Happy New Year, my friends!

For some of you I know the first day has come and gone and it’s business as usual again. but I am still up and it’s not yet midnight on the first, so I’m sort of still on time.

I hope you all had a good Christmas; it’s different for everyone and it’s different every year, but still . . .

IMG_5930Our tree, an artificial one, which the cousins bought two years ago after Spooky had moved in. A real tree would prove too much temptation, was the idea. This year the tree was not on the dining table, but next to the tv. It went up on Christmas morning and was put away at the end of Boxing Day, after Spooky had managed to get up and knock off one of the ornaments and was looking seriously like he wanted to climb the tree.

Below is a very poor shot of the table decoration cousin M made by putting a string of faery lights inside a huge ;brandy snifter’ made of  strawberry glass. It’s so lovely, but the photo doesn’t do it justice., really.IMG_5924

Our Christmas was good; quiet, but the usual feast. I found stockings at a dollar store and used them as ‘carriers’ for a couple of small gifts for the cousins (and myself), including a chocolate ‘orange’ in the toe.

And the cat instructed me to wrap and deliver three packages of nuts to ‘the staff’ as he likes to think of us.

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The Lord and Master of the House

We also had more of this between Christmas and New Year’s Eve:

And I received this as a sort of joke gift, but I really like it:

It’s an alarm clock with two features I need: (a) the sound changes every few seconds, becoming more and more insistent and (b) if set correctly, it will roll off the table and ‘run away’ if you don’t shut it off promptly . . . and ‘hide’. Of course I don’t use the ‘run away and hide’ option! I shot a couple of short videos of it ‘running’ but can’t share them here. Too bad. 🙂

I don’t know if anyone will remember when I was on a basket-making binge early in the summer, but I finally dug out the largest one; it’s meant to be a workbasket so I can take my projects with me in the car and not have the needles poking through the plastic (and the annoying rustle of plastic bags). Besides, I’m working away from using plastic whenever possible. Anyway, the large photo is of the basket body and the other two are the straps, which will cross over the centre of the bottom and be held in place by a third piece (not shown ’cause I forgot to take a photo). They will let me carry the bag slung over one shoulder.

I haven’t finished stitching on the handles yet, but am telling you to increase the ‘guilt factor’ I’m SO good at beginning things, not so good at the final steps.

And in the meantime, I had another “great idea” I thought I’d make some popcorn and cranberry strings, but quickly realized I didn’t have enough time and there was nowhere to hang them. So the idea morphed into just feeding the birds . . . with bird balls.  So I popped a LOT of popcorn, added both bags of cranberries and melted a pound of lard and poured it over the lot. Mixed it will by hand, then realized it wasn’t going to form nice tidy balls, so I packed it firmly into my spare yoghurt containers, with the string in the middle (see the photo of the strings). WE shall put them in a box on the back porch tomorrow to freeze, then decant them one at a time into a mesh bag to be hung in one of the trees. I only hope the birds like them, as cousin M is not enthralled with the idea. He has read up on bird feeding and has his own ways. I, on the other hand, leapt before I looked, as they say. Oh, well, as I say . . .

They do look rather pretty, though, don’t they? We have been feasting, too, did I mention that? I was too slow to get a photo of the bird and the side dishes. But I did take pictures of the baking . . .

The first three pictures are the shortbread I made on the 31st. I had another bright idea, this one a success: I melted two squares of unsweetened dark baking chocolate and the same amount of semi-sweet; this in a mug. I had to add a bit of milk to make it soft enough to dip the shortbread into. In the end, cousin S simply used a table knife and frosted them while I phoned my Auntie. She made the cute face on a couple, too; only this one remained by the time I had the camera out. 🙂 The next picture and the last two are of the same ‘tart’ in the old-fashioned sense. In it are some of the last of the Macintosh apples from the tree here. There is one more tart in our future, I think and then we shall have to resort to frozen cherries, also from our tree. It’s a hard life we lead here, believe me. 🙂  The remaining two pictures are of some of the butter tarts I made from a recipe my sister J sent to us. I like it best of all I’ve ever eaten. These are the first I’ve made and it was surprisingly easy.  It’s a pity I’m giving up sugar on the 8th, isn’t it?  but I know I’ll be healthier and my food won;t ‘go to waist’ as much in future.

Cousin M loves old things as much as I do, although his are less of a sentimental nature and more of an investment. Still . . . I thought I’d share these photos of a lamp with cast iron work that dates to the 1880s. I’m sorry the pictures are poor; my camera phone is an old one and not the clearest or best for photography. Its reservoir is also strawberry glass, more lovely than you can tell here, even with the light behind it.

I have pretty much finished one side of the pocket scarf but can’t remember if I shared this photo or not. The other two pictures are of the knitted tea cosy, which I have been stitching up the sides. I won’t finish that, as I want it to fit the teapot my sister has; it used to belong to my Aunty in Edmonton and, since I have her wee coffee percolator, I wanted my sister to have the teapot. she prefers tea and I mostly drink coffee.  Or at least I used to. I don’t know if you can tell, but the cosy is of green cotton like the yarn used for dishcloths. I took a close-up to show you the stitching; it makes ridges down the sides.

We had to go to Vernon just after Christmas and the cousins needed to stop off in Armstrong on the way back. The landscape pictures show how misty it was that day.

They dropped me at my LYS and I was so careful watching my step as I entered that I missed the sign on the door saying they were closed for inventory until the New Year.  However, they recognized me and remembered that I was not local, so offered to let me buy the yarn I had on hold. I was waiting for an order to come from Scotland, but that may take more weeks, and, as I was in the neighbourhood . . . so now I have the dark chocolate brown I need to complete the pair of Fair Isle style socks, if you remember.

. . . and two balls of green, dark and light, which I had meant for a pair of rather special socks. I’m now deciding if I still want to do that or if I’d rather have a nice waistcoat to keep me warm.  I do like the paper bags they pack the yarn in, don’t you?

I’ll stop here. I’ll need more to write about in a few days. I haven’t finished the post I’d intended for today, nor the Big News post, so you shall just have to keep on Anticipating.

And for those of you on the other side of the equator, here’s what I woke up to this morning, on the first morning of a new year . . .

So lovely, but it can go away now, any time soon will do . . . I’m not quite ready for spring, but spring like weather would be rather nice. It went to -18 C last night, but warmed up a bit today.

This is the purple poinsettia we gave to our Auntie in Princeton. I sent my cousin there some money to pick up a blue one, but those had sold out, so she chose this instead.

Auntie M Poinsettia Christmas 2017

I wish you all the very best in the coming year; whatever that may be for you.

Much love from here and may this be a year when we share the Light between ourselves and with others.   ~ Linne

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Day 13: An easy special treat for Christmas Eve breakfast: Skaters

It’s very early on the 13th and I’ve been visiting blogs instead of writing a post. Then I spent some time deciding what to write about. Posting every day is a bit of a challenge, but fun, too. But today I have solved the photo-inserting mystery, so there will be pictures!

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The cottage pie, before and after it was cut open.

Today I went into town with cousin M to have a notary public sign a single page document. I’ve never had to make an appointment for that before, so hadn’t called ahead. Anyway, we are going back on Friday to have that done. We stopped to order the Christmas turkey from a small shop where we purchased the Thanksgiving turkey; they are raised naturally and so delicious they are worth the price. Then we went to a small speciality yarn shop that is mostly too expensive for me at present. I wanted to buy one more skein of yarn for the scarf, as I’m afraid that my leftovers from the tuques aren’t going to be enough for a decent length. This took a bit longer than I’d hoped, as they no longer carry that brand (why it was on sale in the first place), but I was able to find some pure wool that is very lovely and ought to work colour-wise. And if I don’t need it, I may have to knit or crochet something else. This is what I get for wanting to use up my leftovers . . . I don’t really like to knit with wool for others, as nowadays people often don’t want to take the time to hand-wash items. But my sister will, I know. he values hand-made, too.

The real bonus was finding bamboo double pointed needles in size 0 (that’s a zero) and size 1. You may remember that I have my great-grandmother’s dpns, but one is size 2 and the other three are smaller.  So now I can make socks using her needles, the ones that she taught her children on and also my mother and her siblings. I can hardly wait!

Johan Jorgine Carlson Stromme 01

I’ve had another message from the Norwegian professor and he sent me a photo of my great-grandfather  with three other people. In return I sent him this photo; This is my Mum’s beloved Grandfather Johan and Grandmother Jørgine (Georgina in English and it is Jørgine’s steel knitting needles that are now mine to love and cherish. Behind them is their farmhouse, where Mum and most of her siblings often spent a week or two in the summer and where the family gathered for Sunday dinner on many a weekend. The children were aged 3 to 20 when their mother died and their grandparents stepped in to help whenever possible. I don’t know if I met them when I was taken to Saskatchewan for my first birthday; I hope so.

But you must be wondering about the easy treat, right? It’s very simple and you may use whatever bread recipe you prefer for making buns or rolls. Depending on how many people will be at the breakfast table, you may wish to make only enough for one loaf of bread. I always used a standard recipe for two loaves, as my two boys loved these. You can also make the dough, freeze half and use the other half for one batch. If you prefer a sweet dough, go ahead and use that. I like whole wheat nearly all the time, so that’s what I made, but half whole wheat and half white work well, too. You can add a little wheat germ for extra flavour and nutrition if you wish. I always do.

Now I don’t have photos of these, but if I get to make some during the holidays I’ll come back and update this post. (I’ve searched the internet and am surprised that there are no photos of them anywhere that I looked.)

You can make the dough in a bread machine, too, if that gives you a bit more time.

Once the dough is ready to form into buns for baking, here’s what you do”

Divide the dough into about 12 – 24 pieces. Take one piece and roll it into a cylinder. Form the top into a cone-shaped cap. Twist a bit to form a neck, not too  narrow, though.

With a sharp knife, make a slit from the bottom about 1/3 of the way up the cylinder. This forms the legs. Then form the arms by making two slits from about a half-inch to an inch below the shoulders down past where the waist would be.

Now separate the legs a bit and twist the last inch or so to make feet that stick out to the sides, like feet with skates on. I like to make the tips curve up, like the old-fashioned skates from Victorian days.

Twist the arms a bit, too, pulling them away from the body. You can pose the arms and legs differently to make them more interesting. If you want to be even fancier, pinch off a piece of dough and form a scarf, then wrap it around the neck with the ends blowing in the wind a bit. Don’t make the scarf too thin or long. You want these to bake evenly.

Arrange the skaters on a greased baking sheet as you make them. We used to use two raisins to form eyes and three more to make buttons where the jacket would be. Poke raisins well into the dough so they don’t get shoved out when the dough rises.

You can let these rise now, then bake at 350 F until browned like any dinner bun, or you can put the tray of skaters into the fridge (assuming you have room) and let them rise in  a warm oven in the morning while the stockings are being unpacked (that’s what I did). We always had them with butter and home-made jam., as well as our scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. It was the only time of year that we had bacon, so that in itself was pretty festive.

If you are fairly new to bread baking, I recommend a trial run ahead of the big day so you have an idea of how long it all will take. If you have any questions, do feel free to ask me in the comments below. but I think this is one of my easier Christmas recipes.

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The last of the Honeycrisp apples, the pie we made from them (and a few more) and, on the right, the mincemeat turnovers waiting to be baked.

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The ends for the Dancing Granny scarf as it was yesterday. Today they are a bit longer.

Have a lovely and stress-free day today.

Here’s some music that I like for this season:

Peace Train by Cat Stevens

Imagine by John Lennon

 

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

 

Day 2: Christmas Gifts

I do have to apologize for not having photos to include in most of these posts. My printed pictures are somewhere in the storage units and I have nothing of my own traditions on the laptop or iphone.  I do have some family photos and have found a few historic ones as well and that will have to do for now..

Old Traditions:

When I was young, we usually received one gift from our parents and one from Santa Claus. They were always wrapped in brightly coloured Christmas paper, with stick-on bows and sometimes ribbon, too. Our names and the name of the giver would be on a tag; Mum bought them in large packages. Two each doesn’t sound like much, but with nine children, there was a good-sized pile, even in the years when there were no parcels from Uncles and Aunts or from Mum’s Dad and his wife and second family of four boys. But some years there were those extra parcels and how exciting that was!

 

Some of the most memorable gifts were a pair of skis for my two oldest brothers; That was when we lived in Chase, in the old house that had been a hospital once (see Day 1 for the photo). that house was at the top of a hill that went down toward the Shuswap Lake and the road that passed by the front of oour house was perfect for ‘skiing’ down. Pretty much what happened was that we strapped the skis on over our winter boots, stood up and slid as far down the hill as possible without falling down. The ski poles helped, of course. Skiing was a family tradition for Mum, although I didn’t know, or else just didn’t appreciate, that at the time. But now I know that her Dad skied to school every day and pretty much everywhere he went in the long Norwegian winters. My Auntie told me recently that he brought his skis with him to the States when he emigrated at nineteen and still had them when she was growing up in south-western Saskatchewan on a wheat farm near the small town of Tompkins. All the kids learned to ski on those skis and they are now in a museum in another town near there. I have the name written down, but can’t find it at the moment.

Above is a picture of a Norwegian woman in a bunad (traditional clothing) on skis; to the right are two pictures of King Haakon and Queen Maud; the top taken in 1906, the bottom one, which includes Prince Olav,  in 1907. My grandfather would have been 16 and 17 when these were taken. I couldn’t find any photos of a young man on skis from that time.

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Above are my Mum’s parents; the picture was taken either for their engagement or wedding, most likely in 1911 or 1912. He would have been 21 or 22; she was 20 or 21. I love the hand-stitched clothes my Grandmother wore in those days. And my mother looked just like her; it’s one of my favourite photos.

Other gifts I remember: that Christmas in Chase I opened my gift from Santa and watched as the others opened their gifts. But there was nothing for me from my parents. In vain I looked under the tree, on the tree branches, behind the tree. Nothing. I feared that I had been forgotten (certainly possible when there are so many children, I thought). I didn’t want to call attention to the fact in case my parents really had forgotten me, as I knew it would upset them. Imagine my relief when I was told to go into the dining room and look on the shelf of thwe pass-through (the window through the built-in buffet where food was passed to the dining room). And there I found a wee terrapin in a glass bowl. How happy I was! We had taken a trip to the coast to see relatives the summer before and I had been quite enamoured of a terrapin I saw in a store window. Somehow my Mum and Dad had managed to buy it, smuggle it home in the trunk of the car and then care for it for the months until Christmas. He survived for several years and I enjoyed feeding him every day.

Another gift I remember, but with some shame, was a kit to make my own perfmes. There was an instruction book and several small vials of scent. I was to mix the various ingredients as instructed; one drop of A, three drops of B and so on. But this is where I first encountered the perils of ‘winging it’. I mixed several things together by ‘instinct’ and the result was awful. Not something I could undo, either. This gift was from my Mum’s next older sister, my cousin M;s mother. She loved me as much as Mum did and I have always felt badly that I didn’t properly appreciate the gift she had chosen with such care.

 

New Traditions:

The biggest change I made during my sons’ growing up years was the way I wrapped presents. Instead of buying Christmas wrap, I chose to use brown paper, which at that time I could buy in a roll. I would tie the present with red, white or green yarn, sometimes with two colours. Then I would tuck a small bunch of greenery and berries into the bow. Usually I used bits of the bottom branches of the tree itself;

 

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Auntie A., cleaning the catch.

New Traditions:

The biggest change I made during my sons’ growing up years was the way I wrapped presents. Instead of buying Christmas wrap, I chose to use brown paper, which at that time I could buy in a roll. I would tie the present with red, white or green yarn, sometimes with two colours. Then I would tuck a small bunch of greenery and berries into the bow. Usually I used bits of the bottom branches of the tree itself; we always cut a very large tree, then cut off the bottom foot or so, so that I could use the trimmings to decorate the mantel of the fireplace, tops of bookshelves, sometimes even making a wreath for the front door. I would add a sprig of holly when I could get it, and when we lived in the big log house north of Victoria, we had two large holly trees by the front gate that gave us not only leaves, but lovely berries, too.

Some years I bought white tissue paper for the wrapping, but still tied with yarn and added the greenery and berries. That sort of simple wrapping, done at so little cost, gave me a deep joy. And the piles of gifts under the tree looked so lovely. I wrapped all the gifts we were giving in the  same way and those stayed under the tree until the recipients had come to visit or we had paid them a visit.

I never was a fan of plastic toys or ‘collectibles” with a tiny budget, I wanted to make every penny count. Toys that would be played with for a few hours and then discarded just didn’t fit the bill.

My choice for my sons and other children has always been books and something creative. Some years it was Tinker Toy and Meccano or Lincoln Logs; other years a kit to make something. Star Wars spaceships and other models. were popular. A silk screening kit one year, too. Books were given every year and I still have all of them. Once I start going through the things in my storage I may pass them on to my sons. Or I may keep them for the grandchildren to read when they visit. We’ll see. Some of the books I remember are the Dr. Seuss classics and Hope For the Flowers, Also Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon. I had read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy to the boys several times before they wee old enough to read for themselves. The first time I read those, the eldest boy was 4 and a half and the youngest yet to be born. I have several sets of those, so they will each receive copies one day.

AS to gifts I received, the two that stand out the most both came from my husband. ONe year it was a portable sewing machine that he traded for. It had belonged to my friend who now lives in Tacoma and it still works perfectly, although it must be going on 40 years old or more. The other was a silver flute in a case. I had mentioned casually one spring that I’d always wanted to play the flute and so he saved enough to buy me one and arranged with my RN sister to give me a set of lessons to get me started. I still have it (in the storage of course) and even though I never  progressed very far, I still enjoy playing it when possible. Anther thing on my long list of “things I will do once I am settled”  🙂

One of the funnier gifts I received from my older son was a whiteboard with a marker, meant to hang in the kitchen and hold notes about groceries to buy and the like. We always tried to guess what was in our parcels, so he took a very large bos, managed to stick pieces of string to the inside corners so that the whiteboard hung suspended in the centre, then wrapped the entire box beautifully. It was so light I simply could not guess the contents.

The best gifts I think I ever gave anyone? Well, I bought a silver serving spoon with a gold-plated bowl for my Mother one Christmas while I was working at the little antique store. I never dared tell her how much I paid for it, though.I bought it because she had the lovely china bowl that her mother had called her ‘berry bowl’ In it the spring strawberries would be  put, half of them mashed well with sugar to produce a syrup and then the rest added whole. They were often served over a slice of sponge cake with whipped cream from their own cows on top. But Mum never had a special spoon for that  bowl and I wanted her to have one. She gave the spoon back to me a couple of years ago, when we were no longer making desserts like that. (She gave all of us back the things we had given her over the years and we all treasure those items). My RN sister J has the bowl now and I plan to give her the spoon once it surfaces.The bowl had floral decals around the sides and te edges were trimmed with real gold. The spoon looks perfect with it.

The other gift I gave was something I made myself. It was a Cowichan style sweater for my husband. The best part was that I designed it myself, using symbols that had meaning for him. I wish I had a photo to show you. Mum gave me one that she had taken, but I don’t have it here with me. I worked hard on that, knitting during the day when he was at work and hiding it before he arrived home. Still he was able to guess that he was getting a sweater. My joy was in the fact that he had no idea that it would be designed especially for him. He still wears it, too. He and his wife live on a concrete sailboat and are spending the winter toward the north end of Vancouver Island, so I’m sure the sweater is put to good use.

Our family never had a lot of money, but we made up for it with thoughtfulness and creativity. If you have stories like that to tell, please feel free to do so in the comments. If you are posting about them yourself, do leave a link in the comments for others to see.

What was the best gift you ever received?

What was the best gift you ever gave?

I am writing this in the evening of the first of December. (Well, I see now that it’s actually past one am on the second). May you find peace, joy and inspiration today, wherever you are and no matter what your circumstances.

By the way, I didn’t add a music link yesterday, although I’d meant to. So I shall add two for today.

I watch this video whenever I’m feeling low or discouraged. Do let me know if you like it!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4CG18FPCj0

The next is a song written and sung by Bruce Guthro, who hails from cape Breton Island but now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has been the lead singer for Runrig since 1998 and still pursues his solo career as a singer/songwriter at home in Canada.

And I found this again; a Christmas song by another great Canadian group, the Barra MacNeils. They are also from Cape Breton Island. So here’s a bonus song to get you in the spirit . . .

Day 1: Happy December, everyone!

Today is the first day of December and so begins the wonderful lead-up to Christmas. Inspired by my friend Selma of Eclectic Home & Life in the UK, I am going to try and post every day until the 24th. As life sometimes serves up a few curve-balls, though, I am not making a solemn promise, except to try this. I have no pictures yet of Christmases when I was still at home with my parents and siblings, so this post is photo-light.

Traditions

I know that there is a lot of commercial push to get rid of our traditions and do new things all the time, but I choose to honour the past and also to add some new twists from time to time. After all, every tradition was new at one time, I expect.

Today I am going to write about some of the traditions that I grew up with and some of the changes that came along.

The tree:

We always had a real tree. My Dad worked in the bush as a logger for most of my early years and he would cut a tree and bring it home shortly before Christmas. Once the tree was securely fastened into the tree stand, the strings of coloured lights were placed. This was after we began renting houses with electricity, so I was likely about ten or eleven years old. The bulbs were the large ones some of you will e familiar with. I don’t recall ever seeing the tiny twinkling faery lights on our home trees. But my last Christmas at home for many years was the year I left for university when I was only nineteen.

My parents bought ornaments in their first years together and those went on the tree every year: fragile birds with spun glass tails that perched upon a spring with a clothespin-like clip to hold it to the branch, lovely balls and teardrop shapes with conical bits that thrust inward, formed of crinkles that caught the light. some plain glass balls of bright colours, some globes, some bells; of these, some had stripes around their middles. There were garlands of tinsel draped around the tree, criss-crossing back and forth. The last thing to go on were the silver icicles, We children, at least the older ones, were allowed to help with the decorating once we were old enough to be careful. When we helped drape the icicles on the tinsel strands, we had very different styles. I always (and still) liked to place them one by one, savouring the moment and making it last as long as possible. I’m like that in nearly everything. Others liked to sort of toss the icicles, sometimes in bunches. and get the job done.

Every year there was at least one or toddlers and nearly always a cat ad a dog, too. AS you likely know, this is perilous for Christmas trees. We had a couple of trees fall over after someone tried to climb them or simply grabbed at the branches for balance.But Dad was resourceful. One year the tree was stood firmly in the middle of the playpen and all the breakable ornaments hung out of reach. After that, dad alway used fishing line to tie the top of the tree to a hook in each wall (the tree stood in a corner of the living room from then on). The tree sometimes was pulled a bit, but it never fell down again.

The Stockings:

As far as I can remember, we always hung stockings on Christmas Eve. Not the fancy stitched or quilted or knitted ones seen today. We used our Dad’s grey woolen work socks clipped to a string across the fireplace with some of Mum’s wooden clothespins. Our names were printed on the pins so that we would get the correct stocking in the morning.

The year I was eleven we had moved to Chase and lived in a house that had been the original hospital. It was three stories tall and had a basement that none of us ever saw. I suppose the stairs were a bit unsafe.

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How it looked in Sept of 2016; not much as I remember it, of course.

That Christmas my two oldest brothers woke up in the middle of the night, went down and collected their filled stockings and then emptied them on the ends of their iron frame beds. I never heard them, but our parents did. I gather that they had to put the contents back into the stockings and were told, no doubt in very stern tones, to wait until our parents were up in the morning before venturing downstairs again.

A few years later, in out last house in Salmon Arm, one child decided to maximize their haul. They asked, and were given permission, to hang two stockings. In the morning, we all were eager to see how the ploy had worked. How exciting to see that both stockings bulged with packages! Disappointment followed swiftly: one held the traditional items; the other had brown-paper wrapped bits of coal, rusty nails and the like. It was full, though!

The next year the same child tried a different tactic. Figuring that two stockings might have been seen by Santa as rather greedy, they asked to hang a different stocking. Again permission was granted (to much private amusement for our parents, I’m sure) and one of Mum’s nylon stockings was borrowed. Again, in the morning, we were filled with anticipation. And, again, the stocking was full to the top! In the bottom were the traditional items and above them was a very long balloon blown up and tied and even sticking out a bit above the top. After that, there were no more attempts to get more than a proper share of the Christmas bounty.

The traditional items in each stocking never varied: a Christmas orange in the toe, still wrapped in that green paper, some nuts in the shell, a good handful of hard candy, striped, solid, twisted, even some licorice. And then there would be a coupleof toys or maybe coloured pencils, sometimes, as we grew older, cologne for me and maybe a tube of Brylcreem or a small bottle of Old Spice aftershave for the two oldest boys. Thai was in the days of the Elvis-like ducktail hairdos, slicked back and held in place by a good layer of Brylcreem.

 

Christmas and family:

I was the oldest of nine children and my parents took in foster babies once the youngest child was four. So that last year I was at home we had ten children under our roof from summer on. I went home for Christmas that year after the mid-term exams were done. It was the last Christmas ever shared by our whole family.

Because I moved to Vancouver Island to attend university and stayed on after I dropped out, and my parents moved from Salmon Arm where I am living now, to Kamloops a year later, then a few years after that to 70 Mile House a bit further north, because I didn’t have much money and mostly because I chose a life much like my parents had lived in their early years (but which they had worked hard to leave behind), I didn’t get home very often. Travel in winter was difficult and my sons’ Dad and I didn’t drive.  I never shared another Christmas with my family until I moved to Thorhild, an hour’s drive north of Edmonton in 1999 to help when my Dad became ill. He passed away that September,but Mum and I put up their small tree (an artificial one by then) and we went to Edmonton for a few days and had Christmas dinner with my youngest sister. her husband and my second-youngest sister. We had Christmas at the house of the youngest sister for most of the years to come, although Mum and I always baked up a storm for the holidays.

I had hoped to cover a few more topics, but my laptop is acting up (Windows wants to do some ‘update’ or other and won’t let me pick a convenient time), so I will leave the rest for tomorrow and maybe a few other days, too. Perhaps shorter posts will be best.

 

Feel free to share any of your own memories, traditions, thoughts, etc., below. And don’t worry about length. Heaven knows I’ve posted far more than my share of over-long comments on some of your blogs!

I hope some of you will post frequently this month, if not every day. The world can use a great outpouring of good and happy thoughts these days. Advent begins on the third this year. Do you have any favourite Advent traditions?

Have a wonderful day today. (it’s technically the first, but it’s only 2 am here; I haven’t gotten to bed yet). Love and Light to each of you.

Monday: Muffins, Moos and Musings

Actually, some of the muffins were made on Sunday, but I am still up (it’s nearly one am) and by the time this is posted you will be reading it on Monday except for those who are bolshie enough to live across the Great Divide from us and who will see it on Tuesday . . . and I rather liked the sound of all that alliteration . . .   🙂

So here, in no particular order, are my thoughts and creative efforts.

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Here I am in the Canadian Army Peacekeepers jacket that my cousin gave me a while ago. I’m still wearing it without the snap-in very warm liner jacket. It was Army Surplus  when he bought it about 20 years ago and is still in great condition.  The other picture is of my new 50% wool socks, very heavy and meant for men who wear boots. I wear a pair of thinner cotton socks inside them and my feet are toasty warm.

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This barn is not far from where we live and I see it every time we head into Salmon Arm for some shopping or to visit the library. Don’t you think the red is extra cheery set down amongst all that snow? I do.

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I don’t know if you remember my writing about making something my Mum used to call “Pear Mousse“; at least that’s how I have always thought of the dish all these years. And then, a couple of weeks ago, searching for recipes that might have been made by my dad’s mother (he grew up in a Mennonite family who emigrated from Russia when he was one year old), I came across a site called “Mennonite Girls Can Cook” and I discovered that the correct spelling is “Moos”.  It seems to mean ‘soup’, but the recipes I saw were mainly for fruit soups. This photo is of my “Plumi Moos” as it bubbled away on the stove. I made more of the pear moos a couple of months ago and I made it as Mum always did; with  cornstarch, sugar and pears cooked in some water and then a can of evaporated milk added at the end. My cousin liked it well enough, but his Mum made it quite differently. Never just pears. She  made it in the winter with canned fruit, so plums, pears, peaches and sometimes cherries. And no evaporated milk. So a couple  of weeks ago I bought some pears and peaches because I wanted to use up the last of our home-grown plums.. And I made Plumi Moos. Without the canned milk, too. (and if you only use plums for the fruit, it’s called Pluma Moos) I thought it turned out very well, but of course I was using fresh fruit and my cousin’s memory was of canned fruit, so it didn’t taste like what he remembered. Still, he liked it and so did his wife, and it is now all gone. Cousin S and I both like oatmeal porridge (M doesn’t; he prefers uncooked cereal), so we ate the Moos mostly on our porridge in the morning. I added yoghurt as well. And a couple of times I had it for lunch with a piece or two of toast. Mmmmm . . . . .  I’ll be making this often for myself once I’m settled again.

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This was taken before I finished the pattern, which I’ve done now. Just one border band to do and then the last few inches of plain knitting to go. This is the second end of the scarf I started for my friend in Tacoma early this year. She did all the plain knitting once I had it started, but struggled with the patterning. Not to mention that I used two circular needles and there were loose ends flopping around. Surprising what bothers us, isn’t it? I never mind the floppy bits, but I’ve also got a few more years of knitting under my belt, so to speak. In the end, I did the first end’s patterns, she did the middle part and I brought the work here with me to complete for her.  I’ll post a photo once it’s done. Did I mention that this is worked in the round, Fair Isle and Norwegian style? And the yarn is fairly bulky, so it will be very warm indeed.

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Toe of one of my second pair of Fair Isle style socks.

Remember the pair of Fair Isle style socks I was working on? Well, they are on hold for a bit. My cousin took me to Armstrong to The Twisted Purl Yarn Studio so that I could add to my Jamieson & Smith yarn stash. I had run out of the colour I was using for the heels and toes. Black, I thought it was. But the yarn store had no black, only dark chocolate brown. <sigh> So I bought four or five balls of colours I would need for the next couple of pairs of Fair Isle style socks, ordered black and a couple of other colours to go with those and we went home. Where a niggling thought began to work on my mind. Could it be? I took the socks and held them under a very strong light and yes, it was true! The ‘black’ heels and toes were, in fact, dark chocolate brown. Now, Armstrong is close, but not so close that I was willing to ask for another ride to the yarn store. Especially as we would take the truck and gas prices have been going up. So I called the store and they kindly agreed to add a ball of dark chocolate brown to my order that was coming from Scotland. From Shetland, actually. And did I mention that I had ordered the new colours from Jamieson’s of Shetland. I’ve been wanting their yarn for a bit, but The Twisted Purl was out the day I first went there. And now they have some ladies wanting to try their hand at lace knitting and were putting in an order anyway, and so . . .  By the way, the J&S yarn is fine and I’ve been loving knitting with it. I’m switching because the company is part of The Wool Brokers. The fleece from Shetland is shipped to Yorkshire to be spun,  and I’ve read that it is mixed with fleece from other places, whereas the Jamieson’s spin their Shetland fleece right there on Shetland, unmixed with other fleeces. I’m quite excited to see my new yarn, which should be coming in soon. I’m not all that happy with choosing colours from a computer screen, as that isn’t always very true. So we’ll see. For socks, it will be fine, in any case. More on yarn in the mail in a bit.

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Same toe, further along.

I appear to be congenitally unable to do nothing and, as I can’t read much these days, I have begun my second pair of Fair Isle style socks. These are also toe-up, which I like very much, but I’m still not getting the joins along the sides quite right. The holes are a bit larger than I’d like. I may just stitch them up once the knitting is finished. I think when the next yarn order arrives I may try the Moebius toe-up cast-on. Back in Edmonton I knitted a Moebius scarf, so I do get the concept. This pair I began with more stitches in the initial cast-on, as I don’t really care for the wedge toe, at least not the look of it. The toes on the first pair do fit just fine, but I still prefer a more rounded toe. Just sayin’ . . .

Are you wondering about the other yarn shipment? Well, I’ll tell you . . . I’ve been invited to a good friend’s wedding next May and, of course, wondering what to wear. A dress, of course, and probably I’ll get some sandals, too. And then I came across this shawl, designed by Amy of Love Made My Home . . .  It is SO me! I fell in love and then, when I realized that Yarn Canada carries the same yarn Amy used, I went there and guess what> I not only ordered the two skeins the shawl requires, but I also ordered four balls of Kroy Sock Yarn, two in a lovely red and two in a colour called Clover Colours. I will be using my finest 2 mm double pointed needles, as I’ve read that using smaller needles and knitting tightly will result in socks that wear like iron. These two pairs should knit up faster, as I’m doing plain knitting for them, no patterning. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Above on the right are the two tuques I’ve been knitting for my RN sister’s two grandsons. Because my sister and I (and our siblings) are half Norwegian due to our mother’s parents both having been born in Norway, I chose a Norwegian pattern. The original was of a boy and girl holding hands, so I changed it to be two little boys. I’m calling it “Brotherly Love” as these two are very close, even at one and nearly four years old. But the top of the younger boy’s tuque didn’t decrease as expected, as you can tell from the picture on the left, although I did follow the pattern exactly. (goes to show you, doesn’t it?) So I will soon be frogging the crown and re-kitting it. After I finish the other tuque and make sure I have a decrease that works. frogging . . . not my favourite thing. Oh, well . . .

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On the left is part of the latest batch of cinnamon buns, before they went into the oven. I tweaked the recipe, of course, and used part whole wheat flour, along with some wheat germ for added nutrition and extra flavour.

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On the right is one of the pans after Cousin S added the slightly lemony glaze she makes so well.

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ON the right, the latest apple pie. I slice the apples; Cousin S makes thee pastry. She uses no sugar or cinnamon; she just adds a few tablespoons of cinnamon hearts as she puts the layers of apples into the shell, along with some cornstarch. The hearts were suggested by Cousin M to his Mum when ye was just a boy and it worked so well my Auntie never made apple pie the old way again. On the left is my serving.

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The last of the home-grown tomatoes. The cherry ones are already eaten up.

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I have been on a sort of muffin bender. Two weeks ago I made two dozen cornmeal muffins with some of our home-frozen corn in them, along with wheat germ and some whole wheat flour. I try to maximize nutrition whenever I can. I haven’t taken a photo of those yeat; the ones above are the second batch. Cousin S bought and cooked a lovely French variety pumpkin. She cooked it in the slow cooker and I mashed it once it was cool (she had gone to work by then) and put a couple of packages in the freezer. The rest I used to make the scrumptious muffins above.  I haven’t finished writing up my recipe, but will share it once it’s done. I had meant to put in some raisins and chopped walnuts, but became distracted half-way through by having to look for the new bag of cinnamon and then getting it into the tin. Still, we all agreed that these were the best so far. I’ll be making them again, with the nuts and raisins added next time.IMG_5353

My muffin efforts inspired Cousin S, who made these earlier today (well, earlier Sunday, really). They are Christmas Muffins, with molasses, candied peel, raisins, nuts and more. The recipe needs a little tweaking, but I’ll post it here once we’ve made it at least once more and finalized it.They were pretty good, though.

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The sum of Sunday’s Kitchen Creativity.

Left to right:  Christmas Muffins, Apple Pie, Egg Thingy (Frittata) and, in the slow cooker, the spaghetti (made with fusilli instead of spaghetti), which will be supper for the next five days. Some is packaged up for Cousin S to take with her to work.

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When I stayed with my last Auntie in Princeton earlier this summer, she loaned me some of her crochet books and patterns. I was very excited to see two patterns for Humpty Dumpty. One is for a toy that is made in separate pieces, each stuffed, and then set up on the edge of a shelf or table. When he falls off, he comes apart and the child then can re-assemble him.

That is not this one. This one is from the pattern my Auntie used over thirty years ago, when she heard that my RN sister J was expecting her first baby. That baby;s grandfather named the toy ‘Harvey’ and the little boy always slept with Harvey on one side and Pokey, a polar bear, on the other. My sister took very good care of handmade items and that boy, now in his early thirties, is the proud father of two wee boys of his own. Those are the two whose tuques I showed you near the beginning. My Auntie doesn’t follow patterns anymore, so I am making two of these Humptys, each with different colours for their shirts and stockings, as Christmas gifts to the boys from their Great-Auntie (me) and their Great-Great-Auntie. I am safe in posting about this, as to my knowledge, no one in my family reads this blog.

Well, that’s it, I think. It’s now after three in the morning on Monday and I really need to get some sleep. I haven’t been sleeping well, or at least often not through the night, so staying up may help.

 

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Some surplus pillowcases from the Dept of National Defence. More on this project later . . .

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Icicles outside my bedroom window a few days ago; Mount Ida as seen last Wednesday from Salmon Arm. This is close to the view we had of the mountain from our front yard, back when I was living here in my teens. Along the foot of it runs Foothill Road and that’s where the cemetery is where next year we will inter our parents’ ashes and those of one brother, with a memorial to another brother. Cousin M’s parents’ ashes are there already along with our paternal grandfather. We lived on Foothill Road when my RN sister J was a baby and I was seven; then later, when  I was twelve, we lived on Harbell Road which runs from the foot of it to where the last home stood, across the Trans-Canada Highway. A walmart stands where our garden and the neighbour’s home once stood and a dollar store occupies the space where the front lawn was, with the flowers and ornamental trees that were planted by my Mum. I love this view; it holds so many memories. I remember climbing on it with our Dad and the older brothers once, picking juniper berries and dad telling us how those were used to flavour gin. We trick and treated along Harbell Road for years and I would walk down to our former landlord’s place to buy eggs for Mum, taking the older siblings along and keeping them off the road by having them play leap frog and similar games. I know changes must come, but I do wish our home had been spared. I lived there for seven years, longer, I think, than in any other place ever. We moved at least once a year for most of my childhood and I moved often as an adult, too. The hosue was classified as a heritage house, with Arts and crafts details that I loved; I have no idea how walmart got permission to demolish the house. It was in good shape when I saw it last, just over ten years ago. Anyway, I like to remember.

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These are the Honeycrisp apples that we have been making into pie. They are good keepers, with a slightly waxy coat. Delicious flavour and very well named ‘crisp’. The tree was planted five years ago. Two years ago it had less than a half dozen fruits. Last year it had a couple of dozen apples on it. This year we took off over seventy-five pounds of apples. In the grocery store, Honeycrisp apples are already going for $1.99 a pound. So that tree produced over $150 with only a bit of watering and the picking to do. We would highly recommend this variety.

That’s it, my friends. I wish you all a week of good weather, good food, good friends and as much creativity as makes your heart sing. See you soon!  ~ Linne

 

Interesting Times . . .

Greetings, everyone!  I’ve been doing a lot of resting, napping and binge-watching series on netflix and I’m beginning to feel better and ready to begin focusing on plans for whatever is left of my life. Along with making plans and designing a daily routine that will take me beyond cocooning and into renewed creativity, I have spent time just thinking about world events and the like. Now that I’m in Tacoma for a while, the likely changes that will come to pass after 20 January have occupied my mind more than a little.

I remember as a child being told that an ancient Chinese Curse was: “May you live in interesting times”. As it turns out, this is an English saying and no-one has ever traced it back to China. But either way . . . I think we are now living in VERY interesting times. And, as usual, even if it’s too late to do much about what’s happening (and I’m not sure it is too late, at least for everythig), we always have the choice about how we respond to these times.

I’ve been catching up with various Villagers and was interested to see in a comment on one post that heroin sales have skyrocketed in Pennsylvania due to the lack of available work. So that’s one response, I guess. I also read that a city in Florida (Miami? I should have taken notes, eh?) is proposing to build up all of their roads so that the rising of the sea level over the next decades won’t affect them. Short-sighted, but maybe better than nothing. What do you think?

As I said, I have been thinking (one of my favourite things to do) about possible responses to current political situations and working out a strategy for dealing with the stress I feel about some of them. I’m focusing on creating a response that is healthy for me and for those around me, but that doesn’t sugar-coat the issues or just ignore them.

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So . . . what makes a tree grow and bloom? If we look at the naked stick that itis in mid-winter and decide to withhold sunshine, water and food until it gets it together and starts doing what it’s supposed to do, is it likely we will see leaves and blossoms and eventually fruit? Nope, not so much.

 

And when a baby begins learning to walk and falls down . . .first-steps

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. . . do we scold them? Tell them they are hopeless and don’t deserve to walk, let alone run? Do we ridicule, shame or punish them? Of course not. We know that nurture and love, along with some teaching, will work wonders as children grow and develop. The same is true for adults, too, isn’t it?

So I have decided that when a politician worries me or threatens to do dreadful things, the healthy response for me is to surround that person or persons with love and light; to bless them, even as I sign petitions, join boycotts, and so on. And that leaves me in a happier place. It will be interesting to see the results. One thing I know, this approach will leave me happier and healthier in the long run, for me at least.

Creativity

I have to confess that I haven’t done much creating for these past months. My considerable stashes of yarn, fabric, art paper, etc. are all in storage in Vernon, BC. I did bring my knitting needles, though, and some crochet hooks.I started teaching my friend J to knit. She had done some as a child, but needed a refresher course, so I threw her in at the deep end with a tubular scarf with a Scandinavian pattern created with two-stranded knitting. Most of it will be plain knitting, though, so that will be easier for her to manage. After all, it’s only two circular needles . . .

J has been ill for three weeks, but is now feeling better, so tomorrow we are going back toJo-Ann’s to purchase a crochet hook and some cotton yarn for her to use making dishcloths / bath scrubbies. We were there over three weeks ago and I found a lovely teal cotton remnant; tomorrow I’ll be looking for a complementary piece and some batting. Then I plan to get on with finally making a tea cosy using Kym’s directions: Tea cosy design. I’ve been talking about doing this for several years now, and it’s finally time to act!

I did bring my Fair Isle style ‘barn cardi’ with me, but haven’t gotten back to working on it, although while at my cousins’ in September and early October I did work on one sleeve so that they are now nearly at the same point in the design.

Christmas

The past few years I’ve done little to nothing for Christmas and this year will probably be similar. Christmas boxes are simply too expensive to ship anymore. More than fifteen years ago I sent a box to my older son’s family. It held a selection of home-made cookies (biscuits) that I used to make when the boys were young, plus a book for each grandchild and a small gift for each parent. The postage was over $50!  I felt they could have used the money more, so for a few Christmases I sent a money order. However, that never feels christmassy to me; I enjoy finding the perfect thing for each person, then wrapping each gift creatively and ecologically.

Some years I used brown paper for the gift wrap; some years it was white tissue paper. I used green and red yarn instead of ribbon and tucked in a small cluster of seasonal greens: cedar, holly, sometimes a cinnamon stick or two. Inexpensive and lovely, at least we thought so.

I was thinking the other day about the first Christmas I shared with my husband and two sons. We lived in a very old house in Victoria that hasd a bay window. We were able to find a tree that reached nearly to the ceiling, but the budget was tight. We could afford gifts for the boys or ornaments for the tree, but not both. Of course we opted for the gifts.

For ornaments, I got really creative. I ‘borrowed’ small squares of plywood that the boys used for building blocks, wrapped the in white tissue and tied them with red and green yarn to resemble tiny presents. I used some veriegated yarn; some red and white, some green and white, to crochet a couple of dozen wee stockings. Those were hung on the tree with co-ordinating loops of yarn. Tiny candy canes were shaped from red, green and white pipe cleaners and we found a few dozen of the real thing at a nbargain price; just two inches long, they fit in perfectly.

Inspired by my favourite childhood books, I popped bowls of popcorn and we began threading onto heavy cotton thread. I like to string three or five kernels, then one cranberry and repeat until I have a string about four feet long. We made so many of these that I lost count! Then I tied the ends together carefully as I hung them on the tree.

The only other bought ornaments were some strings of tiny white lights that were on sale shortly before Christmas Day and some tinfoil icicles, which I hung one by one from the popcorn strings, spacing them as carefully as I could. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to a Christmas tree.

The angel I made myself and I still think she was beautiful.

We used those decorations every year from then on, adding a few each time and they are in my storage unit now. I hope they have survived their long hibernation; if not I will simply have to make more.

Often I would wrap cookies in cellophane and hang them, too. The popcorn strings were left on the tree after the other bits were packed away and the tree was set up outside as a feast for the birds. This was always after the first week in January.  That, I’ll explain about in another post . . .  🙂

For some excellent Christmas baking and other recipes, and for more ideas for yuletide decorations, including a knit pattern for a wine box cover, check out Selma’s blog here: Eclectic Home & Life She lives in England, but hails from Norway and I love her traditional recipes. You may remember y post about making her Mocha Roulade for my Mum and myself on Mother’s Day in 2015. Light and scrumptious, it was the perfect dessert!

I hope you are all enjoying the run-up to Christmas, taking time to enjoy the music, colour, lights, etc. Do try not to stress. It’s a good time for gratitude and I have to say again that I am grateful for each one of you, my Virtual Village neighbours.

Here, to help keep you in the mood, is a set of Christmas songs by Sissel, one of Norway’s great singers: Christmas songs by Sissel

Some of you may be familiar with Newfoundland’s group Great Big Sea.Here are some of their Christmas songs: Great Big Sea Christmas songs

And what is a post from me without a song from Funrig?

Silent Night

These are by Bruce Guthro, lead singer for Runrig and a Canadian from Cape Breton Island:

Christmas songs by Bruce Guthro

And, again by Bruce, a video in the true spirit of Christmas, featuring footage from the Christmas Truce of 1914. Christmas at the Front, 1914

And finally, a mixed bag, beginning with one of my own favourites:

Let There Be Peace on Earth and more