Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easter Traditions

I'm having fun today making these little bunny bags.  They are just the right size to hold a handful of something sweet and delicious!

I'm using a pattern by Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield which is on her blog here:  They are very easy to make and go together in a jiffy.  All you need are 4 charm squares and a little ribbon!  I think these will be cute on the Easter table, sitting on the plates.  Caroline has a new book out on Amazon, 

Just for You: Selfish Sewing Projects from Your Favorite Sew Can She Bloggers: 24 Simply Stylish Projects 

Holidays and traditions go hand in hand it seems.  This picture by Norman Rockwell pretty much sums up my childhood and probably that of many others.   I think back over the years and all the holidays and the attendant chaos that seemed to go with it.  My mother in the kitchen cooking, her table was always set just so perfectly.  Stay out of her kitchen and don't touch anything on the table, we're going to eat soon. There would be trays of food out on the coffee table for "company". We had to look just so in our holiday outfits.  There would be the typical family arguments that would ensue and finally we would all sit down to the holiday meal. It was always delicious. Whew, glad that's over. And she would always be angry during and at the end of the whole ordeal.  It seemed she felt that no one appreciated all the effort that she went to. And there was always the perfunctory "I'm not doing this again!"  She just could not relax for a moment poor thing. Expectations.

Gramma's house, right next door, was different...there would be crafts leading up to the gala event, painting, cutting, pasting, general mess making accompanied by cake and tea.  Gram always had a cake and tea.  She loved pudding cakes. She was from England and I'm sure this was from her upbringing.   There would be bible stories, Gram knew the bible forward and backward,  the bear and the jello stories, the bear and the jello stories...Oh, did I repeat myself?  Now you have the flavor of the day...Gram had great stories, we all heard them a thousand times and never got tired of them...she was a great story teller.  Even my son remembers her stories.  The food was okay, she wasn't fussing and a good time was had by all.  Gramma was a product of the roaring 20's, she knew how to enjoy life, she was artistic and she let that spirit soar.  And after dinner and desert we would gather at the foot of Pop's recliner and he would cut apples for us while we watched tv together and if we were very good, there might even be a candy bar.

I didn't get to spend much time with my father's mother.  Baba lived in New York and we moved out to California when I was 7.  I never saw her again.  She passed away when I was 9 and I lost my father at 10.  But I can remember her like it was yesterday.  She was an amazing cook.  Ukrainian food, Polish food, Russian food. Thanks to my mother, I have some of her recipes and I make them to this day.  I remembered the beautiful Ukrainian Easter eggs and made it a point to learn how to make them.  Mine are not elaborately detailed as some that I have collected over the years but they are incredibly fun to make.  

The process consists of heating a copper stylus in a candle flame and then scraping it across the bees wax, heating it again until the wax is flowing and then waxing the portions of your egg that you want to be white.  Then you dip your egg in your lightest color, wax again those portions that you want to be that color, dip into the next darker color and continue until you have completed your design.  Then you hold the egg up to the candle flame to melt off the wax and wipe it with a soft cloth.  This is the result below.

These are just a few of my eggs in my collection.  Mine along with some that have been intricately decorated by others.  Each village has their own style.  The wooden objects in the front of the case are the hand carved top two sections from the last Christmas tree that we had just before my father was killed.  They were carved by his father, my grandfather and are just incredibly special to me.

The first time I decorated one of these eggs was many years ago, when I was visiting my son who lived in Brooklyn at the time.  We drove over to St. Mark's place to the Ukrainian store and got all the stuff we needed to make the eggs.  We had a ball, sitting on the floor in his apartment, wrapping rubber bands around the eggs to section them and then drawing our designs.  It is a long and tedious process but so worth the effort.  It was a bonding experience. Just the two of us, decorating eggs together.

If you want to get your own kit and try this out you can get one here:  Your local library will have how to books. You only need to google Ukrainian Easter Eggs and look at the images to see the thousands of ways that people decorate their eggs.

Here is a little video showing you how to make a beginner egg.

Here is video showing you how to make an intermediate egg.

So family traditions, a way of honoring and remembering our past...they are what you want them to be.  It doesn't have to be stress filled.  Take your time, enjoy your family and friends.  And make things that you enjoy!  Remember the most important thing you can give your family is you!  We wish you a joyous Easter!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Back Up and Running to The River!

Our computer has been down this past month, the mother board burned out and so we have had to replace it.  Ah technology!  It seems that it changes with lightening speed.  I am sure that this amazing laptop will be obsolete tomorrow morning.  It makes me reflect back to a time at my Gram's house when microwave ovens were first coming out and how she swore up and down she would never have one in her home.  Well, she was given one and I think that became her preferred way to cook for the remainder of her life. So funny, my little English grandmother, boiling her peas on the stove until they were that lifeless graygreen color and then nuking them in the microwave before she brought them to the table.  She was an amazing woman, an artist, world traveled, well read, she could do just about anything, except she never mastered cooking.  I loved her and ate her food with a smile, enjoying her conversation and the gathering at her table.  It was always interesting, even if it was not the culinary delight!

Yesterday my sweet friend Brenda Allen, who has Bella B Photography, and I took the GIMQ quilt down to the river to take some beauty shots of the quilt.  She took her fancy camera gear and I had my little iPhone camera along for some quickies.  We drove in her four wheel drive down to Yankee Jims Bridge on the North Fork of the American River.  Following the rugged one lane dirt road that meanders down a very steep canyon, past several beautiful falls, we parked at the bottom and walked down a wooden railroad tie stairway to the river.

Brenda shoots her photos using our abundant local resources.  Visit her website by clicking on her name above and you can see how beautiful her setting selections are.  Anyway, we layed out my GIMQ in a number of different "poses" and generally had a ball.

Here is a little excerpt about the history of Yankee Jim's from geneaology trails website.

YANKEE JIM’S – About 18 miles northeast of Auburn is the old mining town of Yankee Jim’s which was settled in 1850. The name comes from an Australian criminal with the nickname “Yankee” and who held stolen horses at the site before the discovery of gold there. During its history, Yankee Jim’s was one of the largest towns of Placer and the leader in many enterprises, such as hydraulic mining, large fruit orchards (trees shipped around the Horn from Philadelphia), and some of the earliest newspapers in the county. The Democratic Party Convention of 1857 was held in Yankee Jim’s, in fact. By the early 1880s, the town supported a post office, two general stores, a hotel, a saloon, a doctor’s office, and a carpentry shop. The eventual decline of the town is not attributed so much to the failure of the mines as to the building up of adjacent towns, such as Foresthill and Todd Valley, in its day. The post office that was first established in 1852 was discontinued in 1940. Today, all that remains of Yankee Jim’s are a few residence

It's winter time here, early spring...there should be a great deal of water coursing down this river but we have had several years of drought and there is not much in the way of a snow pack this year so I expect there will not be much water in the river bed in a few months.  Should be great for the gold seekers...easier access to the riverbed without having to wear a wet suit.  The state no longer allows slucing so miners must dig their dirt and pan it at the riverside like the old days.  It's very hard work for not much return. Fun if you just want to spend the day at the river enjoying the water and the possibility of a treasure hunt.

Brenda is like a little mountain goat, she just kicks off her shoes and she's climbing up on anything and everything to get her shot!  I will be anxious to see her photos, these are just the little ones I snapped with my iPhone. 

Everything is so green right now, little flowers abound and the redbud and wild lilacs are blooming in full beauty!  It won't be but a few weeks if we don't get anymore rain this year, that the scenery will change to our summer browns.  I remember moving from the east coast as a little girl and being stunned by how brown everything was in summer, it's just the exact opposite on the east coast.  Our green time here is winter and spring, spring especially.  

If you ever get out this way and have the time, take a day trip out to Yankee Jims, you won't be sorry.  Take a picnic lunch, plenty of cool drinks, bring your bathing suit, some good walking shoes, a towel to spread out and lots of sunscreen.  AND YOUR CAMERA!
Evidence of the old gold diggings abound and the old suspension bridge from the 1930's over the river is picturesque.  You can pick up a gold pan in town at the mining store with lots of pointers on how to use it, it will be a nice momento and if you get a flake or two, well all the better!  

Today, I'm going to finish up this quilt, I actually only have about two feet left to quilt and then  I'm going to do a little piecing on some connector blocks for the one below...

I'm using a block pattern from this book...

And the fabric I am using is from this line of Moda...

I hope you are having an enjoyable day!  I'll be thinking about you!

Easter is coming and I am scouting some fun ideas for a table topper and some cute Easter Basket stuffings.  Check that I am back up and running I am springing into action!