Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Observations ~ are old fashioned traditions and the homemade on their way out?

Did you receive many Christmas cards this year? We did not get as many as we have in the past.
I sent cards to those on our list as I have done for as long as I can remember...I think it was our first year as a married couple way back in 1974.
Do you think sending cards and writing letters is falling out of fashion?
I like getting newsy letters at Christmas...well anytime is nice but people these days are far too busy to sit down and put pen to paper.
These days I look upon letters and cards as a luxury.

I have not penned a long letter in ages but filled our cards with snippets of our highlights over the past year.
Joys of grand babies, family events, the cats and their antics, the new boat, and my retirement to name a few.

Blogging has replaced my tendency to write letters or keep a journal.

It's interesting how many changes have come about with the technology that we have available today.
I know that I am rambling on...
this is a rather disjointed post!

I took this picture before the paper whites bloomed.
Chester did his best to hide the bulbs about the bungalow but I stumbled onto his hiding place and saved them.
(under the guest bed)
(where I might add I also found a pea pod and a string bean!)

One of my dearest friends found out on Christmas morning that she is going to be a grandmother!

I love to have a knitting project on the go so I have started a baby blanket.
It is the Big Blocks pattern from Churchmouse Yarns.

Cotton Bernats Crafters Yarn
the ecru shade should go with any nursery decor.

The pattern has a garter stitch border and alternating blocks of knit and purl squares.
Easy to do if you put markers in between the boxes which alert you to the stitch change.
My friend Claire at the wool shop shared this tip with me after I had to rip out a few rows on the first blanket I made for Isla over 4 years ago now.

Look at the big ball of yarn!
I love using these as they are one continuous strand so there is no need for a join in the project...
unless one of the cats chews though the yarn, which has happened, but thankfully not on this project so far.

I get a lot of satisfaction out of making things myself.
It is not just the process of making it.
 It is also the knowledge that time and effort went into making something useful.
 With any luck it will be appreciated and become a keepsake.

I made split pea and ham soup and while it simmers on the stove I am going to sit and knit.
I think of soup made with leftovers as a "free" meal.
In the spirit of thrift I embrace soup making.
It uses up what might be wasted.
"Waste Not Want Not"

My grandmother made pots and pots of soups and stews in her days.
The butcher knew that they were struggling to make ends meet and he set aside bones for her and when she went in to buy a joint of meat he would wrap up a few of the bones and put them in her bag for free.
My grandmother always had a fresh loaf of bread on the counter to help sop up all the tasty goodness in the bottom of the bowl.
Did I mention that my grandfather always picked up wayward strangers who were down on their luck and brought them home for dinner?
My grandmother never knew how many would be sitting down to eat at her farm sized kitchen table!
Homemade soup is a hearty and inexpensive way to keep people fed and warm.
Hence the many soup kitchens in church basements and local shelters.
Enjoy a bowl of goodness.

A silicone chick perched on the rim of the pot holds the wooden spoon.
Friends gave this to us last year for Christmas.
I use it a lot.

~ Split pea and Ham soup ~

Soak 2 cups of split peas in water for an hour.

Boil a ham bone with cubes of leftover ham in 6 cups of water.
Add several diced onions, a couple of carrots chopped and a sprig of fresh thyme.
Add pepper to taste.
(I don't add salt as there seems to be enough in the ham)
Simmer for an hour.
Add the split peas and water, Simmer until the peas are mushy and soft!
Ladle into soup bowls and enjoy.

Share some soupy goodness with your family and friends and see if they like it!



  1. My husband wrote long letters to his father, who died 2 yrs ago at 93. They are now a much-appreciated record of our family life.

    My son is putting up a big batch of kim chee! He and all his friends want chickens...so maybe different things are diy these days. Oh...my son was taught to knit by someone named Laine of all things when he was in France. He's making me a scarf now.

  2. Fun, fun, fun. I love this stuff. I made a scarf in the same pattern without markers. I was at the coffee shop talking and found a mistake pretty far back. It was for charity so I guess they knew it was homemade! I read a woman's writing who said she put in a mistake on purpose.

    I have a black and white towel hanging on my stainless stove, also. However, it is just cotton AND
    my stove is an original 1977 Jenn-Air. Can you believe it?

    My soup is a little crazy today. An apple, an onion, a broccoli stalk, French thyme, sea salt, fresh ground pepper and a little bit of leftover marinara sauce. lol We'll see. :)

  3. I have knitted baby blankets for my grandchildren in the same pattern, but the border is seed stitch.

  4. I loved reading this post. I agree, I love receiving everyone's Christmas missive. I have moved so many times, the holidays is the only time I really get to catch up. Giving something handmade is a treasure. Stay warm! Bonnie

  5. Yum! The soup sounds delicious. I made what I call, Stone soup last night out of a bit of chicken, what I had in the vegetable bin, dry noodles and Swiss chard from the garden. It actually was quite good...but I would have preferred a bowl of your ham and pea soup.

  6. Oh, I love split pea soup...it's my absolute favorite. I'm so in awe of those of you who can knit. I've never learned and how such beautiful things can come from yard and needles is a mystery to me.

  7. Oh how I love split pea and ham soup! Have you figured the WW points for your recipe? If you have, I want to know as I have restarted WW now--I've done it on my own and will go to my first meeting later this week.

    We managed to send out only a few Christmas cards this week. We were just too busy. We have vowed to start early next year and do it right! We did receive a lot of cards, but 3/4s of them were from my husband's colleagues at his law firms--and every one of the cards had photos of children. I enjoy seeing them for sure, but miss the variety of pretty traditional Christmas cards.

    I would love to learn to knit. I do a lot of needlework, but have not knitted since I was 12 years old!

  8. My mum had stack of letters that I had written her when I went across Canada in 1972.It was like going back in time to read them. We hardly got any Christmas cards this year. Sad! I love homemade soup. I can't knit but am working on needlework. I have so many unfinished projects. January is a homemaking month.

  9. I would love to have that knitting pattern as you know that I do knit, and making blankets is one of my favorite items to knit. I no longer make adult size sweaters, as I honestly can buy better looking ones for the same price as knitting one. The ecru cotton is beautiful.

  10. I think you and I might be knitting the same blanket again! I am about 1/3 finished with mine, for my brother's expected child.
    I miss the niceties of letters, notes, thank you notes and taking time with correspondence. Do you know that the Royal BC Museum has a special exhibit of letters and a special letter-writing activity for the next two days? I heard about it on CBC and thought 'what a sweet idea'.

  11. I wrote letters constantly when we lived overseas. My MIL saved every one of them and gave them to me a couple of years ago. I enjoy taking a few minutes, once in awhile, to re-read a few and remember life as it was then. Once emails came along, she printed and saved those, too.
    We received about 12 cards this year, the least ever.
    Your knitting looks delightful - I'm a very beginning knitter, but I enjoy the process.

    Getting together for tea would be lovely.

  12. I try to write cards to some beloveds for Christmas. It's become a luxury as you say. But this year, only one responded back to say thanks they've received my cards. :(

    Would be rather sad the day we no longer appreciate thoughtfulness.
    I look forward to making 'Free' meals when I move to dreary London.

  13. 9 degrees in Atlanta last night inspired me to make chicken carrot barley soup. Something about freeze warnings impels me to use up all the fresh food in the house. Just discovered your blog, so glad I found you! I did send out cards this year, and on the homemade front, made grapefruit jam and marmalade. Have a ham bone in the freezer waiting to be made into Senate Bean soup!

  14. I think Christmas cards are falling out of fashion because of people wanting to be more environmentally friendly (even recycled paper costs energy), the costs of postage and the fact that younger folks seem much more connected via the internet and so seem to need that annual contact / letter. I was always of two minds about newsy Christmas letters; sometimes they seemed just to brag about stuff - then again that's what I think a lot of people use Facebook and Blogger to do. I love knitting but have never made a blanket. Must learn to do that bulbs in the house thing one day...

  15. Happy New Year! I am definitely trying your recipe for split pea ham soup today. I'm in Maryland, where our temps are uncharacteristically low this week, and I've had a ham bone in the freezer from our family holiday gathering. Finally got to the store for some split peas this a.m. Oooh, your knitting project looks really pretty! I have meant to send Christmas cards the past few years but, somehow, my best-laid plans ..... so this year I am attempting to send out some "New Year" cards instead!! Lol! I too love reading others' news, aside from keeping up with FaceBook friends and family! (But I sure am glad there's FB).

  16. I am currently writing a few notes in response to a few Christmas cards, the fewest we have ever received. Like many others, I did not get mine out this year. My Christmas planning was last minute, we were traveling and any number of other excuses I can dream up :-( I hate to see the card tradition pass. Nothing brings the holiday season on like opening the mailbox to a stack of Christmas cards and Christmas letters.

  17. My mom kept every letter I wrote when I traveled overseas at ages 19-23. Since it was the only mode of communication, the letters are long and numerous. It was such a treat to reread them. I don't think I have one letter from my sons, but thousands of emails and texts! The time has come to connect however we can.