One of my favorite parts of this time of year is reading Christmas and winter time stories. Lately, when time allows, we've been reading stories by the fire. Our pellet stove is conveniently located in our dining room, so we just sit at the table and read a chapter of a book or short story (often times, stories with no pictures, so we can listen and imagine a little) by the firelight. It's nice because it keeps us from our tired-end-of-day auto response of putting on a movie or documentary... not a bad thing to do, but I'd like to do it a little less. Recently, we started reading some of the stories in "A Little House Christmas" which features chapters from various "Little House" books. I mostly missed out on reading these as a kid... my sister had the whole collection and gave them to me, and I've still only read one of them years ago, which happened to be the last book! Silly me! Anyways, I do hope to get to read the longer books with my girls, but they're still quite little, and this seemed a nice introduction. The first Christmas story starts off with Laura at four years old, and so she immediately captured Oona's heart, as kids the same age are obviously awesome. There are a few pictures in this, but not many, so I was glad that she was mostly able to pay attention... it is hard to ignore your toys for too long.
An added bonus to family story time is that if I'm not reading, I get to crochet. There are so many projects in the crochet basket, but I've had a grand time making these sweet little stars. I can't decide if they should be ornaments or a garland. I'm so grateful for all the freebie patterns out there, as it has made it a lot easier to learn and improve. I'm hoping in 2015 to find the time to make some tutorials of my own. Are you making any handmade ornaments this year? I'd love to see what others are up to!
One more thing... Oona was asking recently about how you make a candy cane, and as I didn't really know, we turned to YouTube for a demonstration. Here are our favorites, if you're curious too:
This year we started a new tradition in our family. We celebrated St Lucia Day on December 13th. We are not religious, but the patron saint of light certainly seemed worth our admiration. Oona got this book for her birthday, and had practically memorized it, and wanted to act out all the parts. The night before we made gingersnaps and "saffron" buns (we substituted cardamon, as saffron was out of our budget!), traditional foods brought by "Lucia".
I stayed up late finishing a Lucia gown and felt lingonberry and candle crown. In Sweden, where this day is typically celebrated, the older girls wear real crown of lingonberry with real lighted candles.
There's a traditional gown pattern, but I took some liberties with this, and made a soft cotton bamboo knit night gown. I try to never make any costume or clothing that only has one purpose. So Oona will be able to wear this to bed, and if it survives and Elsa grows enough, she will have a turn being Lucia next year. Traditionally, Lucia is always played by the oldest daughter, but I think alternating, as suggested in the story, is a more harmonious approach. I wonder if they'll ever let me have a turn.
On Lucia Day, it is important to share food, as she is famous for bring food and light to the hungry in the dark of winter.
The gingersnaps and "Lucia" buns are brought to the parents in bed in the morning. We did have coffee too, but Oona didn't carry it, as it seemed a bit much for a four year old to carry. She was so excited to get to act out this story, it made all the extra work worth it!
Is a unicorn a traditional Swedish gingersnap shape? Probably not...
We've had this St Lucia candle holder (which has changeable ornaments) for years, but never thought of actually celebrating.
Every Saturday morning we have a music jam at our store, and
shared some of the buns presented by "St. Lucia". And later we brought our
gingersnaps to a Christmas party in the evening.
Typically the younger girls are attendants to Lucia with white gowns and silver tinsel crowns and belts, but I ran out of time and fabric so went to the costume box. A fairy costume and star wreath is legit, right? Oona actually picked out the Tinkerbell costume... I was going to have her wear her Halloween costume, but this kept her happy.
Oona is already talking about next year and how she will where a "star boy hat", the traditional boy costume, but be "star girl", of course. And she is actually excited to let her little sister have a turn being Lucia. Anyone else start any new holiday traditions this year?
"A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014"
Oona and Elsa: catching up with some reading time and a siesta... actually, the "reading" was likely followed by jumping on the bed
Disclaimer: I in no way want to create the illusion that my children are sweet little angels who never bicker or run around wild... on the contrary, these peaceful moments are just sprinkles on the cuckoo cake.
The day started with apple pear muffins and a mad dash to finish the second of two granny animal hats for the girls. I had added the cat ears to Elsa's hat the night before, and promptly started on hat number two. The second one, of course, came together all the quicker. I used this granny crochet ear flap hat pattern, but as both of my girls can't appreciate the beauty of ear flaps, I discarded them for actual ears... animal ears, of course. Kitty ears for little "meow, meow" as that's mostly what she says these days, and deer ears for my little dear. The hats are a little big on both of them, and I might make them a little shorter so they're not quite so flopsy, though they'll eventually grow into them. This hat pattern, by the way, can easily be adapted to make a grown up hat, as it has a lot of stretch. I put on Oona's hat, and it actually fit me too.
I was racing to finish Oona's so we could go play in the snow with Daddy
before he had to start work. Luckily, it finished up quickly, and we
ventured out into the snowy deep to shovel and prance and make angels and piles and a snow castle.
Oona did a lot of shoveling, too bad it wasn't in the drive way. There are two ears on each hat, they just tend to flop backwards. If you think Oona's snow pants look a bit short, you are very right... we have to get her another pair right away, as she grew quite a bit in this last year!
It was so satisfying to see them drying on the line. We came in and had hot chocolate and hot coffee and I set to work on my next crochet project.
The tiny white fairies are dancing in the sky again. We're in for a good three or four days of this merriment, but luckily there is lots of hot tea, balls of yarn and good food to keep us busy.
The little hat you see below is not quite finished. There are a few necessary adornments that must be added before it will be deemed wearable (I hope) by the youngest little Miss in the house. I'm speaking of kitty ears, of course. She gets very irritable about wearing hats, but she adores kitties, and sometimes, I do believe from all the meowing, believes she is a kitty. I do hope that having ears will make this hat more appealing, but there's a good chance it will still be torn from her head in a fit of indignation... never mind, it will fit big sister if she doesn't wear it. I have plans for a deer hat for big sister, as that is what she fancies herself now and again. This is all a bit of a side track from my mile long holiday list. I wish I was able to keep these special hats a secret, but Elsa really does need a her kitty ears asap as we've seen quite a bit of frosty weather of late. So I've been working on them by the light of day, and I haven't been able to conceal my work as these little people do ask questions. It's hard to put down the crochet hook this time of year. It's very addictive, but I love that I can do it while watching a documentary or whatnot. I will post picture of the finished hat, and with any luck, a little girl happily wearing it.
My name is Bonnie Wildwood and I am a mama that lives in the north country, and I draw pictures and make things all day. I also help manage a little store called "The Wildwood Flower" where we sell all kinds of good things from antiques to musical instruments to beautiful handmade items.