Homespun Gathering

Thursday, December 31, 2015

On the seventh day of Christmas . . .

My true love gave to me
The “seven swans a-swimming” - “seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
(I Corinthians 12:8-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, I Peter 4:10-11)
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

On the sixth day of Christmas . . .

My true love gave to me
The “six geese a-laying” - the six days of creation.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On the fifth day of Christmas . . .

My true love gave to me

    The “five golden rings” - the first 5 books of the Bible, the “Books of Moses.” or Torah or Law.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Monday, December 28, 2015

On the fourth day of Christmas . . .

My true love gave to me

The “four calling birds” - the four Gospels that sing the song
of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

On the Third Day of Christmas . . .

My true love gave to me
The “three French hens” - faith, hope and love – 
the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (I Corinthians 13:13).
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

On the Second Day of Christmas . . .

The “two turtle doves” - the Old and New Testaments,another gift from God.
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Friday, December 25, 2015

On the First Day of Christmas . . .

Merry Christmas, everyone.  I hope this day is wonderful for each of my readers.

Like many in the blogging world I have been stitching along with Paulette Stewart's 12 Days of Christmas pattern.  I had hoped to be finished by now, but no worries I'm on track for my purposes.  The 12 Days of Christmas song used to get an eye roll from me.  I liked it when I was small, but then I heard it so much that, honestly, I couldn't care less about hearing it again.  That is until I learned the history of 12 Days.  I love this song again more than I ever did.  I'd like to share that history with you.

In the church “Christmas” refers to a twelve day period that starts with Christmas Day.

This is the story of the origin of the lyrics of 
The Twelve Days of Christmas

The world celebrates Christmas for 12 hours, but the Church celebrates it for
twelve days because the gift of Christ is with us for twelve months of the year
When most people hear of “The 12 days of Christmas” they think of the song.
The song had its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the
meaning and content of the Christian faith.

From 1558 to 1829 (271 years), Roman Catholics in England were not able to practice their faith openly so they had to find other ways to pass on their beliefs.  They were prohibited from any practice of their faith by law – private or public.  It was a crime to be a Catholic.  “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith – a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in “writing” indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could get you imprisoned… or worse.

The song’s GIFTS are hidden meanings to the teachings of the faith: 

The “true love” doesn’t refer to an earthly suitor, but rather refers to God Himself. The “me” who receives the presents refers to a Christian.

1. The “partridge in a pear tree” is Jesus Christ, who died on a tree
as a gift from God.
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Busy Holiday Season

Oh my goodness.  I really had intended to blog before now, but it is has been busier this year than previous years.  So, without further ado, I will attempt to catch you up with the Reader's Digest version.

My red floss arrived sooner than expected for Paulette Stewart's 12 Days stitch-along, so I was pushed allowed to make progress at my own pace. I can only imagine the Christmas sales season greased the shipping wheel a bit.  Things seem to arrive a bit sooner this time of year.

I was a bit sad with the quick delivery because I thought I would make more progress than I did on Ghoultide Welcome before the floss arrived.  I don't usually work on two projects at once. If I do work on two at once the second is usually a small.  Twelve Days isn't a small, but it is beautiful.  I will count this as a blessing since I'm stepping out of my cross stitch comfort zone.  I have since completed the branch portion of the border, and it did match perfectly.  Phew, that's always a nail biter.
progress as of last night
Each holiday visit with Mom is a treasure, but as she ages I try to savor it as much as I can.  Thanksgiving was wonderful.  She made the meal, and I brought the desserts.  Oh, dear, I may have gone overboard with cookies for four people.  I had intend to make pumpkin pie, but clearly I was delusional when I saw cans of pumpkin in my cabinet.  There weren't any, so chess pie it was.

I learned something about plastic wrap while making this crust.  I was watching a British cooking show, and the baker said you could line the crust with plastic wrap before filling with weights or beans.  It sounded odd, but I tried it.  Let's just say there was some melting going on, and I don't think we were using the same stuff.  Yes, there was enough left to pull out the beans.  No, it didn't melt to the crust.  I'll be using parchment next time-lol.

Swedish Cookies, Chess Pie, Pumpkin Spice Springerle, Dark Chocolate Ginger Cookies, and Spritz 
Chess pie with what I'm calling a "turkey track" baked in.

Mom has a family mantle clock I love.  It no longer works properly, but she loves the chime on it.  I haven't heard the chime for years, but still love that old clock.

I love food molds, and this is a family butter mold Mom displays on the entryway wall.

Visiting Mom's is like crawling inside a treasure chest.  She lives in her family home purchased in the late 30s or 40s.  The Gardner family first built this home in 1809.  Phase II brought an addition in the early 1840s.  It stayed true to that design until the late 50s when my grandparents restored and remodeled it for their family of five.  At this time two bathrooms were added as was a kitchen.  Over the last 200 years only a couple of families have lived in it.  The Gardners lost it in the late 1920s due to the Great Depression.  Yes, there were some tenets for about 20 years between the Gardner family and my mother's, but most were related to us or neighbors.  This home
was built in the Tennessee wilderness in 1809, and thankfully it is still surrounded by farmland.

One of the treasures is this sewing table.  The sewing machines are long gone.  My grandmother was a home economics teacher in the high school during the 50s and 60s.  At some point, they updated the sewing machines and got rid of the tables.  My grandmother had a love of history and took one home.  I love the green paint she put on it.  It was originally a darker stained wood.  The paper on top is foil lined wrapping paper sold as a fundraiser while she taught.  It still holds up after fifty years

Odd bits and pieces--need an extra colored Christmas light?
I've always had my mother's mannerisms and facial expressions, but I love how I'm beginning to look at her.
Three Generations

I ran another 5K this month.  Well, run may be two strong of a word.  Between illness and injury, my training was kaboshed, so about all I could eek out was a run/walk.  Why do I do this to myself?  I have finally figured it out--clothes and jewelry.  Who can pass up a tee with snowflakes or a necklace with an adorable reindeer?

Each year members of our church put up theme trees all around the building.  Themes include joy, advent, birth of Jesus, etc.  My favorite tree is The Carpenter's Tree.   I would love to make my own.  Maybe I could make a table top version.
Carpenter's Tree 

Until next time, count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Jingle Bells and Thanksgiving

Did you know that Jingle Bells didn't begin it's life as a Christmas song?  Its author, James Pierpont, was a bit of a Jack of all trades--seaman, lawyer, music minister, politician, etc.  He lived in Massachusetts as a child and adult.  Eventually, Pierpont joined brother John in Georgia where his brother was pastor.  Was the song written in 1850 or closer to public debut several years later?  We may never know.  We do know it was publicly debuted during a Thanksgiving service in Georgia and immediately popular.  

There are several YouTube videos and written material on the subject, but I thought you might like this one.  Yes, there are Thanksgiving songs, but sometimes you just have to look. 

My mom was given a book from her "adopted" grandfather nearly 70 years ago.  Her father's father died of a heart attack many, many years before she was born.  Her mother's father died only a few years after she was born--car crash I think.

This book is definitely a treasure not only for the family connection, but for the historical window it provides.  They just don't make books like this anymore.

taped inside the book
Mom's work.  Even then home was very important.

While meals set aside for giving thanks were not original to the Pilgrims, their celebration and what it has become are uniquely American.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Stopping Place

 I have come to a stopping place.  It appears this is as far as 5 yards of six strand floss will get me on 32 count.  I've decided to order 11 more skeins to finish the project.  There should be left overs, but I'll use those on the stocking for which I originally purchased the floss.

The black scarf belonged to my dad.  He died five years ago this December.  I think it's a scarf only my dad could love--to wear anyway.  I found it quite itchy, but it works perfectly to cover up lighter colored pants.  Without it draped over my lap I just can't see the holes in my linen.  It's like having a little of my dad with me as I stitch.

This morning I made another batch of cookies for Thanksgiving dessert at Mom's.  I'm really hoping we don't get uninvited again this year.  No, it's not like that.  The year we got uninvited two of the three of us were quite ill, and Mom didn't want us to share.  I'm almost convinced our son came home with the flu Wednesday afternoon--all the right symptoms.  He fought going to the doctor due to a busy school week, and there was no fever Thursday morning, so we let him out of it.  He was still sick, but off the hook. Now my hubby is all sniffly.  

I've already made the turkey, deboned and made half the stock.  DH bought one of those pterodactyl turkeys for big families, so I have to make the stock in two batches.  If worse comes to worse I can leave them home with some turkey and rice soup and go eat with mom . . . that is if I don't catch it too.
Ginger Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chips
My Circa Home Living Magazine came today, and I almost missed it.  The stamps.  Those coffee pots are just gorgeous, don't you think?  I think my post office might be holding out on me.
Lots of wonderful eye candy in here, and it just makes me happy to window shop.

One of the reasons our son didn't want to miss school was this big concert his high school honors choir was doing with another choir in our school district.  The concert was in a wonderful Methodist church next door to ours.  The acoustics were fabulous for the choirs and orchestra made up of high school, local university students and local musicians.  We heard pieces from Vivaldi, Handle, baroque, Renaissance, etc.  It was absolutely wonderful.  We are so blessed to have a musical son who loves music as much as we do.

Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

November Joy

It's been a tough week in France, and I want my French blog family to know my thoughts and prayers have been and will continue to be with you.  I feel confident in saying we here in America stand with you.

Autumnal Progress

I've made quite a bit of progress on Paulette Stuart's Ghoultide Welcome.  You will find my version offers an Autumn Welcome, missing elements and other elements changed a bit.  I will share progress as I go.  The Gathering is in a couple of weeks, and I have decided to fill in the Welcome portion while there.  It's easier not to have to worry about mistakes that way.
Current Progress on Ghoultide Welcome
Mistakes seemed to run rampant when I got to the bottom right of the border.  Can you find it?
The Asian Beetles have landed, and they seem to like me and my linen best.
In the midst of stitching there have been multiple turkey sightings.  There are about 18 turkey hens struttin' their stuff in our backyard and in yards all over the neighborhood.  Where are the toms?  I have no idea, but if Abigail were off leash I'm sure we wouldn't need to buy a turkey this year.  The downside is we'd have to prep it for the oven.  Okay, good point.  I think we're better off buying turkeys.
This past week I began making Springerle cookies.  This year I need to make notes where I will see them next year.  My wooden molds are well-loved and collected over the last 5-6 years.
First press.  Then cut.
This year I decided to use the end of the dough a little differently.  I put some on the mold and rolled it out with a rolling pin.  I just love the look of broken pottery.  Don't you?

I've learned to make a really good crisp impression before the cookies dry 12-24 hours.
Unfortunately, I failed to allow the dough to rest for an hour or so before pressing.  This allows the flour to absorb as much liquid as possible requiring much less when rolling out.  What happens when you forget?  This.
A bubbly crust and cracking even though the detail is still intact.

There should be a cake like interior, but there should not be a split between the top and base of the cookie.  No worries.  They are still edible.  Hooray!  The first batch is always the traditional anise flavor, and makes me smile.  It's not my family's favorite which is another blessing.

I told my DH I needed some Pumpkin Pie Spice at the store.  I also told him I would need at least 3 tablespoons worth for a recipe.  This is what he brought home.  It looks like I have plenty to work on my Pumpkin Spice Springerle Recipe.  It's a new one this year, and I hope it's a winner.

Mom invites us to her house each year for major holidays.  I can't say I blame her.  I'd rather be at the family home on the farm too.  This year I'm bringing the desserts.  This means pumpkin pie or cheesecake.  There is still time to make up my mind.  I also plan to bring an assortment of cookies.  The first batch is a recipe for Swedish Cookies.  I don't know what the Swedes call them, but my family calls them yummy or all gone.
prior to baking
out of the oven
The next recipe comes from a 1998 Good Housekeeping magazine.  Mom sent it to me when we were living in Japan.  Magazines usually have articles or recipes pulled out and the magazine tossed, but this issue was so good I just kept the entire magazine.  I almost began the Giant Ginger Cookies before I realized I was out of the required shortening.  Bummer.  I'll be adding dark chocolate chips to the mix.  Believe me.  It's absolutely delicious.

Pardon the excitement, but two very precious samplers have arrived in the mail this week along with some floss I needed to stitch a stocking.  More importantly one of the colors was needed to start the 12 Days stitch along on Paulette Stewart's blog.  I think I'm done enhancing my stash for now.  I'm one of the outliers that stitches the patterns she has before replenishing.  Please don't kick me out of the sticherhood-lol.
His Eye is on the Sparrow and Dutch Beauty
I have never started a project anywhere else but the middle, but this one clearly had to be started at the top left.  I was a brave girl and did what needed done.  Paulette's 12 Days design calls for three rows of four.  This would be easy to move around if the boxes were all square.  They aren't so I've had to do my math homework [sigh].  Messy handwriting becomes even messier on a tablet, but it gets the job done.
I could have used DMC, but I wanted the dimension and interest overdyes would bring.

Behind but not out of the running
I went into the fridge for a nibble, and look what I found!  This has to be my absolute all-time favorite Japanese dessert.  These are filled with sweet red bean paste.  These go stale quickly, so they are frozen when you buy them.  My husband was in our favorite international market yesterday, so he could pick up some sushi rice.  The quality is great there, and the turnover is really fast, so the bags of sushi rice aren't stale at purchase like they might be at other places with mostly American customers.  I'm very blessed.
Half gone now and extremely delicious.
The sunset in our back yard the other night.  I wish the camera had picked up the deep red blaze we had seen that night.

Putting the cat out for a while tonight I noticed the moon.  So pretty.
Until next time count your blessings--God's gifts to you.