Friday, 30 November 2007

'Tis The Season

As the nights draw in and the cold wind blows, so my thoughts turn to Christmas. Actually, they should have turned towards it weeks ago ~ I have never been so disorganized!

Paul and I went to a Christmas Craft Fair last Saturday ~ as visitors for a change. It was held at Broadway Gardens, which is a garden centre in St Catharine's, Ontario. We had never visited this place before, but I must admit that a lot of the crafts were of poor quality in comparison to the beautiful crafts I see on so many blogs.

I did buy two beautiful poinsettias ~ red, of course. I see the white ones and admire them, but I always want that touch of festive cheer.

On these cold evenings, it is nice to be able to snuggle up under something warm whilst reading or whiling away the hours with some other occupation. I thought that as the season is upon us; it was time to dig out my Christmas blanket.

I made this blanket a few years ago now, but it is still a favourite. I spent weeks knitting the squares and I think that I finished it within a month; so determined was I to have it done for Christmas Eve. The ends are fringed, but it is too large for you to see this in the photo.

The trouble with these darker days and evenings is that I have been unable to take any half decent photographs. I need the lights on even during the day, so I have been putting off taking pictures of my Christmas pieces in the hope of a bright day ~ I have reached the stage now, where I am going to take them regardless! Have a great weekend.

Jessica's Gifts

Many months ago, I asked Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits if she would make my little niece Jessica a birthday present. Before you all get excited and think that Julie is taking commissions; I must stress that this was at a time when she was still doing custom orders. I told her that there was no rush, as Jessica's birthday is in November.

Some time later, Julie contacted me and told me that she was working on two projects and asked which one I thought Jessica would like. I chose a ballerina polar bear and here is the result of her efforts ~ isn't she delightful! Julie kindly made a pretty bag for my gift and sent her to Jessica. Thank you Julie ~ I so appreciate your kindness.

Jessica was three last month and I can hardly believe where the time has gone. I last saw her when she was five months' of age and it broke my heart when she looked at me through the car window and gave me her enormous smile. Here is a photo taken at the hospital shortly after she was born. What a proud Auntie! I love you Jessica.

The second gift is a bag that I first saw on Julie's blog when she bought one for her daughter Amy. It was made by the talented Alice at Raspberry. I thought that Jessica would love it and it was perfect for her holiday, so I quickly ordered one before it sold.

The attention to detail is incredible and though I have yet to see the bag (other than on a photo), I do appreciate the time involved in Alice's work ~ view other examples on her blog.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

What Holiday Are You?

You Are Thanksgiving

You are a bit of a homebody who enjoys being in the company of people you love.
It doesn't take a lot to make you happy. You're enjoying life as it is.
You have many blessings in your life, and you are grateful for each one.
You believe that life is about what you *do* have. You feel like you have enough of the good stuff.

What makes you celebrate: Family, friends, and the changing of the seasons.

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The host of the party

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Spend so much energy preparing that it's a full time job

Quite appropriate as today is Thanksgiving in the United States. I would like to wish all my American readers a Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Behind The Scenes At The Museum

Have you joined The Book Group yet? The current book is Kate Atkinson's Behind The Scenes At The Museum, which I have just finished reading. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed reading this book when it was first published 10 years ago ~ can it really be ten years?

Not only is it set in York, which is one of my favourite cities, but it is the kind of book that I can immerse myself in the story and not want to put it down. Anyway, I am supposed to save my comments for the book review which is set for Friday 23rd November ~ there is still time to join in the fun and read it.

Monday, 12 November 2007

I Capture The Castle

I Capture The Castle was written in 1949, but the story is set in the 1930s. It is told from the perspective of Cassandra Mortmain, through her journal. Cassandra and her bohemian family live in a crumbling castle in Suffolk and the tale is one of sibling jealousy and unrequited first love.

Cassandra is witty and observant and her journal is a highly entertaining read. I had vaguely heard of this book, but had no idea what it was about until I borrowed it from the library. Once I started reading, I didn't want to put it down. It is funny and genuinely moving and the story and characters stayed with me after I had turned the last page.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Armistice Day

Armistice Day marks the end of the First World War: on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918; the guns fell silent over Europe. The first Remembrance Day was held throughout Britain and the Commonwealth in 1919 and it was an opportunity to commemorate the end of the war and to remember those who had died.

After the Second World War, the name was changed to Remembrance Day to include those who had died in both World Wars. Today, we remember those who have been killed in more recent conflicts too.

Towns and cities throughout Canada, Britain and Europe have war memorials to commemorate those who have been killed in battle. The red poppy has come to symbolize our act of remembrance: poppies bloomed on the battlefields of Flanders, Belgium, in bomb craters and on the graves of those who were killed in action: today, poppies are sold by the Canadian and Royal British Legions to raise funds for veterans and their families and we wear our poppies in support of them.

This morning, Paul and I attended a Remembrance Day Parade to honour those who gave their lives that we might be free. I have been attending such parades for many years and feel that I have a duty to remember those killed in the service of our country.

It seems to me that the numbers of those attending such parades are increasing. Perhaps as a result of the continuing casualties of war in current conflicts: Canadian soldiers are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

When I stand in front of a war memorial, especially when I am close enough to read the names inscribed upon it; I think about those who died. It is impossible to imagine how anyone survived the horror of the First World War and life in the trenches. Those who died were often little more than teenagers and yet they were expected to go over the top and face the hell that was no-man's land and worse still, the fear of being gassed. I say a silent prayer for them and hope that they are in a better place.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them".

An excerpt from a poem called 'The Fallen' by Laurence Binvon, first published in The Times of London newspaper on 21st September 1914.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Remember Remember the 5th of November...

Remember Remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot....

Traditional Nursery Rhyme (Author unknown)

In case you are unfamiliar with this rhyme, perhaps I should explain. The rhyme refers to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 when Guy Fawkes was caught on 5th November in the cellars of the English Houses of Parliament with several barrels of gunpowder. He was tried as a traitor and subsequently hung, drawn and quartered; along with his co-conspirators.

The King and parliament remembered the event annually and the rhyme was a warning through the generations to not forget the treason of Guy Fawkes.

To this day, the 5th of November is commemorated throughout England with fireworks and bonfires topped with an effigy of Guy Fawkes. The weeks leading up to Guy Fawkes' Night or Bonfire Night are marked by children making their own guys and asking for "A penny for the guy".

Whilst Guy Fawkes' Night is not a Canadian festival, I remember trudging through wet leaves (it almost always rained!) to the town firework display and watching the guy burn on the bonfire. The morning after, the odour of gunpowder and smoke hangs in the air like a fog and I have to admit that I miss this annual festival.

November has always seemed a better month for a firework display than the times that they generally occur here in Canada, as the fireworks are seen much more clearly on a really dark night. It is also fun to get bundled up in warm clothing and go out to enjoy a display

A friend of ours holds his own display here in Canada and one day, when I have a garden of my own; I intend to establish my own Guy Fawkes' celebration. You are all invited....