Day 18: Musing about Mishaps on Monday

This is Sunday the 17th and at midnight I shall close commenting on the Day 5 post. Tomorrow I will put names of all commenters in a festive container and pull five. Those lucky people will receive a small ornament (not necessarily a Christmas ornament, I know some of you don’t celebrate Christmas. I’ll be contacting the winners and you may specify then. So DO go and leave me your name, will you? It doesn’t matter to me if you are a long-time follower or someone new who just happened upon this space.  ‘Everyone is welcome to participate.

Musing is a good work, I think. I did think of others first, but they weren’t alliterative enough. Good thing, too. 🙂 ‘Moody’ might have been a tad closer to the mark.  I’ll get to that . . .

Today the cousins made stew for the next five days’ suppers in the crockpot. It smells as good as it looks. I was not involved this time and there were no mishaps.

But I made the dessert for tonight and tomorrow: Selma’s Mocha Roulade.. Back in 2015, Selma was holding crochet  lasses at her home and online followers were invited to join in, which I did.  She was teaching new stitches every week and often shared photos of the participants; work on her blog and on facebook. My red striped ripple cushion is shown on this page and three down is a corner of one of my blankets. It was such fun! And every week Selma baked a special treat for everyone to have with their tea or coffee. It was the only feature I had to miss out on . . .  😦

My Red ripple cushion

Sometimes ‘winging it’ works out quite well . . .

The recipe for the Mocha Roulade is what I linked to above, though. And this is how it went today . . . this is a recipe that I follow pretty closely, in spite of my tendency to follow wild flights of fancy when in the kitchen. I separated the eggs, but partway through realized I had dumped the yolks in with the whites due to being distracted by my thoughts. Arrgghhhh  I took one of the eggshell halves and attempted to fish them out, breaking one in the process. As I’m sure you know, egg white will not whip in the presence of any fat and egg yolks are fatty. In the end, I put the egg whites into a container to use in my baking this week and began again with four more eggs. (two of the yolks had made it into the proper dish).  And then I got out the stick blender and began whipping them. Part of them whipped, but the rest did not. I’m not sure why. I even added a pinch of salt and 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar as both are helpful when whipping egg whites. Finally Cousin  S came to see how it was going, took pity on me and whipped them up in the KitchenAid bowl. I don’t like using other people’s expensive machines, so tend to do things as I always have, by hand.

Then I cut the parchment to go in the pan. But this was a glass pan with sloping sides, so the parchment wouldn’t stay put. I took it out creased it, tore it a bit, got another piece and finally had something that would sort of work.

IMG_5732After I removed the baked sponge from the oven, I did manage to turn it out onto the fresh parchment without mishap. Just . . . I managed to roll it, but it was on the thick side, as the pan was a bit too narrow for this. It makes me miss my own tools and supplies so much . . . And having my own kitchen, with things where I can find them easily.

 

IMG_5733

As seen from one end

 

So, once it was cool and I unrolled it, it looked like the photo above.  But I persevered. I’m nothing if not stubborn . . . or should I say ‘single-minded’?

 

 

 

IMG_5734 Cousin S kindly used the KitchenAid to whip the cream, too, and that went well. I spread most of it on the sponge.

Doesn’t that look tempting? And can you see the potential problem? Yes, it’s just too narrow to roll up again. But I went forward bravely and added the halved grapes; I’d cut enough for the size I usually make . . .

IMG_5735

Well, I forgot to photograph the Roulade in its finished state, I guess. So half of it is already gone somewhere in this picture . . .  I’d held back some of the whipped cream and some of the grapes, as I’d planned to decorate the top of my ‘log’ once it was rolled up. But we added those to our servings and enjoyed them anyway.  The good thing about this sort of kitchen mishap is that it’s all edible, in the end.

The Roulade was pronounced a definite success and cousin S, who is not partial to grapes, had a second helping, which I think is a great compliment.

This is much like a Jelly Roll, but has no flour in it, so it is perfect for people who hae Celiac disease or are simply gluten-intolerant. It is very light, so a perfect complement to a filling winter meal. I hope you try it; if so, do let Selma know how you liked it.

I will be baking some of Selma’s Christmas cookies/biscuits this coming week and will share my experiences with you. And I need to get a move on with the making of gifts. I bought three stockings at the dollar store yesterday (Saturday) and have been planning what to do with them. They don’t need decorating, just filling.

christmas popcorn cranberry strings I have some cranberries, too, so I need to pop some popcorn and get out a needle and thread, to . . .  This photo is from the internet, and it shows cranberry strings exactly like the ones I used to make. I don’t know if we will use them indoors or put them outside for the birds’ Christmas feast. I’ve always liked how these look; the handmade thing is definitely ‘me’!

I shall be posting some news on New Year’s Day, my friends, so watch for that. I still can’t believe that a week from Monday will be 2018!

Are you making resolutions? I am . . .  I like making them and I don’t beat myself up if I don’t achieve them. I always manage to master at least a few and I do find that setting goals moves me a step or two closer to the realization.

Well, this is good . . . it’s only 10.30 on Sunday night and all I have to do is find some music to share. I think I’m going to go with classic carols from here to Christmas Eve. And something else for those of you who have different celebrations at mid-winter.

Here are three hours of Christmas carols, all instrumentals, so you can start it playing and then go on with your last-minute making, baking, wrapping, or  . . .

Tears are Not Enough by Northern Lights, a super-group formed of many of Canada’s top performers. The lyrics are”

As every day goes by
How can we close our eyes
Until we open up our hearts

We can learn to share
And show how much we care
Right from the moment that we start

Seems like overnight
We see the world in a different light
Somehow our innocence is lost

How can we look away
‘Cause every single day
We’ve got to help at any cost

We can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough

If we can pull together
We could change the world forever
Heaven knows that tears are not enough

It’s up to me and you
To make the dream come true
It’s time to take our message everywhere

C’est l’amour qui nous rassemble
D’ici a l’autre bout du monde
Let’s show them Canada still cares
You know that we’ll be there

If we should try together you and I
Maybe we could understand the reasons why
If we take a stand every woman, child and man
We can make it work for God’s sake lend a hand

Mu favourite garage band ever: The Travelling Wilburys. singing End of the Line

“Well, it’s all right, even if you’re old and gray,

Well, it’s all right, you’ve still got something to say . . .”  and so we do . . .

travelling wilburys 01 Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison. I wish they had had time to create more than two albums (they made Volume One and Volume Three;  there was no Volume Two; it was a sort of in joke and it makes me laugh.)

Have a lovely day today, my friends; I wish you Sunlight and Serenity.  ~ Linne

 

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Day 15: Christmas Baking & a Shortbread Recipe

Well, it’s been an interesting exercise, posting daily. I’ve never tried to do this before and it may be a while before I do it again, at least as a set piece. 🙂  Anyway, I’ve been sitting here racking my brains as to a suitable topic.

I thought about all the Christmas baking I did when my boys were young. Of course I have no photos here, but I think I’ll write about some of that anyway and use pictures off the internet.

Although at the time I was doing most of the Christmas baking we had no electricity and thus no refrigeration, I would begin baking just after Hallowe’en. The things that kept best were made first and the others closer to the big day. My boys didn’t get much in the way of sweets during the year; I didn’t want them to develop a sweet tooth like mine. Generally, bread was the only thing we baked. Christmas was different, though, and I loved to go all-out for the holidays, then we were ready to returnto simple living once it was over.

jam kettle 01The first thing I baked was often the Christmas cakes; I made a variety of shapes and sizes, mostly due to using my bread pans and the like. I used my old jam kettle to mix the dough in. It looked similar to this one, without the handle on the side (just the bale) and, of course, was much older. It showed its long history of jam-making.

The recipe was my own and if I ever find it, I will share it with you all, but not this year. It’s somewhere in the storage.

Once the cakes were baked, I set them, one at a time, on a plate covered with a large piece of cheesecloth, two or three layers. I punctured the cake all over and then poured brandy slowly in the top, letting it soak into the holes; No worries; by the time we ate this, the alcohol had all evaporated, leaving only a delightful flavour. I wrapped the cakes in the cheesecloth, then in waxed paper, then finally in aluminium foil. Then the cakes were packed and put away in the cool mudroom for the next year. (After the first year I made these cakes, we always ate the aged ones.

I made two separate pound cakes, too, in my largest bread pans; one with halved green maraschino cherries and one with halved red cherries. When the cakes were sliced and arranged on a plate with the colours alternating, they looked very festive. Usually, I use whole wheat flour, but the pound cakes were made with white.

Each year I made gingerbread men and also a gingerbread cake. The latter was baked in my largest rectangular pan and was left un-iced. I felt we were going to have enough sugar without icing the gingerbread!

Humdingers 01

Humdingers similar to mine

For cookies, I made hermits (with oats, raisins, walnuts, coconut, and more) and an unbaked cookie that in our family was known as ‘humdingers’. These are rich and chocolatey and I will see if one of my sisters has the recipe. You know where mine is!

 

I loved to make the traditional sugar cookies, too; those we cut out with cookie cutters in Christmas shapes and added the details with icing.

Sugar Cookies 01

Sugar Cookies

I used my Mum’s trick of making a waxed paper cone, then snipping the end off (you have to be careful not to make the opening too large, so go slowly with the cutting if you try this). You can tape the edges or simply be careful. Spoon the icing into the cone, fold the top down and squeeze it slowly. I made several cones and a different colour of icing went into each one.

I made other things, too, but these were the yearly mainstays. And, of course, the Scottish Shortbread! I have made them with oat flour and with rice flour (they are not Scottish if made with only rice flour) and with cornstarch. Our favourite s were the ones with a mixture of oat flour and rice flour.  (using oat and rice flours together goes back to at least the 1800s)

Scottish Oat n Rice Shortbread 01

Scottish Oat Shortbread

Scottish Shortbread

Ingredients:

  •  1/3 cup oat flour or 1 cup porridge (rolled) oats
  • 1 ½ cups rice flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar (icing sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan. To make storage easier, you may want to use an 8: square cake pan.

If you are using the rolled oats, grind them in a blender to make your own oat flour.

Place the oat flour (or ground oats) in a mixing bowl and add the rice flour, powdered sugar, and salt, blend well to combine.

Add the butter and mix well with a wooden spoon (or you can use and electric mixer on medium speed for 2-3 minutes) until the batter comes together and forms a dough.

Press the dough into the prepared round cake pan and use a knife to score it into 16 wedges. If you are using a square cake pan, score the dough into 16 bars.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400°F then reduce the oven temperature to 250°F and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on them the first time you make these, as ovens differ. Remove the shortbread from the oven and turn the oven off. Using a sharp knife, cut along the scored lines while the shortbread is still hot. Place the pan back in the oven but do not turn the oven on. Let the shortbread sit in the oven with the door closed for an hour while the oven cools down to let the shortbread dry out and develop a crisp texture).

Remove the shortbread from the oven and allow it to cool completely.

Store in a covered tin to keep the texture crisp.

Well,that’s it for today, I think. If more comes to mind, I’ll add it to another post.

Music for today:

Lead With Your Heart by The Canadian Tenors  (The entire album is here)

I have loved this one since I was a girl:

The French Song by Lucille Starr

Have a great day today. The weekend is nearly here!  Peace & Insight  ~ Linne

 

Day 12: Family history discoveries and my eggnog recipe.

Note: I finally got some photos to upload to WordPress, but for some reason I still can’t insert them in a post, so, since it’s now after 1 am, I am going for text only . . . again. I’m sorry about that as I know how much more interesting a post is when there are pictures to enjoy as well.

Today I got a late start followed by an unexpected trip to town. Lucky for me I stayed up late last night and had everything I needed in order. Cousin M is not a planning sort of person and I have lived with others for so long that I automatically plan my things around theirs. It’s easy for me and I like it, so that usually works best. It’s a good thing that we share the same heritage; I understand him and he understands me, so generally things go quite well as a result. And then the post office had a long lineup and my purchase took time, too, so I was in the drug store for over an hour. In the end, I made a mad dash into the grocery store for two bags of cranberries (I’ll tell you about that tomorrow) and then went back to the truck and we made it home before dark.

I didn’t get any knitting done today, which is too bad, but by the time I phoned a dear friend in Victoria and had supper, I wasn’t up for knitting. I did manage to drop in on a few folks’ blogs and catch up a bit more.  And I checked email briefly, then facebook for messages. And on fb I had a wonderful message waiting for me.

I was looking for information on my mother’s parents and grandparents a few days ago. The man who contacted me is a lecturer (professor?) in Norway. He has a group on fb about the island of Leka, very near to Trondheim, where we always thought my great-grandparents and my Mum’s mother had come from. Well, this professor has made a project out of tracking down the descendants of people who emigrated from Leka to the Americas. He had information that I was able to check out with my Auntie tonight and it’s all correct.

Apparently, when people emigrated at the beginning of the 1900s, it was generally via Trondheim, so that was the name that showed on the immigration papers.

I did check this man out and he has fb posts going back to when he was in high school; he’s now in his early 40s, I figure. So I’m pretty sure he’s legit.

One of the exciting things for me was learning the names of my great-great-uncles, two of whom stayed in North Dakota when the others came to Canada and the names of my great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother.

An interesting fact to me was that they lived on one of the Western Isles of that area, I lived for over thirty years in what I think of as our Western Isles and the band whose work I love best also hails from the Western Isles, this time of Scotland. Possibly co-incidence, I know, but still . . . I can be quite practical about some things, but I am also quite fanciful about others. This is one of the latter. I don’t much care if it’s a true connection or not; it makes my heart sing.

I first lived on an island when I was a toddler and my Dad and his brother, my cousin M’s father, worked in the open pit mine on Texada Island, near Powell River, BC. We left a couple of years later, so I don’t remember much from that time, but I believe that’s where my love of the sea and islands comes from.

My own recipe for eggnog:

Do read this through in advance. Amounts aren’t really too critical as you will want to adjust to suit the size of your serving bowl and the number of people who will be partaking.

After supper sometime, separate 1 dozen eggs, reserving the whites in the fridge for the next day and putting the yolks in a large bowl. [I used to use my big glass punch bowl, but I didn’t have a fridge, so I didn’t have to worry about space. Our mudroom was always cold enough to serve as a refrigeration area, so I simply covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the mudroom for overnight.]

Using a whisk, beat a cup of icing sugar into the yolks, then add a half cup (4 oz) of rum and 1/2 tsp of grated nutmeg; fresh is fantastic, but if you don’t have it, use pre-grated. I prefer dark, but use what you like. This ‘cooks’ the yolks so that they lose that raw egg flavour. I think brandy would work well, too, but I don’t think I ever tried it. Put the bowl into the fridge overnight or until the next evening.

Stirring gently with the whisk, add a can of evaporated milk to give it a richer,fuller flavor. I always used Pacific, as that’s what I grew up on, but I’m sure any brand would work. Next add 2 quarts (litres) of whole milk. At this point, I like to let the mixture sit another 24 hours to ripen the flavour.

Depending on the amount you want, you may add another two litres of whole milk at this point. Or wait until just before you are ready to serve. (see below)

The day you are going to serve the eggnog, whip a pint of whipping cream until it makes soft peaks. Fold in gently. Last, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt. 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar can help it to form peaks well, but is not necessary. Fold the egg whites into the mixture as well. Taste the ‘nog to see if it needs any tweaking. I used to make a punch bowl full when we had company coming, so would add more whole milk and often more whipping cream, whipped, of course, as well.

At this point the eggnog is ready to serve. If the drink is only for adults, it’s possible to add more rum to the bowl. Otherwise, you may want to have the bottle handy for guests to use themselves. We rarely drank and our friends were the same, so this once a year indulgence was never a problem for anyone. I have known serious drinkers, though, and if they had come to our house, the rum would have been hidden safely away. 🙂

I like to keep the nutmeg and grater (or bottle of pre-grated) handy to add to each glass as it’s served up.

If you do try this, I’d love to hear what you think.

Music for today: Hymn to Nations, set to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ and sung by the great Paul Robeson. I apologize for the quality of the recording; it was released in 1953. I couldn’t find a better recording. still I love the words to this song (and the music); I first learned this when I belonged to the school choir in Chase, BC, in grade five. I have never forgotten it and I think we need to hear it often during the challenges of these times.

May your day be filled with Light and Love.  ~ Linne

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

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.