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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Time to write a new post

The beginning of a new year brings thoughts of time. Looking forward, looking back. And part of that for me is the tradition of  making New Year’s resolutions.  (Not keeping them all is another tradition I follow, but let’s not talk about that right now.) I like the optimism that resolutions bring me.  Making them feels like a chance to become better, to have a better life, be a better me.  What they are really about, of course, is how I want to spend my time in the coming year. It’s about what I want to do and who I want to be with and how I want to live my life.

But you can’t do it all, can you? See everyone, do everything, go everywhere…it’s just not possible. Resolutions for me are about setting priorities. It’s a time to take stock and decide what things to keep doing, what things to stop doing and what things to start doing. Little Eco Footprints wrote about editing one’s life. That’s it exactly!

But it’s so difficult to let go of stuff, of relationships, of commitments, isn’t it? How many times have I thrown something out  only to find I need it the next week? More than that, I think I often define who I am by what I have, who I spend time with and the groups I commit to.  Letting some of these things go can feel like losing a part of myself.

But Little Eco is right. Extra stuff only detracts from the essentials, from what is important. Editing requires courage and the ability to let go of things we may have worked hard at, may have invested in, but in the end we are better for it. I’m going to start with stuff. Go through the house, shelf by drawer, and get rid of the extras. Maybe with enough practice, I will get good enough at editing to tackle the tougher stuff!

 

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Making Christmas Fun

After watching the Christmas episode of season 1 of Little House on the Prairie, which, by the way, has a year’s dose of wholesomeness packed into one 50 minute show, the girls and I decided we should make each other gifts for Christmas. I usually make gifts for people, but haven’t really for the girls and they haven’t for us. It’s something I’ve wanted to do – get away from the buying spree that usually accompanies Christmas these days and emphasize thoughtfulness and creativity. The girls were game, so we went for it.

I was surprised at how resourceful they were in choosing what gifts to make and by how much fun they had in doing it. They paged through craft books and internet sites looking for things for each family member. In the end, we made lots of things, some of which are pictured below.

Sofie made a sun glasses case for her father, a pin cushion for her Babička, a gardening vest for me, a bookmark and a book for her sister. Olivia made bath herbs and a  scissors case for me, a wallet for her sister, bowls for her Babička, a knit hat for her father. I made  coupons for Kamil (dinner out, etc), a dress for Sofie, a skirt and a book journal for Olivia, a bag for Hana. We even made a set of  coasters for friend and neighbor,  Andrea. Kamil got in on the act, too, and wrote a song with parts for each of us on our instruments.

A few of the things we made

A few of the things we made

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This is something I want to continue with, but I must say, we did not start early enough! This all takes time especially when you have to keep some gifts secret from their intended recipient. I definitely didn’t count on the time I would have to help the girls with their gifts and it left very little time for me to make my own gifts. Which is why I am still working on some for folks a bit farther away!

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Happy Solstice!

We celebrated the winter solstice  – our first time ever!

With Christmas, New Year’s and Chanukah already on our “To Celebrate” list, why add the solstice, especially since so many of our “Christmas” traditions clearly are derived from old solstice celebrations anyway?

  1. It just seems important to mark the shortest day of the year. It gets so dark here in winter and marking the day on which we start to get more light is worth celebrating.
  2. As I get more into gardening and eating seasonally, I am paying more attention to the cycles of nature.
  3. I want my children to know about nature, seasonal cycles and their European heritage.
  4. We celebrate holidays from all sorts of traditions, but not from paganism.
  5. It seems kind of magical!

How did we do it?  I checked out a few internet sites and found various ideas. The ones I especially liked are the candle ceremony and the feasting.

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Candle ceremony. We first went out and gathered greens, ivy, juniper and boxwood. We arranged them around a central candle, which was placed in a bowl of water. After sunset, the central candle was lit and we each lit our own candle from it. Then we talked about something meaningful to us from the last year and blew out our candles. We meditated in the dark for a minute and then relit the central candle. Now we each took turns making a wish for the coming year. Finally, we sprinkled glitter and lemon grass oil in the water bowl, dipped a finger in it and put a dot on each other’s forehead. The kids really liked that part because they ended up with glitter on their foreheads!

We did try to light a yule log but it was too wet. We’ll have to prepare that better next year.

The feast was just snacks, but we had chlebicky, dried fruits and nuts and cookies. We tried to make the cookies symbolize the holiday as much as possible.

Suns and moons.

Suns and moons.

Dark and light cookies.

Dark and light cookies.

We had elder flower syrup mixed with sparkling water – a little taste of spring!

The celebration was fun and a nice way to take a break from hectic Christmas preparations. We have 6 months to figure out a summer solstice celebration!

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Fastnacht Day

Shrove Tuesday is Fastnacht day where I come from. Pennsylvania Germans celebrate not with parades and costumes, but with food (of course), making donuts called fastnachts sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with honey, molasses or in our case, jam.

I always wanted to make fastnachts, but most recipes are quite complicated, requiring preparation the night before you want to make them and hours and hours of rising time. I managed to find one recipe for cruller-style fastnachts, however, that do not use yeast and can be made pretty easily.

Cutting the fastnachts.

Frying the fastnachts.

Yum!!! Served with our wild plum jam

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