today, well, earlier today, when today still meant Friday, my cousin M took me to Vernon to have my photo taken and to do some errands. On the way there and back I mostly knitted on one side of my sister’s scarf, working up from the darker pocket. I chose to use moss stitch for a nicer finish to both front and back. This is K2, P2 for 2 rows, then P2, K2 for 2 rows. It went fairly smoothly; until I noticed a section where I had .that I had just done six rows without changing the beginning. Oh, well, it has now become a ‘design element’ in the best tradition of knitters everywhere. There is no way I am frogging anymore unless I really make a mess of it!

And while I was knitting, I was thinking about a few things, including some of my own family’s traditions, especially for Christmas Eve.

In 1975 I learned of an old house that was being torn down soon and that people were welcome to salvage whatever they could. I was lucky enough to gIt was oveet a complete built-in dining room buffet, complete with drawers, glass doors, and more. Friends helped me take it apart. But the big score was an old Chesterfield, likely from the 1920s or 1930s. It was over  six feet between the arms and on Christmas Eve it was perfect for all of us to sit on; sometimes up to four adults and four children.

I have a pretty old-fashioned approach to some things: food and holidays are two of them. So on Christmas Eve I tried to make something special for dinner; after that, any last-minute preparations for the big day were taken care of; then we sat on the big couch with hot chocolate and some of the Christmas baking and admired our tree, full of hand-made ornaments. No tv and only rarely did we have batteries for the little transistor radio. When we did, Christmas music was lovely in the background. But the best part was when it began to get late. We would all hang our woolen work sock stockings near the fireplace (in Victoria) or the old Franklin stove (in the old log house) and then we would read the original Christmas story from the Bible, followed by The Night Before Christmas poem. Last of all, the boys put out a plate of Christmas baking and a glass of milk for Santa. One year they left carrots for the reindeer, too. In the morning, there would be only crumbs on the plate and a milky glass next to it.

Finally the boys were tucked up in their beds and our fun began! Into each stocking went a Christmas orange, a handful of nuts in the shell (therefore stretching out the fun of eating them), another handful of hard candy and licorice (one of my favourites) Some years there was chocolate, too. But the part I liked best was taking the small gifts out from their hiding place and wrapping each individually. I am a savouring sort of person myself, so I like to extend enjoyment for others, too. In the basement floor of two of our department stores was a section much like the dime stores of old and the dollar stores of today. I would have bought several small items there, things like Silly Putty and crayons, balsa wood airplane kits, perhaps a small top or other toy. I usually bought a magazine like Owl for each of them, too, rolling the book and then wrapping it. Small rubber balls were always a favourite, too. One year there were wooden recorders; another year it was friction cars; do you remember them? You would roll them back and forth to wind them up, then let them sail across the linoleum, often making a siren noise as they went. Very popular with small boys!

Often last-minute wrapping followed, especially of the gifts that were from Santa. I remember the first Christmas with my husband; he bought a ride-on horse with springs suspending it from the frame for the youngest, who was three at the time.  That was hard to hide! We kept it in the studio and one day the wee boy got in and we heard him bouncing away on the horse. He was soon removed and the door kept locked until Christmas Eve.

The last of Christmas Eve we spent quietly on that old Chesterfield, talking and making plans for the future. My husband would get out his guitar and sing, I grew up with home-made music and it was so nice to have it in our own home. This is when I liked to have the first of the eggnog with a little rum or brandy to spike it and the shortbread I made with oat flour. So good!

Simple traditions, really, but I loved them. I hope one day to be able to repeat some with my grandchildren.

Did you have a tradition that you loved on Christmas Eve? Was it from the family you grew up in or did you make your own?

Well, it’s late and I’m ready for bed, so no pictures today, either, sorry. But there must be music:

My Favourite Time of Year by The Florin Street Band This is a group new to me. I like their voices very much.

I wish you some time for reflection and remembrance today. Love to you all. ~ Linne

Advertisements

Day 6: Little Christmas

Back when my youngest son was about three and a half, we had a rather epic Christmas and not in a good way. His brother, then eight and a half, had been so excited at the thought of Christmas and Santa coming that the wee one got all excited, too. That Christmas morning they emptied their stockings and played with the toys they found there, eating their orange and nuts and candy all the while. We had breakfast and then I got the turkey stuffed and into the oven, after which we opened our gifts. There wasn’t a huge pile that year, so it was all over rather quickly. The poor baby, already tired from staying up late, too excited to sleep, suddenly had a meltdown. He cried off and on for the rest of the day, it seemed. It was our first Christmas with my husband, the boys’ stepfather and he was concerned, as was I. We sat up late after the boys had finally gone to sleep and thought about what might have caused the reaction and what we could do to make things better the next year.

I had read about Little Christmas, which is celebrated by many Christians as the anniversary of the coming of the Magi, with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. At the time I wasn’t aware that many Mennonites and Lutherans (my family heritage by way of my parents, you may recall) mark that day, some with church-going, all with a special time with family and friends.

Christmas gifts of the Magi 01

Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh

We decided to make that a part of our own family tradition and it worked out very well. In fact, my older son and his wife and six children still celebrate Little Christmas yearly. Not sure if the younger son and his family do or not.

What we did was to hold back one gift for each of us, plus all the gifts for family and friends who lived close enough to join us. The boys’ Dad, his wife and their two children always came, and my sister J when she was still in training to be an RN and several other friends as well. Sometimes we invited friends who had no family or not much budget for holidays. We didn’t have much, but always made sure there was a gift under the tree for everyone we expected and sometimes a couple of extra gifts for the unexpected, too.Once I began making Christmas cakes from my own recipe, the gift was often a small cake, as I baked a variety of sizes. More on the cakes another day . . .

A note on those cakes, though: Mine were dark like the one at the bottom above and as full of fruits and nuts as the two on the right, even a little bit fuller. I added the top left photo because I saw it and immediately thought what fun it would be to make a few of these and put the names of my =Virtual Village friends on each little house front. One thing . . . I never iced my cakes or added marzipan. They were plenty rich all on their own . . .

Back to Little Christmas . . .

Each year I would make a complete traditional Christmas turkey dinner again (we loved leftovers and with two growing boys those never lasted long. Also it let us send home small care packages with those of our friends who didn’t make their own dinners, and so had no leftovers to enjoy.

People came in the early afternoon and we had oranges, nuts, candies, and all the Christmas baking I could manage and I somehow managed a lot.That will be another post, too. There was always eggnog (my own recipe, of course) and sometimes mulled wine (glogg in Norway, I know now and sorry, I don’t know how to insert the special letter o with the line through it)

We opened gifts one at a time, passing each from hand to hand to be admired. When it had returned to the recipient, one of the smaller children fetched the next package and my husband read out the To and From information and it  was then duly delivered to the next person. The boys’ other parents and their children always brought gifts and so did others who came, so this took a while.

Then the women (it was the olden days, ok? and I love this tradition in any case) would get the last of the dinner preparations underway and the men usually took all the excited kids for a long walk. In Beacon Hill park when we lived in James Bay, Victoria and down our country road once we had moved to the rented house in the country further north of the city. The Caleb Pike House was built in 1883 by hand.

Caleb Pike house 01

This is how the house looked a few years ago; it is now a community heritage site. It looked a bit different in our time there. The front door was red, for one thing and there were trees and huge lilacs around it. I was married in this house and I have many good memories of our years on this property.

After dinner we sat around visiting and sometimes my husband would play his guitar. Later, once dinner had settled a bit, there would be more cookies and cake and, of course, more eggnog.

The advantage, we found, to celebrating Little Christmas was that by the time it had come and gone, the boys had had nearly three weeks of Christmas activities and excitement and were ready to move on. Never another meltdown! And it gave us a special tradition with the other parents, as they were very busy on Christmas Day, visiting each of their own parents separately (all were divorced), not to mention other relatives. And on Christmas night, the fun was not over; there was much to look forward to still. Also for gifts I was making, there was time to finish the ones that needed more work.

I will resume this Christmas tradition once I am settled again, even if only for friends.  I forgot to mention that we always celebrated Little Christmas on the 6th of January, which is why I chose today to write about it. It’s only a month away!

Music for today:

Some Jazz Christmas instrumentals

Some Classical Instrumentals

and The Pogues’ classic from their days with Kirsty MacColl:

Fairytale of New York for Jon of WritingHouse  🙂 (by the way, did you know that Shane McGowan turns 60 this Christmas Day?) Terry Woods was a favourite of mine long before he joined The Pogues (that’s him playing the cithern, I think it is)

IMG_5616Are you ready for Christmas yet? I’m not, but today I did make progress on the second end for my sister’s pocket scarf (that’s it on the left):

Oh, look! Guess what I bought today? At the dollar store and it’s for an upcoming project. More on that once we’re done with the holiday postings. IMG_5617 And I forgot to share with you what I baked yesterday: Cinnamon Rolls with my own special tweaking, of course. I used half whole wheat flour, half white, then added a cup of wheat germ. Turned out we were out of raisins except for a measly 20 or so, so I scattered them evenly along the inner edge of the dough to be ‘surprises’ for the lucky ones who bit into them. Nothing like planning ahead, is there? Here’s a before baking and after icing (I made runny lemon icing this time)  pair of pictures:

Wish I could share the with you; they are scrumptious! It helps to let the dough rise twice before turning it out to form the rolls, I find, at least with whole wheat flour in.

IMG_5613Our lovely Mount Ida as seen around noon today:

I hope you all had a most productive day today, assuming that’s what you would like, of course. I’ll see you tomorrow. If you weren’t around yesterday, do pop back to the Day 5 post and enter the giveaway!

Much love to each of you  ~ Linne

 

March, April, May . . . part One

Wow, do I have a lot of catching up to do . . . but Mum’s computer is hooked up now and I can use it when it’s free, so here goes . . .

First of all, thanks to all my lovely readers for your comments, especially on the death of my much-loved Aunty. A loss is always difficult, even when expected. We seem to expect death to come; just not ‘today’ . . . I’ll catch up with replies to comments soon, now that things are settling down to some degree.

20150315-163844.jpg

Can’t remember if I posted a picture of this sweet bunny. I think I did, but he’s cute enough to share twice. Selma from the Eclectic Home and Life blog posted the pattern. Very quick and easy, they make lovely ornaments, bunting, etc. This one will be attached to the project in the following photo. I haven’t done any more on that project, ’cause it won’t be used ’til next winter . . . and you know, I’m all about the deadlines . . .

20150315-165009.jpg

While I was staying with the Crafties back in February, March and half of April, I ‘appropriated’ this cup for my morning coffee. Here it is, sitting on the coffee table while I work on one of the CAL blankets. I was struck by the colours of the cup, scissors and the table, as seen in the morning sunshine.

IMG_8822

Mrs. Crafty scored a huge box of assorted dollies and every day there would be a few sitting in the sink for  a bath and shampoo. Quite fetching, aren’t they?

IMG_8843

Below is the hand of the youngest Crafty granddaughter, busy working on something for me, to be part of my project that will travel far from here. More on that once I have the rest of the makings . . . Young Miss C was helped by her lovely big brother Master Z. The creativity seems to have skipped a generation, but is alive and thriving in the grandchildren. Wonderful to see!

IMG_8863

I finally finished CAL #1, and here is the second row of the edging just being finished.

IMG_8879

The third row of edging . . .

IMG_8886

This wee Scotty dog sits on a small table outside the room that I slept in at the Crafties’. I took the picture to share with Selma after she posted a pattern for a sweet little Scotty brooch. Isn’t he cute?

IMG_8890

This is a gallon jar, probably once holding pickles or mayonnaise; sometime later it was decorated by a talented folk artist. It found its way to the Re-Use-It Centre, and leapt off the shelf into Mrs. Crafty’s welcoming hands . . . For now it sits on a shelf at the foot of the bed I slept in. It’s so nice to be surrounded by handmade, home-made items. I can just feel the love, can’t you?

IMG_8892

Below you can see how I finished off CAL #1 – with a lovely hot pink ruffle!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I rather like it and I do hope the little girl who will receive it likes it, too. It’s large enough to use on her bed even into her teens. She’s not very tall, so that was easy.

IMG_8913

Above, the house where Doc Martin and the lovely Louisa were to spend their honeymoon; I’m SO tempted to move to Cornwall and take over this place! It reminds me in some ways of a couple of the homes I lived in as a child.

IMG_8934

I borrowed this from a friend’s post on FaceBook; nice to know I’m safe 🙂

IMG_8980

One of the middle Crafty granddaughters; this is the girl I was teaching to knit. She’s been doing quite well with it and her piece was quite a bit longer when she left for home the next day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the last couple of weeks I stayed with the Crafties I interrupted my  work on the three CAL blankets to follow the project that Selma’s class had moved on to: a ripple stitch item; for some, it was a blanket, but a couple of us chose to make a pillow. Mine is actually a pillow cover, for the pillow I used behind my back when I sat in the old recliner at my Aunty’s place. I ended it with a border of my own design, then realized the border wouldn’t show up once the piece was folded and stitched. So I added the white rows at the other end and now the border stands out just right. I’ll have to take a picture of the finished pillow; I rather like it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two of the  antique dishes owned by the Crafties’ son and his fiancée. The brown lustre dish is meant to hold develled eggs around the edge and I assume a bowl of something in the centre (or crackers? or ???). The clear glass is a beautiful dish, probably meant to hold sweet treats at a ladies’ tea.

IMG_9031

A bottle of root beer, whose cap (and another) I have saved for Narfie7’s wall for Stevie-Boy. I hope root beer counts as a ‘beer’ . . .

IMG_9075

Thanks to Jess the Rabid Little Hippy for this section. She shared a picture of a waffle pattern baby blanket she had made (I think it was her first ever crochet project, too!); She kindly included a link to the pattern site and I just couldn’t resist . . . So this is part of one of the CAL blankets now.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Mum found this gorgeous towel in her things when she moved here after staying with my youngest sister for two and a half months. It looks rather old, but not antique. I’m planning to write out the pattern, once I find myself with more thyme . . . Thank heavens for spring and summer, eh?

IMG_9160

Some of the best banana bread I ever made! (and I’m not exaggerating, either!) I used a recipe from my Mum’s old Women’s Institute Cookbook, published back in the ’50s to celebrate British Columbia’s 100th anniversary. Most of the recipes have the ingredients in no particular order, so I missed something important when I started mixing things up; I saw ‘3-4 bananas’ at the end of the list, and rejoiced because I had exactly four that badly needed using up. So I mashed ’em and smashed ’em and mixed them with sugar and all the other good things. I had the wet items mixed and the dry items stirred and before I began melding them, I decided to go over the ingredient list one item at a time, just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything . . . and there in the middle was ‘one cup mashed ripe bananas’.

Oops!! Now what? I definitely had more than one cup; still, undeterred by fate, I mixed it all together, then added another half cup of flour or so, plus a spoonful more of baking powder. When I took them out of the oven I turned them out on a rack, as you can see by the clever pattern of indentations on the tops. Once cool, I cut into them, buttered the slices (no law against gilding the lily, is there?) and both Mum and I declared them the best ever!  If anyone is interested, I would be happy to post the recipe. Just let me know.

I’m going to stop here, as I have quite a bit more to go and I really don’t want to leave you all exhausted by such a huge post after the long months of drought . . .

Much Love and many Blessings to each of you; you are always in my heart and mind. More soon . . .

Serpentine Sagas

Well, that’s how my life would look if I were to do a Celtic drawing of it . . .

I will save the Saga of the Move for when I’m back at my Aunty’s; possibly after we move into the condo . . .

In the meantime . . . here’s my current bed at night:

20150208-170550.jpg
. . . and in the daytime:

20150208-181210.jpg
After we finished getting things out of Mum’s suite late on the 31st of January, I was pretty tired and mostly rested on the Sunday. But my Aunty’s cough had worsened, so Monday morning I packed my little backpack and brought her to the ER (Emergency Room) at the closest hospital. I was right; she has pneumonia. So we have been here since.

She’s doing better now, after a rocky start, and tomorrow (Monday) we start planning for her discharge.

I spent much of Thurs and Fri (plus the night betwedn) at the Crafties’, where I had a lovely shower and even lovelier sleep. On Thurs they took me to a department store, so now I have new jeans, T-shirts and a flannel shirt (very cosy!), as my regular clothes are ‘somewhere’ . . .

20150208-182118.jpg
My sort-of-tartan shirt shows here a bit, behind the Ian Rankin book I’m re-reading, topped with my last piece of Walker’s Scottish Shortbread. I took this, then realised I’ve been having a bit of a Scottish day . . . minus my favourite music, sadly . . . 😉

My Mum took a mild turn for the worse, too, hers due to the stress of the past months mostly. But she’s doing better now and is staying with my sister until the condo is ready.

20150208-183048.jpg Two of the Craftys’ granddaughters, who also spent the night and were each working on a doll made from old socks. They were adding hair, a fairly tedious job, which fell to Mrs. Crafty to complete:

20150208-183427.jpg The girls’ work.

20150208-191159.jpg

20150208-191306.jpg . . . and after finishing touches by Nana.
The weather stayed quite balmy until 31st Jan, which helped make the move easier. After that, though, the temperature dropped back to seasonal ‘normal’ and then we got snow . . .

20150208-191832.jpg Second last day of the move . . .

20150208-192155.jpg the day after the move was ‘done’ . . .
And while I was at the Craftys’ . . .

20150208-192526.jpg and

20150208-192816.jpg
Some views inside the hospital:

20150208-193017.jpg the atrium on the main floor.

20150208-193938.jpg the atrium on the second floor.

20150208-194059.jpg looking down from the 5th floor to the main floor of the atrium. Near the centre you can see one of the pianos. People just sit down and play and the large space magnifies the music perfectly.

20150208-194414.jpg the view from my chair-bed to the hallway . . .

20150208-194534.jpg there is a wide variety of artworks here. This has long been one of my favourites.

20150208-194846.jpg . . . one of my favourite queens, Queen Alexandra. She was married to King Edward, who succeeded Queen Victoria and whose short reign was the Edwardian Era, also a favourite of mine. Downton Abbey fans will remember that the series began just after his time.

Among my great treasures are two copies of Queen Alexandra’s book of family photos, one in good shape and the other a bit threadbare, with a loose cover. In 1908 she had these books made up and sold to raise money for charity. The photos are reproductions of ones taken by her and are mounted on the pages with the triangular black photo mounts so familiar from my childhood.
You can see an image of the cover and some of the pages here: http://www.google.ca/images?q=queen+Alexandra%27s+photo+albums&client=safari&hl=en-gb&tbm=isch&ei=WCXYVPfqBMa2oQSn84KQBg&start=60&sa=N#

Originally from Denmark, she was a strong-minded woman who did her best to play a part in the politics of the day. I mention her here because we are in a hospital named after her, the Royal Alexandra Hospital. I admire her so much, I correct people who call this place “the Alex” and forget it is named for a queen . . .

20150208-201832.jpg A closeup of her portrait, whixh hangs in the main lobby. The hospital was founded in 1899, two years before Alexandra became Queen.

I forgot to mention that I went with the Crafties and their granddaughters to the new Re-Use-It Centre, now south of the river. I was very good and only chose a small paper bag of items, including a book of patterns for old-fashioned crocheted doilies and a video teaching Fair Isle knitting. More on my finds later . . .

20150208-202739.jpg

Did you wonder where they went?

Well, after rwo weeks of silence, now you get two posts!

I’ve had less than three hours sleep but am restless (my knee, not an intended pun 😉 ), so have been on my phone. And guess what?

I checked Facebook and found that the other Grandmother, D, got over to SSIsland on Saturday . . .

Here’s my oldest granddaughter, T, now growing towards 16! She’s a beauty, like her Mother . . .

20150126-062509.jpg

and here’s the newest granddaughter, S, born just last September.

20150126-062616.jpg

Apoarently more photos will follow . . . and I’ll share . . .

Voyage Through the Virtual Village (AKA “Blog Hop Around the World”) :-)


OK, friends, here it is! So fill up those buckets of tea, gather some food and prepare yourselves for a somewhat lengthy stay . . . and big hugs to anyone who makes it through to the end . . . I’ve not written for a while and this is what happens when all that energy is kept pent up . . . some of you may need to come back and read this in sections . . . consider yourselves duly warned . . .

I’m sure you all know by now that everyone in this Village holds their own special place in my heart, each for their own unique self, and it’s been a great privilege to share vicariously in the lives of so many diverse people: gardeners, crafters, artists, writers, parents, travellers, designers, and so on and on . . . we may never meet in person, but in some ways we meet so authentically here in the Village that it makes no never mind to me, as some would say. You are each a treasured part of my HeartFamily and no matter what the future might hold for any of us, you will always be in my thoughts and prayers, in my heart, my mind, my memories . . .  but put that aside for now . . .

Today I want to take you on a trip, a Voyage . . . here we go, off to meet a few of the others in my Village. I hope some  of them come to dwell in your Villages, too . . .

I’ve been following posts by several friends as they participated in this Blog Hop Around the World and now I’ve been invited to join in . . .by Jess, the Rabid Little Hippy. In the beginning of my blogging days, I saw a comment by Jess somewhere and was enchanted by her blogname, being a Rabid Larger (and Older) Hippie myself. Since then, she has become a great friend, supportive and encouraging, not to mention inspiring. In many ways she is the daughter of my heart, just the sort of daughter I might have wished for . . . and maybe more like me than a daughter of the blood would have been . . .

I love everything Jess and her family get up to, although some days I feel I need to lie down and rest after reading about all she accomplishes in a day or a week . . .  😉

. . . and then there all my other new friends that she has led me to . . . this Virtual Village is just what any extreme introvert needs . . .

a new waterlily bloom about to flower more water primrose and I still have my water hawthorn flowering too. I definitely need more plats in there to prevent evaporation and to cover the water surface more though.  Orik's personal race track. He loves doing laps around the garden bed! The area where the bench now sits has had its tyres ripped out, the soil moved into the garden bed and tiles are down now. Todays work with Jas and Eggra as assistants.

 The removed bed is now in the corner here. Once the chooks have done their work the wire will be removed and reo mesh upcycled into trellis for the grapes I'm planting here. They will in turn shade the rest of the bed from the early afternoon sun onwards, providing a micro-climate. Well, that's the plan.  Above are three photos of the Rabid Little Hippy’s backyard garden, where chooks, goats and other lifeforms also reside. Also out there you will often find Martin, her husband, as well as three of the cutest Pint Sized Permies, whose activities are occasionally posted in their own blog. Jess introduced me to hugelkultur and rocket stoves, not to mention a wagonload of information about various ecological issues and more. The Rabid Little Hippy and her entourage dwell in Ballan, Victoria, Australia.

And me attempting to do the same

Here is Jess sporting her Katniss braid . . .

creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t it?

From comments on Rabid’s posts, I found myself often on The Road to Serendipity with Narfie and Stevie-boy and the two pups . . . and that led me to so many others that I can’t name them all.

DSCF7091DSCF7107

DSCF7039Above are two photos of the Sanctuary, a HUGE veggie garden completely encased and roofed with fishnetting to keep out various predators. The netting was completely installed  by Narf7 and Steve last year. The bottom photo was taken on a walk with the two ‘pups’, looking across part of the river Tamar to The Road to Serendipity (somewhere in the middle of all that lovely green). Serendipity Farm is in Tasmania, south of Australia. Go visit the Farm and you will learn, love and laugh ’til you fall off your chair . . .

DSCF6942DSCF6564

Creativity takes many forms at Serendipity Farm; music, cooking, renovating, etc. Still, I feel the most creative thing of all  is found in Narf7 and Stevie-boy’s approach to life, love, learning and all that good stuff . . .

My blog-following is most eclectic, like me, and so I decided to invite an eclectic batch of friends and see what happened. I can now tell you that I’m quite over the Super-Moon (which was happening as I typed the draft for this post):

But first . . . My answers to the questions:

  • Why do I create what I do? Wish I knew! I just can’t help it; it’s like reading . . . if I were locked up with only a cereal carton, I’d read every word on it (several times), then I’d write on it (in blood if necessary), then I’d see what I could fashion from it . . .  Honestly, I think creativity is a vital part of each of us, although in some people it’s farther down the list of strengths than it is for others. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t create and the very act of creating has healed me, entertained me, amused me, given me hope and strength, distracted me when I most needed it, oh, and so much more . . . kept people warm and fed, made a home of wherever I happened to be living at the time, filled a gap when the budget didn’t stretch to something I wanted or needed. I learned to be creative with sewing because I am tall, with long arms and legs, and women’s clothing rarely fits me. Many tops have sleeves a couple of inches too short; pants stop above my socks, and so on. In my slightly younger days, I hand-stitched long skirts and dresses and even a couple of pairs of pants. I still have most of them, but they are not available for a photo session. I fell in love with Folkwear Patterns and hand-stitched the Kinsale Cloak from a heathery green fabric of unknown components. I never finished the hood, but I loved that cloak a lot. Fully lined, with topstitching and it was so cosy! Somewhere along the way, it seems to have disappeared, but I still have the pattern and would like to make it again one day; this time from a woollen fabric. More recently I discovered the Sense & Sensibility patterns for days gone by . . . I own most of the Edwardian patterns and some of the crochet and Romantic Era patterns as well. And that’s only the sewing of clothes bit of my creative endeavours . . .

20140301-233543.jpg

Some dyeing I did for the Etsy store (closed for a while now)

  IMG_2683[1]

My favourite drawing, which is the cartoon for a couple of watercolour paintings.

IMG_2677[1] IMG_2676[1]

A casual drawing of a ‘hobbit home’, done while drawing with children.

IMG_3559[1]  IMG_3404[1]

A ‘plain’ shawl that I somehow managed to complexify and bits for two of several knitted bears, something I love to work on when possible.

20130624-155806.jpg

A round shawl I made up as I went along . . .

 20130421-130659.jpg 20130421-121401.jpg

My favourite shawl; mossy green and also invented as I worked. It has a macramé fringe and a pattern of ‘holes’ worked in just for interest.

20130413-102830.jpg 20130417-195852.jpg

Two of the double-sided crochet bits I’ve made. This is from an easy pattern shared by a bus driving friend and posted here a while back.

20130405-035103.jpg

The most creative time of all . . . loving someone small . . .

 20130328-040705.jpg

A crochet doily with white and ecru-leaved violets; I made this several years ago, when I was still living on the west coast of BC.

20130205-195212.jpg

Hexagon flowers for an eventual ‘Bestemor’s Flower Garden’ piece. Bestemor means Grandmother in Norwegian and it is what my grandkidlets call me, in homage to my Mum’s mother, who died years before I was born. I wish I had known her . . .

3dollsProgressOct2012 20121211-220641.jpg Green Hair!  20121211-220649.jpg

Three of the hand-sewn dolls for my grandkidlets . . . from a rough pattern.

20130525-230744.jpg  20140312-031836.jpg

Above, one of my Dad’s stained glass lampshades and on the back of the couch, a quilt made by my Mum, with her quilted pillow in the centre front. They both did so much more . . . I love that creativity has been passed down in my family for many generations.

My parents, with me and the first two of my brothers, back when we lived in a small one-room shack with no power, no indoor plumbing and a wood cookstove that also kept us warm. My creativity began even before that, though . . .

  • How does my creative process work? Well it’s different when you’re not so skilled and also very eclectic. (Do you think there’s a relationship between those two?) If I stuck to one or two creative endeavours, I might have mastered them by now and life would no doubt be quite different. But no such luck. I am inspired by an idea, a photo, a pattern, whatever; I gather materials and I start a project . . . then, “oh, look, a blade of grass!” (that phrase is a family joke among my sisters, often used when we are talking about something and then digress and then digress again [but we always come back to the original topic] ) and I am off learning about something else. Or maybe I had to move and my projects are in storage and I can’t stand the emptiness that comes when I have nothing on the go . . . so I read a bit (if you think I’m being honest with ‘a bit’, think again! LOL) but it’s never enough; I have to make something . . . so off I go on another project and then, there it is, that ‘blade of grass’ and away I go again . . .  In a perfect life, I like to have several things on the go at once, set up and waiting for me. Then I can ‘feel’ what I want to do for the day and pick up where I left off. In reality, I do have several things on the go at once, but practical considerations often determine what I work on at any given time. So, when at my Aunty’s, I need a project that doesn’t require me to read a pattern so that I can pay attention to our chats. One of the major reasons I fell in love with Dani’s Bavarian crochet afghan. I have finished two, have a large one well under way and am in the middle of one I haven’t really mentioned yet. Photos at the bottom of this post, but no peeking!

IMG_6629 IMG_6616

The large Bavarian afghan above; two for the grandkids below.

IMG_6609 20140604-230247.jpg

  • And I have enough yarn now . . . sigh . . . the first Bavarian was meant to use up two oversized balls of acrylic; then I had to buy more so there would be enough afghans for each of the soon-to-be-six grandkidlets to have one of their own and the parents to have one large enough to cuddle under . . . and then there is my other son and his former girlfriend. Like Scarlett, I’ll think about that tomorrow . . . A major part of my creative process is that simple projects somehow become complex and, like objects in the mirror, much larger and nearer than they seem) One reason they become complex is that I am creative with practically everything, and in a rather slap-dash, ‘what-the-hey’ manner. “oh, well” is a mantra heard often in the inner regions . . . but I LOVE it so much!! Why? I ask you . . . I makes me happy and frustrated, often in equal parts, to be creative; to learn and do; to master; to design (a life-long love of mine, designing); to teach . . .

When I can, I love to make things that are more challenging; last year I started my first Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’; some of you will remember it; not perfect, but it will be warm and cosy, and the lovely hot magenta background is very cheerful. Only the sleeves and buttonbands to go now (and maybe a hood), but it’s on hold at my friends’ place at present. I used traditional Fair Isle motifs, but the cardi itself and the arrangement of the motifs are all my own doing; the shape of the cardi evolved during the knitting . . .. as did the collar . . .

If not on the edge 01

A favourite quote . . . from Stephen Hunt.

IMG_5076[1]  20140203-230107.jpg

My Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ . . . and that’s my lovely, 94.5 year old, under-five foot Aunty helping out as my photographer’s model . . .

20131029-222851.jpg 20130916-232925.jpg

A Fair Isle style bag I invented, also with traditional motifs.

  • How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, my friends, if I had a genre, maybe I’d have an answer for you . . . The best I can say is that I am wildly eclectic, with a wide range of creative loves that encompasses language and languages, music, folk art, fine art, design, almost all the arts known to woman including fibre arts of all sorts, traditional skills and current ways, and more. Perhaps what is different at times is that I am a philosophical thinker by nature (my top strength), so things I make often have meaning for me that they don’t have for others. I like to make things by hand. I’ve done a little spinning, some weaving, some dyeing, and so on. I’d hoped to do stamping and free-hand painting on some of the silk scarves, but those plans are on the shelf for now. I designed a Cowichan sweater for my husband a few decades ago, with symbols that are meaningful to him and knitted from unspun yarn in cream with light and dark brown motifs. So far as I know, he still has it. I have a couple of photos of it and will post them here if and when I locate them . . .

I like to combine media, too. I’ve done a little printmaking and the idea of combining that with watercolour and then collaging on top of it all is very exciting to me. I have created a few masks and art dolls. One piece I especially like is a four-foot circle of thin plywood covered in canvas. I fastened three masks of my own face on the front, then painted the entire thing white; it looks like faces emerging from the background.

  • What am I presently working on? Well, the Bavarian crochet afghans, of course, and here is a series of photos of pieces of the latest one, which is my way of being creative with a lovely pattern:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Does that seem confusing? The large piece is the centre; there will be twelve smaller pieces (below is the photo showing the centre and three of the smaller bits) surrounding it, then there will be several rows all around and all in white. I may throw a row of purple in there somewhere, too; that depends on having enough left to complete the work. I have only one ball of the purple, but have three balls of the white and a good chance of getting more if needed. No chance of more purple; the yarn is different from the same brand now; softer and finer spun. But I do want a purple edge, as it will show wear a bit less.

IMG_7069

Here you can see the centre piece. Each side of it will have two of the purple hearted squares and the four corners will be the white hearted squares. Hope that’s more clear.

Here are the latest photos of this piece, which is turning out even better than I dreamed:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_7279[1]  IMG_7280

As you can see, this new piece is now wider than a single bed . . . and still growing . . .  I call it “Violets in the Snow” and it’s my favourite of the Bavarians I’ve made so far.        I think I’ll be keeping this one . . ..

IMG_7281

A detail of the corner as it is today . . .

OK, that’s enough about me . . . 🙂 Four people have been kind enough to allow me to twist their arms ever so gently and have agreed to take part in this Blog Hop Around the World, or, as I like to think of it, this Voyage through the Virtual Village:

(Please note: all photos from participant bloggers are used with permission)

First up is Sarah from the Frühlingskabine Micro-Farm
(pronounced: fruu-lings-cab-ee-na)

20121110-221855.jpg

Sarah and her lovely family live in an old California gold rush town. 20130228-195603.jpg

Backyard chickens and so much more . . . but I’ll let Sarah tell you about that . . .

Her creativity is evident not only in her approach to sustainable living, but also in her artwork:

2 Nordic Animal Prints of Hand Drawn Illustration Designs with Rune Poems - Goat, Chicken, Horse, Sheep, Duck

One of Sarah’s Celtic mandala drawings, perfect for using as is or for colouring in.

On the blog are a page for Printables, with excellent resources for small-holding farmers, as well as another page with a variety of DIY projects. Check them out!

Sarah has an Etsy store, the Little Farm Shop, and it was there that I purchased my lovely raven amulet necklace:

IMG_6157

. . . as well as her beautiful ‘Backyard Farm Coloring Book’ for my grandkidlets and for a friend’s children, too. These are a perfect gift, as you can email them to whomever and they can print out as many copies as they like. Children can colour the pictures, then send them to Grandma or . . . all while learning a bit about backyard farming.


23 Thorns tea-towel

The Official Tea Towel of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Next up is . . . Mr. 23 Thorns! I first discovered him via The Road to Serendipity, and he makes me laugh and sometimes cry, often at the same time . . . Writing is one of my favourite forms of creativity, or I should say, reading other people’s writings.

Mr. 23 Thorns  Mrs. 23 Thorns

Mr. and Mrs. 23 Thorns (she has her own blogs: Tracy  Loves History and The Rubbish Collection Day Collection. This woman has the most inspired approach to taking out the trash that I’ve ever heard of; she, too, makes me laugh and sometimes cry. They deserve each other (and I mean that in the nicest of all possible ways)!

Master 23 Thorns  Miss Carmen Miranda

Mrs and Miss 23 Thorns

As you can see, the 23 Thorns children are as creative as their parents . . .

Here are links to a couple of my favourite 23 Thorns posts . . .

  • Jesus died. But now he lives. In Detroit, sort of. This post introduced me to the work of Jesus Rodriguez, a man whose music and approach to life continues to inspire me. If you are intrigued, check it out . . .
  • Parenting for Dummies.  As my parents, and later myself, had quite ‘relaxed’ approaches to parenting, at least when it came to letting kids roam free, climb trees, take risks, etc., I found this post both refreshing and amusing. Don’t let the first line fool you; Mr. 23 Thorns loves his kids as much as any of us; he just doesn’t subscribe to the “wrap ’em in cotton wool ’til they grow up” philosophy.

23 Thorns kids n elephant  23 Thorns kids road trip

As you may have guessed from the photo on the left above, the 23 Thorns do not live in Canada . . . nope, they live in South Africa . . . I hope, if I ever get there, to camp somewhere nearby . . . I dream of hearing the birds, maybe even elephants, at night.

23 Thorns Protector of All

Fierce Protector of the 23 Thorns household . . .

Mr. 23 Thorns also writes Why Books. That is a link to a wonderful post about WWI.


Getting Stitched on the Farm

Third brave participant is Kristin Nicholas, of Getting Stitched on the Farm. Kristin has her own shop, where you can browse for patterns (I’ve bought a couple), books, kits and more, even wallpaper!

  

Kristin has books of knitting and embroidery patterns in her shop.

One of the wallpaper patterns she painted by hand and which can be purchased.

Color by Kristin is her own brand of yarn. Half wool, a quarter each alpaca and mohair.

You can find these in the Embroidery Supplies section.

Kristin began sewing at age nine and, like me, learned to knit, crochet and much more soon after that. She was lucky to have a German Gran who taught her embroidery.

She sells her own notecards and postcards, too, in sets of assorted or single image.

  

Kristin has written several books, too, including these. I bought the centre one and love it! I will take it along the next time I visit my grandkidlets. My eldest granddaughter taught herself to stitch by age 5 and is still interested at 15.

Kristin lives a couple  of hours from Boston, Massachusetts. If you are going to be in the neighbourhood, you may be able to take in a class or two. This one interests me . . .

See her post on Fabric Printing if it interests you, too . . .

As you can see, Kristin’s creativity has many outlets. I have found her blog more than inspiring. Now if I only had more time . . . note to self, plant thyme next spring . . .


City House Studio

Fourth and final participant will be Michelle of the City House Studio blog. I found her through a couple of sewing and quilting blogs that I follow and was instantly smitten with her work and with her fresh approach to quilt design.

One of Michelle’s gorgeous quilts.

. . . and this is her Farmer’s Wife Quilt, completed in 2011. 90 blocks, to celebrate her grandmother’s 90th birthday! More than impressive, isn’t it? There is a great story behind this quilt; you can read it here. It covers from the 1890s to the 1930s. I love the tradition that is carried on through the stories and by people still making this quilt.

here she is with her Gran and the quilt.

And here’s the back of it . . . equally lovely.

I love her Scrappy Asterisk Block tutorial and it’s on my ever-lengthening list . . . this is the first of Michelle’s quilts that I read about and it caught both my eye and my imagination. I simply adore anything not ‘in-the-box’ when it comes to design.

Michelle has an Etsy store and it should be open again soon. I happen to know she’s extremely busy getting some quilts ready for several fall fairs. Which explains why Michelle’s Blog Hop post will see the light of day in September – watch for it!

You can buy patterns from Michelle’s Craftsy store, too.

See her “Read” Library Tote pattern here or her Bionic Gear Bag Notions tote here.

Now, if you’re into free motion quilting, be sure to visit Michelle’s FMQ Challenge blog. That’s one example in the photo above. And then there is this:

Don’t know if I’ll ever have time for trapunto quilting, but I hope so. At least one piece, maybe a pillow . . . Project lists certainly give us reasons to live, don’t they?

 

Two of Michelle’s ‘Sticks’ quilts. I. Want. More. Time. !!!  🙂

I’m not sure where this Blog Hop began, but I have traced it back a ways for you, in case you, too, are afflicted with terminal curiosity . . .

Rabid Little Hippy

The Road to Serendipity

The Contented Crafter

Boomdeeadda 

One Spoiled Cat

These Days of Mine

A New Day Dawns

Simply Trece

I’m assuming the Hop goes back much further, but have run out of time; if you are interested, I’m sure you can do what I’ve done so far; go to the last blog listed and go back through posts to around June (or earlier, as you go on), then look for the specific post. It’s been lots of fun, just seeing all the different types of blogs that are linked through this Hop. If you read the posts, you will see that there are branches to this hop; as many bloggers have twisted the arms of found three others to ‘volunteer’ to join in.

It wouldn’t be a “post accompli” without a bit of music, would it? Much of it is folky, so if that’s not your thing, no worries. None of us have enough thyme for everything, do we?

Heiland Harry by The Corries, in honour of all the young men who never returned from the various wars they were sent to fight.

Like Janis by Jesus Rodriguez (Sixto Diaz)

Asimbonanga by Johnny Clegg (with Nelson Mandela!)

Hobo’s Lullaby by Arlo Guthrie (written by Woody Guthrie), in honour of all those out of work and homeless . . .

Two songs that link to my childhood now:

The Log Driver’s Waltz by Kate and Anna McGarrigle. My Dad used a peavey like these when managing logs in a boom im a holding pond. I don’t think he ever rode a log through whitewater, though.

The Frozen Logger by The Weavers. My Dad used to sing this all the time. I learned it as a young child and I still love it.

A half hour of Stompin’ Tom Connors, a Canadian icon. I don’t listen to a lot of country, but I still love Stompin’ Tom, who passed away not that long ago. A true, true Canadian!

His The Hockey Song will always be one of my favourites.

and, of course, Runrig, singing The Water is Wide and Steppin’ Down the Glory Road.

. . . performing An Sabhal Aig Neill, followed by the Drums . . . should make you dance!

Last, my favourite rendition of “We Will Rock You!” This one’s for the more rockin’ of my followers.If you want a lot more more rock and a lot less folk, here’s one of my favourites from Woodstock . . . Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this voyage . . . I sure did. Hope it was worth the wait.

Here we are, home again . . . someone has the kettle on and there are treats ready for our tea . . . too busy now? Come by another time; the door is always on the latch . . .

BTW, the Happy Hibiscus says ‘hello’ to all of you; this is the most recent of an amazing summer of flowering. I think it’s thirteen or fourteen so far and there are another two or three buds coming along. The most I ever had in one year, ever, was three and that was once. Most years there has only been one and occasionally there were none.

IMG_7290[1]

a quick note and then the recipe for Feather Buns MMmmmmm . . .

Hello, my friends in  this Virtual Village . . . if you have emailed me and not seen a reply, don’t worry; I’ll be getting to them by later next week at the latest . . .

In the meantime: by popular request, here is the recipe for Feather Buns (and/or bread, of course). There’s nothing much more frugal and deliciously so, than baking your own bread. This is good enough to make me want an outdoor oven so I can enjoy it in summer, too . . . And if you have kids, let them help with the punching down (helps to oil the hands first, then make a fist and punch right in the middle. Great fun!). They can be given a bun-sized piece of dough to form, making a roll for themselves to enjoy later on. They might even want to shape one for Dad (or Mum) to have with their supper or tea. That’s how I learned . . . by the time I was making bread alone (about age 12), I’d been changing diapers for a couple of years, so I knew exactly what a baby’s bottom felt like. LOL That’s the best guide to achieving perfect texture and resiliency in bread dough. 😉

Our wee tins are a great size for a child to make a loaf of their own, too.

My older son was at a YMCA summer camp one year when he was about 10 years old and came back all enthused about having made bannock (a quickbread dough wrapped around green willow sticks and then baked over the coals from a campfire). So I asked if he’d like to learn to make bread. A hearty ‘yes!’, so I taught him, just as I was taught, and he made all our bread for a couple of years, ’til we moved back to the city.

I have this recipe courtesy of my friend Debbie (AKA Mrs. Crafty) and she got it from her mother, Shirley H., who passed away last year. (in case, like me, you put notes about provenance on your recipe cards for later when your memory is a bit sketchy) 🙂

I’ll put the ingredients at the end without the notes to make it easier to read. The notes on ingredients and procedure are mine, of course.

Feather Buns

IMG_5829 IMG_5828

In a large heavy bowl (like our bread bowls, if possible, but use what you have) put

2 c. lukewarm water (I like to fill the bowl with hot water beforehand for a couple of minutes; it seems to help the yeast grow a bit quicker; especially if your room is a little cool.

add 4 tsp. sugar and mix,
then sprinkle 4 Tblsp. Yeast over it and let stand for 10 minutes.

Next, add:

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cup melted margarine (or use butter or your preferred oil)
3 eggs, beaten well

Mix thoroughly (I used our heavy wooden spoon for this).

Start adding 8 cups of flour (this recipe calls for white; I used about 4 cups whole wheat and the rest white, mostly ’cause I ran out of WW; if I’d had any wheat germ, I’d have thrown some of that in, too; ditto nutritional yeast. LOL);

Mix thoroughly to make a soft dough.

Then: fold in flour until the dough isn’t sticky. If you’re a Mum, it should feel like a baby’s bottom. If you’re not, use your best judgement and imagination . . . 🙂  )

Cover (I used a teatowel wetted thoroughly with hot water, then wrung out. The extra warmth is good, and the steam keeps the top of the dough from getting ‘crusty’.

Let rise in a warm place until the dough doubles in size. Make sure your bowl is a large one, or else halve the recipe. Seriously . . .

IMG_5823

Punch the dough down and make loaves or buns (or both). Grease your pans before putting the dough in. I used margarine (cheaper than butter), but you can use oil or whatever works for you.

IMG_5824

When I made this, I had a dozen good-sized buns, three large loaves and two tiny ones which could have made an extra large loaf. I was guided by how many bread pans we have and also what would fit in the oven in two loads.

IMG_5830 IMG_5832

Let rise in pans ’til double and then bake at 375° F (about 190.5° C) ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

IMG_5827

As mine wouldn’t all fit in the oven at once, I turned the oven on low just before I punched down the dough in the bowl. I put the buns (in our large rectangular casserole dish) and the two tiny loaves into the warmed oven to rise as above (I’d turned off the oven, of course, once it was warm, but not hot). I left the three large loaves on the counter where it was cooler and covered them with the teatowel, this time wetted with cold water and wrung out. This was to slow the rising of the second lot.

IMG_5826 IMG_5835

Once the first batch were done, they were left on a rack to rest for a minute and the second lot were popped in to bake. Then I greased the tops of the first set with Mum’s pastry brush and margarine (again, use what you like or even leave plain for a crustier finish), then turned them out to cool.

IMG_5838

When the second lot were baked, same thing: let rest a few minutes, then butter (or oil) and turn out of the pan to cool. If you leave them in the pans, they tend to ‘sweat’ a bit and this can lead to them moulding earlier than usual. Not nice . . .

IMG_5836

Ok, here’s the straight ingredient list, in order of adding:

2 cups lukewarm water
4 tsp. sugar
4 Tblsp. yeast
Let sit for 10 minutes (the yeast should be foamy)

________________

2 2/3 cups warm water
12 Tblsp. sugar
2 Tblsp. salt
¾ cups melted margarine
3 eggs, well beaten

Mix thoroughly, then add:

___________________________

8 cups flour. Mix well, then
add more flour to make a non-sticky dough.
Cover and let rise to double in size.

Pre-heat oven to 375° F or 190° C.

Grease pans.
Punch down dough.
Form rolls and/or loaves.
Let rise in pans.

Bake  ’til done. Loaves should sound ‘hollow’ when you rap the top with your knuckle.

IMG_5839

Make your favourite hot drink. Tea is especially nice with this, though.

Ignore the old wives’ tales about not eating hot bread (designed to keep kids out of the fresh bread so there would be some for dinner 😉  ); punch a hole in the side of a bun or slice off a good bit of heel from one of the loaves. Slather with butter and then home-made jam (store-bought if you must . . .).

IMG_5843 IMG_5842

Enjoy.  I insist!  🙂

And here’s a great bolshie song by a wonderful bolshie song-writer and singer, Malvina Reynolds. Have a listen while you enjoy the fruits of your labours . . . I don’t think Malvina wrote this one, though. That’s Jack Elliott and Pete Seeger on Pete’s tv show, ‘Rainbow Quest’ singing and playing along with her . . .

The Little Red Hen