Archive for Creative stuff

A Special Gift for Friends and Neighbors

Norwegian Christmas Bread, ready to be gift wrapped.

Norwegian Christmas Bread, ready to be gift wrapped.

It’s always nice to have something homemade to give to neighbors and friends at Christmas and for us that special gift is Norwegian Christmas Bread.  The recipe came to us by means of a friendship in Maine.  We used to stop and have tea with a seventy-ish Norwegian widower on our walk around Ocean Point and once at Christmas he was reminiscing about a special bread his wife used to make.   When I asked to see the recipe, he took out a typewritten page covered in notes he had written in his several failed attempts to make the bread.  He gave me a copy, and the next time we saw him I gave him a loaf.  It’s a dense yeast bread, sweet with candied fruit and currents and fragrant with cardamom. The top is glazed with egg white, giving it a shiny, festive look. The look of joy on his face when he tasted it still raises my spirits every time I think of it.  I was able to relive that joy with a gift of a loaf each year thereafter until he died at age 100.

IMG_2810

Ready for their second rise.

Ready for their second rise.

We make about 40 loaves each year, 10 at a time.  In order to make that much at once we use our antique bread pail (the old Universal #8) and my husband has to turn the crank to knead it, as it’s too hard on my shoulders.  The fun is delivering it around the neighborhood.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you, my virtual friends.

Comments (3) »

Connecticut Audubon’s Birdcraft Museum is 100!

Here I am in front of the cake (it's fake, cleverly frosted with plumbers's compound)

Here I am in front of the cake (it’s fake, cleverly frosted with plumber’s compound)

In 1914 Mable Osgood Wright (a pioneer in the Conservation Movement) and Annie B. Jennings (Standard Oil heiress) founded the Birdcraft Museum where I have served on the board for many years.  It became the headquarters for the Connecticut Audubon Society, which Mrs. Wright founded in 1898.  Birdcraft is the oldest private bird sanctuary in the country.  It’s a tiny (6 acre) “pocket” sanctuary but because of its unique location between the railroad, I-95 and a whole lot of pavement, we have seen over 120 species here and banded over 18,000 birds since the bird banding program began in 1979. We have many other educational activities, partnering with the public schools in their science curriculum.

Last Saturday we held our annual Holiday Tea, a free event to thank the town and our volunteers for their participation over the year.  Because it was Birdcraft’s 100th anniversary year, we had a cake and I greeted visitors at the door dressed in period clothes.  I have now worn this outfit (which I found at the Brimfield Antiques Flea Market) three times for 100th anniversary parties.  It’s down to $10.00 a wearing.

Comments (4) »

Cairn Sculpture

 

This simple cairn reminds me of a seal.

This simple cairn reminds me of a seal balancing a ball.

One thing we have come to look forward to on our daily walks along the shore in Maine is the cairn sculpture.  This past weekend someone had been very busy and we came across two dozen or so, of varying complexity.  This got me curious about cairns.  I found that they have been used since pre-history as directional markers, a use they still have today.  I noted them on the summit of Mount Washington when we were up there watching the White Mountain Arctic butterfly studies.  [See this post]  The summit is a maze of rocks and closely spaced cairns marked the trail, as it was easy to go astray, even in the clear weather we had that day.

You could easily get lost in the fog, were it not for these closely spaced cairns.

You could easily get lost in the fog, were it not for these closely spaced cairns.

When we were on the shores of Hudson Bay in November, 2012, [See this post] we saw a cairn known as an Inuksuit, erected as a location marker for the town of Churchill by the First Nations people living there.   This striking cairn was anthropomorphic in design.  One afternoon I saw a Polar Bear walk right by it, giving it a glance, but didn’t have my camera handy.

Churchill, Manitoba's Inuksuit.

Churchill, Manitoba’s Inuksuit.

Here are a few of the cairn sculptures we saw last weekend in Maine.

Many like this "peopled" our walk.

Many like this “peopled” our walk.

A simpler design.

A simpler design.

This conveys a message of love with it's heart.

This conveys a message of love with it’s heart.

Comments (1) »

How to Make a Magnolia Leaf Wreath

The finished wreath.  I used a gold bow so it would show up against our green door.

The finished wreath. I used a gold bow so it would show up against our green door.

I am so lucky in my friends!  I have a friend who lives by the beach where the average temperature is just a little warmer than it is here only a mile away.  This tiny temperature difference is just enough so she can grow Magnolia Grandiflora here in Connecticut, at the northern edge of its range.  Each year at this time she has the trees trimmed and distributes the branches to local charities and friends for their holiday decorating.  I use my bounty to make magnolia leaf wreaths for the house.  Here’s how I do it:

Pick off leaves (I choose medium sized ones) and using wired floral picks, wind each stem with the wire.  After a few leaves you get the feel for it and can twirl the pick, winding it quickly and easily.  These picks are available in craft stores.

Pick off leaves (I choose medium sized ones) and using wired floral picks, wind each stem with the wire. After a few leaves you get the feel for it and can twirl the pick, winding it quickly and easily. These picks are available in craft stores.

I like to use a straw wreath form, also available in craft stores.  Wind up a dozen or so leaves before you begin.

I like to use a straw wreath form, also available in craft stores. Wind up a dozen or so leaves before you begin.

Start by sliding the picks into the form at an angle, inserting them diagonally across the curved surface and overlapping the leaves.

Start by sliding the picks into the form at an angle, inserting them diagonally across the curved surface and overlapping the leaves.

I like to have some of the leaves upside-down to give a color contrast by showing the velvety brown undersides of the leaves.

I like to have some of the leaves upside-down to give a color contrast by showing the velvety brown undersides of the leaves.

When you are finished (this took me a little over an hour to do) examine the wreath for places where the straw is showing through.  There's a little place at about 2:00 o'clock so I wrap one more leaf to cover that.

When you are finished (this took me a little over an hour to do) examine the wreath for places where the straw is showing through. There’s a little place at about 3:00 o’clock so I wrap one more leaf to cover that.

The finished product.  Add a bow and hang!

The finished product. Add a bow and hang!

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (4) »

…and Then There Were Three!

He seems to have inherited his Father's nose.

He seems to have inherited his Father’s nose.

I should have heeded your warning, Marjorie, and put one by the front door and one here by the side door on the porch!

They've decided to watch me while I'm at the kitchen sink.

They’ve decided to watch me while I’m at the kitchen sink.

Comments (7) »

Now there are Two “Squash Bugs”

I like these Squash Bugs much better than the kind I usually encounter!

I like these Squash Bugs much better than the kind I usually encounter!

Comments (2) »

%d bloggers like this: