Stasia's Place Of Grace


Saturday, November 15, 2003


A Really Good Gift

Here come the holidays again... another necktie Dad'll never wear. Another electronic appliance Mom'll shove behind others in the cabinet. Some cutesy dust-collector for your sister, and too much candy for her hyper kids.

Everyone puts on a smile, says "Uh, thanks..." unconvincingly, and the gifts are never noticed again (except for that candy, because by now the kids are spinning on the ceiling fan).

Worst of all, you feel like you had to give them all something, but you also feel like your hard-earned money has just been tossed right out the window into the snow!

My friend Shirley M. reminded me about a gift that makes everyone feel good, and actually does some good... the gift of self-sufficiency for a needy family through Heifer International!

For all of us fiber fanatics, there's a gift of a knitting basket - two llamas and two sheep for a family that can use their income-generating fiber! As with all Heifer International gifts, the recipients are required to "pay it forward" by providing the offspring of their animals to others in their village! Now that's a gift that keeps on giving.

Jeff and I are giving our parents gifts of honeybee hives in their honor... and this is the first holiday gift I've felt good about giving our "have everything" parents in a long time.

It's way better than a new blender. And you can always handknit them some mittens so they have a little something under the tree.

Thanks for reminding me about the reason for the season, Shirley!

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Monday, November 10, 2003

Fibery Stuff!

I've been working on my first felted items - slippers from Reynolds Lopi Pattern 82210.

Note: If you are not making the ankle boot/elf slippers, but only these low scuffs, you should only need two balls of Lopi, not three as the pattern calls for:

Slippers Before Felting

Slippers After Felting

The pattern was quick to knit (I'm now doing a second pair in garter stitch for easier seaming), and felted quickly and well. The slippers have an inner lining on the sole, so they're very cushy and warm!

Jeff's Bea Ellis moose hat is finished!

Need a good motive to keep some weight off during the upcoming holiday season?

The Northwoods Wildlife Center, a wonderful wildlife rehab center here in Wisconsin (with online animal "adoptions"!), offers this challenge:

    Lose It For The Babies

    We are approaching the fat season. It starts on October 31st when you secretly consume all the leftover Halloween candy. Then comes Thanksgivine dinner, and leftovers, and leftovers... Christmas comes next with parties, cookie walks, fruitcakes, and plum puddings [see below!]. January approaches with New Year's Eve parties, eggnog and pecan roll-ups...

    By the time you roll into bed on New Year's Day, you feel everything you have consumed since Halloween. Time to reverse the process - sign the pledge below, and Take It Off For The Babies!

    "I pledge to lose one pound a week from January 1st, 2004 to March 31st, 2004 - more if I can. If I do NOT reach my goal of 13 pounds, I promise to pay $1 to the Northwoods Wildlife Center for every pound retained below my goal. The money will go to put pounds ON the babies who will start coming in about April 10th!

    "I will also get pledges from my friends of $1 per pound for every one LOST during that three-month period, the pledge to be paid by April 10th, and the money again to go to feed the 2004 wild babies.

For more info, or to receive their inspiring newsletter, e-mail them via their website. We've been supporting members for many years and they do an awesome job with animals from otters to bears to deer to eagles!

Natural Signs Of Fall

A whitetail buck has left an antler rub on my tiny Red Oak tree - the one we let grow after the previous owners kept mowing over it:

Here you can see some of his fur which was caught on the branches:

This is one way a buck lets other bucks know that this is his territory. It is also how he scratches the fuzzy "velvet" off of his antlers as they begin to harden.

Today, at noon, I was so very lucky - I saw "our buck" - with a huge antler rack of many points - following a doe through our neighborhood! The two deer saw me and Valentine, and stopped to stare at us... and we stared back. Nobody moved. Then, I remembered that it is rut season, so Valentine and I carefully, slowly backed away so the buck wouldn't think us a threat. The deer watched us for a few moments, then continued on their path north, to the horse farm that borders our property. I have never been so close to a live deer outside before!

I'm so grateful for that magical experience, and for these scenes as well:

Amazing Fall Sky

This Week's Lunar Eclipse

A Walking Stick On Our House

Blog Update

I (hopefully) have some new smilies for you in the Tag-Board. Thanks, Pamela!

To Quote...

    We can be no closer to... the Creator than when we ourselves create, or enjoy another's creation." ~ Marion Dane Bauer, "Land of the Buffalo Bones"

My friend Kary and I were discussing the merits and concerns of investing so much money into our fiberarts. She had some wise words for me, and I asked her if I could share them with you. Here is what she said:

    "Sure, sometimes it costs beaucoup $$ for equipment and supplies - but the end result brings joy. Not only to us, the creator - but to the world at large. To release something to the Universe that is one of kind - that no one else on the planet, before us or after us - will ever create the exact duplicate of - is pretty heady stuff. Again - the soul tingles! The beauty of our supplies and equipment is that it pretty much holds its resale value! What a bonus!"

Smart lady, huh?

More On "Les Tricoteuses...

The other day, I told you about a Fran�ois Couperin harpsichord piece called "Les Tricouteuses" (The Knitters), about which Shirley Scott had written in her book, "Canada Knits" (a very good read!)

Jeff found some more information about the piece in the book, "Fran�ois Couperin" by Philippe Beaussant (Amadeus Press):

    "Contrast is the rule in the Vingt-troisi�me Order. In Les Tricoteuses... after the rather solemn and restrained atmosphere of L'Audacieuse,Couperin creates a light and amusing mood, with the clicking of knitting needles and the chatter of women. The piece concludes humorously with 'dropped stitches' depicted by a series of broken chords built on the diminished seventh."

The Holidays Approacheth...

Bayberry candles are a New England Christmas tradition. There is a little wish that accompanies a gift of them:

    "This Bayberry candle is a gift from a friend,
    On Christmas Eve burn it down to the end.�
    A bayberry candle burned down to the socket
    Brings luck to the home and wealth to the pocket."

    Or "A bayberry candle burned to the socket
    Brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket."

Elizabeth found us this source for natural Bayberry candles!

We love a plum pudding at Yuletide. This year, we've decided to make our own, and it looks like the process begins at the end of this month! Here is what I found out about them:

    "In the English tradition, everyone in the house is to help stir the pudding, making their Christmas wishes as they stir. There's not a fresh plum in [plum pudding]. Since the pudding needs a month to mellow and mature, that's a head start on making a Christmas list.

    "Stir-up Sunday is November 30th�this year. The Sunday nearest November 30th, St. Andrew�s Day, is affectioately know as �Stir-up Sunday� because the Anglican prayer book reading for that day begins, �Stir up we beseech Thee, O Lord, the will of thy faithful people.��Traditionally this is the day for making the pudding.� Everyone in the house is supposed to stir the mixture clockwise for good luck."

    ~ From

I ordered my plum pudding mold from King Arthur Flour. It came with a recipe for Boston Brown Bread as well.

Plum Pudding Recipe
Serves 16

Note: Choose any large pot for steaming the pudding. Just make sure that the pot is tall enough to be tightly covered once the pudding is inside, and remember that there will be a rack underneath the pudding as well as a cover or plate over the mold. Remember, too, that the steamer must be roomy enough to allow you to reach in and extract the cooked pudding, your hands protected by mitts or rubber gloves. Of course, a pudding mold with a handle makes the job easier. This recipe serves sixteen. See illustrated tips for tips on making plum pudding.

2 2/3 cups (1 pound) dark raisins
2 cups (10 ounces) dried currants
2 cups water
1 cup plain bread crumbs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (8 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into �-inch bits
4 large eggs
1/3 cup brandy or Cognac
1/2 cup sweet sherry (cream or Amontillado)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) finely chopped citron, optional
Vegetable shortening for greasing mold
1/4 cup additional brandy or Cognac for flaming the pudding, optional


1. Chop half the raisins into pieces roughly the same size as currants. Combine chopped and whole raisins and currants in large, heavy-bottomed pot; add water. Cover and bring to boil; uncover and simmer briskly, stirring frequently, until nearly all liquid has evaporated, 15 to 18 minutes. Remove pot from heat, recover, and let cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours.

2. Combine bread crumbs, flour, brown sugar, spices, and salt in workbowl of food processor fitted with metal blade. Process until brown sugar is completely pulverized. Add butter and pulse until mixture is consistency of coarse bread crumbs. Be careful not to allow mixture to clump. Whisk eggs in large bowl until foamy, then beat in brandy and sherry. Stir in crumb mixture. Add cooked fruits and their juices and optional citron, and stir until well blended.

3. Very thickly grease 2 1/2- or 3-quart mold with shortening. Turn pudding batter into mold, leaving at least 3/4 inch space between top of batter and rim of mold for expansion during steaming. If mold comes with cover, grease inside of cover and snap it in place. Otherwise, crimp sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil over rim of mold with as little overhang as possible down sides. (Water tends to climb up overhanging foil.)

4. Arrange cake rack in bottom of large pot and set mold on top. Pour enough boiling water into pot to come halfway up sides of mold. If mold does not have its own cover, place upside-down plate over foil and cover pot. Turn heat to high and return water to boil as quickly as possible to set outside of pudding and prevent sticking. Lower heat to maintain brisk simmer and steam for 3� hours, replenishing pot with additional boiling water as needed.

5. Remove mold from pot and let pudding cool until tepid. Shake mold back and forth to loosen pudding, then unmold onto large sheet of heavy-duty foil. Wrap pudding tightly, then wrap in second sheet of foil or enclose in zipper-lock plastic bag. Let pudding stand at cool room temperature for 3 days, then refrigerate for at least 1 week and up to 2 months.

6. When ready to serve, return pudding to original mold that has been well greased and steam 2 to 3 hours, until center registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, or knife plunged in center comes out hot. (Once reheated, pudding can be left in pot, with heat shut off, for 1 to 2 hours before serving). Invert pudding onto platter and unmold. If you wish to flame pudding, warm brandy in small saucepan until barely tepid. Drizzle brandy over pudding, and then, standing back, ignite with long wooden match.

Cut into wedges and serve with hard sauce.

I hope your day is filled with the season's riches! Please send me a message in my Tag-Board!

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Welcome To Stasia's Blog

Stasia is a knitter, spinner, weaver, writer, reader, and musician from Wisconsin, USA.

Join her here as she journals about beauty in nature, the joys of fibery pursuits, special people and pets, and great places to shop. It's her hope you'll leave spiritually inspired and creatively motivated. Thanks for visiting!

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