ScrapHappy Solstice

Yes, I know that ScrapHappy is usually on the 15th of the month and that I’ve already done December’s, but I’ve been very busy with scraps recently and this one includes some solstice-specific makes, so here we are again.

As you may recall, Mr Snail and I do not celebrate Christmas, nor do we send Christmas presents. We do, however, celebrate the winter solstice because it marks that special point in the year when the days start to get longer… and that’s very important to us. I was delighted, therefore, when I came across the most beautiful book on exactly this theme… The Lightbringers. I wanted to share this with some of my friends, so bought a few copies to send as solstice presents to people I haven’t been able to meet up with this year and who I have missed very much.

So far, so not at all scrappy. But then, thinking about wrapping, I realised that I could make use of the old bathroom curtains (the new ones were a previous scrappy post)… they have suns and moons on them and seemed very appropriate. Over the years they had faded in a very patchy way, but this doesn’t really matter for present bags. Four gifts required four bags, and I had plenty of fabric. The ribbon was from a spool given to me in a collection of things that another crafter did not want, so I consider that scrappy too. The recipients should have opened their presents by now, so it’s safe to share.

With plenty of fabric and bag-making in mind, I decided to continue and make a bag to line the bucket (salvaged from something or other) we keep our Qwirkle tiles in. I’ve made it so that there’s a drawstring to hold it in place round the top of the bucket, and another to make a hole in the centre, allowing us to reach in to take tiles without being able to see them. This is turning out to be a very scrappy game, as the tile racks were one of Mr Snails recent scrappy creations.

I made an additional spare present bag with the remaining fabric and that was one whole curtain converted into useful things. I still have another one left, but inspiration has not yet struck… watch this space.

-oOo-

I’ve been inspired to write this (and future) ScrapHappy posts by Kate,  Tall Tales from Chiconia. On the fifteenth of every month lots of folks often publish a ScrapHappy post, do check them out:

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaireJean,
Joanne, Jon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki, PaulineSue L,
Sunny and Kjerstin

If you fancy joining, contact Kate and she’ll add you to the list. It would be lovely to see more non-sewing posts, but any use of scraps is welcome.

Three Things Thursday: 21 December 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, the solstice. It’s been lovely to get ‘happy solstice’ greetings from so many friends. Now we can look forward to longer days, even if it is just a smidge more light each day, it is very welcome.

looking forward to more evenings like this

Second, shelter not presents. As you may know, we don’t send cards or give presents at this time of year, instead we donate to charity. This year I decided to focus my donations on people who do not have a roof over their heads, so I donated to Crisis, St Mungo’s and Moas. It seems wrong for us to accumulate more when there are people with nothing; I hope my donations will go a little way to providing some warmth, shelter and safety for those who are without it. I am grateful for the roof over my head and this is one way to share my good fortune.

Third, looking on the bright side. A few weeks ago, in a fit of enthusiasm/madness/mid-life crisis I applied for a job… in London. Yesterday I heard that, despite being very well qualified, I hadn’t even been short-listed. I am devastated – not because I was certain that I wanted the job, but because the response made me feel completely unwanted and unvalued. It was a job in which I could have had a big positive impact on people’s lives, but now I’ll never know what might have been possible. However, it’s over and there’s no use ‘what-iffing’. So now I’m doing my best to look on the bright side… I didn’t really want to have to find somewhere to live in London, and I didn’t want to have to be away from Mr Snail during the week; I wouldn’t have had time to do as much creative stuff if I had got the job, nor to write the books I’m planning, nor to develop my creative business. Even so, I’m still finding it hard not to be glum – no one likes rejection. Cheery comments would be most welcome today… I’m always grateful when I hear from my readers.

So, that’s some of what’s making me happy (and sad) this week. How about you?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

A moveable feast

You know how you have plans, and then something happens…

celebrating the prospect of spring… the specific day probably isn’t important

In general we have a special celebration on the day of the winter solstice. We celebrate the turning of the seasons, the shortest day and the prospect of light and abundance to come. We have a special meal – usually made using local produce. This year I ordered some locally produced, grass-fed beef (quite a rare meat for us to eat) and was supposed to be collecting in on Thursday (the solstice itself) with the aim of cooking some to eat in the evening. However, a message yesterday asked if we could collect it on Friday instead… I hadn’t explained its date-specific use to the producer. So, that aspect of our celebration has been postponed.

In addition, yesterday I suddenly got a pile of requests for editing work – including one piece to be done by Friday. Everyone is so focussed on Christmas, that there is little understanding that some people might take time off work at any other time… especially in the week before 25 December. However, I am pragmatic and work is work, so I didn’t say no. A flurry of editing this morning has allowed me to make good progress and so I think I will be able to find time for solstice-related activities on Thursday, albeit without the beef.

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A past 25 December picnic

So, the new plan is either to go out on Thursday or for me to raid the freezer and rack my brains for some suitably celebratory dish that I can make from what’s in there… possibly plaice or mackerel. Then we’ll have our local beef with Yorkshire puddings on Sunday, and that will leave some lovely roast beef for sandwiches to eat during our traditional (indoor) picnic on 25 December. Life is all about being flexible…

Longer days

So, here we are on the other side of the solstice and looking forward to the days lengthening…

Chez Snail we don’t ‘do’ Christmas, but we do celebrate the solstice – the turning of the year and the promise of more light. We know that there’s a long way to go before the spring arrives, but we love the fact that the longest night is behinds us.

We were hoping to enjoy a solstice walk with the dogs, but the dreadful weather transpired against us, so I spent the afternoon in the limery having a good clean up, harvesting the rest of the chillies and getting it ready for the first sowing of seeds in the new year. Once it was all clean and tidy we were able to enjoy the promise of summer in there in the form of a glass or two of Kir made with Herefordshire framboise (raspberries truly are the taste of summer) along with fairy-lights and candles.

Today, a very slightly longer day than yesterday, we awoke to the promise of sunshine.

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The promise of a dry day

And, indeed, the clouds cleared and we were able to take the dogs for a walk on the beach. I know we haven’t seen the end of the rain, but at least we will be planting seeds in a couple of weeks…

The turning of the year

Today is the winter solstice. At 23:03 GMT the North Pole will be tilted the furthest away from the sun as it is during the whole year. This means that today is the shortest day – hurrah! After this, the days start to lengthen and my thoughts turn towards the coming spring. For me, this is the most notable day in the winter and one that Mr Snail and I choose to celebrate.

This year, however, we had to bring our celebration forward a little because today, the actual day of the solstice, he’s heading back to England to work. We celebrate with food… enjoying some of the past year’s harvest from the garden and from some of our fantastic local producers.

The garden produce was represented by a huge Boston squash. In fact we only extracted a single slice from it… the rest will be roasted in chunks tomorrow and then frozen for later consumption, apart from one piece which we will share with my mum on Christmas day.

Carving the squash

Carving the squash

Other than that we had locally grown parsnips, potatoes and cauliflower, a cheese sauce, made with Welsh organic milk and Hafod cheese, and a piece of smoked gammon produced by From The Hedge Rose (local and ethically reared).

Local food

Local food

For dessert I was going to make Pond Pudding, using a recipe that Anne Phillips kindly gave me (see the comments in this post), but I thought it might be a bit filling after such a substantial meal. Fortuitously, I got a phone call in the morning from my neighbours to say that they had some left over homemade chocolate mousse in the fridge and to come over and get it! We are keeping an eye on their house for a little while as they are visiting relatives and they were about to leave, so the mousse was going spare and was ours for the taking. It seemed completely in the spirit of the meal to have that for dessert.

We even illuminated our celebration with beeswax candles from the local honey farm:

Solstice light

Solstice light

Whilst we ate and chatted, Max and Sam made themselves comfortable under the table, in the hope that food would arrive from above (it didn’t).

Crashed out... not through lake of food - they ate first

Crashed out… not through lack of food – they ate first

So that was how our year turned… I do hope any celebrations you had were as enjoyable.

 

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