Thanksgiving Week: Friday

And so the week of Thanksgiving comes to an end. It seemed like a very short week, and I really enjoyed it.

When I was reading about Thanksgiving I saw that, before it was ‘official’ people would give thanks to God for the past year’s harvest- a kind of contemplation on the closing year and its blessings. So, I’ve decided to list 5 things that have changed in my life in the past year, which I am thankful for.

So, I will begin (this list is in no particular order, just how they come to me)

Frost on Autumn

1.  I am thankful for Etsy. I know- that’s kind of obvious. It’s one of the main points of this blog, is to show our Etsy shops. But in this case I am especially making a point that Etsy has changed my life.

For instance, NaNoWriMo is this month and I was really close to not doing it this year, especially since I hadn’t come up with a story. I came up with something, but I’ve been busy thinking and working on my shop.

2. I am thankful for FWDGF. That doesn’t make much sense! It stands for French Women Don’t Get Fat, which I have not read. We use a couple of recipes from that book, and I intend to read it soon.

Of course fitness is a challenge for us, like everyone else in one way or another. This has helped me because a big part the author, Mireille Guiliano, makes is that- to put it shortly- It doesn’t take a plateful of something to enjoy it. This has helped me remember that, if I’m not enjoying the store-bought apple pie slice as much as a homemade one, I don’t need to finish it.

3. I am thankful for Bing searches. For a while I scorned Bing, because I thought any search engine does the job you need (which is still true). However, with Bing searches you can earn points and get little coupon/gift cards. This has helped me because I’ve ended up looking up styles, techniques, types and dog breeds (the last one is technically irrelevant but very cute) that has helped me become more comfortable experimenting with a lot of things in my life, including my Etsy shop.

4. I am thankful for Bible Studies. Hannah and my Mum are doing a Bible study (BSF) and I tend to tag along with anybody that’s going somewhere. (I’m a little too much like our black lab, in that I like to go places even if it makes so sense). During that time I read up on things, write or meet with our friend, mentioned many times before, Lexi. I’m not a good talker, so sometimes we end up staring off into space for a few minutes at a time, but I really enjoy it.

5. I am thankful for new adventures. Duh! Sorry, I couldn’t figure out how else to say this one.

Earlier this year, after our boutique, we, along with some friends, were in need of a proper Summer break. Well, as I’m sure many people have discovered, you kind of need a week for preparation, a week to do things and then a week to take a break before getting back into life. Our vacation turned out a little crazier than some of us expected, but I absolutely loved it. We went boat paddling, which was a new experience for me, and I realized during that time that I just need (and can) get out and try some things I’ve never even heard of.

These are the 5 things I’m thankful for that have changed in the past year, and you probably haven’t heard the last of them.

And so the week of Thanksgiving is coming to a close. I hope everyone had a great week with safe travels and not-too-insane shopping.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

(possibly to be continued, with a possible guest post from our Mum)

Sarah

 

Thanksgiving Tree

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

On this point of stillness and gratitude, a holiday still strangely dedicated to family and togetherness even when you don’t have family or you are alone, I’d like to share some of our family’s favorite traditions!

First, and most important, here is a look at our Thanksgiving Tree (glimpsed in an earlier post).  WIN_20151126_14_58_17_Pro.jpg

WIN_20151126_14_58_37_Pro This is one of those traditions from childhood that has lingered, and deserves to be kept around! The idea is, you write something you’re thankful for on a paper leaf, and stick it to an empty tree on the wall. The tree fills up with thankfulness over the course of the month of November, until you cannot pass it without being reminded of all your blessings.

 I usually get carried away and write way too many leaves. But this year, I’m trying to focus; and not just remember my blessings and all the little things I have, but also the big things. And those don’t always fit on a paper leaf!

WIN_20151126_15_00_11_Pro

 

And, of course, we also cook! We try to make everything we eat, because then we know what goes into it, and Thanksgiving dinner is no exception. It tastes better that way!

WIN_20151126_14_59_04_Pro
Pumpkin pie, with homemade crust (it’s actually not that hard! Yes, it is…)
WIN_20151126_16_03_16_Pro
I have been known to puree my own pumpkin, but this pumpkin (incredibly orange) is from a can
WIN_20151126_15_01_24_Pro
Cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, and bacon-apple Brussels sprouts. Yum!
WIN_20151126_15_01_33_Pro
Cranberry sauce. I do it Manuel style. Manuel recommended using orange juice (and zest this time) and adding a dash of Grand Marnier. It transforms and uplifts cranberry sauce into something sublime!

 

One of our best cooking traditions is to let the menfolk cook the bird. They smoke it, which is a very manly form of cooking. The results are wonderful, if a little startling at first:

WIN_20151126_14_59_36_Pro
A Goth Turkey. We don’t know why, but the skin always comes out blackened. Soot, or something. But we don’t eat the skin, so it’s all right. And don’t be alarmed:
WIN_20151126_16_02_42_Pro
Inside, the meat is tender, more tasty than ordinary baking, succulent, and delightful!

WIN_20151126_16_03_07_Pro

 

Thanksgiving is also a time to – of all things – be thankful. I know; radical notion, right? But isn’t it strange that amid all the demand for More! More! More! that swamps our lives (and especially the next major holiday) we stop for a moment just to be grateful for what we have? It doesn’t matter if you have family or friends to celebrate with, or not. It doesn’t matter if you can cook a turkey and all the fixings, or buy it from the store, or prefer some sushi. It doesn’t matter if you live in your own house, or in a corner; or if you can afford a new wardrobe and the latest tech every year, or barely manage to scrape buy. Because you still have many blessings.

Never mind all that I’ve been talking about, with our traditions and blessings: God has, somehow, abundantly blessed you.

So, pause for a moment, and give thanks!

-Abigail-

 

Thanksgiving Week: Proclamation

I already talked about the history of Thanksgiving, but there was a second part that I had to go into. I decided to wait until it was closer to Thanksgiving to do it.

So, everybody knows about the battle of Gettysburg, fought in July of 1863, as well as the Vicksburg campaign, which was won on practically the same date. These two events, of course, are important because they split the Confederacy in two and partially helped the North win.

later that year, Abraham Lincoln issued the Declaration of Thanksgiving.

I was reading about this document, which I had written down for my Civil War trilogy, and one article made a very good, amazing point. Our nation was split in two, north fighting against south, brother against brother. Yet, Lincoln decided to issue a national day of thanks while our nation was still split. He didn’t wait until the war was over, which, in a way would have made more sense.

For me, this is important to remember that, even in the midst of confusion and pain- and the years of 1861-1865 were some of the worst- I can still give thanks. It’s never too soon.

800px-abraham_lincoln_november_1863

So, Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving isn’t the longest document, and I’ll write it down here for everyone to read, because it’s a very interesting, beautiful document. (I got a bit carried away above, so this post will obviously be longer)

Here’s the Proclamation of Thanksgiving:

The year that is drawing toward its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they came, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battlefield; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human council hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seem fit to me and proper that they should solemnly, reverently and gratefully be acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Devine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have thereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth

By the President:      Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! To be continued…

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Week: Art

Sarah suggested that one of us do a post on Thanksgiving art, visual arts in particular.

I’m glad she let me do this one, because I love classic art, and it’s even better to have a theme for this subject, since there really a lot of art out there – sort of focuses my love for art!

 

I don’t know who did the painting above, but I love it… pretty much an accurate depiction of how I imagine the First Thanksgiving to be. I love how the central part is the giving up of heartfelt thanks. It’s not the food. It’s a celebration and time for thanksgiving and contemplation and fellowship.

Norman Rockwell has got to be one of my favorite artists, and one of the best of all time. Ok, maybe I’ll do another post all about my love for this hero artist of mine, but for now, I just have to applaud his great Thanksgiving Paintings. This picture pretty much says it all! I love how the turkey is in the center of the painting, but the people’s faces are really the main interest, with their laughter, the warmth of their expressions as they look at each other, and the father and mother (or is it grandfather and grandmother?) taking care of them all by their love. I just love it!

Although a little less well known, I love this painting. The look on her face, the way he hooks his feet on the chair, the homey and closeness of this painting – even the warm colors – make this another one of my favorite Thanksgiving paintings.

And that’s only just a few of the paintings that are Thanksgiving themed. But each one of these represent a different thing that I’m thankful for (or several things that I’m thankful for!).

The first one with it’s heartfelt, straightforward, simple and stripped of the extra complications Thanksgiving, its good to be reminded of those fundamental blessings that our country has that not many others can boast of.

The second, for it’s bright hope, it’s comradery and its love – even if you have a “dysfunctional” family, and pretty much everyone has that in some way – we still have a lot to be thankful for. They are family after all and they really do love you!

And the last one – well this one I just love the intimacy. And actually, on a different level, I’m really thankful for all of those brave, amazing service men and women. They give their all, and don’t always get noticed for doing this job. I’m thankful for them – what a great blessing to have people go and give their lives for their loved ones and their country!

So there’re a few things to be thankful for – pretty big things. But also, of course, the art of painting and those inspiring artists who’ve gone on before me!

Happy Thanksgiving week everyone!

Hannah

 

 

 

 

 

 

Were-review (and Other Were-creatures)

It’s my turn to contribute to our ongoing (and long-lasting!) series of posts from the Ideas for New Bloggers. And it’s late November, and I’ve written less than a quarter of what I should for NaNoWriMo, and I really shouldn’t be sitting here blogging! Pull out your pens and keyboards, people – it’s time to make some story!

But I should post something, and keep this thing moving, so:

20. Review something specific to your niche.

From what I know about blogs (and I still don’t know as much as I should), reviews are one of the things that they do best. But it’s NaNoWriMo, and I don’t want to take the time to research so that I can knowledgeably review a set of dye-cuts, or my favorite crochet hooks, or Pampered Chef’s newest line of stoneware! It’s a good idea, though; we’ll have to come back to it later.

Instead, with my fellow bloggers’ permission, I will review something in my NaNo novel’s niche. “Harness” is a YA (or possibly New Adult) werewolf story – a horror about trying to figure out your life’s direction while not killing anyone.

Now, (ahem) I don’t read that much YA or NA, and I know hardly anything

A reluctant “Doctor Who” werewolf

about the werewolf genre – just a smattering of stories. So I could  talk about “Doctor Who” werewolves, my brief acquaintance with “Being

A “Doctor Who” werewolf that was anything but reluctant!

Human,” “Werewolves of London,” or perhaps “Grimm” (although there are major differences between a blutbad and a true werewolf).

A rather wonderful blutbad

 

But what I do know is “The Grey Wolf” by George MacDonald.

 

George MacDonald was Scottish, and I’ve heard it said that this story was possibly a retelling of a folk tale/urban legend – something that his father used to tell him on a cold winter night. It certainly feels like it! “The Grey Wolf” has little in common with the usual MacDonald short story, which could be fantasy, fairy tale, or drama, but always came with character development and often a “moral” (which wasn’t a bad thing in his day). But this story is simply the account of a young English student who wandered too far on one of the Hebrides Islands and was caught in a storm. As one description put it, he finds that there are more dangerous things than the storm on the island that night.

It’s very short – you can read it in 15 minutes – and features only three characters; the student, the young woman who offers him shelter, and her mother. The descriptions are almost as sparse as the poverty his hosts live in, the dialog is minimal (and there’s little Scottish dialect, a bonus if you’re not used to it), and the mounting tension is achieved masterfully: Something Horrible Lurking Near! For its length, it delves deeper into motivation and relationships than you would expect – but only by hints and caught glances.

I would almost call “The Grey Wolf” a definitive story of lycanthropy: It’s setting is old, as if bringing you back to where such stories began. And, although there are no silver bullets or changes under a full moon, its horror and brevity more than make up for the lack!

Read it!

“The Gray Wolf” is old, so you can download it free for your Kindle (or other devices if you look around), or get the volume of short stories (my recommended method)! Either way, the volume will also bring you “The Portent,” which is Young Adult paranormal romance, old style; and “The Cruel Painter,” which has to be one of the funniest (and oldest) vampire stories ever. MacDonald-made masterpieces!

-Abigail-

Thanksgiving Week: Liturature

It’s the week of Thanksgiving (not that it exactly feels like it. This year has gone by very strangely) and we’ll be featuring Thanksgiving all this week.

It won’t be Turkey Day (after all, that’s rude to vegans and vegetarians), that is food or the parade, since that’s not really what the holiday is about. Of course, we happen to have Random Recipe Saturday, so we might feature one of our Thanksgiving specialties, but I promise it won’t be anything like: “how to cook your turkey so it doesn’t come out dry”.

Today I will be featuring thanksgiving in literature (in this case literature meaning stories, music and movies)

There are a couple of songs that I know of that can be Thanksgiving related, such as the song going:

“Count your blessings name them one by one

Count your blessings, see what God has done…”

Or a very good song in the Christmas musical White Christmas (I have a link for this song because I don’t want you to get the first stuck in your head all day) 

800px-louisa_may_alcott

 

 

 

I would have assumed everything would be clear sailing from now on, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade could start up- but not quite. The holiday was moved from the last Thursday in November to the fourth in 1941.

I seem to remember that the holiday didn’t take off immediately, as a national celebration with turkeys and pumpkin pies, but I can’t really find anything about that when I was checking out all the dates.

However, I thought this holiday, and two related literary creations, were interesting when you know the history. I’m sure everyone already knows about everything I’ve mentioned, but I just had to talk about it because history is cool!

The first piece of Thanksgiving literature is Louisa May Alcott’s An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, about some kids (of various ages) who work on Thanksgiving dinner while their parents are away, set in about 1870s. It’s the perfect Thanksgiving story, with a lot of humor and interesting perspective, including cannonball puddings. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s at least set soon after the holiday had been made official. I’ve mentioned this story early on in the Thanksgiving week so you have plenty of time to get it from the library/amazon/online and have time to read it. Or, of course, you could just curl up on your couch after your Thanksgiving feast and read it then.

paul-laurence-dunbar-602x338

I decided to see if there was any more Thanksgiving literature I could mention, and I found a Thanksgiving Poem, written by Paul Laurence Dunbar and published in 1913. I couldn’t find out much behind either this poem or An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, such as what inspired them to write their respective things, but they’re both beautiful. One thing I was thinking while I was looking at these two pieces: they’re very American. They feel American, mentioning things that we’re familiar with in all the classic American stories with farmers, settlers and Mark Twain.

Here are the first two verses of Dunbar’s Thanksgiving Poem:

The sun hath shed its kindly light,

Our harvesting is gladly o’er,

Our fields have felt no killing blight,

Our bins are filled with goodly store.

 

From pestilence, fire, ‘flood, and sword

We have been spared by Thy decree,

And now with humble hearts, O Lord,

We come to pay our thanks to Thee.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! To be continued…

Sarah

 

 

 

 

Friday Featured Favorites: Craft Fairs!

It was a busy, hectic, crazy, craft-filled first couple of weeks of November! We had tables at two different Craft Fairs (two!), and actually sold stuff at both (yay!!). It is also possible that we spent more than we made, but I think that’s an occupational hazard.

WIN_20151107_14_22_13_Pro.jpg

And I suppose all of that makes up as good a reason as any to take a break from Etsy Shops for this Friday’s Featured Favorites, and instead highlight our Craft Fair experience (and adventures!).

WIN_20151107_14_25_15_Pro

We have done craft fairs before, although it’s been a few years since the last one. And at that one, to be honest, I was bored. I made few sales and was discouraged enough to never, ever want to try a Craft Fair again.

WIN_20151107_14_25_56_Pro

That was before we launched our Etsy shops. And this year, we allowed ourselves to be persuaded into participating again. It was for a few different reasons:

  1. Excellent incentive to make things. It’s always good to have items to stock, and always easy to be slack about production. Craft Fairs and Boutiques provide motivation to make as much as we can.
  2. Our friend Leslie is very persuasive!
  3. It’s been long enough to dull the discouraging memories.
  4. Challenges are good. And…
  5. We’ve learned a lot since that first Craft Fair.

This last point was especially important. Since joining Etsy, I’ve learned a

WIN_20151107_14_25_01_Pro
Hannah and Sarah, crafting at a Craft Fair!

lot about marketing and interacting with people who could become costumers, showcasing products and making attractive displays. Etsy even has helpful articles on what to do in Craft Fairs: What to bring, how to set up your table or area, interacting with shoppers, the importance of good signage. While these articles are aimed more at sellers who might be at one of the big, important craft shows  (in places like New York or Seattle) rather than our tiny little church and school sponsored events, I still picked up a lot of important tips.

 

So I felt much more comfortable trying to do a Craft Fair again. And – guess what? We all had a lot of fun! We didn’t do a huge amount of business – that’s something we’re still going to have to work on! – but WIN_20151107_14_22_34_Prowe did manage to make the experience enjoyable. We wondered around other tables, talked with the vendors, compared techniques, shopped (a bit too much), hung out with old friends, made new friends. And of course we did! Crafters and artists are some of the fun -est people to be around.

WIN_20151107_14_24_01_Pro
Sarah’s newest creations: Christmas Bags!

 

We also learned a lot about what draws the eye – what people are attracted to and what they will buy (not always the same thing!). We learned that what sells at one venue might not sell at another; and about pricing – that if something is just a little too expensive, people might lose interest. It was a great learning experience, and a fun new adventure.

And now I am glad that it’s over! Now I can focus on NaNoWriMo, and on my Etsy shop. Because online selling has a whole different set of rules!

-Abigail-